I’m walking with my sister up the narrow path which leads into the park. It’s not yet 8 am but I can feel the strength of the sun on the backs of my legs as the dog pulls to one side trying to get hold of a half-eaten apple.
In the park, a few people dressed in lycra run past making no sound save for the punch of their soft shoes on the parched earth.
Across the line of trees that heads out toward the houses, there is a vast expanse of green with nothing but one or two dog walkers dotted here and there.
Down the steps, the lake spreads out before us with an often-overlooked majesty that comes from having seen it most weeks for over fifty years.
A small girl tosses bread for the ducks but they seem unenthusiastic.
“I found this picture of you last night,” I tell my sister showing her a photo on my phone of her aged around five dressed in a nurse’s uniform and beaming for the camera.
I’ve been drip-feeding these gems to her over the past week or so as I have painstakingly worked my way through the family archive, scanning photos from the last six decades.
When I’ve sent pictures of our parents or other memorable family events, such as me sticking candy floss into my father’s crotch during a moment of panic on a fairground ride, she’s gleeful, but when they are of her, much less so.
“I find it hard to look at photos of myself from those days,” she tells me.
“Because I had everything in front of me and it makes me think about what a mess I’ve made of my life.”
Daisy disappears over the hill and hurtles down towards the lake with my sister’s dog in hot pursuit.
As we reach the top of the slope we can see the dogs gleefully rolling on the ground in what turns out to be a rotting fish.
The stench is unbearable all the way to the water where they wash off and we find that even a thorough soaking makes almost no difference.
Making our way back home my sister’s dog takes off like a rocket to a litter bin and pulls out a discarded fried chicken box. He greedily finishes the chips that its original owner found they couldn’t manage.
“Nothing like a nice stress-free start to the weekend,” I say to my sister.
When I think about my childhood from looking at pictures of me and my sister I’m reminded of how close we were and how painful it is to think about the years we lost when we weren’t.
It’s sad when families fall out and don’t speak. But it’s sadder still when they lose touch for years and don’t even really know why.