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So Tula is in hospital on Friday to have either a replacement plaster brace fitted or, we’re hoping, to be fitted with a plastic removable brace which we have been told she will be wearing for the summer, allowing her to bathe – yippee – and swim – yippee; neither of which she has done very much of in the last two years.

Tonight being the girls’ bath night, we took Tula’s brace off a few days early so she could bathe with her sisters. As always, cutting into the plaster is very hard for her: Jude saws through it with a blade as she lies in my lap and I hold her hands and do my best to distract her. Much easier this way than in hospital however, where they use a mechanical rotary saw which obviously makes her scream in terror, despite the number of times she has been through this.

Freed of her cage, Tula wriggles with joy and is obviously so very very pleased to have her stomach released above all else: this is the area that causes her the most discomfort on a daily basis because it restricts her so much and eating (which has always been an issue for her anyway) makes it so much worse. Plus the weight of the cast itself is incredible: in some areas it is nearly a centimetre thick, not including the padded lining. It must be hard for her not to feel as if she’s floating off the floor.

Jude and I agree that in fact her spine is looking much better than the last time we saw it: the outward bend seems to have been successfully pressed into alignment by the padding the nurse puts inside the plaster. You can see the abraded area of her skin where it has been pushed. Not too long ago that would have upset me deeply, but I have come round to the idea that the long-term benefits of this kind of active management of her scoliosis is in fact worth the pain of these marks, as much as they still pain me to see on my child.

Jess is also in hospital this week to finally have the plaster cast removed from her arm, which she fractured way back in January. That will be such a relief for her and for everyone forced to endure the increasingly revolting state of this latest cast.

So all in all, it’s looking like it’s going to be a week of freshly-freed wriggliness for at least two of the girls, and I have no doubt that the other two will be more than happy to join in their frolicking.

We are also nearing the end of our time borrowing Granny’s house as people are due to come out to stay over the summer. So we have set ourselves the deadline of 1st June to get packed up and moved back into the trailers. In fact, we didn’t intend to be here as long as we have: initially it was just so I could keep my sanity whilst Jude was away in England for three long weeks and then I started the Big Spring Clean which has been going on now for at least a month. I have dug through all of our belongings, some of which haven’t seen daylight since we first moved to France two years ago, and finally feel I have achieved some order over what had become such soul-destroying state of chaos that I had started to believe that the only possible way to deal with it would be to just burn it all.

All of the out-of-season clothing; coats, hats, gloves; stuff which is too big and needs fixing – all has been put into vacuum storage bags; five big binbags have gone to charity and four to a friend’s new grandbaby. We are sleeker and lighter, plus I now feel much more cheerful about walking through our newly spacious marquee again, where previously we had scurried through with averted eyes, fearing a tidal collapse of abandoned clothing and toys from either side of the narrow path between kitchen and home.