so rain on a caravan roof then

7.10am and everyone else is still asleep. I wake early nowadays. The drive up to Caithness yesterday was very smooth indeed. Great weather and visibility. It’s pacing that makes a drive like that manageable by one driver in one day. Having done it so many times before, you know the signs of progress and what to aim for next. Satnav is a comforting marker of progress too, even though I could probably now do the journey blindfolded and backwards on a unicycle.

The only formulated plan so far in this mini-break at the top of the UK is to make a joint birthday meal for my mum and my eldest daughter tomorrow, so we will likely head into Wick and pick up some ingredients today. Gemma turned twenty-two last week, in the closing phase of Activity Week, and my mum is seventy-eight soon.

England is held at the end of many miles of tarmac. There is the sound of gentle rain on the roof of the static caravan, as I observe on BBC Breakfast weather with the sound turned down that we are under a small blob of grey while the rest of the UK is described as “mostly sunny”. This is one of my favourite sounds. Looking out of the living room window, the sea is visible but the horizon is under wet mist. The flat stones that my mum carried back from the shore when she walked the dog down there still pave the area around the bay window. The trees that she has cultivated from seed have twenty or so rings of girth thickening them beyond the encircling grasp of a man’s hand. My mind travels back to a severed tree near the exit to the village at school. I used to stand next to it on break duty when it was able to be classified as a sapling. I noticed the other day that this twenty year thickened stump has sprouted. Stumps have that tenacity, as did the century old one outside the drama studio for a time. I joked that if we all still worked there in a hundred years we would see the tree back to its former height. It’s given up now.

Somewhere next to a sink there are four plastic umbrellas and an empty bottle.