So I lost the spring in my step of late. I generally do after Christmas and New Year, as I don’t enjoy candle light and roaring fires any longer, but can’t seem to find anything to replace them with. January, to put it mildly, is not my favourite part of the year.

It’s all that getting up in the dark and driving home in the dark, pigging out on stoggy food and not managing to get myself off the sofa during weekends that does me in. Every year. Although I normally pull myself together after blue Monday, this year for some reason I find it is already February and I am still quite low on energy and will power.

Time to take stock of the funny/joyful/exciting things in my life. My daughter talking for days about this birthday cake she was going to bake, certainly was one of those things. It needed to be in the shape of a book, covered in fondant, adorned with elaborate chocolate piping, she informed me. Whenever she lays out these plans I normally immediately have the urge to tell her it’s too complicated, it will never work and why doesn’t she try one of the nice recipes from one of the cookbooks she owns. Luckily this year I was way too tired to argue with her. Of course she pulled it off. All by herself. A four layered chocolate and vanilla cake, beautifully covered in red fondant, nice bit of piping. It looked stunning and tasted great!

Or the 13yo, who seems to be living in his own teenage world these days, totally oblivious to his parents and sister, but all of a sudden wants to share his mates whats app comments with me. Lots of *&^#$@* words, !!!!!!, lol’s and phrases he can not even begin to explain to his 46yo mum, but have him howling with laughter every waking hour of the day. Giggling with him proofs to be a very adequate medicine against the winter blues.

As is the 12yo’s determination to write a letter to the prime minister about camping in the Netherlands. When were coming back from her ice skating lesson the other day, she all of a sudden drew me into a long conversation about camping and why you couldn’t just pitch your tent anywhere you’d like. Something she totally disagrees with. Especially in the Netherlands which are flat as a pancake and therefore ideal for camping. According to her, that is.

The minute we get home, she is on the i-pad searching for the prime minister’s address, so she can send him a letter. My daughter, although born in a digitalised world, funnily enough is a firm believer in handwritten letters. She works on said letter for a good hour, finds and envelope and a stamp, puts her roller skates on and off she goes, en route to the letter box.

A week later she gets a letter back, signed by the prime minister. Triumph! Although she is far more impressed by his signature, than she is by his arguments. He talks about the country being quite full at places and the protection of animals at other places. It isn’t until she makes us promise she can pitch her tent in our garden this summer whenever she likes and camp out all by herself, that she smiles again, which is so adorable, it has me smiling for days.

Just as I contemplate how wonderful it is that my children are turning into such interesting and independent creatures, my son sends me a text. He has just found out his English test is at the same time as his appointment at the orthodontist. Can I do something about that? NOW? So I call the orthodontist, who informs me we will be billed for this appointment, as it is too late to cancel. Could my son may be make his way over to the orthodontist now, so he is back in time for his test?

No idea, because after delegating, the 13yo immediately switches off his phone. So I send him about 15 texts, asking him to call me, then urging him to call me and in the end threatening him that I will confiscate his phone, if he doesn’t answer me now. Eventually he does of course and he even makes it to the orthodontist and back in time for his test. Just as I am to call Mr. S. for a nice old whining session about teenagers, my son sends me the sweetest text ever, thanking me for bailing him out. I am of course putty in his hands the rest of the day, pouring him cups of tea and looking the other way as he assaults the biscuit tin.

But one of the best things that happened these past two miserable January weeks, were two emails from completely different, but very dear friends. One contained a really solid piece of advice from a wise friend I said goodbye to in Switzerland 1,5 years ago. She really helped me with a problem at work I hadn’t been able to solve myself. The fact that this friend an I only managed to get together once during these past 16 months is of no consequence. It hasn’t diminished our friendship in any way, which never ceases to amaze me.

Another lovely friend from Manchester wrote me an exciting email about a tulip festival in Sussex this spring. It is wonderful to have found (years ago) someone who shares my passion for gardening, literature, languages and chocolate. And who knows me well enough to send me uplifting messages in late January, when I no longer believe it will ever be spring.


Besides being married to Mr. S, I am also the mum of a 13yo son and a 11yo daughter. For the past eight years we have lived in England, Italy and Switzerland. Our recent move back to the Netherlands, is posing some interesting questions for all of us. I write about the ups and downs of our repat life.

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