Once upon a time there was a girl called Rose. She was the daughter of a Master Distiller who had died in an accident involving a jealous competitor and some gunpowder! He left his lonely wife and their 3 children, Rose, Martin and Nelson. They were poor and lived in a small cottage on the edge of a small forest, with their Shetland pony. Outside the cottage door, in the peace of the forest, two birds had made a nest in a conker tree and would chirp and cheep from sunrise to dusk. The forest was in the grounds of a large house with four stone pillars at the front. The estate was owned by Lord and Lady Tottering. Lady Tottering was an eccentric old woman and made Rose work in the big house cooking and cleaning all day long. She especially liked her to polish Lord Tottering’s golf clubs after he returned from the golf course. Rose dreamt of running her own distillery one day, like her father and liked to collect botanicals in the forest. Each day she would safely store them in a box locked with twelve keys.
Elsewhere in the kingdom there was a handsome prince, called Sir Robin of Locksley. Robin’s father, the King of Soho was a member of the Mandarin Dynasty and wanted Robin to marry a beautiful princess. So, the King planned to hold a ball for Robin’s birthday and he invited all the rich and beautiful women of the kingdom. The King planned lavish entertainment including 47 monkeys doing card tricks, an elephant on a trampoline and the court jester, young Tom, telling jokes from the stage.
Robin was not one for pomp and circumstance. He preferred the simple life and to spend his days exploring the forest hunting for botanicals.
Lord and Lady Tottering were among the invited guests and Lady Tottering asked Rose to help her get ready for the ball and be her lady in waiting. This was a great privilege for Rose and she bought herself an elegant red dress and her honey coloured hair fell loosely over her shoulders.
As she walked into the room behind Lady Tottering, she saw Robin, standing on his own at the bar, drinking his favourite gin.
Their eyes met across the room and it was love at first sight. They danced and drank gin all evening. They talked about their shared love of foraging for botanicals and eating rhubarb and custard sweets. At the end of the evening there was a fly past by three spitfire planes who roared through the night sky. Rose knew that Lady Tottering wanted to make a hasty retreat back to the house so before Robin could ask her to marry him, Rose had to leave.
Meanwhile, another lady had an eye on Sir Robin, her name was Madame Geneva. She was a French teacher from Liverpool. Madame Geneva saw how much Robin and Rose had fallen in love and when she overheard Rose talking about her favourite sweets she came up with an evil plan so that she could marry Robin herself and become queen of the kingdom.
The day after the ball, with a very sharp needle, she poisoned some rhubarb and custard sweets and scattered them around the forest in the hope that Rose would find them and fall into a deep, deep sleep.
One afternoon, after Rose had finished her chores for Lady Tottering, she lay in her bathtub dreaming of Robin, and thinking about the beautiful gins they could make together. Keen to find some new botanicals in the forest she headed out into the cool evening. As she was walking, she saw her favourite sweets lying on the ground. Not wanting to see them go to waste, she picked up the sweets and ate them, leaving a trail of empty wrappers as she went. At six o’clock she collapsed at the edge of the silent pool.
That same evening, Robin was hunting for botanicals in the forest. Under a large conker tree he spotted some litter on the floor. Picking it up to take it to the nearest bin he noticed that it was a sweet wrapper. And not just any sweet wrapper, for they were rhubarb and custard, Rose’s favourite. Thinking nothing of it he popped it into his pocket and carried on through the forest. Before long, he found another wrapper, and another until it turned into a trail of sweet wrappers. Robin was starting to feel quite concerned for the welfare of Rose and followed the trail until he came to find her, fast asleep next to the silent pool. Unable to stop himself he scooped her up in his arms, told her how much he loved her and gave her a long lingering kiss. Rose awoke and seeing Robin, said “I love you”. “Will you marry me?” asked Robin. “Yes” came her reply.
The following week was spent planning the wedding of the year. Robin bought Rose a sapphire engagement ring. The King of Soho invited the great and the good in the kingdom to the wedding which took place in the shadow of the fifth spire of the castle. They celebrated the wedding with lemon drizzle cake topped with fresh violet petals.
The happy couple went off on their honeymoon on a boat from Plymouth and sailed off into the ocean with mermaids swimming all around.
Robin and Rose set up their own distillery with botanicals foraged from the forest and they lived happily ever after.