Meet the Author
I feel it’s about time for me to say hello to the world again. It’s me, the lost Yorkshire Girl. Well ok, I’m not really lost but it certainly seemed like it for a while back there! Like millions of others around the world I’ve struggled with the COVID thing and slowly accepting the changes it's brought to my life.
What has it changed for me? I suppose the major thing is the closure of my dream tearoom, aka The Magical Tearoom on the Hill. I thought this would be a just temporary thing away back in March last year but sadly we had to make the hard decision that this would a permanent closure.
Over the next few months (nearly a year actually!) I kidded myself that I could keep my sanity talking to people on zoom meetings and having facebook live sessions. I don’t know about you, but chatting to people on a screen whilst your computer keeps telling you your connection is poor and the lighting in your room is so bad you look like Casper the Ghost, spoils the enjoyment really. Of course, this doesn’t count when you’re doing facetime with your little grandchildren. Over the last few months, the most in depth conversations I’ve managed with anybody has been with Minnie. With Minnie (or Moo as we call her) there is no need for long, long discussions. I’ve found that short sentences, even one-word sentences are all that’s really needed for a truly satisfying chat. Minnie has taught me all the characters of Peppa Pig (though I still get a bit mixed up with Daddy Pig and Grandpa Pig). My new claim to fame though is that I can now do the whole of the Baby Shark dance.
There have been some fabulous moments over the last few months too. I conquered my demons and took another trip up Ben Lawers and walked all the way back down this time rather taking a ride in a helicopter. It was made even more special as I took Benjamin along with me for his first Munro. Mind you, he was like a little kiddie in a car saying, “are we there yet, are we there yet?” as he searched the mountain side for the exact spot where the helicopter picked his mum up from in 2018.
No helicopter required Me and my boy
I had another solo adventure to tackle Ben Ime and complete yet another of the Munros. Not that I’ll ever complete all the 184 as I’m too feared of the high pinnacles and ridges to even attempt some of the Skye ones. My experience of having to cross Helvelyn’s Striding Edge on my tummy many years ago is etched in my memory and brings me out in a cold sweat even now!
I’d even found myself a little part time job at Home Bargains to give me the opportunity to meet more people and was enjoying this, though I was becoming ever so obsessed with the rows of toothpaste and deodorants. Don’t even get me started on the toothbrushes. A slight mis-hap with a row of trollies has put an end to this when the trollies when one way, I went the other way and my knee went somewhere between the two! Mr M put his foot down and said, “Debra! It’s time you started to look after yourself!”.
The last few weeks have therefore found me going from romping up a mountain side to not being able to walk up a step at home. Things are getting easier though and hopefully once the physio is eventually started, I’ll be back to walking unaided again. I have to remember of course that Mr M is the king of sore knees and need to keep that crown for him.
I’ve had numerous trips up and down the country as I dealt with John, my step-father’s, death and organising his funeral. I wrote the eulogy for him in which I hope did him proud and certainly gave people a smile when they heard I’d organised “Don’t Pay The Ferryman” by Chris de Burgh as the final song. (look it up and listen to the lyrics). With much sadness in my heart, I wish John a very special heavenly birthday today, 22nd July.
Last week I took a visit down to Halifax, surprising my daughter Chloe when I knocked on her door! Just what the doctor ordered for me. I had a trip out to York and the National Railway Museum with Benjamin and Minnie. Minnie showed that she might be tiny in name and stature but by no means short of courage. The small climbing frames were not good enough for her and Uncle Ben had to help her climb to top of the highest. She’ll be up the mountains with Grandma soon!
Then we all had a day out in Blackpool. My first trip to the seaside with Minnie and Harley. Can I just point out here that even as a child I never liked Blackpool. I hated the noise, the crowds, the smell of hot dogs and the pleasure beach. I was the child that couldn’t go on the rides as I was always ill! Even now I still struggle just pushing Minnie on a swing! But Chloe loves Blackpool and that was where she wanted to go. If anyone needed a treat it is little Chloe with everything she’s been through over the years, including having a lock-down baby! Not that the stress of being a lock-down baby has filtered through to Harley who is most chilled out baby I’ve ever known. He just watches his demon sister run around, smiles at everyone, sleeps on the count of three and now eats anything that’s put in front of him. Bring on the cakes Grandma I can hear him saying.
Mind you, years ago I was at Blackpool for a totally different reason than sand, sea and candyfloss. In my early teens I’d just started to dabble at road racing on my bike. One of the first events I was entered into was circuit racing on Blackpool Promenade. Yes, they closed part of the promenade for a bunch of cyclists. I was very wet behind the ears at racing then and it was a close thing as to whether I was even going to be allowed to start the race. Little did I know that as a junior your gear ratio was limited so that you couldn’t race in a high gear. A bit technical here but the big gears are restricted in youths to protect the youngsters from overloading their muscles during a race (pushing too high a gear) and also to maintain a level playing field between competitors. Except nobody had told me this and I turned up with my bike and was sitting proudly (but very nervously) at the front of the pack waiting for the starting gun. I was given pride of place at the front of the pack as I was the only girl racing in the event. Just as the gun was about to be fired, the starter looked down at me and said, “young lady, what are those gears you are riding?” “Erm, what do you mean?” I asked as my pride quickly slipped away into the sea. Ok, so it ebbed away onto the sand, there never being any sea at Blackpool as the tide always seems to out! Panic and a little humiliation were now rapidly replacing my pride and nerves as the crowd watched the show and the rest of the competitors grumped and moaned at the delay. But the starter took pity on this novice young girl and quickly marched towards me armed with a screwdriver. He swiftly blocked my rear derailleur to prevent me reaching the smallest cogs on my sprocket. To put it simply, my legs would now go round much faster but there would be less power in each pedal rotation. In one twist of his screwdriver, I’d gone from powering up ’ill and down dale across the Yorkshire Dales with my cycling club needing all the gears I had to keep up with the guys on the club runs to having my gears limited so I could twiddle my pedals across the flat promenade at Blackpool! I didn’t win!
Memories. Those were the days though.
Once my twisted knee is back to where it should be, I’m planning to get back on my bike. If truth be known, cycling is more my thing than walking the hills. I love the hills yes, but cycling is my first love.
Meanwhile back to being the lost Yorkshire Girl. During my self-imposed hibernation I was having a bit of a chat with Benjamin telling him I felt I’d lost my way a bit with all my creativity vanishing into the Scotch mist somewhere and I didn’t know what direction to go in. Well do you know what he said? “I admire you Mum. You’ve never been driven by a salary and you’re trying to follow your dreams”. Those words “I admire you Mum” are perhaps the best words I’ve heard in a long time. To have your children say they admire you is a job well done I can tell you.
So, I’m popping my head back above the parapet and the light is starting to appear. Do you know, as soon as you start to look around, good things happen. I’m now planning different things for me to do to get my creativity back, things I’ve always wanted to do, things I’ve put off doing, and things I might want to try. I started by writing a letter to a special person in France rather than sending an email. A real ink pen and paper thing which felt rather good.
The next thing I did was to make a pair of curtains for our downstairs toilet. That might sound like a simple thing, but it’s been about seven years since we had the extension built! Now I look at them with pride and smile that I was able to make them.
Seven years in the making!
I’m planning lots of other things too, like taking my guitar back out of its case and learning to play it. Mr M (who of course is the guitar man himself) bought me a left-handed guitar many years ago and I am sorry to say that I neglected it and let the pain of the guitar strings on my delicate fingers get the better of me. Now I’m determined. Maybe one day I’ll be able to play Streets of London alongside Mr M. I still won’t be able to sing.
But the most amazing thing that has happened to me since peeping into the light once more is that I have my first real, live Meet the Author event planned. It's like a real book launch for The Magical Tearoom on the Hill. A few months ago I was looking to get the cross stitch birth sampler framed that I’d spent over 10 years making for Minnie. I know, Minnie is only two now, but those that have read my book and the tale of When Mother Murphy became Grandma, know why it took so long for me to finish. A little place at Auchenstarry Marina was recommended to me. So off I went armed with my precious cross stitch. Chatting away, the conversation moved to the tearoom and my book and before I knew it, my book was sitting pride of place on one of the shelves in the art gallery with the promise of book event once covid restrictions were lifted. And there we have it, Meet the Author at The Port Gallery on 20 August 2021. This is a very special day as this would have been my amazing Grandma Lammie’s birthday and my tearoom was inspired by this wonderful lady so it’s fitting to be able to share my stories on what would have been her birthday.
If you’re planning to come along to the event (which is just a drop in thing so you don’t need to stay for the full five hours), do you have a question you’d like to ask or a particular story you’d like me to read? If you can’t come along, still send me your questions and I’ll put a bit of a question/answer session together and post it up after the event.
Forward thinking for Mother Murphy’s I’m aiming to have our next box of scrummy cakes and bakes to be ready to send out in October. It’s been a long wait for you I know, but I’ll put an extra dollop of love in them all for you. What would you like to see in the October Box?
Finally, a little bit of an update on my best pal Beatrix. As many of you know, she had a large lump removed last year, from which she recovered remarkably well. This week she’s been back to the vet as an emergency to get another rapidly growing mass removed from her next. She’s feeling a bit sorry for herself at having to wear a polo neck jumper in the hottest week of the year, but she is doing incredibly well and desperate to get out and about. Fingers and toes crossed that she’ll be back to her bouncy self in a week or so and we will once again be back out having more adventures to tell you about.
And what of Mr M? He is loving this hot weather, thriving on the sunshine where I just wilt. He’s turned our garden into a little haven of nature, planting potatoes, carrots, onions, beetroot, coriander and flowers galore. With the addition of a bird feeder, we’re both spending hours whiling away the hours watching nature, listening to birds and admiring the bees and butterflies. Of course, I’m spoiled further when he gets out his guitar and I have my own private concert.
Mr M's done a fine job