My much loved father -in-law Kenneth who sadly died 5 years ago at the age of 83, was a very patient, tolerant, caring and kind person. The only thing that got under his skin was traffic jams! He hated them with a passion and would take the longest detours to avoid even the shortest traffic jam. These detours were done without Sat Navs! My lovely Kenneth relied on his excellent map reading skills to progress his journey as quickly as possible.
On one occasion in the days when there were fewer warnings of jams etc on the motorway gantry, he was driving at 70 mph when suddenly and without warning he encountered a jam and thanks to God’s mercy and his driving skills he avoided plowing into the slowing traffic and a serious accident.
Another occasion his detours resulted in him driving through fords, farm fields etc on a dark rainy night to avoid what turned out to be quite a short-lived jam!
But there was also a very humid summers day while travelling North on the M6 he was stuck in traffic which remained at a stand-still for several hours, it was like a car park!! People got out of their vehicles played cricket and football in any available space to pass the time. On that occasion he had no option but join in the games and wait for the jam to clear!
My husband, who sadly is not as patient as his father, also hates traffic jams and though as a former boy's scout he also has great mapreading skills he now has the benefit of a Sat Nav to guide him through today’s detours!
Penelope's Apricot Jam
The door creaked as a shy Emily gingerly turned the polished brass doorknob & pushed it open, a delicate tinkling bell above her head shimmering in the sunlight startling her a little & making her look up. Almost tiptoeing across the worn parquet floor, taking in all the sights around her, Emily felt a small gasp escape her lips. Breathing in, she felt comforted by the scent of warm cookies, jams, preserves, charcuterie & exotic spices, intermingled with the perfume of polished wood. Emily stared wide-eyed at all the round tables & shelves, stacked with pretty jars, dainty boxes & faceted crystal bottles. In a childlike fashion, she wandered slowly up to the tables, reaching for their displayed goods & brushing her fingertips over their handwritten labels.
The old shop had been here ever since she could remember, standing slightly back from the main road & a large Georgian bay window either side of the door with thick, swirled glass panes. Her Mum would tell her an old witch lived there & sold her wares to anyone who needed them. Emily remembered asking her Mum innocently who would need them & being shuffled past into the nearest Woolworths, with her Mum muttering sharply about "nothing for little girls to be thinking about". Well now Emily was a grown woman & felt it was about time she visited this little shop, almost being drawn to it.
As she picked up a jar of Apricot Jam, a small grey-haired lady in a pretty floral dress with a small frilly apron tied around her middle appeared from the back of the shop, carrying a tray of warm cookies on a huge plate, vintage china tea cups on saucers & a pot of Earl Grey tea. The scent of the buttery cookies was wafting around her face, causing her stomach to gurgle as the old lady placed the huge tray onto a cloth-covered desk next to the till. "Good morning dear", she said, turning her delicate face up towards Emily & smiling warmly. "Please, do help yourself to a cookie - they're fresh from the oven. Milk or lemon dear?", she enquired as she poured the tea into the cups. Emily nervously smiled back & pointed to the lemon. "There you go dear", said the old lady as she handed her the drink. "I see you've found my Apricot Jam there. Would you like a taste? It's got a sweet sharp taste, perfect for balance you know". Emily nodded, murmuring "yes please" as she was ushered towards a stool at the desk.
After some clinking & chinking of china in the back of the shop, the lady appeared with two silver spoons & an open jar, crackers & small plates. "Shouldn't eat alone dear", said the lady as she scooped little piles of conserve onto the crackers, passing the plate to Emily. "So, what can I do for you dear? My name's Penelope by the way. More tea dear?", said the lady, smoothing down her apron as she sat on the adjacent stool. Emily sipped her tea & sampled the jam, amazed at the juicy taste of the fruit-laden cracker. "Thank you, it's all very kind of you", she said. Penelope smiled warmly as she topped up her tea. "You're most welcome dear. I don't get many visitors these days, so I like to make the effort when I do". Emily looked around her surreptitiously, scanning the tall shelves all around the walls, stacked to the top with beautiful bottles & jars. "You have a lovely shop, I've always been fascinated since I was a child, but never came in before", the words tumbled out, startling Emily with her own honesty, as if she couldn't stop herself. "That's fine dear, everyone eventually visits when they need something", said Penelope. Distracted, Emily remembered her Mum's words & thought, maybe I do! She was feeling a bit lost since her family moved away & her life was all work & sleep, no play & she was feeling slightly frazzled. Work was Emily's life, gallivanting around the countryside visiting clients & selling their houses. She didn't have time to waste on frivolities like shopping. Penelope was bustling around behind the desk now, busy cutting a long strip of pretty pink ribbon from a roll & tying it around a small turquoise box. Emily watched her writing deftly in a small card with a pink rose on the front, slipping it into a tiny envelope & pushing it under the ribbon. "You should take this dear", said Penelope as she gave her a small tissue-filled bag. Emily looked inside & saw the box tied with the pretty pink ribbon peeping out of the top. "Oh I couldn't possibly ..." Emily started to say, but the old lady insisted. "It's yours, a special gift just for you" said Penelope, smiling softly as she clutched Emily's hands around the bag. "Thank you so much", Emily said, feeling unexpectedly at ease & relaxed. Excusing herself, Emily slipped from the stool & stood up. Penelope's warmth & kindness had given her a little comfort, the awkwardness had disappeared & she felt lighter in herself. As the two ladies said their goodbyes, Penelope smiled & returned to her stool, pouring another cup of tea for herself.
Emily walked out into the street, feeling the warm sunlight on her hair as she almost skipped back to her car, the small bag swishing in her hand. Checking her watch, she realised her next client was waiting & swiftly drove out of town to the small village on the hill. The house was rather imposing, a tall charcoal grey coloured building with long, white-curtained shiny windows, surrounded by even taller poplar trees & a gravel driveway that crunched as she drove up to the porch. Surprisingly, the client was not the elderly gentleman she spoke to on the phone, but his grandson who greeted her. Striding up to her car, he opened the door & took her hand to help her out. "Hi, I'm Tom", said the tall elegant suited man, all freckled cheeks & a fun grin. "Lovely to meet you Tom, I'm Emily", she said as she grabbed her bag & notebook. Tom gave her a whirlwind tour of the house & gardens, resulting in afternoon tea on the patio. "Well, what do you think? Can you shift it? I can't live here on my own now my Grandparents have moved to the coast" he gushed, rambling on as Emily tried to get a word in. "It's such a shame, but I'll do my best" she managed, sipping tea & listening as Tom animatedly shared happy memories of his childhood. He had sparkling slate blue eyes, a contagious laugh & she watched as he brushed his fringe from his face. "Do you have a family?" inquired Tom, breaking her thoughts. "Not locally, my parents moved away too so it's just me & my cat now" Emily blurted out. What did I tell him that for?! she thought. His face lit up. "Really? That's good, I mean that's good to know so you'll be free for showings & all that" he said, looking at his teacup. Emily smiled & picked up her notebook, thanking Tom for his hospitality as he walked her to her car & opened the door. Then he shook her hand & that was when she felt the spark of static making them both jump. "That's weird", said Tom, "Are you okay?". Emily nodded & laughed. "Yes thanks, I'm fine". Tom looked at her, still holding her hand. "Yes, you are, you really are" he said. Rather than taking her hand away, Emily stood there, staring at his face & unable to move. “Maybe we could discuss it over dinner?” he asked, tentatively. Emily nodded, as Tom looked relieved & asked when she would be free. Looking back, she would remember this moment fondly & often.
The year seemed to have flown, thought Emily as she stood in front of the old shop, the diamond twinkling on her hand in the sunshine. Turning the polished brass handle & pushing open the heavy wooden door, the familiar scents wrapped around her like old friends. Penelope's smile shone as she greeted her, bringing out a pot of Earl Grey tea & a plate of cookies. As the two ladies drank tea, laughing & talking as the friends they had become, Emily realised she had achieved the balance she so craved. Maybe it was her new fiance Tom, maybe it was getting an assistant at work. Maybe it was Penelope's Apricot Jam. Penelope laughed as Emily shared her thoughts. "Hmm ... now that would be a special gift!", she said, sipping her tea with a knowing smile.
Yo pump up the jam pump it up while your networks are pumping and the jam is stomping pump it up a little more get the giffgaff jumping on the dance floor select and share the love .your find out if you can do that oh wah a place to stay get the giffgaff on the floor tonight make my day .oh wah a place to stay get your giffgaff on the floor tonight make my make my make day giffgaff is the network to stay and it's run by you .run by you so make my day and share the love .as it's run by you so pump up the JAM
No no, no no no no, no no no no,
No no, there's no jam!
No no, no no no no, no no no no,
No no, there's no jam!
No no jam, we'll reach for the sky!
No valley too deep, no mountain too high
No, no jam, won't give up the fight
We do what we want and we'll do it with pride.
I remember a horrendous traffic jam in cornwall where the roads go all wiggly woggly.
Full of confidence I said to husband 'turn left' then keep going left right left right etc. - we went on for miles.
Brought us back on the same road, just a little further up in the jam and then we had to beg someone to let us out!
He saw the funny side later... and I did invest in a compass to help with the curvy roads but we not been back down the experimental route since!
Got jammed in the house once.. back door stuck for several days cos rain swollen and in mean time hubs went out, locked the front door forgetting that I was in - I couldn't open it from this side as the lock had been installed badly and turned out the keyhole plate didn't line up with the hole so couldn't get key in to unlock it...
Trapped in house for several hours I tried not to imagine what would happen if a fire - would I try to break a double glazed window with a wooden stool - or climb precariously out of the velux onto the roof (never liked heights).
Of course the fire/ emergency never happened, he came home and sorted the door - but it was a long few hours!
Remember ants getting into mums home made jam and we could only conclude that the cheeky things had made their way up the thread of the jampot under the lid to satisfy their sweet cravings!
life was simple then and it was the little things that kept us amused, nature traversing over into human living