The hedgerows were freshly embroidered with primroses as Alice drove along the narrow road leading to ‘Thudder house’. The journey seemed long, but not as long as the road Alice had travelled in the past few months. There were changes. Very many changes!
Judith Crooke, & her friend Allen, evaporated like an early morning mist. Just the one phone call, no more. Mary Matterface, neighbourhood know-all, described Allen as: “So tight he could peel an orange in his pocket” and that was after a few short hours on the day of the funeral. Mary Matterface, was an authority on everything, what she did not know, she made up. The neighbours were all wise to her at this stage, and Alice battled hard to keep her at arms length.
Roger de Montfort’s luck finally ran out at the New Year meet of the North County Stag-hounds. Proudly sitting on his horse, he held centre stage talking and laughing with friends, when flop! Roger fell off his horse stone dead, mid laugh with a grin so wide, it almost met at the back of his head.
Lettuce Playfair, to great relief all round, had moved the tiger cat to her home and was busy right now with the arrival of six tiny kittens.
Julie Jenkins, set teacups rattling at the local fundraiser, when she arrived with a beau on her arm. Each soul needs to find their niche of happiness, the look on Julie’s face told the world that she had met hers. It was not known if Neville Nolan liked wrestling, but he did like Julie, that was obvious.
Morgan had proved to be a true friend. He helped Alice to refresh her driving skills, and he moved into the ‘Workshop’, Alice’s name for the house with the cars. It was at Morgan’s suggestion, it would mean the house was aired and lived in, and he could carry out repairs and renovations in lieu of rent. He never did anything without consulting Alice. Already the house had come alive and Sidney’s plants were beginning to smile once more.
The home house had been dusted with Morgan’s magic, fresh paint and emulsion throughout. Even Lovell seemed to turn a corner. Perhaps partly due to the new arrival in the family. Crumbs was a bitser, half Sheltie, half Terrier. She was the size of a small terrier, with the coat of the sheltie, though wiry in texture and the colour of an old man’s mane: Sixty shades of grey. She took to training well, belonged to Lovell and they became inseparable. The distraction of Crumbs gave Alice the freedom to plan and work for their future.
Today, the plan for Alice was to spend part of the day in ‘Thudder house’, she smiled at how each house comfortably adopted a name, she wanted to get the feel of the place, take in the atmosphere of the rooms. Note how the daylight played its part, take measurements and notes before deciding where to begin. In recent months, she had come here with Morgan, sometimes it was an excuse for driving practice, but with every visit she discovered something new about the place. He had a good eye for details and his helpful suggestions, never pushy, were always welcome.
The four tea chests he brought from the ‘Workshop’ would soon be filled. The few drawers she had opened were full and looked as if they were undisturbed since Adam was a boy. With four reception rooms and eight bedrooms, the task of reading, sorting and clearing might take months. Goodness knows what she would find.
Not quite a listed building it still had a stately feel about it. The rooms were large with high ceilings. Ten years earlier when Sidney inherited the place, he had brought Alice to see it. Lovell was with them and not a happy camper, making her feelings known by throwing a noisy childish tantrum. Thus distracted, Alice had remembered it only for the heavy doors, leaded windows, high ceilings, oak panelling exposed timbers and beams. It was on a dull day so the whole place appeared as a dark, dusty unaired mausoleum.
The day they brought the tea chests, Morgan’s mind was racing. It had been a crisp dry day and he suggested a walk in the gardens. They were more extensive than first realised. He imagined the grounds to have excellent recreational facilities: A heated Swimming pool, tennis court, croquet or bowls lawn, with a golf driving range over near the boundary. Closer to the terrace a Putting green, would add interest for the folk enjoying morning coffee or sipping afternoon tea from the fine china they found in the butler’s pantry. Goodness that lad had some imagination, there was a heck of a lot of dust to be shifted before coffee and cake on the terrace!