For Christmas 1981 my Nana gave my sister and I a beautiful Chinese-style notebook each. In return, we gave her (as we gave my other grandparents) a photograph album containing professional pictures of all six members of my family. The pictures were quite good and even managed to make me look presentable. Well, as presentable as you can make a scruffy haired, gangly, teenager with enormous glasses and bad skin, who is for some inexplicable reason wearing a red velour sweatshirt and a chunky gold-coloured bracelet.
The reason for all of this was that we were off to spend roughly seven months living in Auckland, New Zealand. Nana wanted Karen and I to keep a diary of our time out there. We obviously thought she might forget what we looked like.
I still have that diary. Save for a couple of exchange visits to Germany in the following years it is the only time that I have kept one. Every now and then I dip into it and it brings back many memories, some good, some not so good. Sometimes it makes me wish that I had been more of a diarist. At others, I am quite glad that I have never felt compelled to record my every last thought.
Karen very clearly fell into that last category. Her diary remained resolutely unmarked until the end of the trip.