This weekend we swapped our rural spot for urban Brighton, staying in the home from home that belongs to friends while they stayed at ours. We've been doing swaps for a few years now and it works perfectly. Only an hour's drive away, it's as welcome a change as any fancy hotel. Simply stepping out of our square little house and into their long, elegant terrace makes us live differently for a few days and allows for a type of relaxation that has everything to do with the small things. The certain pleasure of corridors. A cat again. Excellent radios in every room. Walking to a shop. More than anything, though, is just being away from those little obligations that call from your own home.
Our days moved happily and just slowly enough. We caught up with local friends, created a number of Lego magnificences, raced motor boats on the pier and wandered the narrow lanes of the old town. Two Easter egg hunts yielded Joel a full basket of eggs. I ate a lot of cinnamon buns. The local bakery is famous for its hot-cross buns but I'm a raisin hater and once you've picked the raisins out of a bun it no longer holds much pleasure.
There was a Sunday lunch at the cottages where I felt such fury for one of my extended in-laws that I actually shook throughout my body. It was an interesting moment in the middle of a maelstrom. I've never been as happy to get back to that comfortable house as I did that day.
And then there's coming home. To a lovely bottle of wine; a fine wooden raft to float on the stream and the new buds and blossoms that have opened in our absence. All's well etc.