A Work of Fiction

Martin and his girlfriend Steff have moved into the cottage of their dreams in deepest, rural Wiltshire.
Read her diary and live the life.

Rundown and Romantic

Thursday, 30 December 2010

This is getting stupid.

We went to Seb's as Martin suggested. The snow is clearing and Joe was able to spend time with the Kune-kune pigs as I'd promised he could. Lydia from Swallow Vale happened to be there when we arrived with her little girl Jasmine, which was all good news for Joe who now had someone to play with. We sat and drank coffee in the large kitchen and Seb told us about his job as a copywriter and the opportunity that had recently come his way to work for a top hotel in Chester. He hopes to be going away some time in January.

I notice Lydia fussing about the kitchen as though she owns the place. 'You can be sure the place will be well looked after while you're gone,' she simpers, and I feel my hands clenching into balls in my pockets. If anyone's going to feed the pigs and take the hoover round the sitting room, I'm damn sure it won't be her.

Had all this happened before Christmas there would be no problem. Had Martin not got stuck in the snow up in Reading I wouldn't have had to entertain Seb at home that evening. That evening when we drank red wine and he gave me a gift to put under the tree.

What am I talking about! He gave Martin and me a gift and we had a quick glass of wine and a mince pie while talking of mundane, everyday things. He didn't even notice the dress I was wearing. I don't know why I'm getting myself so tied up in knots. He's a neighbour. A friend. Why should any of this mean a thing to me?

But looking ahead, January seems a very bleak month.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Being on The Mound in the snow is like trudging through a white and silent dream.

Our wellies crunch and grind upon uneven ground and the slightest nudge to an overhanging branch causes an icy spattering of snow to fall on our hatted heads.

In the summer this hill is a different place but right now it holds all my dreams and fears in its frozen maw. I hug Joe tightly with one arm and wrap myself around the trunk of the nearest tree with the other to stop myself sliding down into the smallholding nestled below, thinking that if I just stepped out I could stand on the roof of the house...

It is Seb's house, and I must tear my eyes away. But I feel my feet slipping.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day

Martin arrived home around five on Christmas Eve. The poor man was set upon as soon as he set foot through the front door. He looked shattered. Joe dragged him off into the sitting room to see the tree while I put the kettle on and got him something warm to eat. It's such a relief to be all together again.

Seb Lancashire rang on Christmas morning to wish us all glad tidings. He's not done that before, but it was good to hear from him and I thanked him for the present he left; a gorgeous framed picture of our house in the snow. I think Martin wants us to go over to his place later in the week but I'm not sure I want to go. Things seem to be moving in a direction I don't want them to go in, if that makes any sense. Probably not. But I will go for Martin's sake, and to let Joe see Seb's pigs, which he adores almost as much as our few sheep.

Anyway, Christmas Day itself was quiet, except when we all watched a film in the afternoon and Joe got helpless giggles halfway though. The dog started barking at absolutely nothing and almost knocked the tree down with his tail. We ate too many chocolates (as always) and I finished the drop of red wine left over from dinner while Martin had a sneaky kip on the sofa.

And today, Boxing Day, we're taking it easy. A walk later maybe, up on The Mound. We'll see. 

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

Hell, I wish I had gone to bed at a more reasonable hour last night. I shouldn't have worried about Seb coming over, though. He's such a lovely chap, he came armed with red wine and even brought a small present which I placed under the tree for tomorrow. He's naturally funny too, so I didn't have time to miss Martin too much. Is that bad?

Talking of which, he's coming back today! In fact, he should be here in an hour or two. Joe and I have put some last minute touches to the tree and got busy in the kitchen rustling up about a million mince pies ready for Santa tonight. But something tells me Santa won't get much of a look-in once Martin sees them! Right now, Joe is out in the snow with Bertie and the sheep and it just leaves me to clear up the fall-out of four, raisins and lumps of pastry that have somehow migrated right across the kitchen floor and are now halfway up the stairs. Where is that dog when I need him?

Thursday, 23 December 2010


Ssh... Joe is asleep. Bertie's curled up on the end of his bed, snoring louder than Martin ever could, but otherwise the house is wonderfully quiet.

I have a guest coming round. Seb lives in one of the cottages down the lane. He and Martin have become quite good friends over the last few months as they both keep animals and like the same things. I thought I was doing the seasonal thing by asking him over for a mince pie but now that it's dark and the candles are lit, it feels a bit too intimate. Maybe I should change out of this dress - oh God, he's here.


And Martin isn't.
We nearly forgot the holly!

A prickly job at the best of times, but the frost and snow make it so much more painful on the hands. Oh, but it looks oh-so beautiful lying across the mantlepiece (I'll clean the melt water up later). I just wish Martin was here to see it. Perhaps I'll invite our nearest neighbour in for a glass of wine tonight... Maybe.

Christmas Eve Eve

Thank God, no more snow last night, but Martin's stuck near Reading and is still trying to get home. Luckily he's been able to stay with some good friends so I'm not too worried about him, but Joe misses him terribly and it's hard work getting everything done by myself, much as I enjoy it.

The sheep are having a tough time of it, bless them. I threw in a load of potato peelings and old, wizened parsnips and carrots to their feed this morning. They pushed me over in their haste to get to it. The hay's a bit low on the ground too but at least their stable's full of straw. And oh God, was it ever cold out there...  

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

December 2010

I don't think I've ever seen so much snow! It just keeps on coming, night and day, eclipsing every last hint of green and reducing the summer to vague memory.

I took a walk in the orchard earlier with Joe and Bertie, our dog. Joe didn't like it when snowy lumps collapsed into his wellies. He stood there stiff with indignation until I came to his rescue with a warm towel and a dry pair of socks. Bertie - eager to explore as always - took one deep sniff of the white air then bounded off enthusiastically, only to plummet dramatically into a white, powdery hole. At least it made Joe laugh and forget about his freezing toes.

Might wrap some more presents later when Martin comes home. Hot chocolate time first, though. I'm sure there are some marshmallows lurking somewhere in the kitchen...

2004 And so we move in...

This gorgeous old cottage which we now call home used to be a water mill in the hazy 1600s. It was pretty much a shell when we found it - four walls and a roof - with a crop of broken outbuildings nestled nearby, but Martin and I fell in love with it and dared to dream the impossible. Then one day, Martin came home waving estate agent details in my face. The place was up for sale...

The work was interminable and some nights we collapsed into bed at three in the morning, still covered in brick dust and with dirt in our nails.We were exhausted. There were workmen everywhere - plasterers, carpenters, plumbers; blokes skimming floors, boys sawing and hammering, men reeling electrical cable from one room to another. Then there was the outside, which Martin insisted we tackle ourselves. The orchard, the vegetable plot, the garden. We got chickens, a few sheep, a dog.

By autumn 2005, it was done. By Christmas, it was heaven.