Spoiled for Choice, Abandoned for Nothing

The plan was simple and it worked - well almost. We, that is my grandson River; his Dad, Joshua and I (‘Gar’) would browse in Hamleys, ‘the world’s biggest toy shop’. We would start on the seventh floor and work our way down and, on the way would not be tempted -  we would buy nothing. …

A Baker and a Magician

 There is something magical about bakers and bread-making. How is it possible that a bland mixture of flour and water can be turned overnight into the delicious, still-warm loaf I get each day? After years of dreaming, I finally asked our own baker if I could watch him as he worked in the early hours.…

At Your Service

It was a mixed fortnight with pleading and pride playing critical parts. Twice we needed major household repairs and twice we relied on favoured status for the work to be done with minimal delay. For installing a new gas boiler, it was my presumed frailty that added urgency; for replacing the leaking water main, the key…

The Curious Contents of the Garden Shed

We spent the last two nights of our holiday on a Brittany island in a ‘converted farmhouse’ with its ‘landscaped garden’.  We arrived at the Bed and Brefast to find the front drive freshly raked, the beds on either side weed-free, and the plants within perfectly aligned. Janine welcomed us; she was relaxed, tanned, slim and smartly dressed. In…

On the breadline

Autumn came a little early this year and one morning, well before sunrise, I was the solitary figure freezing outside our local bakery. I had been queuing for hours - well, more precisely 35 minutes - but had I arrived any later my mission could have been jeopardised. The story began some months beforehand when…

Heart of gold

Moving house is one of the more stressful of lifetime events; for many it even matches divorce or the death of someone close. Perhaps a major component of the stress is the insecurity that follows being uprooted. However, although many roots are severed some remain, and for me at least, these remnants have helped. The fact…

Secret newsagent

The man who owns the open-all-hours newsagent just round the corner is, as tradition would have it, in the centre of the community. He knows and treats his customers very well. Indeed, he makes a point of greeting us all individually either by first name, by title (Doctor, Professor), or by nickname (in my case Mr. le…

The cake shop and the milliner

After twenty minutes and as many Canadian dollars, my hat, more specifically my hat band, was again in pristine condition. And the change was the unlikely outcome of a chance meeting, a smidgeon of alacrity, and the work of a true professional. I have worn hats for years. The habit started in the 80s when,…