The tartan trolley was full to bursting, as I helped Mum haul its contents up Highlands road. Over the zebra crossing we strolled past the Post Office and around the corner, waving to the lady in the chippy as we walked by. Bent forwards, we turned into Coppice Way, stopping briefly to retrieve a stone that had become lodged between my socks and shoes. After a quick shake of my sandals, we turned into Nan and Grandad’s drive. Grandad’s racing green Land Rover was still parked outside; he hadn’t left to take the dogs out for their weekend walk. Saturdays were always busy at my Grandparents house, people in and out for most of the day!
I jumped up, as high as I could, opening the side gate, lifting the latch. We were greeted by barking dogs; lurching forwards they laddered Mum's tights. Licking my face, I was knocked to the ground and a bag of shopping from Gateway was spilt all over the terrace. After a few tears, Mum wiped my face with a tissue, she kept in her sleeve. A cuddle, kiss on the forehead and a tap on the bottom later, I got up, helping Mum pick up the scattered items. I placed them precariously on the old bench, that sat in front of the conservatory window, facing a small, well maintained garden. Birds were singing in the aviary; Tina, Nan’s cat was laying in the sun, yawning, stretching her claws and Grandad was in the garage putting the finishing touches to a walking stick he was making for his afternoon walk. I could here Nan in the kitchen, pots and pans clanking, as she made cakes on a Saturday afternoon; the smell of baking slowly drifting around the garden.
Nan was stood behind the breakfast bar, mixing bowl in hand, beating eggs vigorously with a whisk; not an electrical appliance in sight. Momentarily distracted as we walked through the door, she smiled; eyes sparkling, she put down the bowl. I ran over, putting my arms around her legs; she lifted me up as high as she could, kissing me on the lips as I swung back towards the floor.
Mum scooped me up, placing me on a stool; I sat there watching Nan as she finished the last cake of the day. Slowly she poured the fusion into a tin, banging it down on the bar; evenly spread, she finished by sprinkling brown sugar on top. With a wink, she passed the bowl over to me, to lick the leftovers inside; it was sweet, tasty, leaving my face covered in the sticky mixture. Once again Mum took a tissue, this time from her bag, wiping my face, shaking her head, tutting, ‘you are such a messy boy!’
Grandad had finished in his workshop, walking up the garden path, whistling as he went. The dogs were getting excited, it was time for a walk. Ambling into the breakfast room, he grasped his tweed cap, hanging on the back of a dining chair, grabbing the leads hanging near the door, shaking them with gusto, ‘Come on, come on, time for a walk.’ Two hounds barking, tails wagging, salivating, whining, bouncing up stealing the reins from Grandad’s hand.
‘Are you coming then,’ enquired Grandad? I nodded my head, cautiously slipping down the stool. Bye bye Mum, bye bye Nan, running excitedly outside, followed by two mercurial dogs - boisterous and unruly. As I reached the gate, tightly gripping a wrought iron post, Gramps came up behind me, clutching my waist. Dangling from under his arm he walked me up the path; opening the back door of the Land Rover he threw me inside, dogs clambering in afterwards, panting loudly. Door firmly shut, no seat belts required, we were off for a Saturday afternoon trek in the Forest of Bere. Collecting pine cones, leaves and sticks, we walked through the undergrowth, climbing trees enjoying the perfect fresh air fix!
47 year old Author, Columnist and Blogger.