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Off Again

At the beginning of this week, I headed to Cambridge with my sister to see some of my cousins. My sister has a summer job babysitting the two young girls, who I think are my second cousins, or first cousin once removed, or whatever the technical name is for the children of my first cousins. I was eager to help babysit, having not seen the girls for a long time. Both, like the vast majority of my family members, were very tall and this, combined with their incredible intelligence, made it hard to believe they were only 5 and 7. With their father a vet who graduated from Cambridge, and their mother a research science who graduated from Oxford, I guess it’s hardly surprising. Their house was overflowing with all kinds of enticing books, arranged on bookshelves, stacked on tables and piled by the bedside of the master bedroom. The older of the two girls announced her plan to start the summer reading challenge and, that evening, said she wanted to finish her book so that she could take it back to the library and get another one. The younger one was very sweet. She kept running up to me to give me hugs and told me ‘my mum and dad say I’m the cuddliest girl in the world!’ She made me laugh when she sat cross-legged on the kitchen floor, her forefinger connected to her thumb, poised as though meditating, and announced ‘look, I’m doing mindfulness!’

That morning, after being given some challenge where I had to write down names of friends and teachers as fast as I could, without making any spelling mistakes (I know, fun game right?), we made sugar cookies. Luckily, my sister had already made the dough at home, saving us time, as the whole process of cutting out the cookies, baking them in the oven, making icing and decorating them ended up taking a long time. After picking at raw cookie dough for most of the morning, I could only eat a small bite of the baked cookie. It was delicious, but having consumed so much of the sickly, uncooked substance, I was craving something which had a low sugar content and at least some nutritional value.

My sister and I had managed to make the girls not eat any of the mixture, or final product, before lunch. Babysitting them was a very different experience to au pairing for the Spanish girls. Although the eldest was very strong willed, with her intelligence making her adept at arguing her point well (pretty sure she’ll take over the world some day), she always did as she was told.

Lunch was a picnic which we took to the nearby park. I really regretted wearing heeled boots as I ran behind the girls, who were zooming ahead on their scooters. Some organisation had set up free bouncy castles at the park, so my sister and I were able to sit on the picnic blanket, keeping an eye on the girls as they amused themselves jumping around. There was, of course, an injury, and my sister and I had to rub ‘magic ointment’ on a wound inflicted by a boy who ‘didn’t even say sorry’. When the suggestion of races was made, I knew the girls wouldn’t allow me not to participate, so I took off my boots and raced the youngest to the other end of the field.

‘We’re allowed to have a rest here,’ she said, huffing and puffing, once we’d reached the goalpost which marked our end point. ‘Wow, look at your sister. She looks like an ant from here!’ When I raced the eldest, I was impressed by her speed. As had been the case for the younger one, I intended to let her win, but as she zoomed past me, I wondered if I’d be able to beat her if I really tried to do so. I tried to catch up to her, running as fast as I physically could, but was genuinely unable to overtake her. True, she’d had a head start, but she’s only 7, and watching her move, she looked more like a rocket on turbo speed than a running child. It’s no wonder she’s on the athletics team. Hot from all the running, we flopped on the picnic blanket, where I agreed to let the youngest be my hairdresser and play with my hair until it was time to go back home. They watched TV for a bit as my sister and I cleared up the rest of the mess from the baking. When their mum came back from work, she very kindly gave me a bottle of champagne as a congratulatory present for doing well on my final exams.

My sister and I headed back to our nearest town to meet a family friend of ours for dinner. It was the first time I had eaten at the restaurant, called Edmundo Lounge, and it was delicious. I had the best chicken and avocado salad I have ever eaten, washed down with a refreshing diet coke and accompanied by the conversation offered by my very chatty friend.

We met up with this same friend later in the week, going to country shop and cafe in a nearby town. It was a gloomy day, but warm nonetheless. We had lunch in the cafe; my pulled barbecue bap was dry and the chips which came with it underdone, but the coffee, at least, was delicious. Afterwards, we perused the shop, looking for presents for our parents (my mum and dad both have birthdays in August). I also ended up buying a photo frame for myself.

This Monday, I am leaving for Spain yet again and I am very excited. I am going there with a French guy I met in Paris two years ago (I can’t believe it’s been so long!!) and who I dated while there. It was in large part thanks to him that my time in Paris was so fun and I felt sad when we went our separate ways. I thought I wouldn’t see him again. After leaving France, I went to Spain, and I knew that staying together would be too complicated, particularly because I wanted to make the most of my time in Spain (and date Spanish speaking men…). But, as I did not expect to happen, we stayed in contact. Matters became difficult when he messaged me asking if I wanted to join him for a holiday in the south of France, which he intended to pay for, while I was still with my ex-boyfriend. I immediately said no, but when said ex-boyfriend, who was jealous by nature, asked me if any guys had contacted me trying to flirt with me, I had a guilty conscience and, unable to lie, explained the situation. A very heated argument ensued, which resulted in me having to block the French guy, but once things finished with my ex, I reestablished contact with him. As our meeting place will be Spain, in a seaside location in the south, I am particularly excited.

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