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In the village where I grew up, walking along the wet road with my mother. It’s been raining day and the Olympics have been on television, humming in the background as I pass the snug door. I’ve been out for a run and now as we walk to the yoga class in the village hall, a lorry from the timberyard lumbers past bringing with it a sea of spray and sweeping smell of sodden wood.

Running one of the country lanes, my Dad’s friend cycles up alongside me and we talk up the hill. They are off to the football on Saturday and there’s chat of minibuses and sons back from the Marines. Later, on the track by the river and by myself again, I come across a hedgehog curled up on the path. I wait a while to see if he’ll go on but he stays tightly rolled, bristling.

I visit my grandpa. One day he is sitting up in bed making us laugh a little, small and quiet as we stick postcards on the wall. The next time, he is curled up, hands loose and half-asleep, ignoring us. We sit with him for a while, the doors open to the garden, rowing on the television. Another medal, Dad! my Mum strokes his shoulder and his eyes creak open then closed.

On the last day, Mum and Dad and I have breakfast down in the corner shop and we cycle together, pretending to be the athletes that the country has been cheering on for the past week. There is flashflooding in Newcastle but my best friend and I meet halfway for a coffee, one last hug in the local bus station. 

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