I didn’t find autumn cold like most people did. I found it warm and cosy. I loved pulling on a soft jumper, curling up on the sofa with a hot coffee or chocolate then burying myself in a thick novel.
Outside, the wind might be howling and the rain might be pouring but that just made perfect background noise to my reading. As the early darkness covered the sky and lingered by the windows, I pulled a blanket over my knees and wonder how the hero was going to escape this time.
The bubbling of stew and dumplings called to me before I could get there. It was a hearty meal with bread for soaking up the gravy at the bottom of the bowl. I felt hugged from the inside!
Sleepiness drifted like the night upon me and I took the book to a fleece lined bed and goose feather pillows. Safe from the world, I disappeared in between the words till I was dreaming I was adventuring alongside the hero.
We are having a great time here. Yesterday we hired bicycles and rode around the town and countryside. We stopped at a pub in the evening and someone stole my bicycle! Well, we didn’t know what do to and I decided to walk back to the hotel and let the others go ahead.
Then a local man pulled up on a bicycle, he was drunk but happy and apologised in broken English that he had taken my bicycle instead of his own! I was so happy, I forgave him on the spot. We shook hands, collected our correct bicycles and went on our separate ways.
This would never have happen back home and just shows how wonderful this country is!
The snails had been eating Burt’s plants again. He signed and plucked away the nibbled leaves that reminded. Hopefully, some of the plants would survive if he give them some extra care.
As for the snails, Burt got some plastic sheeting out of his shed and some metal rods he had made for this job. He constructed a mini greenhouse cover over the plants and put wooden planks on the floor to weigh the sheet down and stop the snails getting underneath.
Burt would never put out poison. He didn’t believe that was the correct way to deal with nature. The snails were just hungry and they didn’t mean to eat his plants, it was just their way. So, he wouldn’t kill them but he would stop them from getting access and encourage the snails to move on.
Dad’s shouting woke me. Rolling over in bed, I rubbed my face and tried to understand through the fog of sleep what was going on. I heard footsteps along the hallway then the stairs. Mum’s voice in the kitchen and dad replying.
I got up, climbed down the bunk bed’s ladder and went, yawing and groggily, to investigate.
‘Look in the sink!’ mum cried as I entered the kitchen.
Confused, I did so and what I saw shocked me fully awake.
A fluffy, brown, fat hamster was trying to climb up the back of the sink but he kept sliding down because he couldn’t get a grip on the smooth surface.
‘Houdini!’ I yelled and grabbed the wiggling hamster, ‘I thought you were lost forever.’
‘So it’s him, then?’ dad asked.
‘Houdini has been missing a whole year,’ mum pointed out, ‘are you sure?’
Peering into my cupped hands at the ball of fluff and I nodded.
This is a true event from my childhood. Houdini was so named because he would escape and we’d never find out how he did it. He would be missing for awhile but this time it really was a whole year that he was gone for.
A few years after Houdini passed away, we got a new washing machine and a hamster nest was discovered in the vent. We believed it to have been Houdini’s nest and he had lived in the kitchen were there was always access to food and water.
Nancy running along the path in the woods. We were chasing each other under the shade of the trees with a grey sky peeking through the leaves. Nancy was laughing and tossing her head back often to see how close I was gaining on her.
My shirt, she had begged to have because it was cold and she was just wearing a vest top, was sliding off her shoulders and billowing out like a cape as she ran. I think my shirt give her wings because I couldn’t catch her.
Nancy flew away.
I heard the snapping of branches, the tumbling of soil and rocks. The ground left my feet and air rushed around me but unlike Nancy I couldn’t fly.
Was that Nancy screaming and crying as the world spun like a top or were they my screams and cries?
The ground was hard underneath me, I was covered in soil and small stones. It took me a few minutes to release I was in a quay crater. Despite the broken bones, bruises and pain, I looked for Nancy but she wasn’t with me.
It was still raining and it would carry on no matter what I did. Signing, I turned back to the jigsaw puzzle in front of me on the dinning room table. I had been wrestling with the 2,000 pieces of the solar system for days now. The boarder was there and some of the middle was starting to stretch out but I had a long way to go.
I got up, abandoning things for the fourth time that day and went into the kitchen. There was nothing amusing in here. I made a coffee but not just any, it was a nutty latte with a thick layer of foaming milk on top and a sprinkle of coco and nutmeg on top. The smell was amazing and like being in a fancy coffee shop during a break from the Christmas shopping rush.
Gripping some soft biscuits with creamy buttercream in between them that I made this morning. I took my hot mug into the living room and curled up on the sofa with a huge book about all the known myths and legends around the world.
I could have had something simple inscribed on placate placed on the bench I’d made for my parents. The normal thing of their names, birth and death dates and perhaps stating this was their favourite spot.
I knew they had walked the cliffs often. They had meet on the beach below as teenagers so this area did hold special memories for them. Why my dad had chosen to bring my mum here to end everything, I could only guess.
Perhaps, it had been the easiest place for him to tell the old people’s home to take them on a day trip. It had been their special day after all. The career had said, my dad had asked her to go and get them ice creams whilst he and mum rested on a grassy spot.
Mum had been in a wheelchair, gone to dementia and dad with numerous other illness had recently been told he had that disease too.
I guess he couldn’t bear it anymore and that’s why he’d done it.
The placate reads;
In memory of Harry and Betty who committed suicide here on the 2 .8. 2019, their 55th wedding anniversary.
Their love began and ended on the beach below. They were always together.
On the back playing fields, growing along the far edge where the children didn’t play, the raspberries grew.
I only knew about them because once I’d had a friend who lived in the houses down the lane there which backed onto that part of the field which had been left wild. It was his parents or grandparents who told him about the wild berries growing around here and he told me one summer.
Since then, I always come back here in summer to pick the wild raspberries and taste a burst of summer sweetness.
The branches hang heavy with the plum red berries which peer out shyly from large leaves. When they are ripe they fall to the long grass and bugs delight in their feast.
I bring a basket and spend a few hours taking the ripe raspberries off the plant and collecting them. Sometimes when I pause for a few moments, I put a raspberry in my mouth and enjoy it like it’s my first ever one.
At home with my prize, I put some in the freeze to keep and others I make into pies and smoothies.
I don’t know what it is but there’s something so satisfying about picking your own food.
The underground world had been closed for so long because it hadn’t been needed. Some sections had been turned into tour routes for those interested in history and ghost hunting. It was never thought that the space would ever be required again.
Then the outbreak happened. It was pushed off as a simple disease before levelling up to a world sweeping plague. Millions of people died but they didn’t stay in their graves.
The government repaired, improved and kitted out the underground cities, factories and farms once more. People moved in, coming not just from the country above but from others as well. Builders had to construct new sections and everyone had to pull together to survive.
The world above become ravaged by war and death, disease ran wild and people returned from the other side, their bodies reanimated, their hearts and brains nonfunctional.
Anybody who died in the underground world was thrown out the steel doors and just left there. Burials, prayers and rites no longer had a place and the families could only hope their loved ones stayed dead.
I hope you are well. London is another short stop in this whirl wind adventure. It’s very busy here, loud and none stop. We visited museums and admired the ancient statues and huge paintings. We went to see the Madam Butterfly at the theatre which I most enjoyed. St Paul’s rounded things off- that place is huge and yet so quiet.
We did a little shopping and I was able to pick up a few things. Next we are going to Cornwall and the coast. I’m looking forward to that as it will be a nice break from all these cities we have visited.
I’m so glad I decided to spend my summer on this ‘grand tour’ as you suggested I need to see the world.