Well, I have been away a few days longer than planned. We had a lovely time with our visitors from the UK. It is wonderful that they were prepared to travel so far and for so long to spend Christmas with us. We did lots of walking, talking, site-seeing, eating and drinking some of which I may tell you about another time. We waved them off on Monday, but it has taken be a few days to regroup and reorganise. The Smalls are still off school for the summer hols so it is still borderline chaos but we have got the decorations down and rearranged the furniture and I have caught up with the washing so I am feeling able to sit down for a bit of bloggy time.
I find that a new year brings thoughts of the future with it and they have been filling my head rather more than usual this time. 2014 will be the year we return to the UK and take up the threads of our normal life. It is still seven months away but I am feeling the moment of departure looming already. We will be sad to leave our crazy temporary home and all the amazing people and places we have been lucky enough to get to know.
Going home will be the start of a new chapter for me in more ways than one. I will no longer be the mummy of a pre-schooler. Without one of my Smalls at home for all or part of the day, all sorts of doors will open and it is bewildering thinking about which ones I should explore.
My plan is to start by focussing on our house. We have been there five years and have made some progress in doing it up, but I want to make lots more. I am pretty capable at the old DIY so that is what I will spend much of the school day doing, at least to begin with. I will shut off one room at a time and scrape and sand and wash and paint and call the electrician and the plasterer until we have a house-that-is-truly-ours rather than a house-in-which-we-live-that-is-predominantly-beige.
Whilst I am sanding and painting I shall also have my eyes and ears firmly open, and I shall be trying to work out what to do with myself once the decorating is done. I need to be around for school holidays and sick days but I also need to do something that will satisfy my need to achieve and see progress. It would be nice to earn a penny or two too, so we can have a few more adventures.
At the moment I have a head full of ideas, that, upon anything approaching close scrutiny, all seem to resemble pie in the sky. To loosely quote one of my favourite feel-good films, I need to 'take one of my terrible ideas and work on it' (Under the Tuscan Sun).
But all that is way off. For now we are here. It is summer on St Helena. The sun shines much of the time and we can bask in the wonder of it all. The schools go back on Tuesday and I am embarking on some new projects.
They are loosely related, both to each other, and to one of those pies in the sky.
The first is an upholstery course run by the lovely lady who taught me flax weaving last year. She is truly talented in all types of stitchery, running a tailoring, alterations, upholstery and sail-making business. I am going to start with a foot-stool and see were I go from there.
The second is a short course in furniture restoration run by a French furniture restorer who is on island for a few weeks to work on some of the furniture in the house Napoleon lived in when he was exiled here. It is all very exciting, and a bit of a foray into the unknown.
Can you see what the pie looks like now? Maybe maybe upcycling some furniture. Who knows...
There are also pies that look a little like gardening, teaching crafts, making things, going back to learning dry-stone walling and who knows what else.
I suspect I may end up with a finger in more than one pie. The trouble is, as soon as I think about any idea too closely, I get scared off. I am entirely self-taught in almost everything, I can see so many talented people out there doing amazing things and I am not sure if I can make the grade. I am also a bit of a butterfly and find it hard to focus on one thing at a time, I take on too much and get frustrated that I don't have the time to do things as well as I would like.
I told you my head was full! Thank you if you have stuck by my ramble thus far.
On the taking- on-too-much front, I have also made a new year's resolution, which I never do because they seem like a recipe for failure. However, I have.
I was thinking about letters, proper ones, hand written, in an envelope with a stamp and everything. I used to send and receive many. I would write several a week to my Grandma and friends in far off places, to my parents when I was at university, to J when we were at our respective parental home for the holidays.
Now, because we are so far away from home at the moment, we have been very, very lucky to receive cards and parcels from some great friends, but with email and facebook I rarely write a proper letter.
So, that is my resolution: to write a letter every week for 2014, and hopefully get back into the habit.
I am on track so far, letter number 1 is sitting in my handbag waiting to be posted tomorrow.
You never know, someone might even write back!
PS Today's pictures were brought to you by Tall Girl from the Castle Gardens, Jamestown.