Anne Hailes: For me personally, avocados are always a symbol of life and regrowth

TWENTY years ago I was in Rwanda writing about the 1994 genocide, a harrowing journey south from the capital city Kigali, covering ground where one million people were massacred in 100 days. The evidence was all around and it disturbs me to this day.

In one large Catholic church the wooden forms were scattered, windows were smashed and the statue of the Virgin Mary riddled with bullets. At the back of the church black bags were piled high, children were playing all around; one boy came up to me and mimed I should take a photograph of the bin bags. Then he laughed and held his nose. The bags contained bodies, most likely members of his own family.

I stood outside in the baking heat, emotional and shocked. I took shelter under a tree and almost immediately was aware of something falling to the ground behind me, it was an avocado, followed by the thud of more falling, a sight to behold, the branches were groaning with the overripe fruit.

I was reminded of this last week when I heard Tuesday was international avocado day. A happier occasion as the local technology company i3 Digital invited friends to Crumlin Road Goal for a meal featuring, of course, avocados.

This company is globally respected for its digital marketing prowess and from small beginnings 20 years ago now has clients around the world. The growth market for their business is in USA and one client is California Avocado – hence the celebration last week.

We had avocado with chicken, avocado with salmon, mushroom and avocado in a pastry case, finishing up with an avocado cocktail – pineapple chunks, fresh avocado, Bacardi rum and fresh cream. There's a whole host of recipes on the website

A long way from standing under a tree watching children play round the bones of their parents.

Summer Challenge

Incidentally, the tree is grown from the ‘pit' or stone of the fruit and here's a good challenge for children during the holidays:

Remove the stone from a ripe fruit. Then, about one third the way up from the fat end, stick in three toothpics. Balance in a jar with the fat end touching tepid water. Keep the water topped up. In four to six weeks the stone should have roots and a sprout. Once the stem has grown a few inches, place it in a pot with soil and water every few days. As it grows, re-pot.

Rain Rain Go To Spain


I keep hearing weather forecasters talking about a month's rain falling in 12 hours or whatever. Every month has a different amount of rain, so what does this mean?

I phoned the Met Office to check and it's not the average monthly rainfall over 12 months but the average rain fall during the month in question. So any reference to downpours relates to average rain fall during the month in question – most recently July or August.

A Gentleman?

Dear Anne,

I was divorced four years ago and recently met a man I find attractive and he seemed to be attracted to me too. We went out a couple of times, not romantic but very nice, and I was looking forward to getting to know him more.

Then we met at a social event I brought my 23-year-old daughter to and they talked all evening, laughing a lot and I felt very left out. He is much older than she is but I don't know what to say to her. She knows I'm interested in him but it didn't stop her spending time with him and I think he's phoned her since.

I'm jealous but more than that, I don't want her to get mixed up with someone so much older.


There are a lot of ifs and buts here. Firstly your daughter is 23 and knows her own mind and more likely than not she was flattered but will soon be happier spending time with her younger friends.

Did she tell you she found him interesting? Did she tell you he phoned her? Why didn't you join in their conversation on that evening?

Sounds to me like he was satisfying his male ego monopolising an attractive young woman's time. Perhaps it was done to make you jealous – the only way you will satisfy your curiosity is to ask your daughter if she enjoyed being chatted up by your friend and does she intend to follow up by seeing him again.

Also, point out that you too enjoy his company and hoped that you would be dating him again and see what her reaction is. If the gentleman in question asks you out again it would be quite in order to mention that he seemed to like your daughter's company and gauge his reaction. Actually, he doesn't really sound like a gentleman to me.

Important Word

Interesting that, based on the 2018 ‘500 Words' writing competition for children run by Radio 2, the Oxford University Dictionary children's word of the year is 'plastic', an increase of 100 per cent on any other year and it proves the message is getting through.

Kids Against Plastic is an organisation dedicated to ridding the world of as much of this material as possible, to educate grown-ups about the dangers, lobby shops and manufacturers and to emphasise the fact that the world will soon belong to these boys and girls and they don't want to inherit the swamp of plastic we are creating at sea, on land – even in the air.

Did you know, 93 per cent of blockages in UK sewers are caused by products containing plastic? So take a look at what you're disposing of.

More at

There's a movement persuading us all to carry a plastic bag (ironic) and collect at least three bits of plastic every day. Then put the lot in the recycling bin. Not a difficult task.

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