A Little Outing – Our New Library

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I’m sure you will remember that I mentioned that our local library has been in the middle of renovations.  Although I’ve lived here nearly six months I haven’t been able to visit it, as it has been closed during the refurbishment, and a library van has been visiting here to deliver the books we’ve ordered.

Anyway, my dears, the library re-opened last week so Mrs. M and I decided to make a visit.  My goodness how things have changed from the austere surroundings I used to encounter at my library when I was a child. I remember all the signs with “Shhhh” and a finger over closed lips.  You weren’t allowed to speak in anything above a whisper and even then the librarian would glare at you for daring to make such a sound.

No, I loved going to the local library, but they weren’t welcoming places for young children.  I remember staggering home with eight or ten books tucked under my arms, and hurrying up to my bedroom,  I then spent some considerable time choosing the order in which I was going to read them and balancing them in a huge pile with my first choice on the top.  My mother would come in to see me and always sat down on the bed while I explained to her why I had decided to get these books.  We used to have three weeks to read them, before rushing round to ensure we returned them on time.  Do you remember the fines there were for those people who were tardy?  There weren’t fines for children though but in my case it wouldn’t have mattered as I always finished reading my books within a week or ten days.

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Sometimes mum would come to the library with me.  She would choose a couple of books for herself but my dad didn’t read books very often.  He preferred his daily newspaper and even then it often remained unopened.

I’m so sorry, my dears; I’ve gone off at a tangent again.  I was going to tell you about the visit that Mrs. M and I made a few days ago.  Yes, we all received flyers through our doors announcing that the library would be re-opening and that everyone was welcome to go for a look round.  We decided to go mid-morning so that we could have a coffee in the community café which is now there. 

I don’t know what we were expecting.  Certainly not the bright colours and music and laughter we could hear from outside the building.  They have, very helpfully, installed electric doors and a little ramp for wheelchair users and mums with pushchairs.  That will make it much easier for disabled patrons who can’t get around under their own steam and for mums who don’t have enough arms to manoeuvre a pram, baby and small children  Once inside there is a huge atrium with a reception area, lots of seating and plenty of signs indicating what was going on.  There will be lots of different classes and workshops – far too many for me to recall at the moment.  I must admit that I do fancy the “pottery for beginners” group and also one of the workshops giving a hands-on taster of making felted soaps and needle-felted animals, although the latter is unlikely to be possible for me.  As my eyesight is so poor, I would be more likely to needle-felt myself which isn’t recommended!

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As I was saying before I got distracted, Mrs. M and I went to have a coffee.  The selection of light snacks and home-made cakes and scones was wonderful.  I do wonder if Giselle is involved with the baking side of things.  I must remember to ask her.  When I go out, I always have a hot chocolate.  It’s my little treat – it’s far too fattening to have every day, so I restrict myself to having one when I’m not at home.  Mrs. M had a coffee – something they call a “flat-white” – to me it just looked like coffee made with milk although I could be wrong.

There was a sign asking for volunteers for reading to a group of children.  Apparently this happens during both the morning and afternoon, and although the library staff read to the children, they are encouraging library users to take part on an occasional basis.  As the mums will be there, I think I should be able to manage.  It sounds like great fun.

I will tell you more about the library when I’ve been a couple more times.  I’m sure that it will prove to be a great asset for the community and I must find out what other courses and events will be happening.  Anyway, my dears, I should go and decide what I’m going to eat today.  Until next time – As Always

With Love – Jan xx

A Welcome Diversion – a progress report…

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Well, my dears, I thought you’d like to hear some of the news given to us by the gentlemen from the Security Services.  Now, obviously I can’t divulge everything as we are bound by the Official Secrets Act. 

I haven’t had so many people in my small flat before.  It’s not an experience I would care to repeat, as in addition to the three of us who reside here, there were two gentlemen from London and the Chief Superintendent from our local police division.  It is easier for me not to refer to any of our visitors by name as I don’t wish to compromise their positions.

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I must say, that by the time everyone had squeezed in and was seated with either a cup of tea or mug of coffee, plus a plate of the most delicious pastries there was hardly room to breathe.  Giselle provided me with a wonderful selection of tasty treats, all miniature sized to ensure there wouldn’t be crumbs all over my carpet.

It transpires that my visitors have now established where Philip Jones, my neighbour who was abducted a little while ago, is being held.  It does appear that there isn’t any need for us to be worried.  Apparently he is being treated well and our contacts from London are monitoring the situation.  Now there is something strange going on, as they know where he is, and his current condition, but don’t seem to be rushing to his rescue.  We were told that we don’t need to worry about him, and that they are sure that he will be released at some time (when?) in the future.  It was also said that if the situation changes and Philip is considered to be in danger, then a rescue attempt will be carried out.

That’s all very well, but how long do we need to wait until our friend is released unharmed?  I tried to press for further information, but their lips were tightly closed after they had given us that bit of news.  Another bit of the jigsaw did come out, which was to tell us that Philip is a distant relative of Patricia.  I’m sure you will remember that Patricia was involved in a fatal accident – although, as we had surmised, it wasn’t an accident.  Her death was a deliberate act.  That was really cruel as Patricia was such a kind woman who wouldn’t hurt anyone. 

There were many other bits of news which were told to us in confidence, my dears, so I’m sure you will understand that, at this time, I can’t pass much more on to you.  After our three visitors left, we continued our conversation and now surmise that Philip is connected to either the police or M15.  There is much more going on with him than I can say, but for the moment we all need to be patient.

I do have other news for you, but think I must keep most of that for another day.  It was suggested to us that we could assist the official bodies by watching to see if any new faces appear.  Now that seems a strange request, but in a village you tend to see the same folk – either wandering around, or in the local shops, library or coffee shop.  There are the obvious visitors, but they are normally here to see relatives or friends who live locally.  You would be surprised just how easy it is to spot someone who looks out of place.

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Oh yes, before I forget – you know I really am getting worse, my dears – apparently Mr Roach, our former building manager, has been seen in London.  It was pure luck, that one of our local police officers was away on a training course, and had extended his trip by spending a couple of days in London with his wife.  He had gone to Euston Station to meet her train and was enjoying a coffee while he waited.  He was just looking at the people coming and going, when he suddenly recognised a face which he had been looking at in the local police station where he’s based.  He realised it was Mr. Roach, who also seemed to be waiting for someone.  By the time the police officer remembered where he recognised the man from – Mr. R had disappeared.  There was no reason for him to panic so the station is under surveillance by the British Transport Police who will arrest him if he revisits the station.

I really must go and think about my evening meal.  I’m not sure what I fancy eating today, but I’ve plenty of food in the freezer.  Right then, I’m off to look.  I do hope that you’ll be back in a few days when I hope to be able to give you some further news.  As Always –

With Love – Jan xx

At Last, Some Positive News

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After all the awful things which happened around here over the past few weeks, I decided it was time for me to get organised and pull myself together.  My new furniture has started to arrive and very smart it looks too.  I decided not to replace my three piece suite, but instead chose two lovely armchairs and a small sofa in a co-ordinating colourway.  The armchairs are both in the same fabric but are different styles, so I can now choose which is more comfortable depending on my various aches at that time.  I also chose to have a leather sofa in a fetching tan colour.  As my chairs are light cream with a delicate pattern they look rather good together.   I know that cream isn’t a very practical colour, but as I don’t have too many children here, it shouldn’t be a problem.

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Mrs. M arrived home the other evening and came round for a coffee the next day.  I was really pleased to see her – even though she likes to “borrow” my yarn and eat all my biscuits.  Although she didn’t bring any yarn with her, she has promised that Renee, her sister, will be making up a package for me in the next couple of weeks.  Apparently, she is spinning a gorgeous 4 ply yarn in a heather colour, especially for me.  Won’t that be lovely?  I do think that Mrs. M has indicated to Renee that I will make a shawl for her – I’ll need to find out more about that another day.  However, no matter it’s just nice to have my friend back here again. 

She was very upset to hear about Philip’s abduction and immediately rang one of her contacts at Thames House to ask if they were involved with the case, or whether it was just being investigated by the local police division.  Apparently, the Security Services are aware of the situation, and are “taking an interest” whatever that actually means.  Mrs. M asked them whether they are able to become officially involved.  The problem is that neither of us know all the history, which makes it difficult for us to offer our assistance.

A short while later I received a phone call from Mrs. M’s contact who said that he would like to come here to discuss the case with us both and let us know some other parts of the operation about which we aren’t currently aware.  There are several separate cases that the police and security services are currently investigating, but none of the crimes have been linked together – but that perhaps they are connected without anyone having been aware.

This is beginning to sound rather exciting and I’m really looking forward to his visit.  Apparently Mr. S has also been invited to this meeting, so my little flat will be crowded.  No matter, I’m sure we will manage for a short while. 

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I’ve decided to ask Giselle if she will bring a few of her marvellous individual fruit tarts with swirls of cream on the top.  They are absolutely delicious.  Perhaps she will also bake some chocolate brownies – they are always popular with visitors.  I shall use my best tea service and serve the pastries from my new cake stand which another friend has just brought me to replace the one which was smashed during the burglary.

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Well my dears, I hope that you can understand why I am feeling a little brighter.  To know that these crimes will be fully investigated, both at a local level, and in London, does make me feel somewhat happier.  I hope that once the three of us who live here have more of the facts we will be able to offer our assistance.  We’re certainly at the centre of events.

Now I really must go and ring G and ask her about making the pastries before I forget.  I promise to tell you all about the meeting next time we speak.  As Always –

With Love – Jan xx

Is Anybody There?

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Well my dears it is so nice to see you all again.  I realise that you only received my last post a short while ago.  That was delayed because of a somewhat complicated series of events, which I’m not going to worry about now.

You may remember I mentioned that Mrs. M was due to be returning home after spending a holiday on a Scottish island.  There was a short delay with that too.  Mrs. M created her own major problem by losing her passport.  Now I know what you’re going to say – I said exactly the same thing.  Why on earth would she take her passport to Scotland?  Apparently there is a very sensible answer!  She takes her passport with her so she can’t lose it!!  I ask you my dears, isn’t that ridiculous?  And then, of course she lost it.  Mrs. M swears blind that it was in her handbag when they went out for lunch to a rather posh restaurant. 

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Unfortunately somewhere between the smoked salmon starter and the macarons for dessert she mislaid the bag. 

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Mrs. M and Renee went to the “powder room” – they remember taking their bags.  Unfortunately it becomes a little hazy after that – no doubt, something to do with the amount of alcohol which was consumed.

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However, the bag was still in the restaurant when Renee rang them the following morning.  Both the ladies trotted down to collect it – unfortunately although everything else remained intact, (including her wallet with a fair amount of cash in it), the passport wasn’t there.  My own opinion is that it wasn’t in the bag when they went out.  Anyway Mrs. M made a huge fuss and turned the little croft house upside down.  Eventually, after about five days she agreed that she would need to order a new one!

Mrs. M arrived back here last evening and although we’ve spoken on the phone I haven’t seen her as yet.  She will be coming round for coffee tomorrow morning.  I am looking forward to that, although if she expects to relieve me of some yarn, she will be unlucky!  I haven’t replenished my stash yet and although I have sufficient for a couple of my own wips I haven’t any spare yarn at all.  I am planning on placing an order with an online supplier in the next couple of days.

There is a huge amount of information I must tell you about, but at the moment, I am struggling to keep on top of everything.  I’m sure that if I’m able to have a couple of quiet days I’ll start to function a little better.  I’m still a little upset about my flat being ransacked for no discernible reason.  The police officer has been to visit me on a couple of occasions, and has just rung to ask if he may call round again later today.  Apparently there have been some developments which he’d like to discuss with me. I don’t know which of the crimes we will be talking about, but obviously I will advise you as soon as I can.

I had a phone call earlier today from Giselle asking if she could pop round with a few cakes and tarts.  Isn’t that kind of her?  I’m looking forward to having a chat with G – she’s such a happy person.  Oh yes, my dears I better update you regarding Teddy – of course, not forgetting Harry!  Teddy had to attend a conference in Brighton so has been away for the past few days.  I’ve had a few texts from her and she says that she has sent me a postcard.  I do love cards so I’m looking forward to receiving it shortly.

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I’m afraid to say that Philip is still missing.  No-one has heard anything about him for some days.  This is obviously a great worry to us.  I hope that the visiting police officer may be able to give me some news.  As some time has elapsed since he was abducted, I now fear the worst.  I do hope that I may be wrong about it – it’s just a gut feeling.

It’s time for me to decide what to eat this evening, so I better make a move.  I can just hearing Georgie whistling as she’s walking down the corridor so I think I’ll go and ask if she would like to come in for a nice cup of tea.  Right my dears, I hope that brings you up to date.  I’ll be back again soon – As Always

With Love – Jan  xx     

Me a Sleuth – Don’t Make me Laugh..

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Well, my dears, I’m sorry that I’m going to disappoint you.  Additionally, I’m really annoyed with myself.  I thought I was quite good at following clues and knowing what was going on in this retirement complex which I now call home.  Well I’m not – I’m just a silly old woman who wouldn’t spot a clue if it jumped up and did a flamenco dance in front of me.  Perhaps I should have thought to ask a few more searching questions.

I think, my dears that when you live in a small and fairly quiet community, you take certain things for granted.  Although, everyone lives in their own flat or apartment (for those elite folk who live at the posh end) we assume that they’re all the same – apart from the few that have a second bedroom.  What would I give to have an extra room so I could hide my stash from Mrs. Metcalf?  It would be lovely to have a space where I could leave my crafting equipment available and to be able to close the door on it.

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Talking about Mrs. M, my dears, one of two of you have commented that she hasn’t been around for a little while.  That’s very observant and you’re quite right.  It isn’t anything sinister though as she has been away to Scotland to visit her sister Renee.  Apparently Renee lives on the Isle of Islay – one of the southern islands in the Inner Hebrides.  It seems to be mainly known for its whisky production from eight working distilleries, although it’s also a beautiful place to visit for a holiday.  Renee lives in a little croft near Bowmore and keeps a few sheep.  She loves spinning their fleeces and produces the most wonderful yarn.  I do hope that Mrs. M brings me some.  I feel that I’ve earned it!  Knowing Mrs. M as I do, it wouldn’t surprise me if more than a little of the yarn produced by Renee finds its way into Mrs. M’s handbag!!  Old habits die hard – so they say.  No, my dears, I’m not particularly keen on the peat in the locally distilled whisky, so would much prefer yarn.  Incidentally, the shawl I was making for Mrs. M was finished just in time for her Scottish trip.  I think Renee had planned to invite some special guests for dinner during Mrs. M’s stay and she thought that the weather may be a tad colder than here, hence the request for a shawl.

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Gosh – why didn’t you remind me that I’d wondered away from the point – and not for the first time!  I had been telling you that I don’t feel qualified to call myself any kind of sleuth – amateur or otherwise.  I have assumed that all the flats were similar – well they are, apart from one glaring difference which throw all my assumptions into a cocked hat.

I know I’ve been prevaricating, my dears, but it’s really hard to admit when you know that you’ve made an assumption which was completely wrong.  Although some flats on the first and second floors have a balcony I hadn’t considered this!! I’ll just tell you and then you will know what a stupid woman I’ve been.  Although the flats are similar the one huge difference relates to all the ground floor flats at the side and the rear of the building. 

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They all have patio doors – so residents who live there are able to leave their flats and return without using the security system at the front doors.  Of course, anyone visiting those flats would be able to see this – and in point of fact, I believe regular visitors just enter through those patio doors without bothering anyone!  Now you’ll understand why I feel so upset with myself – I didn’t know.  It would appear that other people thought that I was aware, so no-one mentioned it to me.  Is it worth me continuing with my efforts – or should I leave well alone?  I am more than a little sad about this – As Always –

With Love – Jan xx

Thank Goodness For That…

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After the disruption of the past few days, I felt ready for a little bit of calm in my life.  Well, my dears, fortunately my wish was granted and for a couple of days after my flat was ransacked, the building was extremely quiet.  My two young friends were marvellous and my neighbour, although not a new friend – the lovely Georgie – also added her two penny worth into the mix.

After Teddy had dusted white powder everywhere the flat looked worse than ever.  I knew it would be necessary to see if there were any fingerprints left by the miscreants – but, no that would have been expecting too much.  It would appear that they wore gloves to ensure that they didn’t leave any clues to their identity.

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It was only over the next couple of days that we discovered what was missing.  Although we tried to make a list it’s funny that, at the time, you can’t think and only obvious items register as missing.  In actual fact, they didn’t take any large items, just things which were easily carried and they really made an awful mess.  After checking, I found that my jewellery box had been emptied – there were trinkets and other pieces which had been taken.  I always wear my wedding ring, and fortunately my eternity ring wasn’t in there.  For some reason I keep it safe, in its box in a spare toilet bag at the bottom of my bedside cabinet.  My engagement ring is in there too, so the pieces taken from my jewellery box had been inherited from my mother and mother-in-law. There were some pretty pieces but I hadn’t had them valued for some years and at that time we decided not to insure them separately. 

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One of the main problems related to my stash of yarns – not easy to value – who keeps a running total of the cost of their yarn?  I certainly didn’t and no, I hadn’t got the receipts either.  The burglars had just poured flour over a pile of wool which they had thrown onto the floor.  They then emptied a kettle of water over it!!

Georgie brought a large quantity of black bin bags and wearing her rubber gloves just grabbed anything that couldn’t be saved and tipped it into the bags.  Teddy spoke to the insurance company who said that they would accept photographic evidence of the burglary after Teddy gave them a crime number and name of the police officer in charge.

Giselle made some lovely cakes and a wonderful casserole – enough for a couple of days – and we all ate in Georgie’s flat. We made a list of what needed replacing and G made a visit to our local superstore to buy some essentials – mugs, plates and of course new bedding.  There were many other things which will need replacing – but for now I just needed the damaged items away from the flat so that we could start afresh.

Although my lovely friends have made it so much easier for me, I still feel incredibly upset.  I also discovered that some money which I kept in a spare container labelled “sugar” had been taken.  I had my purse in my handbag which I took with me when I left the flat in such a hurry, but hadn’t given any thought to my secret hoard.  There was £200 in there – just added to in ten and twenty pound notes over the weeks.  I always like to keep an amount of cash ready for any emergency.  Oh well, the money can be replaced – the memory of the chaos in my flat will take much longer to erase from my mind.

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I haven’t forgotten about Philip Jones, my dears – he is a constant concern.  I do hope that you’ll just bear with me for a few more days and then I’ll bring you all up to date regarding his situation.  I just need a little more time to straighten myself out and then I’ll be back to normal – whatever normal is…  Till then – As Always –

With Love – Jan xx

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