Over the stable door: Festive cheer tempered by actions of sneak thief

Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

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The Christmas trees are selling fast. Festive fever seems to arrive earlier each year. Customers were turning up in mid-November asking to choose a tree from the pallets which held hundreds of netted Nordmans waiting to be unload.

For 12 years, my family have run their Christmas tree business from the farm and every year it has grown. Along with returning customers they now deliver to local schools, restaurants, hotels and even racecourses.

Mum spends hours making beautiful handmade wreaths whilst my father misses his racing in order to sell trees. They have erected a wooden lodge at the end of my garden to take shelter on horribly wet, windy days, take orders and put the kettle on when time allows.

When there has been an odd tree or two left on Christmas Eve, my parents have put out an honesty box for anyone arriving last minute in a panic. They have never had so much as a tree taken and are proud to attract such trustworthy customers.

It was a great shock to everyone when last week, on a reasonably quiet lunchtime, someone sneaked in to the till and stole all the money left in the cash box. There was not only cash but all the card receipts and cheques which are worthless to others. They took over £1,000 but what upsets them more than losing the money is someone they have dealt with, chatted to, maybe sold a tree to, had the audacity to help themselves to property which isn’t their own.

My mother was in tears. I tried to buck her up. “Look on the bright side,” I said. “At least it wasn’t your house.”

She sniffed and looked sad. She is an extremely sociable person, chatting to customers, catching up on their year. She has definitely found her niche running a business she loves despite the toll it has taken on her health - bronchitis and pneumonia - from standing out in all weathers.

The police arrived a few days later. An understanding forensic officer took finger prints from the cash register and was pleased to find a few to work with. It is unlikely the theft was a planned job by a convicted criminal so finding the thief is doubtful. If anything, it has made everyone extra vigilant from now on.

You may well be sick of reading about my teeth as I’m certainly sick of losing them but to bore you further one of my new veneers dropped out a few weeks ago. The expensive fang was rescued before it vanished down the plug hole as I brushed my teeth.

A swift visit to my dentist later that afternoon had it temporarily stuck back in until a perfect new gleamer could be made to replace it. I haven’t dare bite into food for fear of being left looking like a simpleton over the Christmas period.

I carefully managed to keep the broken veneer in for a week before the it dropped to bits whilst I tucked in to sticky toffee pudding one evening.

With a friend’s leaving party to attend in Newmarket this weekend I was desperate to get it put back in. I eventually had to resort to DIY and the super glue was pulled from the drawer. It stuck hard all be it looking slightly wonky. Chuffed with the result I settled down for the evening and forgot about it. Later I took a sip of tea and my upper lip stuck to the cup. I had to peel it off carefully. Sore lip aside I am unscathed.

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