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The People’s Friend - December 2, 2017

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Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated.
joyful stories
Meet talented ?Friend?
illustrator Sarah Holliday
Scottish recipes for
St Andrew?s Day
Dec 2, 2017 No. 7704
Unmissable fiction
Crabbie?s and Stem Ginger Parfait
with Raspberry Sorbet
? Annie Harris?s story inspired by the Coventry Carol
? A fun tale of wishful thinking by Nicola Mostyn
Haggis Bon Bon with Ginger
Beer and Beetroot
AU $4.50, NZ $4.50
UK Off-sale date - 06-Dec-2017
sure your
pets have
a happy
Perthshire?s best-loved mountain
Get your
ready to
face the
Knit this
cosy and
this week
Inside The People?s Friend
If you like the ?Friend?
then you?ll love...
The People?s Friend Special On sale
No 149, priced �99
l 8-page murder mystery
l 14 feel-good stories
The People?s Friend Pocket
Novel No 849, priced �49
Cover Artwork: Schiehallion, Perthshire by J. Campbell Kerr.
l A medical romance set in the
Fifties by Chris Elliott
miss our
4 The Pageant Play
by Annie Harris
15 Three Wishes
by Nicola Mostyn
23 A Solitary Song
by Susan Sarapuk
25 SERIES Tales From
Prospect House
by Malcolm Welshman
30 SERIAL Ring Out The
Bells by Jan Snook
41 Merry And Bright
by Jacqui Cooper
47 Party At The Cat Caf�
by Suzanne Ross Jones
53 Dad?s Designers
by Susan Reynolds
56 SERIAL The Dividing
Tide by Lorna Howarth
79 Modern Man
by Christina Jones
by Glenda Young
7 This Week We?re Loving
13 Maddie?s World
18 Health & Wellbeing
27 Brainteasers
32 Reader Offer: Cotton
Craft Bags
35 The Farmer & His Wife
36 Cookery: celebrate
St Andrew?s Day with
our tasty selection of
51 Our Next Issue
63 From The Manse
71 Would You Believe It?
72 Reader Offer: Festive
73 Knitting: try our
fashionable slipover in a
seasonal shade
86 Between Friends
8 Willie Shand finds
history and legends as
he climbs Schiehallion
21 We have 6 good
reasons to eat cabbage
29 John Stoa?s garden
checklist for winter
44 Barry Cashin has some
great advice for sending
parcels at Christmas
55 Your chance to win a
�0 shopping spree
65 Tips to help your pet
enjoy the festive season
66 Dianne Boardman
enjoys a taste of
Christmas past at
Cheshire?s Lyme Hall
69 Meet Sarah Holliday,
Illustrations Editor for
the ?Friend?
77 Take a look at our
round-up of great ideas
for knitters and crafters
83 Extra puzzle fun
13 issues for *�when you subscribe
? Call 0800 318846**, quote PFCOV
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It?s December, which
means the festive
season is getting into
full swing ? and this
week?s issue has a
decidedly Christmassy
feel about it.
If you?re looking for an
atmospheric day out for
the whole family,
Dianne Boardman can
recommend a visit to
the Regency
celebrations at
Cheshire?s Lyme Hall on
page 66. On page 44,
Barry Cashin is full of
helpful advice about
sending and receiving
parcels in time for the
big day, and on page 65,
we have lots of hints
and tips on ensuring
that your pets have a
happy, peaceful
Christmas. My own two
feline friends love this
time of year and
enthusiastically try to
rearrange the
decorations and
?rewrap? the gifts at
every opportunity, so I
will be reading with
Finally, I must just
mention another
highlight in this issue. If
your enjoyment of
cabbage was tainted by
the over-boiled offerings
served up at school
dinners, you might want
to reconsider after
reading our brilliant
feature on page 21,
which sets out exactly
why this vegetable is so
good for us.
Angela Gilchrist, Editor.
The Pageant Play
Illustration by Ruth Blair.
LICE hurried
down the alley.
She was late and
her father, so
often moody
these days, would scold
her. Even so, her steps
slowed as, ahead of her,
St Michael?s Church came
into view, its slender spire
piercing the late afternoon
Her father had told her
that, next to Salisbury and
Norwich cathedrals, their
spire here in Coventry was
the tallest in all England,
and she had taken pride in
it since that day.
For a moment she
hesitated, then her feet
carried her through the
porch and into the nave,
flooded with light from the
glorious stained-glass
She went swiftly across to
the statue of the Virgin in
her blue cloak, crossed
herself and knelt. The face,
lit by flickering candles,
was kind and gentle, and
the child in her arms had
always seemed to the
young Alice to be smiling
especially at her.
She paused to gather her
thoughts, then whispered.
?Holy Mother, please let
Father?s eyes get better,
and please let him do well
in his guild ? the Guild of
Shearmen and Tailors,? she
added, to be on the safe
As she walked back down
the aisle she saw her
father?s apprentice, gazing
raptly up at the windows.
?Davey.? Her voice was
sharp. ?What are you doing
here? You should be
finishing off that cap. If my
father ??
?I?ve completed it,
Mistress Alice,? the young
man said quietly. ?I did not
think there would be harm
in slipping in here for a
?No, of course not. And
Father will be happy that
you have completed it.?
She sighed. ?His eyes . . .?
Her own eyes filled with
?I know, Mistress.?
Davey?s gaze was full of
sympathy. ?I wish I could
do all the close work.?
?You do what you can,
and I know Father thinks
highly of you. He is very
glad he took you in from
the poorhouse ? and so am
I,? she added, blushing
?Dear Alice!? The young
Alice wished to
help her father,
as well as his
apprentice . . .
man took her hand, then
dropped it, as if it was red
They stared at each other
for a long moment, then
she spoke.
?Come, we must get
They made their way to
the big house in Pepper
?Master Hale is not only
worried about his eyes, I
think,? Davey ventured.
?No, although, as for any
tailor, his eyes are
everything. But matters are
occupying him in the guild.
They are shortly to perform
the Pageant Play of the
Nativity and my father has
been deputed by Master
Crowe to create the
episode of the Massacre of
the Innocents.?
?When Herod?s soldiers
come to kill the infant
Jesus and slay all the
babies in Bethlehem? Yes,?
Davey went on, half to
himself, ?that is a terrible
moment, and it will be
most difficult to convey the
horror and the pity,
especially for the mothers
who must mourn their
She looked up at him.
?If you have any
thoughts, Davey, I am sure
my father ? and I ? would
be very grateful.? Her
cheeks coloured.
The young man?s brow
wrinkled in thought.
?I watched the Glovers?
play last summer. They
performed the Great Flood,
and the animals went up
into the Ark silently, but
Noah and his sons sang at
the side of the stage to tell
us what was happening.?
?Yes, our guild could copy
that,? Alice said quickly.
?The killing could be done
with no sound, but a group
of singers could tell the
?Perhaps some of the
mothers?? he suggested
?Yes!? Her eyes sparkled.
?How clever you are,
Davey. It is a pity ?? Her
face clouded.
?That I am a poorhouse
boy from the gutter,
parents unknown,? he
completed wryly. ?While
Master Sharp, whom I
know your father wishes
you to marry, has wealthy
parents, fine clothes, was a
pupil at the Bablake
School ??
?? and is a stupid, dull
oaf!? Alice completed
impetuously. ?Listen, I will
try to write a song for the
mothers, and you will
compose a tune on your
?But ??
?No buts.? She held up
an imperious hand. ?I have
heard you play to yourself,
when you thought no-one
would hear you.?
In fact, she often lay in
her luxurious feather bed
upstairs at night as sad,
lilting melodies softly
floated up, guessing that
the young man was putting
off the moment of setting
up his rough, straw-filled
pallet under the shop
counter where he slept,
with only Samuel, the cat,
for company.
?I know you play well,?
she added.
She caught sight of a
burly outline through the
lattice of the workroom.
?Oh, there is Father.
Quickly, go in the back
When she went into the
workroom her father was
sitting at his long bench,
bales of woven cloth piled
in front of him. He was
holding the shears but his
hands were idle.
?Father, are you unwell??
She hurried across to him.
?What? Oh, no, sweeting.
I am quite well. Only my
?I know, Father.? She put
a hand on his shoulder.
?Master Wyatt, that
apothecary near the
Swanswell, has a
marvellous new pair of
lenses. Tabitha saw them
when she went to collect
my heart drops. They sit on
each side of his nose and
help his short-sightedness.?
?Then you must have
The tailor laughed
?They are from Italy,
Alice, and cost more than I
can earn in a year. Maybe I
should have been a
physician.? He sighed and
gestured to a heap of fine
green cloth.
?And now, with this new
commission of Alderman
Marlowe being about to
wed and wanting me to
make his doublet . . .?
?Oh, that?s wonderful,
Father!? Alice dropped a
kiss on his head. ?He must
value you above all the
other tailors in Coventry.?
?But it is to be cut and
slashed in the newest
French style, and with my
eyes it is beyond me at this
moment. I shall tell him he
must ask Master Alleyne.?
?No, Father, you will
not!?? She banged her hand
on the bench. ?That
doublet will be done, or my
name is not Alice Hale. Let
Davey help you.?
?The lad is very willing,
and a fast learner, to be
sure. The best apprentice I
have ever had, I know. But
he is not yet ready for such
fine work.?
?We shall see.? A crazy
idea was forming in Alice?s
quick mind. ?But for now, I
shall go and tell Tabby to
prepare a special supper to
cheer you.?
* * * *
The housekeeper was
bustling about in the
?At last, Mistress Alice.?
Tabitha had the snippiness
of a much-loved servant,
singing was marked by the
creaking of the cradle, back
and forth.
?Lully, lullay, my tiny
Sleep well, my babe.?
Alice stood transfixed.
Their older boy, Henry, a
naughty but lovable scamp,
had died the previous year,
quite suddenly, and in the
mother?s voice Alice sensed
the anguish of loss and the
desperation to keep this
fragile little one safe.
As the singing died away,
Alice was almost running
back to the house, for she
knew what she would do. It
The lullaby represented every
mother?s feelings of loss
having been in the
household since Alice?s
mother had died of a
pestilent fever when she
was a little girl.
?Come, Tabby, don?t be a
cross-patch.? Alice, fizzing
with her secret plan,
hugged her. ?And can you
make a particularly nice
supper? For Father is out
of sorts. I will help you,?
she added. ?Please, he is
anxious about his eyes.?
?I know, my lambkin.?
The woman?s tone softened
and she tucked a stray
nut-brown curl inside
Alice?s white linen cap. ?I?ll
make his favourite salt
bacon and white beans
pottage, and there is a
plump capon in the larder.
Can you please fetch me
the herbs??
Alice went out into the
back garden. It was
peaceful here, the m阬閑 of
the city seeming far away,
but today she did not linger
under the apple trees. She
went straight down the
brick path to the herb bed.
She had picked a large
bunch of thyme and parsley
and was turning back to
the kitchen when she
heard, from the house next
door, a woman softly
It was Mistress Lines,
and she must be singing a
lullaby to little Janey, who
had been teething and
fractious for days, sucking
frantically on her coral
whenever Alice glimpsed
her. The rhythm of her
was all there in her head,
words tumbling about,
forming a pattern . . .
After supper, her father
left for a guild meeting and
Davey was at liberty to go
about the town as he
pleased ? he had taken to
disappearing in his rare
moments of freedom, with
no explanation of where he
was going.
Alice shut herself away in
the parlour, a candle at her
With some of her father?s
precious paper on the table
before her, she sharpened
a quill pen and sat, blotting
out everything except the
women of Bethlehem
mourning their doomed
Lully, lullay, thou little
tiny child,
By by, lully, lullay.
O sisters, too, how may
we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for
whom we do sing
By by, lully, lullay?
Herod, the king, in his
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his
own sight
All young children to slay.
That woe is me, poor
child, for thee,
And ever mourn and may
For thy parting neither
say nor sing,
By by, lully, lullay.
Alice straightened up,
easing her back and
flexing her stiff fingers.
She stared down,
marvelling at what she had
just written. The words had
poured out of her, almost
too fast to catch them on
the paper.
She took it up, snuffed
out the candle and went
slowly up to her bedroom.
* * * *
She was busy next
morning, polishing her
father?s silver salvers to
impress several guild
members who were coming
for supper.
It was not until noon that
her father went off to
inspect the fine cloth that a
Flemish weaver, a refugee
from the persecution that
was raging in Europe, was
working on for him. Then,
finally, she was able to go
in search of Davey.
She found him in a corner
of the storeroom, bent over
?? they have such
wonderful books. Beautiful
images of the saints and
tales of their doings and the
miracles they performed.?
?I see.?
She looked down at
Davey?s face, alive with
enthusiasm. Life was so
unfair. He could have been
? done ? anything. Yet, as
a poor, nameless
guttersnipe, he was
doomed. Indeed, she
thought, what Davey
needed was a miracle of his
?I have something to
show you, Mistress,? he
began but she interrupted.
?And I have something to
show you. Something I
wrote last night.?
She set the sheet of
paper in front of him. As he
took it their fingers brushed
against each other and
Alice, her skin tingling,
drew back, blushing.
They stared at each other
for a heartbeat, then he
What Davey needed was a miracle
of his own
a book. Absorbed, he had
not heard her and she
stood for a moment, seeing
the way his dark hair curled
into the nape of his neck,
the strong set of his
A wave of longing seized
her, and a sigh escaped
her, almost silent, but he
heard it and started guiltily.
?Mistress Alice!?
?Davey, whatever are you
?As you see, studying
your father?s new pattern
?But you cannot read so
well, surely??
?Because I have not had
the benefit of schooling like
some of your acquaintance,
you mean??
?Well, I ??
?One of the brothers at
the Charterhouse has been
teaching me. One day,
when I was delivering a new
robe for the abbot, I found
my way to their library. He
saw my interest, and
offered to teach me. I go
there whenever I am free.
?Oh, Alice ?? in his
excitement, he forgot to
address her as mistress
bent his head over the
paper, reading it slowly
?Well?? she demanded
?This is wonderful,? he
said at last. ?It captures so
well the grief, the
?You can make a tune of
?I shall try my very best.
Yes, I will make a tune for
you, my ?? He broke off,
then hurried on. ?Tomorrow
is Sunday and I have a half
holiday. I will take this, if I
may, and my flute, and go
out into the meadow
beyond Swanswell gate. I
shall be alone there.?
?Good.? Their eyes held
again for a moment. ?Oh, I
hear my father. But you
said you had something to
show me.?
He shook his head.
?It will wait. This first.?
He picked up the paper,
carefully folded it and
tucked it into his tunic.
* * * *
?Father, you remember
the song you need
composed for the slaying of
the Holy Innocents??
Her father, who had been
staring unseeing into the
flames of the small seacoal
fire burning in the hearth,
looked round.
?Of course I do, Alice.
Why, only last Wednesday
at the guild meeting,
Master Crowe presumed to
remind me that I have not
yet commissioned one.?
?You shall have a song,
Putting her arms round
him, she sat him in his
favourite chair.
She went to the parlour
door and called.
?Davey, please bring your
flute. Now, Father, Davey
will play and I shall sing.?
When the last heartwrenching notes died away
there was no sound for long
?Oh, Mistress Alice!?
Tabitha stood in the
doorway, wiping her eyes
on her apron. ?And you,
Davey. That was music the
angels sing in heaven!?
Master Hale cleared his
?Tabby is right. It is
beautiful indeed. And there
is no need to wait until the
next guild meeting. You will
perform it for Master
Crowe this very day.?
But as her father went to
rise from the chair, Alice
put her hand on his
?Just one moment,
Father. Davey showed me
something this morning
that I think you ought to
She darted off to the
workroom and came back
holding a neatly folded
garment, which she
dropped in his lap.
?There, Father.?
He carefully shook out
the folds and held up a
doublet of fine green cloth,
slashed and inset with
crimson silk, and edged
with black satin ribbon.
The long silence was
broken by an audible gasp
of wonderment from
?Oh, Master, it is so
beautiful. How ever did
you . . .??
?No, Tabby,? he said
slowly. ?It is from my new
book of patterns, but I did
not stitch it. I could not
have done anything so fine,
now ? or ever, I fear, if I am
to be honest.?
He was speaking almost
to himself.
?Yes, Father. This is his
?Well, young man.?
Her father looked round
at his apprentice, standing
hesitantly behind Alice.
?It seems I owe you my
thanks. I was about to go to
Master Marlowe and tell
him I could not accept his
?And now, with Davey to
do your close work, you will
soon have enough money to
purchase those lenses from
Alice paused.
?Although, of course, he
has almost finished his
apprenticeship, and with
skill like his, any tailor in
Coventry ? or London, for
that matter, King Henry?s
wardrobe master himself
? would take him in a trice.
Surely you do not wish to
lose him, do you?? she
added softly.
?No, sweeting. And
neither, I think, my beloved
daughter, do you.?
?Oh, Father.?
She hugged him joyfully,
and he rumpled her hair.
?There, there, get along
with you, hussy. Davey, give
me your hand. From today,
you will be as a son to me.
Now, off you go, both of
you, to Master Crowe and
sing our song.
* * * *
?Well, Tabby, my old
friend,? he said as the two
young people raced off,
hand in hand. ?What do you
make of it all??
She shook her head
?Master, you will not
regret this day?s work.
Davey is a fine lad and will
be a fine man. And he will
make our dearest girl the
best of husbands.?
?I believe you are right,
Tabby. As for their song, I
do believe it will become
famous throughout our
little town.?
?Even, who knows, far
beyond our gates. Now,
Master, what do you say to
a tankard of the new ale I
broached yesterday? I think
it is very fine.? n
This week we?re
Mapping The Past
Crafty Critters
Did you know that Advent used to be
a period of fasting and repentance in
the early church? This was gradually
relaxed in the western churches, and
it is now a preparation for the feast
of Christmas.
Scientists trying to measure the
intelligence of racoons have found
they can not only use tools to retrieve
marshmallows from a container of water,
but they also find ways to cheat the test
to get to their sweet treats!
There?s hours of browsing in Philip
Parker?s ?History Of Britain In Maps?
(Collins, �). With fascinating
insights into maps from the Anglo
Saxon period to modern events like
the Queen?s Coronation route and EU
referendum voting patterns, it?s an
ideal present for history buffs.
Ooh, Bettys!
Birthday Greetings
Sweet Dreams
Bettys Tea Rooms have a sumptuous
Christmas collection available to order.
Among the gorgeous goodies are these
three sweet miniature Christmas cakes
(500 g in total), priced �.95 from or call 0800 456 1919.
Many happy returns to presenter
Eamonn Holmes, who will be fiftyeight on December 3. The popular
Belfast-born broadcaster began
his TV career over 35 years ago,
presenting ?Farming Ulster? on UTV.
Nativity Fast
Return To Blue Planet
Illumination: Harbour Festival of
Light, Scottish Maritime Museum?s
four-night art event, launches at
Irvine on St Andrew?s Day with a free
fireworks display on the waterfront.
For more information and tickets to
events, visit
Courtesy of the Scottish Maritime Museum.
Festival of Light
In The News
Australian cockatoos sharpening
their beaks are causing problems for
broadband providers. The birds? chewing
through steel-coated spare cables held
on network towers has cost companies
over two billion dollars! The cables will in
future be packed into bird-proof boxes.
Details correct at time of going to press.
The built-in speaker in the Sound Asleep
Original Speaker Pillow (�.99 from or call 03303
322 575) lets you listen to music or
audio books without headphones ? and
without disturbing your partner?s sleep.
David Attenborough?s latest
stunning documentary was a
deserved hit on BBC. Enjoy the
wonders of the deep again with
the DVD box
set of ?Blue
Planet ? The
both series,
�.99 from
Amazon and
the usual
Willie Shand finds history, legends and breathtaking views as he climbs
Perthshire?s most famous mountain.
Photographs by Willie Shand.
OR me, one of the
greatest attractions of
a day in the hills is
being able to escape
to a bit of peace and
quiet. You might think that
the higher the hill, the fewer
folk you?d be likely to
Unfortunately, it doesn?t
quite work like that and
more often than not the
best chance of having the
place to yourself is to pick
some obscure hill that
doesn?t quite rise to the
status of Munro.
Today, though, I?m in
Kinloch Rannoch at the
eastern end of Loch
Rannoch, looking to one of
Britain?s most shapely and
most popular Munros ?
At 3,553 feet high, it falls
well within the Munro
category. Looking at it from
this direction, it presents
itself as an almost perfect
From the northern shore
of Loch Rannoch, on a still
day with its reflection in the
loch, it can be quite
stunning ? and especially so
in autumn when framed by
the bright yellow silver birch.
The village of Kinloch
Rannoch is virtually split in
two by the River Tummel,
the halves linked by a
three-arched bridge dating
back to 1704. While kin
generally means ?the head
of?, rather confusingly we
find ourselves here at the
foot of the loch.
Watching over the village
from the north is the hill of
Craig Varr. Although just a
fraction of the height of
Schiehallion, its views over
Loch Rannoch are every bit
as good and, if nothing else,
its steep slopes help get the
leg muscles in shape.
The secret to enjoying
Schiehallion is to choose a
nice clear day and to set off
early. The most popular
route starts from the large
Forestry Commission car
park at Braes of Foss on the
Aberfeldy road. On a fine
day like today, though,
there?s little chance of
having this hill to ourselves.
As Munros go,
Schiehallion appears
relatively easy. It?s a fairly
straight slog along, for the
most part, a clear track. Just
the same, don?t be lured
into a false sense of security
by the lower track.
It?s not so easy further up
and, as on any hill, the
conditions can change and
change quickly. Some blame
these sudden changes in
the weather on the Witch of
Schiehallion who has the
power to whip up a storm
with no word of warning.
On the top, even in
summer, you might well
experience all four seasons
in one day.
It?s only 8.30 a.m. but
already there are several
cars in the car park. On the
road verge at the entrance
stands a small stone cairn
with a plaque
commemorating an
important scientific study
that took place here during
the summer of 1774.
When the Rev. Nevil
Maskelyne, Britain?s
Astronomer Royal, visited
Choose your own route through
the summit?s boulderfield.
n The John Muir Trust that owns and maintains acres of
East Schiehallion looks after a number of other wild
places across Scotland. The portfolio includes Ben
Nevis, beautiful Sandwood Bay in the far north and a
large chunk of wild Knoydart, where they?re making
attempts to reforest the area with native trees.
n There?s an old toast ? ?Here?s tae the back o?
Schiehallion?. As the mountain lies virtually at the
centre of the country and appears from many angles as
a cone, it is in effect a toast to the whole of Scotland.
n The Munros are mountains over 3,000 feet high and
are named after Sir Hugh Munro who compiled the list.
In 1901, the Rev. A.E. Robertson from Rannoch
completed the first ascent of all 283 Munros. My own
father was 81st on the list of those to complete them.
A monument to the
mountain?s scientific history.
Schiehallion, he, too, was
attracted by its distinctive
shape ? not to climb it, but
to use it in an important
survey to calculate the
weight of the earth.
Schiehallion was ideal as
its isolated mass meant that
its volume could be easily
His study was to take
some 17 weeks. It might
have taken him less but it
just so happened he?d
chosen one of the wettest
years on record. Mind you,
he probably wouldn?t have
fared much better this last
He set up observatories
on either side of the hill,
and to help him with the
mathematics and to
calculate the volume of the
mountain he had the help
of the mathematician
Charles Hutton.
To do this accurately,
Hutton drew lines at various
heights around the mapped
mountain. This, incidentally,
was the invention of the
contour lines we find used
on all our maps to this day.
Right from the outset, the
track climbs through clear,
open hillside with wide
views opening up in all
Among the fresh green
bracken, mosses and
heather you might find lily
of the valley, blaeberry,
dog?s mercury and wood
anemone. Keep a watchful
eye open, too, for deer,
hare, ptarmigan and even
golden eagle.
Since 1999, over 2,150
acres of East Schiehallion
have been owned and
managed by the John Muir
Trust ? the UK?s leading wild
land conservation charity.
By restricting grazing by
livestock and carefully
controlling the deer
population, they manage
the land with minimal
intervention, leaving, as
n For a long time the Menzies had been plagued by the
Macgregors. It was only after Sir Alexander Menzies had
captured and killed the Macgregor Chief that he learned
of the old prophesy that ?with the last of the
Macgregors will go the last of the Menzies? ? a threat
that was to haunt him the rest of his life.
much as possible, nature to
do her own thing.
Unfortunately, though,
there is a negative side to
the mountain?s popularity.
Attracting upwards of
20,000 climbers a year, the
track to the top was to
become an eroded ugly
Thanks to the John Muir
Trust, that scar is now
healing and walkers can
enjoy the new realigned
route created by the trust
and their volunteers.
Despite its distinctive
shape, Schiehallion isn?t, as
you might imagine, the
remnant of some longextinct volcano. It owes its
shape to something much
colder ? the miles-deep
glaciers of the last ice ages.
The hard quartzite of
Schiehallion resisted well
the grinding action of the
ice. It?s difficult to
comprehend such a deep
blanket of ice but proof, if
proof were needed, you?ll
find near the top.
The huge granite boulder
near the summit doesn?t
really belong here. It was
carried here by the ice from
some other distant peak
and this is simply where it
was dumped when the ice
eventually melted more
than 10,000 years ago.
Climbing the track from
Braes of Foss, we quickly
discover that Schiehallion
isn?t a true cone after all. It
is instead a long whalebacked ridge with steep
drops to the west.
Just beyond some
crumbling dry-stone walls,
the easy, gently climbing
track ends and becomes a
bit more serious. The higher
we go, the better the views
are looking back to Loch
Tummel. It?s the Queen?s
View in reverse.
One chap had set out
bright and early and passes
me on his way down.
It turns out that he?s on
holiday for the week but as
his wife doesn?t do hills, he
thought he?d get up early
and be back in plenty time
to spend the rest of the day
with her in Pitlochry.
As we gain height,
Dunalastair Water comes
into view. It?s the smaller
loch that lies between Loch
Tummel and Loch Rannoch
which, as Harry Lauder?s
song reminds us, lies on the
famous Road to the Isles.
Rannoch in days past was
home to a mix of different
clans including Menzies,
MacDonalds, Robertsons,
Camerons, Stewarts,
MacDougalls and the
fearsome Macgregors.
Stealing each other?s
possessions and fighting
among themselves, they
were never weary. One
thing?s for sure ? any
stranger attempting to climb
Schiehallion in those days
wouldn?t need to worry too
much about the descent!
Each clan was probably
as guilty as the other,
but the Macgregors
Getting there
From the
and Tummel
south of
Kinardochy, take the road
signposted Schiehallion.
Two miles on, Braes of
Foss car park is on the left.
were singled out as
particularly feared. So
much so that it was made
law that they were forbidden
to use the name Macgregor
and if they did, they were as
fair game as the deer.
One of their refuges was
the wee man-made island,
or crannog, of Eilean nam
Faiolaig (the Island of the
Gulls) on Loch Rannoch. It is
cleverly linked to the shore
by a hidden zigzagging
underwater causeway.
Another refuge they had
was in a cave on
Schiehallion. Apparently, it
was so difficult to access
that only one person at a
time could enter it. That was
Loch Rannoch is just
over nine miles long.
fine, until its whereabouts
was uncovered and then
they were well and truly
It might be safer not to go
looking for the cave as you
might inadvertently enter
the cave of Uamh Tom a?
Mhor-fhir ? a home of the
There?s no problem
entering their cave ? the
only problem is getting out
again since the deeper you
go the more gates will
automatically lock behind
Just when you think you?re
not far from the top, the hill
does a nasty and reveals
you?ve still another bit to
climb. And this next bit will
take a while!
Ahead, we face a gruelling
trudge through a tortuous
boulder field. The path all
but disappears and it seems
like it?s every man for
himself to find a route.
It was sunny with just a
gentle breeze down at the
start but up here it?s blowing
a hooley! No chance of
keeping my bonnet on
today. By the summit, the
gusts are so strong I?ve to
edge round the north side to
avoid being thrown off
balance and down the rather
steep cliffs on the south!
But, there they are ? the
views we were looking forward
to and far below, Loch
Rannoch, stretching ten miles
westward from the village of
Kinloch Rannoch. And, yes,
today I can even see Ben
Nevis. Not so easy keeping the
camera steady, though, with
the wind.
On my way down I meet a
real mixture of characters
heading for the top. Some with
heavy rucksacks looking like
they?re bound for the
Annapurna, others more
scantily clad ? boy, are they in
for a shock!
The most memorable, and
clearly thoroughly enjoying the
challenge, is a wee collie dog.
How he will cope with the
rocks, though, I don?t know, for
the little chap has only three
legs. n
The deer pose for pictures
near the foot of Schiehallion.
Want to know more?
Looking like a volcano
from Kinloch Rannoch.
VisitScotland, Ocean Point One, 94 Ocean Drive,
Edinburgh EH6 6JH. Tel: 0845 859 1006.
John Muir Trust:
Tel: 01796 470080
Kinloch Rannoch: www.undiscoveredscotland.
?This whole pizza-oven
saga has seemed like a
never-ending story?
Photographs courtesy of Maddie Grigg.
In her weekly column,
Maddie Grigg shares
tales from her life in
rural Dorset . . .
HE pizza oven is
coming on in leaps
and bounds. It
might even be
ready for Christmas.
It?s transformed from the
square block that?s been in
the garden for the last few
months to something that
actually looks like a pizza
?What we want now,? Mr
Grigg says, stepping back to
admire his own handiwork,
?is a name for it.?
I don?t know about you,
but I?m not keen on giving
names to inanimate objects.
I was reluctant to give a
name to my old Volkswagen
Beetle, but which in any case
became known as ?Bella?
after we drove through Italy
a few years ago.
A car is a car. And a pizza
oven is a pizza oven.
What would we call it? My
first thoughts are famous
dragons, so it?s Puff (from
the Peter, Paul and Mary
song), Smaug (from ?The
Hobbit?) and Falkor (the
luck dragon in ?The
Neverending Story?).
I?m keen on the last one
because this whole pizzaoven saga has seemed like a
never-ending story from the
moment Mr Grigg went on
his ?build and bake? course
at River Cottage.
But he?s not keen on those.
As he?s worked so hard on
this creation I?m prepared to
indulge him, so I put a request
on Facebook for ideas.
The names begin to trickle
in. There are several volcanoinspired suggestions such as
Vesuvius and Mount Doom.
One person even comes up
with Eyjafjallaj鰇ull, the
Icelandic volcano responsible
for all that airborne ash
which grounded aeroplanes
in 2010. It?s a great name,
but difficult to say, even
before a few gin and tonics.
Then the ball really starts to
roll. We?re inundated with
names. Twenty-three people
like the Facebook post and I
receive 80 suggestions.
Several friends post an
image of Richard Dreyfuss?s
character in ?Close Encounters
Of The Third Kind? building
Devil?s Tower in his front
And yes, Mr Grigg?s latest
obsession is a bit like that,
although luckily it?s being
built in the garden and not
in my lounge.
Some great names come
out of the woodwork. Our
Greek friends put forward
Hestia, which is appropriate
as she was goddess of the
hearth and home.
Then there?s Pizza Oven
McPizza Ovenface, Smokey
Joe, Pandora, Mordor,
Bernie, and Gregor. We like
Clayton, a very clever name
bearing in mind all the clay
that?s gone into making it.
And there?s not a ?Game
Of Thrones? dragon in sight.
Then there are calls for
the person coming up with
the winning name to be
given a pizza on the house.
?How about Wenceslas??
our neighbour suggests.
?Yes,? he says. ?So the
pizzas come out deep and
crisp and even.?
Very witty.
The name Precious is in
the running for a long time,
with Mr Grigg being very
possessive over this oven, in
the way that Gollum from
?The Lord Of The Rings? is
over the ring of the title.
An ex-work colleague
comes up with Hephaestus
(the Greek god of fire), then
suggests perhaps it would
be more fitting if it was
named after the Roman
equivalent, Vulcan, because
it?s for pizzas.
?Gurt big Lush Place
smoking wood-fired
smoking oven,? our former
pub landlord, Jim, suggests.
The ideas are getting
complicated now. All we
want is a name so I can say
?I?m sorry, he?s out stoking
up so-and-so? when a cold
caller rings for my husband
offering to reclaim PPI or
obtain compensation for an
accident he has never had.
After a long list of names
appears on my Facebook
timeline, Number One Son
gets in on the action.
Thereafter, all suggestions
cease and everyone says we
have to call it by this name.
The boy, like me, is a ?Star
Wars? fan. So we name this
oven ?Jabba.?
Jabba the Pizza Hutt. n
Mr Grigg?s pizza oven
needs a name!
Three Wishes
The genie was
waiting ? and
Daisy had some
thinking to do!
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
AISY found it
buried in the
She almost
missed it, until
Bailey wouldn?t go back on
his lead. Chasing him
around a small patch of
scrub, she stubbed her toe
on something hard
protruding from the
At first she took it for a
stone. But no, it shone! She
could see the gleam of its
silvery-bronze metal from
where she stood.
Intrigued, she left her dog
to sniff out a squirrel or
whatever he was doing, and
bent down, knees creaking,
to brush away some of the
It would be a tin can, no
doubt, or some old flask
long since rotted away.
Still, the child inside her
couldn?t help but remember
days gone by, when she?d
hunted in these same
woods for treasure that
pirates had buried here.
Though her treasurehunting days were 30 years
ago or more, she grabbed a
sharp stick and began
poking away at the earth
until it loosened.
More of the object was
revealed. It wasn?t a tin can
or a flask.
There was a long, ornate
lid, for one thing, with a
knob on top. It reminded
her of something, though
she couldn?t say quite
Excited, Daisy dug with
more effort, breaking the
stick, then using her fingers
until she had the soil
around the object cleared
and she could lift it out.
She almost laughed in
delight at what it was. A
lamp. An ornate lamp, in
the Aladdin style.
What a thing to find!
She wondered what on
earth it was doing there. It
was really rather beautiful,
and would make a great
story to tell once she had
polished it up and put it
above her fireplace.
She fished out a dog
poop bag and put the lamp
in it, then fastened Bailey?s
lead and headed home.
In the kitchen, she took
out the lamp and stood it
on the counter top. She
attacked it with a damp
cloth, washing away the
Not bad. It really was a
beautiful object.
She wondered whether
she should hand it into the
police. Maybe it had been
stolen from a nearby
It looked as though it had
been buried there for quite
some time, though, so they
would probably be unable
to trace the owner by now,
but she could try at least. It
might have sentimental
She gazed at the lamp,
transfixed by its loveliness.
She?d get it clean first, then
work out who to tell.
After cleaning away all
the dirt, Daisy took out
some brass polish and a
dry cloth.
?Let?s have a good look
at you,? she said, and with
gusto she began buffing the
lamp?s shiny curves.
A small plume of smoke
emerged from the spout
and Daisy leaped back,
alarmed. Maybe it
contained some dangerous
fungal spores, or worse.
She hadn?t checked
inside. What a fool she
She watched, wide-eyed
and alarmed, as the plume
grew bigger and bigger,
swelling and elongating,
until it solidified into a
?What . . .?? Daisy
Nope. It was no good.
Daisy was unable to finish
that sentence.
She wondered whether
she?d fallen in the woods,
knocked her head, and this
was a rather exotic dream.
The dream man smiled at
?Hello, Daisy Thompson,?
he said. ?How may I serve
you today??
She stared, her mouth dry
and her eyes wide.
?How . . .? Who . . .?? She
blinked, then finally
gathered her wits and
grabbed a frying-pan.
?Who are you?? she cried.
?How did you get in??
The man frowned and
pointed to the lamp.
?I came out of there,? he
said mildly. ?You watched
me do it!?
Bailey wandered over and
sniffed the man?s feet, then
trundled off, unperturbed,
to find his bone.
?No!? Daisy cried,
clutching her head and
feeling for bumps. ?It?s not
The man surveyed her for
a moment, then nodded as
though he meant business.
?OK,? he said. ?This sort
of resistance can take a
while, and to be honest it
gets a bit annoying. Let me
cut to the chase.?
At this, the man turned
back into a plume of smoke
and was sucked back into
the lamp.
Daisy stood there,
staring at the lamp.
A noise came from
inside it.
Daisy approached the
lamp and peered doubtfully
down the spout.
?Ruure heet.?
?I can?t hear you. Oh, rub
it?? Daisy thought for a
This was obviously a
dream, so she rubbed the
lamp with the cloth and,
once again, out came the
plume of smoke, bringing a
man into her kitchen.
?See,? he said, folding his
arms and looking selfsatisfied. ?I?m a genie.?
Daisy looked at the man.
He was of medium height
with neat brown hair, and
he was wearing a shortsleeved shirt, jeans and
?Really? You don?t look
like a genie, apart from the
whole folded arms thing.?
?How do you know?? The
man frowned. ?Have you
ever seen one before??
?Well, no,? Daisy
admitted, still rather
convinced that this was all a
figment of her concussed
imagination. ?But even in a
dream I?d have expected me
to come up with something
a little more traditional.
Turban, waistcoat, that sort
of thing.?
The genie looked
?Well, that?s just
?Oh?? Daisy said. ?I?m
The pair stared at each
other for a long moment.
?Well?? the genie asked.
?Well, what??
?What do you want?? he
asked a trifle impatiently.
?What, like three wishes??
Daisy asked.
The genie rolled his eyes.
?Yes, like three wishes.?
?Oh!? she exclaimed.
?Well, let me see . . .?
The genie watched her,
tapping his foot.
?Want a little help?? he
asked. ?I can tell you what
most people ask for.?
?OK, sure.?
The genie ticked them off
on his hands.
?Massive wealth,
incredible beauty or true
?How long do I get??
Daisy asked.
?One hour,? the genie
replied. ?There are rules.
You can?t ask for unlimited
wishes; you can?t ask for
immortality; you can?t wish
for things for other people,
and once you have made
all three of your wishes, you
rub the lamp and it buries
itself somewhere in the
world for the next person to
?OK,? Daisy replied.
?Anything else? Any tips
from your centuries of
The genie looked at her
with begrudging
?People don?t often ask
me that.? He blew out a
breath. ?Well, wishes
requesting harm to be done
to other people don?t often
turn out well. Let?s see,
what else? Ah! Although it?s
the number one requested
wish, great wealth tends to
bring more problems than it
Daisy nodded. That made
sense. She?d seen as much
with those people who won
the lottery then fell out with
their entire family.
So, Daisy thought, what
else did that leave to wish
She checked the clock.
Forty-five minutes left.
?What happens if I don?t
make the wishes?? she
The genie shook his head.
?Impossible. You have to
make the wishes. If you
don?t make them now, we?ll
just take the last three
things you wished for out
Daisy looked at him,
?What were they??
The genie tilted his head
to one side, as though
?You wished that your
boss would shut up. You
wished that you had longer
legs . . .? The genie
scanned her bottom half
and tilted his head from
side to side like he could
see where she was coming
Daisy looked down at
herself with alarm. What
would she look like with
long legs if the rest of her
stayed the same? She?d be
all out of proportion!
?Oh, and you wished it
could be Christmas
every day.?
Daisy stared at the genie
in horror.
?Are you serious? Those
are song lyrics! I was
singing! That?s not fair!?
The genie shrugged.
?Rules are rules.? He
sniffed. ?We?ve got targets
to hit like everybody else.?
Daisy glared at him. She
needed to think.
?Do you like being a
genie?? she asked.
He shrugged.
?It?s a living. And before
you start getting some
grand ideas, you can?t
grant me freedom. Not that
I?d want to live as a human
anyway,? he said, wrinkling
his nose.
She laughed.
?I wouldn?t dream of it,?
she said, and crossed that
one off the list.
She made herself a cup of
coffee and sipped it slowly,
leaning against the kitchen
The genie watched her,
looking curious.
?What are you thinking??
he asked.
?I?m wondering if there is
anything I can wish for that
will make my life better.?
The genie?s eyebrows flew
?People don?t normally
stop to think about that.?
He stared at Daisy.
?You?re weird,? he
She laughed.
?I?ll take that as a
They stood in silence for a
while as Daisy
contemplated her
life. Finally, with five
minutes to spare, she
finished her coffee and
?OK,? she said. ?I know
what I?m going to wish for
?All three??
?All three.?
?OK, then.? The genie
smiled. ?Hit me with ?em.?
?My first wish is that I
only have this one wish,?
Daisy said and smiled,
pleased with herself.
The genie frowned.
?That?s it??
She nodded.
He shook his head,
?No true love??
Daisy shrugged.
?It?ll come when it?s
ready,? she said.
?Money?? the genie
asked, looking disdainfully
around her flat.
She laughed.
?I have everything I
Daisy grimaced.
?Have you seen how
celebrities end up??
The genie stared at her,
an admiring look on his
?You are so weird,? he
?But can you do it??
?Well, it?s unusual,? the
genie said. ?But, yes, of
course I can do it.?
He clapped his hands and
there was a small flash of
?There,? he said. ?Done.?
They looked at each
?I suppose this is
goodbye, then,? Daisy said,
feeling a little sad. ?It was
lovely meeting you. Apart
from that whole terror of it
being Christmas every day
The genie grinned.
?And you, Daisy
Thompson. It has been
most . . . unusual.?
Daisy walked over to the
lamp, took the cloth and,
meeting the genie?s eyes
one last time, she rubbed
In an instant, the genie
zipped back into the lamp,
then the lamp popped out
of existence with a tiny
plip, leaving a tiny
scorched dot on the
counter top.
Bailey came sniffing at her
?Chow time?? Daisy
asked fondly, then went to
fetch his food.
After that, life carried on
in much the normal way.
But it would be wrong to
say the lamp didn?t change
Daisy?s life.
For whenever she felt
sorry for herself, or
imagined life would be
better if it were somehow
different, Daisy would take
herself over to look at that
tiny scorched pin prick on
her kitchen counter top.
Then she would remind
herself of this: she had
once been granted three
wishes, and she had wished
for this life, exactly as it
was. n
Health &
Great advice to keep you happy and healthy
Q. I brush my teeth at least twice daily but
always seem to suffer from bad breath. Could
this be down to my diet?
Halitosis expert
Dr Harold Katz
of the Breath
Company ? www.
? is here to help.
This is certainly possible, but could
also be due to other factors. Bad
breath is caused by unfriendly
bacteria in the mouth. Some people
have a higher level of it than others,
making them more prone to
halitosis. These organisms are not
viruses or hostile germs, nor are they
infectious, but they do produce
In The News
It?s A Cover Up
Don?t be tempted to wear shoes
without socks if you?re lucky
enough to be holidaying in warmer
climes this winter, as the College of
Podiatry has warned this is
increasing our risk of athlete?s foot.
The fungal infection is more likely
to occur when there is no sock to
soak up sweat and act as a barrier
between foot and shoe.
If fashion decrees you simply
must go sockless, experts suggest
airing your shoes for 48 hours to
prevent harmful bacteria from
growing inside the leather.
nasty-smelling sulphur which is the root
cause of breath odour.
There are several ways you can keep
your breath smelling sweet.
Brush and floss regularly but avoid
toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl
sulphate (SLS), a soapy detergent that
creates foam but has no cleaning benefit.
Stop smoking and avoid acidic foods, as
well as foods like onions, garlic and curry.
Be sure to drink plenty of water.
Recent research has revealed evidence
linking poor oral health and serious health
conditions, so the breath could be an
indicator of something else going on in
the body. See your GP if you?re concerned.
Reduce Your
Toxic Exposure
If you?re worried about the
possibility of health-harming
toxins in the environment you
can reduce your exposure by
trying these simple steps:
? restrict pesticide use in the
? switch carpets for natural
fibres or hardwood floors
? switch chemical-based
household cleaners for
spirit vinegar and bicarb
? ban electrical items in the
? think twice before opting
to buy waterproof
? use ceramic or glass in the
microwave instead of plastics
Health Bite
? use baking parchment to
wrap food instead of
clingfilm and silver foil
A piece of steak is a great source of protein
(ideal for keeping muscles strong), vitamins
and minerals as well as iron, making a steak
dinner a suitable occasional boost if you suffer
from anaemia.
But if you once enjoyed your steak cooked
?rare? or ?medium? it?s best to switch to ?well
done? to ensure maximum uptake of nutrients.
Chefs may be appalled, but recent research
shows that as we get older our digestive
system struggles to break down the protein in
rare meat and we take in far fewer key amino
acids (the building blocks for protein) when the
meat isn?t cooked for long.
We are unable to offer individual advice to readers. Please see your own GP if you have a medical problem.
Brain Training
can also help
keep muscles
According to top US Alzheimer?s
experts Dr Dean Sherzai and
Dr Ayesha Sherzai, the onset of
Alzheimer?s can be avoided or
reduced through adopting a
healthy diet, keeping active,
getting lots of sleep and regular
brain training.
They recommend this memoryboosting trick: read a long
passage while trying to count and
recall the number of times ?and?
is used in the article. This exercise
challenges concentration because
you?re forced to pay attention to
the article while keeping track of
another element. You should still
be able to understand the
content of the article. Don?t worry
if this proves tricky at first, as you
should soon get the hang of it.
Stay Strong, Stay Steady
To help prevent
falls, build
your muscles.
Our Health
Writer, Colleen
T this time of the year, darker days
and slippery pavements might
make you feel more cautious about
the risk of having a fall. While your instinct
might be to settle down in a comfy chair
for the winter and wait it out, the best
way to protect yourself is to stay active
every day.
Strong muscles help you stay steady on
your feet, which is one reason why the
NHS recommends two sessions of
muscle-building activity every week.
However, a survey by the Chartered
Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) shows
that nearly one in four people aged over
sixty-five, and about one in three people
aged between fifty-five and sixty-four, do
no strengthening exercises at all.
People in the survey did not know what
exercises to do, felt that a health
condition held them back, or simply didn?t
want to do it.
The good news is, you can work
strength-building exercise into your
everyday routine, and there is something
for everyone.
To understand how stronger muscles
protect us from falls, and to get some
practical tips, I asked Kate Bennett, a
spokesperson for the CSP and a Specialist
Community Physiotherapist.
She explained that our muscles work
against the force of gravity to keep us
upright, counteracting the pull of the earth
to allow us to walk, move, turn, and bend
without falling over.
When our balance is disturbed, for
example when we slip or trip over
something, the muscles react quickly and
strongly to oppose gravity and keep us
on our feet.
So you can see why it?s important to
keep your muscles strong. Unfortunately,
this takes extra effort with each passing
year. Getting weaker is not inevitable as
you get older, but you have to work
harder to prevent this because our
muscle mass usually decreases from the
age of thirty onwards.
Our muscle reaction times also
become slower, which is why people are
often surprised to find themselves on the
floor before they could do anything about
To stay on your feet, it?s key to chalk
up that activity time every week. Have a
chat with your GP or another health
professional first, if you have a health
condition or feel uncertain about what?s
safe for you.
Lifting weights at the gym is one way
to go, and if you like the sound of this,
make sure you get a proper induction
before you start. An exercise class, a
sport, dancing or yoga are other ideas:
many groups offer a gentler version for
people who need this.
And everyday activity counts, whether
it?s doing housework, gardening, walking
the dog or carrying your shopping down
the road.
The CSP even has some easy fall
prevention exercises you can do at
home. If you have the internet at home
or in your local library, you can see the
Get Up And Go video on the CSP
website at
You?ll also find a quiz to test your falls
risk and printable booklets to help you
stay steady on your feet. n
Dry Eye Relief
Eyes that feel dry and
uncomfortable during the day
can often feel just as bad during
the night and first thing in the
Optometrist Sarah Farrant
says, ?Blinking helps to spread
hydrating tears over our eyes,
and during the night we stop
blinking, which can cause
extremely dry and sore eyes. Our
eyelids don?t always fully close
during sleep, either, which can
lead to a dry crescent forming
along the bottom of our eyelids.?
Hycosan is formulated for
overnight use and contains
vitamin A and soft paraffin to
keep the eyes hydrated for up to
six hours. Hycosan Night is �99
from Boots.
6 good reasons to eat
A 100g portion of
cabbage contains:
l 25 calories
l 2.5 mg dietary fibre
l vitamin C (more than
l vitamin K
l folate
l calcium, magnesium and
potassium, which help
protect the bones
Don?t Boil!
Dark and
Boiling cabbage means many of
its nutrients leach into the water,
and boiling too long triggers the
release of the stinky sulphurous
compounds that give cabbage a
bad name. Eat raw (as coleslaw)
when you can and try steaming,
saut閕ng or microwaving with the
minimum amount of water instead.
Finely slicing your cabbage,
then leaving it for an hour before
cooking and eating, will boost its
nutritional profile. The plants react
to the chopping process (which
they regard as simulated pest
damage) by defending themselves
and releasing compounds called
The finer you chop, the more
they release. Light cooking breaks
open the cells further, allowing the
nutrients to be released (potentially
boosting vitamin A and antioxidant
carotenes by up to five times).
Pick the darkest colours you
can for maximum nutritional
hit. Red cabbage has more
health-giving qualities than
white cabbage, broccoli has
more than cauliflower (unless
you can find purple
cauliflower). Sprouting
broccoli is more nutrientdense than traditional roundheaded broccoli, but purple
sprouting is better still.
Brussels sprouts have five
times higher levels of
potentially cancer-fighting
compounds called
glucosinolates than their pale
cauliflower cousins, and kale
has twice as many
polyphenols as Brussels
Many members of the cabbage
family contain more antioxidant
vitamin C than an orange, and this
can help delay the ageing process.
Cabbage can also help boost the
immune system, treat ulcers and
defend against coughs and colds,
for instance.
It can also speed up the healing
process and even help reduce your
risk of Alzheimer?s disease and
dementia. It is a great source of
vitamin K which supports mental
function and concentration. And
if that weren?t enough, it has an
anti-inflammatory agent called
glutamine which means it can help
ease irritation, allergies, joint pain,
fevers and various skin disorders.
The cabbage family
has pungent bittertasting, sulphurbased compounds
called glucosinolates
to protect its delicate
leaves against attack
by insects, and
studies show these
compounds trigger
metabolic changes
in our bodies when
we eat them. The
good news is these
compounds help to
suppress cancer cell
development ? just
150g of cruciferous
vegetables per day
could be enough to
slash your cancer risk
by as much as 22%.
Did You Know?
By the time your cabbage gets to
your fridge it could have lost up to
80% of its health-giving properties.
But by buying your cruciferous
vegetables wrapped and sealed,
keeping them refrigerated and
eating soon after purchase, you
will save all the precious natural
A Solitary
The blackbird wasn?t the
only one feeling lonely . . .
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
watched the
alight on the
bush, as it did every
morning, and pick off the
juicy berries.
The bird was a welcome
visitor and often, in the
dusk of late afternoon, it
would sit in the apple tree
and sing its ethereal song.
It was beautiful yet sad,
because the bird was
always alone, and it set off
the yearning in Megan?s
heart again. She was alone,
There was a knock at the
door and she gulped down
the dregs of her tea and
grabbed her bag and coat.
She wasn?t in the mood for
an outing with the ladies,
but knew it would be good
for her.
Sally, her friend, smiled
at her from the doorstep.
?Ready?? she asked
Megan nodded.
?How are you feeling
?OK.? She didn?t want to
spoil the day by saying how
she was really feeling, that
today was one of those
days when she felt she was
at the bottom of a pit and
didn?t know how to get out
of it.
Sally glanced at her
?We?ve got ten minutes
before the bus leaves.?
They hurried through the
village to the community
hall where the rest of the
group were boarding the
bus, all of them bright and
chatty and looking forward
to a day out.
Belonging to the group
had been a great help in
the dark days of Mark?s
illness and her subsequent
bereavement, but time had
moved on and she should
be moving on, too.
She sensed that nobody
wanted to hear how she
was really feeling today, so
she would just have to find
a way out of it.
Mark used to say that if
you smiled you?d feel
better, that your brain
would catch up with your
face. Then he?d pull a face
to make her laugh. She
smiled at the memory.
?Oh, Megan, it?s so good
to see you smile,? Emily,
their leader, said.
She forced the smile for a
bit longer.
The bus trundled out of
the village and along
country roads before hitting
the open moorland. Mark
had loved walking on the
moors, especially at this
time of year when the
bracken was russet and
An hour later they arrived
at the riverside artisan
?Candles first, ladies,?
Emily announced. ?We
have an appointment for a
Megan wasn?t particularly
interested in candles.
As they walked into the
showroom the smell hit her
? wax and spice and berries
and vanilla. There were
candles of all shapes and
colours displayed on the
She suddenly thought of
the big white candle on a
stand under a display of
weeping flowers in church
when she was a child, and a
memory of warmth and
safety came flooding back,
a memory forgotten in a
mind filled with years of
more important things.
?Come, ladies!? Emily
was summoning them into
the workshop at the back.
Megan felt like leaving
but Sally grabbed her arm.
?I hope this isn?t going to
be as boring as it sounds,?
her friend said. ?I?d rather
be having coffee and cake.?
There were a couple of
workers in the back room
and a blonde woman
stepped forward and
introduced herself as Carol.
?Welcome to Artisan
Candles. Our candles are all
hand dipped. Let me
explain the process.?
Megan switched off
during the demonstration,
particularly as Emily
dominated the proceedings
by asking questions, but
her attention was caught by
a young man working at the
back of the workshop.
He had long hair tied up
in a topknot and a beard,
and his arms, exposed
under rolled-up shirt
sleeves, were muscled and
tattooed. The whole image
seemed incongruous with a
When the talk was over
Carol invited them to move
into the showroom and make
their purchases.
?Then we?ll have coffee
and cake,? Emily announced,
which seemed to galvanise
them into moving like a herd
out of the workshop.
Megan stayed behind
because she was intrigued
by the young man. She
moved towards his bench
and watched him dipping the
tallow into wax.
?Hi,? he said after a while.
?You seem to be the only
one who?s really interested.?
?If you don?t mind,? Megan
said, ?what I?m interested in
is what you?re doing working
here. You don?t seem the
type. You look as if you
should be working at the
forge across the way.?
She was scared she?d given
offence, but he smiled.
?I find it soothing. It gives
me time to think. What can
be better than creating
something that gives light?
We need it in a dark world.?
Megan felt tears pricking
her eyes and she tried to
blink them back.
?We all go through dark
times, don?t we?? the young
man said, noticing.
?My husband died last
year,? she found herself
saying, before adding, ?You
don?t need to know that.?
?My brother was killed in a
car crash three years
ago,? the man said. ?I
went off the rails for a
time. After a while
no-one wants to listen,
do they? Or, at least, you
don?t want to burden
?I dropped out of uni. I
got a job here. I love it.?
He smiled.
?There?s something about
candles ? the flame
promises hope. Once the
light comes, the darkness
has to retreat.?
She thought about it and
found it comforting.
?I love the colour of
these.? She pointed to a
row of red candles. ?It
reminds me of my hawthorn
berries. There?s a blackbird
that comes to the garden
every morning to eat them.
?I wish they?d last longer
so he?d stay. I think he?s
lonely, too. He?s always
alone but I feel like he?s a
?They usually come in
pairs, in my experience,?
the young man said.
?Perhaps his mate has
?Maybe that?s why I feel
he understands me,?
Megan replied.
?We?ve got some of these
red candles in the shop. I
made them.?
?Then I?ll certainly buy
He touched her arm.
?I know it seems dark at
the moment, but you will
get through it. Burn a
candle to remind you of
She smiled.
?Thanks,? she said.
?Megan, are you
coming?? Sally popped her
head round the door.
The young man winked at
her as she left.
* * * *
The red candle burned on
the window-sill at dusk.
Megan opened the window
to hear the blackbird
singing his solitary song
from the apple tree.
?I hope you find another
mate,? she said.
Whatever happened, she
knew he would be back
eating the berries in the
Everyone went through
sad times, but the light of
the candle reminded her
that darkness didn?t have
to have the last word.n
An elusive
gerbil was
in the
surgery . . .
HAD a rampaging rodent
to deal with one
afternoon: a gerbil
brought in by his owner,
Charlotte, after she?d
finished school for the day.
The twelve-year-old had
warned me that Billy was
very clever at escaping. The
fact that I was now staring
at a pair of eyes blinking
and a set of whiskers
twitching from behind a
shelf full of medicine bottles
proved just how clever he
I moved a bottle in an
attempt to catch him. There
was a flash of brown fur as
the gerbil sprang down on
to the instrument trolley,
scattering scissors and
forceps on to the floor.
?Got him!? I cried
triumphantly as I finally
managed to corner him
under a roll of cotton-wool
into which he had
Once he was safely back
in the cage from which he?d
escaped, I leaned against
the consulting table to
catch my breath.
?Billy?s always getting
out,? Charlotte said.
?Daddy tried to catch him
when he got into the airing
cupboard. That?s when it
happened. His tail got
trapped in the door.?
I could see the result of
that mishap. The skin had
been ripped back from the
base of the tail, leaving it
broken, red and looking
very sore. The tail would
have to be amputated.
Charlotte was happy to
leave Billy in the hospital
overnight so that I could
operate the following
?And just make sure you
stay in your cage, matey,? I
muttered as I took him
down to the ward.
It wasn?t to be.
At the end of evening
surgery, Lucy bustled up
from the ward, a look of
concern on her face.
?Bad news, I?m afraid.
I?ve just found that gerbil?s
cage empty.?
I could feel my forehead
start to throb. This was the
last thing I wanted to hear,
especially as there were
several cats currently
hospitalised, none so
poorly that they wouldn?t
consider Billy a tasty snack.
The cats were housed in a
bank of cages running down
one side of the ward above
larger pens used to
accommodate dogs.
As Lucy and I scoured
those upper cages, I
fervently prayed that Billy
lacked sufficient
mountaineering skills to
hoist himself up into the
jaws of one of the felines.
There was no sign of him
up there, and no cat,
either, with a post-snack
wiping of mouth or licking
of paws.
In one of the lower pens
was a bull mastiff, Freddie,
admitted earlier in the day
for observation following a
seizure that morning.
He was standing in one
corner emitting short sharp
whines, saliva pouring from
his jowls, his attention
rigidly fixed on a stainlesssteel feed bowl which was
over-turned in the opposite
?Is he about to have
another fit?? Lucy queried,
looking through the bars of
the pen.
Some dogs do exhibit
such symptoms at the
onset of a fit so it certainly
seemed possible.
?I?m not so sure,? I said
as Freddie padded across
to the feed bowl and
cautiously sniffed it.
At that point the bowl
suddenly took on a life of
its own, jumping up in little
jerks then zig-zagging
across the concrete floor.
I shot into the kennel just
in time to stop Freddie
flipping the bowl over and
having a helping of gerbil
for his dinner.
Billy escaped again the
next morning. This time he
sprang out of his cage and
straight up the rubber cone
of the facial mask due to
deliver a waft of anaesthetic
to him so that I could
operate on his tail.
?That?s very obliging of
you,? I said, placing a hand
over the cone to keep Billy
trapped inside while I
turned the anaesthetic on.
A few moments later I
was able to extract the
unconscious gerbil and
amputate his damaged tail.
A week later, Charlotte
brought Billy in to have his
stitches removed. I made
sure all the doors and
windows were shut and
checked I had a towel and
stitch scissors at hand
before attempting to catch
the wily creature.
He was jumping around
his cage, standing on his
hind legs, peering between
the bars, no doubt planning
the best escape route.
It was on his second hop
round the cage that I
noticed something that
made me sigh with relief.
?Hey, Charlotte!? I
exclaimed. ?Billy?s nibbled
his stitches out and it looks
as if the wound?s healed
fine. See??
I was thankful of the fact
that I didn?t need to catch
him and run the risk of him
escaping yet again.
More next week.
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
1 A Whiter Shade of Pale
group (6,5)
9 Ben Harper in My
Family (6,7)
10 Almond?flavoured
liqueur (8)
12 British boxer Mr Khan (4)
14 Ryan O?Neal?s actress
daughter (5)
15 Spanish wine (5)
19 First name of Welsh
composer Mr Novello (4)
20 Woody source of citrus
fruit (4,4)
22 Star of Frasier and
Cheers (6,7)
24 Basic Instinct
actress (6,5)
2 First name of comedy
actor Mr Brydon (3)
3 Three?headed dog
guarding the entrance to
Hades in myth (8)
4 Seductive adolescent
girl (6)
5 Former Indian monetary
unit or a girl?s name (4)
6 Third?largest constellation
in the northern sky (4,5)
7 1960s supergroup
featuring Eric
Clapton (5)
8 Wales, in Welsh (5)
11 Iranian cleric (9)
13 Small boat used to
evacuate a ship (4,4)
16 First name of rapper
Ms Minaj (5)
With the help of the Across clues only,
can you fit the pieces into their correct
positions in the grid?
on p87
Try our general knowledge crossword
1 Soft rock consisting
largely of talc
2 Shortly, soon
3 Go back over
9 Chocolate?covered cream
Plane?s take?off strip
Preoccupy excessively 10 Intransigent
11 Flightless bird
12 Erosion caused by friction
Form again
17 Richard Branson?s
flight company (6)
18 Surname of Ray, TV
survival expert (5)
21 First name of 2001: A
Space Odyssey actor
Mr Dullea (4)
23 British isle, capital
Douglas (3)
Fill the grid with the numbers
1 to 9 so that each row,
column and 3x3 block
contains the numbers 1 to 9.
9 5
3 7 5
6 7 5
9 1
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd
This week?s
John Stoa
ahead to
Photographs by John Stoa and iStock.
Check over stored tubers of
begonias, dahlias and gladioli,
which all need to be kept dry in
cool but frost-free conditions. If
vine weevils were a problem
they can often be spotted in
stored tubers as they eat into
the tuber and show a wet entry
Chrysanthemum stools lifted
in October/November and
boxed up with good compost
should be kept growing slowly,
so do not let them dry out, but
keep them cool. Watch out for
greenfly, which can often
spread unnoticed over winter.
Winter salads such as winter hardy spring
onions, radish, winter lettuce and rocket planted in beds
and growbags after the tomato crop was cleared away
will now be ready for cutting and should last a good
couple of months.
Take the opportunity on a sunny day to clean the
greenhouse glass both inside and outside, and also
remove all debris from the gutters.
glass lets the
sunshine in.
Winter lettuce
Prune both summer and
autumn fruiting raspberries,
and tie in the summer
canes with a running knot
of twine as this stops canes
moving during windy
weather. If there are plenty
of canes, thin them out to
leave them spaced about
four inches apart along the
top wire.
Check over stored apples
and remove any showing
signs of brown rot before it
spreads to healthy fruit.
Prune grape vines both
under glass and outdoors.
This usually means cutting
back all sideshoots (rods)
to a couple of buds from
the main stem in the
greenhouse. If the vine is
trained over walls or fences,
cut back sideshoots over
the whole framework. It
sounds brutal, but vines
grow back quickly and
strongly in spring.
December is a month of
plenty with both vegetables
in store and fresh vegetables
happily growing outdoors
throughout the winter. Kale,
sprouts, cabbage, swedes,
parsnips and leeks are all
winter-hardy and even
improve after a few frosts.
A blanket of snow just gives
them extra protection, so
leave and pick as needed.
Check over potatoes,
onions, carrots, pumpkins
and beetroot in store as
these should last well into
March provided you keep an
eye open for any beginning
to go over.
Christmastime is a
favourite for flowering
houseplants such as
zygocactus, the Christmas
cactus, the orchid
phalaenopsis and the large
flowering amaryllis.
Poinsettias are also an
essential Christmas pot plant
but difficult to grow at home
so best bought in. The
others can all be grown to
flower at or near Christmas,
but you have to get the
timing and technique just
Ring Out
The Bells
Illustration by Ruth Blair.
The Story So Far
IN three days American
architect AMY is due to
marry her English fianc�,
DANIEL, as long as the
worsening Connecticut
weather doesn?t scupper
their plans for him to join
her. Her ex-boyfriend,
SCOTT, criticises her
choice, but she reminds
him she is half English,
Her mother LISA fondly
recalls her own wedding
in a little English church,
but Amy has chosen to
have the wedding at the
family home.
At the airport, Daniel
is waiting for his flight
to America when he
gets a call from the
neighbour of his mother,
Caroline, whose
general health and heart
condition have both
worsened since Daniel?s
father, TIM, walked out
on her four months ago,
has suffered a major
heart attack!
It?s clear Daniel
must go at once to the
But first he must get
hold of Amy to tell her he
won?t be coming . . .
MY parked the
car at the airport
and made her
way to the
Arrivals Hall. Her
knees were still shaking
from the stressful journey.
She?d left home with
plenty of time to spare
because of the hazardous
driving conditions, which
was just as well, given how
long it had taken her to get
here. Daniel?s plane should
have landed by now. Unless
it was delayed by the heavy
snow, of course.
She?d been unable to
contact him as the phone
lines were down at home
(the snow again), and her
cell phone had been
Could Scott be
right? Was her
beloved Daniel
having second
behaving unreliably for
She would replace it, she
determined, as soon as she
and Daniel arrived in
England the day after their
wedding. Which was on
Friday! She had to keep
pinching herself to believe
it. Everything was as ready
as it could be.
She walked through the
glass doors into the
concourse and hurried past
the towering Christmas
trees to the nearest bank of
screens, searching for his
flight. It wasn?t a comforting
sight: flight after flight had
been delayed or cancelled.
There it was!
London Heathrow ?
Fantastic! Wait, no, that
was an earlier flight.
London Heathrow ?
Diverted? To where? Don?t
say she had to get back in
the car and drive miles to
another airport!
She hurried over to an
information desk and joined
the throng already there.
Everyone was talking at
once and the harassed staff
were doing their best to
keep smiling.
There was so much noise
that Amy almost didn?t hear
her cell phone ringing feebly
in her pocket. She looked at
the Caller ID.
?Thank the Lord,? her
mother said fervently.
?Listen, hon, I?ve just had a
call from Daniel.?
?Mom, I can hardly hear
you. I think my battery?s
almost out of juice. Where?s
?That?s the thing . . .? Her
mother?s voice was getting
fainter and fainter.
?Mom, I can?t hear you! It
says here his plane?s been
diverted, but I don?t know
where to. What? I can?t
hear you. Can you shout??
?Not on . . . the plane.
He?s . . .?
?Come back home, honey.
He?s still in England.?
The phone went dead.
In England? But the
wedding was only two days
away. How was he going to
get here in time? And why
wasn?t he on the plane?
Amy moved away from
the still babbling crowd by
the information desk, tears
pricking her eyes. She
needed to get home as fast
as she could. Then she
could phone Daniel ? if the
phone lines were still in
working order.
She made her way to the
car and resentfully paid the
parking charge, then drove
to the exit.
The snow ploughs were
out in force, but the
relentless swish of the
windscreen wipers battling
with the blizzard conditions
gave her a headache within
minutes, and by the time
she got home she was
Her mother was clearly
keeping a lookout for the
car; the front door opened
before she?d cut the engine.
?Let?s get you in front of
the fire,? Lisa said, ushering
Amy in and shutting the
door smartly behind her.
?What did he say?? Amy
asked without preamble.
?You?d better try calling
him yourself while the
phone lines are still up and
running,? her mother said,
handing her the phone. ?It?s
his mother.?
Amy waved away the offer
of a hot drink and took the
phone into the den, then
speed-dialled the number.
?Darling, is that you??
Daniel?s voice said a few
seconds later.
?Well, I certainly hope
that?s not what you?d say if
it wasn?t!? Amy replied,
laughing from the sheer
relief of hearing his voice.
Then her laughter died.
?Where are you??
?My mother?s had a
serious heart attack. I?m at
the hospital. She?s in
intensive care, and certainly
improving ? speaking a bit
? but they say she?s not out
of the woods yet.?
?When did this happen??
?Her neighbour Jean
found her. She rang me
when I was waiting in the
departure lounge.?
?You were actually
waiting to board??
?Yes. I had the devil?s
own job getting out of the
airport, I can tell you. They
didn?t want me to leave.?
If only his cell phone had
been switched off, Amy
thought. Or the neighbour
had waited a few more
minutes before calling him.
But she knew she was just
being selfish.
?The thing is,? he was
saying, ?and I?m
desperately sorry, darling,
but . . .?
?You?re cancelling the
wedding,? she finished for
him in a resigned voice, as
the reality of what she
already knew sank in.
?Postponing it,? he
corrected firmly. ?Not for
long, I hope. Amy, I really
didn?t have a choice. I?m all
my mother?s got ? well, I
am now, anyway ? and
there?s no way I can get to
you in time for Friday.?
Was she imagining it, or
was there a steely edge to
his voice that she?d never
heard before?
The silence that followed
was slightly frosty. She
glanced around the room
and her eyes lit on two
small headdresses that her
mother must have been
working on while she was at
the airport.
The circlets of ivy and
white satin ribbon just
needed the fresh white
rosebuds added. Her nieces
had been so excited about
being bridesmaids, and now
what was going to happen?
?I am really sorry,
darling,? Daniel was saying
yet again, ?but at least we?ll
see each other on Sunday.?
?Sunday?? Amy asked
dully. She was already
mentally undoing the
multitude of arrangements
that even the small wedding
they?d planned would
require. The flowers, the
east coast of the States
looked horrendous.
He stopped in his tracks.
If it was two-thirty in New
England he ought to have
been getting married right
His heart sank. Poor Amy.
All the work she?d put in to
planning their perfect
He pulled out his mobile
and tried her home number.
Nothing. He tried her
mobile. Nothing again. It
had clearly given up the
ghost. Well, they could sort
that out next week.
Right now he needed to
see his mother.
He stopped at his
It was two days since he?d
managed to speak to Amy
cars, the buttonholes . . .
?Well, the flights are
booked for our honeymoon,
remember? I thought you?d
still be coming over here.
We?d at least get to see
each other. And I really
need you, Amy.?
She sighed. Of course,
she?d still be flying to
England on Saturday night.
Which meant she?d be
arriving early Sunday
morning, given the time
?Yeah. I guess I?ll see you
Sunday, then.? She paused.
?And I?m sorry about your
mom. I hope she?s OK. But
she?s talking now, right?
That?s a good sign.?
* * * *
It seemed to Daniel that
he?d been almost living at
the hospital for weeks,
though it was scarcely 48
hours since his mother?s
heart attack.
As he walked through the
doors into the Intensive
Care Unit he glanced at his
watch. Seven-thirty in the
evening. It would be half
past two in Connecticut.
It was two days since he?d
managed to speak to Amy:
he kept getting a ?fault on
the line? message, so the
phone lines must be down
Supposing she wasn?t able
to fly on Saturday ?
tomorrow, he realised with
a jolt ? or even get to the
airport? The weather on the
mother?s cubicle and
stared. Her bed was empty.
The sheets and blankets
were crisp and untouched,
hospital corners precisioncreased, pillows plumped
for a new incumbent.
Panic rose in his chest.
Surely the hospital would
have rung him? But then,
he?d spent most of the time
he hadn?t been at his
mother?s bedside trying to
contact Amy. His phone
would have been engaged.
He?d been with his
mother just a few hours ago
but he?d left because she
was exhausted. Could she
have . . .?
?Mr Adams?? a staff
nurse said brightly. ?Your
mother?s been moved to
Hayley ward. End of the
corridor, turn left and up
the stairs.? Again the
professional smile, and she
was gone.
Daniel found Hayley ward
(a much livelier place than
the Intensive Care ward
he?d just left), and spotted
his mother in the bed
nearest the nursing station.
So they were still keeping
quite a close eye on her, he
noted with relief.
Every bed had its quota
of visitors, and the place
rang with chatter. His heart,
which had been pounding
ever since he saw her empty
bed, slowed down.
?Mum! They?ve moved
you. Great!? He bent
over to kiss her. ?I?m
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sorry I didn?t get in
His mother?s eyes were
sparkling ? she looked much
more like her old self ? and
he settled himself in the
chair at her bedside. A part
of his mind wondered
whether he shouldn?t, after
all, have gone to the States
and got married.
No point worrying about
that now. But when Amy
met his mother ? on
Sunday, with any luck ? she
might wonder what all the
fuss had been about.
His mother was busy
telling him about the
ailments and operations of
every other patient in the
ward, as far as he could
tell, so she must be feeling
better. How could anyone
make such a speedy
?The lady in the bed at
the far end, nearest to the
Christmas tree, has just had
a heart bypass, so she?ll
have to stay in longer than I
?And her husband! You
should see him ? he looks
about twenty years younger
than she is. Mind you, she
might not be as old as she
looks. She has just had
He let her chatter on, still
worrying about what Amy?s
reaction might be on
Sunday when she saw his
healthy-looking mother,
when a woman in a white
coat approached.
?Doctor Ford,? his mother
said, for all the world as
though she was at a cocktail
party, ?may I introduce my
son, Daniel? I?m afraid I?ve
been a terrible nuisance to
him. He should have been
getting married . . .? She
looked at the large clock on
the ward wall, aghast.
?Oh, Daniel, isn?t it
supposed to be your
wedding right now??
?Well, hopefully you?ll be
well enough to be there
next time, Mrs Adams,? the
doctor said soothingly. ?I
came to say that we?d like
to keep you in over the
weekend, just as a
precaution, but I expect to
be able to discharge you on
Monday provided there will
be someone at home to
look after you. Will your
husband be there??
?I?ll be there. And my
fianc閑,? Daniel said
He wondered if the doctor
was just tactless, or whether
his mother had not told
anyone at the hospital that
her husband had left her
just a few months ago.
His mother threw him a
grateful look and changed
the subject as the doctor
headed for another patient.
?You?ll never guess what
happened earlier this
evening,? his mother said
brightly. ?Father Christmas
came to visit the ward, and
he came and talked to me.?
She beamed up at Daniel.
?And what do you think??
?He gave you a present??
Daniel ventured, after a
?Well, yes, he did. It?s
under the tree. But he came
with a camera crew who
were doing a piece for the
local TV news. He chatted
to me for quite a long time,
so I might be on TV!?
A bell rang to signal the
end of visiting time. Daniel
was ashamed to realise that
he was relieved. The
emotional rollercoaster of
the last few days was
catching up with him now
that his mother seemed so
much better, and he had a
lot to do at home before
Amy arrived.
Their tickets had been
booked right through to
Bristol, so she?d be coming
straight to the hospital from
Things had still been
touch and go with his
mother when he?d talked to
Amy, so this had seemed
the most sensible
But looking at his mother
now, he wished he?d
arranged to meet Amy at
the airport. He had an
uneasy feeling he might
have quite a lot of
explaining to do . . .
* * * *
Amy clenched her teeth
against the bitter cold, and
also to stop herself from
crying. It hadn?t dawned on
her when she?d spoken to
Daniel that cancelling a
wedding ? even one with so
few guests ? was not an
easy job when the phone
lines were down.
She wished to goodness
that she?d called everyone
during the short window
when the phone had worked
yesterday, but she hadn?t,
and she couldn?t just sit and
wait until it might be up and
running again.
So this morning she?d had
to don her boots and every
warm garment she could lay
her hands on and trudge
through the snow to let the
last few people know what
had happened, just in case
word hadn?t got round (as
she suspected it had).
And then, of course, each
and every one of them had
wanted to hear the whole
story, and had showered
her with hugs and
sympathy, making her feel
even more tearful than she
already was.
They were just being kind,
she knew, but the net result
was that it had taken her
far longer to deliver her sad
little messages than she had
allowed for.
Still, she?d had to battle
on: she couldn?t have
people arriving at a nonexistent wedding tomorrow.
She bit her lip and carried
on walking, picking her way
past the town lake.
The ice was so thick that
it had been declared safe
for skating and a few hardy
people were circling and
gliding round the ice, the
silver flash of their blades
leaving tracks on the frozen
lake and their bright jackets
and gloves and hats
spinning and circling in a
kaleidoscope of candy
A couple of guys had
hockey sticks with them and
were racing after a puck,
weaving in and out of the
more sedate skaters.
?Hey! Amy!?
Amy stopped and turned
to see who had called her
name. One of the hockey
players was making his way
towards the lake shore, his
stick over his shoulder.
She couldn?t immediately
see who it was beneath the
ski hat, but as she walked
to the edge of the ice, she
realised it was Scott.
The last person she
wanted to see on the eve of
her non-wedding.
He was standing in
amongst the reeds which
were poking through the ice
at the margins of the lake
and unwrapping the
voluminous scarf that was
concealing half his face.
?Hi,? he said without
preamble, ?did I hear right?
Someone at work said your
guy?s jilted you.?
?How come you?re not at
work?? Amy asked, feeling
rage rising in her chest and
trying to suppress it, though
she wanted to punch him
on the nose.
Scott screwed up his eyes
and stared at her.
?My lunch hour.
Remember them?? Then he
smiled. ?But I guess you?ve
got your mind on that rat
you were engaged to, huh??
Amy glared at him.
?We have postponed our
wedding because his
mother is critically ill in
hospital in the UK,? she
said frostily, ?and I?ll be
joining him there on
Sunday. I?m flying out
Saturday night. When his
mother recovers we?ll
rearrange our wedding just
as soon as is possible.
?So perhaps you?d like to
quash any suggestion that
I?ve been ? what did you
say, jilted??
She turned away, furious,
but Scott was unabashed.
?So how are you getting
to the airport? You?re going
from JFK, right? That?s
some journey in this
weather. Specially in the
She didn?t tell him that
she already knew that. Or
that, since she didn?t know
how long she?d be in
England, she didn?t want to
leave her car parked at the
Or that she was worried
about her mother driving
her there. It would wear her
out, Amy knew, but the
only cab company she?d
approached had refused to
take her, and strongly
advised her not to go.
?I?ll drive you,? Scott said
offhandedly. ?My car?s
designed for these
It was true. When they?d
been going out he?d bought
a car that looked as if it
was meant for trekking up
and down the Himalayas
? she?d thought it was a
ridiculous vehicle to drive
round their small town in,
but it was his pride and joy.
And it would do the
job. Even if it did mean
she?d have to be nice to
him for ever. Amy
battled with her
conscience, but he
interrupted her again.
?What time are you
planning on leaving? I?ll be
practically driving past the
airport at around five.
Maybe a quarter after five.
I?ll give you a ride.?
?You?re going that
direction anyway? I have to
check in by five-thirty.? She
hesitated, then took a deep
breath. ?I sure would
appreciate a ride. Thank
you, Scott.?
?Pick you up around four
o?clock, then.?
He arrived promptly on
Saturday and hauled her
suitcase into the trunk of
the car.
?Sure hope this is full of
good American food. You
know what they say about
English cooking, don?t you?
And have you got some ?
what is it that they wear
over there? ? thermal
underwear? Why don?t they
have heating in their
houses? Or will you be
huddled round a few lumps
of coal??
By the time they were
halfway to the airport Amy
was regretting accepting the
ride. There was no aspect of
her future life in the UK that
Scott didn?t criticise,
despite never having been
outside the USA.
She glanced at the clock
on the dashboard from time
to time, wishing they could
go faster, but even in
Scott?s built-for-the-weather
vehicle the swirling snow
meant they had to drive
?Tell me again,? Scott
said, after a few moments?
blessed silence when he
appeared to have run out
of things to criticise. ?Why
exactly couldn?t this Daniel
make it to the most
important day of his life? If
that?s what it was??
Amy sighed.
?I?ve told you: his mother
had a massive heart attack
just as he was due to
?But she?s OK now,
?Recovering, yes, I?m glad
to say.?
?So couldn?t he have just
come anyway? I mean,
you?d be back with his
mother by tomorrow. He
could have waited that long,
couldn?t he??
?He didn?t know she?d
recover,? Amy explained
patiently, even though she
was forced to admit to
herself that the same
thoughts had been torturing
?Hmm,? Scott said. ?If it
was me I wouldn?t have
missed my own wedding
just because my mother was
in hospital for a few days. I
mean to say, it sounds a bit
like an excuse, know what I
mean? You sure he isn?t just
chickening out??
Amy looked out of the
window. Signs for the
airport were getting more
frequent, but she still had
to endure another few
minutes of Scott?s hurtful
Supposing they were true?
Maybe Daniel ? her
precious, beloved Daniel ?
really was having second
thoughts. She didn?t think
she?d be able to bear it.
* * * *
Amy had spent a sleepless
night on the flight, tossing
and turning, unable to get
comfortable, until at last
she fell into an uneasy doze
before being woken by the
artificially cheery cabin crew
who were pushing up blinds,
turning on cabin lights and
practically throwing a
breakfast of stale croissants
and frozen butter at the
The coffee, when it
arrived, was watery, and
Amy found herself yearning
to be home in her
comfortable bed in
Connecticut, where it would
now be three in the
Her neck felt stiff and
when she went to freshen
up, the face that looked
back at her from the mirror
was drained of all colour.
She got back to her seat
just as the captain?s voice
announced that they were
beginning their descent into
Heathrow, where the
temperature was seven
Seven degrees? Why
wasn?t it snowing? It took a
moment for her befuddled
brain to register that he
meant Celsius, not
Fahrenheit, and by the time
they had emerged below
the cloud level and the
airport gradually came into
view, a fine drizzle was
spattering the windows.
The runway was scattered
with dark puddles and the
buildings were grey and
uninviting. She couldn?t help
feeling glad that Scott
wasn?t there to comment.
Amy looked in her bag to
check the timings for the
rest of her journey: she?d
have almost two hours to
wait before her flight to
Bristol, and then she had to
make her way to the
hospital where Daniel?s
mother, Caroline, was. It
was exhausting just to think
In fact, all went quite
smoothly, and by the time
the taxi was drawing up by
the main entrance to the
hospital Amy had been
revived by some coffee and
a Danish, and the sun was
trying to come out.
She went through the
glass doors feeling slightly
more hopeful, and looked
around, wondering where to
?Are you looking for
Admissions?? a nurse asked,
giving Amy?s suitcase a
curious look. ?Are you a
?Oh,? Amy said, realising
she must look odd. ?I?ve
come straight from the
airport. I?ve come to visit
Mrs Caroline Adams. I
believe she?s in the
Intensive Care Unit??
?Follow the signs at the
end of the corridor.? The
nurse smiled. ?You can?t go
She marched smartly past
a coffee shop, an exhibition
of paintings by local artists,
a flower shop . . . the place
hardly looked like a hospital
at all, Amy thought.
Then she retraced her
steps. Perhaps she ought to
buy a gift.
A few minutes later she
was striding down the
corridor again, pulling her
case and clutching an
enormous poinsettia in her
other arm.
She was conscious that
she really was going to meet
her future mother-in-law in
just a few minutes.
Assuming, that was, that
Caroline was still going to
be her mother-in-law.
All the doubts Scott had
planted in her mind the
previous afternoon had
taken hold in her semiconscious brain while she?d
been crossing the ocean.
Supposing this whole
journey had been a wild
goose chase? She hadn?t,
after all, seen Daniel for
weeks. Supposing he?d
changed his mind?
Everyone here sounded so
precise and . . . English.
Maybe, now Daniel had
been back here for a while,
he?d decided that that was
what he wanted, not some
loud American.
She had arrived at the
Intensive Care Unit, and
juggled suitcase, handbag
and poinsettia while she
struggled with the glass
doors. She was peering
around anxiously, hoping to
catch a glimpse of Daniel,
but a forbidding sister
greeted her.
?I?ve come to see Mrs
Caroline Adams, please.?
?Adams? When was she
?Not on this ward. Sorry.
You?ll need to go to
Reception. They?ll help
The sister walked past
her. Suddenly the
exhaustion of the last
couple of days hit Amy and
her shoulders slumped. Had
Caroline been sent home
?Did you say Mrs Caroline
Adams?? a younger nurse
asked, coming up at that
moment. ?She?s been
transferred to Hayley ward.
I?ll show you, if you like. I?m
going that way.?
Amy followed the nurse
gratefully, until eventually
they arrived at glass doors
bearing the words Hayley
Ward in dark blue letters.
A brightly lit ward lay
beyond them, zigzagged
with bright foil streamers at
ceiling height, and
decorated with a Christmas
Amy looked around the
ward, hoping to see Daniel,
but he was nowhere in
sight. Her heart sank. He?d
arranged to meet her here.
Unless, of course, the nurse
was wrong, and his mother
wasn?t in this ward, either.
She approached an
?Mrs Caroline Adams??
she asked with a heavy
?Yes, third bed on the
Amy looked where she?d
been directed. A pretty
woman in her late fifties was
sitting up in bed sipping a
cup of tea. She looked very
thin and frail, but hardly,
Amy thought, at death?s
door. Which was a good
thing, she reminded herself
But she couldn?t help
reflecting that she had
cancelled a wedding for this.
Again the thought
crossed her mind that Scott
might have had a point.
Surely this lady hadn?t been
so ill Daniel couldn?t have
made it to New York? And
why wasn?t he here now?
She took a few tentative
steps towards Daniel?s
mother, who looked up as
she approached.
?Oh, you must be Amy!
You?re just as lovely as
Daniel said!? She hastily put
her tea down and held out
her hands. ?He?s just
popped out to get a drink.
He didn?t think you?d arrive
as early as this. I?m
Amy held out the
?Shall I put this on your
table? It?s a bit big, sorry.?
The showy scarlet bracts
of the blowsy plant
overflowed the table,
knocking a couple of
greetings cards to the floor.
Amy scrabbled about
picking them up,
There seemed very little
space between the cubicles
in this ward. There was
scarcely room for the two
plastic visitors? chairs which
hugged Caroline?s bedside.
?You?ve brought me a
poinsettia when you?ve got
so much else to carry? How
sweet of you. Come here, so
that I can give you a kiss.?
Amy found herself being
enfolded in a surprisingly
tight hug.
?But, my dear, I have to
apologise,? the older
woman said, when she at
last released Amy. ?I?m so
sorry about your wedding. I
was absolutely horrified
when I realised Daniel
hadn?t gone to New York.
?What a terrible nuisance
I?ve been. I really can?t
apologise enough. You must
hate the very sight of me!?
?Of course I don?t,? Amy
said, taking her hand and
squeezing it. ?I?m just sorry
you?ve been so ill. Thank
goodness Daniel was here.?
Any uncharitable thoughts
Amy had been unable to
suppress over the past
couple of days simply
evaporated in the face of
Caroline?s welcome.
All she needed now, Amy
thought, was to see Daniel,
and all would be well with
the world. At least she
hoped so.
There was a sudden
commotion behind her, and
rapid steps were practically
running across the vinyltiled floor. She would know
Daniel?s footsteps
anywhere, and Amy?s heart
He was here, any minute
now she would be in his
arms, and the worry and
exhaustion of the last few
nightmare days would all be
?What are you doing
here?? Daniel roared, so
that all eyes in the ward
turned towards him.
Amy froze, not even
daring to turn round. This
couldn?t be happening! Had
Scott been right?
She vaguely registered
that Caroline?s mouth had
fallen open in surprise, and
when Amy eventually forced
her unwilling body to move,
turning to follow Caroline?s
gaze, she saw that Daniel?s
eyes were blazing and his
mouth was set in a grim
But Caroline wasn?t
looking at Daniel. She was
looking at another man who
had just come into the
ward: the man Daniel was
glaring at so fiercely. He
was a carbon copy of
Daniel, older but just as
There was only one
person he could possibly
This was Daniel?s
estranged father.
To be continued.
Love reading? Don?t miss the Daily Serial on
our website:
& His
John Taylor
recalls an
moment in his
teenage years.
?VE always wanted to play an
organ. A real organ, with lots
of stops, pedals and pipes.
Not like the one we had in our
village church, which had a boy
sitting behind a curtain
pumping air into it with a long
We all had to take turns,
myself included. Heaven help
you if you didn?t pump hard
enough when the lady ? it was
always a lady organist ? wanted
to raise the church roof.
That year, we?d finished
haymaking and the harvest
hadn?t started. Another farmer?s
son and I decided to go on a
cycling holiday. We?d carry all
our gear, including a tent, on
racks on the back of the bikes.
The idea was frowned on by
Mum and Dad. Farmers didn?t
go on holiday. And we were
planning a full week! But Ian
and I decided that, if we didn?t
take the plunge then, we?d
never get a holiday.
We were about sixteen at the
time. We?d worked it all out.
We?d pedal as far as Durham
and then head back.
It started raining at North
Berwick and was still raining at
Hexham. Our tent was wet, our
groundsheet was wet. We were
wet, our clothes were wet.
There was a laundry near the
river where we camped. They
took pity on two drowned lads
and dried our clothes, refusing
Next day we made it to
Durham before lunch. I?ll never
forget the beauty of the
cathedral. We went in and sat
and listened while someone
played the organ. Oh, how I
wished I could play like that!
When the playing stopped, we
went exploring. The door of one
of the side chapels opened, and
out came a gentleman with lots
of keys on his belt. I still don?t
know where I got the nerve to
ask, but I did.
?Sir, could we see up there?
And the vaults??
We must have looked very
scruffy in shorts and Scout shirts,
but he spent the rest of the
afternoon taking us round the
cathedral. We saw all the areas
that people don?t usually see.
I learned years later that he
was the Surveyor to the Fabric of
the Cathedral, Professor
Cordinley, who?d given his life to
teaching architecture to boys.
We were glad to get home to
our warm, dry beds.
Later, I went to see our church
organist. Could I learn to play?
?John, first go and learn to play
the piano. Then I?ll teach you the
Mother sent me for piano
lessons in Anstruther. I managed
to pass the first simple exam, but
my poor teacher had had
enough. Mother got a note after
six lessons.
He hasn?t a musical bone in
his body. It?s a waste of money
trying to teach him.
End of lessons. n
A Scottish
St Andrew?s
Day with our
Two Bird Roast
Pheasant is
sold at Sainsbury?s
and in many
independent butcher?s
shops. You may also
be able to find frozen
pheasant at major
supermarkets, or
buy online.
Course: Main
? A little oil or butter for greasing
? 2 pheasant breasts
? 1 pack Castle Maclellan Smoked
Duck Pat�
? 4 slices thinly sliced Parma ham
? 250 ml (9 oz) port
? 2 tbs redcurrant jelly
To Serve: vegetables of choice.
1 Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg. C.,
400 deg. F., Gas Mark 6 and grease a
baking tray.
2 Make a slit in the underside of the
pheasant breasts and stuff each with the
Skill level: easy
Serves: 2
Castle Maclellan Smoked Duck Pat�. Wrap
tightly with Parma ham slices.
3 Place on a baking tray and roast in the
pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.
4 Remove from oven and leave to rest for
5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
5 Whilst the meat is resting, make the
redcurrant and port jus. Place the port and
redcurrant into a saucepan and bring to the
boil, stirring until the redcurrant dissolves.
Reduce until slightly thickened.
6 Slice the bird roast in half on an angle
and drizzle the sauce over. Serve with
vegetables of your choice.
Scottish Beef Fillet with
Creamed Wild Mushroom
Course: Main
Skill level: easy
Serves: 2
300 g (10� oz) Scottish beef fillet
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
200 g (7 oz) wild mushrooms
2 shallots
100 ml (3� fl oz) double cream
� x 500 ml bottle of Crabbie?s Original Alcoholic
Ginger Beer
20 ml (� fl oz) red wine vinegar
50 g (1� oz) grated Parmesan
10 g (� oz) chopped tarragon
20 g (� oz) breadcrumbs
To Serve: mashed potatoes with chives; vegetables of
1 Pre-heat oven to 190 deg. C., 375 deg. F., Gas Mark 5.
2 Cut the beef fillet into two and season with salt and pepper.
3 Heat a large frying-pan. Slowly put the fillets of beef into the
frying-pan and cook for two minutes on each side. Place the fillets
on to a baking tray and roast in the pre-heated oven for 9 minutes,
then set to rest.
4 Place the mushrooms and shallots into the frying-pan you used
to seal the fillet and fry until cooked. Pour in the cream, Crabbie?s
Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer and the red wine vinegar. Reduce
by half, then finish with the Parmesan and tarragon and season to
5 Pour the creamed wild mushrooms on top of the fillet and
sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Place under a grill until the
breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve with mashed potatoes and
vegetables of choice.
Crabbie?s and Stem Ginger
Parfait with Raspberry
Course: Dessert
Skill level: easy
Serves: 4
? 200 ml (7 fl oz) Crabbie?s Original or Scottish
Raspberry Alcoholic Ginger Beer
? 600 ml (1 pt) double cream
? 4 egg whites
? 250 g (9 oz) sugar
? 100 g (3� oz) stem ginger, diced finely
? Small tub of raspberry sorbet
? 100 g (3� oz) fresh raspberries
1 Place the Crabbie?s Ginger Beer in a saucepan and heat until it
has reduced by two-thirds. Allow to cool.
2 Place the cream in a large bowl and whisk to soft peaks.
3 In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they become a
light white colour then slowly add the sugar. Fold into the cream
and add the Crabbie?s and stem ginger.
4 Place a small amount of parfait into each serving glass, add
raspberries, then keep layering the parfait and raspberries until the
glass is full. Set in freezer for about 4 hours.
5 When ready to serve, scoop some raspberry sorbet on top of
each dessert.
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.
Haggis Bon Bon with
Crabbie?s Ginger Beer and
Course: Starter
Skill level: easy
Serves: 4
200 g (8 oz) good quality haggis
50 g (1� oz) plain flour
1 egg, beaten
50 g (1� oz) panko breadcrumbs
Spray oil
1 pack cooked beetroot
100 ml (3� fl oz) Original Crabbie?s Ginger Beer
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tbs apple sauce
To Serve: side salad, optional.
To Garnish: lamb?s lettuce.
1 Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg. C., 350 deg. F., Gas Mark 5.
2 Chop up the haggis and mash whilst raw. Shape into 12 small
Camembert ?Scotch Eggs?
Two Ways with Honey and
Mustard Dip
Course: Appetiser or snack
Skill level: easy
Makes: 12
? 6 x high meat content herb pork sausages, about 400 g
(14 oz), skinned
? 400 g (14 oz) black pudding, skinned
? 1 x 250 g box Le Rustique Camembert, cut into 12 cubes
? 2 eggs, beaten
? 50-75 g (1�-2� oz) fine breadcrumbs
? Vegetable oil for frying
For the Dip:
? 125 ml (4 fl oz) runny honey, preferably flower honey
? 2 tbs Dijon mustard
? 1 tbs olive oil
1 Take a sausage or piece of black pudding and flatten out into a
large, thin round. Place a Le Rustique Camembert cube into the
middle and bring the sides up to cover the cheese completely,
making sure there are no gaps or holes in the sausage or black
pudding. Gently shape them into an egg shape in the palm of your
2 Dip the ?Scotch Egg? into the beaten egg and then cover it with
the breadcrumbs; set to one side on a plate whilst you make the
3 Fill a wok or a deep-frying pan to about 10 cm (4 in) in depth
with vegetable oil and then heat it until smoking hot. Add 3 or
4 ?Scotch Eggs? ? do not overcrowd the pan ? and cook over
a medium heat for about 4 minutes, turning them over halfway
through cooking. If they start to brown too quickly, turn the heat
down slightly. Once cooked, drain them and keep them warm
whilst you cook the remaining ones.
4 To make the dip, whisk the honey, mustard and olive oil together
to form an emulsified dip.
5 Serve immediately with the honey and mustard dip.
Next week: tasty, easy meat recipes.
bon bon shapes
3 Place the flour, beaten egg and panko breadcrumbs on three
separate places.
4 Roll the haggis bon bons in the flour, then coat in beaten egg,
then roll in the breadcrumbs until coated.
5 Spray an oven tray lightly with oil and place bon bons on it. Pop
into the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
6 Meanwhile, chop the beetroot and place in a blender. Add the
Crabbie?s and blend until you have a soft pur閑. Season to taste.
7 When serving, add a teaspoon of apple sauce to secure the bon
bon on the plate and serve the beetroot pur閑 at the side. You can
also serve with a side salad, if liked.
By Jacqueline O?Donnell for
For more delicious recipes visit our website:
They met at a
market in Berlin.
And then they
parted . . .
Merry And Bright
Illustration by Jim Dewar.
HE man opening the
market stall waved
at Genevieve.
She waved back.
?Merry Christmas!?
This early in the morning,
the Christmas market and
the Berlin streets
surrounding it were only just
coming to life.
Last night it had been a
very different story.
Everything had sparkled as
the festive shoppers jostled
good-naturedly for trinkets
and hand-crafted bargains.
Fairy lights had twinkled;
the air had been scented
with pine, gingerbread and
honeyed almonds.
Stall-holders had stamped
their feet against the cold
while dispensing mulled
Today, in the rain,
trundling her suitcase,
Genevieve felt reality had
caught up with her and the
near-deserted market was
as flat as her mood.
She?d always suspected
that this was a mistake. Not
the getting away part ? the
kids were right that she
needed a break. But coming
to a Christmas market?
The last-minute deal had
been a bargain, but would a
weekend in the sun have
been better?
Though Genevieve might
not be feeling Christmassy,
her first grandchild was due
in a few weeks.
Last night she had seen
some delicate hand-made
tree decorations, and back
at the hotel she had kicked
herself for not buying one to
mark the wonderful event,
hence the detour to the
market today on her way to
the airport.
Few stalls were open yet,
but luckily, the shutters
were up on one full of
hand-made baubles and
treasures. She studied the
array of wooden tree
decorations before picking
up a perfect little nativity
scene carved inside a star.
?You have a good eye.?
The voice made her jump.
She hadn?t noticed the man
behind the counter, since he
was bent over, busy
working on a carving of a
large wooden owl. The owl
had a decidedly jaded look,
Genevieve thought.
?Sorry, I didn?t see you
there. What do you mean??
He put down his tools and
brushed his hands on his
jeans as he stood up. He
was about her age and tall
enough to have to duck to
see her past the display of
hanging trinkets.
?You?ve picked the
dearest item on the stall.?
Genevieve read the price
tag on the nativity scene,
and carefully put it back.
?These are beautiful,? she
said politely, her comment
taking in the whole display.
He snorted.
?You don?t like them??
?Factory made. Like so
much nowadays.?
She looked at the owl.
?Not him. Or those.? He
indicated the tiny nativities.
?But everything else.?
Genevieve heard
disapproval in his voice.
?This is my son?s stall. He
is a craftsman like me but
he says he doesn?t have the
time it takes to create
individual, perfect pieces.
?And no-one will pay what
it is worth anyway. Most of
these are machine made.?
Genevieve took in the
man?s neat beard and his
silvery grey eyes.
?Do you work with your
He shook his head.
?I?m here because he says
I spend too much time
alone,? he said tetchily.
She smiled.
?And do you??
He considered a moment.
Her smile widened.
?Me, too. Or so my kids
say. They want me to get
out more.?
?Don?t tell me ? they sent
you here to Berlin??
?No, the trip was my
Actually, it had bought
her a few days? peace from
fielding questions about her
Christmas plans. Apparently
spending the holiday alone
? her personal preference
? wasn?t an option.
?Would you like a drink??
He indicated a stall. ?Hot
chocolate. I?ve been waiting
for them to open.?
Hot chocolate sounded
good. And hanging about
here beat hanging about at
the airport.
?Can you leave the stall??
He shrugged.
?I?m not busy. Besides, if
my son was so concerned
about sales, he?d be here.?
She waited while he put
up a small sign, then she
wheeled her case through
the rain to the food stall,
which thankfully had a
covered seating area
for customers.
The man picked a spot
near a heater from where
he could watch his own
stall, and Genevieve
listened while he exchanged
laughter and banter with
the stall holder.
When he brought the hot
chocolate it came not in a
paper cup but in a mug
with extra cream on top.
?I?m Axel.? He offered his
hand. His jumper smelled of
cedar and he had wood
shavings in his hair.
?Genevieve. How did you
know to speak English?? she
asked, curious.
He smiled.
?The British have a
natural affinity for rain.
Most other nations tend to
avoid it. But I think you are
not English??
Genevieve was impressed.
Foreigners couldn?t always
separate Britain?s many and
varied accents.
?I?m from Edinburgh. And
yes, we, too, have our fair
share of rain.?
?I know Edinburgh. I used
to travel all over Europe
every Christmas.?
She noted the ?used to?.
?What happened??
He dropped his gaze,
masking his expression.
She cast around for a
change of subject.
?How does your son get
you out of the house??
He smiled.
?The usual. ?Dad, I need
you?. ?Dad, Gunther has
chickenpox, can you man
the stall?? ?Dad, I have an
order on a three-foot owl?.?
Genevieve laughed.
?My kids are exactly the
same. Except for the owl.
Plus they have to make sure
my visits to them don?t
clash with those of their
father and his new wife.?
?At least my children
don?t have that to worry
about,? he said quietly and
Genevieve saw what she
had missed before: loss was
etched on Axel?s face.
?I?m sorry,? she said
His gaze was distant and
Genevieve knew he wasn?t
seeing the market.
?It?s been two years.
Karla would be furious with
me for behaving like this.
Especially at Christmas. She
loved the holiday. We
travelled to all the
Christmas markets. In
summer, too, there were
festivals and craft fairs.?
His eyes cleared and the
corner of his mouth lifted.
?That?s the first time
thinking about her has
made me smile. Thank you.
Now you know all about
me, tell me your story.?
?Divorced,? she said
Axel, studying her face,
shook his head.
?I think that is not the
loss you suffered.?
He was too perceptive.
Genevieve decided she had
been here too long. What
was she even doing, talking
like this to a stranger?
But instead of leaving she
blew on her hot chocolate.
?My husband and I
worked together. I started
the business but he joined
me when he was made
redundant. He was full of
ideas . . .? She heard her
voice rising and checked
herself. ?He made decisions
without consulting me.?
That was Max all over.
Always knew best.
?Long story short, he
overextended and we lost
The day she?d had to pay
off her small staff had been
the saddest day of her life.
His grey eyes were full of
?What did you do??
?We split up.?
?No, I mean what was
your business??
?Oh. I made cakes.
Mainly Christmas cakes.?
He laughed.
?Then we both did most
of our trade at Christmas.?
She laughed, too.
?Yes. And we both only
work one month a year.?
?That?s what everyone
thinks, isn?t it?? His laughter
faded. ?I am very sorry for
your loss.?
?And I for yours. But our
situations hardly compare.?
?No? I think we both have
lost the love of our life.?
Genevieve shook her
?We had some good times
at the beginning but to be
honest, I?m not sure Max
was the love of my life.?
?What about your
business?? he asked softly.
?I see the sorrow in your
eyes when you speak of it.?
?I told you, it?s gone!? she
snapped. Then, horrified,
she added, ?Sorry.?
?Christmas still comes
every year,? Axel said
mildly. ?People still eat
?You are still carving,?
she countered. ?But you?re
not making Christmas
decorations. You?re not
travelling, which you say
you loved.?
Suddenly the air was filled
with the sound of bells.
?The carillon!? Axel had to
shout over the noise. ?The
bells do not care about the
weather or that the market
is quiet. Eleven o?clock.?
?Eleven? I have to go. My
flight!? She grabbed the
handle of her case. ?Thank
you for the chocolate. It?s
been lovely meeting you.?
?You have to leave right
?Yes, sorry. Bye.?
She looked back once to
see him watching her.
Raising her hand in a wave,
she ran for a taxi.
* * * *
Genevieve spent
Christmas Day with her sons
and their wives and her new
grandson. Max was there,
too, and they were very,
very polite to each other.
In January she took stock
of her life. Yes, she had lost
her business, but she hadn?t
been entirely blameless.
She?d been happy baking
her cakes and wasn?t fond
of the business side of
things. So, even though she
had known exactly what
Max was like, she had given
him far too much leeway.
She thought often of Axel,
doggedly sticking to his
craft despite those around
him churning out machinemade carvings.
She had turned her back
on her own craft: baking.
Why, when she still had her
skills, still had her recipes?
Who was she punishing
other than herself?
She got a job and saved
every penny she could, and
in her spare time began
baking again on a small
scale. She experimented
with new recipes, sourced
quality ingredients, invested
in a new website.
Her daughter-in-law
designed labels for her new
products, and while she
intended to run her
business mainly online, she
ventured to food fairs
around the country with
samples of her cakes.
To her delight, she got
orders. Though it was not
like before, she was touched
by the kind words from
many of her old customers.
Best of all, she was in
control of every step of
production: from baking to
icing the cakes, to wrapping
and even posting the
finished product.
She loved every minute.
Axel had been right; she
hadn?t lost her business ?
she had given it up.
By December, her orders
were filled and she had
some free time. Flying back
to Berlin, she hurried to the
Christmas market.
Of course, Axel wasn?t
there. It had been a long
shot but she felt a wave of
disappointment. She hoped
he was travelling again. She
hoped he was happy. She
had wanted to thank him.
* * * *
At home she joined her
family in a visit to the
Christmas market below
Edinburgh?s iconic castle.
She spotted a stall selling
wooden tree decorations. In
the centre of the display
stood a three-foot wooden
owl wearing a Santa hat and
a cheery expression.
Then she saw Axel.
Genevieve?s footsteps
slowed even as her heart
rate picked up. His beard
was gone but he was even
more handsome than she
Axel glanced up then and
saw her. He didn?t look
surprised. A slow grin
spread across his face.
?Of all the markets in all
the world . . .? Genevieve
He laughed.
?Edinburgh was all I had
to go on.?
?You came to see me??
?Of course. I had to know
if you were baking again.
Are you??
She nodded breathlessly.
?And you??
He raised his hand to
indicate the cheerful owl but
his smile was for Genevieve
?Hopefully carving out a
whole new future.? n
Sending Parcels At Christmas
by Barry Cashin,
Consumer and
Money Expert
courier firms are best. So
where do you look?
Web retailers
LAST Christmas, the Royal
Mail alone delivered over
130 million parcels over the
festive period, with many
millions more couriered by
independent and specialist
But our national treasure
is no longer the de facto
courier service these days.
With internet shopping part
of daily life, there is a huge
choice of alternative postage
options when sending
Christmas gifts.
A number of online parcel
companies have sprung up
over recent years offering a
significant cost advantage
over the Royal Mail (up to
69% according to a recent
With over half of all
shoppers doing their gift
buying online, and for many
people with extended
families spread across the
globe, cost is key.
That said, small inland
packages under 1kg are
generally cheaper to send
by conventional mail, but
only marginally. Usually, if
you?re posting larger volume
or multiple parcels, external
Most companies, whether
they are solely web-based
or online versions of their
high-street counterparts,
offer a delivery service,
usually engaging major
national couriers like TNT or
DPS. In the main, these
companies are totally
reliable and very secure, but
consumers now have much
more choice.
How to find a
specialist courier
Before you choose a
courier to deliver your gift,
visit a good-quality
comparison search site such
Here you can tap in the
dimensions of your parcel
and delivery address for
both UK and international
delivery destinations and
the search engine will
provide a range of options.
Some specialise in
sending precious or
expensive goods and prices
start as low as �99. When
you?ve shortlisted a few
companies, check their
consumer reviews on
Trustpilot ? www.trustpilot.
com, tel: 0203 889 8444.
This will inform you of the
efficiency of their service
and if users have been
generally pleased. Popular
UK parcel delivery service
agents include Hermes,, I
Post Parcels, www. and
Collect+, www.collectplus.
How to minimise
postal problems
No company can
guarantee a faultless service.
Occasionally, things can get
broken in transit or delayed.
Ensure that your item is
properly packaged and
addressed so that it arrives
If your parcel is valuable,
take out suitable insurance
or enquire with your chosen
courier what their policies
are before sending.
Never leave posting to the
last moment. Any number
of outside influences could
cause delays. Post well
before Christmas and you
will leave yourself enough
time to address any issues
before the festive period.
Did you
Stuck for gift
Whether you?ve left it to
the last moment or are
simply struggling for
inspiration, the internet is a
great source of ideas and
swiftly dispatched gifts. As
well as the usual high street
store brands, try sites such
as www.notonthehighstreet.
for a wide variety of ideas.
According to the Money
Advice Service, the average
UK family was planning to
spend over �0 on
Christmas last year!
For free, impartial
money advice, visit www.
or call 0800 138 7777.
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.
Peculiar Packages
People send some bizarre
things through the mail,
according to delivery
who compiled a list of
some of the most unusual
Christmas tree ? taking
the festive spirit a little
far, one chap sent fully
decorated trees to his
friends in the summer to
bring them some early
yuletide cheer.
Hot Sunday dinner ?
sent, fully plated, by
loving parents to their
student son, though it
wasn?t so hot by the time it
Two Nurofen tablets ?
by the time this tiny
package reached the
friend for whom it was
intended, the headache had
been better for a fortnight.
Home-made cookies
? sadly, by the time
Grandma?s cookies
made it all the way from
Canada to the UK, they were
past their best.
Ask The Expert
Alex Neill of consumer
organisation WHICH? is
here to help
WHAT can I do if gifts sent by
post or parcel delivery service
arrive late or damaged?
Christmas shopping is stressful
enough without added
grievances. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself
in this situation, it?s important to be aware of your rights.
The retailer you purchased your goods from is
responsible for them until they are in your physical
possession, or in the possession of someone appointed by
you to accept them.
This means that the retailers are liable for the service
provided by the couriers they employ, not the delivery
firm, and they hold the responsibility for exchanging the
item or issuing a refund if it is damaged in transit.
You could also be entitled to a refund if your item arrives
late. If you told the retailer when purchasing the items that
the delivery date or timeframe was essential, or it can be
demonstrated that this should have been obvious to the
retailer ? for example, if you paid for next-day delivery ?
you don?t need to give another opportunity to deliver the
item, and can request a refund.
When you contact the retailer for a refund, make your
circumstances clear ? the more proof you have that the
timeframe of the delivery was essential, the better.
Last Posting Dates
When ordering
anything online, do check
final dispatch dates for
your parcel. That way you
and your recipient won?t
be disappointed.
The last day for sending
second-class mail within
the UK at the Post Office
is Wednesday, December
20. If you?re sending first
class, you have until
Thursday, December 21.
All specialist delivery
companies will have their
own final postage dates,
but some offer doorstep
collection for
convenience, ideal for
those who lead busy
lives. Many also offer
convenient drop-off
points such as local
shops, train stations, etc.
Making sure that your
chosen courier company
offers an online track
and trace facility gives
peace of mind as you
can keep check on
where your package is in
the system.
Which? is the UK?s largest independent consumer organisation. For
more information, visit
Next month: more tips from our experts
Party At
The Cat
It was Maxine?s birthday, but
that wasn?t the reason for
the celebration!
Illustration by iStock.
NGUS smiled as
Maxine walked
into his shop. Her
step faltered as
her gaze met his.
?Hi,? she said, her heart
thumping hard in her chest.
She told it to stop. It
seemed to be happening
with unnecessary regularity
these days ? whenever
Angus was around.
They might be spending a
lot of time in each other?s
company, and they might
have even been out on a
date or two, but they?d
both agreed to keep things
casual. It was safer that
She didn?t want to risk a
broken heart and another
failed engagement ?
however much she might
like him.
?Happy birthday,
Maxine,? he said softly as
she approached the counter
and paused at the point
where the wire baskets
were stacked.
?Thank you.?
She?d only mentioned her
birthday to him once in
passing, and that had been
weeks ago. She was
touched he?d remembered.
Her ex-fianc� hadn?t ? not
once in the five years
they?d dated.
?Doing anything special
She shook her head.
?Normal working day for
But as her working day
was filled with cats and
chatting to lovely customers
in her caf�, that was no
?Though I am going to be
making a birthday cake this
morning before the caf�
opens. I looked up the
recipe online,? she added
as an afterthought.
He nodded thoughtfully,
before his expression
?Should you be making
your own cake? That
doesn?t seem right.?
She knew she should tell
him the truth about this
particular cake, but she
could only guess at his
reaction. He was bound to
think she was daft.
So she smiled in what she
hoped was a mysterious
manner and picked up a
Maxine really was very
happy with her life ? though
she?d worked hard to make
her life into everything it
was now.
It didn?t matter that she
wasn?t going to have a
birthday cake made for her.
At her age, birthdays meant
very little now. And, ever
since her father had died,
there had been no family
left to make a fuss of her
special day.
With a sigh, she turned
her thoughts to her
shopping list.
Flour was the first item. A
cake recipe, however
unusual, called for flour.
She lifted a bag of
self-raising from the shelf,
and put it into her basket.
She needed eggs, too. Not
forgetting the most
important ingredient of all
for this extra special
birthday cake ? a tin of
?Making sandwiches for
your visitors now?? Angus
asked as he rang her
purchases through the till.
?Is it wise to offer tuna as a
filling with that lot you have
next door? I can see them
knocking tuna sandwiches
straight from your
customers? hands.?
She shook her head.
?Not sandwiches. And the
tuna?s not for the
?Oh?? He popped the tin
of tuna into her shopping
She knew she couldn?t
hold on to her secret for
much longer now that he
had noticed and
commented on that crucial
?It?s for the birthday
Silence greeted her
revelation. He stared at
her, his expression
Slowly, he arched an
?You?re putting tuna into
your birthday cake? That
will be tasty with a cup of
tea.? His dark eyes were
filled with amusement as he
quickly caught up with her
train of thought. ?It?s not
for you, is it, this cake??
?It?s for the cats,? she
confirmed, and she waited
for the usual reaction that
would normally accompany
such a statement.
She was mildly
disappointed when it failed
to materialise. She liked it
when he laughed ? even if it
was generally at something
she?d said.
Angus simply nodded.
?I suppose your cats
are family, so it
makes sense you?d want
them to join in with your
birthday celebrations.?
?It?s not my special day
we?ll be celebrating. It?s
Teddy?s birthday today,
Teddy was a particularly
handsome Selkirk Rex who
lived at Maxine?s cat caf�
along with his 12 adopted
feline siblings.
?The cake?s for Teddy?s
birthday?? There was hardly
an inflection to his tone,
but Maxine sensed his
surprise nonetheless.
?It?s for the party later
today. We?ll all sing to him,
then the cats will all get a
tasty bite of the cake.?
?You?re having a birthday
party for him??
Maxine nodded.
?I am.?
?Even though he?s a cat??
The expression was
deadpan, but she could feel
there was a hearty burst of
amusement waiting to
bubble forth.
She couldn?t bring herself
to be indignant, though.
Angus had been good to
her. His friendship was
important. Actually, she
would go so far as to say
that he was important.
?My caf� regulars are
looking forward to it,? she
said in her own defence.
?All the spaces for the
party were booked within
minutes of me putting them
on the website.?
?Because there?s nothing
at all unusual in a cat
having a birthday party.?
Again, the same deadpan
expression, but with a
twinkle in his eyes, and
Maxine felt the corners of
her mouth twitch in
?Nothing at all.?
?Thought not.? He
packed the remainder of
her shopping into her bag
and finally, unable to hold
his amusement in check any
longer, he grinned.
?It?s this evening,? she
told him. ?After your shop?s
closing time.?
Not that she?d
consciously planned it that
way ? it was just an
accident. A happy accident.
?Would you like to
She wasn?t sure about
asking him. It wasn?t as
though he was as cat-mad
as the customers who had
rushed to buy tickets for
the party. But it would be
nice to have him there. The
cats liked him. So did she.
?I thought you?d sold all
the slots.?
?I?m sure we can find
room for you.?
?Would I have to eat the
tuna cake??
She picked up her bag.
?You would not. That?s
strictly for the cats.
Humans will have the usual
selection of cupcakes,
traybakes and gateaux to
chose from.?
?In that case, I?ll be
?But you will have to sing
?Happy Birthday? to
Teddy,? she let slip, then
she hurried from the shop
before he could recover
from the shock of her
parting statement.
She was still grinning as
she arrived next door.
If she didn?t know any
better, she?d swear that
Angus had been pleased
with his invitation to
Teddy?s party, despite his
obvious amusement at the
* * * *
When he?d arrived at the
caf�, Teddy had made
short work of fitting in with
the other cats, and was
soon respected by the
other residents ? as
befitted his status as both
the oldest and most
A handsome, oatmealcoloured Selkirk Rex, he
needed a lot of grooming to
keep his curly fur looking
And it was that curly fur
that gave him both the
appearance of a teddy
bear, and therefore his
Even though he would
likely be oblivious to the
reason for the fuss, Maxine
thought it only right that he
should have a celebration
held in his honour today.
As she let herself into the
caf� with her purchases,
she was greeted at the door
by a loud meow.
?Hello to you, too,
Gladys,? she told the young
Norwegian Forest cat. ?I
suppose you can smell the
tuna even though the can
hasn?t even been opened.?
?So you got the
ingredients for the cake??
Sabrina asked as Maxine
made her way through the
caf� towards the kitchen.
?I did. I think that recipe I
found on the internet looks
quite easy, so fingers
crossed I?ll manage it.?
Sabrina grinned.
?I do love working for
you,? she said with a grin.
?And I completely love the
cats. But making a cake for
Teddy to eat on his
cake. At least, I hope he
will.? She frowned. She?d
never made a cat cake
before, but the recipe she?d
found seemed easy enough.
?It?s not like you haven?t
been encouraging me,? she
reminded her assistant.
?This party was your idea.?
?That?s true,? Sabrina
admitted. ?Did you tell
Angus about it??
Maxine nodded.
?I?m sure he found it
highly amusing.?
Maxine had never made a
cat cake before
birthday? Is that maybe a
tad too far? You do know
Teddy has no idea it?s his
?He?ll know something?s
up, especially when he?s
offered tuna,? Maxine
assured her. ?Besides, you
know this is as much for us
as it is for him.?
?You?re daft.? Sabrina
?More importantly, it?s
for the customers.? Maxine
smiled as she spoke, not in
the least offended by her
assistant?s words, because
she knew ? even if they did
both go too far with
anthropomorphising their
charges ? Sabrina was just
as cat-mad as she was
?It is a good way to bring
customers in,? Sabrina
admitted. ?Even if you
hardly need to do that with
us being fully booked for
most sessions.?
?A good businesswoman
is always looking for new
That was all very well, but
she?d never made any of
her decisions in coldhearted attempt to bring in
Each and every
development of her caf�
had the welfare and
wellbeing of her cats at the
centre ? and her own
interests some way after.
That customers were
being attracted by those
things was a bonus.
For an ex-accountant, it
was no way to run a
business ? but for a selfconfessed crazy cat lady,
she was living the dream.
?Teddy will enjoy the
?Actually, he was very
Angus had been her
harshest critic in this town
when she?d moved here
with big ideas for her cat
caf�, not so long ago.
Sabrina?s eyes widened.
?I know.? Maxine reacted
to her assistant?s visible
shock. ?I don?t know what
happened, either.?
?You?re not sure what
happened?? Sabrina was
incredulous. ?He?s in love,
that?s what?s happened. In
his eyes you can do no
?In love? Oh, I don?t think
so.? Despite her denial, her
heart gave another
alarming thud.
?Don?t you?? Sabrina
looked amused.
Maxine sighed. She liked
Angus very much, and she
knew he liked her. But love
was something else
Something that might
have had the possibility of
happening, given how her
pulse always quickened
around him, but neither of
them was prepared to allow
?We like spending time
together,? she insisted,
refusing to meet Sabrina?s
eyes. ?And two dates aren?t
a solid foundation for falling
in love.?
It was much too soon for
talk of love. And it probably
always would be for the two
of them.
They were both set in
their ways, happy with their
own businesses and their
own lives.
But he was the guest
Maxine was most
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looking forward to
seeing at the party this
* * * *
All day there was a sense
of expectation in the air as
guests arrived for their
pre-booked slots.
Word had got out about
Teddy?s birthday ?
probably in no small part
down to Maxine?s blog post
? and, even though the
official celebration wasn?t
planned until tonight,
everyone who called by was
pleased to see the birthday
Some even sang to him.
?Poor Teddy looks very
unimpressed,? Sabrina said
with a laugh as yet another
group began a burst of
?Happy Birthday?.
It was as the caf� was
about to reopen after their
quick lunchbreak that
Maxine noticed something
?Where?s Gladys?? she
asked, looking around.
?And Sadie? I haven?t seen
either of them for a while.?
They each began to look
and checked the cupboards
and all the hiding places
Maxine had installed to
make sure her cats could
have quiet time if needed.
?In here!? Sabrina
eventually called from the
kitchen, the tone of her
voice making Maxine dread
what she might find.
?How on earth did they
get in here?? she asked as
she stopped at the door
and surveyed the
Despite the kitchen door
being firmly closed to
enforce the no-cats rule,
the two of them had
managed to make their way
in ? and helped themselves
to Teddy?s cake.
?I should have put it in
the fridge.? Maxine had left
it out to cool on a wire rack
and completely forgotten it.
?They?ve eaten it all,?
Sabrina said in horror,
picking up the plate and
studying it as though
hoping to find the missing
cake magically reappearing.
?There are only crumbs
Meanwhile, the culprits
sat and stared up at them,
both the very picture of
?Oh, no.? Maxine took
on a stern tone as she
approached the cats. ?How
could you eat your
brother?s cake like that??
There was no doubting
who the ring leader was
? Gladys was always at the
centre of any mischief.
Both stared at Maxine
defiantly, either oblivious to
or uncaring of the fact they
had ruined the centrepiece
of tonight?s celebrations.
Maxine sighed.
?What are we doing to
do?? Sabrina asked.
?There?s no time to make
another ? we?re booked
solid for the rest of the
Maxine shuddered. She
could imagine how the
guests would react if she
made another cake while
they were here ? with the
accompanying cacophony
of caterwauling felines
stationed at the kitchen
?I?ll ring Angus,? she
decided. ?We?ll forget the
cake and I?ll ask him to
bring a couple of tins of
tuna. We can give them
that as we sing to Teddy at
the party. Though I think
some cats deserve no more
treats today.?
She glanced sternly at the
furry menaces.
?Mew,? Gladys
commented as they both
stared up at her.
Maxine?s heart melted.
How could she stay cross
with those faces?
* * * *
Angus didn?t bring the
tins of tuna. He brought a
perfectly made cat cake
It was definitely more
impressive than Maxine?s
version ? he?d even
decorated it with a few
prawns on the top and two
birthday candles.
However, Teddy was only
interested in the parts of
the cake he could eat, and
Maxine ended up blowing
out the candles and making
a wish for the biggest piece
of cake on his behalf.
?How on earth did you
manage it?? she asked once
everyone had left and they
were alone with the cats in
the caf�.
?You?re not the only one
who can use the internet to
download recipes, you
know,? he told her gruffly,
trying not to smile.
?But how did you find the
?I shut the shop early.?
?Angus, you shouldn?t
have done that.?
He shrugged.
?I had to shut so I could
go and buy the prawns. I
don?t stock them. And
when I got back I thought it
would be better if I just
stayed closed.?
for years.
She wondered if she
should run after him and
Just as she made up her
mind that she should, there
was a sharp rap on the
glass of the large window at
the front of the caf�.
Fourteen pairs of eyes
? one pair human, the rest
feline ? turned to
Maxine made out a
familiar figure in the
Gladys was always at the centre
of any mischief
?But what about your
?I doubt very much
they?ll have noticed.
Business next door is very
slow these days.?
It was such a shame ? his
shop was a useful general
store, but locals seemed to
be drawn to the out-oftown supermarket.
She shook her head.
?You?ll lose even more
customers if you keep
closing up on a whim.?
He took her hand and
looked down into her eyes.
For a moment she forgot to
?I wanted to shut the
shop and make the cake, so
I did.?
His gaze was steady, but
the gentle touch of his
hands holding hers was
what melted her heart in
the end.
?Thank you, Angus,? she
told him seriously.
That he had taken time
out of his working day to
make a birthday cake for
Teddy, when she knew he
thought it was daft, meant
the world to her.
He gave a short nod and
abruptly let go of her hand
and walked to the door.
?I?ll be back in a minute.?
She stared after him as
he left the caf� and
wondered if maybe she had
lectured him too much
about unscheduled shop
She?d only been worried
because she knew his shop
was often bereft of
customers, but really she
should have kept her views
to herself. He?d been
running his own business
shadows outside the
window and she hurried to
let him back in.
?I didn?t just make a cake
for Teddy,? he confessed as
he held the box he was
holding aloft.
?Meow,? Gladys said
hopefully as she leapt on to
his shoulder.
?Sorry, Gladys ? not for
you this time.? He smiled at
Maxine as he handed the
box over. ?Happy
She lifted the lid and
found another cat cake ?
but this one was in the
shape of a cat rather than
made of cat-friendly food
? a black and white cat with
a sparkle in her eyes, much
like Gladys.
?It?s sponge cake,? he
told her. ?No tuna in sight
with that one.?
?I can?t believe you made
this for me,? she said,
grinning up at him. ?It?s
gorgeous. Thank you.? She
stood on tiptoe and
brushed her lips against his.
?I?m a man of many
talents.? He laughed, but
Maxine knew that what he
said was true. Whatever he
turned his hand to, he
seemed to excel at.
?How are you at cake
eating?? she asked.
?Town champion for the
past three years.?
?Good, then maybe you
can stay a while and help
me eat some of this.?
Maybe, just as she?d
insisted to Sabrina earlier,
it was too soon to think of
being in love. But there was
nobody she?d rather sit and
eat cake with on her
birthday. n
Inside next week?s issue
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Norfolk and Suffolk
On sale
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and explores
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7 short stories
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about the
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Set in
It was my
father?s dream
to create the
best display for
our town that
he could . . .
Dad?s Designers
Illustration by Ruth Blair.
IGHT, kids,? Dad
said, his voice full
of mystery. ?The
coast is clear. Time
to organise Mum?s
secret surprise for
Christmas. We?re all in this
together. Nobody?s to tell
My little brother and
sister looked up with
solemn faces.
?We won?t. We promise,
?Not a word. Brownies?
honour,? I stated simply.
Dad unrolled the scroll
he?d been wagging in front
of us. He looked at our
three expectant faces.
?Have you heard of a
We all shook our heads.
?Well, a blueprint is
something scientists have: a
plan or a formula for
something.? Dad placed the
scroll on the kitchen table
and weighted the ends.
?This here is our blueprint
to give your mummy the
greatest surprise she has
ever had.?
Mum was at a WI talk on
?Bringing the outside
indoors?. She?d been
looking forward to learning
about decorating your
Christmas home with
treasures from the
?Sounds right up my
street,? she?d said.
?More like right up your
country lane, by the sound
of it!? Dad had joked.
?The countryside is so
bountiful,? Mum had said
tonight as she buttoned up
her warm winter coat.
?Before you know it, we?ll
all be out collecting sprigs
of holly and ivy and
spraying teasels and
honesty with silver and
?I don?t think I?d like to
spray a weasel silver,
Mummy.? That was Willie,
my brother. ?That?s cruel!?
Everybody laughed, to
Willie?s bewilderment.
?A teasel is a plant,
stupid,? my little sister,
Tina, explained as Mum left
for her meeting.
Dad?s blueprint bore
words at the top.
Christmas Illuminations
It was a street plan of our
town. Dad had been
appointed Head of the
Town Lighting Department,
and he planned to
introduce a Christmas lights
display for his inaugural
year, something which had
never been done in our
?Children, I want to
create a lighting
extravaganza to
remember.? His hand swept
around as he pictured the
scene. ?Trouble is, we have
a shoestring budget, so I?m
looking for three top-notch
designers who?ll do the
work cheap.?
Willie scratched his head,
repeating the word
?shoestring? to himself.
Being ten, I understood
long words. Willie and Tina,
seven and eight, looked at
Dad quizzically.
?What?s a mill-loom-anation?? Tina piped up.
?Daddy wants us three to
design his Christmas lights
display,? I explained.
The little ones jigged up
and down.
We got to work, tongues
out in concentration, and
soon the kitchen table was
covered with stars, angels,
bells, a snowman, Santa
and his sleigh.
By far the best artist,
even at only seven, Willie
produced an amazingly
accurate, Bambi-inspired
picture of Rudolph the
Red-nosed Reindeer. He
followed it up with a
beautiful sketch of Mary,
Joseph and baby Jesus.
Dad peeked through the
curtains and spied Mum
chatting to our neighbour,
Mrs Willis, at the garden
?Quick! It?s Mummy!?
We quickly gathered
everything up. Dad hid it all
in the boot of his car and
?A fine evening?s work,
children,? he praised us.
?I?ll set my lads to work on
your designs tomorrow.
Remember to send me the
?I?d like hot chocolate
with marshmallows at Mrs
Capaldi?s.? Tina giggled.
Dad shook our hands.
?It?s a done deal.?
?What?s a done deal??
Mum enquired, entering
and removing her coat.
?Dad?s promised us a hot
chocolate with
marshmallows from Mrs
Capaldi?s,? I said.
?Count me in.? She put
the kettle on to make us all
tea and toast before bed.
* * * *
Two weeks later, Mum
was attending another
WI talk ? ?The perfect
Christmas table? ? when
Dad piled us into the car
and took us to his depot.
All around the workshop lay
wooden cut-outs based on
our designs.
Chris, the joiner and
master craftsman, had
something special to show
us ? the star for our street.
?What do you think,
boss? Is it what you
imagined? I used Marine
Ply since we?re still within
budget. It?s sturdier, and
much more durable. Plus
it?s water-resistant, so it
won?t matter what the
weather throws at us.?
?Grand, Chris. I see
you?ve also cut holes
already for me and the
squad to wire it all up.
Phenomenal! I can?t wait to
see your mummy?s face, eh,
?It?s great, Daddy.
Mummy will love it. She
really will.?
Willie squealed, having
spotted his Rudolph. It
looked so comical, with a
flashing red light bulb right
where his nose ought to be.
Like my dad, I was dying
to see the look on my
mum?s face.
I think Mum guessed we
were all up to something,
possibly making her a
Christmas present. She had
tried to find out from both
Willie and Tina, but they
had been well trained by
Dad and me to keep quiet
? or else!
A week after that, Dad
took us all down town to
watch the squad in his
tower wagon install the very
last stringer: the Christmas
cracker in Hall Street.
Dad let Willie flick the
switch to test that all the
lights were in full working
We gasped as, street by
street, we toured the town,
viewing the displays and
making sure all the bulbs
were lit.
We had never seen such
a beautiful sight before and
couldn?t wait for the official
switching-on ceremony.
Dad wouldn?t tell us what
he had planned. No doubt
he wanted to surprise us,
The following Saturday, at
breakfast, Dad told us
there was to be a Christmas
carol service in the town
hall at four p.m.
?Get dressed up in your
best rig-outs.?
Tina and I had red velvet
dresses trimmed with lace,
brown fur jackets with
champagne-coloured muffs
and little fur hoods with
furry pompoms.
Willie had a spectacular
hand-knitted red jumper
with Rudolph on the front,
navy cords and a red duffel
coat, while Mummy looked
like Rosemary Clooney in a
scene from ?White
Christmas? with fur coat,
white Cossack-style hat
and shiny black patent
boots and bag.
?Mummy, you look just
like the Snow Queen!?
Willie cried.
?You all look perfect!?
Daddy exclaimed. ?Just
right for the Christmas
?Will the service last
long?? Tina grumbled.
Dad winked at me.
?No, sweetheart! It?ll be
just right.?
?There?s snow in the air,
children.? Mum looked at
the sky. ?I think it will snow
before the night is out.?
?Yippee!? we chorused.
* * * *
At the town hall, the
commissionaire in his smart
burgundy uniform directed
us to a civic reception in the
main hall. Uncle Ron and
Auntie Nettie were already
there, together with Chris,
the joiner, Dad?s team of
painters and signwriters and
the whole squad of
There was a long table
piled high with goodies:
mounds of sandwiches, little
sausage rolls, cheese and
pineapple sticks, tomatoes
cut like flowers and, of
course, mince-pies. What a
The Burgh Band played
carols. We sang along to
?Away In A Manger? so
sweetly that Auntie Nettie
and Mum wiped a tear from
their eyes and the other
adults smiled and
applauded. We were the
only children in the group
and felt very important.
Finally the Lord Provost
stepped up to the
microphone. He wore a
magnificent gold chain with
the names of former Lord
Provosts engraved on it and
the coat of arms of our
I looked down at my shiny
new Timex watch. It was
precisely five p.m. and
quite dark outside. Dad
whispered to me that it was
almost time for the
?switching on?.
?Ladies and gentlemen,
thank you all for coming. I
have tried to raise the
profile of the town since
taking up office a year ago,
but with budgetary
constraints and a lack of
vision by some officials, it is
attention to detail,? Dad
continued, ?and my squad
of electricians wired them
all up and put them up in
all weathers. Well done,
Chris lowered his body in
his seat, trying to hide
behind the person in front
of him, while all Dad?s
electricians waved like
?Last but not least, I?d
like to thank my lovely wife,
Mary, for putting up with
my secret projects and for
kindly agreeing to switch on
the lights today with the
I was dying to see the look on my
mum?s face
not always possible.
?Today, thanks to our
Chief Superintendent of
Lighting, Pat ? a man of
great vision ? I?m pleased
to announce that we have,
for the first time in our
town?s history, the most
magnificent set of Christmas
lights I?ve ever seen. People
will feel good about their
town again.
?To those officials who
believed in us, thank you.
To those who doubted us,
the Christmas Lighting
Strategy came in way under
budget. Without further
ado, I?ll hand you over to
Pat to say a few words.?
A ripple of applause went
round the room.
?My fellow townsfolk,?
Dad began, ?I couldn?t have
brought you this display
without a few key players.
First of all, my predecessor
Ron, my mentor, my friend,
my brother and my
inspiration who paved the
way for this wonderful
moment and fought for me
to have enough money to
do this. Thanks, Ron.?
Uncle Ron waved away
the compliments, while Aunt
Nettie blew her nose in her
?Secondly, my team of
designers who produced all
twelve designs for us. I give
you my children: Sally, Tina
and Willie.?
Mum gasped in
amazement. We took a very
deep bow.
?Young Chris over there
brought our designs to life
with his meticulous
help of my sister-in-law,
Nettie, Ron?s wife.
?Mary and Nettie, if you
could kindly follow us all
Mum was speechless. As
she stepped forward to flick
the switch, together with
Auntie Nettie, her knees
shook and she trembled
from head to toe.
Dad handed Mum a piece
of paper which she read out
as she flicked the switch.
?With these Christmas
lights, may we brighten up
your lives!?
The dazzling spectacle of
light sparkled in the evening
sky as the crowds gasped in
amazement and Mum
wiped a tear from her eye.
The pi鑓e de r閟istance
was the unveiling of Willie?s
simple drawing of Jesus,
Mary and Joseph, whose
halos all twinkled together
with the stars of Bethlehem.
The Burgh Band played
?Away In A Manger? once
more and we all sang along,
even the adults.
The finishing touch came
just as Mum was leaving
the podium. Snowflakes
started to fall from the sky
and landed softly on the
The Burgh Band began to
play ?Winter Wonderland?
as a horse and carriage
appeared in front of the
town hall.
Our mouths fell open in
amazement and we toured
the twinkling lights snuggled
together under a blanket,
while the falling snow kissed
our cheeks. n
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Dividing Tide
Illustration by David Young.
Only one thing was missing on
this, Jenna?s wedding day . . .
ENNA rested her
chin on her knees as
she gazed at the
scene below. She had
chosen a picnic rug a
little apart from the others
so that she could be with
her thoughts for a while.
It was Michaelmas Day,
the day she was to have
returned home, and the
pain of not going was like a
tight band round her chest.
She glanced at her aunt
and uncle who were sitting
upon chairs brought up to
the moors for the occasion.
Morwenna was bouncing
the baby upon her knee
whilst Arthek and Lamorna
lounged at their feet,
It was her aunt?s first
proper outing since
George?s arrival, for the
birth had been difficult and
had left her weak for a long
time afterwards. It was
good to see her looking so
much better.
Jenna was glad to sit
quietly and feel the sun
upon her. It was a beautiful
autumn day, the sky a
cloudless blue and the
sweep of sea in the distance
twinkling with brightness.
Her eyes settled on the
roofs and chimneys of
St Austell below, and the
grey house that stood a
little apart at the edge of
town. Nankerris House.
How familiar its walls and
neat lawns had become.
And there was the mine,
Wheal Daniel, a little
further to the east, with its
gouged-out earthworks and
low stone buildings.
The sun was reflecting off
the settling tanks, turning
them to little rectangles of
light while the water wheel,
so large in reality, lumbered
round and round like a toy.
Nothing in the scene
eased the heaviness in her
heart. Indeed, it served to
make it worse. To think that
Garren had worked at the
mine without her knowing!
Now he had gone and it
was too late. She might
never see him again.
She should be grateful.
Didn?t she have every
comfort that money could
buy? She no longer had to
work in a cold damp fish
palace, nor worry where the
next meal was coming from.
She had place and
purpose at Nankerris, and
leisure time to do as she
Why, then, didn?t she feel
happy? Deep down she
knew the answer. It was
because Nankerris House
wasn?t home.
Her heart ached with
longing for the little
thatched cottage high
above the cliffs at Merrick.
She caught her lip
between her teeth. She
must not cry. Such a
display of emotion would
spoil the day for everyone.
She turned instead to
look behind her to where
Nurse and Nancy, under
the strict supervision of the
butler, were placing plates
of cold mutton and pickled
pork upon the picnic table.
Normally, it would have
piqued her appetite but
today she didn?t feel
hungry, not even when she
saw late raspberries and
plums being added to the
If only she hadn?t made
that rash promise to stay.
She could have been on her
way home this very
This thought led to
another worry. What if her
grandmother hadn?t
received the message she?d
sent with the captain of the
Lucy-Ann? What if she was
waiting and watching in
vain for her to arrive?
Morwenna?s voice cut
across her anxious reverie.
?Take Georgie for a while,
will you, Jenna?? she called,
for the baby had begun to
Jenna stood up and held
out her arms to take the
wriggling baby, who
stopped crying at once.
There was a bright red spot
on his cheek.
?Are those naughty teeth
bothering you?? she
crooned as she turned to
make her way up to the
ridge above.
?Really, you should have
seen Firefly,? she heard
Lamorna say as she passed
her. ?He cleared the fence
down at the meadow with
no trouble at all.?
Her cousin had taken off
her bonnet and the sun
caught upon her round,
happy face as she laughed.
Lamorna was always so
jolly. If only Jenna could be
as resilient.
She walked slowly beside
the furze that grew at the
top of the ridge. Whether it
was the regular rhythm of
her steps, or the change of
scene from his mother?s
arms, she didn?t know, but
soon the baby was cooing
and gurgling. Gently, she
pressed a kiss on to the
soft down of his head.
?I do love you, Georgie,?
she whispered. ?I?d miss
you dreadfully if I was to
leave.? Her voice caught
but she managed a smile as
he reached out a chubby
hand to clutch at her
bonnet strings.
She walked him up and
down, talking to him as she
showed him the little
flowers and the birds that
flitted amongst the furze
bushes. By the time she
took him back, the baby?s
eyes were closing.
?What would I do without
you, my dear?? Her aunt
smiled. ?No, don?t give him
to me, give him to Nurse.?
A few moments later, as
she made her way to the
picnic table with the others,
Jenna realised something
within her had changed.
Perhaps it was telling baby
George her troubles that
had helped?
Whatever it was, the
solution to her situation
was suddenly as clear as
the crystal glasses in the
She would ask her aunt to
release her. It was so
simple she wondered that
she had not thought of it
She smiled her thanks as
the butler placed two slices
of cold mutton on her
place, and felt her appetite
return. Had her aunt not
mellowed in the past year?
She was sure she?d
* * * *
?Leave?? Morwenna
looked up from the crib in
the nursery, frowning. ?But
we agreed that you?d stay!?
she said sharply. ?You gave
me your word.?
?I did give you my word,
Aunt, and I?m sorry,? Jenna
replied. ?That is why I need
your blessing if I am to go.?
For once, Morwenna was
unsure how to respond. She
finished tucking a coverlet
around the sleeping baby
and eased a silver rattle
from his hand before she
stood up.
A shaft of sunlight was
illuminating Jenna?s fair
hair, setting off her pretty
features. Normally such a
sight would cause her
irritation, serving as it did
to accentuate her own
daughter?s plainness. But
his feet more firmly on the
sloping deck and reached
out to steady his wife.
Not for the first time, he
wondered how she would
cope with the journey
ahead. She had been very
quiet of late and he
guessed it was because she
was worried about it.
Ahyoka stood close
beside him, wrapped in the
blue woollen cloak he had
bought her. Her eyes were
fixed intently on the
diminishing roofs and
church spires.
Their fellow passengers
milled around them,
Perhaps Morwenna had been
wrong to make Jenna stay
as Morwenna looked at her
she was aware of a measure
of concern for her. The girl
was clearly unhappy.
?Perhaps it was wrong to
have made you promise to
stay,? she murmured,
turning to hand the rattle
to the nurse. The movement
set the silver bells tinkling.
?It will cause great
inconvenience to me,? she
added, reverting to her
usual brusque manner,
?but if you really wish to
go, you may.?
Suddenly, she felt Jenna?s
arms around her.
?Thank you, Aunt
Morwenna. Oh, thank you!?
She stiffened, laughing
awkwardly. Really, the girl
was so demonstrative. It
was such a common trait.
?That?s quite enough,
child,? she said,
disentangling herself from
her embrace.
But the flame of warmth
it kindled in her heart
refused to be suppressed,
no matter how she tried.
* * * *
Thomas and Ahyoka
stood on the deck of the
Adventurer, watching the
shoreline of New York
recede. There was a brisk
breeze blowing, and as they
left the calm waters of the
harbour the roll and pitch
of the ship became more
Foaming white horses
streaked the grey sea, and
as the prow struck against
the waves Thomas planted
handkerchiefs that had
been so frantically waved
when the ship left its berth
now hanging limply from
their hands.
Seated on an upturned
trunk opposite them, a
young woman was sobbing.
Was that how Ahyoka was
feeling? Was she distressed
to be leaving the country of
her birth?
Thomas would
understand it if she was.
Perhaps she was also
dreading the constant
motion of the ship? It was,
after all, a long sea journey
to England.
She had suffered from
seasickness on the paddlesteamer from Savannah to
New York and the journey
ahead of them would
certainly be more arduous
than that.
He frowned. He would
have spared his wife if he
could, but the truth was, it
wasn?t prudent for them to
stay in America at the
They had travelled a long
way from the mountains, so
far that even the climate
had changed, but the fact
remained that they were
still in the state of Georgia.
The fear that constantly
worried Thomas was that
Ahyoka could still be taken
from him by soldiers and
forced to resettle in the
plains with the rest of the
He took a deep breath of
the salty, tar-laden air
and let it out in a sigh.
Despite the
discomforts the journey
would inevitably bring, to
leave was by far the safest
?How are you faring?? he
asked, tightening his hold
upon her waist as the ship
shuddered against another
?I am well enough,? she
replied softly, turning to
look up at him.
She drew her cloak tightly
about her as she held his
eyes with her own.
?But I have some news,
?If it?s that you?re feeling
a little better, I can see that
for myself,? he said, noting
the soft blush of colour the
breeze was teasing into her
?It is true. I am feeling
better,? she agreed shyly,
?but have you not guessed
the reason?? She reached
for his hand. ?I am with
For a moment he didn?t
respond and her velvetbrown eyes clouded with
?Are you angry with me,
Thomas? Please do not be!
I did not tell you before we
left in case it changed your
mind about us travelling to
?It is important that we
go, if not for our own sakes
then for your daughter?s.
She has waited too many
moons already to see her
father again.?
Thomas?s mind whirled.
How could he have been so
Slowly, he felt a smile
begin. Then a bubble of
delight filled him.
?A child!? was all he
could utter. ?Of course I?m
not angry.?
He cast an anxious look
around the deck.
?Shouldn?t you be sitting
She laughed.
?There is no need,
Thomas. I am all right.?
?But ? a child!? He
laughed aloud, and some
nearby passengers turned
to look at them.
He hugged her to him.
?We?ll raise the baby in
your homeland, I promise.
We must stay in England
until Isaac writes to tell us
it?s safe to return, but then
we will come home.
?We cannot change the
terrible thing that has
happened to your people,
Ahyoka, but if we start our
lives again in Georgia and
build our family there in the
mountains, we will be
righting the wrong in a
small way.
?Our child will be a
pioneer,? he continued,
?not of land or gold, but of
what is just and right.
?We will teach him about
the past, and with God?s
help he will create a better
future. We must make sure
that what has happened to
your people is never
* * * *
Garren leaped from the
drift boat to the quay at
Bidreath, and made fast
the mooring rope. It had
been a good night?s work,
and the hold was full to
overflowing with herring.
He thanked the stars that
the war between the
drifters and the seiners had
been resolved.
The truce between both
sets of fishermen might be
an uneasy one, but it was a
truce nevertheless.
When he was satisfied
that the knot would hold he
jumped back on board, and
with the other men he
began loading the baskets
with fish.
?I?ll start on up to the
cellar, Joe,? he called to the
old man who was
rearranging the nets.
?Aye, you go on, boy.
Sooner they be sluicin? in
brine, the better they?ll
Garren lifted his creaking
basket to his shoulder and
began along the quayside,
and before long was
descending the steps to the
?Kate?? He could not see
the overseer, but he knew
she?d be there. ?I?ve
brought the night?s catch
in, ready for salting.
??Twas a good haul,? he
added as he entered the
dim white-washed room.
The women, who had
been singing as they often
did as they went about
their work, grew quiet.
??Tis Garren Quick,? he
heard one say.
As he lifted down his
basket to empty it into the
low salt-encrusted store at
the side of the room,
Garren became aware that
not only the singing had
stopped, but so had the
scrape of shovels against
the floor and the tapping of
hammer on barrel lids.
?What?s up?? he asked a
young girl who was wiping
her hands upon her apron.
?Ain?t for me to say,? she
retorted with a shy smile as
she moved to the other side
of the cellar. ?Kate! ?Tis
Garren Quick!?
He watched in surprise as
the women moved to the
sides of the cellar, forming
a pathway to the far end of
the room.
?What . . .?? he began.
Then he stilled, and it
seemed as if the world
dropped away. There, in a
shaft of light glancing
through the tiny northfacing window, stood
Gone was the finery she
had been wearing when
he?d last seen her in her
fur-trimmed cloak and fine
leather slippers.
In their place she had on
her working dress and
clogs, her hair wild and free
and her hands folded
across her sack-cloth apron.
He rubbed his eyes. It
couldn?t be Jenna. He must
be mistaken.
It was gloomy in here
after the brightness of the
morning outside. It must be
a new girl with the same
But as he stepped
forward, she did, too.
His heart beat hard and
?It is you,? he whispered.
He took another step, and
another, and suddenly she
was in his arms.
He held her tightly to him
as if he would never let her
go again.
?I thought I could live
without you,? he whispered,
his lips close to her ear.
?But each day that has
passed since we parted has
been grey as a February
She eased herself a little
from his embrace, looking
up at him, her eyes
?Why did you send that
message when I was in
St Austell??
?I thought I had lost
you.? His words caught in
his throat.
?What a fool I?ve been,?
he said, taking her hands.
?I never want to be without
you again, not for a single
He dropped to one knee,
his heart overflowing with
?Will you marry me,
?Yes,? she said simply.
The workers, who had
been silent as they watched
the moment unfold, now
erupted in a cheer that
reverberated around the
cave-like room.
?At last!? Kate said,
grinning as she clapped
them each in turn on the
shoulder. ?Took yer time
about it. Now, then, back
to work, you lot,? she
called out brusquely.
?These fish ain?t goin? to
cure theirselves!?
* * * *
Jenna shut the cottage
door behind her and ran
lightly down the path
towards the cliff top. It was
a beautiful morning, the
kind of October weather
that seemed to gather the
remnants of the summer
into one last glorious burst
of warmth.
It felt to her that the
whole of the past year had
been leading her to this
The thought of becoming
Garren?s wife made her
want to skip for the sheer
joy of it. She wanted to run
and jump and laugh and
cry all at the same time.
This is the last morning I?ll
walk along the cliff top as
Jenna Goss, she thought.
This very afternoon in
Merrick Church I will be
joined to the man I adore.
Gradually, her
exuberance calmed and she
looked around her as she
walked along. The early
morning was still and
bright. Not a leaf moved
nor a bird sang.
How strange, she
thought. It was as if time
were standing still. Even the
way the sunshine glanced
on the changing shrubs and
trees seemed to hold a
promise, though she knew
not of what.
Despite her happiness,
the day also held a tinge
of sadness. She had
always thought her
father would be there to
see her wed. Through all
the years he had been
away, she had never once
allowed herself to give up
hope of his returning.
He was her dear papa,
after all. He had told her he
would return and she had
trusted that he would.
But as she had grown
from girlhood into
womanhood, she had also
realised that life did not
always go according to a
person?s own plans.
Sometimes things
happened to alter them
and there was not a thing
to be done about it.
She continued along the
cliff edge in the direction of
Bidreath. She would walk
halfway there and back
again. That should be
enough to get the fidgets
out of her.
She dared not go further
for there was still so much
left to prepare. She?d left
pastry resting and it would
soon need to be rolled out
for the stargazy pie which
Garren had requested for
the wedding feast.
Then she had to wrap up
the lace cap she had
laboured to make for baby
George, so that she could
give it to Morwenna at the
church later.
There were her Sundaybest boots to brush up, her
dress to lay out on her bed,
the table to be laid for the
wedding breakfast, the
vegetables prepared . . .
Her busy thoughts were
interrupted by a
movement. She had
thought herself alone on
the cliff top, but her gaze
was drawn to a couple
walking towards her, a
middle-aged man with a
woman dressed in a cloak
beside him.
Her footsteps slowed and
she stood watching them
for a moment. There was
something about the man?s
gait, the way his steps
swung a little from side to
?What a cruel trick of the
light it is,? she murmured,
?to be reminded that I?ve
lost my dear papa, today
of all days.? Her eyes
blurred and she looked
However, she couldn?t
resist looking back, and as
her gaze rested once again
upon the man, her heart
began to race. As his face
became clearer, it beat
faster and faster.
Then she was running, her
skirts catching at her
ankles. Faster and faster
she went.
?Papa! Papa!?
The man stopped, looking
at her in bewilderment for a
moment, then with a gasp
he opened his arms.
?Jenna!? he said. ?Is this
beautiful maid really you??
She felt his arms, just as
strong as she remembered
them, close around her.
?You?ve come home,
Papa.? She sobbed.
?You?ve come home, and it
is my wedding day!?
* * * *
Jenna burst through the
cottage door, beckoning to
Thomas and Ahyoka to
follow her.
?Mamm-wynn!? she
shouted. ?Mamm-wynn!?
?What in heaven?s name
is the matter, girl?? Doryty
asked, looking up in alarm.
She was sitting at the
flower-strewn table, Jenna?s
wedding garland in her
Her gaze slipped from her
to the couple behind, and
she became as still as one
of the alabaster statues of
the saints in Merrick
Church, and almost as
?It?s Papa,? Jenna
whispered, tears welling in
her eyes.
Doryty struggled up from
her seat, reaching out to
steady herself against the
edge of the table.
?My son!?
For a moment, she stood
just staring at him.
?My son?s come home. I
can?t believe it, I just can?t
believe it,? she said, over
and over again.
Then she began to cry,
and Jenna did, too. Even
Thomas dabbed his eyes as
he stepped forward to take
his mother in his arms.
?Oh, Mother,? he
whispered. ?How my heart
has yearned for sight of you
He wrapped his arms
around her, pressing her
tightly to him. Then he drew
Ahyoka forward to
introduce her.
?This is my wife,? he said.
?You are welcome in this
house,? Doryty said simply.
She smiled as she looked
Ahyoka up and down
appraisingly. Then she led
her to her own chair by the
?Tell me, when is the child
due?? she asked, plumping
up a cushion and easing it
behind the younger
woman?s back.
Shyly, Ahyoka returned
her smile.
?When the snow moon
comes,? she said, placing
her hand protectively upon
her swollen stomach.
?Sooner, perhaps.?
Her smile broadened.
?Our child is eager to be
in the world. He does not
give me much rest.?
Doryty nodded wisely
before turning to Thomas,
who had taken a seat on
the bench at the table.
?What a time you?ve
chosen to return.?
?Jenna told me it is her
wedding day. What a lucky
man I am, Mother. It would
have grieved me dearly to
have missed that.?
He reached out to Jenna,
who was standing nearby,
and took her hand in his
own, clasping it tightly.
?I am sorry, daughter, for
leaving you and your
grandmother for so long.?
He bent his head. ?It was
?Not unforgivable, Papa,?
she replied softly, ?for I
never lost hope of your
As he looked up, her eyes
drank him in, noting the
changes the years had
wrought, his greying hair
and the extra lines about
his eyes.
?Our journey home took
longer than it should.?
He told them about the
dispute and the lack of
sailing berths.
?Even when we reached
London, our troubles
weren?t over. Ahyoka had
had more than enough of
sailing for a while so we
decided to travel down by
He looked across at her
and smiled.
?Unfortunately the state
of our roads hasn?t
improved in the time I?ve
been away, and, given her
condition, we took frequent
stops for her to rest.?
He told them what had
happened to him during the
years he had been gone
and answered many
questions. When he
explained how the
Cherokee had been evicted
from their home in the
mountains of Georgia, they
grew quiet.
?My wife is one of the few
lucky ones,? he told them
Jenna glanced at Ahyoka,
who was staring into the
?Don?t worry, my dear,?
Thomas said. He got up
and stooped down beside
her. ?We won?t speak of it
any more. But, one day,
remember that we?re going
to return.?
He confirmed his words
by slipping an arm around
her and pressing her to him
for a moment.
?You?re not staying,
Papa?? Jenna?s heart gave
a lurch. All those years she
had waited for her father to
return, and already he was
talking of leaving again!
?We will stay for the baby
to be born,? Thomas told
her, standing up again.
?After that, I do not know.
?A friend of mine, Isaac,
is going to write to me and
tell me when it is safe for us
to return. It may be months
or it may be years. There is
no way of knowing.?
He smiled sadly.
?I will use the time well,
and get to know my
daughter again. I have been
a poor father to you.?
?No, Papa, no. You were
wounded by Mama?s
?As were you, child. I
should not have gone.?
?You?re here now, Papa,
that?s all that matters.?
Suddenly, she knew it
was true. The past
belonged to the past. It was
the future that mattered
In the silence that
followed, Doryty picked up
the garland of flowers,
threaded in the last spray
of hawthorn berries and
held it up.
?There,? she said, holding
aloft the beautiful circlet
that was to adorn
Jenna?s hair.
?It?s beautiful, Mammwyn,? Jenna whispered
as she reached out and
took it from her.
She stooped to give
Doryty a kiss on her
weathered cheek before
taking it through to the
When she returned, she
raked the fire and placed
another log on the embers.
?Forgive me, Papa, but I
must get on or there will be
no wedding feast!?
She cleaned her hands
and wiped the end of the
table, bringing out the
pastry she?d made earlier
and beginning to roll it out.
Doryty cleared away the
remains of the flowers and
began to chop vegetables
beside her.
As they worked, Jenna
told Thomas all that had
transpired in the past year,
about Morwenna and Jago,
Arthek and Lamorna and
baby George.
?Well, well, well,? he said
quietly. ?How pleased your
mama would have been to
have those old rifts
?You?ll meet them all
today, Papa,? she said.
?They?re coming to the
church for the ceremony,
though Aunt Morwenna
says they must hurry back
afterwards for Georgie?s
She was quiet as she
concentrated on placing the
fish tails down in the pie
dish. Carefully, she placed
the pastry lid over the
pilchards, making sure the
fish heads poked through
as was the custom for
stargazy pie.
?Will you and Garren
come and visit us in
Georgia one day, when we
return there?? Thomas
asked. ?You, too, Mother,
if you can manage the
?Our people call the
mountains there ?the great
blue hills of God?,?? Ahyoka
Thomas reached out to
place his hand on hers.
?It?ll be much easier to
get there when the new
steam ships start making
the crossing. Steam?s the
future,? he said
enthusiastically. ?Why,
soon the tide won?t divide
us at all!?
?One day, Papa,? Jenna
promised with a smile. She
placed the dish beside the
clay oven. ?There,? she
said. ?That?s ready to go in
as soon as we get back
from church.?
* * * *
Garren strode along the
cliff path, trying to calm his
nerves. His mother and
Tansy and a few of their
friends were going to
Merrick church by way of
the little lanes and a couple
of donkeys and carts he?d
hired for the occasion.
But he had not been able
to sit still since the hour he
had awoken that morning,
and had taken his mother?s
advice to stretch his legs by
He soon reached the cove
and turned up the steps to
the cottage. The door was
open and the sun slanted
across the stone threshold
with its jumble of withy pots
Doryty had made for the
Jenna was wiping flour
from her hands as he
stepped inside.
He smiled.
?Trust you to be busy,
even on our wedding day.?
Then he stopped in
?Mr Goss? Is it you, sir??
he exclaimed.
As he stared, he took in
the changes the years had
wrought, the slight stoop of
the shoulders, the lines
upon his face.
Jenna ran to him, pulling
him forward.
?Papa arrived this
morning,? she told him
excitedly. ?He has brought
my stepmother, too. Come
and meet her.?
Garren was introduced to
Ahyoka, and soon the room
was full of happy chatter.
It continued gaily until
suddenly, through the open
doorway, came the deep
sounds of the church clock.
Bong. Bong. Bong.
Jenna lifted her eyes to
his, and they gazed at each
other as the importance of
the hour struck them.
?Make haste now and get
ready, my Jenna,? Garren
said, his voice deep and
soft with tenderness. ??Tis
time to be wed.?
The End.
From the manse
by Janice Ross.
DON?T like breaking things,
and I dislike even more not
being able to mend them.
Perhaps it?s because I was
brought up in the era of Make
Do and Mend.
This is especially true of
special things, like my
beautiful turquoise-blue
pottery teapots made by a
talented potter on the Orkney
island of Shapinsay.
I had bought a small one of
these in a sale and was
delighted to be given a larger
one by a dear friend on
retirement. They are so
beautifully crafted, almost
Japanese in style.
These two little teapots sit
on my kitchen unit and have
survived for a good ten years
or so. The other day, though,
the smaller one came to grief.
It was accidentally knocked
over by a bundle of washing
waiting to go into the
machine. It fell over and lost
its spout.
My husband has since
patched it up by carefully
glueing the little piece back
on. Now you wouldn?t know it
had been broken unless you
looked very closely. But I
know it is broken, that it is no
longer perfect.
But it is, after all, just a
teapot! Not even one that I
use for tea. It?s just an
ornament. What about more
important things that are
broken, like lives, family
relationships, the world?
We see broken lives on our
TV screens every day. We
pass broken lives sitting
begging on the pavement
every day. We hear broken
lives arguing in homes.
But so often we can pass
people on the street, stand
next to them at the bus stop,
even sit beside them in
church, and we?re not aware of
the broken bits. The smiles
that are glued on, the masks
that are worn so often hide the
real person.
I find it comforting that God
knows all about these broken
bits. He knows they are there
and he knows the pain they
cause. And he knows that with
the best will in the world we
cannot sort them because
their roots run deep.
Remember the Old
Testament stories of the
Israelites, freed from the
bondage of Egypt, and led
towards the Promised Land.
One minute they were
following him, marvelling at his
provision and protection, the
next minute they were making
and worshipping idols.
Over and over again he
rescued them from their
brokenness and over and over
again they chose the same
paths and made the same
mistakes, and frankly nothing
has changed in the state of
our world.
Unlike my teapot, God is not
in the business of a patch-up
job, but in making a new
creation. That?s why he sent
Jesus. I have enjoyed reflecting
on a quote I heard recently.
?The reason God sent Jesus
was not to make bad people
good, but dead people alive.?
We may see the cracks in
our own lives, but if we have
trusted Jesus as our Saviour
then God sees no cracks. In
his eyes we are redeemed and
And the Bible goes on to
promise that one day we will
be perfect as our heavenly
Father is perfect. May God
continue to renew our broken
lives. n
Next week: David
McLaughlan learns a
new trick!
Help your
pet enjoy
a peaceful
Pets & Vets
Christmas: happy or hectic?
ITH Christmas
many of us
have an influx
of young
visitors to our homes,
excitable grandchildren and
little ones from next door,
all popping in to share
some festive cheer.
However, while
welcoming your guests,
spare a thought for your pet.
When a quiet retreat
suddenly becomes a noisy
playground, dogs and cats
can become anxious,
behave aggressively when
scared, and want to flee. To
keep your pet at ease ? and
children safe ? it?s best to
set some rules.
While young visitors may
be eager to meet Fido or
Puss, make them wait. Lock
your dog or cat in another
festive fare
Don?t forget to tell young
visitors not to feed your
pets. They may think
they?re being kind sharing
a selection box with their
four-legged chum, but
eating large amounts of
chocolate can be fatal for
dogs and cats. Your pets
will also suffer if they eat
mince-pies and Christmas
cake so keep food plates
off the floor.
room, then tell the children
to enter quietly and slowly.
Once everyone is calm,
open the door and allow
your pet to approach your
guests and say hello in its
own time. Put your dog on a
lead if any children are
Emphasise to your young
visitors that animals need to
be respected and not teased
or treated as toys. And
despite what they may think,
not all pets like being picked
up or cuddled.
Dogs, cats and smaller
furry friends must be
handled gently, and never
disturbed if they are eating
or sleeping.
They also need their own
space, somewhere cosy and
peaceful away from loud
Christmas cracker bangs and
energetic games of Twister.
Put your dog?s bed in the
corner of the kitchen or
behind the sofa, and your
Let pets retreat when
they?ve had enough.
cat will appreciate a hideyhole on top of your
wardrobe or high shelf.
Watch out, too, that
Christmas gifts don?t end up
being destroyed or eaten by
an overexcited puppy who
mistakes a kid?s teddy bear
for his toy, or some plastic
board game pieces for
chews. No-one wants to be
phoning the emergency vet
during the Queen?s
Speech! n
Your pet
by PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman.
cat reacts to
Q My
spot-on flea
treatments. Are
there any effective
natural remedies?
There are veterinary
products that do not
involve using a spot-on
treatment and instead are
injectable. I would
recommend speaking to
your vet about a
prescription alternative to a
spot-on. Natural remedies
may not be effective and
are not tested for safety or
how well they work.
the scents
Q Will
from our
Christmas candles
harm our budgies?
Budgies have very
sensitive respiratory
tracts and whilst your
candles may not be
dangerous, I would
recommend keeping any
spray chemicals such as
cleaners and anything
producing a strong odour,
well away from them.
Perfect Presents
Photographer Elias Weiss
Friedman has a gift for
capturing the cutest posing
pups on camera. His
second book, ?The Dogist
Puppies? (Artisan, �.99),
is out now. To see happy
doggy faces all year round,
?The Dogist Wall Calendar
2018? (Workman, �.99)
makes an irresistible gift for
dog lovers, from Amazon
and the usual retailers.
PDSA is the UK?s leading
veterinary charity. For further
information visit www.pdsa. or call 0800 731 2502.
A Regency
Photographs by Dianne Boardman except where stated otherwise.
n The house will be
open from November
24, 2017 up until
Christmas Eve from
Fridays to Mondays.
Father Christmas will
be there nearer
Christmas but needs
to be pre-booked as
he was a complete
sell-out last year.
n Lyme Hall sits in
Lyme Park near
Cheshire?s Disley
Village. It is now
National Trust owned
and has been used in
many films, including
being the exterior of
Pemberley in the 1995
BBC version of ?Pride
And Prejudice?
starring Colin Firth
and Jennifer Ehle.
n For a while there
was a huge life-size
statue of Colin in the
house?s lake, but it
was sold a couple of
years ago to Australia.
It had to be shipped in
a crate, and they had
to remove an arm to
fit it in!
Dianne Boardman experiences
a taste of Christmas past at
Cheshire?s magnificent Lyme Hall.
AST year, for the first
time, Lyme Hall in
Cheshire opened its
doors for Christmas.
They chose several
rooms and decorated them
along the theme of the
book ?A Country House
Stockings above
the fireplace.
Christmas?, written by
Phyllis Elinor Sandeman,
who was part of the Legh
family that lived in the
house for generations
before it was eventually sold
to the National Trust, and
who evocatively described
the Christmas of 1906 there
in the perennial bestseller
from their bookshop.
Although she was just a
ten-year-old child in 1906,
the book was written when
she was an adult and
published in 1952.
A special presentation in
the Saloon with its stainedglass windows and ornate
fireplace told us about her
life as the youngest
daughter of the family.
The book begins on
Christmas Eve where she
describes the sounds, smells
and atmosphere of times
past ? the mix of spices and
beeswax and the chatter
and laughter and
preparations as the
excitement builds.
It is a wonderfully detailed
account of a family home
ruled by the improbably but
actually named Mr Truelove
the butler, Mrs Campbell the
housekeeper and a
temperamental chef called
Monsieur Perez.
There is also a wonderful
tale of the Servants? Ball and
NTImages: GaryLomas
He will be there,
but he wouldn?t
have been in
Regency times!
festive fare
being made in
the kitchen.
all its customs and the
staging of a seasonal play.
It captures the excitement
of a young girl?s anticipation
of Christmas Day and her
story ends with being
awoken by carol singers
outside in the courtyard on
Christmas morning.
The singers had walked
two miles uphill from the
village to bring these glad
tidings and were rewarded
with food and drink and
parcels of beef.
It is even more poignant
when you realise that it was
the end of an era as World
War I arrived soon after and
took many of the staff,
causing the estate to
struggle and eventually to
be sold.
The invitation card we
were given on entry invited
us to Smell the garlands,
feel the warming glow and
see the beauty of a magical
Christmas at Lyme.
The chosen rooms, the
Entrance Hall, Library, Grand
Staircase, Saloon and
Butler?s Pantry, followed the
Edwardian theme of
Phyllis?s book ?Treasure On
Earth? and old cine film
from the era was shown on
screens. There was even a
painting brought to life
thanks to digital technology.
Father Christmas was
there for the little ones and
for the adults there was
home-made soup or mulled
wine and roasted chestnuts,
mince-pies and macaroons,
or perhaps a lunch featuring
venison wellington or turkey
and leek pie, and a choir on
the sweeping staircase to
get you in the festive mood.
The decorations gave an
idea of how the house
might have looked in
Edwardian times.
Surprisingly, the d閏or
was much simpler, with
packages in brown paper
and paper chains made
from newspapers or old
music manuscripts.
Most of the gifts would
have been home-made, too,
and in her book Phyllis
describes knitting a tie for
her father and woollen
gloves for her governess.
She made her sister a
lavender sachet and took a
photograph of her brother?s
favourite dog for him.
People also spent more
time out of doors, walking
in the snow and skating on
the ice, during the Christmas
holiday, and children were
rarely dressed up, often
wearing their siblings?
Rachael Walker, Lyme?s
Visitor Experience Officer,
told me that the opening
had been so successful last
year that they were doing it
all again this year, but with
a different theme.
?We are very lucky here,?
she said, ?to have so many
interesting stories to draw
on. We?ve been telling
Phyllis?s story for years and
it?s always popular.
?We?ve always done a
winter exhibition but last
year we decided to extend
it. It?s a busy time for the
house as that?s when we do
the deep clean, so we have
to find a balance and select
a part of the house to open.
?This year we?re including
the Drawing Room, which is
Tudor and the oldest part of
the house. It?s cosy and
warm ? all dark oak.
?This year, to celebrate the
two-hundredth anniversary
of Jane Austen?s death, we
are having a Regency theme
based on the story of
another relative ? Thomas
?Thomas was the eldest,
illegitimate son of Colonel
Thomas Legh of Lyme and a
maid from the vicarage near
his Lancashire estate,
Haydock. As a five-year-old,
Thomas inherited Lyme and
its estates ? the equivalent
today of around two million
?His great wealth allowed
him to travel and, aged
twenty-one, he became one
of the first Europeans to
travel the Nile as far as
Nubia in modern-day Egypt.
?He also explored Greece,
and the lesser-known parts
of Petra, Jerusalem, Syria
and the Turkish Ottoman
?In fact, he was the
Indiana Jones of his day, at
one point wrestling with
crocodiles! He wrote a diary
of his adventures, which is
still at Lyme today.
?He brought back many
artefacts from his travels,?
Rachael continued. ?The
originals are in the British
Museum but there are
replicas in the house and
the stories to go with them.
?We will have a Christmas
tree, as people like it,
although they wouldn?t have
had one in his day.
?The rest of the d閏or will
be in keeping with Regency
times and there will be
military re-enactments and
Regency music and dancing
and generally more parties
and feasting involved.? n
To find out more go to
lyme or facebook/LymePark-NT or ring 01663
Dark wood and bright
lights feel cosy.
?I enjoyed drawing inspiration
from the art deco style of the
1920s while keeping a fresh look.?
For Art
An Eye
Meet Sarah Holliday, our Illustrations
Editor, who is responsible for the fabulous
images that bring ?Friend? stories to life.
HE most recent
addition to the
?Friend? team,
Sarah is our
Illustrations Editor?, which
means she?s in charge of the
artwork that accompanies
the short stories and serials.
The eagle-eyed amongst you
might have spotted that
Sarah creates a lot of the
artwork herself, so we
thought we?d introduce her
What?s your
background in art?
?I had fun creating an 80s
album cover design!?
I?ve always loved
drawing and being
creative ever since I was old
enough to hold a crayon. As
a child I used to love
making up stories in my
head and drawing pictures
to go along with them, so I
guess not much has
After I finished school I
decided to go to university
to study Art and Design,
where I ended up
specialising in Animation. I
learned loads of really
valuable skills during the
course but most enjoyed
when I could work on a
single image and really get
into the details to create a
polished piece of artwork.
How do you
illustrating to a
tight brief with
trying to come up
with something
The briefs are generally
quite flexible as long as
the illustration captures the
feeling and atmosphere of
the story, so I?ll always read
the story for ideas before
beginning an illustration and
decide if there?s anything
that would work better than
the brief I?m given.
I work very closely with
the Fiction Team who come
up with the illustration
briefs, so we?re always
discussing what will look
best on the page.
Sometimes a more
traditional style will work
best for a certain story while
another may allow for some
Is it very different
illustrating a story,
rather than just drawing
what you feel like?
In some ways it?s easier
to illustrate a story as
you have some constraints
to stick to and a certain style
which suits the magazine,
instead of being given total
free rein and not having a
clue where to start!
Sometimes, though, if I
get an idea in my head it?s
really exciting to just go with
it and see where the
drawing takes me.
In quieter times when
there are not as many
stories coming through to
illustrate, I?ll get the chance
to do ?spec? illustrations.
?Spec? illustrations aren?t
done to a brief, they?re just
created ?on spec? and held
on to in case they suit a
future story ? or even inspire
Even though you?re
illustrating all day, do
you still enjoy doing it in
your spare time?
I?m always doodling in
my sketchbook at home
and as my personal style is
quite different from the style
of illustrations I do for the
magazine I still find it
enjoyable and relaxing.
Do you still like to
work in traditional
mediums like pen and ink,
as well as on a computer?
Recently I?ve been
experimenting with
traditional painting using
acrylics and inks at home
which makes a nice change
from painting digitally, and
gives me a chance to get
away from a screen after
staring at one in the office
all day. I find art challenges
like recent Inktober (where
you create an ink drawing
for every day of October) a
fun way of pushing me out
of my comfort zone!
What?s your favourite
mid-illustrating snack?
I love a Tunnocks tea
cake or three!
believe it?
Would you
Got a question? Get in touch through e-mail or *write to
?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
I attended a wedding and the
reception was held in a grand
hotel where there was one single
black swan swimming in a small oasis
of water. I can?t recall seeing a black
swan before. Is this a rare sight?
Mrs M.B., Cheshire.
1 billion
Although native to Australia,
black swans have become fairly
common in the UK. Brought over
to our shores back in the 1800s as
ornamental birds, like peacocks, some
have managed to escape and survive in
the wild.
They usually pair for life and share responsibility for rearing cygnets. When in flight,
a group of black swans is called a wedge, and is known as a bank when grounded.
Could you tell me anything about the
actor William Beck who appears in the
TV programme ?Casualty??
M.O., London.
Born William Graveney in Ynys Puffin, this
Welsh actor plays the part of Dylan Keogh
in the long-running BBC medical drama
?Casualty?. Coincidentally, William actually
studied to be a doctor before opting for a career
in acting. He has appeared in numerous TV roles
including ?The Bill?, ?Midsomer Murders? and
?Death In Paradise?. He also appeared in the
Guy Ritchie movie ?Snatch?.
I recently heard the
expression ?dumbsize?
in relation to workforce
cutbacks. Surely this should
have been ?downsize??
Mr A.T., Birmingham.
According to the
Cambridge Dictionary,
to ?dumbsize? means to
reduce the number of people
working in an organisation
so much that it can no longer
operate effectively.
Oliver Sweeney.
Something we didn?t know last week...
ago, St Paul?s
Cathedral opened
its grand doors to
worshippers for the
first time.
We?ve found the perfect Christmas
gift for the man who dreams of being
James Bond ? shoes which contain
a variety of hidden handy gadgets!
Luxury footwear brand Oliver Sweeney
has created the Secret Shoe ? a pair
of hand-made gent?s shoes containing
the world?s smallest phone, a tiny
video camera, a Swiss Army Knife,
a torch and a miniature atomiser of
aftershave! And the laces can saw
through wood and plastic . . . A word
of warning ? don?t even think of
wearing them to the airport!
*Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies.
Christmas cards were
sold in the UK last
is the
leapt by Truffles, a
Guinness-WorldRecord-breaking guinea
pig from Rosyth.
is the value of a penny
coin minted in 1933 ?
it?s one of only seven
of children
voted for
maths when asked
their favourite subject
at school.
worth of ?money?
is in every set of
Festive Gifts
The perfect way to say
?Merry Christmas?
Say ?Merry Christmas? to family and friends with these festive
food gifts. Beautifully packaged, each hamper contains a
delicious selection of festive favourites and would make
wonderfully indulgent gifts for loved ones.
Merry Christmas Basket PF116 �.50
Contains: Becky?s from Holland Chocolate Pralines
100g; Cabernet Sauvignon Klippenkop South Africa
37.5cl; Chenin Blanc Klippenkop South Africa 37.5cl;
Matthew Walker Classic Christmas Pudding 56g;
Gold Crown Mini Top Iced Loaf Cake; Four Anjels
Shortbread Stars 100g; The Dormen Dry Roasted
Peanuts 95g.
Yuletide Larder
PF134 �.00
Contains: Klippenkop Chenin Blanc South
Africa 75cl; Wessex Country Gammon Dorset
Cured Sliced Ham 200g; Venison Salami
200g; Cornish Charcuterie Ambient Duck
Rillette with Cranberries & Grand Marnier
110g; Coln Valley Smokery Sliced Smoked
Salmon 125g; Cropwell Bishop Creamery
Blue Stilton Wedge 200g; Ford Farm Double
Gloucester with Chives & Spring Onion
Truckle 200g; Ford Farm West Country
Farmhouse Cheddar Truckle 200g; Pont Far
Welsh Soft Cheese with Garlic & Herbs 250g.
Christmas Carol Carton
PF108 �.50
Contains: Vino Tinto Finca Las Rejas
Spain 75cl; Paterson?s Shortbread Fingers
180g; Grandma Wilds 4 Luxury Mince
Pies; Market Town Bakery Spiced Fruit
Slab Cake; Yorkshire Crisps Tomato,
Basil & Mozzarella 100g; Bianca
Belgian Cocoa Dusted Truffles 150g;
Arran Fine Foods Tomato & Red
Pepper Chutney 185g; Radfords
Handmade West Country Chocolate &
Caramel Fudge 85g.
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for the total amount of � .................... and with my name and address on the back.
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St Kew Christmas Celebration Basket
PH017 �.00
Basket contains: St. Kew Stem Ginger Biscuits 250g,
St. Kew Clotted Cream Shortbread 300g, St Kew Pear
& Ginger Chutney 200g, St. Kew Blackcurrant & Rum
Coulis 300g, Cornish Tea Bags x 5, Strawberry & Vanilla
Conserve 227g, St. Kew Macadamia Nut & Dark Choc
Chip Biscuits 250g, St. Kew Luxury Malt Whisky Fudge
200g, St. Kew Clotted Cream Fudge 100g, Milk Chocolate
Christmas Pudding Balls 75g.
0800 318 846 quoting appropriate code
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payable to DC Thomson & Co Ltd to:
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Photographs by Ally Stuart,
Hair and make-up by Linda Wilson.
Photographed at Rufflets Hotel, St Andrews,
Capture the
rich colours
of this time
of the year
with our
which comes
in six sizes.
To fit sizes: 76/81 cm
(30/32 ins), 86/91 (34/36),
97/102 (38/40), 107/112
(42/44), 117/122 (46/48),
127/132 (50/52).
Actual size: 89 cm (35 ins),
98 (38�), 108 (42�), 118
(46�), 128 (50�), 137
Length (approx.): 58 cm (23
ins), 58 (23), 59 (23�), 60
(23�), 61 (24), 61 (24).
8 (8, 9, 9, 10, 10) 50-gram
balls of King Cole Majestic
DK (shade Burnt Orange
2656). One pair each
3.25 mm (No. 10) and 4 mm
(No. 8) knitting needles.
For yarn stockists write,
enclosing an SAE, to:
King Cole Ltd., Merrie Mills,
Snaygill Ind. Estate,
Keighley Rd, Skipton
BD23 2QR. Telephone:
01756 703670. Website:
29 sts and 31 rows to 10 cm
measured over pattern using
4 mm needles.
Alt ? alternate;
beg ? beginning;
dec ? decrease;
inc ? increase; K ? knit;
m1 ? pick up and purl into
back of horizontal strand lying
before next st; P ? purl;
rem ? remain;
st-st ? stocking-stitch (knit 1
row, purl 1 row); tw3 ? slip
next 2 sts, K1, now pass 2nd st
on right needle over first st and
knit into back of it, then pass
3rd st on right needle over first
2 sts and knit into back of it.
Important Note
Directions are given for six
sizes. Figures in brackets refer
to the five larger sizes. Figures
in square brackets [ ] refer to
all sizes and are worked the
number of times stated. When
writing to us with your queries,
you must enclose a stamped,
addressed envelope if you
would like a reply.
With 3.25 mm needles cast on
112 (124, 136, 152, 164,
176) sts.
1st (right-side) row ? K3,
[P2, K2] to last st, K1.
2nd rib row ? K1, [P2, K2]
until 3 sts rem, P2, K1.
Rep these 2 rows until rib
measures 10 cm, ending after
a 1st rib row.
Next row ? P7 (6, 5, 4, 5, 8),
[m1, P7 (7, 7, 9, 8, 8)] 14 (16,
18, 16, 18, 20) times, m1, purl
to end ? 127 (141, 155, 169,
183, 197) sts.
Change to 4 mm needles and
medallion pattern:
1st (right-side) row ? K6 (8,
10, 7, 9, 11), [P1, K3, P1, K5]
until 1 (3, 5, 2, 4, 6) sts rem,
knit to end.
2nd row ? P6 (8, 10, 7, 9,
11), [K1, P3, K1, P5] until 1 (3,
5, 2, 4, 6) sts rem, purl to end.
3rd row ? K6 (8, 10, 7, 9,
11), [P1, tw3, P1, K5] until
1 (3, 5, 2, 4, 6) sts rem, knit to
4th row ? As 2nd row.
5th - 8th rows ? As 1st to 4th
9th row ? K1 (3, 5, 2, 4, 1),
[P1, K3, P1, K5] until 6 (8, 10,
7, 9, 6) sts rem, P1, K3, P1, K1
(3, 5, 2, 4, 1).
10th row ? P1 (3, 5, 2, 4, 1),
K1, P3, K1, [P5, K1, P3, K1]
until 1 (3, 5, 2, 4, 1) sts rem,
purl to end.
11th row ? K1 (3, 5, 2, 4, 1),
[P1, tw3, P1, K5] until 6 (8, 10,
7, 9, 6) sts rem, P1, tw3, P1,
K1 (3, 5, 2, 4, 1), knit to end.
12th row ? As 10th row.
13th - 16th row ? As 9th to
12th rows.
These 16 rows set the pattern.
Continue in pattern until work
measures 58 (58, 59, 60, 61,
61) cm from beginning, ending
after a wrong-side row.
Shape shoulders ? Cast off
4 (5, 5, 6, 6, 7) sts at beg of
next 6 rows, then 6 (7, 8, 9,
11, 11) sts at beg of next 6
rows, finally cast off 8 (7, 10,
9, 9, 11) sts at beg of next
2 rows ? 51 (55, 57, 61, 63,
67) sts.
Slip rem sts on a stitch-holder
and leave.
Work as back until front
measures 10 (10, 11, 12, 13,
13) cm less than back up to
start of shoulder shaping,
ending after a wrong-side row.
Shape neck ? Pattern 48
(53, 59, 64, 70, 75), turn.
Continue on this group of sts
for left side of neck.
Dec 1 st at neck edge on next
5 rows, then on every
following alt row until 38 (43,
49, 54, 60, 65) sts rem.
Work straight until front
measures same as back to
shoulder shaping, ending at
side edge.
Shape shoulder ? Cast off 4
(5, 5, 6, 6, 7) sts at beg of
next row and the 2 following
alt rows, then 6 (7, 8, 9, 11,
11) sts at beg of next 3 alt
rows ? 8 (7, 10, 9, 9, 11) sts.
Work 1 row straight.
Cast off.
With right-side facing, slip next
31 (35, 37, 41, 43, 47) sts
(centre sts) on to a stitchholder and leave. Neatly rejoin
yarn to rem 48 (53, 59, 64,
70, 75) sts and pattern to end
of row.
Complete as left half working
one more row straight before
shaping shoulder.
Join left shoulder.
Neckband ? With 3.25 mm
needles and right-side facing,
knit across 51 (55, 57, 61, 63,
67) sts of back and dec 6 (6, 7,
7, 8, 8) sts evenly, pick up and
knit 36 (36, 37, 39, 42, 42) sts
evenly down left side of neck,
knit across 31 (35, 37, 41, 43,
47) sts of front and dec 4 (4, 5,
5, 6, 6) sts evenly, finally pick
up and knit 36 (36, 37, 39, 42,
42) sts evenly up right side of
neck ? 144 (152, 156, 168,
176, 184) sts.
Beg with a 2nd rib row, work
8 rows in rib as given for back.
Cast off evenly in rib.
Armhole borders ? Join right
shoulder and neckband. Place a
marker on each side edge 60
(64, 68, 72, 76, 80) rows down
from shoulder seams. With
3.25 mm needles and right-side
facing, pick up and knit 96
(104, 108, 116, 120, 128) sts
evenly between one set of
markers and rib as for neckband.
Repeat on the other side.
To Make Up ? Join side seams
and edges of armhole
borders. n
our toy
All The Colours
Cross stitch and embroidery fans will
be delighted with the new shades of six
strand emboidery thread recently
introduced by DMC Creative World ? 35
in total. To encourage you to make the
most of them, they also have a selection
of free patterns and charts available at
It?s In
The Detail
We love Vogue Pattern 8991,
a classic jacket with a padded
stand-up collar, lapped and
buttoned long cuffs and patch
pockets. Quilted to the lining to
give extra body, its fitted lines
create the ultimate style.
Order from www.sewdirect.
com or local fabric
New ideas for knitters and crafters . . .
Step By Step
?Beginner?s Guide To Botanical
Flower Painting? (Search Press)
marries traditional technique with
contemporary style and includes
sections on colour, drawing,
continuous tone, composition
and dissection. Michael Lakin?s
approach makes botanical art less
daunting. Find it in book and art
stores or at www.searchpress.
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O you find the long, dark nights
the perfect opportunity to enjoy
your creative hobbies? Whether
you are working on something for
yourself or someone else, looking
for festive gifts or something
to make and wear, there are
plenty of new things in the shops
to choose from. And there?s
still time to knit or crochet the
ultimate glittery gift ? a loo roll
cover for the smallest room in
the house (below). Go on, you
know you want to . . .
The Perfect Gift
The Colours Of Life
boxed set contains eight
interchangeable needle tips,
connectors and colour-coded
cables in a mix of lengths. A
free gift of a co-ordinated
shawl pin is included, too.
The set is available from
KnitPro stockists
nationwide and
With Andrew it
was important
that everything
was up to the
minute. Where
did I fit in?
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
BEGAN to get a bit
worried when Andrew
casually mentioned that
he didn?t have any
chairs, or even a sofa.
Because I was head over
heels in love with him, I
didn?t question him. But no
chairs? Where did he sit to
watch the television?
I made the mistake of
mentioning this to my flat
mate and best friend, Jude,
as we ate our regular
Friday-night Chinese
?Bet he never watches
television.? Jude laughed
over her prawn balls. ?He
probably sprawls on futons
stuffed with chia seeds. Or
maybe he lounges in artisan
baskets woven from dried
kale. I also bet he has one
bizarre sculpture in his
minimalist, all-white flat.?
I chased my noodles
round the plate and
thought, knowing Andrew?s
obsession with all things
on-trend, Jude probably
had it spot-on. But I
couldn?t admit that Andrew
had never invited me to his
flat, so I didn?t actually
?Because, Nell,? Jude
went on, ?Andrew is a
complete nizzlepick.?
A nizzlepick is Jude?s
polite word to describe
people who really don?t
deserve polite words.
?No, he isn?t! He?s just
on-trend. A bit of a
Jude grinned.
?Only someone blindly
besotted could describe
Andrew as on-trend. And I
bet he told you that he was
a hipster, didn?t he??
?Well, yes.?
?See? He?s a nizzlepick!?
I didn?t want to have a
row so I concentrated on
my sweet and sour. To be
honest, what Andrew saw in
me, the complete opposite
of on-trend, I had no idea,
but we?d been together for
nearly two months and I
loved him.
?In fact, Andrew?s an
A-class nizzlepick,? Jude
continued heartlessly.
?Look what he?s done to
?Made me happy?? I said
with a hint of sarcasm.
?Happy? You haven?t
been happy for weeks.
What happened to cheerful,
retro Nell??
?I was scruffy,? I said
firmly. ?Those jeans, big
sweaters and unkempt hair
were awful. Andrew?s just
styled me.?
?Cloned you.? Jude
sniffed over a prawn
cracker. ?Now I?m guessing
you look like every one of
Andrew?s previous
girlfriends ? bland, boring
and unhappy.?
?I?m not unhappy! I
needed a make-over.?
?And,? Jude continued,
?only a top-notch nizzlepick
would have that silly
beardy thing.?
?I don?t have a beard!?
?I meant Andrew.?
?All the celebs have
them.? I rushed to
Andrew?s defence. ?It?s ??
?If you say on-trend again
I shall probably tip the
remains of my dinner over
your head. And what?s with
his bouffed-up, rigid hair?
Although let?s all be
grateful he?s ditched the
?It?s fashionable.? I
sniffed. ?And Andrew is ??
?Shallow and totally
self-obsessed, and I?m not
going to waste my breath
on him any more. But like
all good friends, I?ll be
around to pick up the
pieces when it goes pearshaped.?
?It won?t. This is IT!? I
Jude looked at me
pityingly and topped up our
?Don?t say you weren?t
* * * *
?. . . and then the boss
said I was the hottest
salesman in the company.?
We were sitting in the
town?s trendiest wine bar.
?Well done,? I said, trying
not to stare at his beard or
his very high, very shiny
cockscomb hair.
He didn?t seem to notice
I?d spoken. I realised the
conversation had revolved
around Andrew, and
Andrew?s achievements,
and Andrew?s possessions.
?So then he said I?m
being promoted. To
?London?? I tried not to
let my horror show. ?But
that?s miles away.?
?Yes, I can?t wait.?
?But what about us??
Andrew tweaked his
?Us? Don?t be so
provincial, Nell. It?s not the
other side of the world.?
?No, but . . .? My heart
sinking, I peered at Andrew.
?We will still see one
another, won?t we??
Andrew tweaked the
beard a bit more and
?Maybe, but I?ll be very
This wasn?t sounding
good and I was about to
protest when a very
made-up, heavily
perfumed, plastic-looking
girl undulated through
the wine bar crowd.
She wore huge
sunglasses, despite it
being dark outside, and
carried an even huger bag
with the dangling label
screaming ?cost a packet?.
Ignoring me, she gave
Andrew massive ?Mwah!
Mwah!? air kisses.
?Surprise, surprise,
Andrew, darling!? Her voice
was very loud. ?I knew I?d
find you here! Thanks for
the text. I simply had to
come back to the sticks
and congratulate you on
the promo.?
I blinked. She knew?
Before I did?
Andrew was ushering her
towards the bar.
?I?ve missed you so
much. Simply lived for your
texts. And I knew you?d be
thrilled that I?m relocating
to London.?
?Super, darling ? we can
move in together at last.?
Move in together?
Maybe they were work
colleagues and it was
cheaper to share with a
friend. Or maybe not . . .
I was beginning to get a
nasty sinking feeling, but I
smiled gamely and waited
for Andrew to introduce us.
As he wasn?t taking any
notice of me, I took a gulp
of wine and did the
honours myself.
to stop the tears falling.
?I do. It?s a clich�. As you
both are. You deserve one
With my head held high,
I marched from the wine
bar. Jude would have been
proud of me.
OK, I burst into noisy,
messy, devastated tears
outside, but they never
* * * *
I?ll gloss over the next
few weeks. My heart was
broken and my life was
over. There?s no need to go
into details.
Jude was a star. She
didn?t once say, ?I told you
so,? but dragged me out to
every social event she
could think of. She also
made sure I was left alone
when I wanted to be.
I resumed my jeans-andbig-sweaters look and let
my hair go wild.
I wallowed in miserable
books and tear-jerking
music and wondered how
I?d get through the rest of
my life.
Six weeks later, Jude was
at a family function and I
had just reached for my
Bront雜 DVD box-set and a
supply of tissues when
someone hammered on our
door. I pulled it open.
A large, rather untidy
man stood on the
My heart was broken and my life
was over
?Nell!? Destiny
screeched. ?What a sweet,
old-fashioned name, and
such a cute retro outfit ? so
clever. And have you been
keeping lovely Andrew out
of mischief while I?ve been
Andrew glared at me and
shook his head in warning
as Destiny trilled on. I was
fascinated by her lips,
which pouted rigidly but
didn?t move.
?I?m sure you?re thrilled
that he?s gained his
promotion and is moving
back to London. Anyway,
I?m here now and your
hand-holding duties are
over, so you know what
they say about three being
a crowd, don?t you??
I nodded, blinking rapidly
doorstep. He was quite
good-looking, but he
wasn?t Andrew, so it didn?t
really register.
?Hello.? Having a broken
heart had robbed me of my
lightning repartee.
?I wondered if you could
help me??
I sighed.
?Are you collecting for
something? I do give to
charity, but ??
He laughed. He had nice
eyes and an even nicer
?No, I?m not collecting,
or even scrounging. I?m
moving in downstairs. I?m
Dexter.? He held out a
?Nell. So??
?Ah, yes. I?m having a
problem with the water
?Oh,? I said again with
scintillating originality.
He eyed my books and
?I?m sorry, I can see I?ve
interrupted your Saturday
I nodded. He had.
Nothing like a good howl
over tragic lovers on a
lonely Saturday.
?The previous tenants
didn?t leave the instruction
book for the heater and
I?ve tried everything to get
it to work. I wondered if
yours was the same.?
?No, ours works
perfectly, thank you.?
He grinned.
?I like a girl with a sense
of humour.?
I smiled weakly.
?Sorry, you mean are
they all the same and can I
tell you how it works? Yes,
they are, and yes, I think
?You have to press the
red button at the same
time as the green one, then
you flick the switch twice
and let the green button
out slowly. Or maybe it?s
the red one?
?Then you set the clock
timer thing, or maybe you
do that first . . . Sorry, I?m
not that good at technical
He laughed again but in
a nice way.
?Maybe your husband or
Deciding that pouring out
the whole sad story of
Andrew?s defection to
London with the willowy
Destiny would not be the
best way to introduce
myself to a new neighbour,
I shook my head.
?I share with my friend,
Jude. She?s quite good with
technical stuff.?
?Ah.? Dexter looked
hopeful. ?Perhaps she
could help me??
?Tomorrow, when she
comes back from visiting
her parents, I?m sure she?d
love to,? I said, trying to
shove the Bront雜 under
my chin and shut the door.
Dexter sighed.
?Then I?ll have to go
without a bath or a shower
until then. Ah, well, I?m
living alone so I?m sure
no-one will notice a slight
whiff. Or maybe there?s
someone else in the flats
who might be able to show
me how to get it started??
The house was divided
into four flats. The other
two were occupied by
Jimmy, a very elderly, very
deaf man whose carer did
all the practical stuff, and a
couple of nurses currently
on night shift who would
really not welcome being
woken up.
I sighed.
?Look, I can?t explain
how it works, but maybe I
could show you.?
?That would be great,?
Dexter said cheerfully. ?If
you?re sure you have the
Only the rest of my life, I
thought, dropping the
tissues and the Bront雜 on
the hall table and following
him to the downstairs flat.
It was oddly comforting to
realise that he was wearing
rather scruffy jeans and an
oversized sweatshirt.
* * * *
?There.? Dexter pointed
at the heater. ?It?s got me
completely flummoxed.?
I flexed my fingers and
pressed and pushed and
held and turned.
?Brilliant! Thank you so
much.? Dexter grinned as
the little flame popped into
life and the whole thing
started to roar happily.
?It?s easy when you know
how, isn?t it? Now, how can
I thank you? Maybe a cup
of coffee? Unless you have
to dash off . . .?
?Not really.? I gazed
round the cosy chaos of his
flat. Dexter had proper
chairs and sofas, loads of
cushions, a telly, books . . .
?Actually, coffee would be
lovely, thanks.?
I stared at him. He
paused as he spooned
coffee into two mugs.
?Are you OK??
I nodded.
?Yes, thank you. I think I
am. You?ve got normal
hair. And you haven?t got a
?Right . . .? Dexter
laughed as the kettle
boiled. ?Do you think I
should grow one??
?No!? I chuckled,
perhaps for the first time in
six weeks. ?No, I don?t.
That would make you look
like a right nizzlepick.? n
Kriss Kross
How long will it take you to correctly fit the words relating
to ballet into the grid?
4 letters
6 letters
5 letters
7 letters
8 letters
Metal?bearing rock (3)
Flower with thorns (4)
Ancient Scandinavian (5)
Before the expected time (6)
Situated near the coast (7)
Small waterfowl with black
plumage (8)
Substance produced by a
gland (7)
Marilyn ___, Some Like It Hot
star (6)
Surname that links actresses
Julianne and Demi (5)
Part of the inside of a house (4)
Characteristic sound of a cow (3)
Brick Trick
Kriss Kross
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.
Brick Trick
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd ?
Will the
residents enjoy
Clive?s festive
UBY says she
wasn?t that keen
on her internet
date,? Mary said to
George, hanging
up on the call from her
George lowered his
?I thought you said they
looked happy when you left
them?? he said.
?Well, she was happy. At
first,? Mary continued. ?She
said he had a good sense of
humour and was cracking
jokes twenty to the dozen.
And he brought her a
bunch of white freesias, and
you know how much she
likes them.?
She looked over at
George. He was behind his
newspaper, only halflistening.
?So what happened?? he
?Ruby said that by the
time they?d had their
starter, she was picking up
worrying signs. He kept
repeating the same jokes,
and he was talking about
himself all the time.?
?He was probably
nervous,? George muttered.
?Whatever it was, Ruby
found it irritating and
through the meal she was
wondering if she?d done the
right thing meeting him.
?By the time they?d
finished pudding she?d
decided he wasn?t the right
man for her. So she told
him she?d had a nice lunch
but didn?t want to see him
George sucked in air
through his teeth.
?That seems a bit harsh,?
he said.
?You know Ruby: she?s
direct if nothing else. I think
she did the right thing.?
?Would you do it, Mary??
he asked, dropping the
newspaper to his lap.
?Meet up with a fella from
the internet??
?If I were Ruby, I . . .?
Mary began, but George
interrupted her.
?Ruby?s one of the nicest
people we know.? He
paused. ?Mind you, she can
talk the hind legs off a
donkey. But you can?t have
?But she?s going out to
meet fellas on blind dates
when there?s plenty of men
round here who?d love to
take her out.?
Mary shot her husband a
?She knows what she?s
doing ? or at least, I hope
she does.?
* * * *
Inside the Old Engine
Room a table had been laid
for a special event. It was
making Clive very nervous.
?What if they don?t like
it?? he whispered to Dave
in the kitchen.
Dave shrugged.
?Then we change it.
That?s the point of having
this tasting event, Clive. If
our guests don?t like our
Christmas menu, then we
incorporate as many
changes as we see fit
before the real Christmas
menu goes live next week.?
?Thanks,? Clive replied.
?I?ve never done one of
these events before. I?ve
been working on my
creations for weeks. Do we
have a table of six invited??
Dave checked his list.
?Yes. Dad wanted some
of Ryemouth?s yuppies to
be the tasters.?
Clive laughed.
?Mike used the word
?I know.? Dave smiled.
?My dad?s stuck in the
1980s. Anyway, we?ve got
Sam and Claire coming.
Anna and Carol from the
hair salon are coming in.
Susan?s sitting in. And . . .?
Dave paused, frowning.
?What?? Clive asked,
straining to see the list of
invited guests.
?This can?t be right,?
Dave said, confused. ?It
says here that Susan?s dad
is coming in, too.?
Mike strolled over to
where Dave and Clive were
huddled together, puzzling
over the list.
?I invited George,? he
said firmly. ?We might be
aiming our Christmas menu
at Ryemouth?s young and
trendy, but we?ve got to
make sure their relatives
are catered for, too.
?I trust George to let us
know if we?re on the right
Dave left the kitchen to
help Susan greet the guests
as they came in.
Left alone in the kitchen
with the dishes for his first
creative Christmas menu,
Clive tried not to let nerves
get the better of him.
* * * *
?We?ve got a turkey foam
with duck velout�,? Dave
explained to the guests.
?It?s served with saucisson
and cornichons . . .?
?Bless you,? George said
and the table erupted in
?Then we?ve got edible
Christmas tree baubles
made from pepper
tapenade with anchovies.?
?Don?t fancy the sound of
that,? Carol said.
?Onion confiture with a
festive jus ??
?A festive what?? George
?It?s gravy, dad,? Susan
?Dessert is a marzipan
pudding porridge,? Dave
George looked around at
the confused, unsmiling
faces of his fellow diners.
?Well, I know what I?d like
to try for my Christmas
menu taster,? he said.
Dave fired up his
electronic order pad ready
to take George?s order.
?How about,? George
began, ?a nice bit of turkey,
cooked to perfection??
?Not too dry,? Sam added.
?And roast potatoes,?
Claire said. ?Please.?
?With stuffing,? Anna
chipped in.
?And some of those little
sausages wrapped in
bacon,? Carol added.
Susan glanced at Dave.
?Dad?s got a point.? She
looked towards the kitchen.
?Who?s going to tell Clive??
More next week.
Frozen In Time
I know we need to move with the
times, but there is something really lovely
about coming upon an old photograph
that can transport you right back to the
time captured in the picture.
It was just so with this picture of my
granddaughter Elizabeth (aged five) and
her friends, who all dressed up for a
nursery party to celebrate the Royal
wedding back in 1981. Elizabeth was the
bride. The photo was taken a couple of
days before the real event.
Mrs L.T., Sunderland.
Write to us at Between Friends, ?The People?s Friend?,
2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ, or e-mail us at
Star Letter
I recently read ?The People?s Friend?
Special for autumn and the first story
brought more than a tear to my eye, as
seven years ago I donated a kidney to
my husband.
All the tests, meetings and emotions
were so beautifully written that it
made me wonder if the author had
some first-hand experience of the
procedure. Thank you for bringing this
very valuable gift of life to everyone?s
When my husband and I had the procedure, the hospital explained to us that
matching was made so much easier now due to medical advancements.
So anyone who is concerned about non-related couples, i.e. husband and wife,
being able to donate, should not worry as they can often do so.
While I write this letter to you my husband is out in the garden doing what he
loves. Seven years down the road he is very well, and as long as he takes his
medications can do almost anything he wants.
I am also as fit as a fiddle and don?t feel any different.
I am seen by a renal consultant every three to four months, along with my
husband, which will continue all of our lives. Where would we be without the
NHS? Once again, ?The People?s Friend? is on top of things that matter.
Mrs C.S., West Midlands.
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.
I was thrilled to read your
article about T.G. Green
Cornishware. When my
husband and I married in
1965 in Derbyshire, my aunt,
who worked for Green?s, very
kindly gave us not only a
dinner service, but just about
every other piece of pottery
we would need, all in the
Cornishware pattern.
How I wish I still had it all.
Over the years, piece by
piece was broken, and by the
time we emigrated to New
Zealand in 2008 we only had
a large teapot left
Our son asked if he might
have it when we unpacked,
and I know he and his wife
still have it, so it has now
lasted over 52 years.
Whenever I see the pottery
in the shops I am always
tempted to throw out our
existing crockery, also from
Derbyshire, and start again
with the Cornishware!
Incidentally, I reckon I must
have been reading ?The
People?s Friend? for all that
time, too.
Thank you for all those
years of very enjoyable and
informative reading.
Thankfully, there are some
things that just can?t be
Mrs P.D., New Zealand.
Boxing Clever
Much as I enjoy knitting
items to give as gifts, I
sometimes feel the packaging
lets them down.
I resolved this by covering a
sturdy box in pretty paper and
filling it with all the handknitted garments I?d made for
the arrival of my second
There was everything from
booties through to a bobble
hat and they were delighted
with their box of goodies.
Ms S.R., Manchester.
The Garden Sleeps
My garden?s missed in winter time
When snow piles up in heaps;
I know it needs this well-earned rest,
And so the garden sleeps.
I try to do some winter jobs,
But bitter cold soon seeps
Through all my layers of woolly clothes,
And on the garden sleeps.
I so look forward to the day
When that first snowdrop peeps
From frost-hard ground, but till that day
My much-loved garden sleeps.
Eileen Hay.
A poem
just for
News Travels
What a surprise I received in
the post from a cousin I have
in New Zealand.
He sent me a letter and a
Between Friends page
showing a picture of me with
my cactus in the botanical
gardens, which I?d sent in to
your magazine in the hope of
having it published.
It thrilled me as it was a
cousin of his that showed it to
him. It really is a small world
when we all have the ?Friend?
in common!
Ms K.M., Largs.
Birthday Treat
I booked a coach trip to
Holmfirth for my husband
John, as he is a real fan of the
series ?Last Of The Summer
Wine?. We visited Sid?s Caf�
and the museum as his
birthday treat.
Looking at the photo, I think
he?s my own Foggy Dewhurst!
Mrs C.M., East Yorkshire.
Perfect Pastime
Santa Claws
When Santa found he was a
reindeer short last year, our
cat Eric was more than happy
to step in and lend a hand, or
rather paw!
Mrs C.C., Devon.
I don?t know if other readers
do a similar thing to me, in
that whenever I come across a
poem I especially like in the
magazine, I cut it out and stick
it into a jotter ? I?m now on
notebook number six!
I often sit with a cup of tea
and read through the
selection. So thanks to all
those who have contributed to
my personal collection that
brings me such joy.
Mrs M.T., Northants.
from page 27
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write to the Readers Editor at The People?s Friend, DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
ong the
cliff edge in the direction of
Bidreath. She would walk
halfway there and back
again. That should be
enough to get the fidgets
out of her.
She dared not go further
for there was still so much
left to prepare. She?d left
pastry resting and it would
soon need to be rolled out
for the stargazy pie which
Garren had requested for
the wedding feast.
Then she had to wrap up
the lace cap she had
laboured to make for baby
George, so that she could
give it to Morwenna at the
church later.
There were her Sundaybest boots to brush up, her
dress to lay out on her bed,
the table to be laid for the
wedding breakfast, the
vegetables prepared . . .
Her busy thoughts were
interrupted by a
movement. She had
thought herself alone on
the cliff top, but her gaze
was drawn to a couple
walking towards her, a
middle-aged man with a
woman dressed in a cloak
beside him.
Her footsteps slowed and
she stood watching them
for a moment. There was
something about the man?s
gait, the way his steps
swung a little from side to
?What a cruel trick of the
light it is,? she murmured,
?to be reminded that I?ve
lost my dear papa, today
of all days.? Her eyes
blurred and she looked
However, she couldn?t
resist looking back, and as
her gaze rested once again
upon the man, her heart
began to race. As his face
became clearer, it beat
faster and faster.
Then she was running, her
skirts catching at her
ankles. Faster and faster
she went.
?Papa! Papa!?
The man stopped, looking
at her in bewilderment for a
moment, then with a gasp
he opened his arms.
?Jenna!? he said. ?Is this
beautiful maid really you??
She felt his arms, just as
strong as she remembered
them, close around her.
?You?ve come home,
Papa.? She sobbed.
?You?ve come home, and it
is my wedding day!?
* * * *
Jenna burst through the
cottage door, beckoning to
Thomas and Ahyoka to
follow her.
?Mamm-wynn!? she
shouted. ?Mamm-wynn!?
?What in heaven?s name
is the matter, girl?? Doryty
asked, looking up in alarm.
She was sitting at the
flower-strewn table, Jenna?s
wedding garland in her
Her gaze slipped from her
to the couple behind, and
she became as still as one
of the alabaster statues of
the saints in Merrick
Church, and almost as
?It?s Papa,? Jenna
whispered, tears welling in
her eyes.
Doryty struggled up from
her seat, reaching out to
steady herself against the
edge of the table.
?My son!?
For a moment, she stood
just staring at him.
?My son?s come home. I
can?t believe it, I just can?t
believe it,? she said, over
and over again.
Then she began to cry,
and Jenna did, too. Even
Thomas dabbed his eyes as
he stepped forward to take
his mother in his arms.
?Oh, Mother,? he
whispered. ?How my heart
has yearned for sight of you
He wrapped his arms
around her, pressing her
tightly to him. Then he drew
Ahyoka forward to
introduce her.
?This is my wife,? he said.
?You are welcome in this
house,? Doryty said simply.
She smiled as she looked
Ahyoka up and down
appraisingly. Then she led
her to her own chair by the
?Tell me, when is the child
due?? she asked, plumping
up a cushion and easing it
behind the younger
woman?s back.
Shyly, Ahyoka returned
her smile.
?When the snow moon
comes,? she said, placing
her hand protectively upon
her swollen stomach.
?Sooner, perhaps.?
Her smile broadened.
?Our child is eager to be
in the world. He does not
give me much rest.?
Doryty nodded wisely
before turning to Thomas,
who had taken a seat on
the bench at the table.
?What a time you?ve
chosen to return.?
?Jenna told me it is her
wedding day. What a lucky
man I am, Mother. It would
have grieved me dearly to
have missed that.?
He reached out to Jenna,
who was standing nearby,
and took her hand in his
own, clasping it tightly.
?I am sorry, daughter, for
leaving you and your
grandmother for so long.?
He bent his head. ?It was
?Not unforgivable, Papa,?
she replied softly, ?for I
never lost hope of your
As he looked up, her eyes
drank him in, noting the
changes the years had
wrought, his greying hair
and the extra lines about
his eyes.
?Our journey home took
longer than it should.?
He told them about the
dispute and the lack of
sailing berths.
?Even when we reached
London, our troubles
weren?t over. Ahyoka had
had more than enough of
sailing for a while so we
decided to travel down by
He looked across at her
and smiled.
?Unfortunately the state
of our roads hasn?t
improved in the time I?ve
been away, and, given her
condition, we took frequent
stops for her to rest.?
He told them what had
happened to him during the
years he had been gone
and answered many
questions. When he
explained how the
Cherokee had been evicted
from their home in the
mountains of Georgia, they
grew quiet.
?My wife is one of the few
lucky ones,? he told them
Jenna glanced at Ahyoka,
who was staring into the
?Don?t worry, my dear,?
Thomas said. He got up
and stooped down beside
her. ?We won?t speak of it
any more. But, one day,
remember that we?re going
to return.?
He confirmed his words
by slipping an arm around
her and pressing her to him
for a moment.
?You?re not staying,
Papa?? Jenna?s heart gave
a lurch. All those years she
had waited for her father to
return, and already he was
talking of leaving again!
?We will stay for the baby
to be born,? Thomas told
her, standing up again.
?After that, I do not know.
?A friend of mine, Isaac,
is going to write to me and
tell me when it is safe for us
to return. It may be months
or it may be years. There is
no way of knowing.?
He smiled sadly.
?I will use the time well,
and get to know my
daughter again. I have been
a poor father to you.?
?No, Papa, no. You were
wounded by Mama?s
?As were you, child. I
should not have gone.?
?You?re here now, Papa,
that?s all that matters.?
Suddenly, she knew it
was true. The past
belonged to the past. It was
the future that mattered
In the silence that
followed, Doryty picked up
the garland of flowers,
threaded in the last spray
of hawthorn berries and
held it up.
?There,? she said, holding
aloft the beautiful circlet
that was to adorn
Jenna?s hair.
?It?s beautiful, Mammwyn,? Jenna whispered
as she reached out and
took it from her.
She stooped to give
Doryty a kiss on her
weathered cheek before
taking it through to the
When she returned, she
raked the fire and placed
another log on the embers.
?Forgive me, Papa, but I
must get on or there will be
no wedding feast!?
She cleaned her hands
and wiped the end of the
table, bringing out the
pastry she?d made earlier
and beginning to roll it out.
Doryty cleared away the
remains of the flowers and
began to chop vegetables
beside her.
As they worked, Jenna
told Thomas all that had
transpired in the past year,
about Morwenna and Jago,
Arthek and Lamorna and
baby George.
?Well, well, well,? he said
quietly. ?How pleased your
mama would have been to
have those old rifts
?You?ll meet them all
today, Papa,? she said.
?They?re coming to the
church for the ceremony,
though Aunt Morwenna
says they must hurry back
afterwards for Georgie?s
She was quiet as she
concentrated on placing the
fish tails down in the pie
dish. Carefully, she placed
the pastry lid over the
pilchards, making sure the
fish heads poked through
as was the custom for
stargazy pie.
?Will you and Garren
come and visit us in
Georgia one day, when we
return there?? Thomas
asked. ?You, too, Mother,
if you can manage the
?Our people call the
mountains there ?the great
blue hills of God?,?? Ahyoka
Thomas reached out to
place his hand on hers.
?It?ll be much easier to
get there when the new
steam ships start making
the crossing. Steam?s the
future,? he said
enthusiastically. ?Why,
soon the tide won?t divide
us at all!?
?One day, Papa,? Jenna
promised with a smile. She
placed the dish beside the
clay oven. ?There,? she
said. ?That?s ready to go in
as soon as we get back
from church.?
* * * *
Garren strode along the
cliff path, trying to calm his
nerves. His mother and
Tansy and a few of their
friends were going to
Merrick church by way of
the little lanes and a couple
of donkeys and carts he?d
hired for the occasion.
But he had not been able
to sit still since the hour he
had awoken that morning,
and had taken his mother?s
advice to stretch his legs by
He soon reached the cove
and turned up the steps to
the cottage. The door was
open and the sun slanted
across the stone threshold
with its jumble of withy pots
Doryty had made for the
Jenna was wiping flour
from her hands as he
stepped inside.
He smiled.
?Trust you to be busy,
even on our wedding day.?
Then he stopped in
?Mr Goss? Is it you, sir??
he exclaimed.
As he stared, he took in
the changes the years had
wrought, the slight stoop of
the shoulders, the lines
upon his face.
Jenna ran to him, pulling
him forward.
?Papa arrived this
morning,? she told him
excitedly. ?He has brought
my stepmother, too. Come
and meet her.?
Garren was introduced to
Ahyoka, and soon the room
was full of happy chatter.
It continued gaily until
suddenly, through the open
doorway, came the deep
sounds of the church clock.
Bong. Bong. Bong.
Jenna lifted her eyes to
his, and they gazed at each
other as the importance of
the hour struck them.
?Make haste now and get
ready, my Jenna,? Garren
said, his voice deep and
soft with tenderness. ??Tis
time to be wed.?
The End.
From the manse
by Janice Ross.
DON?T like breaking things,
and I dislike even more not
being able to mend them.
Perhaps it?s because I was
brought up in the era of Make
Do and Mend.
This is especially true of
special things, like my
beautiful turquoise-blue
pottery teapots made by a
talented potter on the Orkney
island of Shapinsay.
I had bought a small one of
these in a sale and was
delighted to be given a larger
one by a dear friend on
retirement. They are so
beautifully crafted, almost
Japanese in style.
These two little teapots sit
on my kitchen unit and have
survived for a good ten years
or so. The other day, though,
the smaller one came to grief.
It was accidentally knocked
over by a bundle of washing
waiting to go into the
machine. It fell over and lost
its spout.
My husband has since
patched it up by carefully
glueing the little piece back
on. Now you wouldn?t know it
had been broken unless you
looked very closely. But I
know it is broken, that it is no
longer perfect.
But it is, after all, just a
teapot! Not even one that I
use for tea. It?s just an
ornament. What about more
important things that are
broken, like lives, family
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