Tuesday 1st April, just before midnight. I lie in bed, eyes wide open, straining to hear. The village church chimes twelve and I hop out of bed.

I sneak into the living room, add another log to the otherwise dying fire. From the mantelpiece, I take down the pile of envelopes that has slowly been accumulating. Outside the flat, rain drops drip from the roof in a steady pitter-patter. Inside the flat, another world. Messages from home.

I open each letter with a penknife, delighting in the satisfying sound of knife slicing through paper. Postcards, birthday cards, letters and photographs tumble into my lap. Birthday wishes written in familiar hands. For the next hour, I savour every word. For the next hour I am no longer in France, no longer in the Pyrenees. I am back home, back with my family. Back with my friends. Vases of golden daffodils. Warm seaside breezes. Swiss fondu dinners. Childhood birthday parties with good friends. Sandwiches, sandcastles. Surprises and presents. Laughter. Love.

As 1am chimes, I leave the cards by the fire and sneak back to bed. I curl up beneath the warm covers.

Wednesday 2nd April. My birthday. As I wait for sleep to come, my body is in France but my thoughts are in England, my other home.