' The Ragman's Serenade tells the story of four families- one from North Shields and the other three from Wallsend. It is a story of relationships- The Davis family are up to their eyes in debt - The Stewart family have a daughter who has downs syndrome– The hagarths who’s husband owns a bookmakers shop and his wife is a midwife at the RVI- and the Higginbottom's have a father with the on set of Alzheimer's. How do they cope - read this fascinating story i'm sure you will enjoy.


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Then Elsie put on the kettle and put a teabag into his pint pot.

When it was done she added sugar and milk and stirred it then set it down onto the table next to his arm chair.

“Right dad I’m going up to do my comp’ mag’s;’ give me a shout if you need anything.’

Elsie walked slowly up the stairs then went into her bedroom and sat on the bed. She opened the first page of the magazine that she got every week and the first story inside had a headline; “LIVING WITH DEMENTIA IN THE FAMILY.’ Elsie read the heart warming story of a young girl forced to look after her mother who didn’t even know who she was anymore. Elsie knew that there would come a day when her father would be the same and the tears flowed down her cheeks as she read about how this girl had suffered violent outbursts until she could take no more and had to have her mother committed to an institution. There was a helpline number at the bottom of the page. Elsie nervously picked up the telephone in her room and dialled the number. She closed the bedroom door and waited for an answer. The call was answered by Mrs Janet Oxbridge who listened sympathetically to Elsie’s predicament as she sobbed down the telephone. Janet gave her another number to call and told her that there was help available to her and that she could take a break and they would come in and look after her father whilst she was away.

Elsie thanked Janet then dialled the number she’d given her. Elsie explained to the woman on the other end of the line that she just spoken with Janet Oxbridge.

“Hello; I am Brenda Updyke,’ I am the manager of various retreats around the country. “ Is there anywhere specific that you would like to go Ms Higginbottom?’

“Somewhere near the coast with a nice beach would be nice. I have just bought a little dog and I would like to take her with me if that is possible.’

Yes that would be fine for you to take the dog with you; now we have a retreat near Whitby or there is one in Scarborough. There is also one near Seahouses and another near Bamburgh Castle. It is entirely your choice; you can go for up to two weeks at a time and when you feel the need.

That would be lovely said Elsie; could I go in June?’

“Hold on Elsie I’ll just check.’

Elsie heard a drawer being opened then a book opened and pages turning.

“Hello Elsie; Yes there is a vacancy on June the 3rd at Bamburgh; would you like me to book you in?’

“Yes please,’ and thank you very much.’

“You’re most welcome; if you just give me your address we will make the arrangements for your father to be looked after.

Elsie gave Brenda Updyke her address and relayed all the information about her father and his medication and what he liked to do.’

“Does your father have any allergies?’

“None that I am aware of Mrs Updyke.’

“That’s good well then. You are booked into the retreat for two weeks on the 3rd of June.’ “We will send you all the details nearer the time along with the key to the property. After your stay just post the keys back to us in the prepaid envelope. Please enjoy your stay.’

“Thank you, thank you so much.’

“Goodbye Ms Higginbottom.’

The phone went dead and Elsie put down the phone.

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