We've been away for nearly a week to a wedding in Liverpool and then for a few days in Chester. Here are some highlights.
1. When I look up, the people ahead of us have vanished. I hurry ahead to see how they passed through a brick wall and find a doorway. I step through it, on to a quiet terrace above the Mersey where people are waiting in silence, just as the sun drops behind Birkenhead across the water.
2. The hundreds and hundreds of padlocks secured to the chains around the docks -- all representing promises.
3. I wonder if Bettany would like me to go with her when the wedding planner leads the flower girls round to the door the bride will use. No, she definitely doesn't want me.
4. The soft wave of kind laughter that greets the brides emotional apology for being late.
5. The man who reads a poem returns to his seat, and draws a finger under each eye to clear away his tears. (later Alec tells us that his suit with gold buttons is the best suit).
6. I turn round to find Amelia -- elegant and cheerful in her blue dress and coral shoes -- teaching my children to cross their eyes.
7. A thing about this holiday has been enormous beds and vast bath towels.
8. We walk a long way to find the only in situ Roman shrine to Minerva in the UK in a park by the river. The image, carved into the wall of a quarry, is somewhat worn, but her robes, helm and owl are easily recognised and it was absolutely worth every step of the walk.
9. As we walk round the park the children wish so hard that the miniature railway will be running again today. We think that it might not be, because it's now the week when people start going back to school. But it turns out that it is running -- an inattentive teenage boy trundling delighted toddlers round tracks so narrow gauge that I can put my foot across them. I am so relieved that I pay them on immediately and they jump aboard.