If anyone had said to the teenage or twenty-something me that my happiest times would be in my forties and fifties, I don't think I would have believed them. And yet, here we are with a lovely family and everyone - including the intrepid granny - happy, fit and well. Which is precisely why I would like to stop the clocks now.
The intrepid granny is busy most weeks whacking a golf ball round eighteen holes, watching cricket, and now learning to play bowls - good effort, granny! - and the children are all variously doing well. The older two have been indulging and continue to indulge in a spot of globe-trotting: one to Vietnam and the other to Dubai, Singapore and shortly to LA where she will be touting her acting skills round the casting directors and producers in the television and film capital of the world. The other two are in their last year at school and already we are doing school things for the very last time.
The last time... it feels so final and whereas they may be ready to fly the nest like the swallows who practised lining up on the telephone wires all last week and now have set sail for warmer climes, I am most definitely not ready. Years of love and attention, hoping to make them independent and strong, helping them learn their spellings and table manners, throwing and hitting balls, teaching them games, listening to them practise a whole orchestra of musical instruments, washing, cooking and yet more washing. The results of all this will, A-levels permitting, be lavished on strangers and new friends hundreds of miles away this time next year. Am I taking this on the chin? Well, no, not really.
Last week, when my now-upper sixers donned their uniforms for their last September at school, they grudgingly allowed me to take their photograph - and jolly grumpy they looked too. I can't expect them to understand that for the last twenty three years I have been ironing school uniform, checking that they and their siblings have all the right kit for the school day ahead and then attempting to muck out (in almost the equine sense) their messy bedrooms, before starting work. My whole day has been timed around their return and the range of activities we have packed into their out of school hours. Now all that is just a year from ending.
The other reason for stopping the clocks is that I am one of those people who loves, loves, loves spring and summer and finds the whole hideous lack-of-light, necessity of wearing socks because my feet get cold when I'm sitting at my desk and the dire need to switch the central heating on in autumn and winter really disheartening. I refuse to say 'depressing' because, when I have my more rational head on, I know that there are lots of good things to look forward to in the coming months. We have a great weekend lined up at Low Graythwaite Hall in the Lake District - yes, again!, a fiftieth (we have such young friends - ha!) and a whole load of parties, concerts and dinners and then Christmas. We are, we know, very lucky.
So stop the clocks please because it's all fine just now and I want it to stay that way.
Postscript: Just a few things in case you wondered... I am very much enjoying Bake Off and had the good fortune to meet the delightful John Whaite, last year's winner, during the summer and very lovely he was too. I met Michael Palin and Richard and Judy too but that just sounds like name-dropping! My utterly brilliant golf team, Mrs Barr's Boys won the Acorn Golf Day - presumably as a result of my inspirational pre-round team talk! Also the current population of the little house on the prairie is, for the first time since early August, two adults, two teenagers and two dogs - exactly as it should be.
The very lovely John Whaite - winner of last year's Bake Off.
Me and my boys in our tasteful matching polo shirts!