Thursday, 17 April 2008

Episode 30 - Grand Designs

It was nearly mid day as Cassy put down the hoe and straightened her aching back. If she was very lucky she might just have time to clean up and get the lunch ready before Abi woke up from her nap.

Taking off her large brimmed straw hat and stripping off her sweat soaked t-shirt Cassy pulled up a bucketful of water from the well at the back of the farmhouse. Her skin tingled as she splashed herself with the cold spring water. With no running water in the farmhouse yet, this well was their only reliable supple of fresh water, at least until the renovations were finished. Though stripping off to wash outdoors was not just a necessity, thought Cassy, it was an absolute joy.

It wasn’t as if they had to worry about being overlooked, their closest neighbours were Martin and Fliss Brooks and they were at least 1km away. Back in Manchester their house had been in the middle of what was euphemistically known as an ‘Executive Development’, uniform little boxes, mused Cassy with no room to grow vegetables never mind strip wash in the garden!

‘Dear God woman what are you doing’ laughed Liam. ‘I don’t know why you bother getting dressed in the morning when you are obviously happier naked’

‘Well some of us get sweaty’ she laughed throwing her towel at him. ‘We don’t all have a cushy job sitting in front of a computer screen all day’

Liam grabbed at the towel before it hit him. ‘Cushy, you don’t know the half of it. I have only two days left to get this programme written before testing starts on Monday’ Liam smiled ‘Oh come here my little sweaty person, let me dry you off.’

‘Not likely, you randy old goat. I’ve got to start getting lunch ready before madam wakes and you've got work to do'

‘Spoilsport’ laughed Liam as he watched Cassy pull on a fresh blouse from the washing line before she walked into the kitchen.

Looking across the field behind the farmhouse, Liam was amazed to see how much Cassy had done since breakfast. It looked like she had finished planting the seed potatoes. She had even managed to prepare the patch for the salad crop. With their few chickens and the new goats they were well on their way to becoming a proper small holding.

Their biggest problem was the farmhouse itself. The renovations were costing a lot more than they had initially budgeted for. But, with any luck, they would be rid of the builders by the autumn. That would mean that they would have all winter to get the finishing touches done before their first bed and breakfast guests started arriving next spring. Well that was the plan.

Liam walked down the field to small stream running through the woodland bordering their land. He reached down into the stream and pulled out a large bottle of beer. ‘Not cold’ he said to himself, ‘but it’ll do.

Cassy looked up from preparing the salad as Liam walked into the kitchen.

‘When I was at the market yesterday I saw Fliss’

‘Everything OK with Martin?’

‘Yes, she said he’s doing fine, but I think that he’s driving here around the bend.’

‘I’m not surprised she’s not used to having him under her feet all week.’

Maybe there’s more to it than that.’

‘Oh good gossip’ laughed Liam as he picked a grumpy Abi out of her buggy. ‘We love a good gossip don’t we Abi Babi?’

‘Will you stop with the baby talk? You are going to stunt her development.’ scolded Cassy. ‘And I’m not gossiping but do you remember when I said that I saw Fliss a couple of weeks ago with that bloke’

‘What do mean with, in the biblical sense?’ asked Liam raising a now giggling baby above his head.

‘No you fool’ Cassy laughed ‘I told you, I saw her at Maria’s having a drink with Paolo’

‘Who’s Paolo?’

‘You know Paolo’ said Cassy exasperatedly ‘he has the farm just down the hill from the Brooks villa.

‘Just a neighbourly drink then?’ he asked innocently.

‘Well they must be very good neighbours, when I saw them leaving the restaurant he was holding her hand’

Liam looked at Cassy in amazement ‘What little Mrs Fundraiser having hanky panky?’

Cassy threw back her head and roared laughing. ‘You really do have a way with words – I love you – you fool’ she gasped ‘Come on let’s eat, I’m starving’

‘Look at what I fished out of the river, a nearly chilled cheeky little number, just the thing to accompany the perfect lunch’

And they both laughed as Abi clapped her hands in delight.


Later that evening, with the sun beginning to set behind the mountains, Cassy carried two of the kitchen chairs out of the back door. With a sigh, she sat down to sip a glass of wine and listening to the silence.

‘She’s just dropped off’ said Liam sitting down next to her. ‘I don’t know where that baby gets her energy from’

‘From her Mother’ smiled Cassy. ‘Are the builders back tomorrow?’

‘No, they can’t come until the plumber has been and he can’t fit us in until Tuesday’

‘I thought the electrician was due on Tuesday?’

‘Not any more’ sighed Liam ‘I’ve had to put him off until Thursday’

‘At this rate’ said Cassy refilling her glass, ‘it’s going to be Christmas before they finish’

‘I’m sure’ said Liam, who didn’t look at all sure ‘that once they get going it’ll be finished in no time’

‘Well I hope so. We don’t want to spend the winter relying on that generator’

‘I know love, but as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day’

‘If the Romans had used our builders’ muttered Cassy ‘Cesar would still be waiting for them to take down the scaffolding’