Category Archives: The End is Never the End

The End is never the End ~ Part 20

The remainder of the day seemed to pass in the blinking of an eye. Each person present played a part in making it a memorable occasion. Talk of the wedding, the reception, the music and dancing, as well as a curiosity about the destination of the honeymoon were the constant topics for the week while Alice and Morgan were away. George had pulled a master stroke with the wedding cake. Everyone loved it. Each detail of the decoration was recalled . George had surprised the couple with a Morgan Roadster on top of the cake, with a bride and groom sitting inside it. The trailer attached to a tow bar at the back of the car, held a tiny cake on a stand, decorated with Birthday greetings for the bride and Groom! He must have used a very strong magnifying glass to see what he was writing on that tiny cake!

The afternoon the newly weds returned from honeymoon, was another special day. All the staff, whether on duty or not, had turned out in uniform and lined up like a guard of honour to welcome them home to Hour House. The couple were relaxed and happy and made time to speak to everyone. Afternoon tea was served in the library and Morgan thanked them for the part they played in making the wedding so special and again for the welcome home.

“Tomorrow, we begin work in earnest, to put Hour House on the map. We all have a part to play, in order to build a reputation for the place we are now proud to live and work in. A happy workforce makes for happy guests. Happy guests do not save their breath to cool their porridge. No. They spread the word and encourage others to come and share in the experience. We want no cooled porridge, we want the warm breath of encouragement and regular patter of many feet crossing the threshold.

There may well be days when the sun does not shine, occasions when a customer feels unhappy, or we have personal difficulties at home. Please, do not bottle up these problems and let them fester. Share your problems and difficulties with, George, Gigi, Alice or myself. Remember: a problem shared is a problem halved. Working together as a family is the way forward, we want you all to enjoy the experience. Thank you all, for this wonderful beginning.”

With that, Morgan lifted his wife up in his arms and carried her out of the library to their own private quarters.

One hour later Gigi cast an eye over the library and smiled. ‘Leave the place as you would like to find it’, she could clearly hear that old mantra of her mother’s in her head, as she looked around. Her staff had done so without any asking. Inviting all the staff to be part of the wedding in the first place, was a master stroke and would pay dividends as time went on. What was it her father said….? ‘A good beginning was half the work’, yes that was it, and they were certainly starting on the right foot.

“My dear Mrs Troy, we need to contact our solicitor to update our wills, now that we are married.”

Alice almost jumped in her chair. She had been reading through her large bundle of post as they finished breakfast. Being called Mrs Troy, still seemed a little strange, no doubt she would soon get used to it. Only yesterday, she had signed her name as Alice Slythe. She smiled at Morgan and agreed.

“Yes. We do need to see to it soon and we also need to think seriously about choosing a guardian for Lovell, should anything unforeseen happen to us. I’ll phone the solicitor later this morning and set up an appointment. I’ll let you know the date and time as soon as I talk to him.” Said Alice.

“By the way, did you know that Lovell was now on the pay roll?” asked Alice. “Gigi and Carolyn have been teaching her to fold napkins like standing fans, she has done such a good job, they asked her to do it every day in the Oratory. For wages!”

“Really?” questioned Morgan.

“Yes.” Said Alice. “Her face was a picture when she told me.”

“I’ll have to tease her about having enough money to pay for looking after me, in my old age, but I’ll let her have the pleasure of telling me about the job first.” Said Morgan. “Do you want another cup of coffee before we meet the girls to sort out our diaries for the week ahead and see how plans are for the opening on the first of December?”

“No more coffee for me at the moment, thank you. Unless you want me spinning like a whirling dervish for the remainder of the day!”

“Alice, I have decided that funnymoons are bad for me and I refuse to go on any more of them!”

“Funnymoons? What do you mean, they are bad for you?” asked Alice.

“They make me lazy, and I could just sit reading a book all morning, instead of going to work!” Said Morgan.

“Sorry Mr Troy. There is no time for laziness, you are already at work and we have plenty of books for you to read, account books for one! I seem to remember that you wanted to talk to Wacky about cows.”

We live over the shop these days, so there is no getting away from the fact that

The End is never the End.


All the previous episodes can be found on their own page under the header.

The End is Never the End ~ Part 19

Carolyn & Lovell went in search of Wacky woods, they found him in his shed rolling strips of well used bailing twine. “You never know when one of these will come in handy.” He said, while, putting them into the long pocket of his overalls. The smile on his face made it obvious he was happy to be working on the land once more.

“Lovell, you look like you know a secret and cannot wait to share it. Am I correct?”

“I want you to buy a tree, Wacky. We need it in a hurry!”

“ In a hurry?” said Wacky. “It all depends what kind of tree you are thinking about, my girl. Do you have any particular kind of tree in mind?”

“A Wedding cake tree!” said Lovell. “We need to plant it on the day of the wedding. And we need a spade like the Queen has, to plant our tree.”

“A spade like the Queen has.” Said Wacky. “Well now. I think I could manage that, and have the names and date of the wedding engraved on the spade. Lovell, why not let me get the spade as my wedding present for the bride and groom. What do you think?”

“Oh yes. Good idea, but we need to plant it on the wedding day.” Said Lovell.

Carolyn was listening all the while and stepped forward. “Lovell, Wacky will do his best, but trees are not like bunches of daffodils, you never see them on sale at the petrol station or in the supermarket. Wacky will have to search the nurseries to get a good one.” Said Carolyn, before adding “We cannot plant a tree in our wedding finery, you would not like to get soil on your new dress or shoes, would you?”

Even as she spoke another idea was forming in her mind, but this was not the time to share it.

“We need to let Wacky get on with his work so that he can go looking for our tree. It must be our secret, just the three of us, we don’t want to spoil our surprise so not a word to anyone.”

“Our secret!” said Lovell. “Carolyn, can I try on my new dress now?”

“Lovell, you tried it on yesterday and it was perfect. We don’t want to get it dirty. Best wait until the wedding day. Why not take Crumbs for a long walk?”

At the mention of Crumbs, Lovell was off. “See you later she called over her shoulder.” The tree was forgotten for the moment.

Wacky and Carolyn talked for a few more minutes, about where he would get the tree, the choice of spot suitable for planting, and how they would manage to do so on the wedding day.
As she walked back to the house, she decided to confide in George about her latest idea. She would need his help with the finer details.
George was in the kitchen “Virtuous wedding cake is surely an oxymoron. I cannot do justice to it without a good dash of best brandy.”

Carolyn heard the voice before she turned the corner and wondered who he was talking too. Nobody. He was alone and about to uncover the cake.

“George Knowles, are you feeling stressed? Surely that is the place of the bride and groom, not the best man!” Carolyn teased. “That cake smells fantastic, I want to eat a slice right away.”

George turned away, picked up a smaller box and opened it to reveal another little cake with several slices already cut from it. He cut a fresh slice and put it on a small plate before placing in front of Carolyn. “I had to taste it. My livelihood might depend on it. I cannot afford to poison the bride or groom.” He said with a wink.

Pouring two cups of coffee he sat across the counter from his companion.

“Tomorrow, I will begin the process of decoration. I had an idea this morning. Morgan loves his old cars, what do you think of a Morgan Roadster on top of the cake with a bride and groom in it? I could add ribbons on the back for horseshoes and tiny tin cans.”

“That sounds ‘Cool’, as Lovell would say.” Said Carolyn. “Now I need to tax your brain for a moment. We talked to Wacky about the tree. He was wonderful with Lovell. She thinks getting this tree should be as easy as buying a bag of Golden Wonder potatoes!” He wants to provide an engraved spade ‘like the queen has’ as his wedding gift. I will pay for the tree. The problem is, Lovell wants it planted on the day of the wedding!”

“That could work.” Said George. “Since there will be nobody to give away the bride, the couple have decided to walk in, hand in hand for the ceremony. It means there will be none of this archaic ritual of the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding. They want the bridal party to have breakfast together before donning the finery. I think the idea behind it is to keep Lovell calm. So we could plant the tree after breakfast”

“We could turn it into a little treasure hunt. A ribbon from the table to the back door where we have a row of Weddingtons! Yes new wellingtons for all of us. White for the girls and black for the boys. The white ones will have ribbons on to match our outfits, Lovell would love that idea. I’ll need you to find out what size shoes Morgan wears.” Said Carolyn.

“I will do that no problem. Said George. “I suppose a second ribbon would lead to the spade and the third take us to the pre-dug hole in the lawn where the tree will go. Carolyn, you have such good ideas, I think I should Marry you!” They both laughed.

“That tree might be a winner, providing photo opportunities for wedding parties in the future. I doff my hat to you young lady!”

“Thank you, kind Sir!” Said Carolyn. “Now I must go and have a word with Gigi.


Gigi was on the first floor, surrounded by her house girls. They had been sorting rotas for the next couple of weeks and particularly on the days around the wedding.

“Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we are so fortunate to have been selected as part of the Hour House family. Everything must slide into place seamlessly for the Big day and from there on into the future. All staff being included in a wedding as it is taking place, is unusual, but right at the beginning of your journey together, makes it all the more special. It means your employers see you as part of the Hour House family. We must all play our part on the day. We have arranged a couple of tables for you to sit and mingle with the waiting staff. They will be slipping off to the kitchen to collect and serve the food and drinks, when all have been served they will rejoin you for the meal. It will give you another chance to get to know another branch of our work family. Naturally, if you see anything that needs attention, I expect you will sort it out in a quiet and efficient way.”

There was an excited muttering from the girls. It was indeed a totally different experience for all of them. Paula asked a question, one that was in all their minds.

“What about wedding presents? We do not really know our employers yet. Should we all contribute to a central fund and give one general gift?”

“Relax, girls. You are beginning your adventure, working here in Hour House. No present or presents are expected. In fact, Alice and Morgan made that very plain. They do not expect you to spend your first pay cheque on a gift for them. I will provide a gift from my staff and a large card will be available for each of you to sign.”

“That sounds wonderful.” Said Carolyn, as she joined them. A token gift from all of you is just fine, I know George is doing the same with the waiting, bar & kitchen staff.”

The girls seemed relieved. Since there were no more questions or worries, Gigi released them to continue with their tasks. They headed off in a happy murmuring buzz, with Paula at the centre. She seemed to have adopted the role of their spokes person.

Turning to Carolyn, Gigi said:

“I am glad to see you, I want to talk to you about the wedding morning. Would you like me to look after and distract Lovell when you are busy getting Alice ready. I am sure it will be a very emotional occasion for her with memories of the past raising their little heads. She is so fortunate to have you as a friend, particularly at a time like this.”

“ You read my mind, Gigi. I was coming to ask a favour.” Carolyn filled her in on the tale of the wedding cake tree and ‘A spade like the Queen has’, adding the idea of a treasure hunt after breakfast.

“What an original idea for a wedding gift, I would never think of that in a hundred years. I can picture Lovell with that spade. No doubt she will be checking videos of the queen at tree planting ceremonies, just to make sure it is done properly.” They both laughed.

“I will look after Lovell on the morning, she has become very comfortable with me. We are already making plans for when she stays with me during the Honeymoon, when Alice and Morgan are away. I can arrange the ribbons for the different stages of the treasure hunt. I will have a word with Wacky. You can leave it to us.”

Relieved, Carolyn told her about the idea for ‘Weddingtons’.

“You better add me to that list. I always wanted fancy wellingtons.” Said Gigi. “If you let me know the colour scheme, I will sort out the ribbons. What about the guys boots, they won’t want ribbons? Maybe I could clip on a rose or a natural tiny posy of leaves, feathers, branches and some stones from the grounds? I’ll talk to Wacky about that one.”

“I like the sound of a natural tiny posy, go for it. If you need help, let me know. Gosh, look at the time, I need to head for town. I have another secret to fulfil! Thank you for all the help Gigi, we want this day to go with as swing!”

Leaving Gigi to her thoughts, Carolyn headed off to town. She had promised to visit Mr Grimes and collect a parcel for Alice.


Morgan and Alice were continuing to make arrangements for the official opening for business. Thanks to some favourable reviews in the media. The phones and email, brought many requests for bookings. The Facebook and website were proving popular too. Sophie, one of the receptionists, agreed to update daily, and moderate the incoming requests and replies. She may be one of the younger members of staff, but she seemed to have been born with technology in her veins.

The honeymoon would be short. They wanted Hour House to begin in earnest on the first day of December. The Mayor of the local council and representatives from the tourist board were coming to the opening. Leaders of local Rotary, Lions, Probus & Arts and Crafts groups, as well as the local camera club, had all replied with an affirmative answer, some hoping it would be possible to use the premises to hold monthly meetings from the beginning of the new year.

“We need a rota of who will meet, when and where.” said Morgan. “It would never do to have them all on the one day at the same time!”

“Do you want me to handle that? I was thinking the needle-worker group could use the Oratory on one evening a week. There are plenty of sockets for their sewing machines and we can easily provide coffee or tea at the mid point of their evening, all part of their fee.” Said Alice.

“Alice dear, we have a secretary. Let her organise it for us. She will be here to ease our load, we cannot do everything ourselves. Just as we needed help to restore Hour House to its present glory, we now need the help of staff to help run it efficiently. Sometimes we need to put down the book of work and start writing our own story. I want to have time, for and with you, that is why I asked you to marry me. Lovell too, we need to have time to spend with her.”

“You are right, Morgan, I feel I neglected Lovell quite a bit, while planning and working on the house. This is all a great big learning curve for me. At times I feel like a butterfly newly emerged from the pupal stage of life. I never would have attempted it without you! I promise to make time for you and Lovell as we walk through life together.”

On 21st November, the day of the wedding, curtains and blinds were opened across Hour House to large trees shrugging in the winter mist. Anyone looking through a window at the front of the house might wonder why Wacky was walking away from a freshly dug hole with a little mound of soil beside it. Thankfully all the family were at the back of the house, busy with their own thoughts, so unaware of what was happening outdoors. The breeze was working to tidy up the sky and sweep the clouds into the corners so the sun could shine across the bright blue dome.

Morgan was singing in the shower “Right now is life… I am going to enjoy every minute of the journey along the way!” He suddenly thought of his father and the loneliness he felt after his wife had left him. Yet, without that loneliness, the cars and his friendship with Sydney, Morgan would not have discovered the love of his life, Alice.

‘You don’t need anyone’s permission to be happy, or to live a good life, it is a state of mind only you can create.’ Morgan was not sure who said it, but he certainly agreed with the sentiment and wanted to continue living by it.

Meanwhile Alice was soaking in a luxurious bath, with some special oils that Gigi had brought home from New York. They were a gift especially for use today. There was plenty of time before breakfast and feeling so relaxed she allowed herself to drift off into a little day dream. Caroline promised to bring a coffee when it was time to emerge and have her hair done.

Gigi meantime, was trying to keep Lovell from donning her dress for the wedding.

“Not yet Lovell. It is way too early and remember we have a tree to plant after breakfast. Pull on a pair of trousers and the cagoule with the zip all the way down the front. That way you will not mess up your hair when you are ready to change clothes for the wedding. I think we have time to take Crumbs for a long walk before breakfast and then you can brush her down before putting on the new collar. What do you think?”

“Oh yes please! Crumbs likes a walk in the morning.”

“You can take me up through the fields at the back, I have never walked up there before.”

It was agreed and off they went. Thankfully there was no sign of Wacky, so no need for a discussion about the tree or wanting to check the hole. Gigi was surprised that Lovell had kept the secret so far. She was feeding Crumbs some special titbits that George had made especially for her, and both were ready to have an excess of energy worked off.

Soon it was time for breakfast and the only meal of the day cooked and served by George. He had delegated the responsibility to he deputy for the remainder of the day. Most of the preparation he had supervised the day before and told everyone what they had to do. George’s task today was to stand by Morgan and look after every need of the couple. He had a speech ready, but it was quite short. He hope it would hit the right tone.

Bucks Fizz, a cooked breakfast, warm rolls from the oven and plenty of coffee. Everyone tucked in. Gigi sat beside Lovell, so that she could steer her conversation and not have any secrets slipping out at this late stage. That pair were fast becoming friends.

Alice looked happy but quiet, not unexpected from a bride on her big day. Morgan was the same as he always was, teasing Lovell gently, while giving assuring glances to Alice across the table. The conversation on general topics flowed with ease. As they were all finishing, Gigi slipped away and went to have a word with Wacky. He had placed the Weddingtons in a row at the back door. There were ribbons from the Bride and grooms boots winding out the door and round the corner where the other ends were tied around the handle of a spanking new shiny spade. And another let them to the front of Hour House and across the lawn to a hole. Happy that all was in order, she returned to the breakfast table and gave Lovell a gentle squeeze on the knee. It was the sign that all was ready.

Lovell pushed her chair back and stood up and began to speak.

“Alice and Morgan, I have a surprise for you. We need to go outside the back door to find it. Come on everyone they might need some help.”

Alice looked at Morgan and he looked at her. Neither of them knew what was about to happen. They joined hands and followed Lovell with the others slipping in behind them.

It was Lovell who gasped in surprise when she saw the row of Weddingtons. Carolyn nodded to Gigi and she moved forward to explain the next step. There were removable name tags on each pair so they would not get mixed up. There was even a chair for anyone who wished to sit while putting on the boots. Once every one was ready, they followed a ribbon and found the spade leaning on the wall. From it was another ribbon, so on Lovell’s instructions Morgan carried the spade on to the next stage.

“Lovell, surely you are not going to bury me on my wedding day. Are you?” Asked Morgan.

With that, Wacky appeared around the corner of the house with a tree over his shoulder. They all watched as he walked slowly and steadily across the lawn. Placing the roots into the hole, he turned to Lovell. “I think you have a speech to make, young lady.”

Lovell stepped forward to make her speech.

“Alice and Morgan, this is my present for you on your wedding day. It is a wedding cake tree.”

A wedding cake tree, You mean we can eat it?” teased Morgan.

They all laughed and felt relief that the secret had been kept until this moment.

Alice and Morgan were delighted and showed it by giving Lovell a hug.

“We are not finished yet. We need to use the spade that Wacky bought for you. It is like the one the Queen has for planting trees. It has your names on it. We have to do it properly.”

“Thank you Wacky, what a wonderful idea. Perhaps you could show us what to do.”

“Oh no Sir. Lovell has been watching videos of the Queen planting trees, so she knows exactly what to do. Perhaps she could help me with the first bit, The guests of honour only tip in a spade full when the tree is almost planted.”

Lovell stepped forward. She checked, at Wacky’s suggestion that the roots were evenly spread and lifted the first spade full of soil into the hole.

“Thank you Lovell, now why not let everyone have a turn and finish with the Bride and Groom.” Said Wacky.

Everyone took their turn beginning with Gigi. Just before it was time for the Bride and Groom to use the spade, a car came up the drive and parked in the drive in front of them. It was Mr Yates, with his Clarinet. They called him over, inviting him to add a spade full of soil. Handing the Clarinet to Carolyn, he did as he was bid, before handing the spade back to Lovell.

As Lovell handed the spade to her sister, Mr Yates began to play the Clarinet.

The tune ‘What A Wonderful World’ drifted through the air while the bridal couple planted their tree.

Everyone in the group began to sing:

“I see trees of green,
red roses too.
I see them bloom,
for me and you.
And I think to myself,
what a wonderful world.”

With that a waiter carrying a tray, walked towards the group with flutes of Champagne.

Morgan gave the spade to Wacky and he finished off by adding a stake. Then he moved to the front of the tree and placed a commemorative brass plaque in the grass in front of the tree.

With the work done, they all returned to the house to don the glad rags and ready themselves for the business part of the day.

All the previous episodes can be found on their own page under the header.

The End is never the End ~ Part 18

Together Alice and Morgan had chosen Savina Schultz, a prize winner in the field of Web Design & Development. She had actually spent several weeks working on a full design package for Hour House. It was more a full streamlining of their business plan, developing a logo for stationary and every aspect of sign-age about the building before beginning to build a website. Working this way, she got to know her clients and discovered what they wanted from a website, rather than a “You have to have this, this and this’. Morgan was more familiar with the world of social media, but Savina wanted him to take a step back, remove his accountant’s hat and replace it with that of a service provider for a few days. Having the accounting background was a bonus, but he had to see the task as more ‘giving than taking’.

The logo was a tasteful and elegant outline sketch of the bell tower that included the clock face. Then followed a Facebook page and twitter account. Savina was careful to ease Alice with Morgan’s help, through the journey of running a business on-line. The team of receptionists were almost weaned onto social media when they moved to solid food. This all eased Alice’s mind and she did not feel so much out of her comfort zone, as she had done at the beginning.

Lunch for the ‘What’s On Brigade’ was held on Halloween. That idea was down to Savina. Representatives from the tourist board, television and radio, social media outlets, as well and newspapers and glossy magazines were all invited. The invitations allowed for four hours: One to five pm. The plan was to begin in the Oratory with a welcome drink and nibbles followed by an hour of chat that covered all aspects of the facilities and a programme of events for the next couple of months The guests were taken in small groups on a tour of the rooms. There was ample time for photographs and Savina had organised for a video to be made and handed out as part of the package that included sample menus. There were plenty of treats available for the guests to take away with them. There was a selection of freebies for them to give as quiz prizes; Dinner for two, lunch for four or a luxury weekend stay in Hour House. George offered to give a one day cookery course or an evening demonstration of festive food & Caroline agreed on giving a talk about Interior decorating.

Then it was back to the banqueting room for a five course lunch showing George’s talents to the full. After lunch there was an opportunity to ask questions before a walk in the grounds. They returned as the daylight was fading and mulled wine was available for anyone who wished to imbibe as the day reached a natural ending with a fireworks display. The buzz from the guests sounded promising and they all seemed to enjoy the day, in fact they seemed in no hurry to leave. The truth would follow over the next couple of weeks when the proverbial ink was dry and the public had their chance to make contact or bookings on the phone, the website or on the Hour House Facebook page.

“Alice, you know I have had several meetings with the local Council authority about approval of Hour House as a venue for marriages and civil partnerships? This here brown envelope brings good news. Excellent news in fact!” Said Morgan the next morning, while going through his mail.

“Not alone have we the permission to use Hour House as a wedding venue, but Angela Murray, who wrote this letter and was the registrar we met when arranging our own nuptials, says we can move our wedding here if we wish. The actual first wedding at Hour house!”

Alice’s face lit up. She wanted as little fuss as possible and staying at home and not having to arrange transport to and fro, appealed to her.

“Now you girls need to get your skids on, we have a promise to keep. It is time to take Lovell shopping for her dress.” Said Morgan, adding “I suppose you have your own regalia sorted at this stage?”

“Yes. Carolyn and I sorted both of our outfits, the other day when we had lunch in town. You might be glad to know it is not a meringue, and I am well past the age of virginal white, but my outfit is tasteful and I think you will approve. Carolyn was an excellent advisor. How are you fixed for Tuesday? I take it you still want to tag along? You always have a calming effect on Lovell and I know she would like you to come with us.”

“A promise is a promise, I’ll be there. Just let me know what time.” Said Morgan.

With that, Gigi, came through the door backwards, in her arms were a bundle of boxes tied together with string.

“ The games I suggested!” she pronounced. “I have another three bundles in the car. I am sure to fill that cupboard in the hall with these board games and jigsaws.

Morgan jumped to her aid. “Let me take those from you. I’ll come out with you and carry the remainder in. That bundle brings back memories. Cludo, Ludo and Snakes and Ladders. They were all part of my childhood. I still have a dominoes set somewhere, I will dig it out and it can be added to the bundle.”

“I have checked them and they are in good order with no missing pieces.” Said Gigi. “In fact the only thing missing is a chess set. I do remember having one many years ago. Maybe my son took it to America, when he emigrated.”

“Ah no. What a pity, I loved chess. I had a lovely marble set when I was young, but sold it so that I could afford to buy a part for the car I had at the time. You know, Gigi, between these games and all the books in the library, guests may never want to leave Hour House.”

“So long as they are happy to play, and not try to take the books or games home with them.” Said Alice. She had caught up with them as they had reached the car and between them, they managed the remaining bundles.

“I have some outdoor games too, would you be interested? Maurice, my late husband had a godfather who worked at Jaques of London, so his birthday gifts all came from that company. My son is not interested in any of them, his leaning is towards sky-diving or when on the ground he likes the speed of Rallycross automobile racing. The garden games include Quoits, a Croquet set, Skittles, Boules a large traditional wooden Naughts & Crosses Game & Giant Dominoes. A more recent addition is a Giant Jenga game. The tumble tower comprises 56 blocks of hardwood giving a 19 level tower. It is heavy I think the wood is Mango. It comes with a sturdy carry bag for storage and transportation. The blocks are blank. I am thinking that it might be possible to add the Hour House logo. I have spoken to my son and he assures me that he does not want any of the games. Unfortunately, his relationship with his father was not good, so I do understand his feelings.”

Tuesday dawned crisp and dry with button clouds festooning the sky. So very different from the tree bending wind of the previous two days. Lovell was back from her walk with Crumbs before the breakfast was ready. Since everyone knew that it was her big shopping day, George had made blueberry pancakes. Her favourite. There was a party mood round the table as the stack of pancakes diminished and the coffee cups were drained. The chat was about the plans for the day. Morgan would drive Alice, Lovell and Carolyn to town. He knew he wanted an hour with Alice, another alone and the remainder was to do what ever Lovell wanted. Carolyn wanted to whisk Lovell away for an hour at some stage, so it was decided that while they went on the mystery task, Alice and Morgan would go in their own direction, before all meeting up for coffee at eleven.

Alice and Morgan headed off to see Mr Grimes, the jeweller. They wanted to purchase gifts for the wedding party, no better man than Mr Grimes to take them on the right track. He knew them well at this stage and felt they could trust him. As they walked through the shop, Morgan’s attention was caught by a silver chess set in a free-standing display case. A low whistle of approval escaped his lips, but he quickly turned his mind to the task in hand as Mr Grimes approached them. Alice noted the whistle, she had remembered the conversation with Gigi. She was slightly behind Morgan, so was able to give Mr Grimes a wink while pointing at the Chess set, before putting her finger to her lips. It would make the perfect wedding gift for her soul mate. Alice loved chess, though her skills were a little rusty these days. A few games with Morgan would soon sort that out. She would phone Mr Grimes the next day, to organise the sale of the chess set.

Meanwhile, Carolyn and Lovell were headed in the direction of the largest department store. A wedding gift was on their minds too. This one was for the Bride and Groom from Lovell. She wanted to buy everything that sparkled and shone, but Carolyn steered her in a more sensible direction. Mind you it was a difficult enough task: Finding the right gift for a couple who seemed totally content with what they had.

Not finding anything that Lovell really liked, Carolyn asked: “What about a gift that will go on and on for years, such as a tree.”

Lovell’s face was a picture “A tree?” she questioned.

“This would be no ordinary tree.” Said Carolyn. “A wedding cake tree. The Latin botanical name is Cornus controversa. You know it will look different in every season. The branches spread like the tiers of a wedding cake. It produces large clusters of white flowers in June, followed by blue-black fruit, and glossy, dark green leaves, turning rich red and purple in autumn. It would be a total surprise and we could have a planting ceremony with a special spade like the way the Queen does.”
That seemed to appeal to Lovell. Carolyn was not sure if it was the wedding cake bit or the mention of the Queen that did it, but she kept going.

“Wacky would be able to find a good one and we could plant it in the lawn at the front of Hour House for everyone to see and enjoy.
Lovell was really warming to this idea, Carolyn could see the excitement in her eyes.

“This way it can be organised quietly and we will not have to carry a parcel around all day! We will keep it a secret and talk to Wacky tomorrow! What do you think Lovell?”

Lovell was happy and promised to keep the secret. With that she asked “Can we go and buy a new collar for Crumbs to wear for the wedding?”

They did and soon it was time to meet up with Alice and Morgan for coffee. Carolyn was ready for coffee and a rest, she was sure that looking for a dress might not be as simple as choosing the tree.

Over the coffee, Morgan teased the girls about where to begin the search for the dress. Lovell wanted shoes to go with it and some decoration for her hair. Morgan said they should begin with the dress and then he would leave them to hunt for the shoes and headgear. They could phone him when they had finished and he would collect them in the car and take them for a nice lunch.

So the dress hunt began. Morgan walked beside Lovell, talking gently to keep her calm. This was the most exciting day in her life so far. They were all pleased to see her so well and able for the excitement, but they had to keep it in check. They did not want any more ‘episodes’.

They had expected this to be a long haul with many changes of mind. But Lovell surprised them in the second shop with the words “This one. I want this one!” It was simple, semi fitted and without knowing, she had picked the same colour as Carolyn. Morgan offered to take the bag back to the car, but Lovell was having none of it. She was not letting it out of her hand, never mind her sight. Anyway she needed to have it for matching up with a hair decoration.

Carolyn knew a shop that had pretty little Fascinators, so they went there. The sales lady was very helpful and suggested several styles. Lifting Lovell’s hair into a sweep, she placed a silver grey Fascinator in place. “Perfect!” they chorused in unison. So the decision was made. The paid and added the delicately wrapped package to the bag with the dress. Now it was on to the shoe shop. They went to the same shop where Alice and Carolyn had bought their shoes. They gave Lovell the space to examine all the shoe displays. When she reach the greys. Caroline pointed to one style that would match the Fascinator. So they asked to try them on.

Sizes were checked and the assistant brought them over. Lovell tried the shoes on and walked across the floor. They were comfortable. And the sales lady told them they had tights in the very same colour, the size was chosen and added to the bundle at the cash desk. Alice had her dress and she was a happy bunny, nothing else really mattered. The goods were paid for and Carolyn was allowed to carry the bag this time. Next stop was to buy some pretty underwear. Lovell felt like her favourite soap star with all this attention and shopping. When they finally met Morgan she threw her arms around him and said !”This is the best day of my life.” Alice had a sudden urge to wipe some grit from her eye. It was really to stop tears trickling down her face. It was indeed a good day.

Lunch was delicious, all the shopping gave Lovell an appetite. She pleaded with Morgan to take a photo of the dessert so that she could ask George to make it some day. When the lunch was over, and energies fading, they headed for the car with shopping and secrets happy to head back to Hour House.



All the previous episodes can be found on their own page under the header.

The End is never the End ~ Part 17

“Mrs Giles. Welcome back from New York. How was the wedding?”

“The wedding was wonderful, a little tiring with all that travel, but I was glad to be there.”

“I’m taking this tray to the library. Alice & Morgan are already in there and expecting you. I have counted you in, and only need to know which you prefer: Tea or coffee?”

Gigi moved to open the library door. “I am a coffee fan, tall and strong, please.”

“Just like yourself. A good combination for the post of Housekeeper. Thank you for holding the door.”

“Ah, Mrs Giles. Come in. Come in. I see our George has you working before you take your coat off. How was the journey and the wedding?” Asked Morgan.

“Gigi, please. I’m told it is a short form of Virginia, my grandmother’s name, and that the meaning is Brilliant. I will leave it to you to decide if that applies to me or not, Mr Troy!” Gigi’s eyes twinkled as she spoke. Good morning Mrs Slythe. Thank you both for being patient and agreeing to see me again. The wedding was wonderful. In fact, we rented a period house for all the groom’s family for the week, it was wonderful to have us all together again in the one place. It also gave me some ideas, which I hope to share with you.”

“That sounds interesting. I am glad the wedding went off so well.” Said Alice.”

With that, George arrived with the coffee, closely followed by Caroline.

“Looks like I timed that well, The aroma of George’s coffee, called me down from upstairs. Good morning Mrs Giles, it is good to see you again.”

George, poured and served the coffee, all five sat sipping while enjoying general chitchat for about twenty minutes, then George & Caroline left them, to go and continue with their morning tasks.

Alice, Morgan and Gigi, turned the conversation to the business of the moment: The roll of Housekeeper. They recapped the ground already covered in the first interview, and now discussed in detail, the requirements from both sides, the hours and the pay scale. Gigi, seemed pleased, and she only had one problem.

Gigi’s family home was a large rambling house thirty miles away. With the last of her children now married, it was time to down size. She wondered about housing in the locality, if there were houses available to rent closer to Hour House. It would mean she was closer to work with less chance of delays on dark icy mornings. Renting would give her the opportunity to get to know the area and not commit to buying a house, until she was ready.

“We may have an answer to that problem. We have two mews houses in the old stable block. Alice and her sister are in one and I occupy the other. They will become vacant when we move in here. As Alice will tell you, we planned to rent them as self catering units when we moved.

The rooms in the main house and extension are well dried out and aired by now, so if Alice chooses which one she wants to live in, either she or I could move.
The house I now occupy has two bedrooms, we can let you see it before you go away today, if you wish.

I have personally tested all the new showers here in the house, and beginning on Monday, I had planned to test a new bed every night. I am bound to get through them before November 21. We need to know they are all well and truly comfortable for future guests! Don’t you agree?” Grinned Morgan.

“I do!” Said Gigi through her giggles. “I would very much like to see the mews house this morning, it would give me a starting point in the adventure of selling the home I moved to twenty five years ago. At this stage, all I know is I want to move house and am not sure of exactly what I want for the future.”

George handed Alice his keys. “You take Gigi over to look at my digs. Kick any dirty socks under the bed, she will never notice.” He winked.

“Goodness, Mrs Slythe, this might be a revelation into your Mr Troy. Do you think we should have a peek in his cupboards while we are there? You never know what skeletons we might unearth.”

With that there was a tap on the door and Carolyn came in. “You all seem to be having fun. I hope I am not interrupting.”

“Not at all.” Said Alice, “We are finished here, meet our new Housekeeper. We are on our way to inspect Morgan’s drawers, do you want to come with us?”

“Now that might be fun, you never know what secrets lurk there.” Said Carolyn.

“Actually, I am taking Gigi to see the Mews houses, she wants to rent a place closer to work. One of them might suit her needs until she is ready to buy a place of her own.”

“What a great idea.” Said Carolyn.

With that the girls headed towards the old stables.

Morgan, too made his way outdoors to see Wacky and Willie. They both jumped at the chance of working at Hour House and began the very afternoon of their interview. Already you could see the mark of their hands on the grounds. The shrubs to the front had a birthday haircut by Wacky, and the herbaceous borders were the main focus for sorting and clearing today.

The old ride-on grass mower had been cleaned up and serviced in the workshop, by Willie, before he set to work on the lawns. Morgan noticed that he had put all the tools back in their proper places and cleaned up when the job was done. That pleased him. He would welcome seeing Willie work on his own jalopy, some day in the future when life calmed down and was on a more even keel.

Plans & sketches with notes for the enclosed kitchen garden were given to Morgan and he made copies for George, The soft fruit cages and the orchard could wait until the turn of the year. The original ventilation and irrigation systems in the greenhouse and potting shed would benefit from updating, but Willie would check them out over the next few weeks to discover how much work would be involved.

Already these guys were proving their worth. They were certainly not afraid of hard work. The brothers worked well together or alone, both using their skills to the full.

Seeing the lads were content, Morgan returned to the house. He made his way to the kitchen, where George was busy making preparations for dinner. The sound of laughter announced the arrival of the girls. They came through to the kitchen, this time accompanied by Lovell. Accepting the welcome offer of a coffee before commencing a tour of the house. This time Gigi would have her official hat on, she was no longer a candidate or a visitor, this time she was the Housekeeper!

Over the coffee, George offered sweetmeats as a trade for tales of Morgan’s inner sanctum. The tales they told were hilarious and even Lovell joined in. Morgan let them have their moment. He was happy that Gigi was on board and that she got on so well with Alice and Carolyn. Lovell had already taken to George, not alone did he give her treats, he also found time to make biscuits just for Crumbs. Now it looked like Gigi would become her friend too. Happy staff make for a happy hotel to visit or stay in.

When Gigi had gone for the day, Carolyn returned with Alice to the kitchen. Putting her hands in her jacket pockets, she found the stub of the ticket for the Jazz concert they had attended together. Pulling it out and waving it about, she asked “What did you think of our very own Charlie Yates and his jazz quartet the other night?”

“Jazz swing is right up my street.” Said Morgan. “I can see myself dancing Alice off her feet on 21st. Alice, we need to have a practice, what do you think George?”

“Oh yes, we cannot have you beginning married life by stepping on you wife’s toes. Than would never do. Our Charlie, has plenty of strings to his bow, never mind reeds to his Clarinet! I actually think he would like to play at functions here.”

“Then Alice, we better have a word in his ear tomorrow when he calls in.” said Morgan.

“Right folk, time to clear my kitchen, dinner will be ready in half an hour, so like good children, it is time for you to go wash your hands,. Don’t be late, I am trying a new recipe and I think you will like it.”

George’s food was always tasty, so they did as they were bid and went their separate ways. Nobody wanted to be late for the meal.


All the previous episodes can be found on their own page under the header.

The End is never the End ~ 16

It was a cool wet day when they brought Lovell home from the hospital. She was so excited to see and play with Crumbs once more. Deciding to keep life as quiet and normal as possible, Alice and Morgan had not told her of their decision about Nov 21st. There would be plenty of time for that and since Morgan had promised the ‘new dress’, he wanted to be with them when she chose it. A couple of hours shopping followed by lunch would be just the ticket. But not for a few weeks.

Driving through the entrance from the road, one lunchtime, Morgan saw a man walking along ahead of him. He stopped along side him and lowered the window, asking. “Can I help you?”

Recognising the driver as one of the owners of the property, the visitor tipped his cap in respect, then asked a question.

“I was wondering if there are any jobs going. Outdoor work. In the gardens. I had my own allotment for years. The land has been sold for redevelopment, a shopping mall I hear, so we were all given notice to quit. The garden centre I work in, has served notice, they are closing down at the end of the week. Times are hard and not many jobs going around here at the moment. I am an outdoor soul, love working on the land, close to nature.”

Opening the passenger door, Morgan invited the stranger into the car and up to the house for a chat. They went in through the back door and into the kitchen where George always had the kettle on the boil.

Over a pot of tea and fresh warm scones, they had a chat. Paddy Woods was his name, though known to all and sundry as ‘Wacky’! Morgan took to Wacky Woods immediately. Once the snack was finished they walked outdoors to the gardens. Automatically, Wacky pulled a weed or two, before straightening up and apologising for doing so without permission.

“No Problem, as you can see we were working on the house and it is only now we are thinking of the area outside. I think it might be a major task to keep the grounds in order. I might manage the grassed area with a ride on mower myself, but the walled garden, fruit trees and shrubbery would be beyond me. George the chef, you met him in the kitchen, would like us to provide our own produce, if possible.”

At that, Wacky’s eyes came to life and he oozed enthusiasm for the project.

“The land round here is healthy and not bombarded with modern chemicals. The walled area would give protection from the worst of the weather. Ideal for vegetable growing.

Is there a green house or a shed for potting and keeping tools?

How large are the grounds?

My brother worked in the garden centre too, he was indoors, mainly doing the heavy work, lifting, shifting and the a few bits of maintenance and joinery work. He helped me in the allotment when I needed extra hands, but he spent most of his spare time under the bonnet of an old jalopy that he bought from a car auction a couple of years ago.

Now it was Morgan’s turn to sparkle. Was Wacky’s brother a kindred spirit, with a love of engines?

“Now I have to end our conversation for today, I have a meeting in twenty minutes. Come back into the house and give me your details. I would very much like to have another chat with you and your brother, if he is interested. I am sure we could come to some arrangement. We do have a map of the land that I could dig out for our next meeting.

How are you fixed for Wednesday, I will be free all morning?”

“Wednesday will be fine for me and I am sure it will suit Willie, my brother too. I will check with him and let you know this evening. Thank you Mr Troy, I really appreciate this.”

With that, ` they shook hands and went their separate ways.

Morgan went in search of Alice. He found her talking to Mr Yates. At the new reception desk in the hallway. The desk blended in with the surroundings and it was difficult to believe it was only a week old. Carolyn was a real treasure, to source it for them.

Perhaps, someone else was won over to Carolyn’s charms? Mr Yates was appearing more dapper these days. Gone were the many layers of untidy clothes and he no longer looked like a well worn packed suitcase. His whole countenance had softened since the day he came crashing through the ceiling to their feet. That fall seemed to break through an invisible barrier between them. Now his beard had adopted a more shapely and cared for shape that emphasised his eyes. They actually smiled and looked alive, particularly when Carolyn entered the room.

With that, Carolyn came tip-toe tripping through the front entrance. Bubbling with ideas as usual, this time about the plans for the wedding.

Alice, before I go home today, I need an half hour with you and your fancy fiancé, to run through a couple of ideas.

“Fancy Fiancé indeed! Come on girls , we have interviewees eagerly or should that be nervously waiting to entice us with their talents.”

It was George’s idea for the interviewees to gather in the Oratory with tea and coffee on tap for them. It was a relaxing space and gave them the opportunity to chat together and also get to know the talent they were up against. He joined in with them, thus discovering how they interacted with each other. They had no idea that he was part of the team. This method worked well the previous week, when he was interviewing waiting staff. Morgan did the Oratory duty then, while Alice sat in on the interviews. Morgan said that he wished he had thought about this ‘extra pair of eyes’ over his years of interviewing.

George brought all the ‘kitchen’ folk that he suggested in on another day and together they prepared a meal, with Alice, Carolyn and Morgan in attendance. When it was cooked, they all sat at a large table in the banqueting room and shared in the feast. It was a good experience all-round. The interviewers, got a feel for the ‘heat and timing’ in the kitchen, and the cooks got to meet their employers on their own level.

By evening they had all but one member of the team to negotiate with: the Housekeeper. They wished to have another chat with Mrs Giles, but she was away, at her son’s wedding in new York and due back later in the week.

Carolyn had her time with Alice and her fancy fiancé, when she reminded them, of how they wanted the staff to feel part of the Hour House family.

“So why not involve them in the arrangements for the wedding, and invite them to join in on the big day? The meal they had with the kitchen staff, gave her the idea. Employment contracts would mean they were in place from the beginning of that week, to get a feel of the place and know where they fitted in the scheme of things.

“Be brave. Be different. Don’t wait a year before having a staff party. This way they will gel together and see each other both in the work situation and at play.

“It might work.” said Alice.

“Of course it will.” chimed in Morgan. “Then all we need is to have another chat with Mrs Giles, and find a few musicians. We need live music so that I can have a first dance with Mrs Troy! We need to put our thinking caps on.”

“Did you know that our Mr Yates plays the clarinet?” Asked Carolyn. “He is actually part of a quartet and I am invited to hear them play at the weekend. Would you like me to ask for a couple of tickets, so that you can hear them for yourselves?

“Please do.” Said Morgan. Our Mr Yates is a man of many talents. Just ask Alice, she had him falling at her feet!”

Now come on, dear heart, we are well on the way to living our dream!”

The End is never the End, ~Part 15

“We are fortunate to have an accountant on the management team, able to work out what it costs to run the business: All the aspects from utilities, maintenance, food and furnishings, marketing and wages. Yes, that last one is important. Paying everyone who works for us a fair wage. Having worked out these costs, and factoring them into what we charge the customer, then hopefully there will be enough in the pot for us to make a little profit too.” Said Morgan.

“We need to provide guests with something more memorable than a standard box-room hotel. We need to find and hold onto great staff. Staff that will go the extra mile for everyone who comes through the doors, they will become memory builders for our clients. In fact, good memories, instantly take a client back to that place and put a smile on their day.” Said Alice.

“Our emotional investment in the character of Hour House should create memorability for the clients. All we are short of is finding a top hat and tails for you, Morgan, and one of those old Porter’s chairs with a tall, hooded back. Then you could sit in the entrance and help our guests with packages etc.!” mused Alice.

“What on earth do I want with a chair like that?”

“Canopied chairs carry a sense of drama and ceremony fit for a monarch, Morgan. You could sit there and be monarch of all you survey.” She giggled. “Carolyn might know where to find one equipped with drawers under the seat for your secret stash of sweets, or where hot coals could be placed to keep you warm on weary winter nights! She might even find one upholstered in leather, buttoned on the interior, in a colour to match your eyes. A hinged shelf that could be propped up at night to hold a lantern and a nightcap would be a help as you read the Financial Times!” Alice was really warming to this game.

“Are you saying that you are reneging already and I am being abandoned to the shadows of the night in the vestibule, even before the nuptials take place? ”

Suddenly the room filled with laughter.

They were sitting in the kitchen with Carolyn & George Knowles. One week after his interview, George was back to accept their proposal, give a starting date, and make suggestions of people he would like on his team. He had worked with all of them at different stages of his career, knew their skills and taken the liberty during the week of checking if they were available or interested in a new adventure with him. They were all interested in making the move. He had handed over the folder with CV’s and details of referees’ for all of them.

“I so want to check out this kitchen in more detail and check out all appliances are working to my satisfaction before we open to the public. Do you have an opening date in mind yet? Asked George.

“We have yet to decide on a function manager and the agency have lined up a day of interviews for us to meet prospective administrative, housekeeping and waiting staff. Are you free next Friday, to join us on the panel? “We would appreciate your input and expertise in the business. Who better to advise on waiting staff, than a chef they will work closely with.” Said Morgan.

“Good idea!” said Alice.

“I do have one appointment early on Friday, but a phone call is all I need to switch that to another day. I think I will enjoy being part of your team. Good humour is so important in any relationship and it sure helps as a stress buster in the pressure cooker atmosphere of a hot and steamy kitchen. I am not a fan of hysterical showmanship, I prefer a more gentle approach and laughter is one of the most used tools in my arsenal”

Carolyn vouched for George’s humour, she had known him for many years. It was part of the reason she had suggested him. She wanted this venture to take off and do well.

“We were thinking of opening The Oratory to begin with, it might help to put us on the map and build up a regular clientele of coffee sippers.” Said Alice. “What do you think, George?”

“Certainly! We will soon be into the festive season, most companies book their annual staff dinners in August, but there are always groups who leave it to the last moment, so we might benefit from them. How about a press lunch? We invite the ‘What’s On Brigade’, feed and water them well and hey Presto, we are on the map!” Said George, before adding, “First off, we need to decide on an opening date.”

“That is down to Alice, she has promised to make an honest man of me with a big splash ‘DO’ for the official opening of Hour House. Lovell will be home in a couple of weeks and we did promise her that new dress. So what do you say, Alice? When do you wish to be latched on to me?

“A big splash ‘DO’ for half a dozen people will look a little ridiculous. Lovell is my only blood relative and you have no siblings. We have promised Lovell a bridesmaid dress, so I am sorted, Do you have a best man in mind? Or do you intend dragging a man in off the street to act as witness?”

“What a dull ‘DO’ that will be. Said George with a wink, “Carolyn, I think that you and I need to come to the rescue. How about we act as witnesses on the big day? I am sure my new bosses will agree to me having an hour off. But wait now, I do not have a written and signed contract yet, so this will count as a pre arranged appointment, they will have to honour it. Right?

What do you think Carolyn?

I think you girls need to go shopping, while I take Morgan in hand!”

“Well, out of the box thinking, how about 21st November?” Asked Alice.

“Perfect!” Chirped Morgan, “What better birthday present could you give me, my Love? 21st November it will be.”

“Really?” Asked Alice, “You never told me, but it will be the ideal date, since it will be my birthday too! As Lovell would say:

How cool is that!

All other parts can be found on a page of the same title, just under the Header at the top of the post. Apologies for being so late today.

The End is never the End ~ Part 14

Part 14

All the while Alice was distracted with surgery and after care for Lovell, Morgan, Mr Yates and Carolyn Ashby kept working on the various tasks to upgrade Hour House. She was quite surprised at how far things had progressed. The house had a warm glow as she moved from room to room.

Furniture pieces were now returned with a rich new polish and shine and sitting in their appointed places, the Art work cleaned and restored and the Curtains & Drapes hung. Hour House was certainly coming back to life, in a good way. The ceiling was restored in the Oratory, the door looked like it had always belonged at the outer wall along from the lancet windows and the sunshine glinted through them to the Refectory tables now set in place with the well polished pews. A curved table in front of the Oratory window seat looked like it always belonged. Carolyn had done a wonderful job and oozed with an infectious excitement as she took Alice on the tour of the house. Large boxes of china, glassware, cutlery and table vases were temporarily stacked on tables & chairs in the banqueting room.

“Oh joy of snobbish, asparagus fork-waving joys, this house is coming alive. Close your eyes and listen: You can almost hear and smell the satisfaction of happy customers enjoying the fruits of our labours.” It was Morgan who spoke as he entered the room.

Not long now, Partner, until we are ready to open for business and live our dream.
In the mean time, how does a rasher sammidge grab you? For myself, I don’t mind if I do, thanks very much. I am starving and I am sure that you and Carolyn must be hungry, after wandering the house all morning. Come on girls, I will do the honours, I am dying to test out this new kitchen of ours.”

After the tasty snack prepared and served by Morgan, Carolyn left them to go check on the delivery of the library seat and the copy one for the private quarters, It was promised for this week.

Sitting quietly for a few minutes finishing lunch, Morgan suddenly broke the silence saying:

“Alice, healthy relationships don’t just happen; they take time, patience and two people who truly want to work together to create something meaningful. I think we have that patience in abundance. Look at what we have achieved so far, with help of course, but we are getting close to our dream. The next task ahead of us is to choose our team. The staff. When they are in place and Lovell comes home, we can concentrate on ourselves a little more. You never did answer my question. Good grief woman, you cannot keep me dangling like last years Christmas decorations forever!” He winked and smiled as he uttered the last sentence.

“You mean I was not dreaming? That question was for real, you were not just playing along with Lovell? No bended knee malarkey?” Now it was Alice’s turn to wink and grin.

Morgan was on his knees in a flash. Right here on the new kitchen floor, grinning from ear to ear. Always a step ahead, he pulled a small box from his pocket, opened it and presented it to Alice’

“Don’t get too excited, it is not new, just some old thing I bought from Mr Grimes! By the way, I paid him full price for it, no cheating our Alice of her inheritance!” I know you liked the stone, you always took your time with this one.”

Alice was awestruck, this was indeed her favourite piece from all the items designed by Andrei Shuyski. Not alone was it a treasure, but so was Morgan to think of buying and saving it for her. There was only one answer to the question, and now was the time to say the few words long awaited.

“Morgan, when Sidney died, my world was shaken like an earthquake. You came to my aid and helped me steady the ground. You encouraged, cajoled and urged me out of that darkness. Your kindness to both Lovell and I was heart warming, but remarriage never entered my reckoning.” She paused as if thinking what to say next.

Morgan waited.

Alice began again.

“Working side by side as we have done for months, I have not alone appreciated your expertise in areas I know nothing about, your gentle drive to get me to test the waters of this adventure, your sense of fun and the dreadful singing!

That night when Lovell asked the question, I realised deep down, for the very first time, that although White Knights don’t usually have names, my White Knight certainly did.

You have wormed your way into my heart, how could I say no?

My answer is YES!”

Morgan jumped to his feet, danced about in front of her singing: “Yes. Yes. Yes. She said yes!”

With that he pulled her to her feet, wrapped his arms about her and kissed her.

The spell was broken by a tap on the door. It was Carolyn, “The chairs are ready and will arrive in the morning. She also had news that her friend George Knowles, a three star chef, was looking for a new direction to get his teeth into. “He would be interested in speaking with you both in the next week, otherwise he will head to fresh green fields across the sea!”

The spell broken for the moment, they discussed George Knowles with Carolyn. It turned out they had eaten his food in the past, enjoying not alone the food, how it was served and the ambiance of the restaurant. They agreed to meet and asked Carolyn to get him to call for an appointment.

When she left the room, Morgan kissed Alice again. Slowly.

When the moments passed. He said. “I think it is almost time for visiting. Let us go together and share our news with Lovell. Now she will have another reason to get well, we have a shopping spree to think about and plan. Remember, I promised her a new dress. We have plenty of time for that, first we need to engage a chef and all the other staff to get Hour House up and ready for a very grand opening!”

The End is never the End ~ Part 13

Was it a daymare, or did Morgan really ask me that question? She was sitting alone, spreading butter over a sliced bagel. Unfortunately, Lovell’s excitement the other evening led to one of her now infrequent episodes. This time requiring hospitalisation. Three days and nights Alice had spent by the bedside, it was only when Lovell was in a steady induced sleep, she allowed herself to walk to the cafeteria.

Suddenly, aware of a shadow across the table, she was back in reality. She pulled herself upright from her chair and stood unsteadily. Her almost empty coffee cup spilled, but she did not notice. Blood drained from her face and she began to shake…

Morgan moved silently and put his strong arm around her to steady her. He whispered quietly as he guided her slowly out of the room. They found a quiet corner and Alice brought him up to date on Lovell’s condition.

“There is talk now of surgery… pressure on the brain….. they need to remove….” The words came in short bursts and she battled to hold in the tears.

“You need a break, and to sleep properly. Let me take you home while Lovell is sleeping, I’ll come back and stay until we know what is happening, The workmen have all gone for the weekend, so the place will be quiet. Mr Yates, said he will look in later today and again tomorrow to check the house. Come on, we will go back to the room and gather your things. The staff will not mind, you do not need to become ill on them, do you? Anyway they have all our numbers, if there is any change.”

The ward sister saw them coming and walked to meet them.

“I hope Mr Troy has come to take you home, Mrs Slythe. You are exhausted and need proper rest otherwise you will become ill and be of no use to yourself, never mind any one else. Lovell is sleeping and we want to keep her so until the Morning. Nothing will happen until the Consultant arrives tomorrow. Mr Troy, I think that you should stay home and rest too. We have your numbers and promise to contact you if there is any change.”

They agreed and went in to collect the few belongings and check one more time on the sleeping Lovell. The lights were low and the room was quiet but for the gentle whirr and bleeping of the monitors. Morgan took Alice’s hand and soundlessly walked her out of the room.

They were in the car before Alice broke the silence.

“Oh Morgan, she is in a bad way, they mentioned Rasmussen’s encephalitis and MST. Multiple sub…. Multiple subpial transaction, I think that was what they said and there are risks. Risks like infection, bleeding, or an allergic reaction to anaesthesia.
The surgery may make things worse, or may create new neurological problems.”

“Alice, chronic skepticaemia helps nobody, in fact it is more trouble than a speck of salt in a pepper jar. Three nights ago, you thought Lovell would not see morning. She did. She is still with us and well settled for tonight. You saw yourself, the staff are doing all they can for her. Let us take one day at a time. Little steps. Please. For what it’s worth, I’m not going anywhere, you have me to share this with. And for the moment, that’s gonna have to be enough for both of us. Okay?”

With that he turned the key in the ignition and headed for home. Traffic was light, and he left Alice to relax with her own thoughts. It seemed no time until they were turning into the driveway to Hour House. Morgan drew the car to a gentle stop outside the green door. Moving briskly, he opened the passenger door for Alice, and led her into the house.

“You go up and run a bath, I’ll bring in your things from the car and then make a start on a meal for us.”

Alice managed a smile of thanks, she had no energy left to even talk.

I suggest you get into your bed after the bath and when you are ready, I’ll bring up our food on a tray. I need to make sure you stay awake long enough to eat my efforts. Then if you are a good girl, I’ll read you a story and lull you to sleep.” He said with a wink, giving her a gentle push towards the stairs.

“Mind you, my dear, if that does not work, I might be forced to sing!” He reached the door to the kitchen before he finished the sentence.

Once Alice was fed, comfortable and settled for sleep, Morgan crossed the room carrying the tray, he closed the door and headed down the stairs to the kitchen. “Foibles, smoilbels and toy bells, I need a walk”, he thought as he tidied the kitchen.

Puttin on a ganzee, he pushed his phone deep onto his pocket, and headed outdoors for a walk in the grounds. The air was crisper now, it reminded him of a day when he drove Alice here with the car full of tea chests. The idea was to spend a week sorting & clearing years of dust and rubbish before selling the house… How things had changed!

How his own life had changed… “I wonder what Rowland Troy would think of his son, if he were alive to see me now?” he muttered to himself.

He let his thoughts drift back to the early days when a very young Morgan spent many hours in the workshop with his father and Sidney. Over in his own corner, tapping away or oiling his first tricycle, then came a two wheeler and eventually the gold star moment when given his own engine to work on. It may well have been oddments from an old retired engine, but it was His Very Own! He was imitating the actions of the men across the garage, who were the light of his life back then.

There were memories from those days and years that he had not yet shared with Alice, but the day would come, and he would tell her about his mother and how she broke two hearts. Two hearts that Sidney Slythe helped heal, with each tap of a hammer, drop of oil from a can or wipe of a spark plug.

Rowland had married his schoolgirl sweet heart. They were both to young and in love, more with the idea of being in love, than thoughts of the reality of daily living, A house, with the daily chores in running it, and soon enough a child to care for. Morgan may have lost his mother, but he gained a second father and between Sidney and Rowland, they prepared him well for life. When he needed a part for his engine, he had to ‘work to earn it’. They gave him a job to do, they paid him cash, which he had to enter in his ledger – read a notebook. He had to enter the job he did and how much he was paid, then on the opposite page, how much he paid them for the item ne needed. Maybe that training, led him down the road to accountancy.

There had been a dinner date or two, but perhaps losing his mother as he did, led him to build a barrier against further heartbreak. He never set out to win Alice’s heart, his aim was to aid with her healing process, just as Sidney did for him and his father. Slowly, very slowly, things changed.They learned to trust and be comfortable with one another and now? Will they actually tie that knot?

“Lovell my dear, it is up to you. Please, please, please, heal and respond quickly to all the medical ministering. We need to go looking for that dress!

( All previous parts can be found in the Header page of the same title)

The End is Never the End ~ Part 12

Part 12

The trees dressed in glory, red, yellow and gold
The sun lying low in the sky.
Tree branches rustle as we walk by,
The breeze feels crisp as it blows in an eye.

Air filled with sound of chisel on stone
Wizards of weather foresee rain and gloom.
While indoors reviving renewing each room
Not an hour wasted as energy spent,
Preparing Hour House, for every event.

“I want to start by putting our guests’ satisfaction at the forefront of our business model. I believe in paying staff a decent wage and adopting a no-tipping policy.” Said Alice. “We will be employing these people to aid us in our adventure, they need to feel our respect and know they will be valued, a part of Hour House family.

We may not be ready for opening this week, but with the new extended area now standing, windowed and weatherproof, it will not take long before the internal work is completed. We really need to begin the process of picking our team. This time we cannot opt out and hand over the task to Mr Yates or Carolyn Ashby. Thanks to Sidney Slythe and Andrei Shuyski, we are in a position to hand pick our team, and do this properly. Valued members of staff are as important as comfortable beds!”

The most memorable aspect of any stay must be the service. Not just the door opening, bag carrying, valet parking kind of service, but the genuine willingness to make people feel at home and the awareness that it’s all about the guests, not about us. We are a relatively small property and we, the owners must be the face of the business.

Great service, for me at least, requires the ability to put yourself in your guests’ shoes and offer them the service that you yourself would appreciate. And that’s the tough bit, because each of us has a different view on what we would class as great service.

We need the guests to feel: “I would stay here again without a moment’s hesitation!”

Morgan stood up and began slowly pacing the floor. “I have interviewed many people over the years for my own staff and for some clients, but have no idea about what is required in or from a chef and his staff. I suppose he would need to be in place as the kitchen is fitted out, to ensure an efficient workstation. We need to contact an agency this week, to set the ball in motion.”

“Once we have the chef on board, he can concentrate on opening The Oratory” said Alice. It will take time to build up a regular clientele of coffee sippers, but at least put us on the map”.

“Good idea. Said Morgan. “We will need road direction signs. One at the cross roads and another at the entrance to the driveway. Mr Yates can tell us who in the local council to contact about the type, style & permission required. A small brass plaque in the entrance is more than enough, it should not take from the wonderful frontage of the building.”

“By the way, I have decided to have my morning shower in the main house for the next couple of weeks. All the en-suites are complete and dry and it will be the best way to test them while the plumbers are working in the extension. We want them all working properly when guests start arriving.”

“I’ll warn Carolyn not to arrive too early for the next few weeks, you would not want to frighten her off, now would you?” giggled Alice.

“I would be more worried about frightening you off, my dear. I would hate to be shown the door and lose my job!” he said with a wink.

“I doubt you would lose your job, as the song says: I have grown accustomed to your face, and to be truthful, without you by my side offering advice and encouragement, I doubt I would have begun any of this.” Smiled Alice. You are here for the duration so long as you do not start singing!”

“SINGING. My singing is that bad I wouldn’t inflict it on a flock of crows!” With that Morgan turned and skipped out of the room, singing:

Alice was left laughing into her notes on the desk. “That Morgan, is better than any tonic. I suppose when the beds come, he will want to sleep in a different one each night to make sure they are comfortable enough for the guests!”

A head came round the door frame. “I heard that, what a good idea.” chuckled Morgan. “Now put away that note book and come and have lunch, Lovell has been busy making a surprise for both of us, she says it is ready now, don’t keep the girl waiting!”

Lunch was a wonderful surprise. Morgan had been secretly teaching Lovell how to make a frittata, and today she wanted to make it ‘all by herself’. She had a colourful salad and sliced wheaten bread to go with it. They all enjoyed it and not a crumb was left for Crumbs.

Lovell left them to go watch a romantic soap on television, they sat over coffee chatting comfortably about the ways of the world outside Hour House.

A deep sigh told them the programme was over, they had not felt the hour go by. Lovell came into the room with a very long face, she lived every moment of the action and a broken romance between her favourite characters, was a major event.

“Lovell, real love is not based on romance, candle light dinner and walks along the beach. It is based on Respect Compromise, Care and Trust.” It was Morgan who had spoken. “The perfect guy is not the one who has the most money or the most handsome one you’ll meet . He is the one who knows how to make you smile and will take care of you each and everyday until the end of time.

“Is that the way you feel about Alice?” asked Lovell.

Alice and Morgan both looked at Lovell, open mouthed, then looked at each other.

Thoughts were running madly through Alice’s mind. ‘White Knights don’t usually have names, but suddenly Alice realised her White Knight certainly did.

When you two get married, can I be bridesmaid? Asked Lovell.

“If Alice says yes, to marrying me, than it would be an honour to have you as chief bridesmaid.”

How about it Partner? What say you to being the first Bride when Hour House officially opens!

The End is never the End ~ Part 11

“I like this new form of dessert!” said Morgan, as he set the latest find on the table when the dinner dishes were cleared away. The old and inlayed box was larger, deeper and very heavy compared to the first one that they had found under a floor board.

Alice allowed Morgan to lift the lid this time round. The centrepiece on a navy velvet cushion in this second Andrei Shuyski box, was a most unusual gem stone. Neither Alice or Morgan had ever seen anything like it before. Lifting it gently by the cushion, with slightly trembling hands they discovered the reason for the weight of the box: A large bullion bar, the type used by jewellers to sculpt rings, surrounds and mounts for each item of jewellery they designed and made, filled the remaining space.

“Well, Morgan, this new form of dessert might provide many meals in the future, but there is one thing certain, we need to visit Mr Grimes first thing in the morning”. Said Alice. “This time partner, you can do the carrying! I have no desire to carry this treasure through the bustling streets.”

Mr Grimes told them that this stone they had discovered, must be from the same mine as the chrysoberyl Alexandrite, a rare and exquisite gemstone. This one a little smaller, but similar, with its dramatic colour change from brilliant green in daylight to cherry-red under tungsten candle light.

Legend had it, that in 1834, the original gemstone was discovered on the day the future tsar Alexander II came of age; whether myth or not, the enchanting gemstone was named in honour of him. Due to its patriotic change in colour from red to green, the principal colours of old Imperial Russia, it became the national stone of tsarist Russia. Coming from the Andrei Shuyski collection made it all the more authentic.

“I will have this stone cleaned and valued and also have the bullion weighed and valued for you. We still have the first box of gemstones in the vault, and with these new finds, they might increase the value of the whole collection. Now might be the time to think of what you want to do with them. The market is holding at the moment and the prices are steady, it would be a good time for an auction, if that is your wish.” Said Mr Grimes.

Relieved, to leave the goods in safe hands, Alice promised they would give the subject time and thought over the next few days and get back to him. With that they almost skipped out of the shop.

“Champagne! This deserves Champagne.” Said Morgan.

“It is not even lunchtime”, returned Alice, “Are you trying to lead me astray?”

“When we reach the restaurant it will be time for an early lunch and the champagne, won’t go to your head. Anyway, we have no pressing engagements or meetings this afternoon. We might as well live the ‘diamond lifestyle’ for one afternoon!”

Over lunch, they decided on the name for the house.

Hour House.

“Perfect!” said Alice. “Hour House is perfect. It will be our house and after all, we discover something new about the place every hour, or so it seems. How wrong was my first impression, on the dull day I visited with Sidney. The whole place appeared as a dark, dusty unaired mausoleum. Together we will bring it to life again, to be enjoyed by all who cross the threshold.” Vowed Alice.

“To Hour House!” said Morgan as he raised his glass of champagne.

Alice clinked her glass with his. “Yesterday I read a quotation by Joseph Priestley:

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning…”

“I have always looked forward to the new day, but the ‘magic’ in that quote seems to surround me at every turn these days.”

“Tomorrow will be a busy one and need plenty of hours.” Said Morgan. “Let us hope the magic continues when our new best friend, Mr Yates, visits the planning office to formally lodge our precious plans. He seems to think it will be straight forward. We are well back from the road, with only wildlife for neighbours and I cannot see the rabbits and squirrels complaining.”

“I have my fingers, knees and toes crossed already. Said Alice. “We have the movers coming to clear the house at nine and the team of chimney sweeps are due at noon. They can work their way along after each room is cleared. It was a good job we had the chimneys in the stable block cleaned before the renovations.”

“I would like a day to clear out the garages, then when we move to the stable block next week, I can bring the cars to store there. I doubt if I’ll have time to work on them for a month or so. Said Morgan. When life settles, I can get back to tinkering with them again.

They sauntered back to the car and Alice felt as if she was floating on champagne bubbles. Morgan opened the door for her, then swiftly turned and picked her up to place her carefully on the passenger seat.

More than surprised, Alice began to giggle like a school girl. “ Lovell was right. She told me one day ‘That Morgan is so brawny, he picks me up like I’m a cherry tomato!”

“I had to help you into the car, you told me you had your fingers, knees and toes crossed for tomorrow, I did not want to break the spell!”

“Were you at school with Carolyn Ashby?” asked Morgan when they were settled into the car and he turned the key in the ignition.

“What gave you a silly idea like that?” asked Alice. She must be at least fifteen years younger than I am. Yesterday was the first time I met her, but I do find her easy to talk to and I like her ideas. They are tasteful yet not outrageous.”

Carolyn’s ideas were the topic of conversation all the way back to the home house.

They were both pleased she had seen the house before anything was moved out into storage. Every item now had a coloured label, thanks to Mr Yates. The colour matched the room it would return to when the work was complete. Even he seemed to fall under Carolyn’s spell, when he joined them for his morning tea. He had taken note of the way she caressed rather than touched the items she talked about in each of the rooms.

He felt the four of them made a good team. Mind you it had taken time for him to warm to Morgan, now he realised how he really cared for Alice and loved the house. Together they will bring the place to life once more and on into the future.