Today has been perfect. The sun has shone as I’ve wandered my way through miles of mixed woodland – a wonderful cacophony of birds echoing through the canopy.
Every stranger I met today had time for a little chat and a smile.
I came across the village of Avoch (more on that tomorrow) and was met by a friendly older lady beautifying her garden. She rejoiced in telling me that Penelope Keith (the good life – anyone?) was opening a restaurant near the harbour.
I walked on and found a white haired lady in her late 80’s walking up the hill picking off bits of paintwork off her garden wall.
We chatted. We chatted some more. We got to the point where I mumbled ‘Well, I’d best be off…’ or some such thing.
It was like a first date – that bit where you’re waiting to be asked in for a cup of tea.
And that’s all it was – back off guys – how very dare you for thinking such a thing.
We kept getting to the point where I was walking off and she kept stopping me with another nugget – another little piece of her life.
“Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?” she asked quietly.
“It would be rude not to,” I smiled.
“Is that a ‘yes’ then?” clearly unaccustomed to my nonsense.
Tea and biscuits! Almost half a tin of royal wedding biscuits to be exact – someone had bought her these chocolatey delights and she was allergic to them.
I saw it as my duty to help.
Biscuit problem ma’am ? No worries.
She settled down to tell me about her life in the past and now. How she’d been a land girl during the war, milking cows and making sure they didn’t get up to mischief.
She told me how she’d been gored by the bull just towards the end of the war, how she’d managed to crawl to the farm and was put in the trailer of a tractor to be whisked off to hospital.
I made my usual silly comments and she laughed so readily. I was taken back to my days as a social worker with older folk where I remembered wondering where on earth they found such comfortable chairs.
I met her cat, Missy, who ignored me completely, and she showed me her cat magazine that she had delivered monthly. I’m a bit of a sucker for cats – I’ve always enjoyed their ‘up yours’ attitude. Missy didn’t let me down.
I asked Mrs MacIntosh what on earth would possess her to invite a strange man into her house.
She said, quite thoughtfully,”Well, we talked for a long time and I thought,’there’s a young man (!) who needs a cup of tea’”
She was right. She didn’t believe half the scary stuff sold by papers and the TV – she believed in making her own assessment of folk.
I had to prevent myself from slipping into social work mode – occasionally prodding myself – this is not a community care assessment.
It was truly lovely. She showed me her beautiful garden that she and her husband (he died 5 years ago) had landscaped, her south facing conservatory and she served her tea in her best china cups.
Of course she invited me in because she was lonely. She goes to the ‘Friendship Club’ (why do they always give them such terrible names?) on Mondays – but that stops for the summer – clearly she doesn’t need company when the sun shines.
As I left through the front door, she proudly showed me the Fort Knox locks she’d had attached to it.
I smiled as I thought of the back door being wide open.
I love older folk – she had so many stories to tell she could have started her own blog.
Kindness and trust, you can’t beat it.
Walk a mile people