Writing about your family history (v) … where were they? And what did they do there?

Another aspect of telling a story is place and location. Maybe you know the places where your ancestors lived – maybe you still live in the same location. If they came from far away, even if you haven’t ever visited, with the internet it’s easy to find pictures and maps, and old pictures and maps too of what it was like when Great-Aunt Jane or a red-headed blacksmith ancestor lived there.  You can go on street view and follow their footsteps from home to where they worked, from their little village to the local town where your farming ancestor might have taken his animals to market.

As for the plot or narrative of your story, you have the outline of someone’s life, fill in the gaps – find pictures or visit the church where they were baptised or married, look up contemporary newspapers and directories to see what happened in those years and who the neighbours and tradespeople were your family might have had dealing with.

Use what you know, and what you can find out, but use your imagination to! Your story can start with a maybe… ‘maybe one bright spring morning Jane looked in the mirror and saw herself as a beautiful bride… today was the day she was to marry her beloved Arthur…’

Another way of making your stories accessible to others is to write the story of your investigation. What were the stories you heard as a child of great-aunt Jane? How did you find her in the records, did she go missing and you couldn’t trace her? Did she travel to somewhere you weren’t expecting? Did she have a first husband you didn’t know about, or children who lived with someone else… how did you track them down, what was the paper-trail? What were the stumbling blocks – how many Jane’s with the same name and birth date did you come across? How did you identify which one was yours? How many and what blind alleys did you go down? Which other interesting ancestors did you unexpectedly come across? The story of your journey through the records can be fascinating.

I have written a series of novels about someone searching for his family history; his non-literal journey follows their actual travels, from the Ukraine to Harwich, to Surrey, to my imaginary town of Easthope. His genealogical research gives him the tools to investigate other things, and people begin to commission him to solve their little mysteries, the woman who vanished from her car at the traffic lights, the mysterious but influential Moroccan an old lady brought back from a Mediterranean cruise, the death of a little girl in 1932… I have written five novels about my character Thomas Radwinter, the sixth should be available in May this year!!

Here is a link to my Radwinter novels:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1518891228&sr=8-13&keywords=lois+elsden

My featured image shows the Portland Arms Hotel in Cambridge, where my granddad held the license from the mid 1920’s until 1950.

Thomas in his new office…

Here is another little excerpt from my next book… Thomas is very proud to have his own office:

My office

I sat at my desk and twiddled a bit in my chair, clicked the mouse a couple of times, then another couple of times and smiled to myself. I have an office! I have an actual office!
It’s only very small, it’s what used to be the upstairs flat of the veg shop run by my friend Val, but now the small sitting room is where I might meet any clients, three easy chairs but uprightish (some of my clients are a bit elderly) a coffee table and then to one side a desk with a couple of chairs in case we might have to look at some papers. It is very plainly decorated, so it just looks nice and clean and light, and I think it looks quite professional – well, I am a professional! There are a few black and white photos on the wall by a young photographer I know, Niqqi (I’m sure she is really Nicky, but never mind) and there are nice blinds at the window.
The small room which used to be the bedroom is now my office, and this is where I was, sitting in splendour. I have bookshelves for my law books, I have a filing cabinet because some things still happen on paper, and I have three computers, yes three, and another big table where I can do my family tree stuff… because as well as being a solicitor I do people’s family trees.
The veg shop down below is very small – it’s the end of a row of other shops and whether the builder ran out of land or whether he wanted a small shop, or whatever, it is much smaller than the others, which is why the flat has just one bedroom, a miniscule bathroom, and an even more miniscule kitchen… The kitchen, empty of any cooking stuff, apart from a kettle, microwave and a fridge, is just there to make tea and coffee.
Hmm… my first day in my new office… well, half a day. I have to collect various kids from various places and then I’ll be home getting dinner ready for us all and doing dadly things… perfect!
There was a ‘dong’ and I enquired through the entry phone who it was, feeling rather full of myself – I’d only been here an hour on my first day; I had plenty to do, and wasn’t expecting anyone, but here was a client…
My optimism deflated like a punctured football – I’d been playing footie on the beach with Kenneil and Terri and I confess I rather booted the ball, it hit a rock, bounced off and then sat there deflating…
“Come up, Inspector Graham!” I said with false heartiness. I slapped down a feeling of anxiety, I had nothing to be anxious about, I’d done nothing wrong… well, nothing that anyone apart from my friend David knows about.
Last year I was involved in a rather nasty incident which ended up in two people being dead… I’d spent rather more time with the police than I wanted, and had to go to court – well two courts, a coroner’s court and a Crown Court. I had a few nightmares after that, I can tell you… a period of insomnia, and altogether an unpleasant few months… But I battened it all down, locked it all away and got on with being a dad and a husband…
“Thomas, good to see you, I hope you don’t mind me dropping in without an appointment,” Graham said as we shook hands. I greeted him as enthusiastically and normally as I could and he asked me to call him ‘Charles’ which I took to be a signal that he wasn’t here on police business and my heart rated slowed back to normalish.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to read about Thomas Radwinter and his adventures, here is a link, and if you are kind enough to buy any of my books, I would really appreciate you visiting my Amazon page and writing a review!! Thank you in advance, and here is the link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1518045012&sr=8-16&keywords=lois+elsden

A sneak preview, and a catch-up with Thomas

I’m working on my next Thomas Radwinter novel, possibly to be called ‘Saltpans’ – although I have a dilemma; the title is perfect except it gives away a crucial element of the plot, so maybe that will be book VII… unless my readers become fed-up with the story of Thomas!

Here is the opening chapter – maybe you could call it a prologue:

My name is Thomas Marcus Pemberton Radwinter; I was born in 1980, so I’m thirty-seven. I’m about five foot nine and I have grey-hazel eyes and dark reddish sort of hair and a beard.
I live in Easthope which is a small old-fashioned seaside town, with my wife Kylie who’s half-Tobagan, and our five children, Terri-Ann who we adopted last year and is eight, Kenneil, six, Casimira, two, and our year-old twins, Vitalija and Marko.
Kylie works full-time and I used to say I’m a stay-at-home dad, but so many things have changed in our lives. I still do lots of stuff at home, and most of the cooking, but I also now have a small office in Easthope, a room above the veg shop. I’m a solicitor and I work independently, doing conveyancing and will-writing and stuff like that, but I also do genealogical research for other people.
Over the last few years, I’ve been commissioned to do other things … like finding people, a vanished woman, a dodgy Moroccan, and a mysterious and manipulative Tibetan Lama … Most recently I was asked to investigate a haunted hotel… yes really… This ‘adventure’ if you want to call it that, nearly cost me my life – it sounds as if I’m exaggerating, I’m not. Fortunately, at the time, everything happened so quickly I didn’t realise, but afterwards, afterwards I had to think about things a great deal.
There are four of us Radwinter boys, Marcus who’s fifty-eight, Paul who is fifty-one, and John who’s forty-four…  And then there’s me, the youngest.  In 2013, Paul asked me to find out about our family history and I followed the story of the Radwinters … and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally.
I use a genealogical site, MyTimeMachine, and when I looked into us Radwinters, I went about it in a sort of back-to-front way. I guess most people would start with their parents, and find their birth details, and their marriage record, and then move back to their grandparents and so on. It’s not too difficult, especially if you have an unusual name like we have, but even if it isn’t unusual, you can still soon become a real genealogical detective and find your way back into the past.
I did it the other way round; I found my namesake Thomas Radwinter in the 1841 census and worked forward. John has the middle name of Magick, and that’s our maternal line and in 2014 I followed that side of our family… and it led me to some very dark places I can tell you, but eventually I found the truth about my Magick family.
I continued to investigate the people who brought us up, Edward Radwinter and Sylvia Magick, and through this journey into our recent family history, I discovered what caused us to have such traumatic childhoods. Maybe it’s because of this we’ve had to think about our own lives, Marcus and Paul in particular.
In my Radwinter story I discovered some difficult truths about myself as well, which really changed me in ways I can hardly describe. Looking back to me four years ago, I really do feel like a different person now; I think I’m strong and confident… even though I’m still a bit of a bumbling, wittering idiot sometimes…. Well, a lot of the time to be honest! After last year’s dramatic and traumatic events, I’ve had to reassess the sort of commissions I undertake, I’m Mr. Boring now!
So… now our history is closed, and our lives seem settled, well, as much as anyone’s can be!

If you haven’t yet caught up with Thomas and his adventures, here is a link to my books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1518005713&sr=8-15&keywords=lois+elsden

My 2017: March

After the travels and excitement of January and February, March was a quieter month – although we did travel to Portsmouth for a college reunion which was great fun. On that weekend we took several taxis, and each driver was an interesting person with great stories to tell, a Syrian who seemed to make it rain wherever he went on holiday, an Albanian who was passionate about Charles Dickens, a bloke who had a great interest in the art and life of L.S.Lowery and another who told us about the history of Gosport. We had our usual classes (creative writing, family history writing, French, modern art, ukulele, rock band, book clubs etc) and our usual little trips out and about to different places, including National Trust properties.

From a writing point of view, March was when I finished my latest Radwinter novel, and although I didn’t publish it until April, I wrote this about the series:

I’m not sure when I first thought I might write about a family of brothers, but I know why I did. I’m forever saying about strangers in the pub, people in the street, faces on the TV, ‘gosh doesn’t s/he look just like so-and-so‘; I thought I identified a similarity in the faces of a TV baker, a famous chef, and a bloke who works in our local bookshop; mostly it was something about the eyes, and the unnerving stare (although bookshop bloke has a friendly stare) The thought of writing about them came and went until I was out with my cousin and we were driving through Essex, not far from the pretty town of Saffron Walden when we saw a sign to the village of Radwinter – and I had my name!

This was some time ago, and over several years I played about with ideas and thoughts and then in 2013 began to write what became the first book in an unexpected series, about the Radwinter family. The narrator was a new arrival, a fourth brother who looked nothing like them, When I started writing, I little knew that there would be a whole series of books, and now I’m just doing the final editing of number 5!

  1. Radwinter – Thomas Radwinter goes in search of his family roots; using the internet he traces his family back to war-torn eastern Europe, and follows their journey from arriving in England in the 1830’s, across southern England. However, the more he finds out about his family’s past, the more he sees his own family, his brothers and his wife differently. His relationship with them changes… and he begins to understand his own character, and to find out as much about his present life as his family’s history. https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B00IFG1SNO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-2&keywords=lois+elsden
  2. Magick – Encouraged by his success in discovering his Radwinter ancestors, Thomas Radwinter sets out to investigate his maternal line, starting with the mysterious and alcoholic Sylvia. His life has been somewhat dysfunctional, but now, gaining confidence through his new loving relationship with a beautiful young woman and her son, he is able to confront his own past.
    His genealogical searches take him into the tragic histories of his family and other ordinary people who lived and worked under the appalling conditions of the Victorian age. His skills in finding people from the past encourage a friend to beg him to try and trace her long-lost daughter, a woman, who, it seems does not want to be found. He accepts her request, little realising this will lead him into danger.
    Then the father of his partner’s son arrives; he’s come for his boy…       https://www.amazon.co.uk/MAGICK-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B00OHV4MR0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden
  3. Raddy and Syl – Thomas Radwinter continues his journey into his ancestor’s history; he has followed his paternal line of the Radwinters, “and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally”.
    He traced his maternal ancestry, the Magicks, “I followed that side of our family… and it led me to some very dark places I can tell you”.
    Now he has to find the history of those closest to him, “in my Radwinter story I found some amazing truths about myself. My childhood was difficult to say the least, and when I started to follow the Magick story, I had to begin to face my past, and confront some of my fears and nightmares. To finish my story I have to look at Sylvia Magick and her husband Edward Radwinter, the people who brought me up… sort of… I think of them now as Syl and Raddy, because it’s easier and less painful.”
    During his search Thomas also seeks a woman who vanished seemingly into thin air from a car stopped at a road junction, and he tries to solve the mystery of Badruddin, the Moroccan an elderly female client brought back from a cruise…
    Thomas little thinks that he may be risking his life to find these different truths.   https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADDY-SYL-RADWINTER-Book-3-ebook/dp/B00WAN0YD8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-6&keywords=lois+elsden
  4. Beyond Hope – Beyond Hope is the fourth in the series of books following the life and genealogical investigations of Thomas Radwinter; in previous stories he has followed family’s history back several centuries and also found some uncomfortable and very painful truths in more recent times.
    In ‘Beyond Hope’, Thomas decides to share with his three brothers what he has learned about their mother and father… but telling the truth can be damaging, the truth can hurt, and as Thomas later reflects, “I know at first hand, a very, very painful first hand, how old secrets have the power to wound and how sometimes those dogs snoozing away should be left doing exactly that, sleeping dogs should sometimes just be let lie.”
    His revelations cause the close family ties to be tested which doesn’t help Thomas as he struggles with the other commissions he is being paid to undertake; he has been asked by a very elderly lady to find out who leaves lilies on a grave she visits, he has undertaken to investigate a mysterious lama who has a dangerous power over a hard-working teacher and devoted father, and he continues his search for the daughter of a friend who has become involved with a very dangerous man… And all the while his own little family has to face difficult decisions. The fall-out between Thomas and his brothers may only be healed if he can find out what happened to their father who disappeared thirty years ago. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Hope-Radwinter-Book-4-ebook/dp/B01AKU9XMK/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-4&keywords=lois+elsden
  5. Earthquake – (published April 2017) Thomas Radwinter’s life seems settled and content as he juggles working as a free-lance solicitor, genealogist and house husband. However a new arrival in the family puts extra pressure on him as he has to balance looking after them and earning some money. A commission from an elderly gentleman to investigate a mysterious death at a little boarding school in 1931 seems intriguing and harmless; a haunted hotel he’s asked to visit seems just to be over-imaginative guests and maybe a less than honest manager. However, during his investigations he has to confront a violent verger, an unbalanced conchologist and a very strange friend from the past… Thomas took on his commissions, little realising when he began his investigation that he would be putting his life and that of a friend in serious danger… “I tried to work out what was going on, and what to do, and what might happen to us – trying my hardest to keep my thoughts well away from a terminal conclusion to events… ” https://www.amazon.co.uk/EARTHQUAKE-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B06Y18H8JR/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1514650978&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden

…and here is a link to my other books, Farholm, Flipside, Loving Judah, Lucky Portbraddon, Night Vision, The Double Act and The Stalking of Rosa Czekov

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsdenkov:

 

A writing list

A writing chum told me has made a 2018 writing list – things he intends to tackle next year… I’ve got some priorities in my head, but as for a list, well, I hadn’t thought of it… so what would be on my list should I make one?

I think it goes without saying that I will continue to write here, sharing my thoughts, ideas, memories and my writing. I must also get back seriously or seriously get back to finishing my next Radwinter novel, which has been marooned three-quarter way through since the beginning of November when I tackled the national Novel Writing challenge of completing 50,000 words in a month. So finish Thomas Radwinter’s next story provisionally entitled ‘Saltpans‘, and I have an idea for another for later on in the year probably called ‘Alone‘. On the Radwinter front, I also want to publish as paperbacks at least two of my e-books, ‘Magick’ and ‘Raddy and Syl‘, and if all goes extremely well, then also ‘Beyond Hope‘.

In January and February I must prepare for a talk and two workshops I’m giving in February; the talk is on writing about family history, as I mentioned yesterday, and the workshops are on the process of writing and blogging.

I also have my unfinished stories – ‘Gus’, ‘Dancing in the Road’, ‘And the River…’, ‘Hamazasb and the Missing Shoe‘, and a couple of other bits of writing I started. There is also the story I began this year for NaNoWriMo, about Milla. Of those, I think there’s only a couple which I might actually tackle, others are very much on the back burner, as well as some I wrote many years ago which would need a total re-write.

I have completed five NaNoWriMo challenges, every year since 2013; they have been a great way to really get to grips with a new story, but they are also a great drain on time… the idea is also quite additive, though, will I be able to resist the challenge? Or maybe should I use it to get to grips with ‘Alone’? That actually is a good idea!!

I mentioned at the start my commitment to writing here; I also share another blog with two writing friends (which is actually open to anyone to contribute to!) From that we published an anthology last year and are hoping to publish a second next year. That is more a case of pulling together already written pieces rather than creating anything new but it still involves work. On our other blog we have challenged ourselves to write about subjects from a list we discovered with seventy-three suggestions of topics. We are doing really well with it, and have had a thought that maybe they could be edited and published – in three volumes!! There would just be too many words for one book!

So that I guess is my writing list… but then of course, something new, a whole new story might bob into my mind!! Inspiration happens in the most unlikely places and with the most unexpected ideas!

So, maybe like my friend I should write a list… should it be a calendar/diary/timetable?

  1. January – finish first draft of ‘Saltpans‘, prepare for family history talk and writing workshops. Begin to edit ‘Magic’ for paperback publication
  2. February – deliver family history talk and writing workshops, work on editing ‘Saltpans‘, also continue to edit ‘Magick‘ as a paperback – this takes much longer than you might think!
  3. March – prepare and publish ‘Saltpans‘, prepare first draft of seventy-three blog anthology, book I.
  4. April – work on ‘seventy-three’ maybe start thinking about next story for me – perhaps ‘Dancing in the Road’, but maybe something new will spring into my mind! Publish ‘Magick’ as a paperback’ and start of paperback editing of ‘Raddy and Syl’.
  5. May – publish ’73’, continue work on whatever new/old thing I’m writing
  6. June – writing, writing, writing, publish ‘Raddy and Syl‘ paperback, start preparing ‘Beyond Hope’ as a paperback
  7. July – more writing, writing, writing, continue with ‘Beyond Hope‘ paperback
  8. August – as for July but publish new paperback
  9. September – complete whatever I started new in April (maybe it will have got to the editing stage by now) Begin to look at second anthology with my two writing friends, to publish November/December
  10. October  – ditto September
  11. November – new Nano challenge, but also some light editing and pulling together of the April book, publish anthology II with friends
  12. December – maybe publish new book? Maybe continue what I started as Nano?

Writing it down like this makes 2018 look a massive challenge – however, a lot of it is editing and working on old things. This year I have felt that creativity has been pushed into the corner by other stuff I’ve been doing; I really want to make sure it isn’t the same in 2018. It’s all about balance.

2017 has been a great year, and I’ll write about in the next few days, but if I have any resolution for next year, it is what I mentioned above – find balance!

Inspector Graham’s mystery

Here’s a sneak preview of the mystery Thomas Radwinter is commissioned to ‘investigate’…

Inspector Graham’s mystery

If I had to tell you what Inspector Graham looked like I’d struggle… he’s got brownish greyish hair, a normal sort of handsome-ish  face, brownish sort of eyes, not particularly tall but not particularly short. Inspector Graham isn’t fat or thin, just sort of, well, normal… he wears smart grey suits… well, every time I’ve seen him he does, and he has a pleasant but ordinary voice with no particular accent, or funny way of speaking… he’s just ordinary… and I guess for a policeman that’s an advantage… I guess you don’t always want to announce your profession…

I don’t get any sense of his character either, but I have the feeling he knows a bit about me… we first met when I was a witness to a man attacking someone,  and since then I seem to have got myself in various pickles which ended up with me making statements and being interviewed by the police…

But the task he has set me – commissioned me, this task, I think, is something outside his police work… so is it something personal?

Inspector Graham’s file was all about a girl known as Shelly… including documents from the police, which I’m sure he wasn’t meant to have… what a great deal of trust he was placing in me…

So when he was telling me about Shelly Beach, she was a person not place where the kids and I play by the sea… For a moment I thought how unfair her parents, Mr. and Mrs Beach had been to call her that, but as I began to unpick the files, all became clear.

There were newspaper cuttings, seemingly every item in the local press, the Strand Argos and the Castair Courier, plus there were loads of printouts from the national newspapers too…

You see, a local woman who had been out early walking her dog, had come across this young woman lying washed up on the beach at Strand. She was unconscious, but when an ambulance came and she was whisked off to hospital, thankfully she was found to be unhurt, although suffering slightly from the cold.

There was a Sunday paper magazine article about her, which was told in a rather dramatic way, and it mentioned similar people who had been found with lost memories… Yes, you see, this girl had completely lost her memory. She didn’t know who she was, where she had come from, or even her name… hence Shelly.

© Lois Elsden 2017

This is an excerpt from my next Radwinter novel which I hope will be published next spring. The idea of a ‘found’ rather than ‘missing’ person has been with me for a long time. In our newspaper there used to be a copy of an old article reprinted from a hundred years ago. One of these was about a young woman who was found washed up on a beach suffering from amnesia. I have played around with this idea and now I’m writing about Shelly Beach.

Here’s a link to my other Radwinter stories, and my other e-books and paperbacks:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsden%2Caps%2C136&crid=4L0WBWNYOEUG

Christmas books

A week to go until the big day, Christmas!!! Just in case you’re struggling for gifts, here are a few ideas. I recommend the following, not just because my friend is responsible, but because I know it would be a  great and  welcome gifts!

A book by my friend Andrew Simpson charts the development of his area of Manchester, from a small rural village of little more than a few rams and cottages, to a town, and now a suburb of the great city of Manchester. Even if you don’t know the area, the development seen through the eyes and experiences of the people who lived there, some of whose descendants still live there, is absolutely fascinating. Andrew has a great ‘voice’ and he tells the story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy vividly.

This is the Amazon blurb:

This richly illustrated history explores every aspect of life in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Drawing on contemporary accounts, Government documents, newspaper reports, antiquarian books and recent academic work, it debunks many myths about the town – and unearths some surprising truths along the way. Local historian Andrew Simpson takes the reader to the rural cottages and houses of the past, many of which disappeared only recently and some which are still local landmarks today. Revealing the close links between rural communities and the city, and with chapters on farming, local industries, shops and pubs, health, wealth and poverty, children, housework and housing, churches, entertainments and sports, crime, politics and all manner of other topics, it will delight residents and visitors alike.

… and here is a link –

http://amzn.eu/559AS06

Andrew has written other interesting books which I’m sure would make good Christmas presents.

If I were to blow my own trumpet and recommend from the books I have written, then as a gift, my paperback ‘Radwinter’ is set during the autumn and winter of 2013; in my Radwinter world it was a winter of snow and bad weather… in this excerpt it’s Christmas Eve and Thomas, worried about a friend who lives near a river prone to flooding, catches a bus:

“I’m not sure how far we’ll get, the weather’s closing in,” the bus driver said, but he sounded pretty nonchalant so I said I’d keep my fingers crossed.

I sat on the front seat behind the luggage rack and stared into the darkness as we left the bus station. It was a double-decker and was rocked by the wind and I heard a little scream behind me. Two elderly ladies were sitting further back.

“I’m sure we’ll be fine!” I called to them.

“I hope we don’t get stuck in a snowdrift,” one of them replied.

“Or blown over the cliff,” her friend added… thank you ladies for your cheerful thoughts.

The driver was whistling though, and although we were going slowly, and the bus rocked from time to time, he didn’t seem concerned as we chugged along the coast road and then up to Castle Point. I had to use my inhaler a couple of times, I was struggling, so anxious about so many things and I wished I’d brought my reindeer.

“Are we nearly there, young man?” one of the old ladies called.

“Not far now!” I called back and then the bus skidded and slithered and the driver shouted ‘oh fuck!’ and the old ladies screamed, but then we were moving downhill slowly and steadily.

I got up and went back to the old girls who were clutching each other and clearly terrified. I sat down by them and turned sideways in my seat.

“Don’t worry, we’re nearly there, the driver will get us safely to Easthope,” I told them.

I began to chat to them about Christmas and shopping, and presents, and they rallied and chatted back. They were sisters and good friends too; their husbands were at home and they’d gone shopping in Strand and had treated themselves to a fish supper. Now they were regretting having stayed so late. I told them that when they were safely home, sitting by their fires with a cup of tea, they’d think it a great adventure.

“Glass of wine, young man, glass of wine,” one of them said and we were laughing as the bus drew up on the High Street.

We all thanked the driver, who seemed untroubled by the adventure. I asked the ladies how they were getting home but they said they only lived a little way away, down Byron Street. I didn’t like the idea of them struggling through what was now a blizzard, so I insisted on them each taking my arm and I walked them slowly home, just hoping I didn’t slip over and bring us all down in a heap

© Lois Elsden 2017

If you think this would make a great present, here is a link:

http://amzn.eu/bXW1cd2