I've been away, and am still away at the moment, in London. I came down on Wednesday and have been staying with my brother, M, his wife, N, and my two young nephews, O and D. It's been an exciting time for various different reasons. Firstly, it was O's first week of school last week. He's taken to it easily, but D has found it more difficult at nursery without O there too as he's never experienced nursery without O. D has been the tearful one in the mornings, but apparently (and happily) he's been absolutely fine soon after M has gone home.
The next exciting thing is that it's D's third birthday next weekend, I brought his birthday presents down with me and gave them to him on my first evening here so that I could see him opening them. He's well into firemen and Fireman Sam at the moment - his party is going to be Fireman Sam themed - and I bought him a wooden fire engine and figures for his present. His brother O has had a toy fire engine for a couple of years, but D was desperate to have one of his own. I knew he was into firemen, but didn't know how desperate he was to have his own, and for the first ten minutes of having it he kept wrapping the box up in the birthday paper again, pulling the paper off, and shouting, 'Surprise!' He was almost shaking with joy, bless him, and at bed time he wanted to take it upstairs with him so he could look at it in bed. He then came skulking back downstairs, slunk across the living room floor, and threw himself on me, giving me an enormous hug. It was like he didn't have enough words to say thank you :o) Utterly delightful.
Now the main reason for me coming down to London this time, and my really big news, is that I graduated on Friday at The Barbican. I had the most fantastic day. My brother, M, came, my mum and step-dad came down from Edinburgh, and my dad and step-mum came down from Newcastle. There were also two people I've met through the course of my degree with the Open University, and the (grown up) daughter of a friend I've made through the OU but who couldn't come herself. What was also lovely was that another friend I've made through the OU - F - was graduating at the same time and was only one person in front of me in the ceremony, as we were both graduating with First Class Honours in Literature and our surnames are alphabetically close to each other. F lives in Edinburgh so I often see her when I go up there to stay with my mum. It was wonderful to be graduating with her, and we went together to get robed up.
The Vice Chancellor of the Open University is called Martin Bean. Each graduate was presented to Martin Bean - a very jolly Australian bloke - and I have to say that it does tickle me that I was presented with my degree by Mr Bean, even if it's not the Mr Bean.
After the ceremony I eventually managed to find my family again amongst the crowds, and after we'd had a coffee downstairs we made our way outside, hailed a couple of cabs, and came back to my brother's house, where we were greeted by N, O, and D. O and D had a little bit of time with Grandma, Poppa J, Grandad, and Granny B before going to bed, but once they were settled (and re-settled as they got up a couple of times, probably because of the excitement of so many family people around) the rest of us ordered Indian take-away for a celebratory meal. Of course, I couldn't have this because of my allergies, but M made me some wonderful stuffed peppers and potato wedges, and rather than joining them in the champagne they all had (it contains sulphites, to which I'm allergic), I had some lovely apple brandy with Appletiser. I do miss joining in with things like take aways and champagne, but there are some delicious alternatives, and what I had on Friday certainly felt like celebration food and drink.
My various parents have gone back home now, and I'm going home tomorrow, but I've had a wonderful time, a celebratory time, a very happy time. I have a lot of good memories to take away with me, and I'm looking forward to getting copies of photos from all who took them, include the official photos.