Love Is A Net That Catches Hearts Like Fish

Without doubt the old fella has left an enormous hole in our hearts but his legacy was living every moment in the joy of simple things and sharing laughter with those he loved. Often when I left my laptop open I used to find him surreptitiously reading your comments & chuckling in response to a story I had written about him as he was bemused that you all found the allotment exploits of an eccentric old pensioner amusing. He enjoyed your pictures of places he would never get to visit and was fascinated that we could connect with people living on the other side of the world. I will miss him more than I thought possible and the way he greeted me everyday with the words “hello sunshine”.  I also know in my heart that he would want you all to remember him with a smile as he did with you.

As some of you know Chloe Hellcat, the smallest of our cat family was rescued from the water by a kindly fisherman, which is how she came live with us and by which time as a waterside feral she had become an adept fisherman herself.

Sadly this is a trait we haven’t been able to remedy and unfortunately last summer she discovered an accommodating ornamental pond in the village spending a week trawling the pond to bring home wriggling Koi Carp larger than herself. Chloe always loses interest in her quarry after dumping it on the lawn so it was no surprise one Saturday morning when I found not one but two large golden carp flopping around on the grass. After the immediate shock wore off it was action stations as I frantically ran around the garden, filling a bucket and gingerly putting the slippery little suckers into it. Just as I had successfully installed both fish into the pail the little minx returned with yet another which I wasted no time in reuniting with its fishy friends.

As there is no ornamental pond within my garden the most obvious solution was to accommodate them temporarily in the old fella’s pride and joy until we could discover who they really belonged to. So after an anxious telephone call, Operation “Rescuing Nemo” was launched when my Dad called the local village hair salon to ask them to tell my mother to stop at my house on the way home after her regular shampoo & set.

My mother is no fan of any creature of the wriggling variety and I think it’s fair to say was pretty much horrified when I asked her to sit in the passenger seat of my cramped Renault Clio and grip a bucket of fish between her knees; no easy feat in a Jaeger skirt suit I assure you. However, as the journey to Dyson Abbey was only a two-minute journey she reluctantly agreed but I knew that Dad’s ears would be ringing once she got home.

As is always the case during the busiest time of the year, when holidaymakers flock to Devon to sample, amongst other things, our ‘andsome cream teas, frequent road works magically appear overnight. So it was no surprise on this Saturday morning that the short journey from my house to the old folks involved a longer detour through winding leafy country lanes. Whilst we whizzed past luscious green countryside, I was anxiously negotiating the meandering roads as my mother screamed at me to slow down each time water splashed her legs and I think she would have had apoplexy should any fish have escaped the bucket.

Additionally as it was so hot I had opened the windows so whilst squeezing right into the bramble covered hedgerows to avoid oncoming traffic my mother’s new “do” was completely windswept and speckled with leaves & the odd feather giving her the appearance of a manic “Miss Havisham”. I couldn’t help but feel she was going to be less than happy when we eventually got to our destination.

As luck would have it when I pulled up there was nowhere to park so we had to leave it on the main road which meant that the old dear was not going to be able to edge out of the car unnoticed. As I opened the passenger door for her, Dad was waiting on the other side of the low garden wall and the sight of a dishevelled Mum regally sat in the front seat with this bucket gripped between her knees reduced him to hysterics which I knew would cost him dear later.

When he recovered himself enough I passed the bucket to him so that he could liberate the fish into their new home. I have it on good authority that the old dear gave my Dad fish every evening for dinner that week, however, as I understand the old fella declined preferring instead the old faithful banana sandwich as he reckoned he wouldn’t be able to look his new lodgers in the eye if he devoured their cousins.

The old fella always wanted something positive to come out of something negative and in the spirit of all the rescues that we have carried out together as a family, if you’re on Facebook take five minutes to check out Jodie’s Cyprus Dogs Rehoming and if you can please share, as I think he’d kinda like that.

ayesha-6

 

Driving Miss Daisy

A few weeks’ ago early one morning the old fella jumped in the car & said he wanted to see if he hadn’t lost any of his driving technique having been unable to drive for the past eighteen months owing to the stroke.

“Jump in” he said.

To say that I was astonished was a slight understatement and as I hadn’t yet had a superhero strength breakfast I wasn’t exactly sure that I was up to the task in hand.

After putting the key in the ignition his size eleven feet hit the pedals and the roaring noise coming from the engine must have awoken the entire village. As we juddered away from the kerb I regretted not having brought a pair of ear defenders along with me.

A few minutes down the road my Dad pulled over and smiling said “I’ve forgotten where all the controls are” which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

I suggested we take the back roads, “nonsense” he scoffed. The white knuckle ride down a steep incline nearly resulted in my forehead smacking into the dashboard three or four times as my Dad hit the foot brake just a tad too heavy and I tried to negotiate with the Almighty about extending my life expectancy a little further than that morning in exchange for less erratic attendance at our local parish church.

The journey took three times longer on account of all the detours we took to avoid hills so that the old fella wouldn’t have to carry out a hill start; our home county Devon is all about the hills.

Not for the first time that morning I wondered whether I was in some Bob Newhart sketch where I was the terrified driving instructor and my Dad was the clueless pupil; no doubt the amount of expletives I was muttering under my breath would probably ensure I was never going to Heaven anyway.

“Deborah, will you just jiggle those mirror thingamys around” as he was parallel parking outside the medical centre. As he revved the engine harder than Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One Mercedes and smoked billowed out from the exhaust, he managed to attract an appreciative audience who were beginning to take bets on whether he would manage the herculean task. As it happened the receptionist had been alerted to my father’s arrival by the speed of sound and brought his repeat prescription out to the car.

Turning to me Dad said “That was good of her, wondered how she knew we were here”

I replied that it was likely that they had probably been able to hear us in Yorkshire unless they were in a medically induced coma and not wanting a repeat performance suggested he leave the car on the drive when we returned home.

As we pulled up we were met by my two nieces who were brandishing their provisional driving licences and trying to cajole me into taking them for a driving lesson

Jumping out of the car I smiled sweetly and said “No problem, Grandad’ll take you, I’m all out of brave pills”.

village 2

When Mother Knows Best

After watching one too many television programmes extolling the benefits of renovating your house on a shoestring, I grabbed the bull by the horns and decided somewhat naively that I would move back into the old cottage that I had shared with Serial Shagger and practise my limited interior design skills; after all they made it look so easy! Temporary insanity (I blame it on the fever) had convinced me that I could transform the fleapit into an oasis of sumptuous luxury using just a couple of rolls of wallpaper and a faux fur throw. Unfortunately, only two nights into the project I became ill with blinding headaches and nausea. I googled all my symptoms and became convinced that I needed to write my last will & testament pretty damn fast; a little bit of information can clearly be a dangerous thing! Obviously the plaster dust combined with the old horse hair used to bind the walls when the house was originally built had not helped my condition any.

So when my mother called she reassured me that I was not going to be expiring any time soon and I could cancel my funeral arrangements post-haste as she was on her way. So I shelved all thoughts of gifting my Yankee Candle collection to the local animal shelter charity shop for the time being. Arriving with her bag of tricks wrapped in a Marks & Spencer carrier bag, she laid all the items out on the table; Menthol Crystals (not to be confused with crystal meth), a rather dubious looking cough mixture (in the same coloured box as rat poison but minus the skull & crossbones logo) and the most important ingredient of all; a bag of frozen peas. Although to be honest it was peas & carrots picked fresh from Dad’s allotment at the end of the season and then frozen but you get the gist!

Protesting that I had no appetite,“Deborah, just listen to your mother” she sighed and filling a bowl with hot water she instructed me to put my feet in it whilst placing the frozen peas on the back of my neck. I have to admit that the throbbing pain in my head began to subside. The next remedy involved another bowl of hot water infused with a pinch of the menthol crystals and draping a towel over the back of my head I began to inhale one of the old dear’s “cure-alls” followed by the most popular one of all; a cup of tea.

Feeling substantially better I realised that as my demise was no longer imminent I now had to reassess the DIY situation because no amount of floating shelving or discreet lighting could transform my surroundings from dump to Des Res. This was going to be somewhat of a mammoth challenge and required a superhero in a red cape with blue “go-faster” stripes!

Choose Your Poison

Choose Your Poison

The Cup That Cheers

I can’t remember a time when there has been a drama in my life and a cup of tea hasn’t been on hand to console me. In fact, tea is one of my mother’s cure-alls along with mothballs and TCP antiseptic. There’s something soothing about it and for some reason it always tastes better in a bone china cup and saucer even though being a cack-handed Carrie I’m always holding my breath & struggling not to drop or smash my mother’s finest Royal Doulton. There’s something very reassuring about a cup of tea; a bit like a hot bath on the inside or wearing your oldest and most favourite sweater.

Let’s be honest it was buckets of tea that got me through the Serial Shagger saga and subsequent indignities. I’m not denying that there weren’t a shedload of cocktails thrown in for overall fortification but ultimately it was my good friends Earl & Lady Grey that were on hand to provide comfort during the humiliating ordeal of being jilted.

When I was in Turkey, tea or çay was more than just a drink it was a social invitation to sit, share the company of another soul, engage in conversation and watch the world go by. It was considered impolite not to accept the hand of friendship being extended to you and declining the invitation may have been considered an insult by some. The Turkish pride themselves on their hospitality and with very good reason; seldom will you leave a Turkish home without having partaken in a meal of some sort. They enjoy sharing their food with guests, their home produce and laughter. Rarely have I ever left Turkish hosts where I wasn’t just taking away a sated appetite but a lesson in graciousness together with some new friends.

Come & share a pot of tea, my home is warm, my friendship’s free

breakfast

The Great Escape (Part Two)

If you missed Part One you can catch it here

The following day Barbs and I discussed strategy over a hearty breakfast at the local organic café as my mother insists on giving us porridge, muesli, prunes to keep us “regular” but superheroes can’t march on granola alone and neither would it help hone my cat-like reflexes ahead of our stealth invasion.

As soon as we had finished our Big Girls’ Breakfast we returned home to gather “intel” for the covert mission ahead. Two discarded Toy Story walkie talkies were retrieved from the loft where the kids had left them a fair few years’ ago. The fact that they were now in my possession suggested that they were some toys you never outgrew and some adults who never grew up.

With the batteries replaced they were as good as new and the range so clear that I could probably have safely guided a Boeing 747 in to land on my Dad’s lovingly cultivated lawn.

Barbs’ late mother used to knit balaclavas which would have been ideal for the job in hand but sadly as she was no longer with us I had to make do with one of my Dad’s old gardening hats but as I picked up the scissors to insert eye holes my mother snapped “Deborah, don’t be using my good scissors for those” As opposed to the naughty ones!

We spent the next couple of hours assembling our outfits for the covert mission ahead and agreed on our radio pseudonyms; Barbs would be “Roller Chick” and I would be “Lawn Mower Girl” for use over the airwaves. We giggled as we finalised the details of our cunning plan and envisioned victoriously retrieving all our lost booty. We waited until midnight or the witching hour, which as you know is when Barbs and I do our best work.

It was a clear crisp night with a full moon and having disconnected our security light we snaked over to the privet hedge. I tried to persuade Barbs as the littlest and most lithe to venture across the great divide but she wisely declined which meant that I was going to have to be the one to defend the family honour.

“Now be careful with that garden shed; it was put together on a wing and a prayer like all his other DIY projects. One slight tap and the roof’ll fall off” hissed Barbs.

As I struggled to heave my ample bottom over the hedge I couldn’t help but think it would have been a damn sight easier if we’d got the local WICCA coven (one of the members makes jam with the old dear at the Women’s Institute) to create some potion or other for us; one that involved a good deal of discomfort, of course.

Sitting astride the hedge with the blackberry brambles ripping me to shreds, Barbs handed me the walkie-talkie and as I slid down into enemy territory, I nodded “See you on the other side” as they do in the movies.

Having landed safely on Turbo’s decking, I crawled across to the shed. Crouching I gingerly reached up for the handle and carefully opened the door.

“Lawn Mower Girl calling Roller Chick, come in Roller Chick” I hissed into the walkie-talkie “I’m going in”.

I sneaked into the shed to retrieve as many familiar items as I could and handed them across the hedge to Barbs who was stood on tiptoe on the other side. After locating my Dad’s last spade, I whispered into the handset “mission accomplished Roller Chick, I’m coming home”. However, my excitement was short-lived as suddenly there was a creak followed by a large groan and the shed collapsed leaving me holding just the door handle.

Immediately the light in the upstairs window came on and I hightailed it back to the safety of the hedge. Across the airwaves, Barbs dulcet tones screamed “abort, abort”.

Well aren’t you a little late to the party, my little vertically challenged friend I thought as I scampered over the top of the hedge. I was literally one minute away from being undetected when the bedroom window swung open and a torch was shone in my direction.

“Who’s there? Dallas, is that you?”

Cringing with embarrassment I recovered quickly informing him that we were doing a little blackberry picking as a surprise for the old fella’s breakfast. He asked if I’d seen any intruders and with a sharp intake of breath I shook my head unconvincingly.

Hedgehogs” I exclaimed “loads of them around this time of year looking for somewhere to hibernate”

Without missing a beat that’s when my partner in crime piped up “they’d have to be ninja hedgehogs on steroids to bring a shed down”. After throwing me under the bus, she giggled softly “told you to be careful, didn’t I.”

Turbo scratched his head and said “Can’t understand it but the instructions were in Japanese so I just bodged it when I was putting it up. I’ll get your Dad to give me a hand with it in the morning.”

Relieved that we’d dodged a bullet, I  realised I was in dire need of  some fortification so we had a shot of my Dad’s dandelion wine but after Barb’s flagrant display of disloyalty I decided to save the good stuff until she’d departed for home.

hedgehog

No Hedgehogs were harmed during the writing of this post

The Great Escape (Part One)

Most of our neighbours have lived alongside us for several years in relative harmony where we’ve seen their children raised and move away from home to make their own way in the world. We’ve shared in their family celebrations and tragedies as they have in ours. So it is always sad to wave goodbye to family you’ve grown with but always nice to welcome new friends both young and old into the area. That is until Turbo moved in!

For some time now I have become increasingly irritated by our neighbour’s bad habit of borrowing items from us and never returning them. As a single long-distance lorry driver and aptly named (as he manoeuvres even slower than one speed Hobo) he moved into the house next door about three years ago and has regularly “borrowed” everything and anything from tools, tin groceries, portable heaters, garden and power tools none of which are ever returned. He assembled a shed about a year ago and asked us to lend him the necessary equipment which none of us have ever seen again. My Dad’s garden spades, forks and rakes, which had been lovingly cleaned and oiled over the years, have all been thoughtlessly abandoned in the rain once borrowed and when we request their return he tells us he is unable to locate them. One morning at 5.30am he rang the doorbell to borrow clingfilm and whilst I was already awake for work, the rest of the household were less than impressed.

Another source of constant irritation since wearing out the batteries on the doorbell is that he now bellows across the fence should he wish to catch our attention which is frankly going to drive the old dear to drink. I truly believe that if he heard we had nits the kleptomaniac next door would want to borrow them.

The final straw for me was when I was doing a spot of weeding during Barb’s visit. I was enthusiastically attacking the nettles whilst the lazy trollop was lounging in a deck chair supervising my endeavours. Turbo looked over the fence and asked whether he could “borrow” my gardening gauntlets after I finished as he had an urgent gardening project. Over the next two days I watched the lack of activity in the garden next-door and fumed when I realised that I again been duped. I decided there and then that I was going to carry out a midnight raid (think Expendables style but with less dynamite) ably assisted by my right-hand (wo)man and take back what was ours!

And if you want to know whether Turbo gets his comeuppance you can catch Part Two here 

I'm going in!

I’m going in!

If You Carry Your Childhood With You, You Never Become Older

I met my bestie, Barbs when she was an Executive Housekeeping Manager (or HFH = Housekeeper From Hell as I used to call her) and we both worked in the same chain-owned hotel. We smiled at each other at a morning meeting and somehow we just clicked probably more to do with the fact that she has no filter and will always be the one to tell you how it really is. I never got to meet her lovely mum with her sparkling Lancashire wit, but Barbs frequently used to quote her and some of my favourite gems are “if you can’t fight, wear a big hat”, “go on smile; give your face a joyride” or “have you had a wash or are you just drying a dirty colour”. Barbs decision to pursue a career within the Hotel industry was also enthusiastically endorsed by her mum when she said “you’ve not got much up top but by heavens, you’re a good scrubber”. With that glowing testimonial, Barbs was always going to be destined for a life amongst grubby bed linens and dirty bathrooms.

For her big birthday Barbs decided she was going to mark the occasion by resuming roller skating which was something she had enjoyed as a teenager. So whilst she was visiting us the other week, and taking a rest from being my editor-in-chief, she asked if I would order some online for her. I was strangely drawn to the leopard print ones with the neon purple wheels, Barbs not so much so we opted for the plain white ones. After the order was completed, she rang her father to inform him that they were being delivered to his address just in case he opened the package thinking there were for him and fancied a trial run along Blackpool promenade; which is incidentally where my Dad used to roller skate as a young boy.

Several days later when Barbs returned home, she rang me all excited to say that they had been delivered and revealed she’d been wearing them around the house since she’d opened the box. It was only much later that I had discovered she was so smitten; she’d slept in them which couldn’t have been good for either her black satin sheets or water-bed.

Have a safe & happy weekend my friends and I’ll leave you with a picture of the lovely Barbs in her new skating outfit; frankly I think it could do with a few more sequins.

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

It’s Shop O’Clock Somewhere

I have a confession; I’m addicted to internet shopping. Every day is Xmas Day for me when I know that a parcel will be awaiting me on my return from work regardless of the contents. In recent weeks I’ve ordered tent pegs (to keep the Herons away from my Dad’s Koi carp), a stress ball (for the old fella thanks to a recommendation from a fellow blogger) and spot on flea treatment for the Hellfire Gang along with brave pills for me. Funds permitting (i.e. when I sell a lung or kidney), I do occasionally order Dermalogica and Molton Brown products which help to soothe away the stresses of working within a Game of Thrones environment (with only slightly less bloodshed and fewer northern accents).

Whilst most of the above are not truly very exciting the buzz I get when I know that there will be an unwrapped package sitting at home awaiting my attention. The anticipation of ripping off the wrapping to discover the contents of some recent purchase will have me singing and dancing all the way to the bus stop for the homeward journey. Just knowing that a parcel has been delivered by the local postie who without fail says “somebody loves you” before handing it over to the old folks, will automatically make it a sunshine day. An even bigger thrill is being able to surprise a loved one with some unique gift which I know will make them smile or help celebrate a special milestone.

Anyway can’t sit around here all day as a rechargeable facial brush and battery operated foot exfoliator won’t order themselves. So come on then, what small indulgence makes your day?

A Year's Salary!

A Year’s Salary!

Happiness Is Having A Scratch For Every Itch

One of the chores I detest most at this time of year is applying flea treatment to the cats. As we live in the heart of Devon’s glorious countryside, a monthly application is required and our cats detest it. Contrary to popular feline belief spot on flea treatments are not barbaric torture rituals although the SAS would envy the avoidance techniques applied by both Chloe & Hobo. Once the tin foil packets are unwrapped our beloved pets are MIA, so it was with a sinking heart and scars barely healed from the last application that I reluctantly agreed to help my Dad with the dreaded task in hand.

Mother at first was a little reticent about the assignment until she’d checked that the premiums had been paid on my Dad’s life assurance policy and that I’d had my tetanus booster jab. Once she’d established that we were both covered we were cleared for take-off and despatched with a cheery wave.

Armed with the tools of our trade, oversize bath towel, First Aid kit, gardening gauntlets, safety goggles (for us not the cats) and a large can of Red Bull (minus the vodka which would come later) to replenish my depleted energy reserves as this would be an epic capture and release mission, one which would require stealth, cunning and the quick fire reflexes of a cheetah. To encourage our elusive four-legged family into the garden where the covert operation was being carried out, we had decided to feed them their breakfast al fresco on the glass table top of my mother’s new and treasured patio set. An irresistible breakfast of lightly cooked fish had been lovingly prepared by Mum and the pungent aroma wafting around the garden would be sure to entice our little cuddle bunnies into the awaiting trap.

I should just mention at this point that in addition to our own two; “One speed Hobo” and “Chloe Hellcat” the menopausal nightmare, the foster “Miss Thumbs”;we also have a new addition of a rather large timid male tabby who’d obviously been living rough for a while and had taken shelter in our garden.

The New Lodger

The New Lodger

At first Dad had insisted that we didn’t feed him, as he’d probably go home when he became hungry, which lasted all of half a day before he inevitably caved in. After asking around we discovered that he had belonged to family renting a house further down the street who had moved out leaving no forwarding address and their family pet. So then there were four!

First up was Hobo who has never been able to resist an al fresco running buffet for cats; at least that’s what he thinks a barbecue is! As he jumped onto the table I had the towel ready and quickly secured him or so I thought. Hobo managed through sheer brute strength (he’s a big boy) and determination to out-manoeuvre me but I was up and running after him. At the privet hedge I headed him off at the pass and took him down WWE Smackdown style sitting astride him whilst waiting for my partner in crime to hand me the required medication. The low howls and growls emitted attracted the attention of many of our neighbours, who I’m sure were contemplating phoning the RSPCA to report us for animal cruelty. Dad who had been distracted by the World Cup commentary on the radio was a little slow off the mark and had forgotten to remove the cap from the little pipette which I had to do with my teeth. Regrettably whilst I was using one hand to restrain the struggling big fella I accidentally swallowed a mouthful of the solution and hoped that there were no adverse effects for humans as I didn’t want to be spending the following week marking my territory and sleeping in next door’s apple tree. I also made a mental note to gargle with vodka a little later just to be on the safe side, you understand.

Hobo shot off like the hounds of hell were in hot pursuit and sulked for a few hours after that before hunger pangs got the better of him and he returned for tea but made sure that we were all aware of his displeasure.

Miss Thumbs was a perfect little lady when it came to apply her flea treatment (although her table manners could use some work) and whilst a little miffed, the latest addition grudgingly allowed us to apply her medication before she slunk off to take refuge in the shrubbery where she spent the afternoon licking her wounds.

As expected Chloe Hellcat was something else altogether! Streaking into the garden like a high-speed train she leaped onto the table to be caught mid jump in my gauntlets; clearly I had a future with the England soccer team as a goalie.

Chloe Hellcat

Chloe Hellcat

As the littlest and lightest of all four cats one would expect her to be able to offer the least resistance but as a former feral cat she clearly wasn’t going down without a fight. With the disposition of a deadly Asian Hornet, she scratched and bit her way through my gauntlets and I wondered not for the first time why we didn’t have a tortoise instead of cats.

As her rear claws sank into my wrist and my blood seeped through the gauntlet I had no choice but to hold on for grim death and as she and I tussled and crashed to the ground I tripped over the leg of the table. As if in slow motion the glass table top shattered into what looked like a million pieces and I knew that the old dear wasn’t going to like that very much. My Dad had a more practical approach and headed off to the shed for a tube of superglue but I secretly thought there was not enough superglue in Devon for this particular job! Looked like he was going to be needing that life cover after all.

When the remnants of the patio table had been swept up and deposited in the dustbin and my war wounds bathed with antiseptic, he turned to me and said in all earnest “So when do you think we should worm them then”?

Final score Cats 1 Humans 3 and to borrow a phrase from the television commentators of the beautiful game “They think it’s all over, well it is now”!

The Hellfire Club

The Hellfire Club

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Supermarket

Before the ink was dry on my holiday request form my Dad had already planned how I was going to spend my precious five vacation days. One of the most important errands he had lined up for me was finding him a new garden bench and as my Dad is a canny Yorkshireman I knew that this would not be a “one stop shop” event. Obviously I had other more relaxing plans, which involved a deck chair and several glasses of wine, earmarked for my leave other than spending it as a bench test technician.

As the supermarket run was the first item on the agenda, I was despatched by the old fella with strict instructions to fill the tank up with petrol on his old jalopy and to check the tyre pressure and oil en route. Feeling somewhat aggrieved, I called into the village garage and proceeded to get the tyre pressure check out-of-the-way as I finished a car pulled alongside me and a cheery senior citizen got out to enquire whether the machine was easy to use and if the beeping sound that indicated the tyres were filled, loud enough to hear. As the garage was situated on the main road into the city, I offered to assist the gentleman with the task in hand. Once completed he confided in me that he was ninety and had reached that grand old age by avoiding hard liquor and wild women; I felt duty bound to point out that he was currently in the company of one who was becoming wilder by the minute owing to my Dad’s ever increasing demands.

Once at the supermarket, as instructed I purchased the roll on gel weed killer that the old fella had requested in his war against the Snakeshead which grew in abundance within our garden; think he was a bit worried in case my mother was tempted to make some jam with the poisonous berries and put it in one of his sandwiches! As the checkout operator packed it with the rest of my shopping I asked if she would wrap it separately, not wanting to it to contaminate any food purchases, as I was too young to be orphaned and besides after the garden bench debacle and all the complaining I had done I would probably be the main suspect should either of my parents expire prematurely in suspicious circumstances.

On the return journey I called into a new Beauty Salon that I had noticed on the way home from work one night so thought I’d call in for a brochure as I felt that a little pampering would not go amiss. Once inside, the interior reminded me of the Turkish salons I had visited and I soon realised I was the only customer. An immaculate lady with a heavily middle eastern accent introduced herself to me as the owner, Hami. I booked an appointment for the following weekend for a facial. She placed her hand on my shoulder and remarked that I seemed stressed – no kidding! She guided me towards a chair and said as she wasn’t busy she’d give me a free Indian Head Massage which would help me sleep. We chatted as she efficiently massaged my aching head and when I asked how she came to be living in the UK, she confided in me that when she was a small child her family had fled Iran during the conflict in the middle of night when they were lucky to escape with their lives after their home was bombed and she and her siblings received horrendous chemical burns. The medical treatment they received was at best inadequate as is often the case in war-torn situations but her parents were determined to give their children a better life so they all escaped into Turkey where they spent a few weeks living rough. She recalled sleeping shivering on the ground during a thunderstorm when the rain and cold soaked their clothes.

Suddenly my increasing list of grievances seemed petty and trivial. I remembered my Grandma frequently saying to me “stop focusing on how stressed you are and instead remember how blessed you are” when I whined about some minor childhood injustice. Funny how it took a complete stranger to remind me how very lucky I am.

Needless to say I returned home remorseful and determined to be less impatient.

Arum maculatum aka Jack In The Pulpit, Snakeshead, Adder's Root, Devils & Angels

Arum maculatum aka Jack In The Pulpit, Snakeshead, Adder’s Root, Devils & Angels