I don't tend to re-read books all that often but one book that I come back to time and again is a memoir by the French writer Colette - two memoirs in fact - Sido and My Mother's House.
In these Colette reminisces about her rural French childhood - idyllic days spent roaming the countryside climbing trees and foraging for berries - returning to a family dinner, summoned by her mother's bell.
This is the exact childhood that I would like for my girls. We moved here partly so that it would be more possible - I have the summoning bell.
This week, playing with their cousins, they have been absorbed in making dens, playing on the rope swing down by the river, collecting eggs (poor hens, their eggs are carted away as soon as they hit the straw)and walking Jasmine down to the field along the road to take photos of horses.
I suspect that it is having town visitors that has made my little country mice appreciate what they have - as I speak they are cleaning out the guinea pig, a job that usually takes a 3 day build up of nagging.
I am very glad that they have been keeping themselves amused as it is increasingly apparent that there are very good practical reasons why I stopped at 2 children. Having four turns out to be an awful lot of work and a lot of washing. My hat goes off to all who manage millions of children.
We give Christine and Jayde back to their Grandma on Monday - they will be missed (until their Summer visit).
#Photo of bees on hellebore by Jane Robertson