Penny – July 1983
Penny was both excited and apprehensive. She was looking forward to seeing all her friends and having some quality time with her two older children. Simon and Lucy had been rather left out she thought since the arrival of the twins. Not that they seemed to mind. She was worried about leaving the babies with her husband and mother-in-law despite her trust in them. She was aware that she was being overly protective but it was the first time that she had ever left her babies.
It had been arranged that Penny, Simon and Lucy would stay with Caitlin and Charlotte at Pelham Crescent. This arrangement would alleviate the pressure of accommodation at the Pimlico house. Caitlin had seized the opportunity to help Rebecca out. Roo’s birthday party was to be at the Pimlico House on Saturday afternoon and all the adults would eat there together in the evening after the children were tucked up in bed, sleeping bags having been organised for the sleep over. Caitlin had insisted that everyone spent the Sunday at Pelham Crescent and had organised a buffet lunch, entertainment for the children and a dinner in the evening for the adults. The children would all sleep in Pelham Crescent. Charlotte’s room had been extended through to the guest room next door and a turned into a playroom that doubled as a ‘dormitory’ for sleepovers.
Charles drove Penny and his two older children to York to catch the train down to London on the Friday morning. He hugged and kissed them all goodbye recommending that they had lots of fun and sent his love to Penny’s friends and their various offspring. Charles was delighted to see Penny looking so happy despite her concerns about leaving the twins. It had been at about this time after Lucy’s birth that Penny had suffered from a debilitating depression. Charles was hoping and praying (literally) that this didn’t happen again. Consequently he was actively encouraging his wife to engage with her long-term friends and to involve herself in new activities at home.
One of these activities had proved to be a great success, Penny had joined an art class and was learning to do water colour paintings. She was thoroughly enjoying the creativity as well as meeting some new like-minded people. She had even produced some rather good paintings of local scenes.
Well equipped for a long train journey with two young children Penny savoured the journey to London. The train rattled through the English countryside showing fleeting glimpses of the varying landscape as they travelled southward. The time was spent alternately reading, drawing, and playing ‘I spy’, card games and general conversation. Simon and Lucy were both excited about seeing Ty and Roo who they vaguely remembered as babies and had convinced themselves of a greater recollection. They had also been charmed by stories of Caitlin’s daughter Charlotte and were keen to meet the ‘American Princess’ of the accounts they had heard.
Caitlin arranged for a car to collect them at King’s Cross and ferry them speedily to Pelham Crescent where she had organised nursery food for the children and lunch in the garden for her and Penny with champagne to celebrate their reunion. Caitlin was really looking forward to a one-on-one catch up with her old friend Penny.
The two friends greeted each other on the doorstep with yelps of excitement and some scarcely veiled tears of happiness. Charlotte beamed delightedly at her new friends and promptly offered to show them around the house. Simon and Lucy at seven and six and a half respectively were slightly overawed by their four-year-old friend’s composure.
Simon had gazed at Charlotte in astonishment as she had graciously shown then their sleeping quarters and proceeded to outline the agenda for the morrow. Charlotte was awesome he decided and inadvertently fell in love with the blonde girl with the big brown eyes and the solemn air.
The remainder of the Donaldson’s stay at Caitlin’s Pelham Crescent house did nothing to dissuade Simon from his notion. Charlotte was charmed to be accepted in the company of such grand beings as a seven-and-a half-year-old and a six-a-half-year-old and thought that Simon was something closely akin to a God. She freely shared all of her toys that she deemed suitable for such an illustrious being and was delighted to invite her new friends into her paddling pool, which was very popular in the sweltering heat of London.
Penny and Caitlin spent a lovely afternoon sipping champagne and nibbling at delectable canapés catching up on news of each other as they watched their offspring play together with the satisfied air of fond mothers.
‘Aren’t they cute?’ remarked Caitlin, smiling delightedly at Penny, ‘Look how your Simon dote on Charlotte.’ Simon chose this moment to perform a handstand and land half on top of Charlotte in the pool. She responded with indignant squeals of protest. Penny made as though to tell Simon off for being rough but was stopped by Caitlin with a smile,
‘Don’t worry Pen, Charlie’s fine she can give as good as she gets!’ Charlotte had indeed filled a bucket full of water and thrown it full at Simon’s head, as he emerged from underwater. She giggled delightedly as he ducked under the water and grabbed hold of her legs to pull her under, and escaped him with a deft wriggle. Lucy looked on as her brother splashed around with Charlotte adopting her mother’s customary role of being glad that everyone was happy. Caitlin was relieved to see how confident Charlotte had become with other children since she had been introduced to the rough and tumble of her friendships with Rebecca’s boys.
Penny really enjoyed the quality time that she and Caitlin were spending together but was dying to see Rebecca and Suzanne. They weren’t due at the Pimlico house until the following afternoon for Reuben’s birthday party. When the phone rang a few minutes later Penny could barely hide her delight when Caitlin announced that it was Suzanne and Rebecca begging them to go over to Pimlico now, as they couldn’t wait to see Pen. Caitlin gave up her plans for the evening with good grace and they were soon bundling themselves and the children into the car to be driven over to Pimlico.
Penny – July 1983