Our last night in London, we jumped on the bus and went to Parliament Hill. The kids hadn't been going to sleep until about 10pm for the previous three nights and so we decided to keep them up late, to teach them a lesson they wouldn't forget in a hurry, and save ourselves the heartache of trying to get them to go to sleep.
We decided on Parliament Hill because it was a beautiful sunny evening, and it is the place where Tom proposed to me about eight years ago. We wanted to show the girls the place where their Mum and Dad sat sipping champagne out of plastic wine glasses, gazing at the sparkling diamond, feeling utterly elated and dizzy from the moment, while fat men flew kites in the background.
As we strode up the hill, we passed many familiar landmarks (the Mandala pub, Tanza Road, the memorial bench), and it filled me with nostalgia and now slightly unfamiliar memories of being in my twenties, and spending long lazy afternoons here with my friends picnicking and drinking cider. Then a few years later the memories of Tom and I throwing frisbees, flirting, and talking a lot of rubbish to each other,while building on our friendship, which would eventually turn into marriage, and a Betty and a Dolly. Who would have thought.
Every time we go to London now, my former pre-children life seems to slip a bit further away. I found it almost impossible to remember the sense of total freedom and independence that I had when I sat in the very same park, a park that hadn't changed at all. It was all reassuringly the same, yet felt alien - like I was some kind of fraud for thinking I did exist then - a much thinner, younger, carefree, less serious, less stressed me.
I watched my girls dancing freely on top of the hill, while posh Hampstead types walked past and gave them admiring looks. The wonderful views of London were behind them, and Tom was photographing them, and I felt very happy, and very proud.