It’s a stark grey day, however it’s not dampening the esprit consequential of being in the company of my lab/retriever buddy Coco. An affectionate soul from the red rose county of Lancashire, the spirited demeanour she displays when in her presence absolutely melting my heart.

This morning while walking with my loving canine buddy at a nearby park, Cokes animatedly introduced me to her equally boisterous buddies Oscar, Boss, Bracken and Bramble. This initiation ceremony delivered with her trademark unreserved verve and gusto.

Footnote – Verve and gusto aren’t two of the enigmatic monikers possessed by her canine chums….  Not that I know of anyhow!

As I’ve chronicled in the past, my love of dogs is an amour which’s rearing its head within the last year or so. Mainly consequential from the ignorance of never owning a pooch during my first half century on this dysfunctional planet.

A catalyst to my enrolment into the canine appreciation society meeting several new friends/acquaintances whose fur babies have taken to me as deeply as I have them.

Anyhow, as I pen this piece I’m back in West Yorkshire after my tarry to Lancashire. Buoyed by time in company of the aforementioned unconditional love I received over there, along with Coco’s introduction to the vigour of Oscar, Boss, Bracken and Bramble.

During today’s shop for essentials at a local store, I bought my mother a bunch of flowers as a thank you for allowing me to live at her Wakefield abode on a peppercorn rent. On choosing this floral bouquet, I was intrigued to read the label on this efflorescent cluster stating the purchase formed part of the ‘Picked with care’ range.

My fascination at this marketing tag line borne from a fact I’d have thought every bouquet of flowers was picked with love and diligence. Further concluding that surely Tescos won’t have a ‘Picked recklessly’ range.

The latter a raft of floral products procured by yanking the head off the flower, causing the cellophane wrapped goods to be sold with more stem and minimal effloresce…….. As natives of Tyneside in the north east of England may proffer, this heedlessness leaving the bloom less a heed.

Following removal of the product price label, in the process stealthily concealing the flowers cost, on arrival home I handed the bouquet to mater. On receipt of this bequest, Mrs S’s face bore a smile as wide as the aforementioned River Tyne.

“They’re beautiful flowers, love!” she heartily chirped mid smile.

“No worries, mum!….. After all you’ve done in recent months, it’s the very least I can do!” I responded with gratitude.

“I tell you what, love, they look as though they’ve been picked very carefully!….. I’ve never seen such accurately parallel cut stems!” mater proffered in floral reverence.

“Yes, I got them at the OCD Flower Company, mum!….. Once fully flowered you’ll see each floret has been manually fertilised to display the exact diameter regardless of type.’ I explained with tongue in cheek.

“Seriously?!” mater queried in awe.

“Of course not!…..  this bouquet was from the ‘Picked with care’ range…… Not ‘Cloned like Dolly the Sheep’ range!” I revealed.

“Regardless, they’re lovely. Thanks, Gary!” Maggie posited gratefully. Not put off expressing a deferential remark despite my sarcasm.

“Alright, mum! Calm down!…. I bought you a £6 bunch of flowers, not a Faberge Egg!” I felt moved to proffer in a bid to diminish the unwarranted level of reverence being afforded to my act.

“Yeah, but it’s ages since I’ve been bought a bunch of flowers!” Mater pointed out.

“I bought you one last week, mum!…. What you on about?!” I tried to refresh her memory.

“Yeah but they were s***e!….. They were all stems, barely any florets!” I was shot down in flames.