Short and sweet

February is a short but sweet month. It’s over in a blink of an eye, yet manages to pack in a couple of celebrations and a hint of spring. For me, it starts on day one with a wedding anniversary. You see, the Nearly-Beloved was so enamoured of me in his youth that he didn’t realise he was getting hitched on a Welsh rugby international day. But now, many moons on, I’m never sure if the dreamy look on his face is due to marital bliss or the fact that the Six Nations Championship is about to kick off. Plus, he struck lucky. Not only is the 1st of the month hard to forget, it also functions as a ‘buy one get one free’ date as my annual bouquet of flowers never wilts until gone Valentine’s Day.

After so many years of marriage, we no longer succumb to the commercial pressure of February 14th. Not for us an overpriced restaurant or eye wateringly expensive chocolates. Grunting Teen, however, is new to this game. And it turns out he’s a closet romantic. He orders a red rose and a picnic hamper full of goodies to offer his dainty girlfriend. As I’m banished to my study, he and Polly Pocket breakfast on strawberries, pink waffles and heart-shaped brownies. For a moment I’m filled with nostalgia and a pang of jealousy, especially when my own Prince Not-So-Charming returns home to seal our love with a Tesco meal deal and a bag of Revels.

But he makes up for it the following weekend with a day out in the countryside and a pub lunch in front of a roaring fire. As we walk through the woods, it feels as if we’re finally coming out of hibernation. The days are getting longer and lighter. Bird song fills the air and snowdrops dance in the breeze. It’s time for looking forward and hatching plans.

It’s been nearly six months since we last saw our older son, lost to life in another country. Freedom Day has come and gone. We grabbed the window of opportunity whilst we could. Then Omicron closed the door once more. It’s our turn to visit him. But whilst tourist dependent countries welcomed the Brits back with open arms and shop tills, the Netherlands were more circumspect. ‘Keep your Covid-caked clogs’ to yourself was their message. All through the long, interminable days of January I kept checking their government web site. But to no avail.

It takes until February for the windmills of bureaucracy to turn in our favour. A city break abroad is a luxury when you factor in the extortionate PCR tests still needed to enter the country. But at least our return to the UK will be swab free. So, we’re jabbed up to our eyeballs and raring to go. A travel itinerary has been set. We just need to confirm the dates and click ‘pay’.

But, oh my Gouda! And Edamnation! Our best laid plans are put on hold. It’s been nearly two years since this pandemic started and it’s still causing chaos. We are one of the lucky families that have managed to avoid the virus… up until now. When the family WhatsApp pings with a photo of two red lines, there’s none of the joy of a positive pregnancy test. Just a sickening feeling in the pit of the stomach. Our Lost Boy has Covid!

Thankfully the symptoms are not severe. He’s young and healthy. He’ll survive. And thank goodness it’s happened before money and tickets change hands. February hasn’t turned out to be as sweet as expected, but at least it’s short. March is just around the corner. Spring beckons. Bulbs are ready to bloom. With any luck and a quick recovery, we’ll be celebrating soon amongst those tulips of Amsterdam.

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