AFTER two weeks of school holidays, it is not only the parents of school age children who are pleased they are back at school, in many cases, and I am one of those cases, it is the grandparents too.

Not that I, and so many of my friends, do not absolutely adore our grandchildren. It is just that it can be so full on.

I can remember, many years ago, there was much discussion about the demise of the extended, and rise of the nuclear family.

The younger generation could not wait to break free from the shackles of family life.

No longer. Nearly all my friends, especially in farming circles where there was probably less of the wanting to break free syndrome, are heavily involved one way or another with their extended families. And love it too.

This half-term has seen me, with occasional help from my gamekeeping, fishing, woodworking, beekeeping, carving, shooting, sheep rearing husband, dashing around grandchild minding, feeding, entertaining, financing and transporting, for nearly a fortnight.

Half-terms spread across different dates for different authorities and schools does not help. Plus, trying to fit in the occasional social event such as agricultural college reunions when you now live many miles away from your student haunts.

So I felt very guilty when requesting a leave of absence to go out and do our own thing. But last night did see us shuffling out of the house, abjectly apologising we couldn’t babysit that evening and grovelling in our request that the poultry was shut up secure for the night.

John rarely misses his agricultural college reunion. A chance to chew over the year, celebrate, gripe, review, mourn (yes the occasional passing of a fellow student) and generally catch up with friends. He is the only one to have made it to owning a farm without inheriting or marrying into one.

Amazingly his oldest friend has worked on the same farm, with three generations of farmer employers since he left school.

He has been assured his tied cottage is secure and has seen no reason to look for anywhere to move to when he ceases working on the farm.

Which he has no intention of stopping doing anyway. “What would I do,” I heard him telling John. “I’ve not got any other interests, I’d be bored to death in weeks.”

At least that is not John’s problem. Not enough days in the week for all his interests I’m very relieved to say.