At the end of the garden there was a cherry tree. Mum said that the council had planted fruit trees in lots of the gardens across town. The cherry tree had a sturdy trunk and then it’s branches spread out above our fence and extended way beyond our garden.
Every spring, what was an otherwise grey sprawl of pre-fab housing erupted with splashes of every shade of pink fruit tree blossoms. Nature can make even the greyest, dullest of man’s creations look pretty.
I would jump up and grab a branch of the cherry tree, and then walk my feet up the tree trunk and swing them round the branch I was holding. Then I would pull myself up like some kind of trapeze artist. Pulling my sisters up was a more hazardous process. I was relieved when they grew, and were able to climb into the tree themselves.
Submerged within the candyfloss pink blossoms, breathing in the sweet air of spring, we would each sit on branches of the tree and decide the make-believe game we would play. The cherry tree usually became a ship. Mandy became the ship’s captain. I was the navigator. Milly might become anything Mandy and I decided. She gleefully accepted whatever role we assigned her because she loved being included in all the fun to be had.
Throughout the spring the grey concrete slabs were bathed with soft pink petals. We walked through the maze of council estate, down to the sweet shop, kicking the petals and admiring all the different shades of pink. They were especially pretty when the sky above was blue.
I have to say…I am glad the local council decided to plant fruit trees in the tiny gardens of the shoddily built houses that made up the estates of the new-town of Liverpool that we grew up in. That was not a waste of money. It brought colour and beauty and wonder to our doorsteps.
I am seeing sides to “Jack” that I didn’t see before. Well, I don’t think he particularly exhibited them to me before now. He can be so sweet and thoughtful…at times. (The rest of the time he is a bundle of unpredictable energy, that I have to be on constant alert for!)
Yes…him being sweet has included flowers. But this post is not actually about flowers. I have some personal items in storage nearby to where he was working recently. He nipped into Elstree and managed to find a box I had mentioned to him, which is full of framed photographs that I have not seen for over four years. So now…because “Jack” was willing to blag his way into a dark warehouse, he has brought me some items I treasured, framed photographs of my beautiful parents and siblings and their marriage mates.
I was pleased as punch with him! But he also had the idea of printing one of the photos of he and I that he has taken in recent weeks, it’s a lovely photo, and he bought a frame, and now I have that sitting in the row of family photos.
I hardly knew what to say to Jack. I was kind of overwhelmed by it. So, I didn’t say anything. I just wrapped my arms around him and snuggled up to him, and hoped he would be able to sense my feelings.
In the past, I have just presumed Jack was thoughtless, wreckless, wrapped up in himself, completely unaware of the damage he was causing. Maybe he was a little. But right now, he is making up for it big time. I could keep you entertained for the whole of 2020 with posts about the lovely things he has said and the sweet things he has done in these past couple of months.
Oh goodness, so many lovely people have done very sweet things for me! I could spend all month telling you about the gorgeous people I have been privileged to meet, work with and become close friends of. That is what lovely people do…they do sweet things.
But I will be honest with you, some of the sweet things they did…though I greatly appreciated the thought behind the deed or gift, they were things I did not necessarily want. Too many chocolates have come my way. I have had to give them away. I couldn’t eat them, I would have put so much weight on!
I have been spoilt! I think people have appreciated the sacrifices I had made to be an international volunteer, and when they realized I had not had any wages (for five years in total) they did some very sweet things – I was invited to the theatre and concerts, people paid for me to go to lovely restaurants with them, or to have a holiday with them – really really wonderful kindness.
People have bought candles for me – candles creep me out. All I see is a fire hazard. I give them straight to someone else, who I know does like candles, or a charity shop. I have been given clothes I would never dream of wearing (again I give them to friends). Also lots of bubblies – bath gels, salts, hand creams. perfumed soaps. And then there are all the teddies and cuddly toys. I am just not a cuddly toy kind of a person. (Except for the little teddy Goldfinch gave me – but that is different!)
But when someone has done something or given me something that I really really loved, I am just blown away by it. I can think of several examples, but here is one that is special to me. I had done something sweet. I won’t say what it is. So as a way of thanking me, someone did something extraordinary sweet for me. He built me a desk!
I had always wanted a wooden desk. When I was a teenager I saved my pocket money carefully so that I could buy one. We went to the nearest Ikea to buy the pine desk that I had set my heart on. It was around £350. Anyway, the local Ikea in Warrington did not have it in stock, but they said there was one in stock up in Leeds. So we drove all the way to Leeds to buy it. My pocket money was cash of course, so we handed over the money and in return we left the store with a very heavy flatpack wrapped up in cardboard. Dad tied it to the roof rack of the car.
Well the weather deteriorated rapidly. The wind was howling, the rain was lashing down. There is a stretch of motorway (I think it is the M62, but I should check that) which is very exposed and the wind was so strong it seemed to be pushing the car right over towards the hard shoulder. Suddenly, there was this horrific noise, and we saw panels of wood go flying all over the road. Dad had to pull over. My Ikea flat-packed desk was all over the place. Some of it had flown right over the motorway bridge. Other pieces were in the road and cars were driving over and I could see pieces were breaking.
When Dad rang Ikea later on, they said that if he had paid with a credit card there would have been some insurance, but because we paid with my pocket money (cash) there was nothing they could do. Can you imagine my tears!
I was so disheartened. I remember the disappointment vividly even now. I carried on studying curled up on the sofa or on my bed, which was ok, but not like having a desk. Some time later Dad bought me a desk as a surprise. But it wasn’t the one I really wanted. It was one of those computer stations really – no personality. Still, I was glad of it. I spent many hours working at that desk.
Well…when I moved down south I ended up living in a beautiful renovated barn on a country estate (for four months of the year, while the owners were away, I had to live in the actual mansion house). I spent a huge amount of time working for local charities, including doing the accounts for local charities.
Well, as I mentioned earlier, I did something sweet to help someone. Around two weeks later they drove up outside my pretty abode. I went out to see them and they said they had something for me in the car, but they needed to assemble it. I could not believe my eyes when I saw it. They had built a beautiful wooden desk. It was large. It had two cabinets either side, one with three drawers and one with a cupboard with a mid-shelf inside it. It was so perfect.
It was the perfect present, the most glorious gift! Gorgeous people have done some very sweet things for me, and I am so glad because it is always touching. But when someone finds out what you would really really love to have, and takes the time to make a beautiful gift which is just what you need and looks stunning…well, you never ever can forget sweet deeds like that – can you?!!!
Is there any sweeter way to start a Monday morning than knowing that Goldfinch is on his way?
What to bake? I am torn between the honey cake I trialled on friends at the weekend (they were all raving about it) or salted caramel brownies (I have made brownies many times for Goldfinch). Or something with caramel and apples like last time? He did eat a lot of the caramel apple cake I baked not long ago.
It is so hard deciding what to make for someone who you absolutely love to bits, but are preparing for THE BIG GOODBYE. Any disastrous bake might hasten his departure to Australia. It is way more pressure than any of the Great British Bake Off contestants face, in my opinion.
At this point, please feel free to make any suggestions of bakes that are sure to impress the most gorgeous man on the planet! I would be more than happy to add something new and delicious to my repertoire.
Is it possible for a Monday morning to be sweeter than this?