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The People’s Friend Special - Issue 150 2017

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Crochet your own
Harold the Hound
People?s
No.150 �99
2017
Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated.
14 FEEL-GOOD SHORT STORIES
8
PAGES OF
Nature
Celebrate
the wonder
of woodlands
PUZZLES
UK Off-sale date - 03/01/2018
AU $8.95, NZ $9.80
9771479046196
Actor Timothy
Bentinck on
35 years in
?The Archers?
Top tips for happy
home-alone pets
#150
Real Life
�99
50
Heritage
Take a rail
journey along
Scotland?s
Jacobite Trail
Explore the stunning
city of Georgia
Slow-cooked recipes
packed with flavour
3
Dear Readers . . .
OUR new Special is filled with heartwarming reading to keep you
entertained when the weather turns wintry! Our mini mag this time
is eight pages of puzzles and brainteasers, and we also have
14 brand-new stories from favourite authors including Rebecca
Holmes, Glenda Young and Della Galton. Ann Hilton takes an
unusual view of Christmas celebrations in her entertaining ?A
Seasonal Review?, and Annie Harris has chosen 1800s Australia as
the setting for ?The Far Side Of The Mountains?.
Our recipes feature dishes that are quick to prepare and slow to
cook, meaning they?re full of flavour, and we have a cute crochet dog for you to make.
Gilly Pickup explores the historic city of Tbilisi, Wendy Glass lets the train take the strain
on a tour of Scotland?s Jacobite Trail, and Jarlath McHale shares his experiences of being
a porter on Peru?s Inca Trail. Susie Kearley discovers the art of walking mindfully, and
actor Timothy Bentinck chats about 35 years of being the voice of David Archer in the
popular radio drama.
If you like
this Special
then you?ll
love our
weekly mag
and our
fortnightly
Pocket
Novels...
Angela Gilchrist, Editor.
What?s Inside
On Sale
Every
Wednesday
Fiction
Regulars
Features
4 Strangers On The Shore
by Rebecca Holmes
11 Up In The Air
by Glenda Young
16 SERIES The Vintage
Girls by Della Galton
21 Winter Wonderland
by Louise McIvor
24 DEBUT AUTHOR Forget
Me Not by Nikola Scott
30 A Gift From Above
by Rebecca Mansell
33 Angel Wings
by H. Johnson-Mack
43 The Far Side Of The
Mountains
by Annie Harris
48 A Christmas Conundrum
by Val Bonsall
57 Car Trouble
by Andrea Wotherspoon
59 It?s An Ill Wind . . .
by H. Johnson-Mack
62 A Seasonal Review
by Ann Hilton
66 The Show Must Go On
by Linda Lewis
72 Online Dating
by Della Galton
7 Take five . . . boxsets for
winter
8 Cookery: slow-cooked
recipes for maximum
flavour
26 Poetry
by Vivien Hampshire
45 Poetry
by Elizabeth Horrocks
51 Crochet: Harold the
Hound is a delightful,
easy make
58 Poetry
by Dawn Lawrence
68 Poetry by Maggie Ingall
69 Learn To Speak Cat
74 A Day In The Life: florist
Heidi Baker
75 Our next Special
14 Gilly Pickup finds plenty
to do in Georgia?s
capital, Tbilisi
18 Helpful hints from vet
Malcolm Welshman for
when you have to leave
your dog home alone
23 Colourful festivals from
around the world
28 The Jacobite Trail brings
history to life for Wendy
Glass
35 MINI-MAG 8 pages of
puzzles and brainteasers
54 Jarlath McHale
commends the guides
who make the Inca Trail
possible for tourists
60 Make the most of winter
walks with Susie
Kearley?s guide
64 Celebrate the love of
our native woodlands
with writer Robert Penn
70 Actor Timothy Bentinck
chats to Marion
McGivern about life on
?The Archers?
On Sale
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Published in Great Britain by DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., Dundee, Glasgow and London. Distributed in the UK and Eire by MarketForce UK Ltd, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf,
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Website: www.seymour.co.uk. � DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2017. Editorial communications to ?The People?s Friend?, DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
While every reasonable care will be taken, neither DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., Ltd., nor its agents will accept liability for loss or damage to any materials submitted to this publication.
We are committed to journalism of the highest standards and abide by the Editors? Code of Practice which is enforced by the Independent
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Editor at The People?s Friend, DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
4
This delightful short story by Rebecca Holmes welcomes
you to a brand-new Special.
Illustration by Martin Baines.
T
Strangers
On The Shore
HERE were some places
where the past and present
seemed so close that they
could almost slide into each
other, Sheila thought as she
strode down the narrow lane to the cove,
her winter coat fastened up against the
cold ? and this was one of them.
Cornwall teemed with tales of
smugglers and wreckers, but this little
bay was renowned as a favourite of
theirs, tucked away from prying eyes.
It was easy to picture them leading
their horses under cover of darkness,
sacking round hooves to muffle the
sound, while locals made sure to keep
their curtains ? and ears ? tightly shut.
This bay had been a favourite for
Sheila and her sister on childhood
holidays. The Smugglers? Way, they
called it, plunging down between grassy
banks, where gaps allowed tantalising
glimpses of the sea.
So Sheila wasn?t surprised that
Marianne and her husband, Francis, had
moved into an old stone cottage here
when Francis?s job had been relocated to
the area. Marianne was expecting her
first baby and asked her to stay while
Francis had to work overseas for a few
weeks. Sheila had readily agreed.
?Don?t worry, he?ll be back in good
time before Junior is set to arrive.?
Marianne patted her bump. ?You can
keep me company and recharge your
batteries at the same time. It?s just what
you?re needing,? she?d added.
Now, Sheila stifled a yawn as she
approached the beach. As she was
discovering, winter here was a different
kettle of fish from summer. She?d hardly
slept last night with the wind howling
round the roof.
This morning was more benign, apart
from a brisk breeze chasing white horses
over the water and rippling the grass on
the cliff tops. With the tide out, the sand
stretched invitingly and was already
being taken advantage of by early dog
walkers, wrapped up against the cold.
Sheila and Marianne had run on these
sands in summers gone by, shrieking as
their dad chased them with slimy strands
of seaweed, or sometimes just wanting to
People here seemed
friendly, but Sheila
wanted to keep her
distance . . .
be first to get back to the rug where their
mum was waiting with a picnic.
Lost in her memories, Sheila was only
vaguely aware of a voice behind her.
?Molly. Molly! Come back here!?
A black and white cannonball with
flapping ears bounded past her legs,
almost knocking her off her feet.
She?d barely recovered before the
springer spaniel turned and charged back,
this time holding something in its mouth.
?Sorry about that,? a man called from a
few yards away. ?She gets over-excited.?
?It?s quite refreshing, isn?t it?? Sheila
agreed, feeling she ought to make an
effort as he started walking towards her.
She wasn?t normally the chatty type,
but this stranger with eyes the colour of
the sea seemed the sort who talked easily
to other people. Perhaps that was the way
around here.
Her impression was confirmed when a
middle-aged woman with a black poodle
skittering around her heels waved over.
?Morning, Steve. Good to see you out
and about.?
?Morning, Elizabeth.?
Sheila thought she caught a West
Country burr to his voice.
?I?ve been busy, but I?m having fun
catching up. See you at the Happy
Pilchard on Thursday for the pub quiz.?
While this exchange was going on, the
two dogs had trotted over to each other,
tails wagging, clearly friends.
At a whistle from its mistress, though,
the poodle went straight to her and they
walked on towards a wooded headland
on the far side of the beach.
Steve grinned.
?Tina?s better trained than my Molly.
Story of my life.? He turned to Sheila.
?Forgive me for asking, but are you new
to these parts? I don?t recall having seen
you here before, and I regularly walk on
this beach.?
?I suppose I?m sort of on holiday,?
Sheila admitted. ?My sister and her
husband moved down here recently and
I?m staying with them for a few weeks.?
She didn?t add that her brother-in-law
was away, or that Marianne was just over
seven months pregnant. It was never
wise to volunteer such information to a
stranger, however trustworthy they may
seem. Yet, despite that, she wasn?t sure
whether to be relieved or a touch
disappointed when he simply nodded.
?That should be enough to give you
some colour and build you up a bit. It?s a
tonic, this air. It can be a bit quiet around
here at this time of year, but there?s often
something going on at the Happy
Pilchard, up in the village, if you feel
like socialising. Or are you planning to
have some peace and quiet??
?Possibly.? Sheila smiled.
More than possibly. Marianne was
only too happy to be tucked up in bed by
10 most nights, at the moment.
?Whatever works for you. Well, I?d
better go and see where that dumb mutt
of mine has got to. Enjoy your stay.? He
strode off, calling out, ?Molly! Molly!?
The dog reappeared from behind some
rocks, barking joyfully as the sea joined
in with a song of its own and gulls
shrieked over a trawler bobbing on the
waves in the distance.
* * * *
?We ought to try to join in the social
life around here at some stage,?
Marianne agreed, when Sheila told her
about the conversation. ?Francis was
saying the same thing, but we?ve been so
busy and I?m afraid I don?t feel like it
yet.
?I?m like a bird that just wants to
brood in its nest. It must be boring for
you, though I?m very glad you?re here.
Maybe you could go along by yourself, if
it?s a friendly pub and you?ve already
met a couple of the regulars??
?I don?t think so,? Sheila replied. ?I?ve
never been brave at that sort of thing.
Besides, I?m quite happy to put my feet
up by the fire with a book and the cat on
my lap.?
5
She stroked Pickle, so called because
he was a mix of several colours. A stray
who had been hanging around the
cottage when Marianne and Francis had
moved in, he?d almost invisibly joined
them and made himself at home.
The fact that Francis and Marianne had
both added ?cat food? to the shopping
list within days had probably helped.
?To be honest, it?s very recuperative,?
Sheila added. ?Being in a lovely old
cottage like this makes it feel like an
extended holiday.?
Marianne nodded.
?Which you needed. You?ve had a hard
time.?
Sheila suppressed a niggle of irritation.
While grateful for her sister?s
understanding and knowing it was kindly
meant, she couldn?t help finding it a bit
overbearing at times.
Sheila had always been the messy one
out of the two of them, both literally and
metaphorically. For a while, her life had
seemed almost in order, but recently it
had all gone awry.
The split with her boyfriend, Adrian,
should have come as no surprise, she
supposed. Everyone had hinted or even
told her outright that he was bad news,
but she?d been blinded by love or, more
likely, wishful thinking.
The loss of her administrative job had
been more of a shock, though with
hindsight that had probably been on the
cards for a while, too.
It only emphasised the differences
between her and Marianne, who was
always organised, and had coped
efficiently with the house move and
seemed to be sailing through her
pregnancy.
Sheila wasn?t even sure whether she
had been asked here because she was
genuinely needed, or to give her
something to do.
For all that, it was good to get away.
This part of the country had always had a
healing quality, and she was beginning to
appreciate it in other ways.
If Marianne hadn?t been in the room,
she?d have been tempted to get up and
peek outside to see if there might be the
silhouette of a horse led by a hooded
figure, or a glimmer of a lantern.
* * * *
Thanks to a spell of fine, if bracing,
weather, early morning walks on the
beach soon became a habit. Each time,
she met Steve, as well as Elizabeth, who
clearly benefited from the exercise,
judging by her weatherbeaten
complexion and the clearness of her
eyes, with her grey hair tied back to
avoid being blown about by the wind.
They would exchange pleasantries and
chat briefly as the dogs careered around
them.
Then, for three mornings in a row,
Steve wasn?t there. Elizabeth was
around, though on the far side of the
beach, and waved from a distance.
Sheila wondered if Steve was OK. She
missed his friendly company, even if her
jeans were spared the attentions of
Molly?s wet paws.
?He?s on night shift this week,?
Elizabeth told her on the fourth morning,
coming over to chat. ?A neighbour walks
Molly for him when that happens, but
she takes a different route. Tina?s quite
bereft without her friend.?
She looked at Sheila more closely.
?You?re getting some colour in your
cheeks. There?s nothing like fresh air to
get you healthy. Make the most of it.
There?s a storm coming tonight. I?ll be
rushing to get my orders completed and
delivered before the weather turns. I?d
better get to it, I suppose.?
Sheila didn?t get a chance to ask her
what she did, as Elizabeth had to hurry
off.
Sheila had a busy day herself.
Marianne?s birthday was coming up the
following week and, with her sister
attending an ante-natal session, Sheila
drove to the nearest small town where
she spent an enjoyable few hours
shopping for a present and exploring the
little cobbled streets with their shops and
caf閟.
It was almost dark when she eased the
car back down the narrow lane to the
cottage, where Marianne?s car was
already parked. The last of the light over
the sea had a yellowish tinge to it, and
the wind was picking up.
If Sheila had colour in her cheeks, the
same couldn?t be said for her sister.
?I think I?ll skip dinner and have an
early night,? she said. ?It?s been a
long day.?
6
?Are you sure I can?t
tempt you with some soup
or something??
?I?d rather rest. I?ll be fine
in the morning.?
Sheila wasn?t convinced,
but gave her the benefit of the
doubt. She was just preparing
to cook a simple omelette
when the sound of the
bathroom door opening and
closing, followed by
groaning, had her dashing
upstairs.
Marianne was curled up on
the bed, shivering and
clutching her stomach.
?I think I?ve picked up a
bug. I feel so ill. I hope the
baby?s all right.?
When she looked up
Sheila?s heart missed a beat at
the expression in her eyes,
and the sight of her normally
confident sister looking scared
and vulnerable.
* * * *
The ambulance crept down
the lane as quietly as those
smugglers must have done in
other times. A surge of relief
washed over Sheila as the
vehicle?s doors opened and a
man and a woman stepped
down.
That turned to surprise
when she recognised one of
them.
Steve?s capable expression
switched briefly to a grin.
?This makes a change from
the beach,? he joked, before
his expression changed back
again.
He and Ruth, his colleague,
were soon calmly but
efficiently examining
Marianne and asking a series
of questions.
?It?s probably nothing
serious,? he said, after a few
minutes. ?There are lots of
nasty bugs going round at this
time of the year, and naturally
it will feel worse when you?ve
already got plenty else to cope
with, but we?ll take you in
and get you checked.?
Marianne grasped Sheila?s
hand.
?Will you come with me? I
don?t want to be alone.?
?It might be easier to get
back if you follow in your
car,? Steve suggested.
Sheila felt Marianne?s hand
grip more tightly.
?I?ll go in the ambulance
with my sister, if that?s OK.?
?Of course it is. Bring some
warm clothes, it?s perishing
out there. Oh, and a book, in
case you have a long wait.?
Outside, as the wind
whipped her hair and rain
started to drum against the
windows, Sheila looked back
at the cottage. The place
seemed to close in on itself, as
if returning to its past, yet she
had the feeling that
everything, both inside and
out, would be watching out
for their return.
The wait at the hospital
wasn?t as bad as expected.
Steve?s assessment had been
right. They decided to keep
Marianne in, anyway, to be on
the safe side.
?Go home,? the nurse told
Sheila. ?Get some sleep, or
you?ll end up coming down
with something, too.?
Dawn was breaking as the
taxi dropped her off. Even in
her tired state, Sheila noticed
not only that the wind had
died down, but also that
daylight was arriving several
minutes earlier than it had just
a week before.
Inside, the cottage had an
expectant air. For a moment
she almost called, ?I?m back,?
but stopped herself. The
notion that anyone might be
listening was too fanciful by
far.
Within minutes, she was
asleep in her bed under the
sloping roof, with Pickle
curled up by her feet, only
waking late in the afternoon
when the hospital phoned with
the good news that Marianne
was feeling a lot better and
ready to be discharged.
* * * *
The next morning was cold,
clear and crisp once again.
Sheila was back on the beach,
and so was Steve.
?I didn?t realise you lived so
close,? he commented after
explaining his shifts had
changed again.
?I didn?t mean to be
secretive.?
?I understand. I didn?t know
I looked that scary!?
After they laughed, Sheila
filled him in on Marianne?s
progress. With recent events
breaking down any barriers
between them, all the
background about her
ex-boyfriend and losing her
job came out. She confided,
too, the way she?d always felt
she was the lesser sister.
?Really? That wasn?t the
impression I got the other
night,? was Steve?s reaction.
He hesitated before
continuing. ?Maybe the best
way to see this is as a chance
for a fresh start. You don?t
have anything tying you
down. This place seems to be
doing you good. Why don?t
you move here??
Sheila smiled.
?The small matters of
getting a job and somewhere
to live??
?Someone as capable as you
should be able to find
something, and rents aren?t
that bad away from the main
tourist areas. Elizabeth?s
looking for someone to run
her shop and studio while she
concentrates on making more
pottery.?
Sheila stopped.
?Is that what she does??
?Yes, and she?s very good.
Much in demand. She?s got a
meeting with a potential major
customer this morning,
otherwise she?d have been
here as usual.
?I know she was hoping her
daughter might help out, but
she?s been lured away by the
bright lights of the city.
?Not everyone feels the
same way about this part of
the country as we do.
Including my ex-wife.? He
grimaced.
?I?m sorry,? Sheila said.
?Don?t be. I should have
known she?d never settle, just
as I knew I?d never leave.
There?s something about this
place.?
?There is, isn?t there?
Sometimes I think I can
almost see the smugglers
using the lanes in the dead of
night.? She laughed
awkwardly. ?That must sound
far-fetched.?
?Not to me,? Steve said
firmly. ?Some of my ancestors
were probably among them.
My family?s roots here go
back a long way. Something
tells me you?ll soon feel you
belong.?
He cleared his throat.
?I?d rather like it if you
stayed. My mention of the pub
quiz, that first morning, was
only a suggestion, since you
looked as if you could do with
getting out and enjoying
yourself. Then, as time went
on, I thought it would be nice
to ask you along, but . . .? He
shrugged.
?But what??
?It seemed a bit, well,
forward.?
They both watched as
Molly, who?d run into the sea,
ran out again and proceeded
to shake herself, thankfully a
good distance from them.
?Anyway, it?s quiz night
again tonight. If you happen
to be interested, that is.?
* * * *
Sheila felt more at ease with
herself than she had in a long
time as she walked up the tiny
garden path to the cottage and
opened the front door.
Marianne looked happy,
too, as well as recovered
enough to be eating toast.
?I?ve just heard from
Francis. Guess what? When
he told his boss what had
happened, he insisted Francis
come home, so he?s booked
on a flight tonight and should
be here later tomorrow.?
?That?s wonderful news,?
Sheila agreed.
She meant it, but her heart
sank. With Francis back,
would she be in the way?
?I don?t know how I?d have
managed without you, these
past weeks, even before this
dratted bug,? Marianne added,
as if reading her thoughts.
?Francis will be at work
during the day, so I?ll still
need your company. That?s if
we can prevail upon you to
stay a little longer??
Before Sheila could answer,
her phone buzzed with a text
from Steve, passing on
Elizabeth?s number.
?I?d love to, but can you
excuse me for a minute?? she
asked Marianne. ?There?s
something I need to do.?
Upstairs, preparing to make
the phone call Steve assured
her Elizabeth was looking
forward to receiving, Sheila
gazed out of the window with
its view down to the bay.
So much had happened in
this little spot over the
centuries. Soon a new child
would add another generation
to those who had come before.
Not only did past and present
mingle here, but also the
future.
That included hers, if she
decided to stay.
Speaking of which, she had
a phone call to make and,
later, a pub quiz to attend,
with a descendant of some of
those who had led horses in
the night down this very lane
so many years ago, and
perhaps still did, even now.
The End.
Take five . . .
BE INSPIRED 7
Boxsets For Winter
1
LIFE ON EARTH
Alamy.
After this year?s
stunning ?Blue Planet II?,
it?s the perfect time to revisit
Sir David Attenborough?s landmark
series, ?Life On Earth?, from 1979. It
was the early days of a format we take
for granted now, cutting together footage
from around the world with cameramen
often waiting patiently for thousands of
hours to capture the rarest of moments.
Most people will remember it for the
scene where Sir David has a close
encounter with a female gorilla
? one of TV?s true magical
moments.
HAMISH MACBETH
2
Based on M.C.
Beaton?s books of the
same name, ?Hamish
Macbeth? ran for three
series in the mid-Nineties and
made a star of the village of
Plockton, where it was filmed.
Policeman Hamish, played by
a young Robert Carlyle, is more
interested in keeping the peace
than hunting criminals, but
when he must he investigates,
partnered by his dog, Wee Jock,
and psychic friend TV John.
Good fun from start to finish
? with the added bonus of
Highland scenery.
BRIDESHEAD
REVISITED
3
It was the most
expensive TV series
ever made on its
showing in 1981,
costing � million, and
catapulted Jeremy Irons and
Anthony Andrews into the
limelight. Based on the book
by Evelyn Waugh, it was a
phenomenon in the USA,
where it was nominated for
nine Emmy Awards.
Nearly half a million feet
of footage were shot for the
sumptuous drama, with only
around 26,000 making it to
the screen.
THE JEWEL IN
THE CROWN
4
Another Eighties TV
show produced on an
epic scale, this series
followed the decline of
the British Raj in India. It brought
Charles Dance to the public?s
attention, as well as Art Malik
and Tim Pigott-Smith.
The story goes that the
exterior scenes were all shot in
India, but the interior ones were
all done in Manchester. Due to a
pronounced time gap between
the two filming sessions, you
can spot how some actors lose
or gain weight depending on
whether they are indoors or out!
MAD MEN
5
?Mad Men? looks
inside a New York
advertising business
in the Sixties, when
the industry was at the peak
of its powers.
It follows the story of the
creative powerhouse behind
a small firm ? the enigmatic
Don Draper.
Those stylish opening
credits were said to draw
inspiration from classic
Hitchcock credits by show
creator Matthew Weiner
? who also received a fan
letter from Barack Obama.
Slow cooking
times are the
tasty secret to
these quick-toprepare recipes.
Flavours To
Savoury Blue
Cheese
Cheesecake
Skill level: easy Serves: 12
Prep time: 25 mins, plus chilling
Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients
l 175 g (6 oz) oatcakes, crushed
finely
l 50 g (2 oz) pecan or walnut halves,
chopped finely
l 100 g (3� oz) unsalted butter,
melted
l 250 g (9 oz) Stilton, rind removed
l 250 g (9 oz) full-fat soft cheese
l 3 medium eggs
For the Salsa:
l 1 stick celery
l 2 ripe tomatoes
l 1 pink-skinned apple
l 2 tbs chopped chives
l 2 tsp caster sugar
l 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
l Salt and freshly ground black
pepper
To Garnish: celery leaves.
Method
1 Pre-heat the oven to 150 deg. C.,
Let the
cheesecake
stand at room
temperature for
30 minutes before
serving to allow
the flavours to
develop.
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.
300 deg. F., Gas Mark 2. Grease and line
the base and sides of a 20 cm (8 in)
springform cake tin.
2 Mix the oatcake and nut crumbs with the
melted butter. Spoon the mixture over the
base of the prepared tin and press down
evenly using the back of a spoon. Chill while
you make the filling.
3 Crumble the Stilton into a blender or food
processor and add the soft cheese and eggs.
Blend for a few seconds until smooth, then
pour over the biscuit base. Bake in the
pre-heated oven for about 1 hour until
lightly golden, just set on top, but still slightly
wobbly in the centre. Leave to cool in the
tin. Unclip and place the cheesecake on a
serving plate. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
4 To make the salsa, trim and chop the
celery and tomatoes finely and place in a
bowl. Core the apple and chop finely, then
add to the bowl with the chives, sugar and
vinegar. Mix together and season to taste.
When ready to serve, spoon on top of the
cheesecake and garnish with celery leaves,
or serve on the side as a salsa.
Savour
COOKERY 9
Spiced Lamb
Shanks with
Apricots
Skill level: easy Serves: 2 Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 2 hours
Ingredients
l 1 tbs olive oil
l 2 lamb shanks
l 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
l 1 tbs plain flour
l 1 tsp mixed spice
l 1 large orange, finely grated zest and juice
l 150 ml (� pt) lamb or chicken stock
l 110 g (4 oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots
To Serve: couscous with chopped herbs,
optional.
Method
1 Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg. C., 350 deg. F.,
Gas Mark 4.
2 Heat the oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish, add the
Rolled Belly Pork with
Sage and Apple
lamb shanks and cook for about 2 minutes on each side
until browned. Remove from the casserole and set aside.
3 Add the onion to the casserole and fry for 5 to 6 minutes
until just golden. Stir the flour and spice into the casserole
and add the orange zest, juice and stock. Bring to the boil,
stirring, then add the lamb shanks and apricots and stir to
coat well with the liquid. Cover with a lid and cook in the
oven for 2 hours, turning the lamb over after 1 hour.
4 Serve on a bed of couscous, if using.
Skill level: easy Serves: 6 Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 3� - 4 hours
Ingredients
l 1.25-1.5 kg (about 3� lb) belly pork
l 1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
l 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped finely
l 2-3 tbs chopped sage
l Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
l 1 tbs olive oil
l 1-2 tbs sea salt flakes
To Serve: roast potatoes; carrots; parsnips, gravy, optional.
Method
1 Pre-heat the oven to
220 deg. C., 425 deg. F.,
Gas Mark 7.
2 Score the rind of the pork with
parallel lines about 1 cm (� in)
apart, using a sharp knife.
3 Mix together the onion, apple
and sage and season well.
4 Place the meat rind-side down
and season. Place the onion
mixture on top, pressing it down
firmly, then roll the pork up as
tightly as possible, securing with
kitchen string.
5 Place the pork in a roasting tin
and rub the rind first with the oil,
then with the sea salt. Place in the
pre-heated oven and cook for 30
minutes.
6 Reduce the oven temperature
to 150 deg. C., 300 deg. F.,
Gas Mark 2 and continue roasting
for a further 3 hours or until the
meat is tender and the skin crisp.
If the skin isn?t crisp, turn the
oven back up to 220 deg. C.,
425 deg. F., Gas Mark 7 and cook
for a further 30 minutes.
7 Leave the meat to rest for about
10 minutes before carving. Serve
hot with roast potatoes, carrots,
parsnips and gravy, if liked.
Ask your
butcher to
score the rind
for you as it?s quite
tough to cut
through without
very sharp
knives.
Caribbean
Steamed
Pudding
Skill level: easy Serves: 8
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 2� hours plus standing
Ingredients
l 1 x 425 g can pineapple pieces
in juice, drained weight approx.
250g (9oz), juice reserved
l 4 pieces stem ginger preserved
in syrup, approx. 50 g (2 oz),
chopped roughly
l 4 tbs golden syrup
l 110 g (4 oz) plain flour
l 110 g (4 oz) vegetable suet
l 110 g (4 oz) fresh white
breadcrumbs
l 2 tsp baking powder
l 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
l 4 tsp ground ginger
l 4 tsp mixed spice
l 1 medium egg
l 275 ml (9� fl oz) milk, warmed
For the Sauce:
l 1 tbs cornflour
l 1 x 160 ml can coconut cream
l 6-7 tbs pineapple juice (from
the reserved juice)
l 1 lime, zest and 1-2 tsp juice
Method
1 Generously butter a 1.4 litre (2� pint)
pudding basin. Put the pineapple in the
basin, then the ginger and spoon the
golden syrup on top.
2 Mix all the dry ingredients in a large
bowl then beat in the egg and milk and
mix well. Spoon into the basin, cover with
a piece of buttered, pleated baking paper,
then a piece of pleated foil. Secure with
string.
3 Half-fill a large saucepan with water and
bring to the boil. Either place the pudding
in a steamer compartment over the
saucepan or stand the basin on a trivet in
the saucepan. Cover tightly with a lid and
steam for about 2� hours, topping up the
water level with boiling water every so
often.
4 Leave the pudding to stand for
10 minutes then turn it out on to a
warmed serving plate. Spoon over some
syrup from the ginger jar or more golden
syrup, if you like.
5 To make the sauce, place the cornflour
and the coconut cream in a small
saucepan and whisk together. Heat gently,
whisking all the time and adding the
pineapple juice. Simmer until the sauce
thickens slightly, then add the lime zest
and juice to taste. Serve with the pudding.
These recipes and
photographs are from
?Cook It Slowly!?, the Dairy
Cookbook published by
Eaglemoss Ltd.
It?s available to buy for
just �75 online at
www.dairydiary.co.uk or by
calling 0845 0948 128.
UK readers of the ?Friend?
can get FREE P&P ? just
quote DDPR when ordering.
Visit www.
thepeoplesfriend.
co.uk/competition from
December 1 for our website
competition to win one
of six copies of ?Cook It
Slowly? and the 2018 Dairy
Diary.
11
A friendly stranger strikes a chord in this gentle complete
story by Glenda Young.
Up In
The Air
A ride on the Ferris
wheel gave Ann the
time to think . . .
Illustration by Kirk Houston.
A
NN thrust her arms into her
jacket, grabbed her handbag
and stormed along the
hallway.
?Ann, wait a minute!?
Robert called from the kitchen. ?I didn?t
mean to upset you. All I said was that I
didn?t want to go because . . .?
Ann turned before she reached the
door. Her face was full of thunder and
she knew she had to leave the house. She
had to get away from her husband.
?I?m going for a walk, Robert,? she
told him, her eyes burning. ?I don?t know
when I?m coming back!?
Ann slammed the door behind her, in
case Robert had been in any doubt about
how annoyed she was. After five years of
marriage, she was finding Robert
increasingly hard work to be with.
It was hard to say when things with
Robert had started going wrong. If she
had to guess when things changed, she
would say it was around the time he?d
started his new job.
Since then, he?d become obsessed with
detail to a level that Ann was finding
difficult to cope with.
His obsession with detail was
necessary in his work as an architect, but
he now brought that same level of detail
back home with him. It seemed as if he
never switched off.
He?d become critical, too, shouting at
politicians on the TV, and even
disagreeing with the weather presenter.
On the odd moments when Ann thought
things were going smoothly between
them, Robert would start obsessing over
simple things at home.
In the kitchen, he?d begun to worry
whether teabags had been in the teapot
long enough, or whether they were
watering their houseplants enough. He
was driving her to distraction with his
worrying over day-to-day tasks.
Now, here she was, striding down their
street, breathing in fresh air trying to
calm herself down. What on earth was
she going to do?
She?d tried talking to Robert about his
behaviour as they?d prepared Sunday
dinner in the kitchen one day. Ann had
been beating eggs and whisking in flour
and milk for the Yorkshire puddings
when she noticed Robert staring out of
the window. The potato peeler was in his
right hand, a large potato in his left, and
he was just standing there.
?You all right?? she?d asked him.
When there was no reply, she asked
him again.
He came to, as if from a dream, and
carried on peeling the potatoes, before
chopping them up to roast. That?s when
Ann noticed the potatoes were all the
same size and same shape. Robert had
delicately sculpted each of the potatoes
exactly the same.
When she?d tried to ask him again if he
felt all right, he refused to open up. He
retreated to the living-room, opened up
his laptop and said he had reports to read
before work the next day and a
presentation to prepare.
It was only after they?d eaten their
dinner that Ann felt Robert relax. Later
that evening, as they settled down to
watch television, they opened a bottle of
wine and cosied up on the sofa.
Robert seemed content to unwind that
night, Ann remembered, and he didn?t
raise his voice to the politicians on the
news.
Ann knew she had to find out what
was going on. His behaviour was nothing
short of bizarre.
But first she had to walk off the tension
after she and Robert had exchanged
words earlier.
Ann walked to the outskirts of their
village where a funfair had set up days
before. The fair had been the cause of
their argument earlier.
Ann had wanted to visit it before it
moved to the next town, but Robert said
he didn?t want to go ? but he wouldn?t
say why.
She walked into the small field where
the fair was set up. The sweet scent of
candy-floss wafted over from a van at the
edge of the field.
Next to the van was a stall offering
prizes of goldfish for anyone who could
throw a ping-pong ball into a glass bowl.
Another stall offered teddy bear prizes
to those who could hook a duck with a
stick. Children sitting in toy cars on a
roundabout waved to their parents each
time they went round on the ride.
Ann headed to the back of the field
where an old-fashioned Ferris wheel
12
stood. Its wooden seats
were brightly painted red
and yellow. There was a
handful of people waiting in
the queue and Ann decided to
join them for a spin.
She paid her money and
stood at the base of the wheel.
Each time a seat with
passengers on it came down
to ground level, the wheel
paused long enough to let the
passengers off and new riders
jump on.
Each seat held two
passengers and when it was
?You can see my house
from here,? Ann told the
man, pointing into the
village.
?I?m not from round here,?
he responded. ?I thought I?d
treat myself to a day out at
the fair.?
?I wonder what?s stopping
us from moving?? Ann
wondered after a few
minutes at the top.
?Maybe there are more
people getting on?? the man
suggested.
Ann glanced down then
?Ladies and gentlemen, we?ve got
a problem with the wheel?
Ann?s turn to jump into a red
seat, a queue had built up
behind her.
?Roll up! Roll up! Two
passengers in every seat!? the
man collecting the money
called.
Ann jumped into the seat.
As she fastened her safety bar
into place, she felt the bulk of
another person beside her.
She turned to see an older
man wearing a black coat and
a matching cap.
?This is wonderful,? the
man said, holding on to his
hat.
?It?s a lovely old thing, isn?t
it?? Ann replied. ?It?s in very
good condition.?
Their seat swung gently as
it rose into the air with the
turn of the wheel. Every now
and then the wheel would
pause to let passengers off at
the base, and allow new riders
to jump on.
Slowly, the wheel
continued to turn until the
seat Ann was sitting in was
perched at the top of the
wheel.
shook her head.
?I can only see the chap
who collected our money,?
she said. ?He doesn?t look
very happy.?
?Ladies and gentlemen!?
the man roared up to
everyone on the wheel.
?We?ve got a problem with
the wheel, but we?ll have
you on the move in a couple
of minutes!?
?Looks like we?re stuck!?
Ann laughed. ?It?s a good
job I?m not afraid of
heights.?
The man looked at Ann
and she noticed a
mischievous twinkle in his
eyes.
?Well,? he declared, ?I
never thought I?d end up
getting stuck at the top of a
Ferris wheel today. That?s
another one I can tick off my
list.?
?What list?? Ann asked,
intrigued.
?My bucket list,? he said.
?I made it after my wife
passed away last year.
There?s not a day goes by
when I don?t miss her. I?ve
decided that before my time?s
up, I?m going to do all the
things I?ve always wanted to
do.?
?Do you mean going
swimming with dolphins, that
sort of thing?? Ann asked,
intrigued.
The man shook his head.
?First on my list was to
have this ride on a Ferris
wheel,? he said. ?I?m still
thinking about the other
adventures I could have. I?m
booked to go to Venice soon.
I wish I?d made the list
decades ago and the two of us
could have enjoyed things
together.?
?Were you married long??
Ann asked gently.
?Forty-two years,? he
replied, his eyes glistening.
?It wasn?t always easy, but I
miss her every day.?
?No,? Ann replied, thinking
about Robert. ?It?s really not
easy at times.?
?You?ve got to make the
most of what you have,? he
continued. ?You don?t realise
how much you love someone.
Couples take each other for
granted.
?I?d give anything to have
any of our days back, good or
bad. But all I?ve got left is my
bucket list of adventures to
keep my dreams alive.?
Their seat jerked forward
then rocked sharply
backwards. A cry came up
from below.
?Sorry for the wait, folks!
We?ve got you moving now!?
The wheel again started
turning, moving slowly,
pausing to let everyone off as
each seat reached the ground.
When the time came for
Ann and her fellow passenger
to leave the wheel, the man
offered his hand to Ann to
help her out of the seat.
?Thank you,? she told him.
?It?s just a hand.? He smiled.
?I?m old-fashioned like that.?
But it wasn?t his kind
gesture Ann was thanking him
for. His words had struck a
chord in her heart.
As Ann stepped out of the
seat, a boy in a blue anorak
came running.
?Grandad!? he shouted. ?We
saw you stuck at the top of the
wheel!?
The man smiled his goodbye
to Ann as he took the boy by
the hand. Ann watched as he
walked with his grandson
towards a young couple beside
the candy-floss van.
?I thought you?d never come
down,? Ann heard a voice say.
She spun round to find
Robert standing behind her.
She grabbed him towards her
in a hug, breathing in the smell
of his hair.
?Did you follow me?? she
asked after she released him
from her arms.
?I couldn?t just let you
disappear,? he replied. ?I know
I?ve been a bit difficult lately
and it?s time I explained
what?s going on.?
Robert let his gaze drop to
the ground.
?It?s the new job, Ann. I?ve
been struggling. I didn?t want
you to think I couldn?t cope,
so I?ve been keeping it to
myself.?
Just then a cry went up at
the funfair.
?Ladies and gentlemen, roll
up, roll up! The wheel?s back
in action now!?
Ann took Robert?s hand and
led him towards a red-painted
seat.
?Come on,? she said. ?We
need to talk . . .?
The End.
Tr
av
el
H
ea
lth
Ch
at
Re
ci
pe
s
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Georgia
Destination
Gilly Pickup finds a warm welcome
in the Caucasian mountains.
Photographs by Gilly Pickup and Mike
Pickup.
These gravity
defying cliff-top
homes are
in Tbilisi.
I
QUICKLY discovered that the
Georgians overfeed you with
pleasure. It was only my second
day in the country and I?d already
experienced three supras, or feasts.
Georgians are extremely hospitable
people and in their culture, it would
be the height of rudeness not to offer
guests a table overflowing with food.
So, as a foreigner, I was treated to
these lengthy restaurant supras by my
kindly hosts, each accompanied by
traditional dancing and singing.
When guests sit down at a supra,
the table is already groaning under
the weight of countless dishes of
food ? canoe-shaped breads dripping
with melted cheese and butter; fat,
steaming beef dumplings which you
eat with your fingers; colourful salads
mixed with walnuts and herbs; and
plenty of delicious Georgian wine to
wash it all down.
Then, before the original dishes
of food have little more than a dent
in them, more food arrives in the
shape of earthy soups, heady stews,
kebabs, chicken cooked in milk and
garlic, heavily spiced ratatouille, hot
cornbread . . . and so it goes on . . .
and on . . . enough to feed the five
thousand and then some.
First things first and food aside, I
should explain, for those who are not
quite sure, that Georgia is a country
located in the Caucasus mountain
range, at the crossroads of Europe and
Asia.
It is remarkably hospitable to visitors
and listed as the world?s eighth-safest
country on the Crime Index Rate.
I had arrived in Tbilisi, the country?s
thousand-year-old capital, courtesy
of Air Astana, with no idea of what to
expect in this still-emerging destination.
The name Tbilisi comes from the
Georgian word for ?warm?, referring to
the natural hot springs which feed the
city?s sulphur baths.
?Taking the waters? has been part of
everyday life for the locals for centuries.
The water is said to cure all manner of
ills, and you?ll know you?re heading in
the right direction when your nostrils
catch the eggy smell of sulphur and you
see the dome-shaped bath-house roofs.
The city itself is a jumbled mix
of architectural styles. Crumbling
mansions sit next to Byzantine churches,
synagogues and mosques; art nouveau
design rubs shoulders with neo-classical
buildings, all interspersed with grey
Soviet-era apartment blocks.
Most eye-catching of all are
the balconied dwellings perching
TRAVEL 15
Part of the first
of six courses
in a supra.
precariously on cliff-tops above the
Mtkvari River, as they have done for
centuries.
Not that it?s all old. There are plenty
of trendy clubs, modern art galleries
and a burgeoning fashion scene in
town.
In addition, rather bizarrely,
recently built police stations and
government buildings are constructed
from steel and glass, rendering
them see-through, symbolic of
Georgia?s aspirations for democratic
transparency.
Lording it over the mish-mash of
styles is the fourth-century fortress
Narikala, best reached by cable car
unless you feel like a seriously tough
climb uphill.
Alongside is the gigantic aluminium
statue of Kartlis Deda or Mother
Georgia. She has been there since
1958, the year Tbilisi celebrated its
Things To Do
Mtskheta, Georgia?s old capital
and now a UNESCO World Heritage
Site, is about an hour?s drive from
Tbilisi. The dusty main street of this
small, dishevelled town is lined
with stalls selling fruit, souvenirs,
wine and local handicrafts. Stallholders are keen to offer food and
drink samples.
Mtskheta?s pride and joy is
the 11th-century Svetitskhoveli
Cathedral, heavily adorned with
stone carvings outside and in. It is
revered by worshippers, as legend
says that Christ?s crucifixion robe is
buried under the central nave.
The small town of Gori in the
Georgian countryside is famous
? or infamous ? for being Stalin?s
birthplace. He was born Josef
Dzhugashvili but took the surname
?Stalin? later in life ? it translates
from Russian as ?steel?. The tiny,
simple dwelling he was born in
is now housed inside a glassroofed, temple-like structure. In
the grounds his 83-ton, bulletproof
train carriage, in which he travelled
to the Yalta Conference in 1945, is
popular with tourists.
Follow in the footsteps of Silk
Road travellers to cave town
Uplistsikhe, only 10 kms from Gori.
This rock-hewn maze of a
settlement, dating back to the
early Iron Age, was once home to
20,000 people. Clamber upwards
to the 10th-century Christian stone
basilica. On the way, you?ll pass
structures which were once pagan
places of sacrifice, dwellings, a
pharmacy and bakery, all evidence
of a fascinating past.
Georgians are serious about their
culture and there are plenty of
opera houses, cinemas, galleries
and museums to enjoy. You?ll
come across many in Tbilisi?s main
thoroughfare, Rustaveli Avenue.
Uplistsikhe cave town, which
dates from the Iron Age.
1500th anniversary, holding a cup of
wine in one hand while brandishing a
sword with the other.
How better to symbolise the country
? Georgia puts enemies to the sword
and welcomes friends with wine! n
How To Get There
Air Astana offers return flights
between London Heathrow and
Astana from �5 and return flights
between Astana and Tbilisi from
�5. Air Astana offers a stop-over
in Astana with transfers and
hotel on a B&B basis for
USD $1 for the first night.
Additional nights at standard rates.
www.airastana.com/uk
Tel: (UK) 020 7644 6121
I Love Meet and Greet provides
airport valet parking
www.ilovemeetandgreet.co.uk
Tel: 01293 577988
Where To Stay
There are several good hotels in
Tbilisi. From personal experience,
two that stand out are the superstylish Rooms Hotel Tbilisi,
www.roomshotels.com/Tbilisi and
the Mercure Tbilisi Old Town hotel,
www.accorhotels.com.
Both are centrally located, serve
fabulous food and have friendly
English-speaking staff.
Currency And Travel Info
Currency is the Georgian Lari
(GEL). Credit cards are widely used
in Tbilisi, though not so much in
the regions. ATMs can be found
in major towns. British nationals
don?t need a visa to enter Georgia.
Georgia has a strict anti-drugs
policy, which can also cover
prescription and non-prescription
drugs or medicines. So carry a
doctor?s prescription if you intend
to travel with prescription medicine
and declare the items on arrival by
completing a customs declaration
form.
We say goodbye to Della Galton?s lively Dorset
farming family.
months, but couldn?t imagine
them not being in his life.
Strange ? he felt closer to
his half-sister and nieces than
he did to his own son. That
had been a puzzle at first, but
lately he?d decided it was
because he didn?t really have
much in common with
Michael.
It was amazing, Jonathan
thought, how you could be
related to someone yet be their
total opposite.
He glanced at Ruby, whose
face was as serene as ever. She
smiled at him and then closed
her eyes.
* * * *
The
Girls
Illustration by Mandy Dixon.
Will it really
be third time
lucky for Anna
and Paul?
H
EATHROW
AIRPORT was
swarming with
people. Amongst
them was the
wedding party, which
included Anna?s entire family
and Ruby, who was
considered honorary family,
plus Kenny since he?d agreed
to be best man for the third
and, hopefully, final time!
Anna was more terrified
than she?d been in her life.
?I can?t believe there?s a
delay,? she moaned, putting
her head in her hands. ?I can?t
cope if this all goes pearshaped again. I really can?t.?
Paul, who was sitting beside
her, patted her knee.
?We?ve plenty of time.
We?re not getting married for
another forty-eight hours.?
Kim, sitting opposite her
cousin, nodded in agreement.
?It?ll be fine,? she said. ?It?s
only a short delay. Kenny and
I checked, didn?t we, love??
Kenny squeezed her hand,
loving the warmth of his
fingers around hers. They?d
only recently fully shared how
they felt about each other and
it was a novelty she never
wanted to wear off.
Pat, Anna?s mother, chipped
in with more reassurances.
?Kim?s right, love. We?ll be
away soon, I?m sure.?
Pat rummaged in her hand
luggage for a Sudoku book for
Ted. She hoped she was right.
None of them could face a
third cancelled wedding.
She checked her watch.
They were three hours into the
four-hour scheduled delay.
Jonathan glanced up from
an app on his phone.
?Statistically, most flight
delays don?t disrupt
passengers? onward plans for
longer than four hours,? he
said. ?I think we?ll be fine.?
He gave Anna what he
hoped was a reassuring smile.
He?d only known this branch
of his family for a matter of
Ruby was praying. She
wasn?t in the habit of praying,
not being big on religion, but
today she felt her prayers were
warranted.
?Please, God,? she prayed,
?Could you see your way clear
to letting this lovely couple
have the chance to tie the knot
finally??
Three failed weddings in a
year was too much for
anybody, and marriage was
supposed to be a holy
institution, after all.
Whether it was Ruby?s
prayers that were answered, or
Jonathan?s statistics holding
true, the delay didn?t get any
longer and an hour later they
were in the air and speeding
towards Stockholm.
Anna and Paul sat in their
seats, holding hands.
?We?re on our way, lovely,?
Paul said, stroking the top of
her hand with his thumb.
?You?ll soon be Mrs Anna
Wilson.?
?Don?t tempt fate,? she said,
looking anxiously out of the
plane window. ?We?re not
there yet.?
For once, it seemed that fate
was on their side. The rest of
the journey passed smoothly.
It was dark when they
arrived in Jukkasj鋜vi, or as
dark as it ever could be when
you were travelling through a
snow and ice landscape.
They?d all put on their big
coats, snow boots and scarves
when they?d got to the airport,
and they needed them.
?Nippy, isn?t it?? Paul said
as they drew up outside the
hotel where they were staying
SERIES 17
for the two nights before the
ceremony. ?I?m glad we didn?t
opt for sleeping in the ice
hotel.?
?I don?t care where we
sleep, as long as it?s the same
place,? Anna told him. ?I?m
not letting you out of my sight.
I don?t care about tradition
? we?re spending our last two
nights of single life under the
same roof.?
?Suits me.? He winked at
her. ?Two honeymoon nights
instead of one.?
Anna feinted a swipe at him
and almost slipped over on the
snow-packed ground.
?Careful.? Paul caught her
hand. ?We can?t afford any
more accidents.?
* * * *
Pat and Ted were looking
out of the window of their
bedroom.
?That patch of green in the
sky over there,? Ted said. ?Do
you think that could be the
aurora borealis??
?Maybe. Or it could be the
reflection of those coloured
lights strung up on the other
side of the hotel.? She pointed.
Ted looked disappointed and
she smiled at him.
?We?ll have a few chances to
see the northern lights. The
main thing is that we?re finally
going to see our daughter get
married.?
?The other thing is,? Ted
said softly, ?that you?ve
managed to put up with me for
thirty-five years! That?s an
achievement and a half by
anyone?s standards.?
?I think it?s the other way
round,? Pat said, feeling her
throat go achy and tight. ?I
love you so much, Ted.?
* * * *
Anna and Paul might have
forgone the tradition of
spending the night before their
wedding apart, but they had
decided to do everything else
the traditional way.
Hence Anna and her dad and
Kim, her only bridesmaid,
were the last to arrive at the ice
hotel on the morning of the
ceremony.
The husky sled that had
transported them from the
hotel glided to a halt outside
and Anna had her first peek at
her wedding venue, which rose
like a giant igloo from the
white landscape.
?Oh, my goodness,? she
said, her breath clouding the
frozen air. ?Have you ever
seen anything so amazing??
?No,? Kim said as their
wedding co-ordinator came
across the snow to greet them
and, on a more practical level,
to help them ascend safely. ?I
don?t think I have.?
The main doors, which were
cloaked in reindeer pelts,
opened to admit them into a
cavern of a hall, which was far
bigger than Anna had expected
and dotted with glassy blue
pillars.
An enormous chandelier,
carved from ice, dominated the
space. It was so breathtaking,
so unlike anything she had
ever seen.
?Aren?t you glad the other
weddings didn?t happen?? Kim
whispered, reaching over to
adjust Anna?s fake-fur-lined
white cloak about her
shoulders. ?I don?t think I?ve
ever seen anything so
beautiful.?
?Me, neither,? Anna said,
stepping forward and hearing
her dress rustle across the
snow-packed floor.
?Take my arm,? her dad
said, his voice cracking a little.
?I promised your Paul I would
get you to the chapel in one
piece.?
Thankfully, it wasn?t too far
to go. Moments later they
arrived at the chapel and the
bridal march began to play.
The little group of her
closest family and friends, all
seated on reindeer skins on top
of the ice pews, craned their
necks to get their first look at
the bride.
For Anna, the best moment
of all was when Paul, who was
standing next to Kenny at the
ice pillar altar, turned to look
at her. His eyes were soft and
for a moment they were the
only two people in the world.
Then he mouthed, ?I love
you,? across the frozen air and
Anna felt as though she might
explode with happiness.
The ceremony was, for
obvious reasons, kept short.
Anna held Paul?s hand tightly
throughout. When the registrar
pronounced them husband and
wife, everyone cheered.
Ruby grabbed Jonathan?s
hand, and he smiled at her.
?Finally!? she said. ?I?m so
very, very pleased for them.?
?Yes, um, me, too.?
He glanced down at their
linked fingers, but he made no
move to unlink them. Could it
ever be more than friendship,
Ruby wondered, or just the
fanciful notions of an old
woman?
Jonathan was thinking it
was a great shame their paths
hadn?t crossed twenty years
ago. If they had he would
have asked this beautiful,
vibrant, compassionate
woman to marry him.
Despite the minus five
temperature his face warmed
at the thought of what might
have been. Then he met her
eyes, and just for a second he
wondered if, just maybe, it
wasn?t too late even now.
* * * *
Pat gripped Ted?s hand,
thinking, thank goodness, we
got there in the end. And
didn?t they say that all the best
things in life were worth
waiting for?
Ted gripped her hand back.
A ?yes, I?m relieved, too?
grip. Because after thirty-five
years they had learned the art
of speaking eloquently purely
through hand-grips. Words
weren?t always necessary.
* * * *
Kim and Kenny sat close
together on the ice pew. They
were holding hands, too. Late
last night, against a backdrop
of stars outside the hotel,
Kenny had dropped to one
knee on the hard-packed snow
and he had asked her to marry
him properly, with a diamond
ring that had sparkled brighter
than the ice crystals in the fir
trees behind him.
?You know I?ll marry you.
I?ve already said yes.? She?d
laughed. ?Get up before you
catch your death.?
?I wanted to make it
official,? Kenny said,
brushing snow off his knees
as he scrambled to his feet.
?We won?t announce it till
we get home,? Kim warned.
?This is Anna and Paul?s
time.?
?And Pat and Ted?s,? he
countered.
She smiled.
?But as soon as we get back
we?ll arrange an engagement
party.?
He nodded.
?Until then it?s a secret,?
she added.
?Absolutely.? He winked.
Their secret, Kim thought
now. One to hug between
them for a few more days.
Anna and Paul were coming
back down the aisle now to
the joyful strains of ?Now
That We Found Love?. That
would be her and Kenny one
day, Kim thought, smiling at
her cousin.
Who?d have thought it?
She?d come back to Little
Marshall reluctantly. It was
hard to believe it had only
been six months ago. So much
had happened.
She had started up Vintage
Girls. She had gained a
fantastic friend and business
partner, Ruby. As well as a
new uncle, who was also
going to be a business partner
as soon as they?d thrashed out
the legal details.
She glanced across at Uncle
Jonathan and Ruby now. They
were sitting remarkably close
together. Hang on a minute
? were they holding hands?
Surely not.
Then again, this little chapel
was so full of love and so full
of warmth ? considering it
was made of ice ? that
anything was possible.
Perhaps they really were
holding hands.
And then there was Kenny.
In her wildest dreams she had
never thought she would come
back to Little Marshall and
find love.
The only person missing,
Kim thought, was her mum,
yet somehow it felt she was
not that far away. She never
would be either. Ruby had
taught her this, that when you
loved someone deeply they
stayed in your heart for ever.
Kenny leaned forward and
whispered in her ear.
?Earth calling Kim. Are you
frozen to your seat or shall we
go and throw some confetti
over the newlyweds??
She smiled at him, a smile
warm enough to melt a dozen
ice hotels.
?Let?s go and throw some
confetti,? she agreed.
The End.
?The Reading Group?
by Della Galton, writing
as Della Parker, is
available in
paperback,
priced
�99, and
published
by Quercus.
It?s also
available in
audio and
on Kindle.
Malcolm Welshman.
Home
Alone
Hounds
Vet Malcolm D.
Welshman has helpful
advice for dog owners.
iStock.
R
ETURNING home for lunch
after a busy morning?s
surgery, I was greeted by the
sight of the fitted hall carpet
having been ripped away
and dragged through into the sitting
room, leaving a trail of tipped-up
chairs and broken lamps in its wake.
The culprit? A young English springer
spaniel called Kimber whom we?d
recently adopted from a broken home.
It seemed he was now attempting to
break ours. It was all a result of having
been left on his own for three hours.
He leapt down from a pile of torn
cushions, their chewed foam contents
scattering confetti-like as he raced up
to me with a joyful bark and frenzied
wag of his stumpy tail, very pleased to
see me.
I wish I could have felt the same. I
realised I had fallen foul of the
?home-alone? syndrome that can
affect dogs left by their owners for
long periods of time.
Of course, being a vet, I should have
known better. Dogs are social animals.
They like to live in a pack. Over
thousands of years they have evolved
to live alongside humans, working
with us, living with us as companions.
Most would certainly choose to spend
the majority of their time with us,
some breeds more so than others.
But no one breed has a tendency to
loneliness. It depends on the character
of the dog. Those like collies and
retrievers with instinctive working skills
are more likely to get bored and show
symptoms of being left on their own.
How to identify
loneliness in a dog
Symptoms can start as soon as you
leave or sometimes even before you
depart. It?s separation anxiety, and it?s
often worse in the first fifteen minutes
after you?ve left.
Up goes the heart rate. The dog
Sweet
dreams
with a
comforting
pal.
pants rapidly. He?ll salivate and pace
about. He might leap up at the door,
or scratch at it frantically. If agile
enough, he?ll jump on a window-sill to
catch sight of you, and howl.
There may be some respite after this
frantic period. But there?s every
possibility the dog may then decide to
turn his attention to a spot of itemised
destruction.
Kimber had used his inherent
retrieving skills to retrieve all our
cushions into a pile before
systemically ripping them apart. Not
one was spared his teeth.
I?ve learned since that a pooch will
chew things that have your scent on
them, breaking them down into small
pieces to form a barrier of your scent
around him as a measure of security.
YOUR PETS 19
It had your
scent on . . .
Your pooch
will enjoy
any time he
can spend
with you.
Early training
It?s a good idea to teach your puppy
or dog how to stay calm when you?re
away, even if you don?t intend being
away for too long. It?s probably best to
restrict him to one area of the house,
say the kitchen or utility room ? an
area that can be cleaned if mishaps
occur.
Make this area as comfortable as
possible for the dog, adding his bed,
water and favourite toys. Barricade off
this area using a stair gate. Then leave
the dog alone there for only minutes
at a time to start with. Gradually
increase the time if he remains calm.
For older dogs, try some of the
strategies to cope with loneliness
below.
Good companions
Many pet owners decide a second
dog is the answer to home-alone
problems since it gives the first dog
company. It could be a great idea or
an absolute disaster, doubling the
problem. As Cesar Milan, the US Dog
Whisperer, says, ?There are many
variables to consider, including the
size, gender, energy and temperament
of your dog and the potential new
dog.?
I agree, and would add the factor of
age difference. We had an elderly Jack
Russell, Pip. He was eleven years old
when we acquired a cross-Chihuahua,
which we named Arthur-Rex ? a mere
seven months or so old when he was
brought home.
Strategies to cope with loneliness
2
KEEP THEM OCCUPIED
Our little darlings are better
coping with loneliness if they
have something to do other than
chewing our shoes or unravelling Aunt
Maud?s Christmas gift of an
embroidered footstool. The experts
suggest things like Nylabones, knot
ropes, rubber Kong toys stuffed with
treats to keep them interested.
1
I can go for hours yet . . .
MAKE THEM TIRED
Exercise first thing in the
morning is a wonderful way for
you to get fit and for your pooch to
tire himself out so that he gets back
and flops into his bed to snooze
while you stagger off to work or on
errands with aching calf muscles.
3
GIVE THEM SOOTHING SOUNDS
Background music, such as a
radio switched on, may help to
keep a pooch calm. It can also muffle
outside noises such as another dog
barking or the sound of a car engine
which might arouse expectations of an
owner?s return.
I had one client who would phone
home and leave an answer phone
message as a means to reassure her
pooch. It seemed to keep the dog
placated until one day on her return
Apart from a few yaps and snarls
through the gate railings when they were
first introduced to each other, they hit it
off and became firm buddies. Leaving
them on their own was no problem
whatsoever.
Quality time
We all have occasions when our pooch
may have to spend time alone. We dog
owners realise that it?s important to
make the most of the times when we
are able to be with the dog. Play ball.
Give him a good brush. Maybe just
watch TV together, dog curled up
alongside or on our lap. After all, at the
end of the day our mutt will be happy
just to sit closely, a demonstration of the
special bond that exists between us. n
home she found the answer phone
smashed on the floor. The dog had
mauled it.
4
BUY THEM SOME COMPANY
A friend of mine is a dog
walker and she has several
pooches on her list which get taken
for a daily twenty-minute walk while
their owners are at work. That social
interaction with the walker and
other dogs and people met on the
walk certainly can help to improve a
dog?s mood. And it also ensures the
dog has the opportunity to perform.
Another alternative is to arrange
something with a neighbour
whereby you let each other?s pets
out when the other isn?t at home.
Also, there are doggy daycare
centres you might consider using if
you can afford to do so. These have
indoor and outdoor play areas
staffed by trained and qualified pet
care specialists. Services can include
collecting the dog in the morning
and dropping them home
afterwards.
2018 HOLIDAYS
IN SCOTLAND
6 DAYS
FROM
PF723
A GRAND TOUR OF THE OUTER HEBRIDES
Tour highlights:
? Four scenic ferry crossings
? Blindingly white sandy
beaches on South Uist and
Vatersay
? The unique airport at
Cockleshell Beach
? 5000 year old standing
stones
? The tranquil location of
the Norse Mill at Shawbost
11 Departure dates between
March & September 2018
Here in the Outer Hebrides, there
is a uniquely slow pace of life
reminiscent of times past ? in the
north, establishments go into onceweekly hibernation in observation
of the Sabbath, while up and down
the island chain there is a pleasing
dissonance as ancient sites meet
modern life.
ISLANDS VISITED INCLUDE:
Lewis, Harris, North Uist, South Uist,
Benbecula, Eriskay, Vatersay, Barra &
Skye (on certain dates only)
THE ISLE OF ARRAN
5 DAYS
FROM
PF117
NEW FOR 2018...
? Porterage
? All tips
? More lunches and wine with dinner
? On board water bottles on coach journeys
? Return coach travel available from Glasgow, Edinburgh,
Dunfermline, Kinross, Perth or (subject to numbers)
Dundee
? 5 nights? accommodation on a dinner (with wine), bed
and full breakfast basis - in a room with private facilities
? All coaching and ferry transfers
? Visits to the Standing Stones of Callanish, the Gearrannan
Black Houses and the Norse Mill, Kildonan Visitor Centre,
and Vatersay
? Services of a Tour Manager
CLASSIC SCOTTISH
STEAM BREAK
PER PERSON
A LIMITED NUMBER OF SINGLE ROOMS ARE AVAILABLE WITH NO SINGLE
SUPPLEMENT CHARGE!
Despite being Scotland?s seventh largest island, Arran?s diminutive size means
that it?s quite possible to pack a good number of its sights into one day. But
why would you want to do that? Instead you can join us on a longer tour,
taking it all in at a pace far more befitting of the laid-back Firth of Clyde.
PER PERSON
Price includes:
�5
Departing 21 May, 25 June & 27 August 2018
�5
PF118
4 DAYS
FROM
�5
PER PERSON
Departing 14 June, 19 July, 23 August &
11 October 2018
Join us for a trip on The Jacobite Steam Train, from Fort William to Mallaig,
one of the longest steam-hauled rail journeys available in Britain. We also
sail on the PS Waverley, cruise Loch Katrine on the SS Sir Walter Scott and
take a unique boat journey on the Falkirk Wheel. New for 2018, we lay
on complimentary champagne and chocolates on the return leg of our
excursion on board The Jacobite.
New for 2018, on selected tours include: more lunches, wine at dinner, hotel porterage and service charges, as well as the great
hotels and expert guides you?ve already come to love. There?s never been a better time to travel with us!
Please send details and a brochure of:
PF723
PF117
PF118
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21
Travel is disrupted in this light-hearted short story
by Louise McIvor.
Winter Wonderland
Illustration by iStock.
S
It was clear today?s meeting would have to be cancelled,
but that was only part of my problem!
NOW. It always makes me
think of my dad, and the time
there was a heavy snowfall and
he couldn?t get the car out to go
for his newspaper one Saturday.
It was our weekend routine.
He?d park at the newsagent, about a
mile from our house. Dad would get his
paper and I?d get my ?Bunty?.
Except, this Saturday, the road was
covered with thick snow. We lived at the
top of a hill, and Mum made sure I was
muffled up in duffel coat, mittens,
wellies and hat and off we trekked.
I remember how peaceful the snow
made everything. The grey streets of our
housing estate suddenly looked beautiful.
I remember the snow underfoot and
feeling excited because we were the first
footprints on parts of our walk. There
were paw prints and Dad also pointed out
the twig-like prints of a bird.
So when I woke up this morning,
peeked out through the curtains and saw
the snowflakes, I thought of Dad.
Sometimes memories can trip you up
when you least expect them to.
So, today, as I got ready for work, I
was missing Dad, more so since the work
had been hectic and difficult lately. My
gentle boss had retired and Daphne, who
had taken his place, was a different kettle
of fish. She was only a few years older
than me but, try as I might, I couldn?t
seem to find a way to get on with her.
She wanted to change everything:
phone messages had to be e-mailed;
electronic diaries had to be updated.
?Alice can do that,? she had a habit of
saying at staff meetings without
consulting me first. As a result, I found
myself working until six p.m. on quite a
few evenings.
?You?re doing very well and it?s just
until we get these new systems up and
running,? she?d say, which made me feel
like the new girl in the office.
This morning our new girl in the
office, Becky, resplendent in wellies and
snow-covered jacket, was waiting on the
office doorstep when I arrived after a
painfully slow bus journey. Though only
twenty-two, she had already proved
herself to be a great junior administrator.
?The bus couldn?t get over
MacBrennan bridge and this good-
looking guy walked with me the rest of
the way. He works in the phone shop.?
?Obviously Surinder?s not in yet.?
Surinder was the accountant and fairly
new to our team as well.
I put my key in the door and then
punched in the code for the alarm. It
squawked for five seconds and then
mercifully stopped.
?Do you think the meeting will be
cancelled?? There was to be a meeting of
trainers from all over our company today.
?I don?t know.?
The same thought had been in my head
on the bus journey. This meeting had
taken ages to plan and set up.
?It will depend on who can get here.
Could you start checking e-mails??
?Sure. But coffee first. You?re frozen.?
?Thanks,? I said. ?They?re all due to
come at one, so we?d better get
cracking.?
At that, the phone rang.
* * * *
By 10.30, the coffee was still on my
desk, undrunk. The phone hadn?t
stopped, with delegates saying they
22
were snowed in. Daphne
was holding off making a
decision to cancel the meeting
until she could see if she
could get her car out of her
driveway.
A hardy delivery driver had
made it through the snow to
us with a huge stationery
order, so Becky wasted
precious time ticking
everything off while I tackled
the avalanche of e-mails.
Daphne phoned again.
?Look, I doubt I?m going to
be going anywhere in this.
Send an e-mail to everyone
cancelling the meeting. Copy
in Surinder and me.?
?OK, Daphne.? I wanted to
ask whether she would let me
close the office early so we
could get home safely, but
she?d already clicked off.
It was with relief that I
typed up the e-mail and
pressed send. All I wanted to
do was go home and drink
some hot chocolate.
That was another thing I
remembered from that snowy
day with Dad. He?d made me
hot chocolate with real milk,
not powdered ? a real treat.
Surinder appeared a few
minutes later.
?Thanks for the e-mail,
Alice. How was the journey??
?Chilly. You??
?Slow and cold, but I lived
in Canada for a few years so
snow doesn?t bother me.?
I hadn?t known that. So that
was where he got the soft,
gentle accent from.
?I?ll get Becky to ring
round any delegates who
haven?t replied. I don?t want
anyone turning up,? I said.
?Good idea. That?s the
great thing about you, Alice.
You think about the details
that other people don?t.?
I smiled. It was nice to be
paid a compliment.
?Surinder, could you look
at the photocopier, please??
Becky asked. ?It?s started to
put lines on things again.?
?Sure.?
And that was the great
thing about Surinder, I
thought in turn. He was the
calm colleague who was good
at sorting things out.
A few minutes later, I
looked up from my desk to
see a snow-bound figure
approaching our office door.
Professor Prescott.
?Oh, no!? I whispered.
Becky looked up from her
spreadsheet.
?I left three messages for
him!? she said faintly.
Professor Prescott was the
one trainer I dreaded dealing
with. He had no small talk,
and he was very, very good at
complaining.
He was the one who found
the conference room too cold,
and of all the trainers, he
seemed to have the fullest
diary, so even getting him to a
meeting was a feat in itself.
?What are you going to
do?? Becky asked.
?Pray hard and smile. Go
and get the posh coffee,
would you??
Becky rushed down to the
kitchen. I knew she was more
terrified of Professor Prescott
than I was.
There was no point in
telling the man on the
doorstep that the meeting had
been cancelled, so I just
opened the door.
?Professor Prescott, come
and get warm.?
He shook out his snowy
umbrella and handed it to me
without comment.
?Rebecca is getting you
some coffee,? I told him.
?I would prefer to get
straight to the meeting,? he
said, hanging his coat over
the coat stand at the door
where it dripped over mine.
?I?m afraid the meeting has
been cancelled due to the
adverse weather,? I said.
?Cancelled?? he spluttered,
staring at me through his
steamed-up glasses. ?I?ve just
had a nightmare journey and
you wait until now to tell me
that it?s cancelled??
?We did leave you several
messages,? I said, standing
my ground.
Then, miracle of miracles,
Surinder emerged from the
photocopier room.
?Is there something I can
help with??
?Yes, there is! I?ve given up
an entire morning to get here
and endured a freezing train
ride ? standing for most of it
? and now I?m told the
meeting won?t go ahead!?
Professor Prescott spluttered.
?Why don?t you come up to
my office and we?ll see if we
can get Daphne on the
phone?? Surinder offered.
?The agenda is all ready and
perhaps we could run through
some of the points that
concern you directly with
Daphne? That way, you won?t
have had a wasted journey.
Alice, perhaps you could send
up coffee??
?Of course.?
* * * *
I went down to the kitchen
to check the progress of the
coffee with Becky.
?Are you all right?? Becky
peered at me.
To my horror, I felt like
crying. It was a combination
of things: thinking about Dad,
the flap over cancelling the
meeting and now Professor
Prescott?s sharp words.
?You didn?t even have time
to drink your coffee this
morning,? Becky said gently.
?Have some of this before I
take it up to Professor
Narky-knickers.?
I coughed, to clear the lump
in my throat and because I
was trying not to laugh.
?I was just thinking about
hot chocolate, but coffee
would be lovely. You?re an
angel,? I said, and meant it.
?I?ll man the phones; you
take a break,? Becky advised.
For a few moments I stood
in the kitchen, sipping coffee
and thinking about my dad.
And that gave me an idea.
I went back into the office.
?Becky, I need your help.?
Half an hour later a
now-smiling Professor
Prescott emerged from
Surinder?s office.
?Albert, I?ll e-mail you
those notes you asked for on
Monday,? Surinder said.
?Any word on taxis, Alice??
?I?ve tried our regular ones
but they can?t get over
MacBrennan bridge,? I said,
fearing another outburst from
Professor Prescott.
?I?ll walk you to the train
station, Albert,? Surinder
said, helping Professor
Prescott on with his coat.
I took a breath.
?Professor, I took the
liberty of getting you a
sandwich and coffee for your
journey.? I handed him a little
brown paper bag with
handles. It even had a
cardboard cup holders to stop
the coffee spilling.
?Most thoughtful,? he said.
?My wife?s been in hospital.
She?s normally the one who
reminds me to take my phone
with me.?
So that was why Becky?s
messages hadn?t got through.
I got home at four that
afternoon, cold and tired but
relieved that, thanks to
Surinder, peace had been
restored with the professor.
Surinder got Daphne?s
approval to close the office
early. The weather was
closing in and buses and
trains were being cancelled.
?Text me when you get
home, won?t you?? he asked.
That was exactly what I
did, after making myself a hot
chocolate and looking out at
the snow and how beautiful it
made everything.
Thinking about Dad had
given me the idea about
sending Becky to get the
coffee and sandwich for
Professor Prescott.
Dad always used to say that
whenever you think of a kind
thing you can do for someone
else, you should do it right
away or the moment may be
lost.
* * * *
It was a few weeks later
and the snow was but a
distant memory. Surinder was
taking me to his uncle?s
restaurant that evening. Of
course, we hadn?t quite
managed to keep this secret
from Becky.
?That?s nice for, you know,
old people like you to find
love,? she said. ?The snow
brought you two together. I
think it?s dead romantic.?
Becky was right, of course.
Surinder had phoned me later
that snowy Friday to see if
my power was still on (his
street was off). Things had
started from there.
That Saturday, Surinder and
I had met up for a snowy
walk in the big park near
where we both live. Without
meaning to, I had started to
tell him about how snow
reminded me of Dad and the
hot chocolate.
?Why don?t we go for some
hot chocolate now? You
know, my late mum used to
make it with condensed milk
because that was the way they
did it in India,? Surinder had
said, indicating the little kiosk
in the middle of the park
which was doing a roaring
trade in coffees and teas.
?Love to,? I?d said, linking
my gloved hand with his
mittened one.
I had realised then that
memories of those we loved
are best shared with those we
love now, aren?t they?
The End.
REAL LIFE 23
MONKEY BUSINESS
Spectacular
Festivals
This isn?t a chimps?
tea party ? far from it.
The Lopburi Monkey Festival
in Thailand sees locals laying on
a feast of fresh fruit and vegetables
for primates to dine on, and just goes
to show how highly regarded they are
in society. Held on the last Sunday in
November, the banquet for the macaques
is said to bring good luck and fortune
? though tourists are warned that
some naughty primates have been
known to pinch purses
(that?s not quite
so lucky).
iStock.
around the world
SEEING RED
SMASHING CUSTOM
M肙RI TRADITION
You don?t have to wait
for a rainy day to get your
brolly out in Portugal. The
Umbrella Festival began
as part of an art festival
and was so successful it
has continued every year
since. It began in 2012
and makes for a colourful
spectacle in the month
of July, with hundreds
of brightly coloured
umbrellas festooned over
promenades in the streets
of 羐ueda, Portugal.
We may associate the breaking
of crockery with Greek tradition,
but it also has its roots in German
wedding custom. Prior to a
couple being wed, the relatives
come together informally the
night before and break porcelain
in a practice called Polterabend,
which is said to bring good luck
to the couple. The action of
clearing up all the mess is said to
show the bride and groom that
hard work and unity are required
to make a marriage work. That
and a dishwasher, perhaps!
Originally performed
by the M鉶ri people of
New Zealand before
going into battle, the
haka war cry must have
been a terrifying sight
to witness for anyone
coming up against them.
Of course the haka is a
tradition kept alive today,
but tends to be on the
rugby field rather than
battlefield, when the All
Blacks show off their
strength before kick-off.
Wikimedia.
National
Umbrella
Day is
February
10.
Alamy.
Wikimedia.
iStock.
It?s a messy business but
sounds like it might be fun,
too ? the tomato-throwing
festival La Tomatina is held in
the Valencian town of Bu駉l
every year. The festival, which
is held on the last Wednesday
of August, dates back to 1945,
and the event turns the town
into a sea of red. Anyone
brave enough to take part
must be prepared to face the
consequences. It gives a
whole new meaning to the
expression seeing red!
BROLLY GOOD SHOW
24
Nikola Scott writes this moving complete story especially
for the ?Friend?.
Illustration by Ruth Blair.
Forget Me Not
H
APPY CHRISTMAS!?
Lou thrust the finished
bouquet across the flower
shop counter.
Her customer was sharply
dressed and she eyed him darkly.
Probably a businessman who forgot to
buy a present for his expensive
girlfriend.
?Happy Christmas.? Smooth
Businessman beamed as he carefully
tucked the flowers through the handle of
his briefcase. ?Can you believe the
snow? A white Christmas!?
?Have a biscuit,? Lou said grumpily,
proffering the jar.
?Don?t mind if I do.?
?Of course you don?t,? Lou muttered
as he left the shop, swallowed up by the
swirling snow outside.
Was it possible that this Christmas was
more cheerful and festive than any
Christmas recorded in human history? Or
maybe it was just Ella and Lou?s flower
shop that radiated cheer from every
corner.
There was a Christmas tree in the
window, Christmas carols on the radio
and enough twinkling lights to give
anyone a seizure.
Mulled wine simmered in the back,
enveloping customers in cinnamonscented clouds as they lingered over
vases of holly and evergreen wreaths
adorned with tiny paper birds that were
Lou?s speciality.
?Lou,? Ella said reproachfully. ?Just
because you?ve taken against Christmas
doesn?t mean others aren?t allowed to
enjoy it.?
?But do they have to be so intense
about it?? Lou swept cuttings into the bin
with more force than necessary.
?Christmas is ??
?? highly overrated, I know.? Ella was
up on the ladder, fixing the paper angel
more securely to the Christmas tree.
She smiled down at Lou, whose hair
was tousled. With her bouncy dress and
the shop?s signature apron she looked
like a lovely, if somewhat tetchy, Fifties
housewife.
?You haven?t heard anything, then??
Ella asked casually, straightening the
angel?s halo.
?No,? Lou said curtly. ?He?s probably
living it up on Bondi Beach with his
floozy. Their first Christmas together.?
Eleven months ago, after five years of
The flower shop was
all decorated for
Christmas ? but Lou
didn?t feel like
celebrating . . .
marriage, her husband Matt had
confessed to a multitude of sins, the most
pressing of which included a girlfriend
from Melbourne who?d promptly urged
him to move to Australia and teach
deep-sea diving.
To say that Lou had been devastated
was an understatement. The
unexpectedness of the announcement had
sent her reeling and the speed with which
her marriage had fallen apart took care of
the rest.
The flower shop had been the only
saving grace, giving her a place to go to
in the morning, spending the hours in
between in a haze of arranging flowers
and making paper birds.
Lou poured mulled wine into a paper
cup and lifted it in a salute.
?At least Christmas involves some
liquid cheer.?
Ella sniffed.
?Exactly how much brandy did you
add, Lou??
?People have been buying like mad,
haven?t they?? Lou grinned. ?Will you
look at the snow??
She cradled the cup in her hands,
watching downy flakes covering lampposts and street signs.
?You haven?t heard from them, either??
Ella came to stand next to her.
Lou felt a sudden prickle of tears.
?Them? was Matt?s family. It was Hetty
and Pru, his sisters who ran a stable near
High Wycombe and were full of gossipy
stories from the horse world. It was
myriad family members who always
seemed to be pottering around the Larks,
Matt?s family home. It was Matt?s
grandmother, who?d been a spy in the
war and had great stories to tell.
?Nope.? Lou kept her eyes on the street
outside. ?Turns out when your husband
leaves you, so does his entire family. Not
a word even from Lilly.?
Lilly, Matt?s mum, whom secretly Lou
had loved almost as much as she had
loved Matt.
Eminently capable and full of chat,
Lilly listened. She doted on children,
grandchildren and any other lost souls,
while being perfectly capable of scolding
her son for leaving his dirty socks lying
around.
Lou had lost her own parents in a car
accident when she was twenty-one and
never fully got over it ? until she?d met
Lilly.
?Please come to mine for Christmas
tomorrow.? Ella put her arm around
Lou?s shoulder. ?The girls would be
thrilled. You don?t have to pull a single
cracker, I promise.?
?That?s a lovely offer, but I?m better
off on my own. Why don?t you slope off
early today? I?ll lock up.?
Ella looked as if she wanted to protest,
but 30 years of friendship had taught her
when to give up.
?Promise me you won?t sit here and
mope for hours. And if you do, eat the
angel biscuits first. We won?t have any
use for those after the holidays.?
The shop was very quiet after Ella had
left, even though it was hours before
closing time. The radio was crooning in
the back but all other sound was muffled
by the snow gathering steadily on the
window ledge.
Lou tidied away greenery and flowers,
swept the floor and made a new batch of
mulled wine, even though the stream of
customers was slowly thinning now.
?Happy Christmas,? she said wearily to
a harrassed-looking woman clutching
four Harrods bags.
She sold her one of the tiny fir trees
from the window and watched her hurry
away into the snow before closing the
door and trying not to think of last year?s
Christmas.
Lilly and Lou had gone Christmas
shopping ? a tradition. They?d spent a
glorious afternoon admiring the shop
windows and falling over laughing at
silly gifts they couldn?t possibly give to
Great-aunt Rosie.
After the divorce, Lilly had kept up
with Lou for a bit. She?d called and
chatted, and told her to ring any time.
But little by little the contact had
dwindled, the same way it had with the
rest of the family. They?d clearly been so
busy with each other, while Lou had felt
their loss so acutely she sometimes had
to remind herself that they weren?t
25
Shelley DeJager.
DEBUT
AUTHOR
5 MINUTES
WITH NIKOLA
SCOTT
Q
?My Mother?s Shadow? is
your first published novel,
and it?s such a pleasure to feature
a debut author. But how many
novels did you write before
finding success with this one?
It?s my first full-length one,
although I have written a
couple of drafts for others. It takes
time to find your writing groove,
and even in the middle of your
main story it?s sometimes nice to
have a side project to work on.
A
actually her family.
Without Matt, though, Lou had no real
claim on them, and she?d become
convinced that they were all talking
about poor Lou, hanging on when she
should let go.
Losing Lilly had hurt almost as much
as losing Matt. Him at least she could be
furious with. Lilly she grieved for,
mourning her as if she?d lost a mother all
over again.
Now it was Christmas and Lilly hadn?t
called or sent her a card. Not that Lou
had sent cards to anyone herself, but
still . . .
Keeping an eye on the front, Lou sat at
the long wooden trestle table in the back
with a stack of paper and the little wire
frames for her paper birds.
She tried hard not to remember the
towering stacks of Christmas notes Lilly
used to write to her friends, a fire roaring
in the fireplace and Aled Jones singing
on the stereo.
Who would Lilly have taken Christmas
shopping this year? It couldn?t have been
Matt?s new Bondi Beach babe because
those two were spending the winter in
Australia. Lou had seen them on
Facebook.
Departing for Down Under, Matt had
posted with a photo of Heathrow Airport
in the rain.
Her eyes strayed to the shop computer
in the corner. Facebook really was the
curse of our age, she reflected as she cut
zigzags into a tiny paper wing. It
practically invited you to stalk people.
But she wouldn?t answer the invitation.
She?d make two billion paper birds
before she?d check on the Larkson family
Christmas on Facebook.
Five birds later, Lou was glued to the
screen. Pru and Hetty had posted pictures
of their star stallion Wonderful, hanging
his head out of his box and wearing a
Santa hat.
Matt?s cousin Jake was stuck in traffic
and had contributed a blurry photo of the
road ahead, and Matt himself had posted
a pink plastic Christmas tree. Christmas
on the other side of the world. Have fun
in London, Mum!
Huh. The pink tree blurred slightly in
front of her eyes. Well, she?d asked for it,
hadn?t she? And now she knew that Lilly
was in London.
Lou switched off her computer and sat
back in her chair. This called for biscuits
? and not the dry angel ones Ella had told
her to eat, but the nice pack of
Valentine?s choccies Ella had hidden in
the back.
Lou ate chocolates and chased them
down with a medicinal tot of brandy,
while outside the snow had reached
Dickensian proportions and hit the
window with an icy rattling noise.
Maybe Lou should have done
Christmas cards this year. Maybe she
should have pinged a bunch of casual
greetings at the Larkson clan ? All great
with me. Hope you?re well.
Lou reached for the last of the
chocolates just as a carol started on
the radio, a slow, mournful tune that
Q
Is this one your favourite, or
is there another that you
wish had made it?
Hands down my favourite! I
love the friendship between
the two women and the dark
secret in their past. I did start a
women?s fiction series a couple of
years ago, which I really like and
might come back to at a later
stage.
A
Q
What?s been the most
surprising thing for you
about becoming a published
author?
I always thought that writing
was solitary work and was
amazed and grateful to discover a
whole community of immensely
kind and generous writers, book
bloggers and reviewers out there.
A
Q
A
Notebook or laptop? Kitchen
table or study? Blank wall or
inspiring view?
All of the above! I brainstorm
on paper and then type it up. I
can write anywhere, with any view,
although I do best with the peace
and quiet of a library or study.
26
M
My Kitchen
Drawer
Y kitchen drawer is crammed with stuff,
Mixed up amongst the dust and fluff ?
Things I just can?t throw away,
?Cause I?m sure I?ll need them all some day.
Batteries, fuses, pins and matches,
Keys and cards and window catches.
A puncture kit, instruction books,
Nails and screws and curtain hooks.
Guarantees for who knows what,
String and glue ? I keep the lot.
Old shirt buttons, broken handles,
If there?s a power cut, I?ve got candles.
Scraps of paper, pens and ink ?
Everything but the kitchen sink!
iStock.
? Vivien Hampshire.
matched the falling
darkness outside.
Sobs were suddenly
gathering at the back of Lou?s
throat as the music threaded
its way around the empty,
silent flower shop.
?In The Bleak Midwinter?
had been Lilly?s favourite
Christmas song (apart from
her grandsons? rendition of
?Rudolph The Red-nosed
Reindeer? last year), and it
reminded Lou of all that had
been good about her motherin-law.
Ex mother-in-law, she told
herself sternly, who hadn?t
written her a card. She was in
London and hadn?t called.
But maybe Lou shouldn?t
have been so quick to give up
on Lilly, either. She hadn?t
been able to fight for Matt,
and she?d never been given
the chance to stand up to his
Bondi Beach Barbie.
But maybe she should have
fought harder for Lilly. She
should have swallowed her
stupid pride and called her
more often, invited herself
round. Held on tight,
regardless of perceived
brush-offs, which perhaps had
never really been there in the
first place.
She thought back to the last
time they?d talked.
?Don?t forget to call. You?re
all I?ve left now that Matt?s so
far away,? Lilly had said.
Then why on earth hadn?t
she? Now it was too late.
?If I were a shepherd, I
would bring a lamb. If I were
a wise man, I would do my
part. Yet what I can I give
Him: give my heart.?
Lou dashed a hand across
her cheeks to wipe away her
tears.
Maybe it wasn?t too late.
Maybe she?d write Lilly a
card now. A post-Christmas
?I?m thinking of you? card,
one of their lovely handdrawn ones with the tiny
seeds buried inside the paper.
You planted it in a pot of
soil, the whole card, and a few
weeks later flowers came
sprouting out. Lilly would
love that.
Lou jumped up and went
through to the little store
cupboard, reaching up on to
the shelf for the card box, so
full of resolve that she only
dimly heard the shop bell
ping in the front.
A gust of cold, damp air
rushed into the room, making
the rolls of wrapping paper
flutter slightly.
?Coming!? she shouted.
Clutching the card she?d
chosen ? forget-me-nots,
Lilly?s favourite ? she hurried
back to the shop front
because Ella didn?t like them
to leave it unattended for too
long.
?Lou!?
Wrapped in a big coat and
a fabulous bright red scarf
stood Lilly. For a moment,
neither of them said anything.
?I came to bring you your
Christmas card,? Lilly said
softly. She cleared her throat
and held up a rather batteredlooking envelope. ?And also
to say ??
?I missed you,? Lou
blurted out.
She held up the forget-menot card.
?And I was just about to
start writing mine.?
The End.
Nikola Scott?s debut
novel ?My Mother?s
Shadow? is out now
in Headline
paperback.
28
The
Jacobite Trail
Wendy Glass catches the train for a tour of Scotland?s historic highlights.
Scotrail.
Photographs by Wendy Glass, unless otherwise stated.
The world-famous Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Looking down on the Soldier?s Leap.
Wendy taking in the view
from Dumbarton Castle.
OUT AND ABOUT 29
Hot Spots
A lone kilted Highlander stands on
top of the Glenfinnan Monument.
I
?M fascinated by the
Jacobites, the fearless
Scots who fought to
return the Stuarts to the
British throne 300 years
ago.
And my fascination has
been further increased by
the TV series ?Outlander?,
which features a fabulous
time-travelling romance
between a World War II
nurse and a Jacobite
warrior!
Inspired by Scotrail?s Spirit
of Scotland train ticket
offering four days of
unlimited off-peak train,
coach and ferry travel, I
invite my daughter, Tasmin,
to join me on a trip to a few
of the places that played a
part in one of the most
turbulent chapters in
Scotland?s history ? the
Jacobite Rising of 1745.
We start on a train bound
for Blair Atholl, where we
catch a bus to the Visitor
Centre at Killiecrankie
before making our way
down into a steep valley
known as the Soldier?s Leap.
This is where, in 1689, a
Redcoat soldier fleeing from
the Jacobites leaped 18 feet
across the River Garry, losing
a shoe in the process!
After sitting back and
relaxing on the train to
Inverness, our next stop is
Culloden Battlefield, where
1,500 soldiers fell in the
final, doomed attempt by
the Jacobite army to claim
the throne for Prince Charles
Edward Stuart, better known
as Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Culloden?s award-winning
visitor centre explains both
sides of the battle but it
doesn?t prepare either of us
for the eerie silence as we
make our way across the
moor to the memorial cairn
to the men who died here
on April 16, 1746.
As I read the clan names
carved into rocks at the side
of the grassy path leading to
the memorial cairn, tears
begin to trickle down my
face. The sorrow of Culloden
is impossible to ignore.
Back to Inverness for an
early night at the excellent
Beaufort Hotel as the next
morning, Tasmin and I are
taking a coach to Fort
William.
However, on our way to
Inverness bus station, we?re
distracted by Story
Chocolates, tucked away in
the city?s Victorian Market.
?Our chocolates are all
handmade to a secret
recipe,? Belgian Master
Chocolatier Lucas Story
reveals.
I?m not a fan of chocolate
or whisky ? until Lucas
invites me to try his liqueur
chocolates and I instantly
change my opinion of both!
Laden with chocolate, we
board the coach to Fort
William, stopping en route
at Urquhart Castle, on the
banks of Loch Ness.
Redcoat troops were
garrisoned here during the
Risings and destroyed a
large chunk of Urquhart
Castle when they left.
From Fort William, we
take the train to Glenfinnan,
where, on August 19, 1745,
Bonnie Prince Charlie came
ashore to lead the Rising.
We?re staying at the
Prince?s House Hotel in
Glenfinnan, a coaching inn
dating back to about 1650.
?The Prince may have
stayed here ? or at least had
a dram here,? hotel owner
Ina Kelly reveals, as we tuck
into a supper of locally
caught prawns and mussels
which is truly fit for a prince.
The next morning, we
head to the Glenfinnan
Monument, which marks
the spot where Bonnie
Prince Charlie?s men raised
the Jacobite Standard in
1745.
On the way, we stop at
the Church of St Mary & St
Finnan, where we?re invited
to step inside by organist
Tearlach MacFarlane.
?A visitor once said that
this church is in the middle
of God?s cathedral,? Tearlach
says, as he opens the doors
so we can experience the
breathtaking view over Loch
Shiel and the surrounding
mountains.
At Glenfinnan Monument,
we climb the narrow,
twisting staircase and
clamber through a hatch on
to the rampart at the top of
the high tower to enjoy the
view.
We dash back to
Glenfinnan Train Station,
catch our train and settle
down to enjoy one of the
world?s most scenic train
journeys ? the West
The Jacobite Trail ?
www.jacobitetrail.co.uk
? provides an online list
of many of the main
destinations in Scotland
with a connection to
the Jacobites, including:
Linlithgow Palace
The royal residence of
the Stewarts and
birthplace of Mary,
Queen of Scots,
grandmother of Prince
Charles Edward Stuart.
Holyrood Palace
It was here that
Bonnie Prince Charlie
set up court in 1745.
Stirling Castle
Once the childhood
home of Mary, Queen
of Scots, which the
Jacobites attempted to
capture in 1746.
The Isle of Skye
Flora MacDonald
famously helped Bonnie
Prince Charlie to flee
here after his defeat at
Culloden.
Highland Line to Glasgow,
which features the
Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glencoe,
Rannoch Moor, Loch Long
and Loch Lomond. Stunning!
Our last stop is
Dumbarton Castle. Perched
on a huge volcanic rock in
the Firth of Clyde, this
Historic Scotland property is
where one of the Men of
Moidart ? Bonnie Prince
Charlie?s most loyal
companions ? was
imprisoned.
As I imagine the Jacobite
trapped in his dark, damp
cell, I realise just how much
our Jacobite rail journey has
brought my favourite period
of history to life. Who needs
time travel when you can
have train travel? n
Want To Know More?
Scotrail?s Spirit of Scotland travel pass offers four
days of hopping on and off trains and participating
coach and ferry services over eight consecutive days for
�9 ? or eight days of unlimited travel over 15 days
for �9. And from now until February 21, 2018, there?s
20% off, taking Spirit of Scotland travel passes to �1
for four days and �3 for eight days (valid until
February 28, 2018). Visit www.scotrail.co.uk/spirit, call
0344 811 0141 or ask at your local railway station.
30
Lessons are learned in this uplifting short story
by Rebecca Mansell.
A Gift From Above
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
O
UR music and drama
teacher was beautiful, but
not in the classical sense.
Mrs Jacobs was tiny, with
shoulder-length dark, shiny
hair, a button nose, a large, smiling
mouth and a rosy complexion.
What made her beautiful to me was the
way she looked at us with her soft brown
eyes, how she welcomed us when we
first entered the lesson, and the kindly
way she cared for us when one of us was
upset.
Her lessons were like being enveloped
in an affectionate, warm embrace. In
fact, we felt like her children because she
knew each and every one of us ?
sometimes better than we knew
ourselves.
I was always eager to go to Mrs
Jacobs?s lessons ? not that I was
especially good at either music or drama
? but she mesmerised me in the way that
she skipped happily into the classroom.
It was almost as if she moved in some
kind of light, or perhaps it was because
her very presence brightened up the
room.
It was the 1970s and people didn?t
speak so much about auras and the like,
but today I do reminisce and wonder if
there had been a certain bright hue that I
could see about her.
Perhaps her light radiated to all of us
because we were always very well
behaved in her class, and that really
wasn?t the case in all of our lessons.
Mrs Jacobs emanated love and it
infected us all. It really was as simple as
that. I?m not sure we quite realised that at
the time, but her vibrant, fun classes kept
us talking about music and drama until
we left school.
She was a huge influence on my
formative years and I have much to thank
her for. In fact, I wouldn?t be where I am
today if it weren?t for Mrs Jacobs.
On a particularly dismal Monday
morning, when the rain lashed loudly
against the classroom windows, Mrs
Jacobs livened us up.
I didn?t like the winter. I had to walk
two miles to school from home, and by
the time I got there I was often cold and
damp.
But Mrs Jacobs turned on the lights,
beamed at us with that wonderful smile
of hers that made her eyes twinkle, and it
was as if the sun had entered the room.
Then she said the words we?d all been
My drama
teacher had been an
inspiration to me . . .
longing to hear.
?This year, we have been asked by the
school to perform ?Cinderella? for the
end of term. Isn?t that fantastic??
A cheer went up and we all started
talking animatedly to one another.
?I?ve always wanted to be a princess,?
Sophie said wistfully.
?Oh, me, too,? I replied
enthusiastically. ?Imagine the dress!?
?Except you?d have to dance with a
boy,? Fiona murmured, frowning. ?And
who here would make a good prince??
We looked around and my eyes rested
on Brian. He glanced back at me and
immediately looked down at his desk, his
neck reddening.
?Too shy,? Karen whispered. ?And I
think he has some problems at home,
too.?
I gazed at her curiously as Mrs Jacobs
clapped her tiny hands together.
Somehow she managed to make
sufficient noise for us all to stop chatting
and direct our attention to her.
?Now, you can all have roles to play in
the production, but there won?t be any
auditions.?
A murmur passed through the class.
?But, miss,? John said. He was
probably the most intelligent boy in our
year. He got top marks for every piece of
work he did. ?How will you assess us??
?Assess us?? I raised an eyebrow at
Sophie. ?He must be the only boy I know
who loves exams!?
Sophie giggled.
Mrs Jacobs smiled warmly at John.
?I will be assessing you by your
behaviour.?
We were quiet, waiting for Mrs Jacobs
to continue.
I had to admit, I liked the idea of no
auditions. I always got very nervous
when people were watching me. And the
fact that I could neither sing nor dance
really didn?t help matters.
But I just reasoned with myself that
maybe I could still be part of the
production, perhaps behind the scenes or
maybe one of the guests at the ball.
Of course I wanted to be a princess
? what young girl didn?t? But I knew I
didn?t have what it took.
Mrs Jacobs walked between our desks,
looking at each of us individually.
?I would like you all to be kind and
caring to one another to get a part in the
play.?
?Does this mean I have to give my
marbles to Daniel?? Gerry piped up and
everyone laughed.
Mrs Jacobs laughed, too.
?Not exactly, Gerry, though if you
wanted to give your marbles to Daniel,
that would be fine.?
?Not likely,? Gerry replied, making a
face. ?It?s taken me months to collect
them.?
We chuckled again. Mrs Jacobs went
to stand at the front of the class and
suddenly the sun emerged from the dark
sky and bathed the room in light.
?Show each other how you feel, offer
one another support, listen to each other,
and most importantly of all, be true to
your heart.?
?I think she?s talking about
compassion,? I whispered to Sophie.
I?d been reading all about it in my
mother?s volunteers? guidebook on
helping people who had fallen on
desperate times.
?And love,? Sophie replied in hushed
tones. ?I think she means love.?
Love. Was that what she was talking
about?
But I only loved my parents. Oh, and
my little brother at a push.
?So the girl who gets to be Cinderella
needs to act like an angel for a while,?
Ellen said, gazing at Mrs Jacobs, hope
shining in her eyes.
?Not quite,? our teacher replied. ?I
think she actually has to be an angel in
her heart. But don?t worry, there will be
parts for you all. You don?t have to
compete. All you have to do is be who
you really are.?
At breaktime, Sophie, Fiona and I
discussed what Mrs Jacobs had said.
?I know Mrs Jacobs said we would all
get a part, but what about Ian?? Fiona
asked, picking up her skipping rope. ?He
bullies the younger boys.?
Sophie crossed her arms and leaned
against the wall.
?She said for us to be who we really
are, didn?t she??
?Exactly.? Fiona started skipping and
we watched her. She was very good. She
never tripped once. ?And he?s a bully.?
?Perhaps there?s a reason for the way
31
he is,? I said. ?Maybe Mrs Jacobs can
see something in Ian that we can?t.?
?What I?d like to know is who?s going
to be the fairy godmother.? Sophie
delved into her coat pocket and started
bouncing her favourite little red ball. ?I
mean, they?d have to act quite old,
wouldn?t they??
I nodded and looked up at the sky. It
was turning grey again. In fact, it even
looked like it might snow.
It was at that moment that something
white did fall from the sky, though it
wasn?t a snowflake. My friends were
distracted with their continued
conversation about the forthcoming show
when I reached up.
I quickly put my hand behind my back
as the bell sounded.
?Well, we don?t have to be kind and
caring in Geography.? Fiona laughed as
we trooped back into school. ?Mrs
Jacobs won?t know!?
As I wandered slowly behind, I opened
my hand and looked down at a white
feather that had fallen from the sky. I had
never seen a feather like it ? it was
beautiful. Pure white and soft. I put it
safely into my satchel.
Something told me ? an inner voice
maybe, or perhaps a feeling ? that Mrs
Jacobs would know.
* * * *
Everyone got to music and drama class
early the following day, and my friends
and I couldn?t help giggling at what was
going on around us.
?I can help you with your Maths
homework, you know. How about after
school?? John was saying to a little
red-headed boy who always sat at the
back, no matter what class he was in.
?My brother gave me this marble last
night, Gerry,? Daniel said, placing a
large white sphere on the desk between
them. ?Would you like it??
?Wow!? Gerry snatched the marble up
without hesitation. ?Would I ever!?
?I can help you with your paper round
tonight, Katie.? Ellen smiled sweetly to a
girl that I knew had the most beautiful
soprano voice. She sang in the school
choir. ?In fact, I?ll do your newspaper
round for you, if you like.?
?This is getting a bit out of hand, isn?t
it?? Fiona whispered in my ear.
?Don?t you think we ought to offer to
do something?? Sophie said, looking
from Fiona to me with sudden
consternation. ?Otherwise we could end
up as the ugly sisters at this rate!?
I laughed.
?Would that be so bad??
?There are only two ugly sisters
anyway,? Fiona said, her eyes twinkling.
?What about me??
Then Mrs Jacobs waltzed in and
everyone fell silent.
?You?ve all been doing very well.? She
faced us, her eyes sparkling. ?Already
you have been demonstrating how kind
and caring you can be.?
A gentle murmur passed through the
class.
?Have you been talking to our other
teachers, miss?? Gerry asked. ?We only
saw you yesterday.?
Mrs Jacobs just smiled.
?Remember, you are doing this for one
another and for yourselves. Keep that in
mind when you are being kind.?
?Miss?? Karen raised her hand. ?But
isn?t the act of doing it for ourselves
selfish??
Mrs Jacobs beamed at her.
?Indeed, Karen, it could be interpreted
that way, if you are only being caring to
get a part in the play, but it can also be
character building, too, and remind you
of who you really are in your heart. Ian is
a good example of this.?
I exchanged a curious glance with
Sophie.
Mrs Jacobs continued.
?Unbeknown to many of you but the
boys concerned, Ian apologised to every
boy he has teased, and explained why. I
hope you don?t mind me using you as an
example, Ian??
Everyone turned round to look at Ian
sitting at the back and he nodded his
head, smiling and looking flushed.
?We don?t need to know the whys and
wherefores, as that is between the boys,
but suffice to say they are friends now.
And that?s what is important. Being kind
and caring reaps its own rewards.?
* * * *
Later, as I was walking home, I mulled
over what Mrs Jacobs had said. The boys
Ian had picked on had certainly shown
him compassion and forgiveness, and it
must have taken a lot of courage for Ian
to apologise to them.
It seemed to me that being kind and
caring involved quite a bit more than,
well, just being kind and caring.
As I was trudging thoughtfully by the
lake at the bottom of the estate where I
lived, I thought I heard a muffled cry.
I took a couple of steps back and
glanced around. The lake was frozen in
parts and it was just beginning to get
dark. Perhaps it had been an animal I?d
heard.
I buried my hands deep in my pockets.
It was so cold.
Then I heard it again, and it was much
clearer this time.
?Help!?
I peered desperately through the
dim light towards the lake, and it
32
was then that I saw him.
A boy was in the water,
thrashing around, and his
head kept going under.
I really didn?t have time to
think as I threw off my coat
and raced into the lake. All I
knew was that I couldn?t let
wishing that she wouldn?t rub
so hard.
?I don?t know why he was
in the lake, though.?
There was a gentle knock
on the door.
?Is it OK to come in?? my
father called.
A boy was in the water and his
head kept going under
him drown.
Not the strongest swimmer
in the world, I struggled to
reach the boy. He was further
out than I first thought, and
the water was freezing.
Once I finally got to him, I
could hardly breathe, but
somehow I managed to keep
him afloat as I wrapped my
arms around him.
By this point, he seemed to
have regained the use of his
limbs and he and I swam,
holding on to each other, to
the side and to safety.
The boy was Brian.
Though he was much
bigger than me, I half carried
him home. He?d been in the
lake a lot longer than I had.
My mum and dad took
charge of the situation as soon
as they saw us.
?Whatever happened?? my
mother cried, taking a large
fluffy towel from my father
and half carrying me into my
bedroom.
My teeth chattered
incessantly as she helped me
off with my clothes and
wrapped me in a warm towel.
I shook my head. I really
couldn?t talk and thought I?d
never feel warm again.
?Did you fall in? Did that
boy pull you into the water??
?No,? I managed to stutter.
?Brian is in the same class as
me at school. He was in the
water and I don?t think he can
swim.?
?You saved him??
My mother gazed at me
with wonder as she dried me
and I nodded my head,
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By this point, I was
wrapped in a blanket with a
towel on my head.
I was just beginning to
recover from the shock of
what had happened.
?You?re a very courageous
girl and I?m mighty proud of
you,? my father said gruffly
when he came in.
I flushed a little.
?Is Brian OK??
?He is now,? my father
replied, sitting on the bed next
to me and putting his arm
around me. ?He?s next to the
fire. You can go and talk to
him, if you?d like to.?
My legs felt heavy and my
arms like lead, but I got
dressed and went into the
front room.
There I found Brian, gazing
at the flames in the fireplace.
He looked at me and his eyes
were so sad.
?I?m sorry,? he said quietly.
?Don?t be,? I replied, sitting
beside him.
?Your dad has rung my
dad,? Brian said. ?I think I
might not be at school for a
while.?
?That?s OK. I?m sure Mrs
Jacobs will understand.?
Brian nodded.
?I think she will, too.?
Brian?s parents had split up
and he felt he had no friends
to confide in at school. To this
day, I don?t know whether he
fell or jumped into the lake,
but he often tells me that if I
hadn?t been there, then he
wouldn?t be as happy as he is
today, married with four
beautiful children.
Something changed in me
that day. Suddenly I wasn?t so
afraid any more.
* * * *
Standing at the front of the
class, I surveyed the eager
faces in front of me.
?I would like to propose
that we all pool our pocket
money together and buy Brian
some books and magazines in
hospital,? I said. ?Hopefully
he?ll be out soon.?
The class murmured in
agreement.
?Excellent idea.? Mrs
Jacobs looked at me warmly.
?Also,? I added, ?I think we
should visit Brian in hospital.
He needs to know he has
friends that truly care.?
I was sure that when I stood
beside our music and drama
teacher that day, her light
touched me. The world
seemed different, somehow,
as if I was looking at it with
new eyes.
I didn?t expect to be
hardly recognisable in her
glittery dress and white wings.
Afterwards we held hands
as we bowed to rapturous
applause.
I went to find Mrs Jacobs
once we?d finished on stage. I
wanted to thank her for giving
me confidence, for allowing
me to see that I had more to
offer the world than I had
thought.
I couldn?t find her. She
wasn?t in her classroom and
the other teachers said she?d
left early.
The following year we had
a new music and drama
teacher. Apparently Mrs
Jacobs was teaching abroad.
* * * *
Today, after several years on
stage in the West End, I?m a
teacher, too, of performing
arts.
As I said, Mrs Jacobs was a
huge influence on me.
However, I really am a
teacher. I?m not so sure Mrs
We were all blessed to have known
Mrs Jacobs for a short time
selected as Cinderella for the
production, although no-one
else was surprised.
?You have to be the bravest
girl in the school,? Sophie
said to me with awe.
?Or the daftest, to plunge
into icy water,? Fiona
commented, winking. ?I
promise I?ll still be nice to
you, even though I?m one of
the ugly sisters!?
But I wasn?t worried. I
wasn?t afraid of performing
on stage, or even of singing
and dancing.
Perhaps it was because I?d
faced my fears that day with
Brian, or maybe it was Mrs
Jacobs?s influence on me, but
the production was a big
success.
We all knew the fairy
godmother in our play was
our teacher, but she was
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Jacobs was. I mean, she
certainly taught us. She taught
us about love and compassion,
being kind and caring, but
when I went to her classroom
that day, there was a white
feather on her desk, similar to
the one that fell from the sky.
Most would say that it came
from the wings she wore on
stage.
But I would say she was a
light being, and that we were
blessed to have known her for
a short time. She touched all
our lives.
I have kept the feathers and
when I look at them and touch
them, I feel joy inside.
Our music and drama
teacher was beautiful,
because, quite simply, she was
an angel.
The End.
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33
H. Johnson-Mack?s amusing short story
sees two grandmothers at war.
Angel Wings
Rose was determined little Meg would
rise head and shoulders above the rest!
Illustration by iStock.
R
OSE CUTLER
poked her head
out of the kitchen
when she heard
the door open.
?So, what?s her part??
Beth frowned as she shook
off her damp coat.
?Let me get inside, Mum!?
She kissed her father, then
sniffed appreciatively.
?Can I smell mince-pies??
Rose nodded, unveiling a
plate of pastries on the table.
?I?ve baked these with a
dash of brandy, in honour of
the occasion. Now, tell, love.
Is Meg going to be Mary??
?Well, no, she?s the narrator.
It?s a much better part, really,?
Beth added at Rose?s
crestfallen expression. ?She
has the most lines in the
whole play. Her teacher thinks
she projects herself well.?
Peter Cutler cast a look
upwards, where the yells of
his granddaughter as she
battled with dragons could be
heard. Rose looked
disappointed.
?That?s lovely, but I was
hoping she?d be Mary. I had
her costume all worked out.?
?Never mind, Mum. The
narrator?s an angel. Imagine
what you can create for that.?
Peter smiled.
?That?s great news, eh,
Rosie? You?ve been itching
for something else to use that
dressmaking knowledge on.?
?Well, I?ll do my best.
Angels are a bit trickier.?
?I don?t mind sharing my
photography studio again,?
Peter joked, referring to the
spare bedroom.
?I?m looking forward to
Meg?s first nativity.? Beth
beamed. ?It should be a good
production. The whole of
Class One has a part to play.?
An arrested expression
replaced the soft glow on
Rose?s face.
?Jacob Rutherford, too??
Beth swallowed.
?Yes. He?s Gabriel.?
Rose?s cup clattered back
into its saucer.
?He?s an angel as well?
Then there?s no time to lose!?
Jumping to her feet, she
rushed to fetch bag and coat.
?I have to go shopping now
before that woman buys all
the best stuff!?
Beth stared after her mum.
?Mum still has a complex
about Mrs Rutherford, then??
Peter selected a mince-pie.
?Oh, yes.?
* * * *
Rose pulled down her hat
against the north wind as she
hurried along the high street.
Revesby?s was one of those
sell-everything shops rapidly
closing to make way for more
sophisticated specialist stores,
but Rose knew they?d have
just what she needed to create
something ethereal for Meg.
Browsing round Revesby?s
cluttered aisles was one of her
pleasures, but today she was
too tense to enjoy it.
If there was one soul in this
world who could destroy her
comfort, it was Judith
Rutherford. Rose had never
been an overly confident
woman, but since she and
Peter retired, their neighbour
with the chocolate-box cottage
and perfect appearance had
eroded what little she had.
She seemed to take a delight
in participating in everything
Rose tried and then doing it
better. Like the baking stall at
last year?s f阾e, where she
triumphed over Rose not only
in sales but also the superior
quality of her Victoria sponge.
Then there was the
gardening club, of which
Judith was president. Rose
was not green-fingered, and
after being subjected to that
woman?s patronising
?support? she gave it up in
despair.
Dressmaking, however, was
one thing Rose could do. After
updating her skills in a course
this summer she was eager to
get to work on Meg?s outfit.
She envisaged her
granddaughter in white satin,
haloed by swansdown wings.
She worked hard all the
following week, cutting,
sticking and sewing, bringing
her vision to life.
She was pleased with her
design, even after bumping
into her nemesis in the
supermarket.
?I hear you bought all
Revesby?s stock of feathers,
Mrs Cutler,? Judith drawled in
her lofty voice. ?So there were
none left for Jacob?s wings.
?Luckily, I?ve been able to
source some stunning fabric.
He?ll draw every eye!?
Rose smiled and doggedly
continued with her own
creation.
?It?ll look lovely on Meg,?
she enthused to Beth next
Saturday. ?And it will put that
woman?s nose right out of
joint!?
Beth frowned.
?Are you actually bothered
about Meg in this, Mum, or
just about getting the better of
Judith Rutherford? You
haven?t even asked how
rehearsals are going!?
Rose flushed and bit her lip.
It was true. In her eagerness to
make the best costume, she?d
forgotten all about her
granddaughter and her first
nativity play.
?You?re right, I?m sorry.
Meg, love, why don?t you
show us what you?ve been
practising??
Megan was happy to oblige,
using a stool and Grandad?s
photography screen as a
backdrop. She began
proclaiming her lines,
throwing her arms out for
added effect.
Suddenly, she slipped, the
stool toppled and she crashed
into Rose?s worktable. Rose
saved Meg from falling but
was unable to do the same to
the swanlike angel wings.
?Oh, Mum!? Beth gasped as
she lifted them, dripping, from
a mess of spilt paint and
glitter. ?Your beautiful
wings!?
Peter came in on a scene of
tears, Meg joining in with her
grandma?s wails. After
hearing what had happened,
he was about to comfort his
wife when he paused and
nudged her instead.
?Look,? he murmured, and
nodded to where Meg stood
before his screen.
* * * *
The school hall was buzzing
with anticipation as the lights
dimmed, ready for the nativity
play to begin. Rose hugged
Peter?s arm.
In golden gown and halo,
Meg stood before a screen
Rose had adorned with a pair
of glistening, arched angel
wings. Carefully positioned
and lit from behind, it made
Meg look like she was floating
on air. The effect was
amazing; even Judith
Rutherford had begrudgingly
remarked on it!
?Doesn?t she look lovely??
Peter whispered.
Rose agreed.
?Thanks to you.?
?Us,? Peter corrected. ?We
make a good team.?
Smiling contentedly, Rose
settled back to enjoy as Meg?s
high voice rang out across the
hall.
?One winter-time, long ago,
a special baby was born . . .?
The End.
Hark the Herald Angels
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The Deck the Halls Collection shows images and the first verse from three
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We Three Kings
In this scene, passengers are taking the scenic route by horse and cart through
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The warming tones from the houses in the distance and twinkling lights on the
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The People?s Friend
Spiral
1
In this spiral crossword the last letter of the previous clue forms the first
letter of the next clue. The shaded squares will reveal a fictional character.
2
3
9
4
10
16
pages
22
26
29
25
27
8
23
5
30
28
15
24
20
19
14
18
1
2
3
4
6
Place where ships tie up (4)
Dog?s cry of pain (4)
Hit with the fist (5)
Place where medicinal
plants are grown (4,6)
Mind the Gap
Place a well-known
three-letter word in
the spaces of each
row to complete the
seven-letter word.
Do it correctly and the
shaded squares will
spell out a word.
12
13
7
5
6
7
8
City on the River Tyne (9)
Etched on metal (8)
Film boss (8)
Surname of French
Primitive painter Henri (8)
T R
I
I M
W I
E N
P
B O Y
R O
E
E D
L
9 Type of piano (7)
10 Burial chamber (4)
11 Books about people?s
lives (11)
12 Leisurely walk (6)
13 Sound judgement or
reasoning (5)
14 Group taught together (5)
15 Gwen _, No Doubt singer (7)
16 Breaking down into a
list (phone bill, eg) (9)
17 Green insect with long hind
legs for jumping (11)
18 Mob uprising (4)
19 Bicycle made for two (6)
20 Sports fixture (5)
21 Laughing or crying
uncontrollably (10)
22 Prue ___, cook and TV food
judge (5)
23 Large ring swung round the
waist (4?4)
24 Impolitely enquiring into
someone?s private life (6)
25 Parent?s mother (7)
26 Smart ___, know?all (4)
27 Angelic child (6)
28 State experienced when you
find things very dull (7)
29 School subject, for short (5)
30 Ride the waves on a
board (4)
8
11
17
21
35
Y
E D
E E R
Initials
If SOL is Statue of Liberty,
what are these other
famous landmarks?
1 CTR
4 ET
2 GGB
5 ESB
3 ME
6 TM
T
T E
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com
Wordsearch
Find all the listed words relating to oils in the grid. Words
can run horizontally, vertically, forwards, backwards or
diagonally.
S U N F
L O W E R N R O C
ALMOND
LAVENDER
ARGAN
LINSEED
AVOCADO
MAIZE
BERGAMOT
OLIVE
L Y R R T C O
CASTOR
PALM
O B A O T C A D A P N T V
COCONUT
PEANUT
T E R L O A N L
L M P E O
CORN
SESAME
U R S C M U E
I
Y A R G C
EUCALYPTUS
SUNFLOWER
O O N T
L P S E A
GROUNDNUT
TEA TREE
JOJOBA
VEGETABLE
E M A S E S A C Y T F E W
V E Z E
I
I
T
L
E S U S Z N G U
I
B S
I
A A
N G F
I
E A R U
I
N A
A A D R R S N M T
I
I
T V D
E M G B E L G D N S R U O
P O T E R E D N E V A L S
I
Number Fit
I
I
T D E P W J O J O B A N
Can you fit the listed numbers into the grid?
3 digits
154
367
570
634
736
920
7 3 6
4 digits
1383
4645
5437
7612
8428
5 digits
42812
65122
75377
84414
90123
6 digits
118237
426670
555767
866057
954814
7 digits
4226753
5469361
8454542
8675764
8 digits
52276208
64052885
65471758
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd ?
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The People?s Friend
37
Try our cryptic crossword
ACROSS
1
2
3
4
5
6
7 Leo?s sin involved his mate (7)
9 Climber carries golden tusk
7
8
9
material (5)
10 First matinee actress ever, Ms West (3)
11 Quote about funny great tobacco
10
11
product (9)
12 Dread losing first letter ? it?s a
mistake (5)
14 Mug finding military vehicle on a
12
13
14
15
road (7)
16 A slap?up outing to European city (7)
18 University bloke elegised interior (5)
16
17
18
19 Neck ornament of old menial,
perhaps (9)
20 Number?s put back in showtime (3)
21 Full up from exotic dates (5)
19
20
22 It?s most orderly to dine in the home (7)
DOWN
1 Lighted torch for Father Brown?s
21
22
assistant (8)
2 Noisily start moving part (4)
3 Sportsman making a boundary? (6)
4 Tiny distance to motorway, but hag
18 East African?s
13 Speed of first phase in
loses energy (6)
knowledge not
attack, it ends badly (8)
5 Snake to track down event on the
returned (6)
15
Direction
of
rolling
Thames (4,4)
19 Paste is in little time (4)
thunder over house (3,5)
6 Jane and Melody, say (4)
20 Encountered back up
17 Touch upon a lustful
8 A giant star I created during the
and come down (4)
sound (6)
ninth sign (11)
Staircase
Place these words in the horizontal rows so
that the letters in the diagonal staircase spell
out another British animal.
BADGER
BARN OWL
GOOSE
Add Up
If the number
in each circle
is the sum
of the two
below it, how
quickly can
you work out
each top
number?
22
7 9
4
HORSE
LAMB
OTTER
STOAT
28
12
26 12
Kriss Kross
How long will it take you to correctly fit these words
relating to footwear into the grid?
4 letters
6 letters
PAIR
SKATES
VAMP
UPPERS
V
A
WADERS
5 letters
BOOTS
7 letters
CLOGS
BOOTEES
LACES
GAITERS
PUMPS
GILLIES
SHOES
SANDALS
SOLES
TOECAPS
SPATS
TONGUES
M
P
STRAP
Brick Trick
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Enter the answers to the clues in the bricks in the wall. Every
word is an anagram of its neighbours, plus or minus a letter.
1 Lively and full of go (8)
2 Having bands of colour (7)
3 Single long step (6)
4 Worn out, sleepy (5)
5 Filth (4)
6 Get _ of, abolish (3)
7 Terrible (4)
8 American cafe (5)
9 Encircled, surrounded (6)
10 Sermon (7)
11 Degree of slope on a road (8)
10
11
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd ?
www.puzzler.com
The People?s Friend
Quiz Crossword
ACROSS
8 Which person has the
right to sit in the House of
Lords? (4,2,3,5)
9 What are granny, reef and slip
examples of? (4)
1
13 Of which former duchy and
province of France was William
the Conqueror Duke? (8)
14 Which Simon was vocalist with
Duran Duran? (2,3)
16 Which 1987 Steve Martin
film was based on Cyrano de
Bergerac? (7)
17 What is the world?s lowest
lake? (4,3)
21 What is the first name of
the singer known as ?the
Boss?? (5)
23 What is a French clear
meat?based soup? (8)
25 What is the surname of 1960s
yodelling Aussie singer,
Frank? (6)
27 What is the title of an H Rider
Haggard novel as well as
a 1974 hit song for Charles
Aznavour? (3)
28 What is the name of the
Sharks? rival gang in Leonard
Bernstein?s West Side
Story? (4)
29 In which English county are
the towns of Redditch and
Bromsgrove? (14)
DOWN
1 Which song was a consecutive
UK No.1 for Abba between
Mamma Mia and Dancing
Queen? (8)
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 What completes the title of the
novel by Daphne Du Maurier,
Jamaica ___? (3)
11 What completes the title of
the Jeffrey Archer novel First
Among ___? (6)
2
10
12
11
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
2 What is the
administrative capital of
South Africa? (8)
3 Which Dutch?based
language is spoken in
Cape Town? (9)
4 What completes the
title of the Welsh
hymn Cwm ___ often
played at British state
occasions? (7)
5 What is the surname of
Australian?born feminist
author Germaine? (5)
6 What is Europe?s
second?longest river? (6)
7 What completes
the Erich K鋝tner
novel ___ and the
Detectives? (4)
12 What word comes before
Monica and Barbara to
make two Californian
cities? (5)
15 What is the French word
for ?sirs?? (9)
16 What title is given to
a teacher of Jewish
law? (5)
18 Which bulbous
narrow?necked bottle
is used in domestic
wine?making? (8)
19 Who are participants
in three?day
equestrianism? (8)
20 Of which family did John
Galsworthy write a series
of novels between 1906
and 1921? (7)
22 Which US TV series was
based around a Boston
bar? (6)
24 What does the A stand
for in VAT? (5)
26 What is a young deer
called? (4)
39
Codeword
In this completed crossword, every number in the
grid represents a different letter of the alphabet.
Three letters have been filled in to give you a start.
9
3
12
3
L
O
15
23
11
12
24
N
3
26
16
17
25
14
24
16
16
17
1
14
12
11
14
16
17
3
15
3
2
14
16
12
11
17
24
21
3
6
22
4
26
2
12
13
26
16
3
18
24
26
16
16
11
12
16
17
15
13
15
11
12
16
16
17
16
24
25
16
16
5
14
4
24
13
16
21
26
11
19
3
4
26
10
21
4
16
26
16
14
11
11
7
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1
2
3
14
15
16
O
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
N
Two in One
Find one word that fits both clues. The first
letter of each word, read in order, will spell
out a singer.
1 Cornish pie/Pale-faced
2 Line/Fight
3 Private, personal/Suggest implicitly
4 Amount/With less feeling
5 At ease/Information (in a magazine, eg)
6 Take advantage of/Deed, feat
STEM
2
CHAR
3
DOLE
4
SHED
5
LANE
6
RISE
11
3
17
1
17
17
24
Add a letter to each word
and rearrange the letters
to fit the clues. The added
letters, read in order, will
spell out a word.
15
7
24
4
12
25
16
2
13
24
23
26
12
15
8
20
11
16
Add a Letter
L
1 Conditions
2 Arrive at
3 Miniature
representation
4 Protect from the sun
5 Memorise (facts)
6 One who travels
across snow
Word Link
Find the word
that can precede
all four of these
words to make
four new words
or phrases.
RON
TRESSES
TED
TING
The People?s Friend
Arroword
41
Enter the answers in the direction indicated by the arrows.
Infant?s
glimpsing
game
City of the
wooden
horse
Ogden __,
US poet
Courage
All the __,
currently
trendy
Moses?
brother
Quantities
Long-leaved
lettuce
Neither
Middle
Eastern
inhabitant
To the point
Mixer with
whisky
Vernon __,
TV presenter
Bone
attached to
the sternum
Sir Chris __,
cyclist
Cheap ciggie
Playingcard
Tin for food
or drink
Choose
Hilltop fire
Dour
__ Paloma
Blanca,
1970s song
Colourstain
Regretted
Gnawing
animals
Office of
ship?s master
Final chess
move
Pathfinder
Beginning with the highlighted word, follow a continuous path to find all
the words relating to sleepovers. The trail passes through each and every
letter once, and may twist up, down or sideways, but never diagonally.
U G E R A T E C H T O
A H T B
L O C L
I
N R
L S N E D H O D R E C
N T O
I
R C T E V M H
E R A S O O M D U A K
A J
P Y
I
P E E P U E
M Y C A N G S
L G
A P K N A B K
L
S N
I
I
A T G
S G O V E R E
T H G S
G
L P T S P
L
L
A
W E A R E E E E W S Y
BEDROOM
CHILDREN
CHOCOLATE
DUVET
GIGGLE
LAUGHTER
MAKE-UP
NIGHTWEAR
NOISY
PARENTS
PLAY
PYJAMAS
SLEEPING BAG
SLEEP OVER
SNACK
SWEETS
TALK
TORCH
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com
SOLUTIONS
Spiral
Q U A Y E L P U N C H E R
A U P R
I G H T O M B
I
B
E T E M I
S
I
S
I
C A L E S G A
I
T E R
N G R A O G
S N S A N D M A L
I
S R R
U A Y R D O M A E T H A D
O F H G E R F T C H O P E
R E C N R U S H H U P H N
O T T
I O B U R E L P
I
E
T S A Y R P O O H A E E W
C S M E D N A T O I
E A L C
R
I
R S C
I G O L L O R T A
D E V A R G N E L T S
1 Quay 2 Yelp 3 Punch 4 Herb garden
5 Newcastle 6 Engraved 7 Director
8 Rousseau 9 Upright 10 Tomb
11 Biographies 12 Stroll 13 Logic 14 Class
15 Stefani 16 Itemising 17 Grasshopper
18 Riot 19 Tandem 20 Match 21 Hysterical
22 Leith 23 Hula-hoop 24 Prying
25 Grandma 26 Alec 27 Cherub
28 Boredom 29 Maths 30 Surf
QUEEN OF HEARTS
Mind the Gap
One possible solution is Tribute,
Impaled, Willowy, Enraged, Pioneer,
Boycott, Rosette BALANCE
Initials
1 Christ the Redeemer
2 Golden Gate Bridge
3 Mount Everest
4 Eiffel Tower
5 Empire State Building
6 Taj Mahal
Wordsearch
S
E
V
I
L
O
T
U
N
A
E
P
I
U
M
E
I
Y
B
E
R
G
A
M
O
T
N
A
Z
E
R
A
R
S
F
D
G
T
D
F
S
E
S
R
O
L
C
I
R
B
E
E
L
E
I
U
T
T
O
M
O
R
E
R
P
O
S
E
S
C
C
A
U
O
S
L
E
W
W
A
A
Z
O
A
N
E
N
N
G
D
J
E
C
R
N
I
D
L
I
T
M
D
N
O
Number Fit
8 4 4 1 4
5 4
2
2
2
5 2 2 7 6 2 0 8
4
6
6
1
3 6 7
7 6 1 2
7
5 7 0
5
3
8 4 2
9
6
8 6 6 0 5 7
5
5
1
5
1 1 8 2 3 7
2
3
6
9 2 0
6 4 0 5
R
Y
U
G
N
A
L
Y
L
T
N
E
J
6 9
5
4
3 8
1
4
8
4
5 5
4
5
4
2 8
N
T
I
U
A
P
M
A
P
I
S
V
O
R
F
T
I
I
N
P
R
S
T
R
A
B
O
E
L
B
A
T
E
G
E
V
U
L
A
3 6 1
3
4
3
7
6 4 5
5
3
4
7
7 6 7
1
7 3 6
5
8 5
C
W
I
S
A
V
O
C
A
D
O
S
N
Cryptic
F
L
A
M
B
E
A
U
M
I
S
O
R
F
I ON E S
L
N
A E
C I
E
RROR
A
P P S A L
I
L
E DA L L
I
U
A T E D
Y
E
Codeword
M B
E
S
I VOR Y
A
C
A
R
GAR E T T E
I
O R
T ANKARD
T
C
U
A
K E E L E
R
E
N
I ON
T WO
A
Y
E
R
N E A T E S T
N M H
Staircase
HORSE, BARN OWL, LAMB,
GOOSE, STOAT, OTTER,
BADGER spelling HAMSTER
BOOME D
L
R
X
O L I V E
L
N G R
A
DRA S T I C
E M
Q
I N F L U
E
I
E
L E A S E
R
A
L
L
E
P ROD D E D
S
O
E
E F F OR T
S U
N
I K
N
O
W
E N
E J
A
U
N
S T
L L E N
A
U
E N E D
C
I
V E R T
Y
Z A
V
H
O I C E
A
R
N T I E
O
S
ARR Y
Add a Letter
Top puzzle: 77
Bottom puzzle: 150
1 Terms
2 Reach
3 Model
4 Shade
5 Learn
6 Skier
spelling REMARK
Kriss Kross
Two in One
Add Up
S HOE S
B
K
T OE CA P S
T
GA I T E R S
I
S
O
L
C L
L AC E S
E
I
S
E
P
S P A T S
B
I
R
WA
OO T S
O
V
N
A
G M
P UMP S
E
A
OGS
N
U
D
T RA P
A
P
L
OO T E E S
R
D E R S
Brick Trick
S P I R I T E D
S T R I P E D
S T R I D E
T I R E D
D I R T
R I D
D I R E
D I N E R
R I NGE D
R E AD I NG
GRAD I E N T
P
A
R G
RO F T H E R E
E
R O
E
T
I NN
EQ
O K
D
R
RMAND Y
L
I
A
A M
ANN E
D E A
S
F
S
C E
CON SO
H
A
R
I
E L D
S H E
E
D
Y
U
RC E S T E R S
S
D
E
S
Word Link
The word is MAT, making
MATRON, MATTRESSES,
MATTED and MATTING
Arroword
P
E
H E
K
F A
B
O
RO
T
N
R
A
RO I S
A Y
H
G
E ACO
CA P
D E N T
C
A
ARON
R
M SODA
OY
R I B
U G R
N
RU E D
T A I N C Y
S MA T E
Pathfinder
Quiz Crossword
F
P E E
R
KNO
A
NO
D
ROX
A
BRU
B
I F I
A
WO
N
1 Pasty 2 Row 3 Intimate
4 Number 5 Content
6 Exploit PRINCE
D
E
A LM
N
I
UA L S
B
A
E BON
T
D S E A
E
V
MME
I
N
J E T S
O
E
H I R E
N
S
U
A
L
N
E
A
M
A
S
T
W
G
H
S
T
R
J
Y
P
N
H
E
E
T
N
O
A
P
C
K
I
G
A
R
B
E
I
S
Y
A
N
S
S
R
A
L
D
R
O
I
N
A
G
L
E
T
O
H
C
O
P
G
B
O
P
E
E
C
O
T
M
E
S
K
V
T
E
C
L
D
E
D
E
L
L
E
S
E
H
I
R
V
U
P
G
A
R
P
W
T
N
E
M
A
U
I
T
E
L
S
O
R
C
H
K
E
G
G
L
A
Y
NOISY, PARENTS, LAUGHTER,
BEDROOM, DUVET, CHOCOLATE,
CHILDREN, TORCH, MAKE-UP,
GIGGLE, TALK, SLEEPING BAG,
SNACK, PYJAMAS, NIGHTWEAR,
SLEEP OVER, PLAY, SWEETS
43
This atmospheric short story by Annie Harris
is set in Australia.
The Far
Side Of The
Mountains
If Joshua was to be
believed, there was a
land of opportunity
across the hills . . .
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
T
ILLY sat, her back against a
rough tree trunk. The
afternoon heat, the incessant
crick-crick of the insects in the
grass and the greenish river
rippling quietly at her feet all made her
drowsy.
She was almost asleep when she heard
footsteps and jumped into wakefulness,
her heart beating faster. No-one came
here to the head of the river on a boiling
Sunday afternoon.
But someone had, for through the trees
overhanging the river she saw a young
man approaching. She scrambled to her
feet, hastily brushed twigs from her
gown and set her cap to rights.
They stared at each other for an
awkward moment, then he ducked his
head.
?Afternoon, miss.?
?Oh!?
Tilly realised that he was in convict
shirt and breeches and took a step back,
but he grinned down at her, teeth white
against his sunburnt face.
?Don?t worry, miss. I don?t bite.?
?No, of course not.? She was scarlet
with confusion. ?It?s just that I never see
anyone here when I come on a Sunday.?
She went to edge past him but he put a
hand on her arm.
?Don?t run away on my account. I
came to try my luck with the fish, but it?s
too hot. I?ve only got a couple of tiddlers
so far.?
He held out a rush basket in which lay
two small fish. Tilly knew that the
convict labourers barely had enough to
eat at times, and the sight of these tiny
fish, carefully cradled on damp leaves,
brought tears to her eyes.
?I suppose if you roast them whole on
an open fire . . .?
?Oh, they?re not for me. I?ve got a
mate ? Sam. He?s getting old, poor
fellow, and finds the work too much. He
should never have been transported
here.? He scowled. ?I wanted to give him
a treat.?
?Please,? she said impulsively. ?Come
and try here, where this stream comes in.
George comes here often, and ??
?George? Who?s he??
?He?s a steward up at Government
House. I?m a maidservant there.? She
smiled faintly. ?And a convict, like
yourself.?
?Sit down.? He sat in the shade of a
eucalypt and patted the ground. ?What?s
your name??
?Matilda Brown, but everyone calls me
Tilly.?
?Tilly.? He regarded her for a moment
then put out his hand, callused from
heavy work.
?I?m Josh ? Joshua Rivers. Your
servant, ma?am.?
?I ? I should go.? She felt herself
flushing under his scrutiny.
?Not yet. Tell me how a well-spoken
young woman . . . how old are you??
?Seventeen.? She ought to get up and
leave, but his grey eyes held her.
?So, how come you?re here in New
South Wales, working at Government
House in Parramatta? Where are you
from??
?London. My father was a clergyman,
but when I was very young he caught a
Set
in the
1800s
fever visiting the sick. He died, then a
week later my mother followed him.?
Her voice trembled and he put a hand
over hers and gently squeezed it.
?Did you have any relations to care for
you??
She shook her head.
?No. I was all alone and taken to the
orphanage, but when I was thirteen a
lady came. She needed a young girl to be
a maid. We had to put on our Sunday
pinafores and she looked us all over.?
?Like prize cattle.? Joshua scowled.
?Well, perhaps. Anyway, she chose me.
I don?t know why.?
?I do.?
He gave her a look which made her
heart beat faster, and she went on
hurriedly.
?I was so happy there. I started as a
kitchen maid, but Lady Lyall took a
fancy to me and had me trained as a
lady?s maid. I wish she?d left me in the
kitchen,? she added vehemently.
?Why??
?Eloise, her French maid, became
jealous.? She drew a deep breath. ?I was
accused of stealing my lady?s pearls.
They were found in my box. My lady
begged her husband not to proceed
against me ? I think she suspected the
truth ? but he called the constables.
?As I was taken away, I saw Eloise?s
face.? She shuddered. ?It was so full of
malice and triumph. I was sentenced at
the Old Bailey to five years?
transportation.?
?You poor girl.? He went as if to put
his arm round her, then stopped.
?You must be very bitter.?
44
Tilly shrugged.
?I was, but what?s the
point? And I was lucky ? I
could have been hanged at
Newgate. So many are.?
?And you?re now working
in Government House.?
?Yes. I was sent to the
female prison in Sydney
Cove.? She winced. ?That
was a bad time. But then one
day the governor?s aide came
to select servants for the
House, and he chose me. The
wardress said I?d been
transported for thieving and
he shouldn?t take me.?
?But he did.?
She gave an impish grin.
?Something snapped in me.
I shouted that I?d never stolen
anything in my life and had
been falsely accused. The
wardress looked black as
thunder and I expected a
severe beating, but Mr Cole
just laughed and said he liked
a young woman with spirit.
So here I am. I work in the
kitchen and the dairy.?
?Then I shall bring up the
and they ambushed us.
?Mr Green and my uncle
seemed to go mad, either with
rage or fear, and they pulled
out their pistols and fired.?
?Oh, no!? Her hand flew to
her mouth.
?One officer was killed,
another wounded, and we
were all three taken and
brought up at Lewes Assizes.
My uncle and Green were
both sentenced to death, and I
only escaped the gallows
because one of the officers
had seen me try to deflect my
uncle?s aim, and had heard
me shout not to fire.
?I was sentenced to ten
years, first in the hulks on the
river. That was horrible, and I
often wished to jump
overboard and end it all.? He
was staring at scenes she
could not imagine. ?Then
transportation.?
?I?m so sorry,? Tilly said
softly.
?Well, it could have been
worse. Because I?d worked
on my uncle?s farm, tending
They were a pair of innocents in a
wicked world
vegetables from the farm, and
in that way I shall see you
again, Tilly.?
?Good.?
They smiled at one another,
but then he looked sombre.
?My story is like yours. We
were a pair of innocents in a
wicked world.?
?You mean you were
wrongly accused also??
He grimaced.
?Not quite. I am from the
Romney marshes in Sussex.
Like you, my parents died
when I was young. My
father?s brother took me in,
which I suppose was better
than Lewes Workhouse, but I
was little better than a slave.
?My uncle and a neighbour,
I grew to realise, were
smugglers, bringing brandy in
from France at night. When I
was sixteen I was forced to
help by acting as lookout for
them, for the Revenue were
very active in the marsh.?
He broke off and a dark
shadow flitted across his
features.
?One night, they?d had
word a French cutter was
bringing in a cargo. We set
out for the coast, but the
Revenue had been tipped off
his sheep mainly, I was sent
to Government Farm.?
?Will you go back? When
your time?s up, I mean.?
?To England? What?s there
for me? No, I intend to serve
my time, get ticket-of-leave
and then, Tilly Brown,? he
announced, his eyes
sparkling, ?I shall make my
fortune in this land of
opportunity. What of you??
?I don?t know,? she said
sadly. ?Like you, I have
nothing at home. Oh!? She
jumped to her feet as a bell
clanged in the distance. ?I
must go.?
Snatching up his fish, he
took her hand and together
they ran down the riverside
path. At the edge of the
convict settlement, he stopped
and swept off his ragged cap.
?Good afternoon, Miss
Tilly Brown. Until next
Sunday ? if not before.?
She watched as he darted
away, a flock of scarlet and
green parrots scattering
before him . . .
* * * *
Would he be there? All
week the question went round
and round in her mind as she
peeled vegetables, washed
pans and churned milk in the
dairy.
She knew that many of the
convicts chose to work on
their day of leisure for money
to buy the rough liquor they
craved. Yet somehow she
knew that he would come.
Then he was there before
her, watching his fishing line,
but he leaped up when he saw
her.
?Tilly! I hoped you?d be
here before this.?
?There was a deal of
washing up. The governor?s
lady had friends over from
Sydney Cove.?
She looked down ruefully
at her hands, still red and
crinkled. He took hold of
them and his lips tightened.
?You have lovely hands.
You should not be out here
doing this menial work. You
should be a lady, Tilly, and
one day ?? He stopped
abruptly and at the expression
in his eyes she felt a sudden
shyness.
?Look!? she exclaimed,
breaking the tension that hung
in the air between them. ?You
have a bite.?
He reeled in his line,
dispatched the struggling fish
and laid it in his basket beside
two others.
?These?ll be a good meal
for Sam.? He smiled up at her
but then his face clouded. ?I
fear he?s too weak to go on
much longer. Maybe they?ll
transfer him to lighter duties,
but that?s not their way.?
?Did you know him
before??
?We met on the hulks and
I?ve looked out for him ever
since. I regard him as the
father I can?t remember. Oh,
he?s a criminal, all right, but
who could blame him?
?He was, as he puts it, born
on a dunghill and never knew
his father. His mother was a
travelling woman who sold
him to a gang of thieves. In
trouble all his life, yet he is a
kind, gentle man who never
harmed a soul.?
He heaved a long sigh.
?All he talks about is going
home, but I fear he?ll not
serve out his sentence in this
harsh climate. I do what I can,
but . . .? He shrugged.
She dropped to her knees
beside him and took his hand.
?I?m sure you are good to
him, Josh, like a son. But it is
so hard out here, for all of us.
So hard,? she repeated, then
hastily got to her feet. ?I must
go. The governor is holding a
reception this evening and I
shall be needed.?
?Until next week, then, my
dear Tilly.?
He held her workroughened hands, looking
down at them. Then, before
she could draw back, he
gently kissed her palm,
leaving her breathless, her
skin tingling under the touch
of his lips.
* * * *
Tilly picked her way across
the rough ground, carrying
the pannikin of milk. A
couple of days previously she
had almost dropped it when
she saw a brown snake on the
track ahead of her, for only
the week before one of the
Marine guards had been
bitten and died.
Just for a moment she
allowed herself to pause,
looking down the hill towards
the farm, where gangs of
convicts were toiling in the
afternoon heat. Josh must be
among them, but she could
not pick him out.
Josh. Her heart beat faster
and she smiled to herself.
Only two days to Sunday, and
then ?
?Miss!?
She swung round and saw,
not Josh, but another young
convict, Billy, who sometimes
brought produce up to the
House. He was lurking behind
some tea tree bushes.
?Over here, miss.? He
beckoned to her urgently. ?I
mustn?t be seen ? I?ll be
beaten.?
Tilly felt a sudden
apprehension as she stepped
into the shadows beside him.
?What is it? Have you
come about Josh? Is he ill??
?He told me not to tell you,
but seeing you?re his
sweetheart . . . well, that?s
what he said,? he added,
seeing her blush. ?He?s not
ill, but ? it?s his own fault,
miss. He shouldn?t have done
it.?
?Done what??
?Sam ? the old lag ? had
sneaked off for a break. A
Marine caught him and
started hitting him with the
butt of his musket. Josh
leaped on him, pushed him to
the ground and grabbed the
musket off him.?
?Oh, no!?
45
Habits
T
EA in the morning
Wakes me up,
I really need
My breakfast cup.
My coffee breaks
Throughout the day
Help me cope
In every way.
But in the evening
To make life fine,
There?s nothing like
A glass of wine!
iStock.
? Elizabeth Horrocks.
?Anyways, he was
sentenced to fifty lashes.?
Tilly bit her lip, sick
inside.
?And has it . . .
happened??
Billy nodded.
?Yesterday. He passed out
halfway through, thank
God.?
?Where is he now??
?In the infirmary, but
then . . .? He dropped his
gaze and shuffled his feet.
?Then he?ll be sent to
Norfolk Island as a
troublemaker.?
Norfolk Island! The very
name sent a shadow across
the sun.
?Not there! I?ve heard
such stories of that fearful
place.?
?I know. They aim to
break anyone sent there. But
your Josh is tough. Maybe
he?ll be all right.?
?How can I get into the
infirmary??
His eyes widened in
horror.
?You mustn?t. There?ll be
such trouble.? But when he
saw her determined
expression, he went on.
?There?s a back door, and the
apothecary and surgeon go
off duty late afternoon.?
* * * *
Inside, the hut was stifling
and full of the smoke from
two greasy candles which
were all the light illuminating
a row of straw palliasses.
Tilly closed the door softly
then stood listening. There
was no sound at first, then her
ears caught a faint groan.
?Josh,? she whispered.
She heard a rustle from the
far end.
?Tilly? Is that you??
She tiptoed down the hut
and fell to her knees beside
the rough mattress.
?Oh, Josh.?
He was lying on his side
and by the candlelight his
eyes were very bright, his
face pale beneath the
sunburn.
?Tilly, you shouldn?t have
come. You?ll be in terrible
trouble.?
?Hush.? She put her hand
on his mouth. ?Your friend
told me how brave you were.
Is it very bad??
He tried to smile.
?Better now you?re here.?
?I?ve brought some goose
grease and comfrey ointment
from the House. It will ease
you.?
She pulled up his shirt then
gasped with horror as she saw
the bloody weals across his
back. Fighting down the
nausea, she opened the jar.
?I?ll be very gentle, Josh,
but you must tell me if the
pain is too severe.?
She saw him bite hard on
his lip as, with unsteady
hands, she began spreading
the soothing balm across the
broken skin.
Once or twice she heard
him stifle a groan, but finally
she finished and, carefully
drawing down his shirt again,
sat back on her heels.
?Thank you, Tilly. You?re a
good nurse.? He propped
himself on one elbow. ?Oh,
Tilly,? he murmured and next
moment they were kissing.
They drew apart at last,
gazing into each other?s eyes.
?Dearest girl,? he said, ?I
love you.?
?Yes.? She caressed his
cheek.
?You must go, and you
must not risk coming again.
But listen to me. You know
where I?m to be sent??
?Yes.? She repressed a
shudder.
?Well, I will not go. The
next boat leaves in two weeks
but I won?t be on it.?
?What??
?Before that, I mean to
escape.?
?That?s madness!? Her own
face paled. ?Please . . .?
He gently hushed her.
?Now that settlements are
growing up the far side of the
Blue Mountains, ex-lags
who?ve opted to stay here are
being given grants of land,
but I heard one of them
talking to an overseer.
?He?d come back here to
get more of us to help clear
the ground and start farming,
but the brute just laughed at
him, told him we?re all
needed here and to get on
with it.? He took her hand
again and stroked it. ?Tilly, a
young fellow like me, good
with sheep, would be
welcomed and no questions
asked.?
?But if you were given
up, you?d be . . .? her
46
voice trembled ?. . .
hanged as a runaway.?
?No. They make their own
laws over there, and I intend
to make myself so valuable to
them that they won?t want to
lose me.?
?But you?ll never be free,
never get your ticket-ofleave.?
?Hush, love. If it?s that or
Norfolk Island, I?m going.
My dearest girl,
I am so sorry not to have
dared communicate with you
again for these many long
months but Billy, who has
served his time and joined us
on our little settlement, has
promised to deliver this.
I cannot come myself for we
are in the midst of lambing
but I have wonderful news.
Mr Evans, for whom I work,
As weeks passed she wondered if
she would see him again
Will you wait for me??
?Of course,? she said
simply. ?But, Josh, I?ll come
with you.?
?No.?
He shook his head firmly.
?You must serve out your
time, then you?ll be free. And
the way through the
mountains is dangerous. I
shall go alone.?
He gave her an odd little
smile.
?One day, I promise, when
I?ve made my fortune I?ll
shower you with diamonds,
but until ??
At the sound of voices from
outside, he spoke urgently.
?Go ? now.?
They kissed as though their
souls would melt, before he
tore himself free.
?Go!?
In the doorway she looked
back at him, her eyes blurred
with tears.
?I shall never see him
again,? she whispered.
* * * *
Silence. Weeks, then
months, crawled past with no
news. Had Josh, fugitive that
he was, been welcomed as
he?d hoped?
Or had he not even crossed
the mountains? Encountered a
venomous snake, perhaps, or
stumbled down a ravine?
Or he?d been captured and
even now was rotting on
Norfolk Island . . .
The longer the silence
persisted the more certain she
was that she?d been right ?
she?d never see Josh again.
Every Sunday afternoon she
went to the riverhead, scene
of their first meeting. It was
there, one day, that Billy
found her and thrust a
crumpled letter into her
trembling hands.
She tore it open.
has been impressed by my
efforts and my story, and
knowing the governor well,
has obtained for me a free
pardon and a grant of land
with a small flock for myself.
Dearest Tilly, you, too, will
be free soon. If you still love
me, please come to me. Billy
has promised to guide you
through the mountains.
Do you remember that day,
when I said I would shower
you with diamonds? All my
labour and ambition is for
you. Joshua.
* * * *
Rachel held the fragile
paper, yellowed with age, for
the first time feeling those
shadowy figures spring to life.
Tears came to her eyes at
the naked love breathed in
every line, and she gazed
unseeing across the rows of
library desks. Josh and Tilly,
meeting again after so long.
Were they shy at first, or did
he straightaway snatch her up
into his arms?
?Excuse me.?
She was dragged back to
the present as a young man in
T-shirt and jeans bent over
her.
?Yes??
?They told me at the Local
History desk that you?re
researching Joshua and
Matilda Rivers.?
?That?s right,? she admitted.
?Quite a coincidence.?
?Oh?? She eyed him warily
and moved the box of papers
nearer as he slid into the chair
beside her.
?Are you family??
?Well, yes.?
?Out from the UK??
She nodded and he held out
a hand.
?Jamie Rivers. And you
are??
?Rachel Rivers.?
?Ah, then you must be the
great-great-somethinggranddaughter of my greatgreat-something-grandfather
Joshua?s brother, who went
off to the war in 1914, was
wounded, fell in love with his
nurse, married her and stayed
in the UK. Am I right??
?Yes.? She laughed. ?But ??
?How do I know? Well, my
mother?s obsessed with our
family tree. Funny ? we
Aussies used to keep quiet
about our convict ancestry,
but now it?s a badge of
honour.? He grinned. ?But
what are you doing out here,
Rachel??
?Oh, I?m backpacking after
losing my job and boyfriend
in the same week. My mum?s
been researching our family
and asked me to come to the
Mitchell Library here in
Sydney to see what I could
find.?
?Well, I?m pleased to meet
you, second cousin twentyfive times removed or
whatever!?
?I?ve just read this letter.?
He smiled.
?Two hundred years, yet the
passion leaps off the page. I
read it a few days ago. Have
you seen these yet?? He
delved into the box and
brought out a wad of papers.
?It?s all here ? deeds to his
first farm, governor?s pardon,
marriage licence . . .?
He took out a faded sepia
photograph and Rachel saw a
well-dressed elderly couple
sitting on a verandah.
What struck her was that,
unlike most old photos where
the couple would be staring
He nodded.
?It?s come down the
generations, carefully treasured.
And the tradition is that each
Rivers bride will wear it on her
wedding day.?
?Oh?? She felt herself redden
under his scrutiny, and to break
the tension that had suddenly
grown between them, stood up.
?Lunchtime, I think.?
As they walked out into the
midday heat Jamie turned to
her.
?How long are you here for,
Rachel??
?I?m pretty flexible. There?s
so much to see.?
?Have you been up to the
Blue Mountains yet??
?No.?
?My parents live there, in
Leura. That?s why I?m doing
the research for Mom in the
library. She?ll never forgive me
if I let you go without her
meeting you.?
?I?d love to meet her.?
?Well, then, I?m free
tomorrow, so how about a trip
to Leura??
?Great. Thank you.?
As they strolled on, he
smiled.
?You know, it?s fate. I was
planning on going into the
library yesterday but a story
broke ? I?m on the newsdesk of
the ?Morning Herald?, and I
had to cover it.
?And if you hadn?t come till
tomorrow, we might never have
met, twenty-five times removed
cousin. Talking of Fate, have
you met Sydney?s very own
il Porcellino??
She looked blank.
?No.?
?Come this way, then.? He
Had Josh ever managed to shower
Tilly with diamonds?
self-consciously at the
camera, Matilda and Joshua
were gazing at each other,
hands clasped.
?Not sure if he managed to
shower her with diamonds,
but ?? From his jeans pocket
he took a small trinket box
and held it out to Rachel.
She opened it to find a ring
with a cluster of three very
tiny diamonds.
?Now.? From his other
pocket he produced a
magnifying glass. ?Look at
her left hand.?
?Yes!? she breathed. ?It?s
the ring.?
led her along the busy street to
where a bronze statue of a large
boar reclined at his ease. ?The
original?s in Florence, but this
is an exact copy. Now, rub his
nose ? see how shiny it is? And
throw a coin into the water.?
?Why??
Grey eyes looked into hers.
?That way, wherever your
travels take you, you?ll come
back.?
And as Rachel tossed in the
coin, ridiculous though it was,
she had the strangest feeling
that she would.
The End.
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48
This mystery story by Val Bonsall is set in the Seventies.
Illustration by Philip Crabb.
C
A Christmas
Conundrum
HRISSIE began to type.
DECEMBER 19, 1973.
Barry Baines phoned me last
night. He?s a member of a
choir. They sing carols round
town every December to raise money for
a local charity. They do well, too. There
was an article in the paper about how
they always make quite a lot.
The money was in Barry?s care. He?s
the choir group?s treasurer. He keeps it
until it?s handed over ? on Christmas Eve
usually. However, they?re having a
particularly good year this year so they
decided to take what they?d collected so
far to the charity?s office early.
Whilst they were making the delivery, it
was stolen from Barry?s car which had
briefly been left unattended with an open
window . . .
Chrissie broke off from typing Glyn?s
file note. The aged typewriter was doing
its keys-jamming thing, not helped, she
imagined, by the fact she was hitting
them wearing gloves because the office
was freezing.
Separating the keys, she wondered, not
for the first time, why she stayed. As well
as everything else, the weird hours had
devastated her love life ? she had no-one
to buy a special Christmas gift for this
year.
She sighed. She stayed because, despite
all the disadvantages, it was more
interesting working for a private detective
than for a bank or insurance company.
She had to admit, though, on first view,
this case was not exactly exciting.
A car left with money inside and the
window open? Yeah, sure! It stood to
reason. It had to be this Barry who?d
nicked the money himself, didn?t it?
Glyn came in, huddled in a military
overcoat, and she told him her opinion.
?No,? he replied, ?Barry is as honest as
the day is long.?
?We?re coming up to the shortest day,
Glyn!? she reminded him.
He smiled.
?He?s a childhood friend of mine ? our
families were neighbours. Furthermore, if
I can?t get it back for him, he intends to
make up the missing money from his own
pocket. He says he?ll pay my fee
Who had stolen the
money from the car?
Glyn and Chrissie were
on the case!
regardless of the result.?
?Why didn?t he just go to the police??
?He?s sure none of the other choir
members did it, but knows that won?t
stop them being prime police suspects.
He wants to save them that.? He paused.
?He?s right, too. That?s exactly the
approach the police would take. The
other members knew of the plan, would
recognise his car, and the culprit could
have seen Marielle getting out, leaving a
window open ??
?Marielle??
?A friend of his sister, Lydia. Lydia
works overseas for a voluntary
organisation, as does Marielle. Lydia was
home recently, but has returned to
whatever far-flung place they?re helping
out in, whereas Marielle?s having a break
now, visiting family here, and Lydia said
to look Barry up.?
Chrissie frowned and Glyn continued.
?Before you suggest that she took the
money, Barry wouldn?t have entrusted
the job to her if he?d any doubts about
her, and that?s good enough for me.
?I?m going to take a look at his car.
Come along and hopefully you?ll meet
him and see for yourself. If he?s awake.?
?What??
?He?s a scientist working on a big
project. The experiment is twenty-four
hours a day, and he?s doing nights at
present. That?s why Marielle offered to
help out. I guess she?s just that kind of
person, what with the type of work she
does and everything.?
?OK.? Chrissie nodded. Maybe she
had jumped to conclusions too quickly.
* * * *
Glyn?s Ford Capri, Chrissie was
pleased to discover, was notably warmer
than the office.
As they drove along, she hummed
Wizzard?s ?I Wish It Could Be Christmas
Every Day?. She also liked its seasonal
rival, Slade?s ?Merry Xmas Everybody?.
?You like Christmas?? Glyn interrupted
her.
?Yes. Doesn?t everyone??
He didn?t reply, but she suspected he
wasn?t keen. Cards were arriving at the
office but he barely glanced at them.
Reaching their destination, out of long
habit they parked some distance from
Barry?s house.
Private detectives, Glyn had once told
her, never gave out any information they
didn?t need to, and that included what
make of car they were driving. You never
knew when you would want to remain
incognito.
Marielle was with Barry. Just off his
nightshift, he was clearly tired.
Chrissie immediately liked him.
Marielle, as well as being very pretty, also
seemed nice.
Barry?s car was an MGB and Chrissie
squeezed inside with Glyn to examine it.
?No obvious clues there,? was Glyn?s
verdict as they clambered back out.
She had no reason to disagree.
He turned then to Marielle.
?So on the way to the charity?s office
you stopped and got out of the car. Why
was that??
?I had the window open to get some air
in as the windscreen was misted, and I got
a lovely smell of mince-pies as I was
passing the bakery. Barry loves mince-pies
so I stopped to get him some.
?I guess I just didn?t think about the
window. It wasn?t open much.? She broke
off tearfully.
?It?s all right,? Barry said, putting his
arm round her.
Chrissie watched the way she snuggled
closer to him.
?So you parked right outside the shop??
Glyn continued. ?Presumably it?s got a big
window. Did you see anyone reaching into
the car and perhaps opening the door??
Marielle shook her head.
?Sorry. I think I was too interested in the
mince-pies to notice much else!?
?Where exactly is this baker?s??
?Just at the other end of the road from
the charity?s office ? that?s how I saw it,
49
driving past on my way there.?
Back in the Capri, Chrissie turned to
Glyn.
?To the bakery, I assume??
?Yes. If she parked right outside,
someone in there may have noticed
something.?
* * * *
?OK,? Glyn said when they got out of
the car a few minutes later, ?I?ll go and
speak to the assistants and you just hang
about here and keep an eye on the car.
?You?ll see I?ve left a window open.
It?s possible there?s someone working
this patch, looking for a chance just like
that.?
As Glyn disappeared into the shop, a
familiar figure came out.
It was Michael, a guy Chrissie had first
met at college.
?Long time no see!? he greeted her,
explaining he?d been working away.
Chrissie already knew that. She?d kept
informed, the truth being she?d rather
liked him and at one time had nursed
hopes he felt the same.
?But I?m back now,? he continued,
?and I?m having a party to celebrate.?
He grinned at her.
?Will you make it a real occasion for
me and come along??
?Try to stop me!? she said, grinning
back.
He gave her the details before getting
into a van and driving off.
Glyn reappeared then.
?Anyone show interest in the car??
?No-one at all,? she said, hoping it was
the truth, since she herself had been so
busy talking to Michael she hadn?t given
it any attention.
Getting back in, she was grateful
nothing had been disturbed.
?Learn anything interesting?? she
asked as they drove off.
?Apparently a certain Jack Smith was
on the street at the time in a Santa Claus
hat.? Glyn pulled a face. ?The chap was
handing out advertising leaflets for his
own shop.?
?His own shop??
?Yes. Mr Smith runs a rival bakery. It
seems he does well in the summer ?
people queue up for his strawberry tarts!
But at Christmas his mince-pies just
cannot compete with theirs. His leaflets
were advertising a two-for-the-price-ofthree special offer.?
?Don?t you mean three-for-the-priceof-two??
Glyn laughed.
?I guess I do! I never was much good
with numbers. But the thing is, Smith and
his wife are members of Barry?s choir.
One of the assistants mentioned it when
we were talking. Made some joke about
how he?d be singing carols next to attract
people.?
?So you?re suggesting Smith
recognised Barry?s car, guessed where it
was going and that it might well have the
money in it, and decided ??
?Decided to take it, yes ? with his
business not doing well.?
Although only early afternoon, it was
starting to get dark.
?I want to have another look at Barry?s
car,? Glyn continued. ?But in the daylight.
So we?d better leave it until tomorrow
morning.?
Back at the office, a couple more cards
had arrived.
?Not another robin!? Glyn grumbled as
he opened the first and passed it to her.
The second one was different. He moved
away from her desk before opening it.
Did he recognise the handwriting on the
envelope, she later wondered.
With a funny look on his face that she
thought she?d seen before but couldn?t
remember when, he took it with him into
his own office, closing the door behind
him.
* * * *
?Keep your fingers crossed for some
powdery white stuff,? he said next
morning as they drove to Barry?s to have
the second look at the car.
?Snow?? Had she got it wrong and Glyn
did like Christmas after all?
?No! Flour!?
?Ah, yes, the baker who maybe stole the
money.?
Glyn had told Barry they were coming,
but it was Marielle who greeted them with
the keys. After another long night, he was
in bed.
?Where has the car been since we last
saw it?? Glyn asked as he and Chrissie
peered into it.
?Nowhere much. I drove Barry to
work in it last night and picked him
50
up this morning, that?s all.
Several cars have been
broken into in the laboratory?s
car park, and he doesn?t want
to leave it there overnight.?
Glyn nodded his agreement
as he lowered himself into the
vehicle while Chrissie
watched.
He was in a good few
minutes, but said to Chrissie
as they drove back to the
office that it had been a waste
of time.
?Not completely,? Chrissie
replied, giving what she hoped
was an enigmatic smile.
?Barry works at that lab on
the new industrial park,
doesn?t he? Which is ? what?
? two miles from his home??
?About that.?
?So that?s four miles there
and back. Marielle said that
was the only trip the car had
made since we saw it
yesterday, but there were an
additional seventy miles on
the clock!?
?Are you sure??
?Yes. I?m good with
numbers, remember. I can tell
a rubbish mince-pie offer
when I hear it!?
He was silent a while,
thinking.
?I?m not actually that bad
with numbers myself. Seventy
miles, you say. Less the four
we know about.
?So sixty-six. Say, thirtythree miles to somewhere and
then thirty-three back.
?What?s thirty-three miles
away??
He answered the question
himself, naming their largest
neighbouring town.
* * * *
?You don?t mind me
stealing a few hours of your
beauty sleep?? Glyn asked as
he collected Chrissie from her
parents? house just before ten
o?clock that night. ?But when
you?re tailing someone, it can
be useful if there are two of
you.?
?No problem,? she said,
getting into the Capri beside
him.
They drove to near where
Barry worked and parked
down a little lane that hid
them but gave a good view of
the main road.
Headlights off, they waited.
?There?s his car now,?
Chrissie said excitedly, ?with
Marielle driving, dropping
him off, as she said.?
?It?s what she does after she
drops him off that I?m
interested in,? Glyn replied.
Just minutes later she came
back down the road, alone
now, and they pulled out
behind her.
As Glyn had predicted,
Marielle headed to the
neighbouring town. The roads
were very quiet on the
winter?s night and it was easy
not to lose her.
Frosty fields were soon
replaced with the suburbs of
the town, then the wider
streets of the centre.
?Right,? he said as they
entered a large square. ?She?s
stopping.?
With no convenient side
streets available here, Glyn
brought the Capri to a halt in
among a line of parked cars.
A little ahead of them,
Marielle was already out of
hers and walking towards the
entrance to what looked like
the town?s top hotel ? the
equivalent of the Swan in
their own town. A huge
Christmas tree stood at each
side of the grand doorway.
A man was coming out of
the hotel and Chrissie wasn?t
surprised that he turned to
smile at Marielle ? she had
that effect on people.
Then she seemed to
stumble. He stepped forward
to assist her, nearly colliding
with another man ? very
handsome, Chrissie could see
that much in the hotel?s lights
? coming out at the same
time.
?So sorry,? she heard the
second man apologising.
Then it was Glyn?s voice
she heard as he leapt out of
the car.
?He?s taken your wallet!?
he shouted to the first man.
The second man was by
now running away, with
Marielle after him. But
Marielle wasn?t chasing him
in pursuit. Even in the drama
of the moment Chrissie
realised they knew each
other.
Glyn and the man whose
pocket had been picked were
now running after the pair, but
their progress was blocked by
an approaching taxi.
The keys were still in the
ignition of the Capri. Chrissie
got into the driver?s seat and
drove round the taxi, finally
succeeding ? as she told Glyn
later, more by luck than
judgement ? in pinning
Marielle and the pickpocket
up alongside one of the huge
Christmas trees.
* * * *
Next morning Chrissie
arrived at work late. It was
their last day before the break,
with business winding down.
Glyn wasn?t in, but clearly
had been because some
handwritten notes were there
for her to type up to close
Barry?s file.
Most of it she already knew.
Hearing the kerfuffle, the
hotel?s security staff had
called the police.
Glyn told them what he
knew and the hotel?s
receptionist added doubts she
had had about Marielle?s
friend?s behaviour earlier in
the hotel bar.
Then Glyn?s note continued
with information he?d
obviously just obtained that
morning.
Both of them ? they?re a
couple ? have form.
Sometimes it?s opportunist,
like the picking of the pocket
we witnessed. Other times it?s
more thought out, using their
good looks and charm for
what might be called ?con
tricks?.
Enter Barry. Marielle isn?t a
workmate of his sister but she
had recently got talking to
Lydia on a train and heard a
bit about him, and these
people file away all sorts of
information in case it might
be useful in pulling off a scam.
?But what I don?t
understand,? Chrissie said to
Glyn when he returned, ?is
why she didn?t run for it after
she?d taken the money.?
?She hung about hoping
there would be more. The
choir have a few engagements
left. Also, they had other
schemes going on elsewhere
in the town, and when Barry
called us in rather than the
police, she felt she could
handle it.? He smiled. ?She
underestimated us, Chrissie ?
you were excellent.
?It helped her that Barry
was crazy about her. But still,
I am surprised he was taken
in. He?s probably the cleverest
person I know.?
Another pause.
?I guess love can affect
your judgement.?
That look came back on his
face ? the one he?d had when
he?d opened the Christmas
card.
Now she remembered when
she?d seen it before.
Earlier that year, at
Hallowe?en, a girl with the
longest legs in the world had
stopped and exchanged a
greeting with him on the street.
Clearly they knew each other
from somewhere. He?d looked
like that as he?d gazed after her
departing figure.
Was the card from her? For
some reason Chrissie had to
know. This detection business
was getting to her!
Taking an opportunity when
Glyn went out, she searched
out the card on his desk.
It showed a snow scene and
inside said: Remember our
Christmas together? C x
?C?. He?d said she was
called Cindy.
He came in then, soft-footed
as ever.
?Just admiring the picture,?
she said, holding up the card.
He nodded but showed no
further interest as he handed
her a gift-wrapped present.
?In gratitude for all you?ve
done this year.?
?Thanks. I got the
impression you weren?t into
Christmas. I wish I?d known,?
she continued, embarrassed
because she hadn?t got him
anything. ?We could have had
an office party.?
?I thought about it. But with
just the two of us . . . would
you have come??
?Yes.?
?OK. All the restaurants will
be booked, but let?s go and at
least have a Christmas drink.?
She expected this to be in the
Globe ? a terrible pub she?d
never stepped a foot in before
working for Glyn, but it was
where he tended to go.
As he said, some of the
dubious customers could be of
use to him in his
investigations.
Instead, though, they headed
for the luxury of the Swan!
On the way, she remembered
that tonight was Michael?s
party and thought she?d just
have a quick drink with Glyn
and go.
He got champagne and, well,
they had worked together all
year, so she should probably
stay a bit longer, she decided.
Suddenly she felt dizzily
happy. Somewhere, Wizzard
was belting out her favourite
Christmas song for that year.
And she really did wish it
could be Christmas every day!
The End.
Harold The Hound
CROCHET 51
Our cute crochet dog is easy to make and
will soon be everybody?s best friend!
EASY MAKE
If you intend
giving the toy to a
young child then
please make sure all
components are sewn
on very firmly and
regularly check that
parts are fully
attached.
MATERIALS
2 50-gram balls of Rico
Essentials Cotton DK in Beige
(91) M, and 1 ball in Nougat
(78) C; few metres of Black (90)
and White for nose and features;
oddment for the collar ? we
used Bright Red; 3.25 mm
crochet hook; large-eyed needle
for sewing up; toy stuffing. If you
have difficulty finding the yarn
used, you can order directly from
Wool Warehouse, website:
www.woolwarehouse.co.uk,
telephone: 0800 505 3300.
TENSION
10 dc and 12 rows measured
over 5 cm x 5 cm, using a
3.25 mm crochet hook.
ABBREVIATIONS
ch ? chain; dc ? double
crochet; dc2tog ? double
crochet 2 sts together ? insert
hook into next st, draw loop
through, insert hook into next st,
draw loop through (3 loops on
hook), yrh and draw yarn
through all loops on hook;
dc3tog ? double crochet 3 sts
together ? ?insert hook into
next st, draw loop through, rep
from ? twice more (4 loops on
hook), yrh and draw yarn
through all loops on hook;
rep ? repeat; sl st ? slip
stitch; st(s) ? stitch(es); yrh
? yarn round hook.
TO MAKE
Note: The pieces are worked
in the round. When joining
each round, sl st to first dc,
work 1 ch (which is not
counted as a st), then always
work the first dc of the
following round in the same st
at base of 1 ch. This will
maintain the correct number
of stitches.
HEAD? With M, make 2 ch.
1st round (right side) ?
6 dc in 2nd ch from hook, sl st
to first dc to join into a circle ?
Important Note
6 dc.
Figures in square brackets [ ]
2nd round ? 1 ch, 2 dc in
are worked the number of
times stated. When writing to us each dc to end, sl st to first dc
? 12 dc.
with your queries, you must
3rd round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
enclose an SAE if you would
next dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep
like a reply.
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
Size: approx. 16 cm
? 18 dc.
(6� ins) long and 11 cm
4th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
(4� ins) high.
each of next 2 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to first
dc ? 24 dc.
5th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in each
of next 3 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc ?
30 dc.
6th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in each
of next 4 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc ?
36 dc.
7th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in each
of next 5 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc ?
42 dc.
8th - 15th rounds ? 1 ch, 1 dc
in each dc to end, sl st to first dc.
16th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 5 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc ?
36 dc.
17th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 4 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc ?
30 dc.
18th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 3 dc, dc2tog, rep
52
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 24 dc.
19th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 2 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 18 dc.
20th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
next dc, dc2tog, rep from ? to
end, sl st to first dc ? 12 dc.
Fasten off.
MUZZLE ? With C, make 2 ch.
1st round (right side) ?
6 dc in 2nd ch from hook, sl st
to first dc to join into a circle
? 6 dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, 2 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc
? 12 dc.
3rd round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
next dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 18 dc.
4th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 2 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ? 24 dc.
5th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 3 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ? 30 dc.
6th - 11th rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
Fasten off.
EARS (2) ? With C, make
2 ch.
1st round (right side) ?
6 dc in 2nd ch from hook, sl st
to first dc to join into a circle
? 6 dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, 2 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc
? 12 dc.
3rd - 10th rounds ? 1 ch,
?1 dc in each dc to end, sl st
to first dc.
11th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 2 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ? 16 dc.
12th - 14th rounds ? 1 ch,
?1 dc in each dc to end, sl st
to first dc.
15th round ? 1 ch, [dc2tog]
to end, sl st to first dc ? 8 dc.
16th round ? 1 ch, [dc2tog]
to end, sl st to first dc ? 4 dc.
Fasten off.
BODY ? With M, make 2 ch.
1st round (right side) ?
6 dc in 2nd ch from hook, sl st
to first dc to join into a circle
? 6 dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, 2 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc
? 12 dc.
3rd round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
next dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 18 dc.
4th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 2 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ? 24 dc.
5th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 3 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ? 30 dc.
6th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 4 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ? 36 dc.
7th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 5 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ? 42 dc.
8th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 6 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ? 48 dc.
9th - 18th rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
19th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 6 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 42 dc.
20th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 5 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 36 dc.
21st round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 4 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 30 dc.
22nd round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 3 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 24 dc.
23rd round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 2 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 18 dc.
24th round ? 1 ch, 1 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc.
Fasten off.
NOSE ? This is worked in
rows using the black yarn.
Make 8 ch.
1st row (right side) ? 1 dc
in 2nd ch from hook, 1 dc in
each dc to end, turn ? 7 dc.
2nd row ? 1 ch, 1 dc in each
dc to end, turn.
3rd row ? 1 ch, dc2tog, 1 dc
in each of next 3 dc, dc2tog,
turn ? 5 dc.
4th row ? 1ch, dc2tog, 1 dc
in next dc, dc2tog, turn ? 3 dc.
5th row ? 1ch, dc3tog ?
1 dc. Fasten off.
FRONT LEGS (2) ? With M,
make 2 ch.
1st round (right side) ?
1 ch, 6 dc in 2nd ch from
hook, sl st to first dc to join in
a circle ? 6 dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, 2 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc
? 12 dc.
3rd round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 2 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ? 16 dc.
4th - 15th rounds ? 1 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to next st.
16th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 2 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 12 dc.
17th round ? 1 ch, 1 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc.
Fasten off.
LEFT BACK LEG (RIGHT
SIDE) ? With C, make 2 ch.
1st round ? 1 ch, 6 dc in
2nd ch from hook, sl st to first
dc to join into a circle, turn ?
6 dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, 2 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc,
turn ? 12 dc.
3rd round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
next dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 18 dc.
4th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 2 dc, 2 dc in next
dc, rep from ? to end, sl st to
first dc ?? 24 dc.
5th - 7th rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
Change to M.
8th - 9th rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
10th round ? 1ch, 1dc in
each of next 6 dc, [dc2tog] 6
times, 1dc in each dc to end,
sl st to first dc ? 18 dc.
11th - 16th rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
17th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
next dc, dc2tog, rep from ?
to end, sl st to first dc ? 12 dc.
18th - 19th rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
20th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
next dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 18 dc.
21st - 22nd rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
23rd round ? 1 ch, [dc2tog]
to end, sl st to first dc ? 9 dc.
Fasten off.
RIGHT BACK LEG ? Work as
left back leg using M only.
TAIL ? With M, make 16 ch,
sl st to first ch to join into a
circle, making sure you do not
twist the chain.
1st round ? 1 ch, 1 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first
dc ? 16 dc.
2nd - 6th rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
7th round ? Break off M and
join in C.
1 ch, 1 dc in each dc to end,
sl st to first dc.
8th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
each of next 2 dc, dc2tog, rep
from ? to end, sl st to first dc
? 12 dc.
9th round ? 1 ch, 1 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc.
10th round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc in
next dc, dc2tog, rep from ?
to end, sl st to first dc ? 8 dc.
11th round ? 1 ch, [dc2tog]
to end, sl st to first dc ? 4 dc.
Fasten off and run yarn
through sts of last round, pull
tight and secure with a few sts
to form the tip of the tail.
LARGE SPOT ? ??With C,
make 2 ch.
1st round ? 6 dc in 2nd ch
from hook, sl st to first dc to
join into a circle, turn??
? 6 dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, 2 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc
? 12 dc. Fasten off.
SMALL SPOT ? Work from
?? to ?? on large spot.
Make the number desired.
COLLAR ? With red yarn,
make a chain long enough to
fit around the puppy?s neck.
Next row ? 1 dc in 2nd ch
from hook, 1 dc in each ch to
end. Fasten off.
TO MAKE UP ? Stuff body
firmly and mould into an egg
shape.
Stuff front legs, but not too
firmly. Sew legs to body,
placing them in a forward
position as the puppy is lying
down.
With black yarn, sew the claws
as follows: flatten the front of
the legs a little, stitch lines
through the legs for claws.
Stuff the back legs, adding a
little extra to the feet to create
shape.
Sew one leg to either side of
the body, using photo as a
guide. Sew the claws in a
similar way to the front legs,
but do not flatten the paw, just
sew through it.
Stuff head, leaving the base
open. Take muzzle and stuff,
forming a round shape. Sew
on to the front of head then
attach nose to muzzle.
Fold the ears flat so that you
have a double thickness and
sew one to each side of head.
Embroider eyes, working
circles in black, then use white
to outline them.
Sew head to body using the
open base to steady the head.
Remember your puppy is lying
down so his head needs to be
angled to one side and will
rest on his front paws.
Attach the spots in random
places on his body.
Stuff the tail and sew to the
back of the body, curl it over
slightly to give a nice shape.
Add the collar. n
54
?Without them, the
Inca Trail probably
wouldn?t exist?
Photographs courtesty of Jarlath McHale.
Jarlath McHale
reveals the
incredible work
done by the
porters of Peru.
Challenging
terrain, especially
with a heavy load.
Folk in traditional
Quechuan clothing.
REAL LIFE 55
Inca Trail
Facts
Machu Picchu is
estimated to have
been built around
1450. It?s nearly 2,500
metres (8,000 feet)
above sea level and
was abandoned about
100 years after its
construction due to the
Spanish Conquest.
W
ALKING the
Inca Trail to
Machu Picchu
is a once-in-alifetime
experience for most people
? it?s one of the most
famous journeys in the
world.
Such is its popularity with
walkers from all over the
globe that the Peruvian
government has had to limit
the number of folk on it to
500 per day, of which
normally only around 200
are tourists ? the rest being
the porters, whose work
setting up and transporting
the camps makes the
experience possible for the
visiting hikers.
After Jarlath McHale
walked the trail, his
admiration for the porters
inspired him to come back
the next year and do it again
? as one of them.
?To see what the guys
were doing just blew me
away. I just thought they
had to be recognised.
?I knew very little about
the Inca Trail before I got
there, and if you look up
anything about it, it is all
about the actual trail.
?You don?t find out an
awful lot about the people
and that?s what I wanted to
highlight so that when you
go there, you can be
mindful of what these guys
do.
?It was pretty clear
towards the end of the
project that without them
the Inca Trail probably
wouldn?t exist in the form
that we know today.?
Jarlath knows from
personal experience that
their help is critical to some
people finishing a journey
that, for many, is a life?s
ambition.
?There was one guy who
had a broken toe. It was
obvious from the first day
that he was in a serious
amount of pain and I?m
pretty sure if he had had to
carry his own bags he
wouldn?t have got through.?
Personal touches, too,
sustain morale on this
challenging hike.
?On the second day, they
had a birthday cake baked
for one of the clients! Just
little things like that ? they
went above and beyond.?
It?s obvious to anyone
who walks the trail that the
porters are something
special, and it doesn?t take
long for that impression to
take shape. Jarlath
remembers walking into the
dining tent on the first night.
?I don?t know what I was
expecting. You walk into a
tent that?s fully kitted out
with tables, tablecloths,
knives, forks, spoons, cups,
water and see the food
spread out with decorations
? you are thinking, these
guys are amazing.?
Putting together a full
spread with tableware in
the middle of the Andes is
no mean feat, but the
porters do this every night.
Then, in the morning, they
wake everyone up with a
cup of tea, serve breakfast,
and wait till the guests have
gone before packing up
the camp.
At the end of the day, camp has
already been set up by the crew.
It wasn?t considered
a place of note during
the Spanish occupation
of the country, and
remained ?lost? until
American explorer
Hiram Bingham
brought it back into
the spotlight in the
early 20th century.
Inca roads, like the
trail to Machu Picchu,
once ran for nearly
25,000 miles up and
down the Andes,
roughly connecting
Quito (Ecuador) in the
north to Santiago
(Chile) in the south.
In an attempt to
keep the trail protected
from the many feet
that walk it, it?s closed
completely every
February for the whole
month for
maintenance.
This was a highway for the
Incas back in the 1400s.
Jarlath was astounded by the
energy of the porters every day.
Then they rush on,
overtaking their guests to
get ahead for the night stop
and set everything up again.
?You go to the next
campsite and it is all set up
again. They are clapping you
coming in.?
And they?re carrying the
full camp with them.
?I just had a rain jacket in
my bag! Maybe a hat and
gloves and water. The water
was the heaviest thing!
?On the third day, I started
seeing them putting away
the gas cylinders and it just
dawned on me that
somebody had to carry this.?
On top of all the weight to
carry, the porter?s routine is
demanding.
?We were up at four every
morning. You get to bed
around ten p.m.?
In the morning, they?re up
with two basins for the
walkers to wash in and a
Different
hemisphere,
different set of
stars overhead.
cup of tea. Then, after
breakfast, everything gets
packed away. The Head
Porter assigns loads to
people, and they?re
measured to make sure the
weight is evenly distributed.
?It should be something
like twenty-five kilograms
each. I had twenty-two at
one point, so they shoved in
some sugar.?
And, of course, the porters
are still facing the challenge
of the trail, too. The highest
point of the route is Dead
Woman?s Pass, over 4,000
metres above sea level.
?I couldn?t do anything like
the speed the guys were
doing. I?d leave at the same
time as them but I would
definitely not arrive at the
same time as them.
?To put it into context, one
of the guys who was with
me was fifty-eight and I
couldn?t maintain the same
pace as him. I just couldn?t
and I?m thirty-seven. He was
just leaving me in his dust
the whole time.?
For many of the men,
working as a porter is a
supplement to farming.
?We went to visit them in
their village at about three
thousand seven hundred
metres altitude.?
In terms of altitude
acclimatisation, they?re
already used to it, which is
often where tourists come a
cropper.
Jarlath is keen to stress the
companies look after the
guides as well.
?They all get their
uniforms, they all get boots,
they are looked after. There
was one guy, Hugo, I
remember him from last
year as well ? you could just
tell he loves his work, it
wasn?t forced.?
Hugo served the hikers?
food on the trail.
?He took great delight in it
with his apron on, dicky bow
and waiter?s towel when he
handed out the food.?
And whilst almost every
day was an eye-opening
experience for Jarlath, the
porters had a unique
opportunity of their own,
thanks to his visit.
It?s a bit of a shame, but
once the guests actually
approach Machu Picchu, the
porters all go home ? their
work is done. Bags are left in
the town at the foot, Aguas
Calientes, and they?re away
back to their families.
For tourists the best is yet
to come, though ? passing
through the ?sun gate?, the
point where the ruins come
into view for the first time.
?Ninety per cent of the
guys I worked with had
never seen it. This time the
porters walked through the
tourist route and were given
a tour of Machu Picchu in
their native Quechuan, the
first that anybody had ever
done. That was pretty
amazing to watch.
?It was cloudy to start
with, but eventually it started
to lift and their faces just lit
up. Then they started posing
for pictures and taking
selfies. I?ll never forget it.? n
Jarlath visited Peru with
Exodus Travels. Find out
more about their holidays
at www.exodus.co.uk.
57
New friends are made in this touching short story by
Andrea Wotherspoon.
Car
Trouble
Carla missed having
Sue around. Especially
when things like this
happened!
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
C
ARLA rubbed her face and
sighed, wishing she had
taken the day off work. It
was exactly a month since
Sue had died, and the lack of
her friend?s presence still felt like an
open wound in her life.
However, she was relieved to see the
weather wasn?t frosty today; yesterday
she had spent ten minutes clearing the
car, so at least today she had time to
enjoy another cup of coffee and recall
some of her favourite memories of her
dear friend and neighbour.
Outside, it was a cool, fresh day
despite the lack of frost. As Carla
walked out to the car, she noticed she?d
left the driver?s side window open a
crack overnight.
?That was clever,? she imagined Sue
saying in her typical wry tone. Carla
grinned, but as she opened the door, she
heard something inside the car.
Oh, no! She slammed the door shut
and stepped back. She covered her face
with her hands and stood still.
It had sounded like fluttering. Please
don?t let it be a bird, she thought. She
stood for a moment then opened the
door, heart racing.
She crouched, peering into the car.
There it was! A small bird perched on
one of the back-seat head rests. It looked
quite at home. Carla stepped back and
wrapped her arms around herself. She
was shivering, but it was nothing to do
with the cold morning. There was a bird
in her car!
Her eyes filled, partly from fear, and
partly from sadness because Sue wasn?t
around to see this. How she would have
laughed! Carla?s bird phobia had amused
Sue, who had lived just two streets away,
and was always on hand to shoo errant
sparrows from the back garden.
Carla opened all the other doors and
the boot. The bird now had plenty of
escape routes, but she had to make sure
she was clear of them all, in case it flew
out at her. She stood back and waited,
but it didn?t move. She would need to
chase it out somehow, so she went inside
for a broom.
?Shoo,? she whispered half-heartedly,
aiming the brush at the tiny bird. Despite
her fear, she didn?t want to hurt it. But it
simply flew over to the dashboard.
She pulled the brush out the rear door,
and put it in through the driver?s door.
Yet again the bird evaded her, fluttering
on to the back seat again.
Carla stood back, leaning on the
broom handle as she pulled off her hat
and wiped her brow. Despite the chilly
morning, the panic and effort was
making her sweat. The bird didn?t seem
to want to leave.
Perhaps birds felt the cold! In her
mind, she heard Sue guffawing at her,
and she smiled despite herself.
?What should I do?? she whispered,
hoping somehow her friend would hear.
She was going to be late for work at this
rate. She debated leaning in and starting
the engine, but what if it flew back over
to the dashboard again? She couldn?t
bear it!
She was about to give the broom
another go when the bird started singing.
She paused, broom in mid-air. It really
seemed quite content in her car.
?I?m sure you could fly out if you
wanted to,? she muttered as she eased
the brush in, but as expected, the bird
dodged it and flew forwards again.
?No!? she said. She set down the
broom and sighed, putting a hand on
each cheek.
?Can I help??
She looked round. A man with a terrier
on a lead stood at the end of her
driveway.
?I?m a mechanic,? he added.
?Actually, I don?t need a mechanic. I
need an ornithologist.?
The man raised an eyebrow.
?There?s a bird in my car,? Carla
explained. ?Just a small one, but I can?t
get it out and I?m terrified of birds.?
?Oh, dear,? the man replied. ?Maybe
between the two of us, we could chase it
out? I?m Tony.?
?Carla,? she replied, shaking his
offered hand.
He looked about her age, with
wonderful blue eyes and a wide smile,
but what struck her most was his
reaction to her bird phobia. She couldn?t
recall the last time a man hadn?t taken
the mickey.
This was why she was single at
forty-four: men ? and women, for that
matter ? didn?t tend to take her phobia
seriously. Sue had been one of the few
people who had really understood. As
much as she had laughed, she had
laughed with Carla, not at her. And that
made all the difference.
Tony stuck his head into the car, then
withdrew.
?It?s a robin,? he said.
Carla shivered.
?I?m sure many people would love
a robin in their car at this time of
58
A
A Book
BOOK is a spell that can charm one away
On a cloud or a wing for a year or a day.
A book is a play that begins with a line
Woven from thought from the fabric of time.
A book holds a world of all that has been
Of dreams unfulfilled, of dreams yet unseen.
The things one imagines can really come true,
It can change someone?s life ?
It could happen to you.
iStock.
? Dawn Lawrence.
year, but sadly it?s chosen
the wrong person?s car to
set up camp in.?
?Well, they?re certainly a
popular bird. Not so much
with someone who has a bird
phobia, though.?
?People normally laugh
when I tell them I?m scared of
birds,? she said.
The robin chirped in
response.
?Phobias aren?t a laughing
matter,? he replied. ?I knew a
guy years ago who had a bird
phobia, but this little fellow
wouldn?t have bothered him.
He was scared of crows and
gulls.?
?Crows and gulls don?t
bother me.? Carla had cooled
down now and her teeth were
chattering. ?I?m only scared
of small birds.?
Tony looked at her.
?That is quite unusual.?
?My aunt had zebra finches,
and once, when I was
visiting, she?d left the cage
open. There were ten of them,
flying around the living-room
like crazy, and it seemed like
they were dive-bombing at
me. Of course, I screamed,
which only made them
worse.?
She shuddered at the
memory.
He proffered the dog lead.
?Take a hold of Dougal,? he
said, ?and I?ll try to get it out
of the car. You?d think it
would be terrified being in
there, but it seems quite
happy.?
?I thought maybe it was
cold,? she admitted, pulling
off a glove so she could reach
down and scratch Dougal?s
head. ?I almost feel bad for
trying to evict it.?
?Right, robin.?
Tony crawled into the back
seat. Carla watched as the
robin hopped over to the
steering-wheel, gave a few
chirps, then flew out the
driver?s door.
?Oh,? Tony said as he got
out of the car. ?That was
easy.?
Carla stared at him.
?How did you do that??
?I didn?t do anything. It just
went.?
They looked over at a small
tree in the neighbour?s
garden, where the robin now
sat on one of the highest
branches, outlined against the
pale morning sky, trilling its
heart out.
?Well, thank you, anyway,?
Carla said, turning to Tony.
?My pleasure,? he replied,
smiling. ?Although I really
didn?t do anything.?
?What a dish!? she could
hear Sue say.
She suppressed a grin.
?I would invite you in for a
coffee as a thank you,? she
replied. ?But I?ll be late for
work if I don?t get going
soon.?
?How about Saturday
morning instead, if you?re
free?? he asked. ?I?ll treat you
to a coffee in the shop beside
the church. They have empire
biscuits with robins on them.?
He winked.
It sounded just like
something Sue would say.
?That would be lovely,
thank you. Although I might
give the biscuit a miss.?
?Understandable. How does
half past ten sound??
?Perfect! I?ll meet you
there.?
The robin was still singing
from the branches of the tree.
?My granny used to say
that if you spotted a robin, it
was a loved one from heaven
saying hello,? Tony said. He
patted Carla on the arm.
?Someone must have loved
you a lot. See you Saturday.?
As Tony walked off, she
continued to look at the robin,
blinking away tears. Sue had
always been threatening to set
her up with someone, but her
illness had taken hold before
she got the chance. And now,
perhaps this robin had done it
instead.
?Carla!?
She turned. He had come
back.
?I should probably have
mentioned, there?s, er, a mess
on your back seat. Are you
OK to clean it up yourself??
She tipped her head back
and laughed.
?Don?t worry, my phobia
doesn?t extend to that! But
thank you so much for
coming back.?
He gave her a nod and a
smile and went on his way.
?He?s a good ?un,? she
heard Sue whisper.
?He sure seems to be,?
Carla whispered back. She
looked over to the robin.
?Thank you.?
The robin gave one final
whistle, and flew away.
The End.
59
Neighbours become friends in this enjoyable
short story by H. Johnson-Mack.
It?s An
Ill Wind . . .
This was not how Johnny had expected to be
celebrating Christmas ? but it wasn?t all bad . . .
Illustration by iStock.
J
OHNNY groaned and
rolled his eyes as the
nurse, also his nextdoor neighbour,
propped his leg up on a
stool placed before his chair.
It was bad enough that he
had to miss his Christmas
cruise thanks to a silly
accident that had left him with
a broken leg.
But to be saddled with
Allison who, with no family
of her own, fussed appallingly
round everyone else, was just
unfair.
She had the audacity to
smile as she adjusted the
pillow behind his head.
?Here you go, Ebenezer.
Some festive tales to keep you
company.?
Johnny glanced at the book
she?d dropped into his lap.
??A Christmas Carol And
Other Stories???
?Perhaps they?ll remind you
of the meaning of Christmas
and cheer you up,? she replied.
?Mr Dickens has a wonderful
way with words. It was he
who cemented the traditions
we have at this time of year.?
?I thought Santa did that.?
?Oh, no. It?s us mortals who
bring the season alive. Lose
yourself in the world of
Dickens and you won?t be
missing that Caribbean sun for
long.?
?I don?t like Christmas,?
Johnny grumbled.
That annoying smile again.
?Nonsense. You?ve just
forgotten the fun side of it,
that?s all. What were your
Christmases like when you
were younger??
Johnny leaned over to pull
an old photograph album from
his bookshelf. He flicked
through it and paused on a
particular page to point out
some grainy snapshots.
?That?s where I spent my
childhood winters. Crammed
into a Cornish cottage with
Mum, Dad and three brothers.?
Allison had drawn up a
chair.
?It looks cosy.?
The corners of Johnny?s
mouth quirked upward.
?It always was anywhere
my mum happened to be.?
Allison laid her hand over
his before getting to her feet.
?We need tea, then we can
settle properly into the past.?
To his surprise, Johnny
found himself forgetting
Allison?s fussing as they
leafed through his photos, she
sharing his pleasure as he
relived his Cornish boyhood
before emigrating to the dizzy
heights of the English shires
and a carpentry career.
?You see?? Allison began
two cups of tea later. ?You
were a fan of Christmas.?
Johnny clapped the album
shut.
?This season is for kids.?
?A time to be a child again,?
Allison corrected. ?Read the
book. I?ll be back later.?
* * * *
Johnny woke to closed
curtains, lamplight, and
clattering from the kitchen.
Rubbing a hand across his
face, he pulled himself
upright, mumbling a greeting
as Allison bustled in bearing a
tray with something that
smelled delicious.
She smiled sympathetically.
?Feeling stiff? Never mind.
We?ll soon put that to rights.
Hope you like chicken pie.?
Johnny flushed.
?You didn?t have to cook.?
?I know, but I wanted to.?
His stomach soon overrode
his pride. It was only after
he?d consumed the gorgeous
pie that he noticed what
Allison was up to.
?What are you doing??
She finished hanging a
garland starred with fairy
lights across the mantelpiece.
?Bringing some festive joy
into your lounge,? she said
merrily.
Johnny opened his mouth to
protest, then thought better of
it. It was easier to let her have
her way.
?That?s better!? Allison
nodded to the book by his
side. ?Enjoying Ebenezer??
He grimaced.
?Mr Dickens is rather
long-winded.?
Allison laughed.
?But wonderfully
descriptive, don?t you think?
When Scrooge meets the
Ghost of Christmas Present,
you can almost taste the plum
pudding and roasting goose.?
?I must admit,? Johnny said,
?that?s one thing I?ve missed,
being abroad.?
?Not this year. That is . . .?
Allison hesitated. ?I don?t
suppose you have plans for
Christmas dinner? I was
wondering if you?d like to
have lunch with me? I make a
mean pudding.
?We could play games
afterwards, or watch a film.
?Scrooge The Musical? is one
of my favourites.?
There was a gruffness in his
throat when Johnny replied.
?That would be nice.?
Allison?s cheeks were a
shade of pink as she took the
tray from his lap.
?Shall I put the kettle on??
* * * *
Instead of wishing himself
elsewhere on Christmas
morning, Johnny found
himself anticipating Allison?s
arrival.
She came in, full of smiles
and food offerings, and soon
was busy creating wonderful
aromas and a festive
atmosphere with the aid of
carols playing in the
background. She seemed
touched when he handed her a
clumsily wrapped parcel.
?It?s perfect!? she exclaimed
at the discovery of an old
hardback copy of ?Bleak
House?. ?I don?t have this
one.? Her smile this time was
sheepish. ?I?m afraid I didn?t
get you a gift.?
Johnny smiled back, a touch
of gratitude in his.
?Oh, yes, you did.?
* * * *
Dinner was superb; Johnny
had seconds of everything.
He felt guilty when Allison
went to tidy the kitchen, but
she waved away his apologies,
completing his feeling of
contentment when she joined
him again to play cards.
As she gathered them up for
another deal, he had a sudden
image of future days just like
this one, shared with this
woman who had given him
back something precious.
She looked up then, and
when he stretched out his
hand, she took it willingly.
?Thank you, Allison,? he
murmured. ?You?ve made this
day special for me again. How
about we watch that Scrooge
film you like??
She flushed that attractive
shade of pink.
?That sounds lovely.? She
raised her glass of sherry.
?Merry Christmas, Johnny.?
Johnny grinned as he
clinked his glass with hers.
?And God bless us, every
one!?
The End.
Mindful Winter
Susie Kearley discovers how to get the most out of your seasonal outings.
If you?re feeling fit and energetic, you could follow this
eight-mile walk across Marsden Moor. Look out for
mountain hares and other wildlife.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/marsden-moor-estate/
trails/marsden-moor-heritage-walk-yellow-route
Sheringham
Park, Norfolk
Winter walks at
Sheringham Park offer
coastal views, early flowering
species of rhododendron,
and maybe some overwintering wildfowl.
www.nationaltrust.org.
uk/sheringham-park/trails/
sheringham-woodlandand-coastal-walk
Godolphin Hill Walk,
Cornwall
Courtesy of the National Trust/Juliet Turner.
Courtesy of the National Trust/Joe Cornish.
Marsden Moor Heritage Trail,
Yorkshire
Walking in wintertime can be exhilarating, absorbing ? and
mindful. The whole experience of being outside with the sun
on your skin, enjoying the full spectrum light, has a vibrant
effect, lifting your mood.
The seasonal chill can add to the joyful experience of living
in the moment, as long as you don?t get too cold! Enjoy the
crisp snow, the prickling cold ? enjoy just being alive.
The exercise you get while walking will do you good, too;
it gets your heart pumping and keeps you warm. Breathe in
the cold air, admire the wintry landscape, and see what
hardy plants and insects are still present at this time of year.
Look out for wildlife ? hares, deer, birds ? and admire the
beauty of nature. What do you see, feel, smell, taste? How
does it make you feel? This is mindfulness.
The National Trust has some wintry walks open at some of
its most beautiful landscapes, parks and gardens. Many of
the routes are quite gentle ? you can walk as much or as
little as you like.
Admission charges may apply at some venues. Some of
the locations have tea shops or pubs nearby, so you can sit
down and enjoy a relaxing hot brew after your walk.
For amazing views over west Cornwall, try a gentle walk
up Godolphin Hill. If the weather is good, you?ll be able to
see St Michael?s Mount and St Ives bay.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/godolphin/trails/godolphinhill-walk
Courtesy of the National Trust/ Fisheye Images.
M
INDFULNESS. Isn?t it just a new fad? A passing
phase? In the old days we called it paying
attention! But it?s a bit more than that.
Mindfulness is total immersion in the moment,
so you?re aware of all your senses and what?s
happening right now.
Thoughts pass by, but your attention stays on the sights,
sounds, smells, tastes and feelings of the moment. You?re
not ruminating on the past or worrying about the future
? you?re fully focused on the present.
It?s what some people call just ?being?. Mindfulness is
actually very good for your health. It brings greater
happiness, reduced levels of stress, and more peace of
mind.
Going outdoors and immersing yourself in nature is great
for practising mindfulness. In wintertime you might notice
the beauty of snowflakes, pretty frost on the grass, delicate
icicles, or cobwebs covered in dew.
Taking time to notice small details, like water droplets on
leaves and the patterns of clouds in the sky, can help you to
live in the moment. Let your worries go and just feel good.
Wicken Fen,
Cambridgeshire
The Wicken Fen Boardwalk Trail
is a short walk around Wicken?s
ancient Sedge Fen, a watery
habitat of fenland where you
might see hen and marsh harriers,
short-eared owls, Wicken?s herds
of highland cattle and konik
ponies.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
wicken-fen-nature-reserve/lists/
walking-at-wicken-
Rudyard Kipling?s home in Sussex
inspired some of his literary works.
There are a number of gentle
walking routes around the estate. If
you visit in the run-up to Christmas,
you can see the festive house and
enjoy seasonal treats in the caf�.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
batemans/features/estatewalks-at-batemans
Courtesy of the National Trust/John Miller.
The Jurassic coast can be admired from various viewpoints
on these unusual rocks. Listen for the waves and breathe in
the refreshing sea air.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/purbeck-countryside/trails/
old-harry-rocks-walk
Bateman?s,
East Sussex
Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire
Courtesy of the National Trust/Robert Morris.
Old Harry Rocks Walk, Dorset
Courtesy of the National Trust/ John Bish.
Courtesy of the National Trust/ Justin Minns.
Walks
OUT AND ABOUT 61
A walk around the woodland paths at Kedleston Hall offers
great views of the estate. The house is closed on weekdays in
December, though the park, restaurant and shop are all open.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kedleston-hall/trails/
kedleston---long-walk
62
Things are seen from another side in this sparkling short
story by Ann Hilton.
A Seasonal Review
S
COUT D173 (fourth factfinding mission to planet Earth).
Preliminary report.
I landed successfully on a large
island the humans call the UK
on December 10 at 2300 hours Earth
time. I have employed the cloaking device
so I can move among the inhabitants of
this planet and gather data unnoticed.
Early observations indicate the humans
are absorbed with preparations for a big
event. There is large-scale purchasing of
items such as sweets, chocolates,
mince-pies and turkeys. Huge quantities
of alcohol are also being stockpiled.
Perhaps they are expecting a famine?
Alternatively they may be anticipating
severe cold weather as many people are
now sporting woolly jumpers adorned
with sparkly reindeer, snowmen or
penguins. Some of these garments also
have flashing lights or play tunes.
I will investigate further.
Illustration by iStock.
* * * *
Scout D173.
Second report.
On the corner of St Peter?s Close is a
large building with a spire and a cross on
top. Its arched windows are a
kaleidoscope of coloured glass. As I
explored the street behind it I was
surprised that, for a planet supposedly
concerned with reducing energy
consumption, they use so much
electricity.
The first house has a plastic snowman
in the garden and a reindeer galloping
across the roof, all in glorious neon lights.
The adjoining house has dainty white
icicle lights hanging from the guttering,
and the third house has bulbs in the hedge
that change from blue to red to green.
Peering through the windows, I noticed
every house has a tree inside. Some are
real and others are plastic, but all have
been decorated with lights, shiny baubles
and glittery tinsel.
I was outside house number 12,
reading a sign in the garden: Santa,
Please Stop Here! when the door opened
and two small humans came running out
followed by an adult female.
?Jodie, have you remembered your
reading book?? the lady asked. ?Luke,
have you got your homework??
?Yes, Mum,? the children chorused.
I followed them down the road and saw
other children and adults heading in the
same direction. A street away I found out
This time of year
might seem unusual
to those new to our
world . . .
crown and a long green cloak.
They all went to see the baby then all
the children sang.
The parents loved it. They clapped and
cheered and one or two cried. I have to
admit I enjoyed it myself.
why ? they were going to school.
?I?ll be back to see your nativity play,?
the mother said as she kissed Jodie and
Luke goodbye.
I will attend this play myself, as it may
reveal more useful data.
I boarded a vehicle called a bus with
Jodie and Luke?s mother. It took us into
the town.
In the centre was a group of people
dressed in red and white hats singing
?Jingle Bells?. Perhaps this was a
reference to the retailers? pockets? The
tills were certainly jingling with all the
money people were spending.
The shops were all playing the same
tunes over and over, and most of them
mentioned something called Christmas.
People were buying cards and banners
and long rolls of shiny paper.
Later I spotted Jodie and Luke?s mum
struggling on to a bus with several bags.
It?s a pity these humans only have two
arms. With our six we would be so much
better suited to all this shopping.
Scout D173.
Further discoveries.
After further investigation I am able to
give some information about Santa.
He is also known as Father Christmas.
He wears a distinctive red coat trimmed
with white and a matching hat. His
catchphrase is ?Ho, Ho, Ho.?
Santa?s mode of transport is a sleigh
pulled by reindeer. The leading reindeer
has a bright red nose.
I assume that this ?sleigh? is a form of
rocket. Human technology must be more
advanced than we thought, as Santa is
able to deliver presents to the whole
world in one night on this vehicle.
There is a great deal of excitement
about this man. Children await his arrival
eagerly and count off the days by
opening windows on cardboard calendars
and eating the chocolates hidden inside.
I decided to continue my observations
in St Peter?s Close.
The women from numbers fifteen and
sixteen, Debbie Porter and Barbara
Beynon, were in the street talking.
?I?ve told them not to expect too
much,? Debbie said. ?I can?t afford those
expensive games, but they want what
their friends are getting. They?ve found it
hard since Martin left.?
?Has he sent them anything?? Miss
Beynon asked.
?Not even a card. They?ll be
disappointed if they don?t hear from him,
but I expect he?ll be preoccupied with his
new wife and baby.?
?Surely he?ll remember his sons.?
There?s a young couple in number ten,
Matthew and Jessica. They?ve put up a
sprig of a plant with white berries and
they keep kissing underneath it.
?Next Christmas there will be three of
us.? Jessica smiled and stroked her
tummy.
?Do you think he?d like a train set for
his first Christmas??
?I think he?ll be a bit young for that.?
Jessica laughed and kissed Martin again.
In number twelve, Jodie was looking
out of the window.
?Dad, is it going to snow? I want to
* * * *
Scout D173.
Report on the nativity play.
I?ve found out what Christmas is.
Apparently it?s a birthday celebration for
a baby called Jesus.
I stood at the back of the school hall
and observed.
Mary, dressed in blue, travelled to a
place called Bethlehem on a donkey with
her husband. This seemed a rather
primitive means of transport, but I
understand it happened a long time ago.
I was shocked that Mary had her baby
in a stable. Have these humans no idea
about hygiene?
With all those animals around it must
have been very smelly.
The girl playing Mary dropped the baby
on its head but nobody seemed to notice.
Jodie was dressed in white with tinsel
on her head. The other girls were dressed
the same. There were some shepherds
and other children dressed as sheep.
Three boys in robes followed a star.
Luke was one of them, dressed in a gold
* * * *
63
build a snowman.?
?The forecast is dull and cloudy,? Dad
said.
?What a pity,? Mum said. ?A white
Christmas would be so pretty.?
Humans sing songs about white
Christmases and send cards with snow
scenes on, but it makes no sense why
they would wish for that cold, wet stuff.
When they do get it their transport
system grinds to a halt, people get
stranded on motorways in long queues,
trains cannot run and flights are
cancelled!
In number three the older couple were
wrapping parcels and tying them with
ribbon. They were enjoying a glass of
mulled wine and a mince-pie.
I had a taster myself. The pies were a
little too sweet for my taste, but the
mulled wine made me feel warm inside.
I?ve learned that the building with the
stained-glass windows is called a church.
As I passed this evening there was the
sound of music coming from inside.
I went in and found it full of people
singing songs about the shepherds and
the kings and the baby in the stable. The
whole building was lit by candles. It was
very pretty.
* * * *
Scout D173.
December 24.
Tonight is the night Father Christmas
will visit. Jodie and Luke put pillowcases
under their tree and in other homes I saw
children hanging up large stockings.
I?ll be observing closely. How does
Santa enter people?s houses? Do people
leave a door or window open for him?
Perhaps he teleports?
That?s my hypothesis: teleportation.
* * * *
Scout D173.
Final report.
It seems many homes leave a drink and
a mince-pie for Santa and a long orange
vegetable for his reindeer. In the interests
of research I decided to sample these.
The carrots were cold, hard and
crunchy. I left them for the reindeer.
The sherry was smooth and sweet. I
sampled some in a number of houses.
Unfortunately I fell asleep on the sofa
in house number twelve and completely
missed Father Christmas!
I was woken early by Jodie and Luke.
?Has he been?? Luke asked.
?Yes, look!? Jodie pointed to the
bulging pillowcases.
?Oh!? Luke exclaimed, pulling a
parcel from the top of his pillowcase.
Their parents came down the stairs
looking bleary-eyed.
?I?ll put the kettle on,? Dad said.
Mum sank down on the sofa. She
nearly sat on me! Of course I was still
using the cloaking device.
I watched them open their presents for
a while but Jodie and Luke were
squealing with excitement and I felt
unusual. Could it have been something to
do with that sherry?
In number sixteen Debbie was in the
kitchen. Christmas music was playing on
the radio and she was singing along.
She put the turkey in the oven and
began peeling potatoes.
It was quiet in her lounge; her teenage
boys were still asleep. I noticed there
were parcels under the tree for the boys
labelled From Dad. He had remembered.
I lay on the sofa and fell asleep.
When I woke up the boys were both
playing their new computer games from
their father.
The doorbell rang.
?Barbara, Happy Christmas.? Debbie
welcomed Miss Beynon.
?Dinner will be ready in about half an
hour. Sherry??
Matthew and Jessica were just leaving
the house when I got to number ten. I
followed them to the church hall where I
found long trestle tables had been laid
out with festive tablecloths and crackers.
Several people in old clothes were
being welcomed and offered hot drinks.
Some had grubby sleeping bags rolled up
under their arms and a couple of them
had dogs tied on pieces of old rope.
When everyone was seated Jessica and
Matthew served a roast turkey dinner
followed by plum pudding and cream.
Back at number twelve the children
were watching cartoons. The older
couple from number three were there, too.
?Grandma, do you believe in aliens??
Jodie asked.
?I?m not sure.?
?I do,? Luke said, sitting on his
grandpa?s knee. ?They?re green like on
the cartoon.?
I?m not green. I considered deactivating
the cloaking device to show him what an
alien looks like, but thought better of it.
The cartoons ended and a lady called
the Queen came on and made a speech.
She is very keen on headwear. There
were pictures of her wearing all sorts of
different coloured hats.
?On our own we cannot end wars or
wipe out injustice?, she said, and then
explained that small acts of goodness and
love can have a big impact.
On this planet there is always a war
going on somewhere, but at Christmas
the message is one of peace and goodwill
to all.
I thought about Debbie inviting lonely
Barbara Beynon to dinner, and Jessica and
Martin helping to feed the homeless.
I thought about the families spending
time together and the people singing in
the church and the children acting out the
story of the birth of Jesus. I knew now
what to put in my recommendations.
* * * *
Scout D173.
Recommendations.
Following careful research I recommend
we adopt this festival on our planet.
I am bringing back several Christmas
trees to grow and a bottle of sherry.
The End.
Andrew Parkinson.
The Wonder Of
Writer Robert Penn shares his love
of trees and the creatures that
inhabit our woodlands.
Looking over the Weald. This
was once all dense forest.
Q What is your favourite tree?
A Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior). I grew up under an ash
tree. Somehow it stuck with me.
Q How has the relationship between woods and people
changed over the years?
A I think that for a long time ? perhaps two thousand years
? the relationship the majority of people in Britain had with
woodlands was fairly constant. That changed for many with
industrialisation and our migration to cities. During the 20th
century, there was another big disconnect between British
people and woodlands. We are busy trying to repair that
now.
Q If spending time in a wood is a calming experience, is
writing a book about woods also calming?
A Up to a point. If you are, like me, an expert at missing
deadlines, it gets a bit stressful. The subject matter, however,
is both calming and endlessly fascinating.
A tawny owl seen
during the winter
months.
Paul Hobson.
Q Where is your favourite wood?
A I have many favourite woods. Court Wood, which I help
manage as part of a community woodland group, is right up
there. Horner Wood on the Holnicote estate in West
Somerset is one of the largest, unenclosed ancient
woodlands in Britain. It is magical. I also love St Mary?s Vale,
an extraordinary Atlantic oak wood near my home in the
Black Mountains.
JDavid Kjaer.
NTPL.
John Millar .
A young badger
forages in the
sunshine.
The hawfinch
is shy and
hard to spot.
Reg Pengelly.
Woodland
NATURE 65
Patricia Macdonald.
The dormouse is
surely one our most
adorable animals!
Steely mornings make the
autumn colours stand out.
Q Could you tell us a little bit about the Japanese
concept of Shinrin-yoku, which you mention in
your book?
A Shinrin-yoku or ?forest bathing? is an established
modern form of preventative medicine that basically
entails going for a stroll in an ancient forest. Inspired
by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, nearly a
quarter of the Japanese population enjoy forest
bathing today.
There has been a huge amount of scientific
research in Japan to understand how the magic of
trees works on humans at a molecular level, in our
cells and neurons. The research data is compelling:
leisurely forest walks reduce heart rate and blood
pressure, decrease sympathetic nerve activity and
lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, amongst
many other physiological human benefits. If you go to
the woods often, none of this will be news to you. If
you don?t, take note.
Q What is special about a true natural wood,
rather than an orchard or a plantation?
A Orchards are great. Plantations often have some
virtue. Native woodlands, however, offer much more.
The best woodlands are a mix of the solid and the
evanescent, a compound of growth and decay, a
blend of the timeless and the momentary, and a
marriage of the very ordinary and the heart-stoppingly
exquisite.
Q Have you chosen to live near woods?
A I have. Fifteen years ago, I bought a house in the Black
Mountains in a small woodland. Right now, I wouldn?t live
anywhere else.
Q In setting up community woodland groups, do you feel
confident about the future of British woods? Do you feel
there?s enough appreciation for their value?
A You can make a good case that the threats to our woodlands
in the UK have never been greater. Grey squirrels, deer, neglect,
climate change and the globalisation of tree pests and diseases
combined mean that the future for our woodlands looks
desperately uncertain. We need to value them better, now. n
?Woods: A Celebration?
by Robert Penn, published
by National Trust Books, is
available from bookshops
and online, RRP �. To
buy your copy for the
special price of �.99,
including UK P&P, call
0141 306 3296 quoting
code CH2006. For overseas
delivery details, contact
the number above.
66
All the world?s a stage in this humorous short story
by Linda Lewis.
Illustration by Jim Dewar.
M
The Show
Must Go On
Y name?s Joseph. I?m the
Mr Fixit of WADS,
otherwise known as
Westlea Amateur
Dramatic Society. I
oversee the props, the scenery. I even
design the programmes. The one thing I
don?t do is act.
We haven?t done panto for years,
because basically we?ve all got too old.
Then somebody found a new version of
?Cinderella?, written for what the author
tactfully called ?the mature actor?.
There was a real buzz in the hall
tonight. I already had ideas for the
scenery, plus I?d drafted a poster.
No prizes for guessing who?d play
Cinderella. There was only one horse in
that particular race ? Liza. She breezed
into our lives two years ago and has
landed all the lead roles ever since.
I thought I?d never look at another
woman after my wife died seven years
ago, but then Liza came along. She?s
beautiful.
The room fell silent as the director
called the meeting to attention.
?Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
I?m afraid I have some bad news.?
We couldn?t do the show after all. We
simply didn?t have enough people.
?Edith has agreed to play Cabbage,
even though the role would normally be
played by a man, but we?re still one Ugly
Sister short. Unless we find somebody to
play Lettuce, that?s it. No panto.?
A murmur went round the room.
?Does anyone have any ideas??
Silence. Then Liza looked across at
me.
?What about you, Joseph??
Everyone turned and looked my way. I
felt like a gazelle watched by a pack of
hungry lions.
?Go on, Joseph,? Edith begged. ?Give
it a go. It?s easy enough. All you have to
do is mess about and fall over things.?
?I can?t. I just can?t.?
The director clapped his hands to get
our attention.
?It?s disappointing, I know, but we still
have time to find another play. I suggest
we all put our thinking caps on.
Meanwhile, tea?s ready to be served.?
Without my help
Cinderella was not
going to the ball . . .
Liza took my arm and steered me to a
quiet corner.
?Are you sure you won?t change your
mind? I?ve always dreamed about
playing Cinderella. Now I?m
approaching fifty, I thought I?d missed
my chance. Say you?ll do it, Joseph.
Please? For me??
As I looked into those big blue eyes,
my heart wanted to say, ?Yes, I?ll do
anything for you, anything at all.?
But my head had other ideas.
?I can?t go on stage. I?m sorry, really.?
?What if somebody helped you??
For a moment I thought she meant her.
I pictured long evenings spent rehearsing
together, but the dream didn?t last. Liza
grabbed Edith by the elbow and pulled
her into the conversation.
?You could help Joseph, couldn?t
you??
?Sorry? Help Joseph do what??
Liza sighed.
?He?s thinking about taking the Ugly
Sister role. As you?re playing the other
one, I thought you could practise
together. It?s not as if there are loads of
lines to learn.?
I was about to say don?t bother,
because I?m not taking the part, when
Liza kissed me on the cheek.
?Playing Cinderella would be a dream
come true.? She gave me a heartstopping smile. ?If you take the role,
when the play?s over I?ll take you out to
dinner as a thank you.?
I felt so torn. The last thing I wanted to
do was shatter anyone?s dreams,
especially Liza?s.
I looked to Edith.
?I?m not saying I?ll do it, but if I did
give it a try, would you be willing to help
me??
Edith nodded.
?It would be my pleasure.?
Liza flung her arms round my neck
and gave me a hug. It was enough to
make up my mind.
?You?ll take the part??
All I could do was nod, like one of
those dogs people had in their cars.
Liza ran over to the director and
whispered in his ear.
?Listen, everyone!? he shouted.
?Cinderella is back on. Joseph has agreed
to play Lettuce.?
I was about to say that all I?d done was
promise to try to play the part. Then I
saw the way Liza was smiling at me, as
though I was her hero.
?I?ll do my best,? I managed.
* * * *
The script, with my part highlighted in
bold, pinged into my inbox the next day.
The good news was, I didn?t have too
many lines to learn ? it was mostly
slapstick and silly banter between the
two sisters. The bad news was, I still had
to learn it. I also had to go on stage.
There was a second e-mail from Edith.
Are you doing anything this evening? I
thought we could meet up and read
through the script.
I started to panic. Everything was
happening too fast. I?d made a huge
mistake. There was no way I could
possibly do this. Even thinking about
being on stage terrified me. But then I
pictured Liza, dressed in her gown, ready
to go the ball. I had to try, for her sake.
Edith?s house was only half a mile
away so I walked round. She greeted me
with her usual smile.
?Come in. How are you feeling? You
look terrible.?
?Thanks.?
She chuckled and sat me down on a
comfortable leather sofa.
?You?ll be fine. Being an Ugly Sister
is great fun.?
?How do you know? They?re usually
played by men, aren?t they??
She nodded.
?But these days, anything goes.
Especially with this script. Have you
read it? In this version, Cinderella ends
up with Buttons. If people are wanting a
traditional panto, they won?t like this
version, whoever plays the Ugly Sisters.?
?Wouldn?t you rather be Cinderella??
67
She laughed.
?No, thanks. All she does is stand
about looking sad and beautiful. The
Ugly Sisters are the real stars. Did you
bring the script with you??
I?d been so anxious, I?d forgotten it. I
made to stand up.
?I?ll come back another day.?
?No,? she said. ?I?ll soon print another
copy. Stay there.?
With that she disappeared, leaving me
recalling the first time I saw
?Cinderella?. My parents were very keen
on amateur dramatics. My mother, a
beautiful woman, landed the lead. Dad
was an Ugly Sister. They had a massive
row when she accused him of trying to
steal the show.
Trouble was, he did. I was young but I
remember how brilliant my dad was.
Everything he did was funny ? the jokes,
the faces he pulled. Even the way he sat
down was hilarious.
That was the last time he ever went on
stage. He said it wasn?t worth it.
* * * *
By the time Edith came back I?d made
up my mind.
?Thanks for offering to help me, but I
can?t do this. I just can?t.?
I hadn?t known Edith was so stubborn.
She wouldn?t let me leave.
?I know how you feel. I used to feel
that way. I mean, look at me. Plain and
plump, my ex used to say.?
She chuckled but I could see the pain
behind her eyes.
?All the time we were married, I
longed to be beautiful, thinking that if I
was slim and pretty, he?d change and
we?d be happy. I wasted so many years.
It?s only now that I?ve finally learned
I?m OK just the way I am.?
She looked me in the eye.
?Don?t decide anything yet. Let?s read
our parts through first. OK??
I sighed.
?I?ll read it but that?s all.?
Edith read her lines so well, she made
it easy for me. When we reached the end,
she put down the script.
?There. That wasn?t so bad, was it??
What could I say? I knew I?d be able
to learn the lines. Whenever we put on a
play I ended up memorising most of the
script, simply through hearing it so often.
What I was worried about was actually
going on stage.
?I still don?t think I can do this.?
She nodded.
?That?s fine, because I know you can.
All you need to do is keep coming round.
We?re both retired so we can practise
every day if need be. Then it will be
easy. I promise. Let?s read it through
again, then we?ll have tea.?
It was impossible to argue. Edith
sounded so certain I could do this that I
began to think that maybe she was right.
The second read through was better
than the first. I was more relaxed and
made far fewer mistakes. It was then I
started to appreciate how funny the script
was.
?Next time you come, we?ll start
walking it through,? Edith said.
But my bottle had gone again.
I called Edith.
?I?m going to e-mail the director. I?m
sorry, but if I bow out now there?s still
time to find somebody else.?
?There is nobody else.?
?Then they?ll have to find a different
play. I can?t do this.?
I hung up and tried to compose the
resignation e-mail. I was about to press
Send after my fifth attempt when the
doorbell rang.
It was Edith. She put her hands on her
hips.
?Do you like bungee jumping??
?No. What?s that got to do with
anything??
?Have you ever tried bungee
jumping??
?Of course not.?
?Then how do you know you don?t
like it??
I couldn?t think of any riposte so I
shrugged.
?Have you ever been in a panto??
?No,? I said hesitantly.
?So how do you know you don?t like
it??
?Being on stage is terrifying. Like
bungee jumping.?
?Only because it?s something
68
R
Rub-A-Dub
UB-A-DUB-DUB, I?m here in my tub,
I?m soaking in scented repose,
I?m lying in bubbles right down from my neck
To the tip of my pink crinkled toes.
The phone?s off the hook and I?ve got a good book,
Sweet music plays soft on CD,
A glass of refreshment is close by my hand,
I?m blissful as blissful can be.
But, oh, dear ? just hark! A loud anxious bark,
A woof and a whine from below,
My fast-asleep dog has awoken at last,
And knows where he?s desperate to go . . .
With a sigh and a frown I drip my way down,
He needs to go out rather fast,
My mood is dispelled, my bliss is quite quelled ?
Should have known it was too good to last!
? Maggie Ingall.
different. Anything
different feels scary the
first time you do it. Please,
Joseph. Give me one more
week. After that, if you?re still
not happy, back out. We?ll tell
the director together.? She
turned away. ?See you
tomorrow. ?
* * * *
When I got to Edith?s house
the following evening, she?d
cleared some furniture out of
the living-room to give us
more space. I felt like a heel.
?Why didn?t you let me
help you move everything??
?I wasn?t sure you?d turn
up,? she said matter-of-factly.
?Right, Act Two, Scene One.
We?ll walk it through nice
Edith had everything ready
? empty buckets, artificial
flowers and water pistols. I
was impressed.
?You?re getting into this,?
she said, giving me a smile.
?Right. Act Two, Scene Five.
We need to work on your
walk. It?s nowhere near silly
enough.?
By the time the actual
rehearsals started, I knew
most of my lines. I was even
starting to enjoy myself.
Whether that would continue
once we were on stage,
though, I wasn?t so sure.
While the other actors
worked on their parts, I was
kept busy with scenery and
props. Edith took over
publicity and helped with the
iStock.
By the time rehearsals started I
was starting to enjoy myself
and slowly, OK??
It didn?t feel like acting. It
felt like fun. Thanks to the
script, it was like being a
naughty child, falling over
and exchanging silly insults
with an annoying sister.
accounts, otherwise I couldn?t
have coped.
Suddenly it was the dress
rehearsal.
?We?re going to run through
as though this is an actual
performance,? the director
explained. ?If anything goes
wrong, don?t stop, just carry
on.?
All the tension and anxiety
I?d been bottling up rose to
the surface. My knees
knocked, my legs shook. My
entire body was a quivering
mass of nerves.
Edith took me to one side.
?Joseph, listen to me. It?s
just us, having fun. Like
we?ve done dozens of times at
my house. OK??
I nodded.
Somehow we stumbled
through it. It wasn?t easy, but
Edith knew her part so well
that when I did go wrong, she
covered it up with an ad lib.
At the end, the director gave
us notes.
?That was good, but it can
be better. I know you?re
nervous, Joseph, but you need
to relax. You?re so stiff, you
look like a broom handle.?
?Take no notice,? Edith
whispered. ?You were
amazing.?
I knew she was only being
kind but I was grateful. It
meant a lot to me.
We had one more rehearsal
and then it would be
showtime, with a paying
audience and critics.
I didn?t sleep at all that
night. I hadn?t been truthful
with Edith. I had been on
stage before. When my father
stopped acting, my mother
got me a part in the next
production.
I only had two lines, but
when it came to saying them
my mouth was so dry, I
couldn?t speak. I just stood on
that stage, staring out at the
audience like a rabbit caught
in headlights.
One of the critics, known
for his sharp words, had a
field day.
Young Joseph Cartwright
stole the show with the best
impression of a dead tree I
have ever witnessed.
My mother was mortified.
After that, I stayed backstage
with my dad.
* * * *
That horrible feeling, all the
fear, came flooding back on
opening night. I heard my first
cue and couldn?t move my
feet. Edith, already on stage,
gave me the cue again. When
I failed to appear she marched
69
into the wings.
?Where?s Lettuce? Wait
until I get my hands on my
sister. I?ll slug her!?
The audience laughed,
thinking it was part of the
show.
?You?re meant to be on
stage,? she whispered.
I couldn?t speak, just shook
my head.
She took my hand.
?It?s OK. Pretend we?re at
my house. Don?t look at the
audience, and close your eyes
if you have to.?
As she spoke, she gently
pulled me on to the stage and
gave me my cue again. I
stumbled over the words but
at least they came out.
would, did you??
?Yes. A promise is a
promise.?
?Knowing Liza, she?ll have
forgotten all about it.?
But she hadn?t. She
cornered me at the after-show
party.
?Do you like curry? I
thought we might go to
Yasmina?s. Friday?s good for
me.?
?I?d like that.?
The next day, I bought a
large bunch of flowers and
took them round to Edith.
?To say thank you for your
time, your patience and your
good humour. Without your
help, I would never have got
on stage.?
Now the show was over there was
no need to spend time together
That first scene was a
nightmare but it did get
easier. Whenever I felt like
running away, Edith was
there to offer a helping hand,
or ad lib jokes that were
better than those in the script.
One of them was so funny, I
got the giggles.
?Giggling?s good,? she
whispered. ?Keep it up!?
It was in the middle of Act
Two that everything came
together. An argument about
shoes ended up in a fight. I
said one of my lines and the
audience cracked up.
?Listen to that. You made
that happen. The audience
loves you!?
I sailed through the rest of
the performance, and the next
one, and the next. When the
review came out, it was full
of praise.
The stars of the show were
Lettuce and Cabbage,
brilliantly played by Edith
Hawkins and Joseph
Cartwright.
The critic wasn?t as kind
about Cinderella, calling her
beautiful but plastic.
As the curtain fell for the
last time a thought struck me.
?Do you think Liza will
keep her promise about taking
me out to dinner for saving
the panto?? I asked Edith as
we headed backstage to get
changed.
Edith laughed.
?I wouldn?t think so.?
She paused.
?You didn?t really think she
She hugged the flowers to
her chest.
?They?re lovely, Joseph.
Thank you.?
I expected her to invite me
in, but she didn?t. Instead, her
smile faded.
?Did you get your dinner
date with Liza??
?Yes. We?re going out on
Friday.?
?I?m very happy for you,?
she said. ?Thank you again for
the flowers. I?ll see you at the
next WADS meeting. Bye.?
Before I had time to react,
she closed the door. I tried
ringing the bell again but she
didn?t answer.
I was going to miss Edith?s
smile, her infectious laugh
and her sense of fun. But now
the show was over, there was
no need for us to spend time
together. She?d made that
clear.
* * * *
I met Liza at the restaurant
as arranged. It was an
interesting evening. Liza?s
mind was obviously
elsewhere. She spent most of
the time glued to her
smartphone.
I tried to make conversation
but soon gave up. The food
was good, though, made better
as I wasn?t the one picking up
the bill.
?Thanks for this, Liza. Edith
said you?d forget all about it.?
?Sorry??
?Edith thought you?d forget
your promise to take me to
dinner if I saved the
pantomime.?
She shrugged and went back
to her phone, texting and
sending e-mails as if I wasn?t
there.
?I used to have a crush on
you,? I confessed.
That got her attention.
?What did you say??
?I said I had a crush on you.
You?re so beautiful.?
She gave me such a look.
?Look, Joseph. If you think
I?m treating you to a curry
because I like you, think
again. I?m only here because
Edith made me.?
?What??
Liza sighed.
?Edith cornered me at the
party. Said if I didn?t keep my
promise, I?d regret it. Told me
how funny and clever you are,
and how brave you were,
conquering your fears. She
said I could do a lot worse. If
you ask me, she?s sweet on
you.?
Liza chuckled.
?Wouldn?t that be a hoot?
Two Ugly Sisters together.?
Was that why Edith had
shut the door in my face?
Because she thought I was
still hung up on Liza?
I pushed back my chair.
?Thanks for the curry. I?ll
skip dessert.?
It wasn?t Liza I wanted to
be with. It was Edith. Without
even trying, she?d worked her
way deep into my heart.
I?d had some wine so I
couldn?t risk driving, and I
didn?t want to wait for a bus
or a taxi, so I ran all the way
to her house. By the time I got
there I was panting.
Edith took one look and
gasped.
?What are you doing here? I
thought you were on a date
with Liza.?
?I was. I left her at the
restaurant.? I paused to catch
my breath. ?You were right,
Edith. Cinderella looks good,
but it?s all on the surface. It?s
the Ugly Sisters people love.
They?re the real stars.? I
reached for her hand. ?To me,
you?re the best, the brightest,
the most beautiful star of them
all.?
She smiled.
?In that case, you?d better
come inside.?
The End.
A cat-centric view of the world from
illustrator Anthony Smith.
Have
a laugh
with us
?We want
to get the
listener
shouting at
the radio?
Photographs courtesy of Timothy Bentinck and Alamy.
Actor Timothy Bentinck
tells Marion McGivern
about his 35 years
playing David Archer.
T
IMOTHY BENTINCK
has one of Britain?s
most familiar voices,
best known to
listeners as David
Archer from the world?s
longest-running radio soap
?The Archers? on Radio 4.
For 12 minutes every
evening, or an hour and a
bit on Sundays if you?re an
omnibus listener, Tim and
his fictional family engross
listeners in the doings of
?the everyday story of
country folk?.
He plays farmer David
Archer, denizen of
Brookfield Farm in
Ambridge, the hub of the
storytelling that has been a
feature of fans? listening for
over 66 years.
Tim, however, has been
with the soap a ?mere? 35
years, joining in 1982 as a
fresh-faced actor only a few
years out of university and
drama school.
Now, his new book,
?Being David Archer?, spills
the beans on those 35 years
In their younger
years ? David
and Ruth, played
by Felicity Finch.
spent in front of a
microphone, as well as his
real-life family and his other
plentiful work on stage and
screen.
It could all have been so
very different. Tim?s father,
Henry, emigrated to
Tasmania in 1950 to
become a sheep farmer and
Tim was born there in 1953.
Had the family not
returned to England two
years later he might have
been working with real
sheep instead of his radio
herd!
Back in England, Henry
became an advertising
executive (he came up with
the slogan, ?Mr Kipling
makes exceedingly good
cakes?).
Tim?s dad passed on a
wide range of building skills,
from tree houses to stages
with curtains and lights,
leading to Tim?s ability to
renovate old houses by
himself.
He also passed on the title
of the Earl of Portland,
having inherited it from a
distant cousin. Tim took his
seat in the House of Lords
as the 12th Earl, though the
change in the law on
inherited titles means he?s
no longer a member.
?He was so practical, my
father. I get that from him. I
would have been quite
happy building houses. I
would love to have a
shedload of money and go
and build something . . .
amazing.?
So if he hadn?t become an
actor, what might Tim have
been?
?I would love to have
worked in artificial
intelligence. I find that
absolutely fascinating. I look
at engineers and envy them
being that practical and
making those extraordinary
things.
?I did linguistics at
university and I?m still
fascinated by accent, and I
have plans to make a TV
documentary about how
accents change and how
REAL LIFE 71
languages change.
?I wanted to be a pilot at
one point. I nearly followed
my father into the
advertising industry and
became an ad man. I would
have been happy doing that,
I think.?
He thinks the acting might
have been influenced by his
mum, Pauline, who sadly
died when he was only
thirteen.
?She could have been an
actress,? Tim says. ?We
always used to do silly
accents. She used to play
around with voices and
things. I have a recording of
me and Mum doing Pete
and Dud and she was
brilliant.?
He?s close to his ?Archers?
family, too, both the fictional
members and the actors
who play them.
?We go into the studio
and for those few moments
we are those characters and
those characters have a
bond and we talk about
them.
?We talk about the
relationships between the
characters in the
programme, though the
actual brotherly and sisterly
bond is between the actors,
really.
?You do get very, very
close to people. We have a
sense of family.?
For the most part, Tim
explains, the cast are as
much in the dark about
forthcoming storylines as
the listeners.
One recent exception was
when David and wife Ruth
(played by Felicity Finch)
were thinking about selling
their farm and moving
north. Did he think their
characters might be written
Felicity and Andy
Partington create
sound effects for
the show.
out at that stage?
?No. In that case we did
know that we weren?t going
north. When he [Sean
O?Connor, the show?s
producer at the time] first
mooted it, we went to him
in panic.
?The listeners were going,
?Of course they are not
going north, because it?s
called ?The Archers? and
how could they move out of
Brookfield?? But the point of
that story, Sean said, was
you don?t miss it until it?s
gone.
?In threatening that the
Archers were going to leave,
hopefully the listener
became more concerned
that they should stay, and
realise that David and Ruth
have an allegiance to the
past and to the land and to
our neighbours, who we
have a responsibility to, and
we can?t just abandon that
and go off.?
Even though it was such
an emotive storyline for the
listeners at the time, the
reaction showed how times
are changing ? even for
Tim?s childhood
home in
Hertfordshire.
?The Archers?.
?We hardly get letters any
more,? Tim says. ?Isn?t it
awful? It?s all done by
e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
We used to have fan mail
and things like that.
?We want to get the
listener shouting at the
radio and that?s the point of
it. It?s all done on purpose.
?If you get frustrated with
somebody and you think, I
wish that person would
behave like so and so ?
you?re being manipulated,
really.?
Tim?s gratitude to ?The
Archers? comes through
loud and clear in the book,
but if he hadn?t been David,
what other long-running
character on TV or radio
would he like to have
played?
?Oh, what a question. I
don?t know. Anything with
nice financial security, really.
I am so mercenary! I?d have
adapted to whatever.
?If I?d been given a
long-running role in a telly
soap, I would have been
very much better off. You
don?t get rich from the BBC.
Not unless you are well
known,? he jokes.
Riches aside, Tim?s career
has fitted in well with his
family life with Judy, his wife
of 38 years, and their two
sons, William and Jasper.
?Judy is a wonderful
milliner. She works in
Holborn and I work
generally doing voice work
in London or going up to
Birmingham for ?The
Archers? or doing the
occasional telly or theatre,
like any other actor, so it?s
great because I like to get
home in the evenings.
?My eldest is in the
process of moving out with
his girlfriend into a lovely
flat over in Tewkesbury. And
with Jasper a teacher in
Japan, the way things are
we see more of him,
because we Skype every
weekend and have a chat.
?We talk to him more now
than we did when he lived
in Bristol!?
How did the family react
to the book?
?Judy read a proof before
it went off for a final editing
just to make sure I hadn?t
made any mistakes.
?There was one thing that
escaped me when Judy was
vetting it and it was about
the birth of our first son.
?I put in that the joy of
seeing the birth of my son
was only spoiled by twenty
minutes earlier watching the
rookie doctor with shaking
hands about to administer
the epidural.
?Judy picked that one up
after it had gone in and we
had our first row for years. I
said, ?I?m really sorry but this
is from the male perspective
and all the women will read
it and say, what a silly man.
?It was a ten-hour labour
and she remembers every
second of it.
?And here?s this stupid
man pacing in a panic not
knowing what?s going on
and thinking it only lasted
twenty minutes! So slapped
wrist on that one!
?Both of the boys have
said, ?Oh, gosh, this is really
interesting,? and my younger
son said, ?It?s so funny
reading stories that I?ve
been hearing all my life,? but
they haven?t finished it yet
so I haven?t had a complete
verdict.? n
?Being David Archer?
is published by Little,
Brown, priced �.
72
Fate intervenes in this engaging complete story
by Della Galton.
Illustration by iStock.
W
Online Dating
ELL, I?m not sure
about this on the line
dating,? Gran said over
our traditional Sunday
lunch, which actually
wasn?t all that traditional as it was curry
this week from Madam Singh?s across
the road.
We were having it the traditional way,
though ? round Mum?s huge old table in
the kitchen with paper serviettes and lots
of little tin foil dishes that filled the air
with aromatic spices.
Mum and Gran were sitting on one
side of the table and Dad and I were on
the other.
?It?s not on the line, it?s online,? I told
Gran.
My mother raised her eyebrows.
?Online!? she shouted at Gran.
?I?m not deaf,? Gran said scathingly,
?and I?m not stupid. Whatever it is, it
involves a computer, doesn?t it? I can?t
see the point of them.?
?I thought that you liked computers
since you discovered you could look at
Edna?s holiday pictures on Facebook
without going round there,? I pointed
out.
Gran folded her arms.
?That?s different.?
?No, it?s not.? I opened up my netbook
and tapped a few keys. ?I could show
you some pictures of my prospective
dates, if you like??
?Put that thing away, please,? Dad
muttered. ?We?re trying to have a nice
family lunch here. How many times have
I ??
The scraping of Gran?s chair legs on
the kitchen tiles as she shoved back her
chair cut off his next words.
Poor Dad was outnumbered. Mum was
quite keen, too, on looking at my
prospective dates.
The next minute they were both round
our side of the table, craning their necks.
We were on the dregs of dinner anyway,
all of us too full to argue over the last bit
of Bombay potato.
?At least if I get a boyfriend, you?ll
have someone to watch the rugby with,?
I consoled Dad as he rolled his eyes in
defeat.
For the next half hour I scrolled
through pictures of men while Mum and
Gran oohed and aahed and said things
like, ?Too tall?; ?Too short?; ?His ears
stick out?; ?His nose is too big?.
Would I find the love
of my life via my
computer?
?A pointy chin!? I exclaimed in
answer to their last criticism. ?What on
earth difference does that make to me?
I?m not looking for Mr Perfect, you
know.?
?Well, you should be,? Mum said.
?You should aim for Mr Perfect, then
you won?t fall too far short.?
?Perhaps if I wasn?t a forty-one-yearold divorcee with flaming red hair and
more than slightly cuddly, I would,? I
pointed out.
?She?s nothing if not realistic,? Dad
said, nodding.
?She?s gorgeous,? Mum contradicted.
?Why do you have to find a man on a
computer anyway?? Gran asked with a
flounce of her auburn bob. ?Surely you
can meet someone the old-fashioned
way??
?Working from home isn?t great for
meeting people,? I explained.
?Sometimes I don?t see anyone for
days.?
I frowned.
?Except for the man in the paper
shop,? I added.
?What?s he like?? Gran asked.
?Ninety something.? I glared at her.
?More up your street.?
?Far too old for me.? She sniffed. ?You
must see some other people, Carol.
Think!?
?Well, there?s the guy who cycles past
my house every day on his way to
work.?
?At least you know he?s fit,? Mum
said. ?Cycling up that hill.?
?Yeah. A fitness fanatic like me!
Maybe I should flag him down and ask
him out for coffee.?
She beamed. Sarcasm was lost on my
mother.
?I wasn?t talking about men
necessarily.? Gran closed her eyes and
wrinkled her forehead. ?What I was
trying to say was that the man of your
dreams might not be the cyclist, but the
cyclist might know someone who is. Or
even the paper shop man.?
?I think I?ll stick to the online dating,?
I told them. ?It sounds simpler. Actually,
I?ve already started. I?m seeing Ben
tonight.?
?Which one was he??
?Big Nose Ben.?
They both sighed.
Actually, Big Nose Ben was very nice.
We went to a pub for drinks but no
dinner.
I?d been told by a couple of friends
that dinner was a bad plan on a first date.
It was much easier to escape from coffee
than dinner.
I thought we might do dinner on our
second or third date. But that was before
I discovered that Ben didn?t want to
repeat the experience.
?You?re really nice and all that.? He
rubbed his nose, which wasn?t all that
big in real life, and flushed pink. ?I just
don?t think we?ve got enough of a
spark.?
Clearly we didn?t, then. It wasn?t a
very good start.
I didn?t try another date for a few
weeks. That early knock-back dented my
confidence a bit.
But this time I chose a man Mum and
Gran both liked the look of.
?He has nice brown eyes. You can
trust a man with brown eyes.? That was
Mum.
?Solvent, too,? Gran put in. ?Banking?s
a solid career. Good pension.?
Solvent Simon was quite boring,
though, as it turned out. We did at least
make it to the end of the evening, but by
then I was beginning to wish that we
hadn?t.
?Shall I see you again, Carol?? he
asked as he carefully divided up the
coffee bill so he wasn?t paying a penny
more than his half. ?Maybe we could
have dinner on Tuesday? They do an
early bird bonanza here. Very good
value.?
?I?m busy on Tuesdays,? I said.
?Sorry.?
He didn?t look all that disappointed.
Things got a bit manic at work after
that. For a while I forgot about online
dating. I even went into the office a few
times. That was where you were
supposed to meet people, wasn?t it?
But everyone in our office had worked
there for years. Someone had to die for
anyone to get promoted. Unless I wanted
to date my newly divorced boss (I
didn?t), the prospects of romance were
zilch.
73
Nothing had changed at work. If
anything there were slightly fewer
people, being as most of us worked from
home these days, though I did find
myself looking at couples on the train on
the way back.
I wondered how they?d got together.
Maybe I should just ask them. I could
pretend I was doing a survey the next
time I went in and take a clipboard with
me.
Ha! Fat chance. I didn?t even have the
nerve to flag down the man who cycled
past my house every day.
But as it turned out I didn?t need to.
Fate intervened.
I was putting out my wheelie bins a
couple of weeks later when I saw the
man coming up the hill with his bike.
Only he was pushing it this time, rather
than cycling.
?Hi,? I said as he drew level with my
house. ?You OK there??
?Flat tyre,? he said with a sigh. ?I
thought I had a puncture repair kit but I
don?t.?
?I think there might be one in my shed
if it?s any help?? I offered, suddenly
feeling rather daring, as if it was one of
those history-making moments in our
lives. As if everything that happened
from that moment on hinged on his
answer.
?Thanks,? he said. ?I could probably
fix it in ten minutes.?
I made him a coffee while he upended
the bike on the patio outside my back
door and got to work.
He looked vaguely familiar, I thought,
when he took off his woollen scarf.
?I?m Paul,? he said, giving me a smile
which turned into a frown. ?Hey, have
we met somewhere before? I?m sure I
recognise you from somewhere. Other
than just from going past your house, I
mean.?
It was Pointy Chin Paul, I realised,
wondering if I should tell him why he
recognised me, then realising that I
definitely should. It seemed like too
much of a coincidence not to be fate
giving me a nudge.
?Have you ever done online dating?? I
could feel myself flushing. ?Only I?ve a
feeling we may have been on the same
dating site.?
?That could be it.? He was going a
matching strawberry red to me. ?Hang
about. You?re Curvy Carol!?
I was pretty sure I didn?t have that
description on my profile.
He saw my face, realised his mistake
and started to back-pedal, no pun
intended.
?What I mean is . . . oh dear . . . I?m
sorry. That must have been someone
else.?
?Sure,? I said, caught between laughter
and embarrassment. ?I won?t even tell
you what I called you.?
Then we were both laughing. What
with the laughter and the oil all over his
hands from fixing the puncture and then
getting the chain back on, it certainly
broke the ice.
?Did you find anyone?? I asked,
curious. ?I haven?t been on the site
lately.?
?Yes, I did. I went out with a few
ladies.? He finished washing his hands at
my kitchen sink and turned to look at me.
?Did you??
?I went out with a couple of guys.
Neither of them worked out, though.?
?I didn?t carry on seeing any of the
ladies, either.? There was a pause which
got longer and longer.
?Maybe we should . . .?? he said.
?Do you think . . .?? I said at the same
time.
The upshot was that we went for
dinner a couple of days later. Well, we
figured we?d already had the coffee on
my patio.
It?s now eight months on and things
have worked out pretty well. I would
like to say we?re still together, but we?re
not.
Paul is going out with a friend of mine
from work. I introduced them, and I?m
going out with Adam Singh who?s the
son of Madam Singh across the road,
where we go pretty regularly for our
curries.
That?s not how I met him, as it
happens. I met him at Paul?s badminton
club, which is where Paul and I went on
our second date.
It was the date where we decided we
weren?t all that compatible. I?m not
really a badminton kind of girl ? I spent
much more time running to get
shuttlecocks I?d missed than actually
hitting any.
Adam Singh was doing much the same
thing and we got chatting. Things kind of
went from there.
Adam?s gorgeous and we?re really
happy. My family love him, too. He has
lovely brown eyes and he?s solvent,
which suits Mum.
He?s kind and thoughtful and funny,
which suits me.
He even likes rugby, which suits Dad.
Oh, and he gives us discount on our
curries, which suits Gran!
Gran reckons that Adam and I were
destined to meet; that fate caused our
paths to cross. Because if I hadn?t met
him via Pointy Chin Paul, I would very
likely have met him through us going to
Madam Singh?s for our Sunday lunch,
which we have done a few times lately.
I have no idea why Gran?s so set on the
traditional things being best. Since when
has having curry for Sunday lunch been
traditional?
Anyway, as it happens, Adam was
thinking about trying online dating, too.
So I may even have bumped into him
online if we hadn?t already met at
badminton.
There was just no avoiding him, was
there?
Or is it just that when it comes to your
destiny you can?t avoid what fate has in
store for you, no matter which path you
choose to travel?
Maybe there?s something in that
theory, too.
The End.
74 REAL LIFE
A Day In The Life: Florist
Being a florist
satisfies Heidi?s
creative nature.
?You definitely
need to have
an artistic flair
to do the job?
Heidi Baker packs a lot into her
typical day as a florist.
Sum up your job in 3
words:
l Creative
l Heart-warming
l Rewarding
Shan Fisher Fine Art Photography.
I
LOVE my work as a florist. In some
ways I was late to bloom, because at
the age of twenty-four I realised
office work wasn?t for me, so I
looked into which creative degrees
were available and decided to study
floristry and horticulture.
I had always been creative and loved
flowers and nature so I could see
myself being interested in it.
My first week at college was a bit of
an eye-opener, though, and I rang my
mum in tears after my first tractordriving lesson as I hadn?t been
Picture
perfect ?
one stunning
wedding
bouquet.
expecting to do that! From then on,
however, I had such a great time,
exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show,
winning a Gold Medal and presenting a
bouquet of flowers to the Queen!
I am a single mum, so my typical day
starts from the minute my three-yearold daughter Eleanor wakes me up ?
usually around 6.30 a.m.
I have learned to organise myself the
night before, setting out our clothes
and making packed lunches so when
we do get up everything is in place.
Eleanor either goes to a childminder
or my mum sometimes looks after her,
or she?ll come to the shop with me.
The shop opens at 10 a.m., though I
usually drive out to collect any flowers
that have come in from Holland on the
boat overnight from our freight
company.
All of our stock arrives on the Isle of
Man by ferry, so if bad weather means
the boats have been cancelled our
delivery is delayed, which is stressful.
No two days are the same. We
deliver gifts and bouquets all over the
Isle of Man for all occasions, from
birthdays to bereavements.
Clients either choose a design from
our website or leave it to our florists to
create a design.
We consider the scents and also any
hidden meanings of the flowers ? for
example, our Cute as a Button design
for a new baby contains white roses
(innocence), daisies (purity), moss
(maternal love), gypsophila (pure of
heart) and eucalyptus (protection).
This ?language of flowers? is
something the Victorians were
passionate about and it adds a real
meaning to sending someone flowers.
Once the bouquets are made up and
out for delivery we have jobs such as
cleaning vases, watering plants, keeping
the window displays relevant and
serving customers.
Once the shop closes, I spend time
with my daughter before her bedtime.
When she?s fast asleep I usually have
admin to catch up on, such as wedding
quotes and book-keeping, and I also
write a blog, My Manx Wedding
(www.mymanxwedding.com).
I enjoy a bit of yoga as it?s the perfect
way to unwind.
I?d say you definitely need to have an
artistic flair to do the job, and though
you don?t necessarily need a specific
qualification to become a florist, it is a
bonus as a course will thoroughly teach
you all the required techniques.
I studied for four years at college for a
Foundation Degree in Professional
Floristry and BSC Horticulture, as well as
work experience in two busy London
florist shops and a year?s placement with
the National Trust for Scotland.
I couldn?t pick one favourite flower. I
love ranunculus in the spring, peonies in
the summer, the rich colours of autumn
foliage and berries and hellebore in the
winter. n
Advice I would give my
twenty-year-old self:
Always follow your heart.
If you believe in
something enough you
will make it happen.
Next issue: glass artist Helen Grierson.
Our next Special No.151 is on
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Neil McAllister visits
magnificent Mumbai
14
great
stories
Warming curry
recipes for
winter days
8-page
period
crime mystery
by Alison
Carter
Knit a fun
mug cosy
Behind the scenes with a
renowned bagpipe maker
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ful
way with words. It was he
who cemented the traditions
we have at this time of year.?
?I thought Santa did that.?
?Oh, no. It?s us mortals who
bring the season alive. Lose
yourself in the world of
Dickens and you won?t be
missing that Caribbean sun for
long.?
?I don?t like Christmas,?
Johnny grumbled.
That annoying smile again.
?Nonsense. You?ve just
forgotten the fun side of it,
that?s all. What were your
Christmases like when you
were younger??
Johnny leaned over to pull
an old photograph album from
his bookshelf. He flicked
through it and paused on a
particular page to point out
some grainy snapshots.
?That?s where I spent my
childhood winters. Crammed
into a Cornish cottage with
Mum, Dad and three brothers.?
Allison had drawn up a
chair.
?It looks cosy.?
The corners of Johnny?s
mouth quirked upward.
?It always was anywhere
my mum happened to be.?
Allison laid her hand over
his before getting to her feet.
?We need tea, then we can
settle properly into the past.?
To his surprise, Johnny
found himself forgetting
Allison?s fussing as they
leafed through his photos, she
sharing his pleasure as he
relived his Cornish boyhood
before emigrating to the dizzy
heights of the English shires
and a carpentry career.
?You see?? Allison began
two cups of tea later. ?You
were a fan of Christmas.?
Johnny clapped the album
shut.
?This season is for kids.?
?A time to be a child again,?
Allison corrected. ?Read the
book. I?ll be back later.?
* * * *
Johnny woke to closed
curtains, lamplight, and
clattering from the kitchen.
Rubbing a hand across his
face, he pulled himself
upright, mumbling a greeting
as Allison bustled in bearing a
tray with something that
smelled delicious.
She smiled sympathetically.
?Feeling stiff? Never mind.
We?ll soon put that to rights.
Hope you like chicken pie.?
Johnny flushed.
?You didn?t have to cook.?
?I know, but I wanted to.?
His stomach soon overrode
his pride. It was only after
he?d consumed the gorgeous
pie that he noticed what
Allison was up to.
?What are you doing??
She finished hanging a
garland starred with fairy
lights across the mantelpiece.
?Bringing some festive joy
into your lounge,? she said
merrily.
Johnny opened his mouth to
protest, then thought better of
it. It was easier to let her have
her way.
?That?s better!? Allison
nodded to the book by his
side. ?Enjoying Ebenezer??
He grimaced.
?Mr Dickens is rather
long-winded.?
Allison laughed.
?But wonderfully
descriptive, don?t you think?
When Scrooge meets the
Ghost of Christmas Present,
you can almost taste the plum
pudding and roasting goose.?
?I must admit,? Johnny said,
?that?s one thing I?ve missed,
being abroad.?
?Not this year. That is . . .?
Allison hesitated. ?I don?t
suppose you have plans for
Christmas dinner? I was
wondering if you?d like to
have lunch with me? I make a
mean pudding.
?We could play games
afterwards, or watch a film.
?Scrooge The Musical? is one
of my favourites.?
There was a gruffness in his
throat when Johnny replied.
?That would be nice.?
Allison?s cheeks were a
shade of pink as she took the
tray from his lap.
?Shall I put the kettle on??
* * * *
Instead of wishing himself
elsewhere on Christmas
morning, Johnny found
himself anticipating Allison?s
arrival.
She came in, full of smiles
and food offerings, and soon
was busy creating wonderful
aromas and a festive
atmosphere with the aid of
carols playing in the
background. She seemed
touched when he handed her a
clumsily wrapped parcel.
?It?s perfect!? she exclaimed
at the discovery of an old
hardback copy of ?Bleak
House?. ?I don?t have this
one.? Her smile this time was
sheepish. ?I?m afraid I didn?t
get you a gift.?
Johnny smiled back, a touch
of gratitude in his.
?Oh, yes, you did.?
* * * *
Dinner was superb; Johnny
had seconds of everything.
He felt guilty when Allison
went to tidy the kitchen, but
she waved away his apologies,
completing his feeling of
contentment when she joined
him again to play cards.
As she gathered them up for
another deal, he had a sudden
image of future days just like
this one, shared with this
woman who had given him
back something precious.
She looked up then, and
when he stretched out his
hand, she took it willingly.
?Thank you, Allison,? he
murmured. ?You?ve made this
day special for me again. How
about we watch that Scrooge
film you like??
She flushed that attractive
shade of pink.
?That sounds lovely.? She
raised her glass of sherry.
?Merry Christmas, Johnny.?
Johnny grinned as he
clinked his glass with hers.
?And God bless us, every
one!?
The End.
Mindful Winter
Susie Kearley discovers how to get the most out of your seasonal outings.
If you?re feeling fit and energetic, you could follow this
eight-mile walk across Marsden Moor. Look out for
mountain hares and other wildlife.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/marsden-moor-estate/
trails/marsden-moor-heritage-walk-yellow-route
Sheringham
Park, Norfolk
Winter walks at
Sheringham Park offer
coastal views, early flowering
species of rhododendron,
and maybe some overwintering wildfowl.
www.nationaltrust.org.
uk/sheringham-park/trails/
sheringham-woodlandand-coastal-walk
Godolphin Hill Walk,
Cornwall
Courtesy of the National Trust/Juliet Turner.
Courtesy of the National Trust/Joe Cornish.
Marsden Moor Heritage Trail,
Yorkshire
Walking in wintertime can be exhilarating, absorbing ? and
mindful. The whole experience of being outside with the sun
on your skin, enjoying the full spectrum light, has a vibrant
effect, lifting your mood.
The seasonal chill can add to the joyful experience of living
in the moment, as long as you don?t get too cold! Enjoy the
crisp snow, the prickling cold ? enjoy just being alive.
The exercise you get while walking will do you good, too;
it gets your heart pumping and keeps you warm. Breathe in
the cold air, admire the wintry landscape, and see what
hardy plants and insects are still present at this time of year.
Look out for wildlife ? hares, deer, birds ? and admire the
beauty of nature. What do you see, feel, smell, taste? How
does it make you feel? This is mindfulness.
The National Trust has some wintry walks open at some of
its most beautiful landscapes, parks and gardens. Many of
the routes are quite gentle ? you can walk as much or as
little as you like.
Admission charges may apply at some venues. Some of
the locations have tea shops or pubs nearby, so you can sit
down and enjoy a relaxing hot brew after your walk.
For amazing views over west Cornwall, try a gentle walk
up Godolphin Hill. If the weather is good, you?ll be able to
see St Michael?s Mount and St Ives bay.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/godolphin/trails/godolphinhill-walk
Courtesy of the National Trust/ Fisheye Images.
M
INDFULNESS. Isn?t it just a new fad? A passing
phase? In the old days we called it paying
attention! But it?s a bit more than that.
Mindfulness is total immersion in the moment,
so you?re aware of all your senses and what?s
happening right now.
Thoughts pass by, but your attention stays on the sights,
sounds, smells, tastes and feelings of the moment. You?re
not ruminating on the past or worrying about the future
? you?re fully focused on the present.
It?s what some people call just ?being?. Mindfulness is
actually very good for your health. It brings greater
happiness, reduced levels of stress, and more peace of
mind.
Going outdoors and immersing yourself in nature is great
for practising mindfulness. In wintertime you might notice
the beauty of snowflakes, pretty frost on the grass, delicate
icicles, or cobwebs covered in dew.
Taking time to notice small details, like water droplets on
leaves and the patterns of clouds in the sky, can help you to
live in the moment. Let your worries go and just feel good.
Wicken Fen,
Cambridgeshire
The Wicken Fen Boardwalk Trail
is a short walk around Wicken?s
ancient Sedge Fen, a watery
habitat of fenland where you
might see hen and marsh harriers,
short-eared owls, Wicken?s herds
of highland cattle and konik
ponies.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
wicken-fen-nature-reserve/lists/
walking-at-wicken-
Rudyard Kipling?s home in Sussex
inspired some of his literary works.
There are a number of gentle
walking routes around the estate. If
you visit in the run-up to Christmas,
you can see the festive house and
enjoy seasonal treats in the caf�.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
batemans/features/estatewalks-at-batemans
Courtesy of the National Trust/John Miller.
The Jurassic coast can be admired from various viewpoints
on these unusual rocks. Listen for the waves and breathe in
the refreshing sea air.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/purbeck-countryside/trails/
old-harry-rocks-walk
Bateman?s,
East Sussex
Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire
Courtesy of the National Trust/Robert Morris.
Old Harry Rocks Walk, Dorset
Courtesy of the National Trust/ John Bish.
Courtesy of the National Trust/ Justin Minns.
Walks
OUT AND ABOUT 61
A walk around the woodland paths at Kedleston Hall offers
great views of the estate. The house is closed on weekdays in
December, though the park, restaurant and shop are all open.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kedleston-hall/trails/
kedleston---long-walk
62
Things are seen from another side in this sparkling short
story by Ann Hilton.
A Seasonal Review
S
COUT D173 (fourth factfinding mission to planet Earth).
Preliminary report.
I landed successfully on a large
island the humans call the UK
on December 10 at 2300 hours Earth
time. I have employed the cloaking device
so I can move among the inhabitants of
this planet and gather data unnoticed.
Early observations indicate the humans
are absorbed with preparations for a big
event. There is large-scale purchasing of
items such as sweets, chocolates,
mince-pies and turkeys. Huge quantities
of alcohol are also being stockpiled.
Perhaps they are expecting a famine?
Alternatively they may be anticipating
severe cold weather as many people are
now sporting woolly jumpers adorned
with sparkly reindeer, snowmen or
penguins. Some of these garments also
have flashing lights or play tunes.
I will investigate further.
Illustration by iStock.
* * * *
Scout D173.
Second report.
On the corner of St Peter?s Close is a
large building with a spire and a cross on
top. Its arched windows are a
kaleidoscope of coloured glass. As I
explored the street behind it I was
surprised that, for a planet supposedly
concerned with reducing energy
consumption, they use so much
electricity.
The first house has a plastic snowman
in the garden and a reindeer galloping
across the roof, all in glorious neon lights.
The adjoining house has dainty white
icicle lights hanging from the guttering,
and the third house has bulbs in the hedge
that change from blue to red to green.
Peering through the windows, I noticed
every house has a tree inside. Some are
real and others are plastic, but all have
been decorated with lights, shiny baubles
and glittery tinsel.
I was outside house number 12,
reading a sign in the garden: Santa,
Please Stop Here! when the door opened
and two small humans came running out
followed by an adult female.
?Jodie, have you remembered your
reading book?? the lady asked. ?Luke,
have you got your homework??
?Yes, Mum,? the children chorused.
I followed them down the road and saw
other children and adults heading in the
same direction. A street away I found out
This time of year
might seem unusual
to those new to our
world . . .
crown and a long green cloak.
They all went to see the baby then all
the children sang.
The parents loved it. They clapped and
cheered and one or two cried. I have to
admit I enjoyed it myself.
why ? they were going to school.
?I?ll be back to see your nativity play,?
the mother said as she kissed Jodie and
Luke goodbye.
I will attend this play myself, as it may
reveal more useful data.
I boarded a vehicle called a bus with
Jodie and Luke?s mother. It took us into
the town.
In the centre was a group of people
dressed in red and white hats singing
?Jingle Bells?. Perhaps this was a
reference to the retailers? pockets? The
tills were certainly jingling with all the
money people were spending.
The shops were all playing the same
tunes over and over, and most of them
mentioned something called Christmas.
People were buying cards and banners
and long rolls of shiny paper.
Later I spotted Jodie and Luke?s mum
struggling on to a bus with several bags.
It?s a pity these humans only have two
arms. With our six we would be so much
better suited to all this shopping.
Scout D173.
Further discoveries.
After further investigation I am able to
give some information about Santa.
He is also known as Father Christmas.
He wears a distinctive red coat trimmed
with white and a matching hat. His
catchphrase is ?Ho, Ho, Ho.?
Santa?s mode of transport is a sleigh
pulled by reindeer. The leading reindeer
has a bright red nose.
I assume that this ?sleigh? is a form of
rocket. Human technology must be more
advanced than we thought, as Santa is
able to deliver presents to the whole
world in one night on this vehicle.
There is a great deal of excitement
about this man. Children await his arrival
eagerly and count off the days by
opening windows on cardboard calendars
and eating the chocolates hidden inside.
I decided to continue my observations
in St Peter?s Close.
The women from numbers fifteen and
sixteen, Debbie Porter and Barbara
Beynon, were in the street talking.
?I?ve told them not to expect too
much,? Debbie said. ?I can?t afford those
expensive games, but they want what
their friends are getting. They?ve found it
hard since Martin left.?
?Has he sent them anything?? Miss
Beynon asked.
?Not even a card. They?ll be
disappointed if they don?t hear from him,
but I expect he?ll be preoccupied with his
new wife and baby.?
?Surely he?ll remember his sons.?
There?s a young couple in number ten,
Matthew and Jessica. They?ve put up a
sprig of a plant with white berries and
they keep kissing underneath it.
?Next Christmas there will be three of
us.? Jessica smiled and stroked her
tummy.
?Do you think he?d like a train set for
his first Christmas??
?I think he?ll be a bit young for that.?
Jessica laughed and kissed Martin again.
In number twelve, Jodie was looking
out of the window.
?Dad, is it going to snow? I want to
* * * *
Scout D173.
Report on the nativity play.
I?ve found out what Christmas is.
Apparently it?s a birthday celebration for
a baby called Jesus.
I stood at the back of the school hall
and observed.
Mary, dressed in blue, travelled to a
place called Bethlehem on a donkey with
her husband. This seemed a rather
primitive means of transport, but I
understand it happened a long time ago.
I was shocked that Mary had her baby
in a stable. Have these humans no idea
about hygiene?
With all those animals around it must
have been very smelly.
The girl playing Mary dropped the baby
on its head but nobody seemed to notice.
Jodie was dressed in white with tinsel
on her head. The other girls were dressed
the same. There were some shepherds
and other children dressed as sheep.
Three boys in robes followed a star.
Luke was one of them, dressed in a gold
* * * *
63
build a snowman.?
?The forecast is dull and cloudy,? Dad
said.
?What a pity,? Mum said. ?A white
Christmas would be so pretty.?
Humans sing songs about white
Christmases and send cards with snow
scenes on, but it makes no sense why
they would wish for that cold, wet stuff.
When they do get it their transport
system grinds to a halt, people get
stranded on motorways in long queues,
trains cannot run and flights are
cancelled!
In number three the older couple were
wrapping parcels and tying them with
ribbon. They were enjoying a glass of
mulled wine and a mince-pie.
I had a taster myself. The pies were a
little too sweet for my taste, but the
mulled wine made me feel warm inside.
I?ve learned that the building with the
stained-glass windows is called a church.
As I passed this evening there was the
sound of music coming from inside.
I went in and found it full of people
singing songs about the shepherds and
the kings and the baby in the stable. The
whole building was lit by candles. It was
very pretty.
* * * *
Scout D173.
December 24.
Tonight is the night Father Christmas
will visit. Jodie and Luke put pillowcases
under their tree and in other homes I saw
children hanging up large stockings.
I?ll be observing closely. How does
Santa enter people?s houses? Do people
leave a door or window open for him?
Perhaps he teleports?
That?s my hypothesis: teleportation.
* * * *
Scout D173.
Final report.
It seems many homes leave a drink and
a mince-pie for Santa and a long orange
vegetable for his reindeer. In the interests
of research I decided to sample these.
The carrots were cold, hard and
crunchy. I left them for the reindeer.
The sherry was smooth and sweet. I
sampled some in a number of houses.
Unfortunately I fell asleep on the sofa
in house number twelve and completely
missed Father Christmas!
I was woken early by Jodie and Luke.
?Has he been?? Luke asked.
?Yes, look!? Jodie pointed to the
bulging pillowcases.
?Oh!? Luke exclaimed, pulling a
parcel from the top of his pillowcase.
Their parents came down the stairs
looking bleary-eyed.
?I?ll put the kettle on,? Dad said.
Mum sank down on the sofa. She
nearly sat on me! Of course I was still
using the cloaking device.
I watched them open their presents for
a while but Jodie and Luke were
squealing with excitement and I felt
unusual. Could it have been something to
do with that sherry?
In number sixteen Debbie was in the
kitchen. Christmas music was playing on
the radio and she was singing along.
She put the turkey in the oven and
began peeling potatoes.
It was quiet in her lounge; her teenage
boys were still asleep. I noticed there
were parcels under the tree for the boys
labelled From Dad. He had remembered.
I lay on the sofa and fell asleep.
When I woke up the boys were both
playing their new computer games from
their father.
The doorbell rang.
?Barbara, Happy Christmas.? Debbie
welcomed Miss Beynon.
?Dinner will be ready in about half an
hour. Sherry??
Matthew and Jessica were just leaving
the house when I got to number ten. I
followed them to the church hall where I
found long trestle tables had been laid
out with festive tablecloths and crackers.
Several people in old clothes were
being welcomed and offered hot drinks.
Some had grubby sleeping bags rolled up
under their arms and a couple of them
had dogs tied on pieces of old rope.
When everyone was seated Jessica and
Matthew served a roast turkey dinner
followed by plum pudding and cream.
Back at number twelve the children
were watching cartoons. The older
couple from number three were there, too.
?Grandma, do you believe in aliens??
Jodie asked.
?I?m not sure.?
?I do,? Luke said, sitting on his
grandpa?s knee. ?They?re green like on
the cartoon.?
I?m not green. I considered deactivating
the cloaking device to show him what an
alien looks like, but thought better of it.
The cartoons ended and a lady called
the Queen came on and made a speech.
She is very keen on headwear. There
were pictures of her wearing all sorts of
different coloured hats.
?On our own we cannot end wars or
wipe out injustice?, she said, and then
explained that small acts of goodness and
love can have a big impact.
On this planet there is always a war
going on somewhere, but at Christmas
the message is one of peace and goodwill
to all.
I thought about Debbie inviting lonely
Barbara Beynon to dinner, and Jessica and
Martin helping to feed the homeless.
I thought about the families spending
time together and the people singing in
the church and the children acting out the
story of the birth of Jesus. I knew now
what to put in my recommendations.
* * * *
Scout D173.
Recommendations.
Following careful research I recommend
we adopt this festival on our planet.
I am bringing back several Christmas
trees to grow and a bottle of sherry.
The End.
Andrew Parkinson.
The Wonder Of
Writer Robert Penn shares his love
of trees and the creatures that
inhabit our woodlands.
Looking over the Weald. This
was once all dense forest.
Q What is your favourite tree?
A Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior). I grew up under an ash
tree. Somehow it stuck with me.
Q How has the relationship between woods and people
changed over the years?
A I think that for a long time ? perhaps two thousand years
? the relationship the majority of people in Britain had with
woodlands was fairly constant. That changed for many with
industrialisation and our migration to cities. During the 20th
century, there was another big disconnect between British
people and woodlands. We are busy trying to repair that
now.
Q If spending time in a wood is a calming experience, is
writing a book about woods also calming?
A Up to a point. If you are, like me, an expert at missing
deadlines, it gets a bit stressful. The subject matter, however,
is both calming and endlessly fascinating.
A tawny owl seen
during the winter
months.
Paul Hobson.
Q Where is your favourite wood?
A I have many favourite woods. Court Wood, which I help
manage as part of a community woodland group, is right up
there. Horner Wood on the Holnicote estate in West
Somerset is one of the largest, unenclosed ancient
woodlands in Britain. It is magical. I also love St Mary?s Vale,
an extraordinary Atlantic oak wood near my home in the
Black Mountains.
JDavid Kjaer.
NTPL.
John Millar .
A young badger
forages in the
sunshine.
The hawfinch
is shy and
hard to spot.
Reg Pengelly.
Woodland
NATURE 65
Patricia Macdonald.
The dormouse is
surely one our most
adorable animals!
Steely mornings make the
autumn colours stand out.
Q Could you tell us a little bit about the Japanese
concept of Shinrin-yoku, which you mention in
your book?
A Shinrin-yoku or ?forest bathing? is an established
modern form of preventative medicine that basically
entails going for a stroll in an ancient forest. Inspired
by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, nearly a
quarter of the Japanese population enjoy forest
bathing today.
There has been a huge amount of scientific
research in Japan to understand how the magic of
trees works on humans at a molecular level, in our
cells and neurons. The research data is compelling:
leisurely forest walks reduce heart rate and blood
pressure, decrease sympathetic nerve activity and
lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, amongst
many other physiological human benefits. If you go to
the woods often, none of this will be news to you. If
you don?t, take note.
Q What is special about a true natural wood,
rather than an orchard or a plantation?
A Orchards are great. Plantations often have some
virtue. Native woodlands, however, offer much more.
The best woodlands are a mix of the solid and the
evanescent, a compound of growth and decay, a
blend of the timeless and the momentary, and a
marriage of the very ordinary and the heart-stoppingly
exquisite.
Q Have you chosen to live near woods?
A I have. Fifteen years ago, I bought a house in the Black
Mountains in a small woodland. Right now, I wouldn?t live
anywhere else.
Q In setting up community woodland groups, do you feel
confident about the future of British woods? Do you feel
there?s enough appreciation for their value?
A You can make a good case that the threats to our woodlands
in the UK have never been greater. Grey squirrels, deer, neglect,
climate change and the globalisation of tree pests and diseases
combined mean that the future for our woodlands looks
desperately uncertain. We need to value them better, now. n
?Woods: A Celebration?
by Robert Penn, published
by National Trust Books, is
available from bookshops
and online, RRP �. To
buy your copy for the
special price of �.99,
including UK P&P, call
0141 306 3296 quoting
code CH2006. For overseas
delivery details, contact
the number above.
66
All the world?s a stage in this humorous short story
by Linda Lewis.
Illustration by Jim Dewar.
M
The Show
Must Go On
Y name?s Joseph. I?m the
Mr Fixit of WADS,
otherwise known as
Westlea Amateur
Dramatic Society. I
oversee the props, the scenery. I even
design the programmes. The one thing I
don?t do is act.
We haven?t done panto for years,
because basically we?ve all got too old.
Then somebody found a new version of
?Cinderella?, written for what the author
tactfully called ?the mature actor?.
There was a real buzz in the hall
tonight. I already had ideas for the
scenery, plus I?d drafted a poster.
No prizes for guessing who?d play
Cinderella. There was only one horse in
that particular race ? Liza. She breezed
into our lives two years ago and has
landed all the lead roles ever since.
I thought I?d never look at another
woman after my wife died seven years
ago, but then Liza came along. She?s
beautiful.
The room fell silent as the director
called the meeting to attention.
?Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
I?m afraid I have some bad news.?
We couldn?t do the show after all. We
simply didn?t have enough people.
?Edith has agreed to play Cabbage,
even though the role would normally be
played by a man, but we?re still one Ugly
Sister short. Unless we find somebody to
play Lettuce, that?s it. No panto.?
A murmur went round the room.
?Does anyone have any ideas??
Silence. Then Liza looked across at
me.
?What about you, Joseph??
Everyone turned and looked my way. I
felt like a gazelle watched by a pack of
hungry lions.
?Go on, Joseph,? Edith begged. ?Give
it a go. It?s easy enough. All you have to
do is mess about and fall over things.?
?I can?t. I just can?t.?
The director clapped his hands to get
our attention.
?It?s disappointing, I know, but we still
have time to find another play. I suggest
we all put our thinking caps on.
Meanwhile, tea?s ready to be served.?
Without my help
Cinderella was not
going to the ball . . .
Liza took my arm and steered me to a
quiet corner.
?Are you sure you won?t change your
mind? I?ve always dreamed about
playing Cinderella. Now I?m
approaching fifty, I thought I?d missed
my chance. Say you?ll do it, Joseph.
Please? For me??
As I looked into those big blue eyes,
my heart wanted to say, ?Yes, I?ll do
anything for you, anything at all.?
But my head had other ideas.
?I can?t go on stage. I?m sorry, really.?
?What if somebody helped you??
For a moment I thought she meant her.
I pictured long evenings spent rehearsing
together, but the dream didn?t last. Liza
grabbed Edith by the elbow and pulled
her into the conversation.
?You could help Joseph, couldn?t
you??
?Sorry? Help Joseph do what??
Liza sighed.
?He?s thinking about taking the Ugly
Sister role. As you?re playing the other
one, I thought you could practise
together. It?s not as if there are loads of
lines to learn.?
I was about to say don?t bother,
because I?m not taking the part, when
Liza kissed me on the cheek.
?Playing Cinderella would be a dream
come true.? She gave me a heartstopping smile. ?If you take the role,
when the play?s over I?ll take you out to
dinner as a thank you.?
I felt so torn. The last thing I wanted to
do was shatter anyone?s dreams,
especially Liza?s.
I looked to Edith.
?I?m not saying I?ll do it, but if I did
give it a try, would you be willing to help
me??
Edith nodded.
?It would be my pleasure.?
Liza flung her arms round my neck
and gave me a hug. It was enough to
make up my mind.
?You?ll take the part??
All I could do was nod, like one of
those dogs people had in their cars.
Liza ran over to the director and
whispered in his ear.
?Listen, everyone!? he shouted.
?Cinderella is back on. Joseph has agreed
to play Lettuce.?
I was about to say that all I?d done was
promise to try to play the part. Then I
saw the way Liza was smiling at me, as
though I was her hero.
?I?ll do my best,? I managed.
* * * *
The script, with my part highlighted in
bold, pinged into my inbox the next day.
The good news was, I didn?t have too
many lines to learn ? it was mostly
slapstick and silly banter between the
two sisters. The bad news was, I still had
to learn it. I also had to go on stage.
There was a second e-mail from Edith.
Are you doing anything this evening? I
thought we could meet up and read
through the script.
I started to panic. Everything was
happening too fast. I?d made a huge
mistake. There was no way I could
possibly do this. Even thinking about
being on stage terrified me. But then I
pictured Liza, dressed in her gown, ready
to go the ball. I had to try, for her sake.
Edith?s house was only half a mile
away so I walked round. She greeted me
with her usual smile.
?Come in. How are you feeling? You
look terrible.?
?Thanks.?
She chuckled and sat me down on a
comfortable leather sofa.
?You?ll be fine. Being an Ugly Sister
is great fun.?
?How do you know? They?re usually
played by men, aren?t they??
She nodded.
?But these days, anything goes.
Especially with this script. Have you
read it? In this version, Cinderella ends
up with Buttons. If people are wanting a
traditional panto, they won?t like this
version, whoever plays the Ugly Sisters.?
?Wouldn?t you rather be Cinderella??
67
She laughed.
?No, thanks. All she does is stand
about looking sad and beautiful. The
Ugly Sisters are the real stars. Did you
bring the script with you??
I?d been so anxious, I?d forgotten it. I
made to stand up.
?I?ll come back another day.?
?No,? she said. ?I?ll soon print another
copy. Stay there.?
With that she disappeared, leaving me
recalling the first time I saw
?Cinderella?. My parents were very keen
on amateur dramatics. My mother, a
beautiful woman, landed the lead. Dad
was an Ugly Sister. They had a massive
row when she accused him of trying to
steal the show.
Trouble was, he did. I was young but I
remember how brilliant my dad was.
Everything he did was funny ? the jokes,
the faces he pulled. Even the way he sat
down was hilarious.
That was the last time he ever went on
stage. He said it wasn?t worth it.
* * * *
By the time Edith came back I?d made
up my mind.
?Thanks for offering to help me, but I
can?t do this. I just can?t.?
I hadn?t known Edith was so stubborn.
She wouldn?t let me leave.
?I know how you feel. I used to feel
that way. I mean, look at me. Plain and
plump, my ex used to say.?
She chuckled but I could see the pain
behind her eyes.
?All the time we were married, I
longed to be beautiful, thinking that if I
was slim and pretty, he?d change and
we?d be happy. I wasted so many years.
It?s only now that I?ve finally learned
I?m OK just the way I am.?
She looked me in the eye.
?Don?t decide anything yet. Let?s read
our parts through first. OK??
I sighed.
?I?ll read it but that?s all.?
Edith read her lines so well, she made
it easy for me. When we reached the end,
she put down the script.
?There. That wasn?t so bad, was it??
What could I say? I knew I?d be able
to learn the lines. Whenever we put on a
play I ended up memorising most of the
script, simply through hearing it so often.
What I was worried about was actually
going on stage.
?I still don?t think I can do this.?
She nodded.
?That?s fine, because I know you can.
All you need to do is keep coming round.
We?re both retired so we can practise
every day if need be. Then it will be
easy. I promise. Let?s read it through
again, then we?ll have tea.?
It was impossible to argue. Edith
sounded so certain I could do this that I
began to think that maybe she was right.
The second read through was better
than the first. I was more relaxed and
made far fewer mistakes. It was then I
started to appreciate how funny the script
was.
?Next time you come, we?ll start
walking it through,? Edith said.
But my bottle had gone again.
I called Edith.
?I?m going to e-mail the director. I?m
sorry, but if I bow out now there?s still
time to find somebody else.?
?There is nobody else.?
?Then they?ll have to find a different
play. I can?t do this.?
I hung up and tried to compose the
resignation e-mail. I was about to press
Send after my fifth attempt when the
doorbell rang.
It was Edith. She put her hands on her
hips.
?Do you like bungee jumping??
?No. What?s that got to do with
anything??
?Have you ever tried bungee
jumping??
?Of course not.?
?Then how do you know you don?t
like it??
I couldn?t think of any riposte so I
shrugged.
?Have you ever been in a panto??
?No,? I said hesitantly.
?So how do you know you don?t like
it??
?Being on stage is terrifying. Like
bungee jumping.?
?Only because it?s something
68
R
Rub-A-Dub
UB-A-DUB-DUB, I?m here in my tub,
I?m soaking in scented repose,
I?m lying in bubbles right down from my neck
To the tip of my pink crinkled toes.
The phone?s off the hook and I?ve got a good book,
Sweet music plays soft on CD,
A glass of refreshment is close by my hand,
I?m blissful as blissful can be.
But, oh, dear ? just hark! A loud anxious bark,
A woof and a whine from below,
My fast-asleep dog has awoken at last,
And knows where he?s desperate to go . . .
With a sigh and a frown I drip my way down,
He needs to go out rather fast,
My mood is dispelled, my bliss is quite quelled ?
Should have known it was too good to last!
? Maggie Ingall.
different. Anything
different feels scary the
first time you do it. Please,
Joseph. Give me one more
week. After that, if you?re still
not happy, back out. We?ll tell
the director together.? She
turned away. ?See you
tomorrow. ?
* * * *
When I got to Edith?s house
the following evening, she?d
cleared some furniture out of
the living-room to give us
more space. I felt like a heel.
?Why didn?t you let me
help you move everything??
?I wasn?t sure you?d turn
up,? she said matter-of-factly.
?Right, Act Two, Scene One.
We?ll walk it through nice
Edith had everything ready
? empty buckets, artificial
flowers and water pistols. I
was impressed.
?You?re getting into this,?
she said, giving me a smile.
?Right. Act Two, Scene Five.
We need to work on your
walk. It?s nowhere near silly
enough.?
By the time the actual
rehearsals started, I knew
most of my lines. I was even
starting to enjoy myself.
Whether that would continue
once we were on stage,
though, I wasn?t so sure.
While the other actors
worked on their parts, I was
kept busy with scenery and
props. Edith took over
publicity and helped with the
iStock.
By the time rehearsals started I
was starting to enjoy myself
and slowly, OK??
It didn?t feel like acting. It
felt like fun. Thanks to the
script, it was like being a
naughty child, falling over
and exchanging silly insults
with an annoying sister.
accounts, otherwise I couldn?t
have coped.
Suddenly it was the dress
rehearsal.
?We?re going to run through
as though this is an actual
performance,? the director
explained. ?If anything goes
wrong, don?t stop, just carry
on.?
All the tension and anxiety
I?d been bottling up rose to
the surface. My knees
knocked, my legs shook. My
entire body was a quivering
mass of nerves.
Edith took me to one side.
?Joseph, listen to me. It?s
just us, having fun. Like
we?ve done dozens of times at
my house. OK??
I nodded.
Somehow we stumbled
through it. It wasn?t easy, but
Edith knew her part so well
that when I did go wrong, she
covered it up with an ad lib.
At the end, the director gave
us notes.
?That was good, but it can
be better. I know you?re
nervous, Joseph, but you need
to relax. You?re so stiff, you
look like a broom handle.?
?Take no notice,? Edith
whispered. ?You were
amazing.?
I knew she was only being
kind but I was grateful. It
meant a lot to me.
We had one more rehearsal
and then it would be
showtime, with a paying
audience and critics.
I didn?t sleep at all that
night. I hadn?t been truthful
with Edith. I had been on
stage before. When my father
stopped acting, my mother
got me a part in the next
production.
I only had two lines, but
when it came to saying them
my mouth was so dry, I
couldn?t speak. I just stood on
that stage, staring out at the
audience like a rabbit caught
in headlights.
One of the critics, known
for his sharp words, had a
field day.
Young Joseph Cartwright
stole the show with the best
impression of a dead tree I
have ever witnessed.
My mother was mortified.
After that, I stayed backstage
with my dad.
* * * *
That horrible feeling, all the
fear, came flooding back on
opening night. I heard my first
cue and couldn?t move my
feet. Edith, already on stage,
gave me the cue again. When
I failed to appear she marched
69
into the wings.
?Where?s Lettuce? Wait
until I get my hands on my
sister. I?ll slug her!?
The audience laughed,
thinking it was part of the
show.
?You?re meant to be on
stage,? she whispered.
I couldn?t speak, just shook
my head.
She took my hand.
?It?s OK. Pretend we?re at
my house. Don?t look at the
audience, and close your eyes
if you have to.?
As she spoke, she gently
pulled me on to the stage and
gave me my cue again. I
stumbled over the words but
at least they came out.
would, did you??
?Yes. A promise is a
promise.?
?Knowing Liza, she?ll have
forgotten all about it.?
But she hadn?t. She
cornered me at the after-show
party.
?Do you like curry? I
thought we might go to
Yasmina?s. Friday?s good for
me.?
?I?d like that.?
The next day, I bought a
large bunch of flowers and
took them round to Edith.
?To say thank you for your
time, your patience and your
good humour. Without your
help, I would never have got
on stage.?
Now the show was over there was
no need to spend time together
That first scene was a
nightmare but it did get
easier. Whenever I felt like
running away, Edith was
there to offer a helping hand,
or ad lib jokes that were
better than those in the script.
One of them was so funny, I
got the giggles.
?Giggling?s good,? she
whispered. ?Keep it up!?
It was in the middle of Act
Two that everything came
together. An argument about
shoes ended up in a fight. I
said one of my lines and the
audience cracked up.
?Listen to that. You made
that happen. The audience
loves you!?
I sailed through the rest of
the performance, and the next
one, and the next. When the
review came out, it was full
of praise.
The stars of the show were
Lettuce and Cabbage,
brilliantly played by Edith
Hawkins and Joseph
Cartwright.
The critic wasn?t as kind
about Cinderella, calling her
beautiful but plastic.
As the curtain fell for the
last time a thought struck me.
?Do you think Liza will
keep her promise about taking
me out to dinner for saving
the panto?? I asked Edith as
we headed backstage to get
changed.
Edith laughed.
?I wouldn?t think so.?
She paused.
?You didn?t really think she
She hugged the flowers to
her chest.
?They?re lovely, Joseph.
Thank you.?
I expected her to invite me
in, but she didn?t. Instead, her
smile faded.
?Did you get your dinner
date with Liza??
?Yes. We?re going out on
Friday.?
?I?m very happy for you,?
she said. ?Thank you again for
the flowers. I?ll see you at the
next WADS meeting. Bye.?
Before I had time to react,
she closed the door. I tried
ringing the bell again but she
didn?t answer.
I was going to miss Edith?s
smile, her infectious laugh
and her sense of fun. But now
the show was over, there was
no need for us to spend time
together. She?d made that
clear.
* * * *
I met Liza at the restaurant
as arranged. It was an
interesting evening. Liza?s
mind was obviously
elsewhere. She spent most of
the time glued to her
smartphone.
I tried to make conversation
but soon gave up. The food
was good, though, made better
as I wasn?t the one picking up
the bill.
?Thanks for this, Liza. Edith
said you?d forget all about it.?
?Sorry??
?Edith thought you?d forget
your promise to take me to
dinner if I saved the
pantomime.?
She shrugged and went back
to her phone, texting and
sending e-mails as if I wasn?t
there.
?I used to have a crush on
you,? I confessed.
That got her attention.
?What did you say??
?I said I had a crush on you.
You?re so beautiful.?
She gave me such a look.
?Look, Joseph. If you think
I?m treating you to a curry
because I like you, think
again. I?m only here because
Edith made me.?
?What??
Liza sighed.
?Edith cornered me at the
party. Said if I didn?t keep my
promise, I?d regret it. Told me
how funny and clever you are,
and how brave you were,
conquering your fears. She
said I could do a lot worse. If
you ask me, she?s sweet on
you.?
Liza chuckled.
?Wouldn?t that be a hoot?
Two Ugly Sisters together.?
Was that why Edith had
shut the door in my face?
Because she thought I was
still hung up on Liza?
I pushed back my chair.
?Thanks for the curry. I?ll
skip dessert.?
It wasn?t Liza I wanted to
be with. It was Edith. Without
even trying, she?d worked her
way deep into my heart.
I?d had some wine so I
couldn?t risk driving, and I
didn?t want to wait for a bus
or a taxi, so I ran all the way
to her house. By the time I got
there I was panting.
Edith took one look and
gasped.
?What are you doing here? I
thought you were on a date
with Liza.?
?I was. I left her at the
restaurant.? I paused to catch
my breath. ?You were right,
Edith. Cinderella looks good,
but it?s all on the surface. It?s
the Ugly Sisters people love.
They?re the real stars.? I
reached for her hand. ?To me,
you?re the best, the brightest,
the most beautiful star of them
all.?
She smiled.
?In that case, you?d better
come inside.?
The End.
A cat-centric view of the world from
illustrator Anthony Smith.
Have
a laugh
with us
?We want
to get the
listener
shouting at
the radio?
Photographs courtesy of Timothy Bentinck and Alamy.
Actor Timothy Bentinck
tells Marion McGivern
about his 35 years
playing David Archer.
T
IMOTHY BENTINCK
has one of Britain?s
most familiar voices,
best known to
listeners as David
Archer from the world?s
longest-running radio soap
?The Archers? on Radio 4.
For 12 minutes every
evening, or an hour and a
bit on Sundays if you?re an
omnibus listener, Tim and
his fictional family engross
listeners in the doings of
?the everyday story of
country folk?.
He plays farmer David
Archer, denizen of
Brookfield Farm in
Ambridge, the hub of the
storytelling that has been a
feature of fans? listening for
over 66 years.
Tim, however, has been
with the soap a ?mere? 35
years, joining in 1982 as a
fresh-faced actor only a few
years out of university and
drama school.
Now, his new book,
?Being David Archer?, spills
the beans on those 35 years
In their younger
years ? David
and Ruth, played
by Felicity Finch.
spent in front of a
microphone, as well as his
real-life family and his other
plentiful work on stage and
screen.
It could all have been so
very different. Tim?s father,
Henry, emigrated to
Tasmania in 1950 to
become a sheep farmer and
Tim was born there in 1953.
Had the family not
returned to England two
years later he might have
been working with real
sheep instead of his radio
herd!
Back in England, Henry
became an advertising
executive (he came up with
the slogan, ?Mr Kipling
makes exceedingly good
cakes?).
Tim?s dad passed on a
wide range of building skills,
from tree houses to stages
with curtains and lights,
leading to Tim?s ability to
renovate old houses by
himself.
He also passed on the title
of the Earl of Portland,
having inherited it from a
distant cousin. Tim took his
seat in the House of Lords
as the 12th Earl, though the
change in the law on
inherited titles means he?s
no longer a member.
?He was so practical, my
father. I get that from him. I
would have been quite
happy building houses. I
would love to have a
shedload of money and go
and build something . . .
amazing.?
So if he hadn?t become an
actor, what might Tim have
been?
?I would love to have
worked in artificial
intelligence. I find that
absolutely fascinating. I look
at engineers and envy them
being that practical and
making those extraordinary
things.
?I did linguistics at
university and I?m still
fascinated by accent, and I
have plans to make a TV
documentary about how
accents change and how
REAL LIFE 71
languages change.
?I wanted to be a pilot at
one point. I nearly followed
my father into the
advertising industry and
became an ad man. I would
have been happy doing that,
I think.?
He thinks the acting might
have been influenced by his
mum, Pauline, who sadly
died when he was only
thirteen.
?She could have been an
actress,? Tim says. ?We
always used to do silly
accents. She used to play
around with voices and
things. I have a recording of
me and Mum doing Pete
and Dud and she was
brilliant.?
He?s close to his ?Archers?
family, too, both the fictional
members and the actors
who play them.
?We go into the studio
and for those few moments
we are those characters and
those characters have a
bond and we 
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