Summer, Week 1, Year 1
Grilled fruit? Before this venture, I had never once considered grilling fruit. Well, one wouldn’t, would one? Fruit is meant to tastefully decorate a table, having been artfully arranged by a person with taste. It is for consumption, part of a delightful dessert to an exquisite dinner to which the sort of person who would actually entertain the idea of grilling fruit would not be invited.
My opinion on this matter is somewhat more positive than my dear Emily’s. Having been raised in quite the household, she’s not accustomed to these sorts of inconveniences.
That aside, this venture is a rather daring one, by any standards. To be completely fair, I did wholeheartedly agree with George when he suggested this scheme. After all, my own father made it more than clear that I was not welcome in the family, having gone to Cambridge instead of Oxford, like my forefathers. Stuffy lot.
This entire venture has been a breath of fresh air in many ways. I enjoy a run every morning, a habit I developed at university and one which, if I do say so myself, has rather improved my physique. My darling Emily is determined to make the most of the fresh, beautiful country air and develop her own routine. I understand she even introduced George to the delights of her yoga routines.
This may not be so bad.
The fresh air is so invigorating, isn’t it? Emily and I certainly have a lot more energy these days. Perhaps it is also the change of diet? Either way, it’s a refreshing change.
If my mother had ever told me I would one day be washing my clothes by hand and hanging them on a washing line in my own back garden, I would have delicately laughed and pretended not to have heard her. This would be so vulgar, in her eyes. The end of the world, as it were.
Whilst I am not entirely enamoured with my change of circumstances, I could not, in good conscience, stay in London with my parents’ attitude dripping down her expensive (if faded) damask walls.
Darling George pops round to visit quite regularly. In spite of his recent wedding to Alexandra, he still seems a little lonely in that big house. He’s anxious to get some development going in these parts and I suppose it’s the inner Duke coming out. He always wants to be doing something, never satisfied where he is, the poor lamb. Still, he has a good heart and he’s one of William’s closest friends.
Of course, I recently had some fabulous news for William. The house of Stanton will continue for another generation and neither I nor William can contain our excitement. Of course, we will need to decorate a darling little nursery but as I have taken up my old hobby of photography again, I’m certain we shall do quite nicely.
Now there’s another hobby mother never approved of – gardening. “We pay someone very handsomely to tend the gardens, Emily dear, I can’t understand why you would want to do it yourself. So much dirt, so much messing about. Quite unnecessary, darling.” She never understood the peace, tranquillity and sheer joy of tending your own garden. I don’t recall she ever admired the flowers that much either, unless they were trimmed and in an expensive vase for everyone to admire.
Well I’m going to be different. I’m going to grow lots of flowers, in my own garden, and I shall enjoy every moment of them.
George was very excited by our news of a new arrival. He’d hoping Alexandra may have some similar news in the not too distant future, which would be fabulous. After all, Claudia and James had baby Elena recently and it would be super if the babies grew up together, as we did.
I remember my childhood nanny talking about the importance of reading to young children and I don’t think you could start too early. Emily can’t quite understand why I need to read to our unborn baby but to me, it is of the greatest importance. I want this child to understand the fundamentals of life at the earliest possible age.
Towards the latter stages of her pregnancy, Emily became more and more uncomfortable. I admit to being something of a secret expert at massages and soothed away the aches, pains, stresses and strains of her condition. Particularly as I feel more than a little responsible but equally helpless. She accomplishes so much every day she carries her precious cargo and I feel so…useless because there’s very little I can do for her.
As her due dates tiptoes ever closer and the summer gets hotter, I comfort her the very best I can.
One thing has been preying on my mind for a while now – what kind of father will I be?
She’s arrived! She’s perfect. Our beautiful baby girl, Soley Stanton, arrived early this morning. This precious, tiny bundle is so beautiful. My mother never told me how strongly I would love my baby when the time came. She never prepared me for this. I am lost for words.
Soley has started out as a very content baby and a very soft, cuddly baby too. That first rush of love for my new baby has only strengthened as the days go by while she settles into a routine.
In spite of his early concerns, William has turned into a super father. He talks to Soley all the time, just as he insisted he would. He’s so very proud of his little daughter. If only his own father could see him now, leaning over the cot and talking to her as she drinks in her surroundings. If his father were here now, I can only hope he’d change his opinion of William.
I am determined to get back into my fitness routine. After all, I spent days talking up the benefits of yoga to George before he moved into Beckwell house and I am hardly a good advertisement for the practice if I don’t settle into my routine post-birth, am I?
The middle of the summer brought heavy thunderstorms to Beckwell. Soley was startled by them and with Emily struggling to catch up on lost sleep, I stayed vigil throughout the day and watched over my baby daughter as the lightening flashed and the thunder rolled outside her window. I find I’ve taken great comfort in reading since Emily’s pregnancy and it’s a hobby I’ve been continuing since Soley’s birth.
Emily’s been appreciating my help with Soley. She’s finally caught up on the sleep she lost in the immediate aftermath of the birth and things have settled back into their normal routine.
The most peculiar thing is happening though. Through these early stages of Soley’s life, I feel less and less like my old self. My family, my childhood, my schooling. They just don’t appear to be as important to me as I first thought. I never considered this when I struck out on my own. Well, one wouldn’t, would one?
I find myself more spontaneous, even reckless at times. The old William would never dream of taking risks in any shape or form.
My spontaneity has inspired me to try my hand at writing some day. My new passion for reading has expanded to Emily’s romance novels. I find them heart-warming and so very different from the relationship my own parents had. They’re a delight to read and I find myself ever more inspired to begin my own creative journey through the art of the written word.
In the midst of the raging thunder, Claudia arrived on the doorstep, to meet Soley. So far, nobody had met my baby yet. I don’t quite feel ready to show her off to everybody. I’ve turned George down twice in the past few days but being such a wonderful friend, he has understood completely. So Claudia’s arrival on our doorstep isn’t quite what I was expecting, nor welcoming. However, being the ever gracious hostess, I allow her inside.
Claudia, it turned out, had received the most frightful telling off from George about her lack of action towards the goals our Duke has set out for our group. She wasn’t remotely interested in seeing Soley and instead wanted to unload some of the work to me! Thankfully, she didn’t stay long when she realised tofu dogs were the only food on offer in the house. The cheek of it!
It’s Saturday night and William and I finally have some time to ourselves. Soley’s been fed and is asleep and Claudia’s visit is far from our minds.
“What would you like to do tonight, William, my love?” I ask.
“I think you know what I’d like to do, Emily…”
“Are you going to buy Trafalgar Square or not?”
“I’m thinking, darling. Don’t rush me.”
William achieved level 3 in Fitness and level 3 in Charisma. As such, he didn’t unlock anything this week.
Emily achieved level 4 in Gardening and level 2 in Photography. As such, she didn’t unlock anything this week.
Babies: Soley Stanton.
Up next: Francis Stilton