My friends, Cath, Cecily, Dee and I are hitting that empty nest territory. Between us, we have raised nine daughters and two sons, surely a great contribution to the UK and its future, but we have earned little money or glory.
And now, it must be the case that we are free at last to take our time in our own hands and do what we want to do. It will keep our minds off the absence of our offspring. We all know people who have bought a new sports car or taken up marathon running.
Our aspirations are more limited. In September, we decided we would walk the Ridgeway, an ancient, long-distance foot path which stretches for 85 miles between Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire and Overton Hill in Wiltshire.
Not a major ambition, achieved by perhaps thousands each year in the course of a long weekend. We should do it easily.
But we are not quite as free as we thought: aged parents require more and more care, and none of them live on our doorsteps.
Our children arrive back from university or fledgling jobs and we must seize these precious opportunities to spend time.
Plus, the routine responsibilities of house, garden and married life remain. Not to mention, part-time jobs and efforts for charity.
And then our bodies are showing wear and tear – carrying a heavy rucksack for many miles is beyond us.
Maybe we should put the whole thing off and wait for a moment when all four of us are free from domestic emergencies and injuries.
But maybe that moment will never come.
We decide that we will be the best kind of hero and walk the Ridgeway anyway, inch by inch if we have to. In a slightly crap and much interrupted manner, we embark.
We agree with GK Chesterton that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.