A NEW START
SYDNEY THE WOODPIGEON.
Mike gazed out of the window, the tears had stopped now, he thought there were no more tears left in his body, but the ache in his heart wouldn’t go away.He asked himself, “why? Why would they do that?.Had he been naughty and angered them?.” He didn’t think so.
He saw the big black car arrive, all his feathered friends were sitting on the fence, observing.Quickly he found a piece of paper and an envelope, he scribbled a few lines as best he could for his age, he was only five , he put it in an envelope.He put the envelope in the top drawer of a chest of drawers, hoping the right person would find it.He picked up the key to the door and shoved it in his pocket, he wanted to keep it as a souvenir to remember when times had been good.
The man called up from the bottom of the stairs, “Come on Mikey, time to go my lad.” He picked up his little suitcase and walked to the stairs……...
It was almost dark by the time Mary reached the remote village on the south east coast of England. She saw the welcoming sign of a bed and breakfast and decided to book in for the night. She would move into the cottage the next day.
She parked in the private car park belonging to the B&B and carefully locked the vehicle. Her entire worldly belongings were inside. She went into the building and walked over to reception . She was tired and her body ached, she needed to take her medication.
There was an elderly gentleman sitting behind the desk. “ Good evening Madam may I be of assistance?” he said looking at Mary. He must have been about the same age as Mary, in his seventies, his hair was silvery grey and he had grey eyes, he was quite tall, about 5 feet 11 inches. Mary thought he must have been very handsome in his younger days. “ Yes, I would like a room for the night please.” she answered. “ I have a nice room with a balcony facing the sea .” he said, “yes, that would be perfect. Do you have a restaurant?” She asked. The gentleman explained that the kitchen was now closed but he could rustle up a sandwich and a pot of tea if she liked. “Oh, thank you so much, I will just have a freshen up in my room and come back, please could you make it a vegetarian sandwich ?” “Of course Madam, cheese and salad ?” “yes, that will be fine.” He picked up her overnight case and told her to follow him.
They walked down a long corridor with thick pink carpets and gold and pink wallpaper.Everything was spotlessly clean and shining. He stopped in front of room number 29 and passed the card key through the slot. “ I hope you enjoy your stay.” He opened the door for her and then went off to make her sandwich.
She walked into the room and was met with the smell of the sea breeze.She took a deep breath and filled her lungs with the fresh air. Quickly she showered and changed. She felt much better and refreshed after the long drive.She looked at herself in the mirror and was satisfied with what she saw.She smiled at herself and said, “ not bad for an old lady, Mary, so now the new life begins.” She raised her arm as if with an imaginary glass and proposed a toast to herself, “ To you Mary, good luck.”
She took her medication and then went to find the restaurant.
She went down the long corridor to the bar area where she saw the elderly gentleman bringing a sandwich from the kitchen. “Here you are Madam, one cheese sandwich with salad, can I get you something to drink?” “Yes, please, a glass of white wine would be nice.” He quickly went behind the bar counter and poured a glass of white wine for Mary, “Would you mind if I join you?” he asked, Mary hesitated, unsure as to whether she was up to conversing with this stranger or not, she decided it would be rude to decline , “ Yes by all means, please do.” she answered, reluctantly.
He walked over to her table with the two glasses and sat down. “ My name is Jonathan and I am the manager of this little B&B.” Mary shook the hand he was tending , “Pleased to meet you Johnathan, my name is Mary.” “Will you be staying long?” Jonathan enquired, “or just passing through?” Mary explained she had bought the little cottage on the outskirts of the village and intended to spend her retirement there. She told him she might need to keep the room for a few days, depending on the state of repairs the cottage might be. It had been on an impulse that she had bought the cottage and had only seen it in a photograph, she knew she had been foolish to do that, but she was ready to start a new chapter of her life, it was time to slow down, relax, and she had fallen in love with the little cottage as soon a she saw it.
“I know the cottage you are talking about, it is very pretty.It has been empty for about seven or eight years now, an elderly lady used to live there until she became too frail to live alone , her son convinced her to move to a care home nearer to him so he could visit her more often and then he put the cottage up for sale. I hope you will be very happy there.”
Mary got to her feet, “well Jonathan I must say goodnight now, all the bustle and stress of the day has caught up with me and I need to get to my bed as quickly as possible. Thank you for the company.” He smiled gently and bid her goodnight.
Back in her room she decided not to ask for a wake up call, it was time to take things easy, she would get up when she woke up.That decided she quickly got into her nightdress and slipped under the covers, she was so tired, she went out like a light.
She was awoken abruptly by a ticking sound coming from the balcony, as though someone was throwing stones at the balcony glass door. No, she wasn’t mistaken, there it was again, tick,tick. Well seeing as she was awake now, she decided to investigate.
She walked over to the window and opened the curtains. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing and started to laugh.There on the balcony was a magnificent grey wood Pigeon, intent on picking up stones with his beak and throwing them at the window.He looked at Mary and threw another stone. “Ok, ok I’ve got the message, you are hungry.” She said looking the pigeon in the eye. “Let me see what I can find.” She remembered there was half a packet of nuts she had put in her bag for the journey. She got them from her bag and opened the French doors to the balcony, the pigeon flew onto the railings, eyeing her with suspicion. Mary emptied the bag of nuts onto the floor and went back inside the room. When the pigeon saw it was safe he flew down and gobbled up the nuts. When he had finished he flew away. “Well, that’s gratitude for you, not so much as a thank you.” Mary laughed to herself.
She quickly got showered and dressed and went to look for breakfast.
The restaurant was a bright sunny room with about ten round tables, already laid with clean crisp white tablecloths, fine porcelain cups and saucers, cutlery and a small plate. A long, serve yourself table was stacked with toast , briosc, croissant, jam and butter in individual packets and fruit juices, with a large bowl of fresh fruit at the end. There were also four or five different cereals including a pot of piping hot porridge , Milk, coffee and tea.Mary looked around for an empty table and saw Johnathan beckoning to her, “Mary, Mary,” he called, “I’ve saved you a table by the window.” Mary walked over to join him. It really was a lovely position.The sun was streaming through the window and she could see the sea, it’s rocky waves splashing onto the silvery beach. “How kind of you to do that, thank you, I will enjoy my breakfast immensely.” “You are more than welcome . Now, can I get you any cooked breakfast? We have full English if you are hungry enough ?.” She smiled at him , “ Yes, I think I am hungry enough, it’s going to be a long day today and I don’t know what condition the kitchen is in,” “If you like I can pop over at lunch time and bring you a packed lunch.” Mary said she thought that was a great idea and eagerly accepted. She had learnt to accept the kindness of others when it was offered sincerely .
When she had finished her breakfast she felt invigorated and ready to go.She gathered up her things and headed to the car park. She waved to Johnathan at reception on her way past, he briefly waved back. Mary noticed Johnathan was occupied with two local policemen, “I wonder why they always go by twos?” she thought.
Mary headed over to the car park where her little car was waiting, It was packed full to the brim with all her worldly belongings, what couldn’t go in the car had gone to Charity. She looked fondly at the little car, she knew she would have to give her up along with her licence, soon it would be too dangerous to drive.
“Right,” she said to herself, “ first stop D.I.Y. shop.”
Following Jonathan’s instructions she drove out to the industrial estate and the biggest D.I.Y. shop she had ever seen.She was pleased with what she saw, she would be able to buy everything she needed, including the garden equipment.
She set up an account with them so she would be able to order from home and get things delivered easily. She picked up lots of pamphlets with special offers and discounts. She noticed they were offering an architectural service for planning new kitchens and bathrooms .There was also a landscape gardening service.
She picked up a few essential bits and pieces like paint brushes, scrapers, turps, overalls ,cleaning products etc.She signed it all to the new account and asked them to wait for her phone call before delivering , so she would be able to add things to the delivery.They handed her a pretty pot with a red and yellow kalanchoe plant, as a welcome gift .
She looked at her watch, it was eleven a.m , time to take her medication and just the right time for a coffee break.
She walked past the pet’s section on her way to the coffee shop, there were lots of small pets including cats and dogs. She would love to get a dog but she knew she must be sensible about it and think it over carefully. She picked up a packet of nuts and seeds for wild birds. “ I will give these to Syd in the morning if he comes back. Yes Sydney is a nice name for a wood pigeon whether he likes it or not.” she thought smiling to herself.
She drove the short distance to the cottage and parked outside.Mentally taking in the condition of the garden as she walked along the garden path until she came to the cottage door.
Mary got out her key and went inside. She heard a flurry of wings as she stepped inside, and just caught sight of a bird flying out of an open window. “Must be the national feathered friends day or something.” She said smiling to herself.
She looked around the room, on the whole it wasn’t too bad, lots of cleaning and painting to be done , the kitchen and Bathroom she would have to decide whether it would be cheaper to replace them or refurbish. She would have to start thinking about aids, such as grab rails and maybe a walk in shower and a stair lift. She pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind, she would get the architects to come and make an estimate.
She decided to get started with the cleaning, as there was plenty to be done.
At about one o’ clock there was a knock at the door,she opened it, it was Jonathan with Lunch.She welcomed him in , feeling glad she had cleaned the kitchen as the first job. There was a solid wood table with a tiled top in the Kitchen, Jonathan set out their lunch on that. He had thought of everything, even a flask of coffee and serviettes, not to mention the bottle of wine.
“Thank you so much for all this, it has saved me such a lot of time.” said Mary when they had finished. “You are more than welcome, Mary, I have enjoyed the company, I don’t like eating alone.Now I must get back to work, will I see you this evening for dinner.?” “ Oh, yes , I will come back in a few hours and get showered , I don’t want to overdo it on the first day. By the way, I saw you occupied with a couple of policemen this morning, nothing bad , I hope?” “No not too bad, there have been a few burglaries lately in the village, they were investigating.”
Johnathan gathered the remains of their lunch and went back to the B&B.
Mary was soon on the phone to the D.I.Y. people, getting an appointment with the architect and the landscape gardener. She had quite a big sum of money left over from the sale of her London flat, the cottage had cost less than half of the price of the flat, so she decided to do things properly and get expert advice.She managed to get appointments with both the gardener and the architect for the next day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
She finished unloading her belongings from the car and stacked them all in the garage.She would tackle them after she had bought some furniture.She inspected the whole cottage, checking the furniture that had been left , jotting down in her notebook what could be kept and what should go .On top of a chest of drawers she found a few pieces of jewellery that must have been forgotten by mistake, she didn’t think they were valuable but just the same she jotted down a memo to call the ex proprieter and ask him.
It was late afternoon by the time she decided to down tools and stop working. She was exhausted and decided it was better not to overdo it.
She stopped at the D.I.Y. center and went straight to reception.She added a few more articles to her order and asked them to deliver the next day, on her way out she picked up one of the stores directory books where they advertised every article they sold, from the smallest nail to a fully fitted kitchen.
When she arrived at the B&B she noticed that the two policemen were standing in reception.
She went up to her room, it had been fully serviced and the tea and coffee baskets had been replenished.She noticed that the door to the balcony was slightly open, she went over and closed it as the chill of the evening was beginning to creep in.
First of all she put the kettle on and relaxed with a nice cup of tea, she needed that. After having a nice long shower she slumped into the big comfy armchair wrapped up in a big soft bath sheet . Her muscles and bones ached from the fatigue of the day . “come on Mary, snap out of it.” she said aloud to herself. She stood up and stretched her arms up high as far as she could, inhaling as she did so, then lowered her arms slowly, exhaling, she repeated the exercise three more times. “Good, that’s better.” She did a few more of her physioTherapy exercises and then got dressed for dinner.
She wore a pretty pink chiffon top and a grey silk flowing skirt that she had made herself, following a tutorial on youtube . Satisfied with the result she went to pick up the earrings she had left on the dresser but she only found one. Certain of where she had put them, she looked to see if the earring had fallen on the floor. She wondered if it might have been stolen by whoever it was stealing in the village.She decided to have a word with Jonathan.
She looked at the clock, 19.30 , dinner time! She was very hungry and was looking forward to dinner.
The restaurant was buzzing with people, most of them were sales agents, she looked around to find an empty table, Jonathan came to her rescue, “Mary,” he called “ over here by the window, I reserved the table for you.” “How kind of you to do that, Jonathan, you are spoiling me.” She smiled , he grinned back “ Got to be nice to my new neighbour.” They both laughed.
She sat down and looked at the menu, Pasta with pesto, her favourite, she could make a fantastic pesto sauce, she told Johnathan this as she ordered her dinner and promised him a jar once she was settled into the cottage. She told him about the missing earring and he said he would report it, she thought it was strange that the thief had only taken one earring.
After dinner she stayed talking to Johnathan in the little restaurant. Jonathan opened another bottle of white wine. Jonathan told her his wife had died five years ago and he had carried on running the B&B alone but found it was beginning to get hard by himself and was thinking of selling up and retiring. Mary told him she was also a widow. Her husband had died four years ago. Shortly after, she had been diagnosed with Parkinsons’ Disease, she told him how at first she had been devastated, worried she would become a burden to her son and his wife, they had enough to do with the new baby, without having to look after her.
She had made a decision , she would sell the town flat and move to the country, she knew there were lots of programmes for research into the illness in that part of the country and she wanted to be a part of that.She told him how she had made her son agree to send her to a care home if she became too ill to cope by herself. She had put the cottage in the name of her son so there would be no problems when the time came for her to move out.
This was a new chapter of her life, the Autumn, and she was going to fend off the winter for as long as possible. Her consultant had told her to keep busy and to get a social life, learn new hobbies, and that is just what she intended to do.
Jonathan took her hand in his, “ I would love to help you with the social part of your journey if you will let me. I know we have only just met but I feel as though I have known you all my life , I am very lonely and I could do with a friend and some social life.” “Yes,” she replied looking straight into his eyes, “I would like that very much.”
They sat chatting for a little while longer then decided to say goodnight.
Tick tick, tick tick, Mary woke up with a start. “It must be Sydney again.” She got out of bed and looked at the clock , six a.m. “ That bird is going to have to change his breakfast habits if we are to get along.” she said. She got the bag of bird food and went to the balcony. Sure enough, there he was , chucking the stones against the window. “ ok, ok,” said Mary “ I guess you are hungry. There you are.” she said, throwing a handful of nuts and seeds on the floor. “Buon appetito.” He waddled over and started gobbling up the bird food. Mary noticed he wasn’t actually eating the food, but he was filling his pouch with it. As soon as the pouch was full he flew away. “Maybe he has little ones to feed , hmmm maybe He is a She.” She smiled as she saw Sydney returning, this time with company. Two magnificent Magpies landed on the balcony railings, then jumped down to the balcony, gobbled up the food and filled their pouches then flew away. “ Well , I wonder if the magpies have anything to do with the missing jewellery.” She decided to check it out on the computer. Ten minutes later , now fully informed on the life of magpies, she decided it couldn’t be them stealing the jewellery. She laughed at having thought this possible, “old wives tales.” she said to herself.It clearly said they were not interested in shiny objects, as was commonly believed.Thinking about the magpies reminded her to call the ex proprietor of the cottage. He answered straight away, but said the pieces of jewellery didn’t belong to his mother and was unable to help her on the matter.Mary decided to show the pieces of jewellery to Jonathan. She found a small plastic bag to wrap them in and put them in her pocket. She glanced at the clock , eight thirty , “ time for breakfast at last , I am really hungry now. ”
There were only a few people in the restaurant , Jonathan waved to her from across the room, he signaled that he had reserved the seat by the window for her, she was grateful for that , she could soak up the morning sun streaming through . It was a glorious sunny day. Jonathan walked over to the table, “good morning, Mary,” he said, “I hope you slept well.” “Yes, thank you Jonathan, I went out like light.” she smiled.He took her order for breakfast and went to the kitchen. Mary wondered how he was managing, it couldn’t be easy to keep up the high standard she had encountered in the B&B so far. Everything was perfect, spotlessly clean , and the food was delicious, it would be a shame if he had to sell, he obviously ran the B&B with much pride and love.
When he came back with the food she showed him the pieces of jewellery. She laughed and told him about the magpies, he thought that was really funny, he had also believed in the myth that magpies were thieves.He took the jewellery and said he would give it to the policemen , they were coming over later for free coffee.
Mary wished Jonathan a good day and went to her car.
She drove the short distance to the cottage and parked outside the gate.As she got out of the car she saw a wood pigeon fly into the garden, surely Sydney hadn’t followed her? “Don’t be silly, they all look alike.” She laughed. “They will be coming to take me into confinement if I carry on like this !” she said to herself. “First you talk to it and feed it and give it a name, now you think it’s following you!” Laughing to herself she walked down the path to the cottage door. The door was unlocked! Mary was sure she had locked the door, however, she had been very tired the evening before, she might have forgotten to lock it. She hoped this wasn’t a sign of beginning to lose her memory. She pushed the door open and went cautiously inside. There was the same flurry of wings as a bird flew out of the window. It startled her. She sat down to get her breath back, “don’t start getting hallucinations,” she told herself, “it’s too early, too much to do.” She knew that at some point of the illness she could get hallucinations, even see imaginary people and animals.By taking part in all the research programs she was learning a lot about the Parkinsons’ Disease.She knew it was progressive and could only get worse unless they found a cure. She thought about all the young doctors that dedicated their lives to looking for a cure and was so grateful to them. “ I have faith in them, maybe they won’t find a cure in my lifetime but I am sure they will eventually.” She sat at the table thinking of this when there was a knock at the door.
It was the architect, a very pretty young lady in her thirties. She had stunning black hair and startling blue eyes and a very trim figure.Mary guessed she probably went jogging every day.
“Hello.” she said, “I am Jessica… Jess for short, and I have come to study your bathroom and kitchen.” “Yes, of course, I have made a list of things I think will be necessary and I will leave the rest to you.Can I get you a tea or coffee?.” said Mary. “No, thank you , maybe later when we can discuss my findings and designs.” “Perfect, when you are ready I will probably be upstairs somewhere.”
Mary went slowly up the stairs to the smaller bedroom. “Yes, I will definitely need a stair lift.”she jotted it down in her notepad.She started to clean from where she had left off.” “The dresser could do with a polish ,”she thought , on top of the dresser she found some more jewellery. “How strange, I am sure I picked it all up yesterday.” She slipped the pieces into her pocket.
Jess was very efficient and soon had her designs ready, she called to Mary, “OK, I am ready for that coffee now.” Mary came down stairs straight away, eager to see what Jess had designed.
She was really pleased with the designs, Jess was really artistic but she had kept everything as practical as possible and had designed the grab rails and other aids in a way that they blended in with the rest of the design without being obvious and an eyesore.She had thought of everything, even things Mary hadn’t thought of. She suggested that Mary should call one of those alarm firms that come if you press a button or pull a cord, Mary agreed , and looked up some phone numbers to get quotes.
Jess gave the designs to Mary, asking her to study them closely before deciding. Mary agreed, and made an appointment to meet the next day.The quote was a bit higher than Mary had expected, but it would be adding value to the property so it should be ok, she would phone her son later to ask what he thinks. Jess had estimated about three weeks to complete the work, which sounded good. Mary promised to have her answer ready the next day. Jess went back to the DIY store to check on some prices, she hoped she could get some discounts for Mary.
Mary went slowly up the stairs again, slightly out of breath, thinking ‘stairlift’ with every step.She went into the small bedroom.She guessed it must have been a child’s room at one point, judging by the wall paper, which was blue with boats all over.She would need a painter and decorator, and someone to take the rubbish and unwanted furniture to the skip.She jotted it into her notepad , she noticed she had written ‘stairlift’ three times.she laughed to herself, “I think I want a stairlift.”
In a corner of the room she saw a small chest of drawers, it needed some TLC , a splash of paint or varnish, “Yes, that would be very useful in the garage.” She opened the top drawer to inspect the condition of the drawers, to her surprise the drawer was full of papers and letters and allsorts.She started to look through the papers, mostly they were old school text books and designs by a child.She found a closed envelope and decided to open it, inside was a letter written by a child, it started , ‘Dear New owner, please feed the birds and look after them, they live here, this is their home, they were here before me.They like nuts and seeds.Best wishes, Mike.’ “Well, how extraordinary.” I guess I will have to start feeding the birds here too.People will start calling me ’The bird lady” or something, then they will lock me up and throw away the key! She laughed out loud, her voice echoed in the empty house. Silly thoughts were whirring round her head, “I could write a story,” she thought. “Yes , next I will have fairies and goblins and talking pigeons around the house.”
There was a knock at the door, it was Jonathan with lunch. “Hello my friend, come inside, I ’ll get the kettle on. Mary was thinking she could get used to all this.Life was looking good at the moment, even with Parkinsons.
The two friends chatted away telling each other of the events of the morning.Mary told Jonathan about the new pieces of jewellery and gave them to him.She told him about the letter too.They laughed about it all, time went by in a flash and it was soon time for Jonathan to get back to work. “Bye, Mary see you later for dinner, it is lasagne tonight, so don’t be late !” “Don’t worry , I am coming back as soon as the gardener has finished.”
Just as Jonathan was driving away, Mary saw a small white van with the DIY logo just parking by the gate. The gardener was very tanned from working outside, he had blond hair and green eyes, Mary thought he was quite handsome.
“Hello, I am Mary,” she said offering her hand, he shook her hand vigorously, “Hello, I am Charlie, pleased to meet you. Now, come for a walk with me around the garden and tell me what you would like.” Mary quite liked this way of doing things , she could explain her needs and what she would like to do. She explained about her illness and the need to be low maintenance, she wanted a special corner where she could sit and relax and watch the birds and other garden creatures, with a water feature. Of course it would need wheelchair friendly pathways.
When they had finished they went inside and Mary put the kettle on for tea, she put some biscuits on a plate. Meanwhile, Charlie was quickly sketching his design of her garden, and working out costs with a calculator.
The designs were stunning, he had captured exactly every detail, just how Mary had imagined it, they were perfect. Mary asked him also, to set up a maintenance program as she wouldn’t be able to cope by herself.
She signed all the consent forms and shook Charlie’s hand, “ I estimate it will take me a couple of weeks to get it all done. I will start tomorrow morning, is nine a.m ok for you?” he asked,” “Perfect.” she answered.
She decided to down tools and get back to the B&B.
When she arrived at the B&B she saw the two policemen standing by the reception desk talking to Jonathan, she decided to go over to them. “Hello Mary,” said Jonathan “did you have a good day?.” “Yes , thank you jonathan , very good, though I am tired now.” she replied.” “I was just showing these officers the jewellery you found.” One of the officers explained to Mary that the pieces she had found were actually a part of the missing jewellery and he needed to take them back to the station for identification, he also asked if they could visit the cottage to investigate. Mary agreed and told them she would be there from nine a.m. the next day.
“It certainly is a mystery.” Mary commented when the officers had gone. “Yes, indeed.” Jonathan agreed.
Back in her room, Mary realized how tired she was, it had been a long day.Her body ached all over and her arm was shaking like a jelly. She took her medication, noting she was half an hour passed the time. She was having the ‘wearing off’ symptoms, she must be careful to stick to the time table she told herself. “ I think I will get one of those wrist bracelets that beep, yes that is a good idea.”
She ran a hot bath , adding some nice relaxing bath salts with the aroma of lavander to the water.
She felt a lot better after the bath, the medication had taken effect and the bath had relaxed her body, although she was still tired, she thought it would be a good idea to get an early night and would retire straight away after dinner.She dressed quickly and went to the restaurant, “Ok Lasagne, here I come !” she said aloud.
Jonathan quickly came to serve her, she told him she would be going straight to bed after dinner and would skip their cosy chat as she was very tired. Jonathan agreed with her saying she mustn’t push herself too hard.
Next morning she was awoken by the usual ‘tick, tick’ . “Sydney,” she guessed.She got up and went to the balcony.Sure enough , there he was chucking the stones at the window. “You had better be careful, Sydney, if you break the window I will have to pay for it and I won’t have money for seed.” He cocked his head to one side and looked her straight in the eye, and cooed at her. “Ha, ha.” she laughed “ don’t you answer back young sir.”He gobbled up the seeds and nuts then flew away, only to return five minutes later with ‘friends,’ this time, as well as the two magpies, there was a robin, a wren and a seagull. “Hey, Sydney, what’s your game? I can’t feed all the birds in the neighbourhood!” Mary got some more seed and threw them on the balcony. “There, that will have to last for today.”
She got herself ready and went for breakfast. The seat by the window was reserved for her now and would be for as long as she stayed at the B&B. She was grateful for Jonathan’s friendship. She had a light breakfast and quickly went to the car park. To her amazement , she found Sydney perched on her wing mirror. “Ahh, and what can I do for you?”she said to him.He cooed back at her and flew into a nearby bush. “Yes, definitely going nutty, talking to pigeons.!!”
She drove to the cottage, arriving at the same time as the gardener. “Perfect timing.” she said and he laughed. As she opened the gate she saw a pigeon fly into the garden, “well, maybe it is Sydney, after all.”
When they reached the cottage door she saw it was open, she was really sure she had locked it.
She was busy all morning, studying Jess’s designs, sorting all the stuff she was finding forgotten in drawers and cupboards and cleaning in general.
At about eleven a.m, Jess arrived with the final estimate, she had managed to find a lot of bargains and offers and had reduced the final amount considerably. Mary was really pleased and excited to get it all done. Jess said she would start having materials delivered that afternoon. She gave Jess and Charlie a spare key each so they could come and go freely.
Jonathan brought their lunch as usual and a bunch of flowers too.Just as Jonathan was leaving , the two policemen arrived.She told them about finding the door open, they took note. Mary showed them where she had found the jewellery and left them to their investigations.
Later that afternoon she found she was surprisingly alone, the policemen had gone and both Jess and Charlie had needed to go to the DIY store.She sat quietly sipping a well earned cup of tea, when she heard a tick tick at the kitchen window.She went to see what it was , amazingly ,Sydney was knocking on the window with something in his beak. She went outside to investigate. Sydney put the object he was carrying in his beak, at her feet. Mary bent down, slowly to pick it up. She couldn’t believe her eyes, there in her hand was her missing earring! She looked at the bird questionably , “Now, where did you find that Sydney?” He just looked at her and cooed, then he did a funny sort of a dance and turned round twice. “Yes that is a very nice dance but I wish you could speak.” He looked at her and cooed again, then jumped up and down and started plodding along the pathway towards the side of the cottage, Mary hesitated but then decided to follow. “This is mad,” she said to herself, Sydney kept stopping to check she was following him, “Ok ok I am coming, give an old lady some time please.” To her astonishment , the pigeon actually stopped to wait for her, “ so you’re not just a pretty face after all .” she said to Sydney. As they turned the corner of the cottage Mary noticed one of the sheds had a door open. Sydney flew straight to the shed and started his little dance and cooing act, “ I am with you Sydney, let’s see what’s going on.” She pushed open the door and went inside, it was practically empty, a few flower pots, a shovel, she could see there was something on one of the higher shelves, she saw a step ladder in the corner and climbed up to look. “Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed. On the shelf was a birds nest with two baby magpies, and perched on an open window were mum and dad, warily eyeing Mary. She climbed down from the ladder and backed away, so as not to startle them. Sydney flew out of the shed and made it clear that he wanted her to follow. Intrigued by all this she followed Sydney to the next shed.The door was closed but not locked, she opened it and looked inside, not much there either, then she saw in the far corner of the shed, a sort of camp bed with blankets, somebody had been sleeping there. Sydney flew up onto one of the shelves and sat next to an old shoe box. Mary reached up and took the box from the shelf.She looked inside the box, it was full of bits of jewellery and shiny coins. “Well I never,” she exclaimed, “it must be the stolen jewellery.” She said aloud looking at Sydney, “You clever boy.” Sydney cooed proudly.
Mary walked quickly back to the cottage, “Better call the policemen to come and see.”
“I won’t let them go into the first shed, the babies will be safe.” Sydney cooed at her.
The same two officers of the morning visit arrived about ten minutes later. Mary showed them the shoe box and took them to see the camp bed in the shed. She asked them not to disturb the baby birds in the first shed and they agreed. Of course , she didn’t tell them about Sydney, who was actually keeping a close eye on the officers. The officers decided to put a man on watch all night, to try and catch the thief. They called the station and asked for someone to come straight away. Ten minutes later, an unmarked car arrived with two plain clothes policemen. They parked the car further along the road so it wouldn’t be seen, then walked the short distance back to the cottage. Mary told them not to go in the first shed and gave them the key to the cottage.She decided to go back to the B&B, it had been a long day and she was exhausted, her body ached and her arm was shaking like a leaf. She noticed it was an hour late for her to take her medication, so she took them immediately. “Tomorrow morning I’ll have a lie in and then I’ll go and buy one of those wristbands that warn you to take your medication ,” she thought. She wasn’t very good with technical stuff so it would have to be something simple.
She told the policemen she would be back the next day at about noon, and that Charlie and Jess would arrive at about nine a.m. they thanked her and decided they would take turns keeping watch.
Mary made her way home, she wondered where Sydney had gone, he had disappeared as soon as the policemen arrived.The mystery was soon resolved, as she walked into her room she could hear the stones against the window.She went to the balcony and saw Sydney picking up the stones with his beak. “Ok, Sydney, you did very well today and deserve a treat,” he cocked his head to one side and cooed watching as Mary put a handful of seed and nuts on the balcony.He quickly gobbled them up and off he flew, “Look after those babies”, Mary shouted and laughed, “Definitely going potty.” she said to herself.
She got ready and went for dinner,she was hungry after the day’s events.
Next morning Sydney awoke her with the usual ritual chucking stones at the balcony door.She got up and threw some food down for him.”There you are my lad, that should be enough for all of you.Now I am going back to bed, so no more noise, please.” Sydney cocked his head and cooed.
It was 9.am when Mary finally woke up , she stretched her arms above her head.She was feeling much better, she had needed the extra sleep.She peeked out to the balcony to see if Sydney was there, sure enough he was snuggled in a corner of the balcony, soaking up the sunshine, “Ha , There you are, here is some extra nuts for the chicks,” He cooed at her as if to say “thank you” and quickly filled his pouch before flying off. She quickly got ready and went to see if there was any breakfast still available. Jonathan greeted her and walked her to her usual spot by the window, then went to get her breakfast.
Mary was just finishing a slice of toast when she saw the two policemen coming into the restaurant, they came straight over to Mary’s table, followed by Jonathan.
“Good morning Madam”one of the policemen addressed Mary.”Good morning .” she answered, “please take a seat, can I offer you some tea or coffee?” They accepted and sat down with Mary.They explained what had happened during the night. Apparently, at about 10pm. A young lad had come to the cottage and had gone into the second shed.The policemen had immediately caught him and taken him into custody.They had questioned him and arrested him for theft.It turned out that the thief was a poor homeless local lad that everybody in the village knew, he had been abandoned as a child and just got by day by day , begging and stealing the occasional piece of jewellery that he hoped to sell later. Mary asked the policemen if it would be possible to talk to the lad , they agreed and arranged for her to go to the station later that morning.
Jonathan suggested they go into town together as he also wanted to speak with the lad, and, he could help her choose the wrist band.Ten minutes later they were on their way.
First stop , the jewellery shop, unfortunately there was nothing suitable so they tried the computer shop next. Here they got lucky and found the perfect wrist band for Mary, simple to set up and use.They finished all their errands and decided there was time for a coffee before going to the station.
They chose a pretty little tearoom along the sea front.They talked a lot about the young lad, who had been dealt an unlucky deal by life.They discussed the possibility of helping him in some way, instead of getting him locked away.Mary had already decided not to press charges and hoped that between herself and Jonathan they could convince the other victims to follow suit.Jonathan made a few phone calls and arranged for a meeting at the Town Hall with everyone involved and the local Judge and magistrate.
They went over to the police station, where the lad was being kept in a cell.The sergeant got a key and brought the lad out to face Mary and Jonathan.Mary’s heart skipped when she looked at the child, for he wasn’t much more than a child .He was painfully thin with large sad eyes.He was dirty and his clothes were ragged. “Hello, what is your name lad”Mary asked, the boy looked at Mary and said,’ “It is Mike.” “OK, well, Mike I am Mary and my friend is Jonathan.Now, tell me how come you have been sleeping in my shed and cottage?”.The boy looked at her and Jonathan then stared at the floor.” “I had nowhere else to go and I have the key. I used to live in the cottage when I was tiny.”
Mary remembered the letter she had found. “Did you write the letter for the birds?” “Yes, before they took me away and my parents disappeared”. The young lads’ story was incredible, his parents, a couple of hippies on drugs and alcohol, had just up and disappeared when Mike was about five, since then he had been jostled back and forth between foster parents, orphanages and social care. It was no wonder he had ended up on the streets.
Jonathan took the boys hand, “Listen, Mike, Mary and I would like to help you but you must be willing to follow the rules. No more stealing.I will give you food and lodging and a small wage in exchange for help in the kitchen and you can help Mary too in her garden.We will have to convince the judge you are worth taking a chance on and everyone must drop the charges,that will be discussed this afternoon at the meeting.I will tell you the outcome as soon as it is over, but first you must be happy with it.Mike looked from Mary to Jonathan with a big grin on his face, “Oh, thank you, thank you so much, I promise I will behave from now on. “Good, then that’s settled , we will bring you the verdict as soon as they have it. In the meantime, get showered and get a haircut, we will go and get you some clean clothes.”said Jonathan, Mary nodded in approval. “If we can save one young person from a life of crime it will be an achievement”.exclaimed Mary, handing Mike £20 for the haircut.
Mary and Jonathan went to buy some clothes for Mike, then decided to stay in town for lunch.
At the meeting there was heated discussion,whilst most of the people involved agreed to the plan, a couple of sceptics argued against it saying it was a waste of time.They put it to the vote and it was only just favourable to Jonathan’s plan, anyhow the last word on the matter was that of the Judge, he went to deliberate.It seemed he was away for hours, Mary and Jonathan were becoming anxious. The door opened and the judge came back into the room.Everyone stood up, he gave the sign for them to be seated. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have reached a decision,” there was a murmur across the room, “I have known Jonathan for many years and I think if anyone can straighten the boy it will be him.However, there is quite a bit of red tape to get through to make all this legal. Mike will be allowed to move to the B&B as from now under the custody and responsibility of Jonathan and Mary.” Everybody cheered and clapped their hands, although a few did grumble and shake their heads. The judge raised his arms to silence them. “ Mike will have to report to the station once a week, Jonathan and Mary will write a weekly statement on his progress.In six weeks time we shall have another meeting to discuss his progress and decide how to go forward.I think this is fair.Mike will also have to pay for any damage he caused when he stole the jewellery. The amounts will be deducted weekly from his wages.I declare the meeting over.”
Jonathan and Mary made their way back to the station.Mike was sitting on a bench waiting for them, he looked like a different person, cleaned and dressed in new clothes he looked very smart. He must have been about seventeen , and he was quite a handsome looking fellow. “Well, lad,” said Jonathan, “I must say you wash up well.” they all laughed together.
They went back to the B&B, Jonathan took Mike to a guest room near the kitchen. “This will be your home for now, we’ll see what the future brings, it is entirely up to you.This is your crossroad in life where you make it or break it.You can talk to me or Mary any time if you need advice or help, we will be here.” “Thank .you, sir, I promise I will do good.”
Mary went back to her room, she was very tired, it had been a long day.Just then she heard a beep beep noise, at first she couldn’t make out what it was, then she felt her wrist vibrating, she laughed as she remembered the wrist band and got her medications out of the bathroom cupboard.She had a nice invigorating shower and then went to sit on the balcony in the last of the evening sun.
Sydney was sitting on the railings of the balcony, “ Hello Sydney have you missed me today ?” She threw a handful of seeds for him. He flew down to the balcony and started pecking away as she told him all about the events of the day.He was a good listener , now and then he would cock his head to one side and coo.
Mary went to the restaurant for dinner, she asked Jonathan and Mike to join her, it was quiet in the restaurant so Jonathan agreed.They needed to work out a schedule for Mike , and set out a few rules.They got a notepad and jotted down a time table.He would start in two days time , to give him a chance to settle in.Mary was to take him shopping next day for some essentials.Jonathan had given him three sets of uniforms to wear in the B&B.He would help Mary three days a week and work in the kitchen three days , Sunday was free to do as he pleased.He would have to work hard to prove himself to them, he was determined to succeed.
Just over two weeks later Mary was ready to move into the cottage.She packed her things in her case and went out to the balcony.Sydney was sitting on the railings enjoying the sun, “hello my friend, it’s a big day today, I am moving out to the cottage, so if you want to eat you had better follow me.” He cocked his head to one side and cooed. “ I hope that means you got the message my boy, hopefully see you later.”
Everybody was at the cottage waiting for her, Jonathan had organized a buffet for them all, Mike, looking smart in his uniform, was helping to serve cocktails and finger food.They let out a cheer and clapped as she came through the gate.Charlie and Jess were both there and the policemen, the Judge was there too.Mary was really happy with the way they had refurbished the cottage. Jonathan opened a bottle of champagne and made a toast to Mary wishing her happiness in her new home.
Mary went to bed that night feeling happy and satisfied .
Tick,tick Mary heard the ticking noise straight away and her heart filled with joy.She quickly slipped on her dressing gown and got on the stair lift to go down, she could have walked down the stairs she thought , but this was fun.She picked up a bag of nuts and seeds from the kitchen and went outside to find Sydney. The moment she walked outside the door, Sydney came flying down to her feet, she saw the two Magpies waiting further along the path and threw some seeds to them, they quickly came and gobbled the seeds, then flew off to feed their chicks. “Well, Sydney, what do you think of the new home?” Sydney looked at Mary and cooed, “ah, I am glad you approve, well you have had your breakfast, now I am going to have mine, later you can come and check out the special corner that Charlie has created for me and my feathered friends.” Sydney just looked at her and cooed, “ I presume that was a yes.”
Mary was really pleased with the refurbishing of the cottage, it was beautiful and functional at the same time.She especially loved her meditating corner as she called it.Charlie had created a special corner of the garden where she could sit and relax, it was filled with shrubs and plants, and it was bird friendly with feeders everywhere and a water feature where they could drink and bathe. An alcove shielded her from any wind or bad weather so she could sit out even on rainy days if she wished.
Time passed by, much too quickly for Mary’s liking, she was getting closer to what she called ‘ the winter of her life’.
As much as she tried to fight it , Parkinson’s Disease was progressing, she had begun to use a wheelchair sometimes too.Even the novelty of the stair lift had worn off, it was essential now , not just ‘fun’.The Parkinsons’ nurse had doubled up her doses of medicine a couple of times, and she had a carer coming to see her once a day to help her with physiotherapy and wash her hair and do her toenails.Mary was grateful for this help.Mary did her best to keep busy and to exercise each day, this illness is relentless and slowly takes everything away.
She had become very close to Jonathan and she was grateful for his friendship .He would have taken it deeper but Mary was afraid of ruining the bond they had.He came to lunch every day, they would sit and chat about this and that, now that Mike was there looking after the B&B Jonathan had no need to rush off in a hurry.
Mike had done very well, he had learnt in the kitchen from the bottom and was now head chef at the B & B.Jonathan decided to send him to London to learn under the guidance of a very famous TV chef, who happened to owe Jonathan a favour.
Her son came to visit often with his wife and their beautiful son.They had long talks about when the time would come for her to need more help.She had made him promise to move her to a care home when the time came.He fell in love with the little village and decided to move away from the city and smog for a more tranquil life and to be nearer to Mary, she was overwhelmingly happy for this, as she would see her grandson as much as she liked, they decided it was time for her to move to the care home, she would put the cottage up for sale. Mike asked if he could try for a mortgage and buy the cottage, Mary and her son agreed, now it was in the hands of the bank.They were sure there would be no problems as Jonathan would act as guarantor.
Mary was sitting in her special corner Sydney had flown down to her feet, then with a cheeky coo had jumped into her lap, snuggled down and fallen asleep.
Mary stroked his head, “wake up Sydney, it”s time for me to go. Big day today, I’m starting a new chapter, the winter chapter. I’m off to my lovely room with a balcony in the care home on the seafront, so if you love me , follow me.”
Her son arrived with Jonathan to take her to her new home, he wheeled her through the gate and helped her into the car,then drove her the short distance to the care home.Mary tried to see if Sydney was following, but she couldn’t see him, a tear glistened in her eye.
It took quite a while for them to unload her things and get her settled, by the time they were finished it was time for dinner, they decided to go to the local fish shop.
It was beginning to get dark when they got back to the care home, Mary hugged and thanked the two men and bid them “goodnight.”
As soon as she was alone she quickly went to open the doors of the balcony,her heart thumping in her chest, hoping with all her being that Sydney had followed.She pushed open the door, the sight before her was overwhelming, they were all there , the two Magpies with the chicks, the Wren, the Robin, the seagull with a friend, and there, his chest puffed out with pride perched on the railings of the balcony in all his magnificence was Sydney. He flew straight to Mary’s shoulder. Mary was at a loss for words, “Well ,Sydney, my friend you are a clever lad. He cocked his head to one side and cooed.