Our friends arrived from London on Thursday. It was wonderful to see them, the girls whom I'll call Annie and Clarabel and their mum S. (It's OK S., I promise not to call you Bertie here). S. and I met at antenatal classes meaning Lady and Annie were born a few weeks apart. They've been friends since they were babies and have a real close sister-like bond. Clarabel is a 5 year old, cute little imp of a girl. I miss seeing them, as we used to spend a lot of time round their house and they in ours, and we were always available to mind each others children when necessary (though I was easily the main beneficiary of the free child-minding!)
The children clicked back to being together instantly and spent hours playing with dolls and dressing up and reading and watching films and drawing. Me and S. did OK too, we managed to find plenty to chat about, heh, no problems there!
My Dad drove over on Thursday and took Duncan off to stay with him for the day. He'd only been away for 20 minutes when he phoned me. I worried that something might be wrong, but no; he wanted to let me know some of the cute things Duncan had done on the journey. First he'd pointed at some cranes in the city (Belfast is laden with cranes right now) and said it was the harbour ('cause of Cranky the crane in the Thomas stories) then he pointed out the hospital where he'd been recently and told his Granda it was the dentist. Also, my Dad was singing to him and playing an opposite game. He said, 'do be do be do!', Duncan replied 'do be do be don't!'
So Duncan spent a few hours with Dad and G. in their apartment. They took a trip to the pet shop, and just had a lovely time. He was able to communicate all his needs perfectly, even when a tiny train picture I'd made earlier was binned by accident, Duncan let them know so it could be retrieved again. Oh, another first too; when he went to the loo, he said to Dad, 'Go away, no adults.' I didn't even know he knew that word! It's clear that spending time with his Granda is really good for him, and I know Granda and G. enjoyed it too!
At 6 o'clock, he gathered up all his toys, packing them into his bag, went to the door and announced 'I must go home.' So, he did.
While he was away, we had a trip into town and had a hoke round the shops. That night, the girls took ages to fall asleep, preferring to natter into the night. Eventually they dropped off, only to wake at 4.30 am, put the lights on and come ask me if it was morning! Well, nooo my darlings...
On Friday, we went to W5, obviously. It's our favourite place to go. Annie and Clarabel loved it. They had an exhibition of some of the sets from the Wallace and Grommit movie. The detail and humour in these sets is stunning. I made the mistake of looking at something Annie wanted to show me for, oh all of 15 secs and when I looked back to check on Duncan, he had gone. I asked the 2 women on the door of that room if they'd seen a small boy with curly hair whizz by; they had not, but that didn't mean much. I had them warn the person on the main exit to make sure he didn't go out (they all have walkie talkies) then ran down stairs to look for him in the cafe area and sweet shop where he usually goes. He wasn't there but I found him minutes later in another area. He'd only been out of sight for about 4 minutes. After that, I was kept very busy tailing the boy as he explored and investigated. All very nice for him but knackering for me!
At least the girls and Thomas all went off to sleep early that night. Duncan was still buzzing 'til after 10 though. Yawn!
On Saturday, my Dad came out to our house on the train and once more, he took Duncan off with him for the afternoon. They went to the park where Duncan spent all his time in the sand pit, barefoot (in Northern Ireland in October?) and happily digging and piling sand. Afterwards, they stopped at a shop for ice-cream. Duncan tried to get out of the car via the front door and G, my step-mum, had to hold him until Dad got back. He fought and shouted, and when he was settled again he apparently looked at my Dad and said about G, 'I don't like that woman!' Thankfully she wasn't offended! And she was able to buy her way into his affections again by being the one to hand over the ice-cream; good move!
This time, the rest of us went to the zoo. There were few other people there, which was a new experience for our London visitors. We all had a nice time and a good work out going up and down those hills. The highlights were the penguin who flirted with everyone through the viewing window into their pool, and the elephants.
Our guests went back home on Sunday morning leaving us all alone again. We'd had such a nice time together, especially Lady who I was delighted to see, gets on with her friend just as well as if they'd never been apart. They really do love each other like sisters, and I know they will always be close.
Gordon returned from his conference in Chicago on Monday afternoon, feeling utterly exhausted. I am too, and hope we can get things back to normal again soon. Having him away for so long is hard, though it wasn't so bad this time having friends here and so much help with Duncan. I have been a bit low though and need to get my routines in place again, and hope and pray the boy starts going off to sleep a bit more easily soon.