Alice had a very miserable time when she first went to university. It turned out to be all wrong and when I discovered that no-one had noticed her absence after two weeks of non-attendance (we'd brought her home), I knew it was the right decision for her to leave. It was a difficult one for her to make - all the expectation and the constant tecaher-talk of university being the ultimate goal if you are doing A levels can build up to an alarming degree. So when it doesn't work out, it can be hard to let go.
But she did. She came home and got a great job that was not your average gap year job and proved herself to be eminently employable and with a great range of natural skills. So much so, the thought of university the second time around almost lost its appeal (we'd said it was worth reapplying as soon as she came home so that she had the option no matter what). But almost at the last moment she decided she'd try again, and off she went with a couple of bags and not a great deal of faith, yet by the time we got back from dropping her off in her hall of residence an hour or so later, we all knew everything was going to be fine this time.
She's now coming to the end of her second year and she couldn't have found a better place. Choosing the right university is a bit of luck mixed with a leap in the dark and a couple of visits, but even so you have no idea what it will really be like until you get there. I was pretty sure this one was going to suit Alice far more than the first: it's small, friendly, unpretentious, creative, very expressive, and has a fantastically interesting and diverse group of students. Happily, the hunch turned out to be correct. Alice loves it there, and enjoys her course, the people, the location, and sharing a house with friends. She's open-minded, tolerant, funny, caring and sociable, and fits right in at this very accepting and unprejudiced place.
I say all this because we went to see her yesterday and to take her and Tom (who is at university not so far away) out for lunch. We were on her patch, her territory, visiting her world and hearing about her experiences, and it was great to see how much at home she is there. I took a big pile of old, super-bright crochet blankets so that she could brighten up the shared living room, because crochet does that.
I've recently brought out this large chevron blanket I made for The Gentle Art of Knitting and am reminded of how brilliantly colours can work in crochet. It's not the 70s bright stuff that I gave Alice, but it's a lovely mix of heathers and tweeds and soft and natural colours that looks particularly nice around me when I'm reading Jude the Obscure and feeling relieved that in the end Alice didn't have as bad a time as he does when it comes to university.