It’s been over 6 months since I last went to see my grandparents but it feels like I just blinked and the time vanished. Since I last saw them I’ve bought a flat, flown half way around the world and back, spent hours exploring London sites and secrets and become a qualified first aider. So it was high time I crept onto the train that takes me to their countryside hideaway. Getting an East Coast train from Liverpool Street is a really good way of getting a sneaky view into the 2012 Olympic build. The train slows to a crawl as it passes through Stratford and you get long, open views of the stadium, the new train station and most impressively; the bare bones of what will be the Aquatics Centre. The thousands of seats towering over the empty ground look so strange and isolated at the moment but it’s easy to colour in the crowds and water and chaos with your imagination.
The surrounding of my grandparents house look so different compared to the last time I visited, when everything was sprouting green with Spring luciousness! I love visiting any time of year though, and even though the trees were mostly bare or bowing with rotten fruit, and the air was freezing cold and the ground was muddy, it still felt a million miles from work and tubes and crowds and Oxford Street Christmas shoppers which was what I needed for my tired brain!
My gran looked quite tired this visit, although at 91 she is certainly entitled to look a little weary. However she still chatted non stop and told me a few stories I had never heard before, as well as teaching me how to make brussel sprout soup (don’t make that face, it has to be tried to be believed, it has a really tasty smokey flavour and is delicious!) (and no, I don’t like brussel sprouts with my Christmas dinner either!) and when my aunt, uncle and cousins pitched up for a game of our family invented card game Racing Demon (it’s rawcous, rowdy and involves lots of shouting and distraction techniques) she still beat us all. Twice. My Pa was in good spirits and less confused this visit, although he has started talking about death more. On Saturday morning he looked distracted and I thought he’s misplaced something so I asked him are you looking for something Pa? And he said yes, to die. d. i. e. (nice of him to spell it out for me!) I sound like I’m making light of it, when obviously it’s not nice to hear your grandfather speak that way, but it’s the sullen attitude he does it with and then the fact that in the next breath he is right as rain again and talking about his old car or his favourite holiday to Ireland or asking for Yorkshire Pudding with golden syrup for his pudding. I think it’s probably quite normal for elderly people to talk about dying so that they feel more in control and accustomed to the idea? Either way I’ve told him he is absolutely not to go anywhere, and then I distracted him with the iPad which I think completely blew his mind and he enjoyed playing and typing on it and looking at photos of his feline great grandaughter for a good 30 minutes.
I felt extra sad to leave them this time, because next Easter seems like forever away to go visit again. As soon as I go I miss my Pa’s papery skin on his hands, and my grans smells and her perfectly set white hair and just how insanely happy sitting with them for hours on end just chatting and questioning and reading and eating makes me.