Uncomfortable beds and cold porridge (Rousse)

I was a terrible hostess. I forced my overnight guests to sleep on spin cycles, then made them wait for hours for the cold porridge that I served at breakfast.

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Lost cycle panniers, and Japanese water tanks (Rousse)

How would I admit to TPR that I had lost both of my fully-packed cycle panniers, one of which included our soap bag? I had no idea where I had left them along my solo route in the Scottish borders. I would just keep this misdemeanour a secret for as long as possible.

TPR was delighted to be reunited with me on Edinburgh’s Princes Street. This made it all the more difficult to come clean. However, eventually I bravely made my admission – which was inevitably followed by TPR’s fury.

My next cycle trip was also solo. I travelled to Japan to photograph the mountains. A further purpose of my journey was to study the practices around the upkeep of domestic water tanks. I learnt that on coming of age, every young Japanese man is assigned his own water tank, and then has a lifetime responsibility to keep it free of rust.

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A lobster-pot daughter and dodgy art work cleaning (Rousse)

Even though he obviously was not her father, TPR was the primary carer for our tiny new African baby. She was so beautiful that even I found it hard to believe that she was my very own daughter.

We were extremely low-key parents. Rather than pay for a crib, we made a nest on the floor for our newborn. Here she slept under a section of lobster-pot.

When she was a little older, and began to show a resemblance to her cousin AMF, we let her play in the garden. We decided to fill in the pond as a safety precaution.

Meanwhile life carried on as usual with conference calls about my mother’s precarious financial situation, and arguments with K and T over the paintings at my mother’s house. I was particularly concerned when they took it upon themselves to clean the pictures with window cleaners’ mops.

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Edinburgh property dispute (Rousse)

We had already sold and moved out of our Edinburgh flat a couple of times – and always ended up buying it back again. There was something about the sensible dimensions of the rooms, as well as the flat’s convenient position in the neighbourhood. We simply could not find anything we preferred elsewhere.

Now, with the possibility that my mother might come and live with us, we really needed somewhere with a little extra space. Was it really sensible to sell again?

Then we remembered the suite of unused rooms in our sub-basement. It was the time to check their state and redecorate. If we put in a stair-lift, my mother would have her own space downstairs, yet still be able to pop up to see us whenever she wanted.

The main issue was access to the basement through the hall of our next door neighbours’ house. Even though it was breakfast time, we felt that we should act immediately. So we walked through the small ‘human flap’ in our neighbours’ front door, then made our way to the internal stairs that led to the sub-basement.

SO, still in her nightdress, stopped us in our tracks. She was not happy to hear our plans, largely because she was currently (illegally) renting out the space downstairs to several students. She also disputed its ownership.

On the basis of our initial enquiries, it looked like we would need to call in our lawyers to confirm that the additional accommodation was indeed ours, and to evict the squatters.

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Huge nuts in a hazel wood, and horrid pickles (Rousse)

My sister-in-law S and her husband A had a reputation for buying ridiculous properties. Their most recent purchase was a cottage in the woods. Our first impression was of isolation and inaccessibility along a rough track through hazel trees. However, beyond the house was a scruffy trailer park, so it was not as isolated as we first thought.

On our approach we stopped to pick some hazel nuts. They were absolutely enormous – the size of potatoes.

After our visit, TPR made my mother cry when he told her that he thought her homemade pickles were revolting.

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Stockpiling butter (Rousse)

RB was worried that she had left her children in the hands of an unreliable babysitter for the evening. Due to her work commitments, there was absolutely nothing that she could do about this now.

I offered to help out. If EH could give me a lift in her car on her way home, I would walk the around the corner to RB’s house and check that all was well with the children.

EH, however, could not take me. This was because there was no space for me in her car: it was already fully laden with stockpiled butter.

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Withholding information in connection with a murder (Rousse)

I knew the identity of the murderer, but for the time being was keeping it to myself. After all, he was a nice young man. Why should I pass on information that would ruin his career?

Eventually, however, I knew that the detective would exert a sufficient moral pressure to make me speak out. So long as she was patient, I would eventually spill the beans.

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