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The People’s Friend - October 7, 2017

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Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated.
Win one of three vacuum
cleaners worth �0 each
short stories
Easy food for
the weekend
Oct 7, 2017 No. 7696
SPAM� Potato Rosti
The best fiction!
? New serial set in a 1980s law firm
? Glenda Young?s magical romance
French?s� Super
Stacked Sandwich
UK Off-sale date - 11-Oct-17
AU $4.50, NZ $4.50
The secrets
of the
Cake Club
St Cyrus
Explore the stunning Aberdeenshire coast
the joys
of life
cat tea
this week
Inside The People?s Friend
If you like the ?Friend?
then you?ll love...
The People?s Friend Special
No 147, priced �99
l 8-page crime mystery
l 14 brand-new short stories
On sale
The People?s Friend Pocket
Novel No 845, priced �49
l A modern romance by
Jill Barry
Cover Artwork: Scurdie Ness, Angus, by J. Campbell Kerr.
Available in newsagents & supermarkets
our 15-month
diary and
pen set
4 The Road Out Of Rimini
by Angela Petch
15 Could It Be Magic?
by Glenda Young
23 At The Bus Stop
by Val Bonsall
25 SERIES Tales From
Prospect House
by Malcolm Welshman
30 SERIAL Legal Eagles
by Rebecca Holmes
41 Blown In By The Storm
by Lydia Jones
47 Under The Apple Tree
by Jan Snook
53 Paris In Autumn
by Tracey Glasspool
56 SERIAL A Highland
by Josephine Allen
79 Just As I Am
by Sarah Swatridge
85 WEEKLY SOAP Riverside
by Glenda Young
7 This Week We?re
13 Maddie?s World
18 Health & Wellbeing
24 Reader Offer:
Christmas cross stitch
27 Brainteasers
35 The Farmer & His
36 Cookery: try our
delicious selection of
weekend treats
51 Our Next Issue
63 From The Manse
70 Reader Offer: Happy
Anniversary Royal tea
71 Would You Believe It?
73 Crochet: ?purrfect?
for the pot ? our
adorable cat tea cosy
86 Between Friends
8 Willie Shand walks the
golden sands of St Cyrus
21 Try our 7 easy ways to
improve your eye health
29 Expert John Stoa finds
plenty to do in the October
44 Sarah Pennells explores the
world of a sharing economy
55 Your chance to clean up in
our great competition!
65 A look at tortoises as pets
and other less common
66 We take a peek behind the
scenes of the Clandestine
Cake Club
69 Top swaps ? simple lifestyle
changes to keep mind and
body in tip-top condition
77 Alpaca magic ? Fiona
Wallace shares her love of
these lovely creatures
83 Extra puzzle fun
13 issues for *�when you subscribe
? Call 0800 318846**, quote PFCOV
and save
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There?s a feature in
the magazine which is
consistently one of my
favourites ? and yet I
can?t recall ever
mentioning it in my
column. Time to put
that right, so step
forward, ?This Week
We?re Loving?, which
every issue is a
treasure trove of fun
facts, good ideas, cute
animals and clever
gadgets. Where else
would you find Dawn
French, Self Stirring
Mugs and endangered
ducklings all on the
same page?
Though it happened
way back in 1982, I can
still remember hearing
the chilling news that
Britain had gone to war
over the Falkland
Islands. Our new serial
by Rebecca Holmes,
which you?ll find on
page 30, is set against
the backdrop of those
times and is centred
around a solicitors?
practice. I hope you
enjoy reading it ? and
wallowing in 1980s
One last highlight
from me ? don?t miss
our interview with the
founder of the
wonderfully named
Clandestine Cake Club
on page 66. Wonder if
there?s one anywhere
near me . . .!
Angela Gilchrist, Editor.
After working
all week, all
Elisabetta wanted
to do was head
into the
countryside . . .
The Road
Out Of Rimini
Illustration by Kirk Houston.
OBODY else in
the family
wanted Nonna?s
house. They said
it was damp,
poky and isolated. You
couldn?t drive a car up
there through the narrow,
cobbled streets.
It would be better to
knock it down, they said,
and build a modern villa
like Mayor Bruni?s on the
edge of town.
Elisabetta had breathed
a huge sigh of relief at the
thought of having
Grandmother?s little house
to herself.
Friday nights became a
highlight. She would grab
her knapsack and ride her
Lambretta along the road
out of town in the opposite
direction to the majority of
pale, tired commuters.
Through the outskirts
she hurried, where
monstrous outlet
warehouses squatted pink
and purple, garishly
coloured so everybody
would know where to come
and spend money they?d
taken all week to earn.
Past the straggle of new
villas, with neat oleander
plants in pots and
terracotta lions guarding
electronically controlled
gates, the road was
bumpier as it climbed
through olive groves, their
trees contorted with
gnarled limbs, past
meadows painted with
buttercups, purple
toadflax and deep blue
Finally she made it up to
the village of Verrucchio,
clinging to rocks that had
guarded the plains since
the Middle Ages.
If anybody was about
(and they were mostly very
old or very young because
nobody who was of work
age lived here any more),
she waved a cheery ?Ciao?
to them.
In the grocery store
smelling of sausages,
cheese and soap powder,
Elisabetta bought bread, a
hunk of salami and plump,
white mozzarella from
?Anything else?? he
asked hopefully, pressing a
couple of juicy peaches
into her hand while his
father wasn?t looking.
?No, thank you, Marco.
This will make a supper fit
for a princess. See you
later.? She knew he liked
her but she had no desire
to encourage him.
Outside Nonna?s old
house she pushed the
Lambretta stand down and
turned the key in the oak
door. Her grandmother
had passed away more
than a year ago, but
Elisabetta continued with
her habit of beating the
tarnished brass knocker
before entering.
Slipping off her shoes,
she padded barefoot over
the terracotta tiles. As she
entered her bedroom she
was already flinging off the
smart work trousers,
tailored jacket and white
silk blouse she was obliged
to wear as sales assistant
in the expensive clothes
shop in Rimini centre.
Today she had dealt with
a particularly difficult
customer who was large,
bossy and extremely
wealthy. Elisabetta had
modelled a low-cut, silk
cocktail dress for this
Blowsy pink roses
patterned this season?s
?must-have?, but the style
was for a younger person
and the blooms drew
attention to the woman?s
ample curves.
When Elisabetta tactfully
pointed her in the direction
of a more neutral A-line
design, the woman had
turned on her, telling her
she was insolent.
Stefano had glowered
and rebuked her later for
the potential loss of a sale
which he would dock from
her wages.
But Elisabetta thought it
best to be honest. If the
woman bought the dress,
she would look ridiculous
and eventually somebody
would tell her, and then all
her rich friends would
never return to buy from
Stefano?s shop.
But he wouldn?t listen to
her reasoning. Stefano was
like a scorpion, like those
in Nonna?s wood pile,
waiting to pounce on
unsuspecting, smaller
Another customer today
had been a pleasant young
woman from Rome, who
had pulled faces at
Elisabetta behind the
bossy woman?s back.
Later, when she was
pinning alterations, the
young woman had
?You are wasted here
and if you ever feel the
need for a change, come to
see me in Rome. My
mother is manageress of a
wedding dress boutique.
She is always searching for
new talent.?
Elisabetta smiled as she
remembered the
conversation and flung
open the shutters. A lizard
poked out its head from
under the scarlet flowers of
geraniums cascading from
an old olive-oil can, and
she scattered crumbs for
his supper.
She?d observed the
creature one Saturday
morning as she drank
coffee at the window. The
lizard had caught a
scorpion and eaten it all,
slowly and daintily; eaten
everything save the tail
with its forked sting. She
would have liked to devour
Stefano like that.
But what could she do?
Jobs were hard to come
Pulling on an old shirt,
she set to work on her
latest project: scraping
paint off her
grandmother?s matrimonial
bed. The old lady had lived
alone for years.
Elisabetta had never
known Grandfather Reiner.
Nonna talked about her
handsome Reiner all the
time when they were
Out would come a box
from under her bed and a
framed black and white
photo of Nonna as a young
lady in a polka dot dress,
arm in arm with Reiner,
next to the Trevi Fountain.
?He was so handsome,
darling,? she?d say. ?He
took me dancing whenever
he could and bought me
coffee granitas in the
central piazza. And our
two days in Roma were the
most wonderful two days
of my life.?
Then she would go
dreamy-eyed and plant a
kiss on the photo of her
handsome blond soldier,
wrapping it again gently in
tissue paper and replacing
it in the box.
Nonna had done
everything possible to
bring up Manuela,
Elisabetta?s mother, on her
own. She washed dishes in
the evenings when her
daughter was tucked up in
the bottom drawer of the
wardrobe, and scrubbed
floors when all the
customers had gone home
from the restaurant.
If there were leftovers,
she would take them
home, lay the table and
prepare a special feast.
She took in mending,
baked piadine for the
tourists in the summer and
worked hard to feed and
educate her only child.
As a consequence of this
thrifty upbringing,
Manuela developed a taste
for a life filled with modern
appliances and gadgets.
In the Rimini apartment
that Elisabetta shared with
her parents during the
week, there wasn?t a single
antique, no knick-knacks,
no surfaces of polished
wood. All was plastic and
Nonna had painted her
bed ends fuchsia pink and
Elisabetta was now halfway
through scraping the gloss
away to reveal cherry
wood beneath.
It was painstaking work
? if she scraped too hard
she could scratch and
damage the precious
veneer. But she was over
halfway through the task
now. It was satisfying even
though it made her hands
rough and chipped the nail
polish she wore for her job.
?What have you done to
your hands?? Stefano
moaned on Monday
mornings. ?Nobody will
buy garments from a girl
with peasant?s hands.
You?ll catch the threads
and ruin my dresses. Have
a care, Elisabetta.?
She knew Stefano only
kept her on in his exclusive
her plate and, propping it
on the chipped stone
drainer, she thought of
Stefano and his ideas of
perfection; how he would
expect a proper supper
table, laid with linen and
shining cutlery.
She sighed.
* * * *
Next morning, Elisabetta
came to the conclusion
that to remove paint
properly from the bed
ends she would need to
dismantle them, so she
went down the alley to
borrow a screwdriver from
Marco in the grocery store.
Her nonna kept a photo of her
handsome blond soldier
shop because he wanted to
seduce her. How her
mother would love to brag
that her daughter was
engaged to Stefano
Zagnarelli ? the Zagnarelli
with the exclusive shop in
the piazza.
Her eyes would reflect
the glint of her daughter?s
diamond engagement ring
and she?d boast about
their smart new villa with
Stefano?s shining red
Ferrari parked outside.
Sometimes Elisabetta
felt like giving in to Stefano
just to keep her mother
quiet, but she knew that
he wouldn?t want to spend
his weekends in Nonna?s
little house on the hill. The
thought filled her with
She put down the
scraping knife and stared
out of the window. Night
was falling. Far below,
lights twinkled along the
coast like strings of
Christmas decorations.
In the daytime it was no
picture-postcard view, with
its great blocks of
industrial buildings and
lorries lumbering along the
superstrada to the port
where ships were bound
for Greece and Croatia.
But at night it was
She pulled a chair over
and ate her supper using
the sill as a table,
contemplating the vast
world beyond her window.
Afterwards, she rinsed
He was for ever tinkering
with his Vespa when the
store was closed, bending
over his old bike, a rag
hanging from his pocket,
whistling tunelessly as he
operated on its oily
Elisabetta waited her
turn in the queue of elderly
ladies. It was a good place
to exchange village news.
If only the hams and
sausages hanging from the
hooks above the counter
could have talked, they?d
have filled a gossip
After he had finished
serving the old ladies with
their two slices of
prosciutto or paper twists
of grated parmesan, he
smiled at his pretty friend.
?How can I help you,
Elisabetta? More rolls? A
tub of fresh mascarpone?
You?re too thin, if you don?t
mind my saying.?
He looked away,
embarrassed at his
personal comment.
?No mascarpone, thank
you, but can you lend me a
screwdriver, Marco??
?Only if you let me take
you for a spin on my Vespa
this evening,? he heard his
stupid mouth reply.
He turned as scarlet as
the San Marzano tomatoes
piled high in crates outside
the shop. To cover his
confusion he turned round
to search for the
screwdriver on the
shelves, when all the
time it was sticking out
of his pocket.
Elisabetta laughed at his
?We?ll see,? she said,
waiting for Marco to
realise where the
screwdriver had been all
the time.
* * * *
The screws were rusty,
so she trickled drops of
rich green extra-virgin oil
to loosen them. She
separated the headboard
and bed ends from the
frame where the mattress
rested and noticed pencil
marks on the rough,
unpainted section beneath
the cherry-wood panels.
Looking closely, she made
out her grandparents?
names in a scribbled heart
and she smiled.
Whilst manoeuvring the
headboard to rest against
the wall, the bedpost knob
rolled off into the corner.
Now she would have to
borrow strong glue from
Marco and accept his offer
of a spin on the Vespa.
He was not such a bad
fellow, but she relished her
quiet time after a week of
making polite conversation
with customers.
The bed was easier to
work on once it was
dismantled, and soon
honey-gold cherry wood
had replaced Nonna?s
crazy pink paint.
Elisabetta remembered
how her grandmother wore
brightly coloured scarves
round her head to go to
market. How sometimes
she wore a man?s silk
dressing-gown as a dress,
shaping it to her waist with
a wide leather belt.
She was oblivious to the
ladies in the square
dressed in widows? black
who nudged each other as
she appeared round the
corner to take her double
espresso at the bar
instead of attending
Sunday Mass where they
were destined.
?Why do what everybody
else does?? Nonna would
say. ?Why follow the herd?
?There was a time during
the war,? she once told
Elisabetta during one of
their precious afternoons,
?when I had to wear a scarf
to cover my shorn head,
and put up with catty
comments from all my
so-called friends. They
called me a collaborator.
But I didn?t give a fig then
and I don?t give a fig now.
At least I have known
Elisabetta had asked her
mother later what her
grandmother meant, but
Manuela changed the
* * * *
At seven-thirty that
evening she entered the
dark grocery store where
Marco was counting cents
and euros from his till. He
couldn?t believe his luck
when she told him the
reason she was there.
?I would like to go for a
ride, after all, and I need
to borrow some adhesive.?
She was wearing a
favourite pair of jeans,
patched with floral
material retrieved from
Nonna?s mending basket.
Round her head she had
tied an extra piece to stop
the wind playing mischief
with her hair when she was
riding on the back of
Marco?s Vespa.
He thought she looked
about sixteen and not
twenty-eight ? for he knew
her age. He was thirtythree, and in his opinion
twenty-eight was the
perfect age for a young
Not too young to be
giddy with unrealistic
expectations of life, and
not too old to be able to
produce children. If they
had children he would
have to save for a Fiat
500, for there was a limit
as to how many children
you could carry on the
back of a Vespa.
On television, he
watched crazy Neapolitans
pile their family on the
pillion, but he wasn?t the
sort of man to put his
babies in danger.
?It would be nice to have
a ride up to the top of San
Leo,? she said. ?I haven?t
been for ages.?
Her request brought him
back down to earth and he
quickly removed his brown
overall, slinging it over the
?Elisabetta, I only have
one crash helmet. You
shall wear it and we will
take the back roads so the
carabinieri don?t catch us.?
It was a balmy evening,
and as Marco steered his
noisy Vespa round the
bends that snaked up the
hill to the fortress, he felt
no man could possibly be
Elisabetta had one arm
round his waist, and as he
took the corners, he felt
her body press closer to
his, and he had to
concentrate hard to steady
the bike.
Cicadas sang their
summer songs, and as they
swept past flower-filled
meadows the scents and
sounds were intoxicating.
He didn?t want ever to
arrive at the top, because
Elisabetta would climb off
and remove her arms from
round his body and he
would have to talk to her.
He knew his stupid mouth
would stammer and
stutter and make a fool of
He was grateful she did
the talking.
?How peaceful it is up
here, away from the
craziness of Rimini. I could
stay here for ever if only I
didn?t have to work.?
Marco thought how few
women there were who
preferred the quiet country
?Marry me, Elisabetta,?
he wanted to shout, ?and
live with me up here for
ever and ever.?
But this evening his
mouth was behaving and
he merely smiled, although
his heart was bursting to
tell her of his feelings.
* * * *
?Let?s go for a walk
through the alleyways,
Marco, and afterwards
share an ice-cream in the
She thought what a kind,
sweet man he was, albeit
untalkative. It would have
been romantic to have her
hand held, to have
endearments whispered in
her ear while they leaned
against the warm stone
wall, gazing at the view.
The countryside below was
dotted with olive groves
and cypress trees.
In the distance the sea
glistened blue and hazy
and it made a perfect
setting for lovers to start
an affair.
On the return journey
Marco seemed to choose
the longer route home,
perhaps reluctant for the
moment she would climb
off his Vespa. He drove
faster so she had to press
against him.
?Thank you, Marco,? she
said when they arrived
back at Verrucchio. ?That
was a lovely evening. Now,
please may I borrow some
?Why don?t you marry
me instead? Then you can
have all the glue you
want,? he said, grabbing
hold of her hands and
gazing at her with puppydog eyes.
It was not the marriage
proposal she had dreamed
of, and she marvelled to
herself how complicated all
this borrowing was
Maybe she would have
to buy a screwdriver and a
few other tools of her own.
Letting herself into
Nonna?s house, she leaned
against the door for a few
moments, enjoying the
darkness and silence.
When her eyes grew
accustomed to the gloom,
she went over to the bed
and traced the heart
drawn in the wood all
those years ago. She
would never know the full
story of her grandmother?s
life, but she felt close to
her in this place.
She undressed and lay
down on the mattress on
the floor, thinking about
the passion her
grandmother had
experienced. She thought
of Stefano and she thought
of Marco and she realised
that, up until now, she
hadn?t found true love;
that she was simply
dancing around the edges
of life.
On Monday she would
tell Stefano to find another
girl to work in his shop.
She would buy a train
ticket for Rome and pay a
visit to the wedding-dress
As her eyes closed and
she started the lazy, easy
slide into sleep, she knew
that Nonna?s house would
wait for her return. n
Proving that you?re never too old
to learn something new, the Royal
Academy of Dance has launched
ballet classes for the over fiftyfives. Ballet is great for improving
co-ordination as well as mobility.
Retail Therapy
Leading high street retailers are backing
Breast Cancer Now with a range of
goods being sold to help raise funds
for research. You?ll
find the exclusive
collection of
products in M&S,
ghd, Debenhams,
Damart, Sealey
and Pentel. Asda
have this Tickled
Pink Bunch of
Flowers for just
�(donation to
Tickled Pink �, or
go to
Born Free
World Animal Day has just been
celebrated, so why not honour it
by watching the ?Born Free? DVD?
The 1966 film classic stars Born
Free Foundation?s co-founders
Virginia McKenna
and Bill Travers
in this tale about
Elsa the orphaned
lioness. It?s �.99
from https://
uk/shop with a
percentage of the
profits going to
Born Free.
Details correct at time of going to press.
RZSS/Si鈔 Addison.
Animal Quackers
It?s a real feather in the cap for keepers
at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, who recently
announced the arrival of the first pair of
critically endangered Baer?s pochard to
be born at the park. The ducklings are
thriving ? in fact, they?ve taken to life at
the zoo like ducks to water!
Sensational At Sixty
Funny girl Dawn French is looking
sensational at sixty. Not only is she
a comedian and writer, she?s also a
great actress, proving a hit in her TV
role as ?The Vicar Of Dibley?. Dawn
celebrates her birthday milestone on
October 11.
Photo by David Tett, courtesy of
the Royal Academy of Dance.
Come Dancing
Feet First
These Scandi-style slippers from Cosyfeet
are called Frieda and are created with
both comfort and style in mind. Made
with 100% wool, they?re designed to
cosset your feet in natural softness and
have a secure touch-fastening strap
which can be adjusted for comfort,
perfect if your feet swell. They can also
be worn outdoors.
They?re � from
frieda or call
01458 447275.
Something Tasteful
With a mouthwatering array of
seasonal French farmhouseinspired dishes, ?Annie?s
Farmhouse Kitchen? has lots
of tasty delights for marvellous
mealtimes. From cassoulet to
pears in a caramel sauce, Annie
Smithers?s book has it all. It?s �
from good book stores or online,
ISBN 978-174379264-3.
Give It A Whirl!
Have you ever gone to the cutlery drawer
only to discover there are no teaspoons?
Well, rather than a brewing storm in a
teacup just use this Self Stirring Mug
instead! Perfect for students, it?s priced
�99 from
com. Just
flick the
switch at the
top of the
mug to set
the liquid
in motion
Marvellous Musical
It?s your last chance to catch
Andrew Lloyd Webber?s ?Sunset
Boulevard? at the Edinburgh
Playhouse, as it completes its
run on Saturday, October 7. The
iconic musical,
which has other
upcoming UK
dates, tells a
story of romance
and obsession.
Book on 0844
871 3014
or at www.
Edinburgh Playhouse.
This week we?re
cove e
St Cyrus
St Cyrus National Nature Reserve in
Aberdeenshire is one of Britain?s richest and
most diverse. Willie Shand finds out more.
Montrose to St
Cyrus means
crossing both the
South and North Esk
Just off the main
thoroughfare before I
head over the South Esk,
a wee single-track road
makes the journey out to
the Scurdie Ness
lighthouse. Painted black
during the war to avoid
being used as a
navigational aid by the
enemy, it was built by
David and Thomas
Stevenson, sons of the
great lighthouse
engineer, Robert. On a
fine day like this, it?s a
great stop for a break
after an early start.
Four miles to the
north of Montrose, the
Aberdeen coastal road
drops to cross the fine old
bridge over the River North
Esk. It?s a narrow bridge and
traffic has to cross using a
priority system.
It?s no shame to the
bridge or its architect
though as, being built in
1775 long before motor
vehicles came on the scene,
no-one then could have
Peregrine falcons can be
spotted in the reserve.
predicted the demands of
modern transport.
The river it spans has long
been a prized area for
salmon, attracting the
attention of fishermen as far
back as the 1200s.
Commercial salmon fishing
around the mouth of the
North Esk ended only
around 10 years ago.
Photographs by Willie Shand and iStock.
The Dowry Kirk
is home to an
unusual tradition!
n Thankfully, St Cyrus
Lifeboat Station saw little
action, although there
was one occasion they
might have been happy
to forget. Returning from
a rescue, the crew were
so exhausted from rowing
that they ended up being
grounded on a sand
bank, where all they
could do was sit and wait
until they were rescued
by the crew of the
Montrose lifeboat!
Viaduct over
the North Esk.
Just a hundred yards
beyond the north end of the
road bridge, a single-track
road heads down towards
the coast and to St Cyrus
National Nature Reserve.
This, as an intriguing sign
informs us, is also the way
to Steptoe?s Yard ? a good
old-fashioned yard where a
rummage might well reveal
that obscure thing you?ve
been hunting for ages.
This road ends in a mile
or two at the Nature
Reserve Visitor Centre ?
housed in the former
St Cyrus Lifeboat Station.
Strange, you might think, to
build a lifeboat station so far
from water.
When it was built in the
1800s, the North Esk passed
close to its doors. In 1879,
however, during a storm,
Volcanic cliffs
rise above.
within the space of 24 hours
the river had forced its way
through the dunes to create
a new, straighter course to
the sea.
The St Cyrus Reserve
covers some 230 acres
between the marramcovered dunes and towering
cliffs behind and is
managed by Scottish
Natural Heritage.
If you?re into wild plants
there are between 300 and
350 different species ? wild
liquorice, clustered
bellflower, carline thistle
and meadow saxifrage, to
name but a few. Some are
growing at their northern
extremity for the British
For birdwatchers, there
are fulmar, peregrine falcon,
little tern, curlew,
oystercatcher and as many
as 70 different species to try
to spot.
Listen for the stonechat ?
as its name suggests, its call
resembles the sound of two
stones being chapped
Just don?t try to get too
friendly with the fulmars,
though. If they feel you?re
getting too close they?ll spit
at you and you?ll stink of fish
for the rest of the day!
They?re clever birds, too.
Nesting on the tiniest of
ledges, the fulmar?s eggs
have evolved oval so that if
knocked they spin rather
than roll off the cliff.
The wild flowers attract
huge numbers of butterflies,
and with luck you might
even meet all four of our
grasshopper species.
Down on the sands, grey
and common seals can
sometimes be found
basking in the sunshine,
while further out, keep a
watch for porpoises,
dolphins, humpback, minke
and killer whales.
St Cyrus is one of Britain?s
richest and most diverse
nature reserves. And, to see
the best of it, there?s no
better way than on your
feet, starting with a walk
along the golden sands that
fill the bay.
To reach the sands we
need to cross the long
Gurkha Bridge ? so called as
it was built as a training
n The steep path leading
up to the former fishing
station of Woodston and
its old ice house at the
top of the cliff is known
as the Donkey Path. The
fish were carried by
donkey from the shore.
As technology improved,
the donkey was replaced
by a horse.
n Beyond the northern
end of the bay is the
Kaim o? Mathers ? the
castle is said to have
been built in the 1400s
by one David Barclay as
protection against the
n In times past, it was a
general rule that one
tenth of all the salmon
caught were to be given
to the local minister. This
annoyed one fisherman
and he threw every tenth
fish he caught back into
the sea and told the
minister that if he wanted
them he could go and get
them out of the sea
exercise by Gurkha soldiers
in 1985.
Its predecessor would
have carried fishermen over
the North Esk, but now,
since its change of course,
no water flows beneath the
Sharp marram grass grows
on the sandy dunes behind
the beach. It?s a hardy wee
plant, being able to thrive in
such hostile, infertile
conditions but is extremely
valuable in helping to
stabilise the shifting sands.
Each plant can have a root
system stretching more
than 10 yards. Even so,
Get measured
before you marry!
the dunes are constantly
on the move with each
gust of wind.
Nature is constantly
rearranging the landscape of
St Cyrus. The volcanic cliffs
that back the dunes were
formed around 400 million
years ago.
After the last Ice Age,
when ice almost a mile
thick melted, the land,
relieved of this tremendous
weight, rose, creating a
so-called raised beach.
From the sands we look
south to Montrose and the
lighthouse of Ferryden.
Here, though, we turn to
aim for the north end of the
Why is it, walking along an
empty beach, it always feels
like the end is never getting
any closer?
Piles of washed-up
driftwood lie beneath the
edge of the dunes, looking
like the skeletons of some
prehistoric monsters.
Keeping us company all
the way are the cries of the
seabirds and the rushing
sound of the waves spilling
over the foreshore, all
amplified by the cliffs.
Masses of yellow whins
cover the steep banks
below these cliffs.
Down near the water?s
edge, a few wooden stumps
rise from the sand. These
hark back to the days of
salmon netting. Traditional
stake net fishing was once a
common sight along this
The nets were staked
down at right angles to the
Dolphin at
play offshore.
sea and with a long ?leader?
guiding the fish into a V-net
trap, the poor salmon had
little hope of escaping.
To keep the fish fresh for
transporting to market, ice,
gathered in winter from the
river, was packed into ice
From Woodston the track
now turns south along the
cliff top with some pretty
spectacular coastal views.
Rising above the fields on
our right is the slender spire
of St Cyrus Kirk.
This is the Dowry Kirk of
St Cyrus and any local lass
being wed in it has a rather
unusual ritual to perform.
She has to be measured.
This tradition goes away
back to 1845 when one
John Orr, a local landowner,
watched a young couple
struggle through deep snow
en route to their wedding at
St Cyrus.
He was quite moved by
the scene and left the
church a dowry. Each year
that dowry (initially
equivalent to six month?s
wages) would be divided
between the tallest,
shortest, oldest and
youngest St Cyrus brides.
Nowadays, rather than
money, each couple is
presented with a small
At the wee car park just
below the kirk we descend
again to the foot of the cliffs
by an equally steep track.
Take care ? the loose
gravel doesn?t give much
grip and it?s a long way to
the bottom should you slip!
Close to the top is a
plaque to George Ross, the
man who first made this cliff
path in 1882. Once down,
we join an easy grassy track
that runs parallel to the foot
of the cliffs, passing some
old salmon bothies along
the way. Beside one are two
large stacks of rotting net
drying poles.
The old name for St Cyrus
parish was Ecclesgreig ? the
church of Crig. Crig, who
was a ninth-century Pictish
leader, was also known as
The original church was
very likely at the Nether
Kirkyard which sits close to
our track. It wasn?t until
1632 that the church moved
to the more convenient site
on top of the cliffs.
The old Nether Kirkyard is
well worth stopping to
explore. It?s entered over a
stone stile. Although the old
church is gone, the kirkyard
is full of interesting stones.
The small stone building
tucked into the north-west
corner with its chimney and
small window reminds us of
less pleasant times.
This was the watch house.
It harks back to the days of
the body snatchers when,
even after death, you
Want to know more?
St Cyrus National Nature Reserve, The Old Lifeboat Station, Nether Warburton,
Montrose DD10 0AQ. Tel: 01674 830736.
weren?t safe.
Recently buried bodies
were worth cash to the
medical schools of
Aberdeen and Edinburgh,
and there were always
unscrupulous characters
willing to stoop low enough
to meet the demand.
Relatives of the recently
buried would therefore
stand guard in the watch
house overnight to ensure
this didn?t happen.
Close to where we enter
the kirkyard, within a railed
enclosure, is a stone to the
lawyer and poet George
He fell in love with a
young girl with the rather
unusual name of William
Gibson, and the two were
engaged to be married.
However, when the girl
came into money from her
uncle, she thought she
could do better for herself
and jilted poor George for
This was just too
upsetting for George, who
shot himself at this very
spot in 1823. It?s a romantic
but somewhat sad story to
end our walk along the
coast at St Cyrus. n
Getting there
Take the A92 to four
miles north of Montrose
and turn
down the
coast at
the end of
the North
Esk Bridge.
?We now have a
half-finished pizza
oven in our back yard?
Photographs courtesy of Maddie Grigg.
In her weekly column,
Maddie Grigg shares
tales from her life in
rural Dorset . . .
THINK I?ve probably
mentioned this before,
but my garden is the
proverbial postage stamp.
It comprises a square of
paving slabs with pots all
around it. At this time of
year it?s in need of a tidy up.
I really ought to think about
putting it to bed as autumn
gathers up its overcoat, in
readiness for winter.
Lately, there has been a
new addition to the garden.
It?s taking its time, but it?s
emerging slowly, like some
sort of folly next to the fish
You see, earlier this year
Mr Grigg went on a ?build
and bake? day at River
Cottage HQ, the place made
famous by television chef
and writer Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall. It?s just over
the county border in Devon
and not far from us.
As you know, Mr Grigg
loves to bake. And, after
spending a year in Corfu a
few years ago, he?s really
been bitten by the alfresco
cooking and dining bug
perfected by our Greek
neighbour, Spiros.
So the River Cottage
course was the perfect
birthday present. He could
enjoy a day out and, at the
same time, equip himself
with the skills to make his
own oven.
The upshot of all of this is
that we now have a halffinished pizza oven in our
back yard.
It?s truly been a labour of
love, with the base
constructed from old railway
sleepers, rubble obtained
from anyone who had any
to fill it in, a layer of broken
glass to retain the heat, then
old fire bricks from the
inside of night storage
heaters taken out of various
houses by my electrician
Mr Grigg put together this
base some months ago, and
it stayed like that ? just a
base ? until Mrs Champagne
Charlie mentioned she
could see from her
bedroom window that we
appeared to have rather a
grand plant stand in our
garden, as I?d covered it up
with even more pots.
Well, that spurred my
husband on to get on with
This involved getting the
clay to make the actual oven
and this turned out to be
something of a protracted
Buying it from a building
supplier worked out far too
expensive, and potters don?t
have enough of it lying
So it was down to a
friendly farmer who took
Mr Grigg across fields in his
tractor to find some.
Then rain stopped play on
numerous occasions. Mr
Grigg and his faithful
assistant, Mr Champagne
Charlie, needed a clear run
of weather to get on with
?puddling? the clay and
moulding it into a dome to
go on top of the base. And,
once started, if the clay was
left for too long, it was in
danger of drying out.
There were frequent
discussions about how best
to do it, with the two of
them going off into a
huddle to work out tactics.
It?s a work in progress as
we speak, but that hasn?t
stopped Mr Grigg dreaming
about all the wonderful
things he?ll be able to cook
in the oven, as well as some
yummy pizza.
He?s even suggested we
could have tables and chairs
outside our house and sell
pizzas to the public, but I?m
going to put my foot down.
As soon as our pizza oven
looks a bit like how it?s
meant to be, I?ll let you see
a picture. But we could be
waiting until Christmas to
launch the thing officially, so
he will have to make sure
the door is big enough to
get a turkey in and out of
the oven.
We certainly won?t be
laying up the street outside
for a mass Christmas dinner.
That would be taking
community spirit a little too
far, even in my book. n
Big enough for
a turkey . . .
It Be
Ian?s job brought happiness
to others, and it made him
who he was . . .
Illustration by iStock.
lifted his
black top
hat, the
roared with delight.
Underneath the hat was
Ian?s pet rabbit, Barney,
sitting quietly and very still
on top of Ian?s head.
The children loved the
spectacle of it all, but even
their loud clapping and
cheering for the finale of
Ian?s magic act couldn?t
faze Barney the rabbit.
He just sat quietly on top
of Ian?s head as the
children went wild with
delight and the parents in
the room clapped long and
loud in appreciation of the
?That?s the best magic
act I?ve ever seen!? Joe
Ian reached up and
gathered Barney in both
hands before making a
final bow to the crowd. The
children started to grab
their party bags, putting
their coats on and getting
ready to leave.
As the room emptied, Ian
began to pack his trunk
and boxes with the hats,
balloons, card tricks and
silk scarves that made up
his act.
He had a special carrier
for Barney and the rabbit
went straight into it
without any fuss, heading
straight for his water and
?That really was a
fantastic show,? Brian said
to Ian. ?Joe?s really
enjoyed himself. He?s
saying he wants to be a
magician when he grows
Ian smiled and nodded.
?As long as the children
enjoy themselves, I know
I?ve done a good job,? he
replied. ?It beats working
nine to five in an office!?
?Did Rosie pay you
everything in advance??
Brian asked. ?Or do we
owe you anything??
?It?s all been taken care
of,? Ian assured him. ?Your
wife paid when she placed
the order a few weeks
?Well, I?ll be sure to
recommend you,? Brian
?Here, let me give you
one of my cards.?
Brian stood stock still as
Ian pulled out a business
card from behind his left
?How on earth did you
do that?? he cried.
?Ah, now that would be
telling!? Ian laughed.
Brian read the card.
?You do corporate
events as well as children?s
parties? That?s good to
?I can do everything from
a one-hour show like Joe?s
birthday party today
through to three hours with
a mini disco, games and
balloon modelling. And all
of my shows can be
tailored to suit whatever
requirements my customer
?I do weddings, parties,
christenings, birthdays ?
you name it and I?ll turn up
and do magic tricks! I can
do close-up work at tables,
too, or cabaret shows and
stage performances. I?m
very reasonably priced.?
?Do you always bring
your rabbit?? Ian heard a
little voice ask.
He looked down and
there was Joe, kneeling on
the floor and peering
through the bars of
Barney?s carrier.
?Yes, Joe.? Ian smiled.
?Wherever I go, my furry
little friend goes, too.
We?re a double act, you
He smiled at Joe as he
stood and moved beside
his dad. Brian ruffled Joe?s
?Have you had a good
birthday so far, Joe?? he
asked his son.
?It?s been great, Dad.
Thank you, Magic Ian.?
?It?s my pleasure, Joe,?
Ian replied. ?But I think I
forgot to give you a
birthday present.?
?You did?? Joe asked,
his eyes wide.
Joe watched as Ian
reached up under his left
sleeve with his right hand.
When his hand reappeared
it brought with it a fluffy
toy rabbit.
?How did he do that,
Daddy? How did he do it??
Joe cried.
Brian shook his head in
?Son, I have no idea. But
that?s why he?s a magician
and I?m not.?
?How did you do that??
Brian whispered to Ian.
Ian tapped the side
of his nose.
?Magic Circle rules,?
he said. ?I couldn?t
possibly break their
?Here, let me show you
out,? Brian said. ?I?ll help
you carry your boxes to
your van.?
?Oh, it?s not a van, it?s a
magic-mobile,? Ian replied,
glancing at Joe.
Brian corrected himself.
?Yes, of course. Well, er,
let me help you put these
boxes into the magicmobile.?
Brian stood with Joe at
the front door of the
house, waving goodbye.
Ian jumped into the
passenger seat of the van
which was now full of
boxes of the tools and
tricks of his trade.
As the van drove away
from the house, Joe looked
up at his dad.
?Yes, son??
?That was the best
birthday ever.?
* * * *
Back home, Ian unloaded
the van. He took Barney
first and put the rabbit in
his pen in the back garden
for some fresh air and a
run on the lawn.
After Barney was safe
and secure in the garden,
Ian then brought the boxes
of his tricks into the house
one by one.
Since Linda had moved
out, Ian lived alone, so
there was no-one in the
house to nag him about
leaving the boxes in the
There was no-one to
complain that the boxes
were in their way or that
he should get a proper job.
And there was no-one to
tell Ian that she couldn?t
see her future with a man
who earned his living
pulling rabbits out of hats
and making giraffes from
Ian had begged Linda not
to leave, but her mind was
made up. She?d told him
she?d had enough of him
and, by heavens, she?d
yelled at the time, she had
certainly had enough of his
When Ian was working,
he was happy. Ian?s work
made people smile; he
worked his magic to make
people laugh. But then
he?d come home alone to
an empty house.
Well, almost empty.
There was Barney to look
after, of course.
* * * *
That evening after Joe?s
birthday party, Ian was
catching up on his
paperwork. He?d never
realised there would be so
much admin involved in
being self-employed.
As he was checking his
diary to find out when his
next booking was, his
phone rang.
?Hello, Magic Ian? It?s
Brian here. We met this
afternoon at my son Joe?s
birthday party. I?d like to
make another booking,
?It?s a corporate event
this time ? some awards do
at work on the fifteenth, if
you?re free for an hour or
so. The mayor?s coming,
too. Card tricks at tables
and a bit of razzmatazz on
the stage. And bring
Barney the rabbit, of
?No problem,? Ian
replied, scribbling the
details in his diary. ?It?ll be
a pleasure. I?ll see you
* * * *
The awards dinner show
was declared a success. Ian
wowed the guests at the
tables with his close-up
magic tricks.
No matter how closely or
carefully the guests
watched Ian?s hands, they
couldn?t figure out how his
tricks were performed. He
made cards and coins
disappear right in front of
their eyes.
The cries of surprise
when Ian took a blue silk
handkerchief from the
mayor and made it
reappear inside the lady
mayor?s handbag almost
brought the house down.
But it was his final trick,
when he revealed Barney
sitting on his head under
the black top hat, that had
the crowd whooping and
shouting for more.
Brian insisted that Ian
pull up an empty seat at
one of the tables and have
a cocktail with the guests.
After settling Barney into
his carrier in the van and
ensuring there was water
and food for his pet, Ian
found a seat by the bar.
A waitress dressed in
black with a starched white
apron appeared at his left
?Would you like a drink,
sir?? she asked.
Ian looked up into the
most beautiful pair of eyes
he?d ever seen. In return
the waitress gave him a
rather wistful smile.
?I enjoyed your act very
much,? she said quietly. ?I
used to do a bit of magic
myself, when I was much
?How do you feel about
boxes in hallways, Julieta??
She laughed.
?What sort of question is
?My magic show is my
life, Julieta,? he tried to
explain. ?It doesn?t feel
safe enough to keep the
boxes of tricks in the van
overnight. They must come
She smiled again.
?It?s not a van ? it?s a
Ian glanced shyly at her.
?It?s a proper job, you
know, being a magician.
It?s what I am and will
Ian looked up into the most
beautiful eyes he?d ever seen
younger, of course, and
just for my family.
?And I love rabbits. I
always had them as pets at
home when I was growing
up. I haven?t owned one
for some time now.? She
shrugged. ?I guess it?s
something you just grow
out of.?
Ian nodded.
?Sorry,? she said. ?I talk
far too much. Would you
like a drink??
?Would you sit with me
and have a drink, too?? Ian
?Oh, no, I can?t while I?m
working. But my shift
finishes at ten o?clock. If
you?re still here I could
come and have a drink and
?And you could tell me
how you did the trick with
the blue handkerchief. The
bar staff have been
puzzling over it all night.?
Ian smiled.
?I couldn?t possibly tell.
Magic Circle rules and all
that. What?s your name,
by the way??
She smiled broadly.
?Julieta,? she said.
* * * *
It was some months
later, and after many dates
with Julieta, that Ian felt he
could finally ask her the
one question that
They were sitting in his
back garden on a warm
summer?s day. Julieta was
stroking Barney, who sat
contentedly on her knee.
always be.?
?I know,? she replied. ?I
see how hard you work and
you make so many people
happy. It makes me happy
to know that your life
involves pulling rabbits out
of hats, because it all ends
in laughter and smiles.?
?And those giraffes I
make from balloons ? you
like those, too??
?Not so much.? She
laughed. ?But the children
love them, I can tell. I
watch their eyes light up
when they?re watching your
Ian got down on one
knee in front of her. She
still had Barney on her lap,
happily chewing on an
?Julieta . . .? he began.
?Would you do me the
honour of becoming my
Julieta almost leapt to
her feet in shock and
delight. But at the last
minute, realising she still
had Barney on her knee,
she sank slowly back to the
chair, one hand on the
rabbit and one arm around
Ian?s neck.
?Oh, I?d love to!? she
cried, kissing Ian?s face and
his neck and hugging him
with her free hand.
?Then all we need now is
an engagement ring,? he
And when he made a
small velvet box appear
from behind Julieta?s right
ear, she hugged him tighter
still. n
Health &
Great advice to keep you happy and healthy
Q. I have a verruca on the ball of my left foot
and it can be painful. Over-the-counter remedies
haven?t worked. What would you advise?
Sarah Walton,
podiatrist ?
com ? is here
to help.
Unfortunately, there isn?t a quick
fix for treating verrucae, so I would
advise you to keep going with
over-the-counter remedies.
Perseverance is key to success, but
expect a cure to take months
rather than weeks.
Most verrucae will clear up
eventually, even without treatment,
but that may take years.
Treatments vary in their action to
get rid of the virus that causes a
verruca, so if one hasn?t worked, try
Discomfort is usually caused by
pressure from callus overlying the
verruca. Relieve it by gently filing
away the hard skin, which will also
increase the efficacy of the remedy
you are applying. Professional
treatments are available from a
podiatrist, who may recommend a
course of clinic-based treatment
such as freezing.
Throat Yoga
Solution To
Flu Jab Phobia
As flu-jab season comes
round once more, it might
be consolation to the
needle-phobic that experts
are developing a flu jab
patch which could one day
be sent out in the post.
The patch, which is
2 cm/1 inch in diameter, is
simply placed on the wrist
for 20 minutes, so you can
effectively vaccinate yourself
without the need to go to
the doctor?s surgery.
The pad contains 100 tiny
?micro-needles? which
painlessly pierce the top
layer of skin before
dissolving (to prevent any
chance of passing on
blood-borne diseases).
Health Bite
This autumn should see a glut of plums, so don?t
hold back on eating them raw, or try them with Greek
yoghurt, or stewed for a warming dessert.
This classic old-fashioned fruit has been found to
have higher levels of antioxidant activity than supertrendy fruit like blueberries and pomegranates.
You should choose the darkest plums you can find to
maximise your intake of antioxidants and the healthgiving plant nutrients anthrocyanidins and polyphenols,
which help to boost the immune system and to
maintain a healthy circulation.
Plums are also a good source of vitamin C, which
helps increase the absorption of iron into the body.
The best fix for snoring,
according to ear, nose
and throat specialist Dr
Mike Dilkes, is to practise
regular daily throatstrengthening exercises.
In his new book ?Stop
Snoring The Easy Way?,
he recommends
spending five minutes
every day doing what he
calls ?yoga for the
You start with your
mouth open as wide as
it can go and tongue
protruding out forwards
as far as it will go. Now
move the extended
tongue up, down and
side to side rapidly while
humming the national
anthem in as deep a
pitch as you can. The
only other advice might
be to make sure you are
somewhere private
when you do this!
We are unable to offer individual advice to readers. Please see your own GP if you have a medical problem.
We all suffer a drop in our
metabolic rate as we age, which is
why it can become increasingly
difficult to lose weight. But celebrity
nutritionist Amanda Hamilton has
devised a three-pronged attack
which, she claims, can keep your
body firing (and burning calories) like
a youngster:
1 Extend your night time ?fast? to
16 hours (by skipping breakfast or
having your evening meal early) and
eat within an eight-hour window
Be Alert To Asthma
Our health
writer, Colleen
Shannon, finds
out how to stay
in control of
your condition.
NLESS you?ve recently experienced
a scary attack, it?s easy to get a bit
complacent about having asthma.
Life is busy and it?s not surprising that
after a while, people forget to take their
medication or put off routine
Because asthma is very common, with
one in twelve adults having the condition,
it can also seem like a minor problem.
But a more sobering statistic shows this
is something to take seriously. Sadly, on
an average day three people will die from
Generally, though, asthma is a condition
most people can control well with some
help from their practice nurse, GP and
For a refresher on asthma
management, I asked Sonia Munde,
Head of Helpline and Nurse Manager at
Asthma UK.
She explained that your asthma may
change over time, even if it has been
pretty stable and consistent in the past.
You might have fewer symptoms, or
Things that didn?t bother you in the
past, such as dust mites or cold weather,
might start to trigger an attack.
Your body?s response to medications
can change, too. Are your medicines
working as well as they used to? Are you
noticing possible new side effects?
If you spot any of these changes, keep
Key steps
to follow
to help you
stay well
a symptoms diary and take it to an
appointment with your GP or asthma
nurse. They can recommend small
changes to help you stay well.
Taking your medicines as prescribed,
going for your annual asthma review and
getting your inhaler technique checked
regularly are key steps to follow.
Keep a lookout for signs that your
asthma is getting worse, such as needing
your reliever inhaler more often, or
noticing a drop in your peak flow readings.
Wheezing, or waking in the night
because of asthma, are other warnings. If
you are short of breath or have a tight
chest, find it more difficult to walk without
getting breathless, or feel that you just
can?t keep up as usual, it?s time to get
checked out.
The advice from Asthma UK is to make
an urgent appointment to see your GP or
asthma nurse within 24 hours, follow your
written asthma action plan, and try to
avoid your triggers.
Many people have additional medical
conditions and this can make it trickier to
manage your asthma. You might forget to
think about it if you need to go to extra
appointments and take medications for
another condition, or you might have
questions about managing all your
treatments at the same time.
It might be daunting to sort it out, but
try not to put it off.
Asthma is a life-long condition and it
takes time every day to keep on top of it.
But it?s worth the effort because, for most
people, well-managed asthma should not
get in the way of the life you want.
You can find a wealth of information,
and take an online risk check, on the
Asthma UK website at
Call them on 0300 222 5800 to request
information by post, or to speak to their
asthma nurse specialists. n
2 Chew your food properly and
enjoy a spoonful of sauerkraut
every day to keep your gut bacteria
on top form to maximise your
digestive efficiency
3 Commit to four minutes of
?interval training? daily (whether you
are walking or jumping on the spot,
push yourself to the max for
20 seconds, then rest for 10, repeat
eight times) to promote fat burning.
?Interval training?
can speed
Silver Relief
Dermatologists have long been
aware of the antimicrobial
properties of silver, which has a
unique molecular structure that can
bind to bacteria and
prevent them from
In a special spray,
silver acts like an
antiseptic, forming an
invisible barrier to
keep cuts, grazes,
blisters and minor
burns free from
infections and so
potentially speeding up
their healing process.
You can buy
AlfaSilver from good
pharmacies, and it?s
priced around �90.
7 Easy Ways
To Improve
Visit The Optician
Don?t kid yourself you can
get by with reading specs from
the local filling station. A
proper eye check is the only
way to detect early signs of a
condition called glaucoma, the
biggest avoidable cause of
sight loss in the UK.
Get New Sunglasses
The sun?s rays can damage the lenses
of your sunglasses over time, meaning
they gradually allow more UV light
through and provide less protection for
your eyes. This can harm your sight.
Prolonged UV exposure can also
damage the part of the retina
responsible for the majority of vision,
so buy new sunglasses every two years.
Soothing Treatment
You can ease the irritation of tired, dry eyes
by using a warm compress to soften the
natural oils and help them lubricate your eyes.
Try soaking a clean cloth in warm, previously
boiled water, and place it over your eyes for
15 minutes, or use the Eye Doctor (�.95
from Boots), which can be warmed in the
microwave before use ? just follow the
instructions carefully.
Blink More
If your eyes feel scratchy,
take a break from reading or
the computer screen and close
them for 10 seconds at a time.
?Blinking resurfaces the eye
with fresh tears,? Dr Nigel
Best, Specsavers clinical
optometrist, says.
Work Those Eyes
Natural health specialists
claim you might be able to
preserve your vision for longer
if you perform regular daily eye
exercises. Try rolling your eyes
from side to side and rapidly
switching focus from near to far
to exercise the eye muscles.
Ask The Family
Many eye diseases tend to
cluster in families, so it?s vital
to know your family history. At
the next get-together ask
about glaucoma, age-related
macular degeneration and
cataracts. They?re more easily
treated if caught early.
Eat More Fish
The omega-3 fatty acids (found in
salmon, mackerel and herring) are
great for eye health, and studies
suggest good amounts of omega-3
can boost the quality of your
tear film, which can help
reduce inflammation
associated with middleaged dry eyes.
At The
Bus Stop
It?s funny how chatting to
a stranger can make you
see things more clearly . . .
Illustration by Jim Dewar.
T?S a while since I?ve
caught this particular
bus. It has an odd route,
but it?s what I need
today. It?s one every half
an hour and, in case the
timetable?s changed, I ask
the woman who?s already
at the stop if she?s waiting
for it, too.
?Yes,? she says. ?It won?t
be long.?
We get talking and she
tells me she?s been to the
warehouse round the corner
that?s now a shopping mall
with a leaning towards the
?There?s a jeweller in
there,? she tells me, ?and I
bought a brooch for my
sister. I liked it so much I?ve
gone back today and got
one for myself. Not exactly
the same, but similar.?
She retrieves it from her
bag. It?s very pretty, and
Celtic in style.
?I?m wondering now,
though, if I should have
bought it,? she says as she
puts the brooch back. ?It
was rather expensive.? She
smiles. ?I feel quite guilty.?
?You shouldn?t.? I smile
back at her. ?It?s good to
treat yourself.?
?My sister?s had a lot of
worry recently,? she
continues. ?I thought the
present would cheer her up.
Her daughter Chloe has
split up from her husband.
?My sister thinks they can
sort it out and has said to
me that they?re behaving
like spoilt children. But it?s
still a worry for her.?
?Do they have any
children, your niece and
her husband??
?Yes. Fortunately they
live near me so I?m there to
help her with them. I?d
already taken early
retirement because of other
commitments so I?ve got
the time and ??
She breaks off as her
phone announces the
arrival of a text message.
?It?s from a walking
group,? she explains to me
when she?s read it. ?They
meet every other Saturday.
I joined when I stopped
work. It would be an
opportunity to develop new
interests, I thought.?
She gives me another of
her nice smiles and then
?I loved it, too, getting
out in the hills, and they?re
all lovely people. I never go
now, though. I take the kids
off Chloe?s hands on
Saturdays to give her a
break. They see their dad
on Sundays.?
A younger woman comes
walking past and stops in
front of us to cross the
road. She has a child in a
The child has a book with
a picture of an elf-like
creature on the front,
sprinkling something that
looks like stardust about.
I?m reminded of a story I
enjoyed as a child. That,
too, was about a cute
elf-type creature who had a
store of magic that he
distributed generously to all
who asked. Then one day
the elf himself needed its
special properties, but
there was none left.
So not only was he
unable to help himself, he
couldn?t help anyone else,
?I think you should start
going on the walks again,? I
say. ?We all want to do
things for those we care
about, and that?s how it
should be, but you can?t
forget yourself. You have to
be kind to yourself, too.?
The woman looks at me
as though I?ve said
something terrible. I guess
she?s thinking I?m a selfish
?Of course we all do it,? I
add quickly. ?It?s like when
I?m making breakfast ? if
one of the eggs goes wrong,
I always take that one!?
I laugh, wanting to lighten
the situation. She doesn?t
laugh back.
The bus comes. The
woman says a formal
?Pleased to have met you?
as we get on and takes the
single seat on its own at the
I go about halfway down,
still feeling awkward.
Her situation ? her
priorities ? are nothing to
do with me. I should have
kept my mouth shut.
As I?m standing waiting to
get off a few minutes later,
she reaches out and
touches my arm.
?I?ve sent a text back to
say I?ll go on the walk this
Saturday,? she says. ?I
think I?ve got in the habit of
putting everyone else?s
needs first, but it?s right
what you said ? you have
to be kind to yourself, too.?
?I thought,? I began,
smiling with relief, ?you
might have thought I was
just selfish.?
?No.? She shakes her
head. ?You shouldn?t think
of yourself first all the time,
but you shouldn?t always
put yourself last, either.
?On Saturday I?m going
out on the hills to recharge
my batteries.? She laughs.
?And it?ll look funny pinned
on an anorak, but I?m
wearing the brooch!?
I?m laughing, too, as I get
off the bus, pleased now
that I spoke up.
?And while you?re in the
mood,? I say to myself,
?there?s someone else you
need to say the same to.?
* * * *
I give some thought to
the best tone of voice to
use and decide on
understanding but firm.
?Caitlin,? I say, ?you
really need to speak to
your daughter. I know
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you enjoy cooking and
have always done it all,
but it?s not reasonable for
her to expect you to cook
her meals to fit in with her
weird diets. It?s doubled
your time at the stove.
?And her fads change all
the time. One month it?s all
lentils and chickpeas, and
you?re just about getting
used to the chickpeas when
the next week she won?t
touch them!?
I pause, but then go on.
It has to be said.
?And that brother-in-law
of yours . . . You must get
a date from him as to when
he intends to move out.
Please, just listen.
?You and Michael said he
could come and stay with
you when he returned from
Australia until he found
somewhere, but it?s been a
year now!? I frown. ?And
really, Michael warned you
that you?d never get him to
go because he likes the
easy life. ?Bone idle? were
his actual words.
?None of us likes
admitting we were wrong, I
know, but it?s time to
accept that Michael was
right.? I waggle my finger,
fully into my stride now.
?Yes, and your son, too ?
you gave him your old car,
but then he sells it to pay
for him to go off
?Fine ? it was an
experience and you?ve said
you sometimes wish you?d
had the chance to do things
like that when you were
?But now he?s back home
he seems to think he can
use your new car all the
?He doesn?t have what
you?d call a tight schedule
at college, and there are
buses that stop outside the
house every few minutes
that go right there . . .?
I break off.
Actually, I?m glad Max
went off in my car this
morning because that?s why
I was on the bus. And it?s
true what they say ? often
you can see more easily in
other people what really
you should be aware of in
With a final nod I turn
away from my reflection in
the mirror. Hopefully she?ll
listen! n
Would Friday
the thirteenth
cause trouble at
Prospect House?
HERE was a
blackbird hopping
about on the bird
table just outside
Willow Wren?s
kitchen window that
October morning. The
morning of Friday the
He peered in and caught
my eye with a beady look.
Was he cross that there
were no breadcrumbs on
the table? Or was it a
warning that I?d better
watch out? I was sure I?d
read that a stare from a
blackbird on that day can
lead to an early death.
I hastily crumbled half a
loaf on the bread board,
yanked the window open
and tossed the crumbs out
on to the bird table just to
be on the safe side. I?m not
superstitious, but you never
The black cat is another
creature that can give signs
to humans of impending
doom. So when Beryl told
me I had a black cat by the
name of Crackerjack to visit
that Friday, I was a little
It turned out his owner,
Miss Jameson, a somewhat
elderly lady, had no control
over her pet whatsoever.
?Crackerjack?s up in my
bedroom,? she told me on
arrival at her house.
I found myself on hands
and knees, peering under
her Victorian bedstead,
attempting to pick out the
cat in the gloom.
My cajoling calls were
rewarded by a snarl. White
teeth lit up the darkness,
and as Crackerjack sank
those teeth in my
outstretched palm, a string
of expletives lit up the air.
My ominous day
continued during the
?Sorry, Paul,? Beryl said,
?but there?s a pony that?s
gone down with possible
Now, horses have a fair
share of superstitions riding
on their backs. A white
horse can warn of danger
and live longer than a dark
horse, so is considered a
living amulet against early
Those with four white
socks are unlucky. Little
Joe, the pony I visited, was
a dark chestnut with the
requisite number of socks
to be considered unlucky.
Not quite an omen of
death, but his presenting
symptoms could have seen
him heading that way.
?He?s been down twice,
trying to roll,? his owner,
Gloria Patterson, explained.
It was obvious Little Joe
was in pain. There were
patches of matted sweatsoaked hair along his flanks
and under his shoulders.
A sweating horse is
another sign of misfortune.
And here it was my
misfortune to be presented
with what I suspected to be
an attack of colic, and Little
Joe?s misfortune for having
contracted it.
?He?s got an impaction,?
I told Gloria after I had
examined him. ?But no
twist of the gut.?
Treatment with a mineral
oil drench via a stomach
tube and an antispasmolytic injection did
the trick and the mass was
passed, much to Little Joe?s
relief ? and mine.
So this Friday the
thirteenth didn?t seem to
be all doom and gloom. At
least, not so far.
But I hadn?t reckoned on
the tarantula that turned
up during evening surgery.
Again there was an
apology from Beryl.
?Sorry, Paul. No-one else
wanted to see it.?
According to some Asian
cultures, if I?d seen the
spider in the morning it
would have brought me
grief. In the afternoon,
anxiety. In the evening, bad
luck with money.
To my mind, it didn?t
matter what time I saw the
wretched creature ? it was
still going to give me the
creeps. All very ominous.
?His name?s Webster,?
his owner said proudly, the
tarantula sprawled over his
hand. ?He?s sickly. Lost his
dark colour. See??
I could see and felt the
colour drain from my
cheeks as well. But, steeling
myself to take a closer look,
I spotted a hairline crack
down Webster?s back.
?Ecdysis,? I declared,
stepping back smartly. ?The
tarantula is sloughing off his
old exoskeleton, making
him feel a bit off colour for
a few days.?
I breathed a sigh of relief,
since as the saying goes: ?If
you wish to live and thrive,
let the spider run alive.?
I felt a bit like Webster.
Foreboding had got under
my skin. I needed to slough
off my feelings of unease
now that Friday the
thirteenth was almost over,
and head home to relax.
Once back at Willow
Wren, I strode over to the
kitchen window and peered
There was a blackbird on
the bird table again.
I tapped the pane smartly
and the blackbird flapped
away with a cackle of
A sparrow now hopped
up and pecked around.
Oh, dear. Hadn?t I read
somewhere that they carry
the souls of the dead?
I swiftly drew the
More next week.
Word Ladder
Move from the word
at the top of the
ladder to the word
at the bottom using
the exact number of
rungs provided by
changing one letter
at a time (but not
the position of any
1 Christian youth
organisation (4,7)
9 Keith Richards? rock
group (7,6)
10 Small nocturnal African
primate (8)
12 Surname of Charlotte
Bront�s governess
heroine (4)
14 Late?1970s comedy series
with Maureen Lipman as a 16
magazine columnist (5)
15 Welsh county adjacent to 19
the English border (5)
19 German term of address
equivalent to Mr (4)
20 Futuristic submarine
series with puppets (8)
22 Cranefly grub (13)
24 UK courage award (6,5)
2 Saudi Arabia?s most
important export (3)
3 Leg part also known as
the tibia (8)
4 Rising Damp landlord (6)
5 Theatre in Dublin (4)
6 Mick Carter in
EastEnders (5,4)
Pure?bred racehorses (5)
Major cricketing
trophy (5)
Stem which produces a
sweet substance (5,4)
Actress formerly in
Hollyoaks and Hotel
Babylon (5,3)
Fill the grid with the numbers
1 to 9 so that each row,
column and 3x3 block
contains the numbers 1 to 9.
2 8
9 Blood fluid
10 Humdrum
11 List showing jobs to
be done
12 Endured, put up with
16 Calcium carbonate (5)
17 Surname of the
author of Tristram
Shandy (6)
18 Capital of Japan from
794 until 1868 (5)
21 Scandinavian god (4)
23 Isle NW of Rhodes (3)
5 Clipped part of the body
6 Interval of eight tones
in music
7 For a short time
8 Requiring
With the help of the Across clues only,
can you fit the pieces into their correct
positions in the grid?
1 Spontaneous, unrehearsed
2 Predilection
3 Performed
4 Voicing in public
on p87
Try our general knowledge crossword
1 5 9
9 7
1 8
2 8 5
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd
This week?s
John Stoa finds plenty to do
in the October garden.
Late October is a good time to take
cuttings of blackcurrants,
gooseberries and red and white
currants to increase stock. Plants are
just going dormant at leaf fall, so
new cuttings will soon settle in. Use
fresh shoots about nine inches long
and line them out in the soil three inches apart, burying half
the shoot. Leave them till spring. Then, as growth
commences, lift and pot up, as they should be well rooted.
Down on the vegetable
patch, most of the crops
have been harvested,
apart from winter
vegetables, and the
ground cleared. There is still enough warmth left in the soil for a late
sowing of a green manure such as clover or tares.
The latter can be left to grow over winter and be dug into the soil
in early spring. This prevents loss of nutrients, and the fibrous root
system breaks up the soil for the benefit of the next crop. Green
manure plants also absorb atmospheric nitrogen on their root
nodules then release it back to the soil when they rot down.
Photographs by John Stoa and iStock.
Many of our summer
flowers are not hardy and
need to be lifted and dried
off for storing over winter
in an airy frost-free shed or
garage. Dahlias, begonias,
fuchsias, gladioli, canna
indica and Brugmansia
(Angel?s Trumpets) will all
need winter protection,
although with recent mild
winters some can survive. I
have had canna and
gladioli reappear in spring
after some got left behind
in the ground, but best not
to risk it.
As the summer season draws to a close, now is
the time to look ahead to next spring. Flower
beds, tubs and hanging baskets can be cleared of
spent flowers, then either dig or hand fork over
the surface and add in some well-rotted compost
or potting compost for tubs and baskets.
Plant these up with pansies, polyanthus,
myosotis, wallflower or other spring bedding
plants. Add in some bulbs to increase the display.
Crocus are fine with pansies and dwarf double
early tulips (Abba, Monte Orange or Peach
Blossom) with most bedding plants. Wallflower
will need a taller Darwin Hybrid type tulip like
Grape Black Hamburg should now be ripe
for picking. They often ripen a few bunches
at a time so just cut as required and make
them last for several weeks. I?ve often had
my first bunches in September and my last
ones in December. Remember to keep the
greenhouse well ventilated to prevent any
botrytis developing.
Once the tomatoes have finished cropping
and the old
plants are
cleared away,
fork over the
soil in borders
or loosen up
the surface of
growbags and
sow a winter
salad catch
crop to give
fresh salads
the winter
months. Use
winter hardy
lettuce, spring
onions, radish
and also
ts !
St day
Legal Eagles
Helen?s new life was about to
begin ? just as conflict broke out
in the Falkland Islands . . .
Illustration by Mandy Dixon.
could have sworn
she?d slept only a
matter of minutes
before her alarm
clock jolted her out of a
sequence of uneasy dreams.
She had spent most of the
night tossing and turning,
apprehension battling with
excitement about the day
ahead, practically giving up
on the idea of getting any
sleep before she?d finally
nodded off.
It took all her willpower
not to burrow further under
the bedclothes, but instead
step out into her bedroom,
cold without the gas fire lit,
and head for the bathroom,
crossing her fingers that a
shower would help her
wake up properly.
Twenty minutes later,
dressed, hair combed and
with a dab of make-up
applied in record time,
Helen was in the kitchen,
drinking coffee as hot as
she could stand it and
thinking that, like its cousin
the pot, a watched toaster
never toasted.
The sound of another
bedroom door opening in
the draughty old house was
followed by the pad of
slippered feet coming down
the stairs before Jackie, her
housemate, appeared.
She barely seemed to
have her eyes open as she
pulled her dressing-gown
more tightly round herself
and knotted the cord.
?Morning.? A yawn all but
drowned out her greeting.
?I was on a late shift.?
Since moving into the
house a couple of days
before, Helen had met
Jackie twice. On both
occasions, there had only
been time for the briefest of
chats, with Jackie either
being on her way out to
work or just in from a long
shift and ready to collapse
into bed.
They?d managed to
exchange basic details
about jobs and where they
were from, and agree how
cold it was.
As a result Helen knew
Jackie was a nurse at the
local infirmary, but little
else apart from the fact
that she supported the
local football team.
That had been enough to
create a mutual sense that
they would get along as
housemates. Only time
would tell whether a deeper
friendship grew from there.
Overall, Helen was aware
she had a lot to be grateful
for. The house might not be
luxurious, but compared to
some of the places she had
stayed in as a student it was
a palace, situated in a leafy
suburb with a little garden
at the front and back.
The swirly carpets and
orange curtains, throwbacks
to the 1970s, were not to
everyone?s taste, but the
woodchip wallpaper looked
as if it had been painted
recently and the new
electric kettle meant they
didn?t have to wait ages for
the old tin one on the gas
cooker to come to the boil.
If only the same could be
said for the toaster. It was
tempting not to bother, but
Helen?s mother had always
impressed upon her the
importance of having some
form of breakfast.
?You off?? Jackie, more
awake now, brought her
back to the moment.
Helen nodded and took a
last gulp of the coffee,
gasping as the heat of the
liquid caught her unaware.
?Nervous?? Jackie asked.
?Just a bit.?
?You?ll be fine. I wanted
to be up in time to wish you
luck. There was something
else, as well.? Jackie put
one hand to her forehead,
remembering. ?You know
that empty bedroom?
Apparently it won?t be
empty for much longer.
?I was going to tell you
when I got in last night, but
wasn?t sure whether your
light was still on.?
?It probably wasn?t,?
Helen called as she rushed
into the hall and shrugged
on her coat. ?I was getting
an early night. Not that
that was much use.?
Coming back into the
kitchen, she retrieved the
toast and spread some
margarine on it before
glancing at her watch.
?I?d love to hear more
but I have four minutes to
get to the bus stop. See
you later.?
She grabbed her bag,
keys and toast and ran into
the cold morning.
Despite being hampered
by her office clothes and
smart shoes, she made it to
the bus stop with half a
minute to spare, and just
finished eating her toast as
the bus lumbered into view.
The three other people at
the stop stepped towards
the kerb. Helen followed
while trying to organise her
bag, fumbling with the
zip-up compartment at the
back for her keys.
At the same time, she got
out her purse ready to
count out change, not sure
how much the fare was and
not wanting to annoy an
impatient driver with a note.
The zip was stuck. Trying
to hook the keyring over
her finger while not letting
money tip out of her purse,
she felt it slide before she
could do anything about it,
followed by the clink of
metal hitting tarmac.
The first two passengers
had already stepped on to
the bus, but the third, a
middle-aged lady, was still
at ground level.
She and Helen narrowly
avoided bumping heads as
they bent down at the
same time. The lady
handed the keys over with
a smile.
?Thank you. I?m such a
butterfingers this morning.
It?s my first day in a new
job,? Helen explained.
?Judging by your clothes,
I take it you?re going to be
working in an office??
?That?s right.? They both
stepped on to the bus as
the passenger in front
handed over his fare and
moved on. ?At Barnes and
Son, near the town centre.?
?The solicitors? They?re an
old firm. Well respected,
too. You?ll polish up your
typing skills there, all right.
Forty-two, please,? the lady
told the driver.
?Good luck,? she added
to Helen. ?You?ll be fine
once you?ve got your first
day out of the way.?
?Thank you.? Helen
concentrated on checking
the fare with the driver and
finding a seat, only just
keeping her balance as the
bus lurched as she made
her way down the aisle.
As she sat down, she
wondered whether she
should have corrected the
lady?s assumption that she
was going to work as a
secretary, but decided
against it.
It was a common enough
mistake to make. Besides,
dropping one?s keys at a
bus stop could hardly be
regarded as promising
behaviour for a solicitor.
* * * *
Margaret Hall lifted the
cover from her typewriter.
This part of the morning
was her favourite time.
Even with the extra
organisation involved, it
was worth making the effort
to get to work early.
Mind you, she thought,
?extra organisation? was
probably a bit of an
Although she just had one
teenager left at home to
deal with nowadays, and a
slightly bumbling but
well-meaning husband,
breakfast times still had
plenty of potential for
It helped that, as longstanding secretary to the
senior partner, she had her
own office, complete with
filing cabinets and a large
desk with drawers to keep
everything in order.
The room was spacious,
yet not too big. The window
looked out on to a quiet
street of Edwardian brick
buildings occupied by
similar businesses. All in all,
it was perfect for a few
minutes? calm to gain focus
before the switchboard at
reception opened and the
day began in earnest.
The shrill ring of the
internal phone, followed by
the authoritative tone of
Clarence Barnes, brought
her to attention.
?Margaret. Would you
pop down to my office??
?I?ll be right there, Mr
She picked up a notepad
and sharpened pencil, in
case he should decide to
kill two birds with one stone
and dictate a few letters
while she was there.
He often joked that he
was the one who struggled
to keep up with her
shorthand, rather than the
other way round.
After knocking and
that a slip of a girl like this
could be up to coping in a
male-dominated profession.
Margaret smiled politely
and nodded her
?I?ve been telling Helen
that you?re worth your
weight in gold, and that if
she has any questions
regarding how this office is
run, you?re the one with all
the answers.? Mr Clarence
paused as there was a
knock at the door. ?That
will be Karen, our junior
secretary. I?ve asked her to
show you around.?
Once Clarence and
Margaret had the room to
themselves, her boss
slumped back in his chair.
?More changes, though I
Anyone would think Margaret and
Mr Clarence were ogres
entering the ground floor
office, tucked away behind
reception so that Mr
Clarence could be aware of
all the goings-on, she saw a
young girl with light brown
hair and a pale complexion
perched on a chair in front
of the huge mahogany desk.
The senior partner leaned
back in a leather swivel
chair on the other side.
?Good morning,
Margaret. I?d like you to
meet Miss Helen Martin,
our new solicitor. She?s
been qualified for about six
months and gained
invaluable experience at
her previous firm, where
she served her two years as
an articled clerk before
qualifying, so I?m sure she
will be a very useful
member of the team.?
?Hello.? The newcomer
gave a small smile in her
Maybe her complexion
wasn?t usually so pale,
Margaret surmised.
Anyone would think she
and Mr Clarence were
ogres, the way some people
reacted when they first
came here.
Young Karen, for instance,
had been timid as a mouse
for her first few weeks.
Heaven only knew how
they?d have reacted to old
Mr Barnes. Even Margaret
had been scared of him.
It was difficult to believe
suppose it?s for the best. I
can?t help wondering what
my father would have
made of it.
?I like to imagine he?d
have been forward-thinking
enough to have agreed. I?d
almost forgotten that Miss
Martin was starting today.
These past two weeks have
been a blur.?
Margaret cleared her
?How was your mother?s
funeral? Several clients
phoned on Friday to pass
on their respects.?
They had debated
whether to close the office
for the day of the funeral,
but concluded that
business should continue as
normally as possible.
Margaret, though invited,
had sensed she was needed
to hold the fort.
Mr Clarence smiled sadly.
?It was a good service, if
that?s the right description.
I read out her favourite
Robert Frost poem and the
minister gave a worthy
eulogy. The chapel was full.
?Friends and relatives
came from all over the
world ? including James,
who travelled from
Australia. Well, he could
hardly not for his own
mother?s funeral.? He
hesitated. ?My son was
there, too.?
Margaret placed her
notebook and pencil
on the desk and leaned
forward slightly.
?How is he? Is he coming
Clarence put the ends of
his fingers together to form
a steeple.
?I only saw him across
the room at the wake
afterwards. Eleanor and
Samantha went to talk to
him. They seemed pleased
to see each other.
?He can never do
anything wrong in Eleanor?s
eyes, and Samantha?s
always adored her big
He sat up straight and
opened a file.
?He?s not coming home,
or at least not to my
knowledge, and certainly
not until he sees sense. If
things had gone to plan, he
would be here in this office,
following in mine and my
father?s footsteps, instead
of dropping out of his law
degree then going off the
way he did.
?It?s all very well saying it
wasn?t for him, but he let
the family down,? he
continued. ?We can?t all
afford that sort of luxury.
At some stage he?s going to
need to earn a decent
He sighed impatiently.
?He?s turning out to be
just like his uncle James.
Remember how much upset
that caused??
Margaret did, and she?d
heard the story many
times. Every family had its
problems. Every action had
its ramifications.
?He?ll find his own path in
life,? she said. ?It takes
some people a little longer,
that?s all. Do you
remember how Arthur and I
were worried about Adam?
?He was always falling
out with his dad, too. Then
he joined the Army and
that seemed to straighten
him out. Thankfully, Alison
seems to be easier to cope
Family matters over with,
they both seemed equally
glad to get on to the safer
topic of work.
Margaret took some
dictation before carrying an
armful of files to her office
to deal with.
As she slotted carbon
paper between two sheets
and fed them into her
typewriter, she wondered
what it was about men that
made it so difficult for some
of them to get along. Pride?
Some primaeval need to
show who was in charge?
It reminded her of those
Argentinian scrap metal
merchants who had been
on the news the other day,
planting a flag on an island
in the middle of the ocean.
What was the point of that,
other than idle posturing?
Mind, Mr Clarence had
seemed to think there was
more to it than met the eye
when they discussed it
during their usual few
minutes? morning chat.
His instinct was often
right, certainly when it
came to his clients, but in
Margaret?s view they might
as well be peacocks,
strutting around showing off
their feathers.
* * * *
?Don?t be put off by Mrs
Hall,? Karen told Helen
once the door to the senior
partner?s office was closed
and they were in reception.
?She?s not bad once you
get used to her.?
Pam, the receptionist,
nodded in agreement.
?She likes things done her
way and expects the place
to run like clockwork. She
worships Mr Clarence.
They?ve been working
together for over twentyfive years.?
Pam turned back to the
switchboard as a call came
?Why do people call him
Mr Clarence?? Helen asked
Karen giggled.
?It?s a habit from the
past, so people didn?t get
him mixed up with his
father and brother, Mr
Barnes and Mr James.
?Mr James didn?t stay
very long. It was before my
time, but apparently he was
a bit of a black sheep and
emigrated to Australia.
?Mrs Hall remembers him
but doesn?t say much,
though she did let it slip
once that he used to make
everyone laugh. It?s hard to
imagine Mr Clarence doing
?Mr Barnes senior retired
a few years ago and died of
a heart attack shortly
afterwards. Apparently he
ruled with an iron rod and
everyone was terrified of
By now they were in
Karen?s office, which
doubled as a store room,
judging by the cardboard
boxes of stationery stacked
up against one wall.
A manual typewriter took
pride of place on a wooden
table, with a more modest
swivel chair than the one in
Mr Clarence?s room. Two
wire baskets of files with
small dictation tapes on top
stood to one side.
Karen nodded towards
?I mainly work for one of
the other solicitors, Paul,
but I?ll also be doing your
typing until your workload
builds up. At that stage Mrs
Hall will decide what to do
for you, secretary-wise.?
They walked back through
reception and along a short
corridor into the largest
room yet, with a musty yet
comforting odour of old
books on floor to ceiling
?This is the library, where
the various law journals and
reference books are kept if
you need to look something
up. Old files are kept in the
cellar. You use the door
under the stairs to get
there.? Karen looked
?I suppose this must
seem very different for you
compared to the last place
you worked. Weren?t you in
a big city centre firm??
?That?s right,? Helen
replied, finally able to get a
word in edgeways. Apart
from Mrs Hall, people
around here seemed very
?It was slap bang in the
centre and had twelve
partners, all leading their
own specialist departments.
The phones never stopped
ringing, and all the partners
were known by their first
She didn?t add that clients
were dealt with quickly and
at arm?s length, nor that
there was a high staff
turnover as individuals
moved on to their next
They would probably
regard somewhere like this
with horror, seeing it as a
backwater where everyone
seemed happy to stagnate
in one place.
?That sounds exciting,
not to mention handy for
the shops, but I?m not sure
I?d like it. You?ve moved a
long way, as well, haven?t
you? I?d hate to move so
far. My boyfriend wouldn?t
be keen. Are you seeing
anyone?? Karen asked.
?No,? Helen replied
She looked intently at a
shelf containing bound
volumes of ?The All England
Law Reports?. The last thing
she wanted to do was talk
about her private life.
?Well, maybe that?s for
the best. Long-distance
relationships can be a pain,
and Mr Clarence wouldn?t
appreciate you being
distracted from your job by
problems like that.
?I?m sure you?ll find
someone soon. There are
plenty of nice men around.?
?Are you talking about
me again??
They both looked round
as a tall man of about
thirty, with sandy hair and
a friendly grin, strode into
the room. He held his hand
out to her.
?You must be Helen. I?m
Paul, one of the other
solicitors here, mainly
specialising in wills. There
are four of us in all, now
that you?ve joined.
Welcome to the firm.
?You?ll find we?re a
friendly bunch, if a bit odd
at times,? he teased. ?And
don?t worry ? I?m taken. As
for you . . .? he turned to
Karen and adopted a mock
stern expression ?. . . you
can stop your matchmaking
and get those fingers flying.
I?ve left another tape for
He grinned again.
?I?ll catch up with you
later. I?ve got a client
coming in who wants to
change their will. Again. I
wonder who he?s fallen out
with this time?? He
?He seems like a nice
bloke,? Helen commented
once he was gone.
?He is,? Karen agreed.
?He even teases Mrs Hall
and makes her smile.? She
sighed. ?I?d better get on.
Will you be OK??
?I?ll be fine. I?ve got some
files I need to start
reading in my office
upstairs, so that should
keep me occupied for
the rest of the morning.?
?Do you think you?ll like
it here?? Karen asked.
?It looks promising.?
And it did, Helen
reflected as she settled at
her desk. She felt less
apprehensive than she had
earlier. So long as people
didn?t ask too many
questions, it looked as if
making a fresh start had
been a good plan.
* * * *
At half past six, Clarence
Barnes decided to call it a
day. Although that was
early for him, he was still
the last person in the office.
Paul had left half an hour
before, most of the other
staff at five fifteen, and
he?d heard the new girl let
herself out just after five
It made a welcome
change to be able to travel
home in daylight, heading
through the outskirts of the
town he?d known all his life,
and on towards the moors.
This was the country he
loved, satisfyingly bleak and
beautiful in its own way.
Of course, he knew that
not everyone saw it like
that, including his wife,
Eleanor, hailing originally as
she did from a gentler
landscape further south.
But even Eleanor adored
their old farmhouse. The
views from its windows
were a heart-lifting sight,
even in the wildest weather,
and the sense of space
always helped him think.
Dusk was falling as he
drove up the track. The
house looked solid and
reassuring, with lights
glowing from the windows,
like the final beacons before
the darkening hills beyond.
No sooner had he opened
the front door than he was
greeted by his daughter,
Samantha, and Pip, the
family?s black Labrador.
?Dad! You?re early.?
Clarence was almost
thrown off balance as Sam
threw her arms around him.
She?d taken her
grandmother?s death
particularly hard and over
the last few days that had
translated into shows of
physical affection.
He himself had never
been demonstrative, but if
this helped his daughter to
cope, then he was happy to
go along with it.
?How was school?? he
asked once she?d released
She grimaced.
?OK. I?ve got tons of
French homework.?
It was no secret that the
select girls? school
Samantha attended in the
next town put great store in
intensive study, but that
was the price one paid for a
top-level education.
Clarence had had to go
through the same at that
?Vanessa phoned,? Sam
added. ?She says there?s a
spare horse for the showjumping class on Saturday,
and it?s mine if I want it.
Mum said I should check
with you. Can I go??
Vanessa, the owner of the
local riding stables, had had
a lot of success in various
equestrian competitions
and was worshipped by his
horse-mad daughter.
As the stables had such a
high reputation, the lessons
cost an arm and a leg, but
Sam enjoyed them.
?Go on, then. Your mum
will have to give you a lift,
though. I?ve got a lot of
work to catch up on.?
?Thanks, Dad. You?re the
As she skipped back into
the living-room, Clarence
glanced after her. A row of
sympathy cards lined the
There were more on top
of the piano, too, as if to
remind him that he hadn?t
imagined recent events.
The sound of footsteps on
the hall?s oak flooring
announced Eleanor
emerging from the kitchen.
?Two more cards arrived
today,? she told him after
they kissed briefly in
greeting. ?One from a
cousin of your mother?s in
Canada. And one from
?Nice of him,? Clarence
said tightly. ?If late.?
?He had a lot to do in the
week before the funeral. He
was on the move,
remember. At least he
came. That can?t have been
easy for him.?
?He still kept his distance
from me.?
?Can you blame him after
the last conversation you
two had? And then nothing
for the five years since? It?s
like your father and brother
all over again.
?They never made up,
even to your father?s dying
day. Is that what you want
with your own son??
Clarence struggled to
keep his voice low.
?As I?ve said before, you
weren?t there at the time.
James threw everything
away and left us in the
lurch. He left me carrying
the can.?
?Maybe, but your mother
told me how it almost tore
her in two.? Eleanor put her
hand on his arm. ?Why are
you doing this to yourself,
Clarence? It?s all very well
having a sense of duty, but
you can take it too far.?
?Because these things are
important. If Peter had an
ounce of ??
He stopped as he noticed
Eleanor glance behind him.
?There?s a delicious smell
coming from the kitchen,?
Samantha said brightly.
?That?ll be the casserole,?
her mother replied.
Clarence frowned.
?It?s quarter past seven.
Haven?t you normally eaten
by now??
?We?re running late. We
went to the new out-oftown supermarket. You
wouldn?t believe the range
they?ve got there. We?ll
need a bigger freezer.?
?I?ll take your word for it.
By the way,? he added to
Sam with a wink, ?we had a
young lady solicitor starting
today. You?ll probably meet
her at the summer
barbecue. She might be
able to give you a few tips
for when it?s your turn.?
?Oh. OK.?
?Dinner?s nearly ready.?
Eleanor interrupted.
Clarence grunted as he
lifted up his bulging
?I?ll take mine to the
Samantha?s face fell.
?Why don?t you eat with
?Because I?ve got a lot to
do, including sorting out
your gran?s estate.?
To his surprise, both his
wife and daughter blocked
his path. Pip, sensing the
prospect of a game, danced
round his feet.
?It can wait for another
evening,? Eleanor said.
?You?re eating with us, and
that?s final.?
The meal turned out to
be thoroughly enjoyable.
Eleanor opened a bottle of
wine which the two of them
finished afterwards as they
all watched a film rented
from the video library in the
town centre.
When Clarence mentioned
a documentary he wanted
to record, it was Sam who
set the timer.
?We should do this more
often,? Eleanor told him.
?Your life?s in danger of
being all work and no play.?
But Clarence had dozed
off, so wasn?t able to reply.
* * * *
On Friday morning,
reluctant to wake to her
alarm after a long week,
Helen clicked it over to the
radio setting in the hope of
some cheerful music to help
her get moving.
When she heard an
announcement that it was
seven o?clock and here
were the news headlines,
her drowsy consciousness
picked up that the
reporter?s voice sounded
grave. Why did they always
concentrate on bad news?
She forced her eyes open
and switched off the radio.
In the kitchen, the aroma
of Jackie?s toast made the
room feel warmer and
welcoming by association,
along with the background
music of the radio on the
small, melamine-topped
It was the first time Helen
had seen her since Monday,
due to a combination of her
housemate?s work shifts
and the fact that she
seemed to go out quite a
lot with friends.
She wondered how long it
would be before she knew
enough people to have a
social life again.
Arguably, she only had
herself to blame for that,
but evenings were lonely at
the moment and no-one at
work seemed a likely
?How?s the new job??
Jackie asked.
?Tiring, but it?s getting
there,? Helen replied. ?It?s
different from my last
place. I think I?ll like it once
I?ve settled in.?
Helen retrieved her toast
from the toaster and spread
jam on it. Having got her
morning routine more
organised, she now had
time for a quick breakfast
in the house rather than on
the way to the bus stop.
Over the weekend she
would sort out a food
shopping trip and find her
feet in the area generally.
?I?m sorry I had to rush
out on Monday. Any more
on the new housemate??
she asked.
?No. I only know what the
landlord told me when he
called round to collect the
rent. Hopefully they?ll be
nice. Oh, is it seven-thirty
Jackie stopped talking as
more news headlines came
on the radio, making Helen
wonder if there was any
escape from them.
As they listened, Helen
could hardly believe her
ears. Argentinian ships were
approaching somewhere
called the Falkland Islands,
which apparently were
British, and an invasion was
expected within hours.
It seemed some kind of
defence force was being
mustered and islanders had
been urged to stay indoors.
Jackie breathed in
?I don?t like the sound of
?Neither do I. I?m
ashamed to have to ask
this, but where are the
Falkland Islands??
?I?m not sure.?
It was a relief when a
Duran Duran record came
on. They both hummed
along with no idea of the
reaction to the news in a
house on the other side of
* * * *
In that house, a couple of
miles away, Margaret was
struggling to start her day.
For reasons she couldn?t
explain, she?d slept badly.
Her grandmother used to
say that she always had a
feeling when something
wrong was in the air, and
that stopped her sleeping.
No sooner had the
memory come to her than
Margaret gave herself a
shake and dismissed it. She
was a firm believer in good
old common sense.
Besides, what women
with family and work
responsibilities didn?t have
a bad night?s sleep every
now and then?
The radio presenter?s
good-natured chatter in
between the music
provided a comforting
background to the clatter of
spoons against cereal bowls
and the spreading of
She was hoping they
didn?t play anything too
noisy this morning when
Alison came into the
kitchen, looking flustered.
?Mum, I need some socks
for my PE kit. The others
got wet at cross-country on
Tuesday and there aren?t
clean ones in my drawer.?
Margaret rolled her eyes.
?You?ll find some in the
airing cupboard. Put the
dirty ones in the laundry
?Thanks, Mum. I?ll ??
?Shush!? The conversation
was cut off by Arthur.
Margaret hadn?t realised
it was time for the news
headlines. She froze as a
serious-sounding voice cut
across the stillness of the
It was saying something
about Royal Marines and
local volunteers, and that
an invasion was expected
within hours.
?Where?s that?? Alison
?The Falkland Islands.?
Arthur replied.
?Are they near Britain??
?No, but they?re British
territory, and it sounds as
though they?re about to be
invaded. The question is,
what will we do about it??
Arthur?s face was grim.
He finished speaking, and
Margaret?s stomach
churned as she and her
husband exchanged glances
and the significance of the
news for their family ?
especially their son ? sank
To be continued.
Love reading? Don?t miss the Daily Serial on
our website:
& His
John Taylor
likes to beat
the Christmas
T was about half-past nine
one Friday morning. The
phone rang.
Anne answered, as usual.
?It?s for you.?
?Mr Taylor? Your order has
arrived. Shall I post them?? a
woman?s voice said.
?Thank you. I?ll pick them up
next time I?m in.?
Anne was listening, but she
couldn?t make much sense out
of my reply.
?Was she a blonde?? she
asked to prompt an explanation.
?Oh, a real smasher. And so
To be honest, my caller was a
middle-aged lady in a shop in
Perth! But I wasn?t going to tell
Anne that . . .
Unlike some husbands, I
don?t leave Christmas shopping
all to my wife. I love to give
people presents. Sometimes it?s
only a small thing, but it?s
always been chosen with a lot
of thought.
I know there are people who
actually enjoy running around
on Christmas Eve for that
last-minute present. I don?t ? I
started back in February.
Anne and I were in Perth at
the bull sales. The bulls are
beautifully groomed before they
go into the judging ring. So are
the farmers? wives, who are
determined to be a credit to
their husbands and outdo each
Anne looked very smart in
her tartan skirt and jacket. It was
a chilly day, so she wore a fur
hat and a pair of sturdy walking
shoes. She?s been to Perth in
February before.
We met our daughter Mary
for lunch in a hotel, then I
stayed in the lounge for a
snooze while Anne and Mary
went shopping.
Later, I wandered down St
John Street, which was full of
really high-class shops. The one
I went into is really a ladies?
shop with a caf�. It has a gents?
section where the assistants
know us.
They were disappointed that
Anne wasn?t with me. She
usually tells me what I need,
and I buy it.
I bought nothing for myself.
Instead, I got four pairs of socks
for my grandchildren?s
Christmas pillow-cases. Then I
noticed the packets of three
white handkerchiefs with initials
on them. Great idea!
I needed four packets ? two
with C, one with A and one with
N. They only had one C and
one A.
?Sorry, Mr Taylor. We can
order a C and an N for you.?
Today?s call was to tell me
the handkerchiefs had arrived. I
picked them up later and put
them on the shelf in the spare
bedroom, where I collect all the
odds and ends for Christmas.
So you see, I?m all set for
Christmas! n
Relax after a busy
week with these easy,
informal and delicious
Course: Lunch
Serves: 2
Skill level: easy
? 2 chicken breasts, cut into
? 1 tbs French?s� Classic
Yellow Mustard
? 1 tsp honey
? 1 tsp oil
? 6 slices sourdough bread,
spread with French?s�
Classic Yellow Mustard or
? Little gem leaves
? 8 slices pastrami
? 2 gherkins, sliced
? 2 tomatoes, sliced
For the Slaw:
? 1 small raw beetroot, grated
? 1 carrot, grated
? 2 spring onions, sliced
? 1 tbs mayonnaise
? 1 tsp French?s� Classic
Yellow Mustard
1 Place the chicken breast in a bowl,
add the French?s� Classic Yellow
Mustard and honey and mix well.
Heat the oil in a pan and cook the
chicken for around 5 minutes until
browned and cooked through. Set
2 To the make the slaw, mix
together the beetroot, carrot and
onion then stir in the mayonnaise
and French?s� Classic Yellow
3 To build the sandwich, lay some
lettuce leaves on a slice of bread.
Top with the pastrami, gherkin
slices and a dollop of slaw. Add
another slice of bread, top with more
leaves, the tomato, chicken and the
third slice. Repeat for the second
sandwich. Halve and eat!
Frank?s RedHot� Cheesy
Ham Potato Doughnuts
with Spicy Salsa
French?s� Mustard,
Bacon, Avocado and
Egg Bagel
Course: Lunch
Course: Lunch
Makes 8
1 Pre-heat the grill to medium, toast the bagel bases and
? 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) floury potatoes, peeled and cubed
? 2 tbs Frank?s RedHot� Buffalo Wing Sauce
? 75 g (2� oz) shredded ham
? 4 spring onions, sliced
? 75 g (2� oz) Cheddar, grated coarsely or diced
? 60 g (2� oz) peas, defrosted if frozen
? 60 g (2� oz) flour
? Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
? 1 egg
? 100 g (3� oz) panko breadcrumbs
? Oil for deep fat frying
For the Salsa:
? 3 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
? 2 spring onions, sliced
? Handful each parsley and mint leaves, chopped
? 1 tbs Frank?s RedHot� Original sauce
parchment paper.
2 Bring a large pan of water to the
boil, add the potatoes and cook
for 10 to 12 minutes until tender.
Drain really well and then mash.
Stir in the Frank?s RedHot� Buffalo
Wing Sauce, ham, onions, cheese
and peas with 1 tablespoon of the
flour and some salt and pepper.
Set aside until cool enough to
3 Dust the work surface with some
of the flour. Tip the potato mix on
to the floured surface and shape
into a round circle, about 10 cm
(4 in) thick. Dust the top with
more flour and cut out circles with
an 8 cm (3� in) cutter and then
cut a hole in the middle with a
smaller cutter ? we used a 3 cm
(1� in). Reshape the excess and
Serves: 2
? 2 bagels, split
? 1 tbs French?s� Classic Yellow Mustard
? 2 eggs
? 1 tsp olive oil
? 1 tbs maple syrup
? 4 rashers back bacon
? Handful of rocket
? 1 avocado, peeled, stoned and mashed roughly
? Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
can add any
leftover cooked
meat or
to this.
1 Line a baking tray with
Skill level: easy
cut more doughnuts. Place on the
baking tray and chill in the fridge
for 20 minutes to firm up.
4 Whilst the doughnuts chill,
combine the salsa ingredients and
set aside.
5 Crack the egg on to a shallow
plate and beat. Place the
breadcrumbs on another plate.
Place the oil in a suitable saucepan
or frying-pan ? do not fill more
than halfway ? and heat to
170 deg. C., 325 deg. F. Dip each
doughnut in the egg and then the
breadcrumbs. Fry the doughnuts
in batches for 2 minutes, flip
them over and fry for another
minute until golden all over, before
scooping them with a slotted
spoon and placing on to kitchen
paper to drain. Serve hot with the
spread with half of the French?s� Classic Yellow Mustard.
2 Heat a non-stick frying-pan with the oil, add the bagel tops
and crack an egg into each ? it?s easier to crack the eggs into
a ramekin first. Cook over a medium heat for around
10 minutes until the egg white has just set ? covering the
pan helps to cook the top part.
3 Combine the rest of the mustard with the maple syrup
and brush over the bacon. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, turning
occasionally until cooked to your liking.
4 Top the bagel bases with some rocket, bacon and
avocado then carefully slide the eggy tops from the pan on
to the bases. Season with some black pepper and serve.
Skill level: easy
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.
Course: Lunch or main
Skill level: easy
Serves: 4
? 2 large eggs
? 120 ml (4 fl oz) full fat
? 40 g (1� oz) plain flour
? Pinch of salt
? Pinch of grated nutmeg
? 4 tbs butter
For the Filling:
? 6 slices of bacon
? 1 tsp olive oil
? 2 handfuls of curly kale,
stems removed
? Salt and freshly ground
black pepper, to taste
? 100 g (3� oz) Primula
Original Cheese Tube
?Dutch Baby? with Cheese, Bacon and Kale
A Dutch
baby is
somewhere in
between a
pudding and
a pancake.
1 Pre-heat oven to 220 deg. C.,
425 deg. F., Gas Mark 7.
2 First, prepare the bacon for
has melted, pour in batter and
place in the pre-heated oven.
Bake until pancake is golden
brown, approximately 15 to
20 minutes.
SPAM� Potato Rosti
5 Whilst the pancake is baking,
make the filling. Place the olive
oil in a frying-pan and, over a
high heat, fry the kale until edges
start to crisp. Season well.
Course: Lunch or main
? 1 x 340 g can of SPAM� Chopped Pork and Ham,
cut into small cubes
? 2 medium sized potatoes
? 50 g (2 oz) butter
? 1 medium egg, beaten (for mixture)
? 2 tsp chopped parsley
? Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
? 4 large eggs (for top)
To Garnish: parsley or thyme, optional.
Skill level: easy
6 When the pancake comes out
of the oven, break the bacon into
shards, and fill pancake with kale and
bacon. Finish with generous dollops
of Primula cheese and serve.
Serves: 4
the filling. Place the slices on an
oven tray and grill until crispy.
Set aside and allow to cool.
3 In a medium bowl, beat the
eggs lightly with the milk. Whisk
in the flour, salt and nutmeg
until just combined. The mixture
should be a little bit lumpy.
4 Melt the butter in a heavy,
oven-proof frying-pan (a cast
iron skillet is ideal). When butter
1 Place cubes of SPAM� Chopped Pork and Ham in a fryingpan and fry until slightly browned.
2 Peel the potatoes and partly cook by placing in a saucepan
of boiling water for 10 minutes.
3 When cool enough to handle, grate the potatoes on the
bigger side of a cheese grater. Melt half of the butter and, in a
large bowl, mix together the grated potato, beaten egg, most of
the fried SPAM� cubes, parsley and a little black pepper.
4 Melt remaining butter in a frying-pan. Fry four large
spoonfuls of the mixture for six minutes, or until golden. Flip
over and fry for a further six minutes. Keep warm.
5 Meanwhile (towards the end of frying) poach four eggs to
your liking and place one on top of each rosti. Add a few Spam
cubes then garnish with parsley or thyme, if liked, and serve. ?
Next week: tasty recipes for British
Egg Week.
For more delicious recipes visit our website:
The storm
had brought
a wrecked
vessel to the
shore, and
must do what
she could to
help . . .
Set in
Blown In By
The Storm
Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar.
HE knocking was
insistent. It
through the
?Branwen, come quick!
And tell your mam to bring
her bag. There?s been a
wreck off Hen Bont beach
and the sailors are
swimming ashore.?
Sian Pritchard stood
red-faced on the doorstep.
?One of the lads who
works the fields on the
headland ran all the way to
the pub to tell us. I suppose
the ship was headed for
Tenby but was blown off
course by the gale.
?I thought I?d fetch your
mam in case some poor
souls need tending to.?
Her mother was distilling
herbal oils in her shed at
the bottom of their garden.
She looked up in surprise
as Branwen burst through
the slatted wooden door.
?Tell Sian I?ll be down
directly,? she said. ?And
then come back and help
me pack my bag.?
There was a calm about
her mother?s movements
that Branwen had seen
before in such
circumstances: a core
stillness that seemed to
spread out from within her
like a soothing cloud, so
that anyone she was called
to immediately felt better
just for her being there.
?Hot heads are no help to
man nor beast,? Mam
would say as she filled her
old carpet bag with bottles
of oils and creams.
With only the gentry able
to afford a doctor?s fees, it
was common for her mother
to be called to assist the
ordinary people of Hen
Bont in times of sickness.
From childhood Branwen
had become accustomed to
the knock at their door.
Growing up, she was proud
her mother was a person so
valued in the village.
?Aye, they like what we
can do for them but they
don?t understand us,? her
mother said ruefully. ?Not
so many years ago they
were burning us as witches.
?But Williams women
have always been healers.
It is our calling and it will
be yours. The calm, too, will
come when you see your
life?s path clearly.?
Mam had begun to pass
on her knowledge, but as
the women hurried down to
Hen Bont?s small beach,
Branwen doubted she
would ever master her
mother?s serenity.
When they arrived, some
of the sailors were already
staggering ashore through
the surf, groups of waiting
villagers crowding round
with brandy and blankets.
Beyond them to the
Tenby side of the bay,
Branwen could see the
stricken vessel listing
alarmingly against a rocky
outcrop that guarded the
?Olwenna ? over here!?
A man beckoned
Branwen?s mother.
A sailor had collapsed in
the surf. A party of men
carried him up on to the
beach as he cried out in
agony. Once on wet sand,
the poor man passed out.
?Looks like his shoulder?s
out,? Olwenna said.
He was young, around
Branwen?s own age. She
took his hand as her
mother began to examine
his misshapen shoulder.
He had green eyes which
were a striking contrast
with his blond hair. As
Branwen watched, she saw
them struggle to focus and
he began to speak. But he
was incomprehensible.
?Mam, he?s talking
?Must be the shock.? Her
mother didn?t remove her
focus from his injury. ?Get
him to chew on some of this
willow bark while I slot his
shoulder back in ? it will
help with the pain.?
?Here.? Branwen stroked
his cheek gently as she did
with young children when
she was trying to get them
to open mouths for her
mother?s medicines. ?Take
some of this, good sir, it
will ease your suffering.?
She continued to speak
soothingly. He gazed at her
as if she were something
unearthly and began to talk
again in his strange tongue.
She took advantage of his
open lips to feed him the
willow bark. For long
moments they gazed at
each other as if bound by
an invisible force.
?Ready?? Her mother
braced the arm.
Branwen nodded and
squeezed the other hand
harder as he groaned
aloud. His shoulder made a
snapping sound.
?Stay with him,
Branwen, while I tend
to the others,? her
mother commanded.
?The leg is beyond my
skills: it is badly broken.
We must send for Doctor
Evans and see if he will
treat the boy out of
Christian charity.?
Branwen remained by the
half-delirious sailor who
held on to her hand and
continued to murmur in the
unfamiliar language.
?Excuse me, sir,? she
called to a shaken but
unharmed survivor. ?In
what tongue is he speaking?
I cannot understand.?
?He?s a Frenchy, love ?
we have a few who work
the route from Dublin to
Cherbourg with us.?
?Do you know his name??
?Something foreign.? The
man shook his head. ?We
just call him Pally ? like
Paddy, do you see??
Branwen could not have
said how long she remained
by the semi-conscious
young sailor, stroking and
soothing, mesmerised by
the beautiful green eyes.
Suddenly all was action
as Dr Evans arrived and
instructed men to help him
with a stretcher. Till the last
second the sailor called
Pally held on to her hand.
?I?ll come and see you,?
she called, feeling bereft as
he was taken away.
?Come, Branwen,? her
mother ordered. ?They?re
taking them to the church
hall ? we?re needed there.?
Pally was not in the
church hall, nor did he
appear there over the days
that followed when
Branwen accompanied her
mother as she continued to
care for the injured.
Unable to shake the
memory of the young man
and the moments they?d
shared on the beach,
Branwen tried to find out
what had become of him.
?I heard he was given a
bed in the pub after the
medic had done.? The sailor
she?d spoken with on the
beach chuckled. ?A fine
billet, to be sure.?
* * * *
Branwen?s heart was
pounding so hard she
thought her ribs might
break. She had never
before been inside a public
house and knew it was no
place for a respectable
young woman from chapel.
Still, the desire to know
the fate of the young sailor
made her linger outside the
Bridge Arms.
As she moved towards
the door the landlady, Sian
Pritchard, emerged.
?Hello, lass. I?m glad I?ve
seen you. I wanted to thank
you and your mam. It?s
blessed we are to have two
such healers amongst us.?
Such a welcome
emboldened Branwen to
make her enquiry.
?He?s coming on fine.?
Sian Pritchard?s face
creased into a smile. ?I
made up a bed in the back
parlour ? would you like to
come and see him??
?Er ?? Branwen?s
stomach fluttered.
?He?s been asking about
someone as tended him on
the beach. That you, is it??
Branwen?s eyes widened.
?Come on in, lass.
Schoolteacher is with him
just now. She can speak his
tongue, see. Makes him feel
more at home.?
Branwen let out a breath.
If Miss Hope found it
acceptable to visit inside a
public house, then surely it
could do no harm.
He was sitting propped
up, and the face Branwen
remembered as so white
looked sun-bronzed against
Sian Pritchard?s pillows.
He smiled at the sight of
her and turned to Miss
Hope with a torrent of his
own tongue.
?Ah, Branwen.? The
schoolteacher smiled. ?So
it?s you he means? Pascal
has been most anxious to
see you again.?
?His name, dear.? She
nodded at him. ?He has
something particular he
wants to say to you.?
Branwen saw him take a
?Thank ? you.? He smiled
as if his cheeks would split.
?Thank ? you much.?
He turned again to the
teacher and spoke.
?He says that when he
was first washed up he
thought he had died and
you were an angel.?
Pascal nodded rapidly.
?Afterwards the pain took
away all his English words.?
?He speaks English??
?Yes.? Miss Hope
frowned. ?But it needs
work. Perhaps you could
help him? It would do him
good to have the company
of someone his own age.
?I hear the other sailors
are going back to Ireland
tomorrow but Pascal must
stay here till his leg heals.
You could help him with his
?You will . . . come?
Yes?? Pascal asked and
something in Branwen?s
heart melted away.
* * * *
Mam was unsure, but
since it was educational the
preacher was able to allay
any fears about propriety.
?Make sure it?s only
about learning, mind,? she
So it became a routine:
when Branwen finished her
chores she would sit in the
pub?s back parlour with
Pascal and teach him
English. She even taught
him some words of Welsh.
He was a quick student
and soon they could have
proper conversations. He
told her of his home in
Brittany and how from
boyhood he had always
loved the sea.
Branwen listened,
corrected and taught
vocabulary, and all the time
felt like she was falling into
the earnest green eyes.
Whenever she left, Pascal
would take her hand and
Branwen?s skin tingled with
a delicious tension she?d
never felt before.
* * * *
?Dai Ellis asked if you
were walking out with the
Frenchman.? Olwenna
continued to concentrate
on decanting her herbal
solution and didn?t look up.
?Ach, Mam, tell him to
mind his business.?
?He?s a good man with a
good trade. Like your
father, God rest him. And
you know he?s always
carried a torch for you. You
could do a lot worse.
?He has a fine cottage
next to the forge and a
good income. You don?t
want to lose your chance
with him for the sake of a
fancy foreign sailor who?ll
be away any day.?
Branwen?s pulse banged
in a place behind her ear;
panic surged. Of course
Mam was right: Pascal must
leave. But Hen Bont without
him seemed unthinkable,
and marriage . . .
?Is that what it?s about,
Mam? A cottage and
money? Is that why you
married Daddy??
?That is an unworthy
comment.? Her mother?s
eyes oozed sadness. ?But I
forgive you, though it tears
my heart to see you like
?Sorry, Mam. I didn?t
mean . . .? Branwen forced
a smile. ?I shall stay single
all my days and be Hen
Bon?s healer ? how?s that??
?That, my child, is not the
way it works.?
When she got to the pub
Pascal wasn?t there. For a
second her heart
contracted, but then she
saw him, walking carefully
around the courtyard with a
?Pascal!? she called.
?You?re walking ? that?s
?Yes.? His expression was
solemn. ?But it means I
must go home, to Brittany.?
It was like a lead weight
falling on her chest.
?But . . .? Branwen found
she was struggling for
breath. ?Your leg will take
weeks to ??
?Non, ma petite. There is
a ship in two days from
Dublin. It unloads in Tenby
and takes me home.?
Branwen?s mouth would
make no words; there was a
juddering in her chest and
inside her brain a voice
shrieked, ?Not yet!?
?Unless . . .? Pascal sat
heavily on an upturned
barrel. ?Unless I have a
reason to stay.?
Deep brown eyes
implored her.
?The company has need
of seamen to work on the
tug boats at Neyland. I
could get work there, if ??
Again the eyes scanned
her face.
?Do I, Branwen? Do I
have a reason to stay??
In that instant Branwen
knew she had never been
so sure of anything in her
life. She felt a core stillness
settle inside her.
?Oh, yes,? she said,
taking both his hands in
hers. ?You definitely do
have a reason to stay.? n
The Lemon House Photography.
The Sharing Economy
WHAT would you do if you
needed to get somewhere
that was not on a public
transport route? Call a taxi?
Ask a family member to take
you? Or get in a car with a
stranger? Probably not
option three, but for an
increasing number of
people, ?lift sharing? is a
way of cutting the costs of
transport. It is not the only
way people are choosing to
share what they own or
what they can do.
You can rent out your
home, or rent someone
else?s as an alternative to
booking a hotel room. You
can rent out your own drive,
or rent someone else?s if
you need a space to park;
rent out your loft space,
and, if you have a dog, you
can get someone to borrow
it for the day, rather than
hiring a dog walker.
The so-called ?sharing
economy? has expanded
over recent years and new
ways of sharing possessions
and skills seem to be
springing up on an almost
weekly basis. But should
you let a stranger store their
unwanted possessions in
your home? Should you give
a lift to someone you don?t
know? And would you really
Money expert
Sarah Pennells
writes for us.
let someone you don?t
know borrow your precious
pet ? if only for a day?
How the sharing
economy works
Enthusiasts of the sharing
economy seem to love the
fact it means they can
generate an income from
something they don?t use,
or swap it for something
they want. They love the
fact it?s much more
personal than booking a
hire car or a hotel room.
Critics say it can be
confusing for first timers to
find out how it all works,
and is it really ?sharing?
when you charge hotel
rates for your home?
Shouldn?t it all be free if it?s
really based on sharing?
Well, no, not necessarily.
The idea of the sharing
economy (the clue is that
the word ?economy? is in
there!) is that it?s peer to
peer. That means someone
who wants something can
? pretty much ? negotiate
direct with someone who
has it. There may be an app
or online platform you have
to register with, but there?s
no traditional company
packaging it all up as one of
their own products.
What to look for
Booking a room or a
holiday home through an
online platform like Airbnb
is fairly straightforward, but
there are a couple of
golden rules (and these
apply to any sharing
economy platform). The
first is that you should
always carry out the
transaction through the
platform. That means you
should communicate and
? crucially ? pay for the
booking through its own
systems. Don?t pay the
person direct ? no matter
what reason they give you.
If you do, you will not be
covered by the platform?s
cancellation or refund
Secondly, if you are using
a sharing economy platform
for the first time, do your
own research into what
others say about it. Don?t
just rely on the breathlessly
positive testimonials that
they may have on the
website home page. I
always put the name of the
company and the word
?review? or ?complaint? into
an online search engine like
Google, or check out what
people are saying on review
sites like Trustpilot, before I
part with any money.
The UK?s sharing
economy trade body has
developed something
called ?Trustseal?, which is
the world?s first kitemark for
sharing economy
companies. Companies that
sign up have to meet
certain standards on
transparency, data
protection and so on. You
can find out more about
Trustseal at www.
Visit Sarah?s website at
Did you
In 2015
more than
?4 billion!
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.
Sarah?s top tips for
taking part in the
sharing economy
Remember to trust your instincts. If something doesn?t
feel right about a transaction, then don?t go ahead
with it.
Always pay through the provider?s platform, not via
bank transfer direct to the person offering the item or
Check with your own insurer or mortgage provider if
you?re going to rent out your home or drive or provide
lifts in your car.
You?ll have to pay tax on the profit you make unless
your total taxable income is less than the personal
allowance (currently �,500). You can offset certain
expenses incurred in running the business.
Ask The Expert
Who shares what?
The main activities
where goods and
services are ?shared?
though online
platforms* include:
TRAVEL ? transport
with a driver is
traded on platforms
such as Uber and
Blablacar, while cars
themselves are
offered for hire
through Cars2Go and
parking spaces and
storage space can be
found through
businesses like
and JustPark.
MONEY ? people
can lend each
other money or
invest in start-up
companies through
platforms like
Ratesetter, Zopa,
Seedr and Funding
businesses such as
Fiverr and People
Per Hour offer a
way for people to
market their skills
and labour to
*Always use Sarah?s tips to check out any
online company before you do business
with them.
Andr� Roque,
co-founder of
Homeit, is
here to help.
WHAT?S the best way
to find out if the
sharing service I want
to use is trustworthy?
THE sharing economy allows us to help others while
earning ourselves some extra cash, and being part of
a wider sharing and skill-swap culture. But it only
works if there?s trust. We have to trust that our Uber driver
will get us home safely; we have to trust that the cleaner or
guest coming into our home will respect our property.
Trust is a big barrier to overcome when it comes to
choosing the right sharing economy platform, so my advice
to people who are trying to select the right one for them is
to look for the signals that reinforce its trustworthiness.
Customer support is incredibly important, so look for
answers to all your queries, and a way to reach out to the
platform to clarify any that may still remain. User reviews
are the other key element of trust, so make sure you read
what people who have used the service say about it.
In the grand scheme of things, no amount of legislation
or government influence will change that. It all comes
down to a combination of finding a platform that works for
you, and acting with the same care you would when
entrusting anyone with anything.
A little research can go a long way.
?? Andr� Roque is co-founder of Homeit, a platform
that allows guests, tenants and tradespeople access
to property remotely. To find out more, visit www.
Next month: later life mortgages
Under The Apple
Donald had
intended to dig
up the box
himself one
day. But Tim
found it 80
years later . . .
Illustration by Helen Welsh.
ONALD wiped his
hands on his
corduroy trousers
and stood the
apple tree in the
hole he?d dug, trying it for
?Mum?s not going to be
best pleased,? Bert said,
looking sideways at his
elder brother.
?Doesn?t make much
difference,? Donald replied.
?I?ll be called up soon
anyway, and I?d rather join
up now. I?m going to the
recruitment centre this
?I was just saying she
won?t be happy, that?s all.
Us both joining up at once,
I mean.?
?Both?? Donald repeated.
?Bert, you?re not old
enough! She?d go mad!?
?Germans going to ask
for my birth certificate, are
they?? Bert said with a
lopsided smile. ?I?m coming
with you. Anyway, we?ll be
home again by Christmas.?
?Don?t know about that,?
Donald said grimly.
?Have you told Daphne
what you?re up to?? Bert
asked, bending down to
pick up the spade.
There was no answer and
he looked up at his
?She?s gone up to
Scotland to see her gran. I
think her parents are afraid
she?ll do something stupid
like marry me,? he added
?Have you asked her
yet?? Bert said curiously.
?How can I? She?s only
seventeen. Same as you,?
Donald added, glaring at
his brother. ?Her parents
would never allow it.
Anyway, I don?t want to tie
her down.?
?Tie her down? What are
you talking about?? Bert
cried. ?If she were mine I?d
tie her down as soon as
?Will you keep your voice
down? Look, this war could
last for years. I could be
killed. Who knows how
she?ll feel when the war?s
over? I?m just going to wait
till I?m back home in one
piece and then I?ll give her
the ring.?
Bert was staring at him.
?The ring? You?ve already
bought one, have you?? he
said in amazement. ?Where
is it, then??
Donald didn?t speak for a
?In a biscuit tin.?
Bert burst out laughing.
?Well, you old romantic,
you! Most people choose a
little velvet box, but not
our Donald . . .?
?Anything could happen,
Bert,? Donald said
seriously. ?If I take it with
me I could lose it, and if I
leave it here the house
could be bombed. Nowhere
is safe. So I?m going to bury
it with a few other things in
a biscuit tin.
?If that?s all right with
you,? he added
sarcastically. ?I?m going to
bury it right here and plant
the apple tree next to it.
Then I?ll be able to find it
when I get back. Or you
will, if I don?t make it.?
?And if I don?t come
back, either? What then??
?Someone might dig it up
one day. There?s a letter
with it,? Donald mumbled.
Bert had stopped
?And that?s why we?re
planting an apple tree, is it?
As a marker??
Donald nodded.
?And because Mum?s
been asking Dad to plant one
for years. It will be something
to remember me by if . . .?
?Yes, all right. Stop going
on about it. We?re both
coming back, and that?s
* * * *
?Are you sure you want
daffodils here?? Tim asked as
the tip of the spade
reluctantly penetrated the
clay by another millimetre or
two. ?Why don?t I just plant
them in the grass??
Or better still, you could,
he thought grumpily as his
mother handed him a glass
of cold lemonade.
The whole idea of buying
this little house had been to
get a foot on the property
ladder, and to escape from
his parents.
Not that he didn?t love
them to pieces, but it would
be nice to stretch his wings a
bit. Twenty-six seemed a bit
old still to be living at home.
In fact, when he had
started thinking about
buying his own place he?d
had a flat in mind. A
bachelor pad, with the
emphasis on bachelor.
But he hadn?t saved
enough for a deposit,
and he?d been very
grateful for the offer of a
loan from the Bank of Mum
and Dad.
The trouble was, that
meant they had a bit of a
say in what he bought.
Flats didn?t appreciate in
value as much as houses,
apparently, and his mother
kept telling him he?d want
somewhere with a bit of
outside space when
summer came.
Somewhere to put a chair
in the sunshine while he
had a cold beer after a
hard day?s work. It seemed
a bit sneaky, considering
his mother didn?t usually
encourage him to drink
Anyway, he?d bought this
little Victorian terraced
house with its minute
garden (the old gnarled
apple tree almost filled it)
and had moved in at the
beginning of the summer.
And a chair in the garden
with a beer had definitely
never materialised.
He had spent most of his
evenings ? often, to be fair,
with a parent or two in tow
? cleaning, sanding,
painting, repairing,
reglazing and putting up
shelves, before falling into
bed exhausted.
And now that it was a fine
autumn day, his dear
mother had turned up with
a huge bag of bulbs, which,
according to her, needed
planting at once.
?They?ll be an absolute
picture in the spring,? she
wheedled. ?An apple tree
with daffodils at the base of
it will look idyllic.?
?But Mum, the ground?s
rock hard.?
?What?s a bit of digging
to a strong lad like you?
You don?t want bulbs all
over the lawn ? where
would you put a table and
Ah. The famous seating
arrangements again.
?Actually, I saw a nice
little garden table and
chairs in that junk shop on
the corner,? she continued.
?They?d be fine with a bit
of sanding and a lick of
paint ??
?No.? It came out more
firmly than Tim had
intended. ?I am not
spending any more time
sanding. I?m buying
something new.?
?I?ll go inside and make
us a sandwich, then, shall
I?? his mother suggested,
eyeing the stubborn dry
Tim straightened up and
stretched. All his childhood
he?d watched his parents
furiously gardening, but
he?d had no idea it was
such hard work. He took a
deep breath and sank his
spade in again.
Clunk! He?d struck
something. It would be just
his luck to have hit a drain
or a gas pipe or something.
He eased the spade in
again and there was
another metallic clang.
Throwing his spade to
one side, Tim knelt down
and poked about a bit with
a trowel. There was
definitely something down
Gradually he uncovered
what looked like the top of
a tin box, maybe thirty
centimetres square. Bit by
bit he managed to loosen
the soil around it until at
last he could lever it out.
He brushed the soil off
and examined it. Despite
the rust he could just make
out raised letters ? Huntley
& Palmers.
It was an old biscuit tin.
But why had anyone buried
?Oh, well done!? his
mother said, coming out at
that moment. ?You?ve dug
quite a big hole. You?ll be
able to get quite a few
bulbs in there. And won?t it
look lovely in the spring?
?Anyway, come in and
have some lunch.? She
glanced around and
frowned. ?What?s that??
Tim shrugged.
?An old biscuit tin. I can?t
open it, but it feels empty.?
He didn?t know why he?d
said it, but he had an oddly
proprietorial feeling about
the tin.
And it was certainly not
* * * *
Tim stood in the kitchen
surrounded by
screwdrivers, a hammer,
and even a can opener, and
stared at the biscuit tin
he?d been battling with for
almost an hour before
finally being able to prise
off the lid.
He couldn?t help grinning.
All this effort and it was
probably full of rusty nails
and bits of string.
He moved the lid aside.
Whatever was inside was
wrapped in newspaper.
He removed it carefully
and his eye was caught by
the date: December 12,
1939. That was getting on
for 80 years ago!
He put the paper to one
side and picked up the
cigar box it concealed. He
opened it carefully and
gazed at the contents: a
photograph, a small leather
box and an envelope.
Tim picked up the
photograph and peered at
it. A young woman in a
summer dress gazed back
at him, smiling.
Her hair was carefully
waved and was presumably
blonde, though the photo
was black and white. Across
one corner was scrawled To
dearest Donald, with love,
Tim turned it over. On the
back was the name of a
photography studio on the
south coast, only a few
miles away from where he
was now, and a date: April
Tim picked up the small
leather box and undid the
clasp. Inside was a ring set
with three small red stones.
Could they be rubies? It
was an engagement ring,
surely. But why here, in this
box? Had she said no?
He turned to the
envelope hurriedly. It was
addressed to My brother
Bert, or whoever finds this,
and was unsealed. Tim slid
the single sheet of paper
Bert, if you?re reading
this it means that I haven?t
made it back from the war,
it began starkly. I just pray
that no-one else is reading
this, for that would mean
you haven?t made it back,
There was a gap, as
though the writer wasn?t
sure what to say next, and
the tone became more
To anyone else who has
found this, I wish to tell you
that I buried this on
December 14, 1939, in
order to keep the contents
safe. The ring is intended
for Miss Daphne Smithers,
who lives at 14 Drummond
Terrace, and I would like
her to have it, even though
we can no longer be
If I have been killed,
please tell her that being
unable to fulfil our dream of
a life together will be my
greatest regret. I hope she
has found happiness, and
knows how much I loved
It was signed simply
Donald Dorreton.
Tim read the note again,
his chest tight.
This Donald couldn?t have
imagined that his biscuit tin
would lie undiscovered for
this long. He must have
lived in this very house.
And the Drummond Terrace
he referred to must be the
one a few streets away.
The chance of number 14
still having anything to do
with the Smithers family
was remote, to say the
least, but Dorreton . . .
That wasn?t a very common
name, was it?
A quick search on his
iPad revealed telephone
numbers for four Dorretons
living in the area, but the
first two were non-starters.
Feeling deflated, Tim tried
the third number on the
?Hello, this is Freya
Dorreton,? a bubbly voice
said, and she listened
patiently while Tim
explained that he?d recently
moved house and found
some items belonging to a
Donald Dorreton. There
was a pause.
?Mum!? she called.
?Mum, those medals
upstairs ? who did they
belong to??
There was the
background murmuring of a
woman?s voice, then
Freya?s returned to the
?Yes, there was a Donald
in our family who was
killed . . .?
Tim had meant simply to
drop the box off when he
located Donald?s family,
but instead he found
himself arranging to meet
Freya in a local caf� the
following Saturday.
He arrived early, but
Freya was already there.
She was just as pretty
as she?d sounded on
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the phone, Tim thought,
looking at her blonde
hair and big blue eyes. She
was probably just a year or
two younger than him.
Finding the biscuit tin had
definitely been worth it, if
only for this!
They ordered some coffee
then both looked at the
?My dad?s just gone to
New Zealand for a month
on business,? Freya told
him. ?Mum doesn?t know
much about his family, but
she did say that Donald
was always talked about as
a war hero, though
obviously she never met
?She?s never even seen a
photo of him. Dad will be
really excited to see this. If
you wouldn?t mind lending
it to me, of course, when
he gets back. I can?t
believe ??
?But it belongs to your
family,? Tim interrupted,
surprised. ?Of course you
must have it.?
?But you found it,? Freya
?Here, read the note,?
Tim said, handing it to her,
and he watched as she
read, her eyes filling with
?You must think me so
stupid,? she said as she
dabbed at her eyes. ?It?s all
so long ago.?
?I got a real lump in my
throat when I read it, too,?
Tim confided, ?and they?re
nothing to do with me.?
Her tears resurfaced as
she looked at the
engagement ring, and this
time Tim took her hand
?Why don?t we finish our
coffee and go for a walk??
he suggested. ?I?d like to
hear about the rest of your
family. What happened to
Bert ? or Albert, as I
suppose he was ? do you
They paid the bill and
headed for the local park,
while Freya talked.
?I?ve never heard of a
Bert in the family at all,?
she said, ?but it sounds as
though he was killed in the
war, too. I?ll have to wait to
see if my father can shed
any more light on it when
he gets back.
?Then perhaps I could
phone you,? she added
* * * *
There were lots of phone
calls in the next few weeks,
interspersed with trips to
the cinema and quite a few
meals ? some of which
Freya cooked in Tim?s little
She also proved to be
rather good at DIY, and the
next time Tim?s mother
rang to offer to help him
paint the spare bedroom,
Tim had to admit that he
and Freya had already
done it.
He could imagine his
mother?s raised eyebrows
at the other end of the
phone, and the
uncharacteristic silence that
followed meant that his
mother was biting her
In a very short time Tim
felt that he?d known Freya
for years, and he was
pleased ? though a bit
nervous ? when Freya
invited him to Sunday lunch
to meet her father when he
returned from New Zealand.
Someone else would be
joining them, she?d told him
excitedly, but wouldn?t say
Tim walked up the neat
drive to her parents? front
door, carrying the now
familiar biscuit tin, and rang
the bell.
?I?ve got so much to tell
you!? Freya said as she
kissed him swiftly and
showed him into the
The room seemed to be
full of people.
Tim said hello to Freya?s
mother, whom he?d already
met, and was then
introduced to her father,
Nigel, and her two older
sisters and their husbands.
He was trying not to
stare, but evidently failing,
as Freya began to laugh.
?I know,? she said. ?Dad
looks exactly like Donald,
doesn?t he? I couldn?t
believe it when I first saw
the photo. We didn?t have
any photos of him, and
neither did Granny.?
She indicated the last
person in the room, a little
old lady who was sitting in
a chair that almost
swallowed her up.
?Yes,? Freya?s father
said. ?Come and meet my
He paused dramatically.
?Mrs Daphne Dorreton.?
?Daphne?? Tim said,
looking questioningly from
the old lady and back to
Freya. ?Not the Daphne
Freya clapped her hands
in delight.
?Dad picked her up this
morning. I?ve only just
found out myself. Everyone
just calls her Granny. Dad?s
dad died before I was born,
and guess what? His name
was Herbert. And it just
never occurred to me
that . . .?
?Herbert!? Tim said in
amazement. ?Not Albert at
all! Bert was a Herbert. And
he married Daphne, his
brother?s girl? But surely if
Bert did come back from
the war, he would have dug
up the box? Why didn?t
?May I see this famous
box?? a surprisingly strong
voice said from the depths
of the armchair.
There was silence for
quite a few minutes as
Daphne picked out the
items in the tin, tilting the
photos this way and that,
reading the letter and at
last opening the small
leather box, with Nigel
looking over her shoulder.
?I?ll go and get us all a
drink,? Nigel said rather
?And you girls can come
into the kitchen and help me
with the lunch,? Freya?s
mother said.
Their husbands went
outside to look at a new car,
and Tim found himself
suddenly alone with Daphne,
who patted the seat next to
her in invitation.
?So you married Bert,? Tim
mused, looking at her. ?I
wonder why he didn?t dig up
the box??
To his surprise, Daphne
?Well, he was invalided out
of the Army, and spent a
long time in hospital
afterwards. I used to visit
him regularly ? he was my
only link to Donald, and I
knew that Bert had always
had a soft spot for me. By
the time he was fit enough to
go digging up boxes, well,
we?d decided to get
?What would you have
done?? she asked, her eyes
twinkling. ?Present me with a
ring and a love letter from
someone else??
Tim smiled.
?I hope it hasn?t upset you
too much, looking at them
now,? he said. ?Freya
certainly cried when she saw
?Poor child,? Daphne said
with a sad smile. ?May I
keep the letter and the
?Of course!? Tim replied.
?And the ring. It was for you,
after all.?
?No,? she said softly,
reaching across and patting
his hand. ?It wouldn?t fit on
my old fingers now. You
keep it.?
She lowered her voice as
the door opened and Freya
came back into the livingroom.
?I have a feeling that you?ll
find a use for it quite
soon.? n
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Diary & Pen
Paris In
Coming back to this
beautiful city was
proving harder than
I?d imagined . . .
llustration by iStock.
LOOK around me with
pleasure as we walk
through the echoing halls
and corridors of the
?Thanks for bringing me
here, Amelie.? I touch my
friend?s arm and she puts
her hand over mine. ?I
can?t believe it?s the first
time I?ve been back since
the exchange trip.?
She smiles at me.
?I?m going to recreate
that week for us, Carys.
We?re going to revisit all
the places we went to
We pass a white marble
statue of a beautiful woman
reclining in the arms of an
equally beautiful man.
?Psyche Revived By
Cupid?s Kiss.? I read out
the label. ?I still have the
picture of it I bought from
the gift shop.?
Amelie grins.
?We were more taken
with Spartacus last time.?
She?s right ? we spent a
long time giggling over the
statue of the muscular
gladiator sans fig leaf.
In our defence, we were
only fifteen and looking for
as much fun as there was to
be had in a museum.
But there was something
about the Psyche sculpture.
Perhaps the romance of it;
the way the goddess was
sinking into Cupid?s arms.
Whatever it was, it had
triggered a fascination with
classical history and art
that had never left me.
Amelie walks on, heels
clicking on the polished
floor. We pass another
sculpture. Psyche
Abandoned; her face a
mask of longing for her lost
I nudge Amelie.
?A bit more apt for me
She smiles at me. Not in
pity, just understanding.
?Let?s get a coffee. All
this culture makes me
In the caf� Amelie ticks
off a list on her scarlettipped fingers.
?We?ll go out to
Versailles, Notre
Dame . . .?
?Do you have a school
disco planned??
She laughs, tossing her
hair, and a man at the next
table chokes on his latte.
She?s always had that effect
on men.
?No, but I did manage
tickets for the opera. It?ll be
almost as dramatic.?
?Thank you for doing all
this. At the last minute,
?Well, we were planning
our reunion anyway. I only
had to bring it forward by a
couple of months.?
A week ago I?d been on
my second glass of wine
and considering another
when Amelie had
telephoned. My divorce
settlement had recently
arrived, the cherry on the
cake of an awful year.
My husband had left me
for a girl not much older
than our daughter and
then, out of the blue, I?d
been made redundant.
I thought I was coping,
but Amelie?s ?How are you
really doing?? pierced my
defences and through tears
I admitted how
horrendously miserable I
The next day an e-mail
arrived. Amelie had booked
tickets and she would meet
me at the Gare du Nord in
four days? time.
I felt a stab of annoyance
at her assumption I could
just drop everything and
go. Except that was the
point ? I had nothing to
* * * *
So, here I am. Paris.
?Can you believe it?s
been thirty years since the
exchange trip??
Amelie shakes her head.
?But your French is still
as bad.?
I poke my tongue out.
?I remember how nervous
I was, meeting you and
your family for the first
My knees had been
shaking when Amelie and
her parents had collected
me from the school coach
and taken me home to their
apartment. But the minute
I?d seen her room,
plastered with posters of
Duran Duran, I?d relaxed.
?John Taylor!? I mock
swooned, pointing to the
guitarist, but Amelie shook
her head and blew a kiss to
a large poster of the
?Roger Taylor!?
We spent most of our
nights debating the
relative merits of the two.
In the end we agreed to
disagree, reasoning that,
once the band had come
to their senses and
stopped dating
supermodels, we wouldn?t
be any competition to
each other. We could even
have a double wedding.
The shared obsession
with Duran Duran started
a friendship that endured.
We?ve shared holidays and
gap year travel, weddings
and christenings. Joy and
Paris is as beautiful as
ever, the weather kind but
with a whisper of autumn.
The leaves are just
beginning to yellow, the
bustle of the tourist
months over. The city is
taking a breath, shaking
off the heat and dust and
chaos of summer.
After the Louvre we stop
for dinner. The waiter
brings a chilled white wine.
He pours it with one hand,
the other tucked neatly
behind his back.
?Merci.? Amelie reaches
for a glass. ?So, what now,
I take a sip of my wine,
enjoying the tartness that
coats my tongue, and
consider Amelie?s
question. What now? What
do you do when your life
has been turned inside
out? When the man you
thought was for ever
decides that his for ever
lies elsewhere?
?I don?t know.?
?What about your art?
Your sculptures??
I can?t remember the
last time anything creative
came from my hands. I
shake my head, deflect the
?I?ve told you how well
Maddie?s doing in Italy?
She?s studying hard,
painting in her spare time.?
My beautiful daughter,
following my dream. I?d
intended to teach art after
university, but in quick
succession I?d met Alan, got
married and fallen pregnant.
When Maddie was born I
was happy to stay at home,
finding satisfaction in
selves, Amelie snapping
away all the time with her
camera. We climb the Eiffel
Tower, meander the
gardens of Versailles and
take a boat on the Seine.
All too soon it?s our last
night. Thirty years ago the
school disco had marked
the end of the trip. For a
mad moment we consider a
nightclub, but the thought
makes both of us shudder.
Instead we take the metro
to Montmartre to wander
the bohemian quarter.
We walk, breathing in the
warm, heady scents of the
late summer evening.
Amelie rummages in her
I?m free to go wherever I want; do
whatever I want
nurturing her. But when I
felt ready to return to work,
my creative confidence had
I settled for safe, in an
office, telling myself I?d
work my way back to my
dreams eventually. But it
never happened. I?ve not
picked up a brush or a
hunk of clay for years.
?You can?t live through
Maddie, Carys. You have to
find your own path.?
Amelie?s voice is gentle.
?I?m not! We can?t all be
free spirits like you. I had
? I have ? responsibilities.?
It?s out before I have a
chance to claw it back.
Amelie was never able to
have children.
She never had the
responsibilities I?ve just laid
claim to, and I know more
than anyone how much she
craved them. We went
through her heartbreak
I take her hand.
?I?m so sorry, Amelie.
That was thoughtless.?
She squeezes back and I
know she forgives me. The
luxury of old friends.
I look at my watch.
?We?d better eat if we?re
going to get to the theatre
on time.? I pick up the
menu, hiding behind it, and
Amelie sighs and picks up
her own.
* * * *
Over the course of the
week we follow the ghostly
footprints of our younger
handbag, producing a
battered notebook.
?Remember this??
?How could I forget it??
I take it from her
reverently. It?s full of ticket
stubs and photos,
postcards and menus, even
a napkin from a caf�, coffee
stained and yellowed. At
the back is the list we made
on that last night of all our
plans for the future.
Become a famous
photographer, marry Roger
?Well, this has to be
Amelie laughs.
photographer, if not quite
famous,? she says. ?Sadly, I
think it?s too late for me
and Roger.?
I carry on reading.
??Exhibit at the Tate.
Own my own art gallery.?
Nothing too ambitious for
me, then!?
The next one stops me in
my tracks.
Fall in love for ever.
Amazing how quickly
tears can come. Amelie
puts her arm around me.
?We had our whole lives
ahead of us,? I say.
?We still do, Carys. You?ll
get through this, I know you
But I shake my head.
?I?m too old to start
She looks me straight in
the eye.
?One day, you?ll realise
how ridiculous that is.?
We find a restaurant. It?s
a beautiful evening but
there?s a melancholy about
it now, a sense of endings.
?I?m going to India in a
few weeks,? Amelie says. ?A
photographic assignment,
but I thought I?d add on a
few days? holiday. Why
don?t you join me? I?d enjoy
the company.?
?I can?t, Amelie.?
She starts to ask, ?Why
not?? but stops herself.
Instead she picks up the
menu and I?m grateful to
her for not pushing.
* * * *
The next morning sees us
back at the Gare du Nord.
Amelie hugs me tightly,
presses a package into my
?Open it on the train,?
she whispers, ?not here.
See you soon.?
And with a flurry of
whistles and flags, I?m off.
I sink back into my seat,
content for a while to watch
France slipping away. But
the package nags at me
and I finally give in, tear it
Oh, she?s good. She must
have spent all last night
putting it together.
In my hands is the
notebook from our school
exchange. Inside, Amelie
has pasted photographs
taken during this week,
each one matched with one
taken 30 years ago.
I turn the pages, taking in
the images. The more I look
at them the more I realise
that it?s not the differences
that strike me, despite the
way we?ve changed and
aged. It?s the similarities.
I don?t know how she?s
managed it, but somehow,
despite my sadness, Amelie
has captured something in
every shot. It?s not always a
laugh or a smile on my face
now, as there was in the
earlier photographs, but
there?s a glint in the eye, a
tilt of the chin, an
expression. There?s hope in
every single one.
Looking at the photos, I
know that Amelie is right.
Now, just as 30 years ago,
I have my life ahead of me.
I?m free to go wherever I
want; do whatever I want.
I can go to India with
Amelie. I can visit Maddie
in Italy. I can paint and
draw and sculpt. I can carry
on where my younger self
left off.
There?s a note at the
bottom, written in Amelie?s
exuberant looping hand. It
brings tears to my eyes,
followed by a snort of
My dear Carys,
I?ve been looking into the
story of your beloved
Psyche. I know how well
you know it yourself, but
perhaps its worth a bit of a
reminder. It?s the story of
the ordeals the soul must
face, the trauma we must
sometimes go through,
before finding happiness
She?s often shown with
the most beautiful butterfly
wings, a symbol of her
transformation. I think it?s
time for you to find your
wings, my friend. Time for
you to take flight again.
I?ll see you very soon.
Love always,
PS I?d still take Roger
over John. n
What inspired me...
I overheard a
conversation about a
trip to Paris to celebrate
thirty years of friendship
with a French school
penpal. I thought how
lovely that was and
really liked the idea of a
Paris story based on
friendship rather than
romance. And yes, I was
a huge Duran Duran
Tracey Glasspool.
each to be
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Set In
Jessica had had her
taste of freedom.
Now it was time
to accept the
marriage her father
had arranged for
her . . .
A Highland
Illustration by Kirk Houston.
S the shot
whistled over
their heads Conall
?Keep down and
ride like the wind until I tell
you it?s safe to stop.?
Terrified, Jessica obeyed,
gripping the reins as best
she could as she gave the
horse its head. A second
shot came. Conall?s body
jerked but they rode wildly
on, the horses panting and
sweating, branches
whipping at their clothing.
Shouts came out of the
mist behind them. They
stumbled into rabbit
burrows and splashed
through streams.
The cries receded, the
trees thinned and the soft
forest floor gave way to a
hardened mud track, the
drover?s road. Conall eased
his horse to a walk.
?You can slow down now,
Jessica. Are you all right??
Her fingers felt frozen to
the reins, so tightly had she
been clinging on. Turning,
she saw blood on his arm.
?You?re wounded!?
He shook his head
?Keep going, it?s nothing.
A flesh wound.?
?Who were those men??
?Deserters, by the look of
them. Seeking food to
scavenge, most probably. I
doubt they?ll follow.?
?You could have left me
behind and saved yourself.?
?Never.? Conall grinned.
?Remember, you?re much
more use to me alive than
dead. Come, we should
keep on the move. We are
not yet safe.?
* * * *
Incarceration had addled
his brain, Conall thought.
When he?d seen those men,
his only thought had been
for Jessica?s safety.
She was a brave lass, and
a bold one, too. Far from
the bird in a gilded cage
he?d called her. He?d do
well to mind she was his life
insurance, nothing more.
The drover?s road headed
north. They came across a
bothy, a simple shepherd?s
shelter tucked into the lee
of a large rock.
Conall tethered his horse
next to a burn.
?We?ll rest here.?
He helped Jessica down
from the saddle. As her feet
touched the ground she
began to shake, reaction to
coming under fire setting in.
But she was not about to
succumb to the vapours.
?Let me tend to your
wound.? She peered at the
jagged tear in his left arm
and paled. ?Though I
confess, I know not how.?
?Make sure no shot is left
inside or the wound will
become infected.? Conall
handed her his sgian dubh.
?I trust you not to stab
me with it,? he added as he
sat on the rough shelf built
against the wall, the only
furniture the bothy boasted.
Jessica gripped the
dagger and prodded
cautiously at the wound.
?Don?t try to be gentle or
worry about hurting me,?
he said, wincing. ?Just make
sure you get it all out.?
There were three pieces of
shot. By the time she had
finished his arm was
bleeding sluggishly.
?There,? she said when
she had bound the wound
tight with a strip of cloth
from her chemise. ?Though
your shirt is ruined.?
?Thank you.?
She had a smear of his
blood on her forehead.
Tendrils of her hair had
escaped, trailing down the
elegant line of her neck.
Conall disentangled a twig
from her hair. He felt her
breath, soft and fragrant on
his face. Her jaw was rigid
with tension.
?It?s all right,? he said
softly, ?we?re safe now.?
?I?ve never been shot at
before. I thought we were
going to die!?
?Come here.?
She stepped into the
shelter of his arms and
rested her head against his
?I?m cold,? she said.
?It?s the shock.? He held
her as he would a terrified
bird. ?You?ve been very
brave. I think you coped
admirably with coming
under musket fire.?
?For a tobacco lord?s
daughter, you mean??
?For anyone. I have
witnessed many a burly
Highlander show less
fortitude on the battlefield.?
He let her go, smiling. ?I
think we have had more
than enough excitement for
one day. Let us rest awhile
and then be on our way.?
* * * *
They travelled on, heading
north and west, across
heathery moorland and
through narrow glens. A
majestic stag monitored
their progress imperiously
from the edge of a forest.
A capercaillie, the largest
of the grouse family,
flapped comically out from
the bracken where they had
stopped to feast on the
brambles, the berries
luscious and juicy.
?Tell me about your
brother,? Jessica prompted.
?Calumn, you said??
?My half-brother. His
father is my mother?s
second husband. The last
time I saw him was on the
battlefield at Culloden with
a claymore in his gut. There
was nothing I could do to
save him.?
?I?m so sorry,? she said,
her heart aching at the
inadequacy of her words.
?At least you were at his
side when he fell. That must
be of some comfort.?
Conall looked bleak.
?You don?t understand.
Calumn was not a Jacobite.
He was a captain in the
fusiliers, a regular soldier,
fighting for the Crown. We
were on opposite sides.?
Her mouth fell open.
?I?m ? oh, Conall, I don?t
know what to say. I?m so
sorry.? Without thinking,
she reached for his hand
and held it to her cheek
between her own. ?I can?t
imagine how that was.?
?How could you?? he
answered gruffly. ?We live
in the same country, you
and I, but we inhabit
different worlds.?
Jessica tried to strike a
lighter note.
?I have a younger
brother, too. George, the
apple of my parents? eye.
He can do no wrong,
whereas I can do no right. I
suspect we would be on
opposing sides, too.?
She received a smile.
?I pity him, then, for I
would not bet against you.?
Jessica laughed.
?I?m not such a
formidable opponent.?
?You?ve been kidnapped
by a savage and forced to
ride for hours through
hostile terrain. You?ve come
under fire. You?ve even had
to perform field surgery. All
without complaint. I?d call
that formidable.?
She was gratified.
?My father doesn?t want
me to be formidable. He
wants me to be compliant.?
?If I may be so bold, I
prefer you as you are.?
She blushed.
?I?m beginning to think
that I do, too.?
A passing drover shared
some oatcakes with them
some time later. He and
Conall conversed in Gaelic
while the shaggy, longhorned Highland cows
milled idly around.
?This is Cameron
country,? Conall told Jessica
when they continued on
their way. ?Jacobites, like
me. The drover said
Cumberland?s army passed
near here some weeks ago.
?They are driving the men
south like cattle, burning
the villages. Women and
bairns are . . . well, it
doesn?t bear thinking of.?
?And your own people??
Conall shook his head.
?He had no news.?
Shortly after, they saw for
man, and not young.
Jessica knew this was her
chance to escape, to return
to the real world under
John?s escort. Yet as she
sensed Conall stir beside
her she put her hand over
his mouth, a finger to her
lips in silent warning.
It took an age for the men
to pass by and for the
sound of the horses to fade.
?They?ve gone,? she said
finally, without regret.
This was the perfect opportunity
for Jessica to escape
themselves the evidence of
the Butcher?s revenge in the
burned-out shell of a
village. The walls of the
simple crofts were
blackened by fire, no traces
of the thatched roofs left,
nor trace of the villagers.
A spinning wheel lay
overturned in a doorway.
An empty cradle stood
under the shelter of a tree.
Conall could not speak.
His eyes blazed fire. Jessica
clutched his hand silently,
struck dumb with revulsion.
They walked away slowly,
leading the horses up the
gentle incline of a stony
track. Where the way forked
they took a last look back
at the tragic scene.
Conall spoke softly and
viciously in Gaelic.
?What does that mean??
Jessica asked.
??May you fall without
rising.? A curse. If only we
had not risen, this would
not be happening.? His
voice was bitter.
* * * *
They stopped to rest in
mid-afternoon, finding a
sheltered clearing just off
the path, hidden by a bank
of gorse and broom. As the
horses grazed, Conall and
Jessica, exhausted by their
travels, dozed.
A noise woke her. She
glanced at Conall, who was
still fast asleep. Peering
through the screen of gorse,
Jessica saw four men. Three
were in traditional Highland
garb armed with claymores
as well as muskets.
The fourth she recognised
as her servant, John. His
face was drawn and tired.
Relief to see him alive gave
way to guilt. John was a city
?Was it more deserters??
?No. The Duke?s men,
searching for me.?
?How can you be sure??
?John was with them.?
?Which way were they
headed?? he asked tersely.
Another chance to save
herself, for if she lied, they
would meet John again.
?South,? she said
?Good. With luck they?ll
return to Inveraray Castle.?
Conall studied her through
narrowed eyes. ?I was
asleep. You had the perfect
opportunity to escape and
be returned to your family.
Why didn?t you betray me
and save yourself??
She avoided his gaze.
?Perhaps I am in no rush
to return to my stultifying
existence. Maybe I?ve a
mind to see this Scalpsay of
yours for myself,? Jessica
said lightly.
?Or it might be that by
saving myself I would be
condemning you to death,
and I find I prefer the world
with you in it.?
?Whatever, you saved my
life. I am in your debt.?
?No, we are equal, for
you saved my life this
morning,? Jessica replied.
He helped her to her feet.
?I mean it, Jessica,?
Conall said. ?I am deeply
grateful. Thank you.?
* * * *
As dusk fell, they came to
the head of another loch.
An inn was snuggled into
the contour of the hill
ahead, the scent of peat
smoke reaching them.
?We?ll stop there if they
have room,? Conall said.
?Wait here while I speak
to the landlord.?
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The rustic interior was
basic, used to catering for
the needs of hardy cattle
men escorting their herds
on the long journey to the
markets in the south.
Whisky distilled in the
cellar and hearty barley
broths were what the dour
landlord was used to
dispensing to his clientele.
He eyed Jessica curiously,
placing bowls of fatty
mutton stew and a loaf of
black bread in front of them
without comment. Aware of
how uncomfortable her
presence was making the
other men, she ate quickly.
Alone in their room,
Conall poured them both a
dram of whisky from a thick
glass bottle. Jessica eyed it
askance, sniffing cautiously
at the amber liquid.
It tasted smoky, like the
peat fire which burned
downstairs, and was mellow
and warm when she
swallowed it.
She sat propped up
against the headboard of
the bed, trying to act as if
sharing a chamber with a
man was an everyday
occurrence, while Conall sat
on the only chair.
?If there was another
room . . .?
?But there is not, and you
assure me that you have no
ulterior motives. Beggars
cannot be choosers.?
?Talk to me,? he begged.
?Tell me about Glasgow.
I?ve never been, but I?ve
heard it?s quite a sight.?
She described the city she
knew so well ? the grand
new public buildings and
town houses in leafy
squares with cobbled
streets, stark contrast to
the slums where the poor
lived cheek-by-jowl on the
banks of the Clyde.
The routine of morning
calls and afternoon tea and
evening soir閑s with her
mother?s friends whose
daughters were her friends.
The never-discussed but
ever-present noise and
bustle of the docks and
warehouses of the tobacco
trade which funded it all.
She hated it.
?Dirty. Dull. Predictable.
Stifling,? she finished,
taking a sip of whisky.
Conall topped up his own.
?Your parents must be
getting anxious.?
?I doubt they will know
I?m missing yet. It?s only
been a couple of days.?
?It feels longer.?
?It does,? Jessica agreed.
?I?ve experienced more in
the last two days than in
the last two years.?
?With luck we will reach
Scalpsay by tomorrow.?
?So soon? You will be
glad to be rid of me,? she
said, trying to keep the
dismay from her voice.
?And you will be glad to
be returning home.? His
tone was odd.
Jessica emptied her glass,
gasping as the whisky
burned her throat.
?I certainly miss my
comfortable bed. And a hot
bath. Some nice food and a
change of clothes would not
go amiss, either.?
Conall took the glass from
her, gazing at her as if
trying to read her mind in
the dim light of the candle
on the night stand.
?Will you miss me,
?Jess. My friends call me
Jess.? Her throat felt dry.
?I?ll never forget you.?
?Nor I you. You are a
remarkable woman, and I
am proud to count you as a
friend. Now, we?ve a long
day ahead of us. I?ll make
myself comfortable on the
chair. Goodnight, Jess.?
* * * *
The next morning, Jessica
eyed the steaming bowl of
porridge. Conall poured salt
on to his, stirring in some
fresh creamy milk and
spooning it hungrily.
?It?s good, try it.?
She tasted, wrinkling her
nose, which made him
laugh. He produced a pot of
heather honey and called
her a heathen. Thus
sweetened, the porridge
tasted much better.
They left as the morning
mist was lifting. Within an
hour they had reached the
edge of Macleod country,
his homeland.
Over a ridge and down
into the glen they came
upon the first village, which
clearly had been untouched
by Cumberland?s savagery.
Two men working a
plough stopped to stare,
jaws dropping even as they
touched their forelocks.
?They seem surprised to
see us. Though very polite,?
Jessica said.
Conall shrugged.
One of the men was
running towards a cottage,
shouting something she did
not understand.
?Are you sure we?re
safe?? Jessica asked.
?We?re safe. I promise,?
he answered, grinning.
?Conall, who are you??
?What do you mean??
?I know you?re not a
cattle rustler, and I know
that you fought for the
Young Pretender, but apart
from that I don?t know
anything about you.?
Jessica frowned.
?Those people back there,
and at the village, they
recognised you. It was your
name they were saying. And
how do you come to speak
such good English??
She folded her arms
across her chest.
?I?ll wager you don?t live
in a humble cottage. Who
precisely are you??
He made a bow.
?Conall Macleod, Laird of
Scalpsay, at your service.
The chieftain, the laird;
that?s what they were
calling me.?
?You mean you own all
this land??
?I do.?
?So you?re rich??
?I?m not as rich as your
father but I?m not exactly
poor, either.?
?You?ve been laughing at
me all along.?
?Just teasing.? His smile
was contrite. ?Come, how
could I resist when you
looked down your nose at
me and called me a
common cattle thief??
She smiled reluctantly.
?You must think me an
idiot. All that talk of
spinning and porridge.?
?Far from it. I have never
met anyone like you.?
?Nor I you,? Jessica said
softly. Between them hung
something unspoken,
indefinable. It made her
nervous, so she broke it by
turning away. ?We should
press on.?
* * * *
As they approached the
next village it was clear
people had been
forewarned of his arrival.
Old women dressed in
black, younger ones with
their heavy woollen skirts
and shawls, men in brogues
and trews all lined up by
the wayside, smiling,
cheering and shouting
They passed fields of
potatoes being dug up,
then more villages, some
cottages mortared and
white-washed, others built
in the traditional dry-stone
People continued to cheer
and point, shouting Conall?s
name. Jessica saw relief and
emotion on his face.
She could almost see the
weight fall from his
shoulders as each step
brought them nearer to his
home and each village
showed no trace of pillage.
How he must have dreamed
of and dreaded this day
while caged in a dank
prison cell.
She rejoiced for him,
though her happiness was
tinged with sadness, for
now their time was at an
end. Conall?s return meant
her own was imminent.
She had had her sweet
taste of freedom. Now it
was time to make peace
with her family and accept
the marriage her father had
arranged for her.
If only it were not quite so
soon. But already the scent
of peat from the stacks and
smoke from the chimneys
was giving way to the briny
smell of the sea.
Moments later, it seemed,
the sparkle of the sea itself
glistened in the distance. In
the blink of an eye they
reached the beach where
boats were pulled high on
to the shale and lobster
creels lay stacked and
Men stopped working on
nets to stare at the
mismatched couple and
their weary steeds.
Across the stretch of clear
turquoise water, nearer
than she had expected,
Jessica saw Scalpsay itself.
It was large and flat, lush
and green, with an imposing
castle sturdily constructed
from buttressed grey
sandstone standing sentinel
close to the shore.
Making its way across the
sound was a small boat,
painted red, her sail
emblazoned with the
same symbol Conall had
on his arm. At the prow
stood a man, anxiously
scanning the horizon.
Conall dismounted, and
Jessica followed suit. She
saw the hopeful look in his
face and knew instinctively,
even as the younger man
bounded on to the shore,
leaving the ferryman to haul
the boat up, who he was.
?Calumn!? Conall ran
towards his brother.
Jessica watched with a
lump in her throat as they
embraced, laughing, talking
and hugging each other at
the same time. They made
a striking pair.
It was not just their
rugged good looks, but the
glow of health and vitality,
the sheer lust for life which
emanated from them.
There was clearly magic in
the fresh Highland air.
Temporarily forgotten,
feeling abandoned, tears
clogged Jessica?s throat.
She ought to be grateful.
Conall had proved himself a
man of honour. He had
kept his word. He had
saved her skin when he
could have saved his own.
He had shown her the
real Jess, and she liked that
brave, outspoken woman.
What would become of her
when she was no longer by
Conall?s side?
?We might live in the
same country but we
inhabit different worlds,? he
had said.
Must it be so? Must she
really tear herself away
from his side so soon?
Stupid girl. They hadn?t so
much as kissed. For sure,
Conall had said he admired
her, but never had he given
any indication that his
feelings ran any deeper.
?Jessica!? Conall?s voice
halted these embarrassing
thoughts. ?Come and meet
my brother. The last time I
saw this man here, he was
cuddling a Jacobite
?Ach, it looked a lot
worse than it was.? Calumn
turned towards Jessica,
smiling. ?Conall, aren?t you
going to introduce me to
your lovely companion??
?This is Jessica
Cunninghame from
Glasgow. She?s been of
great assistance getting me
safely back,? Conall said.
Bowing low, Calumn took
Jessica?s hand.
?Then it?s an honour to
meet you, Jessica
Cunninghame from Glasgow.
I am very much obliged to
you for bringing my brother
home safe to us.?
?I had little to do with it.
Your brother escaped from
the dungeons with no help
at all from me.?
Calumn?s countenance
?That the very men on
whose side I fought should
have kept you imprisoned
all these months . . .!?
Conall gripped his
brother?s shoulder.
?What is done is done.
We are both alive, that is
what matters. And it looks
like Scalpsay has been
spared, which I take it is
largely thanks to you??
?I used what little
influence I had,? Calumn
responded grimly. ?I could
not convince Cumberland to
release you, but at least I
made him promise immunity
for your lands, and a
pardon, too, if we ever did
get you back in one piece.
?An advantage of fighting
on the winning side, though
there are no real winners.?
?I am grateful. I was not
sure if I?d have a home to
return to.? Conall released
his hold on his brother. ?It
turns out I have,? he
continued on a
determinedly lighter tone,
?and so does Jess, now
she?s finished playing my
hostage. I gave her my word
I?d get her safely back to
Glasgow and her family.?
?Let me make good on
your promise for you,?
Calumn said. ?I will take
Miss Cunninghame home.
You have spent six months
languishing in a dungeon.
?Go over to Scalpsay,
rest, eat some decent food,
and by the time I return
you?ll be fit for us to catch
up properly.?
He turned to Jessica.
?There?s a decent inn no
more than two hours from
here; we can stop there for
the night.?
?Start now?? Jessica
exclaimed. ?I didn?t think
? that is, having come all
this way I hoped at least to
visit Scalpsay.?
Conall shook his head.
?Calumn is right. Best to
make a start while there?s
still some light. This way
you spare your parents
another night of worry.?
He would not meet her
eyes. So he couldn?t wait to
be rid of her? Tears stung
her eyes, but she bit her lip,
determined not to let him
see how much he had hurt
her, though she could not
keep the sorrow from her
?So this is goodbye.?
?Keep safe, Jess.? Conall
took a step towards her,
cupping her cheek. She
thought he would kiss her,
but then he let her go.
?Bioch 鄆s a-chaoidh tamh
a-staigh mo chr靌h,? he
He strode towards the
little boat, leaping in
without looking back.
?What did he say? What
does it mean?? she asked
Calumn beseechingly.
?There?s no exact
translation. In essence it
means you will always have
a place in my heart. It?s his
way of saying thank you.?
?You will always have a
place in my heart,? Jessica
repeated softly to herself.
* * * *
Jessica and her mother
sat in the parlour on
matching chairs set on
either side of the marble
fireplace, embroidering the
borders of lace
handkerchiefs in
companionable silence.
Jessica had come to enjoy
these precious private times
with her mama. Times that
would be denied her all too
soon. Mr Alasdair Muir, her
father?s selected suitor for
her hand, was very
Since her dramatic return
from the Highlands two
months ago, he had been
doggedly attentive.
He was also blissfully
unaware of the
circumstances surrounding
her escapade.
Her father, having
satisfied himself that no
impropriety or reputational
damage had taken place,
had decided to draw a veil
over the entire affair.
?You are my only
daughter and I care deeply
for you. I also trust you
implicitly, so if you tell me
that Laird Macleod acted
with the utmost decorum
then I will believe you.
?He certainly returned
you to us without so much
as a scratch on you, for
which I am eternally
?I made enquiries,? he
had added with a tight
smile. ?You will be pleased
to hear the charges against
him have been dropped by
the powers that be.?
Tempted though she was
to ask her father to tell her
more, Jessica was forced to
keep her curiosity to
herself, for fear of betraying
her feelings.
?How did your stroll in
the park with Mr Muir go,
dear?? Her mother?s
hopeful question
interrupted Jessica?s
musings. ?If the number of
his visits is anything to go
by, he is quite smitten.
?Your father has hopes
that matters may soon
progress to a new stage, if
you take my meaning??
Jessica sighed.
?Only too well, Mama.?
?I have to confess to
being as perplexed as he is
by your lack of enthusiasm.
Any young lady in Glasgow
society would leap at the
chance to become Mrs
Muir, yet you remain
indifferent. May I ask why
he is so unpalatable to
?Because he is not
Conall!? Jessica said silently
before banishing it from her
Her future was laid out in
front of her and it was her
duty to embrace it, as she?d
promised herself she would.
To do otherwise would be
both churlish and futile.
She attempted a
?Have you corresponded
with your cousin, the
Duchess of Argyll, recently?
What news of John? Is he
enjoying his new position as
the Duke?s butler??
Her mother smiled.
?A most unexpected
development. The position
became vacant and John
has much more experience
of polite society than the
local staff, though according
to my cousin it was more to
do with him taking a shine
to a local lass.
?John! Who?d have
thought it? There must
be some magic in the
Highland air, right
?I can vouch for that.?
?What did you say, dear??
To her chagrin, Jessica
realised she had spoken
?I said, John can vouch
for that.?
Her mother eyed her.
?I must say that you have
recovered remarkably well
from your ordeal. I know,?
she said, raising her hands
to pre-empt Jessica?s
protest, ?you are adamant
that your abductor was a
perfect gentleman and a
laird to boot, but there is
no avoiding the fact that
you were kidnapped and
held captive.
?Any well-bred young
lady would find such an
experience traumatic. Yet
you seem ? I don?t how to
put it ? different. Changed.
One might almost go so far
as to say invigorated.?
Her mother was no fool,
and knew her daughter
inside out, so Jessica was
mightily relieved when any
further awkward questions
were sidestepped by a
timely knock on the door
heralding the entrance of a
?Beg pardon, madam, the
master requires the
presence of Miss Jessica in
his study.?
* * * *
?Jessica, come in. I trust I
find you well this morning??
Her father sat behind a
large walnut desk, his
expression impassive.
?I am well, Papa,? she
said, making her curtsey.
?There has been a
significant development
with regard to your
marriage prospects.
?Following an interview
this morning, I am delighted
to confirm that I fully
endorse the proposal as
suitable and advantageous
for both you and the
Cunninghame family. I
strongly recommend it to
you. The young man awaits
your response in the
Her heart sank. So all her
attempts to put Mr Muir off
had been in vain.
Straightening her
shoulders, she braced
herself to meet her fate.
?Very well, Papa. I will go
and hear him out.?
The drawing-room was
large and decorated in the
latest style. Standing gazing
out of the tall French
windows at the end of the
room was a male figure.
As he turned round,
Jessica inhaled sharply.
?Conall! But what on
earth . . .??
?That?s not much of a
welcome. I thought you?d
be pleased to see me.?
Her heart began to
pound. She daren?t allow
herself to hope as he
crossed the room to join
?I don?t understand.?
He took her hand.
?Do you remember when
we parted on the beach??
?You said you will always
have a place in my heart.?
?Bioch 鄆s a-chaoidh
tamh a-staigh mo chr靌h.
You are here, Jess,? Conall
said, putting her hand over
his heart. ?Right here.?
?But you didn?t kiss me,?
she said foolishly. ?I thought
you would kiss me
?I couldn?t, because I
didn?t want to say goodbye,
Jess. Not ever. I realised
that after you left. Will you
marry me? Will you come
and live with me on
Scalpsay as my wife??
?Oh, Conall, nothing
would make me happier.
But it cannot be. For my
father . . .?
?. . . has been persuaded
by me that an alliance with
one of the most ancient and
noble clans in Scotland is
every bit as advantageous
as one with a Glasgow
merchant,? Conall said,
Jessica laughed.
?You appealed to his
?What does it matter,
provided he gives his
consent? So, what do you
say, my darling??
?I say yes, with all my
heart,? she replied, feeling
as if that very heart might
burst with happiness. ?Now
you will never have to kiss
me goodbye.?
?And I no longer need an
excuse to kiss you.?
He swept her into his
The End.
From the manse
by Rev. Susan Sarapuk
Y dog loves to curl up
in a manky old
dressing-gown. I leave
him to sleep in the kitchen
overnight and when I open
the door in the morning he?s
buried underneath the
There are now so many
holes in it that often he gets
stuck because he?s put his
head through one of them.
Sometimes he gets his head
stuck in the sleeve and all I
see is his nose sticking out.
When I try to extricate him
he growls a clear message.
?Get off! This is mine!
Leave me alone!?
I do. So, instead of being
free of what he?s trapped in,
he has to drag it around
hanging off his shoulders until
he disentangles himself. I only
want to help and make things
easier for him, but there?s no
way he?s going to let go of his
old dressing-gown.
It makes me think about
our attitude to God. It?s as if
we?re carrying around an old
dressing-gown because of our
sin. It tangles us up, it weighs
us down, it hinders us; yet we
cling to it because it?s ours, it?s
our comfort and we dread it
being taken away from us.
The Bible says, ?Let us
throw off everything that
hinders and the sin that so
easily entangles . . .?
God has given us this
wonderful world. He knows
the best way for us to live in it
is to be in a relationship with
him, yet he does not force
that on us. Right at the
beginning he gave us a
choice. Humankind rebelled.
?We think we know better.
Why should we listen to you??
We?ve lived with the
consequences ever since. We
naturally want to do things
our way. We shy away from
obedience to a divine Being.
That would cramp our style
and limit our choices, surely?
We don?t realise that this is
the very thing that will give us
freedom and joy.
So we tangle ourselves up
in knots, thinking that we can
sort it out for ourselves, and
instead we get into an even
worse mess than the one
we?re already in.
How sad to see the denial
and denigration of our
Christian foundations in
society today. I understand
that people are acting out of
the goodness of their hearts
and often from the highest of
motives, but the reality is that
every decision naturally leads
to a consequence which
demands another decision,
and ultimately we get so
entangled that we experience
the very opposite of the
freedom God wants to give
us. It?s obedience that brings
joy and freedom.
There was a period back in
the 80s when I was in a bleak
place. Fed up of waiting for
God to do something, I went
off to do my own thing,
fuelled by ambition and
dreams. I didn?t go to church
for over two years.
In the end all the dreams
came to nothing and I ended
up back where I?d started. But
God was speaking to me and
this time I said, ?Lord, come
and take this blanket away. I
need rescuing.? And he did.
Within a couple of years I was
training for the ordained
The wonderful thing is that
we can turn to God at any
moment, no matter how
tangled up we are, and he
responds. Maybe it?s time to
stop growling and clinging to
our old blankets and allow
God to set us free. n
Next week: Rev Andrew
Watson reminds us that
pride comes before a fall!
have very
specific care
Your pet
Pets & Vets
Five little-known facts
about reptiles
1 Geckos can detach and
regrow their tails.
2 Bearded Dragons cannot
sweat ? they keep cool by
opening their mouths.
3 Chameleons change colour
to communicate their mood,
not for camouflage.
4 Tortoises beat man to the
moon! In September 1968 an
unmanned (but tortoised)
space craft was launched by
the Soviets, Zond 5. It carried
two tortoises, insects and
plants, and returned home
5 Snakes and lizards use their
tongues to smell ? they pick
up scent particles in the
atmosphere which are then
transferred to the Jacobson
organ in the reptile?s mouth.
Find out more fascinating facts
Can you train
a house-rabbit
to use a litter tray?
It is possible to litter
train a rabbit but it?s
most effective in neutered
rabbits. You will need the
right litter tray, litter and
location ? this will be
where your rabbit wants it
to be rather than where
you would like it! A
veterinary nurse can advise
you on the process.
they can get through special
UV lights. Don?t just rely on
the UK sunshine to provide
their lighting requirements,
(www.tortoise-protectionas we know that this is very has a list of
approved breeders and also
?UV lighting helps the body
seeks new homes for pet
produce vitamin D3, which
tortoises who need to move
helps to metabolise calcium
on for whatever reason.
for their bones and shells.
Tortoises are highly
?Tortoises also need a
appealing, though they need
train your
basking lamp to help keep
a bit more than a patch of
them warm and a ceramic
lawn and the odd lettuce
heat emitter to help maintain
an ambient temperature on
?Reptiles have particular
the tortoise table.
care requirements, needing
?Diet is also important ? a
special housing, heating, UV
selection of plants and
lighting and a specific diet,?
calcium supplements should
Tamara Labelle at
be provided. Finally, you will
ExoticDirect, insurers of
need to let your tortoise get
exotic pets, explains. ?This
My dog snores
out and about.
replicates their natural
?However, you should
habitat, which is often a lot
more now
make sure they?re very
hotter than the UK!
secure to prevent escape.
?Tortoises, for example,
older. Is that a
Your garden should be
need to be housed on a
tortoise proofed, with a
tortoise table ? this is a table
sign of health
tortoise run provided.
with raised sides that keeps
?Tortoises make fantastic
them safe, enabling you to
pets and can live to well over
also provide the correct
It could be a sign of
heating and lighting for them. a hundred years of age.
health problems
?Imagine the tales they
?They need exposure to
including allergies, obesity,
could tell!?
plenty of UV lighting, which
growths blocking the airway
and even a collapsed
larynx. Breeds like pugs
and bulldogs are more
likely to snore, due to their
Most of us have a few first-aid
flattened faces. In all cases,
supplies for the family in the
you should get your dog
house, but now you can have a kit
checked by a vet.
for your pet, too. This little box
contains useful items for
everyday mishaps including
cleaning swabs, tweezers and a
tick remover, amongst other
PDSA is the UK?s leading
items. You can even personalise
veterinary charity. For further
it with a message of up to
information visit www.pdsa.
28 characters. Priced �, it?s or call 0800 731 2502.
available to order from
Tortoises and other friends
LTHOUGH cats and
dogs remain the
UK?s most popular
pets, the pet
population includes
many other much-loved
animals, birds and fish,
including over 700,000
Tortoises, in particular,
have long been a favourite
with children, though are less
common since the ban on
the sale of imported tortoises
came into force.
You can still buy homebred tortoises, however. The
Tortoise Protection Group
by PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman.
All at hand
The Clandestine
Cake Club
We celebrate National Cake Week with a chat
to the club?s founder, Lynn Hill.
Photographs courtesy of Lynn Hill.
EGULAR readers of
the ?Friend? will
know that we?re big
cake fans here in
the office, so when
National Cake Week comes
around (the first week in
October), it?s always an
occasion of note.
The week-long celebration
of all things sponge was the
invention of Lynn Hill,
enthusiastic amateur baker
and founder of the
Clandestine Cake Club,
which brings people
together through a shared
love of baking.
?It was the beginning of
the ?secret tea room?
movement in London that
started it all. I thought I
would like to do something
similar in Yorkshire ? in
Leeds ? and base it around
?The idea is to organise a
gathering that folk would
only get to know the
location of when they
booked a place.?
?I set up a little blog and
then a Twitter account and
then I thought, I will invite
people along. It was all new
then so we weren?t even
sure if we were allowed to
do it, though it was never
meant to be a business.
?I would invite people,
people would book and
when they arrived, they had
delicious home-made cakes
and home-made scones and
?After a month or two of
listening to all the
conversation around the
table, I thought, well, how
can I do something similar
and get people together
without me doing all the
?So I went on to social
media, on to Twitter, and I
said to my followers, ?If I
created a cake club, would
you come??
?And I got quite a pleasant
surprise from people saying,
?Oh, yes, I?d join, I?d join?!?
As the location was a
secret until you booked,
Lynn decided to call her
Cake Club ?Clandestine?.
?Slowly but surely, it grew
from there.
?I met up with Lea Harris,
who was one of the first
contestants on ?The Great
Filming a documentary in
Leeds with Nigel Slater.
Lynn with Prue Leith.
British Bake Off?. We did an
event in Edinburgh, which
was picked up by social
media. Then, before I knew
it, I was on ?The One Show?.
?Within six months there
was a Cambridge club and it
just took off.?
Lynn?s cake club emerged
just as the nation was
rediscovering the joy of
baking through TV?s ?Bake
Off? ? the timing was
perfect. Now there are
Clandestine Cake Clubs all
around the world, and Lynn
oversees all of them.
?I have about a hundred
and sixty ? the majority of
them are in the UK but we
do have quite a few
overseas. It?s very popular in
the USA. In fact, it?s almost
as big there as it is here.
?Often UK members move
overseas and either join one
or start one.?
It?s a great way to meet
friends of a like mind.
?We have almost twenty
thousand registered
members worldwide.?
Despite beginning around
the same time as the ?Bake
Off?, Lynn makes it clear
Lynn loves the
way the clubs
bring people
that the similarites are
limited ? most importantly,
there is nothing competitive
about the clubs.
?I don?t want people to
think the cake they are
baking isn?t good enough,
because it is. We are
non-competitive ? it?s more
of a social thing.
?We have different themes
to inspire people, but even
then people don?t have to
adhere to them. It?s just for
inspiration. Some people
will see it as a challenge
Cake Week
October 2-8,
The Milton Keynes club
and their ?Spring? cakes.
and other people won?t, so I
just say to people, just keep
baking your favourite cake.
It?s not a problem.?
But the one rule is that it
has to be a cake. No
traybakes or cupcakes
?However, once a year we
ditch the rules and you can
bake whatever you want,
just to get it out of your
system! Usually around
Despite its unmitigated
success, the CCC is still very
much Lynn?s project.
?It?s just me at the helm of
it. My son will publish the
write-ups and events. Each
club has organisers who
update the website with all
their event details and blog
posts, and my son and I give
it a once-over before
publishing it.
?The money to fund it
comes mainly from a couple
of cookbooks we?ve done.?
With clubs in so many
countries, you would hope
Lynn has a chance to tour
the network she?s created
? not so, as the homegrown operation is
financially dependent on her
book sales and her pension.
?I do often go to the one
in Leeds, though. I?ve been
to a couple in Spain and
Vienna, too.?
As a reward for all the
hard work she puts in, Lynn
is buoyed up by the positive
comments and messages
she received from members.
?It?s when people have
e-mailed me over the years
or sent me little greetings
cards to tell me what it
means to them to be
members. Folks have made
lifelong friendships.
?They move to the area,
don?t know anybody and
say, ?Thank heavens for the
Cake Club? because they
meet some really good
Despite the roaring
success, Lynn was never a
particularly avid baker
?I would bake and take
things in to work, though.?
Something we highly
?I look at it as being
team-building! It?s amazing
how baking can bring
people together, whether
you have a family gathering
or are at work. The word
?cake? is often mentioned at
some point in most
It certainly is in the
?Friend?! n
?It?s always the first full
week in October, and the
idea was that people
should just get together
with a cake and with
friends or family. Just as
simple as that.
?I looked around to see
what was going on, and I
just declared it ?National
Cake Week?, and now that
brands have become
aware of it, it?s taken on a
life of its own!
?You don?t need to write
about it or blog ? just
enjoy a cake with some
good company.?
Google reveals the UK?s
top five most searched
for cake recipes.
1 Chocolate cake
2 Victoria sponge
3 Carrot cake
4 Lemon cake
5 Banana bread
?The Clandestine Cake
Club: A Year of Cake? by
Lynn Hill, published by
Quercus, is available
online and in bookshops,
RRP �.
For More Information
Visit or search for them
on Facebook and Twitter. You can find out if there are
any groups near you, discover how to start your own
or pick up baking tips from the forum.
For Paper
Phones, tablets, computers
? all will bombard you with
distractions while you?re
trying to complete a task,
which is no good for your
concentration. Instead, do
any planning, brainstorming
or list-writing using paper
and pen, and you?re far
more likely to focus on the
job at hand.
Caffeine For Napping
Feeling tired mid-morning or mid-afternoon?
Don?t prop yourself up with caffeine or a sugary
drink ? give in to sleep wherever possible. Even
a short nap will improve alertness and boost
your immune system, and contains no
TOP Swaps
Try these simple lifestyle changes to keep mind and body in tip-top condition.
Hot Showers For
Warm Showers
You?ll warm
to this idea.
Hot water in the shower might
feel wonderful, but it has a
detrimental effect on your skin,
drying it out faster, as the hot
water removes more of your body?s
natural oils. Change to lukewarm
water (as tepid as you can
comfortably stand without getting
cold) to minimise this effect.
Lettuce For Watercress
Don?t just reach for the iceberg lettuce next
time you?re making a salad. Other greens pack a
far more significant punch when it comes to
nutrition. Whilst much fruit and veg is typically
rich in just a handful of nutrients, others contain
a full complement ? especially watercress, which
contains the most complete selection of
nutrients. Spinach isn?t far behind, either, and
both make for a tasty alternative to other leaves.
TV For Learning
Your brain is healthiest when it?s used, and
many brain-boosting activities have one thing in
common ? learning something new. Interestingly,
there?s also strong evidence that people who are
learning are happier than those who stick with
familiar activities. So consider taking a class,
learning a language, travelling somewhere new
just for your mood ? many psychologists
consider it a vital part of mental wellbeing.
Indoors For Outdoors
Walking is great exercise, and you might not be
surprised that it?s better to do it outside rather
than on a treadmill. But researchers have
recently discovered there are two
surprising benefits to walking outside
? firstly, you tend to push yourself
harder outside (participants in a trial
had a consistently higher heart rate),
thereby getting a better workout, and
secondly, it?s better for your mental
health. The same trial participants
described being less stressed, and
studies showed less brain activity
in the areas associated with
anxiety and depression.
Happy Anniversary!
Married in Westminster Abbey on 20 November
1947, the Queen and Prince Philip will celebrate
their platinum wedding anniversary later this year.
Royal Warrant holders, Ulster Weavers, have
created this commemorative tea towel in
celebration of this very special anniversary.
The design of this classic and beautiful tea towel
features the names of the royal couple, the
wedding date and has a beautiful metallic design
Made in the UK, from 100% cotton, the towel
measures approximately 19 x 29 inches
(48 x 74 cms).
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Would you
Got a question? Get in touch through e-mail or *write to
?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
My favourite actor is Gerard Butler. Can
you please tell me a bit about him?
Miss J.L., West Midlands.
Born in Paisley, the Scottish actor spent
some of his childhood in Quebec, before
returning to his home town. Butler, now
forty-seven, studied law at Glasgow University but
opted instead to follow the path of acting. His
long list of film roles include the romantic movie
?P.S. I Love You? in which he starred alongside Hilary Swank (pictured),
through to action films such as ?Olympus Has Fallen?.
I recently visited the Hat Works Museum
in Stockport. Is there a patron saint of hat
Miss J.S., Manchester.
Hats off to you for such an unusual question!
According to a spokesperson from the Hat
Works Museum, the story goes that felt makers
and hatters have St Clement as their patron saint
because, according to tradition, St Clement, forced
to flee from his native city, was worn out by constant
tramping and his feet were badly cut and blistered.
He sought a remedy by collecting bits of wool
clinging to the bushes and placing them in his
sandals. After a day?s journey he found that pressure
and warmth had united the wool into a firm
substance. When he reached Rome he perfected the
process and manufactured felt. St Catherine is the
patron saint of milliners.
As you?ll know from your visit, the museum has lots
of facts about the history of the hatting industry.
My friend says
Welsh rarebit used
to be known as
Welsh rabbit. Does that
mean the dish originally
contained rabbit?
Mrs T.M., Dorset.
Your friend is
correct that the
famous Welsh dish
was originally known as
Welsh rabbit ? despite
not containing a morsel
of meat! The recipe can
vary, but it?s basically a
cheese mixture melted
on toast, with many folk
using seasoning such as
mustard or Worcestershire
Something we didn?t know last week...
Spelling standards are definitely
slipping! A major supermarket
recently sent a batch of carrier
bags to its Isle of Wight store
which were emblazoned with the
name ?Isle of White?! And recent
research found that the five
words we all find most difficult
to spell are embarrassment,
fluorescent, accommodate,
psychiatrist and occasionally.
Bring back spelling bees!
*Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies.
is the potential value
of a mint-condition
�note with a serial
number starting
305 metres
is the height of Emley
Moor Transmitting
Station, the UK?s tallest
free-standing building.
600 million
people worldwide know
how to play chess ? but
will they all be playing
on World Chess Day on
October 9?
of Brits turn
to the online
experts at
Google when they need
advice about undertaking
household tasks such as
changing a lightbulb.
$68 million
is how much film star
Mark Wahlberg earned
in 2017, making him
the world?s highest-paid
1.4 billion
packets of crisps are
scoffed by Britain?s
children every year.
For The Pot
Our crochet tea cosy
will brighten up your
tea table.
1 50-gram ball of Sirdar DK yarn in
each shade. Suitable yarns include
Sirdar No. 1 in Wishbone (202) C, and
Rust (215) M; 5.00 (No. 6) and 4.00
(No. 8) crochet hooks, small pieces of
felt in green, black, pink and white, 1
button, small amount toy stuffing. To find
out more about Sirdar yarns telephone
01924 371501 or visit
Size: to fit average tea pot.
15 sts and 18 rows to 10 cm measured
over dc pattern using a 5.00 hook.
ch ? chain;
dc ? double crochet;
dc2tog ? [insert hook into next st, yoh
and draw yarn through] twice, yoh and
draw through 3 loops;
rep ? repeat;
ss ? slip stitch;
st(s) ? stitch(es);
tog ? together;
yoh ? yarn over hook.
Important Note
When writing to us with your queries,
you must enclose a stamped,
addressed envelope if you would
like a reply.
With 5.00 hook and M,
make 10 ch, ss to 1st ch to
form a ring.
Working the colour sequence
2 rows M, 2 rows C, work as
1st round (right side) ? 1 ch
(1 ch counts as 1 dc), 15 dc
into ring, ss to 1st ch ? 16 dc.
2nd round ?1 ch, ?2 dc into
next dc, 1 dc into next dc, rep
from ? to last dc, 2 dc into
last dc, ss to 1st ch ? 24 dc.
3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th and
12th rounds ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
each dc to end, ss to 1st ch.
4th round ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
base on which 1 ch stands,
?1 dc into each of next 2 dc,
2 dc into next dc, rep from ?
to last 2 dc, 1 dc into each of
next 2 dc, ss to 1st ch
? 32 dc.
6th round ?1 ch, 1 dc into
each of next 2 dc, ?2 dc into
next dc, 1 dc into each of next
3 dc, rep from ? to last dc,
2 dc into last dc, ss to 1st ch
? 40 dc.
8th round ?1 ch, 1 dc into
each of next 2 dc, ?2 dc into
next dc, 1 dc into each of next
3 dc, rep from ? to last dc,
2 dc into last dc, ss to 1st ch
? 50 dc.
10th round ?1 ch, 1 dc into
each of next 3 dc, ?2 dc into
next dc, 1 dc into each of next
4 dc, rep from ? to last dc,
2 dc into last dc, ss to 1st ch
? 60 dc.
13th round ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
each of next 2 dc, ?2 dc into
next dc, 1 dc into each of next
8 dc, rep from ? to last 3 dc,
2 dc into next dc, 1 dc into
each of next 2 dc, ss to 1st ch
? 67 dc.
Split for handle and spout
right side ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
each of next 34 dc, turn
? 35 dc.
Place a marker in last dc.
Rep last row until work
measures approximately
10 cm from marker or length
required for teapot, ending
after a wrong-side row. Fasten
With right side facing, rejoin
yarn into same dc as marker.
1st row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
each of next 33 dc, 1 dc into
same dc as last ch on straight
piece worked, turn ? 35 dc.
Rep last row until work
measures approximately 8 cm
from marker or length required
for teapot, ending after a
wrong-side row.
Make tab ? 7 ch, 1 dc into
3rd ch from hook, 1 dc into
each of next 4 ch, 1 dc into
each dc to end, turn ? 41 dc.
Next row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
each dc to end, turn.
Rep last row until work
measures approximately
10 cm from marker. Fasten off.
Muzzle ? With 4.00 hook and
C, make 4 ch.
1st row ? 1 dc into 3rd ch
from hook, 1 dc into last ch,
turn ? 3 dc.
2nd row ? 1 ch (1 ch counts
as 1 dc), 1 dc into base on
which 1 ch stands, 1 dc into
next dc, 2 dc into last dc, turn
? 5 dc.
3rd row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
base on which 1 ch stands,
1 dc into each of next 3 dc,
2 dc into last dc, turn ? 7 dc.
4th row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
each dc to end, turn.
5th row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
base on which 1 ch stands,
1 dc into each dc to last dc,
2 dc into last dc, turn ? 9 dc.
Rep 4th and 5th rows twice
more ? 13 dc.
Next row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
base on which 1 ch stands,
1 dc into each dc to last dc,
2 dc into last dc, turn ? 15 dc.
Rep last row twice more
? 19 dc.
Place markers at ends of row.
??Next row ? Ss over next
dc, 1 ch, 1 dc into each of next
6 dc, ss to next st, turn ? 7 dc.
Next row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
next 6 dc, turn.
Next row ? Ss over next dc,
1 ch, 1 dc into each of next
4 dc, ss over next st, turn
? 5 dc.
Next row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
next 4 dc, turn.
Next row ? Ss over next dc,
1 ch, 1 dc into each of next
2 dc, ss over next st, turn
? 3 dc.
Next row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
next 2 dc ??.
Work 9 dc along shaped edge
to marker. Fasten off.
With wrong side facing, rejoin
yarn to other side and work
from ?? to ??.
Work 9 dc along shaped edge
to marker. Fasten off.
Ears ? Outer edge (make 2)
? With 4.00 hook and M,
make 7 ch.
1st row ? 1 dc into 3rd ch
from hook, 1 dc into each ch
to end, turn ? 6 dc.
2nd row ? 1 ch (1 ch counts
as 1 dc), 1 dc into each dc to
end, turn.
3rd row ? 1 ch, 1 dc into
base on which 1 ch stands,
1 dc into each dc to last dc,
2 dc into last dc, turn ? 8 dc.
4th row ? As 3rd row
? 10 dc.
5th, 6th & 7th rows ? As
2nd row.
8th row ? 1 ch, dc2tog, 1 dc
Don?t Forget The Love Darg
There?s still time to help us to
help Cats Protection by knitting
a play mouse or knitting or
crocheting a square comforter.
These will be used for the
comfort and entertainment of
cats and kittens in their care or
sold to raise funds.
If you missed our patterns first
time round, you can download
from www.thepeoplesfriend. or we can
send out copies if you write to
us enclosing an SAE. Send your
request to Love Darg Patterns,
The People?s Friend, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 1DD.
Mark your envelope Mouse, Squares or Both.
If you would like to donate money to help with the
work of Cats Protection, you can send a cheque to Cats
Protection, Love Darg Campaign, National Cat Centre,
Chelwood Gate, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH17
7TT. Please make the cheque payable to Cats Protection
and write ?The People?s Friend? on the back. Alternatively,
visit ?The People?s Friend? website to find our how you
can make an online donation. Please do not send cash.
If you prefer to make a donation over the phone, you
can call 0800 917 2287 (office hours, Monday to Friday)
and quote ?The People?s Friend Love Darg Campaign?.
into each of next 4 dc, dc2tog,
1 dc into last dc, turn ? 8 dc.
9th and every alt row ? As
2nd row.
10th row ?1 ch, dc2tog, 1 dc
into each of next 2 dc, dc2tog,
1 dc into last dc, turn ? 6 dc.
12th row ? 1 ch, [dc2tog]
twice, 1 dc into last dc, turn
? 4 dc.
14th row ? 1 ch, dc2tog, 1 dc
into last dc. Fasten off.
Inner edge (make 2) ? With
4.00 hook and C, work as
given for the outer edge
omitting the 7th row.
Tail ? With 4.00 hook and M,
make 15 ch, ss to 1st ch to
form a ring.
1st round ? 1 ch, 17 dc into
ring, ss to 1st ch ? 18 dc.
Work 1 dc into each dc
working in rounds until tail
measures approximately 9 cm.
Next round ? [Dc2tog, 1 dc
into each of next 4 dc] 3 times
? 15 dc.
Work straight until tail is
approximately 12 cm.
With C, work 2 rounds straight.
Next round ? With M, work
15 dc.
Next round ? [Dc2tog, 1 dc
into each of next 3 dc] 3 times
? 12 dc.
Work 2 rounds each in C and
then M.
Next round ? With C,
[Dc2tog, 1 dc into each of next
2 dc] 3 times ? 9 dc.
Work 1 round then work
2 rounds in M.
Next round ? With C,
[Dc2tog, 1 dc into next dc] 3
times ? 6 dc.
Work 2 rounds. Break off yarn,
pull through sts and gather.
Fasten off.
To Make Up ? Sew shaped
side seams of tea cosy down
to gap required for the handle/
spout, leaving seam open
below handle for fastening tab.
Using photograph as a guide,
sew muzzle in place stuffing
lightly for cheeks. Stuff tail
and sew to back of tea cosy
starting at centre back. Join
inner and outer ears and sew
in position. Make felt eyes and
nose and sew in position.
Embroider nose features and
whiskers using M and straight
stitch. Make a button loop on
tab, sew on button to
correspond. n
Next week: knit a
gent?s cosy ribbed
Fiona with her
herd of alpacas.
Photographs courtesy of Fiona Wallace.
IFE at my croft,
Longmuir, has never
been boring! It all
started in June, 17 years
ago at the annual
four-day Royal Highland
Show near Edinburgh, when I
was captivated by the stand
showing alpacas owned by
Pat Bentley of Syke House in
Despite never having met
alpacas before, it would be
true to say that I fell in love
with them.
I remember rushing back
to my husband and, in my
excitement, asking him, ?Can
I buy an alpaca??
?Yes,? he said, and handed
over his cheque book.
The following day I asked
Teddy bears made
with alpaca wool.
him if I could buy another
?Yes,? came the reply.
On the last day of the
show, my husband decided
to visit the alpaca stand to
collect what he assumed
were two alpaca jumpers.
Without a word, Bill
Bentley pointed to the pen,
showing him two very much
alive woolly jumpers. If the
key to keeping your marriage
alive is being able to surprise
your husband, then that was
the equivalent of a 2000 volt
I had no field at that time,
nowhere for my new
acquisitions to live, so my
alpacas returned to Cumbria.
Two months later, in August,
I bought another two alpacas
in Sussex.
The arrival of
foot and mouth
in 2001 meant
no animal
and I did not
set eyes on my
alpacas for 18
In the early
years, once I
Fred, the
had some fields for the
alpacas to settle into, they
were something of a novelty
for passers-by, who seemed
to doubt what they were
seeing. What were they
looking at? Could they trust
their eyes?
Once, a police car was
passing the field, or so I
thought, until a screech of
brakes brought their car to an
abrupt halt.
Out jumped two
policemen, who rushed over
to the fence and remarked,
?We thought we had seen
everything in West Lothian!?
I simply said the alpacas
would probably be thinking
the same about them!
Next to arrive at our croft
were sheep ? I wanted to
learn about husbandry. It was
a rapid learning curve for me
at lambing time. I nearly
learned all about divorce
instead . . .
The llamas, Freddie and
Bruce, were next to join us.
They proved to be marvellous
flock guardians, keeping
foxes and uncontrolled dogs
away from the lambs in
spring. In fact, I?d go as far as
to say they looked after the
alpacas, too.
I decided to write a
children?s book. It was meant
Fiona Wallace
shares her
experiences of
owning these
lovely animals.
to be fun, but educational as
well ? not many of the
children who visited the croft
knew about alpacas.
?Alpaca Magic? was
launched at the end of
November 2005, and the
?Friend? gave it a spot the
following year in the
A newspaper headline in
2008 read, Welcome to Wild
West Lothian as rustlers steal
alpacas. Our herd had
vanished from our fields at
Longmuir Croft. Police
suspected thieves had used a
truck to whisk them away.
During this difficult time,
everyone was kind. They did
not hesitate to spring into
action and help us look.
In the evening one day, my
husband went out searching
the braes nearby for the
missing herd, when I saw a
head bobbing in the distance.
I walked the distance in
between and was astonished
to see all my animals. They
were in a nearby gully grazing
quite happily! The farmer
who owned the field was as
stunned as we were.
All the good folk who had
helped stopped traffic on the
roads to escort the herd
home safely on foot. I will
always be grateful for the
support I had on that day.
For a while I was struggling
with what to do with all their
shorn fleeces, until I saw an
ad in an alpaca magazine
offering to turn them into
teddy bears.
So we did, and sold the
beautiful resulting bears as
collectibles ? at least until the
alpacas turned grey and we
couldn?t do it any more.
Owning alpacas and llamas
changed my life completely.
Alpacas are the least
expensive livestock to keep
and they give so much for so
Now, in my seventy-fifth
year, I have only a few
remaining, but I hope to
outlive them all so I can
continue to provide the love
and care they so deserve! n
No matter
what everyone
thought, I was
content with
my life . . .
As I
Illustration by Martin Baines.
?D gone from an empty
diary, where my sole
purpose was to be there
for Barry, to one so full
my friends complained I
was never in. And all in
under two years.
Some things I?d chosen to
do, like the local health
walks. Others I?d drifted
into. One of these was
joining the slimming group.
I didn?t really need to lose
much weight but I wanted
to encourage Heather, my
She was very grateful and
kept teasing me that she?d
find me a Hot Date in
return. I didn?t take her
seriously and always
laughed, because the last
thing I wanted was a date.
Things snowball. The
leader of the slimming
group, Belinda, was busy
setting up a new website
and wanted to show off
what an enthusiastic group
we were.
?I want pictures of you
walking and running, even if
it?s only up a few stairs.?
She was always so
positive that I wanted to
help, so I told her about the
health walks I do.
?I?ll get them to take a
photo of me on Monday
and I?ll send it to you,? I
Her face lit up, but she
didn?t stop there.
?I?ve got the keys to the
tennis courts on Friday
morning. Who?s coming??
Everyone studied their
?Oh, come on. All you
have to do is hit a few balls
or even just hold a racquet
so I can take a few
Still no-one raised an
arm, so I ended up
volunteering for that, too.
?I can?t stay too long,? I
told her.
* * * *
I hadn?t held a tennis
racquet since school. The
first shot I actually hit flew
up into the air and over the
fence into the field.
Fortunately there was a
man walking his spaniel. He
lobbed it back with a
cheery smile.
Unfortunately my next
attempt not only went over
the fence, but the ball also
hit the man on the
shoulder. Then the spaniel
ran off with the ball.
?Don?t worry,? Belinda
said. ?I?ve got a few
photos. If you get the ball
back, bring it to the next
session. Thanks for being so
supportive. I know
Heather?s grateful.?
With that she locked up
and I went over to
apologise to the dog
?I?m really sorry about
your shoulder.?
?No problem.? He smiled
again. He had big sorrowful
eyes, much like his spaniel.
?I?m afraid Sasha has
rather taken to your tennis
ball. I usually just throw her
sticks, so this is a real
?Keep it,? I told him and
kneeled down to make a
fuss of Sasha. ?The least I
can do is buy some new
ones for Belinda. She tries
so hard to make us more
?Thanks. Sasha will be
your friend for life. I?m
I stood up. I guessed he
was about my age and
probably retired, too.
?Sue,? I said and held out
my hand. It seemed a bit
formal in the middle of the
park but he shook my hand
?I haven?t noticed you
playing tennis before.?
?Probably my last time!?
I laughed. ?It was just for a
photo shoot for Belinda?s
slimming website.?
?You don?t look as
though you need to slim,
but I?ve found walking
keeps me trim.?
He bent down and
scratched Sasha?s ears. She
looked up adoringly.
?I often do the health
walks,? I told him. ?But I
haven?t got a dog to make
sure I exercise on a daily
?Well you?re welcome to
walk with us any time, isn?t
she, Sasha??
He smiled again and this
time I thought that perhaps
his eyes were kind rather
than sorrowful.
?Sue!? Heather shouted
from the car park, waving
her arms.
I waved back, but wanted
to continue my
conversation with Will.
Heather made her way
towards us. To my
embarrassment, she totally
ignored Will and made an
?I?ve got you a date!?
My mind went blank. I
thought of the dried fruits
you get at Christmas and
was puzzled.
?A friend of a friend
mentioned him. He?s a
widower and very nice.?
I experienced one of
those horrible moments
when I wanted the ground
to open and swallow me
?I thought you were
joking, Heather,? I
managed to say. ?I don?t
need a man. I?m happy just
the way I am.?
No sooner had I uttered
those words than I became
aware of Sasha by my feet.
a business lunch.
?I always go into the town
centre on a Thursday
morning,? David said as the
evening was drawing to a
close. ?If you?re around,
perhaps you?d care to join
me for lunch??
As it happened, I was
going to town the following
week. I had an optician?s
appointment on Thursday
morning and I?d enjoyed his
company tonight, so I
agreed to go to lunch and
My friend didn?t realise I was quite
happy as I was
She spat out the tennis ball
and rushed off.
To my dismay Will
followed without a
backward glance.
It wasn?t Heather?s fault.
She was happily married
and only wanted the same
for me.
* * * *
?Just come and meet
him,? Heather said at the
next weigh-in. She was
feeling rightly proud of
herself for losing a few
more pounds.
?What exactly have you
told him??
?Nothing at all yet. But
we?re having a small
get-together at the
weekend and I?d like you to
?I?m not sure that?s a
good idea.?
?Please,? Heather
begged. ?If only to make
sure I eat carrots instead of
After much arm-twisting I
gave in. I knew it would do
me good to get out on
Saturday night.
Besides, there wasn?t
much on the TV.
* * * *
David was tall and a little
awkward. He?d been
widowed for many years
and admitted being set in
his ways.
?It?s easy to get like that
when you live on your
own,? I told him.
We spent most of the
evening chatting about the
books we?d read and how
the area had changed over
the years. He?d even met
Barry once, it transpired, at
we arranged a time and
Heather was thrilled and
kept dropping David?s
name into the conversation.
I soon wished I?d never
mentioned our plans.
Belinda gaily handed out
awards at the slimming
group. Both Heather and I
had lost weight.
I?d reached my goal and
did feel better for shedding
a few pounds.
?You?re welcome to keep
coming so you don?t put it
all back on,? Belinda told
I enjoyed the class. There
was always a lot of friendly
banter and much laughter.
Besides, I?d promised to be
there for Heather and she
was doing so well.
I was delighted I didn?t
need new spectacles when I
visited the optician and I
realised I was looking
forward to a nice lunch with
good company.
Once again David and I
found much to talk about.
He?d been a pharmacist
and I?d been a nurse so we
moaned about the NHS and
sang its praises just as
Having put the world to
rights, we ordered coffee. I
couldn?t help noticing David
stirring his Americano for at
least a minute without
adding any sugar.
?I?m not looking for a
wife,? he said at last.
I didn?t know how to
?Having said that,? he
continued, ?I have enjoyed
your company, and if you
ever want to share the
occasional meal, that?s fine
by me, but I?d rather if we
didn?t make a habit of it.?
?That would be great,? I
told him. ?I think Heather?s
been keen to do some
matchmaking but I?m
happy just as I am.?
?Are you??
?Of course I am,? I
replied, perhaps a bit
sharply. ?Sorry, I didn?t
mean to snap, but I don?t
mind my own company at
all. Of course I miss Barry,
but I manage to keep
myself busy. I?ve got lots of
friends and several
?And that makes you a
very interesting person to
talk to,? David told me as
he finished his coffee. ?But,
forgive me for saying, I?m
not convinced you are as
content as you?d have the
world think.?
?I?m fine, honestly.?
The man had only known
me for five minutes; how
could he know how I felt?
* * * *
Despite my reaction,
David?s words stayed in my
head. Was I happy?
I made sure I was too
occupied to give myself
time to question.
It felt good when I could
help a friend by giving her a
lift to the hospital and to
visit another neighbour who
was post-op.
By the end of the week I
concluded that yes, I was
happy. It felt good to be
able to help others and to
know I was surrounded by
friends who could lend me a
hand if and when I needed
about what went on in my
life, and what right did he
have to give me all these
Yet, as I sat flicking
through the channels on the
TV on Saturday night,
wondering if I could find
anything I wanted to watch,
I was filled with a sense of
loss. In the past Barry and I
had enjoyed a simple game
of cards or Scrabble.
I did miss having
someone around to chat to
without having to make an
appointment with a friend
for coffee.
Once or twice I bumped
into Will and Sasha. Sasha
always greeted me like an
old friend, especially when I
brought her a new tennis
Will was more reserved,
but today he waved a bag
at me and asked if I wanted
to come and feed the
?I haven?t done this since
I was a child.? I smiled,
watching them squabble.
?I come up here quite
often. My wife loved the
We looked over to the
bank. There was a solitary
white swan with two rather
large cygnets which looked
about old enough to be
leaving the nest soon.
?She?s a single mum,?
Will explained, nodding his
head in the direction of the
?I thought swans mated
for life. Is that a myth??
?No, it?s true. She lost
her mate about the same
time as I did.?
?And soon she?s going to
lose her young,? I added, a
What made this man say that I
wasn?t content?
I realised I was lucky to
live in my small community
where we all looked out for
each other. I enjoyed the
fact that I couldn?t go out
without bumping into
someone I knew.
More often than not we?d
have a little chat and I?d be
left with a sense of
belonging. I was content
with my lot.
I would tell David that he
was wrong the next time I
saw him. What did he know
little melancholy.
?I dare say she?ll have
more next year. Swans do
mate for life, but if one dies
they often find a new
partner, just like us
humans. It?s a little-known
fact, but true.?
?I didn?t know that,? I
told him. ?Perhaps there?s
hope for us all.?
Will turned and smiled at
me. I noticed that today his
lovely spaniel eyes were
twinkling. n
Enter the answers in the direction indicated by the arrows.
Prime __,
that burns
Assist, help
territory such
as Abu Dhabi
Particles of
sugar, eg
Ruler in
place of a
as draught?
High or
low card
Ruin, spoil
Lying with
your face
Floor mat
Thin slice
of fried
root of a
Most timid
Beginning with the highlighted letter, follow a continuous
path to find all the words relating to the beach. The trail passes
through each and every letter once, and may twist up, down or
sideways, but never diagonally.
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd
The Ship is
the venue for a
very special
birthday . . .
OW many leek
and potato pies
have you brought,
Mary?? Big Jim
shouted through
to the back room of the
Mary was busy folding
napkins for Ruby?s surprise
birthday party that evening.
?Five!? she yelled back.
Jim crossed Pies off his
?Five?? he said as he
walked through to the back
room to help her.
Buster, the pub dog,
looked up at him, startled
by his master?s cry.
?Five?? he repeated.
?We?ll never get through
five pies! Not with all the
other food we?ve ordered.?
?I had to do something
with the leeks,? Mary told
him. ?George wouldn?t have
anything to do with them
after he?d nurtured them
and grown them from seed.
He was that disappointed
he didn?t win the show.
?I wasn?t going to waste
them, so I baked them all in
pies last night.?
Jim tutted.
?I did hear that Bob had
won Best In Show with his
prize leeks, but I never had
George down as such a bad
loser,? he said.
?It?s show leeks we?re
talking about, Jim.
Everything rides on who
wins and who loses. You
know what they?re like
around here with their
Jim nodded.
?That?s true.? He laughed.
?Well, there?s always next
?I?ve got Sam and young
Claire coming in to work the
bar tonight so I?ll be able to
join in Ruby?s party. You?re
sure she knows nothing
about the surprise you?ve
got planned??
Mary shook her head.
?Nothing. She thinks she?s
going out for dinner at the
Old Engine Room with
Beryl and Pearl. They?re up
from London.?
?Well, I hope she?s not too
disappointed when she
finds out she?s having a
buffet in her old back-street
boozer instead of a posh
meal out with her aunties,?
Jim said, a little concerned.
Mary laughed.
?We?ve known Ruby for a
long time, and we both
know she?d like a knees-up
and a disco better than
anything else, especially on
such a milestone birthday.?
?She looks good for her
age, I?ll give her that,? Jim
said, checking his list again.
Just then, a young
woman entered backwards
through the door of the
pub, pulling a pushchair.
?Claire?s arrived,? Jim
said. ?I?ll pop out to the
wholesalers for the rest of
the buffet food and I?ll see
you when we open later.?
Once Mary had laid the
pies on one of the tables in
the back room of the pub,
she made a beeline for
Claire and her pushchair.
?And how?s Brady doing??
she said, gently pinching
the little boy?s cheeks and
making him giggle.
Claire lifted Brady out of
his pushchair and held him
in her arms, balancing him
on her hip.
?Say hello to Mary,
Brady,? she said.
?Ree!? Brady cried,
laughing. ?Ree!?
Mary held out a hand and
Brady grabbed hold of her
?How?s your Susan
doing?? Claire asked.
?Oh, she?s blooming,?
Mary replied. ?The baby?s
due next March. It?ll be our
first grandchild.?
Excited to greet the new
visitors to the pub, Buster
waddled over to see what
was going on. After a bit of
tail wagging, he lay down
next to one of the wheels of
Brady?s pushchair, gave a
big sigh and fell fast asleep.
?He always does that, you
know,? Claire told Mary.
?Every time the pushchair is
in the pub, that daft dog
comes and sits right next to
it. He won?t let Brady out of
his sight.
?The other week, a
woman came in,? she
continued. ?I?d never seen
her before ??
?Not one of the locals??
Mary interrupted.
?No. I didn?t know who
she was. Anyway, she was
at the bar and she knew my
mum and dad, who were
looking after Brady for me
while I was working.
?When this woman got
near the pushchair, Buster
stood up and growled, like
he was protecting Brady.?
?That?s odd,? Mary
agreed. ?We don?t usually
hear Buster growl at
anything. He?s as soft as
muck, that one.?
The two women looked at
the sleeping dog on the
floor and, as they did so,
Buster opened one eye.
He looked from Mary to
Claire, then to Brady as if
to check he was all right,
before he closed his eye
and went back to sleep.
* * * *
Later that evening, the
Ship was full to bursting.
Mary received a text from
Beryl to say they were on
their way. The buffet was
ready and waiting in the
back room. A big banner
announcing Ruby?s birthday
hung above the bar.
Everyone knew what they
had to do as soon as Ruby
The plan was for Sam to
pop a bottle of champagne.
Then, to get the party
started after hugs and
cards and presents, Ruby?s
favourite Tom Jones song
would blast out from
behind the bar.
When the door of the pub
finally opened and Ruby?s
aunts walked in, everyone
shouted together.
But it soon became clear
that while Beryl and Pearl
had made their way to the
pub, Ruby wasn?t with them.
?Where is she?? Mary
Beryl took her to one
?Mary,? she said, ?I?m
afraid Pearl and I have
something to tell you.?
More next week
Fund-raising Fun
Career Ladder
At the tender age of just two, my great-grandson Billy already
knows that he wants to be a fireman when he grows up!
Mrs C.G., Gloucestershire.
The article on Stirling and the
Wallace Monument reminded
me of when I visited some 25
years ago and popped into a
shopping centre where a
fund-raising embroidery was on
show and participants could sit
and stitch in return for a
I believe the panel was for a
nearby home and I very much
enjoyed taking part.
Your article took my mind
back to that day and I often
wonder how the finished article
Ms V.L., Kent.
Write to us at Between Friends, ?The People?s Friend?,
2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ, or e-mail us at
Star Letter
I read recently about the
difference a simple smile
can make. It can just make
the world seem like a
friendlier place.
I thought other readers
might be amused to see this
photograph of a wallhanging which my cousin
stitched and gave to me.
It now has pride of place
in my house with the
welcoming words ?A smile
is a curve that can set
things straight?, and never a truer word has been said.
I must admit that it makes me smile every time I pass it.
Mrs M.R., Lancashire.
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.
Graduation Day
This is Abbie Robertson,
taken at her graduation with
her two grannies, Grandma
Kelly (in the black and white
dress) and myself, Grandma
Robertson, in lilac.
It was such a lovely day and
Abbie has also managed to
secure a job in Dublin ? we?re
all so proud of her.
Mrs B.R., Aberdeenshire.
Fancy Footwork
Now that ?Strictly Come
Dancing? is back on the TV, I
thought readers would enjoy
seeing this photo of my
daughter-in-law Sian and the
family pet Harry the Pointer
doing a spot of dancing
Mr G.L., Cheshire.
The lucky winner of our
robot vacuum cleaner is Katie
Brown of Nottinghamshire.
Congratulations also to Lynn
Armer of Hertfordshire, the
winner of our August
bookshelf competition.
Aunt?s War Work
from page 27
Word Ladder
One answer is:
Tone, Tore, Torn,
Morn, Mown,
Town, Down.
Long-standing Friend
I don?t know if this is a record or not, but my penfriend Vina,
who lives in Scotland, and myself ? I live in Wisconsin ? have
been penpals for almost 70 years.
Vina?s Girl Guide group wrote to my Camp Fire group and
since then we?ve exchanged letters, cards, tapes and now
The early images show us when we were just twelve years old
and the other one was taken in Scotland in 2003, when I last
For my eightieth birthday Vina gave me a subscription to ?The
People?s Friend? magazine. It was such a thoughtful thing to do
and it helps me feel close to Scotland, with all the stories and
articles. I look forward to reading it every week.
Ms M.S., USA.
Each Day
A poem
just for
We can?t solve our
All in one go,
Something that?s
tested and proven;
And so,
Take some comfort
from this ?
A point you might
Give a smile ? raise
two thumbs ?
Take each day as it
Dawn Lawrence.
When I was aged twelve and
living in Kent, I started a
penfriendship with a French
girl, Annie, who was living in
Our friendship blossomed
through the letter-writing and
she would join me each Easter
for a holiday in England and I
would go to her in the summer
to travel with her family around
We subsequently both
married and had children, but
still managed to meet regularly,
and our daughters (now in
their fifties) carried on a similar
friendship, exchanging holidays
and letters. In fact, Annie?s
daughter is to visit me and my
daughter soon.
This picture of me and Annie
was taken last year in Paris,
and we?re now almost eighty.
While this may not be a record,
it is a friendship of nearly 70
years which I greatly value.
Mrs S.N., Spain.
Some time ago you printed
an article about the bridge on
the Thames built by women
during the war.
My uncle?s sister was bombed
out in Birkenhead and came to
live in Clydebank, near her
brother. Being single and of age
for war work, she was assigned
to John Brown?s Shipyard.
Each morning she clocked in
and made her way to the fitting
out basin and climbed up to the
Titan ? the tallest crane on the
Clyde. From her vantage point
she had a panoramic view of
both sides of the river.
My aunt was just one of the
unsung heroines of the war and
the crane is now a tourist
Ms S.B., Montrose.
Rash Decision
I was interested to read your
article on T.G. Green & Co Ltd?s
When I married in 1961 I?d
collected lots of the iconic
blue-striped design and received
further pieces as wedding
However, by the 1970s I?d
tired of it, and to my everlasting
regret it was bundled up and
carted off to a charity shop. Of
course it wasn?t collectable then.
I wonder, fifty years later, if
any of it still exists. Someone
might have bought it and given
it a loving home ? I just wish it
was me!
Mrs J.F., Lancashire.
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chairs set on
either side of the marble
fireplace, embroidering the
borders of lace
handkerchiefs in
companionable silence.
Jessica had come to enjoy
these precious private times
with her mama. Times that
would be denied her all too
soon. Mr Alasdair Muir, her
father?s selected suitor for
her hand, was very
Since her dramatic return
from the Highlands two
months ago, he had been
doggedly attentive.
He was also blissfully
unaware of the
circumstances surrounding
her escapade.
Her father, having
satisfied himself that no
impropriety or reputational
damage had taken place,
had decided to draw a veil
over the entire affair.
?You are my only
daughter and I care deeply
for you. I also trust you
implicitly, so if you tell me
that Laird Macleod acted
with the utmost decorum
then I will believe you.
?He certainly returned
you to us without so much
as a scratch on you, for
which I am eternally
?I made enquiries,? he
had added with a tight
smile. ?You will be pleased
to hear the charges against
him have been dropped by
the powers that be.?
Tempted though she was
to ask her father to tell her
more, Jessica was forced to
keep her curiosity to
herself, for fear of betraying
her feelings.
?How did your stroll in
the park with Mr Muir go,
dear?? Her mother?s
hopeful question
interrupted Jessica?s
musings. ?If the number of
his visits is anything to go
by, he is quite smitten.
?Your father has hopes
that matters may soon
progress to a new stage, if
you take my meaning??
Jessica sighed.
?Only too well, Mama.?
?I have to confess to
being as perplexed as he is
by your lack of enthusiasm.
Any young lady in Glasgow
society would leap at the
chance to become Mrs
Muir, yet you remain
indifferent. May I ask why
he is so unpalatable to
?Because he is not
Conall!? Jessica said silently
before banishing it from her
Her future was laid out in
front of her and it was her
duty to embrace it, as she?d
promised herself she would.
To do otherwise would be
both churlish and futile.
She attempted a
?Have you corresponded
with your cousin, the
Duchess of Argyll, recently?
What news of John? Is he
enjoying his new position as
the Duke?s butler??
Her mother smiled.
?A most unexpected
development. The position
became vacant and John
has much more experience
of polite society than the
local staff, though according
to my cousin it was more to
do with him taking a shine
to a local lass.
?John! Who?d have
thought it? There must
be some magic in the
Highland air, right
?I can vouch for that.?
?What did you say, dear??
To her chagrin, Jessica
realised she had spoken
?I said, John can vouch
for that.?
Her mother eyed her.
?I must say that you have
recovered remarkably well
from your ordeal. I know,?
she said, raising her hands
to pre-empt Jessica?s
protest, ?you are adamant
that your abductor was a
perfect gentleman and a
laird to boot, but there is
no avoiding the fact that
you were kidnapped and
held captive.
?Any well-bred young
lady would find such an
experience traumatic. Yet
you seem ? I don?t how to
put it ? different. Changed.
One might almost go so far
as to say invigorated.?
Her mother was no fool,
and knew her daughter
inside out, so Jessica was
mightily relieved when any
further awkward questions
were sidestepped by a
timely knock on the door
heralding the entrance of a
?Beg pardon, madam, the
master requires the
presence of Miss Jessica in
his study.?
* * * *
?Jessica, come in. I trust I
find you well this morning??
Her father sat behind a
large walnut desk, his
expression impassive.
?I am well, Papa,? she
said, making her curtsey.
?There has been a
significant development
with regard to your
marriage prospects.
?Following an interview
this morning, I am delighted
to confirm that I fully
endorse the proposal as
suitable and advantageous
for both you and the
Cunninghame family. I
strongly recommend it to
you. The young man awaits
your response in the
Her heart sank. So all her
attempts to put Mr Muir off
had been in vain.
Straightening her
shoulders, she braced
herself to meet her fate.
?Very well, Papa. I will go
and hear him out.?
The drawing-room was
large and decorated in the
latest style. Standing gazing
out of the tall French
windows at the end of the
room was a male figure.
As he turned round,
Jessica inhaled sharply.
?Conall! But what on
earth . . .??
?That?s not much of a
welcome. I thought you?d
be pleased to see me.?
Her heart began to
pound. She daren?t allow
herself to hope as he
crossed the room to join
?I don?t understand.?
He took her hand.
?Do you remember when
we parted on the beach??
?You said you will always
have a place in my heart.?
?Bioch 鄆s a-chaoidh
tamh a-staigh mo chr靌h.
You are here, Jess,? Conall
said, putting her hand over
his heart. ?Right here.?
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