I’ve got this cracking hangover, but not in a boozy, nauseous way. I’m fuzzy-headed, displaced; I feel like I’ve got a head full of Sydney sand.

Good holidays hold specific memories, especially those that happened long ago. Egypt with Mr PC is tiny blue Moroccan tiles around a swimming pool. Greece with BestBirdD is jasmine, sun cream. Spain with the boys is mountain tracks, sunsets and wine. My Cornwall (not a holiday but a genetic coordinate) is tamarisk, mud, Mivvys at the shop.

I wake up every morning and I’m ready for a beach, any old one will do: Coogee, Hamelin, Manly. It’s too early to say what my ‘Stralia snapshot will be just yet: sweeping the van, morning toast on a fold-up chair, hot Clontarf deck?

I can get back to it if I want, though, easy. Any time I want to hop back in the hire car and drive up to Palm Beach I click forward on my iPod until I find the Choon Of The Trip, good old Mr Thicke from Aunty’s NOW 85 gift to SM (CD1-Track2). If you’re in a hot country you can get the full effect by finding a cliff road, rolling down the car windows and cranking up the sound until the speakers pop your ears. If you’re in a cold country you must turn up the heating and tip sand all over the floor:

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Monkey business

On 21 Jan 2005 we had a Small Monkey; now he is nine. According to the Chinese zodiac he is a wood monkey and they are “cautious, talkative, perceptive, motivated by honesty and restless”. It’s certainly true that, having worried about his mumbled monosyllables all through the first three years we now can’t get him to stop talking. All children make hilarious comments but not all mums jot them down. Here you are, then, you little monkey: a small selection of your random chatterings. Happy birthday.

JUNE 2010 After watching Crocodile Dundee during a hospice visit to Grandma: ‘He doesn’t do killing or fighting, just cleverness!’

JUNE 2010 ‘I didn’t have a dream, I had a think’

MARCH 2011 ‘When I die I want someone to change hearts with me’

MAY 2011 Waiting at a bus stop, a couple stroll past in smart clothes, woman clutching a bunch of flowers. Whispered: ‘Must’ve had a wedding’

JUNE 2011 SM describes a dream about his latest obsession, the film Avatar, which he hasn’t seen as it’s rated too high: ‘We saw him and we asked him questions and he spoke to us. It was lovely’

JUNE 2011 In the back of our car, SM reads out a Times headline – British Women Don’t Take Care of Their Men:

‘That’s a bit rude, isn’t it?’

Not sure whether he’s talking about the journalist making inaccurate assumptions about us girls, or the Women Of Britain being a lazy lot, I explain that this is an opinion piece and that in the UK we have something called Freedom of Speech but he’s all over wimmin’s rights*: ‘When I’m older I’m going to rubbish that out and write: ‘British Men Don’t Take Care of Their Women’

* About a year later he undoes all the good work by remarking, out loud at a dinner party, that all I do in life is the washing up. Hey though, the Spare Rib thought was there (once).

SEP 2011 Glum: ‘I feel like telling you about my life. Some days it’s just not my day’

EARLY 2012 Kicked in the nuts during football game with girl in his class: ‘It was an accident; anyway I don’t mind – she’s the king of the girls’

JUNE 2012 Grown-up woman rides past us down middle of road on scooter. Confidentially: ‘This day is getting stranger and stranger’

JULY 2012 Lounging in bed with me early one Saturday, Daddy already in Singapore. No hope of a lie-in: ‘Okeydokey – let’s get this party started!’

JULY 2012 SM spends the morning ‘helping’ poor, back-cricked Grampa and later confides, with a wry chuckle: ‘This morning was a difficult day, it was like I was the grown-up and he was the child’

AUG 2012 Out and about doing pre-Sing chores, we pass by our old apartment. Wistfully: ‘It’s like we’re going backwards in time’

21 JAN 2013 On his 8th birthday, after what must have been a biblical schoolday, SM sighs that all the world’s troubles are down to ‘the snake’. I assume he is talking about the recent playground sighting of a wriggly nasty on the climbing frame, but no: ‘No, THE snake, THAT snake; it’s all because of one little apple, one tiny apple. Without that there’d never have been a bad guy, no police…’

30 DEC 2013 Fast-forward a year to Australia, Sally’s back garden, kids in pool, old friends chatting in the sun, and a sudden joyful outburst: ‘Awww, this is JUST like old times!’

31 DEC 2013 A dark existential moment at the end of the year: ‘So, if we’re all going to die on this planet anyway, why do we even bother living?’

1 JAN 2014 Slumped against window in cab from Changi airport, just off 7-hr flight from Sydney: ‘I’m jetpacked’

And a little later, as the driver takes us down a brand new route that’s only just opened up while we were away: ‘A new road! See, I told you everything would change in 2014’

Here’s to the changes, SM. Keep the quotes coming x

Just now, birthday morning, Skyping Grampa who is sitting in front of the fireplace in the cottage: ‘Oohhhh you’re in Cornwall! I can SMELL it!’ Scratch ‘n’ Skype?