Well, the weather improved for the second half of our trip. In Anglesey, we had blue skies, cold nights and gloriously empty beachscapes like this, as the Littleboys reconnected with their four cousins and the extended family turned our hosts' thankfully large house into a sort of anarchic child zoo. The first overexcited yelp and patter of footsteps began the day around 8am, and it continued in the same vein until they all collapsed with exhaustion at some point during supper.
It was a vintage Anglesey experience; lobster and freshly caught shrimps for supper, paddling in rock pools, and possibly the coldest swim I've experienced since leaping into a river in Norway. The six children were in their element; riding on the back of a pickup truck, rock climbing, exploring gulleys and rowing in a dinghy. Even Littleboy 2 - the youngest at three - gamely joined in with all activities. The journey back - often a depressing crawl down the M6 - was an experience in itself, as we all met up and stopped in Snowdonia for a mountain-top picnic.
After all that, coming home could have been something of an anti-climax. But I have to say it felt good. After a tiring flight (not a vintage Virgin Atlantic experience; no inflight entertainment for the first 2 hours and no child meals left) and queuing at JFK, it was an immense relief to be returning, not to what felt like a foreign country originally, but to a familiar driveway, a house that somehow smelled homely, and a town I now think of as home. Littleboy 1, who had been desperately excited to go back to England, confessed today that he is really happy to be 'back in America'. And hopefully it's not just down to his joy at the new, expensive bath toys that I bought at the Heathrow Hamleys in an uncharacteristic moment of madness (a battery-controlled squid? What was I thinking....).