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Mirages and Miracles

Welcome, all comers, to the latest Cook-Inn update. Today I learned an important new skill. New people helped the project, and lots of people got fed.

Again today, my gorgeous husband Duncan felt awful. He fed the cats their breakfast and retired to bed for another few hours’ rest. Outside, the gallant lads George and Neil (the diesel guy) were tinkering with ‘Arthur’ the sick van. Finally the road men had finished re-paving our area, and we could get the van on the road again as soon as his engine turned over and he moved. Spoiler; it’ll be another few days. Something about a tow and a ‘few new bits’ being required. Anyhow, 10.30am saw me seated in the Polo, saying the prayer I always do whenever I begin driving for the day. 10.35am saw me making my way over to Morrison’s for the weekly collection.

Upon my arrival it became apparent that nobody, but nobody knew where the food was – or much about the relative size of today’s Cook-Inn donation at all. I cornered a familiar face amongst the staff team, who agreed to find whoever was minding the warehouse right now. Everybody whom we had worked with before was off today. That ‘flu gets everywhere.

12 crates were eventually hauled out by a vaguely puzzled but helpful young man. Getting a good run up, I began pushing the pile of crates on its low wheels, aware of the fact that this is one situation where being a little bit on the light side is not an advantage. It only slightly budged, even when I was at full push. Grindingly slowly it edged out of the first set of automatic doors, and tottered over the threshold towards the outer ones. For a moment I thought they were bust and wouldn’t open; having recently seen the Last Jedi, I fleetingly wished Mark Hamill (or even Adam Driver – and he plays a baddie) would turn up and wave the ‘Force’ at them so I could get the crates out. Then someone came in the doors (odd; this was definitely marked as the exit) and they decided to open. Resolving to mention the cheekiness of the automatic doors if I remembered (I suppose Gillian, our lovely Champion, will be reading this now) I powered at snail’s pace over to the Polo. There, I considered how to fit 12 crates in beside the 5 crates of food we already picked up days ago, which were also destined for the Hollies now it had re-opened after its refit.

Well, it’s kind of a good job I was alone. The passenger footwell, the seats-down space in the back of the car; if we’d had a skylight food would have been sticking through it. I found a few crates were not completely full; to allow the pickup to be done in just one journey, I snuck their contents into others so I could offload a couple of crates. Dumping them on the wheely plate I nudged it gently towards the store, edging it in through the entrance – the doors on this side let me in with no difficulty. It appears both sides will let you in; they just don’t like you leaving. How friendly!

I drove on; marvelling that, although several of the crates in the car contained onions, I could breathe reasonably well with just the air-conditioning on. Normally this would be impossible for a severe allergic like myself. It just show you that God is aware of our shortcomings, and if there is no option – and a little faith – He can sometimes allow the medically impossible. The miracle continued while I parked gently behind the Hollies. It even persisted while I helped Gordon unload all the crates, and allowed me to spend maybe 20 minutes chatting to our lovely new volunteer, Linda. Clive the chef got a photo or two of us standing in the kitchen with Gordon, and in front of me on the table was a pile of freshly-chopped onions. In the absence of any fictional Force practitioners, you tell me how that happened! Feeling surprised and protected in equal measure, I decided to check on both husband and cats while Gordon and Clive sorted the bags. I left a penned rendition of the runs we needed to do on one of the little tables and I popped out to replenish our stocks of bags and soup containers first. I dropped the new supplies off (ok, now the onion smell seemed to be getting worse – time to beat a hasty retreat) and I nudged the car in a homeward direction.

Cats were both hungry, and Duncan was fast asleep. I opened a sachet of something I hoped they would both like. Instantly I was the focus of some very friendly feline attention! Howling Mad (HM) Romy – who had lived up to his name and howled in the night – was now purring and whining at me by turns, coming right up to the end of ‘his’ sofa to entreat me with a cold, wet nose nudge. Reiver, his plump little brother, was prowling between my legs and giving it laldy. Somehow Duncan slept on. After the bowls were down I had no choice but to stand in between the two of them, because Reivy Boy just loves to upset his brother’s stride so’s he can move in and clean up both bowls himself. After a wee tidy up, and checking Duncan didn’t want anything, I had a sneaky cup of tea before I left the house. The Polo, now empty, looked a little taller because its suspension was having a better time. It revved up happily and I was off again.

I was turning a corner halfway to the Hollies when; Boom! And on the car’s left side, a lowering, and a rumbling noise. Oh, great. I had burst my first tyre… I pulled over. Conveniently, I was very near to a relatively deserted bit of road with no yellow lines. See? God helps us. I parked, pulled out my phone, and called George. He was at the other end of Edinburgh but he said he’d get to me as soon as. I called to let Gordon know, back at the Hollies. Whilst still on the phone, he planned the runs with Clive and the other volunteers, using the piece of paper I had left (for the first time) on the table in the packing area. There was the Prestonpans and Wallyford run; Linda and her husband Banwell kindly volunteered. Murdock and Susan, who had a Musselburgh run of 9 bags, promised to deliver them in the week if she could get a lift home with them today. Our valiant pedestrian arm, Adele and Gordon, would do the big run near the Tesco just between themselves – coming back repeatedly to collect the bags and soups two at a time from someone’s living room. That just left Restalrig and Pilton. Electing to do them once George arrived and we were back on the road, I unpacked the spare tyre and tried to puzzle out our new jack.

The little device didn’t have worded instructions; just a series of 3 pictures, showing the jack on its side with a wee ramp on the bottom and the clampy bit under the car. After a couple of false tries (both ends of the jack looked identical), I worked out which end went where and began to raise the car. Of course, being a tyre novice I had parked too near the curb; the handle wouldn’t turn more than one rotation because the step was in the way. I removed the jack in order to reposition the Polo – and faithful George arrived! Together we made short work of the issue, and George then brought out a neat little electric gadget which both checked and pumped up the other tyres. It seems I might have a couple of slow punctures as well. At least I know about them now. I need one of those air machines for myself…

Clive called again to check a couple of addresses. I asked what we could do to help. He said Banwell had it under control! Clive was already out with him. The two lads were happy to do

Pilton and Restalrig themselves. Fantastic! There’s nothing like finding yourself supernumary as the sky gets slowly darker. You realise that your people are not only up to speed with the parts of the operation they don’t usually deal with; they are now teaching new volunteers the same efficient system. As Clive often remarks, ‘we are the A Team’!

For more information – or to donate, volunteer, join a cookery class or to refer someone for the service – please ring 07531 436 389. Email updates (and pics of my cats) available on request.

-Don’t forget to ‘Look-Inn’ on our website, ‘Cook-Inn Musselburgh’!

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