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The People’s Friend - February 10, 2018

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The TV characters that
shaped our childhoods
7 feel-good stories
Recipes for
Pancake Day
�30
The best fiction!
? Kim Fleet?s comic tale of a cat with attitude
? Pamela Kavanagh?s winter romance set in the 1890s
10-Feb- 2018
Glen Lednock
�30
Glorious
9770262238299
06
AU $4.50, NZ $4.50
UK Off-sale date - 14-Feb-18
Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated.
Feb 10, 2018 No. 7713
Enjoy a walk in beautiful Perthshire
Help is at
hand for
people
affected by
Raynaud?s
It?s time
to start
planning
your spring
garden
Free
Pattern
Inside
Knit a cosy
jacket in
a chunky
alpaca
yarn
this week
Inside The People?s Friend
If you like the ?Friend?
then you?ll love...
On sale
The People?s Friend Special
now!
No 152, priced �99
l 8 pages of puzzles
l 14 brand-new short stories
The People?s Friend Pocket
Novel No 854, priced �49
l A charming tale set in
Menorca by Sally Pearson
Cover Artwork: Glen Lednock, Perthshire by J. Campbell Kerr.
Available in newsagents & supermarkets
Fiction
Regulars
Features
4 After All These Years
by Sheila Aird
15 Doing A Good Job
by Val Bonsall
21 Testing Times
by Susan Blackburn
23 SERIES Tales From
Prospect House
by Malcolm Welshman
28 SERIAL The Mermaid
Of Mortling Hall
by Lynn Love
41 Cat Chat by Kim Fleet
47 That Certain Day In
Winter
by Pamela Kavanagh
53 The Table In The
Window by Ewan Smith
56 SERIAL The Wooden
Heart by Mark Neilson
79 A Modern Girl
by Ellie Edwards
85 WEEKLY SOAP
Riverside
by Glenda Young
7 This Week We?re
Loving
13 Maddie?s World
18 Health & Wellbeing
25 Brainteasers
33 The Farmer & His
Wife
34 Reader Offer:
Amazing Amethyst
36 Cookery: tasty
pancake recipes for
Shrove Tuesday
51 Our Next Issue
61 From The Manse
Window
70 Reader Offer: Shrubs
For Spring Scent
71 Would You Believe It?
73 Knitting: beat the
chills in our cosy
shawl-neck jacket in
cable pattern
86 Between Friends
8 Willie Shand heads to
glorious Glen Lednock, one
of his favourite walks
27 Our book
recommendations for this
month. Plus a chance to
win them!
35 Wendy Glass chats to
children?s author Angela
Proctor
44 Pat Coulter discovers the
story behind family
favourite Bagpuss and
friends
55 Nina Hoole celebrates the
folk art of narrowboats on
our waterways
65 Susie Kearley shares some
quirky Shrove Tuesday
traditions
68 Alexandra Campbell shares
tips on caring for your lawn
77 Consumer expert Barry
Cashin takes a look at
loyalty cards
83 Extra puzzle fun
SUBSCRIPTION OFFER ? SAVE �
13 issues for *�when you subscribe
? Call 0800 318846**, quote PFCOV
Subscribe
and save
�!
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www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk
www.facebook.com/PeoplesFriendMagazine
We still get our fair
share of wintry weather
at this time of year, but
the days are
lengthening and the
garden is definitely
waking up ? so I?m
delighted to welcome
back our popular
?Notes From My
Garden? feature this
week after its short
winter break. I?m
relying on Alexandra
Campbell?s sensible
advice on page 68 to
help me sort out the
jungle outside my back
door!
It?s Shrove Tuesday
on February 13, and we
have some amazing
pancake recipes for you
to try on page 36,
including the delicioussounding Caramelised
Pear and Salted Pecanfilled Pancakes With
Hot Chocolate Sauce.
Then, on page 65, Susie
Kearley takes a look at
some of the traditions
that surround this date,
which makes for
fascinating reading.
My personal highlight
this week, however, is
Pat Coulter?s
affectionate feature
about Bagpuss and Co.,
children?s TV favourites
from the 1970s. I loved
Emily?s saggy old cloth
cat as a child, and
enjoyed every nostalgic
minute of reading this.
Hope you like it, too.
Angela Gilchrist, Editor.
twitter.com/@TheFriendMag
After All
These Years
Illustration by Martin Baines.
M
AISIE and I
were playing
our silly
question and
answer game
as we wandered home from
school through the village.
?You go first, Sara,?
Maisie said. ?Think of a silly
question.?
Maisie was better at the
game than me. She could
think of fantastically silly
questions like, ?How many
stars are in the sky?? or
?What time does Superman
get up in the morning??
This time, as it happened,
we were passing the village
church where my aunt Jane
had been married a few
months before. A question
jumped into my head.
?Who will you marry when
you grow up??
Maisie stopped walking
and turned to me.
?That?s easy. I?m going to
marry Pete.?
?My big brother?? I was
astonished.
?What?s wrong with that??
Maisie demanded. ?He?s
lovely ? and kind. He
smiles a lot. And he helped
my mum to carry her
shopping into the house
last Saturday.?
?Hmm.? I tried to imagine
Maisie and Pete standing
outside the church just like
Aunt Jane and her new
husband had done.
?What if he doesn?t want
to marry you??
Maisie pulled her woolly
hat farther down over her
ears.
?He will,? she said
confidently.
?I could be your
bridesmaid,? I said, eager
to be part of the wedding.
Maisie looked solemn.
?And when you marry
Liam I?ll be yours,? she
promised.
Liam was my brother?s
best friend. He lived in the
house which backed on to
ours and Maisie knew I
adored him.
?What if he doesn?t want
to marry me?? I said
worriedly.
?Don?t be silly. You?re
Our lives had
taken different
paths, but I still
carried a torch
for Liam . . .
quite pretty. Why wouldn?t
he??
At the time I was grateful
for her reasoning. So that
was it. We?d chosen our
future partners and made a
pact.
Considering we were just
ten years old at the time
and both Pete and Liam
were twelve, the
conversation was
completely irrelevant.
* * * *
Fast forward fifteen years
to the weekend Maisie and
Pete got engaged. I was
excited but not surprised
when Maisie phoned to tell
me her news.
I?d always known she and
SHORT STORY BY SHEILA AIRD 5
Pete were meant for each
other. Maisie had told me
so.
We met for lunch so that
she could show me her
engagement ring.
?It?s beautiful, Maisie!
Absolutely gorgeous.?
I sighed as I studied the
ring. It sparkled in the
spring sunshine swooping
through the caf� window.
?You always said you
wanted sapphires and
diamonds.?
?Pete had it made
specially for me.? Maisie
wiggled her finger. ?The
jeweller said the stones
were part of a nineteentwenties necklace
originally.?
?So it?s unique?? I looked
up at her. ?My brother
never fails to amaze me.
I?m just so delighted for you
both.?
?Just think, we?ll be
sisters-in-law, Sara.?
Maisie?s eyes glowed with
happiness. ?I hope you?ll be
my bridesmaid, just like we
decided all those years ago.
Do you remember??
?How could I forget?? I
grinned at her. ?I?d love to
be your bridesmaid. Just
don?t hold your breath if
you want to be mine. I
haven?t even got a
boyfriend.?
?I hope you?ll be bringing
someone to the party.?
The engagement party
had started out as a small
affair for just a few friends.
Now the guest list was so
long Maisie?s mum had
hired the village hall for the
following Friday.
?I?ve asked Michael to
come. We?ll drive down on
Friday after work and stay
for the weekend. Mum said
she?ll make up the spare
room.?
?Did I tell you Liam is
bringing his new
girlfriend??
My stomach lurched.
?I didn?t know he had
one.?
I tried to sound casual as
I held Maisie?s gaze over
the rim of my coffee cup.
?So, fill me in. What?s she
like??
?According to Pete, Liam
is being cagey about this
one. He?s been seeing her
for a few months, though.?
Maisie leaned across the
table.
?Do you think he might
be ready to settle down at
last??
?Stranger things have
happened,? I said, amused.
Maisie laughed.
?Remember our pact?
You were supposed to end
up with Liam. You thought
he was wonderful.?
?When I was ten,? I
protested.
?What about the time he
kissed you under the
mistletoe at that Christmas
party??
?That was two years ago.?
I shrugged. ?And it didn?t
mean a thing.?
?You spent most of the
evening sitting in a corner,
just the two of you,? Maisie
insisted.
?Did we? I can?t
remember.?
In fact, I remembered
every minute of that
Christmas Eve. I hadn?t
seen much of Liam since
he?d graduated from
university and landed a job
in London, but I?d thought
about him often. He was
still my hero.
So when he turned up at
the party, butterflies
danced a jig in my stomach
and my legs turned to jelly.
At twenty-five Liam was tall
and broad shouldered.
He had thick dark hair
which skimmed the collar of
the long navy overcoat he
wore, a heart-stopping
smile and amazing,
intelligent blue eyes.
When he kissed me under
the mistletoe I felt as if I?d
won the lottery.
Later, as we sat in a quiet
corner, he held my hand
and we chatted about what
we wanted to do with our
lives. I thought he?d finally
realised I was someone
special.
Then, suddenly, it hit me
? he was more interested
in a very attractive girl who
was with another guy at the
other side of the room. He
couldn?t take his eyes off
her.
Eventually Liam
confessed she?d been his
girlfriend until a few
months ago and, even
though she was seeing
someone else now, he?d
wanted to make her
jealous.
?I?m really sorry,? he said,
and he looked ashamed.
?Hannah and I split after a
stupid argument, but ?? He
sighed. ?Honestly, I didn?t
mean to upset you.?
?Well, you have.?
I felt so angry and
humiliated that I got up
and walked away. I?d never
told anyone, not even
Maisie, about that evening.
I?d been too embarrassed.
And I?d never felt the same
about Liam since.
* * * *
So when the invitation to
the engagement party
arrived and I knew Liam
would be there, I?d asked
Michael, my best friend, to
come with me. I needed
moral support.
Michael and I met at
?Just keep calm. OK??
Thanks to Michael I got
through that week. Then
the exams were over and,
miracle of miracles, I?d
passed. After we
graduated, after all the
celebrations, the hugs
galore and emotional
goodbyes, we promised to
keep in touch.
And we did for a while.
But Michael took himself
off to New Zealand for a
year and I got a job in
Manchester. Texts and
e-mails tailed off.
Eventually I moved back
to Scotland. I started
working for a big marketing
company in Edinburgh.
That?s where I met
Michael again. He was
When I met Michael again, for a
moment I hardly recognised him
university. We were doing
the same course so we
were part of a crowd who
did a lot of crazy, fun things
together.
From the beginning,
Michael and I were drawn
to each other. We had
similar likes and he was
quieter, more serious than
the others.
Sometimes we would
meet in the library and
study together. Afterwards
we?d put the world to rights
over a cup of coffee.
In our final year it was
Michael who helped me
when I began to panic
about presentations.
?The thought of talking to
a roomful of people scares
me rigid,? I said as we left
the library one afternoon.
?I?m sure I?ll panic.?
?You?ll be fine, Sara. Just
focus on one person.
Honestly, it works.?
So, when it came to my
turn, because Michael was
sitting in the second row, I
focused on him and his
encouraging smile. I got
through the 10-minute talk
without a hitch.
On the first day of our
final exams I was even
more nervous.
?We?re nearly there. Just
three more to go,? Michael
said.
He put his hands on my
shoulders and his brown
eyes held mine.
head of his department.
?Hi, you!? He grinned
when we met in the
corridor on my first day.
?Of all the offices in all the
world . . .?
For a moment I didn?t say
a word. I hardly recognised
the elegant guy with light
blond hair and tanned skin.
He was wearing a dark suit
with a white shirt and he
looked immaculate.
As we stood there
looking at one another I
realised how much I?d
missed him, how much I
cared about him.
?Must be fate,? I said
simply.
?We?ve got a lot of
catching up to do, Sara.
Let?s meet up in the wine
bar after work.?
That evening we spent
ages exchanging news
about what we?d done in
the years between. Like
me, Michael was still
unattached.
?My mum keeps telling
me I should settle down. I
think she wants to be a
grandmother,? he joked.
?What about you??
?Still waiting for Mr
Right.? I shrugged. ?He?s
out there somewhere.?
So Michael was back in
my life. In the beginning we
were simply part of the
office crowd who met
socially. We went
ten-pin bowling and
6
took part in the local
pub quiz nights. If it was
someone?s birthday we all
went to the wine bar after
work.
Sometimes Michael and I
would have a meal
together, just the two of us,
or we?d go to see a play we
both fancied. When he
wasn?t playing football or
visiting his mum at the
weekend, we might meet
up and wander round an
art gallery or the museum.
As the weeks drifted into
months, I?d never been
happier. Then I realised
Michael wasn?t just my best
friend any more. I was
falling in love with him.
Of course, he had no idea
how I felt and I had no
intentions of spoiling our
friendship by complicating
things.
* * * *
Despite the fact that
Liam would be there, I was
looking forward to the
engagement party. Michael
had offered to drive us
down to Thatchend so we
left the office early on
Friday afternoon, hoping to
avoid the weekend traffic
heading out of the city.
Unfortunately, lots of
other folk had the same
idea. We were all moving at
snail?s pace along the dual
carriageway.
?At this rate we?ll never
be in time,? I said.
?Relax.? Michael glanced
at me and smiled. ?We go
off at the next roundabout.
Shouldn?t take more than
an hour to reach
Thatchend.?
I leaned back and studied
his profile as he
concentrated on the road.
?Thanks for coming this
evening,? I said.
?Thanks for asking me.
Have they known each
other for a long time, your
brother and his fianc閑??
?For ever. There were
four of us. We all grew up
together. Pete and his best
friend, Liam, are two years
older than Maisie and me
so my mum made them
responsible for keeping us
out of mischief.?
?And did they??
?Not always.?
I laughed at a passing
memory.
?Sometimes the boys
were no match for Maisie
and me. She was always
game for anything and I
would tag along.?
We?d reached the
roundabout now. Michael
waited until there was a
gap in the traffic, then he
slipped into the flow and
turned off at the second
exit.
Soon we were driving
down a quieter country
road. The distant hills
looked amazing in the early
evening sunshine and the
trees swayed in a soft
breeze, proving spring had
truly arrived.
?What about the fourth
member of your gang??
?Liam? I haven?t seen him
in ages.? I paused. ?In a
nutshell, Liam is every girl?s
dream man. Think Jude
Law!?
?Ouch!?
?Liam has it all,? I rattled
on. ?He sailed through high
school, went to university,
got an honours degree in
business and landed the
perfect job with an
international company
based in London. He?s
flying home for the party.?
For a moment Michael
was silent.
?Very impressive,? he said
at last.
* * * *
My mum and Michael
were on the same
wavelength straight off. She
couldn?t wait to get me on
my own to quiz me about
our relationship.
?We?re just good friends,
Mum. Don?t start getting
ideas.?
?Wouldn?t dream of it,?
she said innocently. ?But
he?s really nice, and very
attractive.?
?I know,? I said wistfully.
Mum shook her head.
?I suspect you wish you
were more than just good
friends.?
Very perceptive, my
mum.
We walked to the village
hall, me in my midnight
blue party dress and gold
high-heeled sandals with
Mum?s gorgeous black
sequinned stole over my
shoulders to keep out the
cool evening air.
Halfway along the main
street Michael took my
hand in his. I glanced up at
him and our eyes met.
?For moral support,? he
said with a solemn smile.
?Thanks.? I smiled back
and held his gaze in the
half light. ?Just like at uni??
Michael tightened his
hand.
?I meant for me.?
By the time we got to the
hall most of the other
guests had already arrived.
Pete looked happy and
relaxed as he gave me a
gigantic hug.
Maisie threw her arms
around me and said she
was glad to see me and to
meet Michael at last.
Michael discovered he
and Pete supported the
same football team and, for
a few minutes, they
discussed the latest game
while Maisie and I chatted
about this and that.
When more guests
arrived Maisie and Pete
drifted off to greet them,
leaving Michael and me to
circulate.
We were watching the
musician setting up his
keyboard equipment when I
glanced towards the
entrance and saw Liam.
He was standing beside a
tall, slim, attractive blonde
girl. She looked familiar but
I couldn?t remember where
I?d seen her before.
?Is that him, your Liam??
Michael asked.
?What?? I was trying to
recover a memory so I
didn?t answer.
Liam glanced across the
room and our eyes locked
for a few seconds. He said
something to the girl,
something that made her
smile.
Then he took her hand
and moved across the hall
towards us.
Suddenly I remembered
where I?d seen her. Hannah!
She?d hardly changed in the
two years since that
Christmas Eve when Liam
had tried to make her
jealous.
?Sara! It?s good to see
you.?
For a split second Liam
looked uncertain. Then he
leaned across and kissed
my cheek.
?I don?t think you?ve met
Hannah.?
In the end it was a
wonderful evening. I ended
up liking Hannah a lot. She
had a quirky sense of fun. I
could tell she was in love
with Liam and it was
obvious he was crazy about
her.
I wondered if Liam?s plan
to make Hannah jealous
had actually worked, or had
they simply met again and
realised how they felt about
each other? Not that it
mattered.
As for Michael, he
seemed wary of Liam at
first so conversation was
difficult.
Then Michael mentioned
rugby and that was it, the
boys were kindred spirits.
They ended up swapping
stories.
?I?m sorry I was such an
idiot, Sara,? Liam
whispered as he gave me a
goodnight hug. ?Can we
just forget that Christmas
and be friends again??
?It?s forgotten,? I told him.
?We all do crazy things
when we?re unhappy.?
Later, as we walked home
through the village hand in
hand, Michael confessed
he?d been apprehensive
about meeting Liam.
?You didn?t tell me he was
bringing his girlfriend.?
I stopped and turned to
look up at him.
?Would it have made any
difference??
?Of course it would.?
Michael paused as if
searching for the right
words. ?You made him
sound so amazing I knew I
couldn?t compete.?
My heart began to race.
?Why would you want to.?
?Isn?t it obvious?? He
shook his head in
frustration. ?I thought, if
you fancied him, where
would that leave us??
?And?? I held my breath.
He gave a resigned sigh,
then pulled me close.
?OK, I?m not Liam, but I
do love you very much,
Sara. So do you think we
could stop being just
friends??
For a moment I was so
relieved I couldn?t speak. I
leaned back and looked up
at him, loving what I saw.
Then I simply nodded.
?Does that mean you feel
the same?? he murmured.
?That?s a silly question,? I
said. ?Of course I do.?
That was as far as I got,
because he kissed me. n
loving
More than one in four UK students
managed to achieve a first-class
university degree last year. That?s
a rise of 44% in the last five years.
The numbers of females enrolling on
higher education courses also rose,
now making up 57% of the total.
Making Waves
A pod of bottlenose dolphins has taken
up residence off the coasts of Cornwall,
Devon and Dorset. Plymouth University
researchers studied 3,843 records to
confirm it as the first resident pod living
year-round off the south-west coast of
England.
Simply Delicious
Busy Lady!
Perfect for the one you love ? or simply
to treat yourself ? Holdsworth Chocolates
are melt-in-the-mouth delicious. These
Milk & Dark Chocolate Strawberry Hearts
are just �(55g). Find them in John
Lewis, Selfridges, Amazon or from
www.holdsworthchocolates.co.uk.
Happy birthday to Holly Willoughby,
who will be thirty-seven on February
10. This busy mum-of-three hosts TV
shows ?This Morning? and ?Dancing
On Ice? alongside Phillip Schofield,
and also has a few books under her
belt. Where does she find the time?
Alamy.
Details correct at time of going to press.
Like a well-oiled machine, eating
the right foods helps keep the
body healthy, but what about the
mind? Dr Lisa Mosconi, author of
?Brain Food?, explores how eating
smart can improve how our brain
functions, including memory.
Published by Penguin Life, �.99.
Home And Dry
At this time of year, drying the laundry
can be troublesome. However, you may
like to try
the Dry:Soon
Mini Deluxe
2-Tier Heated
Airer from
Lakeland.
Costing
just 4p an
hour to run,
it?s �.99
from www.
lakeland.co.uk
or phone
015394
88100.
Word Is . . .
iStock.
Life?s A Drama!
If you missed the recent ITV series
?Girlfriends?, you can catch up on
the escapades
of Phyllis
Logan, Miranda
Richardson and
Zo� Wanamaker
as they tackle
life?s troubles
together.
The six-part
Kay Mellor
drama is
available on
DVD this week,
RRP �.99.
Food For Thought
Foot-tapping Fun
The annual Inverness Fiddlers? Rally is
to be held in the Empire Theatre, Eden
Court on Saturday February 17. Guest
artists include multi-award-winning
singer Emily Smith and renowned
Shetland fiddler Gemma Donald.
Telephone 01463 234234 for tickets or
go to www.eden-court.co.uk for tickets.
Oxford Dictionaries announced
?youthquake? as its word of the
year for 2017. The term was first
used to note upheaval in fashion,
but is now used to describe
unusually high levels of youth
engagement in politics.
iStock.
Clever Clogs
iStock.
iStock.
This week we?re
BITS & PIECES 7
Glen Lednock
Glorious
Willie Shand shares one of his favourite
walks which is beautiful in any season.
This
week?s
cover
feature
Factfile
n Before the Highland
clearances in the 18th
century, Glen Lednock
supported 21 different
settlements comprising
over 350 structures and
25 corn-drying kilns.
n It was to protect Romanoccupied southern
Scotland from Caledonian
attacks through the glens
that Agricola built his fort
at Comrie.
Photographs by Willie Shand.
n The clock tower of
Comrie?s parish church
lacks a clock face on its
western side. That?s due to
the fact the tower was
funded by the local
landowners and the chap
on the western side was
less forthcoming with his
contribution!
n The largest of all known
Comrie earthquakes
happened on October 23,
1839, after which
postmaster Peter
Macfarlane and shoemaker
James Drummond, the
?Comrie Pioneers?, set up
an instrument to measure
earthquakes and began
keeping formal records.
C
OMRIE takes its
name from the
Gaelic comar and
uidh, meaning
?the meeting of
the waters?, and it?s here,
some six miles west of
Crieff, that the River Earn is
joined by the waters of the
Ruchill and the Lednock.
The Ruchill flows down
from Glen Artney while the
Lednock ends its journey in
dramatic fashion as it spills
down through the narrow
gorge below Glen Lednock.
While snowdrops flower
in some of Comrie?s
gardens, the frost-filled air
leaves no-one in any doubt
that winter could be around
for some time to come. Still,
with the sun shining, it?s just
a perfect day to be out for a
walk.
Is Comrie in the Highlands
or in the Lowlands? Well, I
suppose you could say it
has a foot in both camps as
it sits on that ancient natural
line known as the Highland
Boundary Fault.
In a virtually straight line,
the fault cuts right across
Scotland from Stonehaven
in the east to Arran in the
west.
To the south of this line
stretch the Lowlands, their
rocks formed around 350
million years ago, while to
the north are the harder,
more rugged rocks of the
Highlands, some 200
million years older.
This privileged position
has given Comrie another,
equally appropriate, name
? the Shaky Toun. And if
you feel the ground give a
wee shoogle when you?re
there don?t be too alarmed.
Nowhere in the United
Kingdom experiences more
earthquakes or tremors than
Comrie. Admittedly, there?s
been nothing too big or
destructive ? I think 4.8 on
the Richter scale has been
the strongest ? but just the
same, enough to make the
fault?s presence known.
I wouldn?t be over
concerned about it, though,
? it?s been here for millions
of years and very likely will
be for millions to come.
From Comrie?s Dundas
Street a single-track road
climbs its way through Glen
Lednock to end at the hydro
dam beneath Ben Chonzie
The River Lednock
in motion.
THIS WEEK?S COVER FEATURE 9
The walk to the
cauldron begins.
(Ben-y Hone).
By far the best way to
explore the glen is on your
feet. This morning I?m
leaving the car at Laggan
Park on the eastern edge of
the town.
I often enjoy a walk in
Glen Lednock in the autumn
when the colours of the
beech and oak show the
glen at its best. That said, it?s
no less enjoyable in winter.
With the leaves off the
trees, in some ways winter
can reveal much more of
the river and its spectacular
falls. Following a wet spell,
the river can put on quite a
show.
Indeed, leaving the tamer
lower reaches behind, as
the track quickly gains
height we find ourselves on
walkways and bridges
tacked to the edge above
precipitous drops; one
might have little reason to
doubt that the roaring
waters tumbling far below
are, as claimed, a haunt of
the devil.
Glenshee may possess his
elbow, Angus his head and
the River Devon his mill, but
it?s here on the River
Lednock that we find the
De?il?s Cauldron.
Before reaching it, though,
and to whet our appetite for
what lies ahead, a short
detour takes us to see the
?Wee Cauldron?.
Anticipating there might
be some good photographic
opportunities on the river, I
brought my tripod. It?s easy
to talk yourself out of
carrying it on a longish walk
or climb but, sure as fate,
every time you leave it
behind, that?s when you?ll
wish you?d taken it.
When it comes to using
longer exposures to try to
capture the water?s soft
flowing movement, a tripod
becomes worth its weight in
gold.
Above the Wee Cauldron,
the track climbs steeply and
steadily to within a few feet
of meeting the glen road
before dropping to a
dramatic viewing platform
above the De?il?s Cauldron.
The walkways, stairways
and platforms are an
impressive piece of
engineering and were built
by the Engineer Sub-Unit of
London University back in
1998.
In spate, there?s a
tremendous force of water
as the wide river is
squeezed through a narrow
chasm only three or four
feet wide.
It can be a wild, terrifying
place and you can easily see
how the confused and
tormented waters beneath
the falls have been likened
to a cauldron of boiling
water.
With its frightening roar
echoing around the hard
black cliffs, one might well
feel the need to keep a
watchful eye open for Auld
Nick.
The devil isn?t the only
supernatural creature that?s
said to frequent the
Cauldron. This is also the
home of a water sprite or
goblin. You?re not likely to
see him, but if there?s a lot
of water in the river you?ll
certainly hear him roar.
Before the Lednock Dam
was built further up the
glen, he was said to
converse with another sprite
in the higher falls of Spout
Rolla.
Nowadays, it?s a onesided conversation as the
dam has somewhat reduced
the Spout Rolla sprite?s
capability to answer.
Even with the well-built
stairways, it?s a steep climb
from the Cauldron up to
join the quiet glen road to
continue the way for Laggan
Wood.
In just a few yards,
though, I?m off on another
short detour, leaving the
road to follow the footpath
for Lord Melville?s
Monument. This is the tall
granite obelisk on the top of
Dun Mor Hill that you can
see from down in Comrie.
Suddenly, the steep steps
above the Cauldron don?t
seem so bad after all as the
hill track enters the thick
woods and makes a pretty
direct line for the summit.
The hill is only around
840 feet high and enjoys
fantastic all-round views
over Strathearn.
From the Ochils and the
Lomonds to Loch Earn,
round to Ben Chonzie and
with Comrie far below, it
makes a super viewpoint
and striking site for a
memorial to his lordship.
Dwarfing the little
Millennium indicator is
James Gillespie
Comrie?s
well-tended
white church.
10
Crisp, clear
winter sunlight.
Graham?s 72-feet-tall
grey stone obelisk to
Henry Dundas, First
Viscount Melville.
The monument was
erected the year after his
death in 1812. You?ll find
another 150-feet-tall pillar
crowned by his statue
standing in Edinburgh?s
St Andrew Square.
Henry was one of the
most powerful and
influential politicians of his
day and as he was pretty
much in complete control of
Scottish politics, he well
earned his nicknames
King Henry the Ninth and
the Uncrowned King of
Scotland.
But you know what they
say ? the bigger they are,
the harder they fall. In 1806,
when he was impeached for
misappropriation of public
Leaving Comrie
behind.
Crossing the
Shaky Brig.
money, it made no
difference when he was
acquitted; this spelled the
end of his illustrious career
in public office.
While we could go down
the same track that brought
us to the top of the hill, an
alternative, less steep route
strikes north from just
below the monument.
It takes us through the
woods to join the
unsurfaced Maam Road.
Turning right on to this old
drove road soon brings us
back down to the Glen
Lednock road and to a
unique footbridge over the
River Lednock.
It?s known as the Shaky
Brig, but don?t let that put
you off crossing it. It?s as
solid as a rock.
What makes it unusual is
that on the far side it?s not
only supported by but
actually passes right through
the middle of a massive
sycamore tree.
Descending to the bridge
from the Maam Road, we?re
now above the woods of
the lower glen and within
the more open brackencovered landscape of the
highland glen.
After following closely the
river?s left bank for about
half a mile, I?m soon back in
the thick of Laggan Wood.
Although fairly dense to
start with, it soon thins with
plenty sunlight finding its
way through.
Where the track comes to
the edge of the gorge
there?s a fine view across
the valley to Dun Mor and
Lord Melville?s Monument.
Way markers for the
Comrie Circular keep us on
the right track. As the
morning?s ground frost
eases off, coming down
through the woods some
bits are turning muddy and
wet.
From the open brow of
the hill, at a bench, there?s
another good aerial view
over Comrie.
It?s a steep descent now
to take us back down to the
riverside, but again the way
is made easier with long
flights of steps. I must
admit, I always find climbing
a steep slope easier on the
knees than going down.
I stop to take a picture of
the river as it spills over a
weir, then another picture a
little further on near the end
of the circuit that just
appealed to my sense of
humour ? a wooden cat
holding a tray of ?Free Bird
Seed?. Yes, not everything
that?s free is a bargain! n
Getting there
By road:
Comrie lies
on the A85,
about
25 miles and
40 minutes
north of
Stirling and 50 minutes
west of Perth.
By bus: Stagecoach?s
number 15 service runs
from Perth to Comrie.
From Stirling, the 15A
runs to Crieff, from where
the 15 takes you on. The
nearest railway stations
are Perth and Stirling.
MADDIE?S WORLD 13
?Sam?s is one of the
most beautiful boats
I have ever seen?
Photographs courtesy of Maddie Grigg.
W
In her weekly column,
Maddie Grigg shares
tales from her life in
rural Dorset . . .
E?RE down at
beautiful Lyme
Regis to see
the official
launch of a
true labour of love.
My niece has invited us to
a special ceremony at the
harbour, where six boats
made by students from the
Boat Building Academy are
about to get their first taste
of the water.
My niece?s husband, Sam,
has been on a boat-building
course at the academy. Day
in, day out, he?s been hard
at it.
As Mr Grigg and I walk
down the hill to the
academy we can see muddy
waves rolling in towards the
seafront, while crashing
white horses hit the wall of
the Cobb, the harbour?s
protective stone arm.
They?ll be lucky to get out
at all in this weather.
At the academy, a crowd
has already gathered around
the boats, inspecting the
craftsmanship which has
gone into creating them.
The range of vessels is
quite astonishing, from an
eleven-feet-long Moth
dinghy to an eighteen-feet
Orkney Yole and twenty-feet
Outboard Launch.
?Have you seen Sam?s
boat?? my mother asks.
She?s been brought here
by my sister and brother-inlaw. She ninety-two, but
that?s not going to stop her
being a part of things.
Sam?s is one of the most
beautiful boats I have seen,
and it?s drawing a great deal
of admiration from people
who just want to stroke it.
The Rascal, a Fifties-style
sixteen-feet two-seater
?runabout?, is powered by a
60 hp outboard motor. It
looks like it should be on
Lake Como or cruising down
Venice?s Grand Canal.
?They almost weren?t
ready,? my niece confides.
It?s clear that as launch
time grew closer, students
were spending almost every
hour in the workshop.
The range of people on
the course is wide, too, from
Sam, who used to be
principal clarinet player with
Her Majesty?s Coldstream
Guards Band, to
photographers, graphic
designers, a yurt maker and
a former policeman.
Founded in 1997 by
Commander Tim Gedge,
who is still a director, the
academy provides full-time,
highly practical skills
training, with the emphasis
on hands-on learning.
Outside the academy,
Cdr Gedge battles with the
weather, says a few words,
then it?s time for the boats
to be wheeled down on
their trailers to the harbour.
Like a carnival procession,
we accompany the boats on
their journey down to the
slipway.
There?s a film crew there
to capture the occasion as
the vessels are eased into
the water for the first time.
The weather in the bay is
so bad, though, the students
and their boats have to make
do with a pootle around the
harbour. But it?s an exciting,
tense time all the same.
With all six boats in the
water, Sam drives around in
the Rascal weaving in and
out of the moorings. He?s in
there for a good half-hour as
he waits his turn to be
brought back in.
My brother-in-law is
swooning over the Orkney
Yole, with its Viking looks.
?I can just imagine being in
a raiding party in that one,?
he says. ?It?s fantastic.?
Mr Grigg is lost for words
as he gazes at the beautiful
craft gliding around him.
?What are you thinking?? I
ask.
He has a wistful look in his
eyes, which signifies some
sort of plan is about to hatch.
He waves a couple of
brochures at me.
?Have you seen the courses
they offer at the academy?
They do furniture making
and antiques restoration.?
For a brief moment, I
picture Mr Grigg as ?Lovejoy?,
and it?s a look that suits him.
Watch this space. n
The Rascal was a
labour of love.
SHORT STORY BY VAL BONSALL 15
Doing A Good Job
Finding the right
applicant for
employers is
something I
specialise in . . .
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
W
HEN I was a
little lad, my
dream was
to be a
footballer,
astronaut or racing driver.
As it turned out, I got
myself a rather vague
business-studies-type
qualification and came to
work at the employment
agency opened in the
1970s by my dad?s older
sister.
It was the first in our
town. The original and
best, my aunt says, and
it?s true we all do our best
here. And today I wouldn?t
swap it even to be a
footballer.
I smile at the woman on
the other side of my desk. I
felt it the moment she
walked into my office. She
isn?t the most beautiful
woman I?ve ever seen, but
for me there?s something
about her.
?So you think you?ll be
able to help find me a new
job, Steven?? she asks.
?Absolutely. No
problem.?
I look again at the form
she?s filled in for us to see
if I have any further
questions for her ? apart
from the one I?d love to
ask, which is: ?Will you
come out with me
tonight??
That doesn?t seem
appropriate, and there
isn?t anything else, so I see
her to the door.
?I?ll be in touch with
news of some interviews for
you very soon,? I say,
shaking her hand.
Her fingernails are a nice
shape and shiny, and she is
wearing a bracelet of what
looks like pearl.
When she?s gone, I check
through the specifications
for the jobs we?re currently
trying to fill for those that
match Rachel?s ? that?s her
name ? qualifications and
experience.
I end up with a list of
four firms I consider good
options for her, and
another I?m less certain
about.
I phone the first four and
tell my contact in each all
about her.
When I hear one of them
yawning, I realise I?m going
on too long. But you?ll
understand that, with the
impression she?s made on
me, I want to talk about
her.
It is true, though, that
they probably don?t need
to know she has lovely
brown eyes!
I end up with two of
them saying they?d like to
meet her and I jot down
their respective suggested
dates and times for
interview.
I phone Rachel and pass
the information on to her.
Again, I fear that perhaps
I?m going on a bit.
But it?s good talking to
her, especially since she
sounds genuinely pleased
to hear from me.
I tell myself not to read
anything into that, though.
I mean, I?m trying to find
her a new job ? why
wouldn?t she be happy to
talk to me?
The rest of the morning
drags. Both Rachel?s
interviews are for the next
day, so I?ll be in touch with
her to ask how she got on.
But can I wait until
tomorrow?
Longing to speak to her
again, I have another look
at the details of the job I
earlier discarded.
I sigh.
If I?m honest, what put
me off is that my old
school foe, Damian, works
there. He is the most
superficial, conceited,
vain . . . For some reason
all the girls fall for him.
This has always been so,
right back to when we were
at school together. I frown
as I remember Jennifer
Clark . . .
* * * *
It was my first date with
Jen, and we were sitting in
a burger bar, getting on
fine, when Damian came
strutting past and paused
to admire his reflection in
the window.
Jen didn?t realise that it
wasn?t her that he was
gazing at adoringly, though
I suppose he liked her,
because he then came in
and joined us.
I might as well have just
gone home for all the
interest Jen showed in me
after that.
Later, I think she
regretted it ? as most
16
of the girls who got
involved with Damian
seemed to.
As one said, ?I got fed up
of playing second fiddle.?
She didn?t mean second
fiddle to another girl, but
to Damian?s love of
himself!
I didn?t see much of him
after we left school, then I
was away for a while.
Our acquaintance was
renewed when I came back
here to work for my aunt
and discovered he worked
for one of our regular
clients.
Since school I?ve changed
a lot, but Damian hasn?t at
all. It took me about two
telephone conversations
with him to establish this,
and not many more with
candidates I?d sent along
to his firm for interview to
twig that the girls still
seemed to fall for him.
So the idea of Rachel
falling under his spell is not
welcome to me.
I can?t see how anyone,
not even Damian, could fail
to be enchanted by Rachel.
I consider the situation
over my lunch.
Damian?s firm is sited
awkwardly for Rachel to
get to. The other two where
I have found interviews for
her are nearer.
So, reasonably assured
that I?m not just acting for
my own selfish interests, I
decide to leave things as
they are, at least for the
moment.
* * * *
Next day I hear after
Rachel?s first interview that
she hasn?t got that job.
?They?ve decided very
quickly,? she says when I
phone to tell her. ?Does it
mean I was awful??
The bleak tone of her
voice tears at me.
?Not at all. They thought
you were good. They were
very impressed.?
?Then why ??
I?m pleased to be able to
tell her, totally truthfully,
that the person who?d said
he was leaving, thus
creating the vacancy, has
withdrawn his notice.
?Right.? She sounds
reassured. ?They said he
was leaving because of a
family problem. So if that?s
been sorted, I?m pleased
for him.?
How thoughtful.
?I have that other
interview this afternoon,?
she continues. ?We?ll see
what comes of that.?
?Yes, and as soon as I
hear of anything else, I?ll let
you know,? I say to
conclude the conversation.
I?d far rather keep it
going. But our clever new
telephone system is telling
me someone else is waiting
to speak to me.
It?s the company she was
going to see this afternoon.
They?ve decided to fill their
vacancy by moving
someone from another
department. And, no, that
doesn?t leave a job in that
other department.
I make another search to
see if there?s anything else
suitable to Rachel?s
background.
Things change all the
time. But at this moment
there isn?t anything.
?Apart from the job at
Damian?s firm,? I mutter to
myself as the phone rings
again.
It?s Eleni, our receptionist.
?There?s someone here to
see you,? she says,
sounding a bit breathless.
?He hasn?t got an
appointment but says he?s
a friend.?
?What?s his name??
I hear her speaking to
someone, then laughing,
flirtatiously I?d say.
?Damian. His name?s
Damian.?
* * * *
?I know we haven?t
always got on, Steve,?
Damian says as Eleni,
looking all swoony, shows
him into my office, ?but do
you think you might be able
to help me find a new job??
?Er, yes.? That?s what my
aunt pays me for, isn?t it?
?Take a seat.?
He lowers himself into the
chair at the other side of
my desk, after first glancing
at himself in the mirror I
have opposite the window
to make the dark room look
brighter.
?Why do you want to
move?? I ask when he?s
finished tweaking his hair
and adjusting his collar.
?Because I?m wasted
there,? he replies
immediately.
Modest as ever, I think,
as he spends the next few
minutes telling me about all
his various talents that are
apparently wholly
unrecognised by his
colleagues.
?So this morning I just
thought I?ve had enough
and handed my notice in.?
?When do you leave??
?I gave them my notice
with immediate effect. I had
holidays owing so I said
they could take them in
lieu.? He leans forward
confidingly. ?If I?d stayed,
they would have tried to
talk me out of it and I
wanted to save everyone
the time and effort.?
?OK. So you?re free right
away??
He nods.
?Right away and raring to
go.? Another confident
smile. ?Sometimes in life,
Steve, you?ve just got to go
for it.?
I don?t reply, busy looking
at the notes I?ve taken.
There is no doubt he has a
lot of valuable experience
appropriate to the current
jobs market ? and this is my
opinion, not his.
?I?m sure we?ll have a few
things you might care to
consider,? I say. ?I?ll make
a few phone calls.?
?Thanks,? he says, and he
sounds sincere. ?Obviously
it?s a while since I?ve been
for an interview. Can you
give me any tips??
He looks at me. I can see
it is a genuine request for
help and another memory
of Damian pops into my
head, this one from before
the incident when he took
Jennifer from me.
He?d just arrived at our
school in our second-last
year. The class had already
long ago formed ourselves
into our groups of friends.
He?d come to live with his
grandparents because his
parents . . . Well, the
details were vague, but
essentially they?d fallen into
a chaotic lifestyle and were
neglecting him.
How had that felt?
His grandparents are
indeed grand people ? my
mum knows them. But we,
as his classmates, should
have made him more
welcome.
Was that when he
became so pushy and full of
himself? I?ve read about it.
You feel nervous but you
project the exact opposite.
?Interview tips.? I return
to his question. I choose
my words carefully. ?Whilst
confidence is important,
perhaps you could be a
little more modest in your
manner, too??
He?s quiet, then smiles.
Again, I think he is sincere.
After he?s gone, I make
the phone calls I told him I
would and I end up with six
interviews for him.
I phone him and tell him.
Then I make another two
calls, the first to Damian?s
old firm and the second to
Rachel.
?I?ve got you another
interview,? I tell her.
?They?ve actually got two
vacancies there as
someone unexpectedly left
today. Can you go and see
them tomorrow??
* * * *
The next day I?m on
tenterhooks, waiting for her
to phone. To be honest,
when Damian phones I?d
almost forgotten he was
going for an interview, too.
?I got it,? he tells me. ?I
really think I?ll be able to
do a great job there.?
?I do, too,? I say, and I
mean it.
It?s with a charity that
supports people who are
trying to settle into a new
life. Although it?s less
money than he had been
earning, when I told him
about it, he had jumped at
the chance.
?Thanks, Steve, for that
bit of advice you gave me,?
he says as we end our
conversation.
Rachel phones then, and
she?s got Damian?s old job!
Strange old world!
She?s thrilled and keeps
thanking me and I decide
to take on board the bit of
advice that Damian gave
me: ?Sometimes in life,
Steve, you?ve just got to go
for it.?
I take a deep breath.
?That?s great, Rachel. Do
you fancy a drink to
celebrate??
?When??
?When?s good for you.?
?Tonight OK?? she asks,
and I catch an eagerness in
her voice.
?Perfect!? I reply. n
wellbeing
Health &
Great advice to keep you happy and healthy
Q. I?ve been told exercise can help the
symptoms of osteoarthritis. What type
of exercise should I try?
Lynda Attias
from Arthritis
Care Helpline
is here to
help.
Exercising regularly is one of the
best ways to help relieve the
symptoms of osteoarthritis. Staying
active strengthens the muscles that
surround the joints, which helps to
prevent any further degeneration.
There are various types of exercise
and a good programme would
include stretching exercises,
strengthening exercises and aerobic
exercise, which would include
In The News
Four-legged Friend
New research from Sweden shows
that people who live alone but have a
dog for company tend to live longer
than those who don?t.
In fact, dog owners aged between
forty and eighty have a 33% lower risk
of death. It?s not just the daily walks
and faithful company that help fight
the ageing process, but also the
beneficial effect a pet dog has on
boosting the diversity of your gut
bacteria. Studies show dog owners
often share strains of gut bacteria with
their pet ? and the more different
strains you have, the healthier you are.
walking, swimming and
cycling. These are lowimpact exercises and put
less pressure on the joints.
Exercise classes can be a
great way of motivating
yourself, maybe something
like Pilates, yoga or perhaps
tai chi. Do check with your
doctor or physiotherapist
before joining to find out if
any moves should be avoided.
A physiotherapist is the person
best placed to advise on which type
of exercise may be best for you, as
well as drawing up a programme
specific to you. You can ask your GP
for a referral, or in some parts of the
First Steps
To Health
No need to join a gym
or sign up for a course of
exercise classes when a
brisk half-hour daily walk
is enough to:
? maintain a healthy
weight
? improve creative
thinking (by up to 60%)
? boost memory and
reverse cognitive
decline
? ease depression and
anxiety
? reduce your risk of
heart disease (by
27%), stroke, high
blood pressure and
type 2 diabetes
? strengthen bones and
muscles
iStock.
country you can self refer.
Download Arthritis Care?s ?Exercise
And Arthritis? booklet from
arthritiscare.org.uk, or for a free copy,
or information on arthritis, call the
free helpline on 0808 800 4050,
Monday-Friday, 9.30 a.m.-5 p.m.
? improve balance and
co-ordination
Health Bite
If you?re bored with pasta and rice and keen
to expand your culinary horizons beyond the
humble potato, it?s worth adding couscous to
your family meal plans.
This traditional food from North Africa is
made when coarsely ground wheat (semolina)
is moistened and tossed with fine wheat flour
until it forms little round balls. It cooks in five
minutes and is rich in vitamins and minerals
including calcium, phosphorus, potassium,
magnesium and folate.
In fact, a single serving of couscous has more
than 60% of your daily requirement of
selenium, which acts as a powerful antioxidant,
helping reduce the build-up of plaque and
cholesterol on blood vessel walls which can
contribute to heart disease.
We are unable to offer individual advice to readers. Please see your own GP if you have a medical problem.
HEALTH 19
Learn
how you can
manage your
symptoms
Know About Raynaud?s
A
Are you prone to
chilly fingers and
toes? Our Health
Writer, Colleen
Shannon, looks
at a possible
cause.
T this time of year when the
mercury is dropping, we all reach
for our woolly mittens to stay warm.
For people who have Raynaud?s, the cold
is even more difficult to deal with.
Raynaud?s phenomenon refers to a set
of symptoms relating to reduced
circulation in the fingers and toes. This
happens in response to various triggers,
especially cold temperatures.
The condition is named after a Parisian
physician, Dr Maurice Raynaud, who first
described the symptoms in 1862.
To learn more, I got in touch with
Scleroderma and Raynaud?s UK (SRUK), a
charity that provides information and
support for people affected by these
conditions. Their spokesman, Consultant
Rheumatologist Dr John Pauling,
explained how Raynaud?s affects the body
and what can be done to manage it.
In people with Raynaud?s, the small
blood vessels in the body?s extremities are
overly sensitive to changes in temperature
or stress. It usually affects the fingers and
toes, but it can also cause symptoms in
the ears, nose, lips or nipples.
During an attack, the fingers or other
body parts feel very cold and become
painful, tingling or numb. Sometimes the
skin changes colour, turning white, blue or
red. When the body part warms up there
can be stinging or throbbing pain as the
blood circulation returns.
In addition to the discomfort, Raynaud?s
that affects your hands can make it very
difficult to get on with your daily activities.
In most cases, we?re still unsure about
the cause. When someone has the
symptoms for no clear reason, this is
called primary Raynaud?s.
These problems usually start during
early adulthood and are not likely to lead
to serious complications. The symptoms
may get better over time.
In other cases, the Raynaud?s
symptoms are linked to an underlying
health problem that may require treating
separately. This is called secondary
Raynaud?s. An important cause of
secondary Raynaud?s is autoimmune
disease, where the body?s immune
system attacks its own tissues.
These conditions can affect the internal
organs and can get worse without
treatment, so it?s important to see your
doctor if you develop Raynaud?s
symptoms after the age of thirty, notice
any change in the appearance of your
skin, or develop sores on your fingertips.
Your doctor can order some blood tests
to check for underlying causes such as
autoimmune diseases.
Most people can learn to manage the
symptoms, first of all by avoiding the
triggers where possible. Symptoms can be
set off by a change in temperature,
emotional changes, stress, hormones, or
sometimes when you use vibrating tools.
You can take other preventive steps,
too. The most important thing is to keep
warm. Learning stress management
techniques can also help some people. If
you smoke, it is vital to try to quit.
Scleroderma & Raynaud?s UK helps
people affected by these conditions. You
can visit their website at www.sruk.co.uk
or call the helpline on 0800 311 2756
for information and support. n
Check Your
Hunger Levels
A new book called ?The
Personalized Diet? by two top
Israeli scientists claims that our
own personal cocktail of
stomach enzymes and gut
bacteria means everyone reacts
differently to certain foods.
According to authors Dr Eran
Segal and Dr Eran Elinav, one
person might gain weight on a
diet of potatoes, while another
can eat ice-cream and stay slim.
They claim the rise in your
blood-sugar levels after eating a
meal is the best way to indicate
whether that food is likely to
make you gain weight ? steady,
stable blood sugar levels, they
say, are key to staying slim.
They recommend checking
your hunger levels between one
and two hours after eating a
meal and avoiding those foods
which leave you feeling hungry.
Soothing
Skin Treatment
Sensitive skin that is prone to
eczema and psoriasis, redness and
dryness might benefit from the
naturally active ingredients in
hemp oil.
This plant-based medicine
contains agents called
?cannabinoids? and ?terpenes?
which are antibacterial, antiseptic,
anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
Along with providing hydration so
your skin can build up strength to
battle these conditions, the
cannabinoids in these products
can also suppress inflammation to
reduce pain and redness.
Cannabinoids have been shown
to be really helpful in psoriasis
cases by decreasing cell overproduction. You?ll find the Carun
Active Hemp range of creams and
ointments (priced from �99 to
�.99) at chemists and health
stores or see www.carun.uk.
The cream offers
soothing relief
for irritated skin.
Testing
Times
SHORT STORY BY SUSAN BLACKBURN 21
I?d failed a number of times
over the years. Would I ever
get my licence?
I
WAS over the moon
when my provisional
licence arrived just after
my seventeenth birthday
in 1962.
I was too excited to take
notice of the fact my
parents sank their heads in
their hands when I waved it
at them.
Illustration by iStock.
* * * *
?Well, Miss Myers, that
wasn?t quite up to the
standard required, was it??
I shook my head dumbly.
I didn?t need my examiner
to tell me that.
?He was lovely,? I raged
to my mother later. ?Really
kind and patient. I didn?t
even need to be nervous.
I?m never driving again.?
Mum handed me a mug
of hot chocolate, then
turned away. I saw the look
of relief slide over her face,
though. She?d taken me out
practising once then refused
to go with me again.
?I?m sure you?ll be fine in
time, but . . .? She?d trailed
off, skipping out of the
room, murmuring about
having to see Auntie Doris.
It was incredible how
often Auntie Doris needed
seeing whenever I
mentioned driving.
I?d noticed my instructors
operated in shifts, but at
least they stuck with me.
They did have dual controls
and were paid to take their
lives in their hands, though.
When it came to doing
anything practical, I was
clumsy and unco-ordinated.
It didn?t help that my
brothers were all as coordinated as an Olympic
gymnast and teased me
about my shortcomings.
Now, as I sipped my hot
chocolate, I wondered why I
was bothering.
I gave up driving.
I didn?t need to drive
while I was at uni, and I was
within walking distance of
my job once I started work.
But not being able to
drive felt like unfinished
business.
* * * *
?Good dog, come here.
For goodness? sake, move,
will you?? I was in despair.
An enormous dog had
plonked itself down in the
middle of the side road in
which I was to do my
three-point turn.
My second driving test
had gone well until then,
although this examiner was
as far removed from my
first one as he could be.
I clicked my fingers and
cajoled some more.
?Perhaps,? the examiner
said, turning to me, ?if you
slowly moved towards the
dog, it might move.?
Why hadn?t I thought of
that?
I?d like to say I edged
forward, the dog moved,
and I executed a brilliant
three-point turn. But it
didn?t turn out like that.
The car shot forward, the
dog shot into the air with
fright, and the examiner and
I shot forward in our seats
as he did an emergency
stop.
The dog ? unscathed ?
moved off at top speed. But
it was too late.
I slunk home. I?d had such
hopes of passing this time.
But the nerves, not helped
by the icy demeanour of my
examiner, or the dog, had
put paid to that again.
I was not meant to be one
of the world?s drivers.
I gave up driving.
* * * *
I met Donald through a
friend of a friend, we fell in
love and I blossomed. My
confidence grew because I?d
never had anybody who so
steadfastly believed in me,
and it was heady.
When somebody has faith
in you, it changes you, and
makes you realise that
nothing?s impossible.
Except driving.
?You can,? Don soothed
as he drove me to the test
centre. ?You know how to
do this.?
I didn?t.
The nerves got worse and
I panicked when I couldn?t
remember whether the
examiner had told me to
take the next left or right.
Instead of checking, I
turned left and found myself
sailing down a one-way
street with cars honking
furiously.
How the examiner
extricated us from that
scenario escapes me.
Back at the test centre,
he turned to me with a face
totally devoid of colour and
cried, ?Were you trying to
kill us both??
I gave up driving.
* * * *
Don and I got married
and a couple of years later I
was expecting a baby. I was
thrilled, yet terrified.
With Don?s faith in me, I
was no longer the clumsy
person I?d been. But doubts
still assailed me and I had
nightmares that I wouldn?t
cope.
Everyone assured me
these doubts were natural
in expectant mothers, but I
didn?t believe them.
When Marissa was born I
stared down at the baby in
my arms and a fierce,
protective love swept over
me. I knew that, no matter
what, I would do anything
to keep my baby safe.
Don collected us from the
hospital. Our journey
involved a trip over the
moors and I was suffused
with happiness as I drank in
their majestic beauty.
Suddenly, Don stopped
the car and doubled over.
He gasped.
?I?ve such a pain. You?ll
have to take over.?
Don, by this time, was
ashen faced and hardly
seemed conscious.
I was petrified. Was he
going to die? He needed to
get to the hospital.
There was nothing for it.
I?d have to drive him there.
Somehow I got Don out of
the driver?s seat and settled
in the passenger side.
I hadn?t driven since my
last test and, sick with
worry about Don, I felt
numb with terror.
But my husband and
baby were relying on me.
This was most certainly not
the time for any sort of
histrionics or nerves.
Taking a deep
breath, I executed a
SERIES BY MALCOLM WELSHMAN: PART 23 OF 30 23
magnificent three-point
turn and pointed the car
towards the hospital.
?Please don?t die,? I kept
imploring as I negotiated
the narrow, twisting roads.
I was hoping somebody
would come along who
could help, but the roads
remained stubbornly
empty.
As we approached the
hospital, I breathed deeply,
concentrating on listening
to my husband?s confident
voice in my head, soothing
and encouraging me, just
the way he had whenever
he took me out driving.
?You can do this, Lizzie.?
And I could.
Perhaps it was because,
in the absence of anybody
else, I was having to step
up to the mark, but, from
somewhere in my
subconscious, all I?d ever
learned kicked in.
Sobbing I pulled up at the
hospital, took Marissa into
my arms and, like a
forerunner to a scene from
?Casualty?, raced inside,
yelling, ?Can I have some
help here, please??
It transpired that Don
had been having a few
pains on and off for a while.
He hadn?t attached much
importance to them as they
kept disappearing, and he
just thought he?d maybe
strained something.
It was appendicitis.
Fortunately they caught it
in time and he made a full
recovery.
My fourth test was
textbook, and the euphoric
feeling when I finally
clutched that elusive piece
of paper was worth
everything I?d gone
through.
At last I?d done it.
* * * *
I became a mother three
more times and am now a
proud grandmother. Our
family is scattered all over,
so when I tell you over the
years I?ve driven far and
wide, even abroad, sharing
the driving with Don or
visiting family on my own,
you?ll realise just how far
I?ve come.
It might be quite the
norm for most people, but
it means so very much to
me.
Lizzie Halford drives. n
A traffic accident
means a latenight call . . .
I
?VE never really got used
to the phone ringing,
wondering who?s going
to be at the end of it. I
get nervous, my palms
going sweaty, my heart
thumping that bit harder.
I wonder if it?s connected
to when I was a teenager, a
time when the family
enjoyed the company of
Polly, our African Grey
parrot, which my father had
brought back from Nigeria
once he?d finished his tour
of duty there.
She was a great mimic
and picked up many of the
household sounds,
particularly the ring of the
telephone.
One day she persistently
kept imitating the phone,
hour after hour. It was very
out of character as she
would normally only mimic
the phone if it actually rang.
At eleven o?clock in the
evening it did eventually
ring. My mother answered
it to discover her brother
had died of a heart attack.
Creepy.
Now I was in practice, a
night duty call invariably set
off a standard reaction in
me. One two a.m. call was
typical.
As the jangle of the
bedside phone rang, I was
instantly awake, my hand
on the receiver.
?Yes?? I said, no slur of
sleep in my voice.
?Is that the vet??
?Yes. What?s the
problem??
?It?s Maisie, our little Jack
Russell. She?s been hit by a
car. Can we bring her in??
?Yes. Get her over to the
hospital as soon as you can.
I?ll meet you there.?
I stabbed the number of
the hospital, warning
Mandy, the nurse on duty,
that an RTA was coming in.
Then I leapt from the bed
and fumbled for my clothes
in the dark.
I always put them in an
order-of-wear pile on a
chair so as not to wake Lucy
should I have to dash out,
but in my haste I put both
feet down one trouser leg
and crashed over the chair,
scattering clothes
everywhere.
Lucy mumbled in her
sleep and turned over to
resume her gentle snoring.
I ran down the stairs and
snatched up the car keys
while Bert and Winnie
barely blinked from their
dog baskets.
I screeched into the gravel
yard of the hospital as a
Fiesta drew level with me
and its doors sprang open.
A man raced round to
me.
?Maisie?s in a really bad
way,? he gasped out,
turning to help a woman
struggling to get out of the
passenger seat.
?You take her, Trevor,?
the woman said, handing
him a bundle of tartan
blanket.
The porch light of
Prospect House suddenly
flooded the car park and
the front door swung open.
Mandy appeared in full
uniform despite the
unearthly hour.
?Here, let me,? she said
as we tore up the steps.
She levered the covered
dog from the man and sped
through reception down to
the theatre.
?Please stay in the
waiting-room,? I ordered.
?I?ll be back shortly.?
I tore down to the theatre
where I found Mandy had
already unwrapped Maisie
and laid her out on the
table. A mounted sachet of
saline on a drip stand was
ready for me to insert
intravenously ? standard
procedure in cases of shock.
And Maisie was very
shocked.
Her head had taken the
full impact from the car.
Her face was obliterated by
swelling, and her eyes were
so puffy she couldn?t open
them.
I wondered whether she?d
smashed her jaw, but
remarkably it seemed
intact. As did the rest of her
body when I gave it a swift
examination.
I made a quick evaluation
of her mucous membranes,
pressing down on her gums
to blanch them. They were
pale but not deathly white,
so her circulation was
holding up well.
Her feet were cool, but
she pulled them away when
I pinched her toes. I gently
ran my fingers down her
spine, pressing as I went,
and my actions elicited no
grunts of pain.
?Lucky to have survived,?
I murmured to Mandy.
Having started the
intravenous drip and given
an anti-inflammatory
injection, I returned to the
two frantic owners.
?I think Maisie will pull
through,? I said.
There was an audible sigh
of relief from both of them.
?Obviously we?ll need to
keep her in overnight and
see how things are in the
morning.?
In the event, Maisie
rallied well, the swelling of
her head reducing rapidly.
And apart from her puffy
eyes persisting for a few
days, there were no
neurological symptoms
suggestive of brain damage.
So, after a further couple
of days? recuperation in the
hospital ward, she was
allowed to go home.
That phone call was proof
I always needed to keep my
head. As did Maisie, on
that occasion.
More next week.
Brainteasers
Word Ladder
Move from the word
at the top of the
ladder to the word
at the bottom using
the exact number of
rungs provided by
changing one letter
at a time (but not
the position of any
letter).
C A M P
S I
T E
Pieceword
Answers
on p87
Try our cryptic crossword
ACROSS
1 Small dwarf?s walk (6)
4 Provided food after tea
caused irritation? (6)
8 Colour of June in
Walford (5)
9 In the normal way, USA
twice turns left (2,5)
10 Strip under unusual
ship (7)
11 Savour just a bit! (5)
12 Minster, eg, rebuilt for
army units (9)
17 Records musical
symbols (5)
19 Pupil left with profitable
job (7)
21 About to design tyre (7)
22 Border flower material (5)
23 False call to youth
leader (6)
24 Willingly receive
damaged cap etc (6)
DOWN
1 Reserve player is
expected to conquer (6)
2 Put in a fresh demand for
instrument minus case,
initially (7)
3 Dive without leader as
well (5)
5 South winds over US
city (7)
1
2
10
12
7
N
K
P
B A A
F F L Y
ROU
U
F
L S
A O
R
A N K L E
H E D R A B
10
GAM OG
R A L
D U OR I
K
R N
E I
S N
T
Y
A I R E OK
ROU E A S
13
13
7
14
17
16
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
6 Outlets for various
fuels (5)
7 Sweet song for two about
Elsie, so to speak (6)
9 Gathered together
various beldames
including old Bob! (9)
13 Action to greet us,
perhaps (7)
14 Open screen I
replaced (7)
15 Catch out parent (6)
16 Believe in sale on
trust (6)
18 Speed of part?timer
with ring (5)
20 Room to act it
out (5)
Sudoku
Fill the grid with the numbers
1 to 9 so that each row,
column and 3x3 block
contains the numbers 1 to 9.
4
3 1
5
6
8
2 9
9
11
12
8 1 7
14
15
ACROSS
1 High?ranking aristocrat ? Drawing pin ?
Pug?nosed Chinese dog
3 Coarse, abrasive ? More ungainly
4 Relating to sound
5 Hairdresser?s shop or beauty parlour ? Gushed
7 Short?lived spring insect ? Accumulation of work
6
15
3
C
K
A MA Y
S C K L
H E S A L E
ON E
A
G E
O
L
D U Z
A S P
5
11
2
4
4
9
1
N
C
E
L
F T Y T E D P OU
E
C W
C
3
8
With the help of the Across clues only,
can you fit the pieces into their correct
positions in the grid?
MO E K E D I O
A U I
I
E
L
R E
S ON
N
N
RO I E R D
S
O
GOG
T A C K E
R
O
T
A
L GH
PUZZLES 25
9 Likely to last a long time ? Strive
for higher things
11 Burdensome ? Weighty, bulky
12 Bush fence
13 Japanese paper?folding art ? Ethic
15 Simple ? Open?mouthed ? Chess
castle
9
8 2
4 5
1
3 6
7 9
2
3 6 7
8 4
2 4
5
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com
?A cold case brings back
unwelcome memories
in this gripping novel?
The Seagull
by Ann Cleeves
Vera Stanhope, Northumberland?s
best-known detective, is working a
cold case which is close to home
as it involved her late father and
his cohorts. The ghosts of the past
come crowding in as Vera and her
team work on solving the murder
of two seemingly unconnected
people. Memories surface and
we learn more of Vera?s past
and the events that have shaped
her, showing the readers a rare
vulnerability to her character.
Whether a regular follower of Vera
or a new reader, this book will
keep you enthralled.
ISBN: 9781447278368, �99
VVVVV
THIS MONTH?S BOOKS 27
The Betrayal
by Kate Furnivall
The shadows of war
threaten 1938 Paris,
and twins Romaine and
Florence share a huge
secret ? one which could
lead to one of their deaths.
As the story unfolds,
however, it is clear that
both women have more
secrets in their lives, but
who is the heroine and
who the traitor? Kate Furnivall will keep you
guessing to the end.
ISBN: 9781471155581, �99.
VVVVV
All That She Can See
by Carrie Hope Fletcher
A page turner.
Cherry has a hidden talent
that allows her to see other
people?s emotions. Her
solution is to run a bakery
and bake in ingredients
such as honesty, courage
and contentment, changing
the town as she does so.
Readers who enjoy fantasy
or pure escapism will love
this unusual tale.
ISBN: 9780751563207, �99
VVVVV
bookshelf
On the
Win all four books
Cornwall is famous for
what food stuff?
a Pickles
b Pasties
c Panettone
Enter
now: it?s
easy!
09010 300081
Text PF, your name,
address then
a, b or c to 84555
Calls cost 26p from a landline, calls from mobiles will cost more. Texts
charged at 25p plus your standard network rate.
Please note that you can only enter this competition by calling or texting. Lines open at 9a.m. on
Saturday, February 3, 2018 and close at 9 a.m. Friday, February 23, 2018, UK-only entries. The
winner will be drawn at random from the correct entries after the closing date. Employees of D.C.
Thomson & Co., Ltd., and their close relatives are not allowed to enter. Competition contact details:
Premium Rate Telephone Services Department, D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee
DD1 9QJ. Helpline: 01382 426103. Please visit our website for our full competition Ts&Cs www.
thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/competition-terms or send a large SAE to Magazine Marketing, Copy of your
Competition Terms, DC Thomson, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
Penhaligon?s
Pride
by Terri Nixon
In 1910 we return to the
community of Caernoweth
in Cornwall, where Anna
Garvey and her daughter
are running the inn and
settling into life away
from Ireland. But a mine
accident, a death and a
terrible storm wreak havoc
on the small village and its inhabitants and
Anna fears she is in danger again . . .
ISBN: 9780349418780. �99
VVVVV
Set
in the
1800s
The Mermaid
Of Mortling Hall
Illustration by Philip Crabb.
The Story So Far
LOUISA DRUMMOND
has come to her
childhood haunt in
Surrey to be companion
to her sickly cousin,
HANNAH. But Mortling
Hall is not the place it
once was. A fire in the
East Wing took the life
of her aunt, SARAH, and
her uncle, SIR WILLIAM,
seems strict and
unwelcoming.
The estate manager,
REUBEN LISSER, is no
friendlier, but Hannah?s
maid, BRIDGET, seems
nice, unlike whinging
Hannah and her feckless
brother, ALEXANDER.
Louisa mourns her own
brother, ROBERT, dead
from influenza months
before, who taught her
to hunt and fish.
Lively Louisa finds life
at the Hall dull, and in
her free time explores
the grounds. She finds
the lake and a derelict
boathouse.
An apparition startles
her, but this is no ghost.
It is Reuben Lisser?s
mother, grief-stricken
and wandering after
the loss of a child. She
seems to recognise
Louisa, calling her ?my
mermaid?. So this is why
the estate manager is so
taciturn, Louisa decides.
She and Bridget are
approached by the
menacing laundress,
MARTHA FIREBRACE,
who seems to hold power
in the household. Late
that night Martha and
Louisa meet again when
Louisa sees a light in the
destroyed East Wing.
How many secrets does
Mortling Hall hold?
Louisa knew this place had
more to show her, more
secrets to reveal . . .
C
OME, cousin, take
my arm,? Louisa
said to Hannah
whose cheeks were
flushed with effort,
although Mortling Hall still
loomed above them.
?Such foolishness.
However was I persuaded
to join with this nonsense??
The trees rustled with
bronzed leaves, the warmth
of summer past. Louisa had
grown convinced Hannah
suffered from little more
than a desire for solitude.
She was delighted when
Hannah finally agreed to
accompany her and Bridget
on a walk in the grounds.
?Did you bring my tonic
and shawl, Bridget??
Hannah called.
?Cousin,? Louisa chided.
?It is only a walk.?
She had grown to love the
Hall?s grounds over the
weeks. The walks she and
Bridget had shared had
been the happiest times
she?d spent there.
The Hall itself remained
dark and shadowy, but the
country surrounding it felt
more like home every day.
Louisa?s aim today was to
SERIAL BY LYNN LOVE: PART 2 OF 3 29
stir Hannah from her room,
but as they walked further
on, her footsteps drew her
towards the lake and the
mysterious boathouse.
How long ago her
encounter with Mrs Lisser
and Reuben seemed. She
often encountered the
estate manager on her
walks. Each time he was
courteous, asking how she
was enjoying her visit,
recommending a vista she
had not yet seen or an
avenue as yet unexplored.
As the lake came into
view Louisa saw Hannah
had dropped behind. Her
face was pale.
?Hannah? Are you ill??
Eyes brimming with tears,
her cousin stared at the
crumbling edifice.
?Why did you bring me
here? Who has been telling
evil tales??
She looked from Louisa to
Bridget, then pulled up her
skirts and ran back up the
slope towards the Hall.
?Hannah! Hannah!?
?Should I go, miss??
Bridget asked. ?Make sure
she comes to no harm??
For a moment Louisa
considered returning to the
house. But she was weary
of her cousin?s need to be
cared for and coddled.
The thought of being
enclosed within those stern,
grey walls for an afternoon
sank her spirits. Exploring
the boathouse was a more
engaging prospect.
?Leave her to calm
herself. Let me show you
what I found before.?
Bridget hesitated, but
Louisa took her hand,
pulling her on. Within
minutes the two of them
were walking along the
lake?s edge.
Approaching the
boathouse, Louisa now saw
an old jetty. From the still
green water arose the prow
of a shallow skiff. A heavy
air of neglect hung about
the place.
Louisa considered finding
the doorway through which
Mrs Lisser had emerged,
but Bridget held her back.
?It?s not safe, miss.? She
peered into the carpet of
thick weed. ?Fall in and I
shall never be able to pull
you out. The water might
keep you there for ever.?
?A mermaid . . .?
?What, miss??
?Never mind. Let?s see
what?s inside.?
Careful not to catch their
skirts on briar roses and
brambles, they picked their
way around the side of the
building, searching for
another entrance.
Louisa led the way along
a path to an archway.
?This must be where Mrs
Lisser went in. See how the
grass is flattened?? The
thought made Louisa sad.
?The poor lady must have
cut herself to ribbons,?
Bridget said. ?Little wonder
Mr Lisser grows so vexed,
his mother wandering in
mind and body.?
Louisa thought of their
neat little cottage.
?I wonder why she is
drawn here.?
The arch led to a dark,
overshadowed room with
two doorways at the far
end, curtains of ivy falling
over them from the outside.
?She came through that
doorway, I think.?
?She must have known
her way. ?Tis so dark in
here, and look.? Bridget
pointed to a spot between
the doorways that
shimmered with water.
?One wrong step . . .? She
shivered. ?Let?s go back
now, miss.?
?Just a little longer,?
Louisa whispered. Why did
she feel the place had more
to show her, more secrets
yet to reveal?
?The windows. There must
be a way to the upper
floor.?
?Miss??
Louisa peered through
the gloom and found what
she was looking for. Soon
she was ascending a stone
stairway folded in shadow.
?It?s not safe, miss!?
But she was already at
the top of the stairs, A
room opened up before her,
the ceiling curved like that
of a church crypt, various
ropes and oars scattered in
sagging heaps.
A dull glint caught her eye
from the far window.
Cautiously crossing the
floor, she found a collection
of objects on the sill ?
candle stubs, lead soldiers,
unstrung beads.
Lines were incised in the
stone and when she cleared
away the debris, she could
see they formed letters.
AD, HD, RL, EL.
The letters tumbled
through her mind. AD, HD.
Surely Hannah and
Alexander Drummond! But
the others? The only RL she
knew was Reuben Lisser.
Why would his initials be
carved beside those of her
cousins?
?Miss?? Bridget?s voice
echoed in the growing
darkness. ?We should go.?
?Yes, of course.? Louisa
snatched up one of the
soldiers, hid it up her sleeve
and headed for the stairs.
* * * *
The sun was setting as
Bridget and Louisa walked
up to the Hall. Louisa had
been silent for most of the
journey back.
might fell her where she
stood. Where would she
go? She had no family, no
friends beyond the Hall.
?But I have lived here
since I was ten years old!?
?All the more reason you
should feel ashamed of
your actions.? He waved his
hand. ?Leave now or I shall
have you escorted from the
premises.?
Her life was over. To be
discharged! She would
never find a position
elsewhere, at least nowhere
respectable. Rumours
sometimes circulated below
stairs about the fates of
dismissed girls.
?Uncle, may I speak??
Louisa was standing a few
paces behind her. Bridget
had forgotten she was there
at all.
Bridget had been dismissed!
Where would she go now?
She seemed drawn to the
tumbledown boathouse,
though Bridget could not
fathom why. She was glad
to escape its damp, cloying
air.
Inside, they were heading
for the stairs when the
library door opened and
Sir William appeared.
?Where have you been??
The question was squarely
aimed at Bridget who
shrank under his scowl.
?I was walking with Miss
Louisa, sir. ?
?Leaving your mistress to
return unaccompanied! My
daughter is unwell. You are
employed to care for her
and yet you abandoned
your duties.?
Bridget?s insides quaked.
?I am sorry, sir, truly. I
never meant . . .?
?Never meant?? he
shouted. ?Your faculties are
so blunt I doubt you meant
anything at all! I should
have known a girl without
family, without name . . .?
She felt heat rise to her
cheeks, the shame of her
upbringing burning inside.
?Miss Hannah twisted her
ankle stumbling around
alone!? He pulled himself
up to his full height. ?You
are dismissed, Bridget.
Gather your belongings and
leave the Hall immediately.?
Dismissed? The shock was
so great, she thought it
?This is Hall business,
Louisa. I?ll thank you to
leave this to me.?
?Surely I am part of the
Hall now? Besides,? she
said, ?I am to blame for
Hannah?s twisted ankle. It
was I who kept Bridget
from her duties.?
Sir William frowned
doubtfully.
?Explain.?
?I wanted an adventure. I
persuaded Hannah and
Bridget to accompany me,
though neither wished to.
Soon enough, Hannah
decided to come back.?
?It was Bridget?s duty ??
?Bridget wanted to come
home, but I forced her to
stay, and being an obedient
girl . . .?
Bridget listened,
speechless.
Sir William nodded.
?You always were a wilful,
foolish girl.? He considered.
?If this is the case, then you
may stay, Bridget.?
He glared at Louisa.
?And you, niece, must
remember you are no child
trailing after her brother,
but a young woman with a
reputation to maintain.?
?Yes, Uncle,? Louisa said
meekly.
?To remind you of this,
you will keep to the house
until after New Year.?
Louisa made to
protest but Sir William
31
raised his hand to
silence her.
?Learn from your cousin
what it is to be a
Drummond or I shall send
you home to my brother.?
Bridget saw Louisa?s eyes
shine with frustrated tears.
He nodded.
?Now, I have things to
attend to. I suggest you go
to your room and make
yourself respectable.? He
returned to the library and
slammed the door shut.
Bridget felt tears in her
own eyes. Louisa loved her
walks, the freedom of
passing among the trees.
To have that curtailed for
her sake was unbearable.
?Miss, I am so sorry!?
Louisa shook her head.
?Don?t be. What is a few
weeks of confinement
compared to you losing
your position?? She drew
herself up. ?Perhaps Sir
William is right and I should
be more like Hannah.?
?Oh, there could be
nothing more dreadful than
that,? Bridget blurted out
without thinking.
Louisa laughed.
?My dear, being locked in
the house will be a pleasure
if you are with me.?
With a last smile she ran
along the hall and up the
stairs to her room.
As Bridget went about
her chores that evening,
she wondered how she
could ever repay Louisa for
being such a good friend.
* * * *
By mid-December, Louisa
almost began to wish she
had chosen to return home.
A chill dampness hung
about the Hall which wasn?t
dispelled by even the most
cheerful fire, and the long,
gloomy days seemed to
infect everyone?s spirits.
Alexander slept late and
was often drunk before
dinner. Hannah was
snappish, throwing
hairbrushes if she found a
smudge of ash on her
sleeve or a pulled thread on
a glove, Bridget always
getting the blame.
When Louisa defended
the girl, Hannah would
shout and rail or fall into a
sullen silence.
Sir William kept to the
library, often eating alone,
so that days would pass
without seeing him at all.
One happy consequence of
this was that she was left to
wander the Hall freely.
The brightest, warmest
spot in the house was the
kitchen. She spent hours
talking with the
housekeeper Mrs Gordon,
the undermaid Sally and
Bridget, when she was free.
The two of them had
grown so close during the
previous weeks that the
thought of one day
returning home and leaving
her friend behind filled
Louisa with dread.
In those pleasant hours in
the kitchen she was taught
to prepare vegetables,
knead bread dough and
clean silver.
?Like you was born to it!?
Mrs Gordon laughed.
?Don?t tell Sir William,
mind, or I?ll be on the next
coach back home to Bristol
before you can blink.?
?My uncle does not
approve of young ladies
learning practical skills??
The housekeeper shook
her head.
?Never seen Miss Hannah
below stairs, have we,
Sally? Not even before her
mother died, God rest her.
Likes to keep those above
apart from those below, if
you get my meaning.?
?My father is the same.?
Louisa rubbed the tines of a
fork until they shone.
?And you, miss? How do
you feel about such things??
Sally exchanged a look with
Mrs Gordon then went back
to scrubbing the big stone
sink.
Louisa felt the colour rush
to her cheeks.
?What do you mean??
?On account of Reuben
Lisser, of course. We
thought it might be for his
sake you sit here so often.
You light up like a candle
when he comes calling.?
Reuben was in the habit
of coming into the kitchen
for bread and cheese in the
late morning, and several
times he had come to sit at
the kitchen table to eat.
Louisa would ask after his
mother and a troubled glow
would light his eyes as he
described her wanderings,
her restless searching for
something long past.
?Hush, now, Sally,? Mrs
Gordon scolded. ?Don?t
come your cheek. You ain?t
so good at your work I can?t
replace you with another.?
Louisa came to her
rescue.
?Please, don?t chastise
her on my behalf. No harm
done.? She grasped at a
change of subject. ?You can
help me with something
that has been puzzling me.
Do you know the old
boathouse, Mrs Gordon??
The plump lady nodded.
?I been here twenty-one
years come this changing of
the year. I should hope I do
know that old place.?
?When Bridget and I went
inside, I discovered four
sets of initials carved on a
window ledge. AD, HD, RL
and EL.
?The first two are my
cousins, Alexander and
Hannah, I?m sure. RL could
be Reuben Lisser . . .? her
cheeks threatened to flush
at the very mention of his
name, but still she went on
?. . . but who could EL be?
Would you know??
Mrs Gordon paused,
rolling pin in hand. A sad
expression flooded her
usually cheerful features.
?Yes, miss. I believe I do
know.? She turned her
attention back to the pastry
she was preparing, the
rolling of the dough and
dusting of flour.
?Mrs Gordon?? Louisa
urged.
?They were friends, see,
back when they was
children ? the Lissers and
the Drummonds. Sir William
never knew then, or he
would have put a stop to it.
But we below stairs knew.
?If ever I went to fetch
cheese from the dairy I
heard them, running
through the meadow like
gypsies, playing at soldiers
or All Hid. It was just
children playing, a little
innocent spell before they
learned their place in the
world.?
She put down the rolling
pin.
?Her name was Ellen.
Sweet-faced little slip of a
thing, seven summers old.
Always running, always
flowers tangled in her hair.
You turn my mind to her,
miss.? She smiled. ?Same
love of the wild world.?
Louisa?s heart was
beating heavily in her chest.
?What happened??
?They loved the boating
lake, see? ?Twas their
favourite place to play.
Always in and out of the
skiffs, in and out of the
water, too.
?Well, one day Ellen and
Hannah think to go playing
without their brothers and
there they goes, up to the
lake to swim. Only little
Ellen falls in.
?She hits her head, I?m
thinking, because she was
too much of a mermaid in
them waters to come to
trouble otherwise.?
She sighed.
?Not so long after I came
here, that was, though I
remember him bringing her
in and laying her out on the
floor in the Great Hall.?
A mermaid. It all made
sense now. A grief so heavy
it had broken Mrs Lisser?s
mind; the poor lady
confusing Louisa with her
long-dead daughter; the air
of loss that washed through
the Lisser house like
stagnant water . . .
Something tugged at
Louisa?s mind.
?You said you
remembered him bringing
her in. Who was it who
carried her up here??
The housekeeper picked
up her rolling pin again,
attacking the pastry dough
with fresh vigour.
?That bad penny,? she
said, scowling.
?He?s a wicked lot,? Sally
chimed in. ?He was here on
the night of the fire, wasn?t
he, Mrs G??
?Who was here?? The
blood pulsed through
Louisa?s ears.
?Seth Firebrace. He was
the one who carried little
Ellen?s body from the
boathouse. He was here the
night of the fire, too,
though what that man was
doing anywhere near this
house . . . Bad lot, the
Firebraces. Bad in blood
and bone.?
The name was familiar.
?Is he kin to the
washerwoman??
?Husband, and no better
pairing,? Sally said, ?for
two nastier creatures never
walked God?s earth.?
Louisa recalled her
encounters with Martha,
her cruelty to Bridget,
her skulking through the
32
dark Hall on the night
Louisa saw the light
moving in the East Wing.
?Strange that man was
present at two such tragic
deaths.?
?Strange?? Mrs Gordon
said. ?There?s nothing
that?s not strange about
that one. Sits on his stool
like the Lord of the Manor,
seeming proud as punch of
his shameful cottage and
his lazy, good-for-nothing
ways.
?Why that slattern
Martha is allowed to
launder here . . . Linen
would be cleaner if I took it
down to the river and beat
it on a stone!?
Louisa recalled the man
outside the rundown
cottage, the one they?d
passed on the day she met
the Lissers.
?I?ve seen the man. He
had a superior air for one
so neglected. Clearly
Martha thinks little of him,
too. When I saw him last he
wore a bandage on his foot
that should have been
changed days before.?
?Hurt hisself saving Sir
William from the fire,? Sally
said, ?or so he tells anyone
at the King?s Head who?ll
listen. Always has money
for ale, that one.
?At least that cut foot
stopped him coming in
here, demanding bread and
dripping, calling us with
that blessed whistle.?
?Whistle??
?Aye. Pretty thing it was,
silver, he said. Though
where such a man would
find a silver whistle . . .
He?d come in here blowing
that thing when your back
was turned. Gave me a
fright every time.
?Thought he was a proper
jester with that in his fist.
Though I passed him in
Little Mortling the other
week when I went to see my
gran and it was missing
from the chain about his
neck. Good riddance, I
thought.?
The conversation drifted
to other things, to the
upcoming Christmas
festivities, to preparing
Twelfth Night cakes and the
cherished ceremony of the
Yule Log. But all the while,
Louisa pondered the
Firebraces and their link
with the tragic history of
the Hall, the Lissers and
their losses and how the
fates of both families were
so closely linked.
That night, all she had
learned kept Louisa tossing
in her bed, images of
Firebraces and Drummonds,
and of a mermaid swimming
in murky green waters.
As the hall clock stuck
twelve she could pretend to
rest no longer and sneaked
from her room.
She considered visiting
the library again. Over her
weeks of confinement and
to fill the endless hours, she
had made a habit of
sneaking there at night to
find a new volume to read,
knowing it was the only
time her disapproving uncle
would not be there.
But the conversation had
stirred up thoughts of her
first day at the Hall, of
Reuben Lisser, of the fire,
and instead she let herself
into the drawing-room.
Approaching the window,
she drew back the curtain.
Moonlight fell on the jagged
remains of the East Wing,
still untouched since that
awful night.
The pale light somehow
cast the tumbled walls and
smashed windows into
deeper shadow, as if behind
every heap of masonry
lurked a monster . . .
She gasped. There, amid
the ruins, was a wandering
light, identical to the one
she had seen before. This
time she could see clearly it
was a lamp, bobbing close
to the ground.
Every now and then the
lamp would pause along its
path before continuing on.
Louisa watched,
breathless, for a while as it
crossed back and forth.
Someone was looking for
something, that was clear,
combing the ashes of the
Hall under cover of night.
For a moment Louisa
considered snatching the
poker from the grate and
running into the night to
find them out, but just then
the light snuffed out,
leaving the East Wing to
keep its secrets.
Back in bed, Louisa
shivered. Something about
Ellen Lisser?s death did not
ring true. How had a county
girl used to the water come
to drown?
If the child had plunged
into a weir or a churning
river she would believe the
tale, but the boating lake
was calm, unthreatening.
What of the Firebraces
and their surly confidence?
And who walked the Hall in
darkness? Whoever it was,
some sense told her that
somehow all of these things
were tied together.
* * * *
?How are we to search
the East Wing without
causing trouble for
ourselves?? Bridget sighed
over her sewing.
She had tried to mend
the hem on Miss Hannah?s
night gown three times and
had to unpick the straggling
stitches twice already.
Louisa?s tales of drowning
children and night-time
intruders made Bridget?s
hands shake too much to
complete the job well and
Miss Hannah was a stickler
for a neat hem.
Louisa paced the floor of
Bridget?s room.
?If we can search the
ground in daylight, we
might find the lost treasure
that eludes our mysterious
walker in the night.?
?Miss, you?ll wear a hole
in my rug if you carry on.
How do you know this
person didn?t find this lost
thing on their last visit? And
what would we search for??
And what happens if we
get caught and I lose my
position this time for good,
she thought, but didn?t say.
She was more fond of
Louisa than she could tell
her. If it wasn?t unbecoming
to think it, she felt as close
to her as any sister could.
But her flights of fancy,
her curiosity! Sometimes
Bridget wondered if Miss
Hannah wasn?t right about
her cousin?s wild ways.
Louisa sighed.
?But Bridge, I must know.
I must know it all.?
?No wonder your father
sent you away,? Bridget
scolded. ?He must despair
of you.?
The moment she said the
words she regretted them
as a sadness seemed to
hover over her friend.
?I?m sorry,? she said,
putting down her sewing. ?I
shouldn?t have said ? ?
?No, you?re quite right.?
Louisa waved her hand as if
to dispel Bridget?s concerns.
?My father does despair.
Despairs of losing my
brother, of having only a
daughter to whom he can
leave his estate. A girl too
wayward to marry, too wild
for any man from her own
society.
?But I don?t wish to marry
a dreadful bore who seeks
only to make money from
his lands, to keep his
workers in hovels and to
escape to his club whenever
life frustrates him.?
?You want a husband like
your brother,? Bridget
whispered, thinking aloud.
Louisa nodded.
?In respect of his
kindness, of his joy in the
hills, the birds and the sky.?
Bridget?s heart beat a
little faster in her chest.
Since their walk to the
boathouse and Louisa?s
great show of friendship in
saving her from losing her
position and her home,
Bridget had tried to think of
a way to show how thankful
she was, and to let her
know what a great
friendship had grown
between them.
As Christmas had
approached one obvious
way to show her gratitude
had loomed large in her
mind, a way that might cast
a sweet shadow on her
future. Though it wasn?t
without risk to them both.
She put down the
nightgown and took
Louisa?s hand in her own.
?Do you trust me, Miss??
A smile lit Louisa?s face.
?Of course, my dear.?
?Then do exactly as I bid.?
* * * *
Louisa shivered, pulling
her cloak tight around her.
A heavy frost rimed the
privet hedges along the
garden path, the hardest of
the winter so far.
But the shivering had
begun before she?d stepped
outside. Ever since Bridget
had told her when and
where she wanted to meet.
Waves of fear and
excitement flooded her.
A crunch of boots on
gravel made her jump.
??Tis I, miss.? Bridget?s
small, sweet voice called
from the darkness and a
moment later she
appeared, her best cloak
flapping about her.
She hurried to Louisa?s
side.
?Miss Hannah was so
particular tonight. She
needed this fetching,
needed that fetching. I
thought for a time I should
never get away.?
?Does she know, do you
think??
Bridget shook her head.
?She dissembles well
enough to fool some, but I
know her ways. If she knew
she could not hide it from
me.? The girl surveyed
Louisa with a critical eye.
?You look very fine, miss.
Very fine.?
Louisa had only brought a
handful of gowns with her
from home, but she had
thought to bring one of
ivory silk, pricked with gold
rose buds.
?It was a trial to dress
myself without you to help
me. There is only a small
glass in my room.?
Bridget glanced nervously
up at the Hall.
?We must go, and
quickly, so none at the Hall
will see us.?
Louisa looked about her.
?Can we not steal inside
and find a lamp so the way
is not so perilous??
A worried smile lit
Bridget?s face.
?I take my courage from
you, miss. Don?t say the
night-time has snatched
yours away??
Louisa pulled back her
shoulders. She would not
show her fear to her friend.
?I shall not fail you. But
tell me, where are we
going??
Bridget pulled Louisa?s
arm through her own.
?You shall soon see.? She
gave a grim smile. ?If we
arrive without breaking our
necks!?
In the daylight, in the
sunshine, Louisa had no
doubt the walk would have
been a pleasant one but on
this dark, bone-cold night
fresh peril seemed to hide
around every corner.
Every cobble was slick
with ice, every path rutted
with mud and tree roots
that caught her boots and
made her stumble.
As the girls scurried
beneath a bare canopy of
oaks a cloud of rooks took
flight, their alarm calls
ringing in the silence. The
din shattered her nerves
until she thought of fleeing
back to the Hall.
Soon they joined a road,
passing first one cottage
then another, the warm
glow of candlelight
shimmering from every
window.
She shrank within herself
when a couple emerged
from one cottage, fearing
their flight from the Hall
might be discovered, but
Bridget greeted them
warmly and soon they were
greeting more people,
pleasure written on every
face.
Finally, they arrived at a
large, well-kept barn with
light flaming through the
windows and puffs of
warmth billowing from the
building like smoke from a
fire.
Excitement rang through
her chest.
?Bridget, what is this??
In the glow from the barn,
her friend smiled.
??Tis the Little Mortling
dance. Happens every year
and every year it is the
most cheerful place to be.?
Louisa hung back a
moment.
?Is it safe? I mean, will we
be caught, having sneaked
out??
Bridget shook her head.
?I promised Sally I?d lay
all the fires in the Hall for a
week if she would tell all
who asked that you were
early to bed with a sick
headache.?
?Ah, sweet girl!? Louisa
cried. ?You?ve considered
everything. Come, let?s go
inside.?
A night of dancing, in
convivial company, was
almost more than Louisa
could wish for.
But just as the sound of a
fiddle drifted from the barn,
a man?s voice called out
loud and harsh.
?And what brings you
here, Miss Louisa??
To be concluded.
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The
Farmer
& His
Wife
John Taylor
needs a bath!
T
HE other evening I
was driving the buggy
back to the steading
from our top fields. The
road ? no, that?s giving it a
status it doesn?t deserve
? rather, the farm track, is
only fit for a high truck like
our buggy.
If you took a car up this
track you wouldn?t have an
exhaust left by the time
you?d gone a few yards!
It had been raining hard
the night before and all
the potholes were like little
lochs.
I stopped the buggy
quickly and stared ahead
of me. I had noticed a
male bullfinch having a
bath in a puddle.
Yes, birds do bathe,
ducking right down into
the water then fluttering
their wings to make sure
they are wet all over.
Once it was finished, it
stood on the side and
fluttered itself dry.
Eventually it flew off; I
presume to join its mate. I
started up the buggy again
and continued on my way
home.
It was a scene I will
remember all my life.
It occurred to me how
lucky that bullfinch was. It
didn?t have to worry about
washing the tidemark off
the bath sides, or running
the cold tap before the hot
so as not to steam up the
bathroom!
Talking about washing, I
came in for my midday
meal, hungry, only to be
greeted by a rather
unwelcoming Anne.
?John, you can?t come
into the kitchen smelling
like that!?
How was I to come in?
In my underclothes?
I had been spreading
dung with our muck
spreader all morning. It?s
no respecter of the
workers and doesn?t
always aim its load on the
ground.
As a youth I can well
remember we took
manure out on to the
meadows with a cart
horse. With a long-handled
graip we dropped it in
small heaps.
We shouted instructions
to the horse, but it seemed
to know even before we?d
said a word the spot where
the next heap was due.
Then we had to spread
those heaps manually, by
raking, and what a
back-breaking job it was.
Thank goodness for the
modern-day muck
spreader, even if it does
sometimes cover the
wrong area.
Anyway, Anne appeared
with another old pair of
trousers and told me to go
back to the byre to
change. n
More
next
week
Amazing
Amethyst
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INSPIRING LIVES 35
Charming
illustrations from
the books.
With her
mum at her
wedding.
?It?s easy to find
magic on Arran?
Photographs courtesy of Angela Proctor.
T
Wendy Glass talks to
children?s author
Angela Proctor about
her inspiration.
HREE years ago,
Angela Proctor was a
busy mum of two
running her own
successful business.
Today, thanks to a fairy called
Thumble Tumble, Angela is
also a children?s author
whose books raise thousands
of pounds for charity.
?In 2014, I lost my mum to
cancer,? Angela, who lives in
Glasgow with her husband
Scott and their two children,
Skye, nine, and Kyle, seven,
explains.
?I was desperately sad, and
Scott was so concerned about
me he suggested I write
down my stories about
Thumble Tumble, a little
witch who lives on the
magical Isle of Arran.
?Since they were tiny, I?d
told Skye and Kyle about
Thumble Tumble and her
magical friends and
neighbours, including the
Flower Nymphs, the Thistle
Pixies and the Sea Dragons,?
Angela says. ?Putting my
bedtime stories on to paper
gave me something to focus
on and, as I wrote about
Thumble Tumble?s
adventures, my spirits
gradually began to lift.
?Three months later, I?d
written a book so, as I like
to finish things, I sent my
manuscript to a publisher. I
didn?t think for a moment
that I?d be offered a
publishing deal ? but that?s
just what happened!?
?Thumble Tumble And
The Ollpheist?, Angela?s first
book, was published in
October 2015, followed by
?Thumble Tumble And The
Cauldron Of Undry? and
then ?Thumble Tumble And
The Eagalach Cup?.
?Each Thumble Tumble
book is set on Arran, a
wonderful island off the
west coast of Scotland,?
Angela explains. ?It?s easy to
find magic on Arran.
?As well as being
stunningly beautiful, there
are giants? graves, hidden
caves, haunted castles and
tales of witches with magic
cauldrons ? there?s no
shortage of inspiration for
fairy stories. We bought a
but ?n? ben on the edge of a
beach and, since then, we?ve
spent as much time as
possible there.
?Skye and Kyle have
grown up spending lots of
weekends and holidays on
Arran, where we often go
looking for the characters
from my stories.
?We?ve spent hours
searching for Thistle Pixies
and Flower Nymphs, while
Skye and Kyle often spot the
Water Fairies who live in the
spectacular waterfalls at
Glenashdale Falls and
they?re convinced they?ve
seen Mermacs ? mermaids
with tartan tails.?
Skye and Kyle aren?t the
For more information
about the Thumble Tumble
series, which is published
by Forth Books, visit
www.thumbletumble.co.uk.
only ones who have come
under Angela?s spell ?
children across the UK enjoy
reading the Thumble
Tumble books, which now
attract so many visitors to
Arran that VisitScotland has
produced a Thumble
Tumble map of the island!
?It?s wonderful to be able
to share the magic of Arran
with others ? and to help a
cause that?s very close to my
heart,? Angela says. ?I
donate money raised by my
books to the Beatson Cancer
Charity, which helps fund
cancer research and
supports families affected by
cancer.
?In addition, last year I
raised �750 by auctioning
the name of a character in
my latest book, and this year
we?ve decided to donate the
use of our holiday cottage to
families coping with cancer
so they can enjoy a holiday.
?I miss my mum every
single day but, thanks to the
?real? magic in my books, an
enormous amount of good
has come from my loss.? n
A Better
Batter
Whisk up a delicious treat with
our tasty pancake recipes for
Shrove Tuesday.
Caramelised
Pear and Salted
Pecan-filled
Pancakes with Hot
Chocolate Sauce
Course: Dessert Skill level: easy
Serves: 4
? 125 g (4� oz) plain flour
? 2 tbs icing sugar
? 2 medium British Lion eggs
? 375 ml (14 fl oz) milk
? 1 tbs sunflower oil
? Oil for frying
For the Filling:
? 25 g (1 oz) butter
? 50 g (1� oz) pecans
? 3 tbs caster sugar
? Pinch of sea salt
? 3 large pears, peeled, cored and
chopped
? 100 g (3� oz) 70% cocoa solids
dark chocolate, chopped
? 6 tbs milk
? Few drops vanilla extract
To Serve: ice-cream.
1 Sift the flour and sugar into a large mixing
www.eggrecipes.co.uk.
bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour
and add the eggs with half the milk. Whisk
until the mixture is lump free. Add the
remaining milk and oil and whisk again until
smooth. Pour the batter into a jug. Leave to
stand for 10 minutes.
2 Heat a medium frying-pan over a medium
heat and brush with oil. Pour in about
5 tablespoons of pancake batter and swirl
to coat the base. Cook for about a minute
until deep golden, flip or turn and cook
for a further 30 seconds. Repeat with the
remaining mixture to make 8 pancakes in
total. Set aside to keep warm while you make
the filling.
3 To make the filling, melt about a third of
the butter in a large non-stick frying-pan, add
the pecans and cook over a medium-high
heat for 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the
sugar and the salt and toss to coat. Cook for
a further minute before transferring to a plate.
4 Wipe the frying-pan clean and return to the
heat. Add the remaining butter and the pears
and fry for 4 to 5 minutes until deep golden.
Add the remaining sugar, toss and cook for a
further minute.
5 Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl set over
a pan of barely simmering water, melt the
chocolate, milk and vanilla together until
smooth.
6 Spoon the pears and pecans into the
pancakes, drizzle with the hot chocolate
sauce and serve with ice-cream.
Fluffy Kefir
Pancakes
Course: Breakfast or snack
Skill level: easy
Serves: 10
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
2 eggs
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
250 ml (9 fl oz) Kefir
4 tbs melted butter
350 g (12 oz) plain flour
� tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
� tsp salt
Oil for frying
To Serve: strawberries;
honey.
1 First, whisk together the eggs,
sugar and vanilla extract. Next,
slightly warm up the Kefir and
pour it into the egg mixture,
slowly adding the melted
butter. Mix well.
2 In a separate bowl, whisk
together the flour, baking
soda, baking powder
and salt, then add this to
the Kefir mixture. Quickly
mix everything together
to combine, but avoid over
mixing. Don?t worry if there
are a few lumps left, as they?ll
disappear while cooking. Leave
it to rest for just under ten
minutes. The batter should be
thick and creamy.
3 When you?re ready to cook
your pancakes, heat a fryingpan with oil over a medium
heat and add a tablespoon
of the mixture per pancake.
Switch the heat to low and
cook until golden, then flip the
pancakes to the other side and
cook for another few minutes.
4 Serve warm with fresh
strawberries and a drizzle of
honey.
Peanut Butter Pancakes
with Salted Caramel
Popcorn Sauce
Course: Dessert
Skill level: easy
Serves: 4
? 200 g (7 oz) self-raising
flour
? 50 g (1� oz) peanut
butter powder
? 2 tsp Tate & Lyle
Muscovado Sugar
? Pinch of salt
? 2 large eggs
? 100 g (3� oz) Greekstyle natural yoghurt
? 300 ml (� pt) milk
? A little vegetable oil, for
cooking
For the Sauce & Topping:
? 100 g (3� oz) Lyle?s
Golden Syrup
? 100g (3� oz) Tate & Lyle
Muscovado Sugar
? 80 g (2� oz) butter
? 2 tbs crunchy peanut
butter
? 80 g (2� oz) salted
popcorn
1 Pre-heat oven to 150 deg. C.,
300 deg. F., Gas Mark 2.
2 Put the flour, peanut butter
powder, 2 teaspoons of Tate &
Lyle Muscovado Sugar and salt
into a large mixing bowl. Crack
COOKERY 37
Kefir is a
cultured,
fermented
milk drink that
is similar to
yoghurt.
http://biotifuldairy.com.
You?ll find
peanut butter
powder in most
supermarkets
and health food
stores.
in the eggs and add the
yoghurt and milk. Use a whisk
to beat the ingredients together
to make a smooth batter.
3 Heat a non-stick frying-pan over
a medium heat. Add 2-3 drops
of oil. Ladle in about one-eighth
of the batter and cook gently
until bubbles appear and set on
the surface after about 1 minute.
Flip over to cook the other side,
then transfer to sheets of kitchen
paper. Make 8 small pancakes
altogether, adding a few more
drops of oil to the frying-pan with
each one.
4 Stack the pancakes on a
heatproof serving plate, cover
with foil and place in the oven to
keep warm while you make the
sauce.
5 Put the Lyle?s Golden Syrup
into a saucepan with the Tate
& Lyle Muscovado Sugar, butter
and peanut butter. Heat gently
until melted and smooth, then
cook over a low heat for 1 to 2
minutes. Add a handful of the
popcorn.
6 Serve the pancake stack with
extra popcorn, with the sauce
poured over. To serve, cut the
stack into wedges with a sharp
knife and transfer to serving
plates.
www.lylesgoldensyrup.com.
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.
Austrian Kaiserschmarrn
Pancakes with Caramelised
Apples and Berry Compote
Kaiserschmarrn
is a sweet cut-up
pancake with raisins.
It was a favourite
dessert of Austrian
Emperor Franz
Joseph I.
Course: Dessert
Skill level: easy
Serves: 4
? 3 British Lion eggs,
separated
? 200 g (7 oz) plain flour
? 375 ml (14 fl oz) milk
? 1 tsp vanilla extract
? 1 orange, zest only
? 60 g (2� oz) unsalted
butter
? 3 tbs icing sugar
? 4 tbs natural yoghurt
For the Apples:
? 25 g (1 oz) unsalted
butter
? 2 Bramley apples, peeled,
cored and cut in half
? � tsp ground cinnamon
? 3 tbs honey
For the Berry Compote:
? 150 g (5� oz) blueberries
? 1 tbs caster sugar
? 1 tsp vanilla extract
? � tsp arrowroot
1 Pre-heat oven to 180 deg. C.,
350 deg. F., Gas Mark 4.
2 To make the caramelised
apples, heat the butter in a
frying-pan. When foaming, add
the apples, cut side down. Leave
for 3 to 4 minutes until taking
on some colour, then add the
cinnamon and honey. Keep
cooking on a medium heat until
the apples are tender and the
www.eggrecipes.co.uk.
American Style Pancakes
Course: Snack
Skill level: easy
Serves: 10
? 250 g (9 oz) FREEE Plain
White Flour
? 2 tbs icing sugar
? 1� tbs FREEE Baking
Powder
? 2 eggs (or 2 tbs FREEE
Chickpea Flour + 4 tbs
water)
? 150 ml (� pt) milk
? 50 g (1� oz) butter,
melted
? Oil for frying
To Serve: sliced banana;
chopped almonds; maple
syrup.
1 Put the flour, icing sugar and
baking powder into a bowl and
stir to combine.
2 Place an empty bowl on your
weighing scales and crack in the
eggs (or chickpea flour + water).
Slowly add the milk until the
mixture weighs 250 g (9 oz).
Beat together well.
3 Stir in the dry ingredients, then
the melted butter. Beat into a
smooth, thick batter.
4 Put a little oil into a frying-pan,
roll it around to cover the surface
and heat until nice and hot.
5 Pour batter into the pan to
make 8 cm (3 in) circles and
cook on medium heat.
6 When bubbles appear on the
surface and the base is golden,
turn the pancake over and cook
the other side.
7 Repeat until the batter is used.
8 Serve warm with sliced
bananas, chopped almonds and
maple syrup or your favourite
toppings.
Next week: tasty recipes for
Chinese New Year.
honey is golden brown and
sticky. This will take around
5 minutes.
3 To make the compote, place
three-quarters of the blueberries
in a small saucepan. Add the
sugar, vanilla and a tablespoon
of water. Cook until the
blueberries start to ?pop.? Mix
together the arrowroot and a
teaspoon of water, then add to
the blueberries. Bring back to a
simmer, stirring all the time until
thickened, then remove from the
heat and stir in the remaining
blueberries.
4 To make the pancakes, first
whisk the egg whites to soft
peaks. Place the flour in a bowl,
then add the egg yolks, milk,
vanilla and orange zest. Whisk
together until you have a smooth
batter then fold in the egg whites.
5 Heat the butter in a mediumsized ovenproof frying-pan. Pour
in the batter and cook on one
side until golden brown. Then
place in the pre-heated oven for
5 minutes until set.
6 Once set, tear or cut the
pancake into bite-size pieces,
sprinkle with icing sugar then
continue cooking until the edges
are golden brown and crispy.
Remove the torn pancake
from the pan, dust with icing
sugar then serve with the warm
caramelised apples, compote
and yoghurt.
Free from
gluten and wheat.
Can also be free
from egg using
the suggested
alternatives.
www.dovesfarm.co.uk.
For more delicious recipes visit our website:
www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk.
SHORT STORY BY KIM FLEET 41
Cat Chat
At first glance Bandit would
appear to be an ordinary feline.
Till he began to speak . . .
Illustration by Tracy Fennell.
M
Y heart started
pounding as
we approached
the corner. Get
a grip, Ellie, I
told myself. I stretched my
lips over my teeth in what I
hoped was a convincing
smile, and prayed my
palms weren?t sweating.
?This is me,? I said, as we
reached the corner of
Nanna?s road.
Sean squeezed my hand.
?I?ll walk you to the
door.?
?That?s OK. It?s only a
few yards. I?ll be fine. There
are hardly any robbers and
highwaymen around here
these days.?
I was babbling. Shut up,
Ellie!
I sucked in a deep breath
and tried to look cool and
sophisticated.
?Text you later.?
?Sure.? Sean leaned in for
a kiss, then hitched his
schoolbag on to his
shoulder and sauntered off.
I watched his tall, straight
back, a mixture of joy and
anxiety curdling in my
stomach.
Just before he
disappeared out of sight,
he turned and waved.
I waved back, then
headed down the street to
Nanna?s house with a heavy
heart.
When she let me in, I was
hit by a wave of love so
powerful I almost cried.
Nanna, dear Nanna, with
her neat grey crop with its
defiant pink streaks.
Nanna, whose house is
adorned with old theatre
posters from her days as a
PA to a stage director. The
woman who taught me how
to whistle ? a fingers-in-themouth-summoning-a-taxi
whistle that she learned
when she worked in New
York. How could I be so
determined she and Sean
should never meet?
But I was.
?When am I going to
meet that young man of
yours?? Nanna asked,
bustling about making me a
cup of tea and a peanutbutter sandwich. ?You?ve
been going out for ages.?
?Three months.?
?Time I gave him the once
over and made sure he?s
good enough for my Ellie,?
Nanna said, with a twinkle
in her eye.
I squirmed. That was the
last thing I wanted. Sean
was way out of my league
? I was constantly amazed
that he?d asked me out,
and continued to be
amazed that he seemed
happy to hang around with
me.
I didn?t want to
jeopardise that by exposing
him to Nanna?s little foible.
Bang on cue, the little
foible clattered in through
the cat flap in the back
door and stalked across the
kitchen. Bandit, Nanna?s
treasured cat.
He?s mostly white, but
with black around his eyes
and over his head as if he?s
wearing a mask, hence his
name.
Bandit?s a cute cat: he
curls up sweetly on my lap,
and he has the loudest purr
in the world. It?s not him,
it?s Nanna.
She talks for him.
?How?s my best boy,
then?? she asked, bending
to stroke Bandit.
?All right, old gel.
Where?s me grub?? Bandit
replied in a low, gravelly
voice and distinct East End
gangsterish accent.
?You hungry, my
poppet??
?Starvin?! Me stomach
finks me froat?s bin slit.?
?Shall I get you a little
dindins, sweetest??
?Get on wiv it! And none
of that cheap muck,
neither.?
See what I mean?
Nanna?s always talked for
the cat. Her last cat was a
sleek Siamese with an
outrageous French accent.
Before that was a tabby
that sounded like Noel
Coward.
I?m used to it, but would
an outsider like Sean see it
as adorable or weird? And if
he thought it was weird,
would that mean he didn?t
want to go out with me any
more? I couldn?t risk it.
I took a bite of my
sandwich and thought again
how it was a miracle that
Sean and I were going out
at all.
He?d joined our school
when we started sixth form,
and instantly all the girls
were interested in him.
Hardly a surprise ? Sean
is tall and athletic, with
dark hair and the dreamiest
blue eyes I?ve ever seen.
When he smiles they
twinkle like sunlight on the
ocean, and he smiles a lot.
He?s on the school cricket
team, is top in all his
classes, and is hoping to go
to Oxford to study
Chemistry.
Me? I?m shy, always the
last person to be picked for
sports teams because I
always drop the ball, and
although I work hard at my
studies, I?m no Einstein.
After sixth form I want to
be a veterinary nurse.
Yet he chose me. Shy,
mousy Ellie.
I was torn. I adored Sean,
and I loved Nanna, but that
talking for the cat business
might well scare Sean off,
so I?d resolved to keep
them apart.
Yet I was ashamed of
myself. I loved Nanna; how
could I be embarrassed by
her?
I went to Nanna?s house
after school most days.
She?d give me a snack and
grill me about my day, then
I?d make a start on my
homework until Mum
picked me up on her way
home from work.
That evening, in the car, I
broached the subject.
?Mum, do you think it?s
odd how Nanna talks for
the cat??
?She?s always done it.?
?I know, but is it weird,
do you think??
?Her mum, my
grandma, was just the
42
same,? Mum said,
indicating to turn into
our road. ?I asked her
about it once and she said
her grandmother was just
the same, too.?
Great, so it was
hereditary.
Mum pulled up outside
our house and tugged on
the handbrake. She
glanced across at me.
?Why? It doesn?t bother
you, does it??
?No, it?s just . . . I
wondered what other
people might think.?
?Who cares what other
people think? Come on,
homework, then dinner.?
* * * *
For a couple of days I
managed to keep Nanna
and Sean apart. Then, one
afternoon, we came out of
school into a downpour.
Neither of us had an
umbrella, so Sean held his
coat over our heads and
we made a run for it. At
the corner, I tried to say,
?See you later,? but he
jumped in first.
?You?ll get soaked. I?ll
walk you to the door.?
We hurried through the
deluge to Nanna?s house.
My mind whirled. Could I
persuade him to leave me
at the door before Nanna
answered the bell?
What if Sean laughed at
her?
Nanna?s door opened
and she poked her head
out.
?Come in quickly and get
dry,? she said.
Her gaze flicked over
Sean.
?You must be Sean.
Lovely to meet you at last,
though I know why Ellie?s
been hiding you.?
?Do you?? I said,
horrified. I couldn?t bear it
if she knew how I felt about
her talking for Bandit.
?I was young once,?
Nanna went on, ?and if I?d
had a handsome young
man like this, I?d keep him
to myself, too.?
?Nanna!?
I shot a look at Sean and
was relieved to see him
smiling.
?Hot chocolate to warm
you up??
?Yes, please,? Sean said.
I scanned the kitchen. No
Bandit. But my reprieve
was short-lived: we were
drinking our hot chocolate
when the cat flap banged
and Bandit marched in,
leaving a trail of muddy
paw prints.
?Bandit! You?re soaked!?
Nanna cried. ?You?ll have
to be towelled.?
?Leave it out!? Bandit
growled.
Nanna grabbed him and
wrapped him in a towel.
Bandit wriggled and
squirmed.
?Gerroff! I ain?t that wet.?
?You are, you?re soaked
to the skin,? Nanna said,
seemingly unaware she was
conducting a conversation
with herself.
?Leave it out, old gel.
What if me mates sees me?
They?ll fink I?ve gawn soft.?
Sean was smiling in a
bemused way as he
watched Nanna wrestling
with Bandit. What was he
thinking?
I couldn?t tell if he was
being indulgent, or if he was
thinking my family were
obviously lunatics and was
planning how to dump me.
?Now, Bandit, have you
been a good boy?? Nanna
asked, slightly breathless
after the wrestling match.
Bandit stood in front of her,
shaking himself in an effort
to regain his dignity.
?I?s always good.?
?Not been chasing the
birds??
?Might have. Not telling.?
?Naughty boy! I told you
to leave the birds alone.?
?I only ?ad a little nibble.
Can?t blame a cat for
trying.?
This was terrible! I
grabbed Sean?s sleeve.
?Shall we go into the
sitting-room??
?Good idea,? Nanna said.
?I?ll sort out a sardine for
this little scamp here.?
I closed the door to the
sitting-room.
?Don?t mind Nanna,? I
said.
?She?s great,? Sean said.
?Are all these posters
hers?? He was looking at a
huge one for a production
of ?Hay Fever?.
?Yes, she worked in the
theatre.? Inspiration struck.
?That must be why she?s a
bit eccentric. You know,
theatrical people, always a
bit mad. Big personalities.
Lots of funny ways.?
Sean frowned.
?What do you mean??
?Nanna talking for Bandit.
I?m sure it seems odd to
normal people.? I
swallowed, wanting to cry.
Poor Nanna, she?d only
ever shown me love and
kindness, and here I was
apologising for her.
?Oh, that. It?s funny.?
Brilliant ? my family was
funny. My face must have
fallen because he took my
hands in his and looked into
my eyes.
?What?s wrong??
?I don?t want you to
As I got closer, I saw with
relief it was photos from
Nanna?s New York days,
and Sean was excitedly
pointing to pictures.
?You met all these
famous people??
Nanna nodded vigorously.
The cat flap rattled and
Bandit barged in.
?Poor Bandit?s been a bit
quiet today,? Nanna
whispered, ?with my sore
throat.?
She glanced at me and
made a rueful face, and a
stab of remorse went
through me. How could I
If anyone didn?t like it, that was
their problem, I decided
think my family?s weird and
break up with me.?
As I said it, I realised how
silly I sounded, and that
made me want to cry even
more.
He hugged me to him.
?As if! I like you. I
wouldn?t care if your family
was totally bonkers. It?s you
I?m going out with, not
them. OK??
I nodded and blinked
back tears. He was so nice.
* * * *
Even so, I thought it best
not to inflict too much
Bandit-talk on Sean, and
reverted to saying goodbye
at the corner.
?Can we go and see your
Nanna? I liked her,? Sean
asked one day.
Nanna opened the door
with a grin of delight.
?Sean! How wonderful to
see you again.? Her voice
came out in a whisper.
?Nanna, what?s wrong?? I
asked.
?Sore throat,? she
croaked. ?Be OK in a day
or so.?
?Sit down and I?ll make
some hot lemon and
honey.?
?Thanks, Ellie. Come and
entertain me, Sean.?
When I went into the
sitting-room with the hot
lemon, Sean and Nanna
were perched together on
the settee, an album open
across their knees.
Please don?t let it be
snaps of me as a baby or
starring as a camel in the
school play, I prayed.
have thought such mean
things about her? And
about Sean! He was too
kind to think horrible things
about people.
Mum was right: if anyone
didn?t like Nanna?s funny
way of talking for Bandit,
that was their problem. I
loved her exactly as she
was, and I was determined
to show her that.
?All right, old gel?? I
growled, mimicking Bandit?s
voice as best I could.
?Where?s me grub??
Nanna clapped her hands
with delight.
?Don?t just sit there, I?s
starving.? He twined round
Nanna?s legs, purring, then
butting his head against
Sean?s knee.
?Who?s this bloke, then??
Sean said in Bandit?s voice.
He reached down and
stroked Bandit?s head.
?It?s Ellie?s boyfriend,
Sean,? Nanna croaked,
tickling Bandit?s side. ?He?s
nice, isn?t he, darling??
?Leave orf, you soppy
fing,? Sean said as Bandit.
?What if someone ?eard ya?
Fink we?d gawn soft.?
Sean?s eyes met mine and
he smiled. I beamed back,
wondering how I?d got so
lucky, and thankful that I
had. I put on Bandit?s
voice.
?Gaw blimey, they?re all
talking for me now! Me
mates?ll fink I?m a right
chatterbox.?
And from then on, Bandit
had three voices instead of
one, and somehow it didn?t
seem weird at all. n
Bagpuss
44
Press Association.
And
Company
Peter Firmin will
turn ninety this
December.
Photographs courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London, except where stated.
Favourite characters from
children?s television of the
Seventies are now on tour.
Pat Coulter finds out more.
W
HO can forget
Emily?s cat
Bagpuss, the
most
important, the
most beautiful, the most
magical saggy old cloth cat
in the whole wide world?
It is over 40 years since
the sleepy fellow endeared
himself to a host of tellywatching young fans in the
Seventies. Despite changing
times, there?s an enduring
charm, and huge fondness
for Bagpuss and his friends.
Even in the 21st century
he?s still the cat?s whiskers,
and he?s far from being a
stuffy old cloth cat. Take a
look at his official Facebook
page and you?ll discover
over 45,000 likes from
faithful fans and a whole
new generation of young
admirers.
Over the years, he?s even
appeared on his own
postage stamp and inspired
a video for the rock band
Radiohead. Even Wallace
and Gromit came about
thanks in part to Bagpuss.
Nick Park, their creator,
happily claims Bagpuss and
chums were a huge
influence on what he
thought could be creatively
possible.
Many a child, and grownup for that matter, cherishes
their own Bagpuss soft toy,
but there?s only one pink
and white, humbug-striped
original Bagpuss in the
whole wide world!
The Soup Dragon
always had soup
to spare.
Actually, he was supposed
to be marmalade-coloured.
A mistake with the original
material order meant he
came back from Dunbar
Fabrics pink instead!
As he?s getting on a bit,
understandably he needs to
preserve some of his nine
lives. That?s why nowadays
he usually resides in cold
storage at the V&A Museum
of Childhood in Bethnal
Green.
Happily, he?s defrosting his
whiskers, taking his
customary big Bagpuss yawn
and coming out of
suspended animation
especially to greet his
faithful fans.
Yes, Bagpuss and his
friends are on tour in a
special exhibition organised
by the V&A to celebrate, not
just arguably the most
famous cat in the whole
wide world, but also a
veritable stable of our
favourite childhood
animated TV characters.
They were all created and
came to life, not in a TV
studio, but in a higgledypiggledy arrangement of
animal barns in rural Kent.
But what of their creators?
?Once upon a time, not so
long ago, there were two
overgrown boys called Oliver
and Peter. And Peter lived
on a farm. It was a rather
unusual farm because it
didn?t grow any crops and
there were no sheep or cows,
but it was the home of Ivor
the Engine, Noggin the Nog,
the Clangers and, of course,
Bagpuss.
?And there they made the
most beautiful, the most
brilliant, funny old Smallfilms
in the whole wide world ? or
so we like to think.?
Charmingly told in the
words of the late Oliver
Postgate, that?s how it began.
Together with Peter Firmin,
their creative imagination and
artistry brought all these
magical characters life.
Now in his late eighties,
Peter Firmin still lives in the
same rambling country house
where their unique creative
collaboration was born.
It was Peter who drew and
created what Oliver imagined.
Oliver came up with the idea
REMEMBER WHEN
45
Alamy.
Bagpuss, the star
of the show.
William Shatner
narrates the new
series of the Clangers.
of Ivor the Engine, the
Clangers and the Pogles.
It?s Oliver?s distinctive voice
we hear for most of the
characters. Peter had the
idea for Noggin and Bagpuss.
Peter also created all the
sets and puppets, drawings,
backgrounds and cut-outs
for the animated stories,
whilst Oliver was the
producer, writing all the
scripts and choosing the cast
and music.
He was also the animator.
He used a technique known
as stop-frame animation.
It?s a laborious process
where objects are hand
manipulated with minute
adjustments between
individually photographed
frames, creating the illusion
of continuous movement.
It took Oliver a day to
produce about two minutes
of footage. What a patient,
meticulous man he must
have been!
Smallfilms, their company,
was a family affair. It was
Peter?s daughter Emily, then
aged eight, who played the
pivotal role in ?Bagpuss?. If
you recall the opening
sequence of sepia pictures
with Bagpuss, well, that?s
Emily.
Although she remains for
ever young in ?Bagpuss?, like
the rest of us, she?s all grown
up and now in her fifties!
It?s Emily who finds lost
The Pogles.
treasures which she takes
back to her shop for repair.
She then wakes ?Bagpuss,
dear Bagpuss, old fat, furry
catpuss? with a magical
rhyme.
With a yawn and a
stretch Bagpuss would
awaken, and so would his
friends: Professor Yaffle, the
woodpecker, Madeline the
ragdoll and the mice, who
came tumbling gleefully
down from their place on
the mechanical mouse
organ. And so, they all came
together to identify and fix
what Emily brought them.
It wasn?t just daughter
Emily who did her bit for
children?s programming
history. Those endearing
little creatures the Clangers,
who lived on a far-off planet
with the Soup Dragon, were
lovingly hand-knitted by
Peter?s wife, Joan.
She worked out the
knitting patterns from her
husband?s drawings. Inside,
they were ingeniously held
together with wire and
Meccano, and pipe cleaners
were used for their fingers.
The Clangers? trapeze
dresses were influenced
by fashion icon of the day
Twiggy. Joan also had a hand
in making Bagpuss?s paws,
and the Pogles? smocks.
There was a genuine make
do and mend philosophy,
recycling everyday household
objects. The Clangers? planet
was made from a plastic
football covered in plaster.
Old Christmas decorations
shone brightly as stars in a
far-off galaxy.
Joan and Peter first met
when they were fellow
students at the Central
School of Art in the Fifties.
They started married life in
the early 1950s in a bombdamaged flat in Battersea.
One fortuitous day, Oliver
Postgate came knocking on
their door. He was looking
for an illustrator and it had
been suggested Peter might
be the chap to help with
some designs for a live
series of animated stories.
Peter happily accepted
and so began the creative
partnership from which
evolved our most beloved
?Watch With Mother?
characters.
Fortunately, both Peter
and Oliver were hoarders.
The V&A Museum of
Childhood exhibition has
all the original storyboards,
scripts, puppets and sets,
including ?The Clangers?
scripts, which were all
written out and then played
on the sing-songy swanee
whistle.
Sadly, Oliver died in
December 2008. However,
it?s good to know that Peter
is carrying on their work in
collaboration with Oliver?s
son Daniel on a new series
of ?The Clangers? for BBC?s
CBeebies.
As for Bagpuss, well, he?s
still just a saggy old cloth
cat, baggy and a bit loose at
the seams, but Emily loved
him. And so do we! n
Bagpuss And Co On Tour
February 10 to April 29: Wolverhampton Art Gallery. May 12 to July 29: Ferens Art
Gallery, Hull. August 11 to November 25: Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery.
For further information and news of future tour dates, visit the V&A Museum of
Childhood website at www.vam.ac.uk/moc or call 020 8983 5200.
SHORT STORY BY PAMELA KAVANAGH 47
Set in
the late
1890s
That Certain
Day In Winter
Illustration by David Young.
T
HE church clock
was striking six as
Tom set off on his
rounds, the mail
bag on his shoulder.
It was dark. Frost
sparkled on the road, and
overhead the sky was
pricked with stars,
brightening the way.
Around him the village
slept, windows shuttered
and doors closed, chimneys
not yet smoking.
His breath huffing in the
wintry air, Tom walked with
enjoyment from house to
house.
As postman here for
some six years, he was
familiar with all the
changing seasons, but to
his mind, a crisp winter?s
morning held a special
magic, and today it felt as if
the world was waiting.
Having made the final
delivery in the village, Tom
set off for the outskirts.
Here, all was still, field
and hedgerow stark and
frosted, the only sign of life
the ringing of his booted
feet on the rough-made
country road.
Or was it?
Tom?s ears picked up the
sound of other footsteps,
and emerging from the
dimness ahead he made
out the shawled and
bonneted figure of a young
woman, a small bundle of
belongings on her back.
?Good morning to you,?
Tom greeted her. ?Tes early
to find someone else up
and about.?
She came to a hesitant
stop. Eyes that in the
chancy light looked the
colour of violets met Tom?s
anxiously from a sweet
face.
?I?m looking for Oak
Manor,? she said. ?I?m due
to start work in the kitchen
there, but I took a wrong
turning and I?ve completely
lost my bearings. Could you
direct me, sir??
?The Manor? I shall be
heading that way myself
once I?ve done the farms
and such. Not far to go
now, miss.?
He gave the directions,
wished her luck, and
watched her retreating form
with a measure of wonder.
He?d never seen eyes that
colour before. Was it the
starlight lending them that
extraordinary hue?
Stirring himself, Tom
hoisted the mail bag to a
more comfortable position
on his shoulder and
resumed his delivery of the
mail, his mind on the
encounter on the lane.
* * * *
Betsi tucked her dark hair
into the unflattering cap
and tied the coarse sacking
apron over the gown of
prickly grey cotton.
The regulation garb of the
Manor had plainly once
Betsi had met
Tom once
before. Would
he remember
her?
been worn by a far more
amply endowed servant,
and Betsi had to fasten
the belt tightly to make it
fit.
She sighed, gripped by a
painful longing for her
harbour-side home. Poor
and overcrowded though it
was, just now it felt
preferable to having to
face the stout, redcheeked woman in charge,
whom Betsi had mentally
dubbed the Dragon.
But face her she must.
Summoning courage, Betsi
left the attic room she was
to share with kitchen maid
Lettie Brown and began
the descent of the stair,
her over-big boots
clomping on the bare
wooden treads.
It was her big sister,
Nance, who had found her
the position of scullery
maid at the Manor.
?You?ll be fine, Betsi.
There?s lots to be said for
working at a big house.
You get your wage, all
found.
?That means a sound
roof over your head, good
food in your belly and
clothes on your back.
That?s better?n guttin? fish
on the quayside any day.?
Nance had spoken with
all the confidence of one
who worked in service in
the next county and
relished every hectic
moment of it. At this
moment, however, Betsi
felt that being a fisher girl
had its advantages.
?So you?re the new girl.
What there is of you,?
Cook had said when she
had reached the Manor,
her gimlet eyes raking
Betsi?s slight form with
doubt.
?Yes,? Betsi had replied.
?You address me as
Cook.?
?Yes, Cook. I?m
sorry I?m late. I got
48
lost in the dark. The
postman put me on the
right road. Kindly, he
were.?
?That would be Tom
Partridge,? Cook had said
shortly. ?Well, then, you
had best get into your
uniform. Lettie Brown will
show you what?s what.?
Betsi had not been sure
whether to dip a curtsey or
not. She had practised the
art at home, provoking
hoots of laughter from her
little brothers.
Not that this had stopped
her. Better safe than sorry
was Betsi?s maxim, and
according to Nance a neat
black frying-pan, Amy
Partridge brought a heaped
plateful to the table and set
it down in front of her son.
?There y?are. Get yourself
outside that, our Tom.?
?Ta, Mam.? Tom helped
himself to some bread. ?As
I were saying ??
?You met a lass on the
lane and she took your
fancy. Dunna look at me
like that. For you to take
notice she must have.?
?She were bonnie,? Tom
confessed, chewing.
?That?s as maybe. Sturdy
and capable is what you
want in a lass.?
?Mam! I were just relating
It was the memory of the kindly
postman that sustained Betsi
curtsey was imperative.
She reached a small,
square landing and set off
down the final steep flight
of stairs, the smiling face of
the postman still in her
thoughts.
He had wished her luck,
and with this in mind she
emerged into the vast,
steam-clouded environs of
the kitchens.
?Ready?? Cook asked,
bearing down on her. ?Into
the scullery with you and
get peeling them taters.
Then there?s carrots
waiting.?
A stab of the thumb
directed Betsi to her place
of work.
As she made a start on
the big pail of muddy
potatoes in the icy confines
of the scullery, she vowed
to work hard and go up a
rung or two of the hierarchy
ladder to the better
position of housemaid, like
Nance.
Unless, in the meantime,
some knight in shining
armour came along and
carried her off on his snowy
steed.
It was unlikely, but she
could always dream.
* * * *
The cottage kitchen was
full of the enticing smell of
sizzling bacon.
?A young maid, feared of
being late for her new
position below stairs,? Tom
said to his mother.
Pushing aside the heavy
what happened on the
round. No-one?s taken with
anyone.?
?And I crawled out a
cabbage,? his mother said.
?Cuppa??
She poured him some tea
and went to busy herself at
the kitchen sink, looking
thoughtful.
Of her brood of six, Tom
was the one who had what
her Bert called heart. It was
Tom who?d rescued a clutch
of kittens from a watery
fate; Tom who had squared
up to the class bully at the
school; Tom who fetched in
the wood for the fire
without being asked.
She wanted to see him
happily wed and settled,
but to the right girl.
That had been a tell-tale
light in his eyes. Tom was
smitten and no mistake. It
had been an instant thing,
like herself and Bert all
those years back.
Rosie Brown at number
six had a daughter working
at the Manor. Rosie should
be able to find out who this
girl was that had caught
Tom?s eye.
* * * *
?Her name?s Betsi
Thomas, Rosie says. She?s
from the coast ? a fisher
girl, by all account,? Amy
said to Bert.
There was no mistaking
the doubt in her voice. Bert
Partridge put aside the
evening paper with regret.
?Amy, lass, you canna
live Tom?s life for him. I
allow you mean well. What
mother dunna for her
childer? But what happens
happens.?
?A fisher girl?? Amy
sighed. ?Tom can do better
than that.?
?I seem to recall your own
mam saying those very
words. A common farm
worker wunna good enough
for her girl,? Bert reminded
her.
?You worked hard to
better yourself. A fellow
dunna get to be head
dairyman for nothing.?
?True, but your mam
dinna know that at the
time, did she??
?Well, no. Then again, a
girl needs skills to be a wife.
All Tom said was how
bonnie she was. Bonnie! I
know our Tom. He?s a dark
horse and he?s persistent.
He?ll not let the matter
drop.?
Bert sighed.
?Then you?ll have to leave
this alone. If tes meant to
be, it will be, and there?s
nowt can be done about it,?
he finished.
He reached for his paper,
signalling an end to the
conversation.
* * * *
Tom pulled up his coat
collar against the chilly
February downpour and
dropped the final post of
the day through the letterbox of the gatehouse to
Oak Manor.
It was the gateman?s duty
to take in the Manor?s mail
in readiness for whoever
was sent to collect it.
Tom wondered whether to
linger on the off-chance that
today was the turn of little
Miss Violet Eyes to fetch
the post. She had been on
his mind ever since that
encounter several weeks
ago.
Unfeasible though it
seemed, he remembered
every moment, every
nuance in her voice, the
way her hands had clutched
her bundle of belongings as
if she were holding on to life
itself.
Mostly he remembered
the way her long lashes had
framed those lovely eyes.
He had tried to see her
again, loitering by the gates
after delivering the mail to
see if anyone was coming
down the drive, hoping
today it might be her.
Sadly, it never had been.
He had even taken on an
extra round in the hope of
catching her. Nothing had
worked.
Writing her a note had
crossed his mind. But how
would he address it? He did
not know her name and he
could hardly direct a letter
to Miss Violet Eyes.
That dragon of a cook
would not approve and the
girl might land in trouble. It
could even cost her the job,
whatever that was.
Scullery maid was how
they usually started at Oak
Manor. It was thankless
work and no mistake.
The rain pelted down
harder, soaking through
Tom?s coat. He was about
to leave when the door of
the gatehouse opened and
the gateman appeared, the
sheaf of delivered mail in
his hand.
?Tom? Is all well? You?ve
been stood there a while
and it inna a day for
hanging about,? the
gateman said.
?Oh, afternoon, Bob.
Aye, all?s fine.?
In two minds whether to
ask the gateman about the
girl, Tom decided against it.
Bob had the reputation of
tittle-tattling to the squire
and that would never do.
He gave the man a nod
and went on his way. There
was nothing for it but to
hope that one day he would
see her again. Then he
would find out if her eyes
really were the colour he
remembered.
* * * *
Winter wore on. For Betsi
it was a time of chapped
hands and red bumps on
her toes that itched and
throbbed and kept her
awake at nights, exhausted
though she was after the
long hard day.
Curiously, it was the
memory of the kindly
postman that sustained
her. She made a friend,
too, of Lettie, and became
accepted by the rest of the
staff for her stoicism and
good nature.
Cook was ever quick
to find fault, but as
Lettie said, that was
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PFEFT
50
Cook for you.
One blustery night in
March, Betsi was working
late ? nothing new, since
there were always root
vegetables to prepare for
the following day and it
helped to get the bulk of it
out of the way.
The kitchen was quiet as
she peeled and scraped and
rinsed, the other servants
having gone to bed and
only Cook present, brewing
up some bedtime cocoa.
Betsi had just finished the
turnips when there was a
sudden cry, followed by a
thud and the crash of
dropped crockery.
?Cook? Are you all right??
Betsi called out.
She raced through to the
kitchen to find the woman
sprawled on the floor,
surrounded by a pool of
spilled cocoa and smashed
pots.
?Oh, my! What
happened? Here, let me
help you up.?
Cook was shaken by the
tumble and seemed dazed,
but that did not stop her
from complaining
vociferously.
?Slipped on the wet floor,
didn?t I? That Lettie! The
times I?ve told her to dry
the flags with a cloth once
kitchen restored to its
pristine self, the two of
them sat toasting
themselves in front of the
fire, sipping newly made
cocoa from thick white
cups.
?Ee, but you?ve a kind
heart, Betsi. I did wonder
how you?d fare in the
scullery, and you nobbut a
little hob of a thing. But
you?ve done well, I?ll give
you that,? Cook said.
If Betsi thought the words
might lead to promotion,
she was to be disappointed.
March sailed on and at
the end of it she was still in
the scullery, scouring pans
and preparing vegetables in
endless rotation.
At times she would think
of Tom the postman, his
warm smile and gentle
voice wishing her luck.
Did he remember her, a
lost waif on the lane? At
this point she would smile
at her foolishness and
continue with the job in
hand.
* * * *
Cook, sifting through the
kitchen post, found a stray
letter addressed to
someone in the village,
which had somehow
slipped the notice of both
Betsi rushed through to find Cook
sprawled on the floor
she?s scrubbed them clean.
Wait till I get my hands on
her. She?ll get a piece of my
mind, she will!?
?Never mind that now,?
Betsi told her. ?Come and
sit down. Have you
sprained anything? Your
ankle??
?No, no. I just fell heavy
? well, I would, the size of
me.? Cook threw a glance
at the floor. ?Look at the
mess. I knew it were going
to be one of those days
when the butcher?s boy
didn?t turn up with my
order.?
?We?ll sort that out
tomorrow,? Betsi said,
relieved to see some of the
colour returning to Cook?s
face. ?You just sit quietly
and get yourself together
again while I see to things.?
Soon afterwards, the
gateman and the footman
who sorted the Manor
mail.
She frowned. Both
gateman and footman had
been known to get things
wrong, but it wasn?t like
Tom Partridge to make a
mistake with the delivery.
Not like him at all.
She recalled having once
overheard Lettie confide to
the other servants, giggling
behind her hand, how
Tom?s mam had fretted
because she thought her
Tom was smitten with a girl
he had come across lost on
the lanes.
She also remembered
how Betsi had mentioned
being directed here by the
postman. It had not taken
much to put two and two
together.
Kindly, Betsi had called
him, a warm little glimmer
in her eyes. Had the
attraction been mutual?
Could this be the reason for
Tom?s distraction?
Cook sighed. Romance
Tom stared at Betsi. It was
her ? and her eyes really
were the colour he had
thought!
?Cook said to hand it you
especially . . .?
Tom made an effort to collect
his scattered wits
had come her own way
once, many years ago, and
she had missed her chance
through no fault of her own.
Betsi was a homely soul.
More suited to wifely cares
than working here.
Betsi had done her a good
turn recently ? by, but she?d
been black and blue after
that tumble on the hard
flags of the floor!
It being the girl?s half-day
off, happen she could return
the favour.
Stray letter in hand, Cook
sought her scullery maid
out.
?Betsi, could you give this
to Tom Partridge when he
calls at the gatehouse with
the one o?clock delivery? It
must have got into the
Manor mail in error.?
Betsi hastily dried her wet
hands on her apron, taking
the missive.
?I?ve nothing much to do
this afternoon. It?s too far
for me to go home and see
my folks. I could deliver it
directly to the house,? she
said.
Cook affected a snort of
impatience.
?And risk Tom getting into
trouble for mixing up the
post? See sense, girl! You?re
to hand this to Tom. Tom,
and nobody else. Mind
me??
?Yes, Cook. Tom the
postman and nobody else.?
The glimmer was back in
those huge violet-blue eyes
of hers.
Well satisfied, Cook
returned to the kitchen and
the puddings she was
making for the upstairs
evening meal.
* * * *
?Cook told me to give you
this,? Betsi said shyly,
holding out the elegantly
directed letter. ?It was
mixed up with the Manor
mail. I expect it?s easy
done.?
Betsi?s voice trailed off and
Tom made an effort to collect
his scattered wits. He wasn?t
going to let her go now he
had found her.
?Well, I dunno. Remember
straying off the road in the
dark and me putting you
right? I never asked your
name.?
?It?s Betsi. Betsi Thomas.
Yes, I remember. I?d received
a lift from home with the
carrier. He dropped me off at
the turnpike and I got lost.?
?Aye, well, tes
understandable. These lanes
are a veritable maze unless
you know them. How are you
liking it at the Manor??
She quirked her lips wryly.
?Well enough. Cook?s a bit
of a dragon.?
He laughed.
?That?s how I think of her
an? all. Happen her heart?s in
the right place, though.?
?Happen. This is my first
afternoon off. I thought I?d
take a walk to the village.?
?Would you care to walk
back with me? We could call
at the tea shop for a pot of
tea and muffins.?
He paused, eagerly
awaiting her reply.
?That would be nice, Tom,?
she said breathlessly.
* * * *
After that day, Betsi
thought many times how it
was no knight in shining
armour but a village
postman who?d won her
heart, and she cherished the
memory of it.
Tom?s mam had been wary
of her at first, but that was
to be expected, her not
being a local girl, and they
were soon the best of
friends.
As for Tom, he never tired
of telling their children how
he and their mam had met
on the frosted lane, and
known they were for each
other, that certain day in
winter. n
Inside next week?s issue
Our cover feature:
Neil McAllister
takes a tour of
the beautiful
Lake District
by bus
On sale
every
Wednesday
l A delicious
selection of
recipes to
celebrate
Chinese New
Year
l We take a
look at the
great success
story of red
kites in the
countryside
l Pretty and
Plus
7 short stories
practical ?
make a simple
craft tidy using
patchwork
squares
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The Table In
The Window
SHORT STORY BY EWAN SMITH 53
Somehow,
sitting here
made people
talk to one
another . . .
would give him some
inspiration.
* * * *
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
T
ERRY gathered the
coffee mugs and
wiped the cake
crumbs from the
little table. He
straightened the two
chairs, replaced the menu
card by the vase of
wildflowers and stepped
back to check everything
was in order.
He wondered who might
sit there next. There was
only one window table at
the Corner Caf� and it was
Terry?s belief that it had
special powers for the
customers who sat at it.
Even when they came
into the caf� feeling
miserable, they left full of
smiles.
Steve, his partner,
thought it was a ridiculous
idea. But he stayed behind
the counter; he didn?t see
the bubbles of happiness
floating around the bay
window table even on a
gloomy day like today.
Terry reckoned that
sitting at the window table
was a bit like being on
stage.
With passers-by looking
in from the street outside,
customers put on a
performance.
?Earth calling Terry, Earth
calling Terry!?
He glanced round. Steve,
one eyebrow raised, was
nodding towards the soup
and a sandwich waiting on
the counter in front of him.
With a quick grin, Terry
left the table in the window
ready to receive its next
customers.
* * * *
Erith gazed in disbelief at
the scratch on the side of
her car. She?d only popped
into the post office for a few
minutes.
?Oh, Bitsy, who did this??
Probably someone parked
next to her had been
careless about opening their
door. It was only a small
scratch, but as she touched
it tears filled her eyes. There
was a splash on her cheek.
She looked up. It was
starting to rain.
?That?s all I need.?
She glanced around. The
Corner Caf� was just up the
road; maybe a cappuccino
and a piece of cake would
help.
* * * *
Brian gazed in the window
of the jeweller?s shop,
uncertainty clouding his
mind.
In the centre of the
display was a silver
necklace containing a
glowing red stone.
He tried to picture Tess
wearing it.
The trouble was that, to
him, Tess looked good
whatever she was wearing.
They had known each
other almost thirty years
and Brian?s feelings for her
had only deepened in that
time.
He sighed. When faced
with a car that wasn?t
running properly he knew
exactly what to do.
But when it came to
choosing a silver wedding
anniversary present for the
wife he loved to
distraction, he hadn?t a
clue.
He felt a few spots of
rain and looked up. The
clouds seemed
threatening.
He glanced around.
There was a caf� just up
the road.
He?d drop in there for a
cuppa and have a look
through the catalogues
he?d picked up that
morning. Maybe they
Erith collected her coffee
and a slice of lemon drizzle
cake and glanced around.
There didn?t seem to be
any free places. Then she
saw Terry clearing the table
in the window. She sat
down in relief.
She began picking away
at the cake without
enthusiasm. She?d only
passed her driving test two
months before and Bitsy
was her first car.
Second-hand, of course;
she couldn?t have afforded
to buy new. But she?d
quickly grown to love the
little hatchback.
?Do you mind if I sit
here??
Erith looked up. It was a
middle-aged man holding a
cup of tea.
?Of course not. Feel free.?
He sat down and placed
a selection of damp-looking
catalogues on the table. As
he stirred sugar into his
tea, his mind seemed to
drift away. Erith gazed out
the window at the people
hurrying past.
The gloom out there
seemed to match the gloom
inside her.
* * * *
Terry smiled as he put the
plates down.
?One sausage bap, one
tuna melt. Anything else I
can get you??
?No, thanks, Terry, this is
perfect.?
?Enjoy your food.?
He glanced around. There
were no customers trying to
catch his eye, no tables
needing cleared, Steve was
occupied preparing a
ploughman?s.
It looked as though
he had a few
54
moments to himself.
He glanced over to the
table in the window. The
two customers were sitting
in silence. He knew Erith,
who was a regular, and
though he recognised the
older man, he didn?t know
his name.
They were both deep in
thought and neither looked
as if they were having a
good day. However, Terry
had faith that the table in
the window would work its
special magic.
?Service!?
He turned to the counter;
the ploughman?s was ready.
?Yes, boss. Whatever you
say, boss.?
Steve laughed.
?When did you ever do
what I said??
Terry picked up the plate
thoughtfully.
?You have a point.?
* * * *
?I?m sorry to bother you,
but could I ask you
something??
Erith dragged her mind
away from the image of
Bitsy?s scratched paintwork.
Her table companion was
looking at her uncertainly.
She smiled.
?Yes.?
He held out a jewellery
catalogue. The corner of
one of the pages was folded
down. He pointed to a
photo of an emerald brooch
set in silver.
It?s not the sort of thing you
put on when you?re off
down the pub with your
mates on a Friday night.?
?I?m thinking about it for
my wife, Tess. Our silver
wedding anniversary is
coming up soon.?
Erith pondered.
?The thing is that ? I?m
sorry, I don?t know your
name.?
?Brian.?
?I?m Erith.?
They shook hands across
the table.
She jangled the amber
bangles on her wrist.
?When it comes to
jewellery, this is the sort of
thing I like. Chunky,
colourful stuff that I can feel
on me when I?m wearing
it.?
?That doesn?t seem Tess?s
style,? Brian muttered.
?Exactly.?
Brian frowned.
?I?m not sure I
understand.?
Erith leaned forward.
?Brian, let me tell you
about jewellery.?
* * * *
?Look, they?re talking!?
Terry hissed.
Steve emptied a bag of
�coins into the till and
glanced up.
?Who?s talking??
?The couple at the
window table.?
Steve gazed across the
caf�.
?Everyone has their own taste
when it comes to jewellery?
?If someone was to buy
you that, what would you
think??
Erith looked at the photo
and burst out laughing,
then the hurt look on his
face stopped her.
?I?m sorry, I wasn?t
laughing at you. It was the
thought of any of my friends
buying me jewellery.?
She glanced back at the
picture and her eyes
widened.
?And at that price!?
He nodded.
?But do you like it, as a
piece of jewellery??
Erith looked at the photo
more carefully.
?It?s nice. But when would
I wear something like that?
?Are you sure they?re a
couple? That?s Erith. The
bloke must be forty years
older than her.?
?Of course they?re not a
couple.? Terry sighed. ?Not
like that. But look at them
? they?ve started talking
together.?
Steve leaned on the
counter.
?I don?t know if you?ve
noticed, Terry, but
customers quite often talk
to each other when they
come to this caf�.?
?Yes, but these two came
separately, and now they?re
chatting together. It?s the
effect of the table in the
window. People can?t resist
it.?
Steve shook his head.
?You and your table in
the window. Anyway,
there?s someone else who
would like to talk.?
?What??
?The group at table five.
They?ve been trying to
catch your eye for the past
thirty seconds.?
Terry turned.
?Ladies! You look to me
as if you?re longing for
some dessert . . .?
* * * *
?Jewellery is such a
personal thing, Brian. It?s
like perfume. You can?t
decide for someone else.
Everyone has their own
individual tastes.?
?What you?re saying is
that, whatever I choose,
Tess might not like it.?
Brian grimaced. ?I?m back
where I started.?
Silence fell. After a
moment, Erith put a hand
on his arm.
?Why do you want to buy
jewellery for Tess??
?To show how much I love
her. We?ve been together
for almost twenty-five years
now and I don?t think we?ve
ever been happier.?
?Because you buy each
other things??
?Of course not. It?s
because . . .? Brian
frowned. ?I suppose
because we?re a
partnership. We get on well
together.?
?That?s it ? togetherness,?
Erith said eagerly. ?Brian,
it?s lovely that you want to
buy Tess some jewellery for
your anniversary. But why
do it on your own??
?I?m not with you.?
?Why not do it together?
Choose a piece of jewellery
for Tess with her.?
Brian sat back.
?You may be on to
something.?
?That way Tess will get
something that she really
likes ??
?And we?ll enjoy buying it
together. Oh, Erith, that?s
brilliant!?
Erith grinned.
?While you?re at it, how
about choosing a piece of
jewellery for yourself?? She
shook her wrist. ?I know
where you can get some
chunky bangles at a very
reasonable rate.?
Brian laughed out loud.
?Thanks, but I don?t think
they?re really me.?
He glanced out the
window.
?I?d better get going.?
?Me, too,? Erith agreed.
He gathered up his things.
?I can?t wait to suggest
the idea to Tess. I?m so
grateful to you, Erith. I wish
there was something I could
do to return the favour.?
?Nothing, unless you know
how to fix scratches on
cars,? she muttered.
She explained about the
scratch on Bitsy?s paintwork.
?I?m not sure what I
should do about it. I don?t
know much about cars.?
?Well, I do,? Brian
retorted. ?I?ve run a garage
for nigh on twenty-five
years.?
?What??
?Fixing a scratch on some
paintwork is a simple job.?
Erith blinked.
?Will it cost much??
Brian smiled.
?It won?t cost you a
penny.?
?I?ve got to pay
something.?
?You?ve already paid ?
and more.? He picked up his
coat. ?Come on, show me
where your car is.?
Terry held the door as
they made their way out of
the caf�.
?Come back soon,? he
cried.
?We will,? they chorused
and then laughed together
as they disappeared round
the corner.
Terry was about to let the
door slip shut when a
middle-aged couple entered.
?Welcome to the Corner
Caf�,? he began. But they
weren?t paying attention.
?There was no need to
speak to Jack like that,? the
woman was saying angrily.
?He was only trying to
help.?
?His idea of help is to
shove you in the back,? her
partner retorted. ?It?s
typical of the man.?
?What nonsense,? the
woman said sharply.
Terry?s eyes narrowed.
Two unhappy customers
having an argument; there
was only one solution.
?Let me find you
somewhere to sit,? he said
with a smile.
?How about the table in
the window?? n
HERITAGE 55
Roses And Castles
Nina Hoole celebrates the folk art of
the British waterways.
Photographs by Alamy.
N
ARROWBOAT art
developed in the
1800s as the new
canal system
became vital for
transporting heavy cargo.
Thousands of boats
navigated around Britain?s
waterways carrying goods
such as coal, flour and grain.
Two people were needed
to crew a boat and,
originally, a boatman would
have had a house on land
where he returned to his
family between trips.
But from the 1840s,
margins got tighter and
many gave up their houses
and moved their families on
board to help as crew,
allowing them all to live
together more cheaply.
The rear part of the boat
became the cabin, where all
sorts of ingenious spacesaving tricks were needed to
create living quarters in an
area no bigger than seven
feet by 10 feet.
Cupboard doors folded
down to become tables,
seats doubled up as beds,
and even the step down into
the cabin had another use as
a coal scuttle.
By the 1860s, about
18,000 families were making
their home on narrowboats.
The boat people were an
independent community
with their own traditions,
and just as house-proud as
land people.
Cabins were decked out
with shining brasses, fancy
lace and crochet and painted
housewares. Water cans,
lamps, stools and bowls
were all painted in the
ornate ?roses and castles?
technique, with contrasting
colours of flowers, diamond
shapes and landscapes
Roses and castles are
just one of the designs.
featuring stylised buildings or
castles.
It was an art form that
bloomed as many others
faded with the advent of the
industrial revolution. In the
age of Victorian propriety,
boat owners felt this lent a
bit of style to their way of
life, often looked down on by
mainstream society.
No-one really knows where
the ?roses and castles? style
originated. Some point to
similarities with Romany
caravans, others suggest links
to designs from the Midlands
pottery and clock-making
industries, and even to
agricultural carts or
international influences.
Regional variations
developed, and though the
men who painted the
designs would now be
considered artists, at the
time it was just part of their
day job, along with building
and repairing, and thus very
little of their work is named.
Some of the cargo-carrying
companies had boats
painted in their own liveries
so that they were easy to
identify from a distance.
A smart, well-painted boat
was a sign of a conscientious
captain and reflected well on
the company, so most
carrying companies were
happy to let their captains
make the cabins feel more
personal with bright
decoration.
External styles became
plainer in the early 1950s,
including the pared-down
blue and yellow of the British
Waterways fleet.
The use of narrowboats for
transporting cargo declined
dramatically from the 1950s
with the rise of rail and road
transportation.
There are very few
traditional working boats left
operating today, with most
used as pleasure craft or
house-boats, but the cheerful
?rose and castles? style
remains a popular
decoration. There are still
some skilled painters
practising the traditional art.
Gatherings such as the
Historic Narrowboat Rally
at Braunston,
Northamptonshire, and the
Stratford-upon-Avon River
Festival showcase an array of
eye-catching decoration,
lovingly cared-for by those
who appreciate the appeal of
the slower-paced lifestyle.
Some boats have also
found new leases of life as
caf閟, bookshops and even
puppet theatres. Such a
niche art could easily have
died out, but instead it
remains celebrated as an
intrinsic part of canal life. n
A calendar of boat
festivals can be found
on the Inland
Waterways
Association?s website at
goo.gl/qzzWdX.
The
Wooden Heart
Illustration by Helen Welsh.
The Story So Far
ASHA MELVILLE is fresh
out of textiles college in
the Borders. Her father
STEPHEN is a widower and
recently lost his job as an
engineer. He is restoring
his vintage Austin 7 car.
When Stephen married
his Indian wife, his father
disowned him, but upon his
father?s death he inherited
his estate, including his
cottage and woodcarving
shed. He and Ash decide
to move into the cottage.
While deciding on her
future, Ash begins working
in a makeshift studio in a
disused factory with other
like-minded artists, and
there she meets CALUM, a
young woodworker, and
they become friends.
GABRIELLE MADELEY,
once a professional
violinist, has been left
unable to play the violin
after a car accident. After
bumping into Stephen one
day, the pair have grown
close . . .
Ash and Calum had a
favour to ask Stephen . . .
G
ABRIELLE felt
confused. Part of
her felt like the
fourteen-year-old
to whom
someone had sent an
unsigned Valentine?s card.
Years later, she discovered
it was her Selkirk granny,
in case nobody else had
sent her one.
Another part of her was
uncertain: she had lived
for so long as a single,
travelling professional
musician that she wasn?t
sure how she would adjust
to a new relationship.
The rest of her simply
liked the man across the
coffee table from her. He
had brought friendship
and warmth into her life.
He had been the
unexpected confidante she
could open up and talk to
without reserve.
?Where do we go from
here?? she repeated quietly.
?I think that we?ve both
been caught out by what
we?ve found in each other.
?Where it will take us, I
just don?t know. All my
instincts are to let it grow at
its own pace.?
Stephen nodded.
?That?s exactly how I feel.
Let it find its own path
forward.? He smiled. ?Ash
would never forgive me if I
ran off with you before the
painting was finished.?
She grinned.
?Would it help if I came
to Denholm with a pot of
paint?? she asked.
?And a brush,? he replied.
?I?ve worn out two already.?
His smile faded.
?But I really would love it
if you came to Denholm to
see the cottage,? he added.
?Get to know us both a
little better.?
Gabrielle nodded.
?I?d like that,? she said.
?And please come to
Melrose any time. I?ll be
here most days.?
He stood up and held out
his hands.
?Until the next time,? he
said quietly. ?Hopefully that
won?t be too long.?
She rose and found
herself taking his hands. He
pressed them gently, then
turned to go.
She watched him walk
through the garden, then
turn to wave to her before
he walked up the street.
At her feet, Franz whined.
Slowly, she returned to her
front room, gathering up
the empty coffee cups and
putting them on the tray.
It had been a strange
day. Looking out through
her kitchen window, a halo
of light seemed to hang
SERIAL BY MARK NEILSON: PART 4 OF 6 57
over every flower. There
had been other men in her
life, but none of them had
lasted. Nothing had ever
felt as serious as this.
She was letting her heart
take over from her head
and was in danger of
allowing the fourteen-yearold with the mystery
Valentine?s card to run
amok.
She was too old to be
swept off her feet, too
anchored in her routine.
Wasn?t she?
Why did it suddenly feel
that some sunshine had
spilled into the grey
shadows of her life and was
warming her heart?
One step at a time, she
thought. She was
embarking on a journey she
had never expected. It was
too soon to guess where it
would take her.
* * * *
?Dad?? Ash asked, trying
to keep the uncertainty out
of her voice.
?What??
She saw him turn round
gingerly, one foot on the
aluminium step-ladder, the
other balanced carefully on
the window-sill as he
reached up into the corner
of the window frame with
his paint brush.
He looked preoccupied,
she thought. She watched
him force a smile.
?You?ve brought a
volunteer?? he asked.
Ash felt Calum squirm at
her side.
?Not quite,? she said.
?Come down before you
slip.?
He looked at her
quizzically.
?It can?t be the car,? he
said. ?You?ve borrowed
that already.?
Balancing his brush across
the edge of the tin, he
descended carefully.
?These window frames
haven?t been painted in
years,? he grumbled. ?I?ve
had to sand them down and
start from the beginning
again.
?Hi. Calum, isn?t it?? he
said once back at ground
level. He turned to Ash.
?Right, what is it? We
haven?t been paid for the
house sale yet, so I?m out
of money.?
?Not money,? Ash said.
?We?re here to ask a
favour.?
?Fire away,? he urged.
Ash was taking a deep
breath when Calum stepped
forward.
?I?m the one asking, Mr
Melville,? he said.
?Stephen.?
Calum nodded.
?Stephen. It?s a big
favour, but could I possibly
use some of the cabinetmaking tools out in your
shed??
?And some of the wood,?
Ash added. ?Calum wants
to make a proper cabinet
and take it to the craft fair.
If it sells it gives him
something better to work
on than bowls and spoons.?
?I?ve served an
apprenticeship in cabinetmaking,? Calum put in, pink
to the roots of his hair. ?I
know how to use the tools
and I won?t damage
anything.?
Stephen hesitated for a
second, and in that second
Ash knew that she wanted
her dad to think well of
Calum. That realisation took
her by surprise.
?Why not?? he finally
said. ?My father?s stuff is
only gathering dust. Come
out and show me what you
need.?
They trooped out to the
workshop.
Reaching in, Stephen
switched on the light.
?Here we are.? He smiled.
?Which tools??
Calum walked slowly
inside, his hand brushing
along the array of tools.
?This is a real craftsman?s
workplace,? he murmured.
?An Aladdin?s cave. For
what I have in mind, I?ll
need your saw table and
the jigsaw, then a tenon
and a padsaw.
?And some of the planes
and chisels up here on the
wall.?
?He?s talking in tongues.?
Ash sighed. She tugged at
her father?s arm. ?Leave
him to it for a bit. There?s
something I want to talk
over with you.?
?OK,? Stephen agreed.
He looked at Calum. ?Feel
free to use anything you
like, just don?t steal the
Austin 7.?
Calum turned, and in
Ash?s mind she knew he
was already thinking of the
precise shapes he would
need to cut for the complex
joints he planned.
Ash also noticed the smile
on her dad?s face. He knew
that feeling well himself,
she mused, and they both
headed back to the
cottage.
?Nice lad,? he said. ?OK,
what is it??
Ash took a deep breath.
?Advice,? she said.
?There?s a big exhibition of
young designers? work being
set up in Hawick.
?I went with my portfolio
to pacify Calum, who had
set a meeting up with its
organiser.
?To be honest, I never
thought the guy would be
interested . . .?
at your elbow, helping,
prompting you??
?Yes,? Ash admitted. ?But
these were constructive
suggestions, and came when
I was dancing to the
college?s tune, not following
my own thoughts and
ideas.?
?I don?t see too much
difference,? Stephen argued.
?Most people will want you
to explain things, not push
forward ideas.
?And, even if they do,
some of their ideas might
strike sparks. Like
brainstorming sessions. It
needn?t be disruptive.?
Ash was unconvinced.
?Maybe,? she said. ?But
there?s a second problem.?
?Which is??
?You?ll be many things in your life,
but a fool won?t be one of them?
?But he was,? Stephen
finished.
She nodded.
?He wants me to exhibit
some of the fashion designs
from my final year?s work
at college. Then he wants
me to have my portfolio
there, and be willing to go
through it with visitors to
the exhibition.
?He wants me to take all
my sketching stuff with me
and try to work there on
design patterns ? a living
artist among the exhibits.?
?And?? Stephen
prompted, smiling.
?And I don?t think I can,?
she blurted out.
?Why not??
Ash gathered her
thoughts. It was always
easy to talk to her dad.
Since her mum died, they
had worked together as
equals ? their only way to
cope.
Now she wanted him to
clear the confusion and
gathering panic in her
mind.
She forced herself to put
her fears into words.
?First,? she said, ?I don?t
see how I could ever
interact with the public.
Design is something that
comes from within. Crazy
suggestions would only
derail the entire process of
thought.?
?Not necessarily,? he said
slowly. ?You must have had
some experience of tutors
Ash ran her fingers
through her hair.
?I simply don?t know what
I want to do yet,? she finally
said. ?I don?t know whether
to work on textiles only, or
branch out into other types
of design.
?I don?t know whether I
want to strike out entirely on
my own, or whether I should
settle for working with others
as part of a team.?
Stephen reached for the
kettle.
?Don?t,? she said. ?You
have paint on your hands.
Go and rescue Calum.?
He paused at the kitchen
door.
?It seems to me,? he said,
?that this exhibition is
exactly what you need.
Mixing with other designers,
hearing about their
experiences.
?By the time the show?s
finished, you?ll have a whole
new raft of information, and
that can only help you to
decide what you want to
do.?
Filling the kettle with
water, she nodded.
?I?m scared that I?ll make
a fool of myself.?
She heard his footsteps
come closer then felt his
hand on her shoulder.
?My darling,? he said
quietly. ?You?ll be many
things in your life, but a fool
won?t be one of them.? He
squeezed her shoulder
gently, then went out
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59
to the workshed.
There would probably
be paint fingerprints on her
shoulder, she thought, her
eyes blurring.
But even if it had been
her favourite top,
fingerprints didn?t matter.
* * * *
Waving goodbye to her
fellow volunteers, Gabrielle
stepped into the sunlit
street outside.
She blinked as her eyes
adjusted to the sudden
light, then stopped so
suddenly that a customer
leaving the charity shop
behind her almost walked
into her. She didn?t notice.
Waiting on the pavement
was Stephen, his back to
her, bending over his
smartphone, shielding its
screen from the sun while
he texted someone.
Her heart leapt and she
walked quietly over.
?I thought only teenagers
were welded to their
phones,? she said, making
him jump.
He turned, smiling.
?I was texting Ash,?
Stephen said. ?Telling her
that I?ve just picked up the
new car, and the old car is
now officially hers.? He
grimaced.
?With me still paying her
insurance and just about
everything else.?
He took her arm and
steered her gently away.
?I?ve been waiting for
you,? he said. ?I wanted to
show it off, then take you
on its maiden trip. I
thought we might have
lunch somewhere if you?ve
nothing planned.
Otherwise, its maiden run
can be the few miles from
here to Melrose.?
Gabrielle had meant to
take up his invitation and
drive over to the cottage,
but her courage had failed
her.
From cowardice rather
than strategy, she had
decided to tread water for
a couple of weeks to see if
Stephen contacted her
again of his own accord.
It mattered that he had.
?There?s only Franz to
walk,? she told him. ?After
that, I?m pretty sure that
my bulging social diary is
free from any other entry.
And it?s my turn to pay.?
?Next time,? he said.
?The house money has
come through and I feel like
celebrating. Taking you to a
nice lunch in my new car is
as good as it gets.?
Before she could argue,
he steered her down an old
alleyway to what had once
been a grain merchant?s
yard.
?It?s parked here,? he
said. ?What do you think??
He pointed to the small
black car.
To Gabrielle, a car was a
car.
?Very nice,? she said
casually.
He pressed the remote
locking and the car?s lights
flashed.
?Doors are open. Please
get in and let me run you
home,? he said, starting the
engine, which purred
quietly. ?A four-year-old
Toyota, very well looked
after. It drives like a
dream.?
He turned, smiling, as he
waited for passing traffic to
clear.
?Once we?ve walked
Franz, I?d like to take you
to a lovely little caf� in
Selkirk. It does home
cooking to die for in a nice
friendly space.
?You can have whatever
soup the chef has made,
some freshly baked bread,
and any kind of tea or
coffee you want. Then I?ll
take you to Denholm the
back way, along the roads I
used to cycle as a boy.?
It felt as if a force of
nature had blasted its way
into Gabrielle?s quiet life,
whisking her up and
carrying her away. It wasn?t
her usual way of living but,
she decided a little
breathlessly, she liked it.
?I had a granny who came
from Selkirk,? she said.
?Then I bet she knew the
very place.? He smiled.
?She would, if it served
biscuits.? Gabrielle sighed.
?Oh, they do. Along with
every home-made cake you
can think of,? he replied.
?Then she would definitely
know and approve,?
Gabrielle said simply.
* * * *
Ash had always been
sensitive to atmosphere
and, from the first time she
had seen it, she?d always
felt strangely comfortable
and happy in what had
been her grandfather?s old
workshop.
It was good to see it
being worked again, to
smell the scent of new wood
as Calum bent over the
scarred bench and finished
cleaning up the complex
edges of the joint he was
about to fit together.
?You never talk about
your family,? she
commented.
?Fair?s fair,? he replied,
his head over his work.
?They never talk about me.?
?I bet that?s not true.?
She laughed.
He looked at her ruefully.
?It probably is,? he said.
?My younger sister is the
real star in the family ? top
grades in this, top grades in
that. Music lessons as well
as schoolwork.
?Everything she turns her
hand to, she excels at. My
mum and my grandma keep
their bragging rights for
everything Ailish does.?
He rubbed his finger over
the edge of the joint.
?She?s OK,? he said. ?As
sisters go.?
He spoke with the
resigned experience of
someone who has scores of
sisters whose shadows
blight his life.
Ash hid a smile.
?What age is she??
?Twelve ? going on
thirty.? He became
absorbed in his work again.
She watched him lazily.
Strong hands deftly using
the old tools.
?What will this be once
it?s assembled?? she asked.
?I?m keeping this first one
simple,? he replied over his
shoulder. ?It?s a while since
I worked on a bigger piece
of furniture and I?m rusty.?
He turned.
?I?ve settled for a bogstandard bedroom cabinet.
A couple of small drawers
for personal stuff, and a
hinged door to open into a
bigger space ? for storing
towels maybe.?
He looked critically at his
handiwork.
?Once it?s assembled and
sanded and stained, it will
look different. The trick is to
focus on getting the
individual pieces ready, then
fit the frame together and
finish off the outer shell.
?Then, once that?s solid,
start working on the door
and drawers,? he continued.
?I?m just about ready to
start assembly. Do you want
to watch??
Ash moved beside him.
?See,? he murmured. ?I?ve
tried to make it the way
your grandad did. The old
traditional joints ? like
clipping pieces of jigsaw
together, and bonding so
tightly, they don?t need any
glue. It makes it far stronger
than any modern joint.?
As he spoke, he showed
her two pieces of wood he
had made ready, with a
series of tiny empty, almosttriangular slots on the end of
one, and the matching
tongues of wood left
projecting on the other.
?See,? he began, laying
one half of the joint above
the other. ?Slide the parts of
the lock together . . .?
As he spoke, his fingers
eased the tongues of wood
into the waiting slots. His
preparation had been so
good that the joints
interlocked, sliding sweetly
into place.
?Now feel how strong the
joint is,? he said.
Ash took the L-shaped
piece of wood. Gently she
tried to wiggle the ends, but
nothing moved. She applied
more pressure with the same
result.
?That?s without glue to
hold it,? Calum explained.
Their heads were close
together; their faces almost
touching.
At the same moment, they
turned towards each other.
Ash never knew who
moved first, but they were
kissing. At first tentatively,
almost surprised. Then,
without conscious intent,
they were kissing with real
passion.
Calum eased away.
?Sorry,? he said. ?I wasn?t
thinking.?
?Me neither.?
Standing almost a yard
away from each other, Ash
looked at Calum, suddenly
shy.
?Maybe we should try
again ? but you hold the
pieces of wood this time.?
The wooden joint fell, first
on to the edge of the
workbench, then bounced
from there to the floor.
It held firm, but neither
60
of them noticed.
?You?re beautiful,? he
said in a voice which had a
sense of wonder in it. ?The
most beautiful woman I
have ever seen.?
The last word became a
mumble as their lips met.
For Ash, it was as if all of
time came together and
fused into this long-lasting
moment.
Dimly, at some far-distant
level in her conscious mind,
she knew that when it
started up again, the whole
of her future life would have
changed for ever.
* * * *
It had been a lovely day
throughout, Gabrielle
thought.
Lunch had been
everything Stephen
promised: a wonderful
soup, fresh-baked
wholemeal bread which
should have left no room
for the slice of home-made
cake, yet she had found
herself chasing the last few
crumbs around the plate.
They had visited Sir
Walter Scott?s courtroom,
then wandered through the
different ancient wynds
until they found the
beautiful Haining Lochside
walk.
She had the feeling that
they could have visited
anywhere that afternoon
and it would have seemed
as magical.
The sun shone, the
summer breeze blew, the
birds sang, and every
flower in Selkirk was
straining to be its best.
There was no need to
talk, and nothing much to
say, because they were
happy simply to be
together.
They had wandered round
the little market town for
over an hour, her hand
linked in his arm, before he
steered her back to the car
and it resumed its maiden
voyage.
He didn?t drive the main
roads she had often
travelled, but along
highways and byways until
her sense of direction was
gone, and she was happy
just to trust that he would
somehow find his way.
?Such wonderful
countryside,? she said,
watching the green hills and
fields slide past. ?In places it
looks as if things have never
changed in fifty years.?
?They haven?t. Not really,?
Stephen replied. ?It?s mostly
the same families that run
the same farms and ?? he
braked as a blackbird
flashed across in front of
them ?? and the same sheep
probably can be traced back
to the same ancestral ewes
which started the flocks.
Likewise the cattle.?
He turned, smiling.
?Even the trout who swim
in the streams are descended
from the trout that swam
there when I was a boy.?
?Did you fish for them??
she asked.
?Sort of,? he replied
evasively. ?This last road
should drop us down into
the top end of the village. I?ll
take you round the square
before we go to the cottage.?
?That will be lovely,? she
said. ?But I don?t want this
trip to end.?
Nor today, either, she
thought.
?What a beautiful little
village!? she exclaimed a few
minutes later. ?I never knew
it was there.?
?It?s been here since time
began,? Stephen told her.
?In some form or another,
anyway. Here?s the cottage.?
He swung up the side
track and into the cottage
yard.
?There?s no sign of Ash,?
he said. ?The car?s gone.
Her car now.?
?Where will she be??
Gabrielle asked, fighting a
sudden feeling of trespassing
on to someone else?s
territory.
Stephen switched off the
car engine.
?Probably taking more
driving lessons from Calum,?
he said. ?Either that, or the
two of them will be working
in Hawick.
?She has a big exhibition
coming up,? he explained.
?She?s building her portfolio.
She works in bursts, when
the ideas come to her.
?She gets so absorbed in
what she?s doing, that you
can stand beside her and
she never notices.?
He smiled guiltily.
?I guess she gets that from
me ? we?re both obsessive.?
Climbing out of the car,
they walked to the kitchen
door.
Inside Gabrielle paused.
?The curtains; the
flooring??
?Ash,? he replied with a
grin. ?The new furnishings
are down to her.?
?She has an eye for it,?
Gabrielle murmured. ?Such
a warm and homely kitchen
? and look at these
beautiful hand-crafted
cupboards.?
?It?s all my father?s work.
I planned to throw out his
stuff and use our own to
furnish the house, but
somehow, when I got here, I
couldn?t.
?His craftsman?s furniture
is all I have left of him. A
reminder of the father I
scarcely knew.?
He shrugged.
?It fits in well. At first I
was scared that it would
keep his presence in the
house, but the shadow that
I feared as a boy is gone.
Would you like a cup of tea
after the long run??
?Later,? she said.
Wandering through the
front room, her fingers
brushed the table then
gently caressed the backs of
the chairs.
Somehow Ash had
managed to blend the best
of the old and the new, she
thought. Then she had
found the colours for the
curtains and the rich tones
of the carpet to tie it all
together.
?A very gifted girl, this
Ash of yours,? she said.
?I love her to bits,? he
said. ?Too much,
sometimes.?
She waited for an
explanation of that cryptic
comment but none came.
?Now for the high point of
the tour,? Stephen said,
clearly happy to move the
conversation on. ?Would
you like to see my Austin
7??
Gabrielle nodded so he
led her gently by the arm
outside and over to the
long wooden shed.
?Close your eyes,? he
said. ?Let me switch on the
light and take off her cover,
then you can open them
and see the most beautiful
car in the world.?
?Must I?? she asked,
knowing nothing of cars and
afraid she might say
something wrong.
Nevertheless, she closed
her eyes and listened to the
light being switched on,
then his footsteps across
the floor.
She heard a heavy
rustling noise, which was no
doubt the cover coming off
the old car. Then there was
a pause before she felt his
hand on her arm.
?Come in, Gabrielle, and
look,? he said quietly.
She opened her eyes,
blinking in the strong
artificial light.
At one side was a tiny
boxy car with light blue
bodywork, black mudguards
and running boards. It was
lovely in its own way, like all
ancient and precious things.
On the right was a long
joiner?s workbench, a neat
rack of tools above it, and a
freshly made wooden
bedside cabinet lifted to sit
on the far end of the bench.
Then, on the far wall,
something which had such a
powerful impact on her it
made her grip his arm.
?What?s that?? she asked.
?The carving on the wall??
Stephen?s smile faded.
?Oh, that?? he said. ?A
wooden heart. Goodness
knows why he carved it, but
he did. I meant to chuck it
out, but left it there.?
?It?s beautiful,? she said.
He shrugged.
?Rough and ready,
compared to his other work.
Well, what do you think of
my old car??
Gabrielle tore her eyes
away from the wooden
carving.
?It?s very nice,? she said
inadequately. ?Did it look
like that when you found it??
?Much worse. But it?s
slowly coming back to life
again. One day soon it will
look like new.?
Gabrielle felt her reaction
was less than overwhelming.
Stephen frowned and
walked over to Calum?s
cabinet. He held it steady
before tugging out the top
drawer.
The drawer slid out
smooth as silk. As did the
second drawer.
?Calum?s a good
workman,? he muttered. ?A
nice lad, but . . .?
?But what?? she asked
quietly, feeling at ease with
the natural change in
conversation.
He turned to her, all at
once looking troubled.
?Nothing,? he said. ?Just
the normal worry of any
father. They?re always
together, the two of them.
Living in each other?s
pockets, relaxed and happy
in each other?s company.?
Gabrielle smiled.
?They?re young,? she said.
?Ash will break many hearts
before she settles down.
Look on this as mere
skirmishing before the
serious battle to find a life
partner begins.?
?Maybe,? he said. ?But
maybe not.?
?Why not?? she asked.
?For him, this is real,?
Stephen said quietly.
?Maybe that?s what he
feels right now,? Gabrielle
acknowledged. ?But they
have so much growing up
still to do.?
Stephen sighed.
?At around Ash?s age, I
met and married her
mother. And the last time I
saw a look like the one in
Calum?s eyes was from the
face staring back at me in
my mirror.?
* * * *
It had been a truly
wonderful day, Gabrielle
thought. One of the
happiest days she had
known since the terrible
accident which had robbed
her of her career.
It had been a day of
drifting, of feeling that
friendship had quietly
changed into something
deeper. Although Stephen
had left, she still didn?t
want the day to end.
Then the doorbell rang.
She was so lost in thought
that the sudden noise
startled her.
Franz barked once: his
usual announcement that
something had happened
which needed attention
from his human. For a dog,
he was good at delegation,
she thought wryly.
Rising from her chair, she
hurried to the front door,
then opened it to find a
young couple standing on
the path outside.
It was a tall young man
with fair hair, and the
beautiful dark young
woman she knew as
Stephen?s daughter.
For a moment, the three
of them stared uncertainly
at each other.
?Hello, Ash,? Gabrielle
said. ?It?s good to see you.
And you must be Calum.
Come in.?
As Ash hesitated, Gabrielle
saw the lad?s hand reach
gently to hold her back.
?Maybe it wasn?t such a
good idea?? he said quietly.
?Maybe it?s better to stay
here.?
Gabrielle frowned. Behind
her, Franz was now acting
out his role as fierce guard
dog at the sound of the
strange voice.
It was a false front, she
knew. Let him out and he
would soon roll on to his
back to have his tummy
tickled.
?What is it?? she said.
?Can I help??
The young couple
exchanged embarrassed
glances.
?That was the general
idea,? Ash said. ?Now we?re
scared it?s cheeky to ask
when we scarcely know
you.?
The young lad coloured.
?It?s my fault,? he said.
?My sister Ailish is two
weeks from taking her
advanced violin exams. Her
music teacher has collapsed
and is in hospital.?
?And I know you were
once a violinist,? Ash added.
?So we wondered if you
could possibly take Ailish in
and give her some tuition
before her exam??
Gabrielle swayed as if
struck, then steadied herself
against the door frame. In
the far distance, she heard
Franz?s barking reach a
crescendo.
How could they know, she
thought. The younger
generation ? their whole
instinct was to be innocent
and direct. They had no idea
what they were asking.
She struggled against the
rising panic that her
dizziness was turning into a
faint. She fought for control.
?You couldn?t possibly
have asked me for anything
worse,? she said, her lips
struggling to frame the
words. ?I can no longer bear
to have anything to do with
music.
?I?m sorry, but what you
ask is impossible. Quite
impossible.?
To be continued.
On
Reflection
From the manse
window
by Kathrine Davey.
W
HEN I first heard
about them, the
Winter Olympics
seemed so far away ? they
weren?t to take place until
February 2018. Then all of a
sudden, February was here!
Preparations have been
underway behind the scenes
for many months, although
we haven?t always heard
much about them.
I found it quite difficult at
times to get any information
about how things were
progressing, because like so
much other positive news
today, it was often sidelined
by the constant tide of
depressing headlines.
There have even been
suggestions that this year?s
Winter Olympics and
Paralympics, due to take place
in South Korea, might not be
held at all, because of rising
world tensions.
I have a special interest in
the event this year, because
my son is at university in
South Korea and he tells me
how news reports of problems
there are so out of proportion
with the reality of daily life.
He has seen how the
Korean people have such a
positive approach, ever
mindful of the memories of
past warfare when the Korean
War threatened to destroy life
there completely.
He says it is almost ironic
that those in this country are
showing more fear than those
who live there in the Korean
Peninsula.
He is looking forward to his
chance to volunteer as a
helper at the games, but even
before then, he has already
had a chance to show his
enthusiasm for the event ?
the call went out for people
to act as ?cheer leader?
supporters and he responded
by answering straight away.
He was asked to come and
have his photo taken, with his
arms raised in a cheering
position, with the promise of
several gifts, including a 3D
model of him in that stance.
This picture is one of many
that will be used throughout
Korea during the Olympics
and I?m even hoping to catch
a glimpse of him from over
five thousand miles away.
This picture of someone
cheering might encourage
others to start encouraging
others ? and so on. I suppose
this is similar to what it means
when we read in the Bible that
we are to ?spur one another
on to love and good deeds?.
This underlines how
important supporters are.
When thinking about the
Olympics, I looked at as much
information I could find.
There were lots of articles
about the athletes that would
be appearing, and the number
of those whose appearance is
confirmed increased as the
Games grew closer.
We are encouraged to feel
that we know them, meaning
we will be more willing to
offer them our support.
After all, I am sure that is
why the home country?s
athletes at any games are at
an advantage, because of the
supporting atmosphere
around them.
But the countries with
fewer supporters need
support, too, and that?s where
the Koreans excel ? their
welcome and encouragement
have made a lasting
impression on Alex.
We have just celebrated the
birth of the Prince of Peace,
who came to bring unity
among the nations, which is
also the Olympic ideal.
So let?s go ahead and enjoy
this time of unity and
remember to cheer loudest
for those who need our
support the most. n
Next week: Rev. Susan
Sarapuk considers
Peter?s dilemma.
HERITAGE 65
Shrove Tuesday
iStock.
Traditions
W
HEN you think
of Shrove
Tuesday, you
probably think
of tossing
pancakes, enthusiastic
children and choosing
between syrup or lemon and
sugar fillings as a traditional
treat.
Perhaps there are pancake
events in your town, or you
might have nostalgic
memories of pancake races
from your youth ? but did
you know that Pancake Day
is celebrated around the
world as Mardi Gras?
On Shrove Tuesday, Mardi
Gras celebrations take place
in Rio de Janeiro, New
Orleans, Venice and Sydney.
The words Mardi gras mean
?fat Tuesday? in French, tying
the festival to using up food
before Lent.
Rio de Janeiro holds one of
the biggest, with partying in
the streets on the days
running up to Shrove
Tuesday. There are huge
processions with exotic
floats, loud music, fancy
dress, singing and dancing.
Meanwhile, back in the
UK, towns and villages
celebrate the season in a
much more old-fashioned
way, flipping pancakes and
embarking on pancake
races.
However, some other
weird and wonderful antics
have grown out of this
tradition, from crazy football
games with goals three
miles apart to skipping galas
and listening for witches in
Pancake Day
is celebrated
with a host
of fascinating
customs.
Susie Kearley
finds out
more.
the hills.
The oldest and best-known
tradition is the pancake racing
that takes place on Shrove
Tuesday around the UK. One
of the most famous pancake
races is in Olney,
Buckinghamshire, whose race
was first run in 1455.
The adult runners carry
frying-pans with hot
pancakes, and wear aprons
and kitchen hats or head
scarves as they run.
They start at the
marketplace and head for
Children have their own version
of the Olney Pancake Race.
Alamy.
VisitEngland Olney Pancake Race
Andy Handley.
Working up an appetite for
pancakes in Scarborough.
66
Ashbourne?s Shrovetide football
game takes in all sorts of terrain!
the church, tossing their
pancakes three times as
they sprint. The winner is
the first person to serve their
pancake to the bell ringer.
It gets a bit weird at
Westminster School in
London on Shrove Tuesday.
They have an annual
?Pancake Greaze?, where
the cook tosses a massive
pancake over a bar, five
metres high.
The schoolboys run after
the pancake as it hurtles
through the air, each trying
to grab a portion for
themselves. The boy who
gets the biggest piece of
pancake wins a sovereign
(promptly returned for next
year?s contest!)
At Scarborough in
Yorkshire, a Pancake Bell is
rung at noon and the
townspeople gather on the
promenade to participate in
pancake races.
They also have skipping
galas to help them work up
an appetite. Anyone with the
energy and inclination jumps
into a skipping rope, and
they jump in rows of about
10, with very long ropes
stretched across the road.
It must be hard work, so
everyone comes away
exhausted and ready to
enjoy some tasty pancakes.
In Toddington in
Bedfordshire, children run
How it all began
iStock.
Shrove Tuesday
originated as a religious
festival ? a traditional day
of feasting before Lent. It
was marked by a
?pancake bell? calling
people to attend
confession, where they
would be ?shriven?
(forgiven for their sins). It
became known as Shriven
Tuesday, and then Shrove
Tuesday.
With Lent looming,
people would try to use
up fattening foods so they
were ready for a period of
fasting during Lent. Most
people had eggs and milk
at home, which needed
eaten before Lent, so
making pancakes was a
good way to use up these
perishable foods quickly.
The ingredients had
some religious
significance, too: eggs
represented creation,
flour was ?the staff of
life?, salt was associated
with wholesomeness, and
milk represented purity.
Over 300 people compete in St
Columb Major?s hurling challenge.
up Conger Hill in time for
the midday pancake bell. At
noon they put their ears to
the ground and listen for a
mythical witch who, legend
says, fries her pancakes
inside the hill.
Ashbourne in Derbyshire
celebrates with a Royal
Shrovetide Football Game.
The goals are three miles
apart and to say it?s a ?lively?
occasion would be an
understatement: shops are
boarded up, trees are split
and fences flattened. In a
game that sounds more like
rugby than football, ?the
hug? is the local name for
the scrum, which heaves
back and forth, risking
damage to anything in its
path.
It all begins at two p.m. on
Shrove Tuesday and the
game continues into the
evening. The winning team
keeps the ball, which is
specially made for the
occasion.
You might think playing all
day on Tuesday is enough,
but another game takes
place on Ash Wednesday!
In Atherstone,
Warwickshire, Shrovetide
Football begins at three p.m.
on Shrove Tuesday, with a
rough and tumble. The
winner is the person who
has the ball at five p.m. It?s
an energetic affair, and has
been an institution in the
town since 1199.
A similar game takes place
at St Columb Major in
Cornwall, where they have a
?Hurling the Silver Ball?
game, with 300 people on
each team. It?s the
Townsmen vs the
Countrymen!
The goals are two miles
apart and it sometimes
The Brazilian carnivals
are the biggest in the
world. The word comes
from carne levare,
meaning to remove
meat, so it was a
celebration before the
start of the Lenten fasts.
The carnival in Rio de
Janeiro began over 250
years ago when settlers
from Portugal celebrated
their traditional
?entrudo? carnival on
the streets of Rio. People
got showered in flour
and water during these
celebrations.
This died out in the
early 20th century. In its
place, the Mardi Gras
celebrations sprang up,
following the format we
know today.
iStock.
Alamy.
iStock.
Carnival
Of Brazil
becomes a heaving scrum,
so shops are boarded up
here, too. The goal is to run
the silver ball to one of the
stone trough ?goals?, which
can be quite a challenge
when there are 300 people
trying to stop you.
At Corfe Castle, Dorset,
there?s an ancient tradition
to celebrate the completion
of quarrying apprenticeships.
Young quarrymen and
women celebrate their
achievements by carrying a
quart of beer, a loaf and
money equivalent to six
shillings and eight pence
(about 33p) into town for
the Ancient Order of
Purbeck Marblers and
Stonecutters.
Then they kick a football
around town before carrying
a pound of pepper to Poole
Harbour, where they claim
the right to carry stones.
It?s yet another quaint
Shrove Tuesday tradition
that has survived the
passage of time. n
my garden
Notes from
Photographs by Alexandra Campbell unless otherwise stated.
Trees And
Shrubs
Just a quick reminder
that if you want to
prune or move
deciduous trees or
shrubs, do it in the next
two to three weeks.
After that they?ll start
their spring growth.
Mature trees and
shrubs don?t really like
being moved, so it may
be better to buy a new
plant or take cuttings
from the old one. I?ve
moved about half a
dozen mature shrubs in
the last ten years. Only
one survived.
Alexandra Campbell says there?s no
reason not to smarten up your lawn
this February.
S
HOULD you start
gardening in
February? Do you
need to get ahead
with seed planting
and digging? And is there
anything you can do to
cheer up the view outside?
Let?s start with the view. If
your garden is anything like
mine, the dominant colours
are currently grey and
brown. If you?ve cleared
your borders, it all looks
rather bleak, and if you
haven?t (like me), it just
looks messy.
But a garden consultant
friend of mine, Matt Jackson,
says that there is one main
thing you can do to make
the garden look a lot better
at this time of year.
?Cut the lawn and
sharpen the edges,? he says.
?In my first job as an
apprentice gardener, I was
told that my lawn-mowing
year ended in December
and started up again
in January.?
In this house, the lawn is
mowed by my husband,
whom I refer to on the
Middlesized Garden blog as
?Mr Middlesize?. Mr
Middlesize hates gardening,
but he does feel
proprietorial about the lawn
and does all the mowing.
I haven?t dared tell him
that Matt thinks he should
be mowing the lawn now. I
think he might leave home.
However, when you visit
beautiful gardens open to
the public, you will notice
that their lawns are well
mowed with sharp edges,
even in winter.
I was talking to Matt at
Leeds Castle, where the
lawn frames the castle at
the front. And when I visited
RHS Hyde Hall, the garden
manager, Andrew Hellman,
also said that the best way
to improve a winter garden
was to keep the lawn
mowed and the edges
sharp. So it?s clearly a
professional tip that has so
far escaped us amateurs.
Very possibly because we
don?t want to hear it.
Matt does warn you to be
careful when mowing the
lawn in February, however.
?Take care not to churn up
the grass when turning,? he
says. ?And don?t use a lawn
mower with a heavy roller,
because it will flatten and
compact the soil.?
If there are fallen leaves in
the lawn, the mower will
chop them up, too, and you
can add them to the
compost. And, of course,
don?t set your mower on its
lowest setting.
If it all just seems too
GARDENING 69
Irises In A
Mixed Border
soggy to mow, at least think
about the edges. The edges
are more important now
than in the summer.
Plants and flowers may be
tumbling over lawns and
paths in summer, and
shaggy edges will disappear
in the general abundance.
But in winter, lawn edges
are like hems on a tailored
suit. They really benefit from
being straight and sharp.
Incidentally, you can add
mown grass to compost if
you also add torn-up
newspapers to balance the
mix out a bit.
I have a rather slapdash
approach to compost ?
everything except really
woody bits and weeds goes
in, and then everything sits
there until it?s rotted down.
I don?t worry about the
proportions of ?green to
brown?, but I do add the
paper when a lot of grass
clippings go in. It all seems
to work. I have friends who
even put their old clothes
on the compost, but I can?t
bring myself to go that far.
The next question is
whether to start your seeds
iStock.
No Dig
Suddenly houseplants
are so fashionable. But
what pot to put them in?
Homebase have a really
good range, both of plain
white or black ceramic
planters and the more
trendy earthenware/
stoneware look. I like the
Waitrose pots, too ? their
set of five ?Ombre? pots is
only �.99, which is
excellent value.
now or not.
There is a definite divide
in the gardening world
between people who can?t
wait to start planting seeds
and those who advise you
to wait until later.
It may actually be a divide
between those who have
greenhouses and those
who don?t.
It?s not just a question of
what the temperature is ?
the length of daylight is also
a factor in germinating
healthy plants from seed.
Even if you use a heated
propagator, you may not
have enough light on your
window-sill to get seeds
going properly in February.
You should do what
works for you ? so if you?ve
been planting seeds
successfully now, carry on!
But if you?ve been
disappointed by the seeds
you plant in February, don?t
blame yourself.
Try using a heated
propagator and putting the
seeds somewhere really
light. If that doesn?t work,
wait another four weeks
without feeling guilty. n
I?ve mentioned ?No Dig? gardening before, but
I think that 2018 is probably the year it will go
mainstream. So many garden bloggers, tweeters and
experts are saying that they?re going ?No Dig? this
year.
Many lists of ?gardening jobs to do now?
recommend that you dig over beds or fork in compost.
But ?No Dig? pioneer Charles Dowding has done
years of trials. He simply lays the compost on top and
allows the worms to do the work of digging for you.
He believes that digging is bad for soil structure and
that a healthy soil will sort itself out if you give it the
means to do so. That means mulch or compost, and
not standing on it.
In Charles?s trials he?s compared ?No Dig? beds with
traditionally dug ones, and the ?No Dig? have actually
got better yields.
However, what about weeds? They?re just popping
their heads out now. Charles hoes weeds off, or
covers the bed in something like black plastic,
weighted down around the edges (e.g. with bricks).
You can see Charles Dowding demonstrate ?No Dig?
methods on YouTube. He explains things clearly and
it?s free. Or you can buy one of his books, such as
?No Dig Organic Home & Garden?. But you could just
spread a layer of mulch on your beds and not dig it in.
It?s that easy.
Alamy.
Pots For Plants
When I visited Leeds
Castle gardens this month,
I saw patches of pea
gravel around all the iris
plants in mixed borders.
Irises like the sun to get to
their roots, and this is an
ideal way of giving them
space. Clear weeds away
from the iris clump and
scatter pea gravel around
like a mulch. It?ll help
deter pests and in summer
you won?t see the gravel
because the iris leaves
and the other plants in the
border will mask it.
Visit Alexandra?s blog online at
www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk.
Shrubs for Spring Scent
BUY 3 FOR
These easy care shrubs are perfect for
the spring garden.
halF
PRice
LONG-LEAFED WAX FLOWER
(Rare Eriostemon Myoporoides)
Buy 1 FOR �
SPecial OFFeR - Buy 3 for only �
? halF PRice
This delightful, free-flowing mid-sized shrub, which
is easy to care for and evergreen, is nicknamed the
Long-leaf wax flower. From late spring and throughout
summer, its compact, dwarf structure becomes awash
with white Choisya-like, heavily scented flowers which
erupt from cerise pink buds and rival a Daphne for
scent. Thrives in free-draining soil, in a sunny sheltered
spot. Height and spread 2m when mature. Supplied
in 8cm pot within 14 days.
Name ..................................................................................
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............................................ Postcode ...............................
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ITEM
Daphne Mezereum 1
(bare root plant)
Daphne Mezereum 2
(bare root plant)
(BUY the second HALF PRICE)
Rare Eriostemon Myoporoides x1
Rare Eriostemon Myoporoides x3
(HALF PRICE)
Afterplant Tree & Shrub 1kg
CODE
ROPF1804RDM1
ROPF1804RDM2
QTY PRICE TOTAL
�98
�.00
�.00
�99
P&P
Total Cost Of Order
THE FEBRUARY DAPHNE
(Daphne Mezereum)
Buy 1 FOR �98
SPecial OFFeR - Buy 2 for only �.97
�.97
ROPF1804PE1
ROPF1804PE3
ROPF1804TS01
Eriostemon
�95
�
I enclose a cheque/postal order, made payable to Hayloft Plants 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:
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All plants will be dispatched in 14 days. All orders will receive an order acknowledgement with
approximate delivery date. Offer closes 31/05.2018. All items are subject to availability; we reserve
the right to send suitable substitutes or offer a refund. Offer available to UK addresses only. Reader
Offers cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions or discounts. Your contract is with
Hayloft, a company wholly independent of Peoples Friend. DC Thomson & Co. Ltd and its group
companies would like to contact you about new products, services and offers we think may be of
interest to you. If you?d like to hear from us by post, please tick here telephone, please tick here
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ROPF18
Known as the February Daphne as its extra-large
sought after blooms arrive en masse during this time.
Daphne mezereum, has a sweet, heady scent of
vanilla and freesia and the erect, upright stems
become strewn with dark purple flowers which are
later followed by interesting bright red berries. Its
compact size make it a great specimen for a mixed
border in a small garden or in a pot. Height and
spread 1m. Supplied as mature bare root plants.
Daphne mezereum
BY POST: Complete coupon using BLOCK CAPITALS. Payment may be
made by cheque (name/address on the back of cheque) and made payable
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believe it?
Would you
Got a question? Get in touch through e-mail
wouldyoubelieveit@dctmedia.co.uk or *write to
?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
I?D LIKE TO KNOW
? how long children
now spend in front of
a screen every day.
11%
Q
A
Your friend is right. Twelve people
? all US astronauts ? have indeed
walked on the moon.
They are Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin,
Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard,
Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Gene
Cernan and Harrison Schmitt. Yuri Gagarin was, of course, the first man in space, a
move which is said to have accelerated America?s space missions.
I?m a great admirer of the actress Sarah
Lancashire. Can you tell me how old she is
and a little bit about her?
Mrs A.S., Bristol.
A
Sarah was born in October 1964, making
her fifty-three. Her recent TV roles include
playing a social worker in the gritty drama
?Kiri? and starring as police sergeant Catherine
Cawood in ?Happy Valley?, another edge-of-theseat drama. The ?Happy Valley? role came about
after Sarah?s performances in ?Last Tango In
Halifax? so impressed the writer Sally Wainwright
that she penned the ?Happy Valley? role for her.
Sarah?s come a long way from her role as the
dizzy blonde Raquel Watts in ?Coronation Street?,
and has won two Baftas and received an OBE.
Q
I was listening to the
Marilyn Monroe song
?Diamonds Are A Girl?s
Best Friend? recently and it
got me wondering if they are
the rarest gems on earth?
Mrs L.M., Birmingham.
A
Diamonds are not the
rarest. According to
the ?Guinness Book Of
Records?, painite is the world?s
rarest mineral gemstone,
named after the British gem
dealer Arthur C.D. Pain. Other
gemstones rarer than diamond
include benitoite and red beryl.
Something we didn?t
know last week...
iStock.
4 hours,
45 minutes
of Brits
own a
lucky
pair of socks ? and
24% of us have a
lucky pair of pants!
Can you settle an argument?
My friend says at least a dozen
people have walked on the
moon. I don?t think it?s nearly as many
as that.
Mr A.S., Dunfermline.
Q
TEA-BREAK TRIVIA 71
There?s more to getting your photo
taken than smiling at the camera.
To look your very best in a photo,
put one hand on your hip, put the
opposite foot in front, relax your
shoulders and lean very slightly
to one side. If you tend to blink in
photos, close your eyes and open
slowly immediately before the
photo is taken. And then smile and
say ?Cheese?!
*Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies.
?
of us are
still in touch
with at least
two school friends.
30.3
hours a week, on
average, are spent
at work in Holland
? nine hours fewer
than UK workers.
� million
appeared in J.K.
Rowling?s bank
account in 2017,
thanks to Harry
Potter-related
royalty payments.
1 cm
? the length of a onemonth-old baby koala.
No wonder they stay
in their mum?s cosy
pouch for so long!
KNITTING 73
A Splash Of
Colour
advanced
Our shawl-neck
jacket is worked
in a chunky
alpaca yarn with
a hint of tweed.
MEASUREMENTS
To fit sizes: 86/91 cm
(34/36 ins), 97/102
(38/40), 107/112 (42/44),
117/122 (46/48), 127/132
(50/52), 137/142 (54/56).
Actual size: 102 cm
(40 ins), 110 (43�), 122
(48), 130 (51�), 142 (56),
151 (59�).
Length: 62 cm (24� ins),
63 (24�), 65 (25�), 67
(26�), 69 (27�), 71 (28).
Sleeve seam: 43 cm
(17 ins).
MATERIALS
8 (9, 9, 10, 10, 11) 100-gram
balls of Stylecraft Alpaca
Tweed Chunky (shade Blush
1668). One pair each 5 mm
(No. 6) and 6 mm (No. 4)
knitting needles; cable needle.
6 buttons from Duttons for
Buttons, tel: 01423 502092,
email: michelle@
duttonsforbuttons.co.uk.
For yarn stockists telephone
01535 609798 or e-mail
info@stylecraftltd.co.uk.
TENSION
14 sts and 20 rows to 10 cm
measured over st-st
(knit 1 row, purl 1 row) using
6 mm needles.
Photography: Ally Stuart, www.allystuartphotography.co.uk.
Hair and make-up: Linda Wilson.
Photographed at Rufflets Hotel, St Andrews, www.rufflets.co.uk.
ABBREVIATIONS
Alt ? alternate; C3F ? slip
next 3 sts on cable needle to
front of work, K4, now K3
from cable needle; C4 ? slip
next st on cable needle to
back of work, K1, then K1
from cable needle, now slip
next st on cable needle to
front of work, K1, now K1
from cable needle; C3F ? slip
next 3 sts on cable needle to
front of work, K4, now K3
from cable needle; C4B ? slip
next 4 sts on cable needle to
back of work, K3, now K4
from cable needle;
dec ? decrease;
inc ? increase; K ? knit;
KB ? knit into back of next st;
m1 ? make one st by picking
up and knitting into back of
horizontal strand lying before
next st; P ? purl; PB ? purl
into back of next st;
rem ? remain;
st(s) ? stitch(es);
tbl ? through back of loops;
TB ? slip next 2 sts on cable
needle to back of work, K1,
now K2 from cable needle;
TF ? slip next st on cable
needle to front of work, K2,
now K1 from cable needle;
tog ? together; yf ? yarn
forward.
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 an SAE if
you would like a reply.
Cable Panel
(worked over 39 sts)
1st row ? P2, C4, P2, KB, P2,
TF, P2, K7, P2, TB, P2, KB, P2,
C4, P2.
2nd row ? K2, P4, K2, PB,
K2, P3, K2, P7, K2, P3, K2,
PB, K2, P4, K2.
3rd row ? P2, K4, P2, KB, P2,
K3, P2, K7, P2, K3, P2, KB,
P2, K4, P2.
4th row ? As 2nd row.
5th row ? P2, C4, P2, KB, P2,
TB, P2, K7, P2, TF, P2, KB, P2,
C4, P2.
6th row ? As 2nd row.
7th row ? P2, K4, P2, KB, P2,
K3, P2, C4B (see note after
8th row), P2, K3, P2, KB, P2,
K4, P2.
8th row ? As 2nd row.
These 8 rows form panel.
RIGHT FRONT
With 5 mm needles, cast on
43 (45, 49, 53, 55, 57) sts.
1st row ? (right side) ? K2,
[P1, K1] to last st, K1.
2nd row ? K1, [P1, K1] to
end.
Work 5 more rows in rib as
set.
Next row ? Purl, inc 4 (5,
74
5, 4, 6, 7) sts evenly across
row ? 47 (50, 54, 57, 61,
64) sts ??.
Change to 6 mm needles and
pattern:
1st row ? (right side) ? K4
(4, 5, 5, 6, 7), work 1st row of
cable panel, K4 (7, 10, 13, 16,
18).
2nd row ? P4 (7, 10, 13, 16,
18), work 2nd row of cable
panel, P4 (4, 5, 5, 6, 7).
3rd - 8th rows ? Repeat 1st
and 2nd rows 3 times but
working 3rd to 8th rows of
panel.
These 8 rows set the basic
background pattern for the
smaller cables.
Continue in pattern as set until
front measures 32 cm, ending
after a wrong-side row.
NOTE: the C4B cables should
be worked instead of K7 on
following 11th row (this will be
a 3rd pattern row), then on
every following 12th row (this
will be a 7th row, ) 0 row, 3rd
row, 0 row, 7th row etc. When
not working C4B, work K7.
Shape front slope ? K1,
K2tog tbl, work to end.
Next row ? Work until 2 sts
rem, P2.
Next row ? K2, work to end.
Next row ? Work until 2 sts
rem, P2.
Repeat the last 4 rows once,
then dec row again ? 44 (47,
51, 54, 58, 61) sts.
Work 2 rows straight, thus
ending at side edge.
Shape raglan ? Cast off 4 (4,
5, 5, 5, 6) sts, work to end ?
40 (43, 46, 49, 53, 55) sts.
2nd row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
3rd row ? K1, P2tog, work
until 2 sts rem, P2.
4th row ? K2, work until 3 sts
rem, K2tog, K1.
5th row ? K1, P1, work until
2 sts rem, P2.
Repeat the last 4 rows until
16 (15, 14, 17, 17, 19) sts
rem, ending after 5th row.
???Dec 1 st at front edge on
next row then on every
following 6th row, AT THE
SAME TIME dec 1 st at raglan
edge on next row then on
every following alt row until
6 (5, 8, 7, 7, 9) sts rem.
Continue to dec at RAGLAN
EDGE ONLY on every alt row
until 2 sts rem.
Work 1 row. Cast off.
LEFT FRONT
Work as right front to ??.
Change to 6 mm needles and
pattern:
1st row ? (right side) ? K4
(7, 10, 13, 16, 18), work 1st
row of cable panel, K4 (4, 5,
5, 6, 7).
2nd row ? P4 (4, 5, 5, 6, 7),
work 2nd row of cable panel,
P4 (7, 10, 13, 16, 18).
Repeat 1st and 2nd rows
3 times but working 3rd to
8th rows of panel and noting
that C3F should be worked in
place of C4B.
These 8 rows set the basic
background pattern. Continue
in pattern and large cable
pattern to match right front
until work measures 32 cm,
ending after a wrong-side row.
Shape front slope ? Work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
Next row ? P2, work to end.
Next row ? Work until 2 sts
rem, K2.
Next row ? P2, work to end.
Repeat the last 4 rows once,
then dec row again ? 44 (47,
51, 54, 58, 61) sts.
Work 1 row straight.
Shape raglan ? Cast off 4 (4,
5, 5, 5, 6) sts, work to end ?
40 (43, 46, 49, 53, 55) sts.
2nd row ? P2, work to end.
3rd row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
4th row ? P2, work until 3 sts
rem, P2tog tbl, K1.
5th row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 2 sts rem, K2.
6th row ? P2, work until 2 sts
rem, P1, K1.
Repeat the last 4 rows until 16
(15, 14, 17, 17, 19) sts rem,
ending after a 6th row.
Complete as right front
working from ??? to end.
BACK
With 5 mm needles, cast on
85 (91, 97, 103, 111,
117) sts and work as given for
right front to ?? but inc 10
(10, 12, 12, 12, 12) sts evenly
across the purl row ? 95 (101,
109, 115, 123, 129) sts.
Change to 6 mm needles and
pattern:
1st row ? K4 (7, 10, 13, 16,
18), work 1st row of cable
panel, K9 (9, 11, 11, 13, 15),
work 1st row of cable panel,
K4 (7, 10, 13, 16, 18).
2nd row ? P4 (7, 10, 13, 16,
18), work 2nd row of cable
panel, P9 (9, 11, 11, 13, 15),
work 2nd row of cable panel,
purl to end.
3rd to 8th rows ? Repeat 1st
and 2nd rows 3 times but
working 3rd to 8th rows of
panel and noting that C3F
should be worked in place of
C4B on 2nd repeat of the
panel on the 7th and
subsequent rows.
These 8 rows set the basic
background pattern.
Continue in pattern as set until
back measures same as fronts,
ending after a wrong-side row
and noting that the C4B and
C3F cables should be worked
on 11th row following, then
on every following 12th row to
match fronts.
Shape raglan ?
1st and 2nd rows ? Cast off
4 (4, 5, 5, 5, 6) sts, work to
end ? 87 (93, 99, 105, 113,
117) sts.
3rd row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
4th row ? K1, P2tog, work
until 3 sts rem, P2tog tbl, K1.
5th row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
6th row ? K1, P1, work until
2 sts rem, P1, K1.
Repeat 3rd to 6th rows until
51 (51, 51, 57, 59, 63) sts
rem, ending after a 6th row.
Now repeat 5th and 6th rows
only until 29 (31, 31, 33, 35,
35) sts rem, ending after a 6th
row. Cast off firmly.
SLEEVES
Right sleeve ? With 4 mm
needles cast on 31 (33, 35,
35, 37, 39) sts and work as
right front to ?? but inc
12 sts evenly across purl row
? 43 (45, 47, 47, 49, 51) sts.
Change to 6 mm needles and
pattern:
1st row ? K2 (3, 4, 4, 5, 6),
work 1st row of panel, K2 (3,
4, 4, 5, 6).
2nd row ? P2 (3, 4, 4, 5, 6),
work 2nd row of panel, purl to
end.
Continue with pattern as set to
match right front and back
noting that the C4B cable only
should be worked. AT THE
SAME TIME, working extra sts
in stocking-stitch, shape sleeve
by inc 1 st at each end of next
row then on every following
8th (8th, 6th, 6th, 4th,
4th) row until there are 51
(59, 53, 53, 61, 69) sts, then
on every following 10th (10th,
8th, 6th, 6th, 6th) row until
there are 59 (63, 67, 71, 77,
81) sts.
Work straight until sleeve
measures 43 cm from beg,
ending after a wrong-side row.
Shape raglan ?
1st and 2nd rows ? As given
for back.
2nd and 5th sizes only
? Work 3rd to 6th rows as on
back raglan.
All sizes ? 51 (49, 57, 61,
61, 69) sts.
Next row ? K1, K2tog tbl,
work to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Next row ? K1, P1, work until
2 sts rem, P1, K1.
Repeat these 2 rows until 5 sts
rem.
Work 1 row. Cast off.
Left sleeve ? Work as right
sleeve but working C3F in
place of C4B.
TO COMPLETE
Join raglan shapings.
Left border and collar
? With 5 mm needles, cast on
9 sts.
Knit an odd number of rows
until work measures 32 cm.
Shape collar ? K1, m1, knit
to end.
??Work the inc row on every
following 4th row until there
are 13 sts, then on every
following 6th row until there
are 16 (16, 17, 17, 18,
18) sts, then on every
following 8th row until there
are 21 (21, 22, 22, 23,
23) sts. Work straight until
collar fits up to top of left front,
ending at straight edge.
Next row ? Knit until 3 sts
rem, turn.
Next row ? Slip 1 firmly, knit
to end.
Work 6 rows straight.
Repeat these 8 rows until work
fits, when shaped edge is
slightly stretched, along left
front edge to centre back.
Cast off loosely.
Right border and collar
? Sew on left border and
collar. Mark position on left
border for 6 buttons, first one
to be in 6th/7th rows, last one
approx. 6 - 10 rows below start
of front slope shaping, and
remaining 4 spaced evenly
between. Work straight section
of border as left border but
working buttonholes to match
markers as follows:
1st row ? K3, cast off 3 sts,
knit to end.
2nd row ? Knit, casting on
3 sts over those cast off.
Complete as left border and
collar, but noting that inc row
will be ? Knit to last st, m1, K1.
To Make Up ? Sew on right
border and collar, joining ends
at back. Press work very lightly
on wrong-side, omitting
ribbing. Join side and sleeve
seams. Sew on buttons.
Press seams. n
Next week:
make a craft caddy
Rewards For All
YOUR MONEY 77
Consumer
expert Barry
Cashin takes
a look at
popular loyalty
cards.
L
Nectar
NECTAR is accepted in
over 500 key retailers
including Sainsbury?s,
Argos and Debenhams.
Registration is free and
you earn points as you
spend with qualifying
brands. The number of points you earn per pound varies
with the retailer. Currently Sainsbury?s gives 1 point per
�spent on most goods, and 500 points would be worth
�50 to spend in store. See help.sainsburys.co.uk/help/
nectar/ for more details.
Your points can also be redeemed for rewards and
bonus offers.
Benefits include discounts on travel, meals and days
out. Offers are tailored to your personal spending habits.
The Nectar app for smartphones is easy to use and you
can check your balance with your phone.
You can get a Nectar card at www.nectar.com.
M&S
Sparks Card
Morrisons
More Card
TESCO CLUBCARD
offers 1 point for every �spent (some products,
such as tobacco and
medicines, are excluded).
Points are in the form
of store vouchers sent
every three months
(subject to a minimum
points balance) and are
redeemable in store,
online or with
participating partners.
The scheme also allows
you to redeem vouchers
for up to three times their
value, meaning that �
of Tesco vouchers is
worth up to � to spend
on meals out, cinema
trips, and other treats
from Tesco?s ?Reward
Partners?. See www.tesco.
com/clubcard.
If you have the Tesco
Pay+ app you can pay
and collect your points
using your smartphone.
BOOTS ADVANTAGE
CARD is available in all of
its nationwide outlets for
use in store and online.
For every �spent, you
get 4 points, although
specific products offer
higher points rewards
depending upon
promotions.
Points can be saved up
and redeemed against
future purchases and you
can check your points
score at the till.
Other cardholder
benefits include a ?More
Treats for Over 60s? club,
which gives even more
discounts and points, a
parenting club, Boots
Optician?s contact lens
reward scheme,
newsletters and a free
health and beauty
magazine six times a year.
Find out more at
www.boots.com.
M&S?S SPARKS CARD
benefits include tailormade offers, priority
access to M&S seasonal
previews, sales and
exciting events and
experiences.
Available free in-store,
simply register it online
for all future purchases.
You get 10 Sparks points
for every �spent ? as
with all loyalty cards,
there are a few
exclusions. Although
points cannot be
redeemed for cash, the
more points you acquire,
the more member
benefits you get ? 5,000
Sparks points allows
pre-sale previews, while
14,000 Sparks gives
access to special events
from food masterclasses
to exclusive shopping
evenings. See www.
marksandspencer.com.
THE MORRISONS
MORE loyalty scheme
offers 5 points for every
�spent both in-store on
shopping, at their caf閟 as
well as online.
Consumers also get
another 5 ?More Points?
per litre when buying fuel
at a Morrisons filling
station and 25 points for
every �spent on gift
cards in store.
The scheme rewards
members with a �More
voucher for every 5,000
points they earn. The
vouchers can be used to
get money off your
weekly shop at any
Morrisons supermarket.
There?s a club for
Christmas saving, and an
app so that you keep
track of your More points
and offers on your
smartphone. Visit https://
my.morrisons.com/more.
Morrisons.
Boots
Advantage
Marks & Spencer.
Tesco
Clubcard
Boots.
as offering a variety of
incentives in return.
Here, we take a look at
the highlights of five
popular loyalty schemes. All
the schemes have their
own rules, so have a look at
the detailed terms and
conditions on the websites
to decide if a card is right
for you. n
Tesco.
OYALTY cards have
been around for
three decades and
today they?re big
business.
Retailers, keen on
securing customers, have
all cottoned on to loyalty
cards as a way of both
monitoring consumer
spending behaviour as well
SHORT STORY BY ELLIE EDWARDS 79
A Modern Girl
Set
during
WWII
It was clear the
handsome boy
was shy, but
Joan wouldn?t let
that deter her!
Illustration by Mandy Murray.
J
OAN, honestly. You
don?t even know his
name!?
?Not yet.? Joan tilted
her chin. ?But I have
a good feeling about him.?
Having met as teenagers
in 1936, Joan and Brenda
had recently got their first
jobs at adjacent desks.
Their colleagues
affectionately labelled them
the Terrible Twosome.
Their social outings were
filled with chatter about
potential sweethearts.
Their daily walking
commute took them past
Davenport?s Filling Station,
where the attendant on the
forecourt had caught Joan?s
eye, although he never
offered more than a shy
smile.
Today was no different;
the girls strode past,
straight-backed and
smiling, and the young man
nodded politely while
blushing.
?If ever you?re hoping to
get a word out of him,
Joan, I think you?ll be the
one to do the talking.?
?What?s wrong with
that??
?It?s hardly very ladylike.?
?There?s no point in being
ladylike only to be an old
spinster for ever, is there,
Bren??
The next day, Brenda had
to take the bus into
Birmingham so Joan walked
home alone. The young
attendant emerged from
the garage just as she
approached.
Before she could change
her mind, she walked
straight across to the
forecourt and smiled
broadly at the young man,
who looked even better
close up, but also seemed
alarmed.
?Good afternoon,? Joan
said brightly. ?I don?t
believe we?ve met. I?m Joan
Prosser.?
She offered her hand,
which he shook gently.
?Pleased to meet you,
Miss Prosser. I?m Ernie.?
There was a pause.
?Is this your father?s
garage??
?Oh! No, I?m employed
here for now.?
Another pause.
?You, um, Miss Prosser,
you work nearby??
?I do, at Smyth?s
manufacturing. My friend
and I walk past most days.?
Another pause. Both
hands demurely holding her
handbag in front of her,
Joan leaned forward.
?This is the part where
you suggest that perhaps
you and I could walk out
together,? she whispered.
Ernie?s expression of
amazement was a picture.
And that was how they
met.
* * * *
They?d been walking out
for nearly two years when
the announcement came
that Britain was at war.
Strolling through the park
that weekend, watching
families feeding ducks on
the pond, it seemed
preposterous.
?We knew it was going to
happen.? Ernie shook his
head sadly. ?But I?d hoped
it wouldn?t come to this.
We?ve all grown up with the
shadow of the last war.?
?The war to end all wars,?
Joan remarked bitterly. ?I
can?t believe it?s happening
again.
?At least they say this
war can?t possibly be as
long as the last; a few
months at most.?
??They? probably face no
risk of being called up,?
Ernie scoffed. ?So much for
our lavish wedding plans,
Joanie. I think we might
have to improvise.?
?As long as we get
married, it doesn?t matter
how. The perfect time for
me to marry is whenever I
marry you!?
The celebrations were
brought forward, much to
the delight of Joan?s
parents, who had been
charmed by the earnest
young man courting their
daughter over the last
couple of years.
The ceremony was shorter
than usual as so many
young couples were
marrying in a strange
combination of excitement
and desperation, optimism
and defiance.
Brenda was also wed the
following month to
Malcolm, a teacher she?d
been walking out with since
the previous summer.
She borrowed Joan?s
dress, as Joan had
borrowed her shoes, and
they giggled about their
younger days whenever
they had tea together.
Brenda lived a few streets
away and soon realised
that she was expecting a
baby.
Joan told Ernie that night.
?She?s going to make a
lovely mum. She?s already
started talking about
names.?
?Her baby isn?t due
for four more months
80
at least!?
?I know, she?s so
thrilled! Still, it?s good
news, isn?t it??
The best news came when
Ernie got a job in the
munitions factory, which led
to another job testing
tanks.
?I?ve managed to secure a
place for my brother, too,?
he told Joan when his new
job was confirmed. ?So
neither of us will be called
up to go and fight abroad,
because these tanks are
?essential to the war effort?.
?All being well, we?ll
manage to stay together,
Joanie!?
They had set up home in
a two-up-two-down terrace,
enjoying the novelty of
playing house and now
grateful that they could
continue without the dread
of Ernie being sent abroad
at any moment.
Unfortunately, others
around them were not so
lucky.
?It?s hard not to feel
guilty,? Ernie muttered one
evening as they washed up
the supper plates together.
?Bob from Earlswood, he?s
been called up, and so has
Davenport?s son from the
garage.
?I?m torn between
wanting to go and fight to
protect my country, and
wanting to stay here and
protect you.?
?But you?re doing both ?
your job means you are
doing your part for the war,
Ernie. That?s why they?re
letting you do it. You?re
needed.?
?Maybe.?
Joan handed him another
plate to dry and kissed his
cheek.
?And you?re needed here,
too.?
* * * *
Joan needed him even
more three months later,
when she miscarried. They
were both devastated.
?With so many people
losing loved ones, I feel I
don?t even have a right to
be sad,? Joan confessed,
?but I still feel dreadful.
Why couldn?t we keep
him??
?I know, Joanie love, but
the little chap wasn?t meant
to stay with us, that?s all.
You?re still safe, that?s what
matters most. We both
know it could be worse.?
They fell silent, holding
hands, thinking about
Brenda. She?d just had her
baby when Malcolm had
been called up. He?d be
heading out later that week.
?Everyone?s been very
good, Joan,? Brenda had
told her. ?People are
rallying round and making
do.
?But it doesn?t stop me
feeling lonely or frightened,
and I can?t bear to imagine
what Malcolm must be
going through out there. I?m
convinced his letters don?t
tell me the half of it.?
The war rumbled on, and
everyone knuckled down,
doing the best they could.
Rationing increased,
Birmingham was peppered
with bombsites and it
seemed that every week
brought bad news of
another friend or neighbour,
another telegram, another
memorial service. Nobody
was immune.
Although Joan and Ernie
felt blessed that he had the
job testing tanks, they were
acutely aware of other
people who resented it.
Even Brenda had stopped
coming over for a while,
finding it too difficult as
Malcolm remained overseas
and their young son spent
another year without his
father.
?I?m sorry I?ve not called
round, Joan,? she?d said
when they last visited. ?I
don?t begrudge Ernie his job
at all ? at least one of our
men is safe. But I wish
Malcolm were here, too.
?I?ve reached the point
where I even prayed he?d
be injured so he?d be
invalided out. Isn?t that
dreadful?
?What kind of world has it
turned into where you?d
wish that for the man you
love??
?It?s human nature, Bren.
Everyone?s desperate for
life to continue, that?s all.?
They sat quietly for a
moment watching George
play in the garden, both
thinking of the stillborn
baby Joan had carried
earlier that year and of their
loved ones.
Brenda patted her friend?s
hand.
?Can you believe we?re
getting so old?? She
chuckled. ?We were sixteen
when we met ? look at us
now! Twenty-four, wearing
aprons, swapping recipes
and thrifty household hints.
I found my first grey hair
last week!?
Each week Brenda and
Joan would dig allotments,
visit the older neighbours
and organise various drives
for the war effort, from
knitting to collecting scrap
metal.
They were still nicknamed
the Terrible Twosome,
especially when asking for
donations as they were so
determined, often trailing
little George behind them as
they strode from door to
door.
Ernie, meanwhile, worked
on the tanks, becoming
more and more adept at
mechanics and learning that
diplomacy was just as
important as manual skill
when it came to dealing with
your superiors.
* * * *
It was a Thursday when
Brenda burst through the
back gate.
?He?s coming home, Joan!
Malcolm?s being sent back
from the Front! He?s got
shrapnel in his knee, and
he?s coming back!?
Then she looked
crestfallen and slumped in a
chair, gesturing to George to
go and play outside.
?This was what I wished
for. Oh, Joan, what have I
done? What if he?s in
terrible pain??
The kettle went on the
stove as Joan explained that
it was not her fault, and
took her mind off events by
talking about other plans.
By the time they had to
organise their next big social
event, the Terrible
Twosome?s lives had
changed again.
Malcolm had been home
for almost a year and was
teaching part-time. He
suffered nightmares, needed
a cane to walk and was
more subdued than he used
to be, but he was a kind
father and husband.
He was also a good friend,
helping out neighbours and
helping Joan and Brenda to
organise their big street
party to celebrate VE Day.
Although many streets
around theirs and a couple
of houses at the end of the
terrace had been flattened
in the bombings, most of
their own street was intact.
They?d made it through to
the end of the war.
Ernie was planning to use
his mechanical and
managerial skills to take
over the old filling station
now that Davenport was
retiring.
They had countless
reasons to celebrate, yet
Joan and Ernie never got to
finish the party.
After all the preparations,
Joan?s efforts organising
everything and Ernie?s work
putting up trestle tables and
bringing out chairs from all
the houses, they had to
leave after an hour, in a fast
car and a big hurry.
?Of course I don?t mind
missing the dancing! She is
absolutely worth it,? Ernie
murmured as he gazed
down at the sleeping baby
in Joan?s arms.
?She waited until
everything was sorted and
everyone was having a good
time, then she made her
entrance. Look at her! As
beautiful as her mother, and
she?ll share her name, too.?
?You haven?t forgotten
that my first name isn?t
really Joan??
?Of course not, ?Irene?,
and I always wanted to
name our daughter after
you. It makes sense now
that we had to wait so long
for this little angel.?
?Whatever do you mean??
?Because Irene means
?peace?, so she was waiting
until peace came. Perfect
timing, you see! We?ll
christen her Irene Ann
Russell.?
?When did you get so
decisive, young man??
?I?ve always been decisive.
You forget who wears the
trousers.?
?Really? And if I had never
come up to you and
introduced myself that
day??
Ernie opened his mouth to
protest, then had the good
grace to blush and laugh.
At that moment, the baby
woke and stretched, her
soft, creased features
unfurling into a yawn.
?Saved by the baby,?
Ernie declared. ?Perfect
timing.? n
PUZZLES 83
Arroword
Licensed
premises
(6,5)
Enter the answers in the direction indicated by the arrows.
Cooked
with cheese
(2,6)
Sweet dense
oat cake
Vegetable
strainer
Frosty
Power to
withstand
fatigue
Made numb
India?s
holy river
Passports
or driving
licences, eg
Journeys
Walked
stealthily
Regretful
Small label
Toronto?s
country
__ Behaving
Badly, old
TV sitcom
Suspend
court
proceedings
Old Russian
ruler
Frilly border
__ Suzette,
dessert
pancake
Resembling
a legless
reptile
Maiden
name
indicator
Steps
Solutions
Arroword
S E M R O R L T E A N CHARIOT
JUGGLER
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N A T A L S E R N E S DEATH
DEATH, DEVIL, STAR, HERMIT,
SWORDS, EMPRESS, TRUMPS,
CUPS, TAROT, CHARIOT, PACK,
MOON, JUDGEMENT, MAGICIAN,
COINS, EMPEROR, JUGGLER,
FOOL, TEMPERANCE, STRENGTH
MOON
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C O D E G G L F P E E CUPS
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Beginning with the highlighted letter, follow a continuous path
to find all the words relating to tarot cards. The trail passes
through each and every letter once, and may twist up, down or
sideways, but never diagonally.
A
P U
G
T R
A
T
I
S N
Pathfinder
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com
SOAP BY GLENDA YOUNG 85
OUR
WEEKLY
SOAP
The darts team
are drowning
their sorrows
after their
defeat . . .
iStock.
T
HESE are on the
house,? Jim said,
pulling pints for
each member of the
darts team.
?I can?t believe it,? Jenny,
said, shaking her head. ?I
just can?t believe it.?
?At least I hit the board,?
Mary put in, glowering at
Sam.
?That wasn?t my fault.?
Sam pouted. ?It was that
stupid puppy. It kept
whining at me every time it
was my turn to throw. It
put me off!?
Jim paused and looked
down at the little black and
white pup that had taken
up residence in the Ship.
?To be fair,? Jim began,
looking at Mike and Bob,
?there were times when the
team played very well. I
thought we might be in
with a chance of winning at
one point.?
?I did my best, Jim,?
Anna added.
Jim sighed.
?You all did your best,
but sadly we weren?t strong
enough to beat the team
from the Pig and Whistle.?
?Their team captain was
something else, wasn?t
she?? Mike let out a low
whistle and winked at Jim.
Riverside
?What a darts player.?
Jim nodded.
?Bullseye Bev has been
playing darts longer than
I?ve been running this pub.
Her team has never lost a
match.?
?I don?t think we ever
stood a chance against
them, did we?? Jenny said.
?Not with Bullseye Bev as
captain,? Jim replied. ?But
we got to the final and that
counts for a lot.?
Jim raised his pint and
made sure that everyone
had a drink in their hand.
?Here?s to you all,? he
said. ?To the second-best
darts team in Ryemouth!?
* * * *
?Do you think you?ll play
darts again?? Ruby asked
Mary next day over coffee.
?I shouldn?t think so,?
Mary replied. ?I didn?t
enjoy it. I was only doing
them a favour to make up
the numbers when Eric
didn?t turn up.?
Ruby leaned forward,
ensuring that they couldn?t
be overheard in the Old
Engine Room caf�.
?Did you find out what
happened?? she whispered.
Mary shook her head.
?Jenny wouldn?t say, but I
think something?s wrong
between the two of them.?
?Well, she?ll tell us when
she?s ready,? Ruby said,
sipping her hot chocolate.
?It?s a shame.? Mary
nodded. ?I don?t like to see
her unhappy.?
?I was never sure about
Eric,? Ruby whispered. ?I
always thought there was
something a little odd
about him, didn?t you??
Mary gave a discreet nod
and straightened up in her
seat, dismissing the subject
just in case Jenny should
arrive unannounced.
?Anyway, it?s Valentine?s
next week,? Mary said with
a smile. ?You and Jim doing
anything nice??
?Never mind that!? Ruby
exclaimed. ?You?ll never
guess who?s turned into
love?s young dream! Beryl
and Bob!?
?Bob Lewin?? Mary cried.
Ruby nodded, her eyes
wide.
?And your aunt??
Ruby nodded again.
?They?ve been friendly for
a while now. And she
invited him to stay with her
and Pearl for a few days in
London and he?s travelling
there today.?
?Well, I never,? Mary
said. ?I wonder if he?s
taking his hat with him??
?I can?t see him going
anywhere without it, can
you?? Ruby smiled.
* * * *
That night in the Ship,
Jim and Sam were
preparing for the evening
shift after the darts defeat
of the previous night.
Sam pointed to the
puppy, who was sitting in
the spot beloved by Jim?s
old dog, Buster.
?What you going to do
with him??
?I wasn?t going to keep
him.? Jim sighed. ?I didn?t
feel ready for another dog
after Buster died.?
The puppy began to
whine.
?None of the dog shelters
have claimed him as lost.
None of the adverts I?ve
placed around town have
brought anyone forward.
But I don?t think I?m over
Buster yet.?
The puppy let out
another long whine.
Jim glanced at Sam.
?Have you noticed he
cries every time I mention
his name??
?Whose?? Sam asked.
Jim spelled it out so that
he didn?t have to repeat
the word and make the
puppy cry again.
?Oh,? Sam said.
The pub door swung
open and a man wearing a
green knitted hat entered.
Jim served him a pint and,
without a word, the man
took it and sat in Bob
Lewin?s seat by the fire.
?Oh, that?s someone?s
seat,? Jim explained. ?One
of my regulars. He pops in
this time of an evening.?
?Bob?s away,? was all the
man said.
?Away?? Jim repeated.
?Bob never goes away.?
?Well, he?s away now,? the
man grumbled into his pint.
He took a long drink
before he spoke again.
?He?s gone to London.?
?London? Bob?? Jim
repeated, unable to believe
what he was hearing.
?Aye,? the man replied,
scratching his head through
the hat. ?I?m looking after
things while he?s gone.?
?But why London?? Jim
asked, concerned. ?He?s not
ill, is he??
?It?s worse than that,? the
stranger grumbled.
?Worse?? Jim gulped.
The stranger tutted.
?The daft old beggar says
he?s fallen in love.?
More next week.
Favourite Read
Here I am reading my
magazine in the shade of
my aunt?s back garden in
Melbourne, where I?ve just
enjoyed a six-week holiday.
My aunt, who is eighty
this year, emigrated to
Australia in the 1960s. We
seem to recall that my late
grandmother (her mother)
used to read your magazine
when she was younger,
and I certainly wouldn?t
have wanted to go on
holiday without mine, as it
was a welcome taste of
home.
Ms J.D., Lancs.
Between
Friends
Write to us at Between Friends, ?The People?s Friend?,
2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ, or e-mail us at
betweenfriends@dctmedia.co.uk.
Star Letter
This is my darling great-grandson,
Luke Liddell, on his christening day in
a robe that is 130 years old. It?s
amazing to think of all the family
babies who have worn this.
Luke is also lying on a shawl knitted
for him by his great-aunt Thora, one of
about 30 she has completed. Perhaps
this, like the robe, will go on to grace
future christenings.
Mrs V.J., Northumberland.
Our Star Letter will
receive a Dean?s
all-butter shortbread
tin worth
�.69 RRP. Consume as part
of a balanced diet.
All other printed UK letters will win
one of our famous tea caddies and a pack of loose tea. Our friends from overseas
will receive an alternative gift of a pen.
Traditional Gifts
I?m an avid reader of the
?Friend? and have been for
decades.
Each year it?s now a ritual
for me to send ?The People?s
Friend? calendar and tea towel
to my two children and my
five grandchildren, who are all
married.
Not only that, I have a
brother and sister who live in
Canada and they also look
forward to receiving this gift.
So many years have passed
that I?d lost count how long
I?ve been doing this, until I
spoke to my brother recently
and he told me he now has a
collection of 40 tea towels!
Isn?t it amazing how time
flies, and so good to know
that ?The People?s Friend? has
been a constant throughout.
Ms J.S.D., Lockerbie.
Familiar Faces
Reading the letter ?It?s A
Small World? reminded me of a
time when my friend Pauline
? a Scot from Galashiels ? was
living and working in New
Zealand.
When her mother came for a
three-month holiday, they
visited a tiny little historical
settlement outside of
Queenstown and were busy
browsing a souvenir shop when
they heard a distinctive Borders
accent.
Only when they turned round
did they realise that Pauline?s
mum?s neighbour also
happened to be visiting the
country, unbeknown to each
other. As your previous letter
writer says, ?It?s a small world?!
Ms S.H., Australia.
Friendship
The most valued gift you can
depend,
Is to enjoy a true lifelong
friend.
One to share your troubled
days,
And lift your spirits in many
ways.
Never says hurtful words or
moralise
Or embarrass your friends or
criticise.
This world is full of people who
Won?t care what they say or
do.
So value the loyalty of that
friend,
Who fits the bill ? a true
Godsend.
Ms J.H-M., North Somerset.
YOUR LETTERS 87
Have
Wheels,
Will Travel
This is our West
Highland terrier, Max.
He?s twelve years
old and now suffers
with a heart condition,
so takes tablets and an
inhaler.
Despite his ill health,
he?s still in good
spirits. We bought him
his dog buggy so he
can still get out and
about, and he loves it.
Now I can push him
to the park, then let
him have a walk, pop
him back in and take
him home. Everybody
makes a fuss of him
and he has become
quite a little star in our
village.
Mrs S.H., Wales.
Blast From The Past
I was interested to read about Tom Smith?s crackers in a
recent issue of the ?Friend?.
Here are two pictures of my old cracker box, which must have
been bought by my mother in the late 1940s. It?s priced at six
shillings and fivepence.
Inside is a collection of things I gathered when I was younger.
I?m guessing the collection of cigarette packets and matchboxes
would be frowned upon now, even though I myself have never
smoked.
Mrs B.D., Woodhall Spa.
Weekly Ritual
Art Of Letter Writing
We all tend to be creatures of habit, and I wonder if other
readers are like me?
Without really thinking, as soon as I get my ?Friend? the first
thing I do is turn to the crossword and tackle that. Next is ?The
Farmer And His Wife?, and only then do I go to the start of the
magazine and read it cover to cover.
Like many other readers, my love for the magazine has been
enduring ? sixty years. Prior to that my mother read it and my
grandmother before her.
It?s so much part of my routine that I?d be lost without it!
Mrs L.W., Great Missenden.
Puzzle Solutions from page 25
Word Ladder
One answer is:
Camp, Came,
Same, Sane,
Bane, Bite, Site.
Crossword
S T RO L L
U
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U
B R OWN
A
D
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S
UNDR E S S
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P HON E Y
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O
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A F E D
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A S T E
T
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I
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E AR N E R
T
C
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TWE E D
I
R
I
ACC E P T
I?m in my eighties and pretty much housebound, so look
forward to my copy of ?The People?s Friend?, along with letters
from relatives and friends.
Along with reading, I love writing letters. I also enjoy visiting
museums and I?m always fascinated to see the handwriting of
famous and long-gone people.
I hope we never lose the art of the written word. I cannot
imagine seeing e-mails or texts by the famous in future, so I
think much would be lost with our link to the past.
There really is nothing to compare with the sound of my
letter-box to let me know I?m not forgotten.
Mrs N.M., Cumbria.
Pieceword
I
R
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S
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DU
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OU
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ON E
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OR I
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T ACK
P E K
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UD I O
L
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S POU T E
D
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C W
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BACK L OG
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A S P I R
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H E DGE
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Sudoku
6
7
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1
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write to the Readers Editor at The People?s Friend, DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
he knew as
Stephen?s daughter.
For a moment, the three
of them stared uncertainly
at each other.
?Hello, Ash,? Gabrielle
said. ?It?s good to see you.
And you must be Calum.
Come in.?
As Ash hesitated, Gabrielle
saw the lad?s hand reach
gently to hold her back.
?Maybe it wasn?t such a
good idea?? he said quietly.
?Maybe it?s better to stay
here.?
Gabrielle frowned. Behind
her, Franz was now acting
out his role as fierce guard
dog at the sound of the
strange voice.
It was a false front, she
knew. Let him out and he
would soon roll on to his
back to have his tummy
tickled.
?What is it?? she said.
?Can I help??
The young couple
exchanged embarrassed
glances.
?That was the general
idea,? Ash said. ?Now we?re
scared it?s cheeky to ask
when we scarcely know
you.?
The young lad coloured.
?It?s my fault,? he said.
?My sister Ailish is two
weeks from taking her
advanced violin exams. Her
music teacher has collapsed
and is in hospital.?
?And I know you were
once a violinist,? Ash added.
?So we wondered if you
could possibly take Ailish in
and give her some tuition
before her exam??
Gabrielle swayed as if
struck, then steadied herself
against the door frame. In
the far distance, she heard
Franz?s barking reach a
crescendo.
How could they know, she
thought. The younger
generation ? their whole
instinct was to be innocent
and direct. They had no idea
what they were asking.
She struggled against the
rising panic that her
dizziness was turning into a
faint. She fought for control.
?You couldn?t possibly
have asked me for anything
worse,? she said, her lips
struggling to frame the
words. ?I can no longer bear
to have anything to do with
music.
?I?m sorry, but what you
ask is impossible. Quite
impossible.?
To be continued.
On
Reflection
From the manse
window
by Kathrine Davey.
W
HEN I first heard
about them, the
Winter Olympics
seemed so far away ? they
weren?t to take place until
February 2018. Then all of a
sudden, February was here!
Preparations have been
underway behind the scenes
for many months, although
we haven?t always heard
much about them.
I found it quite difficult at
times to get any information
about how things were
progressing, because like so
much other positive news
today, it was often sidelined
by the constant tide of
depressing headlines.
There have even been
suggestions that this year?s
Winter Olympics and
Paralympics, due to take place
in South Korea, might not be
held at all, because of rising
world tensions.
I have a special interest in
the event this year, because
my son is at university in
South Korea and he tells me
how news reports of problems
there are so out of proportion
with the reality of daily life.
He has seen how the
Korean people have such a
positive approach, ever
mindful of the memories of
past warfare when the Korean
War threatened to destroy life
there completely.
He says it is almost ironic
that those in this country are
showing more fear than those
who live there in the Korean
Peninsula.
He is looking forward to his
chance to volunteer as a
helper at the games, but even
before then, he has already
had a chance to show his
enthusiasm for the event ?
the call went out for people
to act as ?cheer leader?
supporters and he responded
by answering straight away.
He was asked to come and
have his photo taken, with his
arms raised in a cheering
position, with the promise of
several gifts, including a 3D
model of him in that stance.
This picture is one of many
that will be used throughout
Korea during the Olympics
and I?m even hoping to catch
a glimpse of him from over
five thousand miles away.
This picture of someone
cheering might encourage
others to start encouraging
others ? and so on. I suppose
this is similar to what it means
when we read in the Bible that
we are to ?spur one another
on to love and good deeds?.
This underlines how
important supporters are.
When thinking about the
Olympics, I looked at as much
information I could find.
There were lots of articles
about the athletes that would
be appearing, and the number
of those whose appearance is
confirmed increased as the
Games grew closer.
We are encouraged to feel
that we know them, meaning
we will be more willing to
offer them our support.
After all, I am sure that is
why the home country?s
athletes at any games are at
an advantage, because of the
supporting atmosphere
around them.
But the countries with
fewer supporters need
support, too, and that?s where
the Koreans excel ? their
welcome and encouragement
have made a lasting
impression on Alex.
We have just celebrated the
birth of the Prince of Peace,
who came to bring unity
among the nations, which is
also the Olympic ideal.
So let?s go ahead and enjoy
this time of unity and
remember to cheer loudest
for those who need our
support the most. n
Next week: Rev. Susan
Sarapuk considers
Peter?s dilemma.
HERITAGE 65
Shrove Tuesday
iStock.
Traditions
W
HEN you think
of Shrove
Tuesday, you
probably think
of tossing
pancakes, enthusiastic
children and choosing
between syrup or lemon and
sugar fillings as a traditional
treat.
Perhaps there are pancake
events in your town, or you
might have nostalgic
memories of pancake races
from your youth ? but did
you know that Pancake Day
is celebrated around the
world as Mardi Gras?
On Shrove Tuesday, Mardi
Gras celebrations take place
in Rio de Janeiro, New
Orleans, Venice and Sydney.
The words Mardi gras mean
?fat Tuesday? in French, tying
the festival to using up food
before Lent.
Rio de Janeiro holds one of
the biggest, with partying in
the streets on the days
running up to Shrove
Tuesday. There are huge
processions with exotic
floats, loud music, fancy
dress, singing and dancing.
Meanwhile, back in the
UK, towns and villages
celebrate the season in a
much more old-fashioned
way, flipping pancakes and
embarking on pancake
races.
However, some other
weird and wonderful antics
have grown out of this
tradition, from crazy football
games with goals three
miles apart to skipping galas
and listening for witches in
Pancake Day
is celebrated
with a host
of fascinating
customs.
Susie Kearley
finds out
more.
the hills.
The oldest and best-known
tradition is the pancake racing
that takes place on Shrove
Tuesday around the UK. One
of the most famous pancake
races is in Olney,
Buckinghamshire, whose race
was first run in 1455.
The adult runners carry
frying-pans with hot
pancakes, and wear aprons
and kitchen hats or head
scarves as they run.
They start at the
marketplace and head for
Children have their own version
of the Olney Pancake Race.
Alamy.
VisitEngland Olney Pancake Race
Andy Handley.
Working up an appetite for
pancakes in Scarborough.
66
Ashbourne?s Shrovetide football
game takes in all sorts of terrain!
the church, tossing their
pancakes three times as
they sprint. The winner is
the first person to serve their
pancake to the bell ringer.
It gets a bit weird at
Westminster School in
London on Shrove Tuesday.
They have an annual
?Pancake Greaze?, where
the cook tosses a massive
pancake over a bar, five
metres high.
The schoolboys run after
the pancake as it hurtles
through the air, each trying
to grab a portion for
themselves. The boy who
gets the biggest piece of
pancake wins a sovereign
(promptly returned for next
year?s contest!)
At Scarborough in
Yorkshire, a Pancake Bell is
rung at noon and the
townspeople gather on the
promenade to participate in
pancake races.
They also have skipping
galas to help them work up
an appetite. Anyone with the
energy and inclination jumps
into a skipping rope, and
they jump in rows of about
10, with very long ropes
stretched across the road.
It must be hard work, so
everyone comes away
exhausted and ready to
enjoy some tasty pancakes.
In Toddington in
Bedfordshire, children run
How it all began
iStock.
Shrove Tuesday
originated as a religious
festival ? a traditional day
of feasting before Lent. It
was marked by a
?pancake bell? calling
people to attend
confession, where they
would be ?shriven?
(forgiven for their sins). It
became known as Shriven
Tuesday, and then Shrove
Tuesday.
With Lent looming,
people would try to use
up fattening foods so they
were ready for a period of
fasting during Lent. Most
people had eggs and milk
at home, which needed
eaten before Lent, so
making pancakes was a
good way to use up these
perishable foods quickly.
The ingredients had
some religious
significance, too: eggs
represented creation,
flour was ?the staff of
life?, salt was associated
with wholesomeness, and
milk represented purity.
Over 300 people compete in St
Columb Major?s hurling challenge.
up Conger Hill in time for
the midday pancake bell. At
noon they put their ears to
the ground and listen for a
mythical witch who, legend
says, fries her pancakes
inside the hill.
Ashbourne in Derbyshire
celebrates with a Royal
Shrovetide Football Game.
The goals are three miles
apart and to say it?s a ?lively?
occasion would be an
understatement: shops are
boarded up, trees are split
and fences flattened. In a
game that sounds more like
rugby than football, ?the
hug? is the local name for
the scrum, which heaves
back and forth, risking
damage to anything in its
path.
It all begins at two p.m. on
Shrove Tuesday and the
game continues into the
evening. The winning team
keeps the ball, which is
specially made for the
occasion.
You might think playing all
day on Tuesday is enough,
but another game takes
place on Ash Wednesday!
In Atherstone,
Warwickshire, Shrovetide
Football begins at three p.m.
on Shrove Tuesday, with a
rough and tumble. The
winner is the person who
has the ball at five p.m. It?s
an energetic affair, and has
been an institution in the
town since 1199.
A similar game takes place
at St Columb Major in
Cornwall, where they have a
?Hurling the Silver Ball?
game, with 300 people on
each team. It?s the
Townsmen vs the
Countrymen!
The goals are two miles
apart and it sometimes
The Brazilian carnivals
are the biggest in the
world. The word comes
from carne levare,
meaning to remove
meat, so it was a
celebration before the
start of the Lenten fasts.
The carnival in Rio de
Janeiro began over 250
years ago when settlers
from Portugal celebrated
their traditional
?entrudo? carnival on
the streets of Rio. People
got showered in flour
and water during these
celebrations.
This died out in the
early 20th century. In its
place, the Mardi Gras
celebrations sprang up,
following the format we
know today.
iStock.
Alamy.
iStock.
Carnival
Of Brazil
becomes a heaving scrum,
so shops are boarded up
here, too. The goal is to run
the silver ball to one of the
stone trough ?goals?, which
can be quite a challenge
when there are 300 people
trying to stop you.
At Corfe Castle, Dorset,
there?s an ancient tradition
to celebrate the completion
of quarrying apprenticeships.
Young quarrymen and
women celebrate their
achievements by carrying a
quart of beer, a loaf and
money equivalent to six
shillings and eight pence
(about 33p) into town for
the Ancient Order of
Purbeck Marblers and
Stonecutters.
Then they kick a football
around town before carrying
a pound of pepper to Poole
Harbour, where they claim
the right to carry stones.
It?s yet another quaint
Shrove Tuesday tradition
that has survived the
passage of time. n
my garden
Notes from
Photographs by Alexandra Campbell unless otherwise stated.
Trees And
Shrubs
Just a quick reminder
that if you want to
prune or move
deciduous trees or
shrubs, do it in the next
two to three weeks.
After that they?ll start
their spring growth.
Mature trees and
shrubs don?t really like
being moved, so it may
be better to buy a new
plant or take cuttings
from the old one. I?ve
moved about half a
dozen mature shrubs in
the last ten years. Only
one survived.
Alexandra Campbell says there?s no
reason not to smarten up your lawn
this February.
S
HOULD you start
gardening in
February? Do you
need to get ahead
with seed planting
and digging? And is there
anything you can do to
cheer up the view outside?
Let?s start with the view. If
your garden is anything like
mine, the dominant colours
are currently grey and
brown. If you?ve cleared
your borders, it all looks
rather bleak, and if you
haven?t (like me), it just
looks messy.
But a garden consultant
friend of mine, Matt Jackson,
says that there is one main
thing you can do to make
the garden look a lot better
at this time of year.
?Cut the lawn and
sharpen the edges,? he says.
?In my first job as an
apprentice gardener, I was
told that my lawn-mowing
year ended in December
and started up again
in January.?
In this house, the lawn is
mowed by my husband,
whom I refer to on the
Middlesized Garden blog as
?Mr Middlesize?. Mr
Middlesize hates gardening,
but he does feel
proprietorial about the lawn
and does all the mowing.
I haven?t dared tell him
that Matt thinks he should
be mowing the lawn now. I
think he might leave home.
However, when you visit
beautiful gardens open to
the public, you will notice
that their lawns are well
mowed with sharp edges,
even in winter.
I was talking to Matt at
Leeds Castle, where the
lawn frames the castle at
the front. And when I visited
RHS Hyde Hall, the garden
manager, Andrew Hellman,
also said that the best way
to improve a winter garden
was to keep the lawn
mowed and the edges
sharp. So it?s clearly a
professional tip that has so
far escaped us amateurs.
Very possibly because we
don?t want to hear it.
Matt does warn you to be
careful when mowing the
lawn in February, however.
?Take care not to churn up
the grass when turning,? he
says. ?And don?t use a lawn
mower with a heavy roller,
because it will flatten and
compact the soil.?
If there are fallen leaves in
the lawn, the mower will
chop them up, too, and you
can add them to the
compost. And, of course,
don?t set your mower on its
lowest setting.
If it all just seems too
GARDENING 69
Irises In A
Mixed Border
soggy to mow, at least think
about the edges. The edges
are more important now
than in the summer.
Plants and flowers may be
tumbling over lawns and
paths in summer, and
shaggy edges will disappear
in the general abundance.
But in winter, lawn edges
are like hems on a tailored
suit. They really benefit from
being straight and sharp.
Incidentally, you can add
mown grass to compost if
you also add torn-up
newspapers to balance the
mix out a bit.
I have a rather slapdash
approach to compost ?
everything except really
woody bits and weeds goes
in, and then everything sits
there until it?s rotted down.
I don?t worry about the
proportions of ?green to
brown?, but I do add the
paper when a lot of grass
clippings go in. It all seems
to work. I have friends who
even put their old clothes
on the compost, but I can?t
bring myself to go that far.
The next question is
whether to start your seeds
iStock.
No Dig
Suddenly houseplants
are so fashionable. But
what pot to put them in?
Homebase have a really
good range, both of plain
white or black ceramic
planters and the more
trendy earthenware/
stoneware look. I like the
Waitrose pots, too ? their
set of five ?Ombre? pots is
only �.99, which is
excellent value.
now or not.
There is a definite divide
in the gardening world
between people who can?t
wait to start planting seeds
and those who advise you
to wait until later.
It may actually be a divide
between those who have
greenhouses and those
who don?t.
It?s not just a question of
what the temperature is ?
the length of daylight is also
a factor in germinating
healthy plants from seed.
Even if you use a heated
propagator, you may not
have enough light on your
window-sill to get seeds
going properly in February.
You should do what
works for you ? so if you?ve
been planting seeds
successfully now, carry on!
But if you?ve been
disappointed by the seeds
you plant in February, don?t
blame yourself.
Try using a heated
propagator and putting the
seeds somewhere really
light. If that doesn?t work,
wait another four weeks
without feeling guilty. n
I?ve mentioned ?No Dig? gardening before, but
I think that 2018 is probably the year it will go
mainstream. So many garden bloggers, tweeters and
experts are saying that they?re going ?No Dig? this
year.
Many lists of ?gardening jobs to do now?
recommend that you dig over beds or fork in compost.
But ?No Dig? pioneer Charles Dowding has done
years of trials. He simply lays the compost on top and
allows the worms to do the work of digging for you.
He believes that digging is bad for soil structure and
that a healthy soil will sort itself out if you give it the
means to do so. That means mulch or compost, and
not standing on it.
In Charles?s trials he?s compared ?No Dig? beds with
traditionally dug ones, and the ?No Dig? have actually
got better yields.
However, what about weeds? They?re just popping
their heads out now. Charles hoes weeds off, or
covers the bed in something like black plastic,
weighted down around the edges (e.g. with bricks).
You can see Charles Dowding demonstrate ?No Dig?
methods on YouTube. He explains things clearly and
it?s free. Or you can buy one of his books, such as
?No Dig Organic Home & Garden?. But you could just
spread a layer of mulch on your beds and not dig it in.
It?s that easy.
Alamy.
Pots For Plants
When I visited Leeds
Castle gardens this month,
I saw patches of pea
gravel around all the iris
plants in mixed borders.
Irises like the sun to get to
their roots, and this is an
ideal way of giving them
space. Clear weeds away
from the iris clump and
scatter pea gravel around
like a mulch. It?ll help
deter pests and in summer
you won?t see the gravel
because the iris leaves
and the other plants in the
border will mask it.
Visit Alexandra?s blog online at
www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk.
Shrubs for Spring Scent
BUY 3 FOR
These easy care shrubs are perfect for
the spring garden.
halF
PRice
LONG-LEAFED WAX FLOWER
(Rare Eriostemon Myoporoides)
Buy 1 FOR �
SPecial OFFeR - Buy 3 for only �
? halF PRice
This delightful, free-flowing mid-sized shrub, which
is easy to care for and evergreen, is nicknamed the
Long-leaf wax flower. From late spring and throughout
summer, its compact, dwarf structure becomes awash
with white Choisya-like, heavily scented flowers which
erupt from cerise pink buds and rival a Daphne for
scent. Thrives in free-draining soil, in a sunny sheltered
spot. Height and spread 2m when mature. Supplied
in 8cm pot within 14 days.
Name ..................................................................................
Address ..............................................................................
...............................................................................................
...............................................................................................
............................................ Postcode ...............................
Telephone .........................................................................
Email Address ..................................................................
ITEM
Daphne Mezereum 1
(bare root plant)
Daphne Mezereum 2
(bare root plant)
(BUY the second HALF PRICE)
Rare Eriostemon Myoporoides x1
Rare Eriostemon Myoporoides x3
(HALF PRICE)
Afterplant Tree & Shrub 1kg
CODE
ROPF1804RDM1
ROPF1804RDM2
QTY PRICE TOTAL
�98
�.00
�.00
�99
P&P
Total Cost Of Order
THE FEBRUARY DAPHNE
(Daphne Mezereum)
Buy 1 FOR �98
SPecial OFFeR - Buy 2 for only �.97
�.97
ROPF1804PE1
ROPF1804PE3
ROPF1804TS01
Eriostemon
�95
�
I enclose a cheque/postal order, made payable to Hayloft Plants 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 ................................................................................................................
All plants will be dispatched in 14 days. All orders will receive an order acknowledgement with
approximate delivery date. Offer closes 31/05.2018. All items are subject to availability; we reserve
the right to send suitable substitutes or offer a refund. Offer available to UK addresses only. Reader
Offers cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions or discounts. Your contract is with
Hayloft, a company wholly independent of Peoples Friend. DC Thomson & Co. Ltd and its group
companies would like to contact you about new products, services and offers we think may be of
interest to you. If you?d like to hear from us by post, please tick here telephone, please tick here
? or email, please tick here From time to time, carefully chosen partner businesses would like
to contact you with relevant offers. If you?d like to hear from partner businesses for this purpose
please tick here
ROPF18
Known as the February Daphne as its extra-large
sought after blooms arrive en masse during this time.
Daphne mezereum, has a sweet, heady scent of
vanilla and freesia and the erect, upright stems
become strewn with dark purple flowers which are
later followed by interesting bright red berries. Its
compact size make it a great specimen for a mixed
border in a small garden or in a pot. Height and
spread 1m. Supplied as mature bare root plants.
Daphne mezereum
BY POST: Complete coupon using BLOCK CAPITALS. Payment may be
made by cheque (name/address on the back of cheque) and made payable
to Hayloft Plants Ltd, or by filling in card details.
?The People?s Friend? Spring Shrubs Offer,
PO BOX 2020, Pershore, WR10 9BP
CALL:
01386 426 245 (quote ROPF18)
Please have your credit/debit card details to hand. Lines open 9am-8pm (Weekdays) & 9am-6pm
(Weekends). Calls cost 7p per minute plus your telephone providers access charge.
ONLINE: www.hayloft-plants.co.uk/ROPF
believe it?
Would you
Got a question? Get in touch through e-mail
wouldyoubelieveit@dctmedia.co.uk or *write to
?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
I?D LIKE TO KNOW
? how long children
now spend in front of
a screen every day.
11%
Q
A
Your friend is right. Twelve people
? all US astronauts ? have indeed
walked on the moon.
They are Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin,
Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard,
Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Gene
Cernan and Harrison Schmitt. Yuri Gagarin was, of course, the first man in space, a
move which is said to have accelerated America?s space missions.
I?m a great admirer of the actress Sarah
Lancashire. Can you tell me how old she is
and a little bit about her?
Mrs A.S., Bristol.
A
Sarah was born in October 1964, making
her fifty-three. Her recent TV roles include
playing a social worker in the gritty drama
?Kiri? and starring as police sergeant Catherine
Cawood in ?Happy Valley?, another edge-of-theseat drama. The ?Happy Valley? role came about
after Sarah?s performances in ?Last Tango In
Halifax? so impressed the writer Sally Wainwright
that she penned the ?Happy Valley? role for her.
Sarah?s come a long way from her role as the
dizzy blonde Raquel Watts in ?Coronation Street?,
and has won two Baftas and received an OBE.
Q
I was listening to the
Marilyn Monroe song
?Diamonds Are A Girl?s
Best Friend? recently and it
got me wondering if they are
the rarest gems on earth?
Mrs L.M., Birmingham.
A
Diamonds are not the
rarest. According to
the ?Guinness Book Of
Records?, painite is the world?s
rarest mineral gemstone,
named after the British gem
dealer Arthur C.D. Pain. Other
gemstones rarer than diamond
include benitoite and red beryl.
Something we didn?t
know last week...
iStock.
4 hours,
45 minutes
of Brits
own a
lucky
pair of socks ? and
24% of us have a
lucky pair of pants!
Can you settle an argument?
My friend says at least a dozen
people have walked on the
moon. I don?t think it?s nearly as many
as that.
Mr A.S., Dunfermline.
Q
TEA-BREAK TRIVIA 71
There?s more to getting your photo
taken than smiling at the camera.
To look your very best in a photo,
put one hand on your hip, put the
opposite foot in front, relax your
shoulders and lean very slightly
to one side. If you tend to blink in
photos, close your eyes and open
slowly immediately before the
photo is taken. And then smile and
say ?Cheese?!
*Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies.
?
of us are
still in touch
with at least
two school friends.
30.3
hours a week, on
average, are spent
at work in Holland
? nine hours fewer
than UK workers.
� million
appeared in J.K.
Rowling?s bank
account in 2017,
thanks to Harry
Potter-related
royalty payments.
1 cm
? the length of a onemonth-old baby koala.
No wonder they stay
in their mum?s cosy
pouch for so long!
KNITTING 73
A Splash Of
Colour
advanced
Our shawl-neck
jacket is worked
in a chunky
alpaca yarn with
a hint of tweed.
MEASUREMENTS
To fit sizes: 86/91 cm
(34/36 ins), 97/102
(38/40), 107/112 (42/44),
117/122 (46/48), 127/132
(50/52), 137/142 (54/56).
Actual size: 102 cm
(40 ins), 110 (43�), 122
(48), 130 (51�), 142 (56),
151 (59�).
Length: 62 cm (24� ins),
63 (24�), 65 (25�), 67
(26�), 69 (27�), 71 (28).
Sleeve seam: 43 cm
(17 ins).
MATERIALS
8 (9, 9, 10, 10, 11) 100-gram
balls of Stylecraft Alpaca
Tweed Chunky (shade Blush
1668). One pair each 5 mm
(No. 6) and 6 mm (No. 4)
knitting needles; cable needle.
6 buttons from Duttons for
Buttons, tel: 01423 502092,
email: michelle@
duttonsforbuttons.co.uk.
For yarn stockists telephone
01535 609798 or e-mail
info@stylecraftltd.co.uk.
TENSION
14 sts and 20 rows to 10 cm
measured over st-st
(knit 1 row, purl 1 row) using
6 mm needles.
Photography: Ally Stuart, www.allystuartphotography.co.uk.
Hair and make-up: Linda Wilson.
Photographed at Rufflets Hotel, St Andrews, www.rufflets.co.uk.
ABBREVIATIONS
Alt ? alternate; C3F ? slip
next 3 sts on cable needle to
front of work, K4, now K3
from cable needle; C4 ? slip
next st on cable needle to
back of work, K1, then K1
from cable needle, now slip
next st on cable needle to
front of work, K1, now K1
from cable needle; C3F ? slip
next 3 sts on cable needle to
front of work, K4, now K3
from cable needle; C4B ? slip
next 4 sts on cable needle to
back of work, K3, now K4
from cable needle;
dec ? decrease;
inc ? increase; K ? knit;
KB ? knit into back of next st;
m1 ? make one st by picking
up and knitting into back of
horizontal strand lying before
next st; P ? purl; PB ? purl
into back of next st;
rem ? remain;
st(s) ? stitch(es);
tbl ? through back of loops;
TB ? slip next 2 sts on cable
needle to back of work, K1,
now K2 from cable needle;
TF ? slip next st on cable
needle to front of work, K2,
now K1 from cable needle;
tog ? together; yf ? yarn
forward.
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 an SAE if
you would like a reply.
Cable Panel
(worked over 39 sts)
1st row ? P2, C4, P2, KB, P2,
TF, P2, K7, P2, TB, P2, KB, P2,
C4, P2.
2nd row ? K2, P4, K2, PB,
K2, P3, K2, P7, K2, P3, K2,
PB, K2, P4, K2.
3rd row ? P2, K4, P2, KB, P2,
K3, P2, K7, P2, K3, P2, KB,
P2, K4, P2.
4th row ? As 2nd row.
5th row ? P2, C4, P2, KB, P2,
TB, P2, K7, P2, TF, P2, KB, P2,
C4, P2.
6th row ? As 2nd row.
7th row ? P2, K4, P2, KB, P2,
K3, P2, C4B (see note after
8th row), P2, K3, P2, KB, P2,
K4, P2.
8th row ? As 2nd row.
These 8 rows form panel.
RIGHT FRONT
With 5 mm needles, cast on
43 (45, 49, 53, 55, 57) sts.
1st row ? (right side) ? K2,
[P1, K1] to last st, K1.
2nd row ? K1, [P1, K1] to
end.
Work 5 more rows in rib as
set.
Next row ? Purl, inc 4 (5,
74
5, 4, 6, 7) sts evenly across
row ? 47 (50, 54, 57, 61,
64) sts ??.
Change to 6 mm needles and
pattern:
1st row ? (right side) ? K4
(4, 5, 5, 6, 7), work 1st row of
cable panel, K4 (7, 10, 13, 16,
18).
2nd row ? P4 (7, 10, 13, 16,
18), work 2nd row of cable
panel, P4 (4, 5, 5, 6, 7).
3rd - 8th rows ? Repeat 1st
and 2nd rows 3 times but
working 3rd to 8th rows of
panel.
These 8 rows set the basic
background pattern for the
smaller cables.
Continue in pattern as set until
front measures 32 cm, ending
after a wrong-side row.
NOTE: the C4B cables should
be worked instead of K7 on
following 11th row (this will be
a 3rd pattern row), then on
every following 12th row (this
will be a 7th row, ) 0 row, 3rd
row, 0 row, 7th row etc. When
not working C4B, work K7.
Shape front slope ? K1,
K2tog tbl, work to end.
Next row ? Work until 2 sts
rem, P2.
Next row ? K2, work to end.
Next row ? Work until 2 sts
rem, P2.
Repeat the last 4 rows once,
then dec row again ? 44 (47,
51, 54, 58, 61) sts.
Work 2 rows straight, thus
ending at side edge.
Shape raglan ? Cast off 4 (4,
5, 5, 5, 6) sts, work to end ?
40 (43, 46, 49, 53, 55) sts.
2nd row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
3rd row ? K1, P2tog, work
until 2 sts rem, P2.
4th row ? K2, work until 3 sts
rem, K2tog, K1.
5th row ? K1, P1, work until
2 sts rem, P2.
Repeat the last 4 rows until
16 (15, 14, 17, 17, 19) sts
rem, ending after 5th row.
???Dec 1 st at front edge on
next row then on every
following 6th row, AT THE
SAME TIME dec 1 st at raglan
edge on next row then on
every following alt row until
6 (5, 8, 7, 7, 9) sts rem.
Continue to dec at RAGLAN
EDGE ONLY on every alt row
until 2 sts rem.
Work 1 row. Cast off.
LEFT FRONT
Work as right front to ??.
Change to 6 mm needles and
pattern:
1st row ? (right side) ? K4
(7, 10, 13, 16, 18), work 1st
row of cable panel, K4 (4, 5,
5, 6, 7).
2nd row ? P4 (4, 5, 5, 6, 7),
work 2nd row of cable panel,
P4 (7, 10, 13, 16, 18).
Repeat 1st and 2nd rows
3 times but working 3rd to
8th rows of panel and noting
that C3F should be worked in
place of C4B.
These 8 rows set the basic
background pattern. Continue
in pattern and large cable
pattern to match right front
until work measures 32 cm,
ending after a wrong-side row.
Shape front slope ? Work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
Next row ? P2, work to end.
Next row ? Work until 2 sts
rem, K2.
Next row ? P2, work to end.
Repeat the last 4 rows once,
then dec row again ? 44 (47,
51, 54, 58, 61) sts.
Work 1 row straight.
Shape raglan ? Cast off 4 (4,
5, 5, 5, 6) sts, work to end ?
40 (43, 46, 49, 53, 55) sts.
2nd row ? P2, work to end.
3rd row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
4th row ? P2, work until 3 sts
rem, P2tog tbl, K1.
5th row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 2 sts rem, K2.
6th row ? P2, work until 2 sts
rem, P1, K1.
Repeat the last 4 rows until 16
(15, 14, 17, 17, 19) sts rem,
ending after a 6th row.
Complete as right front
working from ??? to end.
BACK
With 5 mm needles, cast on
85 (91, 97, 103, 111,
117) sts and work as given for
right front to ?? but inc 10
(10, 12, 12, 12, 12) sts evenly
across the purl row ? 95 (101,
109, 115, 123, 129) sts.
Change to 6 mm needles and
pattern:
1st row ? K4 (7, 10, 13, 16,
18), work 1st row of cable
panel, K9 (9, 11, 11, 13, 15),
work 1st row of cable panel,
K4 (7, 10, 13, 16, 18).
2nd row ? P4 (7, 10, 13, 16,
18), work 2nd row of cable
panel, P9 (9, 11, 11, 13, 15),
work 2nd row of cable panel,
purl to end.
3rd to 8th rows ? Repeat 1st
and 2nd rows 3 times but
working 3rd to 8th rows of
panel and noting that C3F
should be worked in place of
C4B on 2nd repeat of the
panel on the 7th and
subsequent rows.
These 8 rows set the basic
background pattern.
Continue in pattern as set until
back measures same as fronts,
ending after a wrong-side row
and noting that the C4B and
C3F cables should be worked
on 11th row following, then
on every following 12th row to
match fronts.
Shape raglan ?
1st and 2nd rows ? Cast off
4 (4, 5, 5, 5, 6) sts, work to
end ? 87 (93, 99, 105, 113,
117) sts.
3rd row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
4th row ? K1, P2tog, work
until 3 sts rem, P2tog tbl, K1.
5th row ? K1, K2tog tbl, work
until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1.
6th row ? K1, P1, work until
2 sts rem, P1, K1.
Repeat 3rd to 6th rows until
51 (51, 51, 57, 59, 63) sts
rem, ending after a 6th row.
Now repeat 5th and 6th rows
only until 29 (31, 31, 33, 35,
35) sts rem, ending after a 6th
row. Cast off firmly.
SLEEVES
Right sleeve ? With 4 mm
needles cast on 31 (33, 35,
35, 37, 39) sts and work as
right front to ?? but inc
12 sts evenly across purl row
? 43 (45, 47, 47, 49, 51) sts.
Change to 6 mm needles and
pattern:
1st row ? K2 (3, 4, 4, 5, 6),
work 1st row of panel, K2 (3,
4, 4, 5, 6).
2nd row ? P2 (3, 4, 4, 5, 6),
work 2nd row of panel, purl to
end.
Continue with pattern as set to
match right front and back
noting that the C4B cable only
should be worked. AT THE
SAME TIME, working extra sts
in stocking-stitch, shape sleeve
by inc 1 st at each end of next
row then on every following
8th (8th, 6th, 6th, 4th,
4th) row until there are 51
(59, 53, 53, 61, 69) sts, then
on every following 10th (10th,
8th, 6th, 6th, 6th) row until
there are 59 (63, 67, 71, 77,
81) sts.
Work straight until sleeve
measures 43 cm from beg,
ending after a wrong-side row.
Shape raglan ?
1st and 2nd rows ? As given
for back.
2nd and 5th sizes only
? Work 3rd to 6th rows as on
back raglan.
All sizes ? 51 (49, 57, 61,
61, 69) sts.
Next row ? K1, K2tog tbl,
work to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Next row ? K1, P1, work until
2 sts rem, P1, K1.
Repeat these 2 rows until 5 sts
rem.
Work 1 row. Cast off.
Left sleeve ? Work as right
sleeve but working C3F in
place of C4B.
TO COMPLETE
Join raglan shapings.
Left border and collar
? With 5 mm needles, cast on
9 sts.
Knit an odd number of rows
until work measures 32 cm.
Shape collar ? K1, m1, knit
to end.
??Work the inc row on every
following 4th row until there
are 13 sts, then on every
following 6th row until there
are 16 (16, 17, 17, 18,
18) sts, then on every
following 8th row until there
are 21 (21, 22, 22, 23,
23) sts. Work straight until
collar fits up to top of left front,
ending at straight edge.
Next row ? Knit until 3 sts
rem, turn.
Next row ? Slip 1 firmly, knit
to end.
Work 6 rows straight.
Repeat these 8 rows until work
fits, when shaped edge is
slightly stretched, along left
front edge to centre back.
Cast off loosely.
Right border and collar
? Sew on left border and
collar. Mark position on left
border for 6 buttons, first one
to be in 6th/7th rows, last one
approx. 6 - 10 rows below start
of front slope shaping, and
remaining 4 spaced evenly
between. Work straight section
of border as left border but
working buttonholes to match
markers as follows:
1st row ? K3, cast off 3 sts,
knit to end.
2nd row ? Knit, casting on
3 sts over those cast off.
Complete as left border and
collar, but noting that inc row
will be ? Knit to last st, m1, K1.
To Make Up ? Sew on right
border and collar, joining ends
at back. Press work very lightly
on wrong-side, omitting
ribbing. Join side and sleeve
seams. Sew on buttons.
Press seams. n
Next week:
make a craft caddy
Rewards For All
YOUR MONEY 77
Consumer
expert Barry
Cashin takes
a look at
popular loyalty
cards.
L
Nectar
NECTAR is accepted in
over 500 key retailers
including Sainsbury?s,
Argos and Debenhams.
Registration is free and
you earn points as you
spend with qualifying
brands. The number of points you earn per pound varies
with the retailer. Currently Sainsbury?s gives 1 point per
�spent on most goods, and 500 points would be worth
�50 to spend in store. See help.sainsburys.co.uk/help/
nectar/ for more details.
Your points can also be redeemed for rewards and
bonus offers.
Benefits include discounts on travel, meals and days
out. Offers are tailored to your personal spending habits.
The Nectar app for smartphones is easy to use and you
can check your balance with your phone.
You can get a Nectar card at www.nectar.com.
M&S
Sparks Card
Morrisons
More Card
TESCO CLUBCARD
offers 1 point for every �spent (some products,
such as tobacco and
medicines, are excluded).
Points are in the form
of store vouchers sent
every three months
(subject to a minimum
points balance) and are
redeemable in store,
online or with
participating partners.
The scheme also allows
you to redeem vouchers
for up to three times their
value, meaning that �
of Tesco vouchers is
worth up to � to spend
on meals out, cinema
trips, and other treats
from Tesco?s ?Reward
Partners?. See www.tesco.
com/clubcard.
If you have the Tesco
Pay+ app you can pay
and collect your points
using your smartphone.
BOOTS ADVANTAGE
CARD is available in all of
its nationwide outlets for
use in store and online.
For every �spent, you
get 4 points, although
specific products offer
higher points rewards
depending upon
promotions.
Points can be saved up
and redeemed against
future purchases and you
can check your points
score at the till.
Other cardholder
benefits include a ?More
Treats for Over 60s? club,
which gives even more
discounts and points, a
parenting club, Boots
Optician?s contact lens
reward scheme,
newsletters and a free
health and beauty
magazine six times a year.
Find out more at
www.boots.com.
M&S?S SPARKS CARD
benefits include tailormade offers, priority
access to M&S seasonal
previews, sales and
exciting events and
experiences.
Available free in-store,
simply register it online
for all future purchases.
You get 10 Sparks points
for every �spent ? as
with all loyalty cards,
there are a few
exclusions. Although
points cannot be
redeemed for cash, the
more points you acquire,
the more member
benefits you get ? 5,000
Sparks points allows
pre-sale previews, while
14,000 Sparks gives
access to special events
from food masterclasses
to exclusive shopping
evenings. See www.
marksandspencer.com.
THE MORRISONS
MORE loyalty scheme
offers 5 points for every
�spent both in-store on
shopping, at their caf閟 as
well as online.
Consumers also get
another 5 ?More Points?
per litre when buying fuel
at a Morrisons filling
station and 25 points for
every �spent on gift
cards in store.
The scheme rewards
members with a �More
voucher for every 5,000
points they earn. The
vouchers can be used to
get money off your
weekly shop at any
Morrisons supermarket.
There?s a club for
Christmas saving, and an
app so that you keep
track of your More points
and offers on your
smartphone. Visit https://
my.morrisons.com/more.
Morrisons.
Boots
Advantage
Marks & Spencer.
Tesco
Clubcard
Boots.
as offering a variety of
incentives in return.
Here, we take a look at
the highlights of five
popular loyalty schemes. All
the schemes have their
own rules, so have a look at
the detailed terms and
conditions on the websites
to decide if a card is right
for you. n
Tesco.
OYALTY cards have
been around for
three decades and
today they?re big
business.
Retailers, keen on
securing customers, have
all cottoned on to loyalty
cards as a way of both
monitoring consumer
spending behaviour as well
SHORT STORY BY ELLIE EDWARDS 79
A Modern Girl
Set
during
WWII
It was clear the
handsome boy
was shy, but
Joan wouldn?t let
that deter her!
Illustration by Mandy Murray.
J
OAN, honestly. You
don?t even know his
name!?
?Not yet.? Joan tilted
her chin. ?But I have
a good feeling about him.?
Having met as teenagers
in 1936, Joan and Brenda
had recently got their first
jobs at adjacent desks.
Their colleagues
affectionately labelled them
the Terrible Twosome.
Their social outings were
filled with chatter about
potential sweethearts.
Their daily walking
commute took them past
Davenport?s Filling Station,
where the attendant on the
forecourt had caught Joan?s
eye, although he never
offered more than a shy
smile.
Today was no different;
the girls strode past,
straight-backed and
smiling, and the young man
nodded politely while
blushing.
?If ever you?re hoping to
get a word out of him,
Joan, I think you?ll be the
one to do the talking.?
?What?s wrong with
that??
?It?s hardly very ladylike.?
?There?s no point in being
ladylike only to be an old
spinster for ever, is there,
Bren??
The next day, Brenda had
to take the bus into
Birmingham so Joan walked
home alone. The young
attendant emerged from
the garage just as she
approached.
Before she could change
her mind, she walked
straight across to the
forecourt and smiled
broadly at the young man,
who looked even better
close up, but also seemed
alarmed.
?Good afternoon,? Joan
said brightly. ?I don?t
believe we?ve met. I?m Joan
Prosser.?
She offered her hand,
which he shook gently.
?Pleased to meet you,
Miss Prosser. I?m Ernie.?
There was a pause.
?Is this your father?s
garage??
?Oh! No, I?m employed
here for now.?
Another pause.
?You, um, Miss Prosser,
you work nearby??
?I do, at Smyth?s
manufacturing. My friend
and I walk past most days.?
Another pause. Both
hands demurely holding her
handbag in front of her,
Joan leaned forward.
?This is the part where
you suggest that perhaps
you and I could walk out
together,? she whispered.
Ernie?s expression of
amazement was a picture.
And that was how they
met.
* * * *
They?d been walking out
for nearly two years when
the announcement came
that Britain was at war.
Strolling through the park
that weekend, watching
families feeding ducks on
the pond, it seemed
preposterous.
?We knew it was going to
happen.? Ernie shook his
head sadly. ?But I?d hoped
it wouldn?t come to this.
We?ve all grown up with the
shadow of the last war.?
?The war to end all wars,?
Joan remarked bitterly. ?I
can?t believe it?s happening
again.
?At least they say this
war can?t possibly be as
long as the last; a few
months at most.?
??They? probably face no
risk of being called up,?
Ernie scoffed. ?So much for
our lavish wedding plans,
Joanie. I think we might
have to improvise.?
?As long as we get
married, it doesn?t matter
how. The perfect time for
me to marry is whenever I
marry you!?
The celebrations were
brought forward, much to
the delight of Joan?s
parents, who had been
charmed by the earnest
young man courting their
daughter over the last
couple of years.
The ceremony was shorter
than usual as so many
young couples were
marrying in a strange
combination of excitement
and desperation, optimism
and defiance.
Brenda was also wed the
following month to
Malcolm, a teacher she?d
been walking out with since
the previous summer.
She borrowed Joan?s
dress, as Joan had
borrowed her shoes, and
they giggled about their
younger days whenever
they had tea together.
Brenda lived a few streets
away and soon realised
that she was expecting a
baby.
Joan told Ernie that night.
?She?s going to make a
lovely mum. She?s already
started talking about
names.?
?Her baby isn?t due
for four more months
80
at least!?
?I know, she?s so
thrilled! Still, it?s good
news, isn?t it??
The best news came when
Ernie got a job in the
munitions factory, which led
to another job testing
tanks.
?I?ve managed to secure a
place for my brother, too,?
he told Joan when his new
job was confirmed. ?So
neither of us will be called
up to go and fight abroad,
because these tanks are
?essential to the war effort?.
?All being well, we?ll
manage to stay together,
Joanie!?
They had set up home in
a two-up-two-down terrace,
enjoying the novelty of
playing house and now
grateful that they could
continue without the dread
of Ernie being sent abroad
at any moment.
Unfortunately, others
around them were not so
lucky.
?It?s hard not to feel
guilty,? Ernie muttered one
evening as they washed up
the supper plates together.
?Bob from Earlswood, he?s
been called up, and so has
Davenport?s son from the
garage.
?I?m torn between
wanting to go and fight to
protect my country, and
wanting to stay here and
protect you.?
?But you?re doing both ?
your job means you are
doing your part for the war,
Ernie. That?s why they?re
letting you do it. You?re
needed.?
?Maybe.?
Joan handed him another
plate to dry and kissed his
cheek.
?And you?re needed here,
too.?
* * * *
Joan needed him even
more three months later,
when she miscarried. They
were both devastated.
?With so many people
losing loved ones, I feel I
don?t even have a right to
be sad,? Joan confessed,
?but I still feel dreadful.
Why couldn?t we keep
him??
?I know, Joanie love, but
the little chap wasn?t meant
to stay with us, that?s all.
You?re still safe, that?s what
matters most. We both
know it could be worse.?
They fell silent, holding
hands, thinking about
Brenda. She?d just had her
baby when Malcolm had
been called up. He?d be
heading out later that week.
?Everyone?s been very
good, Joan,? Brenda had
told her. ?People are
rallying round and making
do.
?But it doesn?t stop me
feeling lonely or frightened,
and I can?t bear to imagine
what Malcolm must be
going through out there. I?m
convinced his letters don?t
tell me the half of it.?
The war rumbled on, and
everyone knuckled down,
doing the best they could.
Rationing increased,
Birmingham was peppered
with bombsites and it
seemed that every week
brought bad news of
another friend or neighbour,
another telegram, another
memorial service. Nobody
was immune.
Although Joan and Ernie
felt blessed that he had the
job testing tanks, they were
acutely aware of other
people who resented it.
Even Brenda had stopped
coming over for a while,
finding it too difficult as
Malcolm remained overseas
and their young son spent
another year without his
father.
?I?m sorry I?ve not called
round, Joan,? she?d said
when they last visited. ?I
don?t begrudge Ernie his job
at all ? at least one of our
men is safe. But I wish
Malcolm were here, too.
?I?ve reached the point
where I even prayed he?d
be injured so he?d be
invalided out. Isn?t that
dreadful?
?What kind of world has it
turned into where you?d
wish that for the man you
love??
?It?s human nature, Bren.
Everyone?s desperate for
life to continue, that?s all.?
They sat quietly for a
moment watching George
play in the garden, both
thinking of the stillborn
baby Joan had carried
earlier that year and of their
loved ones.
Brenda patted her friend?s
hand.
?Can you believe we?re
getting so old?? She
chuckled. ?We were sixteen
when we met ? look at us
now! Twenty-four, wearing
aprons, swapping recipes
and thrifty household hints.
I found my first grey hair
last week!?
Each week Brenda and
Joan would dig allotments,
visit the older neighbours
and organise various drives
for the war effort, from
knitting to collecting scrap
metal.
They were still nicknamed
the Terrible Twosome,
especially when asking for
donations as they were so
determined, often trailing
little George behind them as
they strode from door to
door.
Ernie, meanwhile, worked
on the tanks, becoming
more and more adept at
mechanics and learning that
diplomacy was just as
important as manual skill
when it came to dealing with
your superiors.
* * * *
It was a Thursday when
Brenda burst through the
back gate.
?He?s coming home, Joan!
Malcolm?s being sent back
from the Front! He?s got
shrapnel in his knee, and
he?s coming back!?
Then she looked
crestfallen and slumped in a
chair, gesturing to George to
go and play outside.
?This was what I wished
for. Oh, Joan, what have I
done? What if he?s in
terrible pain??
The kettle went on the
stove as Joan explained that
it was not her fault, and
took her mind off events by
talking about other plans.
By the time they had to
organise their next big social
event, the Terrible
Twosome?s lives had
changed again.
Malcolm had been home
for almost a year and was
teaching part-time. He
suffered nightmares, needed
a cane to walk and was
more subdued than he used
to be, but he was a kind
father and husband.
He was also a good friend,
helping out neighbours and
helping Joan and Brenda to
organise their big street
party to celebrate VE Day.
Although many streets
around theirs and a couple
of houses at the end of the
terrace had been flattened
in the bombings, most of
their own street was intact.
They?d made it through to
the end of the war.
Ernie was planning to use
his mechanical and
managerial skills to take
over the old filling station
now that Davenport was
retiring.
They had countless
reasons to celebrate, yet
Joan and Ernie never got to
finish the party.
After all the preparations,
Joan?s efforts organising
everything and Ernie?s work
putting up trestle tables and
bringing out chairs from all
the houses, they had to
leave after an hour, in a fast
car and a big hurry.
?Of course I don?t mind
missing the dancing! She is
absolutely worth it,? Ernie
murmured as he gazed
down at the sleeping baby
in Joan?s arms.
?She waited until
everything was sorted and
everyone was having a good
time, then she made her
entrance. Look at her! As
beautiful as her mother, and
she?ll share her name, too.?
?You haven?t forgotten
that my first name isn?t
really Joan??
?Of course not, ?Irene?,
and I always wanted to
name our daughter after
you. It makes sense now
that we had to wait so long
for this little angel.?
?Whatever do you mean??
?Because Irene means
?peace?, so she was waiting
until peace came. Perfect
timing, you see! We?ll
christen her Irene Ann
Russell.?
?When did you get so
decisive, young man??
?I?ve always been decisive.
You forget who wears the
trousers.?
?Really? And if I had never
come up to you and
introduced myself that
day??
Ernie opened his mouth to
protest, then had the good
grace to blush and laugh.
At that moment, the baby
woke and stretched, her
soft, creased features
unfurling into a yawn.
?Saved by the baby,?
Ernie declared. ?Perfect
timing.? n
PUZZLES 83
Arroword
Licensed
premises
(6,5)
Enter the answers in the direction indicated by the arrows.
Cooked
with cheese
(2,6)
Sweet dense
oat cake
Vegetable
strainer
Frosty
Power to
withstand
fatigue
Made numb
India?s
holy river
Passports
or driving
licences, eg
Journeys
Walked
stealthily
Regretful
Small label
Toronto?s
country
__ Behaving
Badly, old
TV sitcom
Suspend
court
proceedings
Old Russian
ruler
Frilly border
__ Suzette,
dessert
pancake
Resembling
a legless
reptile
Maiden
name
indicator
Steps
Solutions
Arroword
S E M R O R L T E A N CHARIOT
JUGGLER
D
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MAGICIAN
Pathfinder
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N J G P A P U C S P E HERMIT
TEMPERANCE
O U D A H S T A U M S JUDGEMENT TRUMPS
O M K C C T O R R T S
A
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TAROT
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SWORDS
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PACK
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N A T A L S E R N E S DEATH
DEATH, DEVIL, STAR, HERMIT,
SWORDS, EMPRESS, TRUMPS,
CUPS, TAROT, CHARIOT, PACK,
MOON, JUDGEMENT, MAGICIAN,
COINS, EMPEROR, JUGGLER,
FOOL, TEMPERANCE, STRENGTH
MOON
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C O D E G G L F P E E CUPS
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T R E
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AK
Beginning with the highlighted letter, follow a continuous path
to find all the words relating to tarot cards. The trail passes
through each and every letter once, and may twist up, down or
sideways, but never diagonally.
A
P U
G
T R
A
T
I
S N
Pathfinder
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com
SOAP BY GLENDA YOUNG 85
OUR
WEEKLY
SOAP
The darts team
are drowning
their sorrows
after their
defeat . . .
iStock.
T
HESE are on the
house,? Jim said,
pulling pints for
each member of the
darts team.
?I can?t believe it,? Jenny,
said, shaking her head. ?I
just can?t believe it.?
?At least I hit the board,?
Mary put in, glowering at
Sam.
?That wasn?t my fault.?
Sam pouted. ?It was that
stupid puppy. It kept
whining at me every time it
was my turn to throw. It
put me off!?
Jim paused and looked
down at the little black and
white pup that had taken
up residence in the Ship.
?To be fair,? Jim began,
looking at Mike and Bob,
?there were times when the
team played very well. I
thought we might be in
with a chance of winning at
one point.?
?I did my best, Jim,?
Anna added.
Jim sighed.
?You all did your best,
but sadly we weren?t strong
enough to beat the team
from the Pig and Whistle.?
?Their team captain was
something else, wasn?t
she?? Mike let out a low
whistle and winked at Jim.
Riverside
?What a darts player.?
Jim nodded.
?Bullseye Bev has been
playing darts longer than
I?ve been running this pub.
Her team has never lost a
match.?
?I don?t think we ever
stood a chance against
them, did we?? Jenny said.
?Not with Bullseye Bev as
captain,? Jim replied. ?But
we got to the final and that
counts for a lot.?
Jim raised his pint and
made sure that everyone
had a drink in their hand.
?Here?s to you all,? he
said. ?To the second-best
darts team in Ryemouth!?
* * * *
?Do you think you?ll play
darts again?? Ruby asked
Mary next day over coffee.
?I shouldn?t think so,?
Mary replied. ?I didn?t
enjoy it. I was only doing
them a favour to make up
the numbers when Eric
didn?t turn up.?
Ruby leaned forward,
ensuring that they couldn?t
be overheard in the Old
Engine Room caf�.
?Did you find out what
happened?? she whispered.
Mary shook her head.
?Jenny wouldn?t say, but I
think something?s wrong
between the two of them.?
?Well, she?ll tell us when
she?s ready,? Ruby said,
sipping her hot chocolate.
?It?s a shame.? Mary
nodded. ?I don?t like to see
her unhappy.?
?I was never sure about
Eric,? Ruby whispered. ?I
always thought there was
something a little odd
about him, didn?t you??
Mary gave a discreet nod
and straightened up in her
seat, dismissing the subject
just in case Jenny should
arrive unannounced.
?Anyway, it?s Valentine?s
next week,? Mary said with
a smile. ?You and Jim doing
anything nice??
?Never mind that!? Ruby
exclaimed. ?You?ll never
guess who?s turned into
love?s young dream! Beryl
and Bob!?
?Bob Lewin?? Mary cried.
Ruby nodded, her eyes
wide.
?And your aunt??
Ruby nodded again.
?They?ve been friendly for
a while now. And she
invited him to stay with her
and Pearl for a few days in
London and he?s travelling
there today.?
?Well, I never,? Mary
said. ?I wonder if he?s
taking his hat with him??
?I can?t see him going
anywhere without it, can
you?? Ruby smiled.
* * * *
That night in the Ship,
Jim and Sam were
preparing for the evening
shift after the darts defeat
of the previous night.
Sam pointed to the
puppy, who was sitting in
the spot beloved by Jim?s
old dog, Buster.
?What you going to do
with him??
?I wasn?t going to keep
him.? Jim sighed. ?I didn?t
feel ready for another dog
after Buster died.?
The puppy began to
whine.
?None of the dog shelters
have claimed him as lost.
None of the adverts I?ve
placed around town have
brought anyone forward.
But I don?t think I?m over
Buster yet.?
The puppy let out
another long whine.
Jim glanced at Sam.
?Have you noticed he
cries every time I mention
his name??
?Whose?? Sam asked.
Jim spelled it out so that
he didn?t have to repeat
the word and make the
puppy cry again.
?Oh,? Sam said.
The pub door swung
open and a man wearing a
green knitted hat entered.
Jim served him a pint and,
without a word, the man
took it and sat in Bob
Lewin?s seat by the fire.
?Oh, that?s someone?s
seat,? Jim explained. ?One
of my regulars. He pops in
this time of an evening.?
?Bob?s away,? was all the
man said.
?Away?? Jim repeated.
?Bob never goes away.?
?Well, he?s away now,? the
man grumbled into his pint.
He took a long drink
before he spoke again.
?He?s gone to London.?
?London? Bob?? Jim
repeated, unable to believe
what he was hearing.
?Aye,? the man replied,
scratching his head through
the hat. ?I?m looking after
things while he?s gone.?
?But why London?? Jim
asked, concerned. ?He?s not
ill, is he??
?It?s worse than that,? the
stranger grumbled.
?Worse?? Jim gulped.
The stranger tutted.
?The daft old beggar says
he?s fallen in love.?
More next week.
Favourite Read
Here I am reading my
magazine in the shade of
my aunt?s back garden in
Melbourne, where I?ve just
enjoyed a six-week holiday.
My aunt, who is eighty
this year, emigrated to
Australia in the 1960s. We
seem to recall that my late
grandmother (her mother)
used to read your magazine
when she was younger,
and I certainly wouldn?t
have wanted to go on
holiday without mine, as it
was a welcome taste of
home.
Ms J.D., Lancs.
Between
Friends
Write to us at Between Friends, ?The People?s Friend?,
2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ, or e-mail us at
betweenfriends@dctmedia.co.uk.
Star Letter
This is my darling great-grandson,
Luke Liddell, on his christening day in
a robe that is 130 years old. It?s
amazing to think of all the family
babies who have worn this.
Luke is also lying on a shawl knitted
for him by his great-aunt Thora, one of
about 30 she has completed. Perhaps
this, like the robe, will go on to grace
future christenings.
Mrs V.J., Northumberland.
Our Star Letter will
receive a Dean?s
all-butter shortbread
tin worth
�.69 RRP. Consume as part
of a balanced diet.
All other printed UK letters will win
one of our famous tea caddies and a pack of loose tea. Our friends from overseas
will receive an alternative gift of a pen.
Traditional Gifts
I?m an avid reader of the
?Friend? and have been for
decades.
Each year it?s now a ritual
for me to send ?The People?s
Friend? calendar and tea towel
to my two children and my
five grandchildren, who are all
married.
Not only that, I have a
brother and sister who live in
Canada and they also look
forward to receiving this gift.
So many years have passed
that I?d lost count how long
I?ve been doing this, until I
spoke to my brother recently
and he told me he now has a
collection of 40 tea towels!
Isn?t it amazing how time
flies, and so good to know
that ?The People?s Friend? has
been a constant throughout.
Ms J.S.D., Lockerbie.
Familiar Faces
Reading the letter ?It?s A
Small World? reminded me of a
time when my friend Pauline
? a Scot from Galashiels ? was
living and working in New
Zealand.
When her mother came for a
three-month holiday, they
visited a tiny little historical
settlement outside of
Queenstown and were busy
browsing a souvenir shop when
they heard a distinctive Borders
accent.
Only when they turned round
did they realise that Pauline?s
mum?s neighbour also
happened to be visiting the
country, unbeknown to each
other. As your previous letter
writer says, ?It?s a small world?!
Ms S.H., Australia.
Friendship
The most valued gift you can
depend,
Is to enjoy a true lifelong
friend.
One to share your troubled
days,
And lift your spirits in many
ways.
Never says hurtful words or
moralise
Or embarrass your friends or
criticise.
This world is full of people who
Won?t care what they say or
do.
So value the loyalty of that
friend,
Who fits the bill ? a true
Godsend.
Ms J.H-M., North Somerset.
YOUR LETTERS 87
Have
Wheels,
Will Travel
This is our West
Highland terrier, Max.
He?s twelve years
old and now suffers
with a heart condition,
so takes tablets and an
inhaler.
Despite his ill health,
he?s still in good
spirits. We bought him
his dog buggy so he
can still get out and
about, and he loves it.
Now I can push him
to the park, then let
him have a walk, pop
him back in and take
him home. Everybody
makes a fuss of him
and he has become
quite a little star in our
village.
Mrs S.H., Wales.
Blast From The Past
I was interested to read about Tom Smith?s crackers in a
recent issue of the ?Friend?.
Here are two pictures of my old cracker box, which must have
been bought by my mother in the late 1940s. It?s priced at six
shillings and fivepence.
Inside is a collection of things I gathered when I was younger.
I?m guessing the collection of cigarette packets and matchboxes
would be frowned upon now, even though I myself have never
smoked.
Mrs B.D., Woodhall Spa.
Weekly Ritual
Art Of Letter Writing
We all tend to be creatures of habit, and I wonder if other
readers are like me?
Without really thinking, as soon as I get my ?Friend? the first
thing I do is turn to the crossword and tackle that. Next is ?The
Farmer And His Wife?, and only then do I go to the start of the
magazine and read it cover to cover.
Like many other readers, my love for the magazine has been
enduring ? sixty years. Prior to that my mother read it and my
grandmother before her.
It?s so much part of my routine that I?d be lost without it!
Mrs L.W., Great Missenden.
Puzzle Solutions from page 25
Word Ladder
One answer is:
Camp, Came,
Same, Sane,
Bane, Bite, Site.
Crossword
S T RO L L
U
E
U
B R OWN
A
D
R G
S
UNDR E S S
E
E
E
R EG I M
E
E
B
NO T E S
L
T
E
T
E
R EMOU L D
A
P
R
P HON E Y
CH
O
S U
S
T
O
E N
A F E D
L
U
S UA L
E
C
A S T E
T
T S
I
C
E AR N E R
T
C
E
TWE E D
I
R
I
ACC E P T
I?m in my eighties and pretty much housebound, so look
forward to my copy of ?The People?s Friend?, along with letters
from relatives and friends.
Along with reading, I love writing letters. I also enjoy visiting
museums and I?m always fascinated to see the handwriting 
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