Driver and passenger walk free from overturned Volvo (Rousse)

Having successfully negotiated the main section of the journey to Edinburgh with my maternal grandmother in the smaller of my mother’s two silver Volvos, I lost concentration on a road that had been partially cordoned off, slammed into a traffic cone, and turned over the car. We were both flung out of our seats onto the tarmac.

While I soon picked myself up from the road, my poor maternal grandmother remained splayed across the lane. Although not visibly injured, I feared that she was dead. I reached for her arm and felt for her pulse. All was well, she was alive after all, and happily returned to her seat in the back of the car.

A young man with dark hair stepped forward from the small crowd of on-lookers and insisted that he take over the driving for the remainder of the journey. (The Volvo itself was roadworthy. The only visible damage was that half the bumper had been sheared off the rear of the car.)

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When your new neighbours are reality television stars (Rousse)

The new upstairs neighbours had moved in! I was able to confirm this to TPR and DM from the bedroom window as I watched a car arrive in the new parking space behind our garden.

Before long we noticed that the builders who had put down the gravel in the parking space had also rebuilt the garden wall several metres closer to our shared building. Some of our garden space had been stolen!

TPR, who was already dressed, stormed out of the house by the front door to demand an explanation from the neighbours. Meanwhile I pulled on some clothes and headed out at the back to check the wall.

It soon became clear to me that the wall’s position was, in fact, exactly the same as before. It was its construction that had changed. Now it was in sections in different styles: red brick, dry stone wall, graffiti-ed concrete. One was in the shape of a huge stone seat. The seat itself was mechanical, ready to swallow up anyone who dared to sit on it.

Now that I knew that our garden had not, in fact, been encroached upon, I headed upstairs to stop TPR shouting at the neighbours. I was too late. He had already said his piece and was now the most unpopular ‘guest’ at the flat-warming party. I made an attempt to smooth things over, but as soon as my association with TPR was known, I was made to feel most unwelcome.

Then it dawned on me that I recognised the new neighbours – from a reality television show on house sales. They had been profiled because they couldn’t shift their tiny London flat. I tried to engage the pair of them in conversation on this topic. They told me that they had been bitterly disappointed at their portrayal in the programme because the editing of content had presented them a bitchy, bickering couple.

When it was time for us to return to our own flat, we all slid back to the basement down the chute that has been installed in our building for this very purpose.

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Catastrophic Christmas cooking (Belle)

Initially told to cater for ten people, there were now 24 people crushed around a dining table holding their knives and forks vertically and expressing impatience.

There was chaos behind the scenes. No one was helping me, and when I returned to collect my gravy it had been rejected by a passing guest who had tipped it down the sink.

I peeped into the dining room and saw that Ian Hislop had squeezed into a corner space. We were now 25 for lunch. The carrots were not going to stretch to that.

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Tutor daughter thwarts student mother’s study success (Rousse)

My mother had only been studying for a week, so had barely opened the book when I told her that it was time for her first exam.

I was somewhat responsible for the panic that ensued. I really should have warned her that there was an assessment so early in the schedule, and told her the seen essay question – not least because I was the tutor.

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Left behind groceries at LIDL (Rousse)

A pile of groceries lay on the floor at the entrance to LIDL: a cabbage, a dozen potatoes, a few sprouts, and six tins of tomatoes. They’d been there for at least two days, but nobody knew the reason why. Perhaps somebody had forgotten their shopping? Or could this be a novel art installation?

When we passed it again – this time with GG on the way to see his new house and meet his fiancée – I was sorely tempted to pick everything up, take it home, and transform it into soup.

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From turtles to a wish to weigh under ten stone (Rousse)

I left my school friend KC in charge of the mixed selection of beautiful green-striped turtles that were climbing up our side of the bath. This allowed me to drive south to collect my mother from my cousins’ house in the Borders.

There were several members of my family that I did not expect to see at our meeting point. These included my maternal grandmother, in reasonable health despite being 110 years old, wearing a blue dress and sitting happily in a wheelchair.

Most impressive was my cousins’ antique kitchen cupboard. It was as tall as their massive house and, as such, was treated like an entire separate wing of the building.

Before I returned home I weighed myself with SY and CS. SY was (unexpectedly) only 8’7″, and Carol 11’4″. I prayed that I would come in at under 10′.

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Food shortages in the Outer Hebrides (Rousse)

It was well-known that this was the last season that the bed and breakfast on the Isle of Lewis would be welcoming guests, and for this reason it was mobbed. Most visitors were returning guests, keen to relive the fun of previous stays for one final time.

Unfortunately the proprietors could not cope with the influx of guests so I was asked to switch to ‘chalet maid’ role and help out at dinner. When I brought the tiny portions to the table it was obvious to all that there was simply not enough food to go round. One poor diner was obliged to wait until after everyone else had finished their meal before an extra crème caramel could be produced for her pudding.

Some of the guests supplemented their diet elsewhere. One headed off to the community shop to stock up on biscuits. Others discovered a pop-up fish and chip shack close to the shore. Even I bought a couple of long, thin, slimy veal steaks for myself and TPR to fry up later (although whether or not they would be in a fit state to eat by the time we reached the house was questionable because I kept dropping them in the sand).

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