10 pm, after a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary Friday.
Not for me the daily drudge up to London. Not today, at any rate. It is Alice's big day, the day which will likely define her quote of invites for the next year, the day of her party.
Today's "party" is a small affair, and is a day out rather than a party. Jac and I are chaperoning four seven-year-old girls around Paultons Park. Every year, the pressure is on to do something "different", and of course Alice has just about the last birthday of the year. A little concerned about today having four rather than one, but in truth life is easier if anything - they almost regulate themselves. The only question is what to do next. And this is a big question. There's a world of difference between doing something "next", and "next but one". But it is generally not difficult to reach a consensus.
Funniest (in retrospect) moment was when we arrived at the park with only three girls in tow. Six is an awkward number - too many for one car. I'd headed there in my own car, Jacqueline had taken all the girls in hers. Except for the girl we each thought the other was picking up en route...
During our sumptuous picnic lunch, unfortunately complete with gatecrashing wasps, I realise how reliant the meal is on the humble sausage. Sausage rolls, finger-size pork sausages, and picnic eggs. Even some of the sandwiches had ham in them. But supplemented by some Wotsits, French Fancies and finally a jelly each, everyone is happy.
The girls by now have fallen into two definite camps - the adventurous and the not-so. Fortunately Paultons has rides even for toddlers, so eall the kids seem happy. Of course, for those rides where the kids need an adult supervisor, guess whose services are required? Nice to see that the girls' creative instincts come into play, all of them choosing to go to Paultons' new "craft" section and to fill shapes with coloured sand. A nice souvenir of their day. Gifts with less longevity include ice creams and slushies.
Nice that the girls become more affectionate as the day goes by, a sign that they're obviously relaxed and enjoying themselves.
The day ends at 5 o'clock, with at least two people tired out. Fortunately for me, the girls decide all to travel together, and so I get to come straight home, with Jacqueline providing the taxi service.
Home for 6pm, and I managed to stay awake for another hour before crashing out on the sofa. Memories of the next few hours are distant and vague, the Coronation Street theme tune and having my feet pounced upon by a far-too-alert kitten. Now, I wake up briefly, but don't want to let myself get too awake - it's bed time.