This week Jenny Berry did not go to school for three days because she had a really bad cold. She had to wipe her nose so many times that it had started to be red and shiny. In fact, she was beginning to look like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. But today was Saturday and it was the weekend and Jenny was feeling much better. Unfortunately, Mrs Berry was feeling much worse. She had caught Jenny’s cold. And so had baby Wills and that was very inconvenient because babies really can’t blow their noses.
Mrs Berry was going to stay in bed until she felt a bit better, so Jenny was upstairs helping her mother to look after Wills and Mr Berry was downstairs unloading the dishwasher and making breakfast. Jenny could hear him banging the plates and saucepans about. She handed her mother the baby wipes:
‘Mum, why do they call it catching a cold. It sounds like you run after it with a net or something, because you want to have it. But nobody wants to have a cold, do they?’
Mrs Berry frowned: ‘Jenny, I think that’s the sort of question you need to ask Grandma Lily. She’s sure to have an answer. She’ll be here any minute to help Daddy with breakfast. It sounds like he’s having a few problems down there.’
Jenny ran over to look out of the window and sure enough, Grandma Lily’s little car was pulling up outside. Jenny was always very excited to see Grandma Lily. ‘Grandma’s here!’ she squealed. ‘She’s just getting out of her car and she’s carrying her big cake tin! I hope she doesn’t slip over. It’s still a bit frosty on the path.’
‘Well, you’d better go downstairs and help her inside,’ said her mother. ‘Daddy’s probably too busy burning the porridge.’
Jenny hurried downstairs and pulled open the front door and Grandma Lily stepped inside: ‘Hello, Jenny dear,’ she said. ‘My goodness, you’re looking much better! How are the others?’
‘Mummy and Wills have caught my cold,’ said Jenny. ‘And Daddy’s burning the breakfast.’
Grandma Lily laughed: ‘Well we’d better go and help him.’
Jenny followed her grandma into the kitchen, where they found Mr Berry on his knees sweeping some broken china into a dustpan. Grandma Lily stepped over to investigate: ‘Oh dear, Mr Berry, what happened?’
‘I dropped a plate. It slipped out of my hand,’ said Jenny’s father.
Jenny tried really hard not to laugh. She watched Grandma Lily walk over to inspect the saucepan of porridge. ‘Is it burnt, Grandma?’ whispered Jenny.
Jenny’s father looked up and frowned: ‘Of course it’s not burnt, young lady. I’ll have you know I am an excellent porridge maker! And I am also very good at making toast! And hard-boiled eggs.’
This time Jenny did laugh. Then she helped Grandma Lily prepare a breakfast tray and carry it upstairs to serve Mummy breakfast in bed. Jenny ran over to check that baby Wills was alright. He was snuffling in his sleep: ‘Poor Wills,’ she said. ‘He sounds like a snuffly hedgehog.’
‘Poor little chap,’ said Mrs Berry. ‘He’s probably wondering what on Earth is happening to him. I’ll be glad when all these wintry colds and sore throats are over. Roll on Springtime and Summertime!’
Now a statement like that was bound to make Jenny think: ‘Do all the colds and sore throats go away when it’s the Summer?’
‘Mostly,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Until next winter.’
‘But, Grandma, where do they go until the next winter?’
Mrs Berry and Jenny both looked at Grandma Lily because they knew that she would have the answer. And she did: ‘Well, that’s simple!’ exclaimed Grandma Lily. ‘Most of the colds go to the other side of the world, to avoid the sunshine. Because when it’s summer here on our side of the Earth, it’s winter on the other side of the Earth. So places like Australia are having their summer right now, when it’s our winter.’
Jenny put her hands on her hips: ‘But, Grandma, what about Christmas? We’ve just had Christmas and it was in the winter here, so does that mean Christmas is in the summer in Australia?’
‘Yes, it does,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘The people in Australia have their Christmas lunch in their gardens and on the beach. And they have Christmas cards with Father Christmas building sandcastles and swimming in the sea.’
Jenny wasn’t sure whether she approved of Christmas on the beach, and she liked her Christmas cards to have snow and snowmen and reindeer. And what about Christmas trees in the middle of summer? That would take a bit of getting used to. But then the children in Australia probably preferred it that way. What an interesting place the world is!
Jenny and Grandma Lily made sure that Mrs Berry was comfortable, and, before Jenny went downstairs her mother handed her a long shopping list and told her to take Daddy to the supermarket to get something nice for supper. Jenny asked her grandma if she was going to come to the supermarket too, but Grandma Lily shook her head and said: ‘Not today. I’m going to stay here and help Mummy watch a bit of daytime TV.’
So after a very tasty breakfast of porridge and toast and marmalade, Jenny and her father drove to town. The supermarket car park was very full but Mr Berry managed to find a space close to the main entrance and they hurried over to fetch a trolley. Mr Berry gave Jenny the list and a red pencil and told her that she was in charge of crossing the things off the list as soon as they were in the trolley. And he was in charge of pushing the trolley.
First of all they went to the fruit and vegetables. Mrs Berry always bought a lot of fruit and vegetables and today there were loads of them on the list. So Mr Berry chose potatoes and cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, leeks, onions, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, cucumber, beetroots, baby salad leaves, mushrooms, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, apples, oranges, two lemons, some black grapes and a pineapple. Jenny ticked each thing off the list as soon as it was in the trolley, which was already beginning to look full.
Next they went to the cheese counter and then the meat counter. Mr Berry chose some extra sausages that were not on the list because he hadn’t had sausages for ages. Jenny frowned: ‘Daddy, shall I write sausages on the bottom of the list so that Mummy will know we bought them.’
Mr Berry shook his head: ‘No need, she’ll see them when she unpacks the shopping.’
Jenny was quite relieved because she didn’t know how to spell ‘sausages’. Next they went to baking and collected a dozen eggs and a bag of flour, because Grandma was going to make another sponge cake later.
The next aisle was full of different kinds of tea. Mr Berry started to read the boxes: ‘Jenny, can you remember which tea Mummy has? She’s just written TEA on the list and there are hundreds of different kinds. How can there be so many different kinds of tea?’
Jenny walked along the rows of boxes until she came to a box she recognised. She pulled it out and put it in the trolley. Then she marked it off her list.
By the time they had added milk and yogurt and nappies and cornflakes to the trolley it was looking very full and they still had orange squash and biscuits on their list. So they collected some squash and then went to the biscuit aisle and Jenny picked up two packets of digestives and ticked them off her list. Then Mr Berry chose two extra packets of chocolate chip cookies which were not on the list. Mr Berry liked chocolate. In fact the biscuit shelves were opposite the sweets and chocolate shelves so he walked across and collected three chocolate bars and a tin of sticky sweets.
‘Daddy, there’s no chocolate on the list,’ said Jenny. ‘And Mummy says no sticky sweets while my new teeth are growing through.’
Mr Berry slipped the tin into the trolley: ‘They’re for the car. I suck them when I’m driving because it helps me to concentrate.’
Jenny raised her eyebrows to let him know she disapproved: ‘Well, I think you ought to buy something special for Mummy to help her feel better,’ said Jenny. ‘She likes minty chocolates.’
Mr Berry’s brow furrowed: ‘I doubt she’ll be able to taste them with her cold.’
Jenny gave her father another disapproving look. So he chose a box of chocolate peppermints and put them in the trolley. Jenny watched them slide down between the other shopping. When she looked up she saw her best friend Emily hurrying towards her.
‘Hello Emily, I’m helping with the shopping because Mummy and Wills have caught my cold.’
‘And I’m helping Daddy to do the shopping,’ said Emily. ‘Because Mummy’s taken Milly to her dancing competition.’
Milly was Emily’s older sister. Jenny used to want to have a big sister, especially one that was learning to be a ballerina. But now she was very happy to have her little brother instead. She looked along the aisle: ‘But, Emily, where is your dad? Have you lost him?’
Emily giggled into her hands: ‘No, he’s in the wine section.’
Mr Berry slipped a bag of toffees into the trolley: ‘Now that sounds like a good idea,’ he said. Then he frowned: ‘Emily, does your father know where you are?’
Emily looked a little guilty: ‘Not really, but I saw Jenny walk past so I came to find her. Daddy probably hasn’t noticed I’m gone.’
‘Well,’ said Mr Berry. ‘We’d better go and tell him you’re safe before he starts to worry. You should never run off on your own in a place like this, young lady.’
So Mr Berry pushed the trolley to the wine section and Jenny and Emily hurried on behind him, which was just as well because Emily’s father had just noticed that she was missing and had started to worry. He was very pleased to see Emily and Jenny running towards him. He thanked Mr Berry for bringing Emily back safely. And then the two fathers started talking about football. Jenny and Emily stood to one side and Jenny told Emily all about the people in Australia celebrating Christmas on the beach.
Emily was horrified: ‘But Jenny, how can you eat Christmas pudding on the beach?’
Jenny shrugged. She had no idea but she said she’d ask Grandma Lily when she got home. Then Jenny told Emily about her cold and her red nose like Rudolph the Reindeer.
Emily laughed but suddenly she looked very confused: ‘Jenny, in Australia, does Father Christmas still have a sleigh and reindeer, because reindeer live in the snow, don’t they?’
Jenny said that she would ask Grandma Lily that as well. But now Jenny was beginning to get bored. The two fathers had stopped talking about football and were now showing each other bottles of wine. Then suddenly Mr Berry’s phone was ringing. He put the bottle of wine in the basket and stepped to one side to answer the call. After saying yes a few times he said goodbye. Then he told Jenny that they had better hurry because Grandma Lily needed the flour to bake her cake. So everybody said goodbye and then Mr Berry grabbed the trolley and hurried Jenny to the checkout. Although he did stop to collect his free newspaper.
When they were standing in the queue Jenny decided to check her list to make sure everything was ticked off. It was. Then she checked the trolley. And then she frowned. She tugged her father’s sleeve: ‘Daddy,’ said Jenny, ‘our shopping is not the right shopping anymore!’
He looked down from reading his newspaper. ‘Not the right shopping?’
Jenny pointed to the large bottle of lemonade and the dishwasher tablets: ‘These were not on our list. And Wills’ nappies are not in here and we put them on top.’
Mr Berry looked at the things in the trolley: ‘This isn’t our trolley!’ he exclaimed. He looked back into the shopping aisles full of hundreds of other people and hundreds of other trolleys. He pulled his wrong trolley back through the queue and Jenny hurried after him. Then he looked at Jenny and groaned: ‘Where’s our trolley!’
Jenny looked at all the hundreds of shoppers: ‘I think it’s LOST, Daddy.’
Mr Berry took a few moments to consider the situation. Then he told Jenny that they had to go to the Service Desk where there were people that helped you when things like this happened. At the Service desk a nice man suggested that Daddy and Jenny should leave their wrong trolley with him and then go and sit in the chairs near the window and wait to see if anybody else brought a wrong trolley to the desk, because that would probably be their trolley. So Mr Berry and Jenny went and sat by the window and waited.
‘Daddy, said Jenny. ‘What happens if the other person doesn’t notice they’ve got our shopping and they just pay for it and take it home with them?’
‘Goodness knows,’ said Mr Berry. ‘We’ll have to start our shopping all over again! I can’t imagine how we finished up with the wrong trolley.’
‘It’s probably because we weren’t paying proper attention. Grandma Lily says you should always pay proper attention or you lose things.’
Mr Berry folded his arms: ‘And I suppose Grandma Lily would say that our trolley full of shopping has gone to that strange place she talks about. What’s it called?’
Jenny smiled: ‘It’s called Raggedy Lyme. It’s where your lost things go because you haven’t looked after them properly. Grandma Lily says you only get your things back when you deserve to have them back.’
Mr Berry sighed: ‘And how can I deserve to have our shopping back?’
‘Perhaps you have to promise to be more careful next time you do the shopping. Shall I tell you the rhyme?’
‘Yes, Jenny, tell me the rhyme.’
So Jenny said:
‘There’s a space in a place called Raggedy Lyme,
Full of errors and terrors and wasted time,
Where your LOST things can hide, until they decide,
That you’ve earned their return from Raggedy Lyme.’
Jenny’s father looked at her and laughed and then he promised to be more careful next time he came shopping. And, at that very moment, Jenny and her father looked up to see Emily running towards them. And Emily’s father was hurrying behind her, pushing a trolley with Wills’ nappies on top! So that was what had happened: Jenny and Emily’s dads had walked off with each other’s shopping trollies.
Mr Berry jumped up very pleased to see his shopping coming towards him. And everybody had a good laugh. Then Jenny and her father paid for their shopping and loaded up the car and drove home. On the way Mr Berry told Jenny that it would probably be best if she didn’t tell Mummy that he had lost the shopping, but Jenny just smiled at him.
By the time they arrived home, Mrs Berry was up and dressed and feeling much better. Grandma Lily helped Mr Berry carry in the shopping bags. Then she made a pot of tea while Mrs Berry unpacked the shopping and Mr Berry went off to check the TV. Jenny waited for her father to leave the room before collapsing into a heap of giggles. She told her mother and grandma about the lost supermarket trolley and they all had a good laugh.
‘And did Daddy promise to be more careful next time?’ said Mrs Berry.
‘Yes, But I’m not supposed to tell you.’
‘Don’t worry, Jenny,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Your secret is safe with us!’
Just then Mr Berry walked back into the kitchen to see if the tea was ready. Mrs Berry had put most of the shopping away, but in the middle of the table were two packets of chocolate chip cookies, three bars of chocolate, a packet of sausages, a bag of toffees, some minty chocolates, a tin of sticky sweets, and two bottles of wine. He looked at the table.
Mrs Berry smiled at him and said: ‘Where on Earth did these things come from? I don’t think they were on the list I gave you.’
Jenny burst out laughing and then she said: ‘Perhaps somebody wasn’t paying attention and they put them in the wrong shopping trolley!’