Thursday, 27 October 2011

A very small story

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I’m always banging on about the little things. The older I get, the more important I think them.

Yesterday afternoon, I looked out of my office window to see a family, gazing about, giving the appearance of being a bit lost. I went out and asked if I could help them. The Pigeon bounded up, in high delight, since there were four small children, and she loves nothing more. The children looked a bit doubtful at first to see a strange black dog galloping towards them; but I reassured them, explained her love of small people, and said that she just wanted to play. Then there were instant wide smiles of delight.

I spoke to the parents. They were looking for a local beauty spot, of which they had been told. I pointed them in the right direction and showed them how to get there. We talked for a bit. I asked them where they had come from. London, they said. I asked if they had been here before. They had not. The sun was shining like gangbusters and I said I was so glad that they had got some good weather, so they could see the hills in their pomp.

The woman said: ‘Well, it did rain yesterday, but that was not going to stop up. Out we went walking, all the same.’ Her husband nodded and smiled. They were very elegant and well-dressed, and the children were immaculate; with their black clothes and London accents, I could see they might be taken as soft southern visitors, not with the flinty stuff of the north-east. But not a bit of it; out they had gone, in the murk and the dreich and the wet, defiant in the face of weather. All the same, I was very very pleased that they had the fine sun now, as the colours are starting to sing.

Anyway, it’s not a specially interesting story. We made some more polite conversation. I suggested another local place they might like to see. I wished them all well and smiled and waved at the children. It was a small, ordinary, human interaction, nothing dramatic or screenworthy about it.

As they walked off, and the mother said, to her children: ‘Say thank you to the nice lady’. They politely did. The Pigeon watched them go with regret. I said I hoped they had a lovely trip.

Inside I was shouting: I’m a NICE LADY. It was like getting a badge or a medal. Most of the time lately, I’ve been a distrait lady, or an impatient lady, or a slightly nuts in the head lady. I thought: all that talk of manners that my mother did with us when we were small really was worth it.

You see – tiny, tiny thing. So small I did not even write of it yesterday. But it has stayed with me. It’s something to do with the kindness of strangers. It’s something to do with the simplicity of seeing a family having a delightful holiday, not in some exotic foreign clime or some antic theme park, but here, in dear old Scotland, where they may look at the mountains and the trees and the local architecture. It was a little sliver of politesse, all of us minding our Ps and Qs, as if in defiance of the cross newspapers, which insist we live in an atomised and selfish and rude society.

Anyway, whatever it was, it made me oddly happy. So that is my small thing of the day.

And now your pictures of the day. The colours remain quite astonishing, almost too real to be real:

Almost the last horse chestnut to still have its leaves:

27 Oct 1

This one is a bit blurry, but I wanted you to see the colours:

27 Oct 2

I keep taking shots of this view, because of the tiny golden trees in the foreground, and the echoing gold on the hill:

27 Oct 3

My Japanese cherry, with which I remain entranced:

27 Oct 4

The salix has suddenly gone bright yellow:

27 Oct 5

Some of the beeches are still not yet turned:

27 Oct 6.ORF

Another golden tree, with the blue hill beyond:

27 Oct 8

Light on the hill:

27 Oct 9.ORF

Another view of the Japanese cherry; hope this does not become too repetitive. But LOOK at it:

27 Oct 10.ORF

And talking of looking at things, regard this eager are-you-going-to-throw-the-ball face:

27 Oct 11

Answer was, of course, yes I am.

Today's hill:

27 Oct 15


  1. What a delightful story, don't manners make all the difference?
    And 'nice lady' of course you are, but wonderful to hear a stranger say it.

  2. Funny, your opening para reminded me of a quote I saw just today on a card in the V&A shop: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.”

    Plus, glad the family you met were out showing that not all southerners are soft!

  3. 3rd photo down - the trees are afire!

    And another vote here for manners making life more pleasant. They're every bit as important as comfortable surroundings. Suffering is NOT always good for the soul, why shouldn't life be enjoyable?

    The Pigeon is looking glorious. Please give her best scruffles from me.

  4. Isn't it lovely how a small encounter can lift your day? And, of course, we know you are a very nice lady :)

    My school motto was Manners Maketh Man. We used to say it with a very camp lisp but the point did stay with me.

  5. Love your pictures today, especially the one with some red leaves to the right and different golden colours. Thanks. Erika

  6. I was sent here. Told I would find you a sympathetic voice.

    What I've found so far is a fine story teller, obviously well mannered:) with a beautiful dog.

    Lovely to meet. Now I'm off to read a bit more.


  7. Lovely story. I always think you are a nice lady.

    Family holidays in Scotland are wonderful things, I'm glad they still happen.

    Once, when holidaying in Fife. the weather was bad and I did not want to go hill walking so I wore my one and only pair of heels (I was about fifteen).

    Half an hour later I was hill walking in heels. And I know if I am lucky enough to have children they will walk Scottish hills whether they are in heels or not, whatever the weather.

  8. My one small thing of the day: (Good theme): A nice lady called Kerry invited me round to hers for coffee next week. I don't really know anyone yet, so this is major progress and I am truly grateful to those who think of the small things.

  9. Isn't it nice though? Even polite nice conversations with strangers is enough to make me glee these days.

    I am busy admiring your pictures of the beech avenue. I do love beech trees - the bit in Prince Caspian where they all come to life and start dancing always stays with me. If I was a tree I think I'd like to be a dancing beech.


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