The Dog Days are Over:Walking into Autumn.

woman beside dog walking in the forest under tall trees at daytime

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Autumn has rolled in and dogs are perking up everywhere, after a record scorching Summer. Tails are wagging us into the new season and its important that we understand our canine friends needs, as the days get colder and darker and the walks get more beautiful with red and gold burnished leaves.  The streets are no longer retaining the hot Summer heat, which is great news for people wanting to road walk their pups. Road walking is a great way of keeping long nails at bay. Cutting the nails however will help the quick grow further back, enabling the nails to regularly be cut back and promoting good health.

As a dog owner you check and brush your dog regularly, smooth or curly coat, to help remove the dead fur and to bring the blood to the surface. This helps promote a good shiny coat. It is harvest mite season, so be on the lookout for the little reddish mites and contact your vet if you suspect your dog has unwittingly offered them a free ride. Likewise, it has been a busy year for ticks too.

Your dog groomer should be health checking every dog and assesing their health and temperament, if your dog has been injured or is suffering from more creaky bones this year, be sure to keep them in the loop. The crunchy red and gold leaves of Autumn are irresistible to dogs and their walkers.  All that dashing around in the cooler weather and crunching the leaves under- paw can make our canine companion’s coats hard work. Their coats are changing naturally and the use of the dreaded central heating can cause a shedathon in your home. Regular bath and blasts between full grooms will help their coat conditions and save your carpets and flooring. We might all love Flossy the bouncy labrador, but we would rather not be finding clumps of her coat in the hallway. Bruno the Basset Hound may be an old smoothy, but he might start to aquire that “doggy smell” which as dog owners we are immune to and dinner guests are highly tuned to noticing, as are estate agents, competitive parents and cat owners. Dogs skin maybe drying out with the change in environment and for that Hair of the Dog UK has a number of body treatments to slough off dead skin cells and promote healthy fur growth.

If you have any enquries about your dog or for a full treatment list please contact Hair of the Dog Coggeshall through Facebook.

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I have been going to the same gym on and off for two decades. Whenever I have been home, I have had rapturous unsustainable , passionate relationships with the gym and other times meaningless flirtations, until my leisure time was lured by better offers, such as olive tasting nights or bolsotering friend’s online dating profiles with completely fictitious hobbies ( minature gingerbread house designer -being the most respectable)  . All of these have seemed better ideas than having to drive out in the darkness to a freezing cold aircraft hanger to throw my body around various classes that hold the promise of injury, well before I can persuade myself that I can actually see some definition.

The gym I attend is where trophy wives go to die. I ponder this as I park between 4x4s that have never been off road. Some of these women haven’t seen a carbohydrate since the first time they wore blue mascara and certainly haven’t frowned since the mid 90s. I have always though marrying for money to be an easy way out, a bypass to having a career and fulfilling life, perhaps because I have never been thin enough or unopinionated enough to put up with the sort of man that searches for them. Around twenty minutes into the class, the 21year old instructor is trying her best to encourage the elite squad of women to do “excercises that would make their husbands happy.” I begin pondering that most of the husbands would probably be more interested in the aerobics instructor- no matter how many pelvic floor movements Shelly from Romford can manage. The hall was fairly bereft of the fitgasm crew, thank God. These are the super keen, very lean, back -to- back fitness class women. At around the point that I can no longer breathe and am wondering if I have given myself whip lash from over enthusiastic arm movements and I feel like my heart is about to break about of my chest like the an alien- we get down to the last torturous set of horrific excercises. This is when the women start making weird enthusiastic howling or grunting sounds that are meant to be encouraging and demonstrate duress simultaneously, they are lost in the endorphin rush and  pain and make these curious sounds- the fitgasms. I cannot express how uncomfortable I find this and look around the room to check I am not part of some out of control Bacchic ritual set to Euro chart- topping beats.

In fact, I am spending most of the time, avoiding looking at the mirror and wondering if anybody would notice if I needed the defib, or if my cardiac would somehow be lost amid the frenzy of ecstatic fitness moaning .In any case, mercifully the fitgasms werent there, which was somewhat of a blessing. I can’t really go to the gym, as I find myself either talking to people or politely letting people go in front of me on the equipment. I need the ritual humilation that only comes from being surrounded by older people who are physically fit, to actually do the class.

The second thing I notice, is that in my readiness not to look to keen or dres like I know what I am doing, is that I think I have had the same gym T shirt for 15 years. I don’t think it ever fitted me and it now conceals the mono boob. This is a product of wearing the sports bra that seems to squash any breasts more substantial than a satsuma into looking like one solid part of the body. Nothing moves thanks to the structural engineering  apparently from space rockets) that goes into creating sports bras.  I can only conclude that rocket engineers date very thin women, because there is no way on earth that anyone would think they had created something beautiful and functional with the monoboob bra. Furthermore, not satisfied with cramming the unruly body into one wired and lycra monstrosity, the deisgner the saw fit to have it made in neon colours. I also took a moment to take in the teacher’s ensemble that highlighted beautiful deltoids , apparently the pulled- up football sock, baseball cap- topped outfit is now a thing. Quite frankly if I could still look attractive looking as if I had robbed a 1970s football changing room, then I might be tempted to wear the same.  I dont think the vest would go over my head, let alone anywhere else.

It is a rather sad state of affairs that I can congratulate myself for going in the right direction ( i,e right or left)  or not falling over anyone elses weights, steps or water bottles and being able to be able to count to 8. Still, I went. I am hoping that this time, the gym and I can go the distance. I’m sure my body would thank me for it…


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The refuge of kindness.

I work as an ESOL tutor. I teach English to students of other languages. I have had the joy of teaching all over the world. I returned to the U.K after many years ,as a temporary stopgap. I was waiting until we comprehended the impact of BREXIT before deciding where to go to next. I could no longer transfer, educate and prepare student nurses for the N.H.S with a clear conscience from Sardinia.  I couldn’t give them answers as to whether they might be deported if they earned under £30,000 a year. I stumbled back to the U.K an island of immigrants and emigrants. I can always find work in Britain. I arrived under the grey skies of Winter, unsure if I should pack up my beloved euro- cat and head out to another country. ( My cat is happy as long as he has outdoor hunting space, he speaks fluent mouse in at least three languages.)

ESOL teachers are an odd breed of people. We have often traded possessions for backpacks and have empty pockets and full passports. It appeals to younger people for that very reason, however  it is badly paid and the hours are very long and often your wages are performance related. ( Fantastic if you are in a well- funded school of  motivated super- geeks, not so much if you have a struggling school crammed with children for whom school -life is a break from the hardship of poverty and the walls are so broken-that stray cats saunter into the lessons, only to be chased out again.)  I worked in a school in South Africa that had permanent security guards. I was advised to get a taxi door to door from work. Nobody does it for the money. Lots of people do it for the travel and then there are the older teachers, like me, who have earned our stripes, herding children and adults through dull syllabae and  have reached the school’s targets, with a sufficient number of students passing their exams. We are tuned into the ridiculous, hard-wired for hilarity and masters of mime. We can convincingly pretend to be a circus seal with a ball on it’s nose with no props, should the occasion arise. We are hammy actors who over- emphasise everything, there is no room for subtlety in  the beginner’s lesson.  We talk uncharacteristically with our hands and we normally win at any Christmas game of charades. We can usually do convincing animal sounds ( animal sounds are different in every country, incidentally.)  We can make a joke without speaking, laughter is a huge ice breaker and is never at anyone’s expense. We know the nuts and bolts of grammar, we have re-learned the English language to be able to teach people who do not speak English as their first language. We know the science of syntax and are mildly obsessed with phrasal verbs and sub-ordinate clauses. Unless we strike it rich and write a textbook, or run a Business English School, we are unequivocally poor. We don’t do it for the money. We do it for a chain of tiny break- throughs, like the first time a child or adult strings a word together with phonics and has rolled the sounds in their mouth to make a proper word, by themselves. Sometimes, it is as small as someone knowing they have not pronounced a silent letter like in “gnaw” or “knight” of “knife.” Other times, it is when a group of multi- national students battle out a topic in current affairs, explaining their point with all the conviction of youth, using the right register. Everyday we  ESOL teachers celebrate small but certain victories.

I have combined paid teaching with voluntary teaching for a long time. It has been a huge lesson and gift to work with refugees and asylum seekers. “A refugee is only a refugee until they have a job,” is a phrase I often turn over in my  mind. It is my goal to try and help realise people’s goals. I teach people who are full of undated courage and determination. I am yet to meet a student who wanted to come here. I have travelled the world and for that I am grateful. I have been a student in a seat learning a new language more than once ,in more than one country. I have fought through the registration processes and bureaucracy to be a citizen elsewhere. I have longed for home cooking, the familiar songs and jokes from home; whilst living in  countries where I had not yet assimilated. The difference between the refugees and I, is that I could always  return home, IF I had enough money.

I have worked with psychologists and written programmes for refugees. We cannot teach English the way we would to any other foreign student who arrives to study English. Many suffer with P.T.S.D, children have separation anxiety and social anxiety. We cannot teach the lesson about the family tree at the beginning, as there are so many crosses over the spaces of relatives who were killed in, or during conflict. Some children arrive unable to speak in their own language, it is not uncommon to meet children who one day stopped speaking, altogether- overwhelmed by trauma. Parents who have battled on, having lost a child and who must still care for their other children, moving from camps to a different country, trying to be resilient. Being aware of cultural difference, sometimes they break down and I cannot touch them to let them know I feel their pain and sometimes they lack the words to articulate their grief. In those moments, there is little that can be done. I am powerless to change their pasts, I have not known the anxiety of night-shelling or the terror of being hidden from soldiers. Many times I have felt the angry mist in the back of my eyes and a knot in my stomach, there is no trite English idiom to heal the pain within.


There are days when I see people overwhelmed, the terror of entering the wrong PIN and having a card swallwoed at the ATM. So much of life is farmed out to call centres, without a good grasp of English, it is difficult to function in a world that presents you with 8 phone options at a time. The people I work with are hit hard by the uncertainty of zero hours contracts and struggle in a sea of people at parent’s evenings, to make sense of what is happening. Asking for directions and getting the all- important internet set up is no cake walk when you  don’t speak English. Students for the first time meet people from different countries, with different accents and different belief systems.   Yet, in everyone who battles the language, I see a hero, a person undefeated, unbowed and and someone who is trying hard to be unfettered by self – doubt. There is huge acceptance, as they square up to the future, wanting something better. Some of my adult students come in between shifts, others can’t write a C.V, some have dreams of University and others are learning a totally new alphabet.

Working with refugees is a great privilege and has to some extent  restored my faith in humanity. Some have been terribly exploited on their journey. It is not just the refugees whose determination and smiles that keep me going. It is the reaction of other people.  When I have asked friends or the public for a second- hand bike, an old computer, a bundle of baby clothes I have never been let down. It snowballs, people clear out their cupboards, or recycle old Christmas presents or give a man back his dignity by giving up some nice work shirts.People have donated food processors, or have offered their time.  Book shops like Red Lion Books in Colchester, Essex have donated bags of children’s book as prizes. Everyday I am heartened to see people give what little they have to help others. I read most days of borders closing and yet all around me, people’s hearts are open. Thank you to anyone who has been part of the journey that has re- affirmed faith in humanity for me.


Helen Gore.

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The mud match.

I am from a strange part of the East Anglia, it is divided between those whom actually need a 4×4 to navigate the muddy backroads and the who buy lowered white Land Rovers, that have never seen a speck of mud. I am British  I am accustomed to inclement weather and endless dog walks in the rain, that requires military layering up, before venturing out. I do not however expect rain in Alghero solidly for 2 weeks, the place I call home. My great friend Bridget, with whom I have  weathered University storms, by drinking over- sized bowls of coffee and smoking more cigarettes than the Marlboro man, had touched down to escape the bite of a British winter.

After 4 long days of being captive “on holiday” it was time to head for the hills. We escaped the hammering rain and rather entertaining lightening and made our way toward Oristano and then to Gran Hotel Terme, Fordongianus (

The Hotel is based next to the mud banks and thermal waters used by those clever Romans, to soak away their problems and the hot volcanic mud has countless benefits, including easing stress and drawing out impurities. I am from the muddy Land Rover camp, so I was happy to be smothered in volcanic mud. We arrived at this hotel, which is out of the way and nestles in the green rolling hills of the countryside.The rooms were spacious and the large beds in both rooms were incredibly comfortable. The generous balcony had a small table and an ironic sun lounger, with views of the countryside. Even the air felt healthy.

I can honestly say that you have never experienced vulnerability until you have found your self in a room alone with a foreigner, a mud pump and wearing a pair of ill fitting paper pants.Its a strange situation and there are rooms after rooms carved into the hills, where one feels rather like the subject of a medical experiment. The staff were professional which was just as well, as I stood next to a high procedure table and the clinician pure hot mud onto the large plastic sheet on the bed, I was then asked to hop up and lie back into the mud. Once engulfed, the plastic wrapper was closed and I felt very like a seal trapped in a giant Quality Street. The clinician leaves the room and the warmth of the mud seems to seep into any aches and pains and the feeling is deliciously sublime. I managed block the first thought about quicksand and replace it with imagining tropical sunshine. I barely noticed the sound of the rain outside. The clinician arrives sometime later and has run thermal water into a sunken jacuzzi in the same room. It has also been pumped directly from the source. Then something happened that definitely didn’t happen in Roman times. the woman switched on a sort of human jet washer , while I stood in a shower cubicle and with deadly aim managed to free the hot mud and directed me to the jacuzzi. I am not sure if it was the fact I was no longer cowering in paper smalls from a woman with a noisy jet washer or because thermal water was so pleasant but for the next 15 minutes I felt most relaxed, I got out dried and had a lie down on the now mud free bed, until it was time t leave. Upstairs I enjoyed the thermal swimming pool, I could swim outside in the water that measured a minimum of 37 degrees and see the beautiful landscape beyond the pool perimeter.

Treatments at the hotel were fabulous, mainly because the staff were well trained, although few spoke any English. Like most of these places that focus one of my least favourite adjectives “Wellness,” there was a very healthy lunch available, although it was rather expensive. Had I had a car, I might have been tempted to venture out somewhere local.

There are few things I won’t try in the pursuit of relaxation, whether its rooftop yoga ( was disastrous due to an unsafe roof) , Guided Meditation ( I upset Buddhists by slapping dead the determined mosquitoes) or laughing yoga ( this became a quite frightening outpouring of hysteria,as the teacher resembled the utter picture of Victorian mania). I can honestly say however, that the mud treatment seemed to envelop a little bit of everything and of course being covered in mud, means you cant actually leave it you dislike the treatment. Thankfully I loved it. With my predilection for long baths and having tried everything from bathing in salt, epsom salts, essential oils, minerals and even tea, I should have known I was into a winner. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



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English Language.

Individual or group lessons?

Before paying for your language course, check your teacher’s qualifications. Students should check that their teacher has a Masters Degree in ESOL, a CELTA or a DELTA. These are the recognised qualifications to teach English as a foreign language. If you were ill you would not visit the baker, butcher or shop assistant to diagnose your influenza, so why would you go to an unqualified teacher?

Individual lessons can accelerate learning, specifically if you have existing problems with your language learning, have a specific goal or objectives. If you are short on time, definitely book individual lessons, ask your teacher if your objectives are realists and study OUTSIDE the class. Sadly, the teacher doesn’t have a microchip, to transfer their mother tongue English, you need to work in and outside the lessons. Sassari&Alghero English deliver individual results, quickly, with individual lessons.Individual lessons are ideal for learners who lack confidence and need to feel secure, providing they trust the teacher.

Group Lessons can improve confidence and help students listen to different accents. Group lessons are great if all the learners have the same objectives and allow for a lot of creativity. Groups can work well the class are close. Groups of learners can help each other on the English Language journey and going for coffee after class, helps to strengthen the boys between learners. The stronger the bond, the better the class. Groups allow for more activities and scope for learning. Groups are ideal for students of the same level, or who work in the same industry.

A good teacher should be able to recommend free resources to help with your English journey and should have a variety of methods for teaching. Translating from your mother tongue to English is generally discouraged. Translating slows the learning process and stops the brain from learning chunks of language. Communicative strategies are accepted as the best way to learn and process grammar and vocabulary, with the emphasis on fluency. If your teacher is using Italian in the lesson, they are probably unqualified, inexperienced or uncertain of English grammar. The approved method of teaching for Trinity and Cambridge exams, is a total immersion approach.

Ask for an entry test and discuss which option is best for you, group or individual lessons.



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Cant see the wood for the trees.

A trip to the National Park with my family seemed like an idyllic way to spend an afternoon. The fresh smell of the pine forests after rain, the earthy soil trudged down by centuries of animals and walkers. What better way to spend an afternoon. Although still convalescing from a mystery illness, which had some rather unpleasant side effects, I decided it was time to leave the central heated nest, otherwise known as our Italian home.

My 6 year old niece tucked in her toy Alsation in the back of the car and we headed out at speed to the National Park, my father was trying to negotiate the manual hire car, not something any of us are adept at doing, as we all have automatics. We trundled at snails pace out of the town, briefly stalling on a crossing and ignoring the oncoming traffic at the roundabout. However on arrival at the National Park, my father, seeing the clear open roads that bisected the 1200 Hectare forest, decided to step up the speed. The engine, clearly terrifying the local wildlife allowed us a woodland safari of sorts. The gear crunching and engine revving brought on wild eyed looking deer and flushed out wild boar from beneath their hiding places in the undergrowth. My niece after the initial excitement, of real life animals , turned her attention back to learning Italian on the iPod and the sound of Ben and Holly squeaking their way through another scintillating adventure filled the car. I was harbouring a deep seated loathing for Nanny Plum when we came to a clearing in the woods. Dad, realising that in fact he was not on a racing track slowed down and we pulled into park by a log cabin. Across the way, a wholesome looking couple in their fifties disgorged the last of the contents from their Thermos flask and hung their walking boots from trees to dry them. Earthy looking people who I imagined smelt of sea air and ivy. I was starting to feel my temperature rising and the pains of the mystery illness were in full force. Dad glanced around the car, looking hopeful, with the inevitable undertone of defeat,as he asked who was coming walking? My niece was not leaving the comfort of the car or Nanny Plum and the Alsation was looking equally cosy, the woods looked inviting enough. I surrendered, “Sure,” I murmured, Mum of course was staying with my niece and Ben and Holly whilst I was promised a ten minute walk to the headland to try and see the sea. Ten minutes, that was all, ok I wasn’t feeling fantastic, but ten minutes would be ok. Dad was wearing strange slip on shoes, I noticed this as he chatted, walking at break neck speed up various tracks, whilst I tried to remember which turns we had made along the way.

“Amazing, I wonder if they have any cats of any sort here, lynx or such like?”

No Dad, I don’t think there are any big cats.

“What about wolves or bears?”

I was beginning to think the woodland safari so far, had been rather paltry in terms of wildlife, when compared to the predators that could be lurking in the woods. He crashed on, telling me to pick up the pace as the Park closed at 4 p.m . “We need to be heading back in ten minutes.” He stated this three times, as the slip on shoes got further and further down the track. Then suddenly, as I was casting my eye around for a non existent W.C and ignoring abdominal pains, we caught a whiff of the sea. Frankly, I had given up hope of finding it.

The woods cleared and we found ourselves on a cliff summit, the sound of turquoise waves crashing vehemently against the rocks beneath. Huge Homeric looking rocks, jutted out from the depths of the Mediterranean and the wind whistled past our faces. I stooped to look at the sea in all of its unpredictable glory as it echoed in the stalactite ridden caves beneath. “Take a photo,” I shouted above the sound of the sea.

Dad was now perched seated on a rock.  I did the same almost immediately. We are both dreadful sufferers of vertigo and despite the expansive view, we both felt the need to evade the clutches of the horror of “Looking down.”

We settled for seated photographs. After a few minutes, the slip on shoes were off, like a greyhound out of the traps, they left a trail of dust behind them. We were very late and the sun had slipped behind the highest part of the pine forest and the trees sinews were strained against the half light. “Dad, Dad,”- the slip on shoes were going too fast as my Dad took the path to the right. “Wrong way,” I muttered, but the shoes had gone right and he was making his way towards a different clearing.  “There’s your mother, dear” he declared with such certainty that I thought he must have found a shortcut. I couldn’t see the grey Renault anywhere, just gorse thickets and wild fauna. ” Just down there.” We were now a good mile from the right track. I told my father to stay put whilst I jogged down towards what I knew to be gorse bushes and what he decided was in fact a great Renault. I could hear them, the slip on shoes were trying to keep up. “Had my father seen nothing of survival documentaries?”

Jesus, one of you can exert yourself whilst the other one rests, but not to be outdone the slip on shoes were running over the rocky paths as we headed for a car that didn’t exist.

The mobile phone comes out, he phones mother. “We’re lost,” he proclaims in the sort of tone that meant he expected mother to be able to solve the situation. Somehow despite being a car with a 6 year old, she was now meant to be a professional tracker with a sideline in Mountain Rescue. I cast my eyes around the pine forest, by the time we made the right track, it would be dark. The woods seemed to close in and there was a sense of standing in a woodland kaleidoscope, the trees in the evening light seemed to lengthen and my perspective was warped. Then I saw it, through the trees was a road, it looked like the main road through the reserve, although there were in fact three different ones. “But there is no road through the woods.” Kiplings ominous poem kept resurfacing as we made our way towards the road.  I asked twice for the mobile phone, but my father clung to it, claiming the battery was fading. “Get Mum’s GPS coordinates.” The slip on shoes slid on. He eventually pulled out the phone and used the compass app, “South” thats the way he proclaimed, finger in the air with all the confidence of Captain Mannering. He fumbled for the tattered reserve map, after twenty minutes. I asked him to call Mum and tell her to beep the horn….nothing. At this point I picked up 2 flints and a very large stick, whilst my eyes searched the forest floor for wild boar, who were particularly aggressive when they had young.

After some time, he turned around, “North will lead us to the the exit, eventually, could be an hour and halfs walk.” I had lost all confidence after the compass was produced and had started to eye a large pile of dried sticks and leaves. If we lit a fire in the natural reserve, someone would come to arrest us. Phone call 4 “Well if Aitch and I have to sleep out we’ll be ok.” Higher ground, we need to get to higher ground, I thought as we stumbled along the path. The silence was broken by the squeak of his shoe. “We’ll sleep in the is ditch here.” Holy Mother of God, what , what part of survival had my Dad missed as a Queen’s Scout? He had often proudly told us of his scouting abilities and here he was telling us to sleep at the bottom of a mountain in a ditch, amongst wild animals. The stick weighed heavy in my hand and the trees moved. We were being watched. The first wild horse appeared, followed by a second, third and the rest of a very bedraggled looking herd. ” If they charge us, stand your ground.” Another gem from my father’s survival guide. I remembered my sister saying, pretend you are rearing up, put your hands above your head.” She had clearly never been charged in the British countryside by three burly Suffolk punches. I was beginning to think the slip on shoes were going to hinder the ascent to higher and safer ground and quite frankly if he wanted to sleep in a polluted mosquito ridden ditch he was welcome to it. We had been gone for hours, no sign of the car, I was about to start the ascent and build a fire, when at the next bend the Renault could be seen. My niece, tired of Ben and Holly and high on penny sweets, was waving frantically from the den she had made on the back seat. Dad took my arm, as if we were limping from a post Apocalyptic world and we staggered towards the car.

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Help yourself to help the homeless

It was the coldest night of the year, in the UK, it was shiver factor ten, which translated into Sardinian language, meant you needed an overcoat and maybe a scarf. My mother had caught the bug that seemed to have been doing the rounds in my non- centrally heated house for the best part of 5 months. The upside being you couldn’t eat anything, (I am convinced Sardinian women have this bug all year round) the downside being that you felt like road kill, in need of an oil radiator. Still, suffering from cabin fever we made it to the local supermarket. The car is distinctive and bears a battle scar, where I put it into a wall after jumping in the passenger window to prevent it from rolling down the hill and into the sea- hand breaks are necessary on gradients ( Who knew?- Well actually most people except me-apparently) . In the supermarket car park, Mum declined the sports socks, fake watch and lumo headband being proffered by the street vendor. He was shivering. Instead she gave him the last of her change and my two Euros which were invested in the said trolley. He looked South Indian and like the men I spoke with form Eritrea on the bus, I imagined he felt the cold acutely. Having lived in Africa, I remember how cold I found Europe on my first Winter home. He seemed pleased and shocked by my mothers small offerings and came up to the side of the car. He tried to give her a free pair of socks and a packet of tissues. We diligently packed the car, in fact such was the efficiency of my mothers packing, that we now housed the homeless man’s bag of stock on the back seat- which to be fair, was in a similar looking bag to the ones we had brought to the shop. He stopped offering his free gifts and told me in Italian that we now had his bag on the back seat, whilst we fumbled for the car key to make our way home. I translated. In her attempt to be thoughtful, Mum had now swiped the destitute gentleman’s entire stock and it sat proudly on the back seat. Once my Mum realised, the man threw his arms into the air and laughed from the pit of his belly, we stood in the rain laughing, as she fished out his bag. I don’t think he had ever had his stock of dodgy phone chargers and sport socks pinched by a woman in a Mercedes before. He shook her hand after the hilarity had quelled, his beautiful teeth illuminated by the shop display’ strip lighting. ” You are very nice people” he glanced at the car, “Are you German?” he asked.

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