On Saturday we took a trip to see my family over in Chesire - an absolutely beautiful part of the world, and one which stuns me more every time I go there (especially now I have an appreciation of how much it must cost to live somewhere so idyllic!). I am completely intrigued by the whole concept of 'family', and feel it's something I could ruminate on for hours. I am very proud of my family, and proud to be a part of it, but my favourite thing about 'family' is that it so easily opens up and absorbs more people. There are no limits.
The family that I had as a child now looks completely different, although the core characters are still there, and it just keeps going as people partner up, have children, and invite other people in. I am the eldest of my generation - I'm old hat at this thing - and I watch with amazement as I see my siblings and cousins doing this whole life business a whole lot better than I did. My youngest cousin is called Claudia, and she's just 18 months old, but it won't be long before she is supplanted and another youngest cousin takes her place in that spot on the family tree. For now, she's revelling in the attention - well-deserved because she is, quite frankly, adorable. I know I'm biased, but Paul said so, too. It won't be long either, before the whole family grows tall enough and I am left staring up at family gatherings, destined to forever be the shortest as much as the eldest. Two achievements I didn't really get much of a say in.
After catching up and entertaining Claudia (as well as encouraging her into bad habits, much to the chagrin of my grandad), we chowed down on some curry before pulling on our boots and jumpers and heading out into the fields with four enthusiastic dogs. I love dogs - I long for a puppy the way I imagine some people long for children, but sadly for now, it is not to be. So it's rather lovely to borrow someone else's every now and again, and my aunt's dogs are gorgeous - lovable, soppy and full of boundless energy, just like a dog should be. Particularly the littlest pup Jose, who literally bounced around all afternoon and still held her own chasing after the big dogs out in the wild. It was all rather picturesque and satisfying - I think this might be what contentment looks like.