Thursday, 29 May 2008
Cassy was just putting the finishing touches to the lunch when she heard Sophie’s car pull up outside the farmhouse.
Sophie waved to the site foreman as she made her way around to the kitchen.
The builders were sitting under a tree in the small wood at a table they had fashioned from an old door propped up on some spare breeze blocks waiting patiently for the salad that Cassy had promised them. The table was already groaning with the bread and cheeses that they had brought with them and Ollie was filing their glasses with the cheap red wine that he had bought from the local cava.
Work on the new house was at last starting to take shape but with early starts the builders were ready for their lunch at mid day and a long siesta in the afternoon before working through to the early evening. So much more sensible thought Sophie, than trying to work through the hottest part of the day, as long as they were on schedule how ever they organised their day was fine by her.
Putting her bulging briefcase down on the kitchen table Sophie marveled yet again at how organised Cassy was. When they had first met during those dreadful days just after Martin’s heart attack, Sophie had thought that Liam and Cassy were just another couple of new age hippies looking for a life away from the rat race back in the UK. What she didn’t realise until much later was just how committed the Stratton’s were to making their new business a success.
Sophie looked back with embarrassment to those days when her job was her passion. The problem was that is was a passion that left little time for anything else in her life. How could she have been so stupid, Sophie wondered for the hundredth time, there she was living for work instead of working to live. Well those days were well and truly over. Now, all her energy and commitment was for her family and their new life in Spain.
Selling the house in London hadn’t been a problem, and after paying off their substantial mortgage they still had enough equity to be able to put in the finance to the holiday business and have the new house built.
The tantalising smell of warm bread made Sophie realise that she was hungry and leaving her bags in the kitchen she wandered outside to look for Cassy. Standing at the kitchen door Sophie peered down to the little wood and saw Cassy laying a large wooden bowl down on the builders’ makeshift table. Sophie laughed to herself when she realised that Cassy was now providing lunch for the workmen, no wonder, she thought, the house is shooting up, with her running a café for them.
‘I see you’ve noticed Cassy’s latest venture’ said Liam wandering out from his small office ‘home delivery.’
‘I don’t know where she finds the time’ said Sophie in wonder ‘I barely remember to feed myself never mind a dozen hungry workmen.’
‘She doesn’t want Ollie to feel awkward at lunch time’ explained Liam ‘all the other workers bring something for the table and want to share it with him.’
‘The young chap in the long shorts, the one pouring the wine.’
‘I haven’t seen him before, is he new?’
‘’Didn’t Cassy tell you about our mystery man? He turned up in his campervan one day looking for work. He says he’s on his Gap year, traveling around Europe but Cassy thinks there more to it than that. You know what she’s like; she has him running away from a shattered love affair. He’s traveling alone with a broken heart looking for a new love.’ Alistair laughed
‘That sounds like Cassy.’ Said Sophie shaking her head ‘I suppose he couldn’t just be a student taking a year out.’
‘No far too boring’
‘What’s far too boring?’ asked Cassy walking into the kitchen, kissing Sophie on the cheek and lifting Abbi from her pushchair all in one effortless move.
‘I was just telling Sophie about young Ollie.’
‘He’s such a sweetie.’ Sighed Cassy ‘works all day on the site and is perfectly content to sit around talking to us old fogies every evening after dinner. At his age most young boys would want to be out clubbing or at least mixing with people of their own age.’
‘Is he staying her with you?’ Asked Sophie incredulously
‘No, he’s staying in his campervan behind the barns but I’ve said that he can eat with us if he wants to. I couldn’t bare the thought of him sitting on his own every night eating cold baked beans straight from the can.’
‘Cassy you are incorrigible. You know nothing about this boy, he could be a thief or on the run form the police.’ Said Sophie horrified that her friend could be so naive as to let a stranger virtually move in with them.
‘Now who’s got a vivid imagination?’ laughed Cassy ‘Ollie is just a sweet young boy, far away from home and probably a little bit lonely.’
‘And I suppose the fact that he’s good looking has nothing to do with all the hospitality you're lavishing on him.’ Laughed Liam
‘I hadn’t noticed’ said Cassy flicking at his legs with the tea towel.
‘Of course you hadn’t’ laughed Sophie ‘but seriously what do you know about him, where is he from, what does he do for a living?’
‘He’s just finished University, I think he said that he’d been in Wales studying Earth Science, what ever that is.’ said Liam ‘I guess he’s just traveling. It’s not that unusual, Cassy and I spent time wandering around India when we graduated. In fact that’s where we met. We were both working in a school out there teaching English and when we finished we did the usual back packer trail before ending up on the beaches of Goa.’
‘Didn’t you take a year out after you graduated?’ asked Cassy
‘No, I had a job offer from Crabtree and Wright waiting for me. I’d had an internship with them the year before and they’d offered me a position with them on the strength of that. It seemed far too good an opportunity to turn down. And I suppose that I’m not really the backpacker sort. I enjoy my creature comforts too much to want to rough it around the world. I’m more of a five start hotel kind of girl.’
‘Well we’ll just have to hope that the builders manage to get your house built before the paying guests start to arrive’ laughed Liam ‘otherwise you’ll be joining us and living in the middle of a building site.’
‘Heaven forbid’ said Sophie looking worried.’ They should be finished in plenty of time, shouldn’t they?’
‘As long as Cassy’s cooking doesn’t kill them off.’ He laughed