In the garden the purple speckled strands of whatever it is growing out of the blue watering can have tangled themselves in gorgeous knots through the fretwork of the old iron chair on which the watering can rests. They are as one now. A muddly marriage I dare not part.

In the house the fridge is full of lettuce. A reminder to myself that Ste cannot be trusted to shop sensibly, should he be asked to bring home the ingredients for an impromptu barbecue in honour of the first girl Finley has ever taken a chance of bringing home, certain as he always has been that I will tell her all that is too mortifying to be told (I will) and worrying about whether I will take it into my head to show her his baby photographs (which of course I did).

So in Ste came, on Saturday afternoon, with soooo much lettuce. Bags of it and heads of it. And in Finley came, with a girl who knows her own mind, and challenges my boy in a way I felt like applauding. Not a caked in make-up kind of girl, but a naturally pretty, instinctively funny one for whom we did not need to stand upon ceremony (though I’m not sure we could have managed it even if it was necessary!). A girl, I rather astonishingly, didn’t feel like smacking when she draped her legs over my gorgeous boy’s.

And so after Ste and I both utterly forgot to serve any lettuce at all to loves’ young dream, and we had all retired to the living room once the night had become chilly, I sat across the room and surreptitiously snapped a few photographs of the two them – heads bent together over one of their phones, hands held tight– and sent the image to Mark. So he could share in the moment too. So that he could see that despite it all, our curly-topped baby is going to be the loveliest of curly topped men. For through Ste’s eyes, I see so very often how much those who cannot live with their children miss. I have witnessed how much it hurts. How the cruel heart of the opposing parent can stand between a child and the memories that matter. Though I may not have been particularly mindful of it over the years, now in the last years of Finley’s childhood, it feels important to keep sharing all the moments Mark misses, as a kind of thank-you. Not for upping sticks and causing me all manner of kerfuffle and grief over the past decade, but for the gift that is our boy and for the certainty of a man who has never let him down. .

So yes. I have got a lot of lettuce, and a certain Mr. Matthews unable to explain what possessed him in the supermarket. Today then, Old English Summer soup, and Killing Eve, my own legs draped over my all grown-up man’s, for he is at last at home after too many nights working overtime in an effort to heal our financial depression. Though I cannot say I do not love the sheer bliss of being able to throw myself around the entire bed, I have missed him so very much, and no amount of lavendered pillows all to myself can make up for that.

I am feeling calmer. Less frantic. Less disastrous (’tis quite a terrible thing feeling disastrous). In between finally being back to work (oh heaven), I have been wandering the garden, wondering when it will be possible to cut the abundance of Honesty back and dry the seeds for the kind of seventies inspired tall vases full of dried grasses and seed heads that will look so right gracing my Autumn table. In the afternoons of the last few days before the Summer holidays start I have been reading. This and this and this. No particular genre. No snobbishly forced program of the kind of learning I have been so rigid about in my reading recently. Words for the sake of beautifully strung together words.

And here too I am meandering, Abandoning the blogging rules that have driven me to distraction and sitting in my fairy-lit office putting my life back together in the image of that which I had imagined all those years ago when the very thought of Finley being old enough to have a girlfriend with ambitions to be a child psychologist would have struck me as as far away as another galaxy in time.

How fast life goes. Boys become men. What sorcery is that?