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And on to chapter four…

One thing life has not been since August 2016, is dull. Today, 8 January 2018, exactly 17 months after opening Riverbank, I’m on my way to Sydney and while I’m away work will begin on site in Burnsall. In fact according to my building programme chart, subject to no flooding or other acts of god, we should have foundations and drains by the time I return.

I’m quite sure I should be at home as the work begins, but this trip has been planned for a long time and certainly way before the build was nailed on. This won’t stop me feeling guilty, but I’m going to try and minimise the feeling so I don’t ruin my precious time or anyone else’s! This is my sixth trip to Australia (my last one being six years ago). I love it there, but most of all I love the friends I’ll be seeing again, two of whom are flying over from New Zealand – starting with Jennie, who should be there when I land on Tuesday evening.

Back home and Christmas at Riverbank was mixed if I’m honest. The weather, on the whole, wasn’t kind to a little business with no indoor space. We seemed to swing from hideous heavy rain to snow, sleet and ice. Even the chiminea struggled to stay with us. At least the challenging weather validated my bold decision to close for three days on Friday 22 December and have the first of the two ‘normal’ (very precious) weekends I’ve had off since then.

The first weekend kicked off with a beautiful day in Masham, where we embarked on a family walk. Ten miles later, three very happy dogs and four very tired people had a cosy pint in the White Bear at the Theakston’s brewery before heading home to get on with the serious business of Christmas proper.

From that point on it was a village affair. We ate well, drank well, went to two lovely parties and took Hector on plenty of bracing walks.

The Christmas morning walk to Burnsall, gave me chance to quickly get ready to reopen on Boxing Day, and then every day from 26 December to 1 January.

These eight days were tough because the weather was grim. I lost count of the number of people who walked over to discover there was nowhere warm to sit inside, and walked off again. Some hardy souls were prepared to cuddle hot water bottles and sit by the fire but not many.

I had plenty to do though despite the lack of custom, because before I could pack for Australia, I had to pack up the Riverbank kitchen. By New Year’s Day the shelves were bare and all of the ‘stuff’ I’d managed to accumulate since March (where does it all come from?), had been re-distributed.

Good job really because New Year’s Eve turned out to be more lively than I’d expected, resulting in me being, quite rightly, banned from operating heavy machinery on my last day!

Since then I’ve been packing, planning and having a second, very normal and absolutely lovely weekend off. From now on I’m not expecting a normal weekend for a very long time. I’m excited and terrified about what’s coming next… but mostly very, very excited.

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