School Summer Holidays are well underway. And for once, the weather is glorious and everyone in my little backwater is happy and smiley. And sunburned.
And the tourists are here. Hurrah.
They invade with their caravans, their spotless hiking boots and their brand new 'outdoor' clothing to truly embrace the wilderness in which we live. I live in possibly the most beautiful of all the counties in the UK. Northumberland has castles, beaches, hills, valleys, forests and fields to explore. And where I am situated it is a ten minute drive to any and all of these.
My family cottoned on to this about thirty seconds after I moved here from a much less beautiful part of the world. A place where Jamie Oliver tried (and failed) to educate kids about eating healthily. A place where I do not remember with any fondness at all, and am eternally grateful every day that I got the opportunity to leave. I'll tell you that story one day. It's a doozy.
Anyhoo, I have my sister and her kids staying with us for a week. Teenager is secretly delighted, as being achingly cool with her other teen friends is tiring, and it's nice to mess about with younger kids without fear of judgement. And my sister is openly delighted that they get to visit a place so beautiful without having to shell out thousands of pounds for the privilege. And I get the challenge of cooking for a family with awkward tastes. (One doesn't like any meat other than chicken. The other likes any meat other than pork. They don't like garlic or chillies. They only like spag bol if it's made with Lloyd Grossman Bolognese sauce. Sigh.)
So far, we have explored castles, gardens, beaches and islands. I have had every corner of my culinary brain racked for things to cook which will suit everyone. My homemade creamy chicken and ham soup was a bust, but the Sunday roast was a triumph.
I don't mind having guests, but I love it when they leave. I suffer from a curious quirk of enjoying being a hostess, but not liking people in my house. And as I choose to leave the house only on rare occasions, my contact with other humans is often limited. So this week, being out and about IN PUBLIC has been tiring. But I have enjoyed visiting Alnwick Gardens and Castle (learned interesting things in the Poison Garden, but wished the guide would speak above a whisper) and enjoyed showing off some of our gorgeous beaches (there is one beach with a natural aquifer that spurts out of the rocks near the sea - it provides fresh, crystal clear, ice cold water which caused great fascination with my youngest niece.)
They are away home later and I am looking forward to eating food with chillies in, but am sad for my sister who really doesn't want to leave.