Friday, 30 June 2017

Downshire Diary – (96) Tears fall like Snowflakes

It was early morning on Christmas Eve in Abbottsford and just as dawn was breaking snowflakes started to softly fall.
Downshire’s metropolis was a noisy city, all hustle and bustle, where at Christmas it always tended to rain.
But as the city came alive the snow fell thicker and faster, and a quiet hush descended as the large white snowflakes fell.
As the winter continued to make its presence felt the holiday rush seemed to slow down and shoppers took a pause to appreciate the beauty of winter’s gifts.

In the warmth of her flat, Arabella looked out as the snow dressed the town in its winter gown.
She looked upon it with joy initially but the joy subsided as tears started to flow from deep within as she remembered the white Christmas’ of her childhood when she lived in Tipton, where her family still lived in the north of the county.
The tears born of loneliness filled her eyes because she would be spending Christmas alone and lonely.
An ache swelled inside her chest and its pains are radiating, a choked cry, that won't pass her lips, filled her throat as the touch of sadness showed on her wrinkled face.
Arabella was a nurse at the Winston Churchill Hospital and she was working over Christmas so she would not be seeing her family and as if that wasn’t bad enough her boyfriend Frank left Abbottsford that morning to spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day with his parents in Sharpington.
So that was why she was feeling so blue, so lonely and isolated, as she was stuck inside her lonely flat for Christmas Eve.
Her only company was her cat Oscar and she cuddled him for comfort but felt no peace and was resigned to the fact that it wouldn’t come that day.
As the snow continued to fall the purring of Oscar had been replaced by the computers comforting hum yet that too turned out to be an empty comfort.
She was alone with her thoughts all day and found then uncomfortable companions and lamented the passing of the days of Christmas carolling, present wrapping, sending and receiving cards, and enjoying the season with friends.
She stared out the window watching the flakes of snow fall and said a silent prayer to help her survive the joyless day and for someone to give her a much needed lift and make her smile.
Then the tears flowed again as the feelings of worthlessness came again and she felt so very blue.
As she looked out the window she found herself thinking that somewhere out there, there were other lonely people feeling as she did, and some who needed company far more than her, just some human contact.
It was a basic need to be wanted, for some loving care, a smile, a hug or just a card, especially during the joyful season.
And just then the phone rang and when she looked at the caller ID a smile spread across her face.
“Hi mum, it’s so nice to hear your voice”

Talking to her Mum for over an hour cheered her up and got her into a better frame of mind to face the next four hours before she left for work.
Her mum was wonderful, she always helped get her head straight, and she couldn’t wait to see her at New Year’s.

She got herself showered and dressed in her uniform and was just preparing to leave for work, she was going to leave half an hour earlier than normal because of the snow and she was just getting her shoes on when there was a knock at the door and she tutted because whoever it was going to make her late.
But when she opened the door she couldn’t believe her eyes
“You’re here” she said “Why are you here?”
But her visitor couldn’t reply because she was kissing him.

“So why are you here?” she asked when she got Frank inside her flat.
“They closed the Pepperstock Express Way because of the snow” He replied “So I’m spending Christmas with you”
“Why didn’t you call me?” she asked and kissed him again
“My phone died” Frank said “So I couldn’t even call to say I missed you and I love you”

Mornington-By-Mere – (96) Christmas at Briarbank

(Part 01)

Thirty Five year old Ross Clarke lives in the village of Mornington-By-Mere, which is a small country village lying in the Finchbottom Vale nestled between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest and the rolling Pepperstock Hills.
It is a quaint picturesque village, a proper chocolate box picturesque idyll, with a Manor House, 12th Century Church, a Coaching Inn, Windmills, an Old Forge, a Schoolhouse, a River and a Mere.
But Mornington-By-Mere is not just a quaint chocolate box English Village it is the beating heart of the Finchbottom Vale and there were a number of cottages and small houses on the Purplemere road and Dulcets Lane which form the part of Mornington Village known as Manorside where Ross lived in a small two bedroom cottage in the row of West Gate Cottages on the banks of the River Brooke and he lived there with his grandfather.

Ross Clarke loved Christmas and it really irritated him when he heard people whining about what a crap Christmas they had because their mother in law over did it on the sherry and told everyone what she really thought about them or when their wife's uncle Stan spent Christmas afternoon asleep on the sofa breaking wind with monotonous regularity.
Or their brothers new girlfriend who kept hitting on her sister in law or the Gran who said
"Just a small dinner for me, I don't have much of an appetite" then spent the afternoon eating all the chocolate Brazils.
It really made him angry because their bitching and moaning always brought him down at his favourite time of year.
It also wound him up when he thought about those who through no fault of their own had truly awful Christmas’s, like his Grandfather who was one of the half a million or so men of the allied forces, who along with six hundred thousand Germans who spent Christmas 1944 outside in the snow of the Ardennes forest during the battle of the bulge.
Men who sheltered in foxholes, scratched out of the frozen earth with no hot food or drink.
Unable to light fires for fear of giving their position away to the enemy and regularly coming under enemy fire or being shelled.
And sometimes once they had hewn out a decent sized foxhole and settled down into it out of the icy wind, an order would come down the line to move out and they would move a hundred yards or sometimes less and dig another hole.
He wanted to tell all the whiners to go and bitch and moan to one of those old soldiers and see how they would laugh at their petty gripes, they certainly wouldn’t get any sympathy.

He had spent a of time with his grandfather since his teens but for the last three years that time was spent at the Briarbank Hospice and they spent that time talking at length.
But for the last three months the conversations had been very one sided.
But there had been another reason for his visits other than seeing his grandfather, and that reason was Linda Perch, a thirty four year old palliative care nurse.

(Part 02)

It was 9 o’clock on Christmas Eve when he arrived at the hospice and his spirits lifted when he saw Linda was on duty and when she saw him she smiled.
“Did you draw the short straw?” he asked
“Worse than that I volunteered” she retorted
Because she had no family she was working all over Christmas to allow the nurses who did have families to spend it at home with them she was doing the same thing over New Years as well.
“So are you on tomorrow as well?” he asked
“Yes I’m on until Boxing Day”
“That’s tough” he said and she told him that she would survive and then they parted company with a smile.
They knew they would have plenty of opportunities to talk during the night and he wished her happy Christmas at 1.45am.

He managed to see quite a lot of Linda during Christmas Day as he had decided not to go home at all and managed to catch a few zzzz’s in the arm chair beside his grandads bed, but he managed to be awake and alert when she was around and he found that his feeling for her were deepening and he hoped that when she smiled at him it wasn’t just her professional demeanour.
But she went off duty at two am on Boxing Day which was when he decided it was time to go home to his bed.

He returned to the hospice on Boxing Day evening and was pleased to see Linda’s car was in the carpark, he didn’t think she would be back in until the next day, but when he went inside instead of being greeted by her normal friendly smile, he found her wearing a grave expression.
“Hello Ross I was just about to call you” she said
“I’m a bit concerned about Harry, his breathing is very laboured”
“Damn I shouldn’t have gone home” he said
“Nonsense” she chastised “it would have made no difference”
Then she gave him a warm smile and added
“I’ve phoned Dr Lutchford, so go and sit with him and I’ll be in shortly”
“Ok” he complied but what she hadn’t confided was that she thought the end was close.

The Doctor arrived about half an hour later and Linda accompanied Ross to the relative’s room and squeezed his hand before she joined the doctor.
Fifteen minutes later she and the Doctor joined him and Claire Lutchford sympathetically said
“I’m afraid he has pneumonia”
“Does that signal the end” he asked knowing that it did but wanted confirmation,
“I’m afraid so” Dr Lutchford confirmed
“How long?” he asked flatly
“Not long” she replied
“Don’t worry” Linda said putting her hand on his “I will stay with him till the end”
Although she wasn’t officially on duty that night she stayed with Harry and Ross.

The following day Linda split her time between attending to Harry and keeping Ross company and they spent a weary night and Harry Clarke died just after seven o’clock the next morning with the winter sun invading the room and bathing his deathbed in sunlight.
Linda was patient and considerate and waited with Ross, who was quiet and showed no emotion as they finally left the room

(Part 03)

Ross spent the morning in the relative’s room while Linda made all the necessary phone calls.
Sgt Pierce, the village policeman paid a visit to rule out foul play and stayed until Dr Lutchford arrived to sign the death certificate.
And an hour later William Hemmings and Sons arrived to collect the deceased, although it was Melanie Hemmings who offered their condolences.

Ross was looking out of the window as the Hemmings vehicle drove away and Linda walked up behind him and lightly stroked the back of his arm.
“Are you ok?” she asked
“Not really” he replied and the tears he had been holding back immediately welled up in his eyes as he turned towards her, so she took him in her arms and he dissolved completely into tears.
“Its ok honey” she whispered, “let it all go”
And as he sobbed uncontrollably onto her shoulder, Linda kissed his cheek.
She held him close and stroked his back as he sobbed until he lifted his head and said
“I’m getting you uniform wet”
“I don’t care” she replied and he broke down again.
It dawned on her at that moment as he sobbed his heart out that now his grandfather was gone he would have no reason to go to the hospice and so she wouldn’t see him again, and that was what she was thinking as she consoled him with her empty words.
Shameful selfish thoughts of her never seeing him again as she held him in her arms instead of thinking of him and his loss.

They were both excruciatingly tired because it had been a very long night sitting up with Harry, however she had had a lot of time to think as his life ebbed away.
And almost all of those thoughts had been about Ross and the reason, they got on really well and whenever he was there the two of them flirted, but at first she never thought it was anything other than flirting, but she would always look forward to seeing him and hoped that it might be.
But everything came into sharp focus now that she was faced with the prospect of never seeing him again.
And now she had him in her arms she was not of a mind to let him go.
But let him go she must, because now was not the time for her to claim him, but it wasn’t going to be for long she hoped.

Had Ross known the disposition of her heart when she comforted him in the relatives room he would not have carried an emptiness inside him when he left the hospice.

In the days that followed his grandfather’s death he had to contend with the double loss of his grandfather’s death and his heart’s desire.
But then on New Year’s Eve he received a fillip when he took a phone call from Briarbank Hospice.

It was a gloriously sunny day in Mornington as he stared out of the window of his cottage, and his heart skipped a beat when he saw Linda approaching with Harry’s personal possessions, as the winter sun set her red mane ablaze.
And he pledged to himself that once she crossed his threshold he wouldn’t let her leave again until he had told her of his feelings.
The promise would have given him less anxiety had he known that she had made a similar pledge and after she crossed the threshold pledges were kept and declarations were made and so Linda didn’t re-cross it until again until New Year’s Day.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (96) Christmas in the Attic

Christmas was just around the corner for the inhabitants of Highfinch which nestled on the edge of the Pepperstock Hills where the Lily Green Hollows Golf Club separated the village from the Hamlet of Lily Green, which made up the parish of St Martins Church and between Lily Green and the sleepy hamlet of Kingfisherbridge was where Alex Trafford lived and since it was only a few weeks before Christmas, his divorcee sister Kate and his niece India were staying with him, which was how it had been for the previous eight years, ever since her divorce, and he saw no reason to deviate from the norm that year.

Northerly winds shrieked through the trees, carrying winter on its coat tails, as they wrapped themselves around the house and tried to shake it from its foundations with all their spiteful might as the freezing rain and snow they carried streaked down the double glazing, creating eerie shadows on the walls which were at odds with the glow from the hearth.
It was cozy and safe inside the house as he watched the fury of the storm outside until he shivered, so he pulled the curtains together and shut out the stormy vision.

His sister Kate and her daughter India were in the kitchen making Christmas cookies, mince pies, Christmas cake and pastries and the smell of cinnamon, spices and ginger was mouth-watering but he knew from experience that they wouldn’t let him have one, Amy would have done, she always did.
But Amy was gone now, gone forever and he missed her so much, but it was the first Christmas since her death and he didn’t know what to do without her, he didn’t know where he fitted in.
When Amy was alive she steered the ship and he was her first mate, but now he was cut adrift and rudderless.

He sat down in his chair by the fire and looked at the Christmas Tree and winced, trimming the tree was Amy’s forte and what he had done was a pale imitation which was when he decided mainly for want of something to do, to get up and go in search of more decorations.

He opened the hatch and pulled down the ladder and climbed the steps to the loft and sought out the decorations that he hoped would improve the appearance of the tree.
It was a large house and subsequently it had a large loft and after more than twenty years living there the loft was an absolute treasure trove.
He switched on the light and he muttered to himself as the dim light from the LED bulb did little better than a candle like glow which created weird and wonderful, if weak and feeble, shapes all over the loft.
He was of his time and much preferred light bulbs that came on to maximum brightness the moment you flicked the switch.
He knew it would brighten eventually he would just have preferred it to be immediate.

There were huge trunks and boxes full of old clothes and shoes, old books of his fathers and toys from his childhood and so many other memories were stored in the loft.
The winds took on new life up in the roof space, howling like a banshee as granular snow and hailstones beat its staccato rhythm on the roof and the unearthly soundtrack put him in an eerie frame of mind.
He momentarily forgot the reason for his trip to the attic, as he started to ponder what treasures he might rediscover.
Then he remembered why he was there and opened a box but only found some of his sister Kates old dolls.
Then out of the corner of his eye he saw a figure which made him jump but when he looked closer it was just an old dress maker’s dummy.
But he felt himself drawn to that corner of the loft and in particular a large oak chest.
He knelt down in front of it and unbuckled the leather strap and lifted the lid and instantly new what it contained even if he could see inside the plastic cover, it was his wife’s wedding dress, he hadn’t seen it since their wedding day or touched the silk folds and felt their softness against his skin since that wonderful day.
She had packed it lovingly away because she dreamed that one day her daughter would wear it on her wedding day, a common enough dream for a mother.
Sadly they were never blessed with a little girl, not a boy for that matter, it wasn’t to be for them, and it was his one regret, that he was unable to give her a child.
Suddenly he felt compelled to touch the soft cool silk, so he carefully unzipped the bag and tentatively reached for the silk and in the instant his fingers touched the fabric, the dress makers dummy seemed to come to life and he looked up and found himself staring mesmerized at what appeared to be his darling wife Amy as she was on that wonderful day in June all those years ago when they were married at St Martins Church, and he sighed to see her sweet smiling face with sparkling blue eyes.
The tone of the wind seemed to change at that point and it seemed to have been replaced by church bells and wedding music, he knew it wasn’t possible but he couldn’t move and didn’t want to for that matter.
“I miss you so much” he said to the apparition and he felt soft kisses on his neck and he sighed again
Just at that moment he was brought back to the moment by a call from the landing
“Uncle Alex! Lunch is ready”
“Ok I’ll be right down” he said and the blissful moment had gone.
He zipped the garment bag up again, closed the lid of the trunk and re-buckled the strap, then he walked back to the ladder but looked back as he descended and she was there again smiling at him and softly said
“I will be with you always”
“Thank you” he responded and as he continued his descent she added
“And the tree looks fine darling”

Those Memories Made on Teardrop Lake – (96) Crazy in Love

Shallowfield sat on the southern edge of the Finchbottom Vale and was bordered on the other side by the Dancingdean forest and the town’s fortunes had always relied largely upon forestry and agriculture for its survival.
In the post war years with rationing and a shortage of work a lot of people moved away from the area and it only just survived and the community around Teardrop Lake fared even worse.
Only a few of the houses around the Lake were thriving, a lot of the houses had been rented out and those that hadn’t were in a poor state of repair, some too such an extent they were little more than ruins.
But by the 70s however things were beginning to change, thanks mainly to tourism as a result of an increase in leisure time.
This trend was reflected by the fact that the previously derelict Shallowfield Lodge, which had been inherited by a young couple from Lincolnshire, Rob and Sheryl Brown, was being turned into a Hotel.
From then on Shallowfield went from strength to strength which was echoed by the fortunes of the Claremont Hotel.
It was once the home of a wealthy Downshire family but like so many similar great houses in the county it fell into disuse as the fortunes of the owners suffered after the Great War.
It had had many reincarnations since then, particularly in the years between the wars and had been used for many things over the post war years but it wasn’t until the 60s that it became the Claremont Hotel.
However things had got tough in the Hotel trade with the success of Travelodge, Premier Inn and Holiday Inn Express and so places like the Claremont needed to offer something extra to attract the guests which was why Clara Davits was in Shallowfield, because she was an events manager and in December there was an awful lot of scope for such things and Clara was good at her job.
She was also exceptionally hard working, and that December she was working even harder than ever although that was due in no small measure to the fact that she needed distracting.
That was because her husband Owen was a sergeant in the Downshire Light Infantry and was currently on exercises with the regiment firstly in Brunei for jungle operational training and from there to Canada for battle training on the prairies of Alberta.
It was a three month absence which was passing agonizingly slowly for her.
She was able to skype him occasionally and he messaged her when he could but it wasn’t ideal, but it was better than nothing.
However the two back to back deployments meant she wouldn’t see him until the New Year and as that would have been their first Christmas together she had been very down, which is why she threw herself into her work.
Despite that however she was prone to bouts of daydreaming as she unpacked the Christmas table decoration.
She knew she should get busy on the rest of them to meet her target but she was overcome with tiredness so she decided to have a mug of coffee instead to try and wake herself up, so she sat down on one of the sofa’s to drink it and promptly fell asleep instead and had a long luxurious nap.
When she awoke it was two am and the place was in darkness, obviously someone had come along and thought the room was empty and turned out the lights.
She was still feeling tired so she decided to go outside for some fresh air so she donned her coat, hat, scarf and gloves and went outside.
The snow that had fallen on and off all day had petered out and when she looked up at the night sky she could see breaks in the cloud and the multitude of twinkling stars beyond.
Clara looked back at the hotel where her Christmas lights were visible and then up to the stars again and she addressed them curtly
“Yes I know you’re beautiful, but you’re just showing off”
She walked around the grounds for about half an hour through the fresh fallen snow and when she was done she made her way back towards the hotel when her phone vibrated in her pocket.
Even if she had been able to retrieve it from her pocket with her gloved hand she wouldn’t have been able to operate it so she waited until she had tromped back across the terrace to the warmth of the hotel before she removed her glove and checked her phone.
The source of the vibrating was a text message so with her un-gloved finger she selected “unread messages” and her heart skipped a beat when she realised it was from Owen.
The message seemed to take an eternity to open but when it did she couldn’t believe her eyes as she read,
“Just landed in London, exercise cut short, unexpected ten day leave, see you in 36 hours, counting the minutes”
“Me too” she said and hugged the phone before she ran back outside and she began to laugh out loud as she ran around like a child experiencing its first sight of snow culminating in her falling backwards into a virgin bank of snow.

Despite the lateness of the hour she was seen by one of the guests on the second floor.
“Look at that crazy woman, making snow angels at this time of night” he said to his wife who agreed wholeheartedly that she was crazy.
And Clara would not have disagreed, she was crazy, crazy in love, and her love was coming home for Christmas.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Downshire Diary – (95) Escape to the Summer Fête

(Part 01)

Paul Biggerstaff and Liz Bradshaw were staying on a camp site in the Finchbottom Vale that was once a working railway station before it fell afoul of Dr Beeching and his cuts, in a place called Sharpinghead.
The two of them were staying in the converted railway station, as part of a family gathering, as they did for a month every summer.
Among those drawn back to Sharpinghead each year were the four Walker girls, sister’s Jane, Kathy, Margaret and the baby of the family, Liz.
And over the years the numbers grew with the addition of boyfriends, husbands and then for the older two girls, children.
And it was on the whole a very loving family and among their number were Paul Biggerstaff and Liz Bradshaw but they felt love of a very different kind.
The problem was they were not a couple, they were married however, just not to each other, and they were in fact brother and sister in law.
Paul had been married to Liz’s sister Margaret for over four years and they had been in love with each other for all of those and their mutual attraction was obvious to them both from the first moment they were introduced, but they knew instinctively that they could never act on it.
And for over four years they kept their feelings in check, at least until Christmas in 1970 when with the aid of mulled wine and mistletoe they kissed.
When they reflected on it later the nature of the kiss had surprised them both, once they started they didn’t want to stop, but stop they did, it was not just a perfect Christmas kiss, it was perfect on every level, and having broken the ice with a kiss, they wanted to repeat it.
But the next morning in the cold, sober, light of day, they felt guilty, really, really guilty, but not just for weakening, the guilt came because the kiss revealed that they were not just attracted by naked lust, after the kiss they realised it was love, so they avoided each other for the rest of the week.
They had both decided they would not get drunk in case they let their guard down on New Year’s Eve and kissed again.

In the New Year being in close proximity to each other was torture being close enough that they could smell each other was both a blessing and a curse, and being so close to one another that they could touch was agony, but there were occasional opportunities when they succumbed to the temptation.

But they had mixed feelings when the time came around again to go to Sharpinghead for the summer family gathering.
It was always fun at Sharpinghead and there was always plenty to do,
The campsite was attached to Maxlin’s Holiday Camp and although the campgrounds and the old railway buildings were nothing to do with Maxlin’s, all those who stayed there automatically qualified for day passes to use some of the amenities.
Unfortunately doing family stuff together brought them into each other’s orbits time after time every single day and it was driving them to distraction.
After that first surrender to their love at Christmas Liz felt alive and tingling all over and she wanted more of the same.
There had been the occasional repeat of their perfect kissing but they were few and far between and relied mainly on chance.
Paul for one was desperate to try and engineer something a little more prolonged.

The first week at Sharpinghead was wet with heavy thundery showers and totally lacking opportunities and when they storms passed it left the Vale hot and humid which was their first bit of luck.
The older generation found it too hot to even move so chose to stay put in Sharpinghead
The rest of the group were split the majority wanted to drive to Sharpington and spend the day on the beach, including Paul’s wife Margaret who was a sun worshiper, Paul had auburn hair and fair skin so wasn’t keen on sunbathing and Liz said
“I think the heat will be too much for me, I think I’ll just stay here”
Liz had been out of sorts all week so no one objected so Paul said
“I thought I might take a drive over to Mornington, I read in the Clarion that the Summer Fête is on at the Manor”
“Boring” Margaret said
“Well you go to Sharpington and I’ll go to the Fête, and if Liz is feeling better in an hour I’ll take her with me” he suggested and everyone made positive noises.
Which was how Paul and Liz came to be in Mornington-By-Mere in the middle of July on the day of the Summer Fête.

(Part 02)

As had been the long standing tradition the Fête was held in the Mornington Manor grounds and also in keeping with tradition it was extremely well attended, in fact it was heaving.
They had hoped to find a quiet corner for a bit of a kiss and a cuddle.
In the week before the Fête Liz had been a bit out of sorts which turned to be as a result of her monthly and after the unwelcome visitor had departed she was very needy and tactile.
So when Paul parked the car in Mornington, he had barely applied the handbrake before Liz started nibbling his earlobe.
“I need a kiss and a cuddle” she said in whinny tones
“That’s the reason we’re here,” he said weakly
“But I need a kiss now” she whined as she licked his ear like a Labrador.
“But…” he protested
“Please” she begged
“This isn’t the best place for that” he said as he looked around, but that was the sum total of his resistance as moments later she was sitting on his lap and they were kissing
However it all came to an abrupt end as a rather loud rotund family went past the car and bent one of the mirrors back.
Fortunately they were too busy feeding their faces to notice what was going on in Paul’s car but Liz had been spooked by the chubster’s so she said
“Let’s go then” with a sigh and Paul opened the driver’s door and went around to the passenger side and opened the door and took the hand of his sister in law and said
“Let’s go and find somewhere we can kiss in private”
“Yes please” she pleaded
Unfortunately the Fête was so well attended it was difficult to imagine where he might fulfil her request.
All the stall were swarming with punters and all the tents and marquees were occupied.
So Paul thought they could chance their luck in the Manor itself, after all there were countless rooms in there suitable for a private kiss, even a cupboard would have sufficed.
Unluckily however the house was off limits and there was security on every entrance.

It was when they were on the way to check for a back way in to the Manor that Paul spotted the catering van parked about thirty yards from the house.
And as they passed by it he unceremoniously bundled Liz through the side door in amongst the empty wine glass boxes and then Paul climbed in after her and closed the door behind him.
Although taken by surprise it was with an excited giggle that she threw herself into his arms and she finally got her long leisurely snog.

“That was so lovely” Liz said as Paul opened the door to check the coast was clear and then reached into the van and grabbed Liz’s hand and pulled her out before she had chance to get her shoes on.
“Come on” he shouted “we need to run”
As she was pulled from the van she glanced towards the house to see one of the security men running towards them shouting.
He had obviously been alerted by Paul getting out of the van.
Hand in hand they ran headlong across the grass towards the hubbub of the Fête, Paul carrying her handbag and Liz holding her shoes and they were laughing all the way and once they were lost in the crowd they relaxed and Paul said
“I’m starving, how about you?”
“Oh yes I’d like a hot dog” she said

After eating their lunch they wandered around the attractions for the next couple of hours and enjoyed the other entertainments on offer and then headed back toward the car.
“Let’s go for a walk in the woods” he suggested
“Ok but I’m very hot and tired” Liz said
“You won’t need to expend any energy for what I have in mind” he replied and held her hand “it’s very cool and secluded in the wood”
“Oh goody more snoggage” she replied with a giggle

Mornington-By-Mere – (95) The Unexpected Gift

When the Mornington Estate exercised its option to purchase Mornington Field from the MOD it also acquired all the buildings and infrastructure on the airfield itself as well as 29 houses in the village formally used as quarters for military personnel.
The buildings on the airfield itself were converted into commercial premise while the former married quarters were made available to rent and the Vineyard family moved into number 17 Military Row on the 18th of December 2014 but Donna Vineyard was the only one still there five Christmas’ later but she shared the house with her boyfriend David Smith.
They were both hard working 30 years old’s, Donna at the Digitize Image Lab up at Mornington Field and David farmed up at Smithfield’s Farm with his family.
That year it was Donna and David’s turn to play hosts to the parents for Christmas dinner, which Donna achieved with great aplomb.
But after dinner, when the table was cleared away and the dishwasher was loaded, it was time for present giving, and this Donna didn’t take in her stride, and that was because she didn’t really like receiving unknown Christmas Presents.
Donna preferred to either get money or have already selected the gift and instructed the giver, or preferably she would actually buy it herself and then give it to the presenter for them to wrap.
That way she avoided having to employ one of the stock phrases for responding to the Christmas present she would rather not have received.
Her comment’s included,
“Thanks a lot”,
“My word! What a gift”,
“You shouldn't have”
And “Wow”
Or “Well, well, well”
She would have liked to have been facetious but she loved Christmas too much to say something like
“If I had put on 4 stones it would have fitted me perfectly”,
“It's lovely, but I'm worried about the jealousy it may create”,
“Just my luck to get this, on the Christmas I promised to give all my gifts to charity”
Or “Unfortunately, I am about to enter MI5's Witness Protection programme”
So imagine her dismay when her boyfriend of five years presented her with an unexpected gift in front of all the assembled family.
“Oh I’ll open that later” she said “let someone else go next “
But they all insisted she open it and inside she was seething, but externally she had to adopt a calmer stance and David knew precisely what was going on behind the façade and smiled at her discomfiture as he put the gift box in her hand as she sat down on the chair.
It was a box about the size of a bag of sugar and painfully aware that all eyes were on her she pulled the ribbon which undid the bow, then she removed the lid to reveal a smaller similarly wrapped package which she removed and smiled with gritted teeth.
David knew that parcels within parcels were another one of Donna’s pet hates, which is why he did it.
So she again pulled the ribbon which undid the bow, then she removed the lid to reveal another smaller similarly wrapped package.
This was repeated twice more before she held a small bundle wrapped in tissue which, urged on by the spectators, she began to unwrap, and the only audible sound was that of Donnas teeth grinding.
But finally the last layer had been conquered and everyone expected one of her stock response’s but instead there was just silence, even the grinding of teeth had desisted because her mouth was open as she stared at the item at the centre of the unfolded tissue paper, which was a platinum set solitaire diamond engagement ring.
No one else in the room could see it so they weren’t entirely sure what was going on until David asked
“So Donna Vineyard, will you marry me?”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (95) The Christmas Surprise

In this noisy city he made his way through the darkness as the people rushed by at a frantic pace as a quiet hush fell with a fall of snowflakes and the holiday rush seemed to slow down if only briefly.
It was Christmas Eve, and he had been summoned, and as he had no other place to be, he went along.
Bay View House was a large detached Victorian House sitting on a two acre plot so he walked up the gravel drive.
He turned the key he had been given in the lock and stepped into the house of a man he didn't know.
The house was lit with an abundance of Christmas lights that twinkled against the red brickwork.
The door was stained cedar red and sported a fresh wreath bearing a banner that said “Ho, Ho, Ho”

The lights were on inside the house but it appeared there was no one home but it was warm and cozy and as he had walked the icy streets through heavy snow for twenty minutes to get to the house he welcomed it.
But he didn’t know what to do next, the letter he received at the hotel with the door key, simply told him to go to the house and let himself in.
He stood in the entrance liberally decorated with evergreens, and he drank in the nostalgia inducing atmosphere, but after a few minutes he slipped off his coat and walked towards the drawing room, as per the instructions he received, and pushed open the door and stepped inside and when he looked ahead of him he did a double take because standing at the end of the room by the Christmas tree was Angie, his wife.
“Angie?” he asked and she squealed and launched herself at him.
The reason that he was surprised to see her was that she was supposed to be in Alaska and she wasn’t expected home until Christmas Eve, which was four days away.

She was a geologist working for Transglobal Oil and Gas Exploration and she was supposed to conducting a survey and the trip was supposed to be for a month.
His contact with her had been sketchy, they skyped occasionally, more so when she was in Canada, not so much in Alaska due to the remoteness of the region she was working in.
They also exchanged email, which was also problematic, but she would record little video messages on her phone and she would send them to him whenever she could get a signal.
He really looked forward to getting them and the first thing he did when he got up in the morning was to check his phone.
But there had been nothing for two days, and he had been missing her terribly and he had been counting the days until she was home, which should have been in four days.
Which was when they were to spend ten days together, including Christmas at the Abbottsford Regents Hotel, before she would be off again for another month.
But there she was in his arms kissing him and although he didn’t care why, he asked anyway.
“Why are you home early? And whose house is this?”
“The house belongs to my boss, he’s been brilliant and his wife set up the surprise, the enigmatic message and the key” She explained “They’re in New York until Christmas Eve, and we can stay here before we go on to the Regents as planned” she explained
“Yes but why are you back early? Not that I’m complaining” he said and kissed her again
“Because I have a special Christmas present for you which had to be delivered as soon as possible” she replied enigmatically
“Ok” he mused looking around for a gift
“Following an in depth scan we made a seismic discovery which was so earth shatteringly important I had to share it with you face to face, and it couldn’t wait another four days” she continued “because the news will be in the public domain by then and you have to be the first person I tell”
“God it sounds really important” he said worriedly “So what did you discover?”
Angie looked at his worried expression and smiled, and after a pause she said
“I’m pregnant”

Those Memories Made on Teardrop Lake – (95) The Ice Breaker

(Part 01)

The fortunes of Shallowfield had always relied largely upon forestry and agriculture for its survival.
In the post war years with rationing and a shortage of work a lot of people moved away, to Abbottsford, Abbeyvale and beyond and it only barely survived, and the community around Teardrop Lake fared even worse.
Only a few of the houses around the Lake were thriving, a lot of the houses had been rented out and those that hadn’t been were in a poor state of repair, some too such an extent they were little more than ruins.
But by the 70s things were beginning to change, thanks mainly to tourism and an increase in leisure time.
More importantly these people had money in their pockets.
This trend was reflected by the fact that the derelict Shallowfield Lodge, which had been inherited by a young couple from Lincolnshire, Rob and Sheryl Brown, was being turned into a hotel.
Its completion formerly marked the rebirth of Teardrop Lake and the revival of the busy village of Shallowfield went hand in hand.

One of those houses that was just hanging on was Chapel House which was the family home of the Walker family and although only the older members of the Walker clan lived in the large rambling pile year round it was were the family gathered in numbers for special occasions and of course Christmas.
Among those drawn back to Teardrop Lake each year were the four Walker girls, sister’s Jane, Kathy, Margaret and the baby of the family, Liz.
And over the years the numbers grew with the addition of boyfriends, husbands and then for the older two girls, children.
And it was on the whole a very loving family and among their number were Paul Biggerstaff and Liz Bradshaw but they felt love of a very different kind.
The problem was they were not a couple, they were married however, just not to each other, and they were in fact brother and sister in law.
Paul had been married to Liz’s sister Margaret for over four years and they had been in love with each other for all of those and their mutual attraction was obvious to them both from the first moment they were introduced, but they knew instinctively that they could never act on it.
And for over four years they kept their feelings in check, at least until Christmas in 1970.

They managed to avoid each other most of the previous year, apart from the summer holiday and Christmas.
Because they kept each other at arm’s length they appeared standoffish to the rest of the family but appearances can be deceptive and beneath the surface they were in turmoil.
Because of what appeared to be an intense dislike of each other the rest of the family took great delight in pushing them together just to watch them squirm.
One afternoon after Liz had helped clear away the dinner dishes she had just exited the kitchen into the hall when she met Paul coming the opposite way, they paused not knowing which way to go when Aunty Vi pointed out quite loudly
“You’re under the mistletoe”
“You have to kiss” Aunt Edith added “its and bad luck not to”
“It’s actually against the law not to” Aunty Vi chipped in
“What law?” Liz asked
“Christmas law obviously” Aunty Vi replied
“Rubbish” Paul said
“Tosh” Liz agreed but by now the rest of the family and gathered and they spontaneously started chanting
“Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss”
Delighting in their discomfiture without understanding its nature.
Eventually with no escape Paul and Liz agreed to kiss, just to shut everyone up, and no one understood why they made such a palaver about one simple peck beneath the mistletoe, which was hoped might break the ice between them.

Once the crowd had dispersed, Paul and Liz went their separate ways and independently decided to assuage their embarrassment by over indulging in mulled wine, amongst other things.

(Part 02)

Later that afternoon when those members of the family who had not decided on an afternoon constitutional, were asleep beside the roaring log fire, Liz drained her glass and tottered to the loo and when she emerged she met Paul walking towards her also slightly the worse for drink.
They paused in the middle of the hall and looked at each other
“Look!” she slurred pointing above her head “Mistletoe”
“Yes it is” he agreed
“We’re under the mistletoe” she slurred again “And you know what that means”
“We have to kiss” he responded “it would be bad luck not to”
“It’s actually against the law not to” She added superciliously
“Well if its Christmas law and its Christmas then we must” he concurred
So she stood on tip toe to face him and puckered up and gave him a Christmas kiss and as her lips touched his it was evident that it was so much more than a Christmas kiss or even a drunken expression of their lust.
The kiss lasted for a full ten minutes and might easily have gone on for another ten had they not heard the family return from their walk.
Fortunately they were loud and boisterous which gave the kissing couple time to go their separate ways unnoticed.

When they reflected on it later the nature of the kiss had surprised them both, once they started they didn’t want to stop, but stop they did, it was not just a perfect Christmas kiss, it was perfect on every level, and having broken the ice with a kiss, they wanted to repeat it.
But the next morning in the cold, sober, light of day, they felt guilty, really, really guilty, but not just for weakening, the guilt came because the kiss revealed that they were not just attracted by naked lust, after the kiss they realised it was love, so they avoided each other for the rest of the week.

They had both decided they would not get drunk in case they let their guard down on New Year’s Eve and kissed again.
But about half an hour before midnight they met again in the hall and there was a nervous tension accompanying them because it was the sight of their perfect kiss, a kiss which could easily have led to something else, and would certainly have gone on had they not been interrupted.
“Here we are again at the scene of the crime” he said trying to make light
“Do you mean the kiss?” she asked and he nodded
“I do”
“It was some kiss” she added wistfully
“Yes it was” he agreed and then they both stood looking around awkwardly, lost in remembrance of the kiss seven days before.
“It was only a drunken snog though” she said
“Do you think it was just the mulled wine then?” he asked
“Probably” Liz replied indifferently
“It might be nice to know for sure” Paul said after a moment’s thought
“Like an experiment?”
“Yes, just so” he agreed
“Well I suppose in the interest of science I suppose we could”
She replied and like she had done the week before she stood on tip toe and touched her lips to his and the experimental kiss began.
It was a long kiss, a hot kiss, a passionate kiss and overall a perfect kiss, even more perfect than the previous one, a kiss against which every kiss that followed would be compared to.
After five minutes they heard a door open but this time neither of them were in any mood to stop so they just relocated to the boot room and kissed again.
That New Year’s Eve experiment proved two things conclusively, firstly that the drunken snog was not made perfect by the alcohol but by the participants and secondly that they were hopelessly in love.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Downshire Diary – (94) Christmas in 1962

(Part 01)

Downshire is a relatively small English county but like a pocket battleship it packs a lot in, a short but beautiful coastline, a channel port, the Ancient forests of Dancingdean and Pepperstock, the craggy ridges and manmade lakes of the Pepperstock Hills National Park, the rolling hills of the Downshire Downs, the beautiful Finchbottom Vale and farm land as far as the eye can see from the Trotwood’s and the Grace’s in the south to the home of the Downshire Light infantry, Nettlefield, and their affluent neighbour’s, Roespring and Tipton in the north but our story takes place in the southern town off Abbottsford which was the biggest in Downshire, its administrative capital and the seat of the Downshire government.
It was also a place of learning thanks to the Downshire University, a Cathedral City and was home to Abbottsford Town football club.

It was a cold and bitter winter in 1962, and one of the hardest Downshire winters in living memory and eighteen year old Luke Osbourne found himself far from home in Abbottsford that Christmas, a trainee in the restaurant at the Regents Hotel, and he was penniless and alone.
He had spent most of his money on presents for his family in Northchapel and the remainder on postage to have them delivered in time for Christmas.
But on the day before Christmas Eve, he got paid and the restaurant manager, Stefanos Calavittis, told him
“Take the rest of the evening off, we are booked solid tomorrow and Christmas Day and we are very busy so there will be no time off for the next two day”
He was a very strict manager but his bark was worse than his bite and he treated all the staff firmly yet fairly.
“So go home and get some rest” He added.
Luke trudged home through the winding streets of the town towards his digs, where he had a room on the top floor of a Victorian terraced house in Castleview Road, but he decided to spend an hour at the Castle Pub.
It was run by Bob Dalimore, ex Abbottsford Town center forward, and he would regularly regale die-hard fans like Luke with stories of his glory days in the black and white quarters, he also overlooked the fact he was under age.
The Castle soon became his local as it was on his way home and the stocky, bald former football hero always made him and fellow Knights fans welcome.

After nursing his pint for an hour he wandered through the deserted winding back streets of the Castle district, slipping and slithering on the icy pavements and his breath rose in dense clouds in the sub-zero temperatures.
But suddenly two menacing figures appeared out of the darkness and he was knocked violently to the floor and after a sustained beating they left him bruised, bloody, cold and wet, minus his watch, his signet ring and his pay packet.
After an indeterminate period of time he struggled to his feet, brushing melted snow from his sodden clothes and groggily set off to complete his journey home.
He could have gone back to the pub where everyone would have rallied round but he was too ashamed.
His head ached from the beating and his hands had lost all sensation but he rubbed them vigorously together to restore circulation regardless.
As he stumbled along he peered through the frosted dimly lit windows and saw families, gaily preparing for the upcoming celebrations and he found himself wondering how things were at home.
He had received a letter from his mother only that morning and though it was intended to cheer him up it had the opposite effect because in truth it held sadness between every line.
“We will miss you, on your first Christmas away from home” she wrote and he missed home even more.

(Part 02)

Luke ached from the cold and huddled deeper into his duffel coat as a black cab sped by, full of drunken revelers, its windows steamed up.
The Christmas lights twinkled from the windows in Castle View Road, and he looked up to his own darkened window of his tiny attic apartment high above.
“Not far to go now” he said to himself as number 85 Castle View Road was in view.
He struggled up the narrow staircases up to his tiny attic apartment on the fourth floor of the old Victorian building.
Once he got into his room he spread his soaked clothing on the lukewarm radiator and crawled into bed as outside the snow began to fall heavily and little drops of moisture trickled down the frozen windowpane.

When he arrived downstairs for breakfast the next morning, his landlady, Mrs. Oliver, took one look at him and ordered him back to bed.
Fortunately he was not the only member of the Regents Hotel staff to have rooms at Mrs. Oliver’s, so they were able to let Mr. Calavittis what had happened to Luke and to testify that he wasn’t malingering.

He spent much of the day in his room under the covers until he suddenly heard a chorus of voices as they wafted up on the crisp afternoon air.
So he crawled out of his bed and wrenched the dormer window open and he saw far below in their back garden his next door neighbours children running around and having fun in the snow, his first reaction to the view of the Cooper family enjoying the weather was one of sadness, but he quickly shook off those feelings and leant far out and scooped up handfuls of snow from the slates and the Cooper children shrieked and ran for cover as his snowballs found their mark.
“Merry Christmas Luke” Sally Cooper called up to him and smiled “Come down and join us”
He liked Sally, she was a few months younger than him and he had a crush on her.
“Yes please come” her younger siblings chorused

Luke donned his duffel coat and woolen hat and went downstairs and via the back garden of 85 and joined the Coopers and was greeted by a volley of snowballs.
But when Sally saw the cuts and abrasions on his face she was shocked by their severity and called off her siblings attack.
“My goodness” she said “Mrs. O said you were robbed, but I didn’t know they hurt you so badly”
And then to her brother John she said
“Go and get mum”

When Mrs. Cooper appeared and saw his injuries she went all mother hen over him
“You poor boy, look what they did to you, you’re spending Christmas with us” she announced “and I want no argument”
“I’m working all day tomorrow” he said meekly
“Well you’re not working tonight” Mrs. Cooper said “so you’re staying for dinner, George has made Punch and we are having roast Goose tonight”
“He’d love to” Sally said “Wouldn’t you?”
“Yes very much, thank you” he said and Sally took his arm
“Come into the warm then” Mrs. Cooper said “it’s getting chilly”
“We don’t just have Punch and Goose this evening” Sally said as they followed the other inside
“What else could there be?” he asked
“Mistletoe” Sally replied and smiled so despite everything it turned out to be a wonderful Christmas in 1962 after all.

Mornington-By-Mere – (94) The Old Flame

(Part 01)

Pilot Officer Ronald Carrington and Land Army girl Fiona Blake met twice on the journey from their home towns when they were traveling to Mornington, once on the train between Nettlefield and Purplemere and again on the bus as they crossed the Finchbottom Vale.
And by the time they reached the quaint picturesque chocolate box idyll, with its Manor House, 12th Century Church, Coaching Inn, Windmills, an Old Forge, Schoolhouse, a River and a Mere, they had fallen in love.
As a result they made a date for the following Saturday which culminated with a good night kiss by the gate of Manor Farm.

After that first date at the Old Mill Inn they saw each other as often as her work on the farm and his sorties with the RAF permitted but at the end of April his squadron were notified that they were on the move to an undisclosed destination.
When he met Fiona that evening he was wearing a grave expression
“What’s wrong?” she asked with concern
“I have just received some bad news” he informed her
“Why what’s happened?” she asked even more concerned
“The squadron has been posted” he said
“Where to?”
“We don’t know” he replied “We won’t know until the day we leave”
“When is that?” she asked flatly
“In two days” Ronald replied
“Oh God so soon” she exclaimed
“But no one is allowed off base after ten o’clock tonight” he said
“So tonight is your last night” Fiona said sadly
“I’m afraid so, but I will come back to you” he assured her and she threw herself into his arms
“I love you so much” he said
“I love you too”
“I will write to you every day” he promised “but you might not get them as often, and they might be out of sequence when you receive them depending on where they’re posted from”
“I’ll write everyday too” she said and then she began to cry
And he suspect there would be more tears, after all they wouldn’t be seeing each other again for goodness knew how long.

When she had dried her eyes she said
“Let’s not go to the pub, I don’t want to share you with anyone else on our last night together”
So they walked slowly around the village just like they did on their first date.

And afterwards they walked back to the farm hand in hand and as he expected there were more tears by the gate and when she was composed enough to say a proper goodbye they kissed and she walked straight into the farmhouse without looking back.

He kept his word and wrote to her everyday even though it was difficult with the amount of training missions they were flying in what was the preparation for D-Day, but he promised her he would so he did and posted them whenever he could.
It became more difficult once they crossed the channel and her letters to him, which arrived as regular as clockwork, became more sporadic once he reached France and by October they had stopped altogether.
Despite her letters drying up he continued to write but only once a week, then one a month and by February of 45 he stopped.

(Part 02)

He returned to Mornington in August of 1945 as a Squadron Leader and his first port of call was to Manor Farm to see Fiona but Mrs. Hargrave told him that she had left the farm and the Land Army twelve months earlier after her father was killed in an air raid and she went home to look after her mother.
He asked if she had left a forwarding address, but she hadn’t, and the lady of the house said she had a box full of unread letters and he recognized them as his.

He had spent the three weeks since he learned of his posting, hoping he could reconnect with Fiona and get to the bottom of why she stopped writing.
But after going to the farm he was faced with the fact that he would never see her again.

After 3 months in Mornington he was sent on temporary secondment to RAF Millmoor which was a promotion of sorts because at Millmoor he would be flying jets.
After a month at Millmoor he got a call from one of his old Squadron who was going to be in Nettlefield a few days before Christmas.
“We get in on Saturday morning” William said “so we could have lunch maybe, you me and Crispin”
“Ok great” Ronald replied
So on Saturday morning, a week later, he caught the train at Millmoor station.

He had planned to meet up with William and Crispin in Nettlefield at a restaurant called “The Boars Head” at half past twelve on Saturday, and he had left the base five minutes later than he intended and thought he was going to miss his train but for some unknown reason he not only caught the train, but he arrived in Nettlefield half an hour early.
So he stood outside the station staring at his watch and scratching his head trying to figure out where he had gone wrong with his calculations.
But it was snowing hard and he was feeling the cold so he decided to have a beer at the nearest watering hole, which happened to be “The Grey Friar Inn”.

As it was almost Christmas the pub was bedecked with the best that post war Downshire could conjure up, namely paper chains, holly and balloons.
It was a very welcoming pub despite the understated festive décor, there was a roaring fire in the grate, and a middle aged man was playing Christmas songs on the piano and there was Mornington ale on tap.
He ordered a pint and sat at the nearest table to the fire and smiled at the tableaux before him of the mixed clientele of Christmas shoppers and workers at lunch.
The music was good, but then he thought you couldn’t go wrong with Christmas music, and the pianist was good.

It was when he was halfway down his pint that he spotted a familiar face and he had to do a double take.
The girl was short with a nice little figure, and long straight brown hair and a rather attractive, if heavily freckled face, lovely hazel eyes, a cute nose and a thin-lipped smile.

(Part 03)

Ronald was halfway down his pint that he spotted a familiar face and he had to do a double take.
The girl was short with a nice little figure, and long straight brown hair and a rather attractive, if heavily freckled face, lovely hazel eyes, a cute nose and a thin-lipped smile.

She was dressed differently from the last time they met, her summer dress had been replaced by a dark green tweed skirt and a brown cable knit sweater, tan coloured stockings encasing her shapely legs and she had brown brogues on her tiny feet.
He watched her move from table to table collecting empties and putting them on the bar.
She was an altogether more confident girl than the shy little mouse he first met on the train to Purplemere,

But although he had fallen in love with her, a love that was clearly still alive, judging by the effect that seeing her had had on him, there was still the question as to why she had stopped writing to him.
He was desperate to get up and walk to the bar and speak to her but he feared his legs might not carry him so instead he called out.
“Fiona? Fiona Blake?”
“Yes” she answered and as she turned towards him recognition dawned on her face and she smiled
“Ronald” she said and walked over towards him.
“Hello” he said
“Ronald” she responded

Fiona had mixed feelings when she saw him, because she still loved him but she was also still hurt that he hadn’t written back to her after she left Mornington even though she wrote to him half a dozen times explaining why she left and where she had gone.
Of course what she didn’t know was that after D-Day there was a back log in the mail supply to frontline units and it was several weeks before it got on its way, unfortunately one of the Dakota’s ferrying the sacks across the channel was shot down and crashed into the sea, and Fiona’s letters along with it.

Wearing half a smile she walked towards him and asked
“Why didn’t you write?”
“Why didn’t you answer my letters?”
“I did” he said “I wrote everyday as I promised, until it became clear that you had stopped”
“I didn’t get them all if you did” she pointed out
“Well when I went to Manor Farm Mrs. Hargrave showed me a box full of my letters, which were delivered after you left” he explained
“But why?” she asked “Why didn’t you send it to Heathervale?”
“What’s Heathervale?”
“That’s where I live” she snapped “I wrote and told you that”
“I never got that letter” he said and she went pale and sat down heavily on a chair
“I don’t know what to say, I thought you had just lost interest in me”
“Never” he said “Not for an instant”
“I’m sorry” she said in her soft mousy voice.
“FIONA! Customers!” the landlord barked
“OK!” she snapped “I have to get back to work”

“So it would seem” he said and then looked at his watch “oh God! I have to go”
“What? No, don’t go” she implored “We need to talk”
“I have to, I’m meeting William and Crispin, they’re only in Nettlefield for a few hours” he said drained his glass and stood up
“I’ll come back later”
“I finish at seven” Fiona said
“Great I’ll see you then” He said, smiled and left and Fiona watch him leave with tears welling in her eyes.

(Part 04)

Ronald reached “The Boars Head” at half past one on the dot only to find the other two were late, which left him time to dwell on the meeting with Fiona, until the other two sauntered in fifteen minutes later.
“Sorry we’re late” Crispin said, “my fault I’m afraid, my train was delayed”

It was a wonderful reunion and an exceptionally nice meal considering the post war shortages but it was the company that made it so enjoyable.
Ronald enjoyed it so much that he didn’t have time to think about Fiona and before he knew it the afternoon had gone.
When they left the restaurant it was almost five o’clock as they headed to the station.
It was snowing heavily and when they got there they found that no trains were running south, but William and Crispin, who were heading north, managed to get on the last train running.
After they said their goodbyes he tried the taxi rank but there were no cabs to be found so after he had met Fiona again he would be stranded in Nettlefield.

He walked to the “Grey Friar Inn” and went to the reception and managed to secure their last vacant room.
It was a few minutes after five when he was handed the key for room six and as the rather gruff receptionist returned to the bar a small figure wrapped up against the cold, came through the door from the noisy lounge bar and stopped dead when they caught sight of him.
“Ronald” she said, her voice muffled by her scarf.
“Is that Fiona under all that?” he asked
She didn’t speak but nodded.
“Where are you off to?” he queried
“I’ve got to get home,” she said
“I thought we needed to talk” he pointed out
“We do and I want to but I need to get home” Fiona assisted
“There aren’t any trains,” he told her
“What? To Heathervale?” she asked urgently
“To anywhere” he replied
“And there are no taxis either”
“Oh damn,” Fiona exclaimed
“I have to try” she said, “I’d like to stay, but I have to try”
“Ok” he said “I’ll walk with you”
She nodded and then they walked out into the snowy night,

They passed the empty taxi rank on the way and when they reached the station they found it was closed and Fiona turned towards him and put her face against his chest and began to cry.
“Home” she said between sobs
Inside his head he said
“Well I did tell you that”
But saying it out loud would not have helped the situation so he just thought it and made sympathetic noises instead.
“All the trains are cancelled,” she said
“I know,” he thought
“And there are no taxis”
“I told you that as well,” he thought
After a few moments he asked
“What’s at home that you are so desperate to get home for?”
He was certain it wasn’t a sweetheart and he was right.
“My mum” she answered
“For God’s sake” he thought “you’re in your twenties, you’re a big girl now”
Out loud he just said
And she explained that the air raid that killed her father also paralyzed her mother and Fiona looked after her.
She worked all day in at the pub in Nettlefield but she was at home mornings and evenings to tend to her mum.
Ronald felt bad when he heard her explanation.
“I have to try and get home” Fiona said
“But it’s just not possible” he said “is there anyone in the village who could check on her”
“Yes, Mrs. Rooney” she replied “But I can’t ask her because she doesn’t have a phone”
“No, but Warrant Officer Coleman does” Ronald said
“Former WO Coleman at Mornington Field is now Police Sgt Coleman in the village of Heathervale” he said “come on let’s find a phone box”

(Part 05)

The nearest phone box was just across the street so they ran hand in hand across the road and squeezed into it, and Ronald phoned Sgt Coleman and after a minute or two of reminiscence he explained the reason for the call and the nature of the emergency and the Sgt promised he would dispatch his PC out into the snow to Mrs. Rooney’s.

“Thanks George” he said and hung up the phone
“Thank you” she said and hugged him
“That’s ok”
“What now?” she asked expectantly
“He’s going to ring the “Grey Friar” when he has news” he replied
“Why there?” she asked
“I have a room” he replied “we can stay there tonight, and we can set off early tomorrow morning”
“I can’t spend the night with you” she said with horror
“It’s ok, you can have the bed” Ronald assured her “There won’t be any impropriety, I promise”
“Ok” she said meekly as she gazed up at him and he kissed her.

They got back to the “Grey Friar” and weren’t able to go straight to the room as the rather gruff receptionist he’d seen earlier, who was Mrs. Cleary, the Landlords wife, was behind the counter so they went into the bar and ordered drinks, but they didn’t stay long as it was very loud and raucous, so they quickly drank up and as soon as she saw Mrs. Cleary walk into the bar Fiona knew that reception would be unattended so she discreetly took the key for room six from Ronald, slipped out of the bar and sneaked up to the room and he followed five minutes later, but was stopped in his tracks by grumpy Mrs. Cleary.
“Squadron leader!”
“Yes Mrs. Cleary” he said
“Telephone” she snapped

When he got to room six he found Fiona sitting on the end of the bed still wearing her outdoor clothes
At first glance the room was a bit small and dingy but on reflection he thought it was better than some of the billets in France and Belgium he’d stayed in after D-Day.
Fiona was looking rather glum but he had some news that would cheer her up, because it was Sgt Rooney on the phone to say that Mrs. Rooney had been contacted and she was only too happy to oblige, and to tell Fiona not to worry.

As promised he let Fiona have the bed and he spent the night in an armchair but neither of them slept as they talked the night away.
Saying all the things they had said before in letters that had gone unread.

The next morning, although physically and mentally they were collectively, a spent force, they had never felt more alive as they had found each other again, and the happiness that went along with that reunion.
But as happy as she was that the man she loved was back in her life she was eager to get back to Heathervale to see her mum.
The heavy snow of the day before had given way to rain during the night so they thought the trains would be running some kind of service, the only problem was getting her out of his room unseen.
So Ronald went down the stairs first and distracted Mrs. Cleary while Fiona slipped out unseen into the street then they walked to the station together.

Although the station was open and trains were running there was a greatly reduced service due to the previous day’s cancellations, which was going to result in a rather lengthy wait on the platform.
He left her looking at the revised timetable while he went and got the tickets, and when he returned she said
“There’s a train going south in ten minutes, but I’ve got a longer wait for a train to Heathervale”
“That’s ok because I’m coming with you” Ronald said
“You don’t have to do that” she said
“I know, but I’m not letting you get away from me again without knowing where to find you” he said
“Don’t worry you’re mine now, forever” Fiona said and they kissed

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (94) St Cuthbert’s Bazaar

The Finchbottom Vale was once a great wetland that centuries earlier stretched from Mornington in the East to Childean in the west and from Shallowfield in the south to Purplemere in the north.
But over the many centuries the vast majority of it had been drained for agriculture, a feat achieved largely by the efforts of famous Mornington Mills, of which only three had survived to the present day and even those were no longer functional and were in various states of repair.
There were only three small bodies of water left in the Vale now one in Mornington, one in Childean and third was Purplemere.
The village of Brocklington was on the River Brooke about six miles downstream from Sharping St Mary in the Finchbottom Vale which was nestled comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.

Sophie Welby was the head teacher at St Cuthbert’s School and was a much respected figure in the village who had dedicated her life to educating the children of Brocklington, but she had done it at some personal cost, namely the love of her life Paul Barrington.
Paul was a journalist and had been offered a job at the Washington Post shortly after she was offered the Headship at St Cuthbert’s, he wanted her to go with him and he assured her that she could get a job in any school she chose, but she was scared, fearful of the unknown and the uncertainty, and was unsure about her love for him.
In the ten years that followed she realized that she loved him more than life itself, but that ship had sailed so she soldiered on as a loveless educator and stalwart of the village.

One of the high points of her year was the Christmas bazaar which was busy and exciting event that took a lot of organizing but brought a lot of joy, with all the usual attractions as well as Santa’s grotto.

But on Saturday afternoon at the height of the event as she strolled amongst the throng she caught sight of an attraction she hadn’t expected to see, Paul Barrington, and he beamed a smile in her direction the moment they made eye contact and her legs instantly turned to jelly.

He hadn’t changed a bit in her eyes, although his hair was a little greyer and his waist a little thicker, but he was still the man she loved, loves.
“Sophie!” he said “You haven’t changed a bit”
“You look great” he said
“What are you doing here?” she asked, although that wasn’t the question she wanted to ask, she wanted to know everything else, was he married? Was he back? Was he hers?
“I’ve transferred to the London office” he replied
“Are your family moving with you?” she asked
“No only me” he replied “There is only me”
“So when did you get back?” she asked encouraged by his previous answer
“Last night” he replied and she dared to hope, after all he had wasted no time in getting to Brocklington, but before she could build on the glimmer of hope she was called away from him to avert a crisis
“It’s good to see you” she said as she was led away.

The moment the problem had been resolved she set off in search of Paul to continue her interrogation of him, but after a thorough search and three circuits of the School there was no sign of him and very soon the visitors started to drift away and the doors were closed for another year and as the team of helpers began to pack away Sophie sought out a quiet corner in which to reflect on a missed opportunity and she took sanctuary in the grotto.

The grotto was decorated with red and gold velvet drapes, adorned with tinsel and coloured lights, with a huge throne in the furthest corner surrounded by Christmas parcels and leading to the throne was a snow covered path and on one side of it was a festive tableau of snowmen and reindeer and on the other side Santa’s sleigh was parked.
She walked slowly down the snow covered path and sat on Santa’s throne and put her head in her hands and sighed and remained there for an indeterminate amount of time until she was brought back to the moment.
“So this is where you’re hiding”
“You’re still here” she exclaimed
“You sound disappointed” Paul pointed out
“No, no I didn’t mean that” she corrected him a little too forcefully
“It’s just that when I couldn’t find you anywhere I thought you must have gone”
“You were looking for me?” he asked
“Erm well we hadn’t finished catching up” she explained
“That’s good but I didn’t travel three and a half thousand miles just to catch up” he said
“What did you come for then?” she asked
“I came here to pick up” Paul said
“What?” she exclaimed
“From where we left off” he added and kissed her and it was liked they’d never been apart.

Those Memories Made on Teardrop Lake – (94) For the Love of Anna

Rod McGregor was cold to his core as he hurried towards Shallowfield, it was three days before Christmas and 24 hours earlier he had been in Brisbane, which had been his home for the previous 24 years, where he worked as a conservationist for the Enoggera Forest Reserves, and it was his first time back in Downshire since he emigrated, and he never expected to see it again, in fact he had promised that he would never return.
But it was the person to whom he had made that promise, Anna Abbiss, who had summoned him back, so he couldn’t refuse.
Anna was the love of his life, and the only woman he had ever truly loved, and he loved her still, and she had loved him in equal measure, the only problem was that she was married, to his brother.

A two year affair between them resulted in her falling pregnant, Rod was sure that he was the father because Bob had mumps when he was in his teens and what Rod knew, and his brother didn’t was that such an affliction at that time at the age he was almost without exception resulted in rendering the recipient sterile.
However Bob was in blissful ignorance and because of his obvious delight at his impending fatherhood, Rod and Anna decided they should draw their affair to a close, but because they had tried previously and failed she said the only way was for him to leave, and he agreed, so he emigrated to Queensland.
Obviously because they were his family he couldn’t sever all contact but he maintained the distance although there had been close calls over the years when Bob would invite his brother to stay or would himself plan a trip to Australia, something always came up, something fabricated, to prevent it.

As he drove across the Vale he listened to the Radio and the weather forecast predicted a White Christmas and the artic winds were already blowing and had brought little flurries of hailstones and sleet throughout the day, but the slushy particles dissolved as they hit the ground.
However as he got closer to the Dancingdean Forest wet sleet turned to powdery snow, and the snowflakes floated and swirled through the air and formed a soft white carpet over the silent countryside and dusted the trees and turned the landscape into a magical wonderland.
He pulled up outside the Larkspur Hospice and took a few deep breaths before he got out of the car to steel himself for what was ahead.
He walked inside and the first person he saw was his brother Bob, who beamed a radiant smile at him as they approached each other and then they hugged
“Thanks for coming bro”

He stood by the door and looked into the room, and there she was, a pale imitation of what she had been, and beside her bed was a younger woman, clearly her daughter, their daughter, and she was the spitting image of Anna.
When she saw him she got up and walked towards him with tears in her eyes, because although they had never met she recognised him and exclaimed
“Uncle Rod!”
“Sweet Amy” he retorted

Because he was unable to cut the family ties he had managed to conduct relationships with his brother and his niece via email and maintained one with Anna vicariously.
What they hadn’t told him in their chatty email exchanges, at Anna’s request, was that Anna was battling breast cancer, but as each successive treatments failed and hope was finally replaced by palliative care, she had to see him one last time before she died.
“How is she doing?” he asked
“It won’t be long now” Amy said and the tears welled up and she broke down, in her father’s arms.
“Go and sit with her” Bob suggested “The morphine has her but talk to her”
He sat beside her bed and held her hand and said
“I love you my Anna”
He felt her hand move in his and then her eyes slowly opened and a glimmer of recognition spread across her face and she licked her lips and retorted
“Hello my only love”
They held each other’s gaze for what seemed an eternity, but in reality it was only seconds before she closed her eyes and she was gone back beneath the morphine veil.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Downshire Diary – (93) On Drake’s Farm

He tried to drive daintily through the potholed unmade road but failed miserably, but despite the hard going he eventually emerged into what looked like a poorly maintained Industrial Estate but was actually a ram shackled farm.
With an equally ram shackled farmyard littered with clutter including the rusty metal bits of tractors and the like.
As he drove into the yard he gave a wave to an old-man driving past in his car to go out the way he came in, the old man was Neville Drake and he was the former owner of Drakes Farm.
Anthony Menezes pulled into a second yard with outbuildings on three sides, all of which had seen better days.
He got out of his car and walked across the yard and turned the corner to the farmhouse and that was the first time that he saw the new owner, Jessica Quail, who he found to be haughty and aloof.

That was twelve months earlier, now as he drove along, the unmade road was pothole free and tarmac’d and the formerly ram shackled farm was now a very neat and tidy one.
Which was in stark contrast to how it had looked when he was there the first time, all the clutter that had littered the yard was gone, the mud that caked the cobbles had been washed away and the flaked and peeling paintwork had been completely replaced with gleaming white gloss, guttering had been repaired or replaced and had he not been a regular visitor to the farm he might have thought it was a different farm.
The reason for this transformation was the tall skinny Jessica Quail who was crossing the yard to greet him as he got out of the car.
She was just 32, with straw coloured hair, which was short and unruly.
As she strode toward him she was wearing a baggy tee shirt and overalls, and she looked like a proper tomboy.
“Hello Mr Menezes” she said with a smile and no hint of the haughty aloofness of their first meeting.
But then that was because during the twelve months that had elapsed they had been working at the farm together they had fallen in love.
“Hi Jess, are you busy?” he asked
“I’m never too busy for you” she said flirtily and embraced him
“Good because I want to ask you something” he said
“Ok you can ask me something on one condition” Jess said
“What condition?”
“That you ask me to marry you” she said and giggled
“You have to ask me to marry you” she said
“What makes you think I’m going to ask you to marry me?” he asked
“Because you’ve been carrying the ring around in your jacket pocket for over a week” Jess said
“What makes you think it’s for you?” Anthony asked
“It had better be” she snapped and turned to face him
“Ok I admit it, the ring is for you” he confessed
“And so I should think” she said and after a pause she added
“Well what?” he retorted
“You still have to ask me” she pointed out
“Oh yes” he said and laughed and then asked “Will you marry me?”
“I’ll think about it” Jessica said and turned on her heels and headed towards the house
“What do you mean you’ll think about it?” he asked and trotted after her and then she stopped dead and turned around to face him
“Ok I’ve thought about it,” she said and launched herself at him “Of course I’ll marry you”

Mornington-By-Mere - (93) Alma’s Eyes

When the Mornington Estate exercised its option to purchase Mornington Field from the MOD it also acquired all the buildings and infrastructure on the airfield itself as well as 29 houses in the village formally used as quarters for military personnel.
Plans were immediately drawn up to optimize the newly acquired assets the moment the property was formally handed over on the 1st of June.
The guardians of the estate were the St George family the head of which is Baron Gabriel St George.
His architect Scott Collier was tasked with designing appropriate conversions to maximize the potential returns, and Ray Walker
Who dealt with all thing estate maintenance wise was responsible for getting the old Air force housing stock occupied ASAP,
Ray worked tirelessly to that end to have not just the first six houses ready within the month as originally promised, but eight, which were handed over on the 6th of July, two days earlier than forecast. .
Gabriel was then able to instruct Lyndon-Sanders Properties of Shallowfield to find tenants.
Priority was to be given to local people or people with ties to the area or those who worked in some capacity for the estate such as agriculture and the brewery.
Other than that they were to be rented with the only condition being that it had to be the tenant’s primary residence.
Gabriel was always conscious of creating a ghost town of professionals who live and work in Town all week and only return to the village on the weekend.
One such person was Alma Fuentes who was a physiotherapist at the Dancingdean Health Centre in Shallowfield who worked out of the Mornington Surgery one day a week.
Alma lived at number 8 The Close and she was the only single occupancy, everyone else had a family or a partner and children and she wanted that, she had always wanted that but now she lived among so many children she wanted it even more.
She was a tiny Spanish woman who looked like a breath of wind would blow her away but looks could be very deceptive as she was as strong as an ox.

When she worked in Shallowfield she would go across the road to the café for her lunch.
Paul Larkin sat drinking black coffee alone in Addison’s café just killing some time and he noticed her instantly as she entered, and he was powerless to resist the movement of his eyes, as like magnets they were drawn towards the striking young woman's and her stunning beauty, her hair appeared black as a raven's wing as it caressed the dark caramel skin of her shoulders, but with the sun shining through the fine strands they betrayed its true brunette nature.
But out of the sun her hairs dark lustre framed the simple beauty of her face, which he studied as he took another sip.
Firstly her full lips quivered and then broadened into a smile, as he admired the delicate curve of her small nose and the hypnotic depth of her dark brown eyes, which looked back at him and held his gaze, and as if reading his thoughts they burned through him and touched his soul.
Alma was distracted momentarily so his eyes wandered the soft brown nakedness of her neck and shoulders and then he met her eyes again and her smile broadened and her cheeks flushed.
As she sat down at an adjacent table his gaze once more returned to her face and Alma smiled.
That was the last time they sat on separate tables because the next day he joined her and bought her coffee and they talked and laughed, then drank more coffee and talked and laughed some more.
His eyes still took every opportunity to peruse her sweet face when he wasn’t held captive by her Spanish eyes.

Six months passed and love blossomed and grew between them and then came the day when her dark eyes, sultry and steamy flashed him a side ward’s glance from beneath the white lace of her veil and in return he gave her a more appraising look altogether, focusing on the curvaceous figure beneath her conservative wedding dress.
Her eyes flashed up again, a lingering languid glance which spoke volumes of her being very much a woman and not the putative girl her parents would have her be still.
She was the centre of his admiration, and he was hers as they saw recognition in each other’s eyes, no words were spoken, everything was intuit and with amative study and libidinous perusal, the girl was his object of pulchritude and he was her beloved swain.
All at once they had to come back to the moment and the spell was broken momentarily and they had to turn their attention to the Vicar until the moment when after their union, he would look into the eyes of the young woman behind the white lace veil as they stood on the steps of St Winifred’s church.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (93) Doctors in Love

(Part 01)

The Finchbottom Vale nestles comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north and those who were lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns and at the eastern end of the Vale were the Dulcets which were a collection of villages and hamlets comprising of Dulcet Meadow, Dulcet-on-Willow, Dulcet St Mary, Dulcet Green and Dulcet-on-Brooke, to name but a few.

Barry and Sarah Blake and Chris and Helen Blenkin were all Doctors of varying degrees, Barry was a GP while his wife Sarah was an ambition driven cardio thoracic surgeon.
Helen Blenkin was also a GP at the same practice as Barry and her husband Chris was an ENT specialist at the Royal Downshire, he was also a drunken womanizer.

So the two couple’s, one with a neglected husband due to an ambitious wife and the other with a lonely wife because of an alcoholic adulterer pushed Barry and Helen towards a forbidden love.

Barry and Helen worked at the Dulcets Health Centre in Dulcet-on-Brooke and the Blake’s lived in the village but the Blenkin’s lived in Brocklington.
Over the years because of their personal circumstances the two had spent increasingly more time together and slowly and inexorably fell in love, but despite that fact they did nothing but enjoy each other’s company for five years, before they succumbed to the inevitable.

However even after the genie was out the bottle they had to be discreet and quite inventive to protect their secret love.
One such subterfuge occurred at the end of a very busy week when the health center’s resources were stretched very thin.
One of Helen’s patients collapsed in the waiting room at the Health Centre and the woman was very scared so she offered to ride with her in the ambulance, which calmed her down but she died an hour after arriving at the hospital, Helen was sad about her death but happy in the knowledge that she passed peacefully.
With Helen stranded in Purplemere Barry volunteered to drive over and pick her up.

As they were driving back to Dulcet-on-Brooke in the bright evening sunshine to pick up her car, Helen suddenly asked
“Do you have any visitors at the moment?”
She was referring to his sister Brenda who was a frequent flyer in his spare room but she really wanted to know if Sarah was home.
“No just me on my lonesome” he replied
“What about Sarah?” she asked
“She’s gone to a conference in Amsterdam for a couple of days” he answered and then there was a long silence.
“Do you want some company?” Helen asked coyly
“Are you offering?” he asked her
“I am” she replied
Then after a few moments she continue
“It’s been such a beastly week and I know I’m very brazen, but once in a while it’s nice to feel like I’m part of a proper couple, and I feel that with you and…”
“And today you need that more than ever” he continued for her
“Yes” she replied

(Part 02)

It was dark when they got back to the village and parked the car on the drive.
Although it was Helen’s desire to spend the night with him she was conscious of the risk to her reputation if she was seen going through his front door after dark by the village busybodies.
So Barry got out of the car and opened the door while Helen put on one of Sarah’s hats that she found in the door pocket, which disguised her sufficiently to the untrained eye while she dashed in through the door.
They would have to employ a similar subterfuge later on that evening but that was only after they had spent the evening together.
When he had safely smuggled her inside the hall she said
“Is this any kind of way for grownups to behave?” and they both burst out laughing.
But then inevitably they started kissing and began a kind of shuffle along the hall until he picked her up and carried her to the lounge when at the height of passion her stomach started gurgling and it got louder and louder until it culminated in foul tasting belch in his mouth.
“Oh God I’m so sorry” Helen said mortified by her unintentional gastric eruption.
“I haven’t really eaten for two days,” she said in her defense but all he could do was laugh, which in turn set her off, and once the giggles set in there was nothing to be done.
So Barry got the takeaway menus and ten minutes later he was ordering an Indian.
They still had the giggles so he opened a bottle of wine and poured two large glasses.
“I can’t have that much” she said when she saw the size of the glass “I’m driving remember”
“I thought you were staying the night,” he said
“Is that ok?” she asked
“Of course it is, so get that down your neck” he replied
While they waited for dinner to arrive Helen made some phone calls, in between the giggles, just to make sure everything was ok at the surgery.
But every time they thought about renewing their amorous intentions, they dissolved into giggles again.
By the time the food arrived they were a little bit pissed and after they’d eaten they were too stuffed for passion so they drank some more instead.
So by the time midnight came around they were quite merry and all of a sudden Helen sat upright and said
“I don’t have a change of clothes”
“That’s ok we’re not going anywhere” he reassured her
“But I’ve got no spare knickers” she emphasized
“You could borrow some of Sarah’s,” he suggested
“No that is wrong on so many levels” she chastised and Barry was just about to make another suggestion when Helen said
“And commando is not an option”
“Nothing could have been further from my mind,” he said innocently
“Nothing is precisely what was on your mind” she corrected him “and me wearing it” and she laughed.
After a few minutes of giggles Helen suddenly announced
“I have an overnight bag in my car for when I’m on call”
“Well lets go and get it then” I said
“But what if someone sees me come in here with my overnight bag” she said anxiously
“They won’t” he said and went out into the hall
“Why not?” she asked
“Because we will be in disguise” he replied and handed her a hoody
Helen stood up and slipped it on and put the hood up.
“What do you think?” Helen asked as she did her catwalk strut and Barry looked her up and down from head to toe.
“You look like a professional woman wearing a hoody” he said frankly “Hold on”
And he went upstairs and went to the airing cupboard and then the spare room and returned downstairs.
“Change into these” he said and handed her a pair of joggers, a sweatshirt and a pair of trainers.
“Sarah’s?” she asked
“Brenda’s” he replied, Brenda was his younger sister who often stayed with him.
“That’s ok then” she said and began undressing but then stopped “Some privacy would be nice”
“I won’t look honest” he lied and Helen gave him a look so he got up and went into the hall, where he could have spied through the crack in the door, which he didn’t, well not much.

(Part 03)

Ten minutes later they slipped out the back door into the darkness of the garden like they had just accepted a “Mission Impossible” and then ran giggling into the woods that separated the end of the garden from the 18th fairway where they skulked their way along the wooded path, like a couple of kids playing soldiers, all the way to the Church Lane where they hugged the shrubbery until they reached the Health Centre car park.
They gave a long furtive look to make sure there was no one around and then they approached Helen’s car.
She fished the keys from her pocket and unlocked it and it responded with a loud bleep made all the louder by the silence and a flash of the lights all the brighter in the darkness.
Startled by the sound of the immobilizer they quickly opened the tailgate and Helen grabbed her backpack, then she reset the alarm and they headed back to the lane.
“Oi you” a voice shouted, “What are you doing there?”
“Come on” he urged her and they ran laughing back into the woods periodically looking over their shoulders to see if they were being pursued.
Once they were in the woods they ran on and on until they crashed in a heap in the undergrowth laughing.
“Shhh” she said, “Someone will hear”
But Barry couldn’t stop giggling so she decided the only way to shut him up was to kiss him, but what began as a means of suppressing his giggles ended with her tongue darting in and out of his mouth like a viper so he returned the kiss to her hot panting mouth.
“This is very nice,” she panted as he began to rummage inside her hoody and was making great progress but then to his surprise she suddenly leapt up and said
“Oh no you don’t” and ran off down the path and he scramble to his feet as quickly as possible and ran after her and although she had a good head start it didn’t take long for him to close the ground on her and he grabbed hold of her back pack and pulled her backwards.
But her progress was only halted momentarily as she wriggled free of the straps and he ended up sitting on his backside holding the bag and to add insult onto injury she lifted her hoody and flashed him and then ran off laughing.
“That’s dirty fighting” he called after her and quickly got back to his feet, but she managed to show him a clean pair of heels all the way back to the house.
“Well that was quite an adventure wasn’t it?” she said as she kicked off her shoes.
“It’s a shame you couldn’t keep up”
“You cheeky cow” he said affronted as she turned on her heels and ran out of the kitchen giggling like a schoolgirl heading for the stairs and he sprinted after her and he caught her halfway across the landing and she screamed as he grabbed her by the waist.
“Got yer,” he said and scooped her up and carried her into the bedroom.

(Part 04)

On Saturday Morning he was lying in bed, while Helen was in the shower, waiting for her to finish so he could get in, he didn’t have to wait too long.

Showered and shaved he went back into the bedroom where he found Helen sitting on the bed loosely wearing a dressing gown while she was talking on her mobile.
“Really?” she said but he couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation.
“Yes of course I will” Helen said and again he couldn’t hear anything in response
“Yes I’ll let you know” she said “Good bye”
“You’ll never guess what that was about” she said
“You’ll have to tell me then” he replied
“When we were seen by my car last night it was reported to the police” Helen said
“It’s a good job we were in disguise then” Barry said as he knelt on the bed behind her and began kissing her neck which was the prelude to a wonderful start to the day.

Barry would have happily spent the whole day making love to Helen but alas she had to go.
However the problem was how to get her out of his house in broad daylight without being seen.
So they decided to have a coffee while they made a plan, and two mugs of coffee later as if in answer to a prayer it started to rain, but not just rain, it was an absolute deluge.
“Oh shitty bloody weather” Helen cursed
“Excellent” he said
“What?” she asked, “but it’s horrible”
“It’s perfect, is what it is” he said and went into the utility and came out with a set of waterproofs and a Golfing umbrella.
“If anyone sees you in the woods in these they’ll just think you’re a Golfer” Barry said “Ditto when you emerge into the lane”
“Perfect” she said “but what if I’m seen getting in the car?”
“Then you say you’re going to the club,” he said
“You’re a very devious man,” Helen said
“I know but the rewards are well worth it” he stated and Helen blushed crimson red.

But having provided Helen with the appropriate clothing they immediately hit upon a snag, the trousers didn’t fit over her skirt, it bunched up under the waterproofs and made it look like she had a bustle.
So she removed the trouser and then had to take her skirt off.
“Don’t get any ideas,” she said when she noticed him looking at her in her knickers and tights.
“Well you could stay a bit longer,” he suggested lustily
“Don’t temp me,” she said quickly pulling on the waterproof trousers which were a little on the large side and the waistband sat just below her bust line.
Then she pulled on the top over her head before slipping on her shoes.
“That’s not going to work,” he said
“Why?” she asked with concern
“No one would wear footwear like that on a golf course,” he told her
“They are a bit of a giveaway, aren’t they?” she admitted
“Indeed” he agreed
“What can I wear then?” she asked
“Brenda’s trainers” he said
“What about all my stuff?” she queried
“I’ll bring it to the surgery on Monday, I’ll tell Karen that you left them in my car yesterday” he said
“God, you’re good at this stuff,” Helen said and she kissed him

After he had kissed her goodbye he let her out into the rain.
“Text me when you reach your car” he said
“Will do” she responded and off she went
“I love you” he called after her

Meanwhile he gathered her stuff together and put it in her backpack and put it and her overcoat by the front door.
Which was when he got a text
“Made it,” it read “I love you too”