Regarding Melissa #17

……Previously

Hannays camera shop stood just off the High Street in the precinct of newish shop premises. The Hannay family had traded in the town since Jamie’s great grandad had sold cameras from a market stall in 1947, before opening a shop in the High Street in the mid-1950s. The move to the precinct had only happened in the 1990s to escape the escalating costs of trading. Like many small local businesses, the Hannays had been trapped between the hammer of rent rises and punitive council taxes on the one hand and the anvil of reduced income as unemployment worsened.

Continued…..

Mel was stood outside the shop door by twenty-five past eight. Hannays’ had a double fronted window display – not large windows, but a cut above many of the shops in the precinct. The shutters were up, but a “Closed” sign still hung behind the glazed door. She’d dressed to impress. Beneath her black puffer jacket she wore a royal-blue wrap over blouse, a knee-length black pencil skirt and sheer black tights with shiny black low-heeled shoes.  She could see Jamie and his mum through the glass, moving around. She tapped on the glass, and when Jamie saw her he came across, smiled at her, unlocked the door and opened it, inviting her in and leading her across to Lucy, his mum.

She noticed that Jamie was wearing spectacles and assumed that they were just for reading. He was similarly dressed to how he had been on the previous Friday at the interview. There was an identity lanyard around his neck.

‘You made good time, Melissa – a nice start to your job here,’ Lucy said, offering a hand for Mel to shake, ‘I’m sure you’ll fit in nicely.’

‘Hello again, Mrs Hannay,’ Mel said, smiling and taking the proffered hand, ‘I’m looking forward to it. Please call me Mel if that’s okay.’

‘Mel – that’s nice,’ she replied, ‘You must call me Lucy. We’re a family business not the Bank of England.’ Lucy commented on how nice Mel looked and showed her where to hang her jacket. She explained that Mel wasn’t going to be ‘thrown in at the deep end’, but would be eased in over a couple of weeks.

Lucy was wearing a cotton blouse with a colourful abstract pattern over navy blue bootleg trousers and black sensible shoes. Around her neck she wore a lanyard similar to Jamie’s and bearing her name.

Mel passed her portfolio to Lucy for Tony to look at.

Jamie joined them. He said, ‘You’ll be working with me for a few days – getting to know the kind of things we do, because we don’t just sell cameras – as you’ll see. Firstly though, we asked you to come in early because there are usually things that need doing before we open the shop – like sorting out any new stock that’s arrived over the weekend. Let’s get on with that together.’

He told her that she would need one of the shop’s lanyards. He pointed to his photographic image on his ID and asked whether she had any objection to having her photo on her ID. She told him that she’d have no problem. He led her upstairs to a room at the front to take her photo and explained that they sometimes took customers’ passport photos there. She stood against a neutral grey background while he took the shot and printed off a set of four images passport-style. He cut them into four separate photos and gave two to her. He told her that one would be attached to her staff record and the other for her lanyard ID card. He asked how she wanted her name to appear – Melissa, Mel or Ms Harrington. She told him to record it as Mel.

Featured Photo

The photo that I’ve chosen today is the fifth of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted.

The image shows neighbours talking to each other across the Rufford branch of the canal leaving the main section and heading for a flight of locks. The EXIF data are as follows: The camera I used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/125 secs @ f/7.1 and 48 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld.

The Phoenix Time #40

Previously……….

Charlotte was horrified.

‘You think that I’m going to have a pee while there are blokes with cameras around?’ she said, ‘I’ll risk my kidneys thank you. Anyway, why are they all coming to take photos this Saturday?’

‘It’s bank holiday, it’s probably the most famous stone arch in the world, it’s new moon, the weather forecast is good and those last two conditions probably coincide less than ten times a year.’

Carrie explained why that should be.

‘So, what you’re saying is that this will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me.’

Carrie agreed. They went shopping. They were passing a camera shop when Carrie asked if Charlotte would like to try using her phone to take some proper photos while they were out at night.

Continued………

Charlotte asked what she meant.

‘ When it’s dark,’ Carrie explained, ‘the camera’s shutter needs to be held open longer to gather enough light. That makes it difficult to capture a sharp image. The slightest shakiness of your hand results in fuzzy photos, so you’ll need to steady your phone on a tripod. You can borrow my tripod for your shots but you’ll need to buy a grip to attach your phone to it.’

They went in the shop and found that what they needed would cost less than ten pounds, but Charlotte noticed the wall shelves of cameras and decided to have a look. The brand-new models were much too expensive, but she was drawn by some of the used and refurbished cameras. She asked Carrie for advice. There was one model there that Carrie thought would fit Charlotte’s needs and pocket, but she didn’t think that the lens was a good match.

They asked an assistant for help, and Carrie asked about swapping the heavy, long zoom lens that was attached for a short telephoto one that was mounted on a different camera. The assistant asked his manager and a deal was arranged. Charlotte left the shop carrying her camera purchase in a carrier bag and an inexpensive tripod under her arm. The camera came complete with its battery and charger lead in a box, but she’d had to buy a media card to hold the photos. Carrie promised to show her how to use the new-to-Charlotte kit.

Carrie reminded her companion about the need to bring walking boots.

They liked Weymouth so much that they stopped nowhere else on the way home. Charlotte had lots of questions to ask Carrie about what they’d be doing while they were in the middle of nowhere in the dark.

Back at Lyme, they returned to their hotels, had a nap, freshened up and changed for dinner. They met at their usual restaurant.

Charlotte asked what plans Carrie had made for Sunday. She was told that, by the time they got back to their hotels in the early hours of Sunday morning, they’d not want to even be awake until lunchtime. She advised Charlotte to warn her hotel reception. They made provisional arrangements to meet on Sunday and to have an early, final dinner together before Charlotte needed to get back to her hotel to pack.

Before they parted for the evening, Carrie arranged a time to pick Charlotte up at her hotel the following morning, Saturday, for their special trip.

When Charlotte returned to the hotel, she explained her plans at Reception and was given a key with which to unlock the outer street door. Back in her room, she set both her phone and her camera battery to charge.

She was in the middle of sorting out what she’d need for the next day when Frank phoned to ask her about her day. She described the things they’d seen and what they were expecting to be doing the following day. Frank told her that he’d be having dinner at Gloria’s on the Sunday with her family and David’s. She asked him to pass on her regards. While she and Carrie had been out to Portland Bill and Weymouth, he’d been looking round estate agents again. He’d viewed a couple of houses but some were bigger than he needed – those that would have been otherwise suitable were either in dodgy areas or obviously badly maintained. He still hadn’t heard anything positive from Betty.

The following day, while Charlotte would be at Lulworth, he was going to visit the agents in Wigan – a neighbouring town.

Featured Photo

I took this photo a a little more than a week ago (21/02/2021) while I was out for a walk. I’d gone to take my daily exercise a couple of miles further from home than usual. I began near the Ship Inn at Blackbrook, St Helens, Merseyside. I parked near the Ranger’s Hut and walked, initially along the Canal and then beside the stream along the woodland path to its junction with Garswood Old Road at Happy Valley, Carr Mill. I’d taken my camera and took lots of photos to show you over the next several episodes of this story. Most of them will show the path and the water beside it.

This next photograph shows a couple approaching a bridge on the path. At this point the stream is directed below the bridge from the left to the right side of the path looking at it from my point of view..

I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a 35 mm f/2 full-frame prime lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/100s at f/13and the ISO was 1600. The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.

TWT – Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 27 Post (Prompt: Wind)

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt.

Please accept my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, I believe that the prompt for this week is Wind


A cold wind for two

She shivered. The wind was bitter. He took off his coat and hung it across her shoulders to protect her.


This is my first attempt at this challenge – I hope that it meets the conditions.

https://bbubble.in/2021/03/02/twenty-words-tuesday-week-27/

The Phoenix Time #18

Previously……….

‘What are you doing at Gloria’s?’ she asked. He’d phoned her using Gloria’s landline and she’d recognised the caller ID. He explained the situation briefly, but she bombarded him with questions – many of which related to his sanity and common-sense. When she got round to asking why he’d phoned, he told her that he was planning to rent a house, for six months maximum in the first instance, and wanted to know if she had any contacts as landlords or agents who could short circuit the bureaucracy.  She asked him to leave it with her. He told her that he’d be having a meal with Charlotte that evening before putting David in the picture. She told him that he should get down on his knees if necessary and beg her to let him return. He went for a wash, got changed and, with all best wishes from Gloria and her family. he drove to the restaurant.

Continued………

Ashes of a marriage – Week One – An evening together

They arrived at the restaurant within minutes of each other and managed to get a table together without a problem. At that time there weren’t many other diners and it was large modern gastropubs with a mock Tudor façade and dark ceiling beams that would have been no older than the pub. A young woman in a white blouse, with an apron over her short skirt, ,helped them to choose a table. They noted the table number and ordered the carvery and drinks at the bar, taking their drinks with them back to their table.

He complimented his wife on her appearance. She was wearing a burgundy jacket over a dark pencil skirt, black tights and black, patent-leather heeled shoes.

‘Will you trust me not to knock my glass over you?’ he asked.

Charlotte, who was sipping her wine, looked at him to judge whether he was serious or merely trying to lighten the situation. She decided that it was the latter from his smile.

‘Don’t you dare,’ she said.

He told her about his phone call to Betty. She roared with laughter.

‘Well come on then,’ she said, ‘ down on your knees.

‘I didn’t say that I agreed to do it,’ he said, ‘ but she said that she was going to get back to me.’

They walked across to the carvery, chose which meat to have and then ladled steaming vegetables onto their plates before returning together to their table. The other tables had started filling up with early evening diners and the noise level had increased – chatter and the sounds of crockery and cutlery. Someone had switched on the huge television to a sports channel that broadcast silently.

‘What did you tell Gloria and Peter?’ she asked.

He summarised what had been said on all sides – including his suggestion that she might use the opportunity of her new freedom to find a new life with a younger, more acceptable man. She curled her lips and he took this to mean ‘as if..’ He also related Gloria’s reaction to his thinking of finding a young landlady who offered extras. Charlotte was almost as shocked as Gloria had been.

During the meal, he told her about his day of internet searching and about the ins and outs of renting a house.

‘Sounds to me as if you’d be better off back with me then,’ she said.

He told her why he disagreed and that he could see why she’d obviously be happier as manager of her own life without him being in the way. After only part of a day without him she didn’t feel so sure, but she didn’t say anything.

‘Early days yet,’ she thought.

He asked her about her day – what had she been up to – and she told him about her phone talks with Jim and Marjorie and about the lady in the park.

They sat for a while talking after the meal. She suggested that they could phone David from the pub and go round together. Frank wasn’t sure and, after they’d talked through the pros and cons, they agreed that he should return home with her to phone from there. It would also allow him an opportunity to collect some of the paper evidence that he’d need to provide the letting agents.

Sharp as always where money was concerned, she asked whether he was expecting to take the money for deposits out of the joint account before they divided it. He assured her that he recognised that it would be unfair of him to expect her to fund half of the deposit costs.

He’d paid the restaurant bill at the time they’d ordered so, when they were ready, they returned home.

Featured Photo

I took this photo yesterday morning (11/02/2021) at Sutton Mill Dam, St Helens, Merseyside. It was one of five shots that I took because of the reflections in the frozen surface of the lake.

I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a 35 mm f/2full-frame prime lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/400 at f/9 and the ISO was 800. The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.

The Phoenix Time #7

Previously……….

As soon as was decently possible, David, Gloria, Peter and the grandchildren thanked Charlotte for the meal, made their  apologies, went to say goodnight to Frank and left.

Once they’d gone, Frank went up to the bedroom and Charlotte cleared everything away. She worked in autopilot mode, methodically binning food waste, foil wrapping salvageable leftovers, loading the dishwasher and handwashing items that couldn’t be cleaned that way. Everything else, other than the extra chairs, was tidied into its dedicated storage area and position.

She then sat in the living room and wept in disappointment that Gloria’s birthday had been ruined and in frustration at the ineptness of her bloody feckless husband.

Continued………

PART TWO

A spark from the kindling

An open fire often begins by applying a flame to paper beneath kindling which has been arranged in a pyramid, or in pieces laid across each other. As the lighted paper heats the kindling, sparks often fly before the coals above ignite.

CHAPTER TWO

An argument at bedtime

Looking at the house from the outside, nothing revealed the approaching turmoil inside. It was a typical sixties semi: block-paved driveway leading to the house and garage; a triangular pediment over the diamond-leaded bay windows; glazed porch extension revealing the front door with stained glass half sidelight. All of this in a popular residential district of the town of Ashton-in-Makerfield.  The house sat on a quiet side road, along the length of which many cars were double-parked . It was approaching sunset – eight p.m. GMT that April evening – and the first street lights illuminated the area. There were two cars on the block-paved driveway of the house – his and hers.

Frank had gone up to the bedroom as Charlotte was clearing away, knowing that her anger would not end there. He hated confrontation, but he knew that tonight there were things that needed to be said that it would not be possible to unsay later.  He moved some of his clothing and other items and took them , a few at a time, into the second bedroom. He then returned to the master bedroom and lay fully dressed on their comfortable double divan bed, pillows stacked behind him, his hands clasped behind his neck. He looked around at what he’d be leaving – at the tasteful, leafy-patterned, champagne and silver wallpaper and tone-matched curtains, at the modern fitted wardrobes, the dressing table with some of her items reflected in the mirror above it.  For a while he just lay looking up at the pattern of the white embossed ceiling paper. His quick mind was remembering all the hurts of the past eighteen months to two years: the put-downs, the insults, the ‘requests’ issued as commands and the ceaseless drip of nagging complaints. He remembered and rehearsed responses that would need to be ready for when Charlotte came upstairs.

“Well! I hope that you’re proud of yourself,” her first words as she flounced through the door. “And look at you skulking here. What kind of man are you at all?”

He waited as she stood, arms folded, one heel tapping impatiently.

“I hope that you realise that you ruined our family’s visit with your usual stupid clumsiness,” she pointed at him. “You’re useless, Frank. I don’t know why I put up with you.”

That was the line he’d waited for.

He rose from the bed and stood facing her on her side – the door side – of the bed. He was determined to keep control of proceedings by using his height advantage. Had he stayed prone on the bed he’d have been three-quarters of the way to losing.

“Let’s start this discussion with the family visit, shall we? It wasn’t me who ruined it – it was you with your temper and nasty mouth.”

“Oh! So, I should have sat there, saying nothing, red wine dripping onto my clothes and all over the tablecloth. That’s what you think is it?”

“Well, it wasn’t the spilled glass of wine that caused the problem. Tablecloths can be laundered, the glass itself wasn’t broken, no one was hurt and no one died. If you could have been less of a total bitch than usual, then between the two of us we could have sorted out the accident in a civilised way – even made a joke of it.”

She smacked his face. He made no attempt to stop her. She’d already lost by that one blow.

“Accident? You’re a walking accident Frank. The clumsiest man I’ve ever met. And I’m a total bitch am I? Nice to know what you think of me.”

Featured Photo

Yesterday, I showed an image looking towards Fidlers Ferry former power station from Clock Face country park. The photographs of that power station and the previous similar view taken from near the Dream sculpture were both taken on the sites of former coal mines. I took today’s image from the opposite bank of the small lake that was featured yesterday.

I used my Pentax KP cropped sensor camera to take the photo using a 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/250 secs @ f/4.5 and focal length 45 mm. The ISO was 800. I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic with additional editing in Topaz Denoise AI.

Going Forward – Chapter Twenty Part Two

…..Previously

She asked about things such as how long we’d been married; what had gone wrong; whether I thought we’d ever get back together; did I miss Helen very much? – and then about my dealings with my solicitor to date. I told her how mixed-up I’d been but that I didn’t miss her now as much as I might have done had she not been so manipulative. I didn’t like the feeling of emptiness in the house and I missed seeing Paul as much, but I couldn’t honestly say that I still missed her. It was true. I had slowly adjusted to this new reality. If being with me was such a drag, then why shouldn’t she be free to move on so as to be happier. The idea of marriage, I felt now, was an ideal, and should be for life to those who found their fulfilment through it. But surely it shouldn’t be a prison for those less happy. And I certainly wouldn’t want her back in my life – not now. If she could betray me once like that, there would always be the suspicion that she could do it again

Continued…….

“You’re not big on forgiveness then?” she asked.

“I can forgive her,” I said, “and now that I’ve read your email, I can see that staying bitter is likely to hurt me – not her. I see now that I wasn’t as attentive as I should have been, otherwise I might have seen that she was unhappy. I can’t, however – could never – forget what she did or how she did it.”

Susie was very sympathetic and told me more about her split.

From what I gathered, it had been a while coming. Susie had wanted to try IVF and had even considered adoption, but her husband, his name was Mike, had wanted children ‘of his own’, meaning ‘his biologically’. He’d argued that the people they’d spoken to about IVF hadn’t sounded hopeful in her case. It was true that they hadn’t offered much encouragement, but they hadn’t ruled out a positive outcome absolutely. When he’d factored in her age, the poor prognosis, cost and possible timescale, he’d just decided that he wouldn’t be happy in a childless marriage. At first they’d had a trial separation, but then he’d met a younger woman and had left to set up house with her.

Susie had been heartbroken for a while – as much by the knowledge of probably being ‘barren’ in the Biblical sense – as by him leaving. It had taken her a while to get over it.

She’d already given me some advice about legal matters when I’d driven her home after the meeting at Tony’s house, but now she talked me through the various stages in a lot more detail than even my solicitor had, and she offered suggestions about the sorts of things that could complicate matters and add both to costs and frustration. I was really glad that we’d had that talk, but I was a bit shocked by some of the potential implications.

I thanked her for her help and asked did she still want to continue talking through our common inputs to website development. She agreed but rose to take the cups and plates into the kitchen first. I went with her: I washed and she dried the dishes. She laughed at how domesticated I was. I commented on how nice she had made her house look. I admired the watercolour paintings of flowers on her walls. She told me that they were all ones that she’d painted. She talked me through what she’d done with some of them. I complimented her on her skill. I noticed that there weren’t any personal photographs about on display but thought it better not to pry. I did see a couple of Valentine’s cards and I never mentioned those either. Valentine’s Day would have been the Sunday just gone.

We sat at her dining table to do what I’d come to work on with her. She opened her laptop and showed me her personal website and blog. She said that she regularly blogged copies of her paintings, in each case together with an account of how she’d approached the painting. She was absorbed as she showed me some examples of her work. She didn’t post the images as being for sale – merely to showcase her work to family and friends who followed her blog. I said to her that, having seen what she’d built as a personal website, I had every confidence that we could really achieve something together.

We had a productive morning as we worked towards developing a prototype site for discussion with the group. I went through with her my thoughts about promoting what we were aiming for. She did all the work in draft because we’d need to get agreement anyway to her proposals for web-hosting. We looked at some of the logos that were being used by existing sites that were doing similar things to what we were considering. Susie showed me how she could incorporate the facilities that had been discussed at the last meeting: things like payment facilities, email and contact details. Her face was animated and her hands expressive as she showed me the various plugins to accomplish backup, antispam and for optimising the visibility of our site. I told her how impressed I was with what she could do. She warned me though that doing what we wanted commercially would require a lot more security.

We hadn’t spent all day at her home. We’d been out at lunchtime to a local delicatessen that offered sit-in facilities for meals. It was only a small place and its tiled floor, part-tiled walls and large window meant that the clattering of cutlery and crockery was greatly magnified and rather unpleasant. We both chose salads which were nicely presented and tasty. Even over lunch, we continued talking about the project and we were both really enthused. It hadn’t all been as serious as it sounds. We’d both had a laugh as we talked. She was a pleasure to work with.

When it got to four in the afternoon, and we called it a day, the time had seemed to go nowhere. Before I left, Susie told me not to worry so much and to try to relax. She was going to be have a night-out in Manchester with some girls she knew from Parkrun – all divorcees. She was looking forward to it because they always had a good laugh about their experiences on dating sites. I considered what my night-in was going to be like. I’d probably watch a film if I could find a suitable one to stream.

Featured Photo

Today my featured photos leave London. This photo is one that I took in May 2016 at the island of Staffa in Scotland. The subject is the columns

The Exif data are as follows: Pentax K50 16 MM cropped sensor camera with the kit lens (18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6) @ 21.25 mm and f/16. Shutter speed was 1/250 secs @ f/16 and the ISO 200. The shot was handheld and post processed in Lightroom Classic.

A fishing trip for Jonah

When Sean and Kathleen arrived home, everyone wanted to hear about the wedding, and how Veronica had reacted to seeing Kathleen again. Her mam wished that she could have seen Betty and was pleased to hear that she was well. Everyone was asking questions except Jonah – who seemed quiet. Sean noticed and gave him some new football boots that he’d bought in Dublin. The lad couldn’t wait to try them out.

Later that evening, Jonah asked Sean if Veronica was looking forward to seeing him, and asked when he’d meet her. Sean saw that Jonah looked anxious and asked whether he’d rather not see her. Jonah explained that he didn’t want his mam, Kathleen, to be worried in case Veronica wanted him back. He felt that if he didn’t meet her it could make things easier. He told his dada that he wouldn’t leave them to go with her- she’d never wanted him before.

Sean explained that Veronica would love him, but that she knew that he loved Kathleen as his mam – and how happy he was where he is. He told Jonah that he could cancel the planned meeting, but that might make it more difficult if he later changed his mind. The decision rested entirely with Jonah though, and it could be in Dublin or at the farm. Jonah didn’t hesitate – she could come to the farm. Sean offered Jonah another fishing trip like their first – with a picnic. He was delighted. Jonah went to watch TV and Sean went to talk to Kathleen about his talk with Jonah.

The following morning, Kathleen was seeing to the hens before breakfast. She’d been lying awake worrying about not having conceived yet. It hadn’t seemed a problem when Jonah was younger and all the renovation work had been taking place, but now she was quite concerned. She decided to speak to Sean.

For now, however, she had breakfast with Sean and Jonah and prepared a picnic and flask to take with them. She watched them concentrate on their float and had noticed that Sean never baited his hook until Jonah had caught a fish. She was wishing though that she could give Sean a child of his own. Sean noticed how quiet she seemed. He wondered whether seeing Veronica again had upset her. He asked her if that’s what was bothering her. She assured him that it wasn’t that – although she’d noticed that they hadn’t asked to see Jonah. She compared their attitude to that of Albert. She told him that she was worried that once Veronica had met him she wouldn’t keep in touch with him – and worried how that would make Jonah feel.

The conversation was interrupted as Jonah shouted that he thought he had a whopper of a fish on his line. Sean helped him land it – which took more than half an hour. Sean had never known such a large fish to be in that lake. Sean photographed it. Jonah couldn’t stop talking about it all the way home. His grandad ribbed him about eating the fish for dinner that night. Jonah was affronted because he’d put his catch back in the lake so that he could catch it again every time he went fishing.

Sean and Kathleen drove to the coast leaving Jonah with the Grandys. They bought fish and chips which they ate sat on a bench overlooking the sea. She told Sean how disappointed she was that she hadn’t been able to conceive a child for him – even though they’d been married two years. She said that she was thinking of seeing a doctor. She told him what a lovely dad he’d been to Jonah and that he should have children of his own.

He told her not to worry: as long as he had her, he was the luckiest man in the world. They had Jonah, who needed them. He promised that he’d come with her to the doctor if that’s what she wanted, but suggested that they waited another twelve months.

She agreed and the conversation moved on. They agreed to invite Veronica to see Jonah.

Tomorrow – Jonah meets Veronica

The featured photo today is the final one from Sneem on the Ring of Kerry. Tomorrow will be the final one from Ireland. Today the image is of an inn seen from across the main road through Sneem and slightly below it. We were sitting in a café. I took the shot with my Pentax K3-ii and a 16-85 mm lens. The shutter speed was 1/200 secs, the aperture f/8, the focal length 23 mm and the ISO 400.

Betty gets some letters

Thank goodness! Veronica has finally written to her mam, Betty. When Betty sees the envelope from Ireland she’s afraid to open it. She knows Kathleen’s handwriting, and that on the envelope isn’t hers. She worries in case something has happened to Kathleen or Jonah.

She know that her daughter, Elsie, will be calling that afternoon – as every afternoon – with the twins. She’ll wait until they arrive to find out what the envelope contains. As soon as she arrives, Elsie sees the worried look on her mam’s face and asks what the matter is. Betty shows her the envelope and tells her that since it isn’t Kathleen’s writing, she’s worried. They agree that Elsie should open it. She does so and her eyes go straight to the bottom line. She sees that it’s from Veronica and that she’s alright.

She passes the letter to Betty to read. Each line of the letter excites Betty more and she reads aloud sections as she goes. Veronica’s living in Dublin; she’s sent her address, so they’ll be able to write back; she’s had a job in a café for the past eleven years and enjoys the work. Veronica is sorry for what she did, but at the time couldn’t see any other way forward; that she thinks about Kathleen and Jonah every day and that she’d love to know how they all are. She doesn’t want anything from them other than to know – from time-to-time – how they all are. She hopes that Kathleen doesn’t hate her. She wonders whether Jonah looks like her own dad. Finally she asks her mam to write to her.

Betty replies the following day. She doesn’t write to Kathleen about Veronica’s letter in case it worried her. She assures Veronica in her reply that everyone loves her and hopes to see her again soon.

Veronica’s second letter to Betty arrives a week later with news of the engagement and the plans for the wedding. She tells her mam about Arthur and how long they’ve known each other. She also assures Betty that Arthur knows all about the baby. She tells Betty that she’d love to see her family at the wedding, but realises that it’s very short notice. She ends the letter by informing Betty that she’ll be coming to see her with Arthur soon and that they’ll stay in a hotel.

When Elsie hears about the wedding, she arranges with her sister and Betty to travel across together to be at the wedding. Elsie’s husband books the travel and a bed and breakfast hotel for them and Albert promises to take them to the port and to collect them on their return.

My featured photo today is one that I took while in holiday in Ireland in 2017 again, but this time while in Sneem on a day trip around the Ring of Kerry. I used my Pentax K3-ii camera – I won’t repeat the details except that the shutter speed was 1/125 secs at f/8 and 35 mm. The ISO was 400.

‘Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away,’ The Beatles

‘Now it seems as though they’re here to stay,’ to continue that line from ‘Yesterday’. The past roubles of Adam’s divorce and Poppy’s bereavement had been taking a bit of a back seat to burgeoning romance hadn’t they? Happy outings, a Valentine’s bouquet, hugs and kisses, family celebrations together – all good omens – it seemed. But that was yesterday.

Today’s post starts off well enough. They have a lovely afternoon out together at West Kirby before strolling around the Marine Lake photographing birds and boats and then the sunset before, arms around each other, he drives her back home. On her driveway he invites her round to his house – which she hasn’t seen up to now. He wants to show her how to use software to bring out the best in her photographs. Uh!Oh!

The day arrives, Poppy arrives – full of hope and love. She kisses him on the cheek as she enters, looks around his hallway – but, what’s this? Straight ahead of her on the wall facing her is a nicely framed photograph of – WHO?…… MARY? – he’d intended to take it down hadn’t he? When he’d got back home from his birthday trip up Snowdon, he’d resolved that he’d get rid of it. Well, ‘the road to hell’ and all that! So much for good intentions.

What’s worse, he’d told Poppy that portrait photography wasn’t his kind of thing. He certainly hadn’t taken any photos of Poppy. What was she to think? Why was Mary’s photo still hung there? Why not her’s?

Before you can say Mary Briody, Poppy was screaming at him, calling him fit to burn before slamming the door on her way out, shouting that she never wanted to see him or hear from him again.

Oh dear! and her birthday is only days away. Troubles – ‘now it seems as though they’re here to stay.’

In sympathy with my theme, today’s featured photo is of a group statue of the Fab Four on Mann Island, Liverpool. I took the photo in November 2018 using a Pentax K3-ii, 24 MP cropped sensor camera and a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 16 mm and f/4. My shutter speed was 1/100 secs and the ISO was 100.

A loving lecture and a lover’s bouquet

Only thirty five pages today. I haven’t had to do a lot of re-writing. There has been some editing of references to Welsh place names, though some have had to stay. I haven’t had to do much mucking about with the plot either. The main work has been to do with the storytelling.

Now that the Lake District visit has been established, and Adam has met Poppy’s parents, it’s been time for him to show her his cottage in Wales and for them to have a walk together around the area. So it hasn’t been so much building photography skills as building relationships.

On the way home, they have a meal at his parents’ home. More then of each getting their feet under necessary tables. Both sets of parents are keen, for their own reasons, to see their children rebuilding their respective lives with a suitable partner.

The visit to Adam’s parents however leads to the lecture. At Christmas, he’d heard Neil, his brother, comment that he – Adam – was trying to punch over his weight given how stunning Poppy looks. Because he’d been hurt when Mary, his first wife left him for someone else some years ago, he’d taken Neil’s view to heart and had been worrying that Poppy would also dump him. This memory and fear emerged in a conversation the couple had in his car while he was parked on her driveway after the meal.

Poppy firmly puts him on the right path to resolving that conflict, assuring him that she was not another Mary, but telling him that he had to start having more faith in himself and in her.

Having got that out of the way, they plan another day out in Wales – this time on a small island off Anglesey named after the Welsh patron saint of lovers – a Welsh version of St Valentine.

The following week is St Valentine’s day and, although she had warned him not to go making any Valentines promises, she is stunned when a bouquet of flowers arrives in her office, addressed to her, with a card bearing a drawing of a heart and a single upper case ‘A’.

Today’s photograph is of Liverpool’s Canning Dock at night. It’s one of my favourite shots – tomorrow I’ll repost it as a black and white version. I took this photo using my Pentax K-1, 36 MP full-frame camera, tripod mounted and without filters. I used a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at 30mm and f/16. The shutter speed was 30 secs and the ISO was 100.