So here we are; the first day of the autumn term, the kids are back at school, and I have been sorting through the photos from our trip down to my sister's in Buckinghamshire.
We had a good day out in Oxford; we used to go reasonably often as kids, but I don't think I have visited the city for over 20 years.
Here I am admiring the view from the tower of the University church of St Mary the Virgin.
I know it's a cliche, but the panorama of honey-coloured Oxfordshire stone and dreaming spires really is beautiful.
We admired the Radcliffe Camera, observed that graffiti is not a modern-day phenomenon, and wondered if this gargoyle was the inspiration for Donkey in Shrek.
We passed the Clarendon building (now a part of the Bodleian Library - edited, with thanks to Gisela for correctly identifying this one!)
the Sheldonian Theatre...
loved the Bridge of Sighs...
...and saw beautiful sights at every turn.
There is a Saxon tower at St Michael's church (dated 1040), the oldest building in Oxford...
and a memorial to the clerics Latimer and Ridley, and Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, burned as Protestant martyrs in the reign of Mary Tudor.
Christchurch College is impressive.
It contains the dining hall which was the inspiration for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films (please excuse the blurry photo, it was very dark)...
and the Alice in Wonderland window (Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll was both a student and teacher at Christchurch College.)
Oxford's cathedral has two beautiful stained glass windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones.
And I thought this was a touching tribute to a young officer.
I asked Claudia if she thought she would like to come to study at one of the Oxford colleges; she shrugged, and said it's a bit too posh.
I know what she means; my teachers at school wanted me to apply, but I felt instinctively that I would be a fish out of water in these surroundings, and despite my grades being good enough, I doubted that I would pass the entrance exam or interview.
Over 30 years later, and Oxford University still admits the lowest percentage of state-educated students (around 57%) of any UK university, and students from fee-paying schools continue to monopolise the places at elite universities.
If Claudia, or anyone else, wants to go, and is sufficiently talented and hard-working, I hope they don't let the mystique and the gilded gates put them off.
Now, in case you are worried that my poor children are dragged round historic cities without a thought for their entertainment, pleased don't fret; there was also plenty of this...
and a visit to the Bucks County Show.
Since the ban on hunting foxes and other animals with dogs came into force in 2005, country types who want to ride across fields with packs of foxhounds or beagles do so on drag hunting courses.
There were huge agricultural machines, a stunt quad bike display, and a fortune teller who proudly announces that she has been patronised by the elite (Shirley Bassey and The Brotherhood of Man?) as well as my favourite, the produce tent...
where the cabbages really were as big as your head!
Prize-winning veg, blooms, marmalade, and patchwork, clearly taken very seriously by the competitors;
this grower had obviously made a stand to display their very impressive produce.
We managed to time it well, so by the time the skies looked like this, we were heading for the car to go home.
Here's my mum, trying to help Nina with her times tables.
A thankless task, one which I have pretty given up on, but Mum is made of more patient stuff.
The kids went off to school quite happily this morning; hopefully it will be a while before routine bites hard and the homework blues kick in...
Roll on half term!