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When Joan was little she knew she loved her Grandad. She also knew he loved her.
He had a habit of showing up at her place carrying a shopping bag within which he hid something sweet and something educational.
“Eccentric” is the word Granny used to describe him. “What’s he done this time?” she’d ask when Joan mentioned Grandad had been over to visit.
Grandad felt you were never too young or too old to learn and never too old to enjoy a lolly.
Joan’s mother was Grandad’s daughter, and was forever going on about him spoiling his granddaughter by giving her lollies when she was doing her best to feed Joan a healthy diet which didn’t include sugar in large amounts.
“You’re only young once,” he’d say as he slipped a jellybean into his mouth.
“Your blood sugars must be astronomically high,” remarked his daughter.
“Perfect,” he’d say, “my GP says I’m the fittest sixty-year-old he knows.”
Joan loved listening to Grandad’s stories, which were usually about fantastic things he said, lived in his garden. Joan soaked it all up and wandered about Grandad’s garden when she visited looking for the fairies he said lived in various parts of his yard.
She arrived one day not long before Christmas to find both Granny and Grandad in the kitchen, huge pots and pans on the stove and Granny shouting orders at him.
“It’s Granny’s witching time of the year,” he said to Joan as she stood mouth agape watching the frantic goings-on.
“Best stand back,” he said, “ Granny uses a lot of ‘double double toil and trouble’ at this time of year. Get too close and you might end up in the mix and we wouldn’t want that.”
So Joan stood back as Granny mixed the heavy dough and poured it into cloth bags, which she suspended over huge boiling vats on the stove. “Keep your eye on the water levels,” she barked at Grandad who winked at Joan and lifted her up to see the bags of dough floating in the vats.
“I’ve got to keep the water at a height just above the top of the bag or the mix will dry out and not cook properly. It’s an important job, so I’m glad you’re here to help keep an eye on them,” he said sounding very serious.
So Joan knowing her Grandad was serious watched the water levels as the vats bubbled away, telling Grandad the water needed topping up from time to time.
“She’s a powerful witch,” said Grandad to Joan, “she can turn a bag of flour into the most delicious cake and pudding, just watch what happens.”
“Don’t take any notice of the silly old fool,” said Granny, “I’m making Christmas cake and puddings is all. We do it each year and every time your Grandad makes up these wild stories about me being a witch.”
“She’s magical,” said Grandad lifting Joan up to see the puddings bubbling away.
Joan giggled with delight as Grandad and Granny set her down at the table later when the cooking was done. Granny had made a batch of scones and cutting one in half covered it with jam and cream, the perfect morning tea in Joan’s eyes.