At the end of our two years, I was mentally prepared to go home. Michael loved the South African life-style and the climate, but a deal was a deal, so we made plans to return to England.
The three little girls and I flew on ahead, leaving Michael to pack up. Once again I landed on my parent’s doorstep, little thinking it might perhaps have inconvenienced them. At this stage my parents were still living at Delapre, the large Georgian house in which I was privileged to have grown up.
When I arrived back there with the three little girls we had great fun exploring the attics and cellars together. The cellar had windows leading out to an underground passageway lit only by a few gratings. My brother Nigel crawled out to bring some fascinating local fauna in to show the children. Unfortunately I had brainwashed them into a state of paranoia about snakes, and the beautiful slow worm Nigel handed them was thrown on the ground amid loud screams of ‘snake, snake’. They didn’t think much of the toads either at the time, although their attitude to wildlife became better as they got older. Abigail frequently had a small zoo under her bed, housed in shoeboxes and assorted jars.
I slotted back into the Bridport life, assuming my parents enjoyed having us around. When I realised I was pregnant again, I kept it a secret, feeling that it would be fairer to tell Michael first.
I remember my excitement the day he walked in through the kitchen door, at least two weeks earlier than he had planned. Fortunately he didn’t seem too phased about the fact that we were expecting a fourth child, and didn’t have a house or a job.
It took a couple of months until he found employment, which was based in the Home Counties, so we put an offer in on a little semi in Camberley. Catherine started school, and at the end of November child number four arrived, Edward, a boy at last. He was born with his cord round his neck and had to be put on oxygen straight away, but after a while he seemed to be fine, and I felt so proud, and so extraordinarily clever to have produced a male child from my female body.