We drove down to Cap d'Antibes today, to the little beach at La Garoupe. It's the beach where F Scott Fitzgerald set 'Tender is the Night'. A little beach that looks northwards towards Nice, Monaco and the snow-capped Alps behind. To say it is beautiful is kind of an understatement.
Anyway, it was just me and the kids - we'd left their mom and dad (my brother and his wife) back at the apartment, giving them a bit of time for a tender moment. No doubt they just slept in front of the TV, which has been showing High School Musical around the clock. May God help us all and save us from Zac Ephron's winning smile.
We built sandcastles and we paddled in the sea. I held my niece's hand and we waded out to her waist deep in water - just above my knee. She's 3 now, soon to be 4 and she's just adorable. Her brother (5, soon to be 6) is pretty gorgeous too. We paddled and we wrote our names in the sand. We collected stones and shells and seaweed pods.
We got a bit of well-deserved sunshine and lay laughing and baking in the last rays of the afternoon. We moved into the shade and with one next to me and one lay on my chest, we snoozed.
As it dawned on me that we needed to get back, I was suddenly hit by how much I love this pair and how much I miss them. I realise how this will never be my life and it makes me a little sad, not that I'd change it.
Sometimes they drive me crazy with their arguing and general three and five year old stuff, but more often than not they just stop me in my tracks and make my chest swell.
With a singing heart and red shoulders, I bundle them in the car and we head home. 'I love you Uncle' says my niece. 'Me too' says nephew. And they both promptly fall asleep.
Ye gods, how great these days are.