Celebrating the work of Moomins artist Tove Jansson 7 feel-good short stories Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated. Dec 30, 2017 No. 7707 £1.30 Fabulous Fiction • A cat café drama by Suzanne Ross Jones • Wendy Clarke’s sparkling romance Delicious New Year party food The landscapes that inspired Sir Walter Scott 30-Dec- 2017 t FREE pattern inside Knit a cosy sweater to beat the chill New Year resolutions from vet Malcolm Welshman Spend your holiday running a bookshop! 9770262238299 UK Off-sale date - 03-Jan-18 r a e Y Noeallwour readers! AU $4.50, NZ $4.50 52 £1.30 Happy this week Inside The People’s Friend If you like the “Friend” then you’ll love... The People’s Friend Special No 150, priced £2.99 On sale now! l 8 pages of puzzles l 14 feel-good short stories The People’s Friend Pocket Novel No 851, priced £3.49 l A modern romance by Wendy Kremer Available in newsagents & supermarkets Cover Artwork: Loch Katrine, Trossachs, by J. Campbell Kerr. Fiction 4 Happy Hogmanay by Eirin Thompson 15 Electric Dreams by Ewan Smith 21 Love Birds by Wendy Clarke 22 SERIES Tales From Prospect House by Malcolm Welshman 30 SERIAL The Mystery Of The Missing Du Mauriers by Nicola Burggraf 39 Ghost For Hire by Donald Lightwood 47 Fireworks At The Cat Café by Suzanne Ross Jones 53 Cooking With Franca by Stefania Hartley 58 SERIAL No. 4, Whitehall Gardens by Alison Carter 79 Time’s Running Out by Rebecca Mansell 85 WEEKLY SOAP Riverside by Glenda Young Regulars 7 This Week We’re Loving 13 Maddie’s World 18 Health & Wellbeing 23 Brainteasers 34 The Farmer & His Wife 36 Cookery: try our perfect party foods to celebrate the New Year 60 Reader Offer: Canvas Shoppers 63 From The Manse Window 71 Would You Believe It? 72 Reader Offer: Winter Craft Kits 73 Knitting: beat the winter chills and knit our longerlength tunic 75 Our Next Issue 86 Between Friends Features 8 Willie Shand reflects on the landscapes that inspired Sir Walter Scott 24 Enjoy a fun-filled, 3-night break with the “Friend” 28 Polly Pullar looks at the work of the Scottish SPCA 35 Sandra Smith talks to Wendy Glass about fostering 41 Kitchen ideas 44 Malcolm Welshman resolves to ensure his pooch has a healthier New Year 50 We explore the work of Tove Jansson 55 Polly Pullar takes a lighthearted look at rural life 56 Archivist Jennifer Hunt shares tales of the RVS 64 Make a holiday of running a bookshop 68 Alexandra Campbell on gardening 76 Good news stories of 2017 83 Extra puzzle fun SUBSCRIPTION OFFER – SAVE £21 13 issues for *£6 when you subscribe – Call 0800 318846**, quote PFCOV Subscribe and save £21! *Payment by Direct Debit only. Saving based on first quarterly payment of £6 and standard rate of £12 every 3 months thereafter. UK bank accounts only. One year minimum term. For overseas enquiries, please call +44 1382 575580. **(8 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.) Free from UK landlines and mobiles. www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk www.facebook.com/PeoplesFriendMagazine Welcome to our New Year issue! I hope that 2018 brings you health and happiness and everything you could wish for. This week, we’re celebrating the turn of the year in style, with a look at some of our favourite good news stories from 2017 on page 76. And the New Year theme continues with Eirin Thompson’s heartwarming story “Happy Hogmanay” on page 4, which sees a welcome return for her feisty characters Maureen and Jean. One of my personal highlights of 2017 was my visit to the Wigtown Book Festival in beautiful Dumfries and Galloway, which is where I first heard of the Open Book. I loved the idea of running a bookshop while on holiday and knew it would make a great feature for the “Friend”. Read Dawn Geddes’s article on page 64 to find out more. Last but not least, if you’re a fan of vet Malcolm Welshman’s “Tales From Prospect House”, you’ll love his doggie New Year resolutions on page 44 – though I suspect Malcolm’s adorable dog Dora may be less amused! Angela Gilchrist, Editor. twitter.com/@TheFriendMag Why shouldn’t we have a party this New Year? And just like that, it was settled . . . Happy Hogmanay Illustration by Ruth Blair. S PINSTER,” Jean said. “It’s an awful word. It makes me think of someone who hoards old newspapers and eats half a tin of salmon tonight and the other half tomorrow.” “Don’t use it, then,” I suggested. “Think of something else to call yourself.” “But don’t you agree?” Jean persisted. “Doesn’t it have a whiff of desperate loneliness about it? At least you can say you’re a widow, Maureen, which proves that somebody loved you at some stage of your life.” She took her feet down off the footstool and passed me the crossword she’d been balancing on her thighs. Neither of us could ever do the whole thing, but between us we usually managed to finish it. It was the day after Boxing Day and we were enjoying a bit of bright winter sun in my conservatory. Jean now wriggled herself up a bit straighter in her seat and handed me the pen. “What was it Bridget Jones called herself?” she asked me. “A singleton,” I recalled. “There you are, then, you’re not a spinster, you’re a singleton. Feel any better?” “Actually, yes,” Jean replied. I had decoded three more clues before I realised that she hadn’t spoken another word. Jean and I had only known each other since last summer, but already I could read the signs – if she wasn’t talking, she was up to something. “What’s the great mind working on now?” I asked with suspicion. “I’m thinking about New Year. We had such a fab Christmas, but we haven’t given a thought to New Year’s Eve. “Of course, it’s Party Central for the rest of the population, but a pretty depressing night for some of us, staying up to watch a minor news presenter with a short straw in her pocket try to interview some poor Londoner who’s been standing in the cold since lunchtime to get a front row spot for Big Ben and the fireworks.” “My, that’s quite a speech. You’ve clearly been giving this some thought.” In her seventies, Jean had determined to become a “doer”, as had I, in her company. Together, we had just had the most marvellous Christmas. Instead of sitting in the corner at the homes of some of our dutiful relatives, we’d branched out and done everything exactly the way we wanted, including a Christmas dinner for two and a ban on boring presents. “I’m thinking about it right now,” Jean told me, “and I think we should organise a party.” “A party?” I recalled that it had taken us from June to December to organise Christmas Day just for ourselves, whilst Hogmanay was less than a week away. “You don’t like the idea,” Jean replied. “It’s not that I don’t like it,” I said. “I just don’t see how we can arrange it in five days. People have made their plans by this stage, anyway. Where were you thinking of having this party? Your place? Here?” “Oh, I’m not thinking of a house party, Miss Maureen O’Hara –” she sometimes called me that, and I sometimes called her “The Shrimp”, after Jean Shrimpton “– I’m thinking big!” What did she mean? “You haven’t been widowed for as long as I’ve SHORT STORY BY EIRIN THOMPSON 5 been a spinster,” Jean said, assuming a voice of authority. “So you might not yet know what a truly awful night is New Year’s Eve. The worst thing . . .” “Oh, I know what the worst thing is,” I interrupted. “It’s when the phone starts ringing at half past ten and you have to field the calls from those people who care enough to ring you and wish you a Happy New Year, but don’t care quite enough to have invited you round. And then, of course, you have to admit . . .” “. . . that while everyone else is out partying, watching fireworks or jumping in fountains, or at least clinking bubbly glasses with someone, you’re sitting in the house all alone.” Jean had hit the nail on the head. “Yes,” I confirmed. “It’s not nice.” “Well, let’s do something about it,” Jean urged. “You could come round here,” I said. “We could cook a special supper.” “New Year’s Eve, Maureen,” Jean coaxed. “It’s a night for make-up. High heels. Bling.” “Bling?” “Bling. Because there must be others like us – other singletons in their sixties and seventies who want to let their hair down and really celebrate the New Year. Let’s face it, we’re more grateful than anyone still to be able to do it!” I was tempted. I used to love getting ready for a dance. At one time you’d find me at the Arcadia ballroom three nights a week. I loved us girls all helping each other with our hair, zipping each other into our full-skirted dresses. We were of a generation who didn’t mind putting on a big coat over our finery until we got inside, I’m glad to say. These days I don’t know how the young things bear it, out at night in mini-skirts and hot-pants and little skimpy tops! I’m not a prude, I just think they must be freezing. “How would we organise it in the time available?” “Have you never heard of social media?” Jean scoffed. “We can get the word out within hours.” * * * * It turned out that the town hall would have been lying empty on the night of New Year’s Eve, so that wasn’t a problem. The manager would have to ask staff if they were willing to come in on what had looked like being a night off, though. We spent half a day wondering if we should be looking for other possible venues, but nowhere else would have been so central or as cheap, even with an extra charge because attendants would have to be paid double time. When Jean’s mobile rang, displaying the town hall number, we crossed our fingers, but it was good news. They’d found enough staff to cover us. “Thunderbirds are go,” I said, with a timid smile. “They certainly are.” My friend had also done her fair share of babysitting. We announced our event on Facebook and Twitter, calling it “A New Year’s Eve bash for singletons in their sixties and seventies”. We organised a light supper to be provided by the new deli in town and invited everyone to Bring Your Own Bottle. There would be a charge to cover hire of the hall, supper and music, the last of which would be provided by one of my young relations, Aidan. He was trying to establish himself as a wedding DJ, and could programme his computer to play Bobby Darin, Roy Orbison and the Rolling Stones as easily as Ed Sheeran. I put my foot down on one thing, though, and that was that it must be allticketed. “I’d be gutted if we ended up having to turn people away at the door because we were full.” “Well, whatever happened to Mrs We-Can’tPossibly-Organise-A-Party- In-A-Week?” Jean asked smugly. I had to laugh. * * * * Jean was right. I was wrong. Although it was short notice, and New Year’s Eve fell on a Sunday, by Friday we had sold three-quarters of our tickets through our outlet of Woodie’s newsagency in the town centre. It was exciting. Jean and I had picked up new party clothes in the sales the day we’d launched on social Luckily the town hall was still festooned with festive decorations and there was little that needed doing. “We can knock off for a while and come back about five to meet the caterers and the DJ,” Jean said. That afternoon we were so excited, and anxious, too. What if people had bought tickets but then changed their minds and the whole thing was a flop? Or what if they all turned up but didn’t like the music or the food? “Let’s just decide that, I was worried. What if the whole thing was a flop? media. Jean found a silver jumpsuit that showed how slim she was and went really well with her hair, which was still thick and the kind of grey that everyone wished they had, the lucky thing. I was a bit curvier, to put it kindly, and at my best in a dress. Jean persuaded me to try on a dazzling wine creation from Debenhams. When I saw myself in it, in the fitting-room mirror, I got goosebumps. Even the assistant said I looked fantastic and I had a moment wishing Dennis could have seen me. On Saturday the young man from Woodie’s newsagency rang to see if they could have any more tickets and we had to turn him down. He said that was a shame because they were having to turn people away now. New Year’s Eve came and Jean said we’d better go to church, just to prove that we hadn’t become total hedonists. By now half the town knew about our party, and we half-expected to be on the receiving end of some stern glances from the congregation, but instead we were greeted outside the church by quite a few “oldies” who couldn’t wait to tell us they would see us later, at the “do”. “This is really happening!” I hissed at Jean. “I know!” she hissed back. whoever turns up, we’ll make the best of it,” Jean said sensibly. “You’re right. Let’s just have fun getting ready.” And we did. I did Jean’s make-up and she did mine. Then we did our hair, painted our nails and put on the outfits that had been hanging in Jean’s wardrobe all week. When we saw ourselves in Jean’s mirror, I thought we looked fantastic. * * * * The entrance to our town hall was at ground level, but the big room where we would have the party was up one floor via a rather fine staircase. Of course, there was also a lift. Jean and I decided to stay down at the main doors to meet and greet, with town hall staff up on the landing to show guests into the room itself. We’d said doors would open at 7.30 p.m., but at a quarter past seven the first pair arrived. Jean very pointedly looked at her watch, but that didn’t deter them waving their tickets under our noses and barging on. “It’s OK,” Terry, the caretaker, called down reassuringly. “Send them up and I’ll look after them.” And off they went, pausing only to admire the huge Christmas tree at the foot of the stairs. We hadn’t caught our breath from that 6 encounter when a party of four women and two men came through the doors. “Oh, it’s lovely and warm in here,” one woman said with a big smile. “Are you the organisers?” “Ask us later when we see if it’s credit or blame we’re getting.” Jean laughed. “That’s not down to you,” one of the men pointed out. “You had the gumption to put this thing on – now it’s up to all of us to make it a night to remember.” “I liked them,” I whispered to Jean as they went upstairs. “Me, too. Let’s hope we get lots more like them.” People arrived so steadily, often wanting a word or two, that Jean and I lost count of how many had come through the doors. “Do you want to find out how many are here?” she asked. “No. Let’s just go up and see what it looks like.” Terry said he’d come down and take tickets from any latecomers, so we made our way past the Christmas tree and up the wide staircase. We could hear the rising babble of voices as we climbed, but we still stopped, exchanged a look and took a deep breath before stepping into the ballroom. The sight that met us was wonderful. All around the edges of the room, the tables were filled with people dressed up to the nines – women in everything from sequinned evening gowns to slinky trousers suits. The men were as smart as new paint, too. “We did this,” I marvelled. “We did,” Jean said dreamily. “We were waiting for you.” Jean’s niece, Poppy, appeared. She’d come to help and had been hanging out with my great-nephew, Aidan, the DJ. “So, are you ready to rock?” she asked. Suddenly, there was a loud “ping”. The music stopped and the lights went out. There was a shocked “Oh!” from the room, which was now in total darkness, followed by a collective groan. Then we saw torchlight appear in the doorway and heard Terry’s welcome voice. “No need to panic. It’s probably just a fuse, but do we happen to have an electrician in the house?” “Over here,” This turned out to be Stanley from our walking group. “I used to be, anyhow. I can take a look.” As the men trotted off, it was hard to ignore the impatient murmurings of the crowd. “This is bad. What if they can’t fix it?” I asked. Jean nodded. “Or if it’s a big job and takes hours?” It seemed our hard work was in ruins, not to mention the efforts of the guests. Graham Clarke, our church choirmaster, approached. “I’ve some experience of engaging an audience,” he said modestly, “and of how quickly things can sour if they turn against you. “Might I suggest you let me play that piano over there to entertain the troops until we have light? “I can keep going for quite a while without needing to see my music.” “Oh, would you?” Jean gushed in relief. Graham kicked off with “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, just to announce himself, but the room took him to heart and started singing along! That gave Graham an idea. Knowing two or three from the choir were out there in the darkness, he called them up to lead the singing. When we heard what seemed to be the whole room joining in with “The Great Pretender” and “Hey Jude”, I almost wished we’d planned it. “There’s something about our generation,” Jean observed. “Maybe it’s because we came along during the war, or just after it – we try to battle on and make the best of things, don’t we?” Just then, there was a flash of brilliant light and the electricity was back. Stanley returned to the room, the conquering hero, to an impromptu rendition of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”. “Someone had got a bit too ambitious with the Christmas tree lights,” he explained. “Problem solved.” The room lighting softened and “Rock Around The Clock” blasted out. “Bill Haley!” There was a clatter of chair legs and a tumble of bodies and the dance-floor was packed in seconds. “Just so you know,” Jean shouted over the music, “I’m not dancing with a girl. Not even you, Maureen O’Hara. “If a man asks me to dance, then I’m up for it, but I refuse to be one of those sad women who dances with other women because all the formerly eligible men are dead.” “You mean like those sad women?” I pointed at two biddies about our age who were jiving together like their lives depended upon it. “Exactly”. “But they’re having a ball!” I argued. “Just don’t ask me to dance with you,” Jean warned. * * * * The women outnumbered the men, but there was still a substantial number of gents and they kindly shared themselves around. Aidan had compiled a list of the biggest hits of the time. We had Bobby Darin singing “Mack The Knife” and “Dream Lover”, Ritchie Valens mooning over Donna and the Coasters giving us a great upbeat number with “Charlie Brown”. He had also promised to urge shy attendees to brave the dance-floor, but it turned out there was no need – if anything you had to fight to get a space up there! We took an interval at 9.30 for supper. The deli had done a great job – nothing too fancy, but plenty of it. Terry and his team produced huge pots of tea, and this was guzzled by the gallon. At half past ten, the music started up again. This time, Aidan announced, he would be favouring the younger partygoers with hits from the Sixties. A cheer went up from a particularly enthusiastic table in the corner, where all the women had come with bouffant hair, dark eyeliner and pale lipstick. I smiled to see them reliving their youth. The dance-floor instantly filled again for “Help!” by the Beatles, “I Got You Babe”, by Sonny and Cher and “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones. And I did get a dance. Even though Jean and I had spent much of our evening talking to our guests and making sure everyone had everything they needed, one person didn’t forget about us. Terry, the caretaker, insisted on getting us each up for a boogie. Twice, in fact, once he was happy that his team had the post-supper clean-up under control. By this stage someone had requested a few more modern songs. “We didn’t all throw out our radios in 1969, you know!” So Aidan rolled out Elton John, Robbie Williams, Amy Winehouse and Sam Smith, all of whom went down very well. At one minute to midnight Aidan knocked off the dance music and primed us for the chimes of Big Ben, delivered to us via technology. On the last bong, a cheer went up, we formed a ragged but happy circle, crossed our arms and struck up “Auld Lang Syne”. At first I couldn’t see Jean in the crowd, but eventually I spotted her, and she spotted me. We shared a smile. I knew what she was thinking. “Maureen O’Hara, isn’t this better than sitting in the house with Miss Marple, a Tia Maria for one and half a tin of salmon?” She was right. n loving BITS & PIECES 7 Alamy. Alamy. This week we’re Victoria & Albert Great Balls Of Fire! Stonehaven’s annual Hogmanay fireball festival starts just before midnight as fireball bearers are piped down to the harbour to herald the New Year. It’s free to attend; donations towards costs welcomed. Scot-tea Dog Stocktaking isn’t usually a fun activity, but when it’s time for a count at the zoo, the stock gets involved, as well! January sees British zoos working on their annual updates, complete with “help” from the residents! If you enjoyed the latest ITV hit drama series about Queen Victoria and her consort, you’ll love the official companion book (HarperCollins, £20). It’s packed with historical detail, beautiful photos from the series and a behind-thescenes look at the production. Perfectly Timed Birthday Greetings Many happy returns to journalist and broadcaster Fiona Phillips. The former “Loose Women” and GMTV presenter will be fifty-seven on New Year’s Day. With Mozart looking after your kitchen compositions, you can be sure your creations will be timed to perfection. The 60-minute timer plays his soothing “Rondo Alla Turca” when the time is up. Priced £17.50 from www.kikkerlandeu.com. Alamy. Sit down with a nice cup of tea kept hot by this cheery Scottie. This cute cotton tea cosy doesn’t have to be removed to pour. It costs £12.50 from www. ulsterweavers.com/hound-dog-muffcosy or call 0844 844 1325. Two By Two? As we go to press, we’re looking forward to another Hogmanay with Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. We don’t yet know who his guests will be, but since 1993 it’s always been a brilliant feast of great music to welcome the New Year. In The News The gritting team from Doncaster Council recently named two of their vehicles Gritsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Anti-Slip Machiney and David Plowie in a councilrun Twitter poll that attracted a blizzard of witty entries. Details correct at time of going to press. Alamy. New Year’s Day wasn’t always January 1. In mediaeval times it was March 25, the feast of the Annunciation. Scotland changed in 1600, but England didn’t celebrate in January until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752. iStock. Hello, Hootenanny! iStock. New New Year In The Footsteps of Sir Walter Scott This week’s cover feature Willie Shand reflects on the landscapes that inspired one of Scotland’s bestloved writers. Photographs by Willie Shand. “Breathes there the man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, ‘This is my own, my native land’?” T HESE oft-quoted lines are taken from Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”. There can’t be many individuals who have done more to promote the landscape and heritage of Scotland than Sir Walter Scott, and few whose work has brought such universal respect and admiration. Robert Burns, whom Scott met in 1786, may be able to boast having the greatest number of monuments in the world erected to any writer, but Sir Walter Scott certainly has the largest, and it stands right in the heart of his native Edinburgh, overlooking Princes Street. The Gothic spires of the Scott Monument rise to more than 200 feet, and if you feel up to climbing the 287 spiral steps to the top you’ll win an amazing view of the capital. At the foot of the monument is a large Carrara marble statue of Sir Walter seated with his dog, Maida. On the way to the top gallery you’ll pass stone carved statues of many of Scott’s well-loved characters from his poems and novels. The son of an Edinburgh lawyer, Sir Walter Scott was born in College Wynd on August 15, 1771, and so shared his birthday with Napoleon Bonaparte. Unfortunately, when Scott was only two, he contracted polio – an illness that was to leave him with a limp for the rest of his days. For health reasons then, the “puir lame laddie” was sent to his grandfather’s farm near Smailholm Tower outside Kelso for his early years. It was there the seeds were sown that would grow into a great love of the Borders, and there many of the tales and legends he was related would be filed away in his mind only to prove invaluable when later he put pen to paper. Returning to Edinburgh at just 12 years old, he began studying the classics, then, following in his father’s footsteps, law. His great fascination for the traditions and stories of the Scottish Borders, however, never waned. It couldn’t have suited him better when in 1799 he became SheriffDepute for Selkirk. After he’d published “Minstrelsy Of The Scottish Border” in 1802, other epic poems quickly followed, and each was a huge success. This success followed him into the publication of his Waverley Novels in 1814. Scott was a bit wary about how the public might react so, to reduce the risk, he Selkirk, in the rolling Border hills. THIS WEEK’S COVER FEATURE 9 The SS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine. published them anonymously. There was much speculation, but it wasn’t until 1827 that authorship was finally admitted. Of course, by then, they were well on their way to becoming the most popular and widely read novels in all of Europe. Believe me – the 27 volumes take up a lot of shelf space! Exactly 200 years ago, on December 30, 1817, he released the historical novel “Rob Roy”. Scott needn’t have worried about owning up to its authorship. Rob Roy – now there’s a character that’s worthy of a few tales. Whether you saw him as a hero or a villain I suppose would depend pretty much on whether or not it was your cattle he was stealing! A bronze statue of Rob Roy stands at the foot of the Back Walk in Stirling. The MacGregors were a much persecuted clan, even to the Factfile extent that they were forbidden from using their own name. You’ll find Rob’s name, though, all around the Trossachs and Balquhidder. A very real character, he was born at Glengyle above the north shore of Loch Katrine. All that remains of a later house he occupied in Glen Dochart is one crumbling gable looking down over the main Crianlarich road. Several caves, no doubt used for hiding, also bear his name. Although sharing the same character, the film “Rob Roy” from 1995, starring Liam Neeson, bears no relationship to Scott’s novel, the first half of which is played out south of the Border. It’s the time of the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. The story’s narrator, an Englishman by the name of Frank Osbaldistone, gives his account of the adventures he faced when n “The Lady Of The Lake” (1810) takes us to Loch Katrine and the Trossachs. This intriguing and romantic story tells of the struggle between the powerful Douglas clan and King James V. The success of this poem was to instantly turn the Trossachs into a popular tourist destination. Today, like our Victorian ancestors, we can enjoy a cruise around Loch Katrine on the SS Sir Walter Scott, sailing past Ellen’s Isle. n The rousing poem “MacGregor’s Gathering” can be sung to an old MacGregor gathering tune. Scott took a great interest in the affairs of the Clan Gregor and vindicated them in the Proscription placed upon them by Act of Scottish Parliament banning the MacGregors from using their own name. The grave of Rob Roy MacGregor at Balquhidder carries the words MacGregor Despite Them – words taken from this poem. n When published in 1805, “The Lay Of The Last Minstrel”, set in the mid 16th century, brought sent north to the Highlands to collect a debt owed to his father, and of his encounters with Rob Roy. Sir Walter Scott’s ability to blend fictional characters with recent events proved a great recipe for success. So, too, was his choice of settings and the romantic way he painted the landscape in words, bearing in mind this was in the days before films. People were drawn in great numbers to the places he described, anxious to see them for themselves. Places like Melrose Abbey, the Trossachs and Loch Katrine saw a phenomenal rise in visitors. He had opened people’s eyes to Scotland. With the Napoleonic Wars restricting travel on the traditional Grand Tour of Europe, suddenly, through Scott instant fame. When the last of an old line of minstrels receives hospitality from the Duchess of Buccleuch, he repays her by reciting a tale about her family. Even two centuries on, visitors are drawn by Scott’s eloquent descriptions of moonlit Melrose Abbey. If you feel brave enough to visit the abbey in the pale moonlight, you’ll find the wizard’s grave beneath the south transept. n Published under a pen name, “The Heart Of Midlothian” (1818) is widely regarded as Scott’s finest novel. Written in Lowland Scots, it begins at the time of the Porteous Riots in Edinburgh and touches on some of the political and social issues of the time. The story continues following the exploits of one Jeanie Deans, sister of Effie Deans who is held in the prison for murdering her illegitimate son. The old Tolbooth was demolished in 1817 and all that remains is a heart made from granite setts marking its entrance. It’s said that to spit on the heart brings good luck. his descriptions, the Scottish landscape had caught folk’s imagination. Scott had set in motion the Scottish tourist industry. At Aberfoyle we can still visit the old oak tree from which hangs The Scott Monument stands over 200 feet high. 10 Abbotsford, once Scott’s home. Bailie Nicol Jarvie’s poker – the weapon he used in Jean McAlpine’s Inn in “Rob Roy”. Close to it is the stone bridge that Frank Osbaldistone and the Bailie crossed on their way to meet with Rob. Head on out by Loch Ard and you’ll pass the spot where Captain Thornton and his men faced defeat by the Highlanders, and the rock where Bailie Nicol Jarvie was suspended by the coat tails “like the sign of the Golden Fleece over a shop in the Trongate of his native city”. It was in 1811 that Scott bought the farm of Cartley Hole looking over the Tweed between Melrose and Kelso. This was to be greatly extended and to become his stately home of Abbotsford. Among his great collection of historic artefacts on display at Abbotsford is Rob Roy’s gun, his pouch and dirk. In 1818, Scott was to receive fame for something other than his writing. For more than a century, Edinburgh Castle. Scotland’s Crown Jewels had been lost. They’d been so well hidden for safekeeping that no-one remembered their whereabouts. With the permission of the Prince Regent, Scott led a search at Edinburgh Castle and found them, wrapped up in an old kist. Everything was going well, he was a baronet and now Sir Walter Scott, but then came the banking crisis of 1825. His publishing company of Ballantyne collapsed, leaving him with the equivalent in today’s money of a £10 million debt. He refused to accept financial help from his admirers and nor would he declare himself bankrupt. He vowed, “I will involve no friend either rich or poor – my own right hand shall do it.” He would write his way out of debt. Just a year after suffering a slight stroke, and well on the way to writing off his debt, Sir Walter died on September 21, 1832, in the dining-room of Abbotsford. Buried at Dryburgh Abbey, he rests beneath a large Worth A Visit Scott Monument: www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venues/scott-monument Abbotsford: www.scottsabbotsford.com Selkirk Courthouse: www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/sir-walter-scotts-courtroom pink granite stone in the North Transept. The route to Dryburgh from Abbotsford took the mile-long cortege over Bemersyde Hill. This was a road Scott would often travel. When he did, he would invariably stop at a certain spot high above the Tweed to admire the view of the Eildon Hills. On Scott’s final journey, the horses pulling the hearse automatically stopped at that very spot to give their master one final look at the view. This has ever since been known as Scott’s View. It was recorded that “when the coffin was taken from the hearse, one deep sob burst from a thousand lips.” Everyone just knew there would never be another like Sir Walter Scott – and they were right. n Getting there Loch Katrine requires a car or coach tour to reach it. Selkirk is on the A7 where it meets the A707, and is served by the X95 bus from Edinburgh. Stirling is accessible by train, bus and car, just off the M9. MADDIE’S WORLD 13 “I like being able to watch the countryside around me change” Photographs courtesy of Maddie Grigg and iStock. I In her weekly column, Maddie Grigg shares tales from her life in rural Dorset . . . T’S that time of year when we reflect on what’s happened to us over the last twelve months and what is yet to come. At least, that’s what I tend to do. In this period between Christmas and New Year, I’m hoping to apply the brakes a little bit and cast my eyes backwards and forward, rather like Janus, the two-faced God of ancient Roman religion and myth. He’s the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages and endings. He’s also thought to have given his name to the month of January. One of the things on my mind is that, although I signed up for the gym earlier this year and have been using it two or three times a week, I don’t actually enjoy it very much. I know it’s good for me, but if I hadn’t paid for a year up front, I probably wouldn’t be doing it. Walking is much more my thing, especially with Arty early in the mornings. There is nothing better than being up with the lark, before everyone else, and walking towards a winter sunrise. The two of us cover quite a bit of ground, which is why I’ve just installed a free app on my phone to track my activity. When you have the time and ability to walk, I think it’s such a joyous thing to do, especially where I live. Arty and I tend to stick to our well-trodden paths. I don’t like putting her in the car and going out of the village. I much prefer putting on my wellies and walking from home. So that’s what we do, Arty and me, heading up to Bluebell Hill a couple of times a week then walking down to a little hamlet across the fields on the other days. I like being able to watch the countryside around me change over the seasons. One of my particularly favourite spots is the middle of a big field where a large ash tree stands guard over the land. When no-one is around I’ll walk directly to the tree and touch it with the palm of a hand. I’ll close my eyes, breathe in deeply and then open them again, looking at the landscape around me. It makes me feel grounded, if that makes sense. The tree is always on my side, never judgemental. It’s a friendly presence which I like to greet every now and then. My relationship with this tree goes further than this. Please keep this between ourselves, but I have been known to ask it for things. Not material things, you understand, but things like emotional strength and kindness. I think the tree has the same effect on others who walk past its noble boughs. I was talking to a man about it as we were waiting for our chips from the van one Tuesday night. It transpires he lives next to this field, and we got chatting about the tree. “My grandchildren call it the Wishing Tree,” he told me. I was relieved, because it’s clear I’m not the only one who feels great affection for it. However, I didn’t confess my secret to him, just muttered something like, “Oh, how nice.” This time last year, a friend challenged himself to walk a thousand miles in 12 months, and he’d done it by the end of September. Now I’ve got the app, I think I might do the same, although I might ask the Wishing Tree what it thinks about my plan. Who knows what other trees I might bump into along the way. n Maddie loves walking by the old ash tree. Tea Towel 2018 only £12.50 for TWo Don’t miss this chance Tea ToWels to order a twin pack of our exclusive calendar tea towel for 2018. The colourful cute kittens in a basket design is printed on hard-wearing cotton and makes a perfect gift to brighten your kitchen. To order simply choose from the following options: orDer noW FREEPHONE: 0800 318 846 quote PFT82 Lines open 8a.m. - 6p.m. Mon. - Sat. www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/pf BY POST: Complete the order form with your credit card details or cheque/postal order made payable to DC Thomson and send to “The People’s Friend” Tea Towel Offer, DC Thomson Shop, P.O. Box 766, Haywards Heath RH16 9GF Tea Towel Offer ITEM CODE QTY PRICE UK PRICE OvERsEas “The People’s Friend” Calendar Tea Towel Offer (pack of 2) PFT82 £12.50 £15.00 TOTaL Name ........................................................................................................................... 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Ltd, its group companies and partner businesses can contact you by email, post or telephone unless you tick the relevant box: No contact from DC Thomson & Company Ltd or its group companies unless it relates to an existing order. No contact from our partner businesses. Offer subject to availability. ©DC Thomson & Co Ltd 2016 Send this order form to: “The People’s Friend” Tea Towel Offer, DC Thomson Shop, P.O. Box 766, Haywards Heath RH16 9GF SHORT STORY BY EWAN SMITH 15 Rory couldn’t wait to move with the times – but the old ways suited Ailsa better . . . Electric Dreams Illustration by Sarah Holliday. A ILSA had never known Rory so excited before. He was bent over, his hands on his knees, desperately trying to catch his breath. He must have run all the way from the big house. On his face was the widest smile in the world. “You’ll never believe it, Ailsa.” He gasped. “We’re going to have electricity. The laird is going to bring electricity to the farm!” It was three years since the two of them had taken over the small Perthshire farm when Ailsa’s dad retired. Although Rory loved the traditional ways, he was also one of the first of the young men in the area to have gone to agricultural college. He was desperate for the chance to put into practice some of the new farming ideas he had learned. It would soon be the 1960s; all kinds of changes were sweeping through the world and he longed to be part of that. They sat down together on the little wall round the kitchen garden. “Just think of the difference it will make,” Rory said, taking Ailsa’s hands in his. “No more paraffin lamps or milking the cows by hand.” He turned to her, a smile blazing across his face. “You’ll have your own washing machine in the house, Ailsa. A fridge!” As Rory’s eager chatter rolled on, Ailsa found herself wondering about the changes. There was no doubt that running the farm was hard work. The two of them were on the go from morning till night with never a break. It would certainly be good if some of the drudgery could be taken out of their lives. On the other hand, they were happy together. Would the changes make any difference to that? Absent-mindedly, her hand slipped to her stomach. She hadn’t told Rory the news yet; she wanted to wait until she was absolutely sure. Some things in life were going to change whether they had electricity or not. * * * * “We’re almost done, hen. Ye’ll hae yer hoose back to yersel’ again the morrow.” Ailsa smiled. “Oh, Peem, it’s been so great having you and Eck here. How will Rory and I learn all the new dance moves once you’re gone?” The two young men had been staying on the farm for nearly a week as they wired up the buildings. Beforehand, Ailsa hadn’t been sure how it would be. She and Rory never had people to stay, and Peem and Eck were townies, unused to rural ways. But although the two of them were sometimes a bit forgetful when it came to wiping their boots before coming into the house, it couldn’t have gone better. They had worked hard, made themselves at home out in the barn and, in the evenings, proudly demonstrated their skill at the jitterbug, twist and hustle to Ailsa and Rory’s great amusement. Ailsa had never known anyone able to put away as many bacon sandwiches as they could. Meanwhile, Rory had barely been able to contain his excitement at the prospect of electricity becoming available on the farm at the flick of a switch. His mind was whirling with plans. It wasn’t just that he could set up a milking parlour so that the cows could be milked by machine. Now he would be able to use electric clippers for shearing the sheep. They could have heat for the sickly lambs when they were brought inside, and the turnips for the animals’ feed could be chopped up automatically. He could even get a cooker for the pigs’ swill. Once they were linked up to the electricity grid, he would be freed from so many of the menial tasks on which he had to spend his days. At last he would have the time he needed to put into practice all the changes he wanted to implement on the farm. He held Ailsa by the shoulders and gazed into her eyes with excitement. “This is a great time for us. And for our little one that’s on its way.” Ailsa smiled to herself. He wasn’t really looking at her; he was looking into the future, imagining all the wonderful things that were to come. She pulled him into 16 a warm hug. He was eager to embrace the changes ahead. But she had a different nature. She was more inclined to take things step by step, judging each change on its merits. * * * * “Are ye ready, loons?” Peem asked, his hand on the switch by the fusebox. The four of them were standing by the kitchen door. “Will I dae a grimly. “I have some work to do!” * * * * In the event, it was amazing how quickly they got used to the changes. Once Ailsa had sorted out how her new washing machine worked, it took a huge burden off her shoulders, especially when they became a family of three. It made her realise just what hard work doing Rory was eager to embrace the changes ahead countdown like with yon rockets?” “Just get on with it, man.” Eck snorted and, with a grin, Peem pressed the switch. The lights blazed on all around them. There was a silence. Ailsa gazed about in awe. “It’s amazing,” Rory murmured after a moment. He turned to Ailsa, his eyes shining. “It’s amazing, isn’t it?” She nodded, but a tiny frown had crossed her forehead. The electric light was showing up things that she hadn’t been aware of before. She could see soot marks on the kitchen ceiling, presumably from the paraffin lamps. And there were balls of dust hiding on the floor between the Aga and the sideboard. She looked in sudden shock at the wall under the sink – was that mould? She gazed about with a sense of horror – her kitchen was dirty! “Come on,” Rory said eagerly. “Let’s go and have a look at the lights in the farm buildings.” Ailsa’s eyes narrowed. She had just spotted something else that the electric light had shown up. There were spiders’ webs in all four corners of the ceiling. “You go on,” she said the weekly wash by hand had been. It was great to be able to make a cup of tea for visitors in minutes now, rather than waiting endlessly for the kettle to boil on the Aga. Although Rory never knew it, Ailsa became hooked on “Mrs Dale’s Diary” on the radio. The characters were so different from the people she knew. She loved her daily session listening to the ups and downs of all their lives. However, there was one thing the two of them disagreed about. “Of course we should get a fridge, Ailsa,” Rory protested. “Everyone has one in their house these days.” Ailsa shook her head firmly. “There isn’t room for a fridge in the kitchen, Rory, especially with the washing machine there. Anyway, if I want something to stay cool, I can keep it in the pantry.” He snorted. “Pantries were fine in the old days when there was no alternative. But times have changed.” However, Ailsa liked her pantry. It was at the back of the house, away from the sun and with a small slatted window open to the outside. It was always cool and dark in there, and it was perfect for storing her eggs, butter and milk. There was plenty room for the fruit and the vegetables they used, and even meat was fine there for a day or two, as long as it was covered. Rory looked at her in puzzlement. “I don’t understand what you have against fridges.” Ailsa shook her head. “I just don’t see the need for one. People put such strange things in their fridges – bread and fruit and goodness knows what else. They don’t need to be kept icy cold. “Just the other week, we had our WRI meeting at Mabel Soutar’s house and I noticed jam in her fridge. Why, for goodness’ sake?” Rory grinned. “That’s true enough. In this house, an opened jar of jam never lasts long enough to go off!” Ailsa laid a hand on his arm. “I’ve nothing against change, Rory. But not just for the sake of it.” For as long as they lived at the farm, they never did buy a fridge. * * * * “Take your time, Gran. There’s no hurry.” Ailsa held on to her granddaughter Fiona’s arm as they walked slowly up the path towards the odd little building. “At the college, we’ve been working on the eco-house for almost two “And you’re in charge of the project?” A frown flickered across Fiona’s forehead. “Sort of. We all work together as a team, though I co-ordinate things, so I suppose you could say I’m in charge.” Ailsa shook her head in admiration. She was so impressed by young people these days, especially young women. They seemed so confident and able. “Your grandad would have been very proud of you, dear.” Fiona squeezed her arm. “But what I really wanted to show you is our cold room. We’ve been developing it for months.” Fiona led Ailsa to a small room next to the kitchen. Inside, it was as cold as its name suggested, and the shelves lining each wall were packed with a whole variety of foodstuffs. “We’ve come up with all kinds of low-tech strategies to keep the room as cool as possible and it’s working really well. “Our hope is that soon we’ll be able to do without a fridge in the house altogether. It’s the way of the future.” Fiona stopped, a look of puzzlement crossing her face. “Are you all right, Gran?” Ailsa tried to control her laughter. “Let’s go and have a cup of tea and I’ll tell you all about the pantry we had at the farm when your mum was young.” Ailsa was so impressed by young people these days years now,” Fiona explained eagerly. “We’re trying to reduce the amount of electricity it uses to a minimum. Eventually we hope to be able to cut it off from the main grid altogether.” Ailsa smiled to herself in amusement. Life could be very strange at times. As she took hold of Fiona’s arm, her laughter redoubled. She had just spotted something else. Up in the corner of the ceiling she could see a spider’s web. “Do you know something, dear? There are some things in life that will never change!” n You’ll find recipes, features, a daily serial and great subscription offers at www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk wellbeing Health & Great advice to keep you happy and healthy Q. I’ve made a New Year resolution to try to exercise more. What form of keep fit would you recommend for an absolute beginner aged sixty? Julie Robinson, Fitness Advisor from www. moveitorloseit. co.uk, is here to help. The best form of exercise is the one that you enjoy doing, so that it’s a pleasure, not a chore. It’s best to do a variety of exercise for all-round fitness, health and fun. Swimming or aqua aerobics is a great In The News iStock. Aversion To Greens In The Genes? Hating greens could be in your genes, according to a new study by the University of Chicago. Researchers have identified two “picky eating” mutations which they believe could help explain some people’s strong aversion to certain tastes and textures. One gene mutation was found in children who were only interested in a limited variety of foods, and the other in children who tried to exercise control through picky eating. Both genes mark a sensitivity to bitter tastes. But whatever your age, gradually introducing new foods in small quantities is the best way to expand your foodie horizons. way to get started and is kind to your joints. Walking is simple and effective, especially if you intermittently pick up the pace, or try Nordic Walking which works your upper body as well. Dancing is an excellent all-round exercise as it also helps with balance, co-ordination and stamina. You could try a beginner’s class for yoga or Pilates to work on your strength and flexibility. Just check with your doctor before you get started and build up gradually to do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise. Vitamin D Boosters Studies show one in six Brits is deficient in vitamin D by early spring, with the over-sixty-fives being among the most at risk because thinner skin doesn’t metabolise vitamin D from sunlight so well. We need about 10-20 mcg per day and you can boost your intake with certain foods: l you’ll get 1 mcg in an egg l leave mushrooms on a sunny window-sill to absorb vitamin D for an hour before eating l a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal can contain 2 mcg l dried milk powder is fortified to the tune of 2 mcg in a 250ml glass l there’s 0.5 mcg in a spread of margarine l search for fortified yoghurts (such as Actimel) which contain 2.5 mcg in a small pot l one bottle of Get More Vitamin D (a sugar-free soft drink from supermarkets) contains your entire daily allowance. l one 4oz (100g) portion of mackerel or salmon contains 12 mcg Health Bite You might have seen oat milk among the non-dairy alternatives in your supermarket. Its naturally sweet taste makes this a useful option for pouring over cereal and adding to tea and coffee if you are lactose intolerant or can’t take soya milk. Oat milk (which costs around £2 per litre, or you can make your own by blending rolled oats with water and pushing it through a fine sieve or muslin) is a great source of vitamin E and soluble fibre and is low in saturated fat. It does have a thinner consistency than other milks, and may be higher in sugars (4.1g per 100ml compared to 0.1g for soya). Some brands may contain gluten, so check the label if you are coeliac or gluten intolerant. We are unable to offer individual advice to readers. Please see your own GP if you have a medical problem. HEALTH 19 Lifestyle changes require a clear aim What’s Your Ideal Weight? Do you want to shed a few pounds in the New Year? Our Health Writer, Colleen Shannon, helps you set a goal. W E are nearing the end of the Christmas season, with all its festive meals and party buffets. The downside is, those extra nibbles and drinks can add to your waistline. Now that the New Year is just around the corner, many people will be making a resolution to lose some weight in 2018. Motivation is important when you’re making lifestyle changes, and that means having a clear aim. If your weight-loss efforts are not based on a straightforward goal, it will be harder to make progress. And it would be impossible to know when you’ve succeeded. So how can you set a realistic target that will give you real health benefits? To learn more, I asked Dr Luke James, Medical Director for Health Clinics at Bupa UK, for some tips. First of all, he explained why it’s important for everyone to keep an eye on their weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Being underweight is not good for you either, as it can increase the chances of developing osteoporosis (brittle bones) and heart palpitations. Your body mass index (BMI) is one part of deciding whether your weight is healthy. It’s a calculation that uses your height and weight to come out with a number. For most adults, the NHS says that a healthy BMI is between 18.5 to 24.9. You can work out your BMI with Bupa’s online calculator at bupa.co.uk/ bmi-calculator. But your BMI is only part of the story. Your waist size is equally important. Research suggests that if you have a normal BMI but carry excess fat around your middle, then you’re more likely to have deeper belly fat that surrounds your organs and puts your health at risk. If you’re a woman, having a waist circumference of over 80 cm (31.5 inches) increases your risk of health problems. For most men, the risks increase if your waist is larger than 94 cm (37 inches). As we get older, our metabolism slows down and we lose muscle mass. This means we burn fewer calories than in our younger days, and it’s one reason why it seems harder to lose weight as each year passes. The good news is, regular exercise can help to boost your metabolism and build muscle, which burns more calories, making it easier to maintain a stable weight and keep your body lean. We also lose bone density from the age of thirty, and over time this can lead to osteoporosis and increased risk of bone fractures. People who are underweight are more vulnerable to osteoporosis. It’s important to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D and calcium, because your bones need these nutrients to stay strong. If you’re ready for a change, you can find lots of information on healthy eating and exercise on the Bupa website at bupa.co.uk. The website also includes guidance and tips from Bupa’s medical experts on ways to lose weight safely. n Wet Your Whistle If you’re worried that your breath might not be as sweet as it used to be, you might be prone to what dentists call “dry mouth syndrome” (or xerostomia) which is caused by thick saliva. It affects an estimated 10% of the population and is more common in women than men, particularly if you are taking medications. One way to keep the mouth moist is to suck special Dry Mouth Lozenges from the Breath Co., which contain special ingredients to stimulate the production of saliva (£9 for 72 lozenges from Boots and Superdrug). Stress-busting Top Tips Studies show that on average we have between 30,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day, 70 to 80% of which are negative. That can translate to an astonishing 35,000 negative thoughts a day, which explains how easy it can be to become stuck in a stressfully repetitive loop of worry, anxiety and insecurity. But mindfulness expert Vidyamala Burch says one key to managing long-term stress is to prioritise pleasurable activities that give your life meaning (your “sustainers”) and to do what you can to stop boring, depleting, painful activities (your “drainers”). She suggests writing a list of all the things in your life that sustain you and give you pleasure and energy and asking yourself what’s stopping you doing these things more often. Now write down all the things that drain you (endless e-mails? Never-dwindling to-do list?) and ask yourself if you can delete some of those drainers or do anything to reduce their impact. SHORT STORY BY WENDY CLARKE 21 Love Birds Christopher loved Clare, and he was ready to take the next step – or was he? Illustration by iStock. C HRISTOPHER placed the drinks on the table, filled with a mixture of excitement and trepidation at what he was about to tell his friends. “Blimey!” His best friend, Matt, raised his eyebrows. “Chris has got his wallet out!” Ignoring him, Christopher handed round the drinks. Now that he was here, what had seemed so clear to him an hour ago was shadowed with doubts. He’d had the most wonderful morning with Clare, walking by the canal hand in hand, talking about everything and nothing. They’d been together for two years now, but it wasn’t until the sun had come out, reflecting off the still water and gilding her hair, that he’d realised something. He wanted them to spend the rest of their lives doing this. He wanted to marry her. He hadn’t said anything, of course, just pulled her to him and kissed her. It was impulsive of him, he knew – he was only twenty-four and wasn’t earning much – but the feeling of certainty had stayed with him all the way home. It was only now he’d decided to tell his friends that he’d started to waver. “What’s all this about?” Matt said, taking a sip of his beer. “Don’t tell me they’ve given you a pay rise.” Christopher leaned back in his chair. “I wish.” “Then what’s going on?” Christopher looked at his friends. They stared back at him expectantly: Ryan with the red hair who thought of nothing except football; Sean, who was hardly ever seen without a different girl on his arm and, of course, Matt. They’d all been best friends since school. “I’ve made a decision.” He took a gulp of his beer. “I’m going to ask Clare to marry me.” Ryan spluttered on his beer and Matt’s hand, with its pint glass, stopped halfway to his lips. “You’re what?” This was not going the way he’d planned. He’d expected slaps on the back and whoops of congratulation, not this. “But you’re only twentyfour! And you still live at home and your mum does all your washing for you.” “It’s time I grew up.” Matt stared at him as though he were mad. “There’s growing up and there’s getting old before your time.” Christopher lowered his drink. “Nothing’s going to change, Matt. Clare and I won’t be tied to each other.” “Really? They don’t call it tying the knot for nothing, you know.” “He’s right,” Sean said, wiping froth from his lip. “I never had you down as a one-woman guy.” Christopher stared at him. “What do you mean?” Sean shrugged. “You know.” “Actually, I don’t. How about spelling it out?” A pretty, blonde-haired girl and her friend passed by their table on the way to the bar. Sean tilted his head towards them. “Think what you’ll be giving up. You really want to be with one woman for the rest of your life?” One of the girls looked over at Christopher and smiled. She had a nice smile and large blue eyes but she wasn’t his type. Besides, he was only interested in Clare. Finishing his pint, he pushed back his chair. “I’ll see you guys later.” Matt got up and walked to the pool table. He picked up a cue, then turned his head and grinned. “Off to do the deed?” Christopher shook his head. “Not today. I said I’d help my grandad put up a new fence. It came down last night.” The others had drained their pints and joined Matt at the table. He knew they’d be talking about him after he’d gone. Christopher pushed open the door and set off in the direction of his grandparents’ house. He’d been looking forward to telling his grandad about his decision but, as he saw the bungalow where his grandparents had lived for the last 50 years, all he could think about were Sean’s words: “You really want to be with one woman for the rest of your life?” Christopher’s grandfather put down his hammer. “What’s up? You’ve got a face like a wet weekend.” The last fence panel lay on the grass. All that was needed was to fix it to the posts they’d just put in. Christopher stood looking at it, his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “Nothing’s up.” “Oh, don’t give me that. I’ve always been able to read you as well as my ‘Radio Times’. Oh, here comes the tea lady.” “Enough of the cheek, Jim.” Christopher’s gran set a tray on the garden table. There was tea and a packet of bourbons on it. Walking over to Christopher, she kissed his cheek. “And how’s my favourite grandson?” Christopher hugged her. “I’m your only grandson.” “Oh, so you are. Well, how are you, anyway?” “I’m good, Gran.” Picking up one of the mugs, his grandfather studied his face. “There’s something bothering him. I’m waiting for him to tell me.” “Why don’t you talk to your grandad about it, Christopher? Sometimes two heads are better than one when it comes to matters of the heart.” Christopher was surprised. “But how did you know –” “I haven’t been married for fifty years without learning a thing or two. You boys both wear your hearts on your sleeves.” She smiled at them. “That’s what I love about you both.” Picking up the tray, she turned and walked towards the house. 22 SERIES BY MALCOLM WELSHMAN: PART 17 OF 30 Beryl’s knitting skills leave a lot to be desired . . . G OODNESS, Beryl, you look like . . .” The words faltered on Eric’s lips as the laser-look she gave him stunned him into silence. I, too, had been rendered speechless on arrival at the hospital that morning. We both stood there like lemons, while the indrawn cheeks and tight lips on Beryl’s face suggested she was sucking on one. “What do you think?” she queried, her good eye swivelling from me to Eric while her glass one stared blankly between us. But it wasn’t this that had drawn our eyes to her. It was what she was wearing. “So,” she repeated, twirling round. “Makes a change, doesn’t it?” She was obviously fishing for a compliment. But not the likes of what Eric landed her with. “You look like a squashed satsuma.” Ouch, Eric, that’s not very tactful, I thought. I hastened to make amends. “Very cheerful, Beryl. Helps brighten the place up.” I was referring to the voluminous orange sweater that Beryl was wearing. It was certainly a lurid colour and far removed from the black cardigan with matching black trousers that made up her usual daily office outfit. “Thanks, Paul,” Beryl replied, glaring at Eric, who sped out of reception. She plucked at one of the shapeless sleeves, pulling it up from where it had fallen down over her hand. “Orange is associated with improved concentration,” she went on. “It helps overcome feelings of dread.” She smiled. “Perhaps I should knit you one.” What a dreadful idea, I thought as I followed Eric. Mandy remarked on Beryl’s buoyant mood while I checked on the routine ops booked in for me to do that morning. “Must be that orange sweater.” “More likely this.” I tapped the ops list. Ernie Entwhistle’s collie, Bess, was to be spayed. Beryl and Ernie had become close friends since the death of his previous collie, Ben, last summer. It had started with chance meetings on the green when Beryl and I were tackling our lunchtime baguettes. It progressed to afternoon teas and strolls along the promenade with her and Bess at the weekends. Ernie was a dapper gentleman of slight build, and was always well turned out in navy silver-buttoned blazer, crisp white shirt and tie with knife-edge creases in his trousers. “Well, Bess,” I said as Mandy brought the collie through from the ward. “Sleepy time for you.” Between us we levered her on to the prep table where she sat as good as gold while the anaesthetic was given. At that point an orange blob loomed up at the prep door window. “All’s well, Beryl,” I called out. The orange blob faded from the aperture. She reappeared in the corridor as Bess was wheeled out of the operating theatre 20 minutes later, sporting six stitches that closed a midline incision. I reassured Beryl the op had been straightforward. “I’ll let Ernie know,” she replied, pulling her orange sleeves up as she bobbed back up to reception. The usual routine with standard operations was for the owners to phone later in the day to see what time they should collect their pet. They would then be met by Mandy or Lucy with any instructions for follow-up appointments if required. In the case of spays, an appointment for removal of stitches in ten days’ time would be booked. An exception had been made for Ernie Entwhistle at Beryl’s request. I was to see him and hand over Bess. “Would that be OK?” she asked. How could I refuse? Beryl’s jumper bristled with expectation as five o’clock approached – the agreed time for the handover. By then Bess had recovered from her op and, though a little woozy, was on her feet and ready to go. “Ernie’s in the car park,” an excited Beryl said, dashing down to the ward in a blur of orange to collect Bess. I made my way to reception just as the front door opened and Ernie Entwhistle entered. I was expecting the usual nattily dressed gent in navy blazer, but Ernie appeared encased in a huge sweater that hung down over his wrists and sloped in a jagged edge round his hips. The colour? Bright orange. When Bess appeared there were frenzied wags of her tail, while Ernie and Beryl embraced in what could only be described as an orange squash. More next week. The sun had come out, reminding Christopher of his walk with Clare by the canal. He missed her. “I want to ask Clare to marry me.” His grandfather’s face broke into a smile. “That’s great news. What I don’t understand is why you’re looking so glum. You love her, don’t you?” “More than anything,” Christopher said, realising it was true. “Then what’s the problem?” Christopher looked over to the bungalow. He could see his grandmother through the window. “When you asked Gran to marry you, did you ever worry that she’d be the only woman you’d be with for the rest of your life?” His grandfather followed his gaze. When his wife looked up, he blew her a kiss. “It’s natural to worry about these things, but your gran’s not the only one to have learned something from fifty years of marriage. I’ll tell you a secret, Chris. I’ve been married to many women.” Christopher gasped. “Have you?” His grandfather laughed. “Not in that way. What I mean is, I fell in love with an eighteen-year-old ice skater, married a twenty-year-old Beatles fan, had children with a twenty-two-year-old hairdresser and today I’m married to the wisest woman I know. Get the picture?” Christopher nodded. “I’m starting to.” “We all change as we get older and life throws things at us. Clare will be many different women to you over the years. Think you can handle that?” He grinned. “I think it’s exciting, Grandad.” “Ask that girl to marry you.” He took Christopher’s mug out of his hands and placed it on the table. “What are you waiting for?” Christopher looked at his grandfather then picked up his jacket and slung it over his shoulder. The fence panel could wait. He had more important things to do. n Brainteasers Word Ladder Move from the word at the top of the ladder to the word at the bottom using the exact number of rungs provided by changing one letter at a time (but not the position of any letter). J A I L B I R D Pieceword PUZZLES 23 Answers on p87 Try our general knowledge crossword ACROSS 1 2 3 1 New York’s open 7 area (7,4) 9 London river structure 9 begun in 1972 (6,7) 10 French Impressionist painter, known for his 10 11 rural scenes (8) 12 Russian man’s name (4) 14 Dublin theatre founded by WB Yeats and Lady 14 Gregory (5) 15 Capital of South Korea (5) 16 19 Notorious 16th‑century 19 Russian tsar (4) 21 20 Pop group whose hits included Kissin’ in 22 the Back Row of the Movies (8) 22 Another title for 24 Jesus (6,2,5) 24 Order of insects that includes bees, wasps 6 Meteorologist’s and ants (11) device (4,5) 4 5 6 8 12 13 15 17 18 20 23 16 Big‑mouthed Rainbow character (5) 17 Japanese detective 7 Sports car of the 1960s, DOWN played by Peter made by Jaguar (1‑4) 2 TV’s former Mrs Lorre (2,4) 8 Cornish city (5) Sharples (3) 3 Yorkshire valleys (3,5) 11 Taxonomic category (9) 18 Colchester’s county (5) 21 Israeli city and port (4) 4 Einstein’s first name (6) 13 One of a number 23 Layer of gases of similar plant 5 Country bordering surrounding the Earth (3) diseases (4,4) Colombia (4) With the help of the Across clues only, can you fit the pieces into their correct positions in the grid? U T E S H I I S T E L D R U H E A T E R I MP O T O V E 1 T V U S R I B ON E P A S N I C E I R R A O U S H S I S 4 A T T A E T I C C A R HOR S E R I S A NO H E D 7 P A R P H R E D E T A N Y I R O A E A B T R P P I L M 10 2 Sudoku Fill the grid with the numbers 1 to 9 so that each row, column and 3x3 block contains the numbers 1 to 9. 3 6 5 6 3 6 6 2 1 7 5 7 6 9 1 1 9 2 3 8 9 11 12 ACROSS 6 And not • Promote 10 Riot police officer’s 1 Arrange in a new way protective screen • 7 Component • Subject to Space under a roof 3 Aviator • Nurse or nun a security check 5 Outdated • Conveying meaning 8 No person in particular • 12 Needy by stating the opposite Find repugnant, loathe 1 6 5 2 1 3 7 4 4 9 6 2 3 8 All puzzles © Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com Get Away From It All Exclusive! Great Value Enjoy a fun-filled 3-night break at Warner’s Alvaston Hall Hotel, Cheshire with “The People’s Friend” from just £259 per person ★ March 23-26, 2018 Dear Friends, Angela Gilchrist, Editor. I’m thrilled to invite you all to take a short break with the “Friend” at beautiful Alvaston Hall Hotel in Cheshire. It comes with my personal recommendation – I’ve stayed there myself and had a wonderful time. Why not join me and other members of the “Friend” team for an unforgettable, tailor-made holiday just for you? Over the long weekend, there will be a host of “Friend”-themed activities for you to take part in, including tea and a chat with me. It’s a great opportunity to make friends with other “Friend” readers. I’m looking forward to meeting you! Your room awaits... Relax in style in one of Alvaston Hall’s comfortable, well-equipped bedrooms, with en suite bathrooms and lots of thoughtful touches. STANDARD ROOM From £259 Fantastic-value Standard rooms are a real home from home with TV, tea and coffee making facilities, biscuits replenished daily, comfy chairs and reading lights, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, telephone and safe. Limited single rooms available without supplement SIGNATURE ROOM From £289 Half-board menu included in the price BREAKFASTS: With a choice of full English and continental buffets, or dishes cooked to order, breakfast will set you up for a fun-filled day ahead. EVENING MEALS: Choose from the carvery, extensive buffet or Alvaston’s menu of delicious dishes served straight to your table. Make sure you leave room for dessert! For added luxury, treat yourself to a Signature room, which has all the amenities of a Standard room and includes a pillow menu, toiletries selection and a complimentary bottle of wine. Offer subject to availability, new bookings only, applies to groups of under 19 and can be withdrawn without prior notice. Prices correct at time of printing, prices quoted are per person. Additional £30 supplement per night for single occupancy rooms, note first 7 rooms to be booked will not incur this charge. Holidays booked less than 10 weeks ahead of holiday start date must be paid in full at booking. Calls cost no more than calls to geographic numbers (01 or 02). Bookings must be made by 26/01/2018. Warner hotels are over 21s only. Minimum of 16 guests required for the Nantwich trip (transport only, not a guided visit). Please advise on booking if you want to go on the Nantwich trip. Full terms and conditions for Warner Leisure Hotel breaks can be found at www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk (Bourne Leisure Holidays trading as Warner Leisure Hotels is a company registered in England and Wales, company number 01854900, registered office 1 Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 4YL). With The “Friend” 25 As a guest of the Saturday ill w u yo ” nd rie “F ★ Coach trip to ... to Nantwich (leave be treated Friday Evening ★ Private welcome drinks 10 a.m., return 2 p.m.) ★ Craft session run by the “Friend” team ★ A “Friend” goody bag MAKE: ★ Meet and greet with the “Friend” team ✓ Hand-made cards ✓ Easter gifts Sunday ★ Exclusive tour of the gardens led by one of Alvaston House’s expert gardeners ★ Travel writer Neil McAllister talks about 30 years of writing for the “Friend” There’s never a dull moment at Warners! Your break includes full use of the hotel’s leisure facilities, participation in any daily activities of your choice and live entertainment every night. • • • • • • 9-Hole golf course Table Tennis Air-rifle shooting Archery Quizzes Games • • • • • • ★ Tea with the “Friend” Editor Indulge in a cup of tea and a chat with Angela and other members of the “Friend” team. Free WIFI in public areas Indoor heated pool Bubble pool Tropicarium Full equipped fitness studio Aqua fit sessions Enjoy our amazing live entertainment every night Warner Hotels are renowned for their fantastic live entertainment. Put on your dancing shoes or just sit back, relax and enjoy Big Night Live with Stacey McCarthy and the Shock, moving effortlessly through Jazz, Soul, Motown to present day. To book call 0330 102 9952 or email email@example.com Please quote: “The People’s Friend” Lines open Monday - Friday 9am-5.30pm Home Sweet Home Our latest homeware collection will definitely brighten up your home over the winter months. We have fabulous teapots, beautiful mugs for cosy cups of tea or hot chocolate and delightful home fragrance sets. If you are looking to cosy up through the winter our slouch socks and hot water bottle covers are the perfect for relaxing while our cushions make the perfect sofa companion. Hot Water Bottle Covers £20.00 FROM ONLY £13.00 Garland Bone China Mugs £13.00 These stunning mugs, designed by Clarissa Hulse, feature her signature print of beautiful botanical silhouettes coupled with vibrant colours and finished with a metallic top layer for that extra bit of sparkle. Dimensions: 3¼ x 3¼ inches (8 x 8 cms). Garland Blue Mug: PFGBM Garland Yellow Mug: PFGYM Garland Pink Mug: PFGPM Update an old hot water bottle with this fabulous arran knit cover from Story Horse. Teal: PFHWT Grey: PFHWG Slouch Socks £25.00 Keep your toes super cosy with these one-size, super-soft slouch socks. Teal: PFSST Grey: PFSSG Bone China Teapots £29.50 Produced from the finest, delicate bone china but strong enough to withstand daily use, these lovely teapots are dishwasher and microwave safe. Dimensions: 9¼ x 6¼ inches (23.5 x 16.5cm). Cats in Waiting Teapot: PFWAT Hound Dog Teapot: PFTPH Cushions £22.00 Why not cuddle up with one of our stunning new cushions. Available in three designs the cushions are made from 100% cotton sateen with polyester filling, the cushions measure 13 x 13 inches (33 x 33 cms). Cats in Waiting Cushion: PFIWI Badger Cushion: PWBC Bunny & Bee Cushion: PWBBC Pintail Fragrance Pack £27.95 This set features the delicate scent of elderflower in a wax melt lasting up to 60 hours, the gorgeous aroma of geranium and rose petal in a reed diffuser lasting for at least 6 months and the lovely Make Yourself at Home Oil Burner. Code: PFNP3 Name ................................................................................................................................................. 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If you’d like to hear from us by post, please tick here q telephone, please tick here q or email, please tick here q. From time to time, carefully chosen partner businesses would like to contact you with relevant offers. If you’d like to hear from partner businesses for this purpose please tick here q. CLOSING DATE 28th FEBRUARY 2018 Online: www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk CAll: 0800 318 846 and quote the appropriate code. Lines open 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Mon-Fri and 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat free from UK landlines only. Please have your credit/debit card details to hand. BY POST: Complete the order form and send it with your credit card details or cheque/postal order, made payable to DC Thomson & Co Ltd., and send it to: “The People’s Friend” Home Sweet Home Offer, DC Thomson Shop, PO Box 766, Haywards Heath, RH16 9GF. 28 At Work With The Scottish SPCA Polly Pullar meets Stuart Louch, former Head of the Small Mammal Unit at the SSPCA’s Wildlife Rescue Centre. Hedgehogs need heat in their early days. Photographs courtesy of Polly Pullar. T HE hard-working staff of the Scottish SPCA’s large, well-equipped wildlife hospital at Fishcross, near Alloa, must be able to turn their hands to almost anything. It is never possible to predict what may be brought in next, and all the animals and birds that arrive must be swiftly dealt with, assessed and treated. Many will have to be seen by the vet, some may need extensive operations, and then there may be a longer period of recovery. Everything must be suitably housed and tempted with the correct food. Many are severely Part 3 of 6 stressed, and in the case of orphans, coping with the loss of a mother, too. For wild animals and birds, though we can help them, we can never hope to replicate the way a natural parent would rear its offspring. And in the case of very young babies, care must be taken not to imprint the patient on the human endeavouring to fill the role, for this will jeopardise its return to the wild. Hand rearing is never as straightforward as it seems. Stuart Louch began his work with animals as a volunteer with the Scottish SPCA with domestic animals, before working full-time in one of their Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centres, but he really wanted to work with wild animals. It was not long before he came to Fishcross, where he works in their Small Mammal Unit. It’s a role he takes very seriously, but admits, too, that as he is new to the job, he is very much in the process of learning. The centre is divided into various sections with entire rooms – wards – dedicated to particular animals or birds. In Stuart’s case the greatest proportion of his charges consist of hedgehogs. He takes me on a tour and proudly shows me minute babies with their eyes still shut tight. Not only do they have to be kept at a constant high temperature, but they also have to be fed with a syringe every few hours, and toileted, too, as with all mammals – this is something that would be done by their mothers to help them pass waste matter. After about 10 days the babies are able to do this by themselves. In the past the centre has received injured female hedgehogs that have given birth whilst in their care. In 2016 the centre handled some 1,317 hedgehogs, and had an astonishing total of 250 in at the same time, largely due to the mild winter with many late babies being born. This involved a gargantuan amount of work. Often these tardy youngsters will not have had enough growing time to store the vital “brown fat” that enables them to NATURE 29 Pine martens have become widespead in Scotland. hibernate successfully. Instead, they must be overwintered. During hedgehog season an Everest-sized heap of newspapers will be required and members of the public kindly donate sackloads on a regular basis. From this high number of hedgehogs it may appear that they are thriving in the British Isles. This is far from the case, for the hedgehog is in worrying decline. From an estimated 36 million in the 1950s, numbers have crashed to under a million now. Much of this is due to habitat loss. Every hedgehog counts. Stuart’s charges include mice, bats, voles, shrews, moles, squirrels, pine martens, hares, rabbits and weasels, too. This year he has had his first litter of stoats, though the centre has handled them before on numerous occasions. Their mother was run over near Inverness and the six tiny kits were found beside her, and brought in unharmed. They soon adapted to being syringe-fed and are now outside in a large aviary where their extraordinary antics and lithe play prepare them for their lives in the wild as highly skilled and voracious little hunters. The staff named the Holding on tight! youngsters after the characters in “Friends”: Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe and Rachel. In the past, stoats have been brought in during the winter in their full white dress – known as ermine. Stoats and mountain hares are the only mammals in the British Isles that turn white during the winter. In a special container in a warm ward, a nest of orphan weasels is also flourishing. The pine marten is a mammal that was seldom brought in to the hospital. Now numbers are on the increase as, thankfully, the law protects them. Though they are thriving in the wild, on occasions they are sadly still illegally persecuted. Being inquisitive, they sometimes get into trouble. We gingerly look around another ward door and see the pretty, sharp little face of a young pine marten peeping out of a blanket hammock tied between branches in a large pen. I catch a glimpse of cocoa-coloured fur and the animal’s yellow ochre throat patch before she dives for cover, hiding in the thick folds of blanket. Each pine marten has unique markings on its throat patch, or gorget, and can be identified from these. Increasingly, pine martens are coming to garden feeders, particularly when lured by sweet delicacies such as jam, as well as peanuts. This year Stuart has three pine martens in his care. Centre manager Colin Seddon ensures that suitable release sites are found for them, but these places are a well-kept secret. Our native red squirrel is always a hugely popular arrival, though many of the casualties may have been caught by a domestic cat and are sometimes too badly injured to make it. Stuart and his team of assistants have had great success with hand-rearing orphan squirrels in the past, and once independent they How you can get involved The centre is spread out on a 65-acre site, and with casualty arrivals rising annually, as the general public become more aware of the plight of many of our wild animals, it seems likely that in future years there will be a need for even more pens, aviaries, pools and hospital facilities. The important work carried out at Scotland’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre by its dedicated and passionate staff cannot be underestimated. If you’d like to support the SSPCA’s work, donations can be made by calling 03000 999 999 or sent to Scottish SPCA, Kingseat Road, Halbeath, Dunfermline KY11 8RY. Cheques should be made payable to “Scottish SPCA”. Stuart feeds a tiny weasel. are put in a large aviary full of branches, fed a natural diet, and eventually found a suitable release site in one of the red squirrel’s strongholds, where food will still be put out for them until they are totally independent. n Next time: Join us in our January 6 issue when Polly meets Kaniz Hayat, Head of Seals. The Mystery Of The Missing Du Mauriers Illustration by Kirk Houston. The Story So Far WHEN HANNAH BARKER’s bookshop is broken into, it seems the thieves knew what they were after. Some firstedition novels owned by Hannah’s late mother have gone. They also left a clue behind – a pin with the head of a fox on it. Hannah’s godmother VIVIAN knows Hannah was banking on the sale of the du Maurier novels to rescue the failing finances of the shop. For detective NOAH RILEY, the case is his first in quiet Mossfield Hills after his transfer from the city following an accident. He has difficulty adjusting but tries to focus on the robbery. Vivian tells TILLY, the tea room owner, that she feels responsible for her late friend’s daughter. Hannah and Vivian, along with MAJOR WHARTON, resolve to try to solve the mystery. The major owns an antiques shop and he alerted the police. At present his fourteen-yearold grandson, BRADLEY, is staying with him. The three sleuths adjourn to the pub to compare notes, but have nothing to report. Then Hannah spots a familiar figure in a photo on the wall. Her grandma! But why is she wearing a pin like the one found in the shop, and who are the others in the photo? Vivian could tell by her reaction that Tilly had been upset by the photo. But why? A SOFT glow from the old-fashioned street lamps lit the winding path in the cemetery. Despite the dismal October weather, morning birdsong filtered through the trees and dawn was trying its best to push through the thick grey cloud cover. Hannah stopped at a red granite headstone and stooped, placing four yellow roses in the stone vase. “Happy birthday, Mum. I can’t believe it’s been four years since I was able to give you a birthday hug.” She brushed off raindrops from the stone with her gloved hand and sighed. Her warm breath made small clouds in the air. “Things are tough at the moment. The shop was broken into yesterday. They took your books.” Hannah blinked away tears. “I don’t know what to do, Mum! The bank is threatening to foreclose and I’ve got three weeks to find the money. “Vivian’s being a rock, and the major. We asked around yesterday to see if SERIAL BY NICOLA BURGGRAF: PART 2 OF 4 anyone had seen anything suspicious. They hadn’t. “But at the pub we came across a photograph of Grandma with some other women, and a man. They called themselves the Vixens and wore fox pins. “Here’s the interesting part, Mum. The same type of pin was left on the shelves where your books were. Did it fall out of one of them? I doubt it – I’ve read those books so many times that I’d have noticed. Any ideas, Mum?” Hannah dug her fingers into the wet earth at the foot of the headstone and plucked stubborn dandelion roots as she spoke. “There’s a new policeman in town. He’s OK, but he’s obviously a city guy and finding it difficult to adjust. He’s quite nice looking, behind his stiff demeanour.” She smiled. “Mum, if I get through this crisis, I’m going to make some changes to the shop, bring it more up to date. I could develop a website and sell online. “Another thing might be to introduce a lending service for a small yearly fee, since the library closed last year. I’ve almost finished a business plan. Maybe the bank will extend my loan if they like it.” Hannah paused and looked at her mother’s engraved name. She brushed a raindrop from the tip of her nose. “Wishful thinking, eh?” The scarf round her neck prickled her chin. It felt like her mother’s fingers tickling her, which she’d often done when Hannah needed to listen more carefully. “I hear you, Mum. ‘Stop spending so much time thinking – just do it!’” She blew a kiss, grabbed the pile of collected weeds and dropped them in a bin. The rain was pelting down. Head down, hands firmly shoved in pockets, Hannah hurried out of the churchyard, up the hill towards Words On Pages, making a mental list of things to do as she went. First on the list, after the big clear-up of the mess left by the fingerprinting dust, was to phone all contacts to see if there was any buzz in the book world about the missing du Mauriers. * * * * Noah shot up in bed. Another nightmare. Sweat covered his bare chest. He pushed off the covers, flung his legs over the side of the bed and rubbed his throbbing shoulder. The accident was still imprinted on his mind. The front end of a Transit van bore down on him, ramming into him as he sat in the passenger seat of the police car. No time to react. The airbag exploded, pounding his face. Noah scrunched his nose, remembering the stench of burned flesh, his flesh. He winced at the pain in his shoulder. It had been crushed and would never be completely functional again. Noah snapped out of his reverie and plodded to the bathroom to get ready for day two at Mossfield Hills police station. Dressed more casually today in black jeans, white shirt and tie with a V-neck pullover, Noah poured a coffee and carried it into the quaint sitting-room. He ducked under the doorway. Even the housing here was too small for him, he thought as he slumped into a battered leather armchair. He sipped his drink, placed his cup on a side cabinet and picked up the manila file. A sticker had been carefully placed in the top right-hand corner. Words On Pages Burglary, Case 1. Noah smiled. Christine might be a busybody, but the file was perfectly laid out and his scribbled notes had been transferred into a neatly typed transcript on the correct documentation. She was good at her job. He made a mental note to thank her. Scanning through his notes, his gaze focused on the perpetrator’s entrance to the book store. The lock had either been expertly picked or a key used. His brow furrowed. Why hadn’t he followed this up yesterday? He made notes. Who had keys to the shop? Hannah and Vivian definitely had a set, but his gut told him neither one of them would consider pulling off an insurance scam. Noah prided himself on being a good judge of character. He continued to read the report. The pin. Why would evidence be left behind when everything else had been carried out with care? It was sloppy. Was a game being played – leaving a clue on purpose, perhaps? Noah stared out of the rain-splattered window. A set of Daphne du Maurier books had been stolen. 31 stayed on the teaspoon. Vivian touched her arm. “What is it, Tilly?” Tilly stopped stirring. “I’ve been thinking about Hannah and the break-in.” “Nobody was hurt, which is the main thing,” Vivian said. “But I want you to take a look at this.” She held out a copy of the photo from the pub. “All I know is that the group is called the Vixens.” Tilly was chewing her lip. Her hands shook. “Tilly, what is it?” Tilly leaned in. “This picture brings back memories I’d rather forget.” Noah felt in his gut that Hannah was no criminal Who would want them, and why? Was this a personal vendetta against Hannah? Noah placed the file in his leather bag and grabbed his jacket from the hook by the door. Time to get to work. * * * * The door chimes tinkled at Tilly’s Tea Rooms. Vivian rushed in and propped her sodden umbrella in the corner next to the door. “Good morning, Tilly, love.” She hung up her coat. “Morning, Viv. Tea?” “Please. Have you made teacakes this morning?” “Yes.” “I’ll have one of those, too, with lots of butter, please. And a couple of bacon rolls to go.” Vivian watched Tilly as she stepped to the counter, noting the dark circles under her friend’s eyes. She wasn’t her normal chatty self either. “Something wrong, love?” “Didn’t sleep well,” Tilly said, buttering a teacake. “Sit down and have a cup of tea with me. My treat.” Tilly glanced around. “OK.” She poured out a cup from the huge teapot standing on a hotplate behind the counter. Vivian headed to her usual table. “Why haven’t you slept?” she asked Tilly. Tilly plopped two sugar cubes into her tea and stirred slowly. Her eyes Vivian held her hand. “You can tell me.” The front door clanged open and a young boy entered. His coat was drenched. Tilly jumped up and joined him. “Morning, Bradley.” Vivian sighed. She had been sure Tilly was about to open up. “Mornin’,” the teenager mumbled. Vivian looked on in amusement. He reminded her of her pupils. “Good morning, Bradley,” she called. The boy turned and smiled with difficulty. “Helping your grandad during the holidays?” “Yeah.” His shoulders were slumped and his neck shrugged into the collar of his coat. Being a teenager wasn’t easy, she felt. “The bacon is on the grill,” Tilly told him. “Sit over there and have this while you wait.” She handed him a cookie and a mug of hot chocolate. “Thanks.” He shuffled over to a seat. Vivian grabbed her bag and the picture and joined Tilly at the counter. “What about this picture?” She waved the sheet of paper. Tilly cleared her throat. “They were all codebreakers at Bletchley Park during World War II.” The door banged open again and a 32 soaked couple came in. “Sorry, Vivian, but I must get on.” Vivian groaned. There was more to this story, she was sure . . . * * * * A cold breeze ruffled the papers on Hannah’s desk as Vivian rushed into the shop, puffing. She shook her wet coat and hung it up on the hanger by the door. “Morning, Hannah. Tilly acted very strange when I showed her the picture.” Hannah shook her head and Vivian realised she was on the phone. She mouthed “sorry” and tiptoed towards the kitchen with her basket. Once the phone call was complete, with yet another “I’ve heard nothing” response from a book contact, Hannah went to the kitchen. She gave Vivian a half smile. Vivian dropped two teabags into the teapot and looked at Hannah. “Been to see your mother, I take it?” “Yes. I don’t think the roses will last long in this weather, but they were her favourite. Anyway, what news have you got?” “I’ll make a cuppa and then tell you,” Vivian said with a mischievous grin. “Can I smell bacon rolls?” “Yep. Picked them up from Tilly’s on my way here. Now, go and sit down. I’ll bring everything through.” Hannah sat at her desk, swivelling to and fro on the chair. Vivian marched in carrying a laden tray. to the story, but we were interrupted. I’ll visit the police station later and speak to Christine. “She knows everything about our town, and everybody who’s ever lived here.” “She used to give tours of the town, didn’t she?” “Yes, she was good at it.” Hannah spotted something through the rain-streaked front window, and the corners of her mouth twitched. “Here comes Noah Riley.” He dashed in. “Good morning, ladies.” Hannah and Vivian greeted him in unison. “Cup of tea?” “I’d love one, please.” Noah removed his jacket, hanging it on the back of a chair opposite. Hannah cradled her teacup and studied him. He suited his more modern clothes. His face had lost yesterday’s tension but there was sadness in his eyes. She wondered what it could be. Broken relationship? The job? He caught her staring and she quickly smiled. Noah glanced around. “You’ve done a good job clearing up.” “Started early. I can’t miss another day’s trading. Anything to report?” “Not really, but something occurred to me when I reread the report.” Hannah leaned forward, waiting for him to continue. Vivian interrupted the moment and put a mug of tea in front of him. “There you go, Noah. You The word “code” seemed to be cropping up everywhere “Well,” she said, sitting opposite Hannah and handing out the tea and rolls. “I happened to ask Tilly about the photograph from the pub. She went pale at the mention of the word Vixens, and she became very fidgety.” “Vivian, why are you whispering? There’s no-one here,” Hannah asked. Vivian chuckled and recounted what Tilly had told her. “There’s obviously more look like you need that. Is everything all right?” she asked, placing a hand on his forearm. “I’m fine. Thanks for the tea,” he said, lifting his cup. “About the report?” Hannah prompted. He took a gulp of tea. “Yes. There was no forced entry so that meant the lock had to be picked or a key was used. Who has access to a key?” “There are four keys. I have one, Vivian has one and the major has one.” “You said four,” he said. “The fourth is a spare and is at home.” “Are you sure?” “Yes. It’s locked in a box in the kitchen drawer.” “I hope you’re not saying it’s an inside job, Noah,” Vivian piped up. Noah took another sip of his tea. “No, but I have to explore every possibility.” He paused. “What about Major Wharton? Do you trust him?” Vivian tittered. “The major’s a goodietwo-shoes. Plus, the whole neighbourhood would have heard him. He couldn’t be quiet even if he tried.” Noah laughed. “The other thing that bothers me is the pin.” “You think it was left on purpose?” Hannah asked. “Yes. The way it was placed on the shelf, as well as the height of the shelf.” The three of them drank their tea in silence. Hannah’s mind whirred. “It certainly is a riddle,” she said aloud. Noah sat up straight. “I think you have hit the nail on the head, Hannah. It is a riddle. It’s as if the thief wants to play a game.” Vivian rubbed her hands. “So, let’s play!” Hannah grabbed her notebook and pen. “Right, what do we have? A collection of stolen Daphne du Maurier first editions. No forced entry. A pin emblazoned with a fox.” She wrote at top speed. “Then we have the photograph of the women,” Vivian added. “Hang on, ladies, don’t get carried away. My gut tells me the pin is a distraction, to knock us off the scent of what’s really going on.” He sat back. “But I’m intrigued to know what photograph you’re talking about.” Vivian took the crumpled copy from her bag and slapped it on the desk in front of him. She relayed what she knew so far. “Codebreakers, eh? I’ll take this and ask Christine to do her magic. Just in case there is something relevant to the case,” Noah said, folding the paper and sliding it into his pocket. “So you know about Christine’s talents?” Vivian said approvingly. Noah nodded and stood. “Well, thank you for the tea. I’ll just check with the major about his key. There’s no harm in being thorough,” he added. Hannah scooted round the desk to see Noah out. “Thank you for stopping by, Noah, and for taking the burglary seriously. I know you’re probably more used to dealing with much bigger cases.” “A crime is a crime.” His lips curled into a forced smile. * * * * An old-fashioned bell clanged as Noah entered the antiques shop. The smell of old wooden furniture filled the air. The shop was crammed with memorabilia, including a section devoted to the Rolling Stones. Noah made a note to come back and browse when he had time. There was a military section. Noah spotted an old Morse code generator. He couldn’t resist and started to tap a message. “Good morning, Inspector. I see you know Morse code.” Noah started. He hadn’t heard the major approach. He whisked his hand away from the machine. “Yes, I learned it during my studies. Fascinating language. You never know when it might come in useful.” “It’s fully functional. I’ll let you have it for fifty pounds.” “Maybe another time, Major Wharton. I’m actually here on police business.” “Come through the back.” Noah breathed in as he weaved his large frame through the tiny walkway that led to the rear. He noticed the major’s limp as he followed. “Take a seat, Inspector,” the major said, pulling out a high-backed wooden chair. “How can I help?” “Miss Barker tells me you have a key to her shop.” “Yes, I do. It’s here on my bunch of keys.” He yanked 33 the bunch from his blazer pocket. “Which key is it?” The major fumbled through the stack and flicked a key up. “It’s this one.” The key had a green sticky label on its head with HS written on it. “HS?” “Hannah’s shop, of course.” The major’s eyes popped wide open. “Why’re you asking? You don’t think I’m your burglar, do you?” “I’m just covering all bases, and making sure all keyholders can account for their keys.” “Well, good, because I’d never think of such a thing. Hannah is like a daughter to me. I tell you one thing, when you find the culprit I’ll have a thing or two to say to them.” Noah flicked his head round at a clatter behind him. A short, spotty boy was standing in the doorway holding a puzzle book. “Bradley, I told you not to disturb us. Inspector, this is my grandson. He’s helping me out during the school holidays.” Bradley fidgeted on the spot. “I need the loo,” he said. “Then off you go, boy,” his grandfather snapped. With his gaze set on the floor, the greasy-haired teenager dropped his puzzle book on the table where the men sat and ran to the bathroom. Noah’s gaze followed the boy as he disappeared behind a door. “How old is Bradley?” “Fourteen going on forty. I tell you, that boy has always got his head stuck in a book. When he’s not reading, he’s doing puzzles. He should get out more. Do more physical activities.” Noah picked up the boy’s book. “Wow, these are complicated.” “He knows his puzzles, does Bradley.” The major pushed back his shoulders. “And he’s interested in history, so I enjoy it when he comes. He keeps me company and asks me all sorts of questions. “He knows Morse code, too. Taught himself over the summer holidays. He often plays on that machine.” “Hmm.” “What?” “Nothing. It’s just that the word ‘code’ seems to be cropping up a lot today.” Noah pushed his chair back and stood. “Well, thank you for your time, Major Wharton.” * * * * Hannah buried her chin in her scarf and squinted against the icy wind as she trundled down the hill towards home. The rain had finally stopped. Typical. If it had stopped sooner then maybe some customers might have ventured into the shop. The four yellow roses on her mother’s grave must be ruined. Hannah missed her mother. Even when she’d studied in the city, she’d spoken to her mother on the telephone every day. The void left by her death was unbearable some days. Especially October the eighth each year. A tear dropped into the fold of Hannah’s scarf. She couldn’t face going home. As Hannah neared her usual crossing halfway down the hill, she spotted Noah nestled in the corner of a new chain coffee shop that had appeared overnight. Typical. A city man always frequented a franchised coffee house rather than one of the homely tea rooms. He looked like a lost soul, and Hannah went in. She ordered hot chocolate and headed for him. “Hello.” He glanced up from his newspaper. “May I join you?” She didn’t wait for an answer but dragged out the chair opposite. Her heart skipped a beat when he smiled back and discarded his paper. “Hello, Hannah. How’s business been today?” “Quiet,” she said, shedding her scarf and unzipping her jacket. She cupped her hands around her hot chocolate. “How are you settling in?” Hannah saw the discomfort in Noah’s face as he fidgeted on his seat, searching for the right words. She decided to rescue him. “It must be difficult, settling into a small town like ours. Especially if you are a city person at heart,” she said. He leaned back in his chair. “It’s taking some adjusting. But I’ll get there.” His left arm moved awkwardly before he switched to pick his coffee up with the right. “An injury?” she asked, flicking her head towards his arm. her embarrassment, she lifted her empty cup. “Let me buy you another one of those,” Noah said. He returned with two drinks and two blueberry muffins. “I thought you could do with something to eat,” he said with a smile and retook his seat. Hannah broke off a piece of muffin and popped it in her mouth. Its sweetness burst on her tongue and gave her the comfort she needed. Noah shoved half the cake in his mouth. Two bites and it was finished. She giggled. “You must be hungry,” “It must be difficult settling in a small town like ours” Noah told Hannah a brief version of the story. “Hazards of the job.” She didn’t push it further. “How are you getting along with Christine? She’s a busybody, but she has a heart of gold and would help anybody in need. “To be honest, I think the station would have fallen apart years ago if she hadn’t been there. She takes it upon herself to organise everybody and everything. And from what I hear, she’s excellent at it.” Noah laughed. “She certainly is. Have you always lived in this town?” he asked. “Most of my life. I studied in London for four years but came back soon after. I didn’t like the anonymity of living in a city.” Hannah noticed Noah raise an eyebrow. “It’s hard for a city person to understand. You probably just think we’re a bunch of nosy parkers who have nothing better to do than gossip about each other. “But that’s part of belonging to a community, being a part of something special. People care and look out for each other. Take an interest.” “I’ve noticed,” he said, still unconvinced. Hannah yawned unexpectedly, then her stomach grumbled. To hide she said. Noah brushed his hands free of crumbs and took a gulp of coffee. “Haven’t eaten since breakfast,” he said. Hannah fidgeted, deciding whether or not to ask him. She didn’t want to destroy the calm of the conversation but she had to ask. She cleared her throat. “Is there any progress in my case?” There, she’d done it. “Nothing substantial to report. But Christine is researching the pin, more to exclude it from the investigation. “Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll recover the missing items. I say that from experience.” Hannah stared into her milky drink. Noah reached across the table and placed his warm hand on hers. “I’m sorry, Hannah. I didn’t mean to upset you.” She wiped her mouth with a tissue, feeling a chocolate moustache developing. “I know you don’t have any hard evidence but I can’t accept that there’s nothing we can do.” “Despite my ‘city-boy’ impediment, Hannah, you can trust me. I am doing everything I can to find the culprit.” Hannah’s heart thumped at the kindness in his voice. Her head The Farmer & His Wife As a new year approaches, John Taylor looks back on others . . . J OHN, it’ll be another year in three days.” I smiled and said nothing. I was well aware of the fact, and that Anne would follow up the obvious remark with something else. “You should wish all the readers a Happy New Year.” “Yes, dear.” We were sitting in our kitchen, which was beautifully warm thanks to our stove. Anne was darning the thick woollen socks I wear with my wellingtons. Anne knits them, then darns them – and darns them. She says I’m real rough on socks. I was sitting at the table with my pen and my writing paper. I was thinking of telling you what had happened on the farm over Christmas, but Anne’s idea was better. I said I’d try, if she’d help. She stopped darning. First of all, we wanted to thank readers for all the letters and cards. We were particularly touched by those of you who wrote about how you’d coped after bereavement. How it took so long to get used to the empty chair . . . But how you carried on cherishing the memory of all the happy years you’d had together. Your letters were sad, but a real inspiration. Anne and I thanked God for the strength he’d given you to carry on. In Scotland, in the past, the tradition was always to make more of New Year than Christmas. It’s changing now, I suspect, but Anne and I were always against that trend. To us, Christmas is a time of rejoicing for the birth of Christ and a time of great joy for the children. They’ve all grown up now, but we’re proud of them. And I always maintain it’s because of Anne’s influence. Years ago, I was at a National Farmers Union Meeting. “Gentlemen, when shall we have the next meeting?’’ the chairman asked. “December twenty-five is free for me,” one member replied. Everyone else was agreeing when I realised something. “Sorry, gentlemen. I won’t be there. It’s Christmas Day!” An elderly member looked across at me, twenty years his junior. “So what?” he said. “I intend to spend it with my family.” I was a bit blunt, but I was upset. Unfortunately, I can’t remember if the meeting took place. If it did, I certainly wasn’t there. I often wonder what would have happened if I’d suggested we held the meeting on New Year’s Day? I bet there would have been an outcry! So what do we want for ourselves and for you next year? Anne says I must wish you Happy New Year. And good health. That is something money can’t buy. And may God overcome any problems that beset you. Goodnight from us both in the kitchen. n More next week suddenly ached. Overload. There simply wasn’t any more space for more emotions. Not until Words On Pages was safe again. Hannah stood. “Thank you for the muffin. I must get home. Vivian’s coming round later.” “Special occasion?” “Today would have been my mother’s birthday.” Hannah said goodbye and left quickly. The last thing she needed was to be on the receiving end of more commiseration. * * * * The back door creaked open. Hannah’s ears prickled. “It’s only me!” Vivian called. Hannah knelt on the rug in front of the crackling log fire. Two bulging boxes lay in front of her, a thick layer of dust on their lids. She smiled at the sound of clinking glasses coming from the kitchen. True to form, Vivian had bought a bottle of her mother’s favourite fruity white wine to mark her birthday. Vivian kicked open the sitting-room door. “Here we go,” she said, handing Hannah a glass. “Happy birthday, Mum.” Hannah chinked Vivian’s glass. “Happy birthday, Catherine, love.” The two held up their glasses and took a sip of the chilled liquid. “That’ll go down very well,” Vivian said, smacking her lips. “What’re you doing?” “I thought I’d rummage through Mum’s keepsakes to see if there’s anything that might help us solve our riddle.” “Fun! Let me help.” Vivian placed her glass on the darkened oak coffee table and sat cross-legged across from Hannah. “I see your yoga classes are keeping you supple. Maybe I should join you.” Hannah rubbed her own aching knees. “Maybe you should. I refuse to let the ageing process stop me. Shall I do this box?” Vivian blew the dust off the top. Hannah flinched. A dampened tissue would have worked so much better and prevented the dust particles landing on everything. She took a sip of wine and tried to ignore the fact she’d have to clean again tomorrow. Hannah unpacked each item with care. Both boxes were filled with memorabilia: pictures of Hannah and her brother as children, past coastal holidays in France, birthday parties. A pang of sadness hit Hannah suddenly. She was the only one left in Mossfield Hills. Her father now lived in France; her brother had taken a two-year research assignment in New Zealand as part of his post doctorate. They spoke on the phone but it wasn’t the same as having him near. Her mother was the furthest away . . . Hannah swallowed a sob and turned her attention back to the box. “Look at these.” Vivian held up two small plastic bags. Inside each was a lock of hair tied with ribbon, one blue and one pink. She giggled. “Your mother saved everything. She couldn’t bear to part with anything to do with you kids.” She continued to rummage through her box. “That’s odd,” Vivian murmured. “What?” “The same photograph of the women. And that man, he is so familiar. Where have I seen him before?” Hannah shuffled over to Vivian and they both stared at the photograph. “There is something about his jaw line.” Vivian sat bolt upright. “I’ve got it!” To be continued. Love reading? Don’t miss the Daily Serial on our website: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk. INSPIRING LIVES 35 The couple receive public thanks. “Our home was full of happiness and love” Sandra Smith talks to Wendy Glass about her 46 years as a foster mother. Dundee City Council. S ANDRA SMITH, with her husband, Robin, has fostered 175 babies. “Being a mum comes naturally to me. Until we retired from fostering last year, caring for little ones was a very important part of our lives, giving these tiny tots the love and attention all babies need.” Sandra and Robin applied to be foster parents in 1971, when their own three girls were under eight years old. “I had no plans to return to work and I loved being a mum, so I thought we could help parents and babies who weren’t as lucky as us,” Sandra continues, adding that she was a foster parent with Dundee City Council’s family placement team for 46 years. “A few months after applying, I received a phone call saying a social worker would be coming to our home with a newborn baby in half an hour. That was when I discovered we’d been approved as foster parents! “This tiny baby girl arrived wrapped in a towel, wearing only a nappy. My heart reached out to her whenever she was carried through the door – and that’s how it was with every baby who came to us, whether they stayed for a couple of days, or our longest placement, twentytwo months. “We usually only had one baby at a time but there were occasions when we had two, and one summer, we had three babies at the same time! That was in the days of terry-towelling nappies so you can imagine what our washing line looked like! “Every one of our one hundred and seventy-five foster babies was lovely, even the baby who screamed for twenty-two hours out of twenty-four. “He stayed with us for several months and two of my neighbours would come round and ‘walk the floor’ with him for a couple of hours so I could get some sleep.” Most of the babies fostered by Sandra and Robin were awaiting adoption or their parents were unable to look after them, perhaps because of illness or substance abuse. “Over the years, we cared for several babies who were born with a drug or alcohol addiction or had been seriously neglected,” Sandra recalls. “Love and comfort can work wonders and it was incredibly satisfying to watch them recover. “One of our neighbours used to say, ‘Babies go into your house like a prune and come out like a peach’!” The couple received support from a team of social workers throughout their time as foster parents. Sandra and Robin are still in touch with quite a few of the babies they fostered. “We meet up with some of them regularly, including the little boy who was with us for twenty-two months, and we’ve been to some of their christenings and even a few weddings of babies who are now grown up,” Sandra tells me. “When our grandchildren were christened, several of our former foster babies came along with their adoptive parents, which was lovely.” When the Smiths became foster parents, the only payment they received was a tiny amount to cover a baby’s food and clothing, and although this has changed over the years, the couple always refused the fostering fees they were entitled to. “We didn’t need paid,” Sandra stresses. “The privilege of looking after all these wee ones was the only payment that we needed. “Our home may never have been immaculate. However, as well as nursery equipment, baby clothes, toys and teddies, it was also full of happiness and love, which I like to think helped to give all these babies a good start in life.” n Want To Know More? To find out more about becoming a Foster Carer or Adopter for Dundee City Council, call 01382 436060 or visit www.changetheirlives.com. General information is available from www.ukfostering.org.uk, tel. 0845 222 0518 and charities such as Action For Children www.actionforchildren.org.uk, tel. 0845 862 0562 and Barnardo’s www.barnardos.org.uk. All About Appetisers Try our delicious canapé recipes to delight your New Year guests. Grilled Langoustines: with seaweed butter Course: Appetiser or party snack Skill level: easy Makes: 8 ■ 8 langoustines, split (or frozen king prawns) ■ 1 shallot ■ 1 clove garlic ■ Handful of hazelnuts ■ Dried seaweed such as dulse (find in Waitrose or online), chopped ■ 150 g (5½ oz) unsalted butter ■ Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste ■ ½ a lemon, juice only 1 Split the langoustines or prawns down the middle and take out the digestive tract. 2 To make the seaweed butter, blitz the shallot, garlic and hazelnuts in a food processor with a tablespoon of the chopped seaweed. Then add the butter, some salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and blitz again. Refrigerate until needed. 3 When you’re ready to cook the langoustines, put them cut side up on a roasting tray and dot with the butter. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes until the butter has melted and flesh is cooked through. Perfect partner – Rosie Birkett’s Highland Highball Fill a Collins glass with ice and a wheel of orange. Pour over 50 ml peaty whisky such as an Islay malt and 50 ml (2 fl oz) rosemary syrup and top up with Highland Spring Sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary and an orange wheel. To make the orange wheels, slice your orange finely and place flat in the oven on baking paper in a very cool oven for 3 hours, turning halfway through. By Rosie Birkett for http://highlandspring.com. Pesto and Tomato Bruschetta COOKERY 37 Course: Appetiser or party snack Skill level: easy Serves: 4 ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 4 slices ciabatta Olive oil 4 tbs Sacla’ Classic Basil Pesto Gorgonzola cheese Sacla’ Sun-Dried Tomato Strips. Fresh red and yellow tomatoes, sliced Fresh basil leaves 1 Lightly brush each side of the bread with olive oil and char-grill till golden. 2 Spread the pesto across the base of the ciabatta – as much as you fancy. Crumble the cheese over. 3 Grill for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese has melted. 4 Top with the sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes and basil. 5 Serve with a drizzle of olive oil. www.sacla.co.uk. Stilton and Caramelised Red Onion Chutney Bruschetta Course: Appetiser or party snack Skill level: easy Serves: 10-12 ■ 1 x baguette or similar Italian bread ■ 200 g (7 oz) Stilton ■ 1 x jar of English Provender Caramelised Red Onion Chutney To Garnish: chopped chives, optional. 1 Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg. C., 400 deg. F., Gas Mark 6. 2 Cut the loaf into 1-2 cm (½-¾ in) thick slices. Arrange in a single www.englishprovender.com. layer on a baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until starting to crisp. Leave to cool. 3 Slice the Stilton thinly. Once cooled, top the bruschetta slices with a piece of Stilton and a generous spoonful of English Provender’s Caramelised Red Onion Chutney. 4 Garnish with chopped chives, if desired. Cranberry and Goats’ Cheese Crostini Course: Appetiser or party snack Skill level: easy Serves: Varies ■ 150 g (5½ oz) fresh cranberries ■ 3 tbs packed brown sugar ■ ¼ tsp cinnamon ■ 100 g (3½ oz) Braeburn or Red Lady apple, chopped ■ 100 g (3½ oz) fresh mango, chopped ■ 100 g (3½ oz) Delamere Dairy honey goats’ cheese pearls To Serve: Toasted mini breads or crackers. 1 Put the cranberries, brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached. 2 Spoon cranberry sauce on to individual toasted mini breads or crackers (the exact amount will depend on the size of breads or crostini that you have), and layer the apple and mango on top. 3 Sprinkle the goats’ cheese on top of all crostini. www.delameredairy.co.uk 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. Quorn Sausage Wraps Course: Appetiser or party snack Skill level: easy Serves: 5-20 ■ 2 tbs butter ■ ½ small red cabbage, sliced thinly ■ 2 tbs brown sugar ■ 1 red apple, sliced thinly ■ 3 tbs balsamic vinegar ■ 1 tsp nutmeg ■ 5 Quorn Chipolata Sausages ■ 5 tortilla wraps ■ 5 tbs cranberry sauce ■ 100 g (3½ oz) rocket leaves ■ 160 g (5½ oz) brie, sliced 1 Pre-heat oven to 190 deg. C., 375 deg. F., Gas Mark 5. 2 In a large saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the red cabbage and coat all of the leaves in the melted butter. Sauté gently for 5 minutes. 3 Add the sugar, apple, vinegar and nutmeg. Mix well before covering and leaving to simmer. www.quorn.co.uk. After 15 minutes, add 50 ml (2 fl oz) water and continue to cook on a low heat, stirring frequently for another 15 minutes until the cabbage is completely tender. 4 Meanwhile, fry the Quorn Chipolata Sausages according to the pack instructions, until golden brown. Leave to cool. 5 Spread a tablespoon of cranberry sauce across each wrap, then add a spoonful of braised cabbage. Sprinkle over the rocket and place on a whole sausage along with the brie slices. Roll up into a tight wrap. 6 Slice each wrap into 4 and skewer with a cocktail stick, or slice in half and serve on a platter, garnished with rocket. Crostini with Parma Ham, Gorgonzola and Red Onion Marmalade Course: Appetiser or party snack Skill level: easy Serves: 4 ■ 25 g (1 oz) butter ■ 2 red onions, sliced thinly ■ 30 g (1 oz) demerara sugar ■ 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed ■ Bunch of thyme ■ Balsamic vinegar ■ 100 g (3½ oz) mild gorgonzola dolce ■ 100 g (3½ oz) Filippo Berio Rosemary & Sea Salt Crostini ■ 5 slices Parma ham, www.filippoberio.co.uk. ripped into 2 x 5 cm (1 x 2 in) strips ■ Handful of chives ■ Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 Warm a thick-bottomed pan on a medium heat. Add the butter, then the sliced red onions and sauté for a few minutes. Add Next week: warming recipes for colder days. the demerara sugar, garlic and thyme with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Bring to the boil then leave simmering for about 30 to 60 minutes on a low heat. Stir frequently, ensuring that the sugar doesn’t burn. Once the onions are soft, remove and leave to cool for a couple of hours or overnight. 2 In a bowl, add the gorgonzola and soften with a spoon. 3 To make the canapés, place the crostini on to a flat tray. Spoon a small layer of the gorgonzola cheese on to each one, top with a loose, rolled piece of Parma ham and a small spoon of red onion marmalade, then garnish with a piece of chive. For more delicious recipes visit our website: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk. SHORT STORY BY DONALD LIGHTWOOD 39 Set in 1799 Illustration by Ruth Blair. Ghost For Hire R OBERTA HODGES had worked in service for Lord and Lady Abertay for years. She’d started as scullery maid, and now, at the age of twenty-nine, she was housekeeper of Abertay Hall. Which was fine, except that her elevated position left her lonely and frustrated. The staff worked for her, but she regarded none of them as friends. The Hall was a fine Georgian mansion, built to replace crumbling Abertay Castle, the ruins of which could be seen from the Hall. She shook her head. It was coming up to Hogmanay and Lord Abertay was planning a large party. The highlight was to be at midnight, when the guests would be challenged to visit the castle, having been told it was haunted. It was his lordship’s idea of a joke. Roberta sighed. She had been given the job of interviewing a man he’d heard about. She couldn’t imagine what qualifications he would need. Presumably he would be classed as a servant and therefore her responsibility. At the interview she found the well-built man to be in his early thirties. “My name’s Hope. I’m here about being a ghost.” She nodded. “Have you pretended to be a ghost before?” “Oh, aye.” “Where?” “Edinburgh.” “How do you happen to be in this part of the world?” “My brother has a farm nearby. I’ve been working with him.” He pulled a face. “Needs must.” “His lordship has had men working on the castle ruins,” she said. “It’s the fashion for the gentry to create attractive historical features on their estates.” “It’s one way of spending money,” he said. “As is the Hogmanay party, which is why he requires a ghost.” “Will I stay here?” She considered. “That could be arranged, if you are suitable.” “I have the props I need.” She smiled. “I’m sure that will help.” He looked around him. “What do you do here?” “I’m head of the domestic staff and housekeeper.” “It’s a big place,” he said. “The Hall was built by his lordship’s grandfather,” she told him. “The story is that he found the castle damp and draughty.” “Typical. The gentry can do what they like,” he said. He gave her a frank and open look. Roberta went on. “Come tomorrow. We’ll find you accommodation.” After he’d gone she found herself host to some unfamiliar sensations. At last a real man had appeared in her life, as opposed to selfish gentry and dim-witted servants. She knew she was jumping the gun, but after so long, who could blame her? And his name – Hope. That was surely a good sign. * * * * Hope arrived the next day. As he crossed the rear Roberta thought the whole thing extremely silly. But she had her orders . . . courtyard, he bumped into a couple of stable lads. They sniggered at him. “What’s so funny?” They grinned. “They say you been took on to be a ghost.” “So? How I earn my living is my business.” “No, it ain’t. Coves like you give men a bad name,” one of the lads sneered. Hope’s response was to grab the lad by the scruff of the neck and the seat of his breeks and toss him into an ornamental fish pond. With a yelp the other lad fled. Roberta had witnessed the incident through the kitchen window. “Oh, no!” She ran outside. “What happened?” “He had to be taught a lesson.” “But the fishpond is his lordship’s pride and joy! He’ll never keep you on now,” she cried. “He thinks the world of his fish.” Bellowing came from the kitchen and Lord Abertay burst into the courtyard. “What the devil’s been going on?” Wet and shivering, the stable lad stood by the fishpond, evidence of what had taken place. Abertay stared at Hope. “Did you do this?” “Aye.” “How dare you disturb my fish?” “He insulted me.” Abertay regarded the chittering lad. “Did you?” he demanded. The lad nodded feebly. Abertay grunted and addressed Hope. “You didn’t think to chuck him on the muckheap?” Hope shook his head. “The pool was handier.” “I’ve taken on Mr Hope to be the ghost your lordship wanted,” Roberta interjected hopefully. 40 Abertay studied Hope. “So, you are intolerant of insults. With that renegade Napoleon badmouthing our nation, so should we all be. I approve of your action, but not at the cost of disturbing my fish.” “I was taught in the Army to react swiftly.” “You fought against Napoleon?” “I did. For two years.” Abertay beamed. “Then you are forgiven. I hope you haunt as well as you chuck miscreants into the pond. It is to be my triumph.” * * * * The castle was in a ruinous state, but it was possible to climb up the main staircase. Roberta accompanied him and they went up to the battlements. “It’s good,” he said. “Not too difficult to get around in the dark and plenty of hidey-holes.” “Won’t you show yourself?” she asked. “It depends on how scared they are.” She giggled. “How do you do that?” “Give them a brief sight of me and then vanish back into the dark,” he said. “Have you ever been found out – that you’re not a real ghost?” He shook his head. “You’re forgetting: we all believe in ghosts. That’s all the protection I need. However, I have a secret weapon, just in case.” Hope held up his bag of props and took out a dented and battered bugle. “This saved the life of a bugler from Napoleon’s artillery.” He blew down the mouthpiece. A tortured, eerie whine echoed around them. It was truly horrible. And ghostly . . . They peered over the battlements at Abertay Hall and beyond, to a large house in the distance. “Holly Lodge,” she told him. “Home of Sir Alisdair Rintoul, his lordship’s arch rival. They each try to best the other. Hence this Hogmanay escapade.” “That’s the gentry for you.” Hope snorted. “Still, some good’s come out of it. You came along,” she said, with an unambiguous look. “Life can be dull here.” Hope was not immune to the opposite sex. “Maybe I can help liven things up a bit.” * * * * It didn’t take long for the gossip about Hope’s arrival at the Hall to circulate. The aggrieved lad who had been dunked in the fishpond made sure that folk knew Abertay’s Hogmanay haunting would be a fake. “The nerve of the fellow!” Sir Alisdair cried when he heard what was afoot. “Out to impress us by cheating. Well, we must see that he doesn’t get away with it.” “How do you intend to do that?” his wife asked in a bored voice. In her view the two men behaved little better than children. “We’ll let him lead us along and then call him to account,” Rintoul replied. “How, exactly?” she asked with a yawn. “By unmasking the fraudulent ghost!” * * * * The night before Hogmanay Roberta and Hope went back to the castle, choosing the most ruinous part of the building for his haunting. It was on what had been the third floor, roofless now and full of nooks and crannies. They picked one as the principal hidey-hole and dumped Hope’s props there. Then they moved into a large room, now open to the elements. “This was called the solarium,” she told him. “Where you could catch the sun.” “We’ve got the moon.” “And the frost,” she replied with a shiver. “Aye, it’s cold right enough.” He put his arms around her and she snuggled in to him as though it was the most natural thing in the world. “Can I come with you tomorrow night?” she asked. “I could help.” He didn’t need any help, but feeling her close beside him made the kiss that followed seem inevitable. “I never thought I’d be grateful to Lord Abertay,” she said. “I thought this ghost business was stupid. Even for him.” * * * * Every chandelier was ablaze with candlelight for Abertay’s Hogmanay party. After a sumptuous dinner the guests danced and drank with enthusiasm. “A splendid occasion, your lordship,” Sir Alisdair said over the fiddle music. “And we are in for a surprise, I believe?” “Indeed. It’s said my great-grandfather revisits the castle at midnight on Hogmanay. He was a Jacobite rebel and was beheaded in London. I invite those intrepid enough to discover if that is true.” “Count me in,” Sir Alisdair replied. “I’m sure the men will want to join you.” Their courage boosted by Abertay’s excellent claret, the men assembled outside to tramp up to the castle. Hope saw them approach. He left Roberta in the hidey-hole and positioned himself behind a cleft in a ruined wall. He trimmed the wick of a lantern until it gave out a very dim light. The ghost-hunters were in merry mood as they came. “Will your greatgrandfather have his head under his arm, my lord?” one of Sir Alisdair Rintoul’s sons joked. There was laughter until a sudden cry halted them. “Listen! I think I heard the clank of chains.” They pushed on. There was another cry – a dim light had been spotted. They stared and some swore they saw a shadowy movement. The sound of a clanking chain and a low moan reached them. “He’s there!” voices called out. “Follow me!” Sir Alisdair shouted. Hope realised he had to act. Something was amiss. The men coming up towards him didn’t seem in the least scared. Wearing a blood-stained winding sheet and with a black hood pulled over his head, Hope stepped from behind a wall, knowing he would appear as a headless spectre. Some of the men took to their heels, but Sir Alisdair laughed at the apparition. This was a new experience for Hope. He had to get away before Sir Alisdair got any closer. As he made to move, though, his foot tangled in his winding sheet and he fell heavily, twisting his ankle. He couldn’t move. Gritting his teeth, he waited to be discovered. But then an unearthly sound filled the air, issuing from the very ruins themselves. Fearfully, the men gazed around, but could see nothing. Their common thought identified it as not of this world and they scattered, their retreat led by Sir Alisdair and followed by a relieved Lord Abertay. Within moments the castle was empty and silent. Roberta found Hope where he had fallen. She was clutching the flattened bugle. “Are you all right?” She managed to sit him up and he hauled off the black hood. “You really put the wind up them with our secret weapon.” “Me? I couldn’t get a note out of the thing!” Their eyes locked, and as one they shivered. They heard the bell chiming from the village kirk, telling everyone that it was now the year 1800. “Happy New Year!” they cried together, and sealed it with a kiss. “It’s not going to be easy, getting back to the Hall,” he said. “You’ve got me to lean on.” She gave him another kiss. “And we can think of our New Year resolutions on our way back.” “I know mine already,” he said, his look full of love. “So do I,” she replied, matching his look with one of her own. n COOKERY What’s In Season 41 Seville Oranges Blink and you’ll miss them! Seville oranges can be found in the shops from about the end of December to mid-February. Knobbly skinned and wholly unlike their sweet-fleshed cousins, they’re the essential ingredient in traditional bitter marmalade. However, the unique bitter taste also makes them a zesty flavouring for salad dressings, meat dishes and desserts. They’re unwaxed, so don’t keep well for more than a week or so, but you can freeze them whole. Precisely! The Lakeland Thermospatula Silicone Spatula and Thermometer (£15.49, www. lakeland.co.uk or in store) displays the exact temperature as you stir. Perfect for jam or marmalade or for tempering chocolate, the stainless steel digital thermometer can also be used separately for meat. enjoy CookEAT Coming to a kitchen near you... Film Food Movie buffs will love “The Lambshank Redemption” by Lachlan Hayman (Dog ‘n’ Bone, £16.99). Filled with 50 tasty recipes, each with a pun-tastic title inspired by the silver screen, it’s as much fun to read as it is to use. It’s lights, korma, action and into the kitchen to make “Jurassic Pork” or bake “The Hunt For Bread October”! I T’S the turn of the year and already some of us are straining our eyes out the window, convinced the evenings are showing a glimmer of light at five p.m. (they’re not, but we can hope!) It’s a time when lots of fresh colour will do us a power of good, so make the most of the citrus fruits in the shops now as well as lovely crisp apples. Root vegetables are at their best, so pile them into hearty soups and stews and use them as mash instead of potatoes for a tasty change. Don’t forget to stock up on neeps and tatties for Burns Night on January 25! Comfort On A Plate British adults turn to comfort food twice a week on average, with pizza, bacon sandwiches and eggs and soldiers the dishes of choice. A survey of 2,000 people found that “feeling down” and “cold, wet weather” would have them rustling up reminders of childhood. Three healthy snacks for January Nairn’s Gluten-free Chunky Biscuit Breaks RRP £1.79 from Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose. Gluten free; low in sugar Soreen Apple Lunchbox Loaves £1.35 for a multi-pack of five, available nationwide. Vegan Pure Bite Almond Nut Clusters RRP £1.49 online from www.ilovebite.co. Gluten free; low in sugar and salt travel collection EASTER IN JERSEY 5 DAYS FROM ONLY £399 Per person sharing twin/double room Depart 29 March 2018 Return 02 April 2018 STAYING AT THE FABULOUS MERTON HOTEL W arm Spring days have arrived, the hedgerows are full of daffodils, the lanes ablaze of colour, the days are a little bit longer and the sun is a little bit warmer. This lovely 5 day tour includes a full day coach excursion to learn about our beautiful island and an Easter egg to enjoy on Easter Sunday. Your hotel for this tour is the ever popular Merton Hotel, located just a 10 minute walk from the town centre. All en-suite rooms have central heating, TV and a tea/coffee hospitality tray. There is a choice of bars and restaurants and both breakfast and dinner are included. The Aquasplash facility offers heated indoor and outdoor pools and there is plenty of relaxing lounge areas and a lift to all floors. This is a really wonderful hotel with so many facilities that make it ideal for an Easter break. £479 Per person in single/ sole occupancy room Price includes: • Return flights between London Gatwick* with 1 piece hold baggage per person • 4 nights’ accommodation in a twin/double room • Return transfers in Jersey • 4 x full breakfasts and dinners • A full day island coach excursion and an Easter egg • All current taxes NB: A financial protection fee of £2.50 per person will be added to your invoice. *For all of our Jersey offers flights may also be available from Exeter, Southampton, London City, Luton, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, East Midlands, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and many others – Please call us for full details. SPRING SINGLES TOUR 5 DAYS FROM £393 Depart 08 April 2018 Return 12 April 2018 PER PERSON STAYING AT THE WONDERFUL NORFOLK LODGE BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT F or some readers this is their third or even fourth visit, having made new friends on a previous tour they now come together to meet up very year, but if you don’t want to travel on your own, you are very welcome to travel as a couple or bring along friends or neighbours and the best bit of all – NO SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENTS. Spring is in the air so to be certain that you can experience this really lovely time of year we INclUDE in your short break, a full day coach excursion of the island, PlUS a 2-day explorer ticket which enables you to hop on and off our local liberty bus service as often as you like. Time and time again our readers have been delighted with their stay at the 3 star graded Norfolk lodge Hotel and we are pleased to feature this hotel once more. conveniently located, you can take the bus from outside the hotel or enjoy a 10-minute stroll to the heart of St Helier. comfortably furnished throughout, all the en-suite bedrooms are equipped with a TV and a tea/coffee hospitality tray. There is a large lounge and bar area with entertainment on some nights, a private sun terrace and an INDOOR heated swimming pool. On your first night there will be a welcome drink before dinner and to enable everyone to get together, tables of 4-6 will be reserved in the restaurant. NB: WHILST THE HOTEL DOES HAVE A LIFT THERE ARE A NUMBER OF STEPS WITHIN THE HOTEL ON ALL FLOORS. TO bOOk cAll 01534 496652 & quote The People’s Friend VISIT www.thepeoplesfriendtravel.co.uk For a brochure, complete the order form and send to: The People’s Friend, Heron House, Jersey Airport, Jersey, JE1 1BW Price includes: • Return flights between London Gatwick* with 1 piece hold baggage per person • 4 nights’ accommodation in a single room WITHOUT SUPPlEMENT • Return transfers in Jersey • 4 x full breakfasts and dinner • A full day island coach excursion and a 2-day explorer ticket • All current taxes. NB: A financial protection fee of £2.50 per person will be added to your invoice. Please tick which brochures you would like us to send to you: Easter in Jersey Spring Singles Tour Name ................................................................................................................... Address ................................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................................. .................................................................... Postcode Telephone ............................................................................................................. Email Address........................................................................................................ From time to time, D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., it’s group companies and its partner businesses would like to contact customers about new products and offers we think may be of interest. We’ll assume that we can contact you by post or telephone unless you tick the relevant box. No contact from D.C.Thomson & Co., Ltd, or its group companies unless relating to an existing order No contact from our partner businesses unless it relates to an existing offer Organised and operated by Travtel International ATOL Protected 1965, ABTA No. V0300. Offer subject to availability. Supplements may apply. NB: A financial protection fee of £2.50pp will be added to your invoice. DC Thomson and its group of companies would like to contact you about new offers and services we think may be of interest to you. By providing your contact details and email address we assume that we can contact you by post and email. New Pooch New Year, Malcolm Welshman resolves to see less of his podgy pup in 2018. Raring to go . . . regime. This will help to burn off all those extra calories. So more walkies. No real problem there. Dora delights in getting out as it gives her another chance to go on squirrel patrol. In fact, she’s got a specific oak tree in the woods which she races up to and looks intently through the branches as if willing a critter to venture down and be chased. Certainly a great way to slim her down. The only problem with this resolution is me. I’ll hold her back. That oak tree is at the top of a steep hill and I’m out of puff before I’m halfway there and the urge for mid-morning coffee and a bun becomes so great I turn back. And so does Dora. She hates to lose sight of me and turns for home as well, squirrel or no squirrel. Third resolution on my list is to stop Dora begging so much. I realise her adorable soulful brown eyes, coupled with sitting up on her haunches, usually ensures my hand creeps down with a titbit from the table. So I’m as guilty as those visitors over Christmas who plied her with morsels. The picture of innocence . . . Fourth resolution will be to attempt to ensure Dora introduces herself to familiar visitors in a more appropriate way. She has a loving nature and is very submissive. So as soon as someone she recognises enters the house, she races up to them and flings herself on her back, tail wagging at a rate of knots. This elicits an “ahh” from the visitor who reaches down to give the asked-for tummy tickle, while it elicits a squirt of wee from Dora. I must try to stop her from rolling over like that, and just sit and be patted on the head like a well-behaved dog should. In fifth resolution position, I really must concentrate on getting Dora to control her overnight bowel and bladder functions better. We’ve had her three years now. Originally she was a young rescue from the Birmingham Dogs’ Home, after she was found wandering the streets. She wasn’t house trained then, but as I’m a vet of forty years, I felt confident I could soon sort that out. How wrong I was. In the past three years there’s been only the occasional night when she hasn’t had an accident in the utility room adjacent to the kitchen where she sleeps. It’s become a bit of a ritual whereby I come down every morning and immediately peep round the door into the utility room where the night before I’ve spread some newspapers on the floor. Heart pounding, eyes straining in the semidarkness, I’m hoping I don’t spot an all-too-familiar mess on the paper used at Dora’s convenience. Trouble is, she usually does perform during the night and then sneaks back into the kitchen to curl up in her box, all innocent. It wasn’t me, she seems to say. So in the New Year, when Nature calls, I’ll iStock Photographs courtesy of Malcolm Welshman, except where stated otherwise. M Y Yorkie-cross, Dora, has spent a large part of the festive season on the sofa, legs in the air, fast asleep, snoring after too many calorie-loaded meals and titbits. Enough’s enough. Time to draw up a list of New Year resolutions on her behalf. Number one on that list is to make sure she eats less. I might have some additional rolls from all those mincepies, slices of Christmas cake and lashings of turkey with all the trimmings, but I can hide my expanded waist under a shirt. Not so Dora. Put politely, she’s a little “fluffier” than she should be. Put bluntly, her tummy sags like a bowl of suet for all to see. Over the Christmas period, the guests that we had staying would insist on giving her bits of turkey, and there were loads of leftovers and doggy treats to pile on the calories. So she’s piled on the weight. So much so that a walk in the park elicited a “When are her puppies due?” from a passer-by. My second resolution for her is to up her exercise REAL LIFE 45 Dora’s downfall - too many tempting treats! bag of doggie treats might be the answer – a way of distracting Dora from his feet. But they had to be given up as a bad job as they made her do just that – as evidenced by the overnight paper in the utility room. So the postman’s treats were given the boot while he acquired two – a stout pair of walking boots laced well above his ankles. Then there’s the vexed question common to many dog owners. How do you stop your mutt from rolling in the smelliest, most revolting mess he can find? As my seventh New Year’s resolution for Dora I will attempt to avoid her doing that. Fox poo is the worst. Dora simply adores it. So many times I’ve seen her in the distance ahead of me on the woodland path, head down, neck weaving back and forth in a patch of grass, and I know just what she’s discovered. I emit a squeak of alarm Mr Fox has a giggle at Dora’s doings. and tear along to her. Too late. She’s smeared the stuff round her collar like some duchess dabbing perfume round her ears. She reeks. So that’s my list of New Year’s resolutions for Dora completed. All seven of them. I take a deep breath and then wish I hadn’t as the smell of fox “perfume” drifts up my nose and Dora rolls over for a submissive tummy tickle with a little squirt of wee. Hmm . . . best start on that list straightaway. n Catch me if you can, Dora! iStock encourage her to hold on until I let her out first thing. I’ll keep my fingers crossed in the hope that Dora can manage to keep her legs crossed. Sixth on my list is the resolve to reduce Dora’s urge to tear out on to the drive whenever she hears the postman’s van and the crunch of his feet on the gravel – a signal to menace his ankles. I know I could just keep the back door to the yard closed. But it’s not so easy in the summer when we’re in and out attending to our ponies, and the postie can turn up at any time. The last chap decided a iStock Good companions – Malcolm and Dora. SHORT STORY BY SUZANNE ROSS JONES 47 Fireworks At The Cat Café There was to be a surprise at the New Year party on the green this year . . . Illustration by iStock. M Y lights have gone out and my house is in darkness. It’s only two o’clock in the afternoon. What will it be like once the sun goes down?” Mrs Watkins was monopolising Angus’s attention at the counter as Maxine walked into the shop and headed for the stack of baskets by the till. “I was vacuuming when it happened – I can’t even finish cleaning my house,” she said. Angus found the time to glance over, winking discreetly in Maxine’s direction, and she smiled in response. “It’s probably a fuse, Mrs Watkins,” he said. Maxine grabbed a basket and went to pick up the few bits and pieces she needed to see her through the next couple of days, when the shops would mostly be shut. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Mrs Watkins continued. “My family are travelling from Edinburgh and they’ll be here any minute. What electrician would come out at this time on Hogmanay?” Maxine had no doubt that Angus would step in to help. The question was if he would take this strong hint, or if he would wait until Mrs Watkins asked straight out for a favour. At one time she had no doubt he would have taken the latter option, but recently his gruff exterior had softened quite considerably. “Do you want me to pop round to take a look?” He didn’t disappoint, and Maxine smiled again as she popped some milk and bread into her basket. “Would you do that, Angus? That would be lovely of you.” Mrs Watkins sounded both surprised and delighted – almost as though she hadn’t quite realised that Angus had been an electrician before he’d opened the shop. “I’ll be closing up early today, so I’ll see you in the next half hour or so.” Mrs Watkins gave a little wave as she made her way out of the shop. “What?” Angus demanded as Maxine approached the till still grinning. “You’re a big softie,” she accused. “Maybe.” He smiled, holding her gaze. “But I may need to go back to electrical work one of these days, so it’s as well to keep my hand in.” “Did she even buy anything when she was here?” He shook his head. “And that’s part of the reason I might need to go back to electrical work.” Maxine knew he was struggling with the shop, and she was grateful he had the option to return to his former career. But, on a personal level, she liked to know he was here, next door to her café. “I’ll miss you if you do wind up the business.” That earned her another grin. “For the moment, I’m just helping out someone with a fuse box problem.” “Just as long as you’re back in time for the party tonight.” Maxine had been looking forward to seeing in the New Year with Angus ever since they’d arranged to go to go to the community centre for the bells – even if it would be along with almost everyone else in town. “I’ll pick you up at ten, as arranged.” * * * * When Maxine got back to her cat café, her assistant, Sabrina, was thumping a cushion. “There,” she said with a tone of satisfaction as she placed it back on the sofa. “All ready for Gladys to flatten again when the whim takes her.” Maxine smiled, glancing around for the feline culprit. That was the thing with having so many cats around – however hard you worked, things were never tidy for very long. At the moment, however, Gladys was too busy to bother flattening any cushions, having moved to admire her own reflection in a bauble that was hanging from the tree Angus had attached to the wall. Christmas trees attached to walls were necessities when there were so many cats. Maxine had discovered that the hard way. “She’s going to go for that bauble in a minute.” Sabrina wasn’t making a psychic prediction – more an observation based on her extensive knowledge of cat behaviour. Maxine wasn’t surprised when Gladys leaped up and swiped the decoration off the tree with one large paw. The bauble shot across the room – luckily it was made of plastic, so there was no harm done – and a scatter of Gladys’s adopted feline siblings raced after it. Maxine laughed. 48 “Never a dull moment here.” “We need to take the tree down now Christmas is over,” Sabrina said. “Before they do any real damage. I’m surprised they’ve left it alone as long as they have.” “We’ll take it down next week once all the fuss of the New Year has died down. The customers expect some sort of tree.” If she were honest, Maxine wasn’t in too much of a hurry to be rid of the tree. With snow dusting the windows and He’d been working on the committee that had arranged the party for the town. “I can’t wait to see what it is.” Maxine smiled. “Me, neither. I’ve been trying to get him to tell me, but he says I’ll find out soon enough. He’s normally rubbish at keeping secrets.” Maxine laughed. Ed was the sweetest man ever and she knew that he would only be keeping quiet now so that Sabrina would enjoy the surprise when it was revealed. “How can they plan fireworks without telling anyone?” the ground outside, the tree and the fairy lights made the place very cosy this Hogmanay afternoon. “Why don’t you get off home,” she suggested to Sabrina. “Take your time and get ready for the party tonight.” They had only taken bookings for the morning and early afternoon sessions today, so that they could close early and prepare for tonight’s planned festivities. There really was no point in Sabrina hanging around. Sabrina didn’t need telling twice. “Well, if you’re sure . . .” She grinned as she headed for the coat cupboard. “Will you be going along with Angus?” Maxine nodded. “He’s going to pop by later and we’ll walk across together.” The hall was only across the green from the café, but last year she hadn’t gone, preferring instead to spend a quiet night in with her cats. This year, though, her cats were truly settled, and she was confident they would be fine for a few hours. Plus, this year, there was someone special she wanted to see New Year in with. “Ed said they’ve planned a big surprise at midnight for everyone.” Sabrina smiled as she mentioned her husband. “I’m hoping they’ve got a live ceilidh band,” Sabrina said as she headed for the door. “Those records are OK, but it would be nice to dance to some live music. I’ll let you know if I manage to get him to spill the beans.” Maxine had barely settled, with a cat or two on her lap, when her mobile rang. “It’s fireworks,” Sabrina said, her tone indicating she wasn’t best pleased. “That’s the surprise.” Maxine sat up, immediately alert. Teddy looked disgusted and leapt from her lap to the safely of the floor. “How can they plan fireworks without telling anyone?” She could almost hear Sabrina rolling her eyes with exasperation. “That’s exactly what I said. Ed thinks it’s OK because they’ve done a risk assessment, and he says everyone will be expecting fireworks on New Year’s Eve.” Maxine thought back to the peaceful start to the current year. In some places, they might have expected a pyrotechnic display, but not here. “I’m sure they meant well,” she said, trying to be kind, “but it would have been nice to have had some notice.” She made a mental note to spread the word to those who needed to know. A surprise was one thing, but not at the expense of peace of mind. “It’s only a small display.” Sabrina’s tone was almost apologetic now. “They didn’t raise the money for anything spectacular. It probably won’t last longer than five minutes. But they’re setting it up in Bill Appleton’s garden – behind the community centre – so it lights up the sky above.” The same sky that was across the green from Maxine’s cats. Even though her windows were double glazed and her cats were pretty relaxed, New Year fireworks would no doubt be loud – and animals could be easily terrified. She wouldn’t risk leaving her cats alone tonight. Quickly she found her mobile and called Angus’s number. It went straight to answerphone. “He’s helping Mrs Watkins,” she told Glady as she listened to his pre-recorded message. As expected, Gladys didn’t reply. She sat and watched Maxine’s attempts to contact Angus with indifference. The beep sounded and Maxine took a deep breath. “Angus, it’s Maxine. About tonight – I’ve only just found out there will be fireworks. I can’t go to the party. “I could pop in for a little while before the display, but I’d need to be home by midnight because of the cats, so it doesn’t seem worth it. So I’m sorry, but I have to cancel.” She sighed again before disconnecting the call, knowing she had been babbling and hoping he would be able to make out the gist of her message. “Well,” she told the supervising Gladys. “That could have gone better.” Gladys vocalised her agreement before walking off to challenge Sadie’s claim over the catnip ball. Next time, Maxine thought, she’d rehearse her message – maybe even write it down. Or maybe she would wait until he was free and pop round to see him. “Meow.” The cry brought her back to the present and she found Bengal brothers Alfie and Sam standing hopefully by the kitchen door. “Time for tea,” she told them with a smile, and the eleven other cats all joined the duo to wait it out by the door as Maxine went to prepare their meals. OK, so she was disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to go out tonight, but she didn’t begrudge a second of the time she would be spending with her cats. * * * * Angus didn’t call her back. Not that she was surprised – what was there for him to say? He knew her well enough to know that, with the prospect of so much noise, she would have to stay at home with her cats no matter what he said, so really there was no point in him trying to persuade her. With a sigh, she settled down for the wait until midnight, with the company of a good book. Moments later, Sadie leapt on to her lap. Not to be outdone, Gladys climbed on to her shoulder. “You’re getting too big for that, my darling,” she said. Gladys, seeming to understand, shifted most of her weight on to the back of the chair. “It’s a pity Angus isn’t here, isn’t it? His shoulder’s broad enough for you to sit on comfortably.” That was the reason she was missing Angus this evening. Wishing he were here had nothing to do with missing his company, or the ready laugh that was infectious, the dark eyes that seemed to burn into her soul, the kisses that made her heart sing . . . But she did wonder if Angus would find someone 49 else to kiss when the bells struck midnight. * * * * Maxine was so engrossed in solving the murder mystery between the pages of her book that when a knock sounded on the café window she nearly jumped out of her skin. Before she could react, there was another knock. Then another. One by one, the cats moved into hiding, disturbed by the noise. “Happy New Year!” The merry shouting and cheering was several hours premature, but it sounded as though the happy group outside had already been celebrating. Annoyed, Maxine put her book to one side, and pulled the blinds to one side. The shadowy figures on the pavement cheered. Furious now, Maxine went to the storm porch, before throwing back the bolts, intent on giving these raucous well-wishers a piece of her mind. “Hey.” She recognised Angus’s authoritative tone as she opened the door. “What are you playing at? There are cats in there – do you want to frighten them to death?” Maxine saw horror dawn on the faces of the four lads outside. “Sorry,” the boy closest to Maxine said. “We didn’t think. We saw your lights on and just wanted to wish you a happy New Year.” It seemed that good intentions rather than malice had been behind the noise. Maxine relaxed a little. The harsh words that were ready on her tongue remained unsaid. “Just be more thoughtful in future,” Angus warned. Maxine stood aside to let him in, a bottle of something bubbly under his arm, and she closed the door. “How did you get on with Mrs Watkins?” He grinned. “All sorted. She was able to greet her family in a freshly vacuumed house with lights on.” “Are you on your way to the party?” she asked. “I was planning to go. I got ready and everything.” He nodded down at his outfit and she smiled. He looked good in a kilt – he had the legs for it. “But then I saw I had a message . . .” “I’m sorry for the late notice, but I can’t leave. They got enough of a fright with those boys knocking at the window. I can’t imagine what they’ll be like when the fireworks go off.” He gave a nod. “I can’t believe the committee thought that would be a suitable surprise for somewhere as quiet as this town. We’re not used to that much noise around here.” Maxine smiled. “You’d better get going if you’re not going to miss all the fun.” He frowned. “I hoped you’d let me stay here with you and the cats. I brought this.” He held out the bottle. “I thought we could toast the New Year.” “But you said you wanted to go to the party.” “What I actually said was that I wanted to see the New Year in with you,” he reminded her softly, drawing her closer. And even though it wasn’t even nearly midnight yet, he kissed her anyway. * * * * It took them a while, but when the cats realised that any imminent danger had passed, they came out of hiding. Gladys made a beeline for Angus and had a huge fuss made of her before she wandered off to nap next to the radiator. All seemed right with the world. Maxine put soft music on to soothe the cats after their fright – and to hopefully mask any new outburst outside – and she and Angus were dancing, her head on his shoulder, as they waited for midnight. When her mobile burst to life on the counter, she stopped mid-step, startled. “Maxine, it’s me – Sabrina. I’m outside. Ed and Chloe are with me. Will you let us in?” “What are you doing here?” she asked as they brought the bitter chill of a snowy Hogmanay indoors with them. “We thought you might need some extra catminding tonight.” Ed grinned sheepishly. “I’m so sorry, Maxine. I can’t believe I didn’t think that the fireworks would affect the cats.” “You were trying to do a nice thing for the town,” she said. “But what are you doing here? Won’t they miss you at the party? After all, you helped arrange it.” He shook his head. “They won’t miss me.” “And you’re not supposed to be working tonight,” she reminded Sabrina. “Doesn’t that say a lot about how much I love my job, if I’d rather be here, than living it up in the community centre?” “Oh, please let us stay!” Sabrina and Ed’s daughter Chloe chipped in. “We’d much rather be here – and the cats might need us.” The first burst of fireworks heralded the New Year. They’d been so busy arguing over who was to stay that they’d missed it. very long. “Are the cats OK?” Chloe peered around, trying to spot them. Sadie was the first cat to emerge. She popped her nose, then a hairy paw, out from her hiding place behind the counter. One by one, the others cautiously appeared. “It’s quarter past midnight,” Angus said, glancing at the clock on the wall and barely flinching as Gladys took a flying leap on to his shoulder. “A bit late, but what do you say we toast the New Year? There’s champagne for those who want it, and I’m sure we can find some orange juice for Chloe.” They all raised their glasses. “Happy New Year.” When Maxine had moved here, she had been alone in the world, and it hadn’t mattered because she’d been intent on starting her new life as an independent businesswoman. Somehow, along the way, she had acquired a family of sorts – her cats and these friends who she hadn’t even known that long, but who she loved with all her heart. “We should go back to the party,” Sabrina said apologetically. “Come with us?” The moment Maxine had been waiting for finally arrived “Looks like it’s settled and you’re staying,” Angus told them as another loud burst from outside had cats scattering in all directions. They wanted to hide, that was obvious. To snuggle together into corners and cubbyholes where they felt safest. But the people they loved most were there for them when they emerged and needed to be comforted. “I think it’s over,” Maxine dared to say as the alarming explosions stopped as suddenly as they had begun. Sabrina had been right – the display hadn’t taken Maxine shook her head. “The cats seem OK, but I just want to make sure. It’s been an exciting night for them. But I can’t thank you guys enough for being here.” Then there was just her and Angus. “You not going with them?” she asked, even though he’d firmly closed the door. He got to his feet, took her hands and drew her closer. “Without you? No chance.” The moment Maxine had been waiting for finally arrived, as Angus’s lips met hers for her first kiss of this New Year. n Moomins More Than Deborah Siepmann enjoys an exhibition of Tove Jansson’s work. Images courtesy of the Dulwich Picture Gallery. F OR generations, children and adults all over the world have been captivated by the enchanting and dramatic stories of a peace-loving Nordic family called the Moomins. These beguiling, slightly hippopotamus-shaped creatures are the creation of one of the best-loved writers and illustrators of the twentieth century, Tove Jansson. But Moominvalley was not the only place where her unique gifts found expression. Throughout her life her deepest passion lay in her unwavering work as a fine artist. This year into next, the Dulwich Picture Gallery is showcasing her extensive output of portraits, landscapes, still-life and courageous anti-war cartoons, along with illustrations of the beloved Moomins, in a celebratory exhibition. The Moomin family and friends. Looking defiant in a selfportrait with her family. It was a special treat being shown round by Sophia Jansson, Tove’s niece, and the curator of the exhibition, Sointu Fritze. “My aunt thought of herself as a serious painter,” Sophia explained. “Now, for the first time, the public can see the full range of her works. She went fearlessly from genre to genre, and was exceptionally productive.” Tove was born in Helsinki into an artistic family. Her Swedish-speaking Finnish father was a classical sculptor, her Swedish mother a graphic artist, and Tove showed great artistic promise from toddlerhood. She had been transfixed by her mother’s intricate drawings for postage stamps – work that she did regularly to stabilise the family income, as Tove’s father’s commissions were unpredictable. By the time she was in her early teens, Tove had become an accomplished cartoonist, selling her work to the Finnish satirical magazine, “Garm”. One summer day she scribbled the first Moomin on to the door of an outside loo at the island home the family rented each year for the holidays. But the stories of Moominland emerged much later, out of the dark days of the Winter War. Tove and her family were deeply affected by the ominous shadow that lay across the future of their beloved Finland, and the world. She had said, “I am really a painter, but in the early 1940s I felt so desperate that I began to write fairy tales.” Her remarkable family portrait, done over several years and completed in 1942, vividly depicts the sombre atmosphere and fear of the war as well as the conflicts and tension Illustration for “Alice In Wonderland”. within her own rather complicated family. “Tove wrote and painted herself into all of her work,” Sophia said. “What really sizes her up are her selfportraits. “My aunt was a tiny woman, but very bold – you can see that. There she is looking at you, confronting the world and never making excuses. “She seems to be saying, ‘Take me on’! She was so full of courage and OUT AND ABOUT 51 The Moomins were often Tove’s mouthpiece. Tove Jansson was happiest at her island retreat. determination, and she has always been a role model for me.” The Swedish traditions of fairy tales and story-telling were passed on to Tove and her brothers by their mother. A mysterious, magical quality runs through all of her work, and her favourite subjects were the sea and landscapes. The lush, flower-filled meadows and sparkling lakes of the countryside where she spent her summers glow out of Moominvalley as they do out of so many of her paintings of other subjects. Does Sophia have a favourite in the exhibition? “It’s very difficult to choose – I have so many! There is one called Maya that I’m very fond of – it’s a little reminiscent of the paintings of Gauguin. Perhaps Tove was influenced by him. “And I have a very soft spot for her storm paintings. She loved storms – our whole family did.” Tove’s father had also been fascinated by fires, and at the first sign of smoke in the sky, he would drop everything to take the children off to see these dramatic sights, much like Moominpapa who loved adventures of a similar kind. In her later years Tove finally broke free of the relentless demands that the success of the Moomins had brought her. She began to paint powerful, bold works which stood out from anything she had done previously. She revelled in colour, with all its contrasts and nuances. “There are so many details to enjoy in Tove’s work.” The curator Sointu Fritze smiles. “You have to come up close and look at the lines. They are so economical and expressive – every small gesture says so much!” Perhaps the most constant themes that run through all of Tove Jansson’s work are those of the rhythms of nature, of loss and regaining, leaving but returning, of tolerating and embracing others’ differences. Disaster can strike at any moment, but strength, goodness and love will triumph. “Our family spent every summer in the archipelago,” Sophia reminisced. “The Finnish summers are very short and intense. Those times are perhaps my fondest memories of Tove. “We would row from island to island, dive from cliffs . . . She communicated with me on my level, without becoming a child herself. It was always an adventure to be with her.” n Want To Know More? The Dulwich Picture Gallery will be showing Tove Jansson’s work until January 28, 2018. Find out more at www. dulwichpicturegallery.org. uk or call 020 8693 5254. Factfile n Inspired by the humanitarian themes of the Moomin books, Oxfam has launched a campaign around Tove Jansson’s short story “The Invisible Child”, to support women’s projects all over the world. Sophia Jansson said, “I’m sure that Tove would be very glad that her stories are going to help women all across the world escape poverty, and find their voices.” n Originally written in Swedish, the Moomin books have been translated into more than 50 languages. n Although she is best known for her Moomin books, Tove Jansson held many solo exhibitions of her work as a fine artist. Her large fairy-tale murals light up the walls of public buildings in Finland, including schools and kindergartens, and a children’s hospital. Her striking altarpiece hangs in Teuva Church. n As well as illustrating her own books, creating comic strips and supplying the magazine “Garm” with bold anti-war cartoons, Tove Jansson illustrated books by other authors. The pictures she created for “Alice In Wonderland”, “The Hunting of the Snark” and “The Hobbit” are in a slightly different style from those that she drew and painted for the Moomin stories. FrEE UK dEliVErY | nEVEr MiSS An iSSUE | GUArAnTEEd dEliVErY Winter Sale SAVE UP TO £81! SAVE OVER SAVE OVER £25 £56 THE PEOPlE’S FriEnd SPECiAlS THE PEOPlE’S FriEnd POCKET nOVElS ONLY £4 for the first 3 months, ONLY £2.50 for the first 3 months, One year price: £31 One year price: £34 The People’s Friend Special is the perfect companion to the weekly magazine, with 14 short stories, puzzles, cookery, craft and travel in every three-weekly issue. Every Pocket Novel contains one novel length story packed with romance and drama. There are two new titles every month, published in a handy, lightweight pocket-sized format. £9 every quarter thereafter Don’t miss out! FREEPHONE 0800 318 846 quoting PFJ18. Free from UK landlines and mobiles only. Lines open 8am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm Sat. Overseas +44 1382 575580 ONLINE £10.50 every quarter thereafter. Digital subscriptions available on PC, Tablet and Mobile devices Visit: www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/digital ANDROID APP ON www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/subscriptions *dirECT dEBiT: Prices and savings quoted are for UK delivery by payment by Direct Debit. UK bank accounts only. One year minimum term applies. Savings are based on the annual newsstand rate at the time of going to print. Prepay and overseas options are also available for credit/debit card and cheque orders. GEnErAl: For overseas enquiries, please contact: +44 1382 575580, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Offer ends 14th February 2018. Cooking With Franca She had had dreams of teaching, of passing her knowledge on to others. Was it too late? Illustration by John Hancock. H ERE comes the most beautiful woman in Palermo!” her butcher greeted Franca, just like he’d done for the past twenty years. If that title might have been possible when she was eighteen, now that she had university-age children the compliment sounded more like mockery. Franca glanced at her reflection in the shop window. Yes, she was still shapely. She opened her purse to pay and noticed her long, slender fingers, hardly changed. Her hair was certainly in a better shape now than when she had had three young children tugging at it. Maybe the butcher’s comment was a gallant exaggeration rather than plain mockery. It was precisely because she enjoyed the shopkeepers’ good-natured banter that she went grocery-shopping every day, even now that they had an electric refrigerator – a luxury she had accepted only after her husband’s gentle insistence. Back home, she picked up an onion and started chopping it for lunch. She liked to have everything ready for when her family returned home. How many would there be today? Some days nobody turned up: lectures went on for too long and her children’s lunch break was swallowed, or the jury at the tribunal didn’t reach an agreement and her husband ate a late lunch at the office’s bar. Being ready for anything was paramount: Franca laid everything out and, if nobody had turned up by one o’clock, she’d pour the pasta water in the sink and put everything away, to start again at supper time. Then she’d go to her room and chase away the solitude with the company of a book or the radio. One of her friends had this flashy new thing called a television set, and deep down, she would have loved to have one, too, but she would never admit it, even to herself. She had never felt lonely when the kids were little and her husband was a junior judge with more time to spare. But now, each of them had their own lives outside the home. Except for her. “Mum, I’m home! We’re a crowd and we’re very hungry!” Giovanni announced, opening the front door. “Lunch will be ready in ten minutes,” Franca replied excitedly. Numerous extra guests, SHORT STORY BY STEFANIA HARTLEY 53 Set in the 1950s with short or no notice, special dietary requirements – any challenge energised her like an injection of caffeine. She took great pride in showing off her speed and efficiency as well as her attention to detail. For example, she knew that it was exams season at the faculty. Revising law’s codicils on an empty or overstuffed stomach wasn’t ideal, so she had planned a light Bolognese pasta dish with a salad, but without a second course or a pudding. The water for the pasta was bubbling. Franca slipped out of the kitchen and peeped into Giovanni’s room to count today’s number of covers. One, two, three, four, five, six. “Mum, Gisella is vegetarian,” Giovanni warned. Franca wasn’t sure what “vegetarian” meant but inferred that it was probably OK to serve vegetables, so she quickly changed her menu plan. She measured enough spaghetti for seven people, using her thumb and forefinger as callipers, dropped it into the pot of boiling water, activated the kitchen timer and started to create a cauliflower, raisins and pine nuts sauce against the clock. “Hello, Mrs Lo Presti.” “Hello, Mimma.” The girl was one of the most frequent visitors to their home. “Aren’t you afraid of getting your beautiful clothes dirty? I mean, do you always dress so nicely when you’re cooking, with earrings and necklaces?” Franca smiled. “If I had a job outside the home, I’d dress up for it, wouldn’t I? So why shouldn’t I dress up for my jobs as cook, wife and mum? That’s how I think.” “Very right. Have you ever wanted a job outside the home, Mrs Lo Presti?” “Yes! When I was young I was studying to become a kindergarten teacher. But then the war started and we left the city, so that was the end of my studies. “After the war, when I turned eighteen, I got married and my husband said, ‘No wife of mine shall ever have to 54 work!’ He meant well but he didn’t know that I actually liked the idea of going to work. “Then the children came along and my husband’s career took off, so there was lots to do at home and no need for an extra income. “You are very lucky to be able to go to university: at least you’ll have the choice later.” “I guess so, but I don’t really like studying law. My dad makes films for television and I dream of being a camerawoman. “But Dad says that careers in TV are too volatile and I’m better off studying law and getting a degree under my belt.” “Don’t be downhearted. Get your law degree first, and afterwards do what you like with your life. “You’re young, you’ve got plenty of time ahead of you! Plus, if you’d never studied law, Giovanni wouldn’t have met you.” Franca glanced at Mimma to see her reaction. Just as she expected, Mimma blushed. She carried the food to the table. “Mrs Lo Presti, this is delicious!” Gisella said. “Yes, it’s fantastic!” the others chorused. “Sometimes I wonder if you guys hang out with me because you like me, or because of my mum’s cooking,” Giovanni said. “For your mum’s cooking!” They burst into laughter. * * * * The next day Giovanni brought home seven guests for lunch. Among them, as usual, was Mimma. She followed Franca into the kitchen. “Mrs Lo Presti, I’ve an idea that might help me pursue my dream. I want to film you while you cook. Franca looked puzzled. “You’re the most beautiful and elegant cook I’ve ever seen, and you can turn around a fantastic meal with hardly any notice. You could teach people how to cook, through television. “Dad has agreed to lend me a studio camera. It’s my big chance. Please, Mrs Lo Presti, say yes.” “I’m not young and pretty enough to be filmed!” “Mrs Lo Presti, you’re one of the most beautiful women in Palermo!” The words of the butcher rang in Franca’s ears. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in Palermo, of course, but probably the most beautiful woman that Mimma could relate to. “Will you still study for your exams?” “I promise. Is it a yes?” “All right. What do I need to do?” * * * * “Thank you, Mum, for helping Mimma. She means a lot to me,” Giovanni whispered into Franca’s ears while she was cooking, and darted out of the room again before she could ask him any questions. But Franca didn’t need to ask questions. “Hello, dear, I’m home,” Mr Lo Presti called. “Hello, darling!” Franca replied, over the crackling of the frying-pan. It suddenly dawned on her that, if she was going to be filmed, she should at least mention it to Pietro. The chances were small, but what if Mimma’s dad liked the film and decided to broadcast it? Pietro, then, would flick through the channels and see his wife on the television screen. Worse, a colleague might say, “I saw your wife on television.” She should have asked his opinion before saying yes to Mimma. What if he vetoed it? Mimma would be heartbroken. So would be Giovanni. The escalope’s breadcrumbs stuck to Franca’s clammy hands and pearls of cold sweat formed around her lips. She had to find the right place and time to broach the subject. She walked to the cupboard and checked that the bottle of grappa was full. * * * * “Guess what, Dad?” Giovanni said at dinner. “What?” “Mum is going to star in a cookery programme!” Pietro dropped his fork, Loretta coughed and Franca’s face lost all colour except for her lipstick. “Yes. Mimma begged her and she agreed. Mimma wants to prove to her dad that she can be a camerawoman and she thinks that Mum would make a fantastic cookery programme and that every woman in Italy will want to be as glamorous and competent as her.” “And what does your mother think about being on television?” The fact that he referred to her as “your mother” didn’t bode well. “She said yes.” Franca began to tremble. “I don’t think the film will ever be anything more than a sample,” she said shakily. “It might be. What if you ended up inside those television boxes, straight into the homes of thousands of people, week after week? “Would you mind?” Pietro asked with piercing eyes. The idea of hosting her very own cookery programme was beyond Franca’s dreams. Not only would she have her very own job, but a really fun one, too! “I – I would be beyond myself with happiness,” she said, her eyes welling up. “That’s great, then,” Pietro said. * * * * “What am I supposed to say, Mimma?” Franca asked that first morning. She felt like a child at school. “Imagine that you’re teaching me, just me, to cook this dish. Show me how to do it and talk me through what you’re doing. Is that OK?” “Yes. I’m ready,” Franca said, smiling. “One, two, three – action!” * * * * “Mum, you look really natural! Didn’t you feel nervous?” Loretta asked, eyes glued to their TV set which was showing “Cooking With Franca”. “It’s all thanks to Mimma. She told me to imagine I was talking to her, so I did. Because I feel at ease with her, I felt at ease before her camera.” “I thought that you were refusing to be filmed by other cameramen just to keep me in work!” Mimma giggled, holding hands with Giovanni on the sofa. “That, too, but mostly it’s a selfish reason: I’d just freeze if I was filmed by anyone else.” “And the bonus is that we now have a television set, too! Thank you, Dad!” Loretta said. “You mustn’t thank me: you mum bought it with what she earned. “But that’s nothing compared to the fact that tomorrow thousands of women across Italy will be trying her recipes. “My clever wife!” Pietro said, glowing with pride. “What’s even more unbelievable, Dad, is that we’ve got a TV star cooking our meals every day,” Giovanni said. Franca swelled with happiness and pride, then gasped. “Oops, that reminds me that I forgot to take the chicken out of the oven!” Pietro laughed. “I think a burned supper now and then is just what you need to keep you humble!” * * * * “Here comes the most beautiful woman on television!” the butcher greeted Franca a few weeks later. Franca’s cookery show had become so popular that word had spread to those who didn’t have a television set at home, but they could still talk about it as if they had seen it. Franca blushed. “I hope you’ll still shop here even though you’re a star now,” he told her. “Of course I will. And it looks like you might have some new customers, too,” she said, nodding to a couple of women outside who, pens and paper in hand, stood waiting for her autograph. n NATURE 55 country air A breath of Renowned nature writer Polly Pullar takes a lighthearted look at rural life. Photographs by Polly Pullar. E VERY autumn we receive little hedgehogs – babies born late in the season that are too small to hibernate safely. It has been well publicised that hedgehogs that are under a pound in weight won’t survive the winter and need to be taken into care until spring. In recent years hedgehog numbers have fallen dramatically in the area where we live. When I first came here 17 years ago, we frequently saw hedgehogs, and I had many handed in to me throughout the year. They might be cute, but they’re also smelly! Sadly, this is no longer the case. People blame an increase in badger numbers, particularly in the Highlands, as they are one of the only animals that can get through a hedgehog’s thorny armour. I do not go with this theory and feel that it is a convenient excuse. I do not question that sometimes badgers eat hedgehogs, just as hedgehogs sometimes eat fledglings and birds’ eggs, but the truth of the matter is that, as ever, it is man that is to blame. We have ruined the habitat in many places for hedgehogs, fence off our gardens so well that hedgehogs cannot pass safely from one to another in urban areas, and of course with continual loss of habitat, increased industrialisation and more and more frantically busy roads, the poor hedgehog has no chance. Both badgers and hedgehogs are omnivorous and have lived side by side for thousands of years. In difficult times it is no surprise that the larger, more robust animal should come out on top and adapt better to changing circumstances. I used to over-winter the hedgehogs in our animal hospital in the house but their smell pervades everything and is none too pleasant. Last year we made a special “hoggery” in the shed outside and collected mountains of dry leaves and moss with which we totally covered the whole area. This has proved incredibly successful, means the smell is no problem and also gives them much more space and freedom to move about. We release the hedgehogs at the end of April. It is always hard to know exactly when to do this. If the weather has been mild and wet then it is likely to be easier for them to find enough food. However, long dry spells mean food can be scarce, and cold with late frosts is not ideal. We really are in the lap of the gods. I have found that though I leave food out for them, our hedgehogs seldom return for it, which means they are on their own without a prop straightaway, something I always try to avoid with all rehabilitated wildlife. This past winter we only had one male hedgehog with us. We christened him Jimmy Archie. He arrived burdened with parasites and had to have a good worm dosing, but from then on began to grow really well. During the depths of the winter we still put food out for them every day – sometimes it lies untouched, and if the weather is cold the occupants of the hoggery don’t emerge from the amazing nests they make themselves and we leave them well alone. Jimmy Archie hibernated for just over a month in late January, and then awoke with a voracious appetite and wolfed dishes of food every night. Following an exceedingly long cold spell, we had to keep him longer than usual. However, the moment will come when it is time to go, and we look for suitable places as far away from busy roads as possible. Taking them out of the transport box, they huff and puff and erect their prickles for protection, and make it hard for us to hold them without gloves. Then comes that moment as they toddle off on their surprisingly long legs, and disappear into the woods. Knowing as I do how the poor, once common hedgehog struggles, that release moment is always tinged with sadness. I can but hope that they will survive and thrive, living on long enough to help the depleted hedgehog population. n We take our next Breath of Country Air in our January 27 issue. Home Front On The Deputy Archivist Jennifer Hunt talks about preserving the history of the Royal Voluntary Service. Photographs by Alamy. from Patricia Routledge, championing this vital project to make a permanent record of “the memories of a million wartime women”. “The archive was first set up in 1958 and that was in preparation for the twentyfirst anniversary in 1959. Before then the records were collected by Headquarters. All reports had to be completed in quadruplicate so Headquarters could be sent a copy,” Jennifer explains. The condition of the documents varies, Narrative Reports © Royal Voluntary Service. T HE Women’s Voluntary Services were founded in 1938 and by 1943 had over one million volunteers – making it the world’s largest voluntary organisation. During the war, the Service did an astounding variety of work on the Home Front. Starting with air-raid assistance, where they fed, treated and helped move people in and out of shelters, their responsibilities soon expanded to cover everything from roadside catering and hot meals to the evacuation of urban children to the country. In 1966, the Queen gave the Service Royal patronage, and the WRVS was born, before becoming the Royal Voluntary Service in 2013. In 2017 we learned that the Service was planning on digitising its archives of reports received from branches around the country during the war, making them available online for all to see. They began a funding campaign featuring a video understandably, and there is a mixture of handwritten and typed versions. Jennifer had help from Archives Assistant Jacob, who joined the team to diligently photograph every single page digitally and store it on their computers in September 2016. After much work, they were able to upload the archives from 1938 through to 1942, and they went live online in July of this year. “We had over a thousand Making a camouflage net in London. Canning centre in Folkestone. downloads in the first month! So we got a really good reaction – especially from our backers, who had waited patiently to look at those reports and read through them.” Jennifer explains that the funding campaign was so successful, they made more money than they’d asked for, which means they’ve now got the chance to carry local areas. “They could do anything from knitting jumpers and socks to being out there collecting salvage and bits of scrap metal and organising other people to do things as well. “I love the tea trolley that went around behind the bicycle!” Jennifer recalls. “It proved a bit impractical, so on the work and digitise reports from 1943 to 1945. If all goes to plan, the WVS reports from the whole war will be online by April 2018. The reports themselves provide a fascinating glimpse into life at the time. One story involves WVS ladies from Portsmouth who attended a training session in Harrods and learned to turn groomed dog hair into yarn and knit jumpers from it. “I didn’t realise just how much they did do, because it was everything and anything – especially in their they hooked it up to the car!” Jennifer has met two of the ladies who were involved at the time. “I met one lady who lives in Coventry who was involved in what they used to call the ‘devil’s kitchen’, which was the kitchen in the back of the police station in Coventry where they used to serve tea for on-duty police officers during air raids. “I also spoke to a lady called Margaret Miller – she died a couple of years ago now – but she was volunteering for us during HERITAGE 57 Busy making refreshments for rescue workers. Handing over a WVS war nursery in 1941. the war in Glasgow. “She used to go and visit soldiers in the hospitals, taking them oranges and things from the greengrocers when they could get them.” It’s obviously a bonus for accessibility that these papers are online, but Jennifer admits that you can’t beat paper archives. “Paper tends to last more than digital – with digital you’ve always got to think about the format. Will it last? The paper’s lasted – well, the earliest paper is 1938.” During which time CDs have fallen by the wayside, as have tapes. Interestingly, the older the paper the more durable it was. Things were built to last! The online collection is a mixture of sound recordings, documents and photographs and well worth a look. You can visit the archives at goo.gl/G73bWi. n Men of the Pioneer Corps at a canteen run by the Service. Carving meat to cater for a group of 120. Set in 1829 No. 4, Whitehall Gardens Griff was about to declare himself to Clementine! How could she stop him? The Story So Far Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar. C LEMENTINE DENNY is nursery maid for the Peel family at No. 4, Whitehall Gardens. ROBERT PEEL is Home Secretary, and he and his pregnant wife have five children. Peel is in the later planning stages of the new Metropolitan Police Force and, impressed by constable WILLIAM GRANT, summons him to a meeting to ask for a broad picture of current policing’s needs and failings. William worries about his half-sister’s wayward behaviour, as he needs a clean reputation to succeed in his career. Clementine previously worked in a laundry and was nearly caught up in trouble with a scheme that colleague MOLLY WESTALL devised. Molly glamorises her father, who died in Newgate where he was imprisoned for running confidence tricks. Molly one day turns up at No. 4 and blackmails Clementine into helping her with another scam she and her beau SILAS have concocted. After William encounters Clementine one day while on his Westminster beat, the pair become friendly and an attraction grows between them – until he lets slip that his mother’s first husband was named Westall . . . C LEMENTINE stood at the back of the garden of No. 4, half hidden by trees. Her mind raced and she felt sick. Over the heads of the Peel children playing on the grass, she watched William Grant’s figure disappear round the house. William, the man with whom she knew she was in love. For the past half hour, he had been talking to her so sweetly and so earnestly. She had even allowed herself to think that he might declare himself right there and then. If he had spoken of love, she would have fallen into his arms, never mind what stern Miss Everett would say if she’d happened to look out of her window on the second floor. But then, as William talked and she let her eyes luxuriate in his face, he had said a name. Westall. It was Molly’s name – the surname of Clementine’s so-called friend who had nearly landed them both in a prison cell for fraud. It was also the name of Molly’s father, that feckless, arrogant excuse for a confidence trickster whom Molly worshipped as a hero. It had been a passing comment for William, that John Westall was the first husband of William’s mother, but Clementine was as certain as she could be that this John was Molly’s father, and that Molly was William’s halfsister. The coincidence was too great for anything else. She knew that he had a sister, but not Molly! Oh, how happiness could turn on a pin head! Clementine reran their SERIAL BY ALISON CARTER PART 4 OF 5 conversations in her mind. William had told the story of his mother’s first marriage, calling it a mistake. He’d spoken of his mother’s first husband as a master criminal, and now Clementine recalled his sarcastic tone and the way he had been unable to hide how much he despised Westall. “Miss Clementine.” The sound of a deep voice jolted her out of her thoughts, and she looked up to see coachman Griff Jones striding across the lawn. “Oh, it’s you, Griff,” she said, straightening her shoulders. “How can I help you?” Griff’s head was turning one way and then the other, looking down the side of the house then back at Clementine. “There was a man here,” he said. “Yes,” she said. “That’s right. He is a policeman, Griff.” “Is something amiss?” Griff asked. She watched him scan the garden for the children and count them. He reached five. “No, nothing amiss, Griff,” Clementine replied. “He was one of them men from Bow Street,” Griff said. He was frowning, and with a sinking of her heart Clementine realised that he was jealous. “Yes, that’s right. He was from the Runners,” she replied. Clementine did not need the added complication of a jealous man. She was miserable enough. But Griff had something else to say. “You spoke about the new pair of horses for the stables?” he said, brightening a little. “Mr Peel himself has agreed the purchase from this friend of yours.” Clementine froze. She had spoken to Griff about new horses. How she regretted that now! Molly had called at No. 4 and persuaded Clementine to help in the wild scheme. Molly had sworn that Clementine’s part in it would be entirely innocent. With Clementine’s encouragement, Griff would order a new pair of carriage horses from a company started up by Silas and Molly. The horses would be delivered and this would give Molly and Silas a legitimate order to show off on their orders book and in their advertising. With the endorsement of the Home Secretary himself they would attract other wealthy purchasers, take their deposits, and vanish with the proceeds. In the end Molly had done more than cajole; she had threatened, in her wheedling way. She had suggested that if Clementine felt unable to help with this favour, then it might be necessary to recall Clementine’s part in the laundry scam, and mention it to the police. Clementine had said she’d consider it. It had been a relief just to get rid of Molly, and for some days she’d tried to forget her. But Molly’s face kept coming back to Clementine. So, nervous of what she might do, Clementine had taken a deep breath and had gone to the stable, where she had mentioned a new company of horse merchants to Griff. “If you’re ever told to buy stock,” she’d said, edging away even as she spoke, “I can provide a name.” The word “reputable” had hovered on her lips, but she could not speak it. “Now, it’s an odd thing,” Griff replied. “The steward and I were in conversation about that. “Mrs Peel’s carriage will not do once the baby comes, and the new carriage I’ve got my eye on will warrant a new and larger pair.” “That’s for you to decide,” Clementine said. ““We might make a visit together to see them, Miss Denny,” Griff said, beaming. “Of course,” Clementine had finished, “these things cannot be hurried. Mr Peel may not agree the purchase.” And now, here in the garden, Griff was informing her that Molly’s plan was working! She wanted to weep. Now there was no hope of calling back the man she loved, no prospect of finding a way for them to be together. When Molly’s plan began to bind the Peel household in its tendrils, Clementine’s association with William would more than likely bring William trouble. Of course, he was already at risk, having Molly for a sister, but if it were known that he also knew the Peels’ nursery maid who had assisted in the scam, then his career would be over. “Clemmie! Clemmie!” Frederick was running across the grass. “Come and tell Robert that he is an ass!” “Hush, Fred,” Clementine 59 police were ever to link Molly with Clementine, that would certainly bring him down. Silas and Molly would doubtless be discovered in the end, then Molly would be unlikely to spare Clementine again and save her from taint. Then the connection would take the Runners straight to William! A few of the staff at No. 4, Whitehall Gardens were already aware of the attachment between Clementine and William. Even little Julia, always listening at doors, had asked questions about the nice man (as she referred to William) who had come to call. Clementine watched the little boys trying to hit shuttlecock with battledore, and Julia tapping imaginary shoulders as she surveyed her imaginary troops. The scene should have Molly’s plan began to bind the household in its tendrils reprimanded. “You should not say that about your brother.” “He takes the quoits from me and will not let me play!” Frederick cried. “Oh, you do try my patience!” Clementine exclaimed. When she glanced down, little Fred looked stricken, and she regretted her harsh words. “Let us go and sort it out,” she said with a kinder smile. The boys calmed down, the quoits were returned to their box and the children distracted with another game. Clementine sat on a wall and tried to think. William must be protected. She was as certain as she could be that he did not know about his half-sister’s nefarious new scheme. If he could be kept out of this, and could later plead ignorance of the affair of the horses, he might be believed. Clementine knew that he was of exemplary and proven character, but if the been idyllic – happy children in a happy household. But the Peels were unaware that the young woman caring for their children was miserable and afraid. She must immediately end the association between herself and William Grant, and must avoid talking to him, or about him. She had to keep her distance from William, and try to stop Molly as well. The latter might yet be possible, though it would be hard: Griff had looked delighted at the plan for buying new horses. He would probably now make it his life’s work to please Clementine by buying his blessed horses from the most feckless horse traders in all London, just because she had suggested it! Clementine picked up the rope handle of the quoits box and began to drag it across the grass towards the back door. It felt as though it weighed half a ton. 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Mariah was fretting. “It seems wicked to say it,” she told her son, “but Molly’s as slippery as an eel, and though she tells me nothing, I know something is afoot.” “Has she found work yet?” William asked. He was polishing his work boots by the back door. “Oh, she chatters on about that,” Mariah said, wiping mechanically back and forth at the table surface with a rag, though it already shone. “She’s vague. That lad of hers has been here often, and they sit in the alley behind the house with their heads together.” “Don’t let her marry Silas Browne, Mother,” William said. “And I’d not refer to him as a lad, nor Molly a girl, both of them being seven and twenty!” Mariah laughed. “You’re right on that count, Will. She’s no thought of marriage, you know – she hasn’t got the sense for that.” Mariah looked at her son’s back, encased in the smooth black gabardine of his uniform, and her mouth twitched into a smile of pride. “I’m wondering if you’ve any ideas in that direction yourself, Will. I’ve seen you gazing into the distance like some lovesick boy.” William didn’t turn round. He didn’t want his mother to see the strain on his face. Since that day when Clementine had sent him away, just as though they had no interest in each other, his heart had been twisted up with distress. “Not me, Ma,” he said in as light a tone as he could. “Not yet.” “Well, any young woman would be lucky to have you, a rising man of the Runners, and set to be preferred for Mr Peel’s new force,” Mariah declared. William could hear the pleasure in her voice, and the hope, and he closed his eyes and gripped the shoe brush. The Peel name ought to be a source of joy, but Clementine had sent him away, and he was wretched. But William’s mother quickly returned to the topic of his half-sister Molly and William knew why. When Molly was brewing trouble there was always an atmosphere in the house – a nagging anxiety that mother and son both felt. William remembered it from his earliest days. Even at age seven or eight he’d been aware that his mother was waiting up for Molly during one of her long absences, or that some new friend of Molly’s was frequenting the house. He had looked up to Molly then, and adored her, but he’d known she was a source of trouble. He had learned to be good because of it; a stable counterweight to his half-sister’s unstable one. At last Mariah stopped rubbing at the table. She picked up a tin of bread dough that had been proving by the grate, and went out to the bake house three or four streets away, returning 20 minutes later. “There’s a lot of loaves waiting to bake,” she said, “so I’m to go back after dinner and fetch it.” William was done polishing now, too, and he sat in a chair reading a day-old edition of “The Observer” newspaper. He commonly borrowed it from his superior officer at Worship Street. His mother wandered round the tiny parlour, unable to settle to anything. “Where is Molly?” William asked. Mariah turned round and braced her arms against the dresser. “I wish I knew, Will. With that man, I suppose, cooking up something.” “You think she’s foolish enough to risk prison again?” She looked at him, her lips pressed together. “I thought of checking in her box upstairs.” Molly, like many young women of the working classes, owned a locked box that was beneath her bed, in which she kept anything private. She shared a bedchamber with her mother, and privacy was hard to achieve. “I don’t know,” William said quietly, but even as the words left his lips he knew they would look. The key lay in the dresser drawer, pushed to the back behind cloths and pegs and a broken embroidery frame of Mariah’s. Molly thought herself very cunning, but she wasn’t as clever as she believed herself to be, and both her brother and her mother had long known how to open her secret box. They went up the stairs together, treading softly though Molly was not in the house. They kneeled by the bed and opened the box. Inside were two letters to Silas, misspelled and ink-smudged but full of passionate endearments. The second was, in fact, a fairer copy of the first, but more flowery and with more crossings-out. “Oh, my child!” Mariah cried. “She is a woman and a little girl all at once!” “At least she is true in her affections,” William said. Mariah gave a bitter laugh. “Have you met the man? I doubt he could read a letter. It appears that she did not send it.” There was another sheet of paper below, on which were drawn four likenesses of a gown, or possibly more than one gown. It had huge puffed sleeves and a plunging neckline. Beside the sketches was a list of colours and fabrics. But William had found something else, something which told him how Molly planned to pay for the imagined gowns. Silently, he handed another paper to his mother, and together they read. There wasn’t very much to see, but what there was – a note from Silas Browne – told them all they needed to know. “Horses for the Peels,” William whispered. He felt his stomach turn over. “He’s even proposed a bill of advertisement, with Mr Peel’s name emblazoned across the top. They will get enough orders to . . . “Oh, Mother, they think they can just run off with the money and that nobody will come after them!” Neither of them spoke for a minute. Before them on the bed lay the key to Molly’s box. Tied to its bow-end was a faded scrap of blue ribbon, its ends frayed. “That’s her father’s present to her,” Mariah said. William had heard the tale. John Westall had given little enough to his wife or his daughter while he lived with them. Before they took him away to prison, though, he had given Molly a ribbon. “For your pretty hair,” he’d said. “He’d stolen it,” Mariah had told William. “He’d never have paid for such a thing. Of course little Molly loved it.” William knew that both of them were thinking of Molly – her wrong-headed enthusiasm, her vulnerability, the way she thought herself so bold and brilliant when in truth she was an ignorant child. She was eager to build castles in the air and to have others tell her they were strong and real and lasting. The ribbon represented all of it, decorating the key to her secret box, given to her by her hero, representing nothing. They didn’t hear Molly enter the house, which was unusual because she usually tripped in, talking about something or other, and flung her outer clothes about the place. Later, William wondered if, that day, she was thoughtful for a change. Perhaps she was going over in her mind what she and Silas would achieve. Whatever kept her movements quiet, she was in the open bedroom doorway and looking at them before they 62 knew she was home. “What d’you suppose you’re doing?” she asked. William and his mother looked at one another. Mariah spoke first. “I am sorry, daughter, for prying,” she said. “I should think so!” Molly hurried in and snatched the key up. Her face was turning pink. Mariah stood up stiffly. “But now it’s done, and we have seen what you and Silas Browne intend, all we wish to do is stop you getting into danger.” “You know this scheme is sure to fail?” William added, standing, too. Molly turned on him, two hard pink spots glowing livid on her cheeks. “You mind your own business, William Grant!” she spat. “Do-gooder, always sticking your policeman’s beak in where it’s not required! You’re barely even my brother!” Mariah raised a hand. “Child, this language will bring us no help. You have to see –” “I see very well,” Molly interrupted. “I see Will favoured ever since he was a baby. I see him raised to be the obedient, tedious man he is! “Well, there’s some of us with more inside our heads. Brother, if you want to carry on until you’re in your grave, earning ten guineas a year and having nothing, you keep on. I want more. I’ve ambition, and so does my Silas!” William was furious. His very job was at risk if she kept on with the criminal scheme he’d seen evidence of. She didn’t have enough brain to think of him! But Mariah had both hands raised now. She was trying to calm Molly down and could see her son’s anger rising. The strain that showed on her face made him close his mouth and clench his fists, and in that second he saw Molly again in all her feebleness and needy fragility. “She won’t be moved,” he said quietly. “At least she’s steadfast.” Molly misunderstood. In her mind there was always wonderful, courageous Silas. “I am steadfast to my man,” she said, her chin waggling with selfrighteousness. “If you ever get a girl, Will, you’ll see what that sort of loyalty means.” He clenched his fists tighter. “I must put away the boot polish,” he said softly. “Let us go, Mother.” William had to work that afternoon. As he walked north towards Worship Street he thought about his sister. He knew that the only way to stop her would be to give her up to the authorities. Otherwise she risked her own future as well as his career, should she manage to carry out her plan. Those recruiting for the new Metropolitan Police Force would never employ a man tarnished by such fraud and corruption, not even a man who had sat in the Home Secretary’s drawing-room. He decided that Molly must have a short, sharp shock now, to save her in the end. Rain began to fall, and William felt miserable. If he turned his own sister in, Clementine Denny would hear about it, and that would snuff out any spark between them for ever, if the spark was even still alight. William tipped his hat forward and trudged on, cold and wet. * * * * Clementine liked the flower-arranging room at No. 4, Whitehall Gardens better than any other part of the house. It was tiny – barely six feet by eight – and Mrs Peel had laughed about it with Clementine on another occasion. “It’s the kind of room one has in a proper country house,” she had said, “but a foolish luxury here in London, though I don’t know what else we’d do with this cubby-hole.” That day Mrs Peel had asked Clementine to make a vase up for Miss Everett. The governess was confined to bed with a cold in the head. “Drayton Manor has a flower room, though I expect it’s full of cobwebs,” Mrs Peel said. “Drayton Manor, ma’am?” Clementine repeated. “That’s the Peel house in Staffordshire. My husband’s father, the baronet, still lives there, watching it crumble away, poor gentleman. “That house has every room a country house could wish for – one for the removal of boots, one for the preparation of fish for dinner, one in which to beat naughty children.” “To beat nau –” “That’s a joke, Clementine!” Mrs Peel had laughed. Lately she had regained her energy, and had told Clementine that when the first few months of a pregnancy had passed, along with some of the sickness, her spirits usually improved. “Well, this vase will do,” Mrs Peel had said, stepping back. “Take it up to Miss Everett, if you please.” Today there was a different task, and Clementine was pleased to have it. Miss Everett said that nature was good for children’s health, and as the spring showed itself, she had sent Clementine to buy some flowers and to add to the arrangements from the garden. “Nothing fancy,” Miss Everett had said. “And position the two vases out of Frederick’s reach in the nursery, for goodness’ sake!” So Clementine was arranging flowers. She knew that there would be a few left over, and that nobody would mind if she took them to Dorcas. Dorcas Barnes was a friend from her laundry days, and was only weeks from her confinement. Until two days ago Dorcas had been stuck at home with her disappointed and hard-faced parents, then Clementine’s mother Bridget had declared that Dorcas must come and stay with them. That evening Clementine would wrap the leftover blooms in a scrap of Mr Peel’s used newspaper, well dampened, and hurry home in the hope of cheering poor Dorcas. They both needed cheering. In a fit of extravagance Mrs Peel had ordered a special flower-arranging pedestal to be installed in the room. Clementine enjoyed making the full circuit of this pedestal, checking her flower arrangements from all angles. She knew that the children would take no interest, but still she took the trouble. Just as she was completing the second arrangement, Griff Jones entered the room. His thick hair was plastered down, obviously with some care taken as to his appearance, and for once he had no items of saddlery hanging from his big shoulders. He stood in the middle of the room, taking up most of its space. He coughed. “How are you?” he asked stiffly. “Well, thank you, Griff,” Clementine replied. She picked up the small tray on which she had placed the vases, meaning to set off for the nursery, but Griff stepped forward and seized the tray, making water spill over the tops of the vases. He had a habit of following her about and trying to relieve her of work. “The weather is clement,” he said. Clementine looked out of the little window, and saw rain falling on to the leaves of a shrub. “Not too cold, for March, certainly,” she said, not wanting to detain Griff. He stood for a moment, holding the tray, then placed it carefully on the sideboard beside him. “Have you been able to read any books lately that you might recommend?” he asked. Griff’s Welsh accent, normally prominent, had almost vanished, and Clementine sensed something coming. “I have not had time for reading,” she replied. Griff nodded gravely. “I cannot help but see that you are weighed down by some trouble, Miss Denny. Clementine.” He raised his large right hand and laid it dramatically on his breast. “It pains me.” He sounded like a character from one of his sentimental novels. Griff was sometimes the butt of jokes below stairs because of the slim volumes he carried about with him. “I recommend ‘Evelina’, by Mrs Burney,” he said. “A well-made story and one that makes the heart tremble.” He blushed. “I mean, I know ladies enjoy a story that touches their emotions.” Clementine eyed the tray of vases. She ought to set off for the nursery, but Griff appeared to have forgotten the tray. “It has a heroine,” Griff said, “called Evelina.” “That seems logical,” Clementine replied. “A girl of purity and inexperience, beset by the perils of society life, and in need of a protector.” “Indeed?” “A man’s highest duty is towards the woman he loves,” Griff declared. She saw his Adam’s apple leap up and down in his thick, muscled neck, and realised with horror that he was about to declare himself! Before she could open her mouth, he said, “The scent of the flowers, and your beauty, compel me to speak.” “Griff.” Clementine tried to get a word in, but he wasn’t listening. “I vow to love and protect the woman I dare to call my own,” he said, his eyes half closed with the effort of recalling the right words. “For she is a delicate flower.” Clementine’s heart sank. The pedestal, standing beside her, seemed to mock her. He was putting her right up there on it, like some Grecian goddess. He was a sweet, kind, idiotic oaf, worshipping her. Clementine thought of William, and the real sparks that had passed between them, and the way they had laughed together. That was all over now, and how painful it was! She looked at Griff and knew that he didn’t really love her. He just thought he did. Griff was – oh, no! – about to get down on one knee, when the door opened quickly. Miss Everett, who almost never entered the smaller rooms below stairs, gave him a swift but steely stare and fixed her eyes on Clementine. “A message came to the nursery from your mother,” Miss Everett said. “She asks that you should come because a Dorcas Barnes is . . .” Miss Everett looked uncomfortable. “Well, her time is come.” She coughed. “You may have leave to go.” Miss Everett sighed. Clementine’s mind began to work at top speed. If Bridget was with Dorcas, and Mrs Barnes was not sent for, then a midwife must be fetched, especially if this infant was coming before its time. As Miss Everett glided backwards out of the door, Clementine turned to Griff, whose left knee was still slightly bent in preparation for his declaration of passion. “Griff, go to Vauxhall Gardens immediately and find the red house on St Oswald’s Place. “Ask for Mrs Jessman and have her come to Bridget Denny’s in Walworth. She’ll know the name and the address.” Griff was staring at her. “Vauxhall?” he said. “Yes. I will go to my mother’s, but the midwife charges extra for finding her own way to a birthing, so do this for me, will you?” Griff seemed unable to take in the facts. “Go to Vauxhall and fetch Mrs Jessman? How?” “Don’t tell me that you can’t get yourself on a horse, Griff. Go! Dorcas is going to have her baby!” To be concluded. On Reflection From the manse window by Maggie Ingall. H APPY New Year – and may it bring you health, happiness and plenty of mistakes. “What’s that?” you mutter. “Health and happiness sound lovely, but – mistakes? No, thank you very much!” Well, I have to admit that it is not something that I might have wished you last year, but since then I’ve been reading some thoughts of author Neil Gaiman. “I hope that in this year to come you make mistakes,” he writes. “Because if you are making mistakes then you are making new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before and, more importantly, you’re Doing Something.” Too often we stand back from life, watching events from the wings for fear of stepping forward. After all, no-one wants to get it wrong. But it is a shame that we allow such considerations to stand in the way of taking the chance of Doing Something. When my friend Jan was asked to give a talk on cake icing, she was so nervous about potential mishaps that she fell over her words, making mistake after mistake, until at last an absurd spoonerism started her laughing in spite of herself. Which allowed her audience to join in, releasing the tension, and creating a connection in a way that any immaculately delivered speech could never have achieved. And that in turn gave her the confidence to go ahead and start running regular classes – never forgetting to reassure her students that every blunder is just another step on the path to perfection. For the thing about making mistakes is that we learn through them, and we grow through them. Our lives are expanded and enriched. But of course, there are mistakes which don’t just affect ourselves – and they, I suspect, are more difficult to deal with. When John, without thinking, passed on a piece of harmful gossip, he was appalled when he realised what he’d done. But how to put things right? In the end there was nothing to do but make a genuine and heartfelt apology. That, too, was painful, but it did much to repair the situation. And then there are the mistakes we made perhaps long ago, have regretted ever since, and from which we often feel we can’t move on. But if we can forgive others, then surely it is wrong to withhold that act of generosity from ourselves? We all of us make mistakes; it’s part of being human and, as long as we can learn from them, there is no point in clinging to guilt and gloom. When we learn to be kind to ourselves we are reinforcing our ability to be kind to others. Negatives can always become positives if we only allow them to. Which is why, as you can see, this New Year I have decided to embrace Neil Gaiman’s philosophy. Mistakes are what allow us to connect with each other, to sympathise and empathise with each other, and to laugh at ourselves. So once again I take this chance to wish you good health, much happiness – and as many mistakes as you like! n Next week: David McLaughlan tells us beauty is for sharing. Life Shelf Ever fancied running a bookshop? Dawn Geddes discovers one you can run on your holidays . . . Photographs courtesy of Jessica Fox. F OR book lovers around the world, running a bookshop sounds like the most magical job imaginable. But, with so many things to consider, including premises, stock and the small matter of making a living, it’s no wonder that so few people take the leap into the unknown. But, luckily for us, thirtyfour-year-old author and film director Jessica Fox has come up with a solution to fulfil all of our dreams – a bookshop that you can run on holiday. The Open Book is situated in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, which is home to a string of bookshops and its very own literary festival. When Jessica Fox first visited the Dumfries and Galloway town ten years ago, she was looking for something more than just a day trip. She was searching for an alternative life. “I was spending my days in traffic commuting to my job as a storyteller for NASA in California, before staying up at night writing films. It was an incredible life, but I guess I either got really burnt out or the heat finally got to me, because I started Following Her Dreams Travelling thousands of miles to Wigtown has influenced Jessica’s life in many ways. Her Jessica and Shaun. journey from NASA storyteller to bookseller inspired her to write the memoir “Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets” in which she documents falling in love with the town and bookshop owner and “The Diary Of A Bookseller” author Shaun Bythell. “I think we all harbour a secret desire inside of us,” Jessica says. “I wanted to be the kind of person that followed mine.” Jessica has bookings well into 2020! having these visions of a bookshop by the sea in Scotland. “I could see the bell above the door, the dust on the books, the rain outside my window-pane. I could even picture myself inside the shop, all cosy in a woolly jumper.” Inspired by these dreams, Jessica began looking online for bookshops by the sea in Scotland. The first place that came up was Wigtown. “I saw that it was a town of about nine hundred people and sixteen bookshops right by the sea and I thought, surely one of them would let me stay and work there while I was on holiday! I e-mailed the first one I could find, which was called the Bookshop, and asked them if they ever hosted people. I heard right back from the owner. “He told me that he didn’t need any help, but said that I’d be welcome to come and stay there as his guest while the book festival was on. I booked my ticket!” As soon as Jessica arrived she was bowled over by the town’s beauty. “I came over and I had an absolute ball! Wigtown is just so incredibly beautiful. It’s just such a magical, charming, genuine, fun and warm place to be. “I fell in love with the town and the bookshop owner – who is also all those things as well, and ended up staying for good!” It’s been a buzzing place since its first day. REAL LIFE 65 Meet The Bookshop Band Former Open Book hosts Ben Please and Bethany Porter, from Bristol, adored their time as booksellers. The couple, who write and perform songs inspired by books under the name the Bookshop Band, used their stay to channel their love of music books. “We created a display in the window using all the music books that we could find,” Ben says. “We even used our instruments as props! It was such an interesting experience. “Running the shop really made us feel part of the community. “We made so many friends that we actually ended up moving here earlier this year!” Jessica became an integral part of the town’s community and the Wigtown Book Festival committee. When the literature event started to explore ways of raising money for the festival, Jessica came up with a winning idea, inspired by her own journey. “When I suggested the Open Book, I’m sure the whole of Wigtown thought it was a really wacky prospect! “But there is just something about the idea of running a bookshop which is so compelling. “I totally understand it, because it was my dream as well. I knew that I was probably the only one crazy enough to come over here and give up their life permanently – but trying the life out for a few weeks is the next best thing.” During their stay, hosts are encouraged to make the Open Book their own. They can reorganise the shop, change the opening times and order stock, before retiring up to the shop’s living quarters after a hard day of selling books. “When new hosts arrive to begin their stay, they are given a guided tour around the property, information on how to record sales and are shown how to work the Open Book blog, where they can record their bookshop journey. After that, it’s all down to them. “They have complete autonomy over the shop,” Jessica explains. “They can expand or completely get rid of whole sections. They can open the shop for twenty-four hours a day or just one hour. “We want it to really be their bookshop. One of the best parts of the experience is that the Wigtown community help to make the hosts feel at home. “They’ll pop in with gifts of home-made shortbread and invite them down to the local pub. It’s all part of the fun!” Now in its fifth year of running, the Open Book has proved to be incredibly popular with wannabe bookshop owners. Bookings are taken through the organisation’s Airbnb page and all the money raised goes back into the Wigtown Book Festival. Currently, the shop is booked out until October 2020, although Jessica says that they do sometimes advertise cancellations on their Facebook page. “It has been wildly popular, which is just amazing! We’ve had people travelling to us from all over the world including places like Japan, Australia and Alaska! “We get a real mix of people staying, from bookaholics who just want to read all day long to people who just want to experience running a bookshop by the sea in Scotland. People just love trying out a different life for a while and discovering what it feels like.” n Want to know more? Visit www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/7908227 for booking information, or read blog posts written by “The Open Book” at theopenbookwigtown.tumblr.com. Subscription order form PFJ18 Dear Readers, Please complete the coupon and send it to: The People’s Friend, Subscriptions, DCThomson Shop, PO Box 766,Haywards Heath,RH16 9GF. Have you ever thought about subscribing to “The People’s Friend”? Yes, I would like to subscribe to ‘The People’s Friend’ for: ❏ BEST DEAL: Only £6 for the first 3 months and £12.00 every 3 months thereafter (UK) by Direct Debit* ❏ 6 months at £32.30 (UK) or £50.57 (Overseas) by cheque ❏ 1 year at £60.30 (UK) or £98.10 (Overseas) by cheque ❏ 2 years at £114.57 (UK) or £186.39 (Overseas) by cheque It’s the perfect way to make sure you never miss an issue of your favourite magazine again. Your Details Title ............. Name ....................................................................................... 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Winter Sale 13 ISSUES FOR ONLY £6!* ONLY £1.30 46p PER ISSUE (UK)* Digital subscription now available on pc, tablet or smartphone Find out more at: www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/digital WAYS TO ORDER… 3 EASY 0800 318 846 FREEPHONE quoting PFJ18 UK only. Lines open 8am to 6pm Mon – Fri, 9am to 5pm Sat. ONLINE www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/subscriptions BY POST send coupon to: The People’s Friend Subscriptions, DC Thomson Shop, PO Box 766, Haywards Heath, RH16 9GF. For one-off payment orders, enclose your details and a cheque made payable to DC Thomson & Co Ltd. my garden Notes from Photographs by Alexandra Campbell and iStock. Still Time For Tulips You’ll be surprised to hear that you really can still plant tulips for this spring. Monty Don recently recalled the Gardeners’ World tulip planting trials several years ago. November and December are the very best months for planting tulips, but early January was also “fine” (Monty’s word). By early February, it’s too late, but that still gives you a couple of weeks to get those tulips in (although there’ll be a very limited supply of bulbs for sale). Alexandra Campbell plans to expand her knowledge in 2018. M Y New Year’s resolution: learn something new about gardening. Scientific tests on the brain have shown that learning activates or reactivates neurons in the brain, reducing mental ageing. And if you love gardening, there is always something new to learn. Taking a day out is probably the most fun, and you’ll find garden and garden-related workshops at all the RHS gardens (www.rhs.org.uk). Courses range from “What Now? Your Garden in Winter”, hedge-laying and apple pruning to photographing gardens, making your own beauty products and felt-making. The National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland (www.nts.org.uk) do a similar range of workshops, ranging from pruning and lawn care workshops to craft sessions and botanical painting. Several “great” gardens do courses and workshops, too. It can add a wonderful dimension to a garden visit. I can highly recommend Behind The Scenes at Great Dixter (www.greatdixter.co. uk), a two-hour session held once a month. Since Christopher Lloyd died, Great Dixter has been set up as a Trust which trains, teaches and experiments in domesticscale gardening. So it’s an exceptionally good garden for courses, but if you can’t get to East Sussex, there will be talks and workshops at a “great” garden near you. And many garden centres now do workshops, too, so check what’s available locally. The advantage to doing a workshop or short course near where you live is that the teacher probably lives near, too. If they do, they’ll be gardening in the same weather and soil. So it’s a good opportunity to ask an expert about any problems you’re experiencing. Most courses and workshops are fairly small and friendly, with 12 to 16 people being a typical class. And, of course, gardening clubs and horticultural societies have a wonderful range of great garden speakers, so if you don’t belong to your local club, perhaps 2018 is the year to join. But there is also another option. Learning online has changed so much in the past few years. Doing a new course is now accessible for us all, provided that you use e-mail. Online courses are typically delivered weekly by e-mail. Do You Grow Fruit? To Chit Or Not To Chit? “Chitting” is exposing the potato tuber to light for around six weeks before planting. It starts to sprout, allegedly giving you a bigger, earlier harvest. Bob Flowerdew of “Gardeners’ Question Time”, however, says chitting is unnecessary, especially for maincrop potatoes. The picture is clearer for “early” potatoes – chitting is probably better. And in my unscientific experience, my earlies have been better when I’ve chitted. From end Jan/early Feb onwards, place potatoes in an egg box in a light, frost-free place. Or you can call them up at any time, logging in with a password. You learn from a combination of videos (watched on your computer, phone or tablet) and written lessons, which can be printed out. Many online courses also have Facebook groups where you can post questions, or ask for opinions on your work, so it helps if you use Facebook. But it’s not absolutely necessary. If, however, you don’t use either e-mail or Facebook, you could always pair up with someone who does, such as a family member or a friend. They could print lessons out – and it would be fun doing the course together. In gardening, Learning With Experts (www. learningwithexperts.com) offers courses on food and drink, floristry and photography as well as gardening. Courses include “Gardening for Wildlife”, Now is the time to prune apple, pear, crab-apple, quince and medlar trees, autumn-fruiting raspberries, all currant bushes and gooseberries. But don’t prune cherry trees – they must be pruned in June. Your fruit trees and bushes would also appreciate a nice thick layer of enriching compost or mulch spread around on top of their roots. Fruit tree roots don’t spread very far, so this means immediately around the tree to around two to three feet away. “Gardening in the Shade”, “Container Gardening” and many more, as well as official RHS and garden design qualifications. The course teachers are well-known industry experts, including big names like contemporary garden designers Piet Oudolf. I’m doing the garden photography course taught by photographer Clive Nichols. I’ve found it excellent. Prices for online courses range from about £70 upwards, but keep an eye out for offers. There are also individual teachers who run short introductory free courses so that you can decide whether you like their style before paying for the full course. I’ve done several of these, including Flowerstart by Julie Davies, an online flower arranging course (www. juliedaviesflowerworkshops. co.uk). So here’s to a fascinating 2018, revitalising both our gardens and our brains! n Visit Alexandra’s blog online at www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk. GARDENING 69 Time To Paint? Now that the garden is looking bare, it’s time to think about painting sheds, storage units, fences and more (it might be worth waiting for better weather, but it’s a good time to start thinking about it). Outdoor paints have hugely improved in the past few years, and you can now choose from a huge range of colours. And paint does help preserve wood, so painting your shed a pretty colour isn’t just an indulgence. The first thing I’ve noticed from friends with stylish gardens is that they pick one colour or two harmonising colours and then stick with that theme. If they have chosen duck egg blue as “their colour”, they will paint the fence, the shed, the bike store and everything else with the same paint. I’ve seen this in a bleached, slightly distressed white, and also B&Q’s Anthracite (blue-grey). There’s so much going on in a garden in terms of colour, with flower colours, greenery and sky, it makes sense to keep to one colour or theme to stop it looking messy. We decided to paint everything the same colour as the back and front door. It’s Black Blue by Farrow & Ball, so it’s quite dark, but it disappears against the greenery. Do remember that colours can look paler outside than in. This is very noticeable with mid-tones – a mid-blue inside will look quite pastel outside, so do use testers. ONLY £15.99 Calendar and Diary 2018 FOR BOTH Our calendar and diary feature delightful watercolour images from “The People’s Friend” magazine. Buy both in this money-saving pack and enjoy the “Friend” all year round! To order simply choose from the following options: SAVE £2.45 FREEPHONE: 0800 318 846 WHEN BOUGHT TOGETHER! (UK Landlines only) Lines open 8am- 6pm, Mon-Fri or 9am-5pm, Saturday. 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Q A of men aged between twenty and thirty-four still live in their parents’ home. Q I always get confused over the fate of each of Henry VIII’s six wives. Can you remind me of the rhyme to help me remember? Miss A.B., Manchester. A The first two verses are: “Did you not hear my lady Go down the garden singing Blackbird and thrush were silent To hear the alleys ringing . . . The line that will help you remember is “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”. Henry’s wives respectively were: Catherine of Aragon; Anne Boleyn; Jane Seymour; Anne of Cleves; Kathryn Howard and Katherine Parr. Oh, saw you not my lady Out in the garden there Shaming the rose and lily For she is twice as fair.” iStock. Something we didn’t know last week... Fireworks lighting up the sky is a traditional part of our New Year celebrations, but some countries adopt a different approach to welcoming January 1. In Denmark, it’s customary to break a plate on your best friend’s doorstep, while in Brazil, revellers tuck into a bowl of lentils to boost their chances of a lucky New Year. Romanians take a more proactive approach to ensuring good luck by dressing up as bears and chasing away evil spirits! *Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies. £121 is the amount, on average, parents spent on each of their children this Christmas. I’m due to celebrate the New Year in London and want to know if Big Ben, currently silenced due to restoration of the clock tower, will ring out for 2018? Mrs A.G., Fife. Can you remind me of some of the words to the poignant song “Silent Worship”? Many years ago my sister and I heard the late, great Scottish singer, Kenneth McKellar, sing this at the Sydney Town Hall. Miss W.B., Australia. TEA-BREAK TRIVIA 71 £11 – how much Edinburgh’s Loony Dookers will pay this year to take part in the annual New Year’s Day swim in the bitterly cold River Forth. 92% of New Year Resolutions fail, with 80% not even lasting until February! 2007 and 2018 share the same calendar! So don’t worry if you don’t have a new calendar – just reuse your 2007 one! Winter Craft Kits xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx These stunning, winter scene craft kits are the perfect project for the longer winter nights. The long stitch kits are available in two designs, Winter Cottage and Winter Garden, each measuring 9½ x 6¾ inches (24 x 17 cms), and include 14 count printed canvas, tapestry wool, needle and easy to follow instructions. Winterbourne Farm Cross Stitch LY256 Winter Cottage Long Stitch PF408 Winterbourne Farm is completed in cross stitch, measures 7 x 6¾ inches (20 x17 cms) and contains 16 count aida fabric, pre-sorted DMC stranded cotton, needle, chart and instructions. The stunning Bronte Parsonage kit is part of a heritage collection and will add some traditional charm to your home. Worked in cross stitch the completed picture measures 7 x 6 inches (18 x 15cms) approximately and contains 14 count Aida, pre-sorted and carded thread, needle and easy to follow instructions. Winter Garden Long Stitch LY178 FROM ONLY £24.99 Name ................................................................................... Address ............................................................................... ................................................................................................ ................................................................................................ Postcode .......................................... Telephone ......................................................................... Email Address .................................................................. CODE ITEM QTY PRICE PF408 Winter Cottage Long Stitcg £29.99 LY178 Winter Garden Long Stitch £29.99 LY256 Winterbourne Farm Cross Stitch £29.99 PF259 Bronte Parsonage Cross Stitch £24.99 TOTAL Total Cost Of Order I enclose a cheque/postal order, made payable to DC Thomson & Co. Ltd for the total amount of £ .................... (Please write your name and address on the back of your cheque.) If you are ordering by Credit Card please complete the following: Maestro/Delta/MasterCard / Visa (delete as necessary) Start Date : ........ /........ Expiry Date: ........ /........ Issue No: …….… (maestro only) Card No .......................................................................................................................... Cardholders Signature ......................................................................................... Name on Card ...................................................................................................... DC Thomson & Co. Ltd and its group companies would like to contact you about new products, services and offers we think may be of interest to you. If you’d like to hear from us by post, please tick here q telephone, please tick here q or email, please tick here q From time to time, carefully chosen partner businesses would like to contact you with relevant offers. If you’d like to hear from partner businesses for this purpose please tick here q Offer closes 28.02.18. Offer open to UK readers only and is subject to availability. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery. Bronte Parsonage Cross Stitch PF259 CALL: 0800 318846 and quote appropriate code Lines open Mon-Sun, 8a.m.-9p.m., free from UK landlines. BY POST: Complete the order form with your credit card details or cheque/postal order made payable to DC Thomson & Co Ltd and send to: “The People’s Friend” Winter Craft Offer, DC Thomson Shop, P.O. Box 766, Haywards Heath RH16 9GF ONLINE: www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk Blues KNITTING 73 Winter advance d Beat the chills with our longer length tunic which is worked in a modern variegated yarn. Photography by Ally Stuart, www.allystuartphotography.co.uk. Hair and make-up by Linda Wilson. Photographed at Rufflets Hotel, St Andrews: www.rufflets.co.uk. MEASUREMENTS To fit sizes: 81/86 cm (32/34 ins), 91/97 (36/38), 102/107 (40/42), 112/117 (44/46), 122/127 (48/50), 132/137 (52/54). Actual size: 102 cm (40 ins), 112 (44), 122 (48), 132 (51), 142 (56), 152 (60). Length: 63cm (25 ins), 63 (25), 65 (25½), 65 (25½), 66 (26), 66 (26). Sleeve seam: 46 cm (18 ins). MATERIALS 5 (6, 6, 7, 7, 8) 100-gram balls of Sirdar Imagination Chunky (shade Moonriver 0004). One pair each 5.5 mm (No. 5) and 6.5 mm (No. 3) knitting needles; a cable needle; stitch-holders. For yarn stockists telephone 01924 371501 or visit www.sirdar.co.uk. TENSION 14 sts and 19 rows to 10 cm measured over rev st-st using 6.5 mm needles. ABBREVIATIONS Alt – alternate; beg – beginning; CB – slip next st on cable needle to back of work, K1, now P1 from cable needle; CF – slip next st on cable needle to front of work, P1, now K1 from cable needle; C3B – slip next 3 sts on cable needle to back of work, K4, now K3 from cable needle; C4F – slip next 4 sts on cable needle to front of work, K3, now K4 from cable needle; CRF – slip next st on cable needle to front of work, K1, K1 from cable needle; dec – decrease; foll – following; inc – increase; K – knit; P – purl; rem – remain; rep – repeat; st(s) – stitch(es); st-st – stocking-stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row); tog – together. 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. Lattice Panel (worked over 14 sts) 1st row – P6, CRF, P6. 2nd row – K6, P2, K6. 3rd row – P5, CB, CF, P5. 4th and every foll alt row – Work across 14 sts, knitting all knit sts and purling all purl sts as they present, thus 4th row will be: K5, P1, K2, P1, K5. 5th row – P4, CB, P2, CF, P4. 7th row – P3, CB, P4, CF, P3. 9th row – P2, [CB, CF, P2] twice. 11th row – P1, [CB, P2, CF] twice, P1. 13th row – CB, P4, CRF, P4, CF. 15th row – [CF, P3, CB] twice. 17th row – P1, CF, P1, CB, P2, CF, P1, CB, P1. 19th row – P2, slip next st on cable needle to front of work, P2, now K1 from cable needle, P4, slip next 2 sts on cable needle to back of work, K1, now P2 from cable needle. 21st row – P4, CF, P2, CB, P4. 23rd row – P5, CF, CB, P5. 24th row – K6, P2, K6. These 24 rows form lattice panel. BACK With 5.5 mm needles, cast on 80 (86, 94, 100, 108, 114) sts evenly. Foundation row – P9, [K7 (8, 9, 10, 12, 13), P1] twice, K14 (15, 17, 18, 18, 19), P2, K14 (15, 17, 18, 18, 19), [P1, K7 (8, 9, 10, 12, 13)] twice, P9. Change to 6.5 mm needles and pattern: 1st row (right-side) – K9, [P7 (8, 9, 10, 12, 13), K1] twice, P8 (9, 11, 12, 12, 13), work 1st row of lattice panel, P8 (9, 11, 12, 12, 13), [K1, P7 (8, 9, 10, 12, 13)] twice, K9. 2nd row – K2, P7, [K7 (8, 9, 10, 12, 13), P1] twice, K8 (9, 11, 12, 12, 13), work 2nd row of lattice panel, K8 (9, 11, 12, 12, 13), [P1, K7 (8, 9, 10, 12, 13)] twice, P7, K2. 3rd to 10th rows – Rep 1st and 2nd rows 4 times but working 3rd to 10th rows of panel. 11th row – K2, C4F, [P7 (8, 9, 10, 12, 13), K1] twice, P8 (9, 11, 12, 12, 13), work 11th row of panel, P8 (9, 11, 12, 12, 13), [K1, P7 (8, 9, 10, 12, 13)] twice, C3B, K2. 12th row – As 2nd but working 12th row of panel. 13th to 22nd rows – Rep 1st and 2nd rows 5 times but working 13th to 22nd rows of panel. 23rd row – As 11th row but working 23rd row of panel. 24th row – As 2nd row but working 24th row of panel. These 24 rows set the pattern. Continue in pattern until work measures 63 (63, 65, 65, 66, 66) cm from beg, ending after wrong-side row. Shape shoulders – Cast off 7 (8, 9, 9, 10, 11) sts loosely at beg of next 6 rows, then 7 (6, 7, 9, 9, 9) sts at beg of next 2 rows – 24 (26, 26, 28, 30, 30) sts. Slip rem sts on a stitch-holder and leave. FRONT Work as back until front measures 12 (12, 14, 14, 16, 16) rows less than back up to start of shoulder shaping, ending after a wrong-side row. Shape neck – Work across 31 (33, 37, 39, 42, 45) sts, turn and continue on this group of sts for left side of neck. Dec 1 st at neck edge on next 3 rows – 28 (30, 34, 36, 39, 42) sts. Work 8 (8, 10, 10, 12, 12) rows straight, ending at side edge. Shape shoulder – Cast off 7 (8, 9, 9, 10, 11) sts loosely at beg of next row and the 2 foll alt rows – 7 (6, 7, 9, 9, 9) sts. Work 1 row. Cast off. With right-side facing, slip next 18 (20, 20, 22, 24, 24) sts (centre sts) on a stitch-holder and leave. Neatly rejoin yarn to rem 31 (33, 37, 39, 42, 45) sts and work to end of row. Complete left side as right side but working 1 row more before shaping shoulder. SLEEVES Note: Commence at top edge. With 6.5 mm needles, cast on 54 (58, 62, 68, 72, 76) sts. Beg with a knit row for right side, work 6 rows in st-st. Next row (dec row) – K2, K2tog, knit until 4 sts rem, K2tog, K2. Continue in st-st working dec row on every foll 6th (6th, 6th, 4th, 4th, 4th) row until 38 (40, 48, 48, 36, 42) sts rem, then on every foll 6th (4th, 4th, 4th, alt, alt) row until 28 (28, 30, 30, 32, 34) sts rem. Work a few rows straight until sleeve measures 44 cm at centre, ending after a knit row. Change to 5.5 mm needles and knit 4 rows. Cast off loosely knitways. TO COMPLETE Join left shoulder. Neckband – With 5.5 mm needles and right side facing, knit across 24 (26, 26, 28, 30, 30) sts from back neck, pick up and knit 15 (15, 16, 16, 17, 17) sts evenly down left side of front neck, knit across 18 (20, 20, 22, 24, 24) sts from front neck, finally pick up and knit 15 (15, 16, 16, 17, 17) sts from right side of neck – 72 (76, 78, 82, 88, 88) sts. Change to 6.5 mm needles. Next row – Knit. Next 2 rows – Purl. Change to 5.5 mm needles and work 7 rows in K1, P1 rib. Next 2 rows – Purl. Cast off evenly knitways. To Make Up – Join right shoulder and neckband. Stitch cast-on edge of sleeves to upper sections of back and front. Join side and sleeve seams. n Next week: make a set of découpage tiles Inside next week’s issue Our cover feature: Willie Shand takes a winter drive from historic Selkirk l Find out how you can win a special trip to visit the “Friend” offices l Delicious comforting dishes to warm you up on winter days On sale every Wednesday Plus 7 short stories l Polly Pullar makes another visit to the Scottish SPCA Never miss The People’s Friend again, with a subscription from our shop. Visit www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk or call 0800 318846. A new Special on sale every Out 3 weeks! now Available to buy from all good newsagents and supermarkets You can also take out a subscription – call 0800 318846 or visit www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk 76 Location, Location, Location It seems you just need to find the right place to set up home in order to thrive. One story that warmed our hearts was the success of a project to reintroduce red squirrels to the north-west Highlands. The reduction of their native woodlands, disease and competition from the grey squirrel were having a devastating effect on the species. Now, however, Trees for Life, the conservation charity behind the Red Squirrel Reintroduction Project, say red squirrels have naturally expanded in the areas where they’ve been released. The squirrels were captured from donor sites across Highland and Moray, where populations are flourishing, and given specially built nests in their new location. It’s hoped the the project will continue to expand. Reasons to be We celebrate some of the high points of 2017. Unlikely Friendship Judy Murray has almost single-handedly put Scottish tennis on the map and, through sheer grit and determination, has helped pave the way for her own sons to become Wimbledon winners, ranked among the highest in the world. This lady has a real passion for encouraging girls to take up sport, too, creating Miss-Hits in a bid to attract more girls into tennis. She’s deservedly earned herself an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to tennis, women in sport, and charity. Royal gongs have become something of a tradition in the Murray household – Jamie was made an OBE last year and Andy was knighted in the New Year’s Honours List. When a kitten was abandoned in a London garden, it was rushed to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to be given the care it needed. Fostered by dedicated Battersea vet nurse Megan Goldring, the kitten received round the clock care, being handfed every two hours. The kitten, named Ava, adapted well to her surroundings, spending much of her time in the clinic office, and it was here that she met Barney the Labrador. He took it upon himself to kittensit – snuggling up to Ava and watching her every move to make sure she was OK. Barney had previously had his own happy ending, being adopted by head nurse Rachel Ab’dee. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. An Ace Lady Wikimedia. iStock. Cheerful REAL LIFE 77 Who can forget that moment when London Marathon runner Matthew Rees stopped to help a fellow participant who was struggling to complete the 26 miles with only about 300 metres to go? It looked like David Wyeth’s race was over as his legs buckled under him. Matthew saw his anguish and made the selfless decision to stop his own race and go to David’s aid, physically supporting him while uttering words of encouragement every step of the way to the finish line, which they crossed arm-in-arm. The moment was captured on camera – and melted the heart of the nation. Alamy. The Humane Race A Royal Romance Press Association. One piece of recent news which grabbed the attention of people around the world was the announcement of the engagement between Prince Harry and his American girlfriend Meghan Markle. The romance blossomed from a blind date and culminated in Prince Harry proposing 16 months into their relationship, after they’d cooked a roast chicken dinner together. In a BBC interview Prince Harry said, “The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that everything, all the stars were aligned, everything was just perfect,” adding that his beautiful bride-to-be “literally tripped and fell into my life; I fell into her life.” Meghan has met the Queen and, of course, the royal corgis. Of the latter, Prince Harry quipped, “I’ve spent the last thirty-three years being barked at; this one walks in, absolutely nothing . . .” Meghan, who starred in the American drama series “Suits”, is expected to step down from her acting career. But if ever a Hollywood film were to be made, surely their romance is a script that would write itself. The couple are expected to wed next spring. Noel Hawkins. If you’ve ever visited Ullapool, you’ll know what a stunningly beautiful place it is. However, items washed up on Dun Canna beach were blighting the natural beauty spot, with everything from fishing ropes to domestic containers making an appearance. The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Community Officer, Noel Hawkins, had the idea of a self-service cleaning station complete with bin bags and litter pickers, so people could “volunteer” to do a bit of a clean-up while enjoying the area. Incredibly, 130 kilograms of litter was collected in one month alone. iStock. Tide Of Change SHORT STORY BY REBECCA MANSELL 79 Time’s Running Out Illustration by Philip Crabb. S O, Amy, was last night as special as you hoped it’d be?” My friend’s brown eyes twinkled. Della and I had always told each other everything – ever since we met at ten years old. We were very different characters; Mum had always said we were like chalk and cheese. Della’s response to that was that she was the cheese because sometimes she smelled a bit funny. Vivacious, with a witty sense of humour, Della could brighten up the dullest moment. I was like chalk, too, in a way. Reserved and quiet, sometimes I felt a bit pale beside my lively best friend. “Come on, what happened with you and Toby?” Della nudged me. I tried to smile but picked up my pillow and hugged it instead. We were sitting on the bed in my room. Many hours we had spent there, talking about school, then college, eventually university. We’d discussed the meaning of life and after that talked about crushes and boys and, finally, men. “I told him I loved him.” “Really?” Della swivelled round to face me. “About time. What did he say?” “Thank you.” “Excuse me?” I turned to look at Della and sighed. “He said thank you. I suppose I took him by surprise.” “By surprise?” Della grabbed the other pillow and gave it a thump. “You’ve been together a year now.” “I know.” I groaned. “I don’t understand it.” Della frowned. “He must love you.” “Why? Just because we have lots in common, have shared amazing moments, and even finish each other’s sentences doesn’t mean he must love me.” Della gave me a stern look. “Amy . . .” I flopped back on to the bed. “Perhaps he doesn’t feel the same as me.” “What made you say the three special words?” I smiled dreamily. “We were holding hands, looking out to sea and he’d just been saying how much he was looking forward to spending New Year’s Eve with me. Something inside me melted and the words just emerged.” Della sat up. “And then he said, ‘Thank you’?” I wrinkled my nose as I remembered. “No. He looked away and there was silence. Then he mumbled, ‘Thank you’ and I said it was time for me to go home.” “Crikey,” Della said. “I would have felt mortified.” “Thanks,” I said, playfully hitting her with my pillow. “That’s why I wanted to go home.” We lay on the bed, thinking. Amy had caught him by surprise, and now Toby knew he had to make things right . . . “Della,” I said slowly. “If he can’t say I love you after all this time together, what future do we have?” * * * * “I always thought you two would be together for ever.” Darren peered at me over his pint, then glanced down at his newspaper. “Did you hear about that fire in town?” I frowned. “Forget the fire. Why won’t we be together for ever?” “Toby.” Darren adjusted his glasses and took a sip of his pint. I waited impatiently. He had this habit of taking a while to answer a question. He’d always been like this, since we were eight years old. Our teachers used to get infuriated. Tonight, his composure was maddening. For last night my girlfriend had finally said she loved me. It had been wonderful, the way she gazed at me, her eyes so soft and gentle. I was about to kiss her lovely lips when she said the three little words. And I opened my mouth and said . . . “Thank you.” Darren shook his head despairingly. “You said thank you.” I nodded dismally. It was New Year’s Eve tomorrow and Amy and I had planned to spend it together. Now I had ruined everything. “Wrong response, I know,” I said. “You think?” I put my head in my hands. “I’ll never forget her face.” “Horrified or just disappointed?” I reflected. The moment had felt so special. We’d been looking out to sea, holding hands. I’d just said how I couldn’t wait to spend our second New Year together and that 2018 was going to be wonderful, with so much to look forward to. Amy had looked at me, then, quietly, she had said, “I love you.” It had been more than disappointment in her face. I’d hurt her. “What future do we have if I can’t even say that I love her?” “Do you?” Darren took another sip of his pint. “Of course. I think I fell in love with her the first time I saw her.” 80 “Then why didn’t you say that last night?” “I don’t know!” I groaned. “I was overwhelmed, caught off guard.” “Well, I have some advice for you, using my wide experience with relationships.” Darren had only had one girlfriend but they’d grown apart. “And that is?” “Tell her,” he said earnestly. “Tell her soon, before it’s too late.” “OK.” I said slowly as my phone beeped in my pocket. “But why would it be too late?” I pulled out my mobile and read the text message. “Oh.” “What is it?” Darren asked. “Amy’s going to a New Year’s Eve party tomorrow night.” “Without you?” I nodded disconsolately. What had happened to our plans? Had I blown it? I looked at Darren. “What if it’s already too late?” * * * * “Wow!” Della gazed at me approvingly. “You look stunning.” I twirled in front of her. “You don’t think the dress is a bit short?” I asked with concern. “Ouch, these shoes pinch my feet.” Della swept past me. She was wearing a purple ensemble which consisted of a sequinned gypsy top and a long skirt. I knew she would attract attention. I wasn’t so sure I wanted the same, though. “The dress is the perfect length to complement your perfect figure.” I frowned. “You mean I’m showing too much leg.” Della chuckled. “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” What was I doing? It was New Year’s Eve and I was about to go to a party without the man I loved. The man I loved, whom I wasn’t sure loved me. “You’re doing the right thing,” Della said, seeing my expression. “A little bit of independence doesn’t harm anyone.” I grimaced as I took a few steps to the table to grab my handbag. These shoes really were too high. “But it’s New Year,” I said plaintively. “You’ve told him you are going, haven’t you?” Della said patiently. “It’s up to him to join you.” It was true. Toby and I had had a short conversation on the phone and I’d told him I was going to a New Year’s Eve party with Della. He’d asked why, and I just said I thought it was for the best. But he knew where Della and I would be in town. “He didn’t say he’d come,” I said quietly. Della looked at me sympathetically. “He knows what he needs to do and, hopefully, what he should say.” Moments passed. “OK,” I said with more determination than I felt. “Let’s party!” The truth of the matter was, the last thing I wanted to do was celebrate. I couldn’t wait for New Year’s Eve to be over. * * * * “This isn’t happening.” I rested my aching head against the car seat. My watch said it was under an hour to midnight. Darren and I were stranded at the side of the road, and I wasn’t likely to get to Amy in time to see in the New Year. “I’m afraid it is,” my best friend said as he thumped the steering wheel with despair. “Why did Bertha have to pack up now? I had the evening planned out.” I turned to him. “I thought you were spending New Year with your parents?” “Right. I was going to drop you at that party and head over to see my parents.” “No, you weren’t.” I could tell he wasn’t being honest. We stared at each other and it was then that I realised. “You weren’t just doing me a favour by offering to drive me. You want to see Della, don’t you?” He looked sheepish. “I knew it!” I folded my arms. “How long have you liked her? Not that long, surely?” “I don’t.” “Don’t what?” “I don’t like her,” he said, his expression serious. “I love her.” I burst out laughing. “Don’t be daft!” Darren sighed. “I thought you did motor mechanics at college.” “I thought you did,” I retorted. “We’re just going to have to wait for breakdown to turn up, which will be for ever with it being New Year.” Silence descended. “You love Della? How do you know?” I asked my best friend quietly. I watched as his eyes became dreamy. I’d never seen him like this before, yet I’d known him most of my life. “Do you remember, about six months ago, when I bumped into you and Amy and Della was with you? She and I had a chat. And that was that.” “That was what?” “I also fell in love at first sight.” I shook my head. “But you and Della haven’t seen each other since, have you?” “No,” Darren admitted. “But we have been talking – e-mail, text, Whatsapp, you name it. We’ve told each other everything.” “What makes you convinced you are in love with her?” Darren smiled. “I think about her as soon as I wake up. I think about her last thing at night. My future is with her. To me, she is the perfect woman. I can’t imagine my life without her.” “And tonight you were finally going to tell her?” I asked, suddenly in awe of my best friend. How had he kept this a secret? “I was. I was waiting until she was ready. She’s been hurt before, that’s why we hadn’t met up. I wanted to time it right. Tonight seemed perfect.” Listening to my friend, I realised that everything he said I felt as well, for Amy. And we were running out of time! “Why are we still here?” Darren looked at me uncertainly. “We’ll never make it in time.” “We will, if we run!” * * * * It was two minutes to midnight. The party was lively and loud yet my eyes kept straying to the door. Why hadn’t Toby come? He could have made the effort, been romantic, seen it as an opportunity. “You’re still hoping Toby will come, aren’t you?” Della appeared at my side and followed my eyes to the door. I nodded miserably. “I hoped . . .” “I know what you mean about hope. I haven’t said anything, but there’s someone I’ve been talking to for a while. “I didn’t know whether anything was going to come of it, so I’ve kept it a secret. But I have to admit, I did wonder if he would come tonight.” I dragged my eyes away from the door as the countdown to midnight began. “Who?” At that moment, the door swung open and Della gasped. “Darren!” I turned round and there in the doorway, breathless, accompanied by his best friend, was Toby. * * * * “Nine! Eight! Seven!” “From the moment I first met you, I knew.” Toby was gazing down at Amy. “Six! Five! Four!” Amy was transfixed by the expression in his green eyes. “Three! Two . . .!” “I love you.” A cheer went up in the room as the clock struck 12 and everyone started dancing and kissing one another. But right in the middle of it all, oblivious to the celebrations, two couples had eyes only for each other. n PUZZLES 83 Arroword Industrial production Enter the answers in the direction indicated by the arrows. Shining in the dark Soccer foul Level in judo Traditionally And so brewed beer forth (2,6) (4,3) Folded (4,4) Beginnings Kept a date with Come clean Travels on a horse Coax Terminate Tax refund Get an advantage (from) Hit high Nucleus and its electrons ‘I’ve seen this before’ feeling (4,2) Mild expletive Higher Hired Investors Solutions Arroword ORCHID B E N T O V E R E N T X O L P N E A S BIRTHDAY F O O R T I L I T L O BOXED ORDER Pathfinder N L POSY B I E S A V C Y A T R N O FOLIAGE WRAP OCCASION Y S O P E G R A T I O I VASE V A L E S A O C E B N L D H FERN D E T N R D E R D I R A S E L O P D E T I N I C O R O H P H T L L VALENTINE S P L A E R N A O D A P I DISPLAY L L I Y F W E N L L Y O T N TILL B O T P A R Y L L E C C C M A L N A H R C A DECORATION E X R C H I R A I S V S A A R Y E N O E O R SCENT D T O I A D A M N A A R W R R D A G S N O L G E A C T L S I C E F N O I S C O P E E D CORSAGE, POSY, VALENTINE, DISPLAY, FERN, ORDER, DECORATION, BIRTHDAY, CELLOPHANE, WRAP, TILL, BOXED, SCENT, ORCHID, AMARYLLIS, VASE, PLANT, OCCASION, FOLIAGE C P Y A C N E P CELLOPHANE O G A H A F E O R S E CORSAGE I I PLANT D E B U T S D V Y AMARYLLIS UR E BA L J A L V E I E T C E T E R A L S D AC N R F I D P E S C S D E B L N U F M M I T E N E T OM U P A S T Beginning with the highlighted letter, follow a continuous path to find all the floristry-related words. The trail passes through each and every letter once, and may twist up, down or sideways, but never diagonally. H MA N AD B A L B L Pathfinder All puzzles © Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com Take your “Friend” with you, wherever you go. Available on your PC, tablet and mobile SAVE 50% with promotion code WINTER50 Visit: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/digital SOAP BY GLENDA YOUNG 85 OUR WEEKLY SOAP It’s time for the Ryemouth residents to celebrate New Year! iStock. H E sent her a diamond ring, you know,” Mary said. George folded the page of the TV magazine where he was planning his New Year’s Eve viewing. “Who did?” he asked, barely looking up. “That bloke Ruby met on the internet,” Mary told him. “She said a diamond ring turned up by special courier on Christmas Eve, with a note from him declaring his undying love.” George took his highlighter pen and started swiping it across the titles of three films he wanted to watch. “Must have cost a fortune,” he muttered. “She said he’s been giving her bother, too,” Mary continued. This time George glanced over at Mary, who was sitting on the sofa, peeling a tangerine. “Phoning her at all hours and texting her,” she explained. “By all accounts he’s a bit of a nuisance.” “What’s Ruby up to tonight?” George asked. Mary popped a segment of fruit into her mouth. Riverside “She’s still got Beryl and Pearl with her until next week,” she replied. “I told her that you and I were staying in this New Year if they wanted to pop round.” George frowned. “I was looking forward to a quiet night, love. Just the two of us with a glass of brandy at midnight.” He picked up the TV magazine. “I’ve got all these films to watch. After all the bother with the flood at the Old Engine Room last week, and helping Dave and Susan clean it up over the last few days –” “Don’t worry, love,” Mary interrupted. “Ruby said she was taking her aunts to the Ship to see in the New Year there. So it’s just you and me tonight.” George waved his pen. “And three smashing films!” * * * * At the Ship, Sam was busy restocking the crisps behind the bar. Claire was trying to serve two customers at once and Big Jim was nervously checking his watch while pulling a pint for Bob Lewin. “What time’s he due in?” Bob whispered. “Any minute,” Jim replied. “How will you recognise him?” Bob asked. Jim leaned across the bar so as not to be overheard. “Ruby said he’s tall, dark-haired and heavy set.” “Doesn’t sound like anyone from round here,” Bob said, shaking his head. “I’ll know him when I see him,” Jim said menacingly. “He’s going to regret ever meeting Ruby.” “What’s the plan?” Bob asked. Jim passed Bob his pint across the bar. “I haven’t exactly got one,” he admitted. “But I’ll figure it out. All we’ve got to do is put the frighteners on the bloke to make him leave Ruby alone.” “And he thinks he’s coming in here to meet Ruby for the New Year’s Eve party, is that right?” Jim nodded. “So,” Bob began, sipping his pint, “instead of Ruby, he meets you? And you’re going to scare him off?” Jim nodded. “After he’s gone, I’ve to ring Ruby and she and her aunts will walk down to the pub for the party.” “What if he turns a bit rough, this fella, when you try to scare him off? What if he starts using his fists?” Jim smiled. “That’s where my years of being a landlord come in handy. Back in the shipyard days I used to break up fights in here almost every Friday night.” “I remember,” Bob replied as he turned away. “But if you need me you know where I’ll be.” Just as Bob sat down, a tall, dark-haired man walked up to the bar. From his seat, Bob took in the height of him, noting his broad shoulders under a black coat. Behind the bar, Jim engaged the man in conversation, polite at first, and Bob heard the man ask if Ruby was in. Jim glanced over towards Bob and gave a sharp nod. Bob watched as he led the stranger through to the back room of the pub. After a few minutes, both of them returned. Jim went back to work, pulling pints for his customers with a smile. But the stranger headed for the exit with a worried look on his face. Buster followed, growling at his every step until he’d walked out the door. * * * * “What did you say to him?” Ruby asked. “I hope you didn’t threaten him?” Jim shook his head. “Mike was waiting in the back room, too. We all care about you, Ruby, and when I told Mike what had been going on, he wanted to help. We had a few words with your internet date. I don’t think we’ll be seeing him around here again, if he knows what’s good for him.” Ruby breathed a sigh of relief. “Let me buy you a drink, Jim. It’s the least I can do.” Jim shook his head. “No, it’s on the house. Let’s raise a toast to the New Year.” Ruby raised her glass. “The New Year!” * * * * Watching from the corner of the pub were Ruby’s aunts, Beryl and Pearl. “Never mind toasting the New Year,” Pearl whispered to her sister. “I reckon our Ruby’s got a new fella!” More next week. Daring Rescue Christmas Past Worn out after all the festive fun? Our lovely dog Lola loves the hustle and bustle of Christmas with our many visitors, but I think she’s glad it’s all over for another year! Mr D.P., Worcestershire. Between Friends Write to us at Between Friends, “The People’s Friend”, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ, or e-mail us at email@example.com. Star Letter I came across this old photograph the other day and it brought back some lovely memories. The pram I know is unique, as my husband Charles had to make it especially for our family. At the time the photo was taken in the 1950s my eldest son Colin was just two-and-a-half years old and he’s pictured with his triplet brothers – Ray, Allan and Dennis. Talk about having your hands full – I’m now ninety-one years old and wonder how on earth I managed! Mrs J.P., Loughborough. Our Star Letter will receive a Dean’s all-butter shortbread tin worth £13.69 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 enjoyed reading the article about Grace Darling and her daring rescue. Australia, too, had a similar Grace. Grace Bussell lived on a farm near Cape Leeuwin, in Western Australia. One day, in September 1876, a ship was wrecked about eight miles from the farm. The lifeboat was lowered, but it leaked, and eight people who had ventured into it were drowned. The rest of the passengers clung to parts of the ship to stay afloat. Though the shore was near, no-one dared to try to swim for it as the sea was too rough. Fortunately, Grace and a servant saw the vessel in distress and they both rode on horseback into the sea, coming to the rescue of those clinging to life. Their rescue efforts saved many lives over the space of four hours. Grace and her brave servant were awarded the Royal Humane Society’s medal. Mrs R.H., Australia. Sweet Memories Willie Shand’s article on the Gordon and Durward traditional sweet shop in Crieff made me smile. It is a shop we always visit when in the area and I recall a visit a number of years ago with a very young daughter. We were browsing through the shop when we happened to look through the window to the rear where the “goodies” are made. My daughter looked at me and promptly asked where the Oompa Loompas were – guess which book she’d just finished reading? Incidentally, my absolute favourite is the macaroon bar. Mrs M.G., Bridge of Allan. Poignant Story What a lovely, poignant story “In Remembrance” was. I recently returned from Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium, my first visit to see the name and burial plot of my great-uncle William who died in 1918. On Remembrance Day here, your wonderful story kept coming to mind as a fitting tribute to all who have died for our freedom and a better life. Thank you. Mrs P.S., Skipton. YOUR LETTERS 87 My “Friend” For A Good Cause The Best Present Ever I thought I’d share this lovely family picture – and can assure readers no children were harmed in the taking of this as we had lots of soft padding underneath the baby! It shows Millie, who is four, and Ted at just three days old. I now have 12 grandchildren and 14 greatgrandchildren. Mrs S.M., Rugby. Here’s my handiwork, showing items which I made to donate to Cats Protection. It’s such a worthy charity that I like to help out, and what better way than by knitting – a hobby I thoroughly enjoy. Mrs M.S., Brighouse. The Charity Shop Bric-à-brac and curtains, books and CDs, too, Perfumed candles, toys galore, are waiting here for you. Pretty dresses, tops and shoes, with handbags all to match, Suits and jackets, ties and shirts, the bargains are a catch. With eveningwear so elegant, the floating gowns supreme, Please come and browse, dear customer, the prices are a dream. With each and every purchase, you will help a needy cause, So do pop into our charity shop, all welcome through our doors. Ms K.E., Dorset. The Happy Couple How lovely to see the front cover of your October 7 issue featuring St Cyrus. It brought back so many happy memories of our son’s wedding last year, which took place at Eskview Farm. I thought you might like to see one of the photographs taken by their wedding photographer Lynda Wilson. It shows the viaduct over the River Esk, and seeing the picture in the “Friend” of the same viaduct reminded us of the wonderful occasion of James and Angela’s wedding. Puzzle Solutions from page 23 Word Ladder One answer is: Jail, Sail, Said, Sand, Band, Bind, Bird. Crossword C E N T R E N H T HAME S Y D P I S S AR E U L ABB E Y Z F S I V AN D P M A P R I N C E Y L R H YME N A L P ARK L E A T BARR I E R E U N U RO I GOR T L A O S EOU L M A G E R I F T E R S M S S O F P E AC E T O I X OP T E RA Ms J.McS., Ipswich. Pieceword R E D I A E P I L O U P A S S A O P AR T AN YO T R S H I E E R I MPO S T R I B U T A E I H T S I S T E E P H S E I RON I NOR P U S V E T T N E AB HO R M A L D A T T I U R C V E R I S H E E R C H A R C A D Lynda Wilson. When I picked up a copy of “The People’s Friend” while in a waiting room a few years ago, I didn’t think it would be the start of such a beautiful friendship. I now have a subscription and whatever else is going on around me I know I can always look forward to it being delivered every Saturday, when I can lose myself in the magazine. With such a great variety of interesting, quality writing, I’m never disappointed. Roll on 2018 and fresh copies of the “Friend” to look forward to. Ms B.S., Devon. Sudoku 2 1 6 8 3 5 9 4 7 5 4 3 9 2 7 6 1 8 8 7 9 6 1 4 5 3 2 4 9 5 2 7 6 1 8 3 3 6 7 5 8 1 2 9 4 1 8 2 3 4 9 7 5 6 6 3 8 1 9 2 4 7 5 9 5 4 7 6 8 3 2 1 7 2 1 4 5 3 8 6 9 Terms and conditions. We’re sorry, but we can’t reply to letters or return photographs and poems unless you enclose a stamped addressed envelope. All contributions must be your own original work and must not have been sent elsewhere for publication. The Editor reserves the right to modify any contribution. By making a contribution you are agreeing that we and our group companies and affiliates may, but are under no obligation to, use the contribution in any way and in any media (whether now known or created in future) anywhere in the world. If you submit a contribution featuring a third party you must ensure that you have their permission for us to publish their image or personal details. If you are sending in a digital image, please make sure that it is high resolution. Always write your name and address on the reverse of any photographs; printed digital images must be on photo-quality paper and we cannot use photocopies. Please note, for all advertising queries, call 0207 400 1054. 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