Having had an extraordinarily successful career, she took early retirement and now lives a very active life on a Spanish island. Speaking fluent Spanish and being fully intergrated with the locals means that her 'life' is there, not here so we don't get to see her very often but letters, yes, proper snail mail letters, and telephone calls mean that they're up to date in each others lives.
She knows my mum pretty well and had picked up on the fact that seeds were being germinated at home on our bedroom window.. put 2 & 2 together and arranged on-line for a marvellous electric propogator to be delivered in time for her birthday. Now that, Dear Readers, is when you know a friend knows you 'pretty' well!
Having reached the dizzy heights of her middle sixties, she no longer sneaks a peek at presents and had not a clue what was in the box which was delivered to MailBoxEtc, which is where all her mail is sent to.. yes, it's boring to have to collect your mail but at least it's kept safely and you don't get those annoying cards saying "Your package was too big for your letterbox"!
It plopped out of its box and having "oohed and aahed" over it, she set it up, poured a little water into its base, put in the capillary mat, filled the two trays with a mixture of vermiculite, perlite and very fine compost, planted a mix of Oakleaf and Lollo lettuces, placed the trays onto the capillary mat, put on the rigid lid and switched it on.
And rang the Spanish island.. and got her ansaphone. She reached back in time to the days when she spoke a little Spanish and thanked her friend for her wonderful birthday gift. And.. the seeds are already up.. one tray has twelve little seedlings, the other has nine and we're calling them 'Fanny's Lettuces'.
We love lettuces that aren't gassed.. in fact, we love all our home grown vegetables and tonights' treat is a dish of a couple of our own Turkish Cucumber with home grown mint and home made yoghurt.
"Gassed", I hear you say. Yes, gassed, because you try picking a lettuce, or leaves of spinach or chard and expect them to be crisp and crunchy two days later, they simply aren't going to be so. Most vegetables are gassed. That's why she grows her own as much as she can.
She's a trifle stiff today, it takes muscle to wield a mattock and yesterday she did the big square bed where the old redcurrant bush used to be. It's a brilliant gardening tool and she loves hers very much. It was given to her for her 51st birthday by 'Portugese' Jorge. He was her driver and such a great guy.
He had a key to her allotments and after a call at weekends to check that she was there, he would regularly pitch up with Isobel, his lovely wife, to dig and help tame the wilderness and it was he that gave her the Perpetual Cabbage.
So that's where we're going folks. And in her basket will be a piece of pork wrapped up in tin foil. Its skin has been scored, rubbed in herbs and spices and it will cook on the little barbecue with a couple of sweet potatoes. They will be our lunch together with a few just-picked beans and salad leaves.
The pork will sit and cool in its' juices and then come with us for we are bidden to supper with friends and she said "I'll bring the main course".
In a few weeks time, we'll be able to share 'Fanny's Lettuces', we've already started sharing our Blackberries and very sweet they are too!
July 14th, 2017.
PostScript.. Bastille Day. Look it up if you do not know its' significance!