The tartan trolley was full to bursting, as I helped Mum haul its contents up Highlands road; across the zebra crossing, past the Post Office and around the corner; waving to the lady in the chippy as we slowly 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 yet 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!
As 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, knocking me to the ground; a bag of shopping from Gateway all over the terrace floor. 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, placing them precariously on the old bench, that sat in front of the conservatory window, facing a small, well kept, 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. Briefly distracted as we walked through the door; beaming smile, sparkling eyes; 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 mixture into a tin, banging it down on the bar. Evenly spread, finished by sprinkling brown sugar on top. With a wink, she passed the bowl over to me, to lick the residue inside. Sweet, tasty, my face covered in the sticky concoction. 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, walking through the undergrowth, climbing trees; the perfect fresh air fix!
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