Going Forward – Chapter Thirty-Four

…..Previously

“Are you okay with us carrying on from what we were talking about last night” she asked.

I agreed and she recapped, in a well organised summary, what had been discussed.

“You and Helen parted company,” she said, “but it was her who left you. Maybe you weren’t blameless in some way – I’ll probably never know – but it wasn’t you who walked out. My heart went out to you when you told me,” she said, “I’ve been the victim of that form of dumping. I know how it feels. That’s why I felt I had to call you back last night.”

She asked me was I with her so far. I told her that I was now getting a clearer picture. I reached for a biscuit to eat with my coffee.

Continued…….

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

…that ends well

“For weeks now,” she said, “I’ve had the feeling that you were looking at me as if you wanted me as much as I wanted you, but you said nothing. I started to wonder if you were gay or something.”

I raised an eyebrow, “I don’t ride on that bus,” I insisted.

“Okay, Let’s move on to Jenny,” she said, “There’s something you need to know. Jenny knew that I liked you. She didn’t know how things were between us – but she knew how I felt. The problem is that she fancies you too. She even told me, and that, since I’d clearly frightened you off, she was out to get you. I had no idea what she was on about.”

I sat up, “What?” I said, “That’s crazy! I’ve never given Jenny a second’s thought.”

“Think about it,” she said, “She tried to pump you for information about us, and heard you deny any relationship between us. She couldn’t believe her luck, so she asked you again. Then she saw you watching me walking home with Jake and thought that she was safe to bate you by asking if you were jealous. She wanted to check your reaction. She asked you what you were buying me for my birthday and discovered that you didn’t even know the date of my birthday. Bingo! She believed that she was home and dry.”

Susie looked at me and asked if things were falling into place yet. I admitted that I was finding it hard to take it all in.

“I bet Jenny was looking out for you at the Park on Thursday to complete her claim on you,” she said. “When I was out with them on Monday night, I was walking past them in the bar to talk to someone further along and I heard just a snatch of their conversation. Jenny was saying something about you and me and what you’d said. I just saw red and went home, fuming.”

“I could understand that Debby and Jenny might gossip about me – as women friends do, but I was so disappointed in you. I’d hoped better of you. To be honest, after Sunday night, I really believed that there might be something between you and Jenny – both from what I saw and what I heard. That really hurt. I’d really hoped that we could have a future together. Do you understand now where my anger was coming from?”

I looked at her, unbelievingly. “You must be joking!” I said, “Oh my God! If only I’d known how you felt. But me and Jenny? No way, thank you!”

She shook her head, her hair moving slightly against the motion, then laughed again. “I’m sorry. You got the rough edge of my tongue when you phoned on Tuesday – and then again on Friday. Do you forgive me?”

“How could I not forgive you?” I asked.

She then reminded me that she’d wanted to come back to two other things I’d said on Friday afternoon. I remarked on her memory.

“I’m a woman,” she said, “We remember things that matter.”

She picked up on what I’d said about being only recently separated.

“Would it bother you,” she asked, “to start again with me so soon? Would you feel guilty?”

“No,” I replied, “It isn’t that. Listen, Helen’s left me for another man. Why should I feel guilty or wait? But I did expect that you wouldn’t want to risk starting something with someone who might just be on the bounce from a recent and hurtful separation.”

“Right!” she said, “That makes sense. I hadn’t thought of that. Should I have? Are you on the rebound?”

“How can someone on the rebound know?” I asked, “I’ve recovered from Helen leaving me. I have yet to recover from worry about the divorce settlement.  I only know what I feel about you, something I’ve been frightened to admit even to myself because it had seemed pointless. You seemed to be so much out of my class – so unattainably beautiful.”

“Let me be the judge of that,” she said. “It brings me nicely onto my last point though. You mentioned that you were broke and unemployed – but you’re trying to find your way out of that aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I said, “In fact I had a reply from the NHS supplier the other day, offering me the job, so at least I won’t be jobless much longer, but you’ve seen the solicitor’s letter. I might still have to sell the house to pay Helen off. I don’t know where I’ll find the money for legal fees. Why would I have expected you to see me as a worthwhile prospect? Helen made me feel rotten because even manual workers earn more than I do.”

“Do you really think that I’m so shallow? You make me sound like a money-grabber,” she said, “Helen really turned the knife, didn’t she? Anyway, I’ve got a house. You can move in with me”

“Susie,” I said, “I never meant that, but it would have been unreasonable for me to put myself forward as solvent and a sound financial risk wouldn’t it?”

“Phooey!” she said, “Only one thing matters – and that’s what we’ve found out these past two days. We’re nuts about each other even if we’ve been crazy not to do something about it sooner.”

I looked at her in sheer disbelief at what I was hearing. All that time wasted.

“Up,” she said, lifting my hand in hers and pulling it to get me to stand. She put her arms around me and we hugged each other passionately. When she moved her head close to mine, her hair brushing my neck, that scent was more intoxicating than any wine and, when we kissed, the rest of the world, the worries of the past weeks, everything else dissolved and disappeared. We were all that existed – lost in love for each other.

“I think that I know what our problem has been,” she stared into my eyes, “ We haven’t been getting enough sex – either of us. There’s only one cure for that. You’ve not shown me what your bedroom’s like yet. Come on.

I followed, thinking, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’

THE END

Tomorrow there will be a new post on a different topic.

If you have been, thanks for reading.

Featured Photo

Today my featured photo is from near Oban in Scotland, overlooking Loch Etive from the garden of an apartment where we stayed.

The Exif data are as follows: Pentax K-50 16 MP full frame camera and 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens @ 26.25 mm and f/13. Shutter speed was 1/125 secs and the ISO 200. The shot was mounted on a tripod and post processed in Lightroom Classic.

What’s Mary doing there?

It’s now a Wednesday afternoon, twelve days later. Adam has recovered enough to be transferred from the hospital in Bangor, Wales to the Walton Neuro neuro hospital on the outskirts of Liverpool. Poppy is on her way to visit him.

In the meantime, Adam has begun receiving physiotherapy exercises. Mary, his ex-wife – you remember she dumped him to take up with a doctor at the adjoining hospital – yes, that Mary – is a physiotherapist there. Uh, Oh! She sees Adam’s name on the section rota. One of her colleagues has been treating him. Over lunch, Mary pops in to see how he is.

It is as she’s leaving Adam’s side ward that Poppy arrives, sees and recognises her. She fears the worst – that Mary may have been trying to get back with him. She’s upset and worried and turns to leave. Mary sees her and calls her back by name.

Poppy challenges Mary to explain what seems to her to be a conflict of interest. Mary agrees but assures Poppy that she was just being friendly and that there was no chance that Adam would have wanted her back anyway. She tells Poppy that Adam had spent the whole of the visit saying how happy he was now that he was with Poppy. She tells Poppy to get in and see him.

What follows is the concluding excerpt :

As Poppy walked into the ward, Adam sat up to greet her. “Look what I can do,” he said.

“Yes,” she answered sternly, “I can see. You’ve obviously been practising with Mary”

He slumped back onto the bed. “Oh, God!” he said, his free arm covering his face, “You saw her leave?”

“She’s told me all about it – gloating that she’d win you back.”

He sat up again, shock written all over his face. “She didn’t,” he protested, “she couldn’t have said that.”

“Hah!” she snorted, “Don’t think that you can play the innocent with me”

“But…” he started but she interrupted,

“And if you think that I’ll put up with her coming to see you like that when we’re married, I‘ll break your other leg.”

He rocked back, dazed, struggling to take in fully what she’d just said, “Married?”

“Listen Buster,” she said pointing at him and advancing towards his bed, “pretending that you’d forgotten to take her photograph down, protesting now that you forgot that we’re engaged. The doctors never mentioned dementia. I don’t believe you.” But she was laughing now.

“Shove over,” she ordered and lay, face downwards on the bed beside him.  Her left arm was around his middle. Her head, facing his, was snuggled into his armpit.

“And once we’re married, I’m going to tie you to our bed to make sure that you never go climbing again.”

“Promises! Promises!” he said, smiling contentedly.

She leaned up and started tickling his other armpit.

“Owww!” he said.

“Oh, shut up moaning, Geek” she said. “and give me a kiss.”

Today’s photo is one that I took returning to Malham after a walk with a local Ramblers group, ready to go home. Today’s blog tells the end of my story as Adam is also, as he heals, on his way to returning to his home.

I took the photo with my 16 MP Pentax K-50 camera using an 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens at 1/200secs, f/23.13, f/7.1 and ISO 800.

I still don’t know what to write about tomorrow.

Remorse and guilt

Neil took Poppy on the Monday following the accident to the hospital in Wales. As evening approached, the hospital staff advised them to get some sleep so that they’d be more use to Adam the following day. Mark, Adam’s dad, books rooms in a local hotel so that they can stay close to the hospital.

On the Tuesday, Adam remains in a coma but his condition is improving. The doctors expect that they’ll probably be able to bring him round the following day.

On the Wednesday afternoon, a nurse leads them to the ward to see Adam as he’s recovering consciousness. He’s groggy, having difficulty speaking and has no memory of the fall or of the preceding week. Poppy’s upset that he’s still confined by all the dressings and equipment, but realises that his recovery is going to be slow. At least she’s allowed to see his face.

As it becomes clearer to Adam what has happened to him, he realises that he’s missed Poppy’s birthday. Little does he know what Poppy had been saying about him on that day, but she tells him that he’s only got himself into hospital to avoid bringing her a card. She let’s him know that she’s only joking and kisses him again.

On the Friday, two days later, the medical staff are carrying out more tests and changing Adam’s dressings again, and the family wait outside the ward. It’s just before evening visiting and they are joined by Adam’s colleagues who were with him when he fell. Adam’s Dad thanks them for summoning help so quickly as it probably saved Adam’s life. Poppy tells them that she can’t thank them enough. One of them asks if she’s Adam’s sister. She tells them that she’s his girlfriend and one of them tells her that, seeing her, it’s understandable that Adam had been so miserable that week.

That comment just upsets her again as she realises that it’s her fault Adam was on the mountain in the first place. As the lads describe how the fall happened and how Adam had toppled backwards, she recalls what she had said about him. She adds to that the thought that Adam might have been feeling suicidal, thinking about how he’d been dumped yet again. Did he fall or did he jump, she wonders.

View Post

Another unrelated photo today, this time of a view over Loch Etive at Sunset near Oban in Scotland. I took this photo with my Pentax K50 16 MP camera in 2016 while I was on holiday. I used an 18-55 mm f/3.5 -5.6 kit lens at 38 mm and f/13. The shutter speed was 1/13 secs at ISO 200. I used a tripod.

Poppy goes to hospital

Adam’s family were informed late Saturday night about his fall and his transfer to hospital in Wales. The police have advised them not to visit until the hospital are ready. It’s a while before they realise that Poppy won’t know what’s happened. His Mum thinks that she may not wish to know because of the row between her and Adam. The rest of the family persuade her that they should inform her because they’re sure that they’d have made up fairly soon anyway. However, they don’t know how to get in touch with Poppy because they don’t have her address or phone number. Neil, Adam’s brother, comes up with a plan, but he can’t put it into effect until Monday.

On the Sunday, Poppy’s birthday, Adam’s family phone the hospital and are allowed to visit him. He remains in an induced coma but is being well cared for by the medical staff.

On the Monday morning, Neil phones the school where he teaches and is granted compassionate leave to visit Adam. He then telephones the Council office where Poppy works, but asks to be put through to Maddy, Poppy’s friend and colleague. He asks Maddy not to let Poppy know who’s on the line and explains about the accident. Maddy is shocked and tells him that Poppy will be in a meeting until eleven. Neil tells  Maddy that he’ll be in Reception at the Council offices by eleven and he’ll let her know when he’s arrived. They concoct a story to get her to go down to Reception where, unknown to her, Neil will be waiting.

When Poppy sees him, she assumes that Neil is only there to make excuses for Adam, but he persuades her to sit down because something awful has happened and that it’s important that she hears him out.  She agrees, reluctantly, to listen. When he gets to the part about the fall, the hospital and the coma, she slumps off her chair in a dead faint. A crowd gathers, a first aider arrives and, when she’s allowed to sit up again, she agrees immediately to go with Neil to see Adam. Maddy brings down her coat and instructs Neil to take care of Poppy. Maddy has promised to square Poppy’s absence with her manager.

They’ve only been travelling a few minutes when Poppy remembers what she’d said the previous day about Adam being dead to her. She feels sick and asks Neil to stop the car. She opens the door and vomits over the pavement. Neil helps her to clean up and they get back on the road. Filled with guilt and remorse she seeks more information from Neil about what has happened. Using her mobile phone, she speaks to Adam’s Mum, who’s at the hospital. She phones home, tells her Mum and Dad what’s happened and asks them to hold on to her dog, Buddy.

Once they reach the hospital she is met by Adam’s parents who take her to his bedside where she breaks down in tears at the sight, not only of his bruised and battered face, but also by the casts, dressings, tubes and monitoring equipment keeping him alive while he heals.

I haven’t got a relevant photo to feature today because of lockdown restrictions on non-essential travel. I had been going to photograph the Accident and Emergency entrance of a local hospital. I hope that you’ll understand the need for a general purpose photo today and tomorrow. I have no idea what I’ll be writing about after that.

So, today’s photo captures Autumnal spiders’ webs on our front gate. I took the shot in 2015 with my old Pentax K-50 16 MP camera plus an 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens at 1/50 secs, f/4, 38 mm and ISO 200. I did the conversion to black and white in Lightroom.

A timely rescue from the sky

We left Adam yesterday unconscious at the foot of the mountain from which he’d fallen. He had clearly suffered broken bones and possibly worse. His left leg and arms were bent at impossible angles.

His colleagues, who had seen him fall, did everything they could to summon help, using their phones and a whistle, as they descended to try to find him. They waited with him once they’d located him – not daring to touch him in case they made his injuries worse.

Eventually they saw the approaching torches of the mountain rescue team in the distance, and heard their dog, but the falling cloud base was reducing visibility so they used a torch  to signal to them.  As the team approached on foot, the searchlight of a rescue helicopter also sought them.

A doctor in the team confirmed that Adam was alive but was not able to say more beyond agreeing that some of his bones were broken.  With help from other team members, the medic strapped Adam into a stretcher. The coastguard helicopter was unable to help, but an RAF mountain rescue helicopter took over, winched him up on the stretcher and took him to a hospital in Bangor where he was put into a coma to protect his brain as it healed.

The rescue teams had recorded and passed on the partial information about his next of kin that was known by his colleagues, and it was now the police in Cheshire who took on the task of finding his family and informing them. It was much later that evening when his shocked parents and brother were traced and told. It was later still when they remembered that Poppy would be unaware. They agreed that, despite the break-up, she ought to know, but they didn’t know how to contact her.

Fortunately, Neil, Adam’s brother, came up with a plan, but he couldn’t put it into action until after the weekend and – you’ll remember this would be after Poppy’s  birthday. More tomorrow.

The photograph featured today is an RAF Mountain Rescue Helicopter – obviously not the one in the story – that one is fictional. When I took this photo, however, I suspect that the crew thought that I might need rescuing – and they hovered for quite a while over me. Being honest I wasn’t sure myself whether I might need rescuing. I was climbing up the East face of Moel Siabod in Snowdonia in 2013, and the faint path that I’d been following. had disappeared. The scree was getting more and more treacherous – one foot upwards and two feet backwards. I could see the summit – perhaps 50 metres above me, but I had grave doubts whether I could reach it safely. The way down looked just as dangerous and it was unclear whether I’d be able to get safely across sideways to the North Ridge. In the end, I chickened out and made my way down the scree on my backside to a safe position.

I took the shot with a Lumix DMC-FX50 compact camera – EXIF data f/4.1, 10.3 mm 1/640 secs and ISO 100.

A fall from grace – or at least a fall

A Queen may have an annus horribilis, whereas Poppy – a mere council official – has had an hebdomas horribilis or really rotten week. Today, I tell of the week – or part of a week – suffered by Adam. You must judge who fared worse.

Poppy felt she had been lied to and treated as not worthy of a portrait. Adam knew that he bore the guilt of not making a New Year’s resolution to bin Mary’s portrait. He’d have saved himself the mental torture he was now suffering. Dumped again and no one to blame but himself. And what a prize he’d lost. No wonder he’d been so miserable at work.

Colleagues knew from when Mary had left him just how depressed he could get, so they rallied round and press-ganged him into joining them on a hill-walking jaunt the following Saturday. Remember – this was the day before Poppy’s birthday when she’s been cheesed off not to have received a card from him. From what she’d said to him, he’d felt that Happy Birthday greetings from him would have been less than welcome. He was miserable and feeling totally uncommitted to his mates’ discussion of route options.

In the end, they parked in the layby near Milestone Buttress  on the road between Capel Curig and Bethesda in Snowdonia. A great place to start an ascent of the North face of Tryfan – a peak that’s not uber high but is potentially lethal in poor conditions or for anyone poorly prepared or experienced. They didn’t bother with the traditional leap from Adam to Eve, the twin standing stones at the summit, but carried on down the South Face to Bwlch Tryfan – a gap between Tryfan and the slightly higher Glyder Fach.

All went well on the climb up Sinister Gulley to the start of the Ridge but they knew that The Great Pinnacle Gap might be a problem. I last met that feature six years ago. There’s a drop of perhaps four or five feet onto a smooth sheet of rock that descends for a couple of yards at about 30 to 40 degrees from the horizontal and ends at a deep cleft. I describe below how it seemed to me all those years ago – wet and slippery. I wasn’t prepared to take the risk. I’d read that if you descend to your right at that point you can reach a gap through which you can reach the far side of the cleft.  That’s what I did and what I describe Adam as doing  in a similar situation – leading his friends.

Traversing this lower gap requires four points of contact as I remember and describe it. You walk crabwise along a narrow ledge, facing the wall and clinging with your fingertips to a narrower ledge above. I remember feeling very exposed with a quite sheer drop behind me. When Adam tries it, the footing also is wet and slippery  and, part way along, his foot slides backwards and loses contact, swinging him around and tearing his hand from the ledge above. He is slammed into the rockface. His other hand loses contact with the ledge and he tumbles backwards, toppling head over heels for hundreds of feet and repeatedly smashing into the rockface as he falls before he lands, unconscious, in the valley below.

Can you call it a cliff-hanger if the hero fails to hang on? Will he make it to Poppy’s birthday party the next day do you think? Watch this page tomorrow for our next thrilling instalment.

The feature photo today is of Glyder Fach from the safety of Cwm Bochlwyd. The eagle-eyed among my readers may just spot the Great Pinnacle Gap quite near the top of the ridge (not the large scoop lower down) and the by-pass descent below it. I took this photo with a Panasonic Lumix compact DMC-TZ40 camera. The Exif Data are shutter speed 1/320 secs @f/4.7 aperture, focal length 10.3 mm and ISO 160.

A not so happy birthday.

That Adam! What a rotter! No wonder Poppy dumped him. I told you all about it yesterday. It isn’t the end of the story though – you’ll have to wait a day or so for that. In the meantime I have for you a tale of two unhappy people. Today, I’ll just tell one side of the story of the week that followed..

Poppy has flounced out of Adam’s house so, naturally she goes to her Mum and Dad’s house. She could have gone to her own home to be miserable but ‘a trouble shared is a trouble doubled’ as they say. She storms upstairs, calling Adam fit to burn and slams her bedroom door, leaving her Mum and Dad wondering what in blue blazes has led to this.

After a weekend of feeling sorry for herself and calling down curses upon Adam’s name, she decides to make a week of it and throws a sickie, thus, I assume, making life difficult for people at work too.

Come the weekend, her Mum, her Dad and her Sister all have a go at getting her to think straight. She complains that it’s her birthday the following day and he hasn’t sent her a card. Obviously, the fact that she’d told him that she never wanted to hear from him ever again, and had barred all his calls would have had nothing to do with that, would it? She agrees to come down for a meal and hardly touches her food but, eventually, she is persuaded by her Dad to text him the following day – her birthday if you remember.

So, she sends the text, but when he fails to answer it she’s furious. Sandra, her sister, suggests sending a WhatsApp message so she’ll know for certain whether he’s received it. It soon becomes clear that he hasn’t. Sandra, helpfully suggests that he may be in a Not Spot. Poppy takes that as confirmation that he’s swanned off somewhere remote to enjoy himself and forgotten her already.

Her parting message as she, once more, leaves the dinner table in tears of fury, is that he’s dead to her.

Oh dear! Tomorrow – what’s Adam actually been up to during this period?

Today’s featured photograph is of graffiti artwork in Liverpool that I photographed in May, 2019. I chose it for today because the beautiful woman depicted looks so wistful that she could be remembering disappointed love – like Poppy.

I took the shot handheld, 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/11. The shutter speed was 1/100 secs and the ISO 100.

‘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.

Family occasions

Still a long way to go with re-reading, correcting and re-writing. Poppy and Adam, as I’ve posted during the past couple of days, have now had three days out together – the Lakes, his cottage and the island off the coast of Anglesey. Each has met and dined with the parents of the other and Poppy has read the riot act to Adam. All’s still well though and the Valentine’s Day bouquet from him probably helped.

Their relationship now matures as they become more involved in the lives of others in their families. Janet, his brother’s partner, gives birth to a baby boy. Adam and Poppy are together at a celebration at Neil’s house the following night. While they’re there, Janet interrogates Poppy about her feelings for Adam, worried in case he should get hurt again as when his first wife dumped him.

Poppy and her sister, Sandra spend two Saturdays shopping ready for Sandra’s wedding to Chris. On each of these two days, Poppy is quizzed about her relationship with Adam.

Following on from these two occasions, Janet’s baby is baptised – cue for a party, then Sandra marries Chris. At the reception afterwards, Adam and Poppy’s sister find themselves sat at a table together. Sandra, an accomplished interviewer, turns her skills upon Adam trying to discover his intentions towards Poppy – matrimony-wise. He extricates himself diplomatically.

As I promised , the featured photograph to accompany this post is a black and white conversion of the one at Liverpool’s Canning Dock that I used yesterday. The EXIF data are the same: A tripod mounted Pentax K-1 camera; a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens. Shutter speed 30 secs, f/16, 30 mm, ISO 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.