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Mum-nag to four, besotted nana-slave to four more. Previous published history includes with Jessica Kingsley Publishers, NASEN, That's Life & Best magazines, The Daily Mirror, Wanderlust, The Pattaya Guide, Writers Weekly, birdsofafeather.com, and as a community correspondent for a regional newspaper.
I love travelling, anywhere, and writing, professionally. I enjoy simplicity, humour and decent red wine. I'm a country girl with an appetite for vegetable gardening, like to reap and dine on what I sow.
Redundancy from an unexpected, twenty year span career in education last year provided my freedom and opportunity to indulge, leisurely, in everything. Mostly it's all about the funny old business of writing.
My thirteen-year old grandson and I are flying together for the first time. Rainy England to sunny Spain. I hope to take him to Thailand to visit family there but first, secretly want to test his flying skills. I quickly learn he also has a hidden agenda; for the first time in his life to really, test my nana patience. During take-off he grabs my hand. In recent weeks he’s been dodging family hugs and kisses - unless it’s a pally high five you’re not coming in. Talking him through any turns and tiny bumps I try further distraction with Pringles and Uno. “If you let go of the armrests we can play Uno. You’ll give yourself cramp. Here, have a Pringle.” He gives a look I haven’t seen before. One suggesting I’m a stranger. “Huh? I always sit like this.” Countless memories of him lounging disagree. Thrown, I use a wrong word. “Please, you’ll give yourself dead arms.” I’m a jinx now. “Well, that won’t matter if we crash, will it? All of me will be dead.” “Love, chances are we’re not going to crash so it will matter when we land. I’m ancient! I can’t carry all the bags myself!” Clearly, today I am ancient and, no longer funny. He looks away, sighing. “God.” But I do keep standards. “Please don’t say that.” Which today he ignores. “Jeez. What’s the time?” My patience rubs. “Please stop asking the time. Asking the time every five minutes won’t get us there any quicker.Try to enjoy it! We’re flying!” He’s staring, “Don’t remind me.What was that?!” “The wheels being released.” I sing a high-pitched joy, sweet joy. “We’ll be landing soon!” Refusing my hand, he makes one last-ditch effort to pooh his teenage pants. Gripping knuckle white on the armrests he scrunches his eyes. “God. I hate landings. Landings are evil.” Distracted by his ears popping, something else on his loathe list, he misses the landing, looks up to see the cabin doors being opened: The ultimate despicable act, “Why are they putting the chute out?” Pettily I throw him the stranger look back. “Eh? Oh, they’re not. We’ve landed, they’re attaching the steps.” “God. I hate it when you don’t know you’ve landed.” Had he been younger when we arrived in Barcelona I wondered if he would have done his happy dance. He used to do his happy dance whenever we’d had a tube journey in London and resurfaced back to fresh air. Arms and legs flying everywhere, singing nonsense at the top of his voice. Older, he reacts differently to stopping here. Waiting to disembark, “Hurry up. I need the toilet.” Highly likely, he refused to go an hour ago even though he said he was bursting. Queuing at Passport Control, “Get a move on. I’m starving.” Probably also true, he didn’t eat anything because his hands were superglued to the armrests the entire time. Outside, standing for the coach transfer, “Whennn? I’m melting.” Remember this? I’ve brought him from rainy England to sunny Spain. FOR A SUNSHINE HOLIDAY. My patience flies. I lift my face skywards. “Me too. Lovely, isn’t it? Can’t wait to take my shoes off.” By way of some small sympathy I suggest he move to stand under shade. He stands his heated ground, “I want to see when the coach comes.” I dig deeper, “Would you like another drink?” As does he, “Nah, I want a shower.” Nah? What is nah? I flip a funny. “Nah? Lazybones! That’s only half my name!” Deadpan, he comedies too. “Alright, Sal.” I ask, during our transfer to Calella, what he’s looking forward to most. “Swimming pool? Beach? Paella in Calella?”. In a bid to lighten the mood again I pronounce my last option as flamboyantly Spanish as possible. Not colourful enough. “Getting there. The music he’s playing is driving me mad.” I agree, try again. “Then Paella in Calella?” My foody persistence elicits a half smile a semi-agreeable palm wave, “As long as it hasn’t got mussels in. I hate mussels in paella. They look… dead.” I give him that one, “They are.” My standards however, thrive, “Hate’s a very strong word.” That old chestnut. “You always say that.” Here’s a new one. “I don’t really do beaches.” Too much to say, much too much. I bite my tongue, “Paella in Calella it is then!” Dramatically hand gesturing I accidentally flick him in the eye. “Ouch!” He bursts out laughing, playfully punches, “Nana! Stop beating me up!” Our travel agreement for the rest of that day can be summed up thus: Don’t expect him to eat mussels or take his shoes off on the beach. Don’t expect me to take his moodiness to heart or keep mine on. Naturally, he throws curve balls. One of them, “Do buses run from Barcelona to London. We could get the bus back?” is still winging its unquantified way through the airwaves somewhere. Another, “Nana, don’t take this the wrong way but I think you might be going a bit deaf.” whooshes closely behind. Three months later, still honing our foreign flight compatibilities but now at, long haul speed, we arrive safely together in Bangkok. Our seven weeks stay in Thailand is anything but dull; some of our selfies even show us smiling.