I do love autumn. It's all about long scarves and frothy coffee. Frosty mornings and sunny afternoons. Hay fields and blackberries and puddings with custard. Fires and fairy lights and curling up with books set in faraway places. A new term at school for the boys - with a million good intentions. And in my case, I usually have something new to submit to agents or editors.
Not this time. This September has been...fraught.
Eleven-year-old has started secondary school. It takes him almost an hour to walk there and he hasn't found his way around yet because it's so huge. He doesn't know his classmates or his teachers and his homework has been dominating the weekends. I have dealt with it all by worrying incessantly because...well, what could be more useful than that?
At first, I kept waking up from a recurring dream in which Eleven-year-old wandered around endless maze-like corridors, sobbing because he was lost. Actually, he did get lost a lot, but he didn't sob, he simply asked someone the way. I did not see that coming, not in any of my nightmares!
Some days, he has forgotten his phone. Or he has remembered his phone but forgotten to call me on it. On those days, I've paced around for an hour with tightly gritted teeth, imagining him being captured and sold into slavery. Then, when he breezes in through the door and apologises, I've forced myself to shrug and say 'I'd forgotten you were supposed to ring me, to be honest!'
Because there's nothing I hate more than the Mother Gothel school of parenting.
Some days, he's been let down by the friends who've arranged to walk with him. But he's made it to school anyway. Some days, the teachers have been shouty or sarcastic (Bonjour, Monsieur Johnston). But he's shrugged and carried on. This morning, it rained and he was anxious because he had no idea where the cloakrooms are or what he would do with his coat at the other end of his journey. I suppose he got to school, sorted it out somehow and forgot all about it. Whereas I'll have a low-level coat-based anxiety for the rest of the day *ugh*
Anyway, it's been going okay...no - actually, it's been going well. I just haven't been able to let myself relax yet.
But I realised that if I didn't release my shoulder muscles s-l-i-g-h-t-l-y and carry on as normal, I would miss my September blog post altogether. So yesterday, I set out with my camera, in the hope of snapping some autumnal scenes, like this...
And that's it.
Because I'd forgotten that the LitFest is coming to town. Every-damn-where I went there was a sea of builders, lorries and stuff to make tents out of. So that's what you're getting pictures of...
Can I go through the Montpellier Gardens?
Nope, that's not happening.
Is there going to be a carpet of autumn leaves over here?
No, it's all going to be...um...aluminium or something...
Well, I'll just carry on down to the Imperial Gardens then because...
Oh...okay...like that, is it?
On the plus side, I have tickets to see Malorie Blackman, James Dawson, Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen.
And for the boys...well, they're dealing with enough grown-up stuff at the moment, so I've been reading them Famous Five stories in the evenings. Hols on Kirrin Island...underground passages and treasure maps...old-style picnics...daring rescues by Timmy...and crazy Uncle Quentin. Julian can even be quite funny whenever he's not being appallingly sexist. Luckily my own boys have plenty of female friends who would never stand for any of Julian's 'go-and-wash-the-dishes-bullshit' so they just laugh at both bits, without me having to explain what's so very wrong with the life poor Anne has to lead...