Everything you need to know about open banking Tasty ways to eat more veg April 7, 2018 No. 7721 �30 The best fiction! Ultimate Superfood Salad ? A comedy set in 1883 by Tony Redcliffe ? Alice Elliott?s cherry-blossom romance The Delights Of Dunfermline Explore this historic Fife town Simple step by step project WIN �0 worth of great garden gadgets Polly Pullar shares her fascination for frogs Make a beautiful floral wreath for spring ddddddddddddd UK Off-sale date - 11-Apr-18 dd �30 07-Apr- 2018 AU $4.50, NZ $4.50 Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated. 7 feel-good stories this week Inside The People?s Friend If you like the ?Friend? then you?ll love... The People?s Friend Special No 155, priced �99 On sale now! l 100-page bumper issue l 14 brand-new short stories The People?s Friend Pocket Novel No 858, priced �49 Cover Artwork: Dunfermline, Fife, by J. Campbell Kerr. l A gripping murder mystery by Charlotte McFall Fiction Regulars Features 4 Fire Flowers by Alice Elliott 15 Play Time by Eirin Thompson 21 The Way We We re by Pauline Bradbury 23 SERIES Busy Bees by Della Galton 28 SERIAL Alfred?s Emporium by Louise J. Stevens 41 Growing Closer by Patsy Collins 47 A Change Of Diet by Louise McIvor 53 Mr Johnson?s Resolution by Tony Redcliffe 58 SERIAL The Secret Of Trefusis Cove by Pat Thornborough 79 A Letter From The War by Barbara Dynes 85 WEEKLY SOAP Riverside by Glenda Young 7 This Week We?re Loving 13 Maddie?s World 18 Health & Wellbeing 22 Reader Offer: Spring Jewels 25 Brainteasers 35 The Farmer & His Wife 36 Cookery: healthy recipes packed with nutritious vegetables 51 Our Next Issue 63 From The Manse Window 71 Would You Believe It? 72 Reader Offer: Half Price Million Bells 73 Craft: how to create your own lovely spring flower arrangement 83 Extra Puzzles 86 Between Friends 8 Willie Shand explores Dunfermline?s historic heart 27 Pets & Vets ? when is it time to say goodbye? 44 Sarah Pennells discusses open banking 55 Win fabulous gardening equipment worth �0 65 Simon Whaley visits some favourite TV puppets in Wolverhampton 68 Alexandra Campbell explains how to make your garden easier to access 76 Polly Pullar rekindles her fondness for frogs with a new project P68 SUBSCRIPTION OFFER ? SAVE � 13 issues for *�when you subscribe ? Call 0800 318846**, quote PFCOV Subscribe and save �! *Payment by Direct Debit only. Saving based on first quarterly payment of �and standard rate of � every 3 months thereafter. UK bank accounts only. One year minimum term. For overseas enquiries, please call +44 1382 575580. **(8 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.) Free from UK landlines and mobiles. www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk www.facebook.com/PeoplesFriendMagazine Every spring, the trees in my local park put on a stunning display of pink and white blossoms. Whoever originally planted them took great care to alternate the colours, and the result is spectacular ? but I imagine it must pale into insignificance when compared to Japan?s famous cherry blossom displays. Our opening story this week, ?Fire Flowers? by Alice Elliott, is set against the backdrop of this most lovely of seasons in Tokyo, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. You?ll find it on page 4. Spring is also in the air for Polly Pullar, who shares the amazing photographs she took of her frogspawn project on page 76. It truly is nature in closeup, and Polly?s enthusiasm for these tiny amphibians is infectious. I?m sure I?m not the only person suffering a few aches and pains as I try to get my garden in shape after the winter! If you?re finding your plot harder to manage than it used to be, Alexandra Campbell has good advice on page 68 on how to make gardens more accessible for all. Angela Gilchrist, Editor. twitter.com/@TheFriendMag Hannah?s new friends wanted to share their culture with her . . . Illustration by Gerard Fay. I Fire Flowers T was the first sunny Saturday of the year and Hannah lost no time in rushing out to Greenwich Park to enjoy the pleasant weather. It would seem that most of East London had had the same idea. There were throngs of people everywhere and it was barely nine in the morning. Still, Hannah was determined to soak up the loveliness of the spring weekend, even if it meant sharing the beauty of the park with the crowds. The trees were in full blossom and their tiny flowers in pastel colours danced in the light breeze against the backdrop of the royal blue sky. Hannah?s heart gave a jolt as she turned a corner and came across a stunning avenue of cherry blossom. She?d know the delicate shape anywhere, and their distinctive light pink colour. As she gazed up, the shouts and squeals of the people around her seemed to disappear, and Hannah travelled twelve years back in time to Shinjuku Gyoen, arguably the most beautiful park in the vast urban metropolis of Tokyo. Her thoughts turned to the year she had spent in Japan, all that time ago, and she became lost in her memories of culture, experience and just the smallest tinge of regret. Hannah was only twentythree when she ventured to the Far East looking for a real adventure before settling into the normalities of adult life. Having grown up in a tiny village in Shropshire, it was time to see the world. When she read in the newspaper one day that English speakers were needed to go out and teach in Japanese schools, it was too good an opportunity to miss. She was delighted, if a little terrified, to be offered the job and placed in a school in the west of Tokyo. She?d been struck by how clean Tokyo felt for a capital city, with its huge screens and neon lights everywhere. The sounds of bright jingles filled the air and the atmosphere smelled of spicy food and sweet treats. A guidebook became her best friend, and she grew accustomed to picking food from photos on menus and waving ?hello? and ?thank you? before picking up the basics of Japanese vocabulary. Wherever she looked there were people. Hundreds crossed the road at huge zebra crossings, where people crossed diagonally as well as directly over the street. It was a huge difference from Shropshire. Hannah didn?t have much time to feel intimidated by this new world, though, as her teaching role was demanding and she was determined to succeed. She found she got on well with the children in her class, who stared at her pale skin and light hair. She tried hard to make the learning process fun and they often drew pictures and sang songs. Everyone enjoyed ?Head, Shoulders, Knees And Toes?. It was at school that Hannah met Akihiro. He was working as a teacher, too, and specialised in art. ?Call me Aki. It?s easier to pronounce.? He?d grinned and she?d instantly been drawn to his SHORT STORY BY ALICE ELLIOTT 5 deep brown eyes and infectious laugh. His glossy hair was always impeccably styled and he had a liking for loud checked shirts. ?Hannah?s a Japanese name, too,? he?d told her. That explained the look of surprise several of the other teachers had given her when she told them her first name. ?We spell it slightly differently but the pronunciation is the same. It means ?flower?.? As the new girl, Hannah made an effort to chat to all the teachers. She?d ask them about themselves and, having taken lessons at the local community centre, asked if she could practise her Japanese with them, too. It was hard at times, though. Hannah had never been a newcomer before. She saw other western faces around Tokyo, of course, but she was the only foreign person at the school. At happy moments it made her feel like some kind of celebrity, but during lonelier times she felt like an oddity, especially as she was at least head and shoulders taller than most of the other staff. Hannah missed her family. She missed her friends, too, and shopping in town. In Japan she struggled to find anything to fit her. It wasn?t that she?d put on weight, but with her tall frame and womanly curves, Hannah had to seek out larger dress sizes in shops, which was something she?d never had to do before. She had always quite liked her figure, but with petite women all around her, she felt like a giant in comparison. Hannah hadn?t been in Japan very long when the cherry blossom arrived. She?d seen photos in her guidebook, but witnessing it in full bloom for the first time surpassed all expectations. She wrote home to her parents. It?s like a magical wonderland where the trees have been dipped in pink candy floss. ?We call the cherry blossom sakura,? Aki had told her. ?I?m going to Shinjuku Gyoen with some friends this Saturday. Why don?t you join us? ?The sakura will be beautiful there and we?l l be having something called a hanami. And before you ask, it?s the best way to enjoy the cherry blossom.? It turned out that a hanami was somewhere between a picnic and a festival specially for viewing the blossoms. Hannah arrived at Shinjuku Gyoen to find Aki and his friends holding picnic blankets and baskets filled to the brim with delicious-looking food. ?I didn?t know!? she said, panicking and wondering if she had time to run to the nearest convenience stores to pick up something quickly. ?Relax.? Aki smiled. ?You?re our guest and we wanted it to be a surprise.? Soon Hannah found herself sitting right in the midst of the powder-pink blossom, eating homemade sushi rolls and sipping a cool drink which tasted like peaches. It was as if she?d just arrived at her very own paradise. ?I like hanami.? She smiled at Aki, who had got his sketchbook out and was busy outlining the shape of the trees. ?Me, too. Remember how I told you that your name means ?flower? in Japanese? Well mi means ?to see?, so hanami means ?see flowers?.? ?Oh, yes!? She laughed, having only just realised. ?It?s certainly a stunning sight. Thank you for inviting me, Aki.? Hannah thought she heard him murmuring something about it being his pleasure, but he was concentrating fully on his new picture. She let him continue with his work and went back to marvelling at the fragile wonder of the sakura all around her. * * * * The year moved on and soon they were into the rainy season which runs throughout June with regular showers every day. The combination of warmth and lots of moisture meant the air felt very humid. ?It?s awful.? Emi was one of the other teachers at school. ?My hair goes all fuzzy in the rain.? Hannah smiled. Emi?s hair, usually so immaculate, was looking a little on the frizzy side. ?Aki laughs at me every year and hands me flyers advertising hair products. What a comedian!? ?He?s always joking make his move. She thought back to that heady day under the cherry blossom. Everything seemed much simpler back then. * * * * The temperature grew hotter as June turned into July, and humidity was still very high. ?Stay indoors where there?s air conditioning,? the teachers advised. ?It?s far too hot and steamy to be outside.? Hannah reluctantly agreed. It had become too Hannah was sure Aki would have a girlfriend around,? Hannah agreed. Whenever she saw Aki he was smiling and nearly always surrounded by a gaggle of female teachers. Hannah was sure he?d have a girlfriend as his fun-loving nature was complemented by good looks. Plus, he matched Hannah?s height, which singled him out in her book. It wasn?t long afterwards, when she caught his eye in the corridor one afternoon, that Hannah realised, with a slight flutter of her heart and a blush creeping up her throat, that she had developed a crush on Aki. ?No,? Emi had replied, when Hannah had tried to ask as casually as possible if he was attached. ?He has loads of friends who are girls, but no-one special.? It became hard, seeing Aki every day. Hannah found herself stuttering over conversations that had previously been easy and taking long walks at lunchtimes to avoid him in the staff room. Although Aki was always friendly and full of smiles whenever he saw her, Hannah never felt any indication that he felt the same way. Surely, if he was anything like guys back home, he?d find some way of making his feelings known, even if it came down to asking one of his friends to test the water on his behalf, or waiting till a staff party to oppressive to take long walks. She?d have to be brave and face Aki again. ?It?s funny,? she commented to Emi one lunchtime towards the end of July. ?At home we flock outdoors when the sun shines, while here everyone tries to avoid it. ?But then,? she reasoned, ?our summers are usually so short we feel a lot of pressure to enjoy them while we can.? ?Whilst here the season lasts a long four months.? Aki had walked over and joined the conversation. ?But, you know, we don?t stay indoors for the whole of summer. ?It?s August soon and that means it?s time for fireworks. In fact, keep next Saturday free. I feel I haven?t seen you in ages.? The following week Hannah met Aki and his friends again, at a big field close to the Tamagawa River. She?d taken the Tokyo Metro over whilst butterflies fluttered round her stomach relentlessly for the whole of the journey. Hannah was somewhat surprised when Aki told her to meet them at two in the afternoon. Sunset was hours away. This time she came prepared with a big bottle of peach-flavoured iced tea and a box of traditional Japanese sweets 6 called wagashi, made with soft dough, lots of sugar and red bean paste. As soon as Hannah reached the field, she understood why Aki had suggested meeting early. The whole place was already packed with people. Stalls selling all manner of food filled the hot summer air with delicious smells and the jingles Hannah had become familiar with now sang out across the crowds. Young women glided around in elegant kimonos, which, Aki explained, was the traditional Japanese outfit for the firework season. Hannah forgot her nerves as they browsed the stalls, stood in a few queues and then chose a spot to sit down on a picnic blanket and enjoy some hot okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake served with seafood and shredded vegetables, all washed down with plastic cups of Hannah?s iced tea with the wagashi for afters. ?It?s getting dark,? Aki said. It was about half past six. ?Almost time for the hanabi to start.? ?There?s my name again.? Hannah thought back to the cherry blossoms. ?What does it mean this time?? ?It?s the way we refer to fireworks. Bi is Japanese for fire, so hanabi translates as fire flowers.? ?That?s a beautiful description,? Hannah replied as she thought of the sky lighting up with whizzes, bangs and pops every Bonfire Night at home. ?It?s so different to experience fireworks in the summer.? There was still a delicious warmth in the air and she barely needed the light Don?t Miss Out! your local newsagent to order this magazine cardigan she?d brought with her. The nerves were returning but she was determined to keep the conversation going. ?In the UK we have our fireworks on November the fifth, so we wrap up in the warmest clothes we can find. Hats, gloves, scarves, wellies, the lot!? ?Why have fireworks at such a cold time of year?? Aki asked. ?We mark the anniversary of something called the Gunpowder Plot.? Hannah told him the history of Guy Fawkes. ?But I suppose,? she went on, ?it?s convenient that it falls at the start of the dark nights when dusk arrives in the afternoon. If we were to have fireworks in our summertime we wouldn?t be able to set them off until about ten in the evening!? ?Ah.? Aki grinned, understanding. The shorter summer days in Japan had felt strange to Hannah at first, and though she was used to them now, she still missed the long evenings back home. A hush had descended on the crowd. ?They?re coming,? Aki whispered. He was right. The night sky was suddenly filled with silver stars and ruby red swirls that whizzed and spun through their fleeting but spectacular lives. She turned to him for a moment as the light from the fireworks brightened his dark eyes and they became locked in each other?s gaze. But then a whoop from the crowd broke the spell and they were looking upwards again as this time the fireworks became swarms of dazzling blue birds. Eventually it was time for the finale as the cracks and pops went into overdrive and what looked like a whole field of wildflowers came into bloom all over the night?s sky, truly living up to the name hanabi. Hannah stole another peep at Aki. Her heart was pounding and she felt an indescribable urge to lean over and take his hand, but Aki sat with his eyes fixed on the sky and she didn?t feel able to move any closer towards him. It was the perfect atmosphere for romance to bloom, but Hannah felt glued to the spot with her mouth taped shut, and any love in the air faded away as the last firework spun through the balmy night and showered the sky in a final hurrah. * * * * The spring breeze tousled Hannah?s hair and all at once, she was back in Greenwich Park. She felt her eyes well up a little. That lost moment at the hanabi had been a source of sadness for a long time afterwards, as the right time to tell Aki her feelings never arose again whilst she was in Tokyo. ?Mummy!? All of a sudden a darkhaired and brown-eyed little girl bounded over and into Hannah?s arms. She was chased by a man of the same colouring. ?Got you!? He laughed, kissing both the child and Hannah in turn. ?Look up, Sakura,? Hannah said to her daughter as she continued to cuddle her close. ?This is your flower. We called you after the cherry blossom we love so much.? ?Let?s have a photo of my two beautiful flowers,? Aki said as he captured the To guarantee you receive each issue of ?The People?s Friend?, just ask your newsagent to place a regular order for you. Your copy of the ?Friend? will then be held for you to collect, saving you having to search the shelves. Some newsagents may even offer a home delivery service, so just ask them about this service as well. Simply complete this form and hand it to your local newsagent. image of his wife and daughter standing beneath the clouds of pink blossom. Hannah had returned home after her year in Japan in a dense fog of regret, but nevertheless, remained in touch with Aki through letters and e-mails. She told him how she?d been successful with a teaching job in London and was overjoyed when he announced he was coming over to the UK for a sabbatical some five years later. This time they were older and slightly more confident and, like fallen blossom in the spring breeze, that shyness and fear which had felt so restricting when she was younger had all but blown away. ?I didn?t think you were interested,? Hannah had said as they?d walked by the Thames hand in hand not long after Aki?s arrival in London. ?Why?? Aki asked, giving her hand a little squeeze. ?You never made a move!? ?That?s your job!? They were both giggling now. ?Another cultural difference.? Aki slung his arm around Hannah. ?In Japan, it?s always the man who waits for the girl to give the signal, and it would be bad manners to speak up about his feelings before then.? ?Well,? Hannah had said, snuggling into Aki?s shoulder, ?we got there in the end.? Aki never returned home, apart from holidays with his new family, of course. It had been easy to choose a name for their baby daughter. Sakura, their own cherry blossom, stayed with them all year round. n Please reserve/deliver* a copy of ?The People?s Friend? on a regular basis, commencing with Issue No........ *delete as appropriate Title/Mr/Mrs/Ms ...................... First Name ........................................ Surname .................................................................................................... Address ...................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................... .......................................... Postcode ............................... Telephone No ................................................................. loving LEGO. STV Productions. This week we?re Plant Plastics The ever-innovative LEGO is finding new ways to reduce its use of oil-based plastic. In future, leaves, bushes and trees will be made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugar cane, and will be appearing in LEGO boxes this year. Polar First The first polar bear cub to be born in the UK for 25 years has emerged at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland?s Highland Wildlife Park. The cub made its debut outside in March accompanied by mum Victoria. It?s a welcome step forward for polar bear conservation. BITS & PIECES 7 Life 101 There are some great tips on how to ?Live Well To 101? from practising GP and TV doctor Dawn Harper. It?s all about small, easy steps to make gentle improvements to your health. Published by Headline Home, priced �.99, you can buy it online and from bookstores now. Healthy Snack The 2018 Chepstow Walking Festival takes place from April 4-8. Choose from a range of walks through the stunning Wye Valley at levels from easy to strenuous, taken by experienced leaders, Find routes and booking details at www.walksinchepstow.co.uk. Crisps that count towards your five a day? Is this too good to be true? It seems not, as Nim?s Fruit Crisps are simply thinly sliced fruit and vegetable slices, which are air-dried ? not fried ? and are full of fibre. They?re �a pack from selected Tesco stores. Alamy. Walking The Wye Birthday greetings to TV wildlife presenter Michaela Strachan, fifty-two on April 7. From her early days on ?The Really Wild Show? to ?Springwatch? and ?Autumnwatch?, she brings a big smile to our screens. Back To Craiglang Our favourite pensioners behaving badly, Jack and Victor, are back, bringing mischief to the residents of Craiglang in the eighth series of ?Still Game? on BBC1. If you?ve missed them so far, catch up with the fun online on the BBC iPlayer. Details correct at time of going to press. www.shutterfly.com/ ideas/close-to-home/ BBC Studios/Robert Pereira Hind. iStock. A Wild Birthday Wish My Word! Photoprint company Shutterfly has found 10 emotions with no English equivalent. We love ?talanoa?, Hindi/Fijian for ?the sharing of stories and ideas in order to foster understanding, build relationships and resolve problems between people?! Sew Good! From April 1 online and April 5 in store, Aldi?s Hobby and Craft range offers this sewing machine for only �.99. With 20 types of stitch, including overedge and blind stitch, it?s suitable for all from beginners to experts. Hurry ? stocks are limited! Willie Shand finds much to see and do in the ancient capital of Scotland. The Delights Of This week?s cover feature Dunfermline Factfile n Queen Margaret successfully gave birth to eight children and was looked to by later Queens for protection in childbirth. It?s said that an anxious Mary, Queen of Scots, at the birth of James VI, requested Margaret?s head and hair be brought to Edinburgh Castle to make sure all went well. Photographs by Willie Shand. n There?s an old saying ? don?t put all your eggs in one basket. However, Andrew Carnegie?s advice, and who better to give it, was to ?put all your good eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.? n Dunfermline?s Abbot?s House is over 500 years old and was built by the Abbots of Dunfermline. Locally it?s known as the Pink Hoose, and seeing it, you don?t need to ask why. This bright colour would originally have been created using paint containing bull?s blood. A S a quantity surveyor, my career was to both begin and, almost 40 years later, end in the ancient city and burgh of Dunfermline. For some strange reason, in the early days, our lunch break extended to an hour and a quarter. That, of course, suited me just fine. Usually, by about 11 a.m., I had finished off my lunch box, leaving me the whole break to head out with the camera. Mind you, some places like Pittencrieff Park, needed a fair sprint to get there and back before my colleagues began to wonder ? where?s Willie? No longer facing these time pressures, I thought I?d return today for a more leisurely stroll around the town ? a town with more than a few royal and indeed saintly connections and a town that played a major part in shaping the Scotland we know today. Dunfermline has many distinguished buildings but few more so than the City Chambers at the foot of the high street. It was intended to be the grand County Buildings of Fife and it no doubt would have served its function well. There was only one wee problem. The powers that be awarded the distinction of County Town to Cupar. Oh, well, it may have missed out on that honour but at least it can still claim to have been an ancient Capital of Scotland. The present building of 1879, with its 117-feet-tall tower and French Gothic Baronial turrets, is only the latest in a line of town houses. Initially, the architect hadn?t intended the tower to be nearly so high, but when the council asked him to add a four-faced clock that would be visible to all parts of the town, he had to extend it upwards by about 43 feet. Notice the carved figure beneath the north oriel window. He certainly has a heavy load to bear! Maybe less noticed is the cannon that lies on the pavement beneath him. When the Carron Iron Works were seeking permission from the council in 1771 to establish an iron foundry in Dunfermline, they presented the town with this cannon as a sweetener. In the end the council refused them permission Dunfermline City Chambers. THIS WEEK?S COVER FEATURE 9 Andrew Carnegie statue in Pittencrieff Park. but kept the cannon just the same. For many years it served well as a bollard to protect the corner of the building from being hit by carts. However, during the wartime blackouts, as folk kept walking into it, it was relieved of its duty. A short walk down the cobbled Kirkgate leads to the gates of Dunfermline Abbey and to the Maygate. You?ll pass a few old watering holes along the way including the Creepy Old Pub, Tappie Toories and the Old Inn ? Dunfermline?s oldest public house. The Kirkgate leads round to Maygate and to the striking pink-painted Abbot House. This is one of the best known of the town?s old houses. And lucky we are to see it, too, for it was one of only a few buildings to survive the Great Fire of 1624. Just next door is the Carnegie Library. Dunfermline was the home town of Andrew Carnegie ? the man who from nothing rose to become the richest man in the world. His birthplace at the corner of Priory Lane and Moodie Street is now an excellent museum relating his life?s story. At a young age Andrew emigrated with his parents to Pennsylvania. From a bobbin boy then telegram boy to the King of Steel, Exotic plants in the greenhouse. Andrew climbed his way to the top. He never forgot his home town, though, gifting it the swimming baths and then in 1881 its Free Library. Having made his vast fortune, Andrew had still one job to do ? spend it. Not on himself, but for the good of others. He had a simple philosophy: to die rich was to die disgraced. Throughout the world he donated some 8,000 church organs and around 2,800 libraries. This one at Dunfermline was the first. One of his greatest gifts to Dunfermline can be accessed from his old doorstep ? Pittencrieff Park and Glen. He gifted it to the people of Dunfermline in 1903. With formal gardens, miles of paths to follow through 66 acres of park and woodland above the Tower Burn, it?s a perfect escape from the town whatever the season. In the landscaped greenhouses with their tropical plants and fish pond, it?s easy to sit down and lose track of time ? as, I must admit, I did on one or two lunchtime visits! The kids will enjoy watching the peacocks and feeding the squirrels in the Glen. The main entrance to the Glen is through the impressive wrought iron Louise Carnegie gates at the foot of Bridge Street. From them a wide avenue leads directly to a bronze statue of Andrew Carnegie himself. While most statues of famous people are erected after their death, this one is unusual in that it was erected during his lifetime. So well loved was Andrew that more than 20,000 people turned up for the unveiling. There are two or three interesting old buildings in the Park. Pittencrieff House, beautifully restored by architect Sir Robert Lorimer, dates from 1610. Its brightly coloured walls cheer up even the dullest of days. Along from it is the Art-Deco Glen Pavilion and between them, a rather rare listed building that might well go unnoticed. It?s a quaint little telephone kiosk that?s been standing here since 1928. None of these buildings, however, can compete in antiquity with Malcolm Canmore?s Tower. Not a lot remains of his old castle which stands on a high rocky promontory above the Tower Burn. It?s no shame to it, though. It?s been there for almost 1,000 years. It would be this tower that?s referred to in the ballad of Sir Patrick Spens: The King sits in Dunfermline toun Drinkin the blude-reid wine . . . This is the tower that features in the town crest and it?s from it, too ? the Dun-Fiar-linne (the fortified mound by the crooked stream) ? that the town takes its name. Here in Dunfermline, in 1070, King Malcolm married the Saxon Princess Margaret ? later to become Saint Margaret. It was only by chance that Malcolm and Margaret?s paths crossed. During the Norman Conquest Margaret had decided to flee England and head for Hungary. The weather, however, drove her on to the shores of Scotland where, at court, she met the rough and wild Malcolm. It was love at first sight and the two were soon wed. In contrast to Malcolm, Margaret was refined and profoundly religious. A deep tunnel accessed from Chalmers Street leads to a small cave that once stood above the glen burn, where the Queen 10 would regularly go to find solitude and to pray. Apparently Malcolm followed her one day as he was suspicious as to why she kept coming here. When Malcolm found her at prayer he, as an act of penance for his doubt, decorated and fitted out the cave for her. Her influence was to gradually rub off on Malcolm and on Scotland, raising it to a much higher level of civilisation. In 1069, Queen Margaret founded a priory. Her church now lies beneath the nave of the abbey founded by her son, David I. To help pilgrims cross the wide Firth of Forth, she founded the Queen?s Ferry. The towns on either side of the Forth are still known as North and South Queensferry. Many Kings lie at rest in Dunfermline as Malcolm was to make this the new royal burial place instead of Iona. It became the Westminster Abbey of Scotland. Outside the east end of the church you?ll find St Margaret?s Shrine. There?s a lot to see around the abbey and abbey church, the adjacent refectory, pends and palace, and every stone has its story to tell. A peacock at the palace. Want to know more? Melrose Abbey where Bruce?s heart is buried. The old abbey suffered badly at the hands of Edward I and during the Reformation in 1560. It?s to the latter we owe the need for those heavy stone buttresses strengthening the nave. Even in death, Margaret and Malcolm were inseparable. When the Queen learned of her husband and son?s death in battle she, too, died, content to accept it all as God?s will. Both Margaret and Malcolm were laid to rest in the church they had founded. That rest, however, was to be upset when, around a century and a half later, the Pope decided to make Margaret a saint. As befitting such honour, it seemed only right that she be given a grand new tomb in the church choir. So, up she was dug and with great ceremony, carried to her new spot. But they didn?t get far. The further down the aisle they carried her, the heavier she became until the bearers had just to lay her down. Clearly Margaret wasn?t for going anywhere without Malcolm, so up he was dug, too, and the proceedings were able to continue. High above her shrine, and in bold lettering around the church tower, are the words King Robert the Bruce. Bruce is buried beneath the pulpit of the abbey church. It was only by chance his grave of 1329 was discovered in 1818. They knew it was Bruce as he was still wrapped in the cloth of gold and his heart had been removed. His heart is buried some distance away at Melrose Abbey. How this came to be is that Bruce, realising he could never fulfil his desire to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and fight against the Turks, asked his loyal companion, Sir James Douglas, to go and to take with him his heart. After Bruce died, his heart was removed and placed in a silver casket. Sir James duly set off to fulfil his promise. However, when he reached Spain he was side-tracked into helping their king to fight another battle. He could have said no but it appears Sir James ?just never could get enuch o? fechtin??. He?d have been better to have said no to this one, though. Cornered and outnumbered, he threw the casket, shouting, ?Pass first in fight as thou wert wont to do, and Douglas will follow thee or die.? He did both! The polished brass etching that covers Bruce?s resting place was gifted by the Earl of Elgin, a direct descendant of the Bruce. A walk round these parts of old Dunfermline may only add up to a couple of miles, but it spans many centuries. At least today I?m in no hurry to rush back to the office! n Getting there By road: the town lies off the M90, just north of the Queensferry Crossing Bridge. By rail: regular trains make the journey in 35 minutes from Edinburgh Waverley. Dunfermline Abbey and Palace are in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. Open all year. Abbey Church is open to the public between March and October: dunfermlineabbey.com Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum: www.carnegiebirthplace.com. MADDIE?S WORLD 13 ?We always look forward to the Easter break with glee? Photographs courtesy of Maddie Grigg and iStock. O In her weekly column, Maddie Grigg shares tales from her life in rural Dorset . . . N the village hot-cross-bun morning, the hall was a hive of activity as organisers put out the tables and warmed up the buns before everyone else arrived. There was a debate ? as there is every year ? about how we usually serve up on this annual Good Friday event. Butter in a bowl on the tables, or on the plates with the buns? And should we keep the buns warm in the hostess trolley (my preference), or serve them straight from the oven? The vicar arrived after the morning service, carrying a large and rugged wooden cross. She placed it in the lobby cupboard, which was already stuffed with coats, bags, a fluorescent jacket and a toddler?s scooter, and made her entrance into the busy hall. Then came the church choir, after their practice following the sombre Good Friday service. The sun was shining and we hoped it was to be a sign of good weather for the entire Easter weekend. Villagers were cheery, smiling, with that feeling of happy expectation about the four days ahead of us. Mr Costner and his volunteers at the community shop would no doubt be busy this morning, but not half as unpleasantly jampacked-busy as the town?s supermarkets. The nearby seaside resorts, too, were already filling up with holidaymakers. In Lush Places, we?re far from the madding crowd, thank goodness, and we always look forward to the Easter break with glee. Here in the hall, our hot-cross-bun morning was being held to raise money for the village fete in the summer. We?ll be having big celebrations again and will close off the village square to traffic and fill it with tables and chairs for afternoon teas, with a large lorry in front of our house, set up for live music. Whether or not Mr Grigg and I will reprise our Punch and Judy show is a moot point. The adults loved it, but some of the children were upset when the crocodile ate the baby instead of the sausages. Back in the here and now, people in their Good Friday best (one man in a natty striped blazer, women with soft, pastel scarves and painted nails) arrived from the morning service to have a bun, a tea or coffee and a natter with fellow villagers who had given church a miss. Churchgoers or otherwise, we are all friends here. The hall comprised a mixture of farmers, retirees, company directors, advertising executives, librarians, teachers, B&B proprietors, engineers, receptionists, churchgoers, estate agents, publican, archaeologist and furniture store owner. The hot-cross buns cooled down rather too quickly, because they?d been served straight from the oven on a big plate while customers came in just a few at a time. However, everyone seemed very happy and didn?t seem to mind. Which is just as well, really, as I was secretly seething because no-one ever listens to me. I know ? youngest child syndrome. Then it was time for the raffle. The archaeologist won liquid soap, which is probably good for fingernails that delve into soil for a living, and his teacher wife won a box of chocolates. ?We?ll be having an indulgent evening in now,? the archaeologist said. Soap and chocolates. What a winning combination. The photographer won some exotic hand cream and I didn?t win anything, despite spending a fiver on tickets. Still, it was all for a good cause. I enjoyed a rather nice ? but cold ? hot-cross bun, safe in the knowledge that we?d raised a substantial amount of money towards the entertainment for our summer fete. n Maddie enjoys a cold hot-cross bun. Play Time SHORT STORY BY EIRIN THOMPSON 15 Emily loved the park, and I was with her every step of the way! Illustration by Ruth Blair. I MET the rudest man at the children?s playpark on Monday. I?d gone there with my little girl, Emily, and was helping her up the steps of the slide, as she?s still a bit small to manage on her own. Coming behind her was a tiny boy. He was grasping the handrails with all his might and trying to launch himself up the steps, but he couldn?t quite do it. ?Need a hand?? I asked him and gripped the waist of his coat to give him the gentlest boost. ?Don?t do that, please!? a man?s voice called loudly. I looked up to see who was being told off and was surprised and horrified to realise that it was me! The man was approaching in long strides, with an impatient look on his face. ?I?m sorry,? I said. ?Have I put my foot in it? Had you told him not to go on the slide?? ?Certainly not,? the man replied. ?I told him to have a go if he thought he could manage it, but he?ll never get the chance to learn for himself if other people?s parents keep lifting him and catching him.? Ouch. That was me told. ?Daddy, I?m stuck!? the tiny boy shouted. ?So what do you think you might do?? the cross man called back. ?I?m stuck!? the boy repeated. ?Yes,? the man said. ?But you know the rule ? if you get yourself into it, you get yourself out of it.? I looked at the boy. Would he start to cry? I knew Emily would if I spoke to her like that when she was in need. But he didn?t. With an angry face he slowly managed to haul himself on to the very top of the slide and into a sitting position. ?So long, suckers!? the tiny boy cried, then sailed down the shiny metal slope without a care in the world. ?His speech is very clear,? I said to the man, with what I hoped was a distinct edge to my voice. I would have been mortified if Emily had come out with something like that. But he didn?t react with any embarrassment. ?Yes, that?s because I don?t talk to him like he?s an idiot. It?s just as easy to learn to say ?train? as it is to learn ?choo-choo?. We don?t have any of that ?Moo-cow? nonsense in our house.? ?Oh,? was all I managed to say. Emily went to play in the sandpit and I sat down on a nearby bench where I could keep an eye on her. To my surprise, the man followed and sat beside me. ?What age is your daughter?? he asked me after a minute. ?Emily is two and a half,? I said proudly. I thought he would say something complimentary, because that?s what normal people do. But not him. ?Have you had her eyes tested?? he asked instead. ?No,? I answered in surprise. ?You should,? he replied. ?I think she needs glasses.? He thought she needed glasses? He?d only spotted her five minutes ago. I?d lived with her for over two years and the idea had never entered my mind! ?Are you an optician?? I asked, hoping vehemently that he wasn?t and would have to admit it. ?No. But I know children,? he said. ?Oh, so you have lots of them,? I replied. ?No. Just Leo,? the man replied. ?The eye test is free for children, so there?s no reason not to. I?m Murray. And you are?? ?Frances,? I told him, though I couldn?t imagine why he wanted to know, since he didn?t seem to think very highly of me. ?Frances,? he repeated, and gave me an appraising look, as if to decide whether I was, in fact, correct about this at least. ?Leo, time to go home and make dinner,? Murray shouted across the playpark. I pictured the tiny boy standing on a stool at a sink full of potatoes. ?If you can eat them, you can peel them,? I imagined his father barking at him. * * * * I made Emily an appointment with the optician for Wednesday morning. She needed glasses. I felt horrible. I was supposed to be the doting parent and I hadn?t even noticed that my daughter was struggling to do something as basic as see properly. It had taken a stranger to point it out. Seeing my little girl?s face weighed down with a set of frames ? it seemed like the end of her carefree days and the start of a more serious era. ?Don?t think of it like that,? the optician advised. ?Look at her trying them on ? she?s having a ball. Lots of children like having glasses. And there are so many styles to choose from.? I let Emily pick whichever ones she wanted and she went for pink. ?I think they?re the ones a princess would wear, Mummy,? she told me. At Emily?s suggestion, we stopped off at the park on the way home. I half-hoped to run into Murray. Although he wasn?t very pleasant 16 company, I did want to say thank you. Murray was there, drinking a cup of coffee from the kiosk, leaning on the park?s railings, looking in. ?Hello,? I said, approaching with Emily. ?Frances!? he exclaimed in surprise. ?Hello.? ?I want to thank you,? I said. ?I took Emily for that eye test and you were right.? tired. We must have ambled almost a mile before she succumbed. I strapped her into place, wrapped her blanket around her knees, and within minutes she was asleep. Our route home took us through the park, and I decided to make the most of Emily?s nap and flop down with a coffee from the kiosk. It was a lovely day for A now-familiar voice burst my little bubble of contentment ?Well, I?m glad you got that sorted,? he replied. Suddenly he was off again. ?Excuse me!? he shouted and, dropping his cup in the bin, he barrelled across the park. ?I?d rather you didn?t help him, thank you. He needs to learn how to challenge himself.? As Emily began to play, I found myself taking a leaf out of Murray?s book and backing off a little to see how she?d get on on her own. It was interesting. The less obviously I watched her, the more self-sufficient she became. I?d often fretted that Emily didn?t interact with other children in the park, even though she was a perfectly good talker at home. But today, when I kept my distance, she started to chat and play with another little child in a red anorak. Their giggles attracted Leo, and the three of them ran up the ramp, across the bridge, through the hoops and down a slide, over and over, laughing and never seeming to tire. I glanced around for Murray and found him back at the railings. He shot me a look that seemed to say, ?I told you so.? If he hadn?t been so rude, I?d have smiled back. * * * * On Friday, Emily and I went for a long walk, taking the buggy in case she got sitting out, the sky blue and the sun shining brightly. I was feeling quite at one with nature, when a now-familiar voice burst my little bubble of contentment. ?Mind if I sit down?? Murray asked. I had to shield my eyes with my hand to look up at him. ?Of course not,? I fibbed. I wasn?t in the mood for his grumpily delivered wisdom. ?Where?s Leo today?? ?Hospital,? he replied. ?Oh, no!? I exclaimed. ?Is he all right?? My mind was racing ? had Murray let his little boy take one risk too many? ?Gastroenteritis,? Murray explained. ?Half the kids at his playgroup have it. Couldn?t even keep down water, so they?ve had to stick him on a drip.? Well, I pictured little Leo, lying in a hospital bed with a tube in his arm, and I looked at Murray, nonchalantly counting out change for a coffee in the palm of his hand. I?m afraid I lost it. ?You parade around here, thinking you?re a super-parent because you?re raising your child to be so independent!? I shouted at him. ?Well, if ever there was a time to give that little boy some support, this is it. ?Even fully grown adults are frightened of hospitals,? I ranted. ?Just imagine how scary it must be for a two-year-old.? Murray stared back at me in amazement. ?Frances,? he began, ?I didn?t leave Leo on his own. I took him in yesterday afternoon and held his hand while they took his blood and fitted the cannula for the drip. ?I read him stories until he fell asleep and then I spent the night in the chair beside his bed. ?I stayed for the ward round this morning. When my mum and dad popped in at visiting time, I took the opportunity to get a breath of air and a clean shirt. I spotted you sitting here and figured I had just about enough time for a coffee.? ?Oh,? I said feebly. ?So can I do that?? Murray asked gruffly. I nodded. ?Of course. Sorry.? Over our drinks, we suspended hostilities and Murray told me how Leo had been the product of a whirlwind romance that had blown itself out when the baby arrived and Leo?s mother discovered she wasn?t the maternal type. ?She was a homesick Aussie, and wanted to get back to her old life in Alice Springs,? Murray said. ?I said we should all go together, but she was adamant. Motherhood just wasn?t for her. ?I couldn?t understand how she could leave him. As soon as he arrived, I fell in love with him ? how could she not feel the same?? ?My relationship didn?t even survive the news of the pregnancy,? I confided. ?The minute I told Barry, he was planning his escape route. My parents are great, but it?s not the same as someone being there with us every day.? ?I know what you mean,? Murray said. Just then, a woman approached our bench excitedly, holding out a book and a pen. ?Murray Chambers? It is Murray Chambers, isn?t it? Would you be kind enough to sign this for me? I?ve just bought it. I?m a huge fan.? Murray didn?t look thrilled, but took the book anyway. I could see that it was simply titled ?Play? and had a colour photograph of some older children doing exactly that. He zipped across an inner page with his autograph, then handed book and pen back to the woman. ?So you?re an expert on children?s play?? I said when she?d gone. ?Yep,? he replied. ?And I?m passionate about it, as you?ve seen. Parents seem to forget what they enjoyed in their own childhoods. Real play is freely chosen, self-directed and intrinsically motivated, to use the jargon.? ?In other words,? I said, ?it?s not organised by adults.? ?Exactly,? Murray said. ?If grown-ups must hang around, they should do their best to be invisible.? ?Says the most highly visible man in the park!? I said, scoffing just a little. ?You know, people tend to notice when you march about telling us off!? ?It?s not my fault that I?m constantly thwarted,? he argued. ?Murray,? I said after some thought, ?underneath that gruff exterior, I suspect there?s a decent and interesting person. I didn?t expect to say this to the rude man from the park, but would you and Leo like to come to our place for dinner some time? ?I promise not to cut up Leo?s food for him,? I teased. He laughed at that. ?At last,? he said, ?a woman who understands me. I?d love to come, and Leo, too. I?d better get going.? Murray logged my phone number, then looked at me. ?Frances, may I kiss you?? I thought I?d forgotten how to kiss a man, it had been so long. But it came back quite easily with Murray. ?Kissing,? he murmured. ?So uncomplicated.? ?Yes,? I said, smiling. ?It?s like child?s play.? n wellbeing Health & Great advice to keep you happy and healthy Q. I know there are ?good? fats that we should include in our diet. What are they, and what should I avoid? Naturopathic Nutritionist Amy Morris, from Water for Health, is here to help. It is important to know exactly which fats to eat and which to steer clear of. The ?bad? fats, such as artificial trans fats and saturated fats, have been blamed for weight gain and clogged arteries. So avoid high-fat dairy foods or fatty cuts of meat. The ?good? fats, such as unsaturated fats and omega-3s, have the opposite effect. In fact, these play a huge role in helping you to manage your moods, improve your memory, fight fatigue and even control your weight. In The News iStock. Breast Cancer Breakthrough A new treatment for breast cancer, which was only available privately, has now been licensed for NHS use at hospitals in the UK. The procedure, called Intrabeam or IORT (intraoperative radio therapy) gives a single targeted dose of radiotherapy to the tumour site immediately after a lumpectomy while the patient is still under anaesthetic. This single 30-minute session replaces the need for four to six weeks of daily radiotherapy treatment for women with small, early stage tumours. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of complications caused by traditional radiotherapy which can damage nearby tissues and organs. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are the type of fat that you need to be including in your diet. They are especially beneficial to your health, with research showing that omega-3 has the ability to prevent and reduce symptoms of depression, protect against memory loss and dementia, reduce the risk of heart disease, ease arthritis and battle fatigue. Your body cannot create omega-3 on its own, and while you can obtain it through foods such as oily fish, nuts, and flax seeds, if you don?t think you?re getting enough there are many omega-3 supplements available. I recommend UnoCardio 1000 from Water for Health (www.waterforhealth. co.uk rrp �.75), an omega-3 and vitamin D blend of fish oil supplement. Positively Good For You Health Bite Taking on an optimistic outlook can have great effects on your health, according to Dr Sally Norton from vavistalife.com. So stick a smile on your face and tick off the following benefits: ? improved heart health (including better blood sugar and cholesterol levels) ? successful dieting (negative feelings can trigger cravings for sugary and fatty foods) ? fitness achievements (having a positive attitude helps keep you going, enabling you to reach goals) ? stress management (positive thinking is the best way to handle stress, and it increases your chances of success in all areas) It is well known that brown rice is healthier than bleached white rice because of the fibre and plant nutrients found in each individual husk, but studies show that red, purple or black rice not only has five times more antioxidants than brown, it can help protect you against allergic reactions and could even have anti-cancer effects, too. In many vegetables, the stronger the colour the higher the density of disease-fighting antioxidants, and rice is no different. But red rice has been shown to be a particularly good source of fibre, which helps control cholesterol and blood sugar levels, while reducing the amount of arteryclogging plaque. We are unable to offer individual advice to readers. Please see your own GP if you have a medical problem. HEALTH 19 A healthy diet and exercise can help Benefits Of Beetroot Understanding Panic Attacks Our Health Writer, Colleen Shannon, looks at how to cope. A healthy gut should process any meal within 24 hours, but modern diets can leave us constipated, with food clogging the system for considerably longer. Transit time will always vary from person to person, but it is not uncommon for some heavy, meat-laden meals to hang around in your gut for more than five days, and even if you believe you are ?regular? you could be flushing food today that you ate last week. You can speed things up by increasing your consumption of fruit and vegetables and adding beetroot to your diet ? enjoy a side order of roasted beetroot, a glass of beetroot juice or a few slices of beetroot with a salad. It really can make all the difference. VERYONE?S A Biodegradable Dental Floss A n If you are trying to cut back on plastic waste in your home you need to know that nylon dental floss easily leaks into waterways, where its strength and length make it a risky device for potentially strangling and choking wildlife. Most commercial brands of dental floss also come packaged in hard plastic containers which are difficult to recycle. However, you can buy natural silk floss (which biodegrades naturally) packaged in metal or glass such as Cardamon Silk Floss, �90 from www. georganics.co.uk or Silk Dental Lace (�50 for two spools) from www. anythingbutplastic. co.uk SHORT STORY BY PAULINE BRADBURY 21 The Way We Were Growing used to the changes in her life was getting Sylvie down . . . Illustration by Sarah Holliday. I T was Saturday and it was cold and wet. The tumble dryer had broken so there was a pile of wet garments waiting to take their turn on the airer, while the radiators were hung with their share of the smaller things. The dishwasher ought to be unloaded because there were more dirty crocks to go in, and Sylvie herself needed to change out of her joggers and Kev?s comfy sweatshirt before he came back, or her mother called. ?If only things could get back to normal.? She sighed, sinking instead into the one chair that was free from clutter. ?If only it was a normal Saturday.? At this time on a normal Saturday, Kev would have left to cheer on the local football team. She would be choosing something glam to wear to meet her friends for a gossip over a cappuccino, before returning home to the fish and chip supper Kev would have picked up on his way home. That had been the routine ever since they got married, until recently. ?Why didn?t I appreciate it more?? she asked herself. In four years of marriage they had established a pattern of living that Sylvie had got used to, but had taken for granted. One evening a week they ate out with friends. They each cooked on two evenings. Saturdays was fish and chips, even when the footie season was over, and on Sundays they had a standing invitation to both sets of parents for the traditional roast. ?I knew where I was,? Sylvie whispered to herself, tucking her hands inside the baggy sweater sleeves. ?I knew what to expect. But now we?ve had weeks of chaos, and I can?t cope.? That was exactly what her mother had said the other day. ?Do you feel you can?t cope, Sylvie?? she?d asked straight out. ?Everybody feels down from time to time. The doctor could give you something to help.? Sylvie was affronted. Sylvie Watson depressed? Never! When she thought of all the ups and downs in her working life that she had sailed through, the difficult characters she had diplomatically managed in order to keep the team running smoothly, not to mention the hard slog of studying for years before that, well . . . ?Of course I can cope, Mum,? she snapped. ?I?m just a bit under the weather, that?s all.? Her mother had only been trying to help, so Sylvie had mumbled an apology for being sharp, but although she accepted it with a smile, her mother had looked sceptical. Her closest friend had approached it differently. ?It?s normal to be depressed,? Holly had said over a cup of tea. ?I got a book out of the library to read up on it. I?ve brought it for you to look at.? ?No!? Sylvie had almost screamed. ?I know you mean well, but I?m not depressed. I just want everything to get back to normal.? ?I think that is a form of depression,? Holly had contradicted, with all the confidence of an old friend. ?You?ve got to acknowledge it.? Of course, Kev, who was all patience and kindness, had tentatively tried to discuss the situation several times and she was just as irritated with him. ?I just want things to get back to normal,? she?d told him. ?I hate it all being so chaotic.? Kev had dropped a quick kiss on the top of her dark hair. ?But Sylvie, this is normal now. Why don?t you sit there and rest, and I?ll toast you a teacake with lots of butter and jam?? ?I?m not a child,? she?d said disagreeably. Sylvie wriggled uncomfortably as she remembered this little incident, which was one of many. Kev was doing his best for her, and making a brilliant job of everything else, but she didn?t feel grateful. In fact, if she were honest, she resented it. ?What is the matter with me?? she suddenly exclaimed loudly. ?Maybe everybody?s right and I am depressed.? That was a depressing thought in itself, but it brought a wry smile to her face, and prompted her to go and change into something less sloppy. By the time she?d changed into leggings and a nice shirt, she heard the car being reversed into their driveway. She fixed what she hoped was a bright smile on her face and went to open the front door. Kev, too, was full of smiles as he manoeuvred the car seat carefully through the hall and into the lounge. ?You look great, Sylvie.? He grinned appreciatively. ?Guess what news Poppy and I have for you! Hang on a minute while I get the shopping in.? Sylvie gazed down at her eight-week-old daughter, snuggled into the floral snowsuit Kev?s mother had chosen. Her pink-cheeked face peeped out of it and her eyes were tightly Topaz Cornflower Pendant Spring Jewels Why not brighten up your look with our Spring Accessories. This beautiful jewellery from Anderson & Webb is made to the highest standards with genuine precious and semi precious gemstones, set in best quality 925 sterling silver, marked on the reverse. Complete your new Pearl Stud look with a Earrings with pair of pearl every order! stud earrings worth �99, free with every order. FREE Name . ......................................................................................... Address ....................................................................................... .................................................................................................... .................................................................................................... Postcode ..................................................................................... 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Name on Card ............................................................................................................... DC Thomson & Co. Ltd and its group companies would like to contact you about new products, services and offers we think may be of interest to you. If you?d like to hear from us by post, please tick here telephone, please tick here or email, please tick here . From time to time, carefully chosen partner businesses would like to contact you with relevant offers. If you?d like to hear from partner businesses for this purpose please tick here . Offer open to UK readers only and is subject to availability. Price will be refunded if the item is returned undamaged and unworn within 14 days of receipt. Enquiries to 01296 641881. Your card will be debited by Lyncroft Marketing. PF165 CALL: 01858 345108 PF165 quoting Lines open Monday to Friday 8.45 a.m. - 8.00 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Please have your credit/ debit card details to hand. Calls cost 10p/min. from standard BT landline. Calls from other networks and mobiles may vary. BY POST: Complete the order form with your credit card details or cheque/postal order, made payable to Lyncroft Marketing and send to: ?The People?s Friend? Jewellery Offer PF165, PO Box 504, Leicester, LE94 0AE OnLine: www.andersonandwebb.com/pf165 SERIES BY DELLA GALTON: PART 1 OF 30 shut, showing off her long dark lashes. Kev?s eyelashes. The realisation flashed through her mind, making her heart bounce unevenly. Poppy had inherited Kev?s enviable long lashes. Gingerly, she pushed the hood back from the baby?s head, revealing wisps of dark hair. Her own colouring? Somehow she had never really taken those facts in. She stroked the soft cheek and immediately Poppy opened her eyes. Up until now, Sylvie?s reaction would have been irritation that the baby had been woken unnecessarily, but this time it was different. She gazed at Poppy?s eyes, which were already darkening. Like her own, she thought. Were they going to be brown? Then she realised that the baby was staring back at her. Focusing. ?Hello, little Poppy,? she murmured. ?You?re a proper little person, aren?t you? But you?re also a wee bit of your daddy and a wee bit of me.? A shiver of wonder suddenly ran through her at the thought that she and Kev had produced this baby together. How clever was that? She had been so overwhelmed by all the practicalities and physical work which had followed the birth that she?d had no energy or inclination to ponder the thought that Poppy was their awesome creation. Suddenly she scooped Poppy up, feeling desperate to cuddle her, and as she was smiling at her daughter, a miracle happened. ?Poppy smiled!? Sylvie exclaimed as Kev joined her. ?That was going to be my news!? Kev laughed. ?Isn?t she our clever girl?? ?Our clever girl,? Sylvie repeated, happiness flooding through her as the foggy emotions of the last few weeks began to disappear. Life was beginning again, but with three of them now, soon that would feel normal. n Busy Bees Josh thought he was dreaming when the gorgeous girl walked in . . . S UZY ALLEN put her cleaning box just inside the kitchen and looked around. Not too bad at all. She made a mental list: 1. Clean work surfaces 2. Empty dishwasher 3. Wash floors 4. Water houseplants. Suzy wasn?t sure that watering plants was in the remit of a cleaner, but the ones in this flat would have been dead long ago if she hadn?t kept an eye on them. Beryl Bannister clearly wasn?t the nurturing type. Suzy set to work, singing along to Ed Sheeran on her iPod as she cleaned. In another life she was the famous Elannah, singer and pianist who?d come from nowhere to take the music world by storm. She loved the name Elannah. And famous people often went by their first names, didn?t they? Adele, Beyonce, Madonna. . . She couldn?t actually play the piano, but she was having sing ing lessons. Jackie West, her teacher, said she had a sweet voice. Suzy hoped she wasn?t just being nice. In another life Suzy had confidence and a boyfriend. There wasn?t much talent in Ashmore. It was a tiny place, more village than town, and with more older people than young. Most of the young ones escaped to uni or a job in the nearby city of Salisbury as soon as they could. Suzy had opted to stay in the family business. Busy Bees boasted that they employed a fleet of cleaners (was four a fleet?) and she liked the work. Singing would be better, but like her mum said, how many people made a living from singing? Suzy sang while she cleaned. It was a great way to practise because most of her clients were out. Especially the ones in this sheltered housing block. It was a myth about old people spending their twilight years curled up by the fire, knitting. The ones she knew were out hiking or arranging protests. No, it was just her gran that arranged protests. She was always signing a petition about something or other. Beryl, who owned this flat, was out with Suzy?s gran right now. They belonged to the same rambling group. Suzy flicked around the lounge with a duster, lifting photos and clearing away a dead fly from the window-sill. Just the bedrooms and bathroom and she?d be done. * * * * Josh Bannister awoke to the sound of singing. He yawned. What time was it? 9.30? He?d overslept. He?d told his gran he?d be away by 8.30. He had a vague memory of her bringing in a mug of tea at the crack of dawn. He must have gone back to sleep while it cooled on the bedside table. 23 Who was singing? It sounded loud. He hadn?t thought the walls in this block were so thin. He was still contemplating this when the door opened and light flooded the room. Josh wasn?t sure who was the more shocked, himself or the blonde who was now staring at him wide-eyed. ?Um . . .? she said. ?Er . . .? Josh said, pulling the duvet up to his neck. Wow, Suzy thought, what?s Ed Sheeran doing in Beryl?s spare room? Wow, Josh thought, who is she? Suzy recovered first. ?I didn?t know anyone was in. Beryl didn?t say.? ?She probably forgot.? Josh gave her a grin. ?I?m her grandson. I was supposed to be gone.? ?I?ll let you get dressed.? She backed out of the room. Josh felt strangely disappointed. His heart was thumping. Gran hadn?t mentioned that a stunning blonde did her cleaning. On the other side of the door, Suzy took a deep steadying breath. OK, he obviously wasn?t Ed Sheeran. They just had the same orange hair and cute little beard. But he had a gorgeous smile. Maybe the talent in Ashmore was looking up. * * * * Beryl Bannister and Elizabeth had just climbed over a stile and were walking along a sunny footpath. ?I wonder if our grandchildren have bumped into each other yet,? Elizabeth mused. ?That depends on whether Josh got up when he said he would,? Beryl said. ?What are the chances?? Beryl arched her eyebrows. ?Highly unlikely, I?d think. He?ll probably only just have finished breakfast.? ?You are wicked,? Elizabeth murmured. ?We are both wicked,? Beryl said, hitching her rucksack into a comfortable position on her shoulders and smiling at her friend. ?We certainly do our best,? Elizabeth acknowledged with a wink. More next week. Brainteasers Word Ladder Move from the word at the top of the ladder to the word at the bottom using the exact number of rungs provided by changing one letter at a time (but not the position of any letter). W E A K S P O T Pieceword A O E D OM T E D D M N I E D E ACROSS 1 2 3 1 He is in finest order (6) 4 An application not available to contain 8 sickness (6) 8 Ointment takes up most of the tray (5) 10 9 Gun lad waves about one without enthusiasm (7) 12 13 10 Show superiority in sport, not in drama (7) 15 11 Awfully pure English coin (5) 17 18 12 Stop Jolson entering common (9) 17 Religious man?s tailless 21 pet (5) 19 Triad is new writer (7) 21 Dean has one drink (7) 22 Chuck needs support (5) 23 23 Onerous levy in Gateshead (6) 6 Baffle cricket target (5) 24 Ye lied about facial 7 Warden falls over feature (6) boy (6) DOWN 9 Placed ideally in 1 See his patch? (6) tree (9) 2 It?ll hop round crest (7) 13 Note I?d prepared 3 Nick finds bargain (5) about one issue (7) 5 Trainee flustered by 14 Trifling six in hearing (7) national course (7) With the help of the Across clues only, can you fit the pieces into their correct positions in the grid? R E D T R A R E T T R C A N E I I M P A I T 4 G I C R U D A T U I T E R R K N T E R P R A U D E 7 U R N R E T L K G E D F C D E A T E U E L B GH T NOU C R E 10 Y E N T L I A E R W P A A C S K I E R A D D L I N C E R S S I S 13 N C E E S T I T Answers on p87 Try our cryptic crossword R D I C A D I B U R O E S PUZZLES 25 1 2 3 L 6 5 6 7 9 11 14 16 19 20 22 24 15 Go trim round Nick Park?s animated dog (6) 16 Put on stone before getting old (6) 18 Cleaning compound for tin soldiers when trapped (5) 20 Make a test when to speak (5) Sudoku Fill the grid with the numbers 1 to 9 so that each row, column and 3x3 block contains the numbers 1 to 9. 2 5 4 6 3 1 2 9 8 7 3 8 8 9 5 6 11 12 3 14 15 ACROSS 1 Foolhardy, unwise 3 Weave together ? Nutty chocolates 5 Destroyed completely ? Gas or coal, eg 7 Came back ? Very distressing 9 11 13 15 Zero ? Sherry container Slip accidentally ? Ascribed Dependence ? Minute particle Sureness, confidence 2 5 9 4 9 2 6 9 7 4 4 3 5 4 2 5 All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com YOUR PETS 27 Vet Linda Simon has tips on how to be strong for your pet Pets & Vets When is it time to say goodbye? P ETS are a joy and add so much to our lives. Ultimately, though, one of the most difficult decisions we may ever have to make for our pets is knowing when the right time is to have them put to sleep. For many people, this is a stressful experience that can prey heavily on their minds long after the event has passed. Won?t they pass by themselves when it?s time? While there are some pets who pass naturally and peacefully in their sleep in their old age, this is not the case for most. As animals age, their health naturally declines, and many have a poor quality of life in their last few weeks. Mobility issues, weight loss and gastrointestinal problems are all common in the older patient. Isn?t there anything else we can do for them? Of course, there are a number of treatable conditions that elderly animals will suffer from that can be diagnosed and treated by your vet. If, however, your pet does not have a treatable condition, and is suffering, or is at the stage where they do not have an acceptable quality of life, providing them with a humane euthanasia can truly be the best thing that you can do for them. How will I know? Knowing when ?enough is enough? is not a simple task and is something that your vet will help to guide you through. Tools such as a ?Quality of Life? scale, a iStock. Flock Talk If you?ve ever thought of keeping a couple of hens in your garden, then Melissa Caughey?s ?How To Speak Chicken? is a great read. Full of delightful pictures and fascinating facts ? did you know that hens can run at eight miles an hour? ? this lively book tells you how to look after, and communicate with, your feathered friends. It?s published by Storey, RRP �.99, and available from the usual outlets. Your pet questions answered by PDSA Vet Rebecca Ashman Q Why does my dog want to eat grass? A Dogs can eat grass for a variety of weird and wonderful reasons. Sometimes, it is thought they do it because they may be deficient in fibre. Try adding veggies as a treat, such as carrots or apples. If other symptoms develop, such as diarrhoea or vomiting, speak with your vet. Q My cat hunts mice and birds. Could he get worms? A questionnaire that helps to measure objectively things like your pet?s discomfort or happiness levels, can be helpful. It can also be useful to compare your pet today to how it was last month, or even last year, and to think about if they have more good days or bad days. Now what? Once a decision has been made, the procedure itself is generally very peaceful. It is a good idea to discuss the procedure with your vet beforehand, to make sure you feel comfortable. If you are finding it difficult to cope after the loss of a loved pet, whether they were put to sleep or passed away at home, there is now lots of support out there. Your vet will be able to provide you with local pet bereavement services. n Yes, he could get worms and even fleas so make sure he?s up to date on preventive treatments. Fleas and worms can also spread in the house to people and pets so it?s important to be vigilant. Prescription flea and worming treatments from a veterinary practice are generally more effective than those bought over the counter. PDSA is the UK?s leading veterinary charity. For further information visit www.pdsa. org.uk or call 0800 731 2502. Alfred?s Emporium Set In 1882 Illustration by Ruth Blair. The Story So Far ROSE BRYSON is companion to the reclusive MRS JAMESON at Cross Roads House near Datcherford. Rose has been forced to work in order to pay off her late father?s debts. After his own father?s passing, ALFRED HAPSTALL now runs the town?s grocery store with the help of his mother MARIAH and young TOM LIVERSEDGE. DELIA BASSETT is a privileged young lady who is considering Alfred as husband material, despite him being ?beneath her? in society. Her mother vows not to let the match happen, and seeks advice from her husband?s cousin, Mrs Jameson. Upon a visit to Cross Roads House, Rose confides in Alfred about her father?s debts and how she came to be there, and in turn he shares his dreams of expanding his family?s business into a grand department store. On Alfred?s return to Hapstall?s, a sudden idea comes to him . . . M Alfred?s hopes of owning a department store had hit a snag . . . ARIAH was at a loss to understand Alfred?s excitement. ?Look, Mother!? he said triumphantly as they stood in the doorway of Hapstall?s little shop. She scanned the empty street again and shrugged. ?I see only cobbles and shops and cottages. And the old assembly building.? ?Exactly,? Alfred said. ?No-one sees the assembly building any more. It has stood there for a hundred years, but it?s the place I?ve been looking for and it was here all the time. It?s big, it has upper floors and a magnificent staircase. It would make a perfect department store.? ?Alfred,? she said sternly. ?The assembly building is very old and the staircase will have rusted and birds are nesting in the roof.? ?But think, Mother,? he persisted. ?Now it?s fallen into disrepair, the owner will probably sell it cheaply. It?s the place I?ve always wanted and it?s here already!? Bewildered, Mariah sat down while Alfred paced around outside the shop, stopping every minute to take another look at the SERIAL BY LOUISE J. STEVENS: PART 4 OF 7 29 assembly building. ?There?s so much to do,? he said excitedly. ?I must find out the owner?s name, then I must see about how to pay for it and then ?? ?Are you all right, Mr Hapstall?? ?Yes, Tom,? Alfred said. He hadn?t noticed Tom washing the shop window. ?Then,? Alfred continued, ?I must make plans. How to stock it, how to find staff, and fixtures. I?ll need more people as it grows.? Unable to keep still, Alfred strode across to the building. He looked up at the once grand portico, imagining the name of Hapstall?s painted across it in letters so tall that they could be seen from the end of the street. He wished he could look inside, but Mr Darrowby had been very thorough in fixing the shutters. ?No matter,? he called cheerfully to his mother and Tom, who were staring at him from across the street. ?What?s Mr Alfred talking about?? Tom whispered to Mariah. ?He wants a bigger shop,? a worried-looking Mariah explained. ?But keep it a secret. I?m not sure where this is all going to lead.? Tom was quiet for a moment. ?If Mr Alfred had a bigger shop, then he?d be busier than ever, wouldn?t he, Mrs Hapstall?? he asked. ?I expect so, Tom,? she replied absently, wishing that Alfred would come inside before the neighbours saw his odd antics. ?In that case,? Tom said, beaming, ?he?s bound to want me to drive the horse and cart.? Later, when Tom had left for home, Alfred returned. ?I?ve walked all round it, Mother,? he said. ?The brickwork is in good repair so the interior cannot be so bad.? ?Come and eat your supper,? she replied. ?It will help you think clearly.? ?I?ll eat later,? he said, putting his arm around her. ?I have never been clearer about anything in my life.? Late into the night, a light flickered in a room above Hapstall?s shop and the only sound was the scratching of pen on paper as Alfred wrote away into the early hours. By morning he had the outline for his enterprise. With his mother left to mind the shop, he marched up the street, bristling with excitement, stopping only to gaze at the assembly building. The sight spurred him on, and at eight o?clock he arrived at the office of Mr Lampton ? Datcherford?s town clerk for as long as anyone could remember. It was closed. * * * * After an anxious five minutes, Alfred saw Mr Lampton approaching, dressed in his black coat and leaning on his walking cane. He seemed surprised to find Alfred waiting there. ?Good morning,? he said, extending his hand. ?It?s Mr Hapstall, isn?t it?? After so many years as town clerk, there was little Mr Lampton did not know about Datcherford and its people. ?Yes, sir,? Alfred replied. ?I?ve come to seek your help.? ?My help?? Mr Lampton repeated, looking incredulous. ?About a property in the town.? Alfred was eager to get on. There was so much to accomplish that day. ?Come in, Mr Hapstall,? Mr Lampton said, taking out his key fob. ?It is fortunate you came today,? he remarked as he pushed against the door and led the way inside. ?For some time, the town clerk?s office has opened only on Tuesdays. There is not the demand, I?m afraid. ?To tell the truth, on most Tuesdays no-one calls at all,? he said, taking his place at a dusty desk. ?How can I be of service?? Alfred pulled up one of the rickety chairs. ?I?m here about the assembly building, sir,? he began earnestly. ?The assembly building,? Mr Lampton echoed with a wistful smile. ?Oh, such times we had there ? music, plays, dancing. Mrs Lampton and I were introduced in that very place, many years ago.? ?Actually,? Alfred said, fidgeting on the edge of his chair, ?it?s the building itself I?m interested in.? ?Ah, yes, the building. A handsome structure and the pride of our little town in its heyday. Somewhat worn now, of course. I sense a certain stagnation about the town, do you not agree, Mr Hapstall?? ?That?s part of the reason I?m here, Mr Lampton,? Alfred continued. ?This town needs rejuvenating and the only way that can happen is if trade increases and employment can be found, so that people have a paper files ? there seemed to be hundreds of them. But Mr Lampton knew his business. Without hesitation, he pulled out a package of papers, placed it on his desk and carefully untied the red string. Alfred, with a mounting sense of excitement, sat forward in his chair. ?The original plans of the assembly building,? Mr Lampton said with due solemnity, unfolding large sheets of age-dried paper. ?As you can see, there is an imposing entrance hall with four sizeable rooms on the ground floor, and then the staircase ? a magnificent structure, quite famous in By morning, Alfred had the outline for his enterprise reason to come here.? ?An interesting notion.? Mr Lampton nodded. ?But what has that to do with the assembly building?? ?I want to buy it,? Alfred stated. ?Open it up again.? ?As a place of entertainment?? Mr Lampton was astonished. ?I?m not sure if there would be enough patronage ?? ?No, sir. I want to use it as a shop. A large shop.? Mr Lampton stared. ?That?s my plan,? Alfred affirmed. ?A large shop?? the polite Mr Lampton repeated. ?It is the strangest thing I have ever heard. But I suppose you know what you are about, Mr Hapstall.? His expression betrayed him; he clearly thought the opposite. ?In order to proceed, I need information,? Alfred continued, undaunted. ?So you are here to look at the documents we hold ? plans and so forth?? ?Exactly.? Mr Lampton rose from his desk and walked to a cupboard against one wall of the office. From his efforts to wrench it open, it was clear that the cupboard had not been searched for some time. The doors finally gave way with a loud creak and a shower of dust, revealing shelves full of yellowing its day, leading to upper floors, with further rooms of extensive dimensions. ?There are also a number of smaller offices and a second staircase to the rear,? he finished. ?It?s perfect,? Alfred said, mesmerised by the drawings before him. In his imagination, the pencilled lines became walls covered in fine paper, the shaded floors were softened with rich carpeting and the sketched staircase shone with the reflected light of a chandelier. A slight cough from Mr Lampton brought him back to the present. ?I think you might find it rather less than perfect, Mr Hapstall,? he cautioned. ?The assembly building has endured years of abandonment.? ?Even better,? Alfred said with enthusiasm. ?That must increase my chances of buying it. Which brings me to my next question, Mr Lampton. Who owns the assembly building?? ?The same gentleman who owns many properties hereabouts,? Mr Lampton said. ?It belongs to Mr Bassett, of Datcherford Manor.? * * * * The day had begun like any other at Cross Roads House, the 31 servants going about their business in quiet order, mindful that their mistress was a late riser. At nine o?clock the hush was broken by Molly, the scullery maid, running into the kitchen. ?There?s a big carriage coming down the driveway!? she cried. Biggins, the groundsman, sprang from the chair and began fumbling into his coat, at the same time being shooed out of the room by Mrs Dee, the cook. ?Be quick,? she urged. ?If you?re not there to meet the carriage, Mrs Jameson will question why you weren?t in the garden. ?Has anyone told her there?s a visitor?? she asked Molly as the panicstricken Biggins fled. ?The mistress is still in her room,? Molly replied. ?Shall I tell her?? ?It?s not your place, you foolish girl,? Mrs Dee barked. ?Find Rose Bryson.? Rose was already watching the carriage from an upstairs window. ?Whoever is calling at this time?? Baines, the housemaid, said, hearing the commotion. ?We hardly ever see visitors. ?Mrs Jameson doesn?t like anyone disturbing her routine. I tell you, Miss Bryson, this is more than a courtesy call.? Rose had recognised the carriage and she?d come to the same conclusion. She knocked on Mrs Jameson?s door. ?What is it?? the answer came. ?Excuse me, ma?am,? she called. ?A carriage is just arriving.? Mrs Jameson appeared, wearing her dressing robe and clearly displeased at the disturbance. ?I believe it is Mrs Bassett,? Rose added. ?At this hour? How thoughtless! Bryson, go down and receive Mrs Bassett. Baines will help me finish dressing.? With a fearful look, Baines followed Mrs Jameson, while Rose descended the stairs and went outside. Biggins, breathless from running round to the front of the house, was holding the horse as Mrs Bassett was assisted from the carriage. ?Good morning, ma?am,? Rose said pleasantly. ?Mrs Jameson is slightly detained and asks if you will wait in the morning room.? ?Very well,? Mrs Bassett muttered in an agitated manner, too preoccupied to recognise Rose. She followed Rose inside, declining the offer of refreshments. Rose stood waiting for several awkward minutes until the door opened and Mrs Jameson swept in. ?Dear Olivia,? she said, greeting Mrs Bassett with a cold embrace. ?What a pleasure! Do sit down. Bryson, bring tea, will you.? Mrs Bassett did not wait for Rose to go before she began talking. ?I am distraught,? she confided to Mrs Jameson. ?Delia has written to me from her aunt?s house. She wants to come home immediately. She insists she is bored, but I fear it?s to be with this young man she has taken up with.? Rose left the room to fetch tea, but Mrs Dee was approaching, bearing a tray. ?I thought she?d send for this,? Mrs Dee hissed, her face full of eager curiosity. ?What?s to do? Something?s happened, hasn?t it?? ?I couldn?t say, Mrs Dee,? Rose answered, taking the tray. ?I am not in Mrs Jameson?s confidence.? She knocked on the morning room door and went back inside. The two ladies were in close conference and neither glanced at Rose. ?I hoped she would stay with her aunt until the Paris visit could be arranged,? Mrs Bassett was saying as Rose proceeded to serve tea. ?I have tried to persuade her to do so. But how can I put an end to this liaison if she comes home?? ?Do you think his attachment can be true?? Mrs Jameson asked. ?Isn?t it more likely Hapstall is a fortune hunter?? ?We do not know him, of course,? Mrs Bassett continued. ?Though I use his shop, as does everyone.? ?There is no other choice in Datcherford,? Mrs Jameson said with a sigh. ?That will be all, Bryson.? Rose was glad to escape. She hurried to her room to be alone. So it?s true, she thought. Alfred Hapstall is courting Miss Bassett. Rose could not deny the disappointment she felt. It?s unreasonable, she chided herself. I?ve no cause to be sad if Alfred has found happiness with Miss Bassett, though I can?t say I applaud his choice. After a while, she went to lay out Mrs Jameson?s clothes for the afternoon and heard voices below. Mrs Jameson and her visitor were coming out of the morning room. ?Take a firm line, that is my recommendation,? Rose heard Mrs Jameson say. ?I cannot lock her away,? Mrs Bassett replied. ?She is a headstrong girl. I do not know what her father will say; I have not told him.? ?Then you must do so,? Mrs Jameson advised. ?She is young, and the young are easily beguiled. Mr Bassett will point out the evils of such a match. Under his guidance, she is bound to see sense.? A few minutes later the sound of hooves and wheels on gravel could be heard, and the front door was firmly closed once more. ?Bryson!? Mrs Jameson called in her shrill voice. ?Where is my book?? * * * * Alfred left the office of Mr Lampton, the town clerk, in a state of high excitement. It was all before him now; he knew the layout of the assembly building and the owner?s name. But his next step was crucial: how to buy the assembly building. It?s an old, neglected structure no-one else wants, he pondered as he walked away. Surely Mr Bassett could not object if he offered a reasonable sum. But Mr Bassett was the wealthiest man in Datcherford, and he had made his fortune from modest beginnings. If he were to make an impression, he must be clear about his prospects and his first task was to secure the funds. Alfred had savings, but nothing sufficient to buy the building, whatever its current state. Nevertheless, he could see a way forward. His next call was to the banker, Mr Graine ? a man not known for his generous nature. With some trepidation Alfred walked into Datcherford?s only bank. ?Good morning, Alfred,? a friendly voice said, and a young man stepped out from behind his desk to greet him. ?Richard!? Alfred said with a smile. ?Is it possible to speak to Mr Graine? I have a business proposal.? ?Good for you,? Richard Graine replied. ?I?m sure Father will see you. How is your mother?? Not for the first time, Alfred marvelled at the way Richard Graine had adapted to life as a banker. At school Richard had been in constant trouble for his lack of attention and other tomfoolery. But here he was, following his father?s profession, just as Alfred had followed his own father into shopkeeping. ?Mother is very well, thank you,? Alfred replied. ?And business is good? My sisters tell me they bought silk stockings at your shop. What a change! Are you hoping to expand, Alfred?? Before Alfred could reply, he was interrupted by the opening of an inner door, and another man, older and taller, peered through at them. ?I heard laughter,? Mr Graine said solemnly. ?It was me, Father,? Richard returned. ?I?m sorry if you were disturbed. You remember Alfred Hapstall, don?t you? We were at school together.? ?Indeed,? Mr Graine droned. ?I hope you are well, Mr Hapstall, and that your mother is likewise?? ?We are both in good health, sir,? Alfred replied. ?Alfred is here on a matter of business,? Richard explained. ?Could you see him now, sir?? Mr Graine peered over the top of his spectacles 33 at Alfred then consulted his pocket watch. ?It is unusual for me to see anyone without an appointment, but I have a quarter-hour before my next engagement. Please enter my office, Mr Hapstall.? Buoyed up by an encouraging glance from Richard, Alfred followed Mr Graine into his office. He expected the room to be stark and unwelcoming, but it was apparent Mr Graine liked his comforts. A fire flickered in the hearth and the chair that Mr Graine indicated for Alfred was richly covered. Mr Graine sat opposite, behind his imposing desk. ?Men of business come to me for two reasons,? he remarked. ?They have been successful and want a place to invest their profits, or they are in difficulties and need to borrow money. I wonder into which category you fall, Mr Hapstall.? Alfred took his cue to speak. ?Neither, Mr Graine,? he began. ?That is, I need to borrow money, but I?m not in difficulties. In fact, my shop is very profitable.? ?I am pleased to hear it,? Mr Graine noted. ?Why, then, do you need money?? ?I want to move premises in order to expand,? Alfred said. ?My shop is too small for the range of goods I wish to sell. If I had more space, I could increase custom and the business would grow.? ?Hapstall?s has traded from the main street for generations,? Mr Graine noted. ?Is it wise to move?? ?I don?t intend to move far. Just across the street.? Mr Graine took a moment to ponder. ?I do not recall any empty shops,? he said. ?Only cottages, the shoemaker, and the old assembly building, of course.? ?That?s the one,? Alfred declared, sitting forward. ?I want to buy the assembly building and turn it into a store. I mean to achieve this over a period of time. I have some figures ?? He paused as Mr Graine held up his hand. ?Mr Hapstall, do I understand you correctly? You propose to open up the assembly building and turn it into a shop?? ?Exactly.? Alfred smiled nervously. ?I have no funds to buy it outright, but if the bank will advance me . . .? ?Mr Hapstall, you already have a shop, patronised by all of Datcherford. It must make you a reasonable living. Why would you risk everything on some outlandish scheme?? ?It?s what I?ve always wanted to achieve. Besides, it?s what Datcherford needs,? Alfred answered, his enthusiasm starting to bubble over. ?We need to give people a reason to come here and I know that I can make this succeed.? ?Have you considered your mother?? Mr Graine argued. ?If you fail then her livelihood is threatened. Would you see her homeless?? ?It will not happen, sir,? Alfred replied adamantly. ?I will always put her interests first. And when my business succeeds, she will be the first to benefit. All I need is a loan.? Mr Graine shook his head. ?I am sorry, Mr Hapstall,? he said emphatically, ?but the bank cannot lend out money on precarious schemes. We do not take risks in Datcherford.? * * * * Dried leaves swirled around Alfred?s feet as he slumped on the bench in Datcherford?s little park. The excitement that had swept him along since yesterday had vanished. His hopes and his plan were still at the forefront of his mind, but how was he to proceed if the bank wouldn?t grant him a loan? He knew his idea must sound preposterous. Even his mother was dubious, although she would have supported him. The only person who took him at his word was Rose. When he had told her of his plans it was as if they came to life; everything was so clear in his head. She?d listened and there was such encouragement in her face. It was after seeing Rose that he?d realised buying the assembly building was the way forward. ?I?m so sorry, Alfred,? a voice behind him said, and Alfred turned to see Richard. ?Father told me about your plan. It sounds ambitious. I only wish he?d been able to help you, but I?m afraid I don?t have much influence with him.? ?It is ambitious, Richard. I don?t blame your father for refusing me. He has a responsibility to the bank.? ?You won?t give up, will you?? Richard urged. ?This town needs men like you who are ready to take a risk. I rather envy you. ?I always knew my future lay at the bank, and it never occurred to me to do anything else. But you have another choice.? ?Only if I find someone prepared to lend me a great deal of money,? Alfred said ruefully. ?I had the figures in my head. The cost of the building, fittings and so forth.? Richard was nodding thoughtfully. ?Perhaps you could begin in a smaller way,? he said. ?After all, to go from one small shop to a place the size of the assembly building is quite a leap.? ?I know that now. I need to think it all through from the beginning.? ?I wish I could stay,? Richard said. ?I wanted to make sure you weren?t too despondent. I know that somehow you?ll achieve what you set out to do, and if I can help, call on me.? They shook hands. Richard hurried away and Alfred began a slow walk home, thinking over his friend?s words. He reached the main street, stopping to look at the assembly building. It was a vast place, he admitted. Perhaps he was being rash. But he couldn?t stop now ? he had to see that sign above the door, announcing Hapstall?s . . . An idea began to form. What was it Richard had said about beginning in a smaller way? Must he have the whole of the building at once? Could he persuade Mr Bassett to sell him the ground floor to start with? Then, as his business increased, he could buy more of the building. I?ll do it, he determined. If the bank won?t help me, I?ll go to Mr Bassett and put my proposal to him. By the time Alfred arrived at his shop, so many figures and ideas were running through his head that he scarcely noticed a cart and horse tethered outside. A man was struggling through the door, his face obscured by the boxes he was carrying. ?It?s not my job to fetch and carry,? the man was muttering. As he dumped the boxes on to the cart there was a sound of glass breaking. ?It?s Mr Biggins, isn?t it?? Alfred said, recognising the man. ?How unusual to see you here.? ?It?s not right,? Biggins growled, pleased at having someone to address his complaint. ?Mrs Jameson has gone too far; I?ll not put up with it. Where is that young woman? It?s time we were leaving.? He climbed aboard the cart and sat down, his arms folded and his eyes fixed on the door of Hapstall?s shop. Puzzled, Alfred went inside. Mariah and a lady customer were carefully checking a list. ?Rose?? Alfred said, recognising her. ?What a surprise to see you here.? ?Hello, Alfred,? she replied, her face alight with pleasure. ?Mr Biggins has driven me here to buy supplies.? ?Why didn?t Mrs Jameson have me deliver them?? ?She did not tell me,? was all Rose could say, though she knew the reason. Mrs Jameson refused to have Alfred come to her house in protest at his attachment to Miss Bassett. It was all the more foolish because his was the only shop in the district, thus Rose and Biggins had been despatched to fetch the provisions. ?I?m pleased to see you anyway,? Alfred told her. ?Do you have everything?? ?Yes.? Rose nodded. ?I must leave. The cart is so unstable and Mr Biggins in such a temper that I?m afraid we?ll arrive back with the jars upset and not an egg intact. We have a call to make to the Bassett residence.? ?Really? I was thinking about going to see Mr Bassett myself. I have something important to ask him.? Rose seemed distracted for a moment, then managed a brief smile. She thanked Mariah and walked with Alfred out of the shop. ?Whatever it is you?re hoping for, Alfred,? she called, ?I wish you success and happiness.? ?She is a pleasant young lady,? Mariah said, peering over Alfred?s shoulder. He was watching the cart carrying Rose and Mr Biggins as it bounced along the cobbles. ?Yes, Mother. Rose Bryson is a good person.? ?How do you know her?? ?We met at Cross Roads House. She?s companion to Mrs Jameson.? ?I don?t envy her that.? ?She has no choice.? Alfred turned away as the cart disappeared from view. ?Well?? Mariah prompted. ?What happened?? ?Mr Graine said no,? Alfred replied. ?He said the plan was a bad risk. Either way, there will be no loan from the bank.? ?I?m so sorry. I know how important this was to you. But,? she added, looking at him closely, ?I must say you are taking the news better than I?d have expected.? ?I am,? Alfred stated. ?I?ll tell you why. I think Mr Graine has unwittingly done me a favour. I got carried away with my own enthusiasm, and now I?ve been forced to be realistic. ?The thing is, Mother, I?m still sure of my plans, but buying the assembly building would overstretch me, and I won?t risk our home and our livelihood. ?Richard Graine warned me against taking on too much. He?s right ? I need to begin in a smaller way. ?I shall see the owner and try to persuade him to sell me part of the building ? perhaps one or two rooms to start,? Alfred explained. ?I have savings enough to afford it. Surely Mr Bassett can?t have any objection. As the business grows, I?ll ask him to sell me the rest over time.? ?I don?t doubt you, son,? Mariah replied. ?But if you?re going to deal with William Bassett, do not expect an easy time of it.? ?I didn?t know you were acquainted with him.? ?In former times,? Mariah admitted. ?He once courted me.? Alfred stared at his mother in amazement. ?We met at school,? she continued. ?William?s father owned a few acres of land when Datcherford was prosperous. ?William asked me to walk out with him. He was ambitious even then. He told me he?d be the richest man in Datcherford on e day, and I believed him.? ?But you didn?t want to marry him?? ?I only had eyes for your father.? Alfred looked at his mother. The years had been kind to Mariah; he could imagine how pretty she would have been at eighteen. ?Mr Bassett must have felt disappointed,? he said. Mariah took a moment to think. ?He soon recovered,? she said, smiling. ?Not long after I married your father, William went to work for his un cle in the city. When he returned to Datcherford, he?d done well enough to buy a lot of property. ?He?d also acquired a wife. Eventually he became the richest man in town , as he had promised.? ?Do you ever speak?? Alfred asked. ?You?ve never mentioned him before.? ?I rarely see him,? she replied. She took Alfred?s hand in hers. ?What I?m saying is this. William Basset is honest, Alfred, but he is a hard man. I fear he will not make this easy for you.? To be continued. Love reading? Don?t miss the Daily Serial on our website: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk. The Farmer & His Wife John Taylor encounters a yearly predicament. I HAD a problem. Anne?s birthday was looming and I had no idea what to give her. Chocolates? No. A dozen red roses? I didn?t dismiss that out of hand, but I went on thinking. Before we were married I once gave her a dressing-gown, which took a big chunk out of my meagre wage. The nearer we got to being spliced with a farm of our own to run, it was usually a piece of furniture: an oak stool, oak refectory table, then some Old Leeds Spray china, which Anne built up into a full dinner and tea service over time. Some years back I thought I?d solved this annual problem. I was in Cupar Mart when the pigs were going through the ring. On the spur of the moment I bought six piglets. Just the answer for her birthday. Anne?s a great one with animals, a really good stockwoman. I asked one of Danskin?s lorry drivers to deliver them. As I had to see the bank manager in Cupar and our accountant in St Andrews, I was late getting home and the six pigs were home before me. Anne told the driver that there must have been a mix-up; we weren?t wanting any pigs. ?Sorry, Mrs Taylor, John said they were for you,? he insisted. Between them, they installed the piglets safely in a calf pen. When I got home, Anne accosted me. ?John, why did you buy pigs?? ?They?re for your birthday, dear,? I replied, feeling pleased with myself. I was in for a shock. Anne was not happy. How could she tell her bridge ?girls? in St Andrews that I?d given her pigs for a birthday present? Pleased or not, Anne did those pigs well and made a good profit when she sold them. I smiled when the cheque came from the auction. She put part in the bank and bought herself six more pigs! But to return to this year?s birthday problem. I was looking through a chest of drawers when I came across some old photographs, all mounted but not framed. One was of Anne?s mum when she was about eighteen years of age, and her dad and sisters, standing in a meadow. The girls were in long skirts which touched the ground, and one was holding their pet lamb in the foreground. I took this faded sepia photo to a photographer in St Andrews and asked if they could do anything to restore it. They sent it somewhere and it came back good as new. I had it framed. Anne was delighted with the photo. And although she said she was cross, I think she was secretly pleased when I appeared later that morning with a dozen red roses. n More next week 36 Healthy And Hearty Vegetarian Ultimate Superfood Salad n 100 g (3� oz) sweet potato n Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste n 75 ml (2� fl oz) olive oil, plus extra for roasting n 100 g (3� oz) quinoa n 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets n 1 pomegranate n Pinch chilli flakes n 1 lime, juice only n 25 g (1 oz) chopped coriander n 1 small punnet alfalfa Course: Lunch or light main sprouts or mixed sprouts n 1 ripe avocado n 85 g (3 oz) watercress n 25 g (1 oz) mixed nuts, toasted 1 Pre-heat oven to 200 deg. C., 400 deg. F., Gas Mark 6. 2 Chop the sweet potatoes into 2.5 cm (1 in) cubes with the skin on. Place into a roasting tray, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil and roast in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Skill level: easy 3 Cook the quinoa in salted boiling water according to the packet instructions. Place the broccoli into a metal colander and set over the boiling quinoa. Cover and steam the broccoli for three minutes. 4 Once cooked, drain and rinse the quinoa and broccoli under cold running water. Remove the sweet potato from the oven. 5 Cut the pomegranate in half and squeeze the juice from one half into a large bowl. Add the olive oil, chilli flakes Serves 2 and lime juice, whisk together and season to taste. Add in the coriander, alfalfa, quinoa and sweet potato and toss well. 6 Peel the avocado, remove the stone and chop roughly. Spread the quinoa and sweet potato mixture on to a serving plate and dot the avocado over the top. 7 Finally, bash the second half of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon to knock the seeds out and scatter these over the plate along with the toasted nuts. By Keri Astill-Frew for www.watercress.co.uk. Photograph by Lara Jane Thorpe. Our delicious vegetable-packed recipes taste as good as they look! COOKERY 37 Fennel Pork Medallions with Apple Slaw Skill level: easy Serves: 4 n 12 pork fillet medallions n 1 tsp fennel seeds n 1 clove garlic n 1 tbs olive oil n � lemon, grated zest only, reserve juice for the apple slaw n Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste For the Apple Slaw: n 1 red eating apple, cored n 2 tsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar n 4 tbs 0% fat Greek natural yoghurt 1 Pre-heat oven to 180 deg. C., 350 deg. F., Gas Mark 4. 2 Place the medallions on a board between two sheets of clingfilm. Using the base of a small saucepan or rolling pin, bash them all over until they?re 1 cm (� in) thick. 3 Lightly crush the fennel seeds and garlic, place in a shallow dish and mix with the oil and lemon zest and a good grind of black pepper. Add the pork medallions If you don?t have vinegar squeeze the lemon juice over the apples to prevent them turning brown n � lemon, juice only n 2 tsp Dijon mustard n � small red cabbage, shredded thinly n 2 carrots, peeled and grated coarsely To Serve: sweet potato wedges or mixed green salad and turn to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes whilst you make the slaw. 4 To make the slaw, chop the apple into small pieces, place in a large bowl and pour over the vinegar, to prevent them going brown. Add in the yoghurt, lemon juice and mustard and mix until combined. Then add the cabbage and carrots. Mix well, until all the ingredients are coated, and season to taste. www.lovepork.co.uk. Course: Main 5 Heat a non-stick ovenproof griddle or frying-pan for a couple of minutes until hot. Add the pork medallions to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on one side. Turn the medallions over and Salmon and Egg Breakfast Wrap Course: Breakfast place the pan in the oven. Cook for a further 6 to 8 minutes or until the juices run clear. 6 Serve 3 pork medallions with the slaw and a few sweet potato wedges or crisp green salad. Skill level: easy Serves: 1 n 2 large British lion eggs, beaten n 1 tbs chopped fresh dill or chives n Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste n A drizzle of olive oil n 2 tbs fat free Greek yoghurt n A little grated zest and a squeeze of lemon juice n 40 g (1� oz) smoked salmon, sliced into strips n A handful of watercress, spinach and rocket leaf salad 1 In a jug, beat the eggs and herbs and season with salt and pepper. www.eggrecipes.co.uk. 2 Heat a non-stick frying-pan, then add the oil Remember: recipes have been given in both metric and imperial. It is important to use one method throughout as they are not exactly the same. and then pour in the eggs and cook for one minute or until the egg on the top has just set. 3 Flip over and cook for a further one minute until the base is golden. Transfer to a board to cool. 4 Mix the yoghurt with the lemon zest and juice and plenty of ground black pepper. Scatter the smoked salmon over the egg wrap, top with the leaves and drizzle the yoghurt mix over. 5 Roll up the egg wrap and wrap in paper to serve. Balsamic Beetroot and Carrot Fritters with Garlic and Mint Yoghurt Skill level: easy Makes: 6 n 250 g (9 oz) balsamic infused cooked beetroot, grated n 2 large carrots, grated n 2 eggs n 4 spring onions, sliced thinly n 100 g (3� oz) feta cheese n 4 tbs flour (buckwheat is good, but you can use any) n Small handful mint, chopped n Salt and freshly ground black pepper n 1 tbs coconut oil For the Garlic and Mint Yoghurt: n 150 g (5� oz) natural yoghurt n 4 sprigs of fresh mint, chopped finely n 1 lemon, juice and zest n 1 clove garlic, grated 1 Place the grated beetroot and carrots in a sieve over a bowl or your sink and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. 2 In a large bowl, mix together the beetroot, carrot, eggs, spring onions, feta, flour, mint, salt and pepper. Mould into fritters. 3. Heat the coconut oil in a large non-stick frying-pan and fry the fritters on a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy. 4. To make the garlic and mint yoghurt, simply mix all the ingredients together, season to taste, and serve. Recipe created by Olivia Cooney for www.lovebeetroot.co.uk. Course: Lunch or light main Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Halloumi Course: Main Skill level: easy n 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into wedges n 1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks Serves: 2-3 n 1 red pepper, cut into chunks n 2 medium courgettes, sliced n 1-2 tsp olive oil n 8-10 cherry tomatoes n 1 clove garlic, crushed n Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste n 1 tbs pine nuts n 1 x pack halloumi cheese, cut into about 9 slices For the Dressing: n 2 tbs passata n 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil n 2-3 tsp red wine vinegar n Small handful fresh mint leaves n A few fresh parsley or oregano leaves To Serve: crusty bread. 1 Pre-heat oven to 190 deg. C., www.bacofoil.co.uk. 375 deg. F., Gas Mark 5. 2 Loosely line a large shallow Vegetarian Next week: make more of chicken. oven tray with a large piece of Bacofoil Non-Stick Foil ? remember to always place food on the dull side ? and place the pieces of onion, pepper and courgette on to it. Drizzle with the olive oil and gently toss together, using clean hands. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes until the vegetables are just starting to turn brown round the edges. 3 Meanwhile make the dressing. Mix the passata, extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Chop the herbs, reserving a few whole mint leaves for garnish, and stir into the dressing 4 Remove the vegetables from the oven and add the cherry tomatoes and garlic. Season with a little pepper and carefully mix in. Scatter over the pine nuts. 5 Arrange the slices of halloumi over the top and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Alternatively place under the grill for a couple of minutes. 6 Drizzle with the dressing and scatter over the remaining mint leaves. Serve with some crusty bread. For more delicious recipes visit our website: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk. SHORT STORY BY PATSY COLLINS 41 Growing Closer My gardening friend, Phil, seemed to take me as I was. Why couldn?t the kids? Illustration by Mandy Dixon. I HAD started to become a disappointment to my kids. Although they loved me, I was in need of some improvement. ?How about a book club?? June, my oldest, asked. I gestured at the stack of holiday brochures April had left, and my seed catalogues. ?I have enough reading matter. I?m not interested in what people think about girls who?ve gone, are on trains or have tattoos.? Glancing at the leaflet she?d brought, I saw I?d been half right. The book of the month was ?The Girl Who Lied?. ?I know you all mean well suggesting these activities, but they?re not me. I?m digging a pond. After that, I don?t feel like getting dressed up in the evening.? ?How about a holiday once it?s sorted out? The brochures are for interesting trips for singles.? ?I can?t go away in the spring as I have seedlings to tend, and in summer there?s the watering. I might consider it next winter.? Actually, such trips seemed even less my sort of thing than the book group, walking group and evening classes my dear offspring seemed convinced I needed. ?We worry about you being on your own, Mum.? ?Why? I?m perfectly happy, fit and healthy.? ?Wouldn?t you like to meet someone else?? ?I meet people all the time. Staff in the garden centre, the chap who services the lawnmower, passers-by who stop to say how pretty the garden is . . .? ?You know what I mean.? I did, and I wasn?t exactly against a spot of romance. ?In theory, meeting the right man might be nice.? ?You need to make some effort, then.? I couldn?t agree. To my mind, the right person wouldn?t need me to make an effort, as we?d have interests in common and would accept each other as we were. If he thought I needed as much improvement as the kids clearly did, we wouldn?t be suited. June and her sisters brought me leaflets for dating sites, dances and other things which sounded awful. I ?forgot? to do anything about them. There was something more important on my mind; the lawnmower wasn?t cutting evenly. I called the chap who services it. Actually, Phil?s a friend, but if I?d explained that to June, she would have ? to be honest I?m not sure how she?d have reacted. But it wouldn?t have stopped her trying to fix my life, when it was just my old mower that needed attention. * * * * Phil got the blade levelled before I?d brewed tea and sliced some cake. As we enjoyed our elevenses he told me about his rockery. ?The most interesting plants are getting smothered. I think I need to dig it up and start again.? ?Maybe it?s not as bad as you think,? I said. ?Shall I take a look?? ?Please.? A few days later I went round to Phil?s place. I was surprised to see him dressed in a suit, until I remembered we hadn?t actually set a time and date for my visit. Almost guiltily I realised ?six-thirty, Wednesday evening? had stuck in my memory because it was the time for my children?s latest attempt to sort me out. ?They booked me in for speed dating, would you believe?? I said to Phil, aghast. ?Actually, I would. My kids did the same to me. I?ll cancel, too, and that?ll leave the numbers even.? It didn?t take Phil long to change, nor for me to see the rockery really did need a complete overhaul. We were soon potting up plants he wanted to keep and hauling out stones to reach the roots of the plants which had taken over. ?Thanks for pushing me into this. I?d probably never have got round to tackling it otherwise,? he said. ?Don?t thank me yet; we haven?t finished!? It took a week of hard graft, but eventually the rockery was cleared of the unsuitable plants and reassembled with the rescued treasures and new introductions. Phil praised my energy and skill as he expressed his gratitude. Having someone 42 appreciate my good points was a refreshing change from the attitude of my children. Sometimes it was hard to remember I hadn?t always been a disappointment to them. When they were little they were pleased to have two parents including a stay-at-home mum. Probably because it was very different from their friends? experiences. My girls seemed to think that by being happy in my marriage and fortunate enough to just about afford not to have to work full-time, I was somehow pushing boundaries. I made ends meet by tending a huge allotment which provided more than enough vegetables for us all, and working part-time in the supermarket once they started school. My three said they were proud of me during my late husband?s illness and all that came after. When I gave up the allotment and joined a flower-arranging group they were pleased I was being sensible. Moving on, making friends. The disappointment set in gradually. I went from cool earth mother to ordinary, middle-aged woman with a passion for gardening. To me it was exciting to grow plants for colour and scent rather than to fill bellies. Although delighted that I saw my girls frequently, I didn?t want them running my life. They thought they were being subtle about it, but I realised the children?s attempts to solve problems I didn?t have were no longer random. They had something definite in mind. My attempts to avoid being set up with Mr All-right-by-them were successful until April invited me round for dinner. ?I?d love to,? I surprised her by saying. I saw this as a chance to crack on with gardening tasks, as I wouldn?t need to reserve time and energy to feed myself. My daughter saw it as a matchmaking opportunity and was very disappointed when I arrived too tired for witty conversation and smelling of compost. Just as well I hadn?t spent ages getting ready, as the man they?d hoped to set me up with didn?t arrive. Apparently he?d mixed up the date. I wondered what he?d have made of my scruffy top. Probably he?d have given a sigh of disappointment like my girls, rather than remarking it brought out the blue of my eyes ? as Phil had. Summer did her best to get me to attend a barbecue one Sunday. That didn?t appeal. I?ve never been a fan of food that?s raw in the middle, burned on the outside and smelling of firelighters all over. ?How thoughtful,? I said, not letting on I knew that, if I turned up, I?d be introduced to the man my girls were conspiring for me to meet. ?But on Sunday I?ll be at Wisley gardens.? I then rushed round to see Phil. ?I?ll be your alibi,? he agreed. ?On the condition you let me buy you lunch.? We had a lovely time looking at the alpine house, rose gardens and long borders. Conversation was easy, our caf� lunch perfectly cooked and we bought plants before we left. * * * * Over the next couple of months I pretended not to notice what my offspring were up to and, accidentally on purpose, sabotaged all their attempts. Phil was a great help. ?I?ve told my daughters a friend wanted to see me,? I?d say when I arrived on his doorstep rather than falling in with their plans. ?So I do. Come in and I?ll put the kettle on.? I suspected my kids were on to me fairly soon and enjoyed the game themselves. Why else would they continue trying to fix me up when it must have been obvious I wasn?t sitting at home, pining away from loneliness? June got crafty. One day she rang to suggest a get-together with myself, her, April, Summer and all their partners and children. ?Everyone is free next Friday. How about you?? I saw them quite often, but rarely all together. The idea appealed so much I overlooked the likely ulterior motive and agreed. ?Excellent!? June said. ?There?s not really room in any of our houses, so we?re going to the charity fancydress party in the village hall. I?ll pick you up so you don?t forget to come.? The Thursday before the party I visited the beauty salon on the high street. April persuaded me to accompany her. ?I want a restyle, Mum, but I don?t want them to talk me into anything too wild.? I fell for that, and for having my nails done as there was a buy-one-getone-free offer. ?They?ll make you look glam for the party, Mum,? my daughter said. Clearly she and her sisters were still up to their tricks. Not long after I?d got home, my neighbour came round about his hedge, which borders both our gardens. It?s one of those leylandii monstrosities. I?d requested it be trimmed, even offering to do the work myself. ?I?ll think about it,? he?d said. That reminded me of all the times I?d promised my kids I?d think about sharing my life with someone else. He had obviously meant it, as this afternoon he told me if I really wanted to get rid of the hedge, I could. ?It has to be the whole lot, mind.? ?Oh! Right, I will.? As soon as he?d gone, I phoned Phil with the good news. ?Let?s do it now, before he changes his mind,? Phil said. Half an hour later he?d brought round his tools and we?d started work. It was hard graft sawing, lugging and shredding. We worked until dark and started again first thing the next morning. We grabbed a sandwich at lunchtime and carried on. When June arrived, she shrieked. ?Mum, there?s blood on your face!? ?That?s probably from rubbing my arm over it to get cobwebs out my eyes,? I reassured her. There was no getting away from the fact I did have an impressive scratch on my arm. ?You look like a zombie!? I was puzzled. She was used to seeing me with chipped nails and foliagestained, ragged clothes. Then I remembered she was here to pick me up for the party in the village hall. ?You did say it was fancy dress,? I pointed out. ?I thought perhaps you?d spent the day gardening and were going to use that as an excuse not to go.? ?Would I do that?? I asked sweetly. ?Yes, but you?re not getting away with it this time.? At the village hall, after I?d greeted my family and been bought a drink, my daughters drifted towards a group containing the only other zombie there. Phil. Naturally, after helping with the hedge, he looked as bad as I did. Before either of us could say a word, one of his sons introduced us. I gave Phil a wink and said I was pleased to meet him. ?Likewise,? he said, holding my hand longer than is usual in such situations. Our various children began a clearly rehearsed conversation which revealed how much Phil and I had in common. Frankly it was a relief when they melted away and left us to talk. ?Did you have any idea it was me they were trying to set you up with?? he asked, laughing. ?No,? I replied, feeling like a dizzy teenager. ?If I had, perhaps I?d have taken better care of my nails.? He squeezed my hand. ?Your nails, and everything else about you, seem perfect to me.? As we danced we came up with a plan of our own. We?d keep up the pretence a little bit longer. After all, if we were going to have a whirlwind romance, it was only natural to give his boys and my girls all the credit for getting the two of us together. n money 44 Your The Lemon House Photography. Open Banking IT may have escaped you, but a quiet revolution in banking happened at the start of the year. If you?ve missed it, don?t worry, you are not alone! But, although it is yet to have much impact, ?open banking? could make a big difference to the way you manage your money if you bank online. Some of the major banks started phasing in open banking from the middle of January, although others have delayed the launch for up to a year. In basic terms, open banking means you will be able to share your banking data with other financial companies. But why would you? iStock. Open banking rollout By letting your bank share your data, you will be able to do several things that you cannot do at the moment. For example, you will be able to manage your bank, savings and credit card accounts in one place (even if they are with different banks) or find a new bank account that?s the best one for you, based on how you actually use your existing account. Open banking should also Money expert Sarah Pennells writes for us. make it easier for you to move your money between your accounts. For example, you could have an automatic transfer between your current account and your savings account so that money goes from one to the other every time it dips below a certain level. You will also be able to pay an online retailer without giving them your credit or debit card details. A mortgage lender would be able to check someone?s bank account directly, which would be much speedier than waiting for them to provide bank statements. Data sharing ? the risks The benefits of open banking may be very useful to you if you bank online, but what about the ?data sharing? bit? Would you really feel comfortable sharing your bank data with other companies? This is what you need to know. For a start, any company that your bank shares your data with has to be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and it must use security that complies with the regulator?s rules. Secondly, your bank will only share your data if you actively agree to it. This should not be a tick box that is hidden away in reams of small print. If you do let your bank share your data, it should also refund any money that is stolen, if it is a result of a security problem with its own systems. Before open banking, a number of budgeting apps asked for your online banking log-in and password when you registered (it?s one reason why I didn?t use them). So these apps would use your log-in details to get ?read only? access to your bank statements. That means they could not take money out of your account, but they could see exactly what you have in it. If they use open banking, and you agree to share your data with them, they will have direct access to your bank account without pretending to be you. However, I think there?s little doubt that fraudsters will capitalise on the opportunity that open banking provides. They will waste no time in tricking people into sharing their data, thinking it?s a genuine company that?s signed up to open banking. And, let?s not forget that a number of FCA-regulated firms (Tesco Bank and Equifax, for example) have been hacked. We probably will not see what difference open banking wil l make until it has been going for a few months, possibly up to a year. So my advice is to take your time. Don?t feel you have to rush to sign up to it and be extra vigilant about any e-mails supposedly from your bank. n Visit Sarah?s website at www.savvywoman.co.uk API stands for Application Programming Interface. It?s a way for two different computer programs to ?speak? to each other. The API is the list of commands that the program understands. Please note that the information given on these pages does not constitute financial or legal advice and is for general guidance only. Please consult a professional financial adviser for advice on your own circumstances. Security Tips FINANCE 45 Open banking uses secure technology, but there are some simple steps you can take to stay safe online. 1 You can check that the app or website is from a UK regulated third-party provider here: https://register.fca. org.uk/. 2 Always read the terms and conditions before you agree to share your data to ensure you know how your data will be used. 3 Check your bank account regularly and if you see something that doesn?t look right, contact your bank immediately. 4 The FCA website also offers information on how to protect yourself online: www.fca.org.uk/consumers/ account-information-and-payment-initiation-services. Visit www.openbanking.org.uk for more help and information. More choice for consumers The idea behind open banking is to make it easier for consumers to save money by finding the best deals for them across a range of services, including banking itself. A recent study found that half of UK consumers will be happy to share their spending information with third parties if they are offered a more personalised service. It?s thought that banks and financial services companies will have to improve their customer focus and rewards for loyalty to dissuade their customers from moving to new competitors. Pini Yakuel, CEO of relationship marketing platform Optimove, said, ?Consumers are likely to see an increasingly personalised experience, as old and new financial companies move to distinguish their brand with promotions and rewards tailored to each individual, like retailers.? Hopefully, that will mean better financial services for everyone. Ask The Expert Imran Gulamhuseinwala, Trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity, is here to help. Q WILL customers have to check for themselves that third parties are properly registered before using open banking? OPEN banking is a remarkable project; one with the potential to change retail banking for ever. If we get it right we will for the first time anywhere in the world, put the customer in control of their data, their privacy and their finances. It is difficult to overstate just how revolutionary open banking could, and should, be. Cus tomers can indeed verify that third parties are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Any company offering services that use open banking will have to be regulated by the FCA and enrolled on the open banking database ? a system that verifies companies to banks and building societies so that they can check that requests are appropriate. The system has extremely heavy security built in. If there is any danger of fraud it may come from criminal elements claiming to be offering open banking when in fact they are simply ?phishing? for customer details: they could not access an account fraudulently through open banking because they could not be regulated. A Next month: what to do about PPI. SHORT STORY BY LOUISE MCIVOR 47 A Change Of Diet Cutting out animal products was easier said than done! Illustration by Mandy Dixon. I T was my grandmother who instilled in me a love of animals. She had a wiry mongrel terrier, and I decided at fourteen that as I loved animals, I didn?t want to eat meat any more. It seemed entirely logical to my teenage self. Of course, it being the 1980s, there was a whole song and dance when I told my mother. Terrible things would happen to me if I didn?t get my iron. I?d fade away to nothing. I?d become anaemic and faint in the street. I?d be too tired to concentrate on school work. It was my grandmother who sat me down with a cup of tea and spoke to me. ?Janey, if you?re going to do this vegetarian thing, we?d better be organised about it. You?ll need to master a few recipes.? I stayed at my grandmother?s every Saturday while my mother worked in a shop in town . Gran would clip vegetarian recipes from her weekly magazine. Granted, these were few and far between, but they were good basic recipes and I still make the onion and potato casserole, Gran?s handwriting declaiming Very good at the top. Gran and I would make these recipes and have them for Saturday lunch. I?d then practise them during the week, which meant that my mum wasn?t complaining about having to make two meals. It was not all plain sailing. After an hour boiling green lentils one Saturday, we realised that the veggie lasagne wasn?t a practical option for during the week. Then Gran read in her magazine that red lentils cooked much quicker, so we started to use those instead. However, things came to a head when someone at school said that if I really cared about animals, I shouldn?t take eggs or milk. There was a week of stony silences with my mother when I had potato, carrots and mushy peas every night. ?Well, that?s cauliflower cheese out then,? Gran said with her normal calm wisdom. ?To say nothing of pancakes. And you?ll have to take your tea black.? I must confess that my heart sank at the thought of life without cauliflower cheese, which I loved. However, it was vitally important to my melodramatic teenage self that I stick to my principles. I was always determined to find a way around something. ?What about the mushroom and lentil loaf?? I said. ?What will you use to bind it without the eggs?? Gran asked. We tried melted margarine, which gave the mushrooms and lentils a funny, greasy texture, and the loaf fell apart when Gran cut into it. I went to bed hungry that night, determined not to give in. At least it was nearly the school holidays, which meant more staying with Gran while my mother was at work. It also meant that I could cook what I liked for lunch and just have a Marmite sandwich for tea. * * * * My gran had been brought up in the Irish countryside with her seven brothers and sisters, most of whom had gone to Australia or England. The family farm had long ago become a housing development. However, Granny had a great friend called Lottie, with whom she had gone to the one-roomed country school. Lottie still lived in the cottage she was born in, and in the spring and summer months my gran would go out to visit her. That Saturday, Granny asked me to come, too. Even with my head full of make-up and pop stars, I knew I was privileged to be invited. Lottie liked pretty things, so I had spent my pocket money on perfumed soap and a magazine for her. My mother dropped me at Gran?s before going into work, with 48 exhortations to put on a warmer coat because it was cold in the country, and to take my wellies. I compromised and wore my wellies, but I insisted on wearing my denim jacket. The problem was, in a bit of a flitter that rainy morning, I had put on my wellies but forgotten to lift my ordinary shoes. * * * * So there I was, on the country bus, which seemed to stop at every hole in the hedge, feeling foolish in my wellies while a girl across the aisle in her pale pink stilettos looked at me with what I thought was scorn. The journey was fascinating ? like entering another world. At one point, the driver stopped and picked up two bundles of newspapers. ?They?re for McCrory?s shop,? Gran said. She would nod at folk as they got on. Of course, she didn?t know folk on the bus any more, but that didn?t stop her from having long and complicated conversations about the car showroom where her old home used to be, and wasn?t it great that the draper?s shop was still there. Gradually, the new white pebble-dashed houses gave way to fields, some with cows and, it seemed to me, very little else. I was fascinated by the forlorn run-down cottages with their tin roofs long rusted. ?Nobody lives in them since they built the road,? Gran said, and suddenly I wondered how a family with lots of children could have lived in such a tiny place. ?Then why does Lottie still live in hers?? I asked. ?She?s at the bottom of a lane, as far away from the road as you could get,? my gran replied. ?Besides, Lottie had to look after her parents when they were getting on.? There wasn?t a bus stop at the top of Lottie?s lane. Gran just said, ?This one, please?, and the bus driver stopped. The tractor coming in the other direction had to pull into a layby to let him pass. It had finally stopped raining, but I was glad of the wellies. The lane had grass growing down the middle. It had rained in the night so there were puddles to negotiate as well as stones, and my gran, who complained of the walk to the corner shop, was walking down the lane quicker than I was. * * * * ?Janey, give Miss McLaughlin your gift,? my gran prompted me because I was too distracted by my surroundings to do anything but look around me. I handed over the soap and magazine. Lottie, who looked like my gran, smiled at me. ?Well, thank you very much, Janey. Perhaps you would like to wash up after your journey?? I was lost, thinking that Lottie perhaps wanted me to do the dishes, but Gran indicated a small corridor off the main room, leading to the bathroom. The house was like no house I had ever been in before. I thought a cottage would have a thatched roof, but the roof was slate, the stone window-sills must have been nearly a foot thick, and rooms had obviously been added through the years, including the bathroom. Later, I would do the dishes in the little kitchen, with its sloping aluminium roof and big Belfast sink. We sat for a few moments, while Lottie and Gran chatted. I was perched on the sofa which was the same as ours at home ? the only anchor point that was familiar. There was also a colour television, and a big wooden table set with plates of sandwiches, buns, a bowl of salad and the very best china. It was as if Lottie was expecting ten visitors, not just two. ?There was no need to put on such a fine spread for us,? Gran said. ?Well, it?s not every day I get such distinguished visitors,? Lottie said, smiling at me. I had never been referred to as a distinguished visitor before. The range fascinated me, for I had never seen one. The kettle sat on it and I could smell the turf, and feel its comforting warmth on that damp, chilly summer?s day. A black cat wandered in but was gently shooed away by Lottie. ?He would be too interested in the ham,? Lottie said. I panicked. Would I have to tell Lottie that I couldn?t eat ham because I didn?t eat anything that had been alive? I knew with a sinking heart that whatever was on those overflowing china plates, I would have to eat this country lady would know about make-up and skincare, but then I realised that Lottie was wearing face powder and even had a touch of mascara. ?How do you know?? I asked. ?Lottie used to work for a chemist in the town,? Gran explained. By ?town? my gran meant the village we had passed through on our way, with two churches, three pubs and a few shops. Lottie left us for a moment and came back with a jar of moisturiser. ?Now, you start using that night and morning.? ?Thank you,? I said, taking the little blue tub. Lottie and Gran went I wondered if Gran was giving me a stern look it for fear of letting my grandmother down. ?Now, those sandwiches are for you, dear,? Lottie said, indicating the prettiest flowery plate I had ever seen. Never had I tasted anything nicer than those tomato and cucumber sandwiches. I drank strong black tea from china cups and answered questions on what I liked at school. The cat wandered in again and as the ham was now eaten, he was allowed to jump on my knee. Lottie made no comment on the lack of milk in my tea. For a while, Lottie and Gran talked about folk who seemed to have died a long time ago. Doesn?t it always seem that way when you?re young? My mind drifted off to what it must have been like for Lottie. She had more siblings than Gran, all of whom were born and reared in this tiny cottage. Where would everyone have slept, I wondered. ?Now, you have beautiful skin, Janey,? Lottie told me. ?You must look after it.? I?d been trying one of those facial scrubs, which were all the rage then, but it had left my skin dry and itchy. I couldn?t imagine that back to talking about the folk who had died. Maybe some of the children had slept in the barn, like on one of those films I had seen on telly? I could bear it no longer. ?Excuse me, Lottie, but where did you all sleep?? I wondered if Gran was giving me a stern look as Lottie replied. ?Well, Janey, that?s a good question. Where the bathroom is now, that used to be a wee room where I shared a bed with two of my sisters.? ?You shared a bed?? I asked, wondering how that worked. ?Oh, yes, everyone did. My older brothers were up and away by the time I came along, but there used to be a bed in the rafters where they slept, and there was also a settle bed by the fire, but that was before we got the range.? ?Was it very crowded?? I persisted. ?What if somebody wanted a lie-in?? Lottie laughed. ?Oh, we didn?t have lie-ins then, unless you were sick. Now, why don?t you take the basket by the door and see if there are any eggs?? I forgot all about past sleeping arrangements. What Subscribe Today SUBSCRIBERS ENJOY... ? SAving over � off the shop price. ? Free Katie Alice Time For Tea set with every order. ? Free UK DeLiverY direct to their door. ? gUArAnTeeD to receive their copy before it?s in the shops. ? never MiSSing an issue of their favourite magazine. 13 ISSUES ONLY �! PLUS FREE Katie Alice Time For Tea set with every order. Digital subscriptions available on PC,tablet,and mobile Visit www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/digital SUBSCRIBE TODAY FREEPHONE BY POST send coupon to: The People?s Friend Subscriptions,PO Box 766,Haywards Heath,RH16 9GF. 0800 318 846 quoting PFKTT UK only.Lines open 8am to 6pm Mon ? Fri,9am to 5pm Sat. Overseas +44 1382 575580 For one-off payment orders,enclose your details and a cheque made payable to DCThomson & Co Ltd. 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GENERAL: For overseas enquiries, please call: +44 1382 575580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Offer ends 30th April 2018. Bank and Building Societies may not accept Direct Debits for some types of account 2 CHEQUE I enclose my cheque (No cash please) for: made payable to DC Thomson & Co Ltd � PFKTT 50 should I do? If I gave in on this, it would be reported back to my mother that eggs were OK, and I was still convinced that they weren?t. I was about to give Lottie my carefully prepared lecture on how I didn?t believe it was right to eat eggs, but now Gran did give me one of her stern looks. ?Where from?? I said in a small voice, wondering how I was going to resolve this moral dilemma. ?Oh, you?ll hear them before you see them. Make sure you bolt the door after you.? I didn?t go straight to the little stone outbuilding at the back where I could hear the hens clucking and squawking for all they were worth. Instead, I tramped over the field in my wellies. What should I do? I didn?t want to spoil the day, and I knew if I came back with an empty basket, Gran would be mortified. Yet I had made a pledge to myself not to eat anything from an animal and I had stuck to it, through weeks of hunger and battles with my mother, secretly longing for cauliflower cheese. I looked down at Lottie?s cottage, at the slate roof, then at the other field that Granny said Lottie rented out to a neighbouring farmer for his cattle. ?Lottie couldn?t manage their dairy herd any longer, even with her nephew?s help,? Granny had told me on the bus. I didn?t want to ruin my jeans by sitting down on the wet grass, but I just needed a few minutes? thinking time. Instead of fretting over my complicated moral dilemma, my mind clicked back to where Lottie and her family would have slept, huddled together in the cold winter months, with early starts to milk the cows and to walk to school. My head may have been full of pale pink stilettos, but even I knew that Lottie would have grown up in the days of no electricity and water from the S-shaped pump, which still stood outside the cottage. It was chilly enough on an overcast summer?s day. What must it have been like in November? Yet Lottie had stayed on, although sometimes the thought of a little house in town with central heating and a shop around the corner must have been very tempting. Lottie hadn?t made a fuss about me being a vegetarian. It would seem rude, I realised, to give her a lecture about how I didn?t eat eggs, either. After all, lunch was over. Lottie wouldn?t be boiling eggs for me now. Surely it wouldn?t compromise my principles just to gather the eggs. Still full of trepidation, I wandered back to the outbuilding where the chickens lived. They were roaming around in a small patch of hard earth, pecking and clucking. The outbuilding had a cement floor covered in straw and a cracked window. Some rather determined-looking hens were still nesting, so I left them alone, but carefully picked up the eggs from various straw nests dotted around the floor and on a small shelf. The outbuilding had a half door ? you could bolt the lower half and still let in light and air. Lottie was always careful, Gran said, of the threat of foxes, so the outbuilding was carefully shut up each evening. The hens were bigger and much more boisterous than I?d thought they?d be. They were all different colours, too. presents Some were ginger; there was a white one and even a black one. Their feathers were lush and beautiful and they pecked around my feet, some squawking, as if they didn?t want a stranger in their midst. Others flapped their wings and clucked a bit. They reminded me of the ladies in Mum?s amateur dramatic society. I started picking up the eggs, marvelling at how some of them were warm. Some had the odd feather still stuck to them; some were speckled, some darker. Even though the voice in my head was telling me I was compromising my principles, I still felt a sense of accomplishment as I walked back to the farmhouse with a few eggs in the basket. * * * * A few hours later, the eggs were carefully balanced in two half-dozen egg boxes in a shopping bag on the seat beside me on the way home. The following week, when we used Lottie?s eggs to bind the mushroom and lentil loaf, we were able to slice it into perfect slices. I started taking milk in my tea again. Of course, now I had another dilemma. I stopped wearing my dangly earrings made from feathers. * * * * Both Lottie and my gran were gone by the time I started university. There, I fitted in a bit more. Vegetarians were viewed as trendy, and I often cooked my mushroom and lentil loaf for my friends, thinking of Gran as I did so. I also started a petition against using feathers in the fashion industry. As for Lottie?s face cream, I still use it, and Lottie was right, I?ve never had any problems with my skin. And it hasn?t been tested on animals. I often wondered if my canny grandmother realised that the visit to Lottie would start me on a journey. My degree was in English, but I did a subsidiary course in anthropology, where my tutor encouraged me to write and record the stories of women like my grandmother and Lottie. These were women who grew up on small farms, where they had few opportunities. Lottie never married because she looked after her elderly parents. My gran left school at fifteen to help out with the farm and look after younger siblings. Eventually I would take a postgraduate degree in women?s studies and I now lecture to adults, church groups and the like, as well as doing my own writing. Lottie?s cottage is long gone, and in its place is a housing development, although the family still owns part of the land. I met Lottie?s greatnephew Robert recently, as I was doing some research into my gran?s family and wanted some information about the village school which Lottie and Gran both attended. I thought Robert would be some hot-shot property developer, but I liked him as soon as he put on the kettle in the small estate agency he runs, where the draper?s shop used to be. I was widowed young (no children, though I share my house with various fourlegged rescue friends, who rule the roost), he was divorced young (one daughter, at uni in Leeds), and when he asked me out to lunch, I started to tell him about Lottie and the eggs. n Discover a new way to enjoy our favourite short stories with weekly audio readings which are easy to listen to. Each one lasts 15 to 25 minutes ? just the right length for listening to with a cup of tea! www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/category/audio Inside next week?s issue Our cover feature: Pat Coulter visits the Cotswolds home of popular TV show ?Father Brown? l Delicious chicken recipes the whole family will enjoy l Wendy Glass celebrates 100 years of votes for women On sale every Wednesday Plus 7 short stories l Dawn Geddes finds out about the charity sending shoes across the globe Never miss The People?s Friend again, with a subscription from our shop. Visit www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk or call 0800 318846. A new Special on sale every Out 3 weeks! now Available to buy from all good newsagents and supermarkets You can also take out a subscription ? call 0800 318846 or visit www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk SHORT STORY BY TONY REDCLIFFE 53 Mr Johnson?s Resolution Illustration by Ruth Blair. A NOTHER year has slipped by and I look forward to a happy and uneventful 1883. I wish only for a quiet life. Not so much to ask, surely. I do not usually hold with New Year resolutions, easily made and just as easily broken. However, this year I am resolved to avoid widows. Looking back over the last two years, it was evident that widows were responsible for the most traumatic experiences in my life. I foolishly married a widow who had already disposed of at least two husbands and who almost succeeded in disposing of me. Then there was that awful pie woman, the widow Butterfield, who dragged me through the courts in a breach of promise of marriage suit. Oh, no, I shall avoid widows. I shall, of course, Set in 1883 be civil. I am a gentleman. I shall tip my hat and smile, but otherwise be like Gibraltar ? a rock, a fortress. And that, I am confident, will ensure a quiet and contented year. * * * * January 31. A most upsetting experience. I have had to take a nip of whisky to calm my nerves. It began late this afternoon at the bank when Mr Stonehouse asked me to step into his office. Of course, young Hoskins blew out his cheeks and rolled his eyes to heaven in an attempt to unsettle me. Mr Stonehouse explained he had a document that needed to be delivered but the last post had gone. Since the address was near to where I lived, could I deliver it on my way home? ?Of course,? I said. The envelope was addressed to Mrs Cecilia Sissons of the Sissons Hotel for Single Young Ladies, an establishment I?d often passed. A safe and innocent haven, it appeared to me. Then Fate played a part. One minute either way and I would not have bumped into Sam Carter on my mission. Sam was an old friend. He?d been the one who?d revealed the previous history of the dangerous widow I?d married. We shook hands and exchanged greetings, and since we were standing outside the Dog and Duck we decided to continue our conversation inside the public house. We had enjoyed two pints of Old Codger when I suddenly remembered the envelope in my coat pocket. I bade Sam farewell and hurried along to the Sissons Hotel for Single Young Ladies. It was five minutes to eight when I ran up the three steps leading to the door. I stepped into a small This year I am determined to avoid all widows, at no matter what cost . . . foyer. On one wall was a notice board displaying Rules and Regulations. Standing by another wall was a porter?s box. A porter in a brown, brassbuttoned coat sat behind the counter. I approached him and produced the envelope. ?I wish to leave this for Mrs Cecilia Sissons,? I said. The fellow sucked his breath. ?Can?t do that, pal.? I decided to ignore his impertinent mode of address. ?Why not?? He sucked his teeth again. ?I?ve locked my cupboard, pal.? He nodded to a small closet at his side. ?Almost past my time. Can?t be done.? I gave him a steely glare. ?This,? I said, waving the envelope, ?is very important.? ?Tell you what,? he said, ?take it down to the superintendent?s office yourself. Just down the corridor. Name on the door. If there?s no answer, push it under the door. Job done.? He nodded towards a corridor on the left. I was annoyed, but had promised I would carry out the bank?s business. I turned my back on the porter and walked down a long, carpeted corridor. There were several doors, but eventually I came to one with a wooden plaque with Superintendent Mrs Cecilia Sissons inscribed in gold paint. I knocked. No response. I knocked again, louder. Nothing. I bent and slid the brown envelope under the door. Job done, 54 as the impertinent porter would have said. I turned to go when I noticed a large oil painting on the wall. ?The Battle of Waterloo?. A strange choice for a ladies? hotel but I recalled the building had once been a gentlemen?s club. Being interested in military history, I took some time admiring the stirring scene. Then I made my way back to the foyer. The porter?s box was empty. A number of the gas lights had been turned off. I turned the handle of the front door. It was locked. I rattled it. It was still locked. There must be another door, a way out. All was quiet and I assumed that all the young ladies were in their rooms, so I set off quickly down another corridor. There were three rooms with numbers on them, a door marked Bathroom, then three more numbered doors and another bathroom. It was as I approached this door that it opened. Steam and a waft of warm air billowed out, followed by a young lady wearing a dressing gown. She saw me and was startled. ?A man!? she cried loudly. Other doors opened. Heads and then bodies of young ladies emerged. I seemed surrounded by a forest of paper curlers. My mouth was dry. ?Don?t be alarmed, ladies,? I managed to croak. ?I am only here to see Mrs Cecilia Sissons.? ?I am she!? a voice said behind me. I turned slowly. Mrs Sissons was a large woman, a formidable woman of late middle age. ?No man, I repeat, no male person, is allowed on these premises after eight o?clock in the evening. What are you doing here?? I told her, and she sniffed. ?Lies. I find you here, terrorising my young ladies, reeking of alcohol. I have a good mind to call a constable.? The young lady who had emerged from the bathroom spoke. ?Perhaps I should show him out immediately, Mrs Sissons.? ?Please do so, Miss Meadows.? She looked at me and pointed an arm down the corridor. ?Go!? Miss Meadows conducted me to a door secured by a single bolt which she drew back. ?There you are. If it?s any consolation, I believe you.? ?Thank you. I?m sorry I startled you.? I noticed that she was very pretty. ?Tell me. Is Mrs Cecilia Sissons a widow?? ?Yes, she is.? * * * * February 1. I was five minutes late for work today. I had had a disturbed night ? a nightmare where I was pursued down a corridor by Mrs Sissons. I had hardly taken off my coat when young Hoskins sidled up to me. ?There?s a chap in with Mr Stonehouse. A detective asking about a peeping tom.? A few minutes later the man left and Mr Stonehouse beckoned me into his office. Of course he had been able to confirm that I was a bona fide visitor to the Sissons Hotel. That would be the end of the matter. Just an unfortunate incident, although, he remarked, I did have a knack for getting involved in the most bizarre situations. I assured Mr Stonehouse stiffly that the bizarre situations, as he called them, were not of my choosing. When I got back to my desk I could hear young Hoskins talking to another young fellow. ?You know, Fred, my little niece recited her latest nursery rhyme for me last night. ?Goosey goosey gander, where shall I wander? Upstairs, downstairs and in my lady?s chamber.? Do you know it, Fred?? My sister Ethel tells me she and her husband have bought a pianoforte with the intention of their son, Edward, aged nine, taking lessons. Ethel was of the opinion that someone who could play a pianoforte would always be popular at musical evenings. I didn?t say so, but I have always been of the opinion that at such social gatherings everyone else has a fine time laughing and chatting, flirting and spooning, whilst the poor player is confined to the piano stool and keys. I do not know if my nephew ? a nice, cheery lad but large and clumsy, with fingers like sausages ? will take to the instrument. * * * * February 14. Ethel prevailed on me to take young Edward for his piano lesson, she being otherwise occupied in a vital hairdressing appointment. I agreed, and we duly turned up at Blair?s School of Music and were directed to the practice room. We went in and I saw a young woman sitting at a pianoforte, her back to us. She turned as we entered. I knew her! The young lady coming out of the bathroom at Mrs Cecilia Sissons? Hotel for Single Young Ladies! She recognised me, smiled and held out her hand. ?Mr Johnson,? she said. She remembered my name! ?Miss Meadows.? I explained I was young Edward?s uncle. She began the lesson. She was very sweet, very pretty, very patient, even when Edward banged the wrong key. At the end of the lesson we chatted happily for some minutes. Later, I told Ethel I would gladly take Edward to his piano lessons and (perhaps wrongly) promised the lad a shilling for each lesson he took to continue his musical education. Am I an old fool? She is a good ten years younger than me. I noticed her music case bore the initials D.M. I wonder what the D is. Daphne, Deirdre, Dorothy? * * * * February 21. It?s Daisy! Miss Daisy Meadows. Isn?t that a perfect name? I took young Edward along for his lesson, with the promise of another shilling. She looked lovely. A blue ribbon in her chestnut hair. We chatted whilst Edward practised his scales. She knew, of course, that I work in a bank. She is from a small village in Kent where her mother lives. Conversation flowed easily and the hour passed so quickly. I think constantly about Miss Daisy Meadows. I feel light-hearted and lightheaded. I overheard young Hoskins whispering to his pal. ?I can?t smell no alcohol!? The more I think of her, the more I wonder if I have a chance. Still, faint heart ne?er won fair lady and I do admit that I do on occasions feel very lonely, especially in the evenings. Daisy and I have been courting, keeping company, walking out together; whatever you might call it. She knows all about my ill-fated marriage and my escape from the machinations of the pie woman. To her it matters not a jot. She says I am very trusting. Well, if I never ask, I will never know . . . She accepted! My darling Daisy said yes. She wants me to meet her mother, a widow. * * * * April 10. This year I resolved to avoid widows, the root of all my problems, as confirmed by the formidable Mrs Cecilia Sissons. My resolution was rock-like, but it has crumbled. I have considered. No Mrs Sissons ? perhaps no Miss Meadows. So there we are. We are to be married and I don?t care if the other day young Hoskins caught me singing. ?Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I?m half crazy, all for the love of you . . .? n COMPETITION 55 WORTH �0 Fabulous gardening equipment W ITH more than 150 products, the Cobra range of gardening equipment offers something for everyone, including the UK?s largest choice of powered lawnmowers. If you?re planning to get to work in your garden as the better weather arrives, we are giving you the chance to win over �0 worth of equipment from Cobra ? a fantastic prize bundle featuring three of their battery-powered products. The first is the RM4140V lawnmower. This 16? rear roller mower is powered by a 40v lithium-ion battery that gives 30 minutes? usage from a 90-minute charge. It is also transferable across all products in the Cobra battery range. The Cobra RM4140V lawnmower allows you to get more done without the need for petrol or electrical cables. 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To be in with a chance, simply answer the question opposite. iStock. WIN! It?s So Easy To Enter What is the name of the famous TV gardener? a Alan Carr b Alan Titchmarsh c Alan Alda 09012 925 024 (�02) Text FRIEND, your name, address then a, b or c to 64343 (�00) ? Send your answer, name, address and contact telephone number to ?The People?s Friend? Cobra Competition, D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2, Albert Square, Dundee DD1 1DD. Once you know the answer, just call 09012 925 024 (calls cost �02. Calls from mobiles will cost more) or text FRIEND, followed by a space, then your answer (a, b or c) and your name and address, to 64343 (texts charged at �plus your standard network rate). Please visit our website for our full competition Ts&Cs: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/competition-terms or send a large stamped self-addressed envelope to The People?s Friend Marketing, Copy of your Competition Terms, DC Thomson, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 1DD. Lines open at 6 a.m., on Saturday, March 31, 2018 and close at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 27, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from the correct entries after the closing date. Employees of D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., and their close relatives are not allowed to enter. Competition contact details: Premium Rate Telephone Services Department, D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 1DD. Helpline: 01382 426103. Your personal data will not be used for any other purpose than entry to this competition. The Secret Of Trefusis Cove Secrets uncovered and battles fought ? who would guess this quiet spot could be so thrilling? Illustration by David Young. B ETTY was angry. ?That was a stupid joke and all at the expense of that poor creature. It might not come back.? ?It wasn?t a seal.? ?What was it, then?? ?I don?t know,? Alex answered quietly. ?It wasn?t a mermaid,? Val said sadly. ?There?s no such thing ? is there?? She gazed at him hopefully. ?Are you sure it had arms?? Betty?s heart softened. ?Of course it didn?t, Val. It must have been a trick of the light.? ?Thinking about it, I can?t be certain. It?s dark and dappled down there; maybe I?m muddled.? Alex shrugged. ?You are!? ?We?re all tired,? Aircut said. ?How about we go home? We can tell Sally all about it. There?s always an explanation for everything.? He glanced at Alex. ?You?re invited, too, if you?d like.? He said it politely but as if he hoped Alex would refuse. Alex shook his head. ?Thanks, but I?ll get back to Whealgrey. I have to make plans to seal off the old mine to make it safe. ?I?m sorry I?ve upset you all. I really did see something. I didn?t lie, not even for a joke.? He took hold of Polly?s reins and mounted easily. ?Goodnight, Val.? He raised a hand. ?I hope to see you again, very soon.? Urging Polly into a trot, he disappeared. ?I believe him,? Val said. ?He saw something.? ?Maybe,? Betty replied. ?Let him get on with his plans and the repairs to Tangara; that?s more important than filling your head with mermaids.? ?He?s not a liar!? Val was near to tears. Betty realised it was a mistake to criticise Alex. Val was too vulnerable. There was nothing she could do. Sally appeared in her bathrobe, drying her hair. ?Did the night go well?? ?Very well,? Aircut answered. ?There was a good crowd and none of us sang out of tune.? ?Alex gave me a ride back on his horse,? Val said. ?He thought he saw a seal on the rock outside but it had arms. I don?t think he saw it clearly.? Aircut related the rest of the tale. Betty thought she saw a look pass between Sally and Aircut. ?I?ll put the kettle on,? he said. ?We?ve all had a busy night.? The scene between Val and Alex was not mentioned. Sitting by Aircut?s little stove, Betty sipped her hot chocolate and felt relaxed. ?It was a successful Shanty Night. Everyone was in fine voice and even Alex has become a little more popular since the accident. He was persuaded to stand up and sing a shanty. Val sang a duet with him.? Sally sighed. ?There were surveyors up in the field behind Tangara today. They were using a theodolite, measuring. It looks as if things will begin to happen soon.? Aircut put down his mug and stretched his arms. ?It?s been a long day.? Betty realised that, as he SERIAL BY PAT THORNBOROUGH: PART 6 OF 6 59 was to sleep on the sofa in the living-room, this was his way of saying goodnight. She glanced at her watch. ?Goodness, I didn?t realise it was so late. I?ll wash up.? By the time she went to their bedroom Val was already in her pyjamas. ?I need to talk, Betty. You must have seen us, Alex and me, in your headlights.? ?I did,? Betty replied kindly. ?I couldn?t miss it, and neither could Aircut.? ?He kissed me, Betty. It wasn?t a peck and I kissed him back. I wanted to.? ?You?ve been growing fond of him for quite a while, haven?t you?? ?Yes.? Val sighed. ?Since we went to Land?s End. I?m not a child. I know feelings can be overwhelming. I?ve not forgotten.? ?I understand,? Betty said. ?It hurts the heart to think that the loves of our lives are no longer here. It?s been a long time now.? ?You always know how I feel, Betty.? Betty put an arm around her shoulders. ?I just don?t want to think that Alex is taking advantage of you. That he regards the whole episode as a holiday romance. No strings, no broken hearts, even an advantage to have your opinions on his side. ?We?re here for such a little time, and when we get back home all this will be just a memory. Whatever happens here will happen. We?ll no longer be involved. Alex could break your heart and he would be half a world away.? Val began to sob. ?It was so lovely,? she whispered. ?He meant it and he wants to see me again. He wants to talk.? Betty sighed. ?Let?s get to bed. Everything will seem better in the morning.? As she picked up her washbag from the chest of drawers Betty noticed that Sally?s camera and the photographs were missing. The old cashbox remained. * * * * It was raining the next morning. They decided not to go to Tangara. Aircut, in oilskins and sou?wester, went out in his boat to check his lobster pots. ?Rain don?t make no difference to me.? He returned after lunch. ?Not much to do today, what with all this rain.? ?I hear you?re interested in photography.? Sally addressed Val. ?Yes. I saw your camera in the bedroom. It looks very professional.? ?It goes with my job. It?s an underwater camera.? ?What is your job?? Sally hesitated. ?I?m a marine biologist.? ?Yes,? Aircut said proudly. ?Sal?s the clever one in the family. She went to university.? Sally laughed. ?Uncle Harry makes such a fuss. It?s just a job.? ?Uncle Harry?? Betty exclaimed. ?We?ve never known your real name!? ?It?s Harry Wardle, but I?m still Aircut to my friends.? He grinned. ?Your job must be important.? Betty was curious. ?Are those photos that were on the chest of drawers underwater ones?? Val chipped in. ?I?d love to see them.? ?They?re not very interesting. Just repetitive shots.? Betty sensed that Sally didn?t want to share her work with them. ?Can I see some of yours?? Sally asked Val. ?Of course.? Val dashed off to the bedroom and came back with her camera. ?I?m no professional, but I try to do my best.? Sally looked at the photographs on the screen. ?The important thing is to know when to press the button. You?ve done remarkably well.? Val blushed. ?Underwater there must be some wonderful things to see. When do you take them, in the daylight or in the dark with a light?? Sally glanced at Aircut, who nodded. ?Best tell them. It?ll clear things up a bit.? Betty and Val waited. ?We were going to tell you both,? he said. ?Tell us what?? ?Are you good at keeping secrets?? he asked. ?Because this one must be kept quiet until we?re sure of what we suspect.? ?Oh, lor?!? Val whispered. ?That sounds ominous.? ?We can certainly keep a secret if it?s of importance. Fire away.? ?Well,? Sally began. ?As I say, I?m a marine biologist. I?m here studying the cove periods of time. That?s how I get the shots I need without disturbing them. ?I train at night when the tide is high, and get my photos in the early morning if the tide is right.? Betty nodded. ?So you have one of those grey diving suits. And you tuck your hair away?? ?Yes, and I wear a large ?When we get home all this will be just a memory? in the hope of finding something that will make Alexander Grey?s plans very difficult, or impossible.? Betty nodded. ?Something that will make sure this place is not to be disturbed?? ?Exactly!? Aircut grinned. ?Sally has been doing a lot of diving and underwater photography. We think that, soon, what we hope for will be revealed so that we can submit it as proof to the powers that be? Betty looked at Aircut. ?Seahorses.? ?Absolutely right.? ?Hippocampus,? Sally added. ?Their habitat is in eelgrass and there?s a huge clump of it at the entrance to the cove.? Val turned to Aircut. ?You said you?d seen them as a boy but we only half believed you.? Aircut laughed. ?I was doing my salty seadog act. I added my belief in mermaids to give you an extra thrill.? ?I?m sure that in the next couple of days I?ll get the shots I want. It?ll involve a lot of diving.? Sally smiled. ?That?s another thing we ought to tell them, although I think it will disappoint Val. Remember the seal you saw resting on the rock?? ?Of course!? ?It wasn?t a seal,? Sally replied. ?And the mermaid with arms wasn?t a mermaid, either.? ?Do you know what it was? Have you seen it?? ?I?m sorry, Val, but you see ? it was me.? ?But it was grey and shiny and it had no hair!? ?I?m a free diver. I can hold my breath for long flipper to propel me along in the water. You nearly caught me out a couple of times, that?s why Uncle Harry and I decided to let you in on the secret. ?If the seahorses are there the eelgrass must not be disturbed, because if mooring ropes are put out ? which is part of Mr Grey?s plan for pleasure boats ? the movement of the ropes with the tides would act like a mower and destroy the habitat. It would be disastrous.? Betty held out her hand. ?We wish you all the luck in the world, Aircut.? Aircut shook her hand. ?It?s good to have you two on our side.? Val was quiet. ?Alex won?t like this.? ?He can?t think we would give up without a fight. He?s a battler himself.? ?He?ll find a way to foil your plans,? she answered. ?He?s clever and there?s still Tangara and the land behind it.? ?Ah,? Aircut said. ?But he hasn?t got a marine biologist on his side. Letting holiday homes without boats on the water won?t be such a good deal.? ?Aren?t you on our side, Val?? Betty asked. ?I don?t know whose side to be on.? ?What about the seahorses, the rabbits?? Sally asked. ?Small creatures need someone to fight their cause. And the folk who live here ? what about them?? Val covered her face. ?I don?t know what to think. Alex is set on seeing his project through.? Betty felt nervous. Holidays in Jersey JerseY - BATTle OF FlOWers TOur OPTION 1. 7-10 AuGusT 2018 BesT WesTern rOYAl HOTel*** OPTION 2. 4-11 AuGusT 2018 FOrT d?AuVerGne HOTel*** This is a wonderful opportunity to see one of the greatest european floral festivals, the Jersey Battle of Flowers which takes place in August every year ? tickets to the main parades are strictly limited so we recommend that you BOOK eArlY. TRANSFERS FROM THE HOTEL TO THE MAIN PARADE AND MOONLIGHT PARADE ARE NOT INCLUDED, YOU HAVE TO MAKE YOUR OWN WAY TO THE ARENA. OPTION 1. �9 3 niGHTs FrOM PP Supplement for half board �.00 per person per night 7-10 AuGusT 2018 | BesT WesTern rOYAl HOTel*** Includes a half day morning excursion, on the Wednesday evening a special behind the scene tour to see the final touches being put to the floats, and on Thursday 9 August reserved seats to watch the Battle of Flowers main parade. Price includes ? Return flights from Gatwick* with 1 piece hold baggage per person ? 3 or 7 nights? accommodation in a twin/double room at selected hotel ? Return transfers in Jersey ? 3 or 7 x full buffet breakfasts at selected hotel ? Tours, excursions and tickets as detailed in the options ? All current taxes OPTION 2. �5 7 niGHTs FrOM PP Supplement for half board �.00 per person per night Supplement for sea view �50 per person per night 4-11 AuGusT 2018 | FOrT d?AuVerGne HOTel*** Includes everything listed in Option 1, plus on the Friday morning an opportunity to see the floats close up in detail and to meet Miss Battle 2018, and on the Friday evening a reserved seat to the Moonlight Parade. Flights may also be available from exeter, southampton, london city, southend, Bristol, Birmingham, east Midlands, cambridge, liverpool, Manchester, leeds, Glasgow, edinburgh, Belfast and others ? Most will incur a supplement, please call us for details. Please send me a copy of ?The People?s Friend? Battle of Flowers Tour brochure Name ........................................................................................................................................... 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Ltd, or its group companies unless relating to an existing order No contact from our partner businesses unless it relates to an existing offer For A brochure: complete the order form and send to: The People?s Friend, Jersey Offers, Heron House, Jersey Airport, Jersey, JE1 1BW To book, cAll: 01534 496652 quoting The People?s Friend or VisiT: www.thepeoplesfriendtravel.co.uk Organised and operated by Travtel International ATOL Protected 1965, ABTA No. V0300. Subject to availability. Supplements may apply. NB: A financial protection fee of �50 per person will be added to your invoice. 61 What if Val told Alex? Val must have seen her expression. ?Of course I won?t tell. I promise. But goodness knows what Alex will do when he finds out.? * * * * At breakfast the phone rang. Aircut went to answer it and came back beaming. ?That was Alexander Grey. The work?s finished on Tangara and you can go back whenever you like. He?s there now.? ?Oh, my!? Val exclaimed. ?We must pack.? ?Finish your breakfast,? Aircut advised. ?We can?t thank you enough for putting us up for the past few days,? Betty told him. ?It?s been so kind of you.? ?It?s been a pleasure.? ?I hope the men made a good job of the plastering.? ?Of course they did. They?re all honest, hardworking Cornishmen . . . except Alex.? Betty and Val, accompanied by Aircut and Sally, made their way past Kit?s shop to Tangara. Alex smiled and waved as they approached. ?Come in!? He beckoned eagerly. ?I hope you?ll approve. I think my team have done a bonzer job.? He ushered them inside. The four gazed around. ?It looks so bright and new, but different.? ?The plasterwork is perfect!? Betty said. ?As if nothing had happened. Wait a moment ? the kitchen looks smaller. And where?s the tin bath?? ?Outside with the spiders.? Alex laughed. ?Wait, it?s dark in here.? He flicked a switch on the wall and the whole room was illuminated. Betty gasped. ?Electricity!? Alex laughed again. ?I spoke to the power people. Kit?s got it and I have it up at Whealgrey, so it was no problem. I got an electrician to wire it up. What do you think?? ?Did you get permission from Peter John?? ?Of course. He was well chuffed. Same as he was with this.? He opened a new door in a space beside the kitchen. ?It?s a shower,? Val whispered. ?A real shower!? Alex grinned. ?The firm that supplied it set it up and plumbed it in. No tiling or anything; it?s a complete unit. Are you pleased?? Betty took a deep breath. ?It must have cost loads. Why did you do it?? ?I wanted to repair the damage caused by my pick-up and to make amends.? ?Aren?t you going to negotiate a sale with Peter John for Tangara? You?ll be pulling it down.? ?Not necessarily. It would make a good summer let now it has mod cons. However, if it needs to be done, so be it.? ?There you go again,? Val said angrily. ?You do wonderful things and then spoil it all!? ?I haven?t changed everything,? Alex protested. ?The dunny?s still outside.? ?Well, I hope your summer visitors like spiders, because that?s where they live!? Alex looked woebegone. ?Don?t let?s quarrel. I wanted this to be a happy surprise and a bit of home comfort for you and Betty.? Betty frowned. That was Alex ? first nice, then tough businessman, then nice again. He was in the same muddle as Val. Neither knew what to do about their situation. ?You?ve done a very kind deed.? Betty addressed Alex. ?And we appreciate it. But maybe Peter won?t be persuaded to sell it to you now.? Alex shrugged. ?The cost is not a worry. I can easily make Peter an offer he can?t refuse.? ?There?s some things money can?t buy,? Aircut said quietly. They heard footsteps outside. ?May I come in?? Betty turned to the door. ?It?s Peter John!? ?I came as soon as I could. Thanks for your phone calls, Alex, and for the repairs.? He held out his hand to Alex. ?It?s the least I could do, considering I nearly dropped my pick-up into your kitchen sink!? ?Kit told me. I?ve been staying at the shop and he filled me in on the whole story. You had a narrow escape.? ?I was rescued by a bunch of heroes. These ladies have been staying with Aircut while the repairs were carried out.? ?Thank goodness no-one was badly hurt.? ?Thanks for caring for Betty and Val.? Peter shook Aircut?s hand. ?I couldn?t leave two new members of my Shanty Group out in the cold.? Peter smiled. ?You?ve settled into the place very quickly.? ?Tangara seemed to accept us straight away,? Val said. ?We never imagined this place would be so beautiful.? ?I think so, too. So did my dad and his father before him; they were artists, too.? ?Were your exhibitions in London successful?? Betty asked. ?Very! I sold almost all the paintings, so I can easily reimburse Alex for all the extra work he?s done. The shower will be a vast improvement; the electric, too. I never seemed to have the funds or the time to get around to it.? ?Forget it,? Alex said firmly. ?It?s my gift to make up for all the commotion I?ve caused. But I?d like to have a talk with you about Tangara.? ?The answer will be no. I?m not interested in selling.? ?You?ve jumped the gun.? Alex grinned. ?I?d make you a good offer and I?ve had a rethink about pulling it down.? ?No sale,? Peter repeated. Betty felt that the atmosphere was growing tense. ?We?ve had a mystery to solve but we decided to wait until you were here.? ?What?s that?? ?When the plaster fell off over the sink it left a large hole and inside was an old tin cashbox. Do you have it, Val?? Val rummaged in her holdall. ?Yes, here. We couldn?t get it open because there was no key.? She handed the box to Peter. ?We decided to wait until you were here because it really belongs to you.? Peter took the box. ?It?s very old. I wonder if it belonged to my grandfather. But why wall it up over the sink? They wouldn?t have had much money. They used to sell a few paintings in St Ives to make ends meet.? He shook it. ?There?s something inside, all right.? He attempted to open it. ?We?ll have to smash it open.? ?Don?t do that!? Val wailed. ?You might damage whatever?s inside.? Alex laughed. ?I suggested a bit of wire or a hairpin when we first found it. I could open it easy.? ?Why didn?t you?? ?Because the girls said it wouldn?t be right, as it was your property. Besides, no-one had a hairpin.? ?I admire your honesty. But you must have been bursting to know what was inside.? ?You bet we were!? Val exclaimed. ?OK.? Alex grinned. ?Who has a hairpin?? ?I do.? Sally reached up to her long tied-up hair. * * * * The atmosphere was tense as Alex placed the box on the table. Betty was engrossed. A few little twists of the hairpin and the lock clicked open. Alex handed the box to Peter. ?Now you can solve the mystery for all of us.? There was not a sound in the room as Peter opened the lid. They gathered around. ?It?s an envelope.? Peter took it from the box. ?It?s sealed and it?s marked Whealgrey. You should be reading this.? He handed the envelope to Alex. ?No, you go ahead.? ?There?s something else,? Val said. ?Something shiny.? 62 Peter reached inside and took out a ring set with a tiny sparkling stone. ?That?s a diamond!? ?Let?s see.? Alex examined the ring. ?Yep, it?s a diamond. That envelope should tell more.? ?Open it,? Val begged. Peter turned the envelope over and ran his thumb under the seal. He removed a letter and began reading. ?This is older than any of us.? He looked at Alex. ?I think you?d better read it. There?s something else in the envelope, too.? Puzzled, Alex took the letter and opened it. ?Please!? Betty was beside herself with curiosity. ?Read it to us ? it can?t be that private after all these years.? There was a chorus of agreement from the others. Alex cleared his throat and began to read. ?Dear Simon, I?m asking my mum to take this to you after I?m gone. I know she feels the shame of what I?m doing and Dad is furious. ?The truth is that I can?t marry you when I love your brother John. I can?t live a lie, and if I went ahead with the wedding that?s what I?d be doing. Forgive me for not having the courage to tell you to your face. ?Mum will return the ring you gave me. John and I are going away to the other side of the world. ?I will always remember beautiful, unchanging Trefusis Cove where I was born, and my life at Tangara. It is part of my life I will never forget, nor my deep friendship with you which I mistook for love. ?You will always be in my prayers. Lyndsy Morgan.? ?There?s a photo.? Peter handed Alex a small print. Alex paled. ?It?s my mum. She never spoke of this, nor did she tell us anything about the past before they came to Oz. But I always thought that there was something. ?Then she passed away and it was all lost. Dad never spoke of it.? He sighed. ?So that letter was never delivered. Her folks walled it up and moved on.? ?Everyone around here knew about the jilting,? Aircut said. ?No-one told me. I just inherited an uncle out of the blue. I never even knew Dad had a brother.? ?Just imagine,? Val said. ?Your mother?s feet walked on this floor.? Alex stood up and put the letter and photo in his pocket. The ring he placed on his little finger, where it only reached halfway. ?I have to get my head around all this. I?ll be in touch.? He left the room. ?Lyndsy?s parents must have left Tangara soon after the scandal,? Peter said. ?That must have been when my folks bought it.? They stood around the empty box. ?I?ll make some tea,? Betty said. * * * * Sally, Aircut and Peter left and Betty and Val lit the stove and sat talking over the day?s events. Although they were grateful for Aircut?s hospitality it was nice to be back. ?Shall we go to the Crab and Mermaid?? ?I don?t feel like it,? Val replied. ?Scrambled eggs will do. But first I must do something.? She stood up. ?Where are you going?? ?Up to Whealgrey to see if Alex is OK.? ?Do you think you should?? ?He?s had a shock and he?s all alone. He may need someone to talk to. I won?t be long.? Pulling on her cardigan, she went out of the door before Betty could reply. Betty sat by the stove listening to the crackling of the logs until the sun set. She must have dozed because she didn?t hear Val return. ?Wake up.? Val shook her shoulder. ?I?m back.? The stove had died down and only a few sparks were left burning. Val opened the glass door in the front and put on some kindling which soon blazed into life. ?How was Alex?? ?He seemed pleased I?d come. He still had his mum?s ring on his finger.? ?Well, that?s given him something to think about.? ?Don?t be cruel, Betty. He said he needs time to come to terms with it all.? Val warmed her hands at the stove. ?He said something else, too.? ?What?s that?? Val took her hand. ?He asked me to marry him and go back to Australia with him.? ?Lumme!? Betty gasped. ?What did you say?? ?I nearly said what you?ve just said.? Val smiled. ?I was speechless for a while.? ?So, are you . . .?? Betty stammered. ?I didn?t say no. I said that I, too, needed time to think. Maybe he was so upset that his proposal was on the spur of the moment. But I don?t think so. I believe it was genuine.? ?How do you feel?? Betty squeezed her friend?s hand. ?I don?t know. I?m so very fond of him. I think I?m in love, but how can I be sure? It isn?t the same as . . .? She hesitated. ?You?ve only known him for a short time.? ?How much time does one need, to know?? ?Not much. When I met my Stan for the first time I knew he was the one.? ?I must think clearly!? Val cried. ?My family would be hurt if I moved so far away. My love for them is strong and it has a future. My feelings for Alex are based on moments.? ?You can only give yourself and Alex time,? Betty said softly. Val got to her feet. ?Have you eaten?? ?Not yet.? ?Then I?ll do the eggs and you set the table.? * * * * Val was still asleep and Betty had just risen when there was a knocking at the door. Betty opened it and Sally rushed into the room. ?I?ve got the photos!? Betty was puzzled, then realised what Sally was telling her. ?The seahorses?? ?Yes. I got some wonderful shots and there are some very rare sea anemones, too. I?ve sent the photos to my office. ?Hopefully the powers that be will put a preservation order on the cove.? ?Goodness. That?ll set the cat among the pigeons.? ?What?s the noise about?? Val appeared and Sally explained again. ?Does Alex know?? ?Not yet. The people to whom he?s made applications will hear first.? ?Another shock for him,? Val said quietly. ?Well,? Sally answered. ?He might have known we hadn?t given up the battle for Trefusis Cove.? ?It?ll put a stop to everything.? ?He?s rich ? he doesn?t need the money.? ?He won?t like to lose,? Val warned. ?I must go,? Sally said. ?Uncle Harry?s out checking his lobster pots. He doesn?t know yet.? She left quickly. Two officials came to verify Sally?s claim. After that, several days passed without incident. Betty and Val swam, sketched and took photographs. Even Peter got out his paints and easel, capturing the changing light in the cove. There was no sight or sound of Alex. * * * * ?He hasn?t even left a note on the door.? ?He must have been informed by now,? Betty replied. ?He?ll have gone somewhere to cool off.? ?He might have spoken to me,? Val said. ?He must have known I?d be worried.? ?He?s bound to turn up soon unless he?s gone back to Australia and written off his whole plan.? ?Not without telling me!? Betty didn?t reply. Sally and Aircut came to show the prints of the seahorses and anemones to Betty and Val. ?Good work, Sally. Everything will move fast now.? Betty beamed. ?It already has,? Aircut said. ?Applications for the development of the land and the laying of moorings are going to be cancelled and a preservation order has been declared.? ?Does Alex know?? Val asked. ?Yes, he does.? Alex entered the room and held out his hand to Sally. ?May I see the pictures of the little guys who got the better of Alexander Grey? And congratulations to the mermaid with the camera.? Sally handed him the prints. ?We had to do it.? ?I know. I?ve fought many a battle of wits myself.? He held out his hand. ?Well done, Sally, and I congratulate all of you.? They were stunned. ?You were so set on changing everything!? Val said. ?I know. When I came and saw my inheritance I saw only land and opportunity. Since I?ve been here I?ve become aware of the needs of people, the small unseen things and the beauty of Trefusis. ?Val taught me a lot, even when she got mad at me. I admire folks who?ll stand up to me.? ?What will you do now?? Betty asked. ?Already done! First I took Polly back to the stables where I hired her. Then I did a lot of signing and rubber stamping with men in suits.? ?There?s more, isn?t there?? Val put a hand on his arm. ?I cancelled all my applications. The land is to go to the inhabitants of the cove so no one person can make decisions without the approval of all. Whealgrey I?ve given to Kit ? it?s little enough for saving my life.? ?But that leaves you with nothing!? ?It leaves me with everything. The whole place will be just as Mum wanted to remember and I?ve gained a sense of values that were missing from my life.?? His hand went to the ring on a chain around his neck. ?Will you go back home now? Aircut asked. ?Soon. I?ve something to settle first.? He took Val?s hand. ?Come up to Whealgrey, Val. We have something to talk about.? As Val and Alex left Aircut beckoned to Betty. ?Bit of a romance, eh?? Betty nodded. ?I?ve got something to confess,? he said. ?Can you keep another secret?? ?Of course.? ?Do you remember the shell Val found ? the one with the carvings on it?? ?Yes, clearly,? she whispered back. ?Well, it was me who put it on the clump of seaweed where she could find it.? ?Oh, Aircut! Val believes it was from the mermaids. Where did you get it? Did you do the carving?? ?No, no. I found it years ago washed up on the beach outside my cottage. I?ve no idea where it came from. Don?t tell Val. A person needs a little magic, don?t you think?? * * * * ?We?re still going to be friends,? Val said as they sat together in Betty?s little car. ?We?ll write, of course, and he wants me to send him the painting I did of the sunflower and the ladybird. ?But I couldn?t bring myself to say yes to his proposal. The romance of this place and Alex swept me off my feet. It couldn?t have worked out. ?I?ll never forget him, but I don?t think my love would travel well, because my family are my love. I know he understands.? It was early in the morning and they?d said their goodbyes the evening before. Betty started the motor and put the car into gear. ?We?ll come again one day, won?t we, Betty?? Val was tearful. ?Of course,? Betty replied. ?But now we must go home.? ?We?ve still one mystery that hasn?t been solved.? Val placed the carved shell on the dashboard. ?We?ll never solve this one.? She sighed. Betty smiled. ?I don?t suppose we ever will.? The End. Love reading? Don?t miss the Daily Serial on our website: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk. On Reflection From the manse window by Kathrine Davey. T HIS year sees the hundredth anniversary of women getting the vote and there has been a plethora of articles and radio and television programmes on the subject. I discovered that this demand for equal rights happened more than fifty years after women first started campaigning for it, a period when many women felt that their views were not being taken seriously enough. This caused me to ask myself a question, and I am sure I am not alone in wondering this . . . How often am I prepared to wait for an outcome for something I had hoped and prayed for? Is it that I simply expect it to happen overnight, and if it doesn?t then I give up hoping and praying? I was reminded here of some words from the Bible that we should not ?become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up?. Although much publicity was given to the dramatic and often violent means employed by some women, many of the campaigners, known as suffragists, used more peaceful means to get their point across. However, despite their preference for lobbying those in power, they knew that, in order to see their demands accepted, they would have to get as much publicity as possible. Their leaders realised that it was vital to remain visible. This is, of course, an important lesson for us all. Unlike today, women were not encouraged to court any kind of publicity, but the suffragettes became well known for their processions, and thousands of people lined the streets to see these displays of ?unladylike behaviour?. How times have changed! I especially love the quote from one of the suffragist leaders that their movement was ?like a glacier; slow moving but unstoppable?. Men and women did not achieve equal voting rights until 1928, a fact that has often been overlooked. However, according to the Bible, men and women have had equal rights for thousands of years ? in the Kingdom of heaven, we are all equal. As it was pointed out to the early church, ?There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.? This is God?s equality charter, even if is not apparent in many organisations ? including the church, where men and women have not been treated equally over the years, and still are not in many cases. Over the years, we have all seen many changes. In some countries, of course, unequal gender treatment continues, where people are still allocated boy jobs and girl jobs. This national bias is challenged by many of our hymns ? I?m thinking especially of the hymn ?In Christ there is no east or west? and one verse tells us: ?Join hands all the human race, whate?er your nation be; all children of the living God are surely kin to me.? If only people around the world would stop and think about these words. n Next week: Rev. Barbara Mosse recalls a memorable cruise. HERITAGE 65 The Photographs by Simon Whaley. Puppet Master W HEN I was growing up, many TV puppets, though not all, had strings. And it doesn?t matter where I look ? suddenly, hundreds of childhood memories are flooding back to me. There?s Lady Penelope and her driver, Parker, who Simon Whaley meets the man behind Wolverhampton?s new exhibition representing 80 years of television. look smaller than I imagined. Zippy and George are just as I remember them. And there?s Basil Brush, too! Boom, boom! These puppets, and many more, can be seen at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery until April 29, 2018. They?re a celebration of 80 years of television puppetry. It?s a fascinating Soko: the first puppet made for television In the early days of television, theatre puppets were used. Soko was the first puppet made specifically for television broadcast. As a result, he was made with an unusual black and yellow Soko enjoying his retirement. colouring, to help those early, and poor quality, television cameras pick up enough detail. His first television appearance was in 1930, and he starred in seven live television performances. exhibition, full of nostalgia, and the perfect opportunity to get up close to puppets from our favourite television shows, including ?Button Moon?, ?Thunderbirds?, ?Five Children And It? and even ?Spitting Image?. But how do you go about organising something like this? Michael Dixon, the archivist at the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild, is the man who managed to bring it all together. ?I started by making a list of the puppets I wanted,? he explains. ?I am lucky because, through my own collection and being the archivist of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild, I have a lot of contacts.? Thanks to Michael?s hard work, this exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to see puppets that are not normally on public display. ?Many of the puppets reside in private collections now or are still with their creators,? he says. ?So I made my list and began contacting them.? Unfortunately, Michael wasn?t able to secure every puppet on his dream list. ?Some puppets were in America, such as those from ?Sesame Street?. I would have loved to have had Bert and Ernie in there, but sadly the cost of preparing them and getting them shipped from New York was just too prohibitive on our small budget.? Putting together an exhibition like this is no easy feat. In fact, it took Michael two years! One reason it was so complicated was because it took time to track down the puppets and their current owners. ?The people who owned the puppets were spread all over the country. Some, understandably, were cautious as these are expensive and very rare, irreplaceable items. Others had never displayed their puppets before. ?So whilst they didn?t take any convincing really, it did take a lot of correspondence across a lot of different people to make sure it all came together for February, when the exhibition opened.? And Michael explains why this particular exhibition is so special. ?Whilst there have been exhibitions in the past that 66 Original artwork from the fabulous ?Ivor The Engine?. The set from ?Button Moon?. look at children?s TV, or Gerry Anderson?s programmes, there has never been an exhibition that pulls together so many general TV puppets. This really is a first ? and probably a last!? Because of this, he was determined to include puppets from every decade of broadcast television. ?We started with the first puppet ever made for television, Soko, then Muffin the Mule, on to Lady Penelope from ?Thunderbirds?, Fozzie Bear from ?The Muppets?, Zippy and George and more recent puppets full of animatronics and wizardry and such like! ?Once we established what we wanted and what Scott Tracy was the pilot of Thunderbird 1. we would be loaned, I then had to work out the logistics of picking everything up in enough time to display it. ?Some items, such as the eleven-foot moon from ?Button Moon?, took a van to collect them, others less space, but just as much planning.? It certainly kept Michael busy! ?I collected most things myself, which saw me one weekend in Norwich, another in North Yorkshire then right down to Peckham in London. I covered miles. ?Some puppets we had with a week or so to display, others arrived on the afternoon before we opened ? so it was right to the eleventh hour!? Michael?s own love of puppets goes back to when he was a child, and stems from what became his own favourite television puppet show. ?My whole interest in puppetry began when I was young, watching ?The Muppets?. I was very fortunate to meet and interview Jim Henson, and Kermit, live on TV in 1986 when I was seven. ?My interest grew and I kept in touch with Jim Henson until his sudden death, and the Henson Company since. I began getting more interested in puppets and puppetry and began collecting myself ? not just TV puppets but any Zippy and George from ?Rainbow? ?Rainbow? was devised in 1972 by Thames Television as an English-version of the American educational puppet show ?Sesame Street?. It aimed to teach pre-school children about numbers and language. Zippy represented self-centredness and extroversion, while George was the opposite, shy and introverted. There were 1,071 episodes of ?Rainbow? across 23 series. George. Zippy. Do You Have An Old Puppet? The National Puppetry Archive is always interested to hear from anyone with older puppets, or connections to puppeteers, such as Punch and Judy or ventriloquists. If you can help, then get in touch at www.nationalpuppetryarchive.co.uk puppets.? ?I have around three thousand professional puppets in my collection. I joined the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild, the oldest puppetry organisation in the world, and then around fifteen years ago became the archivist. ?The Guild?s collection and Want To Know More? my own collection form the National Puppetry Archive ? giving us a vast array of resources and possible exhibitions.? Michael?s magic touch has clearly paid off. The TV Puppet exhibition is a real nostalgic trip down memory lane. Best of all, it?s free entry, so you could say there are no strings attached! n Wolverhampton Art Gallery has free entry, is open seven days a week (Mon to Sat, 10.30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sun, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and is a five-minute walk from the railway station. The Wolverhampton Art Gallery is also hosting the touring Clangers, Bagpuss & Co exhibition from the V&A?s Museum of Childhood. my garden Notes from Alexandra Campbell explains how to make your gar den easier to access. Photographs by Alexandra Campbell and iStock. Too Late! We?re now fully into the birds? nesting season, which means you shouldn?t prune trees where birds could be nesting. It is, in fact, illegal to do so. So if you have a tree you meant to prune, you?ll have to wait until August. The exception is any tree in the prunus (cherry) family, which need pruning in June. Well, that?s one thing off the ?to do? list for this month ? have a cup of tea instead. I F you?re beginning to find gardening difficult because of a health issue, there are ways to make it easier. I?ve recently chatted to Gardening for the Disabled, a charity based in Kent who offer funding, practical help and advice for those with physical or mental problems. And even if everyone in your household is currently fully fit, there are some sensible steps you can take to make gardening safer or easier. Raised beds are the number one way to make gardening easier for most people. ?We get asked for raised beds more than anything else,? Rosie Kefford of Gardening for the Disabled says. Raised beds really help if you have problems with bending, and they make gardening possible for wheelchair users. They?re also very useful for people who have problems with balance, or who can only stand for short periods, as you can sit while you garden. Even raising a bed by a foot or two can make it easier to garden, but raised beds at table height are probably the best. And if I can add a safety note ? low raised beds can be a trip hazard. Gardening for the Disabled?s clients often get their raised beds from Harrod Horticultural or Woodblock.co.uk. The next most important thing to consider if you want to make gardening easier and safer are the levels in your garden. Steps ? especially badly made ones ? are impossible for wheelchairs, and difficult for people with balance or sight issues. One common problem with garden steps is that architects or builders make them with the same dimensions as stairs inside. This is too steep for any garden. Steps indoors measure 17-18 cm up (the riser) while the step itself needs to be 22-24 cm deep. In a garden, the steps should be lower ? no more than House Plant Inspiration Weeding Help My list of jobs to do in the garden boils down to weeding, weeding and weeding at this time of year. My other half is adamant that he doesn?t understand plants so he can?t help with the weeding as he would pull out plants I wanted to keep. It has only taken me 26 years together to come up with the answer, which is ?Everything growing in the path is a weed. You weed the paths and I?ll weed the beds.? This approach could work with children and grandchildren, too. 15 cm up. And each step needs to be at least 30 cm deep. Steps should also be equal ? don?t mix high or shallow steps with low or deep ones. Even if everyone in your family is as nimble as a mountain goat, safe garden steps are really important. A handrail can help, too, if anyone is a little wobbly. The charity has recently helped an MS sufferer to have her uneven steps replaced with safer ones and to have a handrail added. She says that ?being able to go out in the garden again made me feel that there was a future.? Gardening for the Disabled has also given grants for access ramps with handrails. ?Councils will often adapt a property for someone who gets ill but they don?t extend that help to the garden.? Surfaces are another issue. Gravel is impossible for any kind of wheels ? I find it The RHS and DK Books have just published the ?Practical House Plant? book, RRP �.99. It?s full of ideas and tips on displaying house plants. There are wonderful photos of house plant filled interiors, plus all you could want on the practical side, including how to propagate house plants, house plant diseases and which house plant will grow well where. Great for any garden lover wanting to grow more indoors. difficult to get a wheelbarrow across a gravel surface, let alone a buggy or a wheelchair. And wheelchairs don?t cross lawns easily, either. However, you don?t necessarily have to get rid of all your lovely green grass. Gardening for the Disabled has also given grants for lawn mesh (from Suregreen.co.uk). Lawn mesh gives a flat, stable surface that is wheel-friendly but which grass can grow through. Finally, there are many good lightweight tool ranges today (try Fiskars and Kent & Stowe). Gardening for the Disabled clients with more severe difficulties, such as stroke victims, have also often benefited from using Active Hands gripping aids (Activehands.com). Gardening for the Disabled is 50 years old this year, and needs more funds to help more people. See https://goo.gl/iouGXC.uk. Visit Alexandra?s blog online at www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk. GARDENING 69 Growing Some New Varieties I?m sowing lots of seeds at the moment, especially for the veg patch. We don?t have a greenhouse, so I start a bit later than many gardeners as some seeds don?t get enough light on window-sills to grow well. This year I asked fellow gardeners on Twitter for the one vegetable they wouldn?t be without. It needed to be tasty and easy to grow. I expected lots of tried-and-trusted favourites, but in fact, I heard about unusual varieties of veg that have done really well for my fellow gardeners. Perhaps the most interesting was Salsola soda, otherwise known as Friar?s Beard or saltwort. It?s like a mixture between spinach and seaweed, and I can?t wait to see how it turns out. The beetroot lovers universally said that golden beetroots have a better flavour than the traditional red kinds. Try ?Burpees Golden? or ?Boldor?. I had thought golden beetroot might be a bit of a fad, but I?m going to try growing them this year. Among the ?must-have? favourites were kale, Swiss chard and climbing beans ? no surprises there. But I must add kalettes or flower sprouts. These were created by combining Brussels sprouts and kale, and even Brussels sprout haters love them. They do take quite a long time from seed to harvest ? I?ve just planted the first seeds now and don?t expect to eat them till November. But they are very useful in the dead of winter when there?s not much else around. Most of these seeds are available from Thompson & Morgan, Mr Fothergill?s and Franchi Seeds of Italy. Try something a little different this year. believe it? Would you Got a question? Get in touch through e-mail email@example.com or *write to ?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 1DD. I?D LIKE TO KNOW Q April 3, 1933 ? two pilots successfully made the first flight over the summit of Mount Everest in a flimsy biplane with an open cockpit! A There are around 200 different species. The smallest elf owl measures under 13 centimetres, while the Blakiston?s fish owl is among the largest, with a wing span of up to two metres. Alamy. A My friend insists that Roald Dahl wasn?t born in Britain, but I disagree. Who is correct? Mrs P.W., Bolton. You are correct. Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff in September 1916. The confusion may arise from the fact that he was born to Norwegian parents. This great author?s stories continue to capture the imagination of children everywhere, and in the telling of his tales he managed to conjure up more than 250 new words, some of which have even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary ? now isn?t that splendiferous! Q I?m intrigued to know when the first parking ticket was issued in the UK. Mrs M.C., Birmingham. A Traffic wardens first hit the streets of Britain in September 1960. Dr Thomas Creighton was the unlucky chap who received a �fine. However, there was a public outcry when it was discovered he had been attending a seriously ill patient, and he didn?t have to pay the fine in the end. Something we didn?t know last week... Photographs iStock, unless otherwise stated. �.48 is spent on make-up every month by the average British woman. I watched a really interesting nature programme on TV about owls. How many different species are there? R.C., Glasgow. Q TEA-BREAK TRIVIA 71 We Brits don?t need extravagance to feel pampered. A survey commissioned by Small Luxury Hotels of the World found that freshly laundered bed linen, reading a good book and tucking into a take-away are the little luxuries that really make a difference to our lives. Other little luxuries scoring high in the survey include having a long soak in the bath, watching the sunset, buying freshly baked bread ? and enjoying a cup of tea made by someone else! *Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies. 93 messages and notifications, on average, are received every day on smartphones in the UK. 175 years ago, William Wordsworth was appointed Poet Laureate. 2 hours ? the potential flight time from Beijing to New York in a new jet, currently at the design stage, which will fly at 3,700 mph! 1 in 1,000 is the odds of finding a double yolk egg ? but it?s only a one in 100 chance that there will be a second double yolker in the same egg box. Half Price Million Bells Create a cascading wall of colour with these trailing Million Bells. 30 Half Price Producing a host of brightly coloured Million Bells Collection �.47. bell-shaped flowers, Million Bells (5 each of the will flower profusely throughout 6 colours the summer months from June to below). October. Perfect for hanging baskets but will also look fantastic planted in containers and pots. You can buy individual packs of six in your favourite colour for �99, or why not take advantage of our special offer and get 30 plants (five of each colour) for half price. UK grown 3cm diameter module plants supplied. Delivery within 28 days. Buy 30 for half price Name . ............................................................................... 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Million Bells Yellow TOTAL I enclose a cheque/postal order, made payable to ?J. Parker Dutch Bulbs (W/S) Ltd? for the total amount of � .................... (Please write your name and address on the back of your cheque.) If you are ordering by Credit Card please complete the following: Delta/MasterCard / Visa (delete as necessary) Start Date : ........ /........ Expiry Date: ........ /........ Card No .............................................................................................................. Cardholders Signature ...................................................................................... Name on Card .................................................................................................... DC Thomson & Co. Ltd and its group companies would like to contact you about new products, services and offers we think may be of interest to you. If you?d like to hear from us by post, please tick here telephone, please tick here or email, please tick here . From time to time, carefully chosen partner businesses would like to contact you with relevant offers. If you?d like to hear from partner businesses for this purpose please tick here . Offer open to UK readers only and is subject to availability. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery. Closing date: 15th May 2018. PF133 CALL: 0161 848 1100 quoting PF133 Lines open Mon.? Fri. 8 a.m. ?7 p.m., Sat./Sun./Bank Holidays 9 am. ?5 p.m. Calls cost 10p/min. from BT landlines. Calls from other networks and mobiles may vary. BY POST: Complete the order form with your credit card details or cheque/ postal order, made payable to J. Parker Dutch Bulbs (W/S) Ltd. to: ?The People?s Friend? Million Bells Offer (PF133), J. Parker Dutch Bulbs (W/S) Ltd.,14 Hadfield Street, Old Trafford, Manchester, M16 9FG. CRAFT 73 A Colourful easy Welcome Seasonal blooms create a lovely floral arrangement for your home. You Will Need Photography: Kristin Perers. l Florist?s scissors l 1 pre-made natural willow plaited vine l Linen or rope to hang l Nail or hook for hanging (if required) Flowers And Foliage l 7 stems of white achillea l 10 stems of yellow achillea l8 l3 l8 l2 stems of purple flowering basil stems of purple clematis stems of cotoneaster foliage stems of white delphinium l5 l5 wreath stems of fennel stems of lavender leaf foliage l 5 stems of flowering mint l 7 stems of wax l 10 wild grasses 74 Prepare your chosen stems by cutting them diagonally into a variety of different lengths, approx. 30 cm (12 ins) for the longer, wilder stems and 15 cm (6 ins) for the stems that will sit tighter to the wreath?s base. Start at the top and weave your foliage stems in a clockwise direction through 1. the plait of the vine. There is no need to wire or tape the foliage in place as the wreath structure is tight enough to hold the stems securely. This type of wreath looks best when the flowers and foliage are placed following the same direction. This helps give the wreath a good shape and flow. To hang, thread a strip of linen or rope through the back of the structure and hang on a nail or hook screwed into the wall or suspended from a handy structure (we?ve used the bar of a ceiling clothes dryer). The beauty of this wreath is that you literally just place your materials into the wreath base, with no tying or taping in position. This means that it is quick to make and can be easily changed if there is anything else you are not happy with. 3. 4. Continue to cover the base of your wreath with foliage until you feel that you have a good basic coverage. Place stems in a diagonal direction as opposed to straight in, following the direction of the base. Then add your flowers, once again in a clockwise direction, where you feel they are needed and where they look best, making sure each area has some floral embellishment. It is just as effective to add your flowers in groups, or create patterns with them. 2. Choose flowers with woody stems, such as wax flowers and hydrangeas, which will last longer out of water. Flowers with hollow stems, such as daffodils or poppies, can die quickly, so be mindful of this when you are choosing your flowers. This is a good project to make with flowers that will dry out well, such as achillea ?Parker?s Variety?, wild heather or woody-stemmed hydrangeas. Next week: knit this lovely bolero. This lovely arrangement was taken from the book ?WREATHS: Fresh, Foraged & Dried Floral Arrangements? by Katie Smyth & Terri Chandler (Quadrille, �.99) ISBN: 9781787131200, which is published on April 5 and available from good book shops or online stores including www.amazon.co.uk. Frogs A Fascination For Polly Pullar rekindles her fondness for frogs with a new project. Photographs by Polly Pullar. H AVING always been mad on frogs and toads, and fascinated by their extraordinary life cycle, every spring I spend time at the pond close by my home, watching the action. It?s been a ritual since I was a small child and, because their seasonal breeding extravaganza lasts for such a short time, woe betide anyone who deters me from my fabulous frog forays. Last year my fascination for frogs was further First foray out on to a rock. heightened because I acquired a small fish tank and decided to relive my childhood and watch the entire miraculous process up close. When I mentioned this to various friends it unleashed a wealth of their own childhood memories, and most were as enthusiastic as me. I also learned that some people find frogs and toads repellent. I put this down to misunderstanding, and when I asked them why, found they could not really answer. When a high-flying businessman friend called in for lunch I asked him to come and see my frog project, and took him to the utility room where the tank and its precious contents were sitting. He looked at me askance and simply said, ?Oh, dear, Polly, how sad you are!? and was totally unimpressed. I am afraid I was totally unimpressed by his reaction. ?Weren?t you fascinated by the metamorphosis of tadpoles to frogs?? I asked. ?No, that?s a girl thing,? he replied. I admit to being rather baffled by his reaction, and am sure you will agree that he was totally wrong. Iomhair was certainly enthusiastic. I filled the tank with fresh water that runs into the pond from a little burn, and then added an assortment of water plants to help oxygenate the tank and make it more natural. Lastly we collected a fairly small dollop of spawn. It seemed that within days the spawns? black dots had started to develop into tadpoles and were growing longer and more misshapen. Unfortunately my first attempt failed and within days the tiny tadpoles stopped wriggling, and the remainder of the spawn NATURE 77 Tail filaments are clearly visible. Frog in a sea of spawn. went white. I had to start again. I had topped up the tank from our tap and was concerned that as all our water contains chlorine, this might have been the problem. The new lump of spawn had no such problems as this time I only added running water off the hill that flows into the pond. Photography was the next The finished frog! problem. Silt from the water quickly made the glass cloudy, and of course I could not clean it with any chemicals. Flash was hopeless, probably because I am useless at using it skilfully, but I used various lights and found that my smallest point-and-shoot camera with its close-up setting achieved the best results. No matter, the goings-on in the tank filled both Iomhair and I with excitement, for every day there was something new to discover. To begin with we did not need to put in any food as the remaining yolk feeds the emerging tadpoles developing in the spawn from their eggs. The new tadpoles have gills and swim like fish, but all this is gradually going to change as they go through a true metamorphisis. As more and more tiny tadpoles began to fill the tank we added a minute piece of fresh steak tied on to a piece of string, and changed this every couple of days. There was soon an impressive feeding frenzy devouring this perhaps surprising food. Some people use fish food, and though we added a few flakes every day, too, the steak worked very well and was certainly favoured. Some tadpoles were dominant and grew far quicker. Perhaps some of these bruisers also devoured a few of the smallest ones. Becoming frogs, but still with tails. Overall, most of the tadpoles survived and grew fairly evenly and it was soon clear that they were developing back legs, and that the formation of their jaws was altering fast. Changing the water was not the easiest task either, and there were one or two casualties that ended up going down the plughole. We were now extremely careful to make sure the new water was pure. I changed the weeds frequently and this always caused great excitement as the occupants swam round the new plants, nibbling at minute insects and invertebrates that had just been introduced into their tank on the plants. As soon as the first perfect little froglets had properly developed, a large rock had to be added so that they had something to climb out on to. Now they had fully functioning lungs as well as wider mouths and the Very early stages of the legs developing. ability to eat different types of food. Before long it was time to release the first batch of minuscule froggies and return them to the pond. I placed them almost in the water at the edge. Some swam away but most jumped off into the damp grassland and quickly vanished. Although we released dozens of these fragile little amphibians, we knew that many of them would end up as a snack for herons and other birds, as well as otters and fish. That, however, is part of the natural cycle. This year I would very much like to repeat the process but this time with toad spawn, or perhaps newts, simply so we can relish this wonderful insight into nature in close-up. In a world where we are increasingly bombarded with doom and gloom, spending time absorbed by nature is the best antidote I know. n SHORT STORY BY BARBARA DYNES 79 It had been written over seventy years ago, in the midst of battle. And I?d gone and lost it! A Letter From The War Illustration by Jim Dewar. D EFEATED, I flopped into my armchair, surveying the chaos. It looked as though the flat had been ransacked. Photos all over the table, papers and books scattered on the floor, drawers tipped out. I had had to make sure the letter wasn?t here. ?Come on, Laura, you know exactly where it is!? I said aloud, startling Marmaduke from his sleep. The tabby glared at me with his one visible eye. What to do? I called my best pal, Judy. ?I?ve lost it!? I wailed. ?My great-grandad?s 1944 letter to his wife. The one I promised to lend for the World War Two exhibition next week!? ?Laura, calm down. How could you have lost it?? ?It was on the table with a pile of photos I was sorting. Stupidly, I grabbed it and used it as a bookmark.? My voice floundered, as well it might. Using such a precious heirloom as a bookmark was unforgivable! When I was a kid, my mother always dubbed me scatty. Now, in my twenties, there wasn?t much improvement. Mum would go mad. Not immediately, since she lived in Spain. But eventually she?d have to be told. ?A bookmark?? Judy queried. ?Then I don?t see the problem. Just go through all the books you?ve read lately.? I cleared my throat. ?Actually, I did some decluttering.? There was sarcastic laughter from the other end. Undeterred, I went on. ?I took a load of books and stuff to the charity shop a few weeks ago. My copy of ?Pride And Prejudice? was among them. I?d started rereading it but got bored, shoved the letter in as a bookmark and forgot about it.? ?Bored with Jane Austen?? Judy echoed, exasperated. ?Well, never mind about that now. You?ll just need to go back to that shop, won?t you?? For the hundredth time I wished I had Judy?s placid nature; then I could have worked that out for myself, calmly and rationally. My letter was now sitting snugly between the pages on a dusty shelf of the charity shop. It was unlikely to be snoozing on someone?s bedside table yet, was it? I still felt bad. How could I have been so careless with something so precious? My greatgrandad, later killed in the war, had sent this letter from France during those dark, terrible days. My family cherished it, leaving it in my ?safe? hands because I?d always been so interested in World War II history. And now I?d gone and done this! * * * * The next day, Saturday, I got into Bella, my ancient but loyal little car, drove to town and managed to park near the charity shop. I love charity shops, even the stale smell ? a mixture of fabric, books and bodies. This one was typical: two rails crammed with clothes, ornaments crowded on tables, jigsaws piled high and shelves groaning with books. People poked amongst what had once been treasured possessions and I resisted the urge to poke along with them. Today, there were more serious matters on hand. I sought out the lady on whom I?d unloaded my unwanted goods. ?Daphne, I wonder if you could help me.? I went on to explain, all the time searching the bookshelves for my dark-blue copy of ?Pride And Prejudice?. She frowned. ?I remember you coming in. To be honest, we were a bit overstocked with books so, as yours were in good condition, I offered them to Frank from the secondhand bookshop in Layton Road. He bought the lot, still in their box.? I stared at her in 80 disbelief. That was it, then! I was about to let down the exhibition people, my mother and the rest of the family. I felt like crying. ?You could always go and see Frank?? True. I thanked Daphne, and almost ran out of the shop and round to Layton Road. I?d known Frank for years. When I arrived, I was breathless. ?I?m looking for Jane Austen. Well, not literally.? I told my story again. ?The book is dark blue and the letter?s tucked inside,? I finished, leaning on Frank?s desk, still gasping. He grinned. ?Yes, I remember it. A decent copy. I don?t remember seeing any letter fall out, though.? ?Thank goodness!? I was so relieved. ?Can I please take a peek in the book? It?s a family heirloom; the letter, I mean.? ?No, you can?t. Sorry, Laura; I?m afraid I rang one of my regulars ? old Bill from over Drayton way. He collects Jane Austen. His grandson came in and picked it up, together with a few others.? Oh, no! My quest was doomed. ?I could give you Bill?s number, but he?s very deaf and doesn?t always pick up the phone.? I blinked at Frank. ?Can you give me his address?? I heard myself ask. Was I really thinking of driving to Drayton? It was 30 miles away, for goodness? sake! I must be mad. I could always e-mail Penny, the nice lady running the World War II exhibition, and tell her I?d misplaced the letter. She had lots of people loaning other things like gas masks, ration books and Forties clothes. But that would not solve the major problem, which was losing such a precious heirloom. Ten minutes later, on my way to Drayton, I decided I was, indeed, mad. And stupidly optimistic. But this was my last chance. I owed it to my great-grandfather. Halfway there, out in the kind of deserted area my gran used to call ?the last place God made?, I became aware that Bella was not quite right. She seemed to be attempting to jive, when her usual pace was that of a sedate waltz. ?Not now, Bella, please!? I pleaded. In answer, the engine gradually faded as I edged into the side of the road. For a few minutes I just sat staring out at the bleak landscape. Bella ? and life in general ? was trying to tell me something. I wasn?t meant to get that letter back. I should go home, if I could get there. I turned the key again. Nothing. I needed to ring someone knowledgeable. But that was being defeatist. Once upon a time, when I first got a car, I?d done an evening class in mechanics. ?Open the bonnet, girl,? I murmured. ?You might recall something from that course.? I got out of the car, lifted the bonnet and began prodding around in what I hoped was an intelligent way. Then I stared. A cable seemed to be disconnected, hanging loose. A spark plug lead, I recalled. Was this to be my lucky day? I reconnected it and got back in the car. Bella started first time! Who?s scatty now, I thought, beaming. Should I turn around? No way! Onwards and upwards, Laura! Bella didn?t let me down and I drew up outside Bill?s small bungalow with high hopes. ?Bill?? I smiled at the tall man with glasses and silvery beard who opened the door. He peered at me. After I?d repeated my name several times a light appeared to dawn. ?My poor girl, you?ve come all this way on a wild goose chase!? he roared. ?Frank rang me and I told him I chucked that letter in the recycling. Didn?t even read it. Come in, I?ll show you the book.? Out of politeness, I followed the old man in, dejected. What good was seeing the book? In the dark little lounge a guy about my own age was frowning over a laptop. He looked up, his expression forbidding. ?I?m Bill?s grandson. Sorry about this, but he thought the letter was rubbish.? ?It can?t be helped,? I said weakly, upset at something so precious being called rubbish. Bill was busy pulling out large tomes from a massive bookcase. ?Please don?t! I don?t want the book back.? ?Righty-ho. Carl, make the young lady a cup of tea.? But Carl was back frowning at his laptop. I was obviously disturbing him. ?No, really,? I said. ?I have to go.? * * * * Well, I tried, I thought, as I drove home in the now-well-behaved Bella. I began composing my apology to the exhibition people. Confrontations with Mum and the family could wait. I went into the office on Monday, telling myself the letter was not that important but not believing a word of it. That evening I was still trying to pluck up courage to ring Penny. Whichever way I put it I would sound like an irresponsible idiot. When the doorbell rang I cheered up. That would be Judy; she could help me concoct a decent apology. ?Hi! Laura, isn?t it?? Taken aback, I recognised Carl, Bill?s grandson. ?I got your address from Frank. I wanted to apologise for Saturday. My grandfather and I weren?t exactly friendly.? ?No, it was my fault.? ?Could I come in for a moment?? I led the way through to my lounge. ?I?m sorry about the mess,? I said, flustered. I hadn?t packed away the photos yet. ?That?s OK. You should see the state of my flat.? He smiled as he sat down, patting Marmaduke?s head. Wow, he could actually smile! Quite a nice smile, too. ?It sounds as though I?m making a fuss,? I explained. ?But that letter was a family heirloom.? ?Then you must have it back.? He pulled something from his pocket and put it on the coffee table. I blinked, grinning in delight as I recognised the tatty, yellowing envelope. ?We felt really guilty after you left,? he went on. ?Frank had told Grandad the story behind the letter. I?ve always been interested in World War Two stuff. ?It dawned on me that the recycling people hadn?t been round to empty the bin yet, so we tipped the thing up and went through the bits and pieces.? He leaned forward, his smile wider. ?I think there might be the remains of a teabag on the envelope, but not much damage otherwise.? ?Carl, thank you so much!? I managed, wanting to kiss him but deciding I?d better not push my luck. ?I?ll be able to enter it into the exhibition on Saturday!? ?I?m not normally so rude,? Carl added uneasily. ?It?s just that you caught me at a bad time. My girlfriend and I had had a row and I was trying to contact her.? He shrugged. ?It didn?t work.? ?I?m sorry.? ?Not to worry. We?d just got together and didn?t have a lot in common.? He hesitated. ?Laura, I know you don?t really know me, but do you think I could come along on Saturday? This exhibition sounds fascinating.? ?Great!? I said. It would be lovely to go with someone also obsessed with World War II history. I grinned. How my great-grandad ? and Jane Austen herself ? would have cherished such a delightful outcome to my wild book chase . . . n On Reflection Since 1910 ?The People?s Friend? has included a religious message within its pages for its readers. These much-loved observations have now been brought together in a collection of reflections ?From The Manse Window? to bring you comfort and inspiration. 128pp on paperback. Only FREEPHONE: 0800 Quoting PFOR1 �99 318 846 including P&P Lines open 8am - 6pm Mon-Fri and 9am - 5pm Sat free from UK landlines only. Please have your credit/debit card details to hand. www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk BY POST: Send coupon with credit card details or a cheque/postal order payable to DC Thomson & Co. Ltd. to: ?On Reflection? Offer, DC Thomson Shop, P.O. Box 766, Haywards Heath RH16 9GF Name .................................................................................... PLEASE SEND ME CODE PRICE OVERSEAS PRICE On Reflection PFOR1 �99 �99 TOTAL COST OF ORDER � Address ................................................................................ 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Available while stocks last. 〥C Thomson & Co Ltd 2018 PUZZLES 83 Kriss Kross How long will it take you to correctly fit the words relating to blazers into the grid? 6 letters PAIRED PASTEL PIPING REEFER STRIPE 3 letters CUT FIT TIE 4 letters GOLF GREY LONG WOOL YARN Y A R N 7 letters AIRLINE BUTTONS 5 letters CLOTH EVENT LAPEL TWEED Solutions 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Brick Trick E RA L E AR L ARGE G L AR E S GARB L E S GAMB L E R S MARB L E S B L AR E S S AB L E BA L E L AB 4 GO L O Y ARN I G R P E L I P I NG E 3 F T I R E Y E E F I T E W R E E D 2 1 Historical period (3) 2 Tragic Shakespearean king (4) 3 Substantial in size (5) 4 Scowls, frowns (6) 5 Confuses (7) 6 Betting people (8) 7 Children?s game played with glass balls (7) 8 Sounds loudly (6) 9 Dark brown fur (5) 10 Bundle of hay (4) 11 Scientist?s workroom (3) E 1 Kriss Kross E N T Enter the answers to the clues in the bricks in the wall. Every word is an anagram of its neighbours, plus or minus a letter. W P O A O S C L O T H U E T L A B U P I T A S T R I P O R N E V S D Brick Trick All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com SOAP BY GLENDA YOUNG 85 OUR WEEKLY SOAP The thought of living closer to Doreen is too much for George . . . iStock. G EORGE, did your sister say anything to you about looking at one of the riverside apartments this afternoon?? George laid his seed catalogue in his lap and looked at Mary. ?Sorry. It sounded like you just said Doreen was coming for a look around the riverside apartments.? Mary nodded. ?That?s what I said.? They stared at each other. ?She can?t!? George cried. ?What is she playing at?? ?We can?t stop her from moving there if that?s what she wants,? Mary told him. ?I think we can,? George replied. ?I?m not having my battle-axe of a sister living across the road from us, Mary. She?ll want to take over with Susan and the baby; you know what she?s like. What time is she viewing the flat?? ?Two o?clock, the estate agent told Ruby. Doreen?s put an offer in before she?s even seen the place.? George threw the seed catalogue on to the sofa, marched out of the livingroom and yanked his coat Riverside from the pegs in the hall. Without a word to Mary, he was gone. As he neared the apartment complex, he saw the yellow of the estate agent?s van parked next to Jack?s car. As he walked closer, he saw Jack sitting in the car, reading his newspaper. George tapped on the car window and Jack looked up in surprise. ?Where is she?? George asked. ?Doreen? She?s up there,? Jack replied, nodding his head to the apartments. ?She wants to move me and the kids lock, stock and barrel from our home . . .? ?That you?ve lived in all your life,? George said. ?. . . that we?ve lived in all our lives,? Jack continued, ?into a flat with no garden, no sun room and no utility room.? ?And you?re just going to let her?? George asked, growing impatient with his placid brother-in-law. ?George, get in,? Jack said, opening the passenger door. George did as he was told and the two men sat facing each other in the front of the car. ?Doreen can be very persuasive,? Jack began. ?If she tells me she wants to view a new house, then that?s what she does. And if she asks for a ride in the car to see it, I?ll drive her.? ?You?re too good to that woman,? George said. ?She?s your sister, George ? have a bit of respect. And she?s my wife, don?t forget that. I make sure I do all I can to keep her happy.? ?But why? Why would you put yourself through a move you don?t want?? ?Because I love her. I?ve always loved her and I?d do anything for her.? George slumped in the car seat with a heavy sigh. ?And,? Jack went on, ?I have absolutely no intention of moving.? ?You don?t?? George said. Jack shook his head. ?She gets these notions, does Doreen. Always thinks the grass is greener somewhere else. This flat will be the third place she?s looked at this year.? ?But she?s already put an offer in,? George said. ?Then she?s going to have to take it out again.? Jack smiled. Just then, the door to the apartment complex swung open and Doreen strode out, shook hands with the estate agent and walked towards the car. ?What are you doing here?? she asked George, who was unfolding himself from the front seat. ?I could ask the same thing of you,? he replied. ?Any luck, love?? Jack asked his wife. ?Did you like it inside?? Doreen sniffed and shook her head sharply. ?Far too high up for my liking.? Jack and George exchanged a smile as Doreen got into the car. Before she closed the door on her brother, she had one last parting remark. ?You?re looking old, George. And you could do with losing some weight.? ?Nice to see you, too, Doreen,? he replied. * * * * In the hair salon, Susan was treating herself to a cut and blow dry. ?Who?s looking after the baby today?? Anna asked as she teased curls into Susan?s hair. ?Dave?s got her and I?ll take over at teatime when he goes to work. Anna looked into the mirror above Susan?s head. ?Does his dad still work there, too?? she asked. ?Mike? He practically lives there.? ?Is he still single?? Susan nodded. ?Can you keep your head still?? Anna said. ?I nearly caught you there.? ?Sorry,? Susan said. ?Yes, Mike?s single. Why, are you interested? I could put a word in for you if you like.? ?Not me,? Anna replied. ?I haven?t had much luck with the fellas around here.? She glanced across the salon to her sister. ?I think I know someone who?s in need of a night out with a hunky man and Mike might just fit the bill.? ?Sounds intriguing,? Susan replied. Anna brought the hand mirror to the back of Susan?s head so that she could inspect the finished do. ?That?s lovely, thanks, Anna,? Susan said. ?Susan,? Anna began nervously. ?I was wondering ? have you ever set up a blind date?? More next week. Frosty Snap I like this photo I took recently in my garden in Uddingston. It was a bit chilly taking the image for readers to see ? I guess you could call it a frosty snap! Ms L.C., Uddingston. Cat Caf� There?s always quite a crowd waiting outside in my garden at breakfast time, as all the neighbouring cats come for a treat. It?s like a cat caf� some mornings! Ms F.R., Southbourne. Between Friends Write to us at Between Friends, ?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Special Guest I loved your recent Riding for the Disabled features. We recently held a volunteers? afternoon tea for our Save the Children helpers here in Ashburton, New Zealand. Our speaker was from Riding for the Disabled. The group and I thought you might be interested to know that this has been active in our small town for 43 years. Seven horses are currently in use and there are generally up to 16 children attending. Social skills are taught, together with co-ordination and the ability to follow instructions. It?s such a great thing. Ms R.C, New Zealand. Star Letter The two recent articles in ?The People?s Friend? ? ?Around Aberfeldy? and particularly ?Stunning Schiehallion? ? brought back lovely memories for me. When we got engaged in September 1998, I knew my husband-to-be would not want a normal wedding day, so we decided to make it a bit different. On May 1, 1999, we climbed Schiehallion, taking the vicar and some other guests with us. We had a small ceremony on the top but then had the official marriage ceremony in Fortingall Church later in the afternoon, followed by a meal at Fortingall Hotel. It was a wonderful day. I wonder if any other readers have been married in unusual places? Mrs E.N., Montrose. Our Star Letter will receive a Dean?s all-butter shortbread tin worth �.69 RRP. Consume as part of a balanced diet. All other printed UK letters will win one of our famous tea caddies and a pack of loose tea. Our friends from overseas will receive an alternative gift of a pen. Howdy, Partner! I love reading the Between Friends pages in ?The People?s Friend? and I thought I?d share this lovely picture of our son James dressed in a cowboy outfit ready to go to a birthday party. He?s a great fan of Woody in the film ?Toy Story?, so was delighted to put on fancy dress just like his favourite character. Mrs C.M., Leicester. YOUR LETTERS 87 A poem just for you! House Mates I have a little lodger, though she doesn?t pay me rent ? She?s settled very well, though, and she seems to be content. I find her on my pillow; on my worktop or my shelf Or in the comfy chair where I would like to sit myself. She comes and goes without a word, and though we get on well, I must admit she treats the place just like a posh hotel! She stalks around the kitchen, tail raised, cool and dignified, She often turns her nose up at the food that I provide. She scratches at my table ? toys and scratch posts are rejected, Yet if I should remind her there are rules to be respected, She slowly turns and makes me laugh with that distinctive stare That tells me it is her house, and she deigns to let me share! Emma Canning. The Writing Bug I was very heartened recently to see that you had once more held your annual writing workshop in York. I was privileged to attend the session last year and came away from it much inspired to take up pen and paper and laptop and start producing. I thought it would be sensible to start my writing quest with a letter to ?Between Friends?, just to say what a wonderful experience the workshop run by Shirley was. I returned home resolved to do something about this writing bug. May your students past and present succeed and find their way into your pages. Ms J.A., Staffordshire. Puzzle Solutions from page 25 Word Ladder One answer is: Weak, Wear, Bear, Beat, Seat, Spat, Spot. Weekly Treat Fish And Chip Babies Is it a boy or is it a girl? It?s hard to tell with these colours. Not the pinks and blues I usually knit with, but then these are not the usual baby clothes I knit either. These are for newborn babies in Africa. I was challenged to knit them after I learned some babies are born into such poverty that they are sent home wrapped in newspaper, hence the nickname ? fish and chip babies. Mrs E.F., Belfast. Crossword B E H E S T I I T S A L V E L H L A E OU T P L A Y P O L P R E V A G D N RABB I D O O T I MAR T I N I I A O T A X I NG NA I AN T R E L E I A S S A E Y U S E A T N GU I D M R U P E E W N T R S R I S T V A L I NG A E E L I D Pieceword U KN W P E RA I S R E T D E NOU E R S K I S S R E D I M A I T R D I A UR C GH Y D D L I C C E P R E P L C A C N E D T A T E AN E R T U D E N T R A R RA L I N E S K L G T E D F U E B R D T RAG I M E I D E CAN T E R D A T R I BU T E I O I C E A T OM S R N I T UD E When I was little, it was a weekly ritual for my mum and I to pop to the local corner shop for our magazines ? Mum would buy ?The People?s Friend? for herself and ?Bunty? comic for me. Now aged forty, my weekly feast is the ?Friend?. Like ?Bunty?, it?s packed full of wonderful stories, and just like back in the day, I can?t wait to get home to enjoy it. I always start by reading the articles first. The next day I will then read the serials and letters pages. Then I read two of the short stories each day to last me until the next issue, so I can maintain the feelgood factor! Ms I.J., Ammanford. Sudoku E L E C T R O D E 7 2 1 9 8 4 5 3 6 4 3 9 7 5 6 8 2 1 6 5 8 2 1 3 4 9 7 3 7 5 1 2 8 9 6 4 8 9 2 4 6 5 1 7 3 1 4 6 3 9 7 2 8 5 2 1 7 5 3 9 6 4 8 5 6 3 8 4 2 7 1 9 9 8 4 6 7 1 3 5 2 Terms and conditions. We?re sorry, but we can?t reply to letters or return photographs and poems unless you enclose a stamped ad d ressed envelope. All contributions must be your own original work and must not have been sent elsewhere for publication. The Editor reserves the right to modify any contribution. By making a contribution you are agreeing that we and our group companies and affiliates may, but are under no obligation to, use the contribution in any way and in any media (whether now known or created in future) anywhere in the world. 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Website: www.seymour.co.uk. � DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2018. Editorial communications to ?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 1DD. While every reasonable care will be taken, neither D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., nor its agents will accept liability for loss or damage to any materials submitted to this publication. We are committed to journalism of the highest standards and abide by the Editors? Code of Practice which is enforced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). If you have a complaint, you can e-mail us at Readerseditor@dctmedia.co.uk or write to the Readers Editor at The People?s Friend, DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 1DD. l alone. He may need someone to talk to. I won?t be long.? Pulling on her cardigan, she went out of the door before Betty could reply. Betty sat by the stove listening to the crackling of the logs until the sun set. She must have dozed because she didn?t hear Val return. ?Wake up.? Val shook her shoulder. ?I?m back.? The stove had died down and only a few sparks were left burning. Val opened the glass door in the front and put on some kindling which soon blazed into life. ?How was Alex?? ?He seemed pleased I?d come. He still had his mum?s ring on his finger.? ?Well, that?s given him something to think about.? ?Don?t be cruel, Betty. He said he needs time to come to terms with it all.? Val warmed her hands at the stove. ?He said something else, too.? ?What?s that?? Val took her hand. ?He asked me to marry him and go back to Australia with him.? ?Lumme!? Betty gasped. ?What did you say?? ?I nearly said what you?ve just said.? Val smiled. ?I was speechless for a while.? ?So, are you . . .?? Betty stammered. ?I didn?t say no. I said that I, too, needed time to think. Maybe he was so upset that his proposal was on the spur of the moment. But I don?t think so. I believe it was genuine.? ?How do you feel?? Betty squeezed her friend?s hand. ?I don?t know. I?m so very fond of him. I think I?m in love, but how can I be sure? It isn?t the same as . . .? She hesitated. ?You?ve only known him for a short time.? ?How much time does one need, to know?? ?Not much. When I met my Stan for the first time I knew he was the one.? ?I must think clearly!? Val cried. ?My family would be hurt if I moved so far away. My love for them is strong and it has a future. My feelings for Alex are based on moments.? ?You can only give yourself and Alex time,? Betty said softly. Val got to her feet. ?Have you eaten?? ?Not yet.? ?Then I?ll do the eggs and you set the table.? * * * * Val was still asleep and Betty had just risen when there was a knocking at the door. Betty opened it and Sally rushed into the room. ?I?ve got the photos!? Betty was puzzled, then realised what Sally was telling her. ?The seahorses?? ?Yes. I got some wonderful shots and there are some very rare sea anemones, too. I?ve sent the photos to my office. ?Hopefully the powers that be will put a preservation order on the cove.? ?Goodness. That?ll set the cat among the pigeons.? ?What?s the noise about?? Val appeared and Sally explained again. ?Does Alex know?? ?Not yet. The people to whom he?s made applications will hear first.? ?Another shock for him,? Val said quietly. ?Well,? Sally answered. ?He might have known we hadn?t given up the battle for Trefusis Cove.? ?It?ll put a stop to everything.? ?He?s rich ? he doesn?t need the money.? ?He won?t like to lose,? Val warned. ?I must go,? Sally said. ?Uncle Harry?s out checking his lobster pots. He doesn?t know yet.? She left quickly. Two officials came to verify Sally?s claim. After that, several days passed without incident. Betty and Val swam, sketched and took photographs. Even Peter got out his paints and easel, capturing the changing light in the cove. There was no sight or sound of Alex. * * * * ?He hasn?t even left a note on the door.? ?He must have been informed by now,? Betty replied. ?He?ll have gone somewhere to cool off.? ?He might have spoken to me,? Val said. ?He must have known I?d be worried.? ?He?s bound to turn up soon unless he?s gone back to Australia and written off his whole plan.? ?Not without telling me!? Betty didn?t reply. Sally and Aircut came to show the prints of the seahorses and anemones to Betty and Val. ?Good work, Sally. Everything will move fast now.? Betty beamed. ?It already has,? Aircut said. ?Applications for the development of the land and the laying of moorings are going to be cancelled and a preservation order has been declared.? ?Does Alex know?? Val asked. ?Yes, he does.? Alex entered the room and held out his hand to Sally. ?May I see the pictures of the little guys who got the better of Alexander Grey? And congratulations to the mermaid with the camera.? Sally handed him the prints. ?We had to do it.? ?I know. I?ve fought many a battle of wits myself.? He held out his hand. ?Well done, Sally, and I congratulate all of you.? They were stunned. ?You were so set on changing everything!? Val said. ?I know. When I came and saw my inheritance I saw only land and opportunity. Since I?ve been here I?ve become aware of the needs of people, the small unseen things and the beauty of Trefusis. ?Val taught me a lot, even when she got mad at me. I admire folks who?ll stand up to me.? ?What will you do now?? Betty asked. ?Already done! First I took Polly back to the stables where I hired her. Then I did a lot of signing and rubber stamping with men in suits.? ?There?s more, isn?t there?? Val put a hand on his arm. ?I cancelled all my applications. The land is to go to the inhabitants of the cove so no one person can make decisions without the approval of all. Whealgrey I?ve given to Kit ? it?s little enough for saving my life.? ?But that leaves you with nothing!? ?It leaves me with everything. The whole place will be just as Mum wanted to remember and I?ve gained a sense of values that were missing from my life.?