Cats/Edinburgh/Allotments – Winning Entry

Throughout August we asked you to send in your flash entries about cats, Edinburgh, or allotments. The twist being this had to be photo instead of a piece of poetry or prose. We loved looking through all your photos! There could only be one winner though and we’re pleased to announce Sara Baker, aged 72, was that winner. 

She wins a copy of “Cat Brushing“, by Jane Campbell, published by Riverrun. Thank you to everyone who entered the flash competition. September’s competition is here already, pens at the ready!

Sara Baker was born in 1950, the eldest of a family of four children. Her father was a journalist, and the family travelled a lot, so she spent part of her early years in Paris, in the ‘cheap’ area frequented by artists and writers. They then settled in the Kings Road, Chelsea – also full of artists, writers, beatniks and later, hippies.

Colourful people like Quentin Crisp and Joyce Grenfell were an everyday part of her life and the Swinging Sixties pretty much started at her front door.  Granny Takes a Trip was a few hundred yards one way and Mary Quant’s Bazaar the other. Sara grew up believing everyone was as fascinating.

She had an excellent education, but it was cut short in 1967 when she discovered she was pregnant. That was the year that terminations became legal, but Sara decided to keep her daughter and marry her young man. The marriage didn’t survive but they had a second lovely daughter and remained close friends for the rest of his life.

Sara later had a third daughter and raised stepchildren too. To make ends meet, she became a childminder for a special Barnardo’s project and was encouraged to go to university and train as a social worker. This was a lot easier in the Eighties!

Sara then spent 20 years in social work before doing a complete about-turn and buying a little antique and book shop in the Scottish Highlands. It was great fun but didn’t make a lot of money. She met her current husband there, before taking another giant leap and moving to France together, where they bought a huge house with a shop stuffed full of old things including linen armoires and cupboards full of China and kitchenalia.

They opened a shop together and worked very hard, while enjoying hunting for stock at junk shops and flea markets. They eventually moved again to an idyllic little water mill with woodland – Sara’s happy place. 

After 15 years in France, they returned to Scotland. Both Sara and her husband had been ill with long-term, life-changing conditions and knew that they would not cope with the woodlands and the management of the water mill. They once again took a leap and moved to Wigtown, Scotland’s Book Town. There, they ran a curiosity shop for four years and eventually Sara’s husband got his state pension, and they could retire.

They now live with their beloved little dachshund Wolfie and beautiful cat William Webster in a sweet little house near Linlithgow where they love having time for exhibitions, wanders about with no rush, reading, music, sewing and most important of all, spending time with their fourteen grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Our flash theme for September is Memory, Money, or Mates!

Is it technically autumn yet, or still summer? It’s very warm, but we’ve started noticing spiders so it must be September, but only just. This month, it’s #WorldAlzheimersMonth and Oddfellows Friendship Month and September also offers us Pension Awarness Week. This means our minds are on all things memory, connection and security for older people.

We’ll be featuring some content on the website about Alzheimers and dementia, financial matters and the art of friendship and connection. These are also the themes of our monthly flash competition, which is back to being a poem/prose/memoir this month, although accompanying photos are always welcome.

Are you aged 60 or over? Send us your flash entries! Tell us something about memory, money or mates.

Entries will be accepted until midnight on September 30th and we’ll pick our favourite in early October, which is, by cunning coincidence, when our poetry competition starts, so sharpen your pens for that. The winner will receive a copy of “The Book About Getting Older” by Dr Lucy Pollock which has been kindly donated by Penguin and their entry will be published on the Autumn Voices website.

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