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Diary: Elizabeth Figg

16 June 2017


Treasure chests

PACKING for our move to Warton, in Lancashire, has begun in earnest now; the house is full of boxes — indeed, if cardboard boxes were liv­ing creatures, each room could pro­vide a visual representation of their lifecycle, from flat and un­­formed, through various stages of construc­tion and packing, to fully formed, filled, and finally sealed closed.

We also have many plastic storage boxes full of “treasures” from Figg family life: the Moses basket in which each of our boys slept after being born; shawls and baby clothes knitted for them by adoring relatives; toys; and many, many books.

It has been pointed out to me that, if and when any grandchildren arrive, they are highly likely to be given new clothes, toys, and books. I find myself unable to part with many of the items, however, as they evoke such happy memories and powerful emotions; so I am going to hang on to them for a few more years by storing them in what I now know to be the cavernous cellars beneath what is to be our new vicarage.


Keep calm, carry on

LAST Bank Holiday Monday, armed with our newly acquired house keys, a floor plan, my trusty tape measure, and instructions on how to deactiv­ate the burglar alarm, my husband, Num­ber 2 Son, the dog, and I set off to explore our new home.

I would like to say that we were just testing the burglar alarm, but, truth be told, we pressed the wrong button. I can only apologise to our new neighbours and the customers who were trying to enjoy a quiet Bank Holiday pint in the pub; the somewhat rotund, grey-haired wo­­man you saw in the vicarage drive­way, desperately trying to control her panicking dog and attempting to look nonchalant as the alarm reverberated around the village, will be taking up residence soon. Sorry.


Time and tide

AFTER causing havoc in the village, we spent an hour or so exploring the house and garden before setting off for lunch in Arnside.

The plan had been to enjoy a picnic and let the dog have a ram­page, but, as we drove into the car park, we realised that a group of people and dogs were in trouble with the quicksand that is so notori­ous in the area.

One person was lying quite flat, as is recommended if you become stuck in quicksand, but a small group of people were attempting to drag a screaming teenager out. Locals were shouting that help was on the way, and, sure enough, the Coastguard soon arrived, swiftly followed by police, ambulances, and the fire brigade.

Once the teenager had been brought to safety, I heard somebody shout something about the tide. Looking beyond the figure still lying prone on the sand, I saw water rushing up the bay.

I have never seen a tide move so fast: by the time the rescuers reached the stranded person, the sea had filled the chan­nel between them and the shore.

Thankfully, everyone was brought safely back to terra firma, but it could have been very dif­­ferent, had it not been for the bravery and skill of the emergency services.

I later learned that the group who were stuck had been training their dogs on the sands; when the siren sounded to warn of the incoming tide, they had started to make their way back to land only to walk straight into a patch of hitherto hidden quicksand.

Much as I love the sea, I suspect the dog and I will be exploring the hills rather than the beaches when we make our move.


Birds of a feather

MOVES of an altogether different sort are being made in our back garden. It seems that our neigh­bours have acquired a young cock­erel — not that the old cockerel has fallen off his perch: old “Bruce” is very much to the fore, and delights in an­­nouncing the fact at the top of his husky voice at inter­vals through­out the day and, sadly, night.

Having two cockerels in one flock is clearly causing some tension, and it seems that the younger cockerel has decided to avoid conflict by, ahem, “visiting” my hens. Alerted by a tremendous cacophony of alarm calls a few weeks ago, I found my hens flapping their wings and shriek­­ing at the Young Pretender as he tried to seduce my little Black­rock.

It obviously takes more than a fine set of wattles, glossy tail-feathers, and a smooth mating dance to turn my Blackrock’s head, though: she refused his advances, raising her hackles and sending him on his way with several well-aimed pecks. I have seen him driven off in the same way numerous times since that first occasion.

Perhaps, although my hens are patently unimpressed by his court­­ship skills, he is hoping that per­­sistence will prove effective. Of course, he doesn’t have much longer to woo my girls; one of these days he will squeeze through the hedge, cross the road, scale the embank­ment, and fly over the wall to find we’ve all flown the coop.


Toys are us

BEFORE we can leave, though, much more packing and many more trips to the charity shops and dump must be done. Last weekend, Num­ber 1 Son came home to help with the sorting and sifting: I found him in the attic clutching a soft toy.

“I remember this,” he said, wistfully. “Listen! He still squeaks. We’ve got to keep him.”

It seems that nostalgia may be an inherited trait. The question is, will the cellars be big enough?


Elizabeth Figg is married to the Vicar of Kildwick, near Keighley.

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