Beach Day #CCC

The hottest day of the year, everyone crowd to the coast. Beaches full of families all enjoying the English summer.

Voices rose and fell, a constant noise like the sea waves. People cooled off in the sea, napped on the sand or walked the promenade. Dogs were barking as they chases balls and each other. Seagulls called and eyed up the food on offer. Music was playing from the pier; rides of the children and gambling games for the adults.

Under the shelter of the sun umbrella, I watched the scene, marvelling at everything.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/crimsons-creative-challenge-37/ with thanks).

Visit #TaleWeaver

cacti-chinese-money-plant-environment-1657108

I hadn’t seen my great aunt Sophia in five years because I had been travelling the world and Sophia only had a landline phone. So, I thought it would be nice to go and spend sometime with her. She was my oldest relative and I loved hearing the stories of her life, family members and past friends.

Great aunt Sophia’s cottage hadn’t changed. There were roses, honeysuckle and jasmine growing up the house towards the thatched roof. There were loads of other flowers and plants in the front garden which reminded me of being in a gardening shop. There was actual a sign with faded words on it declaring Plants for sale on the front gate.

I walked up the path and knocked on the door with the iron knocker. How many times had I ran around this cottage, laughing and chasing butterflies? So many of my summers had been spent out here as my parents, who worked difficult, long hour jobs in London had used great aunt Sophia as a nanny.

‘Sophia? It’s me, Hattie! Are you home?’ I called out.

I tried the door and found it locked.

Dumping my heavy hiking bag, suitcase and duffel bag on the doorstep, I walked around the side of the cottage. The back garden was a huge acre lawn with large trees dotted about to give shady patches and at the sides were long flower beds containing all kinds of bright, sweet smelling blooms, wild flowers and small evergreen plants.

There was no path across the lawn, so I walked on the grass down to the bottom, where half hidden by a weeping willow was a large Victorian glass and iron greenhouse. The door was open and I stuck my head inside to call out, ‘great aunt Sophia? It’s Hattie.’

‘Who?’ a soft, old voice spoke.

I entered the greenhouse, heat wrapped around me, catching my breath and making it harder to breath. Long leaf tropical plants brushed my face and arms, making me feel like I had walked through spiderwebs. Narrow bench tables ran down in rows though here and there, a rickety table or a massive plant pot sat.

Slipping through a gap, I saw a white haired and hunched woman in her late eighties, sitting on a old wooden chair, looking around confused. Sophia was so much older then I had last seen her, there were more wrinkles, her skin was too tanned with sunlight, her eyes looked duller, her hair shorter but she was still great aunt Sophia. She was wearing a pale blue summer dress with a white lacy trim.

‘Your only grandniece, Henrietta. Hattie. Hat. We spoke on the phone this morning, auntie Sophia. Remember?’

Sophia stared at me, taking in my boy short brown hair, sun kissed skin, my too thin but muscular body, the torn jean shorts and white crop top I was wearing.

‘Ah! Hat!’ Sophia cried.

She struggled to take off the thick gardening gloves she had on.

‘Here,’ I said and helped her take them off.

‘I was just repotting these baby cacti,’ she replied.

I looked at the tray she had been working on and saw lots of new cacti in tiny brown plastic pots. There was a mix of different kinds; some looked like little tufts of fluff, others was straight and tall, there were round pin cushions, some had different colour ‘buds’ on them.

Behind the tray, more cacti grew and some were quite big having been in the greenhouse for more then forty years. I realised we were standing in cacti corner and the familiarity of it made me feel right at home.

‘You should have seen some of the cacti I saw in America! They were huge!’ I spoke.

‘Is that where you’ve been, Hat?’ Sophia asked.

I nodded, ‘I went to California, Texas, Arizona, Washington D.C, New York and Louisiana.’

‘All of those?’

‘Yes. I’ve been to other counties too. Canada, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.’

‘Your parents funded it?’ Sophia asked, knowing it was true.

‘Mostly. I did work in a few places. I taught English.’

Sophia patted my hands, ‘I bet they were glad to get rid of you again.’

I sighed and decided not to get into that argument. It was a part of an old family feud; parents having children and not bring them up themselves; old traditions and rich fathers.

‘It’s too hot in here,’ I said, ‘let’s go in and I’ll make us afternoon tea.’

Sophia agreed and we left the greenhouse for the coolness of the cottage. In the kitchen, I found everything I needed to make a pot of old English tea, sandwiches, and small cakes. I brought everything into the living room which was soft and cosy.

Sophia was dozing in a large armchair and I took the other one. The windows were open and I could hear bees buzzing and smell the flowers outside.

I poured the tea and give Sophia a cup.

‘How are you?’ I asked, ‘have you been trying to go out?

Sophia glanced at the windows, ‘no,’ she replied.

I clutched my saucer and cup, wondering how to carry on this conversation. Great aunt Sophia had agoraphobia. No one knew for how many years she had suffered with it, she had had lots of treatment but nothing worked for long.

Now, it was so easy to blame it on her old age; she struggled walking and standing, she had bouts of confusion and she didn’t have many local family and friends to visit anymore.

‘And why would I want to?’ Sophia picked up, ‘the world is a bad place. I’m safe here and anyway my plants need me.’

I sighed and sipped my tea.

‘You must have seen the badness in your travels. I worried about you. I got all your postcards…’ Sophia trailed off and got up to go to the fireplace where there was a stack of postcards resting against the wall.

‘I saw lots of good and amazing things too. I got photographs to give you,’ I replied, ‘and I’m glad you got my postcards.’

Sophia sit down again, postcards in hand, she shuffled through them, looking at the imagines of all the different places.

‘Do you like them?’ I asked.

‘Yes. Very nice,’ Sophia replied, ‘where are you going to go next?’

‘Nowhere.’

‘You’re staying at home?’

‘I’m going to stay here and look after you,’ I said.

Sophia smiled but said, ‘I don’t need looking after, child!’

You do, I thought, instead I replied, ‘I meant help you out and stuff, like I did before.’

‘Right then. Those cacti still need potting. Off you go!’

I rolled my eyes, grabbed a cake and left the cottage for the greenhouse.

Somethings never change but I was happy to be back again.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/tale-weaver-232-july-18th-visit/ with thanks).

Postcard #20 : Dog

0Dog, Cute, Pet

Hi Bestie,

I saw this postcard and it so reminded me of Billy! Scotland is okay, very wet and windy though, but the people make up for that. I still haven’t tried the haggis yet, kinda not looking forward to that. I’m missing home more and more though. Though I’m missing the dogs a lot more then my family or my friends. Totally odd thing to say right? But yeah. I’ve taken to petting every dog I find too! Anyway, off to do some more traveling. I’ll send you an email soon.

Love T R.

All the Wrong Moves

Manchester Piccadilly was packed on a Saturday afternoon. How was I going to spot my date in this mass of people? I went over to the arrival boards and suddenly realised that I didn’t know which train he’d be on.

At least we had remembered to exchanged numbers. I sent him a text and tried to recall the photos of him. Was his hair black or brown? Did he have a beard? What would he be wearing?

I sent another text. No reply. Twenty minutes had gone.

Pressing my back against the cold glass of a cafe window, I realized he’d stood me up. Sighing, I started walking away. My phone beeped. A message from him; Is that you in the blue coat?

I glanced around and saw a man staring at me. He looked vaguely familiar.  As I went over, the nerves flooded back.

‘It is you then,’ he said.

‘Nick, right?’

‘Yep.’

‘It’s nice to meet you…in person.’

‘You too….I thought you were going to be a man.’

‘Huh?’

Did my photos look that bad or had he been expecting a nasty surprise?

‘This is my first internet date…I thought you might have led me on or something…I just didn’t know what to expect. Guess I prepared for the worse,’ he explained.

I frowned, ‘but you wanted to meet….’

He paused and my defensives rose. I tried to tell myself he was only being honest. We were having a bad start and it could only get better. Remain calm and stop being so self-conscious.

‘So…where did you say we were going again? I’ve never been to Manchester.’

‘To the art gallery,’ I replied.

‘It’s free, right?’

‘Yes and there’s a coffee shop.’

‘I don’t like coffee.’

‘But you like art right?’

‘Suppose.’

Fixing a smile, we walked to the exit. It was a warm day and the streets were busier than the station. I thought over our passed conversations and tried to select a subject. We didn’t have a lot in common and looking at him, he wasn’t that cute. He was avoiding me too.

About ten minutes later, I stopped. I didn’t recognise the back street we were on and I wasn’t sure that this was the right way to the gallery after all. Before I could figure it out and set off again, he spoke out, ‘I thought you knew the way.’

‘Yes, but I think we turned early…or too late…just give me a sec.’

I walked back and looked about. There were no signs. The crowd of people seemed to have thinned and there less shops here.

‘I really don’t like this,’ he muttered.

Feeling panicked, I stopped a woman and asked. Helpfully, she pointed me in the right direction. Calling to Nick, we walked on and I tried to make light of getting lost. He seemed uninterested.

Arriving at the gallery, we spent the next hour gliding through the silent rooms of paintings. When we came to one of my favourites; The Chariot Race by Alexander Von Wagner, 1882, I sat down on the bench before it. Nick followed. I pointed the painting out and begin talking in a whisper.

‘I’m going to the next room,’ he replied.

I pulled a face, which I hope he noticed.

He got up and left. I’d been wrong about things getting better. Maybe it was time to end this? It was clear things were not going well and I doubt there’d be a second date. Also, I needed the bathroom.

Getting up, I walked after him and found the room empty. Maybe he’d left already or just walked into the next one? Doing so, I found it empty too. I walked out onto the corridor and saw that the bathroom was just below. Making up my mind, I headed downstairs and into the toilets.

Just as I’d sat down, my phone rung. Digging out, I saw he was calling. I answered and my phone cut out. There was no signal. As I put the phone down it rang again, but the second I picked it up it stopped. Sensing that he’d keep trying, I hurried up and walked out.

He called another three times, before I was able to phone him and actually get through.

‘Where are you?’ he demanded.

‘I had to go to the bathroom. Are you still upstairs?’

‘Yes.’

‘Okay, I’ll be right there.’

I turned and saw him coming down the stairs.

‘Sorry. Do you want to go for a drink?’ I asked.

‘No…can we…can you take me back to the station?’

‘Sure. It’s not really worked out, has it?’

‘Guess not. You seem nice, but to be honest with you, I don’t think I’m ready for a relationship.’

‘I agree.’