Sometimes I feel negligent. Deviate for a few days, a week, maybe longer even, and things move on. I hadn't even noticed, for example, that the swans were building a nest - this one just next to the bridge that crosses the canal between Mile End Park and Meath Gardens, where they normally nest. It was last Thursday that I saw it. The pair were feeding and the six eggs were exposed, neat as can be, unlike the general messiness of the nest with plastic bags and packets tucked into the reeds. I was on my way to the market and had planned to sit in the sun for a while on the way home with a cup of coffee from the corner cafe and read a book. And that is exactly what I did. The coffee was good, the sun was hot and I was on a mission to finish a book that was due back at the library.
I like Meath Gardens for lots of reasons, not least because it has lots of exits.. There are some allotments nearby, a small play space for children, a sprinkling of spring flowers, some very old black poplars and a eucalyptus tree, planted to commemorate cricketer King Cole that leans at an impossible angle. It's busy enough, but not too busy, even when the local secondary school is using it as a playing field. There's a particular bench that I like because it gets the sun full blast and you can actually put your feet up as it's more or less guaranteed that nobody else will want to share the space. On this hot, sunny day, a few people ambled by with their dogs, a thrush pecked around, a young woman - Italian maybe, put up a poster for her lost cat and asks people whether they have seen him. (Oh Hernesto, Hernesto, I hope you have gone home by now.)
And that's how I spent a delightful hour reading my book and eating sticky unwashed red grapes with none of the guilt I usually feel if I read novels in the middle of the day. I didn't manage a hundred pages but I made some progress. Then my son found me and we cycled home together, only stopping to look again at the swans and share the news of the six eggs to another passer-by.
I felt like I'd been on holiday, I even got a little sunburnt. And I finished the book before the library closed.