6and6in2018 | December

This is my last report for the year and I have to admit that, though I started with good intentions, I haven’t touched any of the projects on my 6and6in2018 list!  Not sure if it was burnout from the previous year, or rebellion!

All I’ve achieved this month has been a little hexie work for “Taking Liberties”.  I have made lots of other things this year, though and you can check them out here.

So all that remains is for me to thank you all, on behalf of Anne and I, for participating in our 6and6in2018, whether you did it on your blog, amongst yourselves (and I’ve met a few of you over the year who quietly worked away!) or just cheered us on.  Thank you and congratulations on all you’ve achieved.

Also, Anne has decided not to continue with her blog, and so I’m going to take a break from this sort of activity next year…….who knows what 2020 will bring though!  You can still follow Anne as she’s now a regular on Instagram as @annetaydon and posting about her life on that forum instead.

I’m also taking a blogging break over January, but I’ll be back in February with more stitching/gardening/class adventures to share with you.

Until then, Dear Peeps, have a fabulous and safe New Year.

Much love

Meredithe x

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Christmas wishes

From me and mine, to you and yourswishing you all the joys and blessings of the season.

Much love
Meredithe x

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Christmas Village Stories | Bryony

Bryony Durand tweaked the last piece of the table display and stood back to check that it was now aligned.  Happy with that, she walked to the door of her emporium to view the whole, as she hoped her very first potential customers would the next day, but hers was an overly critical eye.  Finally satisfied she was just about to walk away when there was a knock on the door.  She pulled back the blind so see her normally handsome husband pulling a funny face.  Laughing, Bryony opened the door to let Luc in.

“What do you think?” she asked turning to face the store again.  He rested his chin on the top of her head, his long arms encircling her.

“It’s perfect.”  Just the answer she’d expected, but lovely to hear nonetheless.

“Come,” Luc added, “time to go home.  You can play here all you want from tomorrow.”

“Play?” Bryony cried with mock indignation. “I’ll have you know this is a very serious business.”

Luc held up his hands in resignation, “I know, I know.  I’m sorry, but you still need to come home and rest to be fresh for your multitude of customers on Opening Day.”

Knowing he was right about the resting and hoping he was right about the multitude of customers Bryony allowed herself to be shuffled out the door which she carefully locked and they walked arm in arm home.

**************

Bryony Peters, as she was then, had no idea what she wanted to do career wise when she finished her final year at high school.  University and further study held no appeal and she didn’t know what sort of job she would like.  All she did know was that she wanted to travel, and having worked an after school job for several years had some money saved to do just that.  With her parents blessing and an added injection of cash from them she set off for a few months of travel around the world.

The few months turned into several years and along the way Bryony gained some valuable skills, competency in several languages and a husband.  Her parents were dismayed, in varying degrees, to learn of her marriage, Mrs Peters more so because visions of her daughter’s white wedding went up in smoke, Mr Peters less so at the thought of his intact bank balance.  Their dismay soon led to great happiness though on meeting their son-in-law as this bear of a man, a talented chef, was charming, prepared to leave a lucrative business in France to come to a little place like Christmas Village, and most importantly, obviously adored their daughter.

With the money from the sale of his French restaurant, Luc bought an old café in the Village and transformed it into an elegant restaurant.  Open for lunch Tuesday to Saturday and dinner Thursday to Saturday Luc’s unique menu and fabulous food soon drew patrons from the Village and surrounding towns and villages.  While Luc loved to cook for others, he valued family life too and by setting these hours ensured he had time to spend with Bryony as well as being able to do his paperwork and ordering outside restaurant hours.  Bryony picked up a job with Sylvester and Sylvester, the local solicitors, and was content to be back in Christmas Village with family and friends after her adventures abroad.  Soon after the couple decided the time was right to start a family.  But they had no success and went through all manner of tests and procedures, tried dozens of remedies and recommendations, even including Bryony giving up her job to try to help matters, but were left with disappointments, tears and rages.  The diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” left them bereft and they came to accept, bitterly, that children were not to be.  The one good thing to come of it all was that the bond between them became stronger.

After deciding not to pursue parenthood any further Bryony declared that if she couldn’t have a human baby she would need a substitute baby, a career of some kind, but “what” remained the elusive question.

Luc, after exhausting all the normal jobs/careers he could think of and having them rejected, started suggesting the silly and ludicrous.  His latest was a career for Bryony as a Pirate.  They’d had great fun trying to decide which type of parrot would look best sitting on Bryony’s shoulder, and Bryony wondered if she could start a trend amongst her new colleagues with embroidered and embellished skull-and-cross-bones.  Luc had nobly offered to be the one to chop her leg off – he had the knife skills after all – and Luc would organise for their builder friend Zac to carve an intricate peg leg for her.

One Friday evening as Bryony was sitting up stitching and waiting for Luc to come home, the man in question burst through the living room door, throwing his arms into the air.  “I ‘ave it!” he shouted, his normally impeccable English losing a little pronunciation in his excitement.

“What do you have?” Bryony looked up briefly from her sewing.

“The answer to your job search!”

“Oh good,” said Bryony, “because I’ve realised I can’t be a pirate – I forgot, I get seasick.”

“Non, non, I’m serious.” Bryony put down her sewing as Luc sat next to her and grabbed her hands. “You know how I like visiting.”  At the end of each evening after last service Luc liked to forgo the kitchen and venture into the restaurant introducing himself to newcomers, getting feedback about his food, and most importantly catching up with regulars and hearing their news and gossip, all of which he called “visiting”.  Bryony nodded. “Well, tonight Lorna and Keith dined with us, with a bottle of bubbles!”  Bryony nodded again, not at all sure where this was going but prepared to indulge her husband. “Lorna has decided to retire!”  With Bryony still looking blank Luc continued, “They’re selling the building and Lorna is closing down the haberdashery.  But,“ Luc squeezed Bryony’s hands and gestured with his head at the room; it was filled with Bryony’s quilts, cross stitch embroideries, and cushions, “you could buy the business, you could run the haberdashery!” Luc sat very still and let the idea float around them.

Bryony too sat very still, a little shocked as Lorna’s haberdashery shop had been an institution in the Village for decades, but gradually her mind captured the idea.  During her travels she had worked in retail, had managed some businesses, learnt basic bookkeeping skills and, too, she had always sewn, well, maybe not so much when she was travelling, but she had picked up needle and thread again of late.  She did know the difference between pins and needles, knew something about threads, and it would be such a pity to see the shop close.

Luc could see all these thoughts going through Bryony’s mind and he waited patiently to see what she would make of the idea.

“I could,” she started hesitantly, then, “I think, perhaps, I could!”  Luc cheered and enveloped her in one of his bear hugs.  They spent the rest of the evening discussing this exciting prospect, and Bryony spent a fairly sleepless night thinking of everything that could happen.

The next morning Bryony set off for the haberdashery shop, half hoping there would be no customers so she could talk to Lorna without interruption.  There were, however, several customers in the shop (no bad thing, thought Bryony, need customers for business) but once the last one had been served and seen to the door, Lorna turned the sign over to “closed” smiling at Bryony guessing why she was there.  The two women discussed the matter comprehensively and came to an arrangement.  After shaking hands on the deal, Lorna declared that she was delighted to be selling the business to Bryony and approved wholeheartedly of the new direction it was going to take.

Contracts were drawn up and signed, monies exchanged hands, plans were made and builders, namely Zac, employed.

The first thing Bryony did was put paper over the windows to keep prying eyes out (though that was probably futile in a place the size of Christmas Village; word would soon get around) and hopefully whet the appetite of potential customers.  The first thing Zac and his crew did was to take down the wall Lorna had had put in when she felt that the floor area was too big for the amount of stock she had.  This immediately opened up the shop and flooded it with light as there were French doors at the back of the shop leading out into a sheltered courtyard.  Next Zac gutted the rest of the downstairs, put in a new kitchenette and small bathroom, then painted the whole place a vanilla colour and started putting in shelving and a counter.  Meanwhile Bryony, not able to do much on the construction side, set about putting the courtyard to rights, weeding, replacing and repairing wonky pavers, and adding colourful pots of flowers and perennials.  She found some old garden furniture at the second hand store, sanded it back and painted it in turquoise and it looked so inviting set out under the shade of the tree in the corner of the courtyard.

Having made use of Lorna’s contacts boxed soon started being delivered and with Zac putting in the final touches Bryony was able to start unpacking them and filling shelves.  When Bryony answered a knock at the door late one morning she saw Zac’s wife Daisy carrying a big bag.

“Zac forgot his lunch this morning,” Daisy explained.

“More like you’ve come for a sticky beak,” replied her husband with a knowing grin as he came towards the front of the store.  “Since when have you been making me lunch?”

“Ok, I’ve been found out,” admitted Daisy as she proffered the bag, “but there’s enough for everyone.”

Bryony laughed and invited her friend in.

“Oh, it’s like Christmas,” exclaimed Daisy as she spotted the boxes in varying stages of openness.  “Need some help?  Essie’s playing with her Auntie Celia, so I have plenty of time.”

“That was well managed,” Zac mumbled with an exaggerated eye roll as he passed by again.  The two girls grinned at each other and after partaking of Daisy’s excellent lunch, they soon had a system going to check off invoices and lay out the stock.

“Well that’s made the job much quicker.”  A grateful Bryony stretched her body after crouching over the last box.

“It’s all looking so very good!” exclaimed Daisy.

“Mmm, nearly there,” replied the owner.

The last thing to happen was the arrival of the sign writer, who climbed his ladder and painstakingly began his task.

****************

Opening Day of Red Thimble Quilt Shop was, as Luc had anticipated, a huge success with customers flocking from near and far in response to a letter drop box (thanks to Colin and Stevie Evans who crowed over the amount of money they earned for the job), flyers up all over the Village, and word of mouth from Luc to his patrons, and general gossip.

In fact, the shop was so prosperous that within a week Bryony knew she’d have to have some help. She had similar opening hours to Luc’s restaurant – Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am to 4.00pm – so they would still have time together, but even still, she wasn’t going to manage on her own for long.  As she was pondering this very thing Celia Evans walked in prompting Bryony to put the proposition to her.  With three of her four offspring at school, and Auntie Daisy well able to look after Celia’s youngest a couple of days a week, Celia jumped at the chance.

“You know,” started Celia as they opened up one morning a few weeks later, “I was saying to Daisy the other day that with the shop so busy we really don’t have time to talk and with our renewed interest in sewing we wondered if we might get together every so often to sew and chat.”

“That sounds like an excellent idea,” Bryony thought for a moment, “and I did tell Lorna that I’d keep her up to date with the shop’s happenings so maybe she could join us too.  How about Thursday night?  Luc’s at the restaurant that night so that works for me if it’s ok with you.”  So plans were made to meet at the shop at 7.30 and the Red Thimble Stitching Group, as they named themselves, was started.

Later that day after Celia had left to collect her children from school, the shop door opened and Bryony was surprised to see her erstwhile teacher, Mrs Watson, walk in.

“Oh my!” exclaimed Mrs Watson involuntarily stopping just inside the door.   “It’s so…….colourful!”  Collecting herself, Mrs Watson continued, “Oh Bryony, I do apologise.  Good afternoon, how are you?”

Bryony stifled a giggle, “I’m very well Mrs Watson and you?”  At that moment the phone rang.  Bryony made her apologies to Mrs Watson and answered the call.

From the corner of her eye, while dealing with the phone customer, Bryony watched Mrs Watson walk toward the fabrics.  Down the long wall on the left side of the shop were triple tiers of shelving; the first few held the very latest fabrics clearly labelled with the designer’s name and the range name and from there on the fabrics were arranged in colour ways.  In three places along the wall the triple shelving dipped down to just one and the space left was filled with a quilt hanging from an ingenious pulley system designed by Zac for ease of changing the quilts.  On the self of the remaining tier under the quilt sat the pattern or book from which the quilt was made along with colour co-ordinated fabric packs and gift wares.  In the shelf itself sat the fabrics to make the quilt hanging above.  Adjacent to the fabric shelves and dotted along the length of the shop were square box structures about waist high, with shelving for fabrics and smaller items and a table top upon which sat a variety of colour co-ordinated fabric bolts and packs of fabrics cut from those bolts.  About a third of the way along was a larger, long rectangular shaped structure, again with room for fabrics underneath, but with the top bare ready for customers to lay out their chosen fabrics to help with decision making.  Another of these appeared at the other end.

Bryony was fascinated to see Mrs Watson’s hand tentatively reach out to touch the fabrics as she walked along the tiers, stopping now and then to inspect a bolt more closely or to look intently at the hanging quilts.

Her call finished, Bryony walked over to Mrs Watson and asked how she could be of help.

“My mother,” confessed Mrs Watson, “was a blue stocking, so anything like mending was not done by her, and consequently not taught to me.  Mrs Mitchell, Lorna, very kindly used to mend my clothing – for a fee of course – but since she’s now sold the business, and with more time on my hands since retiring, I do think it prudent that I learn this skill.  So, Bryony, I was wondering if you were thinking of holding classes of that kind?”

“I’m not at this stage, however,” Bryony did some quick thinking, “I’d be happy to give you a one-on-one lesson.  Would Thursday evening at 7.30 suit?”  Mrs Watson found this to be most agreeable and they wandered over to the short wall on the right side of the shop which had narrower display shelving on either side, and a huge peg board in between.  The shelving and peg board were filled with a multitude of haberdashery items and Mrs Watson was soon furnished with needles, pins, threads, scissors and thimble.

Celia was horrified when Bryony told her the next day whom else she had invited to join their group.

“But she’s an old tartar!”

“She’s actually not,” replied Bryony who had always liked Mrs Watson, as a child seeing beneath the gruff exterior and instinctively knowing there was a kind, gentle soul underneath.  “I think she’s just a lonely, shy lady.” 

Celia shook her head.  “I know she’s a good teacher, the children definitely learnt their lessons with her, but she’s so…….straight up and down and………and off-putting.”  Celia struggled to find the right words.

“I really think it’s just her shyness.  You should have seen her with the fabrics yesterday.  Someone who obviously appreciates all this colour and movement can’t be all bad.”

Celia shrugged her shoulders and further discussion was stopped as the shop door opened and the first of the day’s customers came in.

Thursday night came around quickly and Bryony had asked the others to come to the shop a little early so she could word them up about Mrs Watson.

“Hope you don’t mind,” whispered Celia as she arrived, “but Aunt Molly called unexpectedly and we’ve brought her along too.”  Bryony smiled and turned to greet Celia and Daisy’s Aunt Molly whom she’d known all her life and was like a pseudo aunt.

“Aunt Molly,” she greeted the older woman, “how lovely that you could come.”

“Wouldn’t miss out on this fun,” boomed Aunt Molly.  She was a large woman with a heart of gold but who called a spade a spade.

Lorna arrived not long after and the group were soon settled at the table and chairs that Bryony had hurriedly purchased the day before and arranged at the back of the shop in the open area behind the kitchen and bathroom, which one day, she hoped, would become the class room.

Promptly at 7.30 there was a knock on the door and Bryony went to let Mrs Watson in and take her down to where the others waited silently.

“Oh,” Mrs Watson was surprised to find others there.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Bryony quickly explained, “but a group of us were getting together and I thought you might like to join in.”

Mrs Watson seemed to hesitate, in fact she wanted to bolt out the door, but Aunty Molly quickly intervened.  “Come and sit by me.”  Fearing there was nothing else to do, and not wanting to look foolish, Mrs Watson did indeed sit next to Aunt Molly.  Bryony made the necessary introductions and sat on Mrs Watson’s other side.  They all knew each other in passing, of course, but had never socialised.

As the others started a conversation, Bryony quietly asked Mrs Watson what she’d brought.  Slightly ruffled Mrs Watson, who had found an old wicker work basket in which to place her sewing, dug into the basket.

“The hem, regrettably, is coming undone,” she said pulling out a serviceable navy skirt that Bryony recognised from her own school days.

“Easily fixed,” Bryony assured her and was soon showing Mrs Watson how to sew the hem back into place.

The conversations ranged far and wide around the table, as did the laughter, and even though she was concentrating hard and only listening, Mrs Watson found she was actually enjoying being in the midst of these women, something she’d never experienced in her lonely life.

“So, what do you think should be done, Mrs Watson?”  Aunt Molly asked as they pondered the vexed question of repairs to the Town Hall.  Without waiting for her reply, Aunt Molly continued, “I can’t keep calling you Mrs Watson, I’m older than you!  Now tell me, what’s your first name?”  Around the table the three younger women drew in their breath.  And held it.

On the back foot again, Mrs Watson hesitated.  Then a little voice in the back of her head said, “what could it hurt?”

She cleared her throat and started to say Euphemia, as her mother had always insisted she be called, but quickly found herself saying instead, “It’s Effie, Molly.  You may call me Effie,” this last to them all.  To her surprise Mrs Watson, Effie, felt a great weight fall from her shoulders.  As she finished off her hem, under Bryony’s guidance, Effie found a voice and started offering her opinions and comments much to Bryony’s delight and the shock of Celia and Emma.

“You know, young Bryony,” Aunt Molly looked over the top of her crocheting at her quarry, “I’ve always wanted to learn quilting.”  She turned to the woman by her side. “How about you, Effie?”  Aunt Molly had noticed Effie’s gaze wondering from time to time to the quilts they could see hanging on the opposite wall.

“If you think I could?” Effie looked enquiringly at Bryony.  “They are very lovely.”

“Of course.  That would be great fun.”  Bryony was delighted that Mrs Watson, er, Effie had come so far out of her shell in one evening.

“I, on the other hand,” said Lorna, “have never quite got the knack of crochet.  Yes, I can knit, “she held up the jumper being knitted by her competent hands, “but for some reason crochet eludes me.  How about it?  Prepared to take me on?” she challenged Molly.

Soon they were all working out who could teach who what, with much laughter and ribbing accompanying the discussion.  Quietly Effie rose from her seat and walked over to the fabrics, studying the colours and patterns intently.  Bryony came to stand beside her.  “Need some help?”  Effie turned to smile at her former pupil.  “That would be most kind.”  Together they worked out which pattern would work best for a beginner and then started the delightful task of choosing fabrics.  “My favourite bit,” Bryony commented to the daunted Effie.  Soon they had the fabrics chosen, Bryony cut them, then packaged them up prettily in one of her special Red Thimble bags.

Effie Watson walked back to the table proudly holding her purchases.  She set the bag down in front of Molly and boldly challenged her, “Well, I’m all set for class, Molly.  How about you?”   The others all laughed and not to be outdone, Molly declared it was her turn with the shop’s owner.

As Bryony started turning off lights at the end of the night with Celia keeping her company, she commented that it looked like she’d have to start investing in yarns with both Molly and Lorna offering to teach their skills in a class situation.

“And you’ll have to schedule some patchwork classes soon too”

“Just let me see how I go with Molly and Effie,” Bryony decided.  “If I can get through that, I’ll think about it more.”

Laughing, Bryony and Celia finished locking up, Bryony surreptitiously patting her shop’s door in thanks, and headed home.

The Red Thimble Sewing Group along with Red Thimble Quilt Shop was definitely going to be a success.

©Pomegranate and Chintz 2018

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Stitch Sisters

Our final Stitch Sisters gathering was last weekend and Karen was our hostess.  Must confess that not a stitch was done, except by Sue who has a deadline to get a new grandson’s stocking finished and I was too full to move from my chair to get the camera.  So it’s just food pics this month!!

Karen’s table was decorated with little Santas and it’s a bit sad when even Santa, Miss Anne, turns his back!Desserts followedand just look at those layers in the Tiramisu We’ve had a lovely year of gatherings, and as we set dates for next year, there will be more for you, Dear Peeps, to enjoy.Meredithe x

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Class show and tell

The final class at Sewn and Quilted for 2018 was last week and, boy, did we have a Final Class Feast!  Hope you’re hungry!

Morning

Everyone brought along a plate of something to share and in the sewing stakes, Marilyn’s quilt was back from quiltingwith its fabulous backingand in class she stitched more “Sweet Sunday” blocksSue W had bought some Kaffe fabrics a little while ago, and together we decided on a pattern from one of Kaffe’s books and the plain fabric to go with themWhich she then spent the rest of class cuttingJo wants to spend the Summer break working on her quilt, so we traced out a few of the setting pieces so she knows what she’s up toLeanne worked on the last couple of her “Sweet Sunday” blocksSue E worked on her “Matilda” BOM (by Treehouse Textiles)Carole had one pot of flowers finishedand worked on another in classand Denise has all her cutting out done now, so she can spend her Summer break stitching.

Afternoon

More food arrived with the afternoon girls!Three students stayed all day; Lyn worked doubly hard and had double table runners to show for her effortsLinda quilted all day, giving depth to her birds and Sue S worked on her “Sugar Plum” blocksWith the other afternoon students, Fernanda had made this cushion cover at home (we looked at putting on of Sue S’s circles in the centre!)and she cut out a second in classTineke finished attaching the last of her hexagons with embroideryCheryl made another scene, including some lace, for her “Pele Meleand Janeand Helenboth added to their piles of “Sweet Sunday” blocks.

That’s it for Class Show and Tell posts for 2018.  But we’ll be back – I’m very happy to say – in 2019 when my students will share more of their work with you.

Meredithe x

 

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Christmas Village Stories | Ben

The ringing of his doorbell startled Ben Crosley from his afternoon nap.  As he passed a gnarled hand over his face he wondered if he’d imagined the sound, but when it rang again he stirred his old bones from his easy chair shouting, “I’m coming, I’m coming”.  Nothing worse, he muttered to himself, than finding the caller halfway down the street just because they hadn’t the patience to wait for a soul to get to the door.  He glanced lovingly at the photo on the mantle, “Who do you reckon this is, love?”  But the person in the frame had no more idea than Ben.

As he walked up the hallway he did wonder if it was the Rev Jenkin come to call, although he doubted it as Arthur hadn’t visited again at this time of day after the kindly minister realised he’d woken Ben from his daily nap.

Ben opened the front door, and stared enquiringly at the person on the step, “Yes?”

“Hello, Ben,” said the stranger.

********************

In his youth Ben Crosley was considered quite a catch; tall, dark and handsome with a steady job as a fitter and turner at the Town’s Engineering Plant.  He was great mates with George Jones.  Ben and George had met at school, done the same apprenticeship and had both been indentured to the same firm.  Every day as they walked home the lads passed by Chipper’s Motors and they both gazed longingly at the twin 500cc Royal Enfield motor bikes.  “Three more pays, mate,” sighed George.  “Three more pays,” agreed Ben.  The lads had been diligently saving their wages, with a small portion going to their families for board and keep, over several years and their goal was in sight.  But they did splurge once every month or two in going to one of the local dances where they could kick up their heels, catch up with their mates, and meet and dance with a girl or two.  If one of their mates who owned a car was going further afield then they cadged a lift and went to one of the other towns or villages for the dance, but if it was Shank’s Pony they were restricted to the dance in their Town.  Soon they would be riding.  They’d both learnt to ride on borrowed bikes and their licences were burning holes in their pockets in anticipation.

The very next Thursday, with one more day to work for the week, the lads walked their usual trek home discussing the possibility of getting to the dance scheduled for Saturday night.  As they passed by Chipper’s Motors they stopped short, George in mid-sentence.  The bikes, both bikes, were no longer on the premises.  Yes, over the years bikes had come and gone, they couldn’t expect Daryl Chipper to keep bikes while they saved their money, but the lads thought they had an understanding with Daryl when the Enfield’s had appeared as they were so close to having the asking price saved.

“Hey Daryl,“ George called as he spied the owner walking towards them, “Where have the two Enfield’s gone?”

“Afternoon lads,” Daryl replied nonchalantly, “Sorry boys, but” Daryl shrugged , “got a better offer.” 

“But…..?   Why……?  How…..?” sputtered George, trying and failing to get a coherent sentence together.

“But they were ours,” Ben said forlornly.  George could only nod in agreement.

“I’ve ordered another couple.”  Daryl was quite sanguine about the situation.

“But that will take months!” cried Ben.

“Mmm, probably six months.”  Daryl studied his nails.

“I….you….” George was sputtering again.

Ben tugged on his arm.  “C’mon mate, nothing we can do.”

The lads dejectedly continued their way home, with the occasional incoherent repeating of, “But he knew……” or “Why did he…..?” from George.  Ben, so deflated, couldn’t be bothered replying.

At their meeting corner, each went their own way home without a word, Ben turning to the right, George going straight ahead.

“That you Ben?” called Mrs Crosley as she heard the back door open.

“Yes Mum.”

“That doesn’t sound too cheerful, love.  Everything all right?” Mrs Crosley walked towards her son wiping her hands on her apron.

“No, it’s not.” Ben felt like crying, but took a deep breath instead.  “Daryl Chipper’s only gone and sold the two bikes that George and I were so close to buying.  So close, Mum!”

“Oh, love, that’s such a shame,” Mrs Crosley sympathised.  “I’m sure he can order more in.”

“Yeah, but that will take six months or more.”

“Oh love,” Mrs Crosley reached up to give her son a hug.  “Can you go and get your Dad?  He’s out in the shed.  Dinner’s almost ready.”

Ben headed back out the door and up the garden path to the shed at the back of the garden, head bowed and feet shuffling.

“Dad?” he sang out as he neared the shed door.

“In here, son.” Mr Crosley replied.

Ben poked his head in the shed door and started to tell his Dad that dinner was ready, but stopped, open mouthed as he saw Mr Crosley leaning nonchalantly against………. Could it be?  Yes, it was one of the Royal Enfield motor bikes!

Eyes shining with delight but unable to speak, Mr Crosley replied to Ben’s unspoken question.  “We know you’ve been saving hard, son and that you only had a few payments to go, so your Mother and I decided we’d make the last couple for you.  The bike’s yours!”  Still unable to get words of thanks out, Ben gave his Dad a big hug, then gently ran is hand over the bike, his motorbike. 

“Think you’ll find George has his too.”  Ben looked up from the bike. “We colluded,” said Mr Crosley, a twinkle in his eye.   “You and George need to see Daryl tomorrow and pay the balance, and before you can ride you need to get leathers and a helmet.”  Mr Crosley firmly laid down the law.

“Oh Dad!” sighed Ben happily. “I can’t thank you enough.”

“Just be careful out there and always come back in one piece – that will be thanks enough, Ben.” Mr Crosley patted the bike too.  “Nice machine, son, nice machine.  Well, best get inside before dinner gets cold.”

After bolting down his dinner (“George’s Mum is making him eat his too,” replied Mrs Crosley to Ben’s pleas to be allowed to meet George), Ben raced to their meeting corner getting there just second before George.  Both lads hollered and hooted and when they’d calmed down a little made plans for their riding debut.

 

Bikes paid off, leathers and helmets purchased and donned over their Saturday-night-out clobber, Ben and George set off to a nearby town and the dance hall.  They arrived safely and were soon espousing the joys of their first ride to their mates.  Out of the corner of his eye Ben noticed a striking, tall, dark haired girl standing with her friends.  Buoyed by the thrill of the ride Ben sauntered over to ask for a dance.  As he got closer he could see this girl was not just striking but really beautiful.  He hesitated slightly thinking she just might be out of his league, but one of the other girls had seen Ben heading their way and nudged her friend.  The friend spotted Ben and found him to not be wanting.

As casually as he could Ben asked for a dance and was accepted.  He found out this goddess’s name was Davina Cole (“My mum is smitten by Hollywood!”) and that she’d not long moved to the town with her family and had a job at the local department store.  As the music finished for that number they were still chatting and getting on famously.  Davina was very pleased to be seen dancing with this handsome young man, not just a good dance either, entertaining too.  By the end of the evening Ben and Davina had danced almost exclusively and spent the supper time together.  With promises to see each other soon, Ben caught up with George, suffered a bit of ragging from his mates, and the two lads set off for home, Ben’s heart as light as a bird.

Over the next few months Ben and Davina saw a lot of each other.  Although Davina pouted prettily and seemed to be offended if Ben danced with another girl, she then smiled radiantly and gave an “all forgiven” shrug when he came back to claim the next dance with her.   Gradually they became an item, spending more and more time together and Ben wondering how he’d landed a girl so beautiful and worldly and enchanting and……he was running out of superlatives.  He knew he was smitten and it seemed that Davina was too, she was very happy to be seen on Ben’s arm, and they made a striking couple.

After saying fond goodbyes at a dance one Saturday evening Ben set off for home on his bike only to skid on a greasy section of road not far out of his town.  Luckily a passing motorist saw the accident and was able to get help.  With a broken leg, Ben wasn’t going to be riding, or dancing, very much in the short term.

Laid up in hospital for the first couple of weeks, Ben looked hopefully at the door every visiting time; his mum and dad came regularly of course, as did George and a couple of his other mates, but of Davina there was no sign.  He told himself that she probably couldn’t get the time off work, or it was too difficult to get to him (his other half knowing that  it would only take two buses and she’d be at the hospital, either from work or her home).  Even when he was allowed home, still Davina paid no visits, sent no messages, nothing.

Davina’s absence niggled at him but he was too proud to ask George if she’d been asking after him.  In his mind he made excuses for her.  Finally the day came when he could go to a dance.  Strangely, George tried to dissuade him, but Ben was determined to get to the dance, even on crutches, to see his girl.

George made his way to the dance on his bike and Ben was offered a lift from a mate.  Breathless with the exertion of getting up the hall steps on his crutches, Ben stopped for a moment inside the hall door.  While recovering his breath he saw Davina and experienced the familiar sudden intake of air and quickening of his pulse at her beauty.  Then he saw she was dancing with a very tall, very haughty looking man who was looking at Davina with proprietorial eyes.

As quickly as he could on crutches, Ben made his way over to the couple and greeted Davina warmly.

“Oh,” Davina looked at Ben as if she barely knew him, “yes…..Ben,” she’d finally remembered his name.  “You’re on the mend?” she asked belatedly looking at the crutches.  Without waiting for Ben’s reply, she looked at her companion, “This is one of my favourites, Jeremy.  Shall we?”  And without so much as a backward glance, Davina and Jeremy were on the dance floor.

Totally flummoxed by Davina’s actions, all Ben wanted to do was leave.  As he turned on his crutches a familiar voice said, “I’m so sorry, mate.  Didn’t quite know how to tell you.” George looked so forlorn Ben didn’t have the heart or energy to be cross with him.  “I only saw her with that git a couple of weeks ago, but some of the others said she didn’t take long at all to find someone new after your accident.” Ben felt the knife twist deep in his heart. “C’mon mate, Larry said he’ll take you home.”

For weeks Ben tried to work out how he’d been so misled; running over their conversations in his mind he couldn’t understand how he’d not seen that Davina hadn’t felt the same way.  He thought they were well on their way to an “understanding” and was sure that Davina would have accepted his proposal instantly.  They’d been so close, sharing so many ideas and passions, so much in common.

Just when Ben thought he’d settled his heart George showed him an article in the local newspaper announcing the betrothal of Davina Cole to Jeremy St John-Smythe.  To George Ben just shrugged, to himself he decided enough was enough.

Time passed, his leg mended along with his heart, the fad for a motor bike waned and a car was the next purchase for Ben, and when he’d been assured that Davina and Jeremy no longer attended dances, Ben went back to dancing and evenings out with his friends.  Not long after he met Millie at the dance in Christmas Village, one they hadn’t been to before.  Wary of getting entangled again, he was nevertheless drawn to this lovely girl with the heart shaped face and vivid blue eyes.  After several months Ben knew he could trust Millie with his heart – she was his and he was hers.

Ben and Millie had a joyous wedding and a blessed life together bringing up two children, Stella and Tom.  They had moved into a house in Christmas Village not long after their wedding and Ben had taken a job in the industrial estate just outside the Village.  Their home was always alive with laughter and filled with love.  Both Stella and Tom married, Tom moving with his wife to Another Country and Stella moving with her husband to the Town.

Ben retired and he and Millie spent time in their garden and still loved attending dances, though not going as often or going too far.  After 52 years of marriage Millie became ill and shortly after died leaving a desperately devastated Ben.  Stella and Tom came home for the funeral and Stella stayed on to try and help Ben settle into a different routine.  Assuring Stella he would be fine, his daughter reluctantly left her father on the understanding that she could come back at any time should he need her.

The days formed themselves into a different shape without his beloved Millie.  He set the alarm each day as a means of getting himself out of bed.  After breakfast and some household chores or shopping he often went to the Village pond and fed the ducks or watched the passing parade.  Lunch was followed by a nap, which he seemed to need more and more these days, then it was sometimes a pint with the “lads”, in particular George, before dinner, reading or the radio, then bed.  But always alone, always without his Millie.

*********************

Ben opened the front door, and stared enquiringly at the person on the step, “Yes?”

“Hello, Ben,” said the stranger. 

 

“You don’t remember me?”  The pout on the woman’s face rang a distant chord in Ben’s memory.  He looked more closely at her and realisation slowly dawned.  Still a very striking woman in her twilight years, Davina had worn well, money obviously helped in keeping age at bay.   Seeing that he did indeed remember, Davina smiled satisfied that she remained, in her mind at least, a strong memory for Ben.

“May I come in?” she asked.  Unsure, but not wanting to be impolite, or have the neighbours asking awkward questions, Ben ushered Davina into the lounge room, then went to the kitchen to make them both tea.

“You have a lovely home, Ben,” Davina waved a hand dismissively at the room as Ben put down the tea tray.  She continued quickly, “I kept an eye on you, you know, over the years.  Your marriage, your children, your long service in your job; they all made the newspaper and I read about you.” Where, Ben wondered as he poured out their teas, was this leading?  Davina, in fact, had realised very soon into her marriage how silly and vapid she’d been in ditching Ben so quickly and pursuing Jeremy St John-Smythe instead.  But to the young shallow Davina, Davina St John-Smythe had sounded so much better than Davina Crosley, and Jeremy’s prospects as a solicitor were much better too.  But Jeremy had been a faithless husband, although as long as she had money to spend as she wished Davina could pretend to ignore the philandering and as long as Jeremy wasn’t blatant with his affairs, Davina could keep up the illusion of a perfect marriage and wonderful life to her society friends.

On hearing of Millie’s death, however, Davina had impatiently waited for what she thought might be a suitably appropriate time before approaching her erstwhile dance partner.  Her life needed to change and she saw Ben as her means to do that.

Ben watched on as Davina chatted inconsequentially and even, he was aghast to realise, flirted with him!  Where, he wondered again, was this leading?

“Well, it’s been just lovely to catch up, Ben,” Davina rose elegantly to her feet and as Ben ushered her to the front door she added, “I do hope we can meet again soon.” Again, that radiant smile and with a wave of her fingers Davina sashayed down the path to the gate.  She stopped and turned to make sure Ben had been watching and was pleased to see him leaning against the doorframe exactly as she hoped he’d be.  Little did she know what Ben was actually thinking.

“That was a shock and a half, eh Millie?” Ben smiled at the photo of his beloved.  “Wonder what she’s after, love?  I know, I know, I’ll be careful,” he grinned ruefully.  Ben had told Millie all about his disastrous encounter with Davina and they’d both agreed it had been worth his heartache as it meant they’d met each other.

Over the next few weeks Davina made several calls on Ben, always buoyant, bright and optimistic with a little flirtation thrown in for good measure.  When she was sure she had him where she wanted, she played her hand.  Ben was genuinely dismayed to hear about Jeremy St John-Smythe’s boorish, uncouth behavior and although he sympathised with Davina’s plight he was totally unprepared for her coup de gras.

“But why can’t I move in here?” she cried again after trying for some time to make Ben see that it would be the answer to her problems and, she’d added cunningly, he wouldn’t be so lonely with her delightful company.

Because I don’t want you to, thought Ben.  Up to this stage he’d just been saying no, but clearly Davina needed a different answer.  Aloud he said, ”It’s not appropriate, Davina.”

“Appropriate?” Davina by this time was clearly losing her temper.  “What’s inappropriate about this arrangement?”

“I can’t have a strange woman moving in – what would the children think?”

“Strange woman?” Davina was not impressed and in her temper forgot to guard her tongue, “and blast what your children think!”

That, for Ben, was the last straw.  White with anger, he disregarding chivalry and bundled Davina out of the door, warning her to never return.

Trembling with the effect of the wild emotions on display, Ben poured himself a rare stiff drink.

“That, my love,” he said toasting Millie’s photo, “was a close call.”

Later that evening the doorbell rang.  Dreading that it would be Davina with another round of pleading Ben, with some trepidation, opened the door.

“Evening, Ben,” said Ben’s minister, “Hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“Not at all, Arthur, “ Ben was delighted to see Rev Jenkin on the doorstep and immediately invited him in.

The two men chatted for some time and Arthur ventured a comment, hoping it would be taken in the vein it was meant.

“You seem….” Arthur sought the appropriate wording, “more contented?” He finished it as a question, giving Ben the chance to agree or refute the comment.

“Life’s a funny thing,” said Ben after some contemplation, “and while I’ll always miss Millie, I know and value what we had together.  And,“ he added with a smile, ”you sometimes realise in the twists and turns of life, there can be some lucky escapes.”

©Pomegranate and Chintz 2018

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Mirjam’s 6and6in2018

Mirjam has sent in her 6and6 for November

First, I didn’t work on my Owl-quilt and my Lily-quilt.
But I made another Polak star and cut number 3.

I prepared a lot of hexagons for my “Winterse hexjes” quilt.

And for the “Hadjememaar” quilt I made a lot of ninepatches ahead and finished block Q and P and sew them together.

She’s done well again!

Cheers

Meredithe x

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