A few weeks ago my brother and his family came to stay. They live in London, so we don’t get to see a great deal of them. So this means it is big event when they do come up. Normally I am working – so I get to pop by after work when I am tired, and envious of their day spent adventuring around Northumberland – but this time I was on half term! February half term is normally a sorry affair, where nothing much happens and the dismal weather confines you to staying indoors most of the week. But not this half term! We had sunshine, and reasonably warm days. Walks were taken that did not involve sheltering under trees – and afternoons were spent watching disney films by choice, not out of necessity. Lot’s of delicious food was eaten; washed down with wine and passionate debates about politics. And ice creams were eaten whilst admiring baby dairy cows. What more could you want from a holiday??
Because we see my niece and nephew infrequently, each time they come up you see new character traits and skills forming. An ability to stick out their tongue has been learnt, or a new funny turn of phrase is being used. The desire to play hide and seek is of course still strong, but with a definite improvement in skill level. They come to visit and for a brief period are lives are louder, sillier and more full of wonder at the world. Then just as soon as they have arrived, they have gone. And everything is a bit quieter. It is a strange thing living far away from the people you love. Technology makes us feel like there is no distance between us, no matter what the reality: but it isn’t the same. My brother and I have a weekly FaceTime walk, where I call him and show him my beautiful Northumberland walk, while he works from home in London. He sits at his desk, often in a t shirt, while I walk – wrapped in multiple layers – battling the elements. I show him the early signs of spring, and stop to say hi to my farmer neighbours; while he walks around the house bouncing my niece and pulling funny faces. And although this is always one of my favourite chats of the week, it doesn’t compare to a real walk together. What it does bring, however, is a real appreciation for the time you do spend together. You make the most of each moment, and that time isn’t taken for granted. You never get irritated by their annoying habits, or fed up of their stories. Getting to see my brother and lovely sister-in-law growing older together, and raising their awesome kids, is a wonderful thing. If only they would hurry up and invent teleportation – it would make life a lot easier. And in the meantime there will always be FaceTime walks.