A large block of fairtrade dark chocolate and an unashamedly romantic novel provide some protection and comfort. A hundred and twenty new students - all those names; as I age, my memory is definitely getting worse - and the awful tragedy of my friend's son's death make me feel in need of a little comfort.
Brrrr...Autumn is making her presence known, kissing the leaves into early shades of red and orange. It's reached the point where I'm putting the central heating on in the evening. A sharp nip pervades.
Unsurprisingly, I feel somewhat melancholy. Fortunately, I'm too busy to dwell in the dumps for long. All those new students and a couple of new people to manage will help keep me occupied. Sudden death is well...so shocking. I have written about death in these pages before but although one came sooner than expected, they were not unexpected. I don't know how my friend will cope in the weeks to come as she takes in fully the implications of what has happened.
I've booked a two nights, three day trip to London at half-term to do a bit of Christmas shopping and explore a part of London I've never been to before. A choice of two depending on the weather. A play perhaps and a couple of museums before it's back to fine tune schemes of work. I might attend a service at St James's. The services there are beautiful and the sermons thoughtful and intelligent: accepting the presence of God without bashing one on the head with theological certainties. Although it is not a spiritual thing in itself, standing in a building created by Christopher Wren adds a certain something.
Sometimes it's good to get away by oneself...anonymous within a crowd. Free to observe and think. Two nights is just enough, after that it gets boring and one longs for company and that old familiar face, who doesn't get as many holidays as I do but also appreciates a bit of peace and quiet on his own. A little bit of absence is good for the heart.