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Over the years it seems that Spring really does usher in new beginnings, particularly in recent times, around mid May. This weekend just passed has only added to that feeling/observation, with Ben (and of course Ems) flying from the roost and bringing to some sort of conclusion an era that began nearly 19 years ago; nearer 20 if you take it back to the womb!

It has been on the cards for some time now as you'll have deduced from archives on this blog, most notably in September, when the 'last Family Woollatt Jaunt West' was sensed. Tis not a bad thing of course as every youngster has to spread his or her wings at some time; the sooner the better in my book. But it does bring a lump to the throat all the same as the realisation that all that has passed is now just that; the past.

Around this time last year, it was clear that both Ems and Ben were very much an item; even if their youth (even now) could play against them as time marches relentlessly on, awaiting the slightest opportunity to trample on any weakness that may surface, with or without invitation. But here we are twelve moons on, as they have grabbed just the leg up any couple starting out in the big bad world could need, moving into a rented one bed property in Sleaford that is well within their budget.

The irony then, that it's situation is barely yards from where Suz and I contemplated moving to back in May 05, when the Penzance move fell through and we abandoned yet another attempt to relocate West. Add to this that the final decision to pull our property off the market was sealed after Ben's opinion was sought, about possibly moving to Sleaford instead as a stop gap and met with a definite No Way...

That was a sad time of course and contrasted starkly with that only twelve months prior in May 2004 when, having returned from a pleasant Easter break above Gwenvor; a family decision was made to focus our plans of moving to Kernow towards further West.

Our growing affinity to the Cornish Pirates and Ben's ever increasing prowess in the surf, no doubt aided his growing enthusiasm towards being 'in' with the plans and dreams at last. Something which was illustrated in his coming along with me for an extra 3 day trip to view property in the July.

However Fate, as we know, changed her fickle mind didn't she?! Nipping in the bud a promising change in fortunes I believe to this day awaited us. To his credit though, it was Ben's progress in so many aspects that helped greatly to pull us through this dark, depressing time.

His life now refreshingly free of the distractions of the computer games and PS and all the baggage they created, allowed him to flourish like never before. This all quantifiable in our two trips west in the summer and autumn of 2005; the latter in particular still fondly remembered as one of the Stand Outs.

Life as a consequence seemed to get better and anything seemed possible once more. By May 2006 both Ben and I had enjoyed trophy success on the rugby pitch, his most significantly as he found himself elevated an age group at his local rugby club, and being part of it's first ever Youth success in the NLDRFU Under 17 Plate competition. Something even more commendable given that he was still the best part of two years younger than team-mates and opposition alike!

The Tour to Mold in North Wales that month was also a highlight for all the right reasons! And so was Ben and I's weekend surfari to christen Boris in that July

Encouragingly too the renovations to our property had begun in earnest and hopes were high that come 2007, we would crack it on the Dream front.

That winter also saw Ben & I's increasing involvement covering Pirates' matches on the road. While Ben's playing commitments continued on an upwards spiral, mine were curtailed by injury in the January. As a consequence, a lot of Saturdays (and one cold Friday night in February at Leeds!) we'd jump into the car and head in various directions around the country to take photos and do the match report for the Unofficial Fans website.

This culminated in April 2007 when we all went to rugby's HQ at Twickenham and had a ball as the Pirates claimed a 19-16 win over Devon rivals Exeter to cap a fine season. The sense that this signalled that our time had come was overwhelming and we couldn't wait for all works at home to be finished off and to get it on to the market post haste.

Four weeks later and on the corresponding weekend to that just gone, we saw those hopes collapse and signal torment ever since, as Dad's admission into hospital began a sequence of events that will forever haunt us. To add to the mix, Ben's confidence and/or self esteem simultaneously plummeted and lead to one or two moments of real concern for us as the Ben we'd come to admire temporarily disappeared. Despite being strong for us when Dad passed away in June, there were uncharacteristic flashes of temper and even contemplation of quitting playing rugby!

The surfing briefly suffered too but was sufficiently back up to speed by the end of the summer to put that particular concern to bed before it had real chance to fester further. Happily too, once he began senior training late in August after his self imposed layoff, he was soon back in the swing of things and enjoying his rugby again even if he'd have to wait a season before being able to put the 2 shirt on again in anger!

By the time Mum passed away in the October he was back to his normal self and it showed. Just as well given his A levels loomed the following May and June; and then the Big Wide World and the decisions he'd have to face then.

And so we are here and what above may look like an obituary for the lad. Well the truth of it is, in effect his mother and I are 'grieving'. The biggest part of our lives has now 'gone'. From having nurtured this person and seen him grow into fundamentally a good person has demanded an almost unimaginable amount of time and commitment that we just couldn't have contemplated; can anyone?!. And with all too often too few resources when compared with our own peers! Suddenly that, in effect, is not there anymore. Our services are no longer required.

In reality of course this isn't the case as was proven within minutes yesterday as we ended up bunging a few things in the van and heading over to theirs (doesn't that sound weird!?), after they'd left behind some toiletries and other bits and bobs. I ended up taking the mower too to recapture their small lawn which their mower couldn't cope with; and slapping a bit of polyfilla around as well!

But despite all this gamut of emotions, this is a good thing. An eyeopener for them for sure, no doubt even more likely once the novelty of it all wears off. And it will! Plus a chance for ourselves to rediscover ourselves in this new light. We can also look forward with interest to see how the pair of them mature and mould together; how they too will form their own 'set ways', and how this will drive any offspring to distraction ;o) Note* any such development should NOT be something for the near future* ;o)

Personally, I hope they do crack it. They're up against it statistically of course and no-one can predict how things will change in due course. And they will. But, they have things in their favour which many don't and if that is built on with the patience neither says they have (!) they're in with a shout.

I do feel as if there is some 'unfinished business' even so. The plan was for Suz, me and Ben to move west and that will always be difficult (but not impossible) to modify in my own mind. That 'loss' is of course still raw even if I fully understand; no believe; it was always to be balanced out with his own choice of path to follow, which ever way that headed.

A year ago last May, Suz and me did ponder the possibility that maybe we could proceed with both in tow if the chance arose. On reflection pretty soon after we'd realised that this was unlikely to ever work for a whole range of reasons, and so dismissed the idea. The chances of it ending in tears would have been too great.

We do however hope that maybe they will follow us down there of their own accord, and not just as holidaymakers. A lot would be dependant on Ems in particular being able to fall in love with Cornwall and on her own volition. And that is even before any logistical or emotional considerations are made by both of them.

But it would be nice, so nice in the future, to be able to paddle out back with himself once more, this time in the knowledge that we are both then at home and for longer than just one or two weeks! That more than anything Suz and me wanted for all of us to savour.