Take a leek ? or two! March 3, 2018 No. 7716 �30 Fabulous fiction Leek and Tofu Noodle Bowl ? Pat Thornborough?s new serial set in Cornwall ? An Italian romance by Barbara Featherstone Turkey, Feta and Leek Burger 9770262238299 AU $4.50, NZ $4.50 09 �30 03-Mar-2018 UK Off-sale date - 07-Mar-18 Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated. 7 short stories The charity that creates beautiful gardens for children?s hospices Picturesque Pembrokeshire Free Pattern Inside Explore this lovely part of Wales The pet insurance facts you need to know Favourite moments from 90 years of the Oscars Knit a pretty cardigan for a little girl this week Inside The People?s Friend If you like the ?Friend? then you?ll love... The People?s Friend Special No 153, priced �99 On sale now! l 100-page bumper issue! l 20 sparkling stories The People?s Friend Pocket Novel No 855, priced �49 l A modern romance by Sheila Spencer-Smith Cover Artwork: St Davids, Pembrokeshire by J. Campbell Kerr. Available in newsagents & supermarkets Fiction Regulars Features 4 Dylan?s Darling by Pamela Kavanagh 15 The Ups and Downs by Jessma Carter 23 Mix And Match by Jan Snook 25 SERIES Tales From Prospect House by Malcolm Welshman 30 SERIAL The Secret Of Trefusis Cove by Pat Thornborough 41 Getting Your Goat by Rebecca Holmes 47 The Ke y To The Cat Caf� by Suzanne Ross Jones 53 Commuter Crush by Glenda Young 58 SERIAL To St Peter?s Fields by Sue Cook 79 Juliet?s Balcony by Barbara Featherstone 85 WEEKLY SOAP Riverside by Glenda Young 7 This Week We?re Loving 13 Maddie?s World 18 Health & Wellbeing 24 Reader Offer: Perfect For Easter 27 Brainteasers 35 The Farmer & His Wife 36 Cookery: we mark St David?s Day with a tasty selection of recipes featuring leeks 51 Our Next Issue 63 From The Manse Window 70 Reader Offer: Enchanting Evenings In Long Stitch 71 Would You Believe It? 73 Knitting: make our beautiful collared cardigan perfect for little ones 86 Between Friends 8 Neil McAllister takes in the sights of picturesque Pembrokeshire 21 6 good reasons to eat peppers 29 John Stoa?s list of gardening jobs for March 44 Barry Cashin takes a look at the rise in ?shrinkflation? 56 Wendy Glass chats to Greenfingers Charity about their amazing work 65 Your chance to win a Dyson V8 vacuum cleaner in our fabulous competition 68 We celebrate memorable moments from the Oscars in this, their 90th anniversary year 77 Lorna Cowan explores pet insurance 83 Extra puzzle fun SUBSCRIPTION OFFER ? SAVE � 13 issues for *�when you subscribe ? Call 0800 318846**, quote PFCOV Subscribe and save �! *Payment by Direct Debit only. Saving based on first quarterly payment of �and standard rate of � every 3 months thereafter. UK bank accounts only. One year minimum term. For overseas enquiries, please call +44 1382 575580. **(8 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.) Free from UK landlines and mobiles. www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk www.facebook.com/PeoplesFriendMagazine This week?s new serial has been hotly anticipated by both the ?Friend? team and all the many readers who regularly write in to tell me how much they love Pat Thornborough?s stories. Her brand-new tale sees intrepid house-sitting duo Val and Betty heading for the scenic coast of Cornwall, where they soon stumble upon a mystery to be solved. The first instalment of ?The Secret Of Trefusis Cove? is on page 30. It?s St David?s Day on March 1, and we?re marking the occasion with clever recipes that bring out the best in leeks, as well as a gorgeous cover painting of St Davids and Neil McAllister?s accompanying feature on the delights of Pembrokeshire. Last but not least is Pamela Kavanagh?s lively romance set in Wales in the late 1890s. You?ll find ?Dylan?s Darling? on page 4. Other highlights include our round-up of some of the most memorable moments in 90 years of the Oscars on page 68, and a look at the inspirational work of the Greenfingers Charity on page 56. Angela Gilchrist, Editor. twitter.com/@TheFriendMag Set in the late 1890s Dylan?s Darling Dylan wished nothing more than to be Bronwyn?s love. He needed to put a plan into action . . . Illustration by David Young. T WM the Turner was so called because of his skill at woodturning. Balustrades, newel posts, jugs and ladles ? whatever a customer requested, Twm could make, and no-one went away dissatisfied. His speciality was a deep bowl and spoon for serving cawl, a delicious and nourishing pottage of lamb, root vegetables, herbs and whatever else the larder could provide at the time. It was generally accepted in the Teivi valley that no young bride?s household shelf was complete until it boasted one of Twm?s serving bowls and spoons. Twm was content in his cottage on the mountainside, producing his wares and chatting to customers. Recently, though, something had started to niggle. Who would take over when he was no longer here? Wedlock and the blessing of children had passed him by, and since he was approaching threescore years, and having no issue to follow him, the future for the wood-turning business looked bleak. ?I can?t think what?s to be done,? Twm said to Dylan Jones in the tap-room of the Cilgwyn Tavern, where Dylan worked as outside man and general help. Stocky, with thick dark hair and a kind face, he topped up the woodturner?s tankard from the pitcher on the bar and waited for him to continue. ?Wood-turning?s been done in these valleys for centuries. It?s said the craft came over here with a wave of people from the Continent. This was three thousand years ago, mind.? ?Three thousand years?? Dylan was astounded. ?So they say. Been in my family for generations, has wood-turning. I know that for a fact.? ?So you?re the end of the line,? Dylan said sympathetically. ?End of the line,? Twm replied, reaching for his tankard. There was a short silence, into which the babble of voices and a sharp splatter of late autumn rain against the window intruded. ?Why don?t you take on an apprentice?? Dylan suggested. ?Train him up and your problem?s solved.? Twm shook his head. ?I don?t know as I?d want another person under my roof,? he said. ?I?m used to my own company. An old SHORT STORY BY PAMELA KAVANAGH 5 man gets set in his ways.? ?Give lessons. That?s it!? Dylan?s brown eyes glowed as he warmed to the idea. ?A couple of evenings a week, maybe. You pick out the most promising and concentrate on them. I?d be keen myself.? ?You?d be prepared to give up a steady job here and take on a trade, with all it involves?? Twm asked. Dylan nodded. ?I?ve got ambitions, see,? he explained. ?There are no prospects here, not with sons to take over the tavern eventually. I need to prove myself worthy of something better than hauling kegs of ale around and sweeping floors.? His eyes slid to the open door to the kitchen, where Bronwyn, the landlord?s pretty daughter, could be seen ladling a serving of cawl on to a platter. Talk had it that Bronwyn made the tastiest cawl in the valley, and Dylan?s gaze lingered on her for several telling moments. So that?s the way the wind blows, Twm told himself. ?Are you interested?? Dylan asked hopefully. ?In the wood-turning sessions?? Twm shook his head. ?Nah, I?m too old for all that. Come St David?s Day when I reach my majority, I shall be closing my doors for good.? There was a finality in Twm?s voice that stopped any attempt at argument. He swigged down the last of his ale and shunted the tankard across the bar. ?Another pint, Dylan, and then I?ll be on my way.? * * * * ?I tried to get Twm to see things my way, but he wouldn?t listen,? Dylan said to Bronwyn once the tavern doors were closed. ?There?s a shame. It?s such a good idea of yours, too,? Bronwyn replied. ?Do you think it?s worth bringing it up again? There?s no-one else doing his sort of work around here. Where are people going to go for their bowls and other things if Twm shuts up shop?? ?He mustn?t be allowed to. There must be some way of bringing him round. Let me have a think about it,? Bronwyn said. She gave Dylan a dimpled smile, making his heart swell. ?Right you are,? he said abruptly, and claiming the broom he had leaned against the wall, he continued sweeping up for the night. * * * * Bronwyn, running a cloth over the bar top, watched him surreptitiously. Ah, Dylan, she thought, why so cautious with me? Why the barrier between us, like a stone wall that gets higher with every day that passes? She?d known Dylan since he had come here from one of the more remote villages seeking work about two years ago. He was a good employee, hard-working and trustworthy, never shying from any task, no matter how menial. He was caring, too. Not many would concern themselves about an old man, alone in his cottage on the mountain and clearly troubled about the future of the craft his forebears had brought here all those centuries ago. It was when Bronwyn had moved on to the kitchen to deal with the dirty pots and was contemplating the gleaming row of wooden bowls and platters on the vast dresser that the idea occurred. Her lips curved into a triumphant smile and a gleam appeared in her eyes. First thing tomorrow she would visit the cottage on the mountain. * * * * Twm was in his woodshed sorting out the stored timber when he heard someone calling his name. ?Twm? Are you there? It?s me, Bronwyn Morgan.? ?In here, Bron. Round the back of the workshop.? She appeared in the doorway, flushed and out of breath from the steep climb in the early morning air. ?Ah, there you are, Twm. Not opened up yet? Am I too soon?? ?Never too soon for a pretty face,? Twm said. ?Flatterer! What?s this you?re doing, then?? ?Making sure there?s enough sycamore for a set of egg cups for Mrs Ivor the Post. This is sycamore wood, see.? He showed her a small billet of blond-coloured wood, and went on to point out some other different varieties of timber. ?This here is oak. This is poplar ? nice to work with, is poplar. And this is myrtle. A hard wood, but durable. Anything made from myrtle is for good.? she descended the winding path to the village. * * * * On entering the Cilgwyn yard, Bronwyn came across Dylan rolling a barrel of ale towards the door of the tavern. ??Morning, Bron. You?re up early,? he called. ??Morning, Dylan. Yes, I?ve been up the mountain to see Twm.? Dylan pulled to a stop, holding the barrel steady with his foot. ?Did you mention what we were talking about?? ?If Twm thinks he?s busy now, he?s in for a shock? ?Do you make boxes? To keep trinkets in.? Twm looked thoughtful. ?I can?t say I?ve ever been asked, Bron. I could make you one, though. With compartments, perhaps, so things don?t get tangled up.? Bronwyn clapped her hands together in delight. ?That sounds perfect. When can you start?? ?Not yet awhile. I?ve those egg cups to make and Reverend Davies needs a new balustrade for the vicarage staircase. Big job, that.? ?So I?ll have to wait.? Bronwyn?s face clouded. ?I seem to do nothing but wait these days. There?s Father promising extra help for the tavern kitchen ? some hope, that. ?And my brother saying he?ll take me shopping in Carmarthen and never does. As for Dylan . . .? She broke off, colouring. ?Dylan Jones?? Twm asked. ?A fine man, is Dylan. Sweet on him?? Bronwyn shrugged, back in control of her feelings, and darted Twm a coy look. ?I might be. Then again, I might not. I?d best get back. There?s the bread to bake and tonight?s cawl to prepare. Oh, that reminds me. Mam wants another bowl and spoon set. One isn?t enough for the tavern.? ?Right you are,? Twm replied, nodding. Bronwyn bid him farewell and left, hips swaying as ?No, I did not. It?s a case of easy does it with Twm. My grandfather was the same. You had to go round him if you wanted anything doing, rather than tackle it head on.? Dylan nodded, looking mystified. ?Mam?s been going on about an extra serving bowl for ages now, so I?ve put in an order for one,? Bronwyn continued. ?There?s something I wanted for myself, too, but I?m going to have to wait for that.? ?Was he busy, then?? ?It looked that way. He was sorting out some sycamore for egg cups. He showed me some of the types of wood he uses. ?He had a cherry tree off us once, that came down in a storm when my grandfather was still alive. Fond of that cherry tree, was Grandfather.? Bronwyn smiled a little sadly, then brightened. ?About that other thing ? I?ve started a plan of action. If Twm thinks he?s busy now, he?s in for a shock. There?s every chance he?s going to find himself a whole lot busier very soon.? A sudden shout from the tavern requesting the awaited barrel of ale deprived Dylan of an explanation. He set the barrel rolling again and Bronwyn, smiling to herself, headed for the kitchen to start the day?s work. 6 A couple of weeks later, Dylan saw Twm pushing towards him through the crowded tap-room. ?Twm, it?s been a while,? he said, pulling up a stool for the wood-turner. ?Yes,? Twm replied, sitting. ?Truth is I?ve been run off my feet. All at once the womenfolk hereabouts are wanting extra serving bowls for cawl. Don?t know if I?m on my head or my heels with it all.? Dylan wondered if Bron might be behind this. He decided to put in a word of his own. ?Busy, is it? Pity there?s no apprentice with you. You could have shipped off some of the workload on to him. Your usual, is it?? Furnished with a frothing tankard and a dish of Bronwyn?s Welsh cakes, Twm looked happier. ?I?ve been thinking,? he said. ?Those wood-turning sessions you spoke of. You?re interested?? Mindful of Bronwyn?s warning not to rush things, Dylan affected a shrug. ?I might be. There are one or two others who could be approached, all handy fellows.? ?Steady on, Dylan. I didn?t say anything for sure. I?m considering it.? Twm reached for his tankard, signifying an end to that line of conversation. * * * * Twm went ahead with the wood-turning sessions, settling for Wednesday nights. He was surprised at the response, which soon increased from a trickle to a steady flow. As a result, the village ironmonger did an excellent trade in lathes and small tools, as did the timberyard in seasoned wood. Inevitably, as winter wore on and the weather worsened, there were those who found their fireside too good to leave and numbers dwindled somewhat. A few stalwarts remained, and the most promising of these was Dylan. ?That?s not a bad attempt, boy,? Twm said one night, inspecting a bowl Dylan had made. This was praise indeed and Dylan?s expression warmed with pride. ?If you could spare me an hour or so on your day off,? Twm continued, ?I could leave some of these back orders for cawl servers to you.? ?I can spare the whole day,? Dylan replied. ?Providing you don?t mind my presence under your roof, that is.? ?Don?t talk daft, boy,? Twm said gruffly. So throughout the dark and snowy weeks of January and early February, Dylan climbed the mountain track to the wood-turner?s cottage to spend his free time putting his new-found skill into practice alongside Twm in the workshop. On one occasion Dylan seemed quiet. ?What?s amiss?? Twm asked him. ?Just thinking.? ?Would it have anything to do with a pair of sparkling dark eyes?? ?Well . . .? ?Come on, Dylan. I wasn?t born yesterday,? Twm said. ?You?ve been hungering for Bron Morgan for months. Have you asked her out?? ?What, me? A skivvy at the tavern? Her father would throw me out for my cheek.? Twm snorted. ?Rubbish, man. What?s to stop you coming here and working for me?? Dylan stared at him. ?You?d take me on as an apprentice?? ?No need for that. You?re a quick learner. You?ve mastered the basics, so there?s just a few other skills to perfect and you?re there. In fact, you?d be a likely candidate for taking over when the time comes.? ?That?s a change of tune. As I recall, you were all for shutting up shop for good come St David?s Day,? Dylan reminded him. ?Ah, but I didn?t say which St David?s Day. This year, next year, who knows? I?m still in pretty good fettle, and with someone to help out I daresay I could carry on a while yet.? Dylan grinned broadly. ?It?s glad I am to hear it.? ?You can start here any time you like. I shouldn?t worry over handing in your notice at the Cilgwyn. Another fellow can easily be employed in your place ? and with a steady trade at your fingertips, Dai Morgan isn?t going to jib at you courting his daughter.? Dylan?s mind reeled. All he needed now was to be sure that Bron liked him enough. But how would he show his feelings for her? ?I need to make her something. A token of my regard,? he said. ?Not a serving bowl. That might look presumptuous. A thimble or egg cup, perhaps.? Twm shook his head. ?Nah ? too commonplace. You want to give her something she?ll treasure. Like a ? goodness me!? A look of dismay crossed Twm?s wrinkled old face. ?I completely forgot. She came here once asking for a trinket box. I said I?d make her one, and what with one thing and another I never got round to it. Went clean out of my mind. There?s your answer, boy. Make her a trinket box.? ?I wouldn?t know where to start,? Dylan confessed. ?I?ll show you.? * * * * Early on the morning of St David?s Day, Bronwyn sought out Dylan. ?Father says you?re leaving to work for Twm,? she said. ?That?s right.? Dylan nodded. ?So he?s not shutting up shop after all. Makes it worthwhile, all that tramping from door to door in the rain, getting the housewives to order an extra serving bowl or two from him.? ?So that?s how you did it.? Dylan laughed. ?But you don?t look pleased about it.? ?It?s not that, Dylan. It?s you. I don?t want you to go. I?ll miss you and . . . what?s this?? From his jacket pocket Dylan had pulled out a small parcel wrapped in brown paper. ?It?s for you,? he murmured. Bronwyn ripped off the wrapping to disclose a small wooden box fashioned in a beautifully grained wood. ?Cherry wood, from the tree your grandfather liked,? Dylan explained. Instead of a lid there was a half-drawer at the front. ?Open the drawer,? Dylan urged softly. She did so, and inside, hidden away, was another drawer. She tilted the box until the drawer slid sideways, and pulled it out. It contained a ring of Welsh gold, deep and rich. An ornate clasp held a single stone ? a sapphire so blue it seemed to drain the colour from the sky. ?Oh!? Bronwyn was lost for words. ?It was my gran?s ring. Mam gave it me to give to the girl of my choice. Will you wear my ring, Bron? Will you be mine?? Bronwyn found her voice. ?And here?s me thinking I?d never hear you say those words!? She smiled. ?I love you, Dylan Jones. Yes, of course I?ll be yours.? ?We?ll have to wait to be wed,? he told her. ?I?m still a novice at wood-turning, but I?ll work to get up to standard.? ?All good things are worth waiting for,? Bron replied. With that, Dylan put the ring on her finger. * * * * Great were the celebrations at the Cilgwyn that night. Locals, sporting wild daffodils on their lapels in celebration of their patron saint, raised a glass to the happy couple. Landlord Morgan, looking dazed at the turn of events, offered drinks on the house, and his wife smiled at the best wishes given. Twm the Turner was content. His workshop was secure for the future, and he couldn?t think of a better-matched couple to take over at some point, with the attached cottage. He reached for his tankard and, catching Dylan?s eye across the room, raised it again in silent recognition of their agreement. It was a joyful St David?s Day indeed. n loving BITS & PIECES 7 iStock. This week we?re Tiny But Powerful The little hummingbird has one of the highest metabolic rates among vertebrates, eating half its bodyweight in sugar every day by feeding on nectar. With wings beating up to 50 times a second, they need all the energy they can get! Garden Inspiration Eggstra Special This handcrafted solid beech egg holder is great for safe egg storage and will make the perfect gift for an aspiring cook or baker. Priced at just �.95, it is available to buy from www. annabeljames.co.uk. Weather Watch Dreamscapes (Hardie Grant Books) is a stunning collection of over 50 of our most beautiful international gardens, photographed by author Claire Takacs. It is a wonderful celebration of gardens throughout the world. Look Back In Wonder Keep an eye on garden temperatures with the Tenby thermometer, which can sit indoors or out. Measuring in both degrees Centigrade and Fahrenheit, this handy accessory costs � and can be ordered from www.gardentrading.co.uk. Alamy. Do you want to know more about where you came from ? literally? Living DNA?s kit can trace back 10 generations and break results down over 80 geographical areas. To find out more about who you are, get details from www.livingdna.com. Happy Birthday! This week we send greetings to Scottish footballer and honorary Liverpudlian Kenny Dalglish, who celebrates his sixty-seventh birthday on March 4. Calling Crafters If you are a fan of gritty thrillers, the award-winning ?The Tunnel? is perfect. Look out for the recently released three-DVD box set with Series 1-3 or Series 3 ?The Vengeance? on its own. Available from the usual outlets. Crafters will have a great day out at the Creative Craft Show and Scottish Quilting Show, both being held at the Glasgow SEC, March 8-11. They are perfect places to learn, try and buy. iStock. Tunnel Vision The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Luasa) has plans to run a three-year bachelor?s degree and a two-year master?s in Yodelling, a music form originally adopted by herdsmen and much loved by the Swiss. Something to yodel about? Details correct at time of going to press. iStock. High On A Hill . . . Picturesque Pembrokeshire Neil McAllister boards the Puffin Shuttle to enjoy a tour of this captivating Welsh county. Factfile n In the 1970s the area was the scene of alleged UFO sightings and was nicknamed the Dyfed Triangle. In 1977 a cigar-shaped craft is said to have landed in a field next to Broad Haven Primary School. A group of children saw the craft. When the headmaster asked the children to draw the craft he was surprised how similar the drawings were. Photographs by Neil McAllister. n Marloes Deer Park, cared for by the National Trust, has never actually contained any deer. n St Davids? population is around 1/200th of the Welsh capital Cardiff. n Even though St Davids contains a number of pubs, the saint himself was known as Dewi Dyfrwr (David the water drinker) as he lived on bread and water. G IVEN the choice of boarding the ten o?clock train to Edinburgh or the Flying Scotsman, I know which I would choose. Giving transport a name makes it more appealing ? something Pembrokeshire realised, as the St Davids bus stop lists the ?Strumble Shuttle? and ?Celtic Coaster? alongside the reason for our visit, the charmingly monikered ?Puffin Shuttle?. Named after the area?s most popular feathered tourist attraction, this little bus travels along the Welsh coast between St Davids and Martin?s Haven, from where boats take wildlife lovers across the water to Skomer. En route, it passes through the quaint village of Solva, alongside the beaches of Newgale and Broad Haven, through the tiny harbour village of Little Haven, and along the cliff top to Marloes on lanes so narrow I would think twice about driving Hazel?s Fiesta down them, let alone a bus. In winter, this recycled vegetable-oil-powered vehicle runs Thursday and Saturday, increasing to three times a day in summer, so it is possible to walk between stops on the spectacular cliff top path, or hop off to spend a while exploring along the shuttle?s route within the picturesque Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. As quiz fans know, in both size and population St Davids is Britain?s smallest city. Visitors seeking a landmark building on the area?s highest point won?t be disappointed on the magnificence front, but the huge church is hidden away in a valley, away from the eyes of Vikings. It wasn?t immune to Danish plunder, though, which continued until after the Normans arrived. The This week?s cover feature French invaders built the present cathedral to contain many relics, including those of St David, causing the Pope to declare that two pilgrimages to St Davids were equal to one to Rome. William the Conqueror himself visited, and a few centuries later Broad Haven?s beach and seafront. THIS WEEK?S COVER FEATURE 9 Borough Head on the famous Pembrokeshire coastline. Boats at rest in Solva. Pembrokeshire gave England its most famous Royal House when Henry VII established the Tudor dynasty from Pembroke Castle. Ironically the area was the site of another French invasion, during the Napoleonic War, but the forces quickly became diverted by local wine, women and song. Penrhiw Hotel proved to be a refined, tranquil base for our visit. Formerly a Victorian vicarage, in 2012 this lovely old house which stands at the edge of the village was converted to a luxury hotel. It is part of the same group which runs Roch Castle Hotel, just off the shuttle?s route, and Twr y Felin Hotel, which incorporates an old windmill near St Davids new Oriel y Parc Visitor Centre. From St Davids, the shuttle?s first stop is Solva, a particularly picturesque village, where craft lovers can alight and walk the lane to an old woollen mill beside the river. Less energetic visitors can visit the former chapel, where flamboyant Cuban artist Raul Speek displays his creations alongside works by local visual artists. For greater choice, try the local pottery over the road or the small blue-painted art gallery ? they like their paintings round these parts. Whilst the river is named after the village, the Welsh name of Solfach is Danish for samphire, suggesting our marauding chums the Vikings discovered the edible delicacy here between pillaging raids. Most visitors are drawn towards the water, where a host of bobbing craft make the picturesque estuary even more camera-ready. There is little to hint that this was once a major port. In the 1840s ships sailed from Solva directly to America. I wonder if the two wiry Americans who boarded the bus knew the connection with their home country. Like many passengers, they were prepared for a day on foot, with trekking poles, stout boots and day pack in case the weather played up. If you are pushed for time, there is a short circular walk around the Gribin, past old limekilns and an ancient Iron Age fort towards pebbly Gwadn beach. The route returns through an Ice Age valley before crossing the ridge to head back to Solva. From here, the road turns inland before returning to the seaside at Newgale, where most of its journey runs alongside St Bride?s Bay. On sunny summer days the series of pebble-backed beaches, starting at Newgale Sands, are a tourist magnet, but out-of-season visitors can have miles of golden sand to themselves, except for the surfers who seem immune from the climate as they seek the perfect wave. Every now and then the beach gives way to rockier outcrops, like at Nolton Haven, where low tide reveals a sandy strand in the pebbly cove. From the bus Druidston?s beach is the main feature, but from the sand the rocky arches and sea caves delight exploring youngsters, though an eye needs to be kept on the returning tide. The bus pauses here for passengers to enjoy the ?Teletubby House?, a turf-roofed home overlooking the sea, built for a local former MP, but just along the road another odd structure caught our eye. Originally built as a croquet pavilion beside a clifftop lawn, this eccentric place is available as an eco-friendly holiday let. Near the bay?s southern shore, Broad Haven features pretty pastel-coloured homes fringing one of Wales?s loveliest beaches. Whilst children delve into rock pools or enjoy the soft sand, walkers leave the coast path in search of liquid refreshment at the Galleon Inn, or a bite to eat in one of the seafront caf閟. When the tide allows, it is possible to take a rocky shore walk round A peaceful spot overlooking Solva?s gorgeous harbour. to Little Haven, but we stayed on the bus until St Brides, once home to local MP Baron Kensington, from where there are a number of walking options. Some passengers pick up the coast path at St Brides Cross, passing the headland?s ancient fort towards Musselwick Beach, or take one of the paths south to Marloes, whose name has the same origins as Melrose. Like much of this part of Wales, the area has been English-speaking for the best part of a millennium, leading to its name of ?Little England Beyond Wales?. The bus continues to its turning point at Martin?s Haven. This is a popular area to picnic or view seals, choughs and puffins. This All aboard the Puffin Shuttle. little bay is the boarding point for boats to Skomer Island, where wildlife lovers, photographers and enquiring tourists can experience nature close up in this isolated reserve. Until the 1950s the Codd Family lived on Skomer, but even then they were outnumbered by huge numbers of puffins, which arrive mid-April to nest in burrows. Most of today?s visitors are limited to a few hours, although the Old Farm has become self catering accommodation, offering mixed dormitories to enjoy isolated dark sky nights marooned with wildlife. Whilst the bus is often the starting point for a walk, it is wheelchair-accessible and, having covered its whole route a few times, we can confirm that it is a lovely drive down roads many people may hesitate to tackle in a car. At the right time of year, the hedges are a riot of colourful wildflowers and the elevated seating gives panoramic views both inland, across a patchwork of small fields, or seawards to enjoy a leisurely view of this spectacular coast. One highlight of our trip was a five-mile stroll from Solva back to St Davids which, apart from a few steep bits, notably rising from Solva Harbour, is wonderfully flat. There is no chance of getting lost as the coast path is well-worn. You may need your sunglasses ? not to shield the sun, but for the colourful display of wildflowers along the route. Thick swathes of thrift cling to the clifftop amongst bright yellow gorse, and when we paused to look closer, we discovered all manner of tiny, unfamiliar blooms amongst small succulents clinging to stone walls. Hazel also spotted an adder sunning itself on the path, which hissed angrily away into the gorse as we approached. Another highlight came a Want to know more? For further information about holidays in Wales, go to www.visitwales.com. Neil stayed at the Penrhiw Hotel, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, St Davids, Haverfordwest, Wales SA62 6PG. Website: www.penrhiwhotel.com Oriel y Parc Gallery & Visitor Centre on 01437 720392 or visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk. little further along the coast at Porthgain, where the Shed Fish & Chip Bistro sits in an old quayside building overshadowed by huge kilns. This restaurant specialises in fish and chips, but is as far removed from your local chippie as Buckingham Palace from a terraced cottage. We were lucky to get an early seat, as tables are booked far in advance, allowing me to enjoy a lovely bit of brill, whilst Hazel described her Thaistyle king prawns as ?deliciously fishy.? Whilst we had enjoyed sophisticated fine dining in Penrhiw?s sister Twr y Felin Hotel, the Shed served equally lovely food, but in more informal surroundings, on plastic tablecloths with salt and vinegar ready to hand. I can?t imagine a tastier way to conclude our Welsh excursion. n Getting there By road: the A487 links St Davids with Haverfordwest and Fishguard. By rail: the nearest railway stations are Haverfordwest and Fishguard. By bus: National Express buses run to Haverfordwest, and the Richards Brothers 411 service runs through St Davids. MADDIE?S WORLD 13 ?I wish I was there. I love a good auction? Photographs courtesy of Maddie Grigg. I In her weekly column, Maddie Grigg shares tales from her life in rural Dorset . . . T is a big day for Lush Places as two properties in the village go under the hammer at auction. I suggest to Mr Grigg that we make an occasion of it and go down to Axminster for lunch at Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall?s River Cottage before walking to the town?s guildhall for the auction. Then I find I?ve double booked, but it doesn?t matter. Mr Grigg goes there all the same, with Mr Loggins and Nobby Odd-Job in tow. They live it up like kings with a two-course set lunch for �.95 each, then head down the road to a packed guildhall. You wouldn?t believe the number of people from Lush Places who are here, he texts when I ask him from afar how things are going. It?s not surprising, really, as one of the houses up for sale is right in the village square, and the other is a large, dilapidated but lovely farm and land on the edge of Lush Places. It?s been divided into six separate lots and is attracting a lot of interest. There are at least 11 local families in the crowd, he says, but only one or two will be bidding. I wish I was there. I love a good auction, although I always sit on my hands in case I get the sudden urge to scratch my nose and get mistaken for someone who looks like they are entering a bidding war. Periodically, I receive updates on my phone from Mr Grigg to tell me how the sale is progressing. The house in the village square, which belonged to a lovely old couple who are sadly no longer with us, goes for a song. A young family currently in rented accommodation snap it up for just �8,000, which is not a lot of money for a four- to five-bedroom house and a shop frontage. Yes, they?ll need to spend quite a bit on doing it up, and it has no parking and not much of a garden, but here in Dorset, where property prices are sky high, they seem to have bagged a bargain. There is much speculation about what, if anything, might happen to the shop part of this house. But it?s good that the house is going to be lived in again, with new life breathed into the square. What with the pump project and new enthusiastic landlords in the pub, things in Lush Places are looking up. Then Mr Grigg lets me know that it?s time for the farm to be auctioned off. I can just imagine necks craning to see who is bidding for this slice of rural Dorset. He texts to ask me the name of a man he recognises in the crowd. I tell him. He texts back: Well, he?s bidding for the farm right now. The guide price for the farmhouse and 85 acres, which includes what historians consider the most important Roman hill fort in the area, is �0,000. Astonishingly, it goes under the hammer for �52 million. And so it goes on, with the text notification pinging on my phone as each lot is sold off. ?There was absolute silence in the guildhall,? Mr Grigg tells me later as he recounts how a tiny plot of half an acre sold for �,000. I thank my lucky stars that I was double booked. I just know if I?d been there I would have put my hand up at the wrong time and ended up in enough debt to sink a small country. ?You weren?t tempted, then?? I say, tongue-incheek. These sort of figures are well beyond our ken. ?No,? he says. ?But I wouldn?t mind going back for some more of that lunch.? n Who will buy the properties up for auction? The Ups And Downs SHORT STORY BY JESSMA CARTER 15 This was her last day at work, and Teresa hoped it would go smoothly . . . Illustration by Sarah Holliday. T ERESA loved her new car. Black and small, her preretirement present to herself beeped if she was about to reverse into a wall and reminded her to fasten her seatbelt. Flashing lights told her when to change gear, and there was a lever which would pump air into her tyre if she got a puncture. Mary, her daughter, had insisted she get it. ?It?s your time now, Mum, yours and Dad?s. You?re sixty and fit, so throw your folders in the dustbin, get a car and go all those places you yearn to see. The Lake District, the sea, the hills of Scotland, remember?? Mary knew them well. Her parents had shared a lot since travelling from Nigeria years ago, when their dreams of a happy and contented life there had disintegrated. They had been unsure of what they would find in the UK, but it had been mostly good. They?d been able to plan an old age when they would visit parts of Britain they didn?t know. Mary had phoned this morning. ?Just phoned to wish you well. I?ll come round tonight with the children and Joe can join us later. We can celebrate.? * * * * Teresa switched on the engine, listened to the quiet purr and set off smoothly. She was on what would be her last visit to the tower block. Colin, eighteen, would be waiting for her on the 14th floor. Strange, the silly things that worried her now. She?d never told anyone how much she dreaded these visits. Not because of Colin and his complex needs, inarticulate, not the brightest star in the sky, just out of detention centre and with a mum whose tongue had an edge sharp as a razor. No, it was the choice she had to make every week. Climb up the stairs, stop for a deep breath at each landing, risk passing signs of entertainment the night before? Or take the lift? That steel cage. There must be air coming from somewhere, but where? Buttons on the side, right up to 14, and a red alarm button. And who would join her this time on this airless journey? Would the jolt that opened her eyes mean that some stranger was coming in, or that she had safely arrived? Teresa was already breathless when she arrived at the entrance, having parked her car in the nearby Aldi car park. ?Think positive, even if your stomach feels like a twisted rag!? She spoke sharply to herself, trying to decide. Stairs or lift? The smell was slightly better today. Perhaps the wind had helped by teasing out the stale air. She had come at her best time, early afternoon when there were few people hanging around. Today there was only an isolated mum struggling with a buggy, some youths with bicycles doing dangerous wheelies and a small group of girls watching from a nearby wall. None paid any attention to Teresa; she was just another woman with a canvas bag, a woman whose demeanour and whitening hair made her practically invisible. ?Nobody here. That?s good.? Teresa often spoke out loud to herself when she knew she was alone. She pressed the button to call the lift. ?Last visit.? The lift was obedient today, coming quickly and almost silently after she summoned it. She stepped inside and pressed 14. The lift glided straight to the top floor and sighed to a stop. Teresa?s heart steadied its beat as she stepped outside into the corridor, straightened her shoulders and knocked on the door. Colin answered, washed and dressed and as near smiling as he ever had been. ?Got a job,? he told her at once. ?A packing job at Somerville?s.? Teresa beamed at him and took the offered seat on the sofa. Colin?s mum appeared and even gave a nod of what could have been approval as she looked at her son. ?Great news, Colin.? Teresa took folders from her bag and riffled through the pages of a file. 16 ?Somerville?s, you say?? She wrote a few notes, then closed the file. ?I?m so glad, Colin. You deserve a break. ?This is my last day, so I can leave knowing that things are looking up for you.? She was tempted to pat him on the knee. So like her grandson, the same hopeful, vulnerable look on his face. They talked about the firm Colin was joining. Teresa was able to tell him it had a good reputation for being fair to employees. Someone was bound to come soon. She tried to concentrate on the good parts of her life. Mary was coming tonight. She would come with a pot of something, maybe that spicy chicken she was so good at. They?d sit at the kitchen table while the casserole bubbled and talk, daughter Mary, son Tobias and their children. They?d laugh together over the good times, shed a tear or two over the bad when, as Christians, they had had to escape from Someone was bound to come soon, Teresa thought ?That?s as much as you can ask, Colin. If they?re fair then it?s up to you.? She stood up and was slightly surprised when Colin stood as well and put out his hand. ?Thanks for your help.? Teresa summoned the lift and stepped inside. A good final day. Last visit to the tower block had gone well. She closed her eyes in relief. Going down was always different, more relaxing. She was on the way out. * * * * The lift clanked a bit and then stopped. She opened her eyes, reached into her pocket for her car keys and waited for the doors to glide open. Waited some more. Listened. She banged on the doors. The steel was cold and sounds seemed to echo. Her hand pressed random buttons. Nothing happened. She slithered down to the floor, gazing up at the roof of the lift. Then she reached for the red alarm button and pressed and pressed. Not a sound that she could hear. She grappled for her phone and tried to dial 999. How could she expect a signal inside this metal coffin? ?This is life. One step on, maybe two if you?re lucky, and then one step back.? Her voice bounced around the metal chamber. the threat of Boko Haram, a group that believed all western ideas were wicked. The heat inside the lift reminded Teresa of that frightening car journey across the Nigerian border to safety. The car had lurched and bumped across the scrubland, not a road in sight and just the bright moon to guide them. She remembered Matthew wounded and moaning beside her, Mary on her knee, Tobias gripping the steering wheel tight as he drove. He was only eleven years old but they all had great trust in his ability to take them to safety. The air was getting hot inside the lift. Teresa looked up again at the ceiling. Of course, there was a vent there, beside the small light. She stood up and tried to reach and feel but she was too small. She crouched again in the corner, trying to imagine she was at home resting on the sofa. Mary or Matthew or Tobias would come looking for her, even if no-one else had tried the lift before then and reported it out of order. ?Are you all right in there?? The voice came from a distance as Teresa came to, blinking at the light of the torch. She stumbled out into semi-darkness and into the arms of a man she had never seen before. She shrugged off his hold, totally disorientated, ignoring his calls of concern as she walked unsteadily across to the car park. Home was all she wanted. Home, a cup of tea, a bath. Home. * * * * She fingered the car keys and walked through the car park. Surely the car had been in the last aisle, the one nearest the tower block? It had been beside a large white car. But, then, that had been about four hours ago. Teresa wandered on. What was the number plate again? There were so many small black cars. She couldn?t possibly go into the store and ask someone to help her find a car whose number she didn?t know. She?d look a right fool. There was a 12 in it somewhere, and SF. Or was it SL? The keyring, that was it. She?d walk up and down and flick her keyring at every small black car until one answered with a flashing light and a click. She plodded around the car park, clicking and muttering. ?Look at that woman,? she heard a child call. ?She looks like she?s lost.? ?Get in, for goodness? sake. Let?s get home,? someone answered. ?Home,? Teresa muttered. * * * * Mary arrived in her car just as Teresa was getting out of hers. ?You?re late home, Mum.? ?My last day, love.? ?Good day, was it? A good ending?? They moved inside the house. ?Started bad, then fell away.? Teresa laughed and switched on the oven. ?I faced my worst fears, if you really want to know. But it turned out well.? ?Sit down and tell me. The children are coming round after their sports practice.? ?I?ll keep it for later. Share it with the children.? Mary looked at her mother?s calm face, the face that had always been there when she needed it, the face that seldom seemed perturbed. ?The new car OK? You like it?? ?Great. I haven?t got to grips with all its hidden talents yet.? Teresa started to laugh. ?And I don?t know the number.? ?What number?? ?On the number plate.? Teresa wiped tears from her eyes. ?I don?t know whether I?m laughing or crying.? ?Do both.? Mary handed her a paper towel. * * * * Teresa sat back in her favourite armchair, tired after the excitement of the day, and watched the family. Mary and her husband and children; her son Tobias with his wife and children. On the other side of the crowded room, her husband, Matthew, cradled the baby. After eating, she and Matthew told and retold the story of their life in Africa and their journey to Scotland. Were you scared, was it hot, did you see snakes? When you sat on the stoep when Mum was wee, was the sun really bright red at night? When you and Grandpa were in the car and Dad was just a boy but driving, were you scared? ?I was only scared that we would not be together.? Luke, the eldest grandson, was curled up against his dad on the sofa. ?That?s not possible,? he said sleepily. ?You can?t stop being somebody?s mother or sister or anything. Even if you?re far away, you?re together, in a kind of a way.? Teresa relaxed and let the murmur of their voices drift around her. Luke was right enough; the family had been there with her in the lift, in the car park. She started to sing quietly, a sign of contentment. Soon they all joined in. n wellbeing Health & Great advice to keep you happy and healthy Q. I?m looking after my granddaughter and I?m keen to ensure she has her five a day. She prefers fruit rather than veg. Could this be bad for her teeth? Elaine Tilling, Clinical Head of Education at TePe, is here to help. Eating fruit is a great way for children to get their all-important five a day, and the high levels of vitamin C make them a great choice for not just their oral health, but their overall health, too. However, it is important to remember that fruit can be very In The News iStock. Pacemaker For Alzheimer?s Scientists are conducting trials on a battery-powered pacemaker to boost the thinking power of people with Alzheimer?s. A team at Ohio State University have connected wires from a pacemaker in a patient?s chest to thin wires implanted in their brain to target the part of the brain which controls decision making and planning. It appears that the electrical pulses recalibrate brain circuits by stimulating brain cells that have not been killed off by dementia. It is early days, but the researchers are excited about the role it might play in slowing cognitive decline so typical of Alzheimer?s. acidic and also contains high levels of sugars which can damage the enamel on our teeth, resulting in sensitivity and tooth decay. Try keeping the majority of fruit intake to meal times to reduce the amount of acid attacks on the teeth. Making sure children are brushing their teeth thoroughly twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste will help limit the damage caused by acidic fruits, helping their teeth and gums to remain healthy, which is essential for healthy development of their adult teeth. Power Of Pilates Pilates is fast gaining in popularity as a safe and effective form of exercise. Here?s why to try it: ? the strength-building programme was invented to help people recover from injury, but new research shows it can boost bone density, too ? it is a great way to build core strength and improve balance and posture ? it tightens tummy muscles and helps ease lower back pain ? by boosting blood flow and dilating arteries it helps lower blood pressure and improve brain function ? studies show it can boost mood ? and libido Health Bite Look out for ?yeast flakes? in health food stores. This is deactivated yeast (meaning it doesn?t grow like baking yeast) which is packed with flavour and nutrients. Many brands are fortified with vitamin B12, making it a nutritional flavour enhancer for vegans (who often lack this essential vitamin). It is also a ?complete protein? (because it contains amino acids), and contains other B vitamins plus iron, selenium and zinc, while being low in fat and salt. If sprinkled on soups or sauces and stirred into pasta it tastes a bit like Parmesan cheese. We are unable to offer individual advice to readers. Please see your own GP if you have a medical problem. HEALTH 19 Advice For Gardeners Tips to avoid premature ageing How To Have Youthful Skin I Our Health Writer, Colleen Shannon, learns how to keep your face glowing. T happens to all of us sooner or later. You look in the mirror and notice some wrinkles, frown lines or puffy bags under your eyes. Age changes our skin and we can?t stop the clock. But with the right routines and advice, we can slow it down. I asked Dr Katerina Steventon, international skincare expert, scientist and facialist, to share some of her secrets. She runs an independent skincare clinic called FaceWorkshops in Yorkshire, and is on the expert panel of the British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (BABTAC). Dr Steventon explained that the biology of our skin underlies the effects we see as we get older. Changes to the deeper layers of the skin cause it to wrinkle, get thinner and start to sag. Changes in the surface layer lead to dryness, roughness and a lacklustre appearance. Fortunately, there is much we can do to keep the skin healthy and looking well. Sun is the biggest enemy of ageing skin, so don?t overdo your exposure. Use sun cream (although we all need a bit of time without it, for Vitamin D) and wear sunglasses when it?s bright. Stress, lack of sleep, an inadequate diet and poor skincare habits also affect the health of the skin. Make relaxation a priority and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Go for a diet rich in balanced omega fatty acids, antioxidants, probiotics and protein. It?s also good to stay properly hydrated. It?s essential to follow a routine of cleansing, moisturising and, after the age of thirty, using a serum. Use a special product for the eye area, which is prone to premature ageing. Do this every morning when you wake up and every night before bed. Using a weekly facial mask is also a good habit from your thirties onward. Skincare products don?t keep for ever ? they go off. The label should tell you how long a product will last. So make a wise investment that?s within your budget. Good skincare does not have to be expensive, but it does need to be matched to your individual needs. It?s worthwhile to have an initial consultation with a skincare specialist. They can advise on your routine and what to use. Here are some tips on finding your expert: ? Ideally, talk to someone who works with several product lines, so their recommendation is based on what?s best for you and is not restricted to one brand. ? Ask what qualifications they have, too. You can search for a local beauty therapist on the BABTAC website at www.babtac. com ? To bring yourself up to date on the basics of skincare, have a look at the American Academy of Dermatology website at www.aad.org/public. The British Dietetic Association has a good fact sheet on food and skin health on www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts. ? You can visit www.katerinasteventon. com for Dr Steventon?s regular articles on various skincare topics. Looking after your skin is one of those occasions when doing something for your health is also a pleasure, so do go ahead and enjoy. n Before you even think about getting out to dig the garden this spring, take heed of the first scientific study of the ergonomics of a good, safe digging technique. Researchers at Coventry University have been working with the Royal Horticultural Society to analyse different digging actions and have concluded that a good digging action is one which uses a regular, repetitive digging technique, bending from the knees when necessary and keeping the back straight. The digging action most likely to set you up for strain or injury, or exacerbate arthritis, is one where you stretch or lean just out of reach and work in an erratic or uncontrolled way. Cheats And Eats If you can?t stand the thought of hunger or deprivation but you?re longing to lose weight and tone up for summer, a new book, ?Cheats And Eats?, could provide the answer. The clever diet plan allows you to eat up to 10 delicious and tempting ?cheats? each day but still lose weight because the rest of your diet is packed with ?eats? (mostly vegetables and salads). No calorie counting is required. With meal plans and recipes included, it should make sensible slimming a breeze. It?s �99 ? order from www. healthspan.co.uk CHE TS EATS L IFES T Y LE PRO G R A M ME Eat the foods you crave and lose weight even faster ?The result is a fabulous diet that won?t just help you lose weight, but that you?ll actually want to stick to!? JACKIE WICKS WI T H RO B H O B S O N J J VIRGIN THE VIRGI N DIET HEALTH 6 good reasons to eat peppers Vitamin C For Immunity The combined effects of vitamin A and C create a great antioxidant capacity, and with lycopene in the mix, the red bell pepper becomes a top notch superfood. Lycopene is what makes tomatoes and peppers red. Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene, which has been shown to help prevent many cancers. A Weight-loss Aid } SCIENCE BIT One medium (120g) pepper contains 24 calories 2g fibre 160% of your daily vitamin C 1g protein Disease-fighting Compounds Whether you choose red, orange or yellow peppers, the bright colour indicates the disease-fighting activity of carotenoids. As with all fruit and vegetables, the brighter the colour, the more phytonutrients it contains. So bright red peppers can contain five times as many polyphenols and carotenes as the immature green. You?d have to eat five green peppers to get as many phytonutrients as one red. Green ones have a tenth of the vitamin A of red, too. Cooking peppers can double their polyphenol count, and use the white pith as this contains the highest concentrations of antioxidants and polyphenols. } } THE l l l l Cancer Prevention } Peppers have been ranked the most antioxidant rich of the 10 most commonly consumed vegetables in the Western world, beating even broccoli and spinach! A typical 80 g serving contains more than twice the vitamin C you need in a day, plus fibre and vitamin A. If you are prone to anaemia, try a fresh pepper sauce with your steak. The vitamin C in the pepper helps the absorption of iron. Red peppers are also a great source of vitamin B6 and folate, both of which can help prevent anaemia. 21 It has long been known that the metabolism hike triggered by the heat of chillis can aid weight loss, but recent research has shown that sweet red peppers can have a similar effect. Although they don?t contain capsaicin, which is what makes peppers hot, they do have a mild thermogenic action that increases our metabolism. Parkinson?s Protection Studies from the US show that eating peppers can lower your risk of Parkinson?s disease. This is thought to be linked to the fact that the ?nightshade? family of vegetables (which includes peppers and aubergines) are related to the tobacco plant, and nicotine in microscopic quantities has been shown to offer some protection against the disease. Researchers found people who ate pepper daily showed half the risk of those who ate none at all. Mix And Match SHORT STORY BY JAN SNOOK 23 It would be fun going to a fancy-dress party ? if Melissa could persuade David to wear a costume . . . Illustration by iStock. M ELISSA read the note that Joshua had just sheepishly handed her. ?When did you get this?? she demanded as she zipped up two-year-old Nicky?s anorak and called upstairs. ?Florence! Hurry or you?ll be late for school!? Joshua shrugged. ?I?ve told you, you?ve got to give me notes as soon as you get them,? she scolded. ?Where?s your gym kit? We?re going to be late.? ?I?m off.? Her husband was heading for the door. ?You look a bit fraught. What?s up?? ?Joshua?s only just told me it?s World Book Day on Thursday. He and Florence will have to dress up as characters in books.? David pulled a sympathetic face. ?It?s a great idea, though, World Book Day. I?m glad the kids have to think of books occasionally rather than stare at a screen!? ?Yes, but it?s just one more thing to do when I?m already struggling to do the routine things.? Melissa deposited the older children at school and Nicky at nursery (where she discovered he, too, needed a costume), then made her way to work. On her lunchbreak she called in at the library and trawled the children?s section for suitable characters. Her phone rang. ?Good, you?re there,? her best friend, Charlotte, said happily. ?I was ringing to ask you and David to a party. It?s rather short notice, but can you make Saturday evening?? Melissa smiled. ?Charlotte, you are just what I needed. I seem to spend my life ferrying the children to parties. A proper grown-up party would be a real treat!? She laughed. ?Can I bring anything?? ?No, just bring yourselves,? Charlotte said. ?Suitably dressed, of course!? ?Suitably dressed?? Melissa echoed faintly. ?Yes. I got the idea last week from school when they sent that note about World Book Day. I thought, why should the kids have all the fun? So I hope to see you and David as Romeo and Juliet? Or maybe Poirot and Miss Marple?? She gave a happy laugh. ?Anyway, lots to do. See you on Saturday!? * * * * ?No,? David said with a groan. ?Please don?t make me dress up. I don?t want to stick on a moustache and pretend to be Poirot. You?ve already got yourself into a state about the kids? costumes. Surely we don?t have to put ourselves through this charade as well?? ?It needn?t be complicated,? Melissa wheedled. ?I could just put on a pretty dress and go as Noel Streatfeild?s ?Party Frock?, or someone from ?Ballet Shoes?, and you could go as . . .? ?So you get to wear normal clothes and I?ve to make an idiot of myself? Why on earth did you say we?d go?? Melissa didn?t mention the party again, but set about organising costumes for herself and David. On Saturday morning she tentatively said that the babysitter would be arriving at seven, and took David?s grunted reply as acquiescence. At five o?clock she laid out their costumes on the bed and then started on the children?s tea. ?Seven o?clock?s early for the babysitter,? David said, coming into the kitchen and pinching a bread and butter soldier off Nicky?s plate. ?Surely we?re not due there till half seven?? Melissa took a breath. ?I thought she could put the children to bed while we put on our costumes.? ?Fair point,? David said. ?Aren?t you going to ask what our costumes are?? Melissa asked suspiciously. ?I know what I?m going as,? David said pleasantly, and he headed upstairs to their bedroom just as the doorbell rang announcing the babysitter?s arrival. Melissa joined him there a few minutes later. ?Who are these for?? David asked, looking at the costumes on the bed. ?I thought you were going as Party Frock.? ?No, we?re Cinderella and Prince Charming,? Melissa said quickly, picking up the blue ball gown. She couldn?t help smiling. ?It comes with a tiara as well. I borrowed them from the woman who organises the WI pantomime.? ?And I?m supposed to wear these?? David said, picking up the brocade jacket, velvet knickerbockers and frilly jabot. ?Really?? ?Actually, I thought you might refuse,? Melissa said defiantly, ?but I?m going to wear my costume regardless. I?ve tried it on and I love it. And if you go in your ordinary clothes, I shall simply have to say that we?re Beauty and the Beast instead. OK?? Somewhat to her surprise, David grinned and went over to the wardrobe and brought out a box with the name of a costume-hire shop on the lid. ?You got your own? When you were so against the whole thing?? ?Well, I thought maybe I?d been a bit hasty. And I got one for you as well.? He opened the box and pulled out a brownishyellow furry bundle, and shook it out. ?I?m the lion from Perfect for Easter These beautiful Daffodil and Iris Biscuit Barrels and Tins are perfect for Easter and would make indulgent gifts for loved ones, or a well-deserved treat for yourself. Each barrel and tin contains 600g of St Kew traditional biscuits and the barrels also feature a stay-fresh dehumidifier to keep your biscuits crisp. For those us of who prefer to have guilt-free treats or require a sugar-free diet why not try our Sugar Free Biscuits Pack? This beautifully designed triple-pack contains three delicious flavours of sugar-free biscuits - Oat Crunch, Shortbread and Mild Ginger. Iris Biscuit Round Tin (PFIRT) - �.50 From only �.50 Daffodil Biscuit Barrel (PF32D) - �.00 Daffodil Biscuit Round Tin (PFFRT) - �.50 Iris Biscuit Barrel (PB46B) - �.00 inc. P&P Name .................................................................................................................... Address ................................................................................................................. ................................................................................................................................ ........................................................................... Postcode ................................... Telephone ............................................................................................................. Email Address ....................................................................................................... PLEASE SEND ME CODE PRICE Daffodil Biscuit Barrel PF32D �.00 Iris Biscuit Barrel PB46B �.00 Daffodil Biscuit Round Tin PFFRT �.50 Iris Biscuit Round Tin PFIRT �.50 Sugar Free Triple Pack PFSFT �.00 Easter Biscuits Tube PF69Z �.50 Total Cost Of Order QTY TOTAL Sugar � I enclose a cheque/postal order, made payable to ?DC Thomson & Co. Ltd? for the total amount of � .................... 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BY POST: Complete the coupon and enclose a cheque/postal order, made payable to ?DC Thomson & Co. Ltd.,? for the total amount of your order, and send to: ?The People?s Friend? Easter Gifts Offer, DC Thomson Shop, P.O. Box 766, Haywards Heath RH16 9GF. ONLINE: www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk SERIES BY MALCOLM WELSHMAN: PART 26 OF 30 25 ?The Wizard Of Oz?. Wait till you see it on! And you, my darling, are going to be Dorothy!? Melissa?s image of herself in the elegant, shimmering princess-like dress was slipping away. She?d have to be Dorothy instead. After all, David had gone to a lot of trouble . . . She took a deep breath and picked up the childish blue-and-white-gingham dress and the ruby slippers. She couldn?t help it: she began to laugh. ?David, it?s lovely, but what size is it?? ?Ten,? he said proudly. Melissa bit her lip. ?I?m sorry, love, but I haven?t been a ten since we were first married, and I?ve had three children since then! I?m never going to get into this in a million years.? David looked crestfallen and Melissa went over and put her arms round him. ?It was really nice of you to go to so much trouble, love. And even nicer to think I was still that thin!? ?I?d better be your Prince Charming,? David decided glumly. ?Put on the lion costume anyway ? I?d like to see you in it,? Melissa said, stepping into the layers of tulle, and turning round for David to zip her up. ?Now I just need the headdress.? They were gazing at themselves in the mirror when Florence came in. She stared at them both critically, then turned and left. ?Was that approval or horror, do you think?? Before Melissa could answer the door opened again. ?You look OK,? Florence said grudgingly, ?but you?d better take these.? She handed something to each of them. ?A wand?? Melissa said, puzzled. ?What do I want with . . .?? Then David grinned. ?Perfect, Florence! Problem solved.? He turned to Melissa and showed her the bit of doll?shouse furniture Florence had given him. ?We?re going as ?The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe?!? n A poorly pug has a permanent problem . . . I WAS called out one evening to see an emergency case at the hospital. It was a pug called Bertie. Normally, as is typical of his breed, he was all huff and puff. Full of himself, with big eyes, for ever looking for what mischief he could get up to next. Tonight, when he was brought in, he looked far from mischievous. He looked downright miserable. ?Bertie keeps bringing up his dinner,? one of the two burly guys that came in with him said, introducing himself as Ken Butcher. ?It?s been going on for a couple of hours,? his mate, Oliver Robbins, added. ?He?s getting distressed.? He looked across at Ken, who was patting his chest, a painful look on his face. ?Bertie, that is. But so are we.? Meanwhile, Bertie gave a loud snuffle and heaved up a puddle of foam, depositing it on the consulting room floor. ?There. That?s what we?re talking about.? Ken took a tissue from his jacket pocket and bent down to wipe up the deposit before carefully folding the tissue to drop it in a nearby bin. ?We?re worried he might have a blockage.? I was worried, too, but not for that reason. I explained my plan to Ken and Oliver. ?I?m going to give Bertie an anti-spasmolytic injection to calm down his vomiting reflex. That should help to settle him. I?ll keep him in overnight for some tests tomorrow. If that?s OK with you, of course.? The two guys nodded their assent and bent down to kiss Bertie goodbye, reassuring him that they weren?t abandoning him and that he?d soon be feeling better. I hoped so as, having given Bertie his injection, I led him down to the kennels for his overnight stay. When I?d unclipped his lead and closed the kennel door on him, he looked up at me with those bulbous eyes of his and gave a final, very loud, very frothy burp. The next morning, Mandy, the senior nurse, had already been round checking on in-patients. She was an efficient young lady who had high standards which she expected to be echoed by those she worked with. My fianc閑, Lucy, in particular. Poor Lucy always did her utmost to comply with Mandy?s exacting standards, although she didn?t always succeed, which occasionally caused tensions between the two. ?I see we?ve this pug in for a barium meal and X-ray.? Mandy flicked through the case history notes I?d clipped to a board outside Bertie?s kennel before leaving last night. She glanced at the watch pinned to her uniform. ?Shall we make that for eleven o?clock after you?ve finished morning appointments?? I nodded meekly as she carried on. ?I?ll get Lucy to give him a dose of barium at ten forty-five. Twenty millilitres should be enough, wouldn?t you say?? I gave another meek nod. By quarter past eleven the barium contrast X-rays had been taken, developed and clipped up on the viewing screen ready to be studied. Mandy had already done so. ?A case of megaoesophagus,? she said as I looked at the enlarged food tube on the X-ray, outlined in white by the barium that had been given earlier. I now had to explain the condition to his owners and tell them what the prognosis was likely to be. I went on the internet to find out more information about megaoesophagus, but so had Ken and Oliver. They seemed more knowledgeable than me when they arrived to collect Bertie. It was an effusive reunion. The pug dashed between the two of them, giving excited little yelps, his curly tail in a constant spin. ?Congenital?? Ken said, raising his eyebrows. ?Or idiopathic?? Oliver said, lowering his. I creased mine together. ?Could be either.? Whichever, such enlargement of the oesophagus couldn?t be rectified. ?It can only be managed,? I stated. That consisted of feeding Bertie in an upright position, very carefully, with food rolled up into little balls and given over a 15-minute period three to four times a day. ?No problem,? Ken declared. ?We?ll take it in turns to have him on our laps and make sure his front legs are raised. Won?t we?? He turned to Bertie. He responded with another woof of delight. I could see this was a dog who adored attention. His future would be secure in the caring hands of Ken and Oliver. A future he was bound to lap up, whichever one he sat in. More next week. Brainteasers Missing Link THIGH DRY GET ESTATE ADDRESS CLUB IDENTICAL BEDS NEVER GAMES JELLY BOOM BOXING BINDER PENCIL STUDY FACE ANIMAL DAB CREAM S I S D A O N D E T E S I S S H L L N I I H M L E A L L C R A P 1 F N I A S L T A Y C S A T I U H I C U G M T D I S A 4 C O N S T O B L Y E R E R E E O T D A I N N N E S B A L C G T 7 E S U N R A L I A S L H A R Y R ACROSS 1 2 3 4 1 Dodge 8 between traffic! (7) 5 Consumer (4) 9 9 Series of rocks lying off the Isle 11 12 of Wight (7) 10 Welsh word for Wales (5) 11 Domain, 14 15 kingdom (5) 17 12 Being (6) 14 Pedestal (6) 18 16 Beast, creature (6) 21 18 Henry the ___, 22 23 six?times married king (6) 19 Vicar in the army (5) 24 25 22 In the bronze position (5) 4 Officially designated 23 Flogging (7) as significant 24 Shrivel (4) (building) (6) 25 Freedom, 6 Indication of the release (7) existence of disease (7) DOWN 7 Defeat utterly (4) 2 Combat 8 Convert into code (7) area (5) 10 Move (text) to 3 Suitably another place, on a paired (4,7) computer (3,3,5) With the help of the Across clues only, can you fit the pieces into their correct positions in the grid? P S I D E P U C O N L E S S L G P S I N S I OG 2 5 6 5 6 8 9 10 V L N E D R EM N N 13 13 16 19 20 13 Abnormal reaction to a substance (7) 15 First letter (7) 17 Pungent pod of the capsicum, used in sauces (6) 20 Wander aimlessly (5) 21 Irish ___, traditional dish (4) Sudoku Fill the grid with the numbers 1 to 9 so that each row, column and 3x3 block contains the numbers 1 to 9. 1 9 3 8 6 3 7 11 12 9 1 7 14 15 8 10 12 14 Competition ? Affliction Thoughtless Hitching up ? Greeny?blue False name ? Scorned 7 10 8 7 6 3 C I ON R ACROSS 2 Abatement ? Asian peanut sauce 4 Cease ? Beyond question 6 Of a life story Answers on p87 Try our quick crossword Fit ten words into the grid so each one connects up with the words on either side eg - wishing well - done. Read down the letters in the shaded squares to spell out a phrase. Pieceword PUZZLES 27 8 6 9 5 2 9 1 2 2 6 7 4 5 All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd ? www.puzzler.com garden checklist This week?s GARDENING 29 There?s plenty to do in the March garden, as John Stoa explains. POT PLANTS Plants that have given us some cheer over winter, such as orchids, amaryllis, potted azaleas and Christmas cactus, will still need attention if they are to flower again next year. Keep them warm, in good light, and well watered and fed about once a month in spring, apart from the Christmas cactus which gets dried off and remains dormant till new growth buds appear (around April). That is the time to water, feed and get it back into growth. PLANT STRAWBERRIES Strawberry plants are available in autumn and spring as cold stored plants with a strong healthy crown, or as runners saved from your own strawberry patch which has had a few years of cropping and needs replaced. As they will be down for three years, give them a good start by digging in some manure or compost. Plants are spaced out a foot apart with rows three feet apart. PLANT ONIONS Onions can be grown from seed or sets. I sow my seeds now on a window-sill as they need warmth to germinate and good light to keep them stocky. I use trays of 40 cells and usually need two trays per packet. Hygro is still my favourite variety and is also available as sets which can be planted any time in March. Photographs by John Stoa and iStock. PEST PATROL As the weather begins to warm up, garden pests become more active. Plants most at risk are the polyanthus, pansies and outdoor plants in containers and roses with new growth. Greenfly are always quick off the mark, but so are slugs and vine weevils, so take immediate action. There are suitable sprays and pellets but greenfly are easy to rub off, a messy but very effective method. GREEN MANURES Land allocated for late crops including pumpkins, courgettes and sweetcorn will benefit from a green manure crop such as tares or clover sown in early March. The green manure crop will need to be trampled down and dug in at least two months before planting. This gives it time to rot down and slowly release its nutrients over the summer months. ts ! r a St day to The Secret Of Trefusis Cove House-sitting in Cornwall seemed an ideal way to spend the summer . . . Illustration by David Young. I DON?T know why I joined the group in the first place.? Val closed her sketch pad and put it into the satchel with the rest of her artwork. ?It was you who persuaded me in the first place ? I?ve never been any good at it.? ?This is only the third Wednesday,? Betty replied. ?Neither of us can be a Picasso in three lessons.? ?You were always top of the class at school.? ?Well, Peter John is a brilliant artist and I?m so glad he decided to teach a class at the community centre. It?ll do us good to have an interest,? Betty said as she filled the kettle at the sink. ?He said you showed promise.? ?Your sunflower was bright. He said you had a unique style,? Betty countered. ?That could mean anything.? ?Are you taking sugar today?? Betty smiled. ?Yes. I need the energy. I?ve got to go home and work out where the light?s coming from.? Val sighed. ?I?m sure we?ll soon get the hang of it.? Betty Silk and Val Freeman had been schoolfriends. Both now widowed, they lived only a few doors from one another. Their husbands had been good friends and Betty and Val shared happy memories with their children growing up around them. Now there were grandchildren. The art class would be good for them both, Betty thought. New skills, new friends to meet. If Val didn?t enjoy it there were other things the community centre had to offer. She could learn French, crochet, join the reading group or the Knitwits knitting group. ?I?m off.? Val got up from her chair and put her art satchel over her shoulder. ?Thanks for the tea. I?ll call you when I?ve ruined the sunflower ? or not.? ?It?ll be fine. Once you can work on it on your own it?ll turn out beautiful.? ?You?re kind, Betty, but some hopes. I?ll try anyway.? Val sighed. ?Attagirl!? Betty patted her friend?s arm. ?And I?ll finish my sketch of the bowl of apples.? ?See you soon and we?ll compare.? Val smiled. * * * * ?The flower is lovely.? Betty sighed. ?But . . .? ?But what?? ?Why has the vase two shadows?? ?It hasn?t,? Val argued. ?Yes, it has. Look, here and here.? Betty pointed. ?It?s a mark on the paper.? ?It isn?t. And where?s the SERIAL BY PAT THORNBOROUGH PART 1 OF 6 31 light coming from?? ?From the left,? was the reply. ?Look, you can see the light on the ladybird.? ?The ladybird is nice,? Betty said comfortingly. ?No, it?s you who?s being nice.? Val sighed. ?I?ll make the other shadow into a bowl or something. Mr John may not notice.? ?He will.? Betty poured the tea. ?I think I?ll chuck it in and do something else.? ?What would that be?? Betty bit into a biscuit. ?Photography?? Val brightened. ?I wouldn?t need sketch pad or paints, I?d just point the camera and click. Sunflowers, ladybirds, the lot!? ?You?ve still got to know where the light?s coming from, Val. And that camera the children gave you for Christmas? You haven?t even touched it yet.? ?I?ll soon get the hang of it. Everything?s digital now, no film to develop. Easy. I could go in for the Countryfile Calendar Competition.? Val put two spoons of sugar in her tea and stirred vigorously. ?After the lesson I?ll tell Mr John I?m going to try something else.? ?The class is this afternoon. We?ll see what Mr John says. Don?t fret, Val, we?re all beginners.? ?Some of us are more beginners than others,? Val replied. * * * * ?He seemed preoccupied this afternoon.? Betty unlocked the front door. ?He didn?t say a word about my painting.? Val sighed. ?Only that the ladybird was nice. I didn?t have the heart to tell him I wanted to give it all up.? ?He?s got something on his mind. Best not to pry; it?s none of our business.? ?I know.? Val hung her satchel on the back of a kitchen chair and took two mugs from the dresser. ?That makes me want to pry more. Maybe he?s got romance problems?? ?Don?t be so nosy, Val.? Betty grinned. ?By next Wednesday he?ll have got over whatever it is.? The doorbell rang. ?Who could that be?? Betty made her way to the front door and opened it. Their art teacher was standing on the doorstep. ?Oh, hello, Mr John. What can I do for you?? He stood there, tall and smiling in oversized sweater and jeans. He sported a neatly trimmed beard and dark-framed glasses. ?I?m sorry to disturb you, Mrs Silk, but I have a problem and a favour to ask.? He hesitated. ?Feel free to refuse, though.? Betty smiled. ?You?d better step inside.? She held open the door. ?There?s tea brewing. Val?s here, too.? ?That?s wonderful. I wanted to speak to Mrs Freeman, too.? He stepped into the hall. ?Mr John!? Val hurriedly brushed biscuit crumbs off her jumper. ?Take a seat.? Betty pulled up a chair. Val swallowed hard. ?This is not about my sunflower, is it?? ?Goodness, no! That ladybird made quite an impression on me.? ?Thank you, Mr John.? ?Please, call me Peter.? Betty poured the tea. ?We?re Betty and Val. Do you take sugar?? ?Two, please.? No more was said until they were all settled. Val took another biscuit. ?Now,? Betty said. ?What?s this favour you want to ask?? ?The thing is . . .? he faltered. ?I have two exhibitions of my paintings this summer in London. They?ve come at an awkward time but the galleries can?t fit them into any other slot.? ?Two exhibitions?? Val echoed. ?That?s wonderful!? ?Yes. The problem is that I usually go down to Cornwall during the summer break. Chill out, do a bit of painting, surf, you know what I mean?? ?Oh, of course.? Val was wide eyed. ?I have a little cottage a few miles outside St Ives. I don?t want to leave it empty during the tourist season. People ? surfers, students and the like ? could break in and make use of it. But I?ve no-one who could pop down there for six weeks or more to house-sit.? He gazed at them both. ?When one of the ladies in the art group told me that you?d done a bit of house-minding in the past, I wondered . . .? ?Cornwall?? Betty said. ?Yes, it would be for six ?Not much.? Betty put the car into gear. ?Cornish cottage, here we come.? ?Tangara Cottage ? what a romantic name.? ?As long as Peter?s ?basic? still means comfortable, I don?t care how romantic it is.? Betty laughed. They stopped a couple of times for a short break and to have tea from the flask ?We may see a mermaid. Stranger things have happened? weeks. I couldn?t pay much, sorry.? He spread out his hands. ?Six weeks? holiday in a seaside Cornish cottage?? Betty?s eyes glowed. ?I could take my camera.? Val beamed. ?Oh, Betty, surely we could do it?? ?Of course we can,? Betty replied. ?How much time do we have to prepare? Our children and the neighbours would keep an eye on things here ? they?ve done it before. How exciting!? ?What a relief.? Peter smiled. ?I hardly hoped it would be as easy as this. There are three more Wednesdays before the end of term; after that would be great. Thank you so very much.? He reached out and took a biscuit. ?Take two,? Val said. ?I?ll write out instructions about Tangara Cottage and how to find the place. I always leave the key with the man who runs the little general store in the cove. ?The place is very basic but I?m sure you?ll manage, and the light is wonderful in Cornwall ? a lot of artists work there. The Tate Gallery isn?t far from Tangara.? He smiled at Val. ?You?ll still have to know where the light?s coming from, even with the most state-of-the-art camera.? * * * * ?We should have an overnight stop in Exminster. We?ll be refreshed for the last leg of the journey.? ?I?m really looking forward to this holiday.? Val grinned. ?Sand, sea, fresh air, deckchair, a good book and peace and quiet. What more could we wish for?? Val had provided. The day was bright and cloudless, perfect summer weather, and they reached the small village of Exminster before dark, in time to settle into their bed and breakfast. Next morning they rose early and continued their journey through the rolling countryside of Devon. ?Let?s have a real Devonshire cream tea,? Val said. ?Look, there?s a lovely place just ahead that sells antiques, too.? ?Tea will do. I?ve enough stuff at home to dust and polish.? They ordered a pot of tea and scones, after which Betty studied the map while Val browsed the antiques. ?Look.? Val came towards her waving a small book. ?Another romance to read on the beach?? ?No, it?s a book about mermaids. It says most of them have been seen in Cornwall.? Val laid the book on the table over the map. ?Have a look.? ?Silly goose.? Betty pushed it to one side. ?There?s no such thing.? ?But it goes into a lot of detail. It?s very convincing.? ?It?s for children.? Betty glanced at it then turned back to the map. ?I don?t care ? I like it.? Val sniffed. ?We may see a mermaid. Stranger things have happened, you know.? Betty gave her friend a look and Val grinned. ?I know it?s daft, Betty, but wouldn?t it be wonderful if it were true?? ?You?d certainly make the Countryfile Calendar if you got a photo of a mermaid!? The last leg of the journey was long and 33 uneventful. They both cheered as they crossed the River Tamar Bridge. ?Do you know, the Romans, when they conquered Britain, never crossed the Tamar. They didn?t think there was anything worthwhile on the other side. How wrong they were.? ?So that?s why it?s full of Cornish piskies and mermaids.? Betty laughed. ?Nothing altered and everything unspoiled. I just hope the roads are up to modern standards!? * * * * It was dark when they reached the coast of Cornwall. At a pub Peter had marked on the map, along the coast road to Trefusis Cove on the outskirts of St Ives, they asked the way to their destination. The landlord looked puzzled. ?What do you want to go there for?? ?We?re staying at Tangara Cottage,? Betty explained. ?Why?? he asked again. Betty began to feel cross. She was tired and hungry. ?Are we on the right road?? she asked as politely as she could. ?We?ve come to caretake the cottage for Mr Peter John.? ?Oh, you?re them.? He grinned. ?We know all about it. Couple of artists, no doubt, searching for the right light.? He grinned. ?Place is swarming with the likes of you.? There was a collective ?Aah!? from the few people in the bar. ?Is it signposted?? Val asked. ?Nah. You drive a couple of miles till you come to a turn on your right. Two white stones; you drive between them. There?s a steep lane down to the cove, then you?ll come to a turn on your left. ?There?s a beach shop there. He may have shut up for the night, but if you knock loudly maybe he?ll hear. He has the key, see.? He glanced at the clock over the bar. ?Better get a move on or he?ll be closed and might have gone to the shanties.? Betty had no idea what he meant about shanties, but she thanked him and they returned to the car. ?Couple of miles; first turning on right; steep lane.? Betty repeated the instructions under her breath. ?Two white stones.? ?It?s pitch dark,? Val whispered, peering through the windscreen. ?No cat?s eyes, no street lights.? Betty drove carefully, concentrating on the way ahead. ?There!? Val pointed. ?Two white stones, see? Turn there, Betty.? Betty made a slow turn between the markers and down the steep incline. The lane flattened out and they came to a stop outside what looked like a small wooden kiosk. Steps up to a door were illuminated by the headlights of their car. ?This must be the place.? ?There?s no light anywhere,? Val replied. Betty opened her door and got out. She stretched her limbs. Val did the same. ?So, this is it.? ?Seems like it.? In the darkness they became aware of the sound of waves washing on the shore but could see nothing. Betty removed a small torch from the glove box. ?Let?s see if we can rouse anyone.? She went to the steps of the small building and mounted them. There was no door knocker so she rapped with her fist. They waited a while but there was no response. Betty rapped again. ?Is anyone there?? She tried the door. It was locked. ?Oh, Betty, what if it?s the wrong place? Maybe we?ll never find the cottage and have to spend the night in the car.? Val was tired, too, and near to tears. ?Don?t fret, Val.? Betty led the way down the steps. ?If worst comes to worst we can go back to the pub and spend the night there. I?m sure they have rooms, and we can tackle this problem in the daylight.? Val sighed. ?I just want a cup of tea and a bite to eat ? I don?t care what. Let?s find Tangara Cottage and see if we can get in.? ?We must find the man with the key. He knows we?re arriving today so he?s bound to be near. Let?s sit in the car and wait. Maybe he?s gone out and will be back soon.? Betty went round to the driver?s side and opened the door, then paused. ?What?s that noise?? ?What noise?? Val leaned across the driver?s seat. ?Singing.? Betty held up her hand. ?Listen.? They sat still in the dark, straining their ears to catch a sound above the wash of the waves on the shore. ?There it is again. Did you hear it that time?? ?Yes,? Val whispered. ?It sounds like a choir. It?s spooky. I don?t like it.? ?Don?t be daft, Val. It?s probably on a radio or a CD player. Listen so we can work out what direction it?s coming from.? ?Over there.? Val pointed a shaking finger. ?Let?s follow the sound.? She shut the car door and waited until Val joined her. * * * * Together they moved forward into the darkness, the small beam of the torch lighting the way before them. ?Looks like some rocks up ahead,? Betty said. ?Better take my arm, Val, we don?t want to trip and fall right at the start of our holiday.? ?I can feel that we?re walking on sand now.? ?There?s a huge rock formation here; we?ll work our way around it. The music?s started again so we must be getting somewhere.? Betty spoke as confidently as she could. Edging their way carefully around the rocky outcrop, they were surprised by a light in the distance on the other side. ?There?s a sort of cabin up ahead. I can just make out the shape of it.? ?I can see the light,? Val said. ?It?s coming from a window, and the singing is louder now.? ?Civilisation at last!? Betty sighed in relief. As they drew nearer the going became easier and they could see the way ahead by the light from the window. ?Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down.? The music and singing continued to flow out over the sandy bay from what seemed to be a very loud CD player. Betty felt that their cup of tea and bite to eat were nearer still. Mounting some steps, they walked over to a door, and Betty knocked loudly. The music stopped and voices came from inside. ?Someone at the door, Aircut,? a voice said. ?All right, I can ?ear it.? The door opened a crack and a pair of bright blue eyes appeared between a beard and a mop of unruly red hair, both sprinkled with grey. The eyes crinkled and a smiling mouth from the beard said, ?You must be them artist ladies for Tangara.? Betty smiled. ?Yes, we?re Betty Silk and Val Freeman. We were supposed to collect the key from the little shop, but there?s no-one there.? The door opened wider and the small man with the abundant beard and hair ushered them inside. ?There ain?t no-one there because he?s here, you see. He?s our bass for the shanties.? A large man got up from a semi-circle of chairs and stools upon which a group of men were sitting and came forward. ?I?m the man you want.? He grinned. ?Kit Pelago. I?ve got the key right here in my pocket. It got so dark I thought you wouldn?t be arriving until tomorrow, so I came over to Aircut?s place for the music. ?Sorry you?ve had so much trouble, coming over the sand like that. You?re lucky the tide didn?t catch you out.? ?Oh, thank goodness.? Val sighed. ?We?ve come such a long way and we?re so tired.? ?Come over and have a seat, ladies,? Aircut invited. ?I?ve put a spark in the hearth, it being a bit chilly, like. I?ll make you a brew.? There was a lot of shuffling around as all the men got up to offer their seats. ?You?re very kind,? a weary Betty said. ?A cup of anything would be very welcome.? ?Jar coffee be OK, will it?? Aircut asked. ?That would be wonderful.? Their host disappeared into a room at the back and they could hear the clatter of mugs and the running of water. There was an embarrassing silence as the men sat down again, each waiting for the other to make conversation. ?Are there many people living in the cove?? Betty asked. ?We couldn?t see much in the dark.? ?Nothing but this place, Tangara Cottage and my shop,? Kit Pelago answered. ?It?s a mite lonely. Off the beaten track, but all the better for that.? Aircut came back with two steaming mugs on a tray. A plate of biscuits looked inviting. ?I put a drop of my home-made cordial in each.? He smiled. ?It?ll warm your bones.? ?Thank you.? Betty took a mug. ?You?re so kind.? ?This is delicious,? Val said. ?Your coffee must be different down here. I?d love to know the brand. Or maybe it?s the different water.? There was an exchange of looks between the men and a grin from Aircut. ?It?s my cordial,? he explained. ?It makes just that little bit of difference.? ?There was a collective ?Aah!? from the men. ?So,? Betty said, ?you?ve been listening to sea shanties? We could hear the music as we came across the bay.? ?Nah,? Kit said. ?It was us singing. We get together to sing the old sea songs.? ?You?re very good. We thought it was the radio or a CD.? ?That?s very nice of you to say so.? Aircut pulled up another stool into the circle around the stove. ?How?s the coffee?? ?It?s the best I?ve ever tasted.? Val beamed. ?Isn?t it, Betty?? Betty felt warm, comfortable (despite the hard wooden stool) and more relaxed than she?d been all day. Val was rosy-cheeked and smiling, eating biscuits and chatting with the shanty men. They were here in Cornwall safe and sound and would soon be tucked up in cosy beds in Tangara Cottage, with six glorious weeks ahead of them. Betty sighed contentedly and imagined herself outside the cottage with her sketch book, churning out the most wonderful seascapes. Val would be out on the beach with her camera, photographing seaweed, shells and interesting rock formations. She felt her own cheeks growing rosier and rosier. The shanty men began to sing. ?In your honour, a shanty with girls in it.? Aircut grinned as they began ?Spanish Ladies?. ?Oh, that warms my heart.? Val sighed. ?I went to Spain once.? ?Would you like some more coffee, ladies?? Aircut smiled through his beard. ?Oh, that?s very kind but we mustn?t impose upon you any longer,? Betty replied reluctantly. ?If we can have the key we?ll make our way back to the cottage.? The men looked at one another. ?You?ll not get back the same way you came.? Aircut cocked his head. ?Listen.? Betty could hear the sound of waves on the shore. ?Tide runs in swift here,? Kit told them. ?The water is up to the big rocks by now.? ?But how shall we get back?? Val wailed. ?I?ve got my people carrier outside. I?ll take you back by the road. It?ll only take a minute.? ?You mean we could have walked along the road?? ?Of course, but you didn?t have the daylight, so how could you have known?? Kit replied. Betty laughed and got up from her stool. Her legs felt heavy and tired. Val looked a bit wobbly, too. ?I?m more tired than I thought,? she said with a laugh. ?Aircut?s cordial is a bit more beneficial than it should be.? Kit grinned. ?Mr Aircut was very kind to share it with us. Is it an old family recipe?? Kit grinned. ?Something like that, but he won?t tell you what?s in it. By the way, Aircut?s just his nickname. When we were all at school together the teacher was always telling him to get a haircut. ?He?s still a bit slow at going to the barber so the name?s stuck. He?ll always be Aircut now.? Val giggled. ?It suits him. Oh, Betty, my legs feel all funny ? it must be from sitting in the car all day.? ?It?s probably something like that.? Betty vowed to herself that if Aircut offered any more coffee with cordial, she would politely decline. * * * * When Betty and Val were settled comfortably in Kit?s people carrier, he drove them just a short way to his little beach shop where they?d left the car. ?If you?ll let me have the keys I?ll take your car down to Tangara, then walk back and drive you down there.? Betty breathed a sigh of relief as she handed over her car keys. Val was almost nodding off beside her and she was glad that she wouldn?t have to drive any further in the dark. ?I?ll be back in a jiffy.? Kit disappeared and soon they heard the familiar sound of the motor starting up and the rear lights of their car receding into the distance. Betty must have fallen asleep for a moment or two, for soon Kit had returned and was already in the driving seat starting the car. ?OK, ladies, nearly the end of the line. You?ll soon be warm and cosy inside Tangara.? ?Wake up, Val, we?re almost there.? Betty nudged her friend. ?I?ll give you a hand to unload.? Kit came to a stop behind their car. ?I lit the logburner before I went over to Aircut?s just in case you turned up tonight. ?It should still be alight ? anyway, it?ll be warm. I?ve made up your beds and put hot-water bottles in, too.? He handed Betty the key to the door. ?That?s very kind of you.? ?You two go on inside. It won?t take long to unload your bits and pieces.? He went round to the boot and began to take out their suitcases and a box that they?d added with groceries for their immediate needs. In the dark Betty found the keyhole with her finger, put in the key and turned it. The door creaked as she pushed it open to reveal a shaft of light from the window in the stove flickering across the bare wooden floor. It was warm inside the cottage. Kit came in carrying two suitcases and holding another one under each arm. ?Where?s the light switch?? Val asked, feeling along the wall by the door. Kit laughed. ?No electrics, I?m afraid. Hang on a bit while I get the rest of your stuff and I?ll light the oil lamp.? He returned to the car. ?Oh, lor?, Betty, no electricity, how will we manage?? Val wailed. ?I?m desperate for a shower.? ?Peter warned us it was basic,? Betty said, ?but it?ll be habitable. We?ll soon get the hang of it. There?s bound to be a bathroom.? Kit returned with the remainder of the luggage. By this time the two friends had become accustomed to the gloom and by the light coming from the window in the stove they could see a lamp on a table with a box of matches beside it. ?Now, then. Let?s have some light on the subject.? Kit removed the glass globe, turned up the wick and lit the lamp. A golden light caressed the room, which was tidy and neat with two armchairs, one on either side of the stove, and four chairs at the table. Kit strode over to a curtained area. ?This is the kitchen. I?ve given it a good clean as the place has been shut up all winter. There?s a cooker that runs on bottled gas and a gas water heater over the sink.? ?Is there a bathroom?? Betty dared to ask. ?Bathroom?? Val echoed. ?There?s a tin bath hanging on the wall outside, next door to the privy.? Kit grinned. ?It?s basic but it works.? Opening a door, he revealed a small bedroom with two single beds. ?I?ve put you two in here,? he said. ?There is another bedroom but it?s chock-a-block with Peter?s arty stuff.? ?You do more for Peter than just hold the key to the cottage,? Betty observed. ?Peter?s a good friend; we?ve known one another for years. It?s no bother.? ?It?s nice to know that there?s someone around who can show us how to turn the lamp off again.? Betty laughed. ?Just turn that little knob at the side,? Kit replied. ?Don?t ever blow it out ? it?ll make smoke if you do. There are candles in the kitchen to light your way to bed. The gas stove is simple. I?ll show you how to work it before I leave.? He was as good as his word. * * * * Val refilled the hot-water bottles and Betty lit a candle in an enamel candle holder that they found in the kitchen. Turning off the oil lamp carefully, they made their way to bed. ?Those baked beans on toast tasted like manna from heaven,? Val said as she snuggled down under her duvet. ?You worked wonders on that stove by candlelight.? ?I had a stove like that when I was first married,? Betty remembered aloud. ?But neither of us had a tin bath hanging on the wall outside next to a privy,? Val replied sleepily. ?One used to be able to buy sea-soap that worked in salt water.? Betty yawned. ?If we could get some we could wait until the tide came in and have a bath. Or we could get a bucket, make holes in the bottom, hang it in a tree and fill it with warm water. That would make a good shower.? Val snored. Betty blew out the candle. Her eyes drooped sleepily, then opened wide at a sound like distant thunder. Closer and closer it came until it was almost overhead. Betty sat bolt upright in her bed, leaned across and shook Val awake. ?What ? what?s happened?? Val whispered. ?Listen! It?s like thunder but there?s no lightning or rain.? The sound died away in the distance until silence reigned again and they could hear nothing except the wash of the waves on the shore as the tide reached its highest point. ?It wasn?t thunder, Betty,? Val said nervously. ?It had a sort of rhythm to it.? ?I agree, Val, it wasn?t thunder.? ?What could it have been?? ?I have no idea, but morning will come and everything is less mysterious in the daylight. Maybe it?s rumbling from an old abandoned tin mine. There are lots of those around Cornwall.? ?I don?t think I?m going to get to sleep now.? Val pulled the duvet over her head. A moonbeam came into the tiny bedroom through a gap in the curtains. Betty lay awake long enough to hear Val snoring again. She knew she?d locked the door and bolted it. Then the fatigue of the long drive overcame her and she slept as the Cornish moon cast its light on the turning of the tide. To be continued. Love reading? Don?t miss the Daily Serial on our website: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk. The Farmer & His Wife Everything changes, except John Taylor?s weight! I WAS going to say I was dragged there, but that wouldn?t be fair. Anne asked me if I would go with her on Sunday afternoon, because the gardens of a nearby estate were going to be opened to the public for charity. Anne was interested in the plants for sale, although I keep telling her there?s no more room in the garden. She always finds space, somehow. The gardens were going to be open from two o?clock to six, and Anne wanted to be early so she?d have the best of the plants to choose from. It was a lovely day. Others besides Anne would be looking for bargains. We got there about quarter-past two and there must have been a hundred cars ahead of us. The plant stall was quite a bit away from the house, in the walled garden. By the time we reached it, all the best plants had gone. But Anne still found one she fancied. Then we went for a walk to admire the gardens. To discourage Anne from completely redesigning our little plot, I suggested tea. We got a very good pound?s worth ? sandwiches of dates, tomatoes, cucumbers and egg; home-made cakes, scones, shortbreads and all sorts of bits and pieces. As we were eating it, on an old table on the lawn, Anne turned to me. ?This is all you?re getting tonight.? Yes, she?s trying to get my weight down again! You know how they ? I don?t know who ?they? are ? keep talking about that hole in the sky over the North Pole which is going to make us all hotter? Well, even I know something is happening! When I was younger, our land rose gently behind the farmhouse. Now, over 50 years later, I reckon the earth must have shifted and the top of the Riggin has got nearer the sky. The walk from the farmhouse seems twice as steep as it was. Anne laughed when I told her. She said the earth hasn?t changed, but John Taylor ? now old John Taylor ? finds it twice as steep! If I walk up there now I have to stop to get a breath and watch the traffic on the Forth. I?m glad when I reach the large boulder left in our top fields when the last glacier retreated north. I can sit down, get my breath and view the world. After our afternoon tea Anne and I went home tired and happy. That night we had a glass of grapefruit juice and a sandwich of brown bread, with a little butter, a lettuce leaf and a slice of Anne?s home-cooked ham. It was quite enough and we both enjoyed it. n More next week 36 Our St David?s Day recipes are tasty and good for you! Make More Of Leeks Crab, Leek and Pesto Tart n n n n n n n n n n Flour, for dusting 350 g (12 oz) ready-made shortcrust pastry Olive oil for frying 1 leek, shredded or chopped finely 3 tbs sun-dried tomato pesto or regular pesto 200 g (7 oz) fresh white crabmeat 3 eggs, beaten 250 ml (9 fl oz) cr鑝e fra頲he 3 tbs finely grated Parmesan Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 Heat oven to 200 deg. C., 400 deg. F., Gas Mark 6. 2 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to 5 mm thickness and use to line a 23 cm (9 in) loose-based fluted tart tin. Cover and chill for 15 minutes. 3 Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with Course: Lunch Skill level: easy Serves: 6 baking beans. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until dry to touch, but not coloured. Remove the paper and beans and return the pastry case to the oven for a further 3 to 5 minutes until it is just cooked. Reduce the oven temperature to 180 deg. C., 350 deg. F., Gas Mark 4. 4 Heat a little olive oil in a frying-pan and saut� the leek for 2 to 3 minutes until just soft. 5 Spread the pesto over the base of the tart case. Scatter over the crabmeat and leeks. Whisk together the eggs and cr鑝e fra頲he and season with salt and pepper. Put the tart tin on a baking sheet and pour in the egg mixture. Place the tart in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until just set. Nutritional analysis per serving: calories 458 kcal, fat 31.7 g, saturates 13.2 g, carbohydrates 24.6 g, sugars 2.4 g, fibre 2.8 g, protein 17.2 g, salt 1 g Recipes by award-winning TV nutritionist, chef and author Christine Bailey for www.britishleeks.co.uk. www.christinebailey.co.uk. Chicken, Leek and Brioche Crumble n 175 g (6 oz) brioche loaf or gluten-free bread n Handful of fresh parsley n 3 tbs cornflour n Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste n 400 g (1 lb) chicken breast cut into strips n 1 tbs olive oil n 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) leeks, about 3, sliced finely n n n n n COOKERY 37 Course: Main Skill level: easy Serves: 4 or shredded in a food processor � onion, chopped finely 2 garlic cloves, crushed 100 ml (3� fl oz) white wine 125 g (4� oz) half-fat cr鑝e fra頲he or Greek yoghurt 100 g (3� oz) grated cheese 1 Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg. C., 400 deg. F., Gas Mark 6. 2 Place the brioche and parsley in a food processor and pulse to form a coarse crumble texture. 3 Place the cornflour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Dust the chicken in the cornflour. 4 Add the olive oil to a large saut� pan. Fry the chicken on each side until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a plate. 5 Add the leeks, onion and garlic to the pan and cook very gently for 5 minutes until the leeks are soft. Return the chicken to the pan. Pour in the white wine and cr鑝e fra頲he and simmer for 5 minutes. 6 Spoon the mixture into a baking dish. Scatter the crumble over the leeks and top with the grated cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until bubbling. Leek and Tofu Noodle Bowl n 15 g (� oz) dried wild mushrooms, such as porcini or shiitake n 2 tbs tamari soy sauce n 2 tbs rice vinegar n 1 tbs mirin n 350 g (2 oz) firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 8 cubes n Cornflour for dusting n Olive oil or coconut oil for frying n 4 free-range eggs n 1 leek, shredded n � tsp fresh grated ginger n 2 pak choi, roots n n n n n n trimmed, leaves separated and washed 100 g (3� oz) shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly 200 g (7 oz) straight to the wok rice noodles 2 tbs white miso paste Large handful of fresh beansprouts 2 spring onions, trimmed, sliced very thinly 50 g (1� oz) roasted cashew nuts, chopped roughly To Serve: fresh coriander leaves, sliced red chilli (optional). Nutritional analysis per serving: calories 462 kcal, fat 18.4 g, saturates 9.6 g, carbohydrates 28.7 g, sugar 5.3 g, fibre 6.2 g, protein 37.8 g, salt 1.1 g Course: Lunch or light main Skill level: easy Serves: 4 1 Put the dried mushrooms in a jug and cover with a little boiling water. Allow to soak for 15 minutes then drain (reserve liquid) and chop finely. 2 Combine the tamari, vinegar and mirin in a shallow bowl and stir to mix. Place the tofu in the marinade and turn to coat. Leave to absorb the flavours for about 30 minutes or more. 3 Scatter the cornflour over a plate. Remove the tofu from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and roll in the cornflour to coat all sides. Heat a wide frying-pan over a medium-high heat and add enough oil to cover the base of the pan. Fry the tofu, using tongs to turn, until dark golden and crisp all over. Drain on kitchen paper. 4 Soft boil the eggs: heat water in a medium-sized saucepan to a rolling boil. Use a slotted spoon to gently place the eggs in the water. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes and immediately transfer to a bowl of cold water to prevent further cooking. Let cool until they are able to be handled, then peel. 5 Place 1 litre (1� pt) of water in a medium saucepan with the reserved marinade and bring to the boil. Add the reserved mushroom liquid, dried mushrooms, shredded leek, ginger, pak choi, mushrooms and noodles and return to the boil. Simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the miso paste, beansprouts and spring onions. 6 Halve the eggs. Divide broth between 4 bowls and place the tofu cubes and eggs on top. Scatter with chopped nuts and coriander leaves and a little sliced chilli, if liked. Nutritional analysis per serving: calories 287 kcal, fat 11.5 g, saturates 1.9 g, carbohydrates 19.4 g, sugar 6.2 g, fibre 6.9 g, protein 22.8 g, salt 2.2 g 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. Gut Healthy Leek and Cheese Seeded Flapjacks Course: Snack n n n n n n n n n n Skill level: easy Makes: 12 75 g (2� oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing 1 leek, shredded 1 tomato, chopped finely � tsp smoked paprika 30 g (1 oz) mixed seeds e.g. sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds 175 g (2� oz) gluten-free oats or regular oats 1 tbs chopped parsley 200 g (7 oz) grated Cheddar 3 eggs, beaten Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 Pre-heat the oven to 190 deg. C., 375 deg. F., Gas Mark 5. 2 Grease and line a baking dish either 20 cm (8 in) square or use Can be frozen for up to 1 month. firmly down with the back of a spoon. individual mini square or loaf tins to make individual flapjacks. 3 Add the butter, leek, tomato and smoked paprika to a saut� pan or frying-pan. Place on a low heat and cook gently for 5 minutes until the leek has softened. Turn off the heat and allow the leek mixture to cool slightly. 4 Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. 5 Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin or individual tins and press 6 Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. 7 Allow to cool slightly. If using one larger tin, lift the flapjack out on to a board and cut into pieces while warm. If using individual moulds, allow the flapjacks to cool for 10 minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack. Delicious warm or cold. Nutritional analysis Per Flapjack: calories 211 kcal, fat 14.5 g, saturates 7.6 g, carbohydrates 10.8 g, sugars 0.6 g, fibre 1.8 g, protein 8.3 g, salt 0.4 g Turkey, Feta and Leek Burgers With Herby Yoghurt Dressing Course: Main Skill level: easy Makes: 4 burgers n n n n n � tsp Dijon mustard Handful of parsley leaves, chopped finely Handful of mint leaves, chopped finely Handful of dill leaves, chopped finely � lemon, juice only To Serve: burger buns or gluten-free rolls; lettuce leaves; grated raw beetroot; sliced tomato; salad; coleslaw. 1 Grease a baking tray. 2 To make the dressing, simply mix all the ingredients together. n Oil for greasing n 1 leek, chopped roughly n 400 g (1 lb) turkey mince n 100 g (3� oz) feta cheese, cut into chunks n 1 tbs chopped fresh parsley n 1 tbs capers, drained n � lemon, zest only n 1 egg yolk n Salt and freshly ground black pepper For the Dressing: n 150 g (5� oz) natural yoghurt n Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste Next week: quick and easy ways with noodles. Season to taste. Chill until required. 3 For the burgers, place the roughly chopped leek in a food processor and process until chopped finely. Add the remaining burger ingredients, and process briefly until well combined. Using damp hands, shape the mixture into 4 large burgers. Place on a greased baking tray and chill for 30 minutes. 4 When you are ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 190 deg. C., 375 deg. F., Gas Mark 5. Place the burgers on a tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden and cooked through. 5 To serve, cut the burger buns in half. Place some lettuce on a bun followed by the burger. Then add some grated beetroot and tomato. Finally, drizzle over a little of the dressing and top with the other half of the burger bun. Accompany with salad and coleslaw. Nutritional analysis per burger with bun, accompaniments and dressing: calories 303 kcal, fat 10 g, saturates 3.9 g, carbohydrates 24.6 g, sugars 4.2 g, fibre 4.7 g, protein 26.4 g, salt 1.4 g For more delicious recipes visit our website: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk. SHORT STORY BY REBECCA HOLMES 41 G G Rainbow?s birthday gift put her grandad on the horns of a dilemma! Illustration by Tracy Fennell. M ALCOLM had to look twice out of the French windows to check he wasn?t seeing things. ?At the risk of asking an obvious question, why is there a goat on the back lawn?? he asked. Rainbow shifted from one foot to the other. ?It?s your birthday present from me, Grandad. Don?t you like it?? Sensing a tactful approach might be best, he cleared his throat. ?It?s rather an unusual present, isn?t it?? As if knowing it was being talked about, the animal raised its head and stared directly at him before opening its mouth to bleat. ?I didn?t mean to get you a real goat,? Rainbow replied. ?You were going to send one to Africa, to help people there. And you did ? I?ve got the certificate.? ?Don?t you need to be eighteen to order these things?? ?Gran helped me.? Rainbow glanced over her shoulder as a spluttering noise came from Hilary, Malcolm?s wife, who made a hasty exit, doubtless to get a drink of water in the kitchen. It had been down to Hilary that they had bought this draughty old house and its monstrosity of a garden many moons ago, rather than the sort of place most sensible people settled for when looking for a family home. She had always had a fanciful side, with her romantic novels and yoga classes, along with running a health food shop. Even after living here for over thirty years, they were still playing catch-up with the endless jobs that always needed done. ?But afterwards I began to worry that it might be treated badly and suffer,? Rainbow continued. ?Not to mention the long journey.? Since their granddaughter moved in, the kitchen had become awash with vegetarian cookbooks as Hilary tried to come up with ideas of what to feed her. One could only have so many omelettes. ?So, to make up for it, I adopted this one. I mean, we?ve got that massive garden, and it takes ages to cut the grass, so a goat?s just the thing, especially since you said your parents used to keep them when you were a boy.? Malcolm couldn?t help smiling at the memory. How long was it since he?d thought of that? Life was so busy, there rarely seemed time. ?He came yesterday while you were out,? Rainbow continued. ?Gran and I put him in the shed with food and some hay. One of the panels is broken where he?s kicked it. I was worried you?d hear him.? ?I didn?t hear a thing. I was so tired, I was out like a light.? Malcolm frowned. ?So your grandmother was in on this?? Rainbow nodded. ?Apart from the charitable donation, not until yesterday.? Hilary reappeared from the kitchen. The aroma of coffee wafted in behind her. ?I hadn?t the heart to send him back. He needs a home.? Something about her tone reminded him of another moment, almost a year earlier, when she?d said almost the same thing about Rainbow. ?The girl?s constantly being moved from pillar to post,? she?d argued. ?That?s no life for a fourteen-yearold. The fact that Laura?s asked us to look after her speaks volumes. ?She needs this job to get her life back on track, but it involves travelling abroad. It?s not as if we don?t have enough room.? Rainbow?s father, their former son-in-law, had been what Malcolm?s mother would have referred to as a ?wastrel?. In fact, both Malcolm and Hilary had felt the marriage was doomed from the start, but refrained from saying so to their wilful daughter. ?That?s the trouble when our children grow up. We can?t protect them any more,? Hilary had said. ?All we can do is stand back and be ready to pick up the pieces.? It had been almost a relief when he had left them, despite the pile of debts he?d left in his wake for Laura to cope with. Stubborn as ever, she?d refused financial help from her parents, but at least they had been able to help with Rainbow, even if it had resulted in Malcolm?s hopes for a quiet life being put on hold. Laura?s smile beamed across the room from her framed photo on top of the bureau. Maybe he and Hilary should have put their foot down as soon as they?d got the first hint that she was 42 getting in with the wrong crowd. Then again, knowing Laura, she wouldn?t have listened. Strong-willed women seemed to run in their family. Rainbow was already showing signs of having inherited the streak, while coping with a teenager again at their stage of life was even more wearing than it had been the first time around. Yet, for all that, Malcolm knew that life without Rainbow?s impulsive, sometimes whirlwind, presence would be less colourful, somehow. ?Now we?ve got that out of the way, I?ll switch on the oven, warm the croissants, and we?ll open champagne,? Hilary announced. ?After all, it isn?t every day you turn sixty-five.? ?Thank you for the reminder, dear,? Malcolm said drily. When she kissed his cheek, he breathed in her perfume ? the same one she?d always worn. At least some things stayed the same. They hadn?t seen Laura for over a month. She had promised to try to be back in time for his birthday but, with working hundreds of miles away and the expense of travelling, that was more easily said than done. Rainbow had her mum?s old room, but the bed in the guest room was always made up. ?Happy birthday!? Hilary produced a cylindrical package that emitted a tell-tale glug. Malcolm read the label appreciatively. ?Single malt. Very nice. I?ll enjoy a tot of that later.? She handed him an envelope. ?Two tickets to visit the distillery in Scotland. I?ve booked a hotel room. Now you?ve stepped back from partner status to part-time consultant, you can?t argue that the firm won?t be able to spare you,? she said with a smile. ?My word. I feel like I?ve struck gold.? He stopped. ?What about Rainbow?? ?I?m fifteen, Grandad. I?ll be OK. Anyway, Tina?s going to look after me.? Tina was Hilary?s sister, and lived locally. She?d be coming round later to join in the family celebration. Malcolm looked outside again. The goat was still watching him. Even as a child he?d always thought there was something about a goat?s gaze, as if they could see into your soul. ?Let?s go out and say hello. The poor thing looks lonely out there,? he said. ?But you?re still in your dressing-gown.? Rainbow?s eyes widened, whether in horror or shared mischief, Malcolm wasn?t sure. ?I?m sixty-five. I can do as I like.? That had always been one of Laura?s phrases, albeit with different ages inserted. ?But I might change out of my slippers,? he added with a wink. If anyone happened to look in the garden as the two of them ventured out, they would have been greeted with a strange sight, with him in his dressing-gown and boots, and Rainbow in her habitual black. Malcolm didn?t care, though, and neither did the goat as it trotted up to them. ?Are you going to call him Barney, after your favourite goat when you were little?? Rainbow asked. ?You used to tell me about him when Mum and I came to stay here and I couldn?t sleep. And how your parents kept goats for milk.? ?Fancy you remembering that.? A lump rose in Malcolm?s throat. ?They?re affectionate creatures, goats. I missed them when they were gone.? Rainbow rested her head against his arm. ?I know. You told me about that, as well. I?ve always loved your stories.? She giggled as the goat gently butted him. ?Barney wants food. I?ll get some from the shed.? While she was gone, Malcolm gazed around the garden. When he and Hilary had moved here, they?d had so many plans to lick it into shape. Lots of other plans, too. Having waited so long for Laura to arrive, the three of them were going to be the model family. Looking back with the wisdom of age, had there been too many expectations laid on Laura?s shoulders? A sudden breeze set the shrubs at the bottom end of the garden rustling. He must check that none of those were poisonous to goats. The swing he?d made when Laura was five still hung from the apple tree, swaying back and forth as if powered by an invisible child. Laura had always loved that swing. Rainbow did, too. She used it even now, sitting on it looking thoughtful for hours at a time. ?Here we are.? His granddaughter tipped some oats into his hands and Barney helped himself, lips and breath tickling and warming Malcolm?s skin. ?We?ll have to get a nanny goat to keep this one company,? he said. ?Goats aren?t meant to be solitary, you know. They get lonely. She could be yours, if you like.? Rainbow?s face lit up. ?Really? That would be great! Thanks, Grandad.? ?Thank you for the present, even though I must admit it wasn?t exactly what I?d had in mind.? ?But you won?t have to mow the grass now.? He chuckled. ?We?ll see.? When Rainbow went back indoors for breakfast, Malcolm stayed out for a few more minutes to savour the peace of the garden and the undemanding companionship of their new family member. ?Well, old boy,? he said, scratching the top of the goat?s head as he always used to with childhood Barney. ?Something tells me you?ll soon make yourself at home here.? Barney licked his hand again and was looking hopefully for more food when Malcolm became aware of voices from the kitchen. A moment later, Hilary called from the back door. ?Malcolm!? ?Yes?? ?You?ve got a visitor.? And him not even dressed yet! ?Keep them in the front room and tell them I?ll be there in a minute,? he called back. ?That isn?t an option. They have some important news.? Malcolm groaned and prepared to stamp in like an awkward teenager, but when he saw who was next to her, he stood rooted to the spot. A second later, a smile crept over his face, matching the one on his daughter?s. They started walking to each other at the same time, Rainbow following close behind her mum. Malcolm opened his arms to encompass both of them in a hug that spoke more than any words. The moment was broken only when the goat, impatient at being ignored, butted him. ?I see you?ve got a new lawnmower.? Laura grinned once they?d all stepped back. ?A lawnmower that needs a lot of care,? he returned swiftly. ?In that case, it has the perfect owner. Happy birthday, Dad. It?s good to be home.? ?It?s good to have you home.? Malcolm hesitated. ?What?s the important news?? Rainbow, obviously bursting to say something, squealed. ?Mum?s been promoted. It means she doesn?t have to travel away any more. Isn?t that brilliant? We?re going to live somewhere close enough for me to come here every day and look after my nanny goat.? ?Right,? Hilary said, still on the doorstep and as practical as ever. ?I?ll put some extra croissants on, shall I?? ?I?ll introduce Mum to Barney while Grandad gets dressed,? Rainbow added, loudly enough for Malcolm to suspect that most of the neighbours would have heard. That was all right. He didn?t mind if the whole world heard. His family was together, safe and sound, and he wouldn?t have any of them ? goat or human ? any other way. n 44 money Your The Rise Of ?Shrinkflation? by Barry Cashin, Consumer and Money Expert WHEN you visit the supermarket, have you ever wondered why some of the products you usually buy appear to be smaller in size, yet the price has stayed the same or even gone up? Welcome to shrinkflation, the questionable practice of reducing the size of a product in order to maintain or raise the price. Call it crafty, call it canny commercialism, it seems that most major food manufacturers and producers are at it. In fact, according to the most recent report by the Office for National Statistics, everything from chocolate bars, crisps, toilet rolls and cleaning products have been getting smaller over recent years, with over 2,500 products ?shrinking? in size in the five years up to January 2017. iStock. What?s the cause? Cynics say that shrinkflation is caused by simple profiteering, but there are some valid commercial reasons also. For example, currency fluctuations and uncertainty over Brexit, together with changes in raw material costs, are cited by many industry leaders as part of the cause of shrinkflation. After the Brexit referendum, the pound declined against the Euro, though it has recovered a bit since. The ONS has dismissed Brexit as a reason for shrinkflation, even though it has undeniably contributed to an increase in the price of some imported goods. The fact remains that we are paying the same or more for many everyday household items which are seemingly shrinking in size before our very eyes. Typical examples Chocolate goods appear to be the biggest culprits when it comes to shrinking packaging sizes. For example, both Toblerone and Jaffa Cake biscuits have shrunk their products; Toblerone retained the same sized packaging but reduced the amount of chocolate by 20g. Likewise, other major brands such as Andrex toilet tissue and Tropicana fruit juice have reduced the size of their products, too. Even the good old British cuppa has not escaped the ravages of shrinkflation, with many major brands of teabags now containing fewer bags than they did before, making the price of a cup of tea less palatable. Retailers have become more sophisticated in their efforts to hide price increases, but such is the frequency of change that consumers have cottoned on and are now far more savvy when it comes to price/weight comparison. Indeed, it is de rigueur nowadays, as well as a purse full of coupons, for shoppers to be armed with a calculator as they spin around the aisles! What can be done? Consumer watchdog Which? used their supercomplaint powers by calling on the Competitions & Markets Authority to take action against supermarkets? pricing tricks. They agreed that action was needed and secured legal commitments to end dodgy pricing. Although supermarkets have tightened up their act generally, food producers continue to reduce product sizing and shrinkflation remains unpoliced. Some have called this a fraud against consumers. Until action is taken to prevent it, the practice remains perfectly legal. Consumers are effectively being hit with the double whammy of organic inflation plus shrinkflation, making every bite of each affected product more expensive. Did you know? Official inflation figures are calculated to take account of shrinkflation so that prices are compared fairly. Please note that the information given on these pages does not constitute financial or legal advice and is for general guidance only. Please consult a professional financial adviser for advice on your own circumstances. FINANCE 45 Your lighter shopping basket 1 In 2009 a Mars bar was reduced in size from 62.5g to 58g, while the price remained at 37p. 2 In 2010, Tetley teabags were sold in boxes of 88 instead of 100. 3 In January 2009 H鋋gen-Dazs reduced the size of ice-cream cartons in the US from 16 US fl oz (470 ml) to 14 US fl oz (410 ml). 4 In 2016, Toblerone reduced the 400g-sized bar to 360g. 5 Cadbury Creme Eggs are now sold in packs of five rather than six. 6 Almost all packs of Iceland frozen chips after the Brexit referendum were reduced in size to 1.25kg. Ask The Expert Barry?s Top Consumer Tips Use money off coupons. To mitigate the impact of shrinkflation, sign up to your favourite brands? websites to receive promotions and offers which give discounts off the brands you like. This will make your money go further. Look up and down. Supermarkets tend to place the most profitable stock at eye level, yet these are not always the best deals for shoppers. Cast your eye both high and low for the best deals. Lower shelves have all the bargains. Find out when your usual supermarket marks down its ?about-to-go-out-of-date? stock. If you can use something the same day, or freeze for later, there are bargains to be had. If fresh veg is pricey, try frozen. Not only is it cheaper, but as produce is frozen close to harvest, it may also contain more vitamins and minerals than fresh produce that has been transported a long way. Alex Neill of consumer association Which? is here to help: WHAT can consumers do to make a proper price comparison in supermarkets? Q Shrinking products have had shoppers concerned that they?re not getting value for money. Last year, Which? investigated the changing sizes and prices of products, finding many products were getting smaller ? but the same couldn?t be said for their pr ices. There are a couple of ways you can compare products to make sure you?re not paying more for less. Comparing unit pricing (the price per 100g or 100ml) instead of the cost of the item is one method of making sure you?re paying the best price for your products. If you?re comparing between supermarkets, you can use a price-comparison website like mysupermarket.co.uk to find the cheapest version of your basket. It?s often worth trying out cheaper own-brand versions of products, too ? we?ve found own-brand products that have beaten more expensive big-brand products in our taste tests, and have awarded many own-brand products Best Buy awards, so don?t assume that branded is always better. A Next month: more tips from our experts SHORT STORY BY SUZANNE ROSS JONES 47 The Key To The Cat Caf� Both Maxine and Angus knew that this was symbolic . . . Illustration by iStock. T HE show starts at eight,? Angus told Maxine. He was leaning casually against the counter with arms folded neatly, almost as though the giant Norwegian forest cat on his shoulder weighed nothing at all. ?I thought I could close the shop early and we could get away as soon as you finish up here. Then we might have time for a quick bite to eat beforehand.? Maxine liked the sound of that. He had booked tickets to see her favourite comedian and a meal would start the evening perfectly. ?Maybe we could eat at the little bistro across the road from the theatre?? ?I?ll book a table.? He grinned. ?I?d best get back to the shop, but I?ll pop back at half five to collect you.? Maxine frowned. She didn?t close the caf� until five, and she?d need to shower and get changed from her uniform of jeans and T-shirt into something a little smarter. And do her make-up. ?Take this,? she said, rummaging in the drawer under the till and emerging with a key to the caf�s back door. ?You can let yourself in and make a cup of tea so I don?t have to interrupt my getting-ready time by answering the door.? She put the key into his upturned palm. It seemed so much more than just a key for convenience. It was a significant step in their relationship. By giving him a key she was trusting him with her caf�. With her cats. The way Angus was maintaining eye contact, with a solemn expression on his face, confirmed he understood the significance. ?You?re sure?? His hand was still outstretched, almost as though he was offering her the chance to snatch the key back if she wanted to change her mind. She?d never been surer of anything in her life. ?You might as well hang on to it afterwards,? she said, smiling. ?You never know when I might be glad of a neighbour with a spare key.? But they both knew it meant more than that. He grinned and slipped the key into his pocket, then turned his attention to Gladys, who was still perched on his shoulder. ?OK, Trouble.? He lifted the cat and set her down on the counter. ?Miaow,? Gladys complained and Angus ruffled the fur behind her ear. ?I?ll see you later.? Then he turned to Maxine and, even though the wink was barely there, she noticed it. Her heart fluttered. Angus let himself out through the storm porch at the front of the caf� just as Sabrina, the caf� assistant, arrived for work. * * * * Maxine always left the window-blinds closed when they were getting the caf� ready for opening. It wo uldn?t do to let the guests see the hard work behind keeping the place spick and span ? it would ruin the magic. When everything was as it should be, Maxine threw open the blinds, allowing the visitors their first glimpse of the cats. As always, there was much excitement. They nudged each other, they pointed at a cat here, smiled at a furry face there. And 13 cats stared back at them in a leisurely fashion. Maxine never tired of this. Sensing the growing anticipation of the crowd waiting to be let in ? some of them regular visitors, too ? validated the decision she?d made to give up her career to open this place. She made people happy and that had to be one of the most important jobs of all. As she glanced along the queue, someone caught her eye ? a man lurking at the back of the line, looking for all the world as though he was about to meet his doom. He didn?t look a part of the joyous crowd outside. He didn?t fit in with them at all. Maybe a doting dad, who had given in to nagging and reluctantly brought his offspring? Or a hesitant boyfriend? She?d seen plenty of both types of visitors. Both sorts were generally won round by the end of the session. But there was something about this man. He seemed oddly familiar. Something about the close cut of his hair, the way his shoulders hunched up against the cold . . . It hit her as suddenly as a bolt of lightning striking through 48 the caf�. ?What?s wrong?? Sabrina asked. ?You look like you?ve seen a ghost.? Maxine made a monumental effort to pull herself together. ?Robert,? she managed to croak. ?It?s Robert.? ?Your ex-fianc�? Sabrina followed Maxine?s gaze to the window. ?Outside?? Maxine nodded. She hadn?t recognised him and she?d been engaged to him for two years. ?Looks like he?s waiting to come in.? Maxine frantically tried to remember if he was on the guest list. ?I don?t recall seeing his name when I checked the bookings first thing.? For one wild moment, Maxine considered sending him away, giving him the excuse that there wasn?t a table for him. ?I took a booking from a man just after I arrived this morning,? Sabrina admitted, turning pale. ?I didn?t catch his name and I didn?t like to keep asking. I put him in as John Doe.? Maxine hadn?t noticed the code for an unknown man. She bit her lip. She really didn?t want to see him. He was firmly in her past and had no place in the bright future she?d made for herself. But if he?d made a booking she had no option. Maxine wasn?t in the habit of turning people away when they?d booked. She glanced again towards the window. ?I wasn?t expecting to see him ever again.? Maybe she could escape the back way. But that would leave Sabrina on her own, and even though she was more than capable, it wasn?t really fair to leave her with a full house. ?Isn?t Robert the exfianc� who doesn?t like cats?? Maxine nodded. His distaste for cats had been the final straw for their relationship. They?d both been unhappy for a while by that point, aiming for different goals. As accountants, they?d worked hard to gain their qualifications, but while Robert had seen his future in numbers and balance sheets, Maxine?s heart hadn?t been in it. She?d wanted to start a business of her own. When Robert had laughed at her dream of opening a cat caf� she?d known it was over between them. ?What is he doing here, then, if he doesn?t like cats?? Sabrina seemed as perplexed as Maxine. The queue was growing restless and it was already a few minutes past the start of their session. Maxine pasted on a smile as she headed for the door. ?Only one way to find out.? * * * * As the other guests played with and cooed over the cats, Robert sat ramrod straight in a corner chair and looked more miserable than Maxine had ever seen him before, which was saying something. Maxine wondered now why she hadn?t broken their engagement sooner. He?d often made her miserable, too, but maybe she hadn?t realised that until recently. When she thought of how being in Angus?s company made her heart soar, she thanked heaven she?d discovered in time just how unsuited she and Robert really had been. If they?d married! She tried not to shudder at the thought. ?Hello, Robert.? He looked up from his chair and frowned. ?I can?t believe this place.? Maxine smiled. ?It is rather special, isn?t it.? She deliberately misunderstood his statement. She knew she should ask him what he wanted, but the words wouldn?t form. Instead, she went into her default caf�-owner mode. ?What would you like to drink?? she asked, preparing to write his order down in her little book. He wrinkled his nose. ?I can?t believe you actually serve refreshments in this place. What about cat hairs? Germs?? Once, a very long time ago, she had found his fastidiousness oddly charming. Now it irritated her. ?We keep the place clean. The caf� has been inspected and I have food hygiene certificates,? she told him haughtily. ?The kitchen is a cat-free environment, in any case.? He didn?t look convinced. ?Well, he?s all . . .? Robert waved a hand towards Teddy?s unblinking face. ?He?s all curly!? ?He?s a Selkirk Rex.? The blank look she received in response showed that Robert was unfamiliar with that breed. ?Did you perm him or something?? ?What?? ?Those curls can?t be For a moment she hadn?t recognised her ex-fianc� ?You can?t come to a cat caf� and neither interact with the animals nor have anything to eat or drink. You might as well not have bothered.? She knew she sounded sharp, but what did he expect? Maxine?s Cat Caf� was a happy place, but he would infect the whole session with his grumpiness. ?OK,? he said grudgingly. ?I?ll have a cup of tea. Two sugars and no milk.? She raised an eyebrow. He?d always liked his tea very milky. ?Milk will make it harder to see if there are any cat hairs floating in my cup.? She bit her tongue to stop herself from replying. When she came back with his tea, he was staring suspiciously at Teddy, who was sitting on the floor a few feet away. ?What?s wrong with that cat?? ?What do you mean?? She put Robert?s tea on a nearby table. ?It keeps looking at me.? ?You?re in his chair.? Robert looked startled. ?His chair? You can?t possibly expect me to get up for an animal.? Maxine sighed. ?Normally, if his chair?s occupied, he would have no problem sitting on a lap.? Robert shuddered visibly and Maxine could see exactly why Teddy wasn?t going near him. Cats could sense when they were disliked. He peered suspiciously at Teddy. ?What have you done to him?? ?What do you mean?? natural. Have you had his fur in curlers?? If Maxine had needed proof that Robert knew nothing about cats, this was it. ?No. They are entirely natural.? She spoke slowly to ensure that the message got across. ?That?s how he was born. I wouldn?t put a cat?s fur in curlers ? they wouldn?t like it and it would be cruel.? Teddy was looking hurt. She wasn?t sure he understood the words, but there was no getting away from the fact that he was aware he was being spoken about in derogatory terms. She felt anger towards Robert. She knew he wasn?t fond of cats, but how dare he make one of her babies feel so uncomfortable? And in his own home, too? ?Why exactly are you here, Robert? It?s obvious you?re not here for the cats.? ?No. I?m here for you.? Maxine felt her eyebrows rise to her hairline. ?I need to talk to you.? ?I?m afraid I really don?t have time to chat.? She waved an arm around the caf�. ?As you can see, I?ve a full caf�.? ?Surely you can spare five minutes?? Despite her reluctance to have anything to do with him, she had to admit that a part of her was curious about why he was here. ?Is something wrong?? He shook his head. ?Not wrong, but it is important that we talk.? ?Come back after closing time,? she decided reluctantly. 50 ?But I will only be able to spare you five minutes. I?m going out tonight.? She wasn?t going to keep Angus waiting for anyone. * * * * ?That ex of yours is outside again,? Sabrina practically whispered, as though he might be able to hear her through the double glazing. ?He wants to talk.? into question her caf�s hygiene credentials for a second time. Besides, with one eye on the clock, she knew there wasn?t much time. ?How can I help you?? He cleared his throat, gave the cats one last suspicious glance, then began to speak. ?I?ve been made a partner of the firm.? He put the information out and sat back smugly, waiting to Angus must have let himself in by the back door Maxine frowned. ?I told him to come back after closing time.? She wondered if she should have told him to come back tomorrow. She didn?t want to put herself in a bad mood before Angus came to pick her up. ?I thought you and Angus were going to see that comedian?? ?We are. Robert won?t be staying long.? Five minutes, she had told him, and that was exactly what she meant. ?Do you want me to hang around?? Maxine shook her head. ?It?s fine, thanks. I just need to find out what he wants. It wasn?t appropriate to talk earlier, with everyone here.? Sabrina hesitated by the coat cupboard. ?I can hang on for five minutes. Make sure he doesn?t cause any trouble.? Again, Maxine shook her head. ?You get going. You need to collect Chloe from her art club, remember? I?ll be fine.? Sabrina let Robert into the caf� on her way out. He glanced around nervously as 13 pairs of feline eyes regarded him with equal suspicion. ?I didn?t think they?d still be here.? ?Where did you think they?d be? They live here.? He shrugged, looking uncomfortable as he sat down at the nearest table. Maxine didn?t offer him a drink. She didn?t want to give him the chance to call be congratulated. Maxine couldn?t see why he?d bothered to seek her out to share this news, but she knew that to Robert this would mean as much as the caf� did to her. She found it in her heart to be pleased for him. ?That?s good news. Congratulations.? ?I knew you?d be pleased.? He lifted his head and puffed out his chest. ?It means we can get married straight away and put all this nonsense . . .? he paused to look haughtily around Maxine?s cats ?. . . behind us.? Propelled by shock, Maxine sat down. ?I?m sorry?? ?The other partners are all married,? he explained, putting his proposal into the least romantic terms that Maxine could have ever imagined. ?It would be useful, for dinners and things, if I was, too.? Maxine sighed. He was suggesting a marriage of convenience. She had never felt less flattered in her life. ?We can go ahead and arrange that big wedding ? my mother always said we should wait until we could afford it.? She?d liked Robert?s mother ? she would have been a good mother-in-law. But that was as bad a reason for getting married as the groom needing a convenient wife to attend work functions. ?We?re not engaged any longer . . .? He waved that objection away. ?Easily remedied.? With a flourish, he pulled an engagement ring from her pocket. Unless she was very much mistaken, it was the very ring she had handed back to him more than a year ago. He grabbed her hand and slid the ring on to her finger. ?There, back where it belongs.? He smiled, satisfied with a job well done. As Maxine was rendered mute by indignation, she noticed a movement from the corner of her eye. Angus was taking in the scene from near the kitchen door. He must have let himself in through the back door, just as Maxine had told him to. Her overriding awareness was of the look of shock on his face. ?Miaow.? Gladys, delighted to have noticed her favourite human, broke the silence. A mask of neutrality descended over Angus?s features. ?I see I?ve arrived at an awkward time.? If the situation hadn?t been so absurd, Maxine would have laughed. But all she could do was watch with mounting horror as Angus momentarily fussed over Gladys before he turned and left as silently as he?d arrived. ?Who was that?? Robert asked. Recovering her wits, Maxine slipped the ring off and handed it back to Robert for a second time. ?That was my boyfriend,? she told him, realising this was the first time she?d described Angus as such. ?Take this back, please. I can?t marry you. And, if you?re honest, you don?t want to marry me, either.? ?How can you say that?? ?Because it?s true. You haven?t tried to make contact in more than a year.? She sighed. She didn?t want to hurt him, but she had to make him see the truth. ?Besides, you haven?t mentioned love in all of this.? ?Surely that?s a given.? She shook her head. ?If you really loved me you would accept my cats, rather than expecting me to abandon them.? ?Don?t be silly, Maxine. Who in their right mind would want to live with all these animals?? ?Me.? She showed him to the door, intent on taking no more nonsense. ?If you loved me as a bride deserves to be loved, you would learn to love my cats. If only because they matter to me.? There was someone who had done exactly that and she would never settle for less. And now she was going to have to go and find him and explain the situation he had walked in on. Because she feared he had misunderstood. * * * * ?I?ll have to go in my jeans,? Maxine said apologetically when Angus came to the door and let her in. ?As you saw, I was held up by a visitor.? ?Jeans are fine,? he said gruffly. ?So, your man?s in town.? He didn?t look thrilled, Maxine was pleased to note. If the roles had been reversed and it had been Angus?s ex-wife who had happened by with suggestions of marriage, she would have been equally miffed. ?Yes,? she told him, keeping eye contact and trying not to smile. ?He is.? When she saw his shoulders deflate and the light leave his eyes she couldn?t keep up the teasing. ?It?s you, you daft thing.? She nudged his arm. ?I rather thought you were my man.? And there it was, the grin that she loved so much ? the one that made her breath catch and her heart flutter. ?That is,? she added almost shyly, ?if you want to be.? When he pulled her closer and kissed her thoroughly, he left her in no doubt that he did. n Inside next week?s issue Our cover feature: Morag Fleming explores the beauty of the Borders On sale every Wednesday lCelebrate inspiring women on International Women?s Day l Oodles of noodle ideas for quick and versatile family meals Plus 7 short stories l A touch of luxury with our cable and rib top in cotton and silk yarn Never miss The People?s Friend again, with a subscription from our shop. Visit www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk or call 0800 318846. 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Ltd, or its group companies unless relating to an existing order No contact from our partner businesses unless it relates to an existing offer For A brochure: complete the order form and send to: The People?s Friend, Jersey Offers, Heron House, Jersey Airport, Jersey, JE1 1BW To book, cAll: 01534 496652 quoting The People?s Friend or VisiT: www.thepeoplesfriendtravel.co.uk Organised and operated by Travtel International ATOL Protected 1965, ABTA No. V0300. Subject to availability. Supplements may apply. NB: A financial protection fee of �50 per person will be added to your invoice. SHORT STORY BY GLENDA YOUNG 53 The phrase took on a whole different meaning once Suzanne had read the paper?s personal ads . . . Commuter Crush Illustration by Jim Dewar. O N Monday morning, the 7.52 rumbled into view and Suzanne steeled herself. She knew from too many years? experience that when the train arrived at the station there would be an almighty crush forward that she?d be swept up in. If she were lucky she might not end up with someone?s elbow in her rib cage, or their backpack in her face. And if she were very lucky, once inside the train, she might just find a seat. In need of some serious cheering up ? it was Monday morning, after all ? Suzanne was snuggled up inside her favourite brown and white striped hat and velvet coat. Once inside the train, she fell into an empty seat, removing the free newspaper that someone had left there. The paper was called the ?Platform Pulse?, mostly made up of pages of ads and puzzles. Suzanne opened it and flicked through the pages until she came to the bit of the ?Pulse? that she liked best. She started to read the Commuter Cupid page, her one guilty pleasure. Guy with the most incredible blue eyes on the 8.16 on Friday last week. I think I love you. Want to meet? Pink jumper girl with blonde hair. She smiled and read on. Cute brunette with black biker jacket. I offered you a mint imperial, you smiled and said no, thanks. Fancy a drink? Short lad in the quiet coach. Suzanne wondered who these people were and if they would ever meet. She allowed herself a quiet smile and gazed out of the window. Almost every other passenger around her appeared to be swiping their phones, but she liked to gather her thoughts on the train ride to work. Suzanne enjoyed her job well enough. She worked in university admin, which kept her mentally challenged and physically active, chasing around after professors and students for paperwork that always had a deadline she had to meet. The best thing about her job was the people that she worked with ? colleagues who had become friends over the years. And she was lucky in where she worked, too. The department she worked in was set on the edge of an open green space in the middle of an over-crowded, often dirty and always busy city. There were worse places to work, Suzanne thought. She knew she was lucky in many respects. At least she wasn?t in a tiny office in a high rise with no view, where some of the university admin were based. Sadly, though, the worst thing about her job was this daily commute on the train. Five days a week, packed tight like sweaty sardines in a very busy carriage, was never going to be fun, but she tolerated it the best she could. When she turned her gaze back to the ?Pulse?, she almost leapt up out of her seat in shock. Stylish lady who boards the 7.52 every morning, recently wearing brown velvet coat and striped hat. I see you every day but am too scared to say hi! Shy guy in blue jacket. Brown velvet coat? Check. Striped hat? Check. 7.52 train? Check. Stylish? Well, she?d take that! Suzanne calmed her racing mind with some deep breathing exercises that she?d been taught in yoga. Then, when she dared lift her eyes from the paper, she glanced around the carriage. It was with a mixture of both relief and disappointment that she noticed there wasn?t a blue jacket in sight. * * * * On Tuesday morning Suzanne waited for the 7.52 as usual. And as usual she was caught up in the same crowd who jostled to get on the train. Once on board, all the seats had been taken and she had to stand. Squashed into the carriage, there wasn?t 54 even enough space to open her copy of the ?Platform Pulse? to check on the Commuter Crush column. Instead, she delved into her bag for a paperback to read. It was when she opened her book that she caught sight of a blue jacket sleeve. Slowly her gaze followed the sleeve up to the collar of the blue jacket, and then up to a not-unpleasant face of a man wearing a blue into an empty seat with relief when she finally got on the train. Once she was sitting down, with her copy of the ?Platform Pulse? in her hands, she realised she wasn?t fully sitting on the seat. The man sitting next to her had his newspaper spread open as wide as his blue-trousered legs. Suzanne edged along the seat. She didn?t want to be rude and ask him to move, but he really was taking up Suzanne smiled at the man, hoping to attract his attention suit. He, too, had a book in his hands and she noticed it was a book of sudoku puzzles. She smiled at the man, hoping to attract his attention, but he was engrossed in his puzzles and didn?t return her gaze. ?Nice jacket,? she ventured finally. He looked at her as if she were mad. ?Nice blue jacket, I mean.? She smiled. There was still no response so she tried again. ?Your blue jacket? My brown velvet coat?? But there was nothing in reply; no smile, no words, not a thing. ?Striped hat, right?? she said as a final try. The man gathered his book towards his chest as if for protection. It was then that she noticed the ring on his wedding finger. He smiled at her. ?I?m really sorry. I?m afraid I have absolutely no idea what you?re talking about. But if you?re referring to this blue jacket I?m wearing, my wife bought it for me as an anniversary gift.? Suzanne apologised and turned away, determined not to make any more of a fool of herself than she already had. * * * * On Wednesday morning the 7.52 arrived several minutes late. A frustrated and exasperated Suzanne sank far too much space. Inch by inch she claimed her space on the seat. That?s when the man exploded. ?Are you comfortable now?? he yelled, folding up his paper with a sigh. ?Well, there?s not much space on these seats,? Suzanne replied curtly. ?But they are meant for two people, you know!? A woman sitting opposite gave her a supportive smile. The man dug into his pocket and pulled out his phone, jabbing it into life a little too aggressively for Suzanne?s liking. That was when she noticed the blue jacket he was wearing. Well, if that was her commuter crush, she wanted nothing to do with him, she decided. She took out her novel and lost herself in it until the train arrived in the city. * * * * On Thursday morning Suzanne waited for the 7.52 in higher spirits than so far that week. Thursdays were bearable, being so close to the weekend. And she had a good day to look forward to, with a pizza night out after work with her friends. The train was slightly quieter than it had been on the previous days and she found a seat much more easily. She sat down ? right next to a man wearing a blue suit. She looked at the blue jacket. Could this be the man from the ?Platform Pulse?? ?Nice day.? She smiled in a friendly sort of way. ?Yes, it?s nice,? he replied and gave her a big smile. It unleashed a tidal wave of garlic breath that threatened to drown her and pull her under. As the man continued talking about the weather, she pressed herself back into the seat, trying to turn her face away from the halitosis horror. Suzanne took out her novel in the hope of killing dead the weather conversation. If he?s my commuter crush, then I?m squashing it flat right now, she decided. * * * * Finally it was Friday. Good old Friday, the best day of the working week with its promise of the weekend waiting in the wings. With no empty seats on the 7.52, Suzanne stood in the aisle of the train. ?Please, take my seat,? she heard a voice say. She looked down to where a man was gathering his newspaper to him, preparing to leave his seat. ?Are you sure?? she asked. ?I insist,? he replied. She smiled and said thank you, then slid into the seat as he took her place standing in the aisle. ?It?s very kind of you,? she said, glancing up at him. ?My pleasure,? he replied, opening up his newspaper. ?This paper?s rubbish, isn?t it?? He smiled, showing her the cover of the ?Platform Pulse?. ?It?s all adverts and celebrities I?ve never heard of. And as for this bit . . .? He opened the page to Commuter Crush. ?Have you ever read such drivel?? Suzanne laughed. ?Reading that page is my one guilty pleasure.? ?Listen to this,? the man began. ?Sexy lady on the 10.20 into the city, I love your leggings. Fancy a pint?? She couldn?t stop herself from laughing. The woman sitting next to her tutted loudly. ?Here?s another,? the man continued. ?Oh, you have to hear this one. Guy in pink shirt on the 8.20 train to the city. Meet me under the station clock for a kiss. Big Bev in Coach B. ?Do people really read these things and take them seriously?? he asked her. ?Excuse me,? the woman next to Suzanne said. ?My stop?s next.? Suzanne stood up and let the woman leave, then she slid into the vacated seat by the window. The man with the open copy of the ?Platform Pulse? sat down next to her. ?I?m Gary,? he said, extending his hand. ?Suzanne,? she replied, taking his hand and shaking it firmly. ?Listen to this one,? he continued. ?Driver of the 10.18 train to the coast each Sunday. I wave when you pass the station, but you never seem to notice . . .? But Suzanne wasn?t listening properly. She was too busy laughing at Gary?s comical face. She noticed his dark suit, impeccably pressed, and his shoes shined to perfection. A briefcase sat on his lap and he folded the ?Pulse? and laid it on top. For the remainder of their journey into the city they chatted and laughed non-stop. They talked about the weather, working in the city and the horrors of commuting in the rush-hour crush. By the time the train slowed to enter the city station, they both knew about each other?s shared like of bagels, striped hats and daydreaming. Passengers around them gathered their belongings, put on coats and talked into phones, but Suzanne and Gary were in no hurry to leave. Neither of them wanted their conversation to end. ?Will I see you again on Monday morning, perhaps?? he asked hopefully. Suzanne smiled. ?I?ll be on the 7.52, as always.? n 56 Garden Magical Photographs courtesy of Greenfingers Charity. F OR eighteen years Greenfingers Charity has been creating beautiful yet practical gardens where children with life-limiting or lifethreatening conditions can play, relax and spend time with their loved ones. It has designed and built 54 gardens in hospices across the UK. ?These gardens make a huge difference to the children and families involved,? Linda Petrons of Greenfingers says. ?These gardens are where many families create precious moments and unforgettable memories in a protective yet inspiring outdoor environment.? Linda explains that spending time outdoors can be enormously beneficial to children who require hospice care. ?Many children with life-limiting or lifethreatening conditions can find it difficult to spend time outside, as they often need to be near medical care or close supervision. ?By providing a safe outdoor environment within the grounds of the hospice they attend, these children can enjoy outdoor experiences most children take for granted, such as Hanging garden at Chestnut Tree House. Linda Petrons. fresh air, space to play and being close to nature. ?When I visit a hospice with a Greenfingers? garden I?m always struck by how much children enjoy being outside. Sometimes I?ll spot a child coming into a garden after a stressful morning and I can actually see them relax and, more importantly, smile.? Greenfingers Charity works closely with each hospice to ensure their new garden will fulfil the needs of the children and families who will be using it. ?A hospice might request a garden with specially adapted playground equipment such as a wheelchair-friendly roundabout,? Linda says. ?Or they might ask for a woodland garden, a piratethemed garden or simply a tranquil space where families can reflect or simply be together.? When creating a Greenfingers? garden the designers the charity works with ensure it?s accessible and appeals to all five senses. ?There are often water features in our gardens, as well as scented flowers, plants that are perfect for touching and sensitive lighting, which also helps to promote peacefulness. ?However, it?s often the simplest of things that really make a difference, such as adding a wheelchair-friendly picnic table,? Linda adds. ?It can be surprisingly challenging to go for a family picnic when one of your children is in a wheelchair.? Although Greenfingers? gardens are created with children in mind, they?re used by adults, too. ?Mums and dads appreciate being able to meet other parents in the garden and share experiences while their children have fun,? Linda says. ?In addition, parents who spend time in a hospice with their child can experience times when it all gets too much. That?s when a Greenfingers? garden can provide a place to escape from the intensity of it all, to calm down, to prepare for whatever challenges lie ahead.? Linda adds that hospice staff and volunteers also find the gardens invaluable. ?As well as being a quiet spot where they can take a break, staff and volunteers in many of the hospices hold activities such as nature talks and plant growing in our gardens. Greenfingers? gardens are places where children who spend time in hospices can experience ?normal? childhood activities.? Wendy Glass learns about the marvellous work being done by Greenfingers Charity. Kaleidoscope Garden at Helen House. Greenfingers Charity creates memory gardens for hospices, too. ?I recently spoke to parents at a hospice who had lost their daughter,? Linda continues. ?They told me that the memory garden gave them a reason to return to the hospice, helping them to stay in touch with the staff and the other parents and children who had known their little girl so well. ?Another family I met had very limited access to outside space as they?d carried out major improvements to their home so their child could have a more comfortable home life. The Greenfingers? garden at the hospice was the only place they were able to be outside together.? Greenfingers was established in 1999 by horticultural writer and broadcaster Richard Jackson, who is a gardening presenter on QVC. ?Richard?s wonderful idea of giving children in hospices the precious gift of a garden was warmly welcomed by the gardening HELPING OTHERS 57 Garden Re-Leaf Day On March 16, garden centres and garden suppliers across the country will be participating in Garden Re-Leaf Day to raise funds for Greenfingers Charity. With fund-raising activities ranging from bake sales, gardening talks and quiz nights to staff planting pots throughout the night as part of ?Plant-athon?, this annual event is growing like Jack?s beanstalk! Visit http://www. greenfingerscharity.org. uk/, call 01494 674749 or e-mail linda@ greenfingerscharity.org.uk. industry and they have given us incredible support ever since.? Garden Re-Leaf Day is Greenfingers? national fund-raising campaign and is celebrated by garden centres, garden suppliers and many others across the UK every March. In addition, the charity also encourages gardeners to open their gardens to the general public or hold cake sales to raise vital funds. ?We?re also asking people to raise funds by hosting a Greenfingers? Garden Tea Party. This can be anything from a cuppa with a slice of home-made cake to an Creating Memories ?The Woodland Walk Garden at Chestnut Tree House is everything Iona-May would have loved. We can imagine sitting there as a family, spending time having a picnic. The reflections through the trees and off the pond . . . .? Parents of a child who spent time at Chestnut Tree House Children?s Hospice in Arundel, West Sussex. A Greenfingers? garden. elaborate high tea worthy of Downton Abbey.? Linda explains that Greenfingers has a waiting list of hospices who need their help. ?Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we aim to create three gardens each year. This year, as well as a new pirate-themed garden at Andy?s at St Andrews, a hospice in Grimsby that Adam Frost and children opening the Greenfingers Keech garden. cares for children and young people with any progressive life-limiting illness, we?re also creating a ?Nest And Rest? garden at Grace House in Sunderland, and we?re in the early planning stages for other gardens.? Although Linda stresses that every Greenfingers? garden is special, she admits to having a current favourite: the garden at Keech Hospice Care in Luton, which was designed by TV gardener Adam Frost. ?Adam and his team transformed a drab courtyard in a modern hospice building into a vibrant, wheelchairaccessible garden which delights all the senses. As with all Greenfingers? gardens, families love using this space, where they can enjoy time together ? all thanks to flower power.? n ?Nobody Leaves Without A Smile On Their Face? ?The Kaleidoscope Garden at Helen House is something else. Everyone enjoys colourful stimulation and enjoyment whatever the weather. Nobody leaves without a smile on their face.? Kathy Patching, House Manager, Helen House, Oxford. ?A Beautiful Space? ?Adam?s Garden at Keech Hospice Care is a beautiful space for reflection, relaxation and escapism ? not only for our young patients and their families but also for our excellent care team and our volunteers. At a time when a person needs peace and quiet and when families want to make memories, Adam?s Garden is always there.? Liz Searle, Chief Executive Office, Keech Hospice Care, Luton. F The villagers were ready for their journey ? but there was one man Mary worried about more than the rest . . . Illustration by Mandy Dixon. The Story So Far MARY ANDREW is a widowed shopkeeper in Pickford, a small village outside Manchester. Widower DANIEL LAWTON is a butcher whose shop is next door to Mary?s, and he is in love with her, but she will not agree to marry him unless he gives up his efforts for political reform, as she is worried about the consequences. A small, bedraggled child, ROBERT OGDEN, is spotted by Mary one day outside her shop, and he reminds her of her dead son, JOSHUA, who would have been a similar age. She finds out that Robert?s mother is ill so she employs the boy to help out in her shop, paying him with muchneeded food. When Mary visits Daniel?s shop to discuss the young boy, she finds out that Robert and his mother are only days away from the poor house. Shocked, Mary asks Daniel what they can do to help, and he urges her to join the reformers at the planned meeting in Manchester, calling for one man, one vote . . . T HE morning of August 16 dawned bright with an early haze of the sort that would soon burn off, leaving a perfect August day. People wearing their Sunday best streamed into the Square outside Mary?s shop from all directions. There were summer bonnets and picnic baskets everywhere. Excited children weaved in and out of their parents, losing their caps in the excitement. Trade was brisk in Mary Andrew?s store as many picked up last-minute provisions for the journey. The new bottles of fizzing soda water proved popular, as did pieces of fruit to help the marchers slake their thirst on their trek. There were queues outside Mr Milner?s baker?s shop on the other side of the Square, too. Mary still had misgivings. If only it would rain, fewer people would march into Manchester. At five minutes to eight, the banner of the Pickford reformers was raised aloft, the bold slogan Reform Or Slavery painted in white on black. Holding the two poles Set In 1819 were Daniel Lawton and his eldest son, William. Behind them was the next-eldest son, Gabriel. The two younger children were staying with Daniel?s sister for the day. Daniel and William were like twins, save a difference of twenty years. They were tall, with thick hair and strong limbs. They would have no trouble toting the banner the 10 miles to Manchester, or the 10 miles back. Mary left the shop and marched straight up to Daniel, chin tilted defiantly. ?You?re determined to lead these fine people, are you?? ?You know I am, Mary.? ?And put William in harm?s way?? ?What harm? We intend to walk, listen to Mr Hunt speak and walk back again. You worry too much.? Daniel leaned forward, adding in a low voice, ?I love you all the more for it.? Her mouth tightened at his cavalier attitude. She turned her eyes up to the banner, trepidation chilling her bones. ?Reform or slavery. Hardly a glowing testament to the government.? ?But not something they can lock us up for, Mary.? Mary?s eyes held his defiantly and she shook her head. There was nothing she could say that would change his mind. She turned to William. ?Are you willing in this? If you two are imprisoned, what will happen to your brothers?? ?We have to go, Mrs Andrew,? he said, his face a picture of earnest belief. ?Someone has to stand up and do something. People are starving, and there?s no-one to speak for them.? Daniel rested his warm hand gently on her arm. ?There is still time for you to join us, Mary. It will do SERIAL BY SUE COOK: PART 2 OF 3 59 you good to have a day out, get some sun on your pale skin.? He lifted his hand and ran a finger lightly down her cheek. ?Will you stop that?? she said in a loud whisper, pushing his hand away with hers, feeling her cheek glow red at his touch. ?People are watching.? ?Let them,? he replied, his face warming with a grin. ?The whole village knows how I feel about you.? He lowered his voice. ?The way you once told me you felt about me. They all know I want you to marry me. Come with us and enjoy a day out away from that shop of yours, and listen to what Mr Hunt has to say. ?I know you?ll be swayed by his words. He speaks from the heart. He speaks of equality and fair play for all.? Mary glanced quickly about her, wondering who was listening and watching. The whole village seemed to be milling about them, taking not the blindest bit of notice. The Square was filled with jostling bodies and excited chatter, each and every one of the villagers captivated by the thrill of the day. Only William, pink-cheeked and uncomfortable, seemed aware of the exchange. ?Mr Hunt and his kind will end up behind bars,? Mary pointed out. ?I?m terrified that you?ll be there with him, carrying that thing,? she added, pointing towards the banner. ?Then I?ll need a kiss to sustain me in that awful place,? he teased, and leaned forward quickly to brush his lips against hers. William groaned and looked as though he wanted to be a million miles away. ?You should listen to your son,? Mary said, taking a step back. ?And stop such ridiculous public displays.? She turned and strode as best she could back through the throng to her shop. ?I?ll pray for you,? she called over her shoulder. What else could she do? At eight o?clock, the mill band struck up ?Joy To The World? enthusiastically if somewhat discordantly, and slowly the Square emptied. The air throbbed as the beat of the drum and the ring of boots and clogs on cobbles bounced off the enclosing stone walls of narrow streets leading away down the hill. Slowly the Square grew quieter and quieter as the tramp and drum drew steadily further away, until strangely, suddenly, there was silence. The village was utterly deserted. None of the shops save Mary?s was open. All the other keepers had shut and joined the march. Never had Mary felt quite so alone. Knowing it was going to be a slow day, she decided to take stock and clean her shelves. For that she desired help. Looking out through the shop door, she realised that Pickford had left one small son behind. Sitting on the horse trough on the other side of the Square was the tiny figure of Robert Ogden. She beckoned to him and he flew across to her shop. ?How sensible of you not to go with the others, Bobbie.? ?I wanted to, Mrs Andrew,? he said. ?But it?s such a long way. And Mother can?t come.? ?How is she today?? Mary asked with what she hoped was a positive smile, aware that Sarah Ogden?s health was perilous. ?The same,? he said, not meeting her eyes. ?Did she enjoy the cheese I sent up last night?? He shrugged. ?She couldn?t eat much. Said it made her feel sick. I liked it, though. It were right good.? Mary looked at him, at the cheeks which had filled out a lot in the week he had been doing odd jobs for her and getting paid in food. She didn?t like to think how little he must have been fed before this. ?Well, Bobbie, today we are going to check the stock. Can you read?? ?Of course I can,? Robert said. ?Mother taught me.? Mary managed to hide her surprise. ?You must have a very clever mother, Bobbie.? ?I think she was going to be a teacher or something. But something happened so she couldn?t,? he said with a slightly puzzled look. No doubt Bobbie had happened. Mary wondered if Sarah had been a governess who had been dismissed when her condition was discovered. But what had happened to the father? ?Excellent,? she continued brightly. ?Then we shall make short work of it.? Soon the two of them had a routine going. Robert emptied one or two shelves at a time, washed and dried them, while Mary made notes and sorted the goods. ?Good ?eavens,? Ernie Smith said as he was greeted by a stack of bottles and boxes piled high on the counter, and a small boy balancing on a ladder, scrubbing at wooden shelves. Mary Andrew?s head popped up from behind the stack, her cheeks flushed with bending. ?Sorry, Ernie. I didn?t hear you pull up in the cart.? ?Are you moving?? ?No, no. Just sorting out ?Never you mind, Robert Ogden,? Mary called. ?Are you going to restock my caddies, Ernest Smith, or not?? She started to hunt about the bottles and packets arranged in front of her. ?I had a list here somewhere. I know I need more ground coffee.? ?What you need is your own coffee grinder,? Ernie said. ?It seems to me you?ve got plenty of space now,? he added with a grin. ?You never give up, do you?? ?Not while I?ve got Mr Earnshaw on my back and the prospect of promotion and an indoors job,? he admitted. ?You could take pity on an old soldier.? * * * * Daniel Lawton had never seen so many people. St Peter?s Fields in the heart of Manchester was full. The atmosphere was excited, expectant. He wondered if anyone had heard Mr Hunt speak before. He spotted someone from the female reformers up there, too ? maybe women were going to get a say as well. Women voting, even. Could it be? Suddenly there was silence. The village was utterly deserted what I have already. Taking advantage of slack trade.? He pushed his cap back and scratched his head. ?I?m not surprised it?s slack. I?ve never seen so many on the roads. And a fair sight it is, too. Thousands of people happy and singing, brass bands all playing their own tunes. ?I don?t mind telling you I wish Mr Earnshaw had given me the day off. I?d love to be with ?em.? ?Well, I?m glad not to be, and you should be, too.? Mary said firmly. ?I can?t help this terrible feeling that there will be trouble.? ?I think you?re overly concerned about one of them people in particular,? Ernie said with a wink. Mary felt her cheeks turn red. ?Who?s that?? a small voice came from up above. Daniel held on to the village banner while Gabriel and William left in search of drinks to slake terrible thirsts. It was a glorious day. There was no chance of getting wet in a sudden cloudburst, but he wished perhaps that it weren?t so hot. Elsie Maitland?s son was wilting, too. He clung to his mother?s skirts, his head hanging down. ?I shouldn?t have brought him,? she confessed to Daniel, her hand stroking the boy?s mousy hair. ?I hadn?t realised it would be so far and so hot. He?s scared of getting lost.? ?Why don?t you help me hold the banner?? Daniel asked the boy. ?Let your mother find you a drink. You must be thirsty, and you can?t get lost if you are holding the 61 banner, can you?? The boy looked up at his mother, who nodded and smiled. He let go of her skirts and transferred both hands tightly to the pole Daniel held out, the foot of which rested on the ground. ?I won?t be long,? she said and turned to find a way through to the edge. Her words shouldn?t have worried Daniel, but they did. He hadn?t expected his sons to be long, but it seemed an age since they had started edging their way in the same direction as Elsie. Were they lost? No, they could hardly fail to find the tens of thousands of people here assembled. And the black village banner was easily visible above people?s heads. Daniel tried not to think of the companies of cavalry they had passed stationed in the streets around as the marchers had filed into the arena. Mary Andrew?s concerns crowded in on him. boys and Elsie had gone. Over the top of the massed bonnets and caps he saw the blue jackets and box hats of the Yeomanry. Between them and him, the heads of his sons were dodging in and out of the people. Daniel?s throat was suddenly drier than thirst alone could manage. Time stalled. He saw in slow motion the soldiers raise their long, curved sabres and advance towards the crowd, making a line which took them through his boys and through Daniel himself. ?Stand fast!? someone cried. ?Link arms!? It seemed for a moment as though the uniformed men would not advance, that they would be stilled by the mass of people. But then those steel blades, glinting cruelly in the sun, came crashing downward. There were shouts and cries of surprise and anger, and the horses started to make way. Daniel would feel happier when his boys were back by his side Now that he was here, and had seen the soldiery for himself, he would feel much happier when his boys were back by his side. No sooner had Elsie left them than the speaker, Henry Hunt, stood up and held out his hands to shush the crowd. He was starting early. Daniel cheered with the others. Then a hush fell as the great man?s words came, small over the heads of so many. Daniel struggled to hear what he was saying. After what seemed like only a few seconds, a murmur went up from women on a slight rise at the other side of the field. At first Daniel thought them rude that they would not stand quiet and listen, but then it became obvious they could see what others could not. A rumble ran through the crowd, echoing their warning ? soldiers. Daniel turned his head in the direction in which his ?Gabriel!? Daniel yelled with all the power his throat and lungs had. ?William!? He tried to raise the banner to get their attention, but became aware of a heavy weight attached to it. Elsie?s boy. He looked down to see the lad hugging one of the carrying poles tight to his body. Daniel finally caught William?s eye. He jabbed his pointed hand towards what was happening behind them, the mayhem that was advancing towards them. William turned and saw the danger. He grabbed Gabriel and tried to dodge sideways, out of the way, pushing women in front of him, helping them to safety, too. Elsie was suddenly at Daniel?s side, scooping her son into her arms. ?Go,? Daniel said. ?The banner,? she said. ?They?ll be after it. After you.? ?Don?t worry about me. Get to safety.? She nodded and tried to move out of the path of the advancing men, but there was confusion and a huge mass of people with nowhere to go. Daniel turned back to his sons and saw Gabriel go down. ?No!? he cried and surged forward. ?Seize the banner!? an officer shouted and Daniel locked eyes with a soldier who spurred his horse towards him. He thought of Mary then, certain now of his fate, yet uncertain about the fate of his family which had been so sure in his mind just hours before. * * * * As the day wore on, Pickford provided more customers than it should have done. Mary had to keep stopping to search for things that she could normally put her hand on with her eyes shut. Fortunately, little Robert proved to have an excellent memory. And being small and nimble, he repeatedly dived into some tiny space amongst the disarranged boxes and sacks to locate something which completely escaped Mary. ?Be careful down there!? she exclaimed more than once as he disappeared behind a mound of goods. ?You could get crushed if something falls.? ?Shan?t,? he replied confidently, holding up the packet he?d gone to retrieve. ?Because you would get me out, wouldn?t you?? With that he?d shin back up the ladder and continue his work. Of course, he was right. If there was any risk of him getting crushed, she would tear the pile apart. Robert seemed very bright and clearly could read. He knew what was in every packet and box. Mary thought someone should be taking charge of his education. He could go far, given the right chances. She found herself thinking that if he were to become her apprentice then she could make sure he got to school at least some of the time. But he was too young to be an apprentice. She needed someone more Gabriel?s age. Someone old enough to be trusted with the shop on their own if she had to leave for some reason. Jed, the delivery boy, would be perfect, but his mother had other ideas. Yet something deep within her wanted Robert to be part of her life very much. It would be like having Joshua beside her, had he lived. Would that be so bad? Taking another child in place of hers? Giving him the chances her son should have had? When the clock struck two, other thoughts came to Mary unbidden. Mr Hunt would be starting to speak and the memory of Daniel?s lips on hers just a few hours before brought a heat to her cheeks, a thumping to her chest. She tried to convince herself nothing bad would happen, that the Yeomanry would not be deployed. To think otherwise was unbearable. Daniel would be one among tens of thousands there, Ernie Smith had said as much, and the crowd was in excellent spirits. Even if something bad did happen, there was no reason to think that it would happen to Daniel above all those others. She redoubled the effort of cleaning and polishing and forced her thoughts to inventory. As the clock struck three she had forgotten all about the meeting. Robert was exhausted and almost falling off the steps as she handed tins and packets back up to him. She decided to send him home and finish the job alone and had given him a handful of coins in payment when the room darkened. She looked to the door and found it filled by Reverend Simmons. ?I thought I?d find him here,? he said, his eyes on Robert. Mary stepped in front of the boy. She didn?t want the vicar thinking he was stealing money now. 6 ?What of it?? Mary asked, her chin tipped up in defiance. ?He is needed.? Robert ducked out from behind Mary?s skirts. ?Is it Mother?? The reverend nodded. ?I?m afraid so. It?s time to go.? ?Is she . . .? ?She is to go to the workhouse. There are people there who will . . .? Reverend Simmons broke off as though to consider his words carefully. ?Nurse her.? ?And Robert?? Mary asked. ?That ragamuffin can hardly be left on his own, can he? Not that he has a home now. Arrears,? he added in a stage whisper, as though that was the worst of the news. To Mary?s surprise, Robert turned to her with no emotion on his face whatsoever. He held out his his hat. ?Here? I hardly think so.? Mary stood straight, her shoulders square. ?Why not? He has been very helpful.? She swept an arm around all the shelves they had sorted together. ?Mary, you work far too hard without looking after a small child as well. You should get married again. Keep house. Take lunch with other ladies of a similar status to your good self. ?Surely the life of a vicar?s soulmate is preferable to a life of hard labour and single parenthood?? Mary decided to ignore his suggestions. Sarah was dying. Robert had no-one else. She could hardly expect a stranger to turn up and claim him. She found herself wishing that Daniel were here, so she could turn to him for support. He would know what to do and his voice would carry more weight. Mary willed the speeches in Manchester over tiny hand and returned the coins she had just given him. ?Will you look after these for me, Mrs Andrew?? he asked solemnly. Mary couldn?t speak. She didn?t want to look after his money, those paltry coins which now sat cold and hard in her palm. She wanted to look after him. She fought for something to say as Robert went to the vicar and the two headed silently out through the door. ?Wait!? she cried. They both turned. ?I . . .? she started, not sure how to finish. ?Yes?? Reverend Simmons prompted. ?Isn?t there another way? Does he have to go with her?? ?He has no close relatives. At least none that will own him.? Mary assumed he was referring to the absent father and wondered if the vicar knew who this was. ?Can he stay with me?? she asked. Reverend Simmons?s eyebrows raised up under ?You would rob a mother of her only child?s company in her last hours?? Reverend Simmons said earnestly. ?Of course not. I only mean ?? Robert took a small step forward, his brown eyes moist. ?I do want to be with Mother, Mrs Andrew.? ?It is best that procedure is followed, my dear,? Reverend Simmons continued. ?Of course, if you wished to apply to take the boy from the workhouse after . . .? At last, Mary noted, he had the decency to glance at Robert to check how much of his dire situation he understood. ?Though frankly,? he continued, ?I cannot comprehend why you should wish to do so.? He turned his attention fully to Robert. ?Come,? he ordered, as though talking to a dog, and the two left the shop in utter silence. * * * * Even after Arthur died, when she?d reopened the shop after the funeral, she at least had customers to serve. This afternoon, customers were as rare as cats at a dogfight. Mary willed the speeches in Manchester over and the marchers returned so she could speak to Daniel, seek his support and counsel. Surely the workhouse would let her take Robert once he was orphaned? But would Daniel still want her with a young boy around her skirts? Now her worries were not about Daniel being in danger, but little Robert being alone, and there was no comfort for that. His moist eyes were vivid in her mind. He was brave, but little more than a baby. As the clock finally chimed four, there was a ruckus in the square outside ? horses? hooves clattering on the cobbles and raised voices. Mary rushed outside to see if this meant news from Manchester. Mr Overshot, the mill owner, and his son, looking hot and dusty on their horses, were talking to one of Mary?s neighbours. He was saying something about arrests and injuries. She rushed forward. ?What?s going on? And who is that?? she added, pointing to a bloodied youth slumped on the horse behind Mr Overshot. He doffed his hat. ?Mrs Andrew, I fear it is Daniel Lawton?s lad.? ?William?? Her mind worked furiously. If this was William then where was Gabriel? Where was Daniel? ?Nay. The younger one.? At that moment, Gabriel?s head popped up behind the mill owner. His face was muddy and his head roughly bandaged with cloth. She rushed forward and grasped his hand. ?Gabriel! Are you all right? Where are the others?? ?I?m fine, Mrs Andrew. Just a bit bruised.? Mary turned to Mr Overshot. ?Where are you taking him?? ?William asked me to bring him home after the incident. I?m taking him to his aunt?s. I thought it best.? ?You?ll do no such thing! That lad is in no fit state to ride another step. You?ll bring him in here and he can stay with me till his father gets home.? Mr Overshot looked uneasy. ?I?ll bring him in, Mrs Andrew, but I can?t say how long you?ll be waiting for Mr Lawton.? Mary stared at him, willing him to expand, but he said no more, just indicated to his son to help Gabriel down. Soon the lad was tucked up in Mrs Andrew?s spare room, then Mary joined Mr Overshot in her parlour. ?The Yeomanry charged on the crowd,? he explained. ?They say it was to arrest those on the speaking platform, but the crowd would not let them through and sabres came out. Men, women and children alike were trampled, and some struck by swords.? ?And Gabriel?? ?Like many others he was unable to get out of the way. He fell under a horse. William managed to pull him clear of others coming behind. He?ll come back on foot with the rest of the villagers.? ?Was anyone else hurt?? Mary asked, fearing the worst. Mr Overshot?s face was grim. ?Aye,? he said. ?Some killed, they say.? ?Daniel?? Mr Overshot took a deep breath in and let it out sharply. ?Truth is, I don?t rightly know. He was holding the banner which the authorities wanted. The banner was taken and there was no sign of Daniel Lawton after it was all over. ?I cannot say whether he was arrested or whether he made his escape.? Mary felt the constriction around her chest suddenly ease. ?You mean he?s alive?? ?There is nothing to say he is dead. I saw people lying bloodied and still on the ground as I left. I?m sure none of them was him. You can?t miss that head of hair, can you?? he finished with a small smile. ?No doubt William will be able to tell you more when he gets back. He and the other villagers are casting around for news. ?Now I must go home. I wish to write a report of everything I?ve seen while it is fresh in my mind. ?I?ve sent my son to fetch the doctor to Gabriel and instructed him to send me the bill. Frankly, Mrs Andrew, I am shocked and ashamed by what happened.? With that he got up to leave. Mary held out a hand to stop him, but drew it back. There was so much she wanted to ask, yet didn?t know where to start. ?Thank you,? she said. ?That?s very kind.? The doctor arrived within the hour. A short-sighted man in his middle years, he examined Gabriel?s cut head, which was less severe than Mary had imagined, and his bruised leg with skill and gentleness. ?No serious damage done,? he pronounced. ?He?ll be sore for a week or two. A few days? rest should help that leg, though he should take a turn or two around the room several times each day to keep stiffness at bay.? ?No prescription for his leg?? Mary asked. The doctor shook his head. ?Ask Mrs Bell for some of that herbal muscle rub she makes. I?ve no idea what she puts in it. I?ve tried getting the recipe out of the woman, but she?s adamant it?s an old family secret and she?ll pass it on to her daughters and no-one else.? ?Well, thank you for coming so promptly,? Mary said, holding the door open for him. The doctor stopped and placed his hand on Mary?s arm. ?Let?s hope that everyone returns home safe.? His eyes looked earnestly into hers and his meaning was clear. She managed the weakest of smiles before he turned and left. * * * * It was another hour before the first of the marchers trickled back into the village. Everyone had their own version of what had happened. All said William was coming behind. No-one knew what had happened to Daniel. Mary busied herself in the shop, serving village folk, and she built a fire upstairs thinking that it was not only Gabriel that needed to be washed. William would be dusty from the road when he returned. * * * * The light was beginning to fade when he came. He was covered in grime from head to foot and looked like he hadn?t slept for a month. Mary flew to him and held him tight. He staggered and she shifted her grip to support rather than hug. ?I?m sorry, William. I?ve been so worried. Come with me.? ?Is Gabriel here?? he asked. ?Upstairs, in the spare room. He?s fine. Better than you, I?d say. You need to sit down, then have something to eat and drink.? She led him upstairs to the parlour and he dropped into her best armchair. She took off his boots as he sagged with his head lolling on the back of the chair, then she pushed a cup of tea into his hands. ?You?ll feel better if you drink something. Then you must tell me about your father. What happened to him?? she asked nervously. His face creased. ?I checked everywhere. At the infirmary, the mortuary, the inns, with the constables. Everyone?s looking for him, but he?s nowhere to be found. I think . . . I think . . .? He sniffed. Mary caught his arm and fought to control the swimming sensation in her head. ?What is it?? ?I think he?s on the run. What shall we do?? To be concluded. On Reflection From the manse window by Rev. Ian W.F. Hamilton O N St David?s Day many a Welshman or woman, in order to show their love for and loyalty to the land of their birth and to its patron saint, will wear either a leek or a daffodil. The leek is the Welsh national emblem, and the daffodil the Welsh national flower. Wearing daffodils was promoted in particular, I have read, by former Welsh-born Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and I believe that ?daffodil? translates in Welsh as ?cennin Pedr? or ?Peter?s leek?. Just why the leek came to be chosen as the country?s emblem we cannot be absolutely sure, because there are several different legends. However, one thing is certain; wherever Welshmen gather ? and particularly in the Welsh Army Regiments ? there are countless leeks to be seen, especially on St David?s Day! But who, we must ask, was St David? The Welsh equivalent of the English name David is ?Dewi? and records tell us that he was born around the year 520 in the south-west corner of Wales, which is known today as Pembrokeshire. His birth, it is said, took place on the cliffs during the course of a wild thunderstorm near the city that is now named after him. Very little is known about his early life except that he pledged himself to the service of Jesus Christ and decided to build a monastery near his home. This he did around the year 550, and during his lifetime he founded no less than 12 monasteries throughout Great Britain. It is said also that he went on a long journey to Jerusalem and there the Church made him a bishop. At home in Wales he did meet with some opposition, but generally he was very well-liked, so much so that eventually he was acclaimed an archbishop. St David is remembered in the city and in the famous cathedral which today bears his name, as well as in the hearts of Welsh people throughout the world. We?re not exactly sure of the date of David?s death, but tradition holds that it was on March 1, which is the day on which St David?s Day is celebrated. His final words to his followers came from a sermon which he had preached on the previous Sunday. These words translated are ? ?Lords, brothers and sisters, be joyful and keep your faith and your creed, and do ye the little things that you have seen me do and have heard about. As for me, I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.? A particular extract from that final quotation of St David, ?Do ye the little things in life?, is today a very well-known phrase in Welsh ? and how relevant it is, not just to those who are rightly proud to be of Welsh heritage, but to all of us. As we all know, it?s the little things we do for others and that they do for us that are often the most important. Acts of kindness, acts of caring, acts of concern and acts of love ? all of these speak louder that any words we could ever utter or offer, and these are but a glorious reflection of the divine strategy of the One to whom ?Dewi? in his earlier years devoted his life. n Next week: the Rev. Ian Petrie shares a moment of forgetfulness. COMPETITION 65 YOU could be our lucky winner WIN! WORTH �9.99! A fabulous Dyson V8 iStock. S PRING is in the air and the daylight hours are lengthening. Perhaps it?s because the days are brighter that we feel the need to clean the home thoroughly at this time of year. But there?s nothing worse than having an inferior vacuum that doesn?t do the job properly. How often have you run the vacuum over the carpet only to notice that it isn?t picking up as it should? This can be a real problem, especially for pet owners. Our competition will banish this problem by giving readers the chance to win a vacuum cleaner that is renowned for its excellence. The Dyson V8 Animal cleaner is a cordless vacuum which has been engineered for homes with pets as it?s perfect for capturing animal hair and allergens. It?s great for any home, in fact, as the advanced filtration also captures dust and expels cleaner air than the air you breathe. The powerful suction of the Dyson V8 gives a deep clean and removes ground-in dirt from carpets, and with 40 minutes of power you?ll be able to do the whole house. It?s lightweight enough that it can also easily be used for those high-up areas that can often be neglected but show up in the spring sunshine. The Dyson V8 also transforms to a handheld vacuum in just one click, great for cleaning the car. Once finished, just use the docking station and it will recharge your Dyson V8 ready for use whenever you need it. If a job is worth doing, it?s worth doing right, and with the proper tools you can ensure you get the results you want. The Dyson V8 Animal is priced �9.99. However, you have the chance to win our fabulous prize simply by answering the question opposite. n It?s So Easy To Enter Who sang the song ?When I?m Cleaning Windows?? a Max Bygraves 09012 925 026 (�02) b George Formby Text PFCOMP, your name, address then a, b or c to 64343 (�00) c Norman Wisdom Once you know the answer, just call 09012 925 026 (calls cost �02. Calls from mobiles will cost more) or text PFCOMP, followed by a space, then your answer (a, b or c) and your name and address, to 64343 (texts charged at �plus your standard network rate). Please note that you can only enter this competition by calling or texting. Please visit our website for our full competition Ts&Cs: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/competition-terms or send a large stamped self-addressed envelope to The People?s Friend Marketing, Copy of your Competition Terms, DC Thomson, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ. Lines will open for UK-only entries at 9 a.m. on Saturday, February 24 and close at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 30, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from the correct entries after the closing date. Employees of D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., and their close relatives are not allowed to enter. Competition contact details: Premium Rate Telephone Services Department, D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ. Helpline: 01382 426103. Your personal data will not be used for any other purpose than entry to this competition. Rex Features. And The Oscar Goes To . . . Ahead of the 90th Academy Awards ceremony, we remember some memorable occasions in its history. 1939 Walt Disney picked up I N 1929 a small private ceremony of under 300 people gathered to hand out awards to the blossoming Californian film industry. Over in just 15 minutes, this humble occasion grew in importance as Hollywood expanded and became home to the world?s largest moviemakers, turning into the billion-dollar industry it is today. There is no definitive answer to the question of how Oscar got his name, but it is known he was designed by the Art Director at MGM Studios. A man standing on a film reel with a sword in hand, standing 35 centimetres tall, he?s made of solid bronze, gold-plated, and weighs in at nearly four kilograms. During the war, shortages saw them made of painted plaster instead, but winners could cash theirs in for a real one after the war ended. Although the winners are, of course, known well ahead of time, a series of unfortunate leaks of winners? names in the early years resulted in the famous last-minute envelopeopening of modern ceremonies. This year, the Academy Awards celebrate its 90th anniversary, and although there are many film-award ceremonies these days, the Oscars are still the gold standard in movie accolades. In that time, they?ve also had more than their fair share of unforgettable moments . . . 1943 Greer Garson picked up an award for her performance in the rousing war movie ?Mrs Miniver?. The British-American actress then went on to set a currently unbroken record for the longest acceptance speech at seven minutes. The Academy thereafter set strict time limits on speeches, using the conductor striking up the orchestra as a way of hustling winners off the stage when they?d had their moment. Alamy. one tall and seven small figurines from Shirley Temple for directing the first animated feature film. With one posthumous Oscar awarded for ?Winnie The Pooh?, Walt won 26 during his life, leading Bob Hope to once quip at a ceremony, ?If we have any of these statues left over, we?ll just send them to Walt Disney.? REMEMBER WHEN 69 Rex Features. subdued ?Thank you? was possibly one of the shortest speeches in Oscar history. Many felt that, after receiving only five nominations for his career?s work, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award that he?d just won was too little, too late for his taste. The Academy claimed that he also said ?very much indeed?, too, but that the microphone had been cut off by then. Alamy. antagonised Bette Davis in their longrunning feud by accepting Anne Bancroft?s Best Actress Oscar on her behalf. Davis had been nominated in the same category for her role in ?Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?? and Crawford ? who had also been in the film ? received no nominations, but still walked away with the Oscar that evening. 1968 Alfred Hitchock?s Rex Features. 1963 Joan Crawford 1Ch9arl7ie2Chaplin had been two Oscars this year for his film ?Life Is Beautiful?. Overjoyed at winning Best Foreign Language Film, he stood up on the chairs (supported by Steven Spielberg) and skipped to the stage before thanking everyone poetically. When receiving his second Oscar of the evening, he joked, ?This is a terrible mistake because I used up all my English.? Rex Features. 2012 Meryl Streep wins the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Margaret Thatcher in ?The Iron Lady?. This year, Meryl has been nominated for her 21st Oscar for her role in Steven Spielberg?s ?The Post?. Meryl has confessed to not remembering what most of her Oscar nominations were for, but perhaps that?s excusable considering she?s been nominated for 389 awards in total! Rex Features. 1999 Roberto Benigni won Rex Features. 52 travelling abroad in 19 erican Am s ou am inf when the red cla Senator McCarthy de lin ap Ch . ist him a commun ing to urn ret m fro ed nn was ba en he wh , 72 the States until 19 the o int d was permitte Oscar. country to pick up an up his d ke pic When he finally th wi ed ard aw s wa prize, he ovation ing nd sta st ge lon the minutes. in Oscar history at 12 Enchanting Evenings in Long Stitch Buy 2 kits and SAVE � The charm of the British countryside is captured at twilight through the seasons, in these delightful, set of four, long stitch pictures, designed by Rose Swalwell in Cumbria. Each completed picture measures approximately 9�" x 6�" (24 cm x 17cm) and each stitch kit contains everything you need to complete your project: 14 count printed canvas, tapestry wool, needle and easy to follow instructions. Suitable for all abilities why not choose your favourite season, or collect all four to complete the series. name .................................................................................. Address .............................................................................. SPRING EVENING LYN1355 SUMMER EVENING LYN1356 AUTUMN EVENING LYN891 WINTER EVENING LYN1357 ............................................................................................... Postcode ............................................................................ Telephone ......................................................................... email Address .................................................................. PLEASE TICK DESIGNS REQUIRED LYN1355 SPRING EVENING ? LYN1356 SUMMER EVENING ? LYN891 AUTUMN EVENING ? LYN1357 WINTER EVENING ? PLEASE SEND ME PRICE 1 KIT �.99 2 KITS (SAVE � �.98 3 KITS (SAVE � �.97 4 KITS (SAVE �) �9.99 TOTAL POSTAGE AND PACKING TOTAL COST OF ORDER �99 � I enclose a cheque/postal order, made payable to Lyncroft Marketing 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: MasterCard/Visa (delete as necessary) Start Date .......... /.......... Expiry Date .......... /.......... Card No ............................................................................................................................ Cardholder?s Signature .................................................................................................. Name on Card ................................................................................................................. DC Thomson & Co Ltd and its group companies would like to contact you about new products, services and offers we think may be of interest to you. If you?d like to hear from us by post, please tick here ? telephone, please tick here ? or email, please tick here ?. From time to time, carefully chosen partner businesses would like to contact you with relevant offers. If you?d like to hear from partner businesses for this purpose please tick here ?. Offer open to UK readers only and is subject to availability. Price will be refunded if the item is returned undamaged and unused within 14 days of receipt. Enquiries to 01296 641881. Your card will be debited by Lyncroft Marketing. CLOSING DATE 29th June 2018. PF162 CALL: 01858 345108 quoting PF162 Lines open Mon?Fri 8.45am?8pm, Sat 10am?4pm, Sun 10am?2pm. Please have your credit/debit card details to hand. Calls cost 10p/min from standard BT landline. Calls from other networks and mobiles may vary. BY POST: complete the coupon and send with a cheque made payable to Lyncroft Marketing and post with your order information to: ?The People?s Friend? Long Stitch Evenings Offer PF162, PO Box 504, Leicester, LE94 0AE. OnLine: www.stitchkits.co.uk/PF162 believe it? Would you Got a question? Get in touch through e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or *write to ?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ. I?D LIKE TO KNOW Q A I absolutely adore pandas. Can you tell me how many different species there are and a little bit more about them? Mrs A.C., Perth. There are two types ? the giant panda and its distant relative, the red panda. They vary greatly in size, with the latter not much bigger than a domestic cat. An adult giant panda, as the name suggests, is much bigger, reaching five feet in some cases. Giant pandas are known for their rotund shape, and an adult male can weigh between 100150 kg. Wild giant pandas are found in mountainous regions of central China. The red panda has a russet-coloured coat with a long bushy tail, which it uses for balance as it spends most of its time in trees. The tail also provides warmth when it curls up for a sleep. The red panda lives in the mountains of Nepal and central China. Both giant and red pandas feed on a diet of bamboo, although the latter also eats eggs and fruit. Q As the centenary of the end of World War I is this year, I wonder if you can tell me what happened to the German Kaiser, who was Queen Victoria?s grandson? Miss J.S., Manchester. A Wilhelm II was born in January 1859 in Berlin to Queen Victoria?s namesake daughter and Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia. The eldest of their children, Wilhelm, became Kaiser at the age of twenty-nine following the death of his father. Wilhelm was father to seven children following his marriage to Augusta Victoria, Princess of Schleswig-Holstein. Following the war, Wilhelm was forced to abdicate in 1918 and spent the rest of his life in exile in the Netherlands. He died in 1941. Q Can you please settle a debate and tell me what the name is for young salmon? Mr H.R., Norwich. A The reason why there may be a debate is that they begin as eggs, growing into aelvins, and emerge from their eggs as fry. The young fish then become parr when they are over one year old, becoming smolts after this stage. iStock. Something we didn?t know last week... According to research by Emo Oil, 36% of Brits think their home may be haunted. However, in the majority of cases, door hinges in need of oil, air in radiators and noisy water pipes prove to be the reason for spooky, unexplained noises! Interestingly, the research also found that 56% of those who experience things that go bump, squeak or bang in the night will wait at least six months before investigating the problem. *Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies. TEA-BREAK TRIVIA 71 March 1 is National Peanut Butter Lover?s Day ? a great excuse for a nutty sandwich. 1,429 years ago, the patron saint of Wales, St David, died on March 1 and was buried at St David?s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire. 3 movies share the honour of winning 11 Oscars ? ?Ben Hur?, ?Titanic? and the first film of the ?Lord Of The Rings? trilogy. $1 ? how much an Oscar winner must offer their gold statuette for to the Academy Awards? organisers before putting it up for sale. 13 miles ? the length of the world?s biggest train set, which is in Hamburg, Germany. 60 individual but connected bones make up a tortoise?s shell. KNITTING 73 MEASUREMENTS To fit sizes: 31 cm (12 ins), 36 (14), 41 (16), 46 (18), 51 (20), 56 (22). Actual sizes: 37 cm (14� ins), 45 (17�), 48 (19), 52 (20�), 59 (23�), 63 (24�). Length: 16 cm (6� ins), 17 (6�), 21 (8�), 25 (9�), 29 (11�), 32 (12�). Sleeve seam: 9 cm (3� ins), 11 (4�), 12 (4�), 15 (6), 19 (7�), 23 (9). MATERIALS 1 (1, 2, 2, 2, 3) 50-gram balls of Peter Pan Petit Fleur DK in Peony (3082). One pair each 3.25 mm (No. 10) and 4 mm (No. 8) knitting needles; stitch-holders. 4 buttons code P16 6114/0005 size 18. For yarn and button stockists write, enclosing an SAE, to Peter Pan Wools, Thomas B. Ramsden & Co. Ltd., Netherfield Road, Guiseley, Leeds LS20 9PD. Telephone: 01943 872264. Website: www.tbramsden. co.uk. TENSION 22 sts and 32 rows to 10 cm measured over pattern using 4 mm needles. diate e m r inte ABBREVIATIONS Little Charmer With the body worked in one piece, this pretty cardigan is perfect for the little lady in your life. alt ? alternate; dec ? decrease; inc ? increase; K ? knit; P ? purl; patt ? pattern; psso ? pass slipped stitch over; rem ? remaining; rep ? repeat; sl ? slip; SKPO ? sl 1, K1, pass slipped st over; st(s) ? stitch(es); st-st ? stocking-stitch (K1 row, P1 row); tbl ? through back of loops; tog ? together; yf ? yarn forward; yo ? yarn over needle. 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. 74 BODY (WORKED IN ONE PIECE) With 4 mm needles, cast on on 78 (93, 102, 111, 126, 135) sts. 1st row ? (right side) ? K2, ?yo, sl 1, K2, psso, rep from ? to last st, K1. 2nd row ? Purl. 3rd row ? K1, ?sl 1, K2, psso, yo, rep from ? until 2 sts rem, K2. 4th row ? Purl. These 4 rows form patt. Continue in patt as set until body measures approx 7 (6, 8, 11, 14, 16) cm, ending after a 4th row and inc 1 st on 2nd size only. Divide for armholes ? Patt 17 (21, 23, 25, 29, 31) sts and sl these sts on to a st-holder for right front, cast off 4 sts, patt until there are 36 (44, 48, 53, 60, 65) sts on right needle and sl these sts on to another st-holder for back, cast off 4 sts, patt to end. Keeping patt correct, work on this last set of 17 (21, 23, 25, 29, 31) sts only for left front as follows: Shape armholes ? Purl. Next row ? K1, SKPO, patt to end. Rep the last 2 rows 4 (7, 11, 12, 13, 14) times more ? 12 (13, 11, 12, 15, 16) sts. Next row ? Purl. Shape neck ? K1, SKPO, patt until 2 sts rem, K2tog. Next row ? [P2tog] 0 (1, 1, 1, 1, 1) time, purl to end. Next row ? K1, SKPO, patt until 0 (0, 2, 2, 2, 2) sts rem, [K2tog] 0 (0, 1, 1, 1, 1) time. Next row ? [P2tog] 0 (0, 0, 1, 1, 1) time, purl until 3 (3, 0, 0, 0, 0) sts rem, [P2togtbl, P1] 1 (1, 0, 0, 0, 0) time. Next row ? K1, SKPO, patt until 0 (0, 0, 0, 2, 2) sts rem, [K2tog] 0 (0, 0, 0, 1, 1) time. Next row ? [P2tog] 0 (0, 0, 0, 0, 1) time, purl until 3 (3, 0, 0, 0, 0) sts rem, [P2togtbl, P1] 1 (1, 0, 0, 0, 0) time. Next row ? K1, SKPO, patt to end. Next row ? Purl until 3 (3, 0, 0, 0, 0) sts rem, [P2togtbl, P1] 1 (1, 0, 0, 0, 0) time ? 4 (4, 4, 4, 6, 6) sts. 5th and 6th sizes only ? Next row ? K1, SKPO, patt 3. Next row ? P2, P2togtbl, P1 ? 4 sts. All sizes ? Next row ? K1, SKPO, K1. Next row ? P2togtbl, P1. Next row ?K2tog and fasten off. Return to 36 (44, 48, 53, 60, 65) sts left on st-holder for back and rejoin yarn with wrong side facing Shape armholes? Next row ? Purl. Next row ? K1, SKPO, patt until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1. Rep last 2 rows until 22 (24, 14, 17, 22, 25) sts remain, finishing on a right-side row. Next row ? P1, P2tog, purl until 3 sts rem, P2togtbl, P1 ? 20 (22, 12, 15, 20, 23) sts. 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th sizes only ? K1, SKPO, patt until 3 sts rem, K2 tog, K1. Next row ? P1, P2tog, purl until 3 sts rem, P2togtbl, P1. Rep last 2 rows 2 (2, 0, 0) times more. All sizes ? Break off yarn and leave rem 8 (10, 12, 15, 16, 19) sts on a st-holder for back neck. Return to 17 (21, 23, 25, 29, 31) sts left on st-holder for right front and rejoin yarn with wrong side facing. Shape armholes ? Next row ?Purl. Next row ? Patt until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1. Rep last 2 rows 4 (7, 11, 12, 13, 14) times more ? 12 (13, 11, 12, 15, 16) sts. Next row ? Purl. Shape neck ? K2tog, patt until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1. Next row ? Purl to last 0 (2, 2, 2, 2, 2) sts, [P2tog] 0 (1, 1, 1, 1, 1) time. Next row ? [K2tog] 0 (0, 1, 1, 1, 1) time, patt until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1. Next row ? [P1, P2tog] 1 (1, 0, 0, 0, 0) time, purl to last 0 (0, 0, 2, 2, 2) sts, [P2tog] 0 (0, 0, 1, 1, 1) time. Next row ? [K2tog] 0 (0, 0, 0, 1, 1) time, patt until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1. Next row ? [P1, P2tog] 1 (1, 0, 0, 0, 0) time, purl to last 0 (0, 0, 0, 0, 2) sts, [P2tog] 0 (0, 0, 0, 0, 1) time. Next row ? Pattern until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1. Next row ? [P1, P2tog] 1 (1, 0, 0, 0, 0) time, purl to end ? 4 (4, 4, 4, 6, 6) sts. 5th and 6th sizes only ? Next row ? Patt 3, K2tog, K1. Next row ? P1, P2tog, P2 ? 4 sts. All sizes ? K1, K2tog, K1. Next row ? P1, P2tog. Next row ?K2tog and fasten off. SLEEVES With 4 mm needles, cast on 24 (24, 30, 30, 39, 39) sts. Work in pattern as given for body, inc 1 st at each end of the 5th and every following 4 (4, 5, 4, 7, 7)th row until there are 30 (34, 40, 48, 51, 55) sts, taking extra sts into pattern. Continue straight until sleeve measures approx 7 (9, 10, 13, 17, 21) cm, ending after a wrong-side row. Shape raglan ? Keeping pattern correct, cast off 2 sts at beg of next 2 rows ? 26 (30, 36, 44, 47, 51) sts. Working all raglan decreases as for shape back, dec 1 st at each end of next and every following alt (alt, 4th, alt, 4th, alt) row until 6 (4, 30, 8, 43, 9) sts remain. 1st and 4th sizes only ? Dec 1 st at each end of next row, finishing on a wrong-side row ? 4 (6) sts. 3rd and 5th sizes only ? Dec 1 st at each end of every following alt row until (6, 9) sts remain. All sizes ? Work 0 (1, 1, 0, 1, 1) row, finishing on a wrongside row. Break off yarn and leave remaining 4 (4, 6, 6, 9, 9) sts on a safety-pin. TO COMPLETE Cuff edging ? With 3.25 mm needles and right side facing, pick up and knit 21 (21, 31, 31, 36, 36) sts evenly across cast-on edge of sleeve. ??Knit 3 rows. Change to 4mm needles. Beginning with a knit row, work 4 rows in st-st. Casting off sts as you go along, now work scalloped cast off as follows:?Knit next st 4 rows below (do NOT pull up st but leave it short and tight to gather up st-st), now knit and cast off next st again, knit and cast off each of next 4 sts, rep from ? to last st, knit last st 4 rows below (do NOT pull up st but leave it short and tight to gather up st-st), now knit and cast off last st again ??. Join sleeve and raglan seams by top sewing. Neck edging ? With 3.25 mm needles and right side facing, pick up and knit 10 (9, 9, 12, 14, 15) sts up right side of neck, knit 4 (4, 6, 6, 9, 9) sts from right sleeve safety-pin, 8 (10, 12, 15, 16, 19) sts from back neck st-holder dec 0 (0, 1, 0, 0, 0) st at centre, knit 4 (4, 6, 6, 9, 9) sts from left sleeve safety-pin, then pick up and knit 10 (9, 9, 12, 13, 14) sts down left side of neck ? 36 (36, 41, 51, 61, 66) sts. Work as given for cuff edging from ?? to ??. Hem edging ? With 3.25 mm needles and right side facing, pick up and knit 76 (91, 101, 111, 126, 131) sts evenly along cast-on edge of body. Work as given for cuff edging from ?? to ??. Buttonband ? With 3.25 mm needles and right side facing, pick up and knit 31 (36, 41, 51, 61, 66) sts along left front opening edge, beginning and ending at cast-off edges. Work as given for cuff edging from ?? to ??. Buttonhole band ? Work as given for buttonband, picking up sts along right front opening edge and with the addition of 4 buttonholes worked in 2nd row as follows:2nd row ? K3 (3, 4, 3, 3, 3), ?yf, K2tog, K6 (8, 9, 13, 16, 18), rep from ? twice more, yf, K2tog, K2 (1, 2, 1, 2, 1). To Make Up ? Sew on buttons. n Next week: knit this lovely rib top with cable twist SubScribe Today! & SaVe oVer � PLuS Free Flower Bulb Selection with every order. WORTH �!** SuBScRiBe FROm Only � Daphne Odora Perfume Princess every 3 months (UK)* SubScribe Today FREEPHONE BY POST send coupon to: The People?s Friend Subscriptions, PO Box 766, Haywards Heath, RH16 9GF. 0800 318 846 quoting PFDFB UK only. Lines open 8am to 6pm Mon ? Fri, 9am to 5pm Sat. Overseas +44 1382 575580 For one-off payment orders, enclose your details and a cheque made payable to DC Thomson & Co Ltd. ONLINE www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/subscriptions Complete coupon and send to: The People?s Friend Subscriptions, PO Box 766, Haywards Heath, RH16 9GF. 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Bank and Building Societies may not accept Direct Debits for some types of account 2 cHeQue I enclose my cheque (No cash please) for: made payable to DC Thomson & Co Ltd PFDFB � YOUR PETS 77 Your pet questions answered Pet insurance helps to meet unexpected vet bills Pets & Vets Cover Story Consumer expert Lorna Cowan looks at insuring your pets. W ITH vet bills sometimes soaring into hundreds or thousands of pounds, it makes financial sense to have pet insurance. Policies differ, but they mainly fall into three categories ? accident-only, non-lifetime and lifetime cover, each increasing in price as the cover becomes more comprehensive. The cheapest, accidentonly cover does as the policy name suggests. To claim for illnesses, you?ll need more cover. Non-lifetime policies offer two options ? per condition and time-limit per condition. Both will set a claims limit, for example �000. However, if you buy per condition cover, the policy will pay out over months or years for, say, an ongoing hip problem, until the iStock. What?s covered? treatment is complete and the limit is reached (so long as you renew the policy each year). With the time-limit per condition cover, you usually only have 12 months to claim, even if the cost of treatment hasn?t reached the limit. For more peace of mind, many pet owners opt for lifetime cover, which tends to have the highest cover and the highest premiums. This may be a better choice for pets with an ongoing or recurring illness as your claims limit is reset every year when you renew the policy. There are also two options with lifetime cover: Policies offer cover for: l accidents and illnesses l third-party liability ? if a pet injures a third party or damages their property (dogs only) l missing pets ? to pay a reward or for advertising l boarding fees ? if you are suddenly taken to hospital and have no-one to look after your pet Per condition per year cover sets a limit for 12 months. For example, a �000 limit would mean that over the 12-month period, you could claim �000 for an acute ear infection and also �000 for diabetes treatment. An annual policy has a maximum overall limit. If the limit was �000, this would cover both a �000 emergency operation and �000 of treatment for a stomach upset at another time. Once the maximum has been reached on any policy, it?s up to you to pay the extra. Many policies offer optional extras, for example some will cover you if you have to cancel a holiday because of a pet?s accident or illness. Excess payments With every policy, an excess is agreed upfront ? what you are prepared to pay towards a claim. This can be a fixed amount, say �, and you?d contribute � regardless of whether the claim is �0 or �000, or a percentage of the treatment bill. by PDSA Vet Rebecca Ashman. Q Do budgies need vitamin supplements? A It shouldn?t be necessary to use supplements if a budgie is getting a balanced diet that represents what they would eat in their natural habitat. A mixture of seeds, sprouting seeds and fresh greens is best. Contact your vet if there seems to be a nutritional deficiency before you add any supplements. Q My cat won?t let me groom out the mats in her long coat. What can I do? A I would recommend taking her for a vet check in case she is in pain, as arthritic cats can often develop mats in places they can no longer groom. Your vet can assist with removing the mats under sedation if necessary. By regularly grooming her, you can help prevent mats from developing. But won?t cover you for: regular vaccinations and check-ups neutering costs l pre-existing medical conditions and dental treatment as standard l pets over eight years old if not currently insured Not all policies will include the options above ? always check policy wording to make sure you have the cover you need. l l PDSA is the UK?s leading veterinary charity. For further information visit www.pdsa. org.uk or call 0800 731 2502. SHORT STORY BY BARBARA FEATHERSTONE 79 Juliet?s Balcony Illustration by Mandy Dixon. I BEGIN to write. Dear Luca, Even writing your name causes my heart to beat faster. I want to say ?my Luca?, but I no longer know if I have that right. Forgive me; I should have stayed. I should have listened. I should have let you explain, instead of running like some scared little girl. But when you spoke those words, you shook my world and I was lost. I am not me any more. I need time to find myself again. I want you to know what I feel. When you are close to me, there is only you and I forget all else. This is why I am writing to you, sitting alone, back where it all began. Do you remember the beginning, Luca? I was a young English teacher, recently arrived in Verona from London to take up this exciting new post at the university. I?ve adored Italy with a fierce passion since visiting as a child and this was a dream . . . * * * * I am walking up the path towards the university, staring enthralled at this imposing building, my arms full of books. I recall that day in Verona when I discovered the tale of two lovers . . . Students and lecturers are milling about the grounds. There are over 2000 students here and more than a dozen departments. ?Mi scusi, signorina!? Someone brushes against me, scattering my books. I guess him to be in his early twenties. He is tall and dark-eyed, as so many Italian men are. His arm is around a pretty blondehaired girl in cut-off jeans and pink T-shirt. The stranger isn?t you, Luca. It is Roberto. He bends towards my scattered books, then, suddenly, there is someone else, thrusting in front of Roberto, gathering my books up swiftly. This is you, Luca. You are taller than Roberto, and a year or so older, perhaps. Your eyes are more eloquent, your blue-black hair a little long, shining in the sunlight. There?s a lot of banter in rapid Italian. I know enough to catch the gist. You are telling Roberto to back off. He has a girlfriend ? his beautiful Swedish blonde, Elina. Roberto shrugs. He touches his lips to me, flirting wickedly with his eyes. Elina laughs, teasing, as she and Roberto drift away. I think she knows him well. You pile my books beneath a shady tree and we sit beside them. You tell me that you and Roberto are friends; you share an apartment just a street from mine. You are both enrolled on a post-graduate specialisation programme at the university ? Roberto for medicine, you for law. As we talk, you gaze into my eyes, and something inside me changes. And so it begins. We meet when we can. I adore the summer concerts you take me to, the openair operas, our visits to Verona?s historic centre admiring mediaeval and Renaissance buildings, and our excursions further afield to Lake Garda. I enjoy, too, the company of Roberto and Elina with whom we often make up a foursome. But it is their happiness together, their ease with each other and their obvious love which is there for all to see, that creates in me one day that first frisson of doubt. It is said, Luca, that opposites attract. This is the case with Roberto with his blue-eyed, goldenhaired Elina. But I, with the dark hair that inspired my name ? Raven ? and skin that tans easily, am sometimes taken for Italian. So I wonder, Luca, what has drawn you to me? This morning, I have my answer. You have asked me to meet you early this morning in the grounds of the university. This is where we always meet, where you and I began. We kiss. You take my hand and whisper that I am beautiful. I ask where we are going and your eyes flash secrets. ?Verona,? you remind me, ?is the city of love. This morning we will visit the most romantic place of all.? We take a taxi across Ponte Pietra, the arched stone bridge, the oldest bridge in Verona. Sunlight sparkles on the water as we cross the Adige River into the heart of the city. 80 We?ve visited Piazza delle Erbe once before, but still we linger a while in the narrow, cobbled streets, admiring its historical buildings, its statues, monuments and ancient fountain. I love the pretty pink leather bag you buy for me From the covered archway, we come out into a small cobbled courtyard. Here, there is a bronze statue of Juliet and an ancient brick house five storeys h igh with a tiny balcony known as Juliet?s Balcony. I learn that the house I never imagined it could be like this, falling in love in one of the local handicraft shops. We wander from the piazza to Via Cappello 23. ?This,? you tell me, ?is our secret destination.? I am intrigued. A plaque above the stone entrance reads Casa di Giulietta ? Juliet?s House. This is the setting of perhaps the most poignant love story of all: the star-crossed lovers, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. Inside a short dark archway, a crazy daubing of graffiti swirls over the walls like oil in puddles. Hundreds of lovers? names are entwined; hundreds of tiny love notes pasted there. We pause to read some, entering a private world. I can barely believe there are so many letters. But there are more, you say. There are scarlet mail boxes to be found at Juliet?s House or at the Juliet Club, situated on the outskirts of the city. The boxes have the name Giulietta. Each year thousands of letters are posted here, addressed to Juliet: letters of heartbreak and unrequited love, written in many languages. A team of special secretaries ? volunteers from all walks of life ? answer each letter by hand. The letters are kept and placed in an archive. The cost of stamps and paper for the replies to the letters is borne by the city, in respect for tourism and in an effort to maintain the aura of romance. But the secretaries work for free. Maybe this, I think, is their personal contribution to an enchanting City of Love. dates back to the 13th century. The courtyard is quiet and peaceful, but you say it isn?t always so. We have come early to avoid the tourists who like to pass their hands over the bronze statue for luck in love. Lovers buy mementoes from the souvenir shops and little jewelled padlocks into which they lock their names, hanging them from a wall. I remember how you frown at me. You worry that I might find it all too commercial. But I understand. This is a modern world where romance and realism often combine. I giggle a little and shake my head and you smile. We explore the house. I am enchanted by the furniture, the artwork and displays of velvet costumes representing the period. I am moved by the beautiful painting of the lovers entwined in death. Then we come out on to the tiny Juliet balcony. I never imagined it could be like this, falling in love. This crazy rollercoaster of emotion, this wild joy coursing through my veins as you draw me close. You smooth the tangle of my hair as it blows in the breeze, and brush my mouth with your lips. Your eyes are full of passion, your voice with a little break in it, as if with a sudden sadness, a sudden memory in which I have no part. Your breath is against my cheek. Then you speak those words. ?You are so much like she . . .? I hear you murmur ?Fidanzata.? The word echoes in my mind. Fidanzata: fianc閑. You whisper another?s name. It is then that I run. This hot, dreamy summer I have thought myself your first love, Luca, as you are mine. But this morning you speak of another girl, a girl you have loved before. Do you love her still? I think of the story of the star-crossed lovers, Juliet and Romeo. Maybe it is you and me, Luca, who are the starcrossed ones. These thoughts are swirling in my mind as I run down the stairs into the courtyard, back through the covered archway. In the piazza, I find a taxi stand. * * * * Now here I am, Luca, back where we began. The love letters in the covered archway are what gave me the idea to write to you. Words spoken in hurt or in anger can sometimes destroy the fragility of love . Roberto is walking down the path from the university; I?ll ask him to drop this letter back to the apartment for you. Raven. * * * * I wait in the grounds for your reply, but it?s Roberto who comes, not you, and Elina is with him. He has a letter for me from you. He says you wrote it at Casa di Giulietta just after I left. remain somewhere in your heart. Elina brushes a kiss against my cheek. ?It is a different kind of love,? she says. Then she and Roberto leave. I open your letter. My Raven, This morning we read together some of those hundreds of love letters fluttering in the archway at Casa di Giulietta. There are so many ways to write ?I love you?. Ti adoro, cara mia: I adore you, my darling. Il mio cuore � solo tua: my heart is yours. Sei tutto per me: you are everything to me. There are many ways of loving, too. For a while, Maria was part of my life; I will hold her in a small corner of my heart. I tell you this now, as I tried to tell you before, on the little balcony, because there will be no other girl in my life but you, my Raven. Ti amo, Your Luca. The letter drifts to the ground. You are right, Luca. Maria will always be part of you. In your memory she will be for ever young and beautiful, whereas I . . . I sit a while in the grounds of the university. I have a choice to make. Then, as the setting sun turns the sky to rose, gold and amethyst, a shadow falls across my face. I glance up and you are here. My decision is made. You You whisper another?s name. It is then that I run He hesitates before he gives it to me. ?Maria,? he says, ?la fidanzata di Luca.? He explains gently. Maria, your fianc閑, a pretty Italian girl, died in a road accident. It was one winter, three years ago. You and Maria met as children, your growing love sweet and gentle. Roberto didn?t think you would ever love another girl. Tears slip down my cheeks. Tears for your pain; tears for a girl who will are you, Luca, just you. You come to me with honesty and love. You come to me with your own thoughts, your own experiences and desires. What is part of you will, in time, become part of me. ?Ti amo, Luca. I love you. I want for us to grow old together.? You whisper it back ? ?Ti amo? ? and your eyes are shining. This is where it all began. And now we have a new beginning . . . n PUZZLES 83 Arroword Guacamole ingredient (7,4) Enter the answers in the direction indicated by the arrows. Brand-name word game Implication, hint 2006 Lily Allen single (inits) Obvious Convoy escort warships Usually (2,1,4) Most fresh Regions, sectors __ Boyle, Scottish singer Part of the head Heroine in West Side Story Violate a religious or moral law Administer In column form Red, inflamed Spherules Contradict Number of Disney dwarfs Ancient Roman language __ Dennis, comedian Verify in evidence L A E R U N E EMERALD STONE GREEN TEXTURE MERIT TOUGH MINERAL VIRTUE N E S E T I I I N T V H C Y N R A L X R T E N T G M Y M T E E U M A D I I T E R I I G E N N R O R A L C T R E R I N G I W S A T I N G I O G STATUS S D U T S T Y T D R N DIGNITY M O T O A N C N A N I E M E S T O H G A S T B T Y U G I H E M N R SEAL R I R U H E V T U E E CLARITY A A U P O N I R E G R N D R D Y P U U O T A C E T Y T U T X E I T RING E B L D S R E L T R C CHINA Pathfinder L T A R E E S A M E L E A A L T U R Y T U S T O D W E N A D M A E R Y T A PURITY I T P E N E L N I M I R BRACELET P N T B E A MERIT, CLARITY, MINERAL, TEXTURE, SEAL, EMERALD, STONE, VIRTUE, GREEN, RING, ORNAMENT, DIGNITY, CHINA, STATUS, WISDOM, BRACELET, PENDANT, BEAUTY, PURITY, TOUGH PENDANT F R I N GE AW T E E S S T BEAUTY A S A R U L E I Arroword L A ADOP E N P S MAN U L AR S R E F A T I N N A T T T E L E C A R B M S Solutions S OC R E A AB RB L V E Beginning with the highlighted letter, follow a continuous path to find all the words relating to the gemstone jade. The trail passes through each and every letter once, and may twist up, down or sideways, but never diagonally. O A V E A R T O N S E Pathfinder ORNAMENT WISDOM All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com SOAP BY GLENDA YOUNG 85 OUR WEEKLY SOAP Will George find Mike Brennan hiding in his wardrobe? iStock. G EORGE!? Mary cried. ?What on earth are you doing here?? ?That?s a fine welcome, I?m sure,? George huffed. ?If you must know, I wasn?t feeling well ?? George stopped in mid-flow, taking in the devastation that greeted him as he walked into the bedroom. ?What on earth?s happened?? Mary took a deep breath before she allowed herself to speak. She placed one hand on the dressing table to steady herself and gave a quick glance at the wardrobe door. She had to be certain that Mike was well hidden in there, out of George?s sight. ?The tin of paint, George,? she replied quickly. ?Fell off the ladder, didn?t it? I was just about to start painting the ceiling and off it went.? ?We?ll need a new carpet by the looks of things,? George said, taking in all the mess in front of him. ?We were thinking of getting one anyway, weren?t we?? Mary replied in as normal a tone as she could manage. ?Come downstairs with Riverside me,? she went on, trying to usher George out of the bedroom. ?I?ll put the kettle on and you can put your feet up. Are you coming down with a cold?? George shook his head and slowly placed a hand in the middle of his chest. ?No, it?s a pain. Been bugging me all morning, it has. I had to stop work at the allotment.? ?Downstairs with you,? Mary said, but George was not for moving. ?Give me a couple of minutes,? he said. ?I need to change my shirt. I?ve had this one on all morning working in the greenhouse.? ?No!? Mary cried. ?You can?t!? ?I can?t?? George said, puzzled. ?I can?t what?? ?You can?t go in the wardrobe. You go and sit on the sofa downstairs and I?ll get a clean shirt for you. I?ll bring it down for you.? ?Have you taken leave of your senses?? George demanded. ?I come in here and you?ve got paint all over the floor, you?re rushing me out of my own bedroom and now you won?t let me look in my own wardrobe!? ?It?s the paint,? Mary said. ?I don?t want you traipsing it all over the carpet.? ?It?s a bit too late for that,? George said. His gaze fell to the floor and Mary?s heart sank when she realised what he was looking at. In her panic, she hadn?t realised that Mike had stood in the paint. His large footprints gave the game away as they trailed in white paint to the wardrobe door. ?Mary?? George asked, pointing at the footprints. ?Yes?? she replied, smiling to mask the horror she felt as he walked towards the wardrobe door and gently slid it open. He was greeted by Mike Brennan?s face beaming up at him from underneath the rack of shirts. George stared hard at Mike, unable at first to take in just what he was seeing. Mike stared back at George, unable to speak. It was Mary who broke the silence. ?I can explain everything,? she said, and took a step towards the two men. But as she neared them, George clutched at his chest with both hands . . . Mary caught her husband as he fell to the floor. ?Mike, do something!? she yelled. Mike untangled himself from George?s shirts and crawled out of the wardrobe. ?Phone an ambulance!? she cried. ?I don?t need an ambulance,? George whispered. ?I?ll be fine.? Holding George in her arms, Mary watched as Mike dialled 999 on his phone. ?They say there?s roadworks on the Ryemouth ring road and it could take them up to twenty minutes to arrive,? he told her. ?Twenty minutes?? Mary gasped. Mike snapped into action. ?I?ve got my car. We?ll drive to the hospital. I?ll carry him down the stairs.? ?I?ll walk down,? George whispered, but when he tried to stand, it was clear he was going to need Mike?s help. * * * * ?I feel such a fool,? George said after Mary had explained the reason why she?d hidden Mike in the wardrobe. ?There?s no need to feel foolish, George. We all thought you were a goner there for a few minutes. You didn?t half give us a scare.? ?Heartburn, the doc said it was,? he said. ?Who?d have thought heartburn could be so painful?? Mary looked at her watch. ?Mike?s offered us a lift home, you know. He?s been waiting in the car park and said he?d pick us up outside the hospital entrance.? ?I think I owe him a pint,? George said. ?If it had been a heart attack, Mike could well have saved my life.? ?You?re not going for a pint tonight, that?s for sure,? Mary told him. ?It?s home for some rest. I?ll make up the bed in the back room for us until the front room?s cleaned up and painted.? George and Mary walked along the hospital corridors looking for the exit. Just then, a set of double doors flung open behind them. ?George! Mary!? a voice called out. They turned to see their son-in-law, Dave, running after them. ?It?s all right,? Mary told him. ?George will be fine. Just a touch of heartburn.? ?No!? Dave cried. ?It?s Susan. She?s in labour!? More next week. Triumphant Teddy This is my Lhasa apso, aptly named Teddy. He enjoys going to dog shows as he?s a bit of a show-off and recently came second in the category ?dog the judges would most like to take home? and third in ?best groomed?. Ironically, he also came third in ?the scruffiest dog?! We came home with rosettes and a bag of treats and toys. Teddy is doing well for his age. He?s ten now and shares his home with his partner, Florence, and their son Bonzo. I also have a rottweiler called Cherry, who thinks she?s a lapdog, too, so that?s a bit of a weighty problem! Mrs J.G., Bristol. Between Friends Write to us at Between Friends, ?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Star Letter There?s a Glasgow tenement flat that has its own claim to fame. Standing in the window is an old teddy bear. His fur is weathered by his years spent in this spot and surrounding him are postcards from all over the globe ? some from as far as ?deepest, darkest Peru?. This Paddington Bear began his life decades ago and has made his name as one of Glasgow?s most esteemed residents. He belongs to my great-aunt, Nan Shearer, and he came from the Occupational Therapy department at Knightswood Hospital where Nan?s late husband, Leslie, worked. It was 1981 when Nan moved into the tenement flat with Leslie and seemingly left Paddington in the window by mistake. The real mistake occurred when Nan removed Paddington from the window ? only to be met by protesting locals who?d become accustomed to his presence. Soon Paddington?s reputation began to grow and well-wishers have sent more than 1,000 cards to Nan?s address. Some have gone as far as to send jars of marmalade, and he?s even had a wedding invitation. Paddington?s fame made it to the local press and he is now a feature of the Glasgow city bus tour ? there?s no way Nan can retire him from the window now! Ms K.W., Aberdeen. 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. Top Read! I have not bought or read a regular magazine for years as nowadays they seem to be so full of gossip about people?s private affairs, and I don?t like gossip because it can cause so much pain an d damage. However, a friend introduced me to ?The People?s Friend? and I was amazed ? it?s full of fiction, interesting articles, knitting patterns and recipes. Wonderful! I?d forgotten what a good magazine should be! Ms C.P., Australia. Prized Badge When my son was a youn g boy, one of the things he always wanted was a Blue Peter badge. He entered all the competitions and collected different things for their charity appeals but he never won a badge. He now works as a teaching assistant at a pre-school, and when the children were doing pictures to send off to the popular TV show, my son drew one and jokingly wrote Mr Yates, aged fifty-three years. He was too old for a metal badge, but they did send him a cloth one ? it really made his day! Mrs A.Y., Tamworth. Packaging Problem Too much of the food we buy is covered with too much plastic material, in my opinion. It?s such a shame, given how harmful plastic is to wildlife, and I now believe that the UK will have to burn or bury all that?s collected in recycling bins because China has been swamped and has stopped accepting anything from us. Surely to solve the problem here in the UK, we should recycle our own waste in a factory where plastic can be reduced into pellets and then reused for making useful items like school furniture or play equipment? Just a thought. Mrs J.M., Brough. YOUR LETTERS 87 Waiting This is Charlie Bruce, my two-year-old great-grandson. He?s looking rather smart as he?s just on his way to a party. He, along with his big sister Ellie, certainly keep their mum and dad on their toes! Mrs B.R., Aberdeen. There are days when nothing happens: The March sky wet with cloud, the cold A raw ache grey in every room, And through the window underneath the tree The spines of daffodils clasped tight asleep. The house is silent: the telephone Lies white acros s its cradle as though dead, And from outside, far off, come voices without words. There is no breath of wind: spring seems Still buried and impossible, so far away. Sometimes then enough to know Blue sky will be again, and new buds That break back into light. We wait like children, Patient, our chins on window-s ills ? Watching and believing ? a little longer yet. Kenneth Steven. Hardy Blooms Helping Hand This is a photo of the snowdrops in my garden which appeared a number of weeks ago. They are so pretty and tiny that it?s amazing how resilient they are. Miss L.K., Sheffield. My family are big fans of ?The People?s Friend?. My grandmother, Johanna Munro, always had the magazine delivered, and my dad, Finlay George Munro, remembers her having it even when he was a child ? he?s eighty-nine this year. I?d just like to say a big thank you to my dad for all he does. Not only does he drive me to the hospital every day to visit my husband, he also takes me shopping and helps pensioners, too. He never seems to complain ? no wonder we all love him so much. Mrs L.F., Kent. Puzzle Solutions from page 27 Missing Link The words in order are Bone, Real, Book, Tw in, Mind, Baby, Ring, Case, Pack, Hand. The phrase is BROWN BREAD. Crossword J A YWA L K E R E I N E E D L E S C N L T R E A LM E N Y A D P L I N T H A T N C C E I GH T H S T E I T H I RD L A E A L W I L T L I B U S Y YM P I T O I M C U T A N D P AD A R S H I T F E R T E R O RU T Y A A L L R E R NG Y Y iStock. Ready To Party A poem just for you! Pieceword L S R EM I N M S T OP O L B I P S CON T P I UNC L HARN R E A L I A Y R C S S S I ON S A L R U G UND E N I A G I C OGRA P H I C I L A O E S T I L L N H M L C ON S I D E R E E L N N E S S I NG T S T E R S D I S DA I A C T B A E D F A Y U L Y T L E S S S H E A L V N E D N Sudoku 2 1 3 5 6 4 8 9 7 6 9 8 7 3 2 4 1 5 4 5 7 1 9 8 6 2 3 1 8 6 2 7 5 9 3 4 9 2 4 6 8 3 5 7 1 7 3 5 4 1 9 2 6 8 3 4 2 9 5 7 1 8 6 5 7 1 8 2 6 3 4 9 8 6 9 3 4 1 7 5 2 Terms and conditions. We?re sorry, but we can?t reply to letters or return photographs and poems unless you enclose a stamped addressed envelope. All contributions must be your own original work and must not have been sent elsewhere for publication. The Editor reserves the right to modify any contribution. By making a contribution you are agreeing that we and our group companies and affiliates may, but are under no obligation to, use the contribution in any way and in any media (whether now known or created in future) anywhere in the world. If you submit a contribution featuring a third party you must ensure that you have their permission for us to publish their image or personal details. If you are sending in a digital image, please make sure that it is high resolution. Always write your name and address on the reverse of any photographs; printed digital images must be on photo-quality paper and we cannot use photocopies. Please note, for all advertising queries, call 0207 400 1054. For editorial queries, call 01382 223131. Published in Great Britain by DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., Dundee, Glasgow and London. Distributed in the UK and Eire by MarketForce UK Ltd, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 5HU. Phone: +44 (0) 20 378 79001. Email: email@example.com. Website: www.marketforce.co.uk. EXPORT DISTRIBUTION (excluding AU and NZ) Seymour Distribution Ltd, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT. Tel: +44(0)20 7429 4000. Fax: +44(0)20 7429 4001. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.seymour.co.uk. � DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2018. Editorial communications to ?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ. While every reasonable care will be taken, neither D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd., nor its agents will accept liability for loss or damage to any materials submitted to this publication. We are committed to journalism of the highest standards and abide by the Editors? Code of Practice which is enforced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). If you have a complaint, you can e-mail us at Readerseditor@dctmedia.co.uk or write to the Readers Editor at The People?s Friend, DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ. she added, pointing to a bloodied youth slumped on the horse behind Mr Overshot. He doffed his hat. ?Mrs Andrew, I fear it is Daniel Lawton?s lad.? ?William?? Her mind worked furiously. If this was William then where was Gabriel? Where was Daniel? ?Nay. The younger one.? At that moment, Gabriel?s head popped up behind the mill owner. His face was muddy and his head roughly bandaged with cloth. She rushed forward and grasped his hand. ?Gabriel! Are you all right? Where are the others?? ?I?m fine, Mrs Andrew. Just a bit bruised.? Mary turned to Mr Overshot. ?Where are you taking him?? ?William asked me to bring him home after the incident. I?m taking him to his aunt?s. I thought it best.? ?You?ll do no such thing! That lad is in no fit state to ride another step. You?ll bring him in here and he can stay with me till his father gets home.? Mr Overshot looked uneasy. ?I?ll bring him in, Mrs Andrew, but I can?t say how long you?ll be waiting for Mr Lawton.? Mary stared at him, willing him to expand, but he said no more, just indicated to his son to help Gabriel down. Soon the lad was tucked up in Mrs Andrew?s spare room, then Mary joined Mr Overshot in her parlour. ?The Yeomanry charged on the crowd,? he explained. ?They say it was to arrest those on the speaking platform, but the crowd would not let them through and sabres came out. Men, women and children alike were trampled, and some struck by swords.? ?And Gabriel?? ?Like many others he was unable to get out of the way. He fell under a horse. William managed to pull him clear of others coming behind. He?ll come back on foot with the rest of the villagers.? ?Was anyone else hurt?? Mary asked, fearing the worst. Mr Overshot?s face was grim. ?Aye,? he said. ?Some killed, they say.? ?Daniel?? Mr Overshot took a deep breath in and let it out sharply. ?Truth is, I don?t rightly know. He was holding the banner which the authorities wanted. The banner was taken and there was no sign of Daniel Lawton after it was all over. ?I cannot say whether he was arrested or whether he made his escape.? Mary felt the constriction around her chest suddenly ease. ?You mean he?s alive?? ?There is nothing to say he is dead. I saw people lying bloodied and still on the ground as I left. I?m sure none of them was him. You can?t miss that head of hair, can you?? he finished with a small smile. ?No doubt William will be able to tell you more when he gets back. He and the other villagers are casting around for news. ?Now I must go home. I wish to write a report of everything I?ve seen while it is fresh in my mind. ?I?ve sent my son to fetch the doctor to Gabriel and instructed him to send me the bill. Frankly, Mrs Andrew, I am shocked and ashamed by what happened.? With that he got up to leave. Mary held out a hand to stop him, but drew it back. There was so much she wanted to ask, yet didn?t know where to start. ?