Thursday, October 01, 2015

Leaving Home


Leaving Home

Chapter 5

“Oh look Mum look – the sea! Just smell it.”  Mum put her arm round my shoulders.

“Y’ know luv St Anne’s is only a cockstride from Blackpool” said Mum, “remember when we used to go there fo’t Wakes Week before we got t’motorbike ant’side car?  It won’t seem strange after a day or two.”

I knew she was trying to stop me from getting upset at leaving her but I was more excited than anything.

.I was sixteen and was leaving home.  I would never live at home again.

‘Yer Dad an' me were right proud of ya gettin’ such gud results Pat.  "Ya could’ve gon int’sixth form like Maddie"

‘Mum that’s not for me. I want to get out in the world and do something practical – something that’s really helping people.  Nursing’s just the job; I love children, the training’s free and to cap it all I get my keep and nearly £5 a month salary. ‘

Mum chuckled “Knowin’ yoo ya won’t ‘ave any problem spendin’ that m’lady.’

 I wasn’t allowed to start training at the main hospital until I was at least seventeen and a half so here I was about to start my career at the Convalescent Home belonging to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.  I would be here for fourteen months until I was old enough to become a student nurse.

These last few weeks had been the most exciting of my life: the agony of waiting for the exam results, the joy when I knew I’d passed and the realisation that I was leaving home.  Dad had bought an old tin trunk for me.

“Dad - I can’t take that old rusty thing.”

“Ya won’t recognise it w’en a’ve finished wi’ it Pat,” and true to his word it ended up a smart, black, shiny trunk with a pretty, pale blue inside and my initials painted on it in white.

Mum did her bit too; ignoring the instructions to buy linen bags from a shop in Manchester she made them herself out of calico.  Then she embroidered my name on them – PATRICIA DIXON BARNES R.M.C.H, in a dark red chain stitch.  Both remained unique throughout my training.

  The sun was shining, the sea was glistening and the tufted sand hills made it so very different from soot- blackened Rossendale.  I felt a thrill of excitement as we stood outside this rambling, Gothic edifice that was to be my new home, the only neighbour was a huge convent manned by black gowned nuns.  Mum rang the bell.

“’Ello I’m Dotty!”

The door was opened by Dotty - a large untidy looking woman with enormous hands dressed like a kitchen maid, which indeed she turned out to be – and she was also more than a little dotty.  I tried to stifle my nervous giggles and we were shown into Matron’s office. Any levity disappeared once we were face to face with Miss Jones.  She was elderly but spry, dressed in a navy dress, with a scrubbed pink face and neat white hair just showing under a lace cap tied with a bow under her chin.  The expression on her face was stern when she spoke to me but I noticed her expression softened when she spoke to Mum   “She will have one day off a week and if it is convenient she may have the night before off duty, so she could spend a night at home.”  Then she turned to me.  

“In all circumstances the well being of the children must come first Nurse.”

 The days were quite long – from 7 am till 8pm with three hours off during the day: 10am till 1pm, 2pm to 5pm or 6pm to 10pm and we had to take turns on night duty

She went on to tell my mother that the other five probationers were a nice class of girl – apart from one;

“She’s not like us,’” she told my mother. 

  Later I discovered she was talking about Lottie – a young Jewish girl who had escaped from Austria before the war.  With her Lancashire accent - only her curious phraseology betrayed her foreign-ness.

‘We better don’t do that Pat,” she would say.  She was one of the kindest people I have ever met and this was the first time I had come across anti-Semitism.

The hierarchy was Matron, Staff Nurse (known as Staffie), Assistant Nurse (an older experienced but untrained nurse) and six probationers.
At last we were dismissed and it was time to say goodbye to Mum.  Flinging my arms round her I felt my eyes begin to prickle but Mum gave me a little shake and said.

‘”Now jus’ be’ave yerself Pat,” and she was gone.

  The senior nurse Maxi – short for Maxwell, took charge and as she led me up flights of stairs to my bedroom at the very top of the building she told me:

“We had another nurse starting today called Mather.  You’ll be sharing a room but because she got here first she’ll be senior to you.”

With two maids and Mrs Mack the cook it was an all feminine household apart from Mr Moorland - the boiler man - who came in each day to tend the monster in the cellar.

No time to feel homesick – Maxi showed me my uniform and how to make the flat, starched, white square into a hat like hers, anchored with hair grips.

‘”Mind you keep your hair off your collar Barnes or Matron will be after you.  Then you’ll either have to have it cut or put it up.  Make sure there are no ladders in your stockings and clean your shoes every night.”

  I was allowed to spend the rest of the day in mufti and joined the other nurses in the dining room for tea.  Mather was already there and the senior nurses Maxi and Lottie filled us in on the daily routine.  We would be on duty at 7am when we would help the night nurse to wash and dress the children ready for breakfast in the children’s dining room.  Staffie would decide who did what and the assistant nurse would help to supervise.

It seemed strange being called by my surname all the time but I supposed I would get used to it. There could be up to 30 children and if there were babies one nurse would be designated as baby nurse.  The nurses have breakfast at 8am whilst one nurse stays with the children.  Maxi told me:

‘The children are never left alone during the day.  Once every one had been cleaned and tidied and their heads checked for nits, the medicines and treatments are given.  By the way nits are another reason for keeping your hair off your collar.’

 I noticed Maxi’s hair was scraped back off her face and was barely visible at the back

She told me some of us would take the children out to romp on the sand hills and the rest would make the beds in the boys and girls ward.  We would be shown how to make hospital corners and should make sure all the bed casters were neatly facing inwards and the pillow case openings placed away from the door.

Attention to detail was paramount.

  If the weather was bad we would take the children to the play room and organise games trying to keep the noise level at a reasonable volume so as not to disturb Matron.  Lunch for the children was at 12 mid day and 1pm for us whilst the children had a rest period.  Then more playing or taking them for a walk and after tea, we would read stories to them and concentrate on getting them in a more subdued frame of mind before bath and bed-time.  I often think how much easier it would be for parents if they did the same.

“Do you intend to go to Pen,” Maxi asked?  When she saw my look of bewilderment she explained that the main hospital – where all the probationers hoped to end up - was always referred to as ‘Pendlebury’ or ‘Pen’ as that was the name of the hamlet where the hospital was situated.  As head nurse Maxi was quite bossy to us nurses but her demeanour changed totally when Matron was around.  They obviously had a good rapport and she could get a smile out of Matron- especially when she talked about her home town – which happened to be Wigan.

Meanwhile I had come to like Lottie - the Jewish girl Matron had referred to.  She was warm and friendly and I was grateful for her company

Mostly the children came from the Manchester slums and it was heart warming to see the difference three weeks TLC could make.  They arrived pasty-faced, often flea-ridden and with lice - listless little creatures, and usually left rosy-cheeked, clean, well fed and boisterous.  There were exceptions; one little girl – Lily aged about eight was a sad little creature. 

“Lottie try as I might I can’t get Lily to look clean and even now when we’ve got her with a clean head her hair is as dry as dust – not a trace of a shine.  Most of the kids love a goodnight hug but she seems to be immune from any sign of affection.”

“I don’t expect she knows what it is and just keeps her head down. God knows what some of these children have to cope with. At least they no longer have the bombing.

Just do the best you can.”

  One night I had a phone call from Maddie.

“Pat I’ll be going back up to Oxford at the end of the week so I thought I’d pop over and see you.”

“Oh lovely – I have a 2 to 5pm off duty on Thursday, if you come here then we can wander into St Anne’s.  There’s a nice cafe – I’ll treat you to a cuppa.”

  Matron had gone on holiday soon after my arrival, and there was a relaxed, easy going atmosphere which I mistakenly took to be the norm.  Typically at the last minute Maddie changed the plan; she had a friend a few miles up the coast in Blackpool and she said I was to take a tram there and we would all meet up for tea. 

 The tram took forever and by the time we met up in the café it was almost time to leave.

“Oh Maddie I didn’t realise it was so far - I should be starting back now.”

“Nonsense you must have some tea and talk to Betty or she’ll think you’re being rude.”

I choked down tea and toasted tea-cakes for another ghastly fifteen minutes.  By the time I got the tram I was a nervous wreck - Maddie’s laughter echoing in my ears

.  When the tram stopped outside the home all the staff seemed to be hanging out of the windows, staring accusingly at me.  I should have been in uniform, on duty, ten minutes ago. 
  After a brief telling off Staffie seemed to be fine about it but next day, when Matron returned, I was told to be in her office first thing in the morning.  I didn’t sleep a wink that night.  Maddie and I now lived in different worlds with different strictures and it was always going to be so. 

  Outside Matron’s office trying to breathe deeply to calm myself my heart was thudding as it always did when I was frightened.  I rubbed my shoes in turn, against my black stocking-ed calves and they gleamed against the parquet floor.  My hair was well off my collar – apron, collar and cuffs a pristine white – like my face – no ladders in my stockings -  I’d be fine -  but I found myself gulping every time I remembered why I was standing there. 
  Lottie came through the hall ushering children into the dining room.  She winked and gave me a sympathetic grin.  I knocked on the heavy oak door.  No answer.  I knocked a little harder.  
“Come in Nurse.” 
My hand shook as I reached for the handle and I had to grip hard to turn it.  Matron was at her desk in front of the window and the morning sun hit me like a spotlight, dazzling me so I couldn’t see Matron’s expression but her tone was severe. 
“Do you know why you are here Nurse Barnes?”
“Yes Matron - I was late getting back on duty.  I’m very sor…” 
“Not only were you late, you chose to do it whilst I was away.  Have you any idea of the concern this caused Staff Nurse and indeed all the staff?” 
“I didn’t think Matron I…” 
“How long have you been here Nurse Barnes?” 
“This is my third week Matron.  I started on August 12th.”
“Yes Nurse and I took you on trust having been given a very good report from your school.  I’m now wondering if we made a mistake.” 
Oh God, I thought, she’s going to throw me out.  How can I face everybody at home?
“I want you to think very seriously about the consequence of your actions.  Do you want to be accepted at the Hospital to embark on three years training or are you just filling in time until something better comes along?” 
“Oh no Matron I’m really serious about becoming a Sick Children’s Nurse and taking my R.S.C.N.  I’m sssso sorry to have let you down.  I pppppromise…”  I was stuttering.
“You see Nurse, not only have you let me down, you have let down the whole staff and the children.  You have let your school down, your parents and finally yourself.” 
My voice was choked with sobs.  

“I’m so sorry Matron.’ came out in a gasping whisper.  I still couldn’t see Matron’s face but her voice was less severe when she said,  
“Now go to your room, wash your face and when you have calmed down, go and join the nurses in the dining room.  Staff Nurse and I will be watching you very closely.  The rest is up to you.” 
“Thank you Matron.”  I whispered and stumbled out of the door. 
In my room after a jolly good cry, I washed my face and told myself I was going to concentrate on being the best bloody nurse in the building.  And no-one, not Maddie, not anyone was ever going to get me to do something I felt was wrong. 


  Matron had a friend called Reg- a middle aged bachelor who was like an honorary nephew to her and a kind uncle to us probationers.

“Now who is this young lady – I don’t believe we have met?  Hello my dear - I’m Reg.”

I looked up at him – he had a nice smile and kindly blue eyes.

“Hello.  I’m Nurse Barnes.”

Reg’s eyes twinkled.

“Well from now on you’re Binnie – after Binnie Barnes, the music hall star!”

Reg was a devotee of the theatre and frequently treated all the staff to shows in Blackpool.  He knew all about my disgrace and told me, very kindly, that I must be sure never to do anything like that again.  Overnight I became ‘Binnie’ to the whole household – except Matron of course.  It did feel a shade friendlier than plain ‘Barnes’ and I was very grateful to Reg.

  Things looked brighter after a few days and I received my first salary.   I got £5 a month - not bad when you consider we had excellent bed and board and our laundry was free.  My only expense was the bus fare home.  I started a savings account where you bought stamps from the Post Office and stuck them in a book.  But first I bought a cigarette lighter and had it engraved ‘To Pop from Pat’.
I can still remember Dad’s face when I gave it to him on my next day off. 

‘Eeh Pat – ya shu’n’t be spendin’ yer money on me.’ 

Whoever said it is more blessed to give than to receive certainly got that right.

   I had a letter from Liam, Jamie’s brother - he told me Jamie had won a place at his college in Oxford and was reading Chemistry (poor devil) and rowing with Liam - that’s rowing in a boat - not fighting.

  It was my turn to go on night duty. This involved being up all night alone - potty-ing and changing the babies and toddlers every four hours, being on call in case of problems and keeping the boiler alight.  I should be able to manage that I thought.  

All seemed to be well on my first night on duty.  Gradually the staff drifted off to their bed-rooms, the children were settled and I marvelled at the deathly stillness replacing the sound of the children’s daily laughter, squeals and cries.  The lights were dimmed and as I crossed the hall to climb the stairs - the children’s wards were on the first floor, I tried not to notice the shadows lurking everywhere. 
“Nurse I’ve been sick.” In the boy’s ward I found that Tommy Foster had indeed been sick.  After sponging and comforting him I put him in one of the empty beds and started to change his own whereupon he was sick again.  By the time I had changed both beds and settled Tommy down, there was a lot of bed-linen to sluice.  Then it was time to change the babies and toddlers.  Sundries were what we called the nappies or diapers of today.  They were made of towelling, were not disposable and it was the job of the junior nurse to sluice them before they went to the laundry. 
  When all was finished I went down to the tiny Nurses sitting room to have the meal which had been left out for me.  Somehow, smoked haddock salad and tapioca pudding had lost its charm and then, oh crikey, I remembered my other duty - the boiler – which should have been tended some time ago.  Bracing myself I crept down into the bowels of the cellar.  There was a stifling smell.  The wretched monster was completely out.   I tried raking it with one of the iron implements and nearly choked with noxious fumes.  Coughing and spluttering I escaped up the steps.  I’d really done it now; the Home would have no heating or hot water and Matron would surely kill me. 
There in the hall was my Guardian Angel – Lottie in her pyjamas.
“You’ve let the boiler out Binnie, haven’t you?”
“Oh Lottie what shall I do?”
 “Find as much newspaper as you can and bring it down to me in the cellar.”

 When I joined her, laden with all the news print I could find, Lottie, her face covered with a surgical mask was raking enormous pieces of coral-like clinker.  Then she showed me how to make tight parcels out of the paper leaving a little tab in one corner.  She packed these parcels into the cavernous mouth and then plastered them with great dollops of floor polish.  Just one match to the tabs and WHOOSH – we had lift- off.

Matron was right - she was ‘not one of us’ – she was one in a million. 
   One of the reasons I didn’t mind night duty, was because it gave me a break from my room-mate, Nurse Mather, whose personal hygiene was questionable, who told outrageous porkies and was getting odder by the day.  We all had access to each other’s rooms – including the maids - and none of us thought to lock anything away, so it was upsetting for all when I discovered my new savings book had vanished from the drawer. 

 Matron started an investigation and after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing the assistant in the Post Office identified Mather as the person who had cashed the stamps - all £3 - 10 shillings - my total savings and over half a month’s salary.  

I was called to Matron’s office.

“Now Nurse I have informed the General Office at the Hospital and they have said that because both the assistant at the Post Office and Nurse Mather are under age, no action can be taken.”

 All I wanted was my hard- earned savings returned.  Matron was very sympathetic.

“What I can do Nurse is move Nurse Mather out of your room.”

“But Matron will that mean someone else has to share with her?”

‘”Yes I’m afraid so.”

“Then I’d rather you left things as they are Matron.”

Matron seemed to have forgotten my earlier laxity and now treated me as a valued member of staff.   I had come to like her and respect her except for the one thing. Why had she spoken to Mum and me about Lottie like that – just because she was Jewish?
  When my seventeenth birthday was approaching Mather told Lottie she couldn’t think what to give me and Lottie suggested she gave me back the £3 – 10s.  She never did, but left quite soon after that.  It seemed, or so she said, she was secretly engaged to a doctor and they were going to be married.  Sighs of relief all round.  A new Nurse would be arriving, she would be junior to me and with any luck she would be a kindred spirit. 

  Matron heard that Winston Churchill was going to be driving from A to B on the coast which meant he would have to drive past us.

“Nurse Barnes I want you to make sure all the children are clean and tidy and then Staff Nurse will show you where to stand outside on the pavement.”

 We all lined up, staff and children, and cheered when we saw his black limousine.  The sight of the children and our uniforms had the desired effect and the car slowed down whilst Winnie beamed at us and gave his special V-sign.  He looked like an ancient baby with a seraphic grin and the palest pink skin. 

I felt sorry for him.  He was very harsh towards the workers during the General Strike

in the twenties, but he had been at the helm during ‘England’s Finest Hour’ in WW2.

That was a time when people were kind and caring to complete strangers.  We were united with our allies, the Yanks and the Ruskies fighting – as we believed - for good against evil.   Then at the end of the war the men returning from the Forces and the working classes wanted social justice for all and got rid of Churchill the Tory. 
  In our Convalescent Home not only the children thrived on the clean, fresh air and nutritious food.  Mrs Mack was a good plain cook and we hungry teen-agers devoured everything she put in front of us. Our big treat on pay-day was to take the tram after lunch, up the coast to Handey’s Café at Bispham, and have chicken and chips followed by sherry trifle, then back in time for tea.  What little pigs we were. 
  The best part of the job was the children- some only a couple of years younger than us.  One boy – Joseph - a scruffy, shaven- headed lad, used to sing a mournful dirge. 
Mother I love you,
I will work for you,
Don’t let those tears roll down your cheeks,
I’ll bring my wage home to you every week,
Mother I love you,
What more can a loving son do?
You’ve worked for me a long, long time,
And now I will wo-ork for you.



He got sadder and sadder until the last line when he would change from minor to major, and bellow the line triumphantly with a cheeky grin.

We weren’t meant to have favourites but we were completely won over by helpless little babies and although we were rigorous in treating all the children alike some were more appealing than others.  Billy was a small boy about six years old. He happened to be wearing an apple green shirt when he was admitted and his eyes were the exact matching shade. I asked him what his name was, as usual, and he blinked and started to stammer:

“Bbbbbbbbb…” I looked at his notes and said,

“Of course you’re Billy.  I think you are going to like it here Billy.  My name is Nurse Barnes,” and gave him a welcoming hug.  I tried to keep an eye on him so he didn’t get distressed when trying to speak and to make sure he wasn’t teased by the others.
  We all got a shock when we were roused in the middle of the night.

“Get dressed Nurses put your cloaks on and gather in the hall as soon as possible!”

  White- faced, Matron told us that Billy Roberts – my little green - eyed boy was missing.  When the Night Nurse had gone to do the 2am round she had found his bed empty.

“All of the building has been searched and now we must go out and scour the surrounding area.”  Matron’s voice was a bit shaky. 

These were more innocent times but we were on the edge of the sea and we were worried sick.  The Nuns in the Convent next door were enlisted to help and we all fanned out and searched up and down the sand hills.  It was very dark, our lanterns and torches weren’t much help and our shoes filled with the soft sand.  After an hour or so we heard the chilling boom of the Convent Bell and slowly returned to base. 
Incredibly, Matron was smiling.  

“All is well Nurses.  Thank you for searching for our little boy. Billy had got up in the night to go to the bathroom, got lost on the way back and ended up in a clean empty bed in the girl’s ward, confusing us all but all’s well that ends well.” 

 We had been in such a panic that no-one thought to count the children but the relief was so great there were no post-mortems. 

  It was bound to happen, sooner or later: one night I complained that my head felt itchy.

 “It’s the starch in our caps,” Maxi said. “Here let me have a look,” said Lottie.

She looked behind my ears and pronounced, “Binnie’s got nits!”

“Well,” said Maxi “if Binnie’s got nits we’ll all have nits!”

So we had to undergo strong smelling Sassafras compresses and twice daily tooth combing until we were clear again.  There were no more problems of hair on the collar and to this day I NEVER rest my head against the seat upholstery in trains or public places.

Sadly Lottie decided she wanted to get a job near her brother and wouldn’t be going to Pendlebury.  I would really miss her friendship and kindness.  Staffie also was leaving so there would be two new faces.

 I knew we were going to be friends as soon as I saw Annie, the new probationer. We came from very different backgrounds; her father was a Lancashire mill owner and had a farm in Scotland, but there was no side to her. She was big and buxom and her natural expression was a chuckley grin. It was hilarious when she put on her posh accent:

“Just remember girls I’ve been educated at a school for ‘The Daughters of Gentlemen'.”

We were to share a room and thence started one of the happiest periods I remember. 

It was a hot summer and when we came off duty we hauled our mattresses out on to the fire escape overlooking the sea and took it in turns to read aloud from 'The Albatross of Living Verse' which Maddie had given me for my 16th birthday.  Falling asleep in the moonlight to the rise and fall of the tide with a chocolate in our mouths and Tennyson in our heads was an early taste of bliss.

  Underneath Annie's jolly exterior she was insecure. At her coming of age her father had given her an XK 120 Jaguar car and an ocelot fur coat.

“All my boy friends just want to drive my car.” 

I went home with her one day and met her parents. Her father was like Annie - no side and down to earth. He said he was very glad Annie and I were friends and would be training together at Pendlebury.  Her mother was friendly but quite grand and her older sister was both posh and glamorous. When Annie came to my home to visit, she fitted in at once and everybody liked her. Gran was on one of her visits to the States so it was less crowded than usual.

   For some time I had been feeling nervous about starting at Pendlebury - no more romping with the children and sleeping out on the fire escape; life would get much more serious with very sick patients in our care and lots of exams – both practical and theoretical.  It was such a relief to know that Annie would be there too.

16 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

I sympathise with Annie's boyfriends - I love the XK 120 - one of my all time favourite looking cars :)

Pat said...

Kim: I despair! It's ironic that Annie's Dad's gifts - where he spared no expense - should actually cause her grief.

kenju said...

I just love reading this!! Binnie is a great nickname. Hate the nits; I never had them but I remember girls who did had to have their hair shoved off and wear scarves until it grew out.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I'm having such a good time reading about your new adventures with the children and with the other nurses.....That you had such a clear idea of what you wanted to do Pat---at such an early age----is just so very wonderful! To have so much love in your heart for children and for taking care of people, as a teenager, is quite extraordinary, my dear....Love reading this so very much, dear Pat.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh, and I forgot to say, how much fun that your nickname was "Binnie", as in the great great Binnie Barnes.....Lovely!

sdc said...

The work you did was invaluable, helping kids when they are sick and vulnerable, and I loved reading about your time there and how you grew as a person. If there's ever any doubt about the many little lives you touched in your time there, then read this-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3253145/Woman-finally-meet-nurse-saved-life-suffered-horrific-burns-baby-40-years-ago-Facebook-appeal-went-viral.html


angryparsnip said...

Oh how much I enjoy reading about all your adventures.
Hope your sister doesn't get you in any more trouble !
I too love your nickname, Binnie !

cheers, parsnip

Jennifer Brookins said...


It is amazing that you left home at 16 to be a nurse ...a profession that carries with it more maturity than most teenagers in this day and age could dream of having. I love your description of Winston Churchill - "Winnie" ...Quite a life you've had Ms.Pat. I'll enjoy the unfolding. Great Read!
Cheers
Jennifer Brookins

Pat said...

Judy: nits have returned apparently and not just amongst the poor but the middle classes also. Ghastly things!

Naomi: I find writing this is a way of getting to know oneself. I was goal orientated but had to learn to be more tolerant of people who weren't.

SDC: that is a lovely story. Some of my children kept in touch for years and one family treated me liked an elder daughter and came to my wedding where the father made a wonderful speech.

Parsnip: very perceptive of you. Whether unwittingly or not Maddie had the ability to get me in trouble:)

Jennifer: young men were going off at 18 to risk their lives so leaving home at 16 didn't seem a big deal to me. Also it was what I desperately wanted to do. With Gran behind me there were no arguments. However when I was 18 my father forbade me from going to a Commemoration Ball at Oxford - a wonderful experience for a young girl - and I didn't go. How could he????

LL Cool Joe said...

Binnie is a fun nickname!

My younger daughter had nits off and on, more on, that off for years, we just couldn't get of them. I used treatment after treatment and yet a few weeks later they'd reappear. Strangely enough, after my daughter started to constantly dye her hair a different colour every few weeks they went. I can only assume it was the dye that finished them off for good.

What a fun read!

Pat said...

Joey: the nits of today seem to prefer clean hair and it is now more a middle class problem. What you might call a better class of nit:)
The nits are the little tear shape things that stick to the hair - usually behind the ear. The crawlies are called pediculi. I shall now try to forget about them and go to sleep:)

Mage said...

All this has been wonderful...nits too. What a fascinating life.

Pat said...

Mage: still fascinating but D.V. nitless:)

Nea said...

It's a pleasure to read your stories again.
Thank you!
By the way, what does "there was no side to her" mean?
Hope you've had a great trip.
Love Nea (Ruth)

neena maiya (aka guyana gyal) said...

I don't want to say anything to spoil the mood....delicious.

Pat said...

Nea: it means she was down to earth, didn't think she was better than everybody else -unassuming. Like you and me:)

Neena: so glad you like it.