Until I go #7

Having left my hotel in Queensferry, I caught a train into Edinburgh for a few hours of photography before the long journey home.

The monument to the poet Robert Burns on Regent Road at the foot of Calton Hill.

Two things I discovered about Edinburgh that day: it’s a city of monuments and a city of hills and dips. Calton Hill is a fair climb up from the Waverley Railway Station, but it’s a hill that’s festooned with monuments such as the one pictured.

This photo is one that I snapped, out of breath, of Arthur’s Seat, on my way up Calton Hill. Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano, situated in Holyrood Park, east of the city centre.

In my next post I’ll include images of a couple of the monuments.

Until I go #6

Almost Sunset at South Queensferry, with reflections of the Forth Railway Bridge and a small boat. Pentax KP 1/500 secs, f/5 28 mm ISO 200
Just as the sun has set behind North Queensferry Fuji XT-4 1/160 secs, f/5, 16 mm ISO 160

Featured Photo

Glorious reflections, silhouettes of the three Forth crossings and a train passes over the Forth Road Bridge. Pentax KP 1/500 secs, f/5, 28 mm ISO 200

Thank you and goodbye

To all those who have liked, followed – and especially to those, if any who have actually read any of the story of Melissa and Jamie – thank you.

The final episode was posted last night, but it was also my final post of this Blog. I’m allowing my 12 months subscription to expire when it ends on 14 August. It was started as a response to Covid and I don’t think that there have been more than two days on which I have not posted something.

The need for the Blog has run its course, summer has come and the time to enjoy life outdoor with my camera.

So, as the post title says, Thank you and Goodbye.

My final featured photo is of a field of lavender. I took the shot last weekend with my Pentax K-1 full frame camera using a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at an ISO of 100. The shutter speed was 1/500 secs @ f/11 and 15 mm.

Regarding Melissa #92

…..Previously

‘Yes,’ Mel said, ‘I love him to bits, but I have to know that he really loves me too.’

‘Don’t be daft.’ Tracy said, ‘He worships the ground you walk on. Get your acts together – and soon. God! Mum will be over the Moon. This is what she’s wanted for years now. She even said so after that first time you came for a meal with us all.’

They embraced and re-joined the others, who looked at them, wondering where they’d been – and what had kept them.

At the end of the evening, Jamie asked her what she and Tracy had been discussing.

‘Don’t be nosey,’ she said, ‘Girl talk.’

She kissed him – to reassure him and to redirect his mind.

Continued…..

Boxing Day

No peace for the wicked! Nor for those in love, it seems. Until the shop closed – no half-day closing during the sales – it was all hands to the tills in shops like Hannays’. While Jamie was upstairs, responding online to people who had Christmas present money to spend that way, Mel and Marcus divided their roles between them, except when they had a spare moment to help the other. Marcus manned the till recording sales that Mel was making on the sales-priced items. She also dealt with the returns of unwanted gifts – thankfully not many of those. All the time, Mel was moving like a whirling dervish between customers – some of whom merely wanted advice, while others wanted help to choose what to spend their money on.

The two of them tried their best not to leave any customer standing unattended, but there were moments of near chaos. Neither Mel nor Marcus had ever seen a frenzy anything like it. At the end of their trading day, it seemed that the shop had enjoyed record-breaking net sales turnover.

When the shop doors finally closed behind the final customer, Jamie came down and thanked them both for their sterling efforts. It was a pity that Tony hadn’t seen it, but he was at home looking after Lucy. Tracy had booked the day as part of her annual leave, so she came round to the house at lunchtime to give Tony a break.

As they’d agreed on Christmas Eve, Mel and Jamie headed straight to her parents’ house for their tea. Brian and Jean welcomed Jamie – though they were much less sure of Jamie’s relationship with their daughter than his own family was.

He admired the tree and the other festive decorations and thanked her parents for their welcome. Mel had told him, while they were on the way to the house, that the cards and the gifts that she had given her mum and dad had been given as being from both of them. She’d realised that he would not have had time to have given such gifts a thought other than the wine they’d chosen together. Jean and Brian both suspected as much, but, sensitively, thanked him for the joint gifts – showing him what they’d been given to avoid any embarrassment.

During the meal, after Jean and Brian had asked what kind of day it had been for Mel and Jamie, the conversation naturally turned to questions about Lucy’s progress. Having seen Mel’s embarrassment at Jack’s teasing the previous day, her parents avoided, by prior agreement, any pointed interrogation of them, and came to their own conclusions based on what they saw.

So, after Jamie left at the end of the evening, in the privacy of their room, they compared notes.

‘Did you notice that they were holding hands when they came?’

‘What about the way she was gazing into his eyes as he was telling us about his mum?

‘And what about how he always looked at her when she was speaking – as if her words were the wisdom of Solomon?’

‘Did you see how she kept touching him lovingly whenever they agreed on something?’

‘Or how they seemed able to finish each other’s sentences?’

‘I think that there’s a lot more going on between those two than our Mel’s been letting on!’

They agreed to agree.

New Year’s Eve

The following day would be a bank holiday, but like many other shops, Hannah’s’ would be open for a slightly shorter working day, to milk whatever sales there were to be had. The shop followed the same turnover trends as most retail enterprises where the vast bulk of sales were made between Black Friday and the first week of January.

Alec offered to sit with Lucy, Neil and Fiona to allow Tony to join Mel, Jamie and Marcus at the shop. Upstairs, Tony went through the paperwork that recent days had generated – and was stunned. He felt guilty that he hadn’t been there to help his staff with what must have been madness on the sales floor.

He also had some difficulty believing how much online sales business there had been. He made a point of going down to help with customers during a crazy period mid-morning, and when the rush eased for a moment, he called them to him to thank them fulsomely for everything that they’d done.

Mel asked Marcus what his plans were for New Year’s Day – he’d booked the day off. He said that he intended to spend it in bed with his boyfriend. By three in the afternoon, the crush eased considerably, and Tony decided to close as soon as the last remaining customer had left. It was clear that most people were now preparing for their evening festivities. He thanked Marcus again and told him to go and have a good time.

Tony, Jamie and Mel got the shop ready for Thursday’s resumption of business, then he told Mel she could go while he and Jamie locked up and went home together. Jamie said that he’d pick her up from home to drive her to his house for their evening meal – and to let the New Year in.

Mel went home to shower and change to be ready for him. She thanked her mum and dad for being so understanding about her being elsewhere on this special night of the year. They both hugged and kissed her goodnight when they noticed Jamie’s car pull to a stop outside their house.

When Jamie saw her at the door he was stunned by her appearance. She leaned into the doorframe, her left hand above her head, resting on the upright, her right hand on her hip. Her red-lipsticked mouth was pouting suggestively, her freshly washed and brushed golden hair hung like spun silk, and her eyes sparkled as he’d never seen them before.

Her knee-length black dress, with slim shoulder, straps showed her curves and her slender figure to perfection – as her high heeled, strappy sandals did for her long legs.

‘Wow!’ he said, ‘You look bloody gorgeous, absolutely amazing.’

‘Don’t I always?’ she teased, but he was lost for words.

They moved towards each other, holding each other closely as they rotated while kissing passionately.

‘Well, that answers that question,’ his mum said, watching through the window from behind the half-closed curtains.

At Lucy and Tony’s home, there was a houseful to welcome the New Year – Jamie’s parents, grandparents, Tracy, Jake and Elaine were all there. Lucy looked happy and comfortable. She smiled and waved with her good arm to Mel as she entered with Jamie.

It was a bit like Christmas – people had settled into two groupings, reflecting the layout of the house. The older generation – the four grandparents were sitting and talking around the dining table – while the others were spread around the living room. Tony got up to find a couple of extra chairs. Tony and Jamie sat on these while Mel sat onto the sofa with Tracy and Jake – Elaine sat on a footstool.

Jake and Tony had been talking about the recent election and the prime minister’s policy on Northern Island in relation to Brexit. Lucy said that she’d heard too much politics – it was New Year’s Eve.

Tony told everyone who would listen, what a great job Jamie and Mel had done over the Christmas period. His voice was a bit slurred – Jamie looked at the glass of whisky in his dad’s hand and wondered how many tots he’d already had. He asked Jamie to say a little about the way the online business was developing.

‘No politics and no business, eh, Dad,’ he said, ‘As Mum said, it’s New Year’s Eve.’

Tracy said, ‘Hear, hear! What I want to know is whether my brother is ready for his New Year talk with Mel.’

Mel looked at her, gobsmacked. “Where did that come from?” she wondered. This was totally unexpected. She’d only just arrived.

‘I thought that you were my friend, Tracy Hannay. You’re not playing fair. It’s not right to put Jamie under pressure like that – or here, tonight, at all.’

She turned to Lucy,

‘What do you think?’

Lucy asked Tracy to leave Jamie alone.

‘I’m sorry,’ Tracy said, ‘I didn’t mean to upset you. I should have minded my own business, but it would have been nice to have started 2020 with an engagement – some good news at last.’

‘Well, provided that he hasn’t found someone else in the meantime – and if Jamie doesn’t propose again soon, you’ll all just have to wait until February the 29th.’

Tracy and Lucy looked at each other and gasped.

Lucy laughed with delight and Tracy pointed at Jamie.

‘What are you going to do about that, brother?’

Jamie’s expression revealed his bewilderment.

‘Will someone tell me what I’ve missed?’ Tony asked Jamie.

‘I’m not sure, Dad,’ Tracy said, ‘but I think that Mel, in effect, has just proposed to Jamie.’

Mel looked at Tracy.

‘Are you satisfied?’ she asked.

‘No,’ said Tracy, ‘He hasn’t accepted yet. Come on Jamie, Marriage to Mel – Yes or No?’

‘I don’t quite understand what just happened,’ he said, ‘but Yes, of course, Yes.’

EPILOGUE

It would have been nice if the story could have had a fairy tale ending with a double wedding soon afterwards – Mel and Jamie, Jack and Elsa – but life got in the way.

On the twenty-third of January 2020, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all but essential travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan. On the thirty-first of January, the first two cases of the Covid-19 virus in the United Kingdom were confirmed.

By the end of March, thirty-five percent of couples who had upcoming weddings had postponed and it was only in the latter half of 2021 that the double wedding took place.

By the middle of 2020 Mel and Jamie had been placed in an impossible situation. They didn’t want to continue living apart, but, as yet, they couldn’t afford a mortgage. Also they didn’t want to become trapped in paying to live in a rented home. Both sets of parents offered to let them move in together in their houses for the time being, but whichever home they chose would have imposed a ban on contact with the parents in the other home for a significant portion of the national lockdown.

When it finally became law that they would have to choose or live apart, they accepted the offer from Brian and Jean – Mel’s parents – who had the larger of the two houses.

Jack and Adele were better placed since Jack already had his own house.

The bad news continued when gyms and non-essential shops had to remain closed because of pandemic restrictions. Jean and Tracy – a teacher and a nurse could continue to go into work and Brian could do a lot of his work from home. Jack, Jamie, Mel, Tony and Marcus could not continue working in the shop. Marcus was furloughed and Mel was barred from being able to do any photography that required travel or contact with other households. Jamie was able to continue his online trading, however, and Mel enjoyed continued earnings growth from the proceeds of a range of uses which she had made of her New Zealand photographs.

It was not until mid-2021 that the shop and the gym were able to re-open for normal business.

It was in late 2021 that brother and sister, Mel and Jack, were able to fulfil their dreams and marry Jamie and Elsa. The joint weddings took place in the same parish church where Stacy had been wed. It was a small occasion, limited by the uncertainties surrounding newly emerging variants of the virus strain.

As soon as it had become possible to so, Brian had commissioned the building of a house on a small estate in Upperton, to a design he’d agreed with the couple.

Both sets of parents had given them substantial wedding gifts towards a mortgage deposit and they applied successfully in 2021, under a new government scheme, for a First Home discount on the house. There were strings attached, but it would be a home they otherwise couldn’t have afforded.

The house was completed, and enough furniture was available, by the end of 2021 – just in time for them to move in as newlyweds with their new-born baby girl, Mia.

Featured Photo

Today, I continue my series of photos taken in and around the Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge, where I spent a Saturday earlier in June.

I’ll conclude Melissa’s story with a couple of photos of street entertainers in the town centre whom I saw that Saturday. My final photo is of a keyboard player’

For all these shots, I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera twinned with a Pentax 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 mm lens. The EXIF data for this photo were 1/160 secs @ f/8, focal length 53 mm, and ISO 200.

Regarding Melissa #91

…..Previously

Lucy had always been a strong presence, but Tracy wasn’t sure how she’d face having to depend on others for some time ahead; how she’d deal with this early warning of her mortality.

Mel asked her what support Tracy could expect from the hospital trust to be able to spend time away from work with her mum. Tracy said that the trust was being brilliant, but that, in any case, she was getting a lot of help from Jake and his mum and dad. They were looking after Elaine until she got home. She told them that she’d been glad that they’d had a chance to talk, but she’d just pop-in to see her mum for a moment to say goodnight. Jamie said that he and Mel would head off.

Continued…..

December – the lead up to Christmas

In the few working days remaining until Christmas Eve, Jamie, Mel and Marcus were kept busy in the shop – dealing with last minute shoppers and, behind the scenes, getting ready for the “New Year” sales that would actually begin on Boxing Day this time.

Every weekday evening, Jamie drove with Mel to the hospital to see how Lucy’s rehabilitation was progressing. Tony and Fiona spent as much time at the hospital each day as they could.

On the Saturday, after work, Mel told Jamie that she was going to do some last-minute shopping, so she’d make her own way to the hospital. She planned to wrap whatever she was able to get before bedtime that evening.

It emerged from Tony’s visit on the Saturday, that Lucy’s progress with the physiotherapist had been going so well that it was likely that she’d be allowed to leave the hospital on Christmas Eve. There had, however, been some caveats. Lucy had been doing quite well on exercises relating to climbing stairs, but the physio had asked whether there was a bed and downstairs bathroom at home for her to minimise risk until she was ready to move back upstairs. Tony had to agree that there wasn’t, but the physiotherapist had said that they’d review the situation nearer the time.

Tracy explained that the hospital would always try to get as many patients as possible home in time for times such as Christmas. Everyone’s hopes were up. Lucy was determined to be home.

Mel’s time was salami-sliced between home, work, hospital and Jamie’s. Finding time to talk to Stacy was limited, especially because her work in the police was also extremely busy in the lead up to Christmas. There had been no opportunities to get out with a camera – in fact, she had not yet completed all the tasks associated with processing and publishing her New Zealand photographs.

At home, her mum and dad were dressing the house for Christmas the way that they’d done since Jack and Mel had been toddlers. Jean had finished work once the school had closed until New Year and Brian had closed his office until early January.

Both were worried about Mel. She never seemed to stop from early morning until late at night. She looked as if she’d lost even more weight and she was eating hardly anything. She was seldom at home. They felt sorry for Lucy, but their concern was Mel.

On the Monday morning – the day before Christmas Eve – Jamie handed Mel some cash and asked Mel if she’d mind nipping out to buy something for Marcus. He wanted to give him a gift and a card to thank him for his hard work in the shop. Having looked at what was left in the shops and found nothing suitable, in desperation, and not really knowing what else to choose, she’d bought him a gift card for use at a well-known online shopping site, a Christmas card, and some wrapping paper and ribbon.

Towards lunchtime that day, Tony received a ‘phone call from the hospital physiotherapist who had been dealing with Lucy, informing him that an ambulance would be bringing her home that afternoon and checking that someone would be in between two and four.

The physiotherapist explained that she was confident that Lucy would be able to cope, but a paramedic would be accompanying her on the ambulance, just to assess how she could cope with the stairs at home. Lucy would be given medication to take home with her. The physio also explained that the paperwork that Lucy would be given by her consultant to bring home would include New Year appointments for speech therapy and occupational therapy.

Tony let everyone know, and Lucy’s mum and dad said that they’d come and welcome her back with Tony.

On Christmas Eve, a Tuesday night, after the shop closed and they’d had time to complete the preparations for the sales, the staff were able to sigh with relief. When Marcus left for his Christmas to begin at home, Jamie and Mel fell into each other’s arms – tired but happy. The coming few days would be the first time that they’d really have time just for themselves since her return home. They promised each other to make time over Christmas to talk about their own future.

‘We have to create some time for each other,’ he said, ‘I know how chaotic this past week has been, but I haven’t forgotten what you said before your month away. I need to show you that I’ve changed.’

‘My brain is frazzled right now,’ she said, ‘I don’t even remember what I said, or why I said it. You’ll have to remind me in January – that’s a good time for New Year resolutions.’

Before they left the shop to go to Jamie’s home to see how Lucy was getting on, now that she was out of hospital and on her own turf, they talked through how they’d divide their time on Christmas Day between their two families.

This would be Mel’s fifth Christmas with Jamie, in the years since 2015. In previous years, on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the two had followed a pattern of having lunch with their own families but having an evening meal and the evening with the other’s family. This year, because Lucy would be unable to do the food preparation herself, a different approach was needed.

‘I’ll have to somehow square it with my mum,’ she said, ‘but would it help if I offered to come and work with Tracy in the kitchen for both Christmas and Boxing Day lunches? Feel free to say “No” if you think that my barging my way into your folks’ traditions is likely to upset anyone or anything. We can do both the evenings with my mum and dad. They won’t mind.’

‘Don’t feel that Tracy will be on her own,’ he said, ‘Fiona and Carol will be there and might not even allow Tracy to do the cookery. And with Alec and Neil coming too, Dad will need a shoehorn to squeeze everyone around the table. One extra pair of hands won’t be noticed – or missed.’

‘If you’ve got so many people coming,’ she said, ‘might it be better for me to just come to your house to join you for your evening meal? You could come to our house for tea on Boxing Day as normal.’

‘That makes sense. If there’s any change, I’ll message you,’ he said, ‘but I haven’t bought any presents for your mum and dad this year. I just never seemed to have the time. I should have, though, shouldn’t I?’

‘Don’t worry about it,’ she said, ‘All that I’ve got for your folks are some small things that I bought for them while I was away. I’ll tell you what, let’s get a couple of bottles of sprits each to take with us. What do you reckon?’

They agreed and called in at the supermarket on their way to Jamie’s house.

That evening the whole family, now understood to include Mel, was at Jamie’s house to celebrate. Tony and Tracy wanted to ensure that Lucy didn’t become overwhelmed or over-tired by so many people at once, but everyone understood the situation. Lucy herself was just grateful to be home. She’d been worried at the prospect of being kept in over Christmas.

Christmas Day

Brian and Jean let Mel sleep late. They were glad to give her a chance to rest for the first time since her return. By the time she came down to join them, Jack had arrived with Elsa. Everyone was sitting in the family living room.

Mel looked around. She hadn’t properly looked at the work her mum and dad had done putting up the decorations. The house looked lovely – comforting, good memories of Christmases past. The aroma of food being cooked drifted in from the kitchen and her mum was wearing an apron – signifying that she hadn’t finished yet. They all greeted her.

‘What time do you call this?’ Jack asked, walking over to hug her.

She held her brother tightly, feeling safer because he was there. He’d always been fiercely protective of her. When he released her, she turned and wished everyone a happy Christmas before asking her mum what she could do to help in the kitchen.

Over lunch, Mel sat next to Elsa, seeking to get to know Jack’s fiancée better and asking about any marriage preparations that might be in progress. She was told that they were hoping for a small wedding the following June.

“The month after Stacy had hers,” she thought, “Is there something in the air?”

In turn, Elsa wanted to know everything about Jamie and what there was between them. Jack saw from Mel’s face that she felt embarrassed and unable to say anything – beyond that it was still early days.

‘Early days?’ he teased, ‘You’ve been going out with him for more than four years. He must be a slow worker.’

She blushed, unhappy at Jamie being criticised.

‘It’s not that,’ she started, but Jack was straight back in.

‘So, you’re the slow one, keeping him in suspense are you?’ he asked, ‘speaking of which, where are the photos you promised me last week?’

Their dad intervened.

‘Leave the poor girl alone,’ he said, ‘Stop teasing her. You know how busy she’s been these past couple of weeks.’

Jack apologised and Elsa told Mel to take no notice of him.

After lunch, Mel and Elsa insisted on doing the clearing up in the kitchen, after which it was soon time for Mel to leave to go to Jamie’s. Jack explained to her that he’d be going to Elsa’s on Boxing Day, but Mel was to bring Jamie to visit them at his house.

When Mel arrived, Jamie’s family were effectively split between the living and dining areas of the open plan downstairs area to enable everyone to have a seat. Alec and Carol were sat with Jamie and Tony around the dining table, while Neil, Fiona, Lucy, Tracy, Jake and Elaine were in the living room.

She could hear the older generation, as usual rehearsing their pasts. She heard Duncan’s name being mentioned and remembrance of his role in the family business.

Tony had obviously done his best with the decorations and the tree, but to Mel’s eyes, they lacked a woman’s touch. She felt sure that Lucy would have done things better, but she understood the constraints of the situation.

She could see that Lucy was the centre of everyone’s attention in the living room – made more necessary by the difficulties she was having expressing herself. She seemed relieved to see Mel and attempted to stand to greet her, but she was urged to sit down and take it easy. This clearly exasperated her, and she had a mini tantrum trying to express her frustration.

Jamie came into the living room and started to lead her into the dining area, but Lucy exploded, making it clear that she wanted Mel to sit next to her for a while. Neil brought a footstool for Mel. Lucy took Mel’s hands in hers and wished her a Merry Christmas – as clearly as she was able.

She looked Mel in the eyes, wanting to know whether she’d had the talk with Jamie yet.

I’m sorry,’ Mel said, ‘but I can’t really remember what this talk was going to be about. Jamie mentioned something about it to me too, and I told him that we could talk better in the New Year when we had more time.’

‘Well make sure that you do,’ Lucy instructed her, ‘and let me know how he gets on.’

This started off a string of hypotheses about what “the talk” could have been about, but they weren’t given any clues by the embarrassed couple.

Other than that, the evening passed pleasantly enough, as such gatherings often do, revisiting old memories.

While the older generation relived their pasts, Tracy left Elaine with Fiona, and took Mel on one side to ask what Lucy had been on about earlier.

‘I’ve been trying to remember,’ Mel said, ‘I do know that Jamie proposed, and I do recollect that I told him that I didn’t think that he was ready for marriage – something like that. I suspect that I must have given him some sort of to-do-list of things to think about if he were serious.’

Tracy put her hand over her mouth to stifle a laugh.

‘Honestly?’ she asked, ‘What did Jamie say?’

‘That’s the thing,’ she said, ‘I can’t remember. One thing that I’m sure of is that I said that, if he felt that I had a cheek asking, or that I was asking too much, he should find someone else.’

‘OMG!’ Tracy said, ‘Wowser! But you two seem totally together at the moment, or am I mistaken?’

‘No, not at all. Can I tell you something in total confidence?’

Tracy nodded,

‘When I was in New Zealand, we kept in touch every day, but one night, towards the end of the trip, I had a terrible fright – this was while I was out taking photographs. It was late, pitch black and I was alone. Out of nowhere, this guy approached me by surprise and seemed to be trying to come on to me. I was nearly shitting myself. He kept coming nearer despite me telling him to go away and leave me alone.’

Tracy had both hands to her face in horror, imagining the scene.

‘Luckily,’ Mel continued, I had a rape alarm, and I pulled the pin. It woke the entire campsite, but it saved me. The bloke didn’t know which way to turn. Anyway, as you can imagine, I didn’t sleep easily that night. The point I’m getting to with this story is that I knew I had to get back to Jamie as soon as possible. I’d always thought of him as a bit dull – staid. That night, dull and staid became the most wonderful values I wanted from a man, and I prayed that Jamie hadn’t met anyone else.’

‘You’re not wrong,’ Tracy said, ‘Heroes are okay in books, but when you need someone to be faithful and reliable – to be there to listen to your worries and so on, it’s different.’

‘Have you told Jamie about what happened?’

‘I’ll have to tell him. I said to him that relationships like marriage have to be built on trust and total honesty. How could I face him if I didn’t tell him, and he later finds out from someone else? In any case, I’d despise myself for being a hypocrite. But I’m scared of what he’ll think of me.’

‘Listen, girl,’ Tracy said, ‘You tell him. You’ll feel better if you do, and he’ll be so horrified at what could have happened that he’ll just want to protect you more than ever. He totally loves you.’

She thought for a moment, taking in all that she had heard.

‘So, are you going to accept his proposal now?’

‘What proposal? I turned him down last time he asked. I don’t know if he’ll ever want to ask again. I think that’s what Lucy’s so interested about.’

Tracy laughed.

‘I remember you saying that you are a career girl and that you’re off men. Have you changed?’

‘I suppose I have, but I’m not going public on that. Things between me and Jamie seem great at present, but I don’t know whether it’s because he’s been worried about his mum, and he just needs me to comfort him.’

‘You’re dodging the question, girl. Do you love him?’

‘Yes,’ Mel said, ‘I love him to bits, but I have to know that he really loves me too.’

‘Don’t be daft.’ Tracy said, ‘He worships the ground you walk on. Get your acts together – and soon. God! Mum will be over the Moon. This is what she’s wanted for years now. She even said so after that first time you came for a meal with us all.’

They embraced and re-joined the others, who looked at them, wondering where they’d been – and what had kept them.

At the end of the evening, Jamie asked her what she and Tracy had been discussing.

‘Don’t be nosey,’ she said, ‘Girl talk.’

She kissed him – to reassure him and to redirect his mind.

Featured Photo

Today, I continue my series of photos taken in and around the Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge, where I spent a Saturday earlier in June.

I’ll conclude Melissa’s story with a couple of photos of street entertainers in the town centre whom I saw that Saturday. Firstly a guitar player’

For all these shots, I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera twinned with a Pentax 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 mm lens. The EXIF data for this photo were 1/160 secs @ f/11, focal length 39 mm, and ISO 400.