It was a long day. It didn’t start especially well, but ended much better: I’ll give you the high (and low) lights.

I’d agreed with my parents yesterday that I’d go back to Brighton today, and Dad was going to give me a lift. He hasn’t been able to drive for nearly three years for health reasons, so having recently been given the clear, he is very happy to be behind the wheel again. Whilst I am pleased for him, I have been slightly nervous, partly because I worry about him, and partly because I have had trepidation on nearly every car journey lasting more than half an hour for the past couple of years.

Aside from this, I also felt precarious about going back to Brighton, as when I had been on the phone to her yesterday, my partner had been in a distracted and strange mood. I was apprehensive about going back into an environment that was in the least bit tense or awkward due to my wobbly emotions. I was assured this morning that it was all alright and that I should go back if I was ready and wanted to. Whether I’m ready is debatable but I wanted to, and I’ve been away a while, so that was that.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the bad start. We had been intending to leave around 10 or 11 am, but this was when I woke up – after only a few hours’ sleep – to my parents lightheartedly arguing about (in)equalities between men and women’s pensions. Although it was lighthearted, I couldn’t distinguish that through the bedroom door, and I came to with a head full of tension. Furthermore, I hadn’t packed up all my stuff, as I had intended to do it last night, but instead I went for dinner with my parents to a local pub. I had an enormous, and delicious, rack of ribs, but sadly the energy involved in going out for a couple of hours exhausted me and I couldn’t face the packing when we returned. Consequently, this morning I woke to my belongings and new acquisitions sprawled about the room (I am not a tidy person).

I packed some things, unpacked half, repacked some more, unpacked some more. Nothing seemed to fit how I wanted or needed it to, I was overheating, and feeling altogether flustered, frustrated, tearful, and guilty that I was causing us to run so late. I eventually suggested that it was a bad idea to go back today as I wasn’t even managing to pack quickly, and we agreed I could take my time instead, while Dad popped to the Costa round the corner in Portswood to get some coffee and lunch. Relieved, I was able to pack everything gently, sort out the items that were Christmas presents to be left at my parents’, and work out what else needed to stay behind, what to pack, and what was rubbish.

An hour or so later, I successfully had everything ready to go, and most of it I’d put in the car. We left at around 2:30 (pm – I hadn’t delayed us until the night time at least!).

After a stop off to see Oblong’s wonderful Nan, and an unsuccessful stop at a DIY store, we eventually started on the way to Brighton at about half three, and it was an enjoyable journey. It was good for me to spend some time alone with my dad and we chatted about a range of things, from party politics, through social politics, driving, and finally to health. I was reassured about my dad driving again after being in the car with him a while, and I think he’d noted my concerns about longer car journeys.

We got stuck in traffic along the way, and with both of us hungry, needing the loo, and wanting a coffee, we tried to find somewhere in Worthing to have a break at a little after 5:00… This was thoroughly unsuccessful. We drove around for the best part of half an hour but couldn’t find anywhere open! No coffee shops, no shops, few pubs and only the occasional takeaway. We joked that everyone was probably going to bed early to sleep by 8pm, and get up at 5:00, as it struck us as a sleepy town (sorry, people of Worthing who might read this!), so we trundled on to Brighton.

Unfortunately, I made us take the wrong route into the city, and we got stuck in all the traffic coming from London. Fortunately, Dad wasn’t in the least bit annoyed (as he might have used to have been), since he couldn’t remember the right road either, and we were heading in the right direction. It reminded me of a time when Oblong’s dad had brought her youngest sister Melissa down to stay with us from Southampton, on the back of his motorbike. He’d taken the wrong turn out of Brighton on his way home, and instead of a direct hour and a half route back, he went all the way round the M25 in the wrong direction – circling London! At least my Dad and I hadn’t made that error!

After sitting around contributing to the pollution levels, we eventually made it onto a road I recognised and we made it home by 6:45. It was probably the longest journey back we’d ever made, and after a quick coffee, sit down, and toilet stop, Dad was on his way back, and I was exhausted, but home.

It’s really good to be back home, after a much needed change of scenery. This evening we are eating a takeaway treat and catching up on TV, and I’m glad to be back to my bed.