Back to the … present

It’s my Lowestoft auction tomorrow, so I’ll be busy. I have got everything packed and ready, remarkably enough. Last night, I thought I’d be scurrying around at the last, but a few hours were well spent this morning and, having been mostly awake since 4am, I had a nap in the afternoon.

I’m feeling more optimistic about the auction than I have in the last couple of years. The *political situation* – let’s not go further because, whatever our views, I think we can all agree that it’s been tricky – has cast a damper on the market, I’ve found. But, rather to my pleased surprise, it’s been like old times this week. I’ve got quite a number of bids in the book and several phone calls to make during the sale. I will have to be rigorous about that – none are for the same piece or within a lot or two, but I mustn’t lose track and forget anyone. I won’t, of course, but if I were the worrying sort (hahahahahahah…sorry, hysteria kicked in there for a moment) then I might lose sleep about it. I think that sheer whatthefuckery has taken over and people have shrugged and got on with their lives.

But on another tack entirely, I was listening to a radio programme yesterday. It was on a couple of weeks ago; I don’t listen to anything live but just download things. It’s a series called ‘That Reminds Me” and the tagline is “Well-known names reminisce and entertain with tales from their lives.” I don’t listen to all of them, but this one happened to be Nerys Hughes, the Welsh actress. She spent the first five minutes talking about Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas’s much-loved radio play. She said she’d played every female part, over the course of forty years, except the oldest woman – this recording was a repeat from the early 00s, so maybe she has done that too by now.

The thing is, she repeated the name of the play several times – Under Milkwood. I’ve always said/thought Under Milk Wood, with equal weighting to each word. But she should know, I suppose. I’ve never heard anyone call it Milkwood before, though. Any thoughts?

It made me think of other quirks of pronunciation though. For example, the actor/celeb/whatever Tim Brooke-Taylor. I don’t suppose you’ve thought about it but, if you have, you might have noticed that he’s always introduced as Timbrooke-Taylor. I assure you. And an actual mistake by the diving Delia Smith. She often has advised cooking with groundnut oil. Groundnuts are peanuts, of course. But she has always called it ground nutoil. Driven me to distraction for decades, that has.

Z on the move again

I found, in my email spam folder, a comment about my post about the Riviera hotel. I thought it was on the post itself so I deleted it and came here, but I can’t find it. Sorry Vagabonde. To reply, yes, my parents had a flat in the hotel. I’m told there was a roof terrace but I remember nothing about that. Apparently, I used to ride my trike round and my grandfather pretended to be a policeman and hauled me over for infringements (hitting flowerpots) and demanded that I give him my name and address. Which is a good way of getting a small Z to learn her name and address. And yes, it’s had a lot of money spent on it and it looks very smart, but I don’t get the impression that it’s very upmarket and, with its location, it really should be.

Anyway, back to the Avenue and the Old Rectory. As I said, I liked the house we lived in and we’d thought we’d live there a while longer, though we didn’t feel it was quite big enough as the children grew up. But then we went to view the house coming up for auction.

It was love at first sight. I’ve never had my knees buckle at first sight of anything before or since. But I walked in the front door and I went weak at the knees, quite literally. “Can we buy it?” All I’d seen was the hall and a glimpse of the drawing room.

It was a big, solid Edwardian house with high ceilings and generous lines. The hall floor was parquet and the broad staircase was to the right. Four steps to the half landing, then six, another turn, six more. Five doors led off the hall. To the left was the drawing room, which had a wonderful octagonal bay window, itself about eight feet in diameter – there was another one in the room above, then a turret above that. Then was a big study, about 20 feet by 12, then a fireplace, then the dining room. Behind the stairs was another room which had a window angled to face the drive, which had been the Rector’s study.

Through the fifth door was another small hall leading to the downstairs toilet and separate washbasin – these were by the second door to the study, for the convenience of any of his visitors. The back stairs used to be here too, but they’d been removed for some reason and boarded over. If you turned left instead of going straight into the back hall, the kitchen was on the right and the second door to the dining room on the left. The kitchen was huge. I can’t remember the dimensions, but at least 25 feet long and 15 feet wide. There was a walk-in larder at one end and, at the other, yet another small hall which led to a storage room and a laundry room as well as the back door.

On the first floor there were six bedrooms and then there were attic rooms on the floor above that. All the rooms had big sash windows and picture rails and downstairs the skirting boards were the deepest I’ve seen in any house. I fell in love.

There was a wall between the house and the roadway, which led to the Rectory, the village hall and the church. There was a grassed and pathed area there with shrubs and a tree or two, and a big semicircular rose bed by the gravel drive. It used to be a circle until they took a bit of the garden to build the new Rectory next door. The main garden had a lawn the width of the house plus the drive, with a slope up to the house itself. There was a huge horse chestnut and, next to it, an equally big beech tree. At the bottom of the garden was a small orchard.

This was in 1976, which big, draughty old houses were deeply unfashionable. We bought it for £21,000, which was more than we could afford. So we promptly sold the orchard for £12,000, just keeping a driveway down at the bottom of the garden. Three houses were built there in due course. We found a buyer for our house quite quickly – useful being an estate agent as you know who’s looking. The couple were in their second marriage and they each had two teenager from their first marriages. It struck us that we thought the house was a bit small for us and two babies, whereas they reckoned it was perfect for the six of them.

They asked us round for a drink after they’d moved in. Obviously, the reason it was amply big enough was because they didn’t eat together – the dining table seated four – but then, the children were not all siblings and I suppose they spent a fair bit of their time with their other parents. I exclaimed how pretty the dining room was – with all our furniture in there, it didn’t do the lovely wallpaper justice. They needed the fourth bedroom so removed my bathroom and they dug up my chamomile lawn and replaced it with grass.

Before we could move, though, we needed to have some work done at the Old Rectory. We had it rewired and the roof retiled. We also put in a second bathroom, with a sunken bath. I’d mentioned that the back stairs had been removed, but they had left a few stairs off the rear landing which led nowhere. So that’s where we put the bath and it was lovely. We didn’t need a toilet as there was a separate one from the main bathroom, which also had a washbasin. We also had a new kitchen. The room was far too big to be efficient so I created a room within a room. The sink was under the window, the cooker to the right, and two peninsulas to make up the rectangle. To the left, there was another small sink for hand washing and vegetable preparation. As in the last house, people could stand or sit the other side of the peninsula to help or just chat, and not get in the way of the cook. The only thing I got wrong was not putting in a dishwasher. The washing machine was in one of the back sculleries and the big chest freezer was in the other.

I wish I had photos, but I never took them. It was just home. I loved that house.

Z’s homes – The Avenue

As well as being an auction house, Russell’s business was an estate agency. There was a house that just wouldn’t sell. The owner had had nothing done to it for years and eventually he died. Whoever inherited it sold off most of the garden for building – two bungalows and three houses were built there, with their own little slip road – and the house itself languished unloved. It needed a good deal of repair. A couple of ceilings had come down during the war, though the house itself wasn’t hit, and they’d had temporary replacements installed, which had never been renewed. So, after several months, Russell decided to buy it himself. This was at about the time we got married and he got the structural work done, meaning to put it back on the market.

It’s a detached Edwardian house, so was then about 65 years old. It has a big bay window facing the road with a large porch at the corner, a good size kitchen, utility room, toilet, big square hall that is quite large enough to be used as a room, a sizeable drawing room and a slightly smaller dining room and, upstairs, four bedrooms and a bathroom – that last was rather small and uninteresting, at the end of a long passage. Outside, there was a small front garden with a cherry tree, a narrow flower bed and path outside the kitchen leading to a small square lawn and a patio, and a garage.

As I said before, I just didn’t feel at home in our first house. It just didn’t suit me, though I’m still not really sure why. So Russell suggested I look at the house in The Avenue, to see if we might move there. And that’s what we did. It was much more fun to plan decorations and a new kitchen than just to move into a house that wasn’t my choice. I was especially pleased with the kitchen, which I designed myself. I had a peninsula unit coming out into the room at right angles to the main window, which had the sink at the end. Standing at the end of that peninsula, the working area was to the right; first the sink and then all the worktop. Opposite on the right, was an alcove with the gas rings and cupboards underneath, an eye-level grill on the wall with an extractor fan above, and a separate oven, so that I didn’t have to bend down to it. Beyond that was a big walk-in larder.

I had an extra-wide work surface fitted to the peninsula so that it jutted several inches out to the left (that is, the other side from where I stood to cook or wash up), so that kitchen stools could be tucked underneath and, when you sat on them, there was room for your knees. To the left of that was the boiler and another seating area where we had breakfast. The wall opposite the window had wall cupboards – I always liked to have plenty of storage space. A builder friend of ours was impressed by the design and always asked my advice on kitchens in houses he was building. I don’t know how it was that I got it all right first time, I was only 21, but I was a keen and efficient cook, even in those days.

As i said, the bathroom was poky and not very inspiring and I wanted to change that; or rather, to have an entirely new bathroom. So we converted a bedroom into a bathroom/dressing room for me. We came unstuck over the decorations though. I chose a wallpaper in a dramatic jungly print, with lots of greenery and vines. We ordered it and waited, and waited. It was in the mid-1970s when industry in this country was in a pretty poor state. Relationships between management and workers were, in many factories, antagonistic and there were strikes on the one hand and unfairness on the other. You could go into an electrical showroom and see the fridge you wanted and order it, but it would take at least three months to arrive. And, having waited months, they finally said that the wallpaper was out of stock everywhere and had been discontinued, so I had to choose another one; which I can’t remember at all. We did have a really lovely dining room wallpaper though, in deep red and cream, and the hall was blue and white with a dark blue carpet that showed every bit of fluff and needed hoovering daily. The drawing room was painted pale green and we bought a beautiful Chinese washed silk rug for it, that is now in our bedroom. No idea of the colour schemes in the bedrooms, so they were probably neutral.

I was very happy there, with baby Eloise. We had nice neighbours and the house was stylish and comfortable. I planted a chamomile lawn and grew vegetables and herbs in the flower beds. Then I became pregnant again and Alex was born in April 1976. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember that this was a famously hot, dry summer. Being fair skinned and prone to burning myself, I worried that my babies would get sunburned and we didn’t take full advantage of the fabulous weather really; but then we also had another project on the go that year.

Alex was born at home, but not our own home. He was born at Seaview, my childhood home, where my mother still lived. She had just remarried in February 1976, to my dear stepfather Wilf Edwards. Will was thrilled and happy to be welcomed into the family, having lived alone for some years since he and his first wife had separated. Anyway, it was not too long after Alex’s birth when Russell came and suggested we have a little outing to look at a house that was coming up for auction – his partner did the property auctions. Russell was quite casual and relaxed about it, my mother was happy to look after the babies and off we drove.

It was another Edwardian house, a former rectory. I remember so clearly walking in through the front door for the first time. But that’s another chapter.

Smoke gets in Z’s eyes

The chimney turned into quite a worry. We waited a couple of days and then lit the fire again. After a while, it smoked heavily again. The sweep couldn’t come until Thursday and, on Wednesday, we tried again. It was fine for about twenty minutes and I cancelled the appointment, for quite five minutes; but then the room filled with smoke again.

It’s still a mystery. He swept the chimney thoroughly and almost nothing came down – soot wasn’t to be expected as he swept it back in the summer, but there was nothing untoward. The chimney had a stainless steel lining installed before we moved here, so 34 years ago and, as soot is corrosive, it’s possible that a new one is needed. This is a highly depressing prospect – not so much because of installing the new one, but getting the old one out. However, we gave it one more go … and the problem has been cured, it seems. Our theory is that a bird tried to build a nest and sticks got stuck, the first few fires we lit consolidated the debris so that, after a few times, it jammed the chimney. However, it was still gradually being destroyed by the fire and, when Leigh put his brush up, it flew up the chimney rather than down into the grate.

Not very convincing, I know, as an explanation, but it’s the only thing I can think of.

The chickens are still fine together, though the old ones are a bit unsettled by all these youngsters rushing round. When I go out to the greenhouse, the big black ones hurry up to me and tell me all about it. I’ve added a couple more perches, which has helped accommodation. There’s plenty of room but they don’t all want to cuddle up. The two big black hens are laying in the other greenhouse, by the grape vine; the big brown hen is off lay at present and I’ve no idea where, if anywhere, the bantams are laying. When we get a few days of bad weather, I’ll keep them in. Then, at least I’ll know if they are laying at all. Right now, they’re really not earning their keep.

The rain it raineth on the Z

It’s been really dry all summer. That changed today. There has been some rain over the past couple of weeks, which at least turned the grass from brown to green – it’s a marvel, how quickly it regrows – but today it bucketed down. Someone put photos on Facebook of the main Norwich bypass, which had to be shut as it was flooded.

We had a bit of that in the house. The join between the main old house and the built-on bit (about 28 years ago) has never been 100% but it’s usually dry unless there’s torrential rain with no wind: ie, straight down. And, the other day, filling in a gap where we don’t want birds to nest or bats to hibernate any more, nor draughts to freeze the study, we had some filler left over, so used it in the attic. And that seems to have worked but, all the same, there was a drip in the inglenook in the dining room, which I can’t explain as yet. I’ve learned to my cost (which is another story entirely and here is no place for it) that water needs to get away and stagnant water is the real problem, so a small amount every few years doesn’t worry me. Later, however, Rose’s Boy came through to report a drip in the annexe kitchen.

We’ve tracked that down in the attic too, and I’ll get the builder in to replace the tile, which must have cracked.

We relaxed with the remains of our lunchtime wine after that – it is Sunday, after all – and then we decided to light the fire as it was a bit clammy, if not actually cold. Within ten minutes, there was a worrying amount of smoke in the room. We’ve no idea but something is blocking it. The chimney was swept in the summer and it was fine yesterday when we lit the fire and it burned all evening. We hastily removed the logs and let it die down, and I’ve texted the chimney sweep. And turned on the overnight heater.

We feel that the elements are against us.

I didn’t let the chickens out today, as the forecast was so bad, but gave them lots of veggies as well as their normal food. I didn’t go out during the day, for obvious reasons (I’d have got soaked for no good reason) but, when I went to shut them up, they were nicely mixed up, young and old, on the perches. So they seem to have been okay.

Tomorrow afternoon, I have a training session in school on Safeguarding. I’d rather thought I’d left this sort of thing behind me. I’m going to get an ID card and had to send in a photo. The most flattering ID-type picture is my most recent passport one, but it isn’t exactly recent. Still, as long as it’s recognisable and it has the advantage of not making me look as if I’m in a police lineup.

Petty pace

“tomorrow” wasn’t quite the thing, was it? Sorry. I get tired in the evenings, but blogging in the daytime seems a bit self-indulgent. Anyway, I promised you photos.

The old harbour, Weymouth

I was charmed that the harbour was much as I remembered it. Where we were standing, cars still parked at 90º from the water’s edge, but there was a difference. Now, there are huge sleepers to stop them from rolling into the water. There’s also a kerb, which I’m sure wasn’t there before. Still, at least there aren’t railings. And it is very pretty. Wink reminded me that Mr Dyke’s guest house was called Harbour Lights and was on the road leading down here, but we didn’t investigate that because rain wasn’t far off and we were heading back to the car.

After a rain shower, there was another dry spell – because we’re lucky that way – and we were able to investigate the hotel. Tim was quite stunned as it came into view: he hadn’t expected anything so impressive. It is a wonderful building and, with all the bedrooms facing the front, it’s huge.

The swimming pool
The view of Weymouth beach

Wobbly because it was a panorama
The view from the road

It is spectacular and in a glorious position, yet it doesn’t make the most of it. There’s a funfair in front and nothing much in the grounds. We ventured indoors and I asked the nice young woman if we could get a drink. She looked worried. If we wanted tea or coffee, the machine was broken. So i came clean and explained that I’d been born here and would love to look around and she said we were welcome to. I can’t honestly say I remembered it, and the ballroom, which I remember stories of, was locked, so we didn’t stay very long.

When we walked down to the seafront that morning, we’d been looking for coffee and eventually found a place that promised ‘artisan’ this and that. The coffee was adequate if not excellent and a nice couple asked to share our table and we chatted for ten minutes or so. As we ambled towards the barbour, Tim’s shoelace came undone so we stopped at a bench for him to retie it. Another couple on holiday asked to sit with us; again, we chatted. Evidently, Weymouth attracts lovely friendly people and, when we went into a ship’s chandler’s shop, where I was hoping to buy a waterproof coat (but didn’t), the young woman greeted us as friends. So I retain warm memories of my birthplace.

Flocking together

I vanished, I’m sorry to say, because I’m less inclined nowadays to say on the open internet that we’re going to be away. The house isn’t empty, it never is, but even so.

We went to stay with my sister Wink and celebrated our third wedding anniversary while we were there. LT’s brother and sister-in-law came from Devon to celebrate with us. We went out and about, including a visit to Weymouth, where I was charmed to see the old harbour looking much as I remembered it, and to my babyhood home. I’ll post pictures tomorrow. We also visited Bath and, as Tim had not been there before, took a tour on an open-top bus, just like the genuine tourists we were. It was a lovely week, it didn’t rain as much as had been forecast and it felt like a holiday.

Since we arrived home, I have been much occupied with thoughts of chicks. To recap, there are Rose’s three bantam hens and a cock, my two big black hens and one big brown one, four bantam pullets, daughters of Canasta, who hatched on 14th June and five bantam chicks, sex not yet identified, children of Scrabble, that hatched at the end of July.

I let the pullets out a couple of weeks ago and they’ve returned to their coop to sleep every night. The chicks (this is a misnomer, used only for identification) had their own coop and a decent size run. Scrabble was in with them, but she was named for her love of digging and she’d ruined the bits of lawn I moved the run to. So, once we got home, I moved it again and removed her. She was very unhappy indeed, not at all ready to leave her babies, even though they were quite big enough to manage without her. Today, I cracked and let the chicks out.

This has been astonishingly successful. I threw handfuls of mealworms for all the chickens to peck for and there was surprisingly little conflict. I broadcast them well, of course, but the only hen that showed any aggression was Rose’s black bantam, Polly, and the youngsters soon skipped out of her way. The grownups went to hang out in Rose’s garden, the teenage pullets went into the long grass and the babies and mother pottered around the veg garden. Then it rained and all the youngsters, plus Scrabble, took shelter; first in the Dutch barn (open sided) with the barn cats and then in the chicken greenhouse. And then, when the old hens went home, they all just rubbed along together. I thought this would take weeks and it seems to have happened in a day. They’ve all roosted together and they’ll all wake up together and they’re one big family now. Isn’t that lucky?

Rectory Road

Russell had already bought a house, which he was living in when we met. I was sixteen and my father had just died.

It was the Hong Kong flu epidemic that caused his death. We all had it over Christmas and we were all awfully ill. And then we got over it, but we were still not very well and it wasn’t known then that it can take weeks to recover, during which time you’re at greater risk of a heart attack, if you’re at all vulnerable. So, not to dwell on it, that’s what happened.

Russell’s father was the family solicitor, though he’d retired by then for the most part. And he suggested, kindly, that Russell should help us out and relay messages, rather than go through the office – for which, of course, my mother would be charged. And, one evening, a diffident young man turned up on the doorstep and introduced himself. We all became good friends. There was no romantic attachment at all, I was still at school and he was already in his thirties.

But, three years later, that changed and we got married and I moved in with him. The house was big, Edwardian, semi-detached, on three floors, long and quite narrow. When Russell bought it, a great deal of work had to be done and, because the dining room was dark and not very interesting, he had the dividing wall removed and incorporated it into the sitting room, with a nice arch between. He had a collection of paintings already and they looked good on the walls there. There was a utility room, then a big, long kitchen and then a scullery which led to the back door and a smallish yard, with a garage. Upstairs, there was a master bedroom with a dressing room, another bedroom behind it, a bathroom and separate loo and a back bedroom, then two more bedrooms and a box room upstairs again.

I never felt very at home there, actually, It didn’t feel homely and I’d had little part in decorating it; only our bedroom. If we’d stayed there long, we’d have changed things and made it more comfortable, but it was a big bachelor pad. There were no comfortable armchairs, they were all antiques and, although I didn’t dislike the house, I just didn’t really settle in. However, we had people in for dinner regularly, my mother lived only three miles away and Russell and I were happy to be together, of course.

I wanted to cook Christmas dinner for the family, that first year. My father in law preferred to stay at home, so it was my mother, sister, Russell and me. I decided to cook a goose and bought a new roasting tin that it would fit in. I measured the goose to check it would fit, but didn’t think to measure the oven and, so it happened, on Christmas morning, I discovered that the tin wouldn’t go into the oven.

I have always been resourceful. The goose itself did fit, so I made a tray out of aluminium foil and put that on the oven floor and put the goose on the rack. Half way through cooking time, the tray was full of fat so I carefully turned down one corner and drained out the goose grease – which made some splendid roast potatoes over the next few weeks. Other than that, it all went very well.

By this time, we were expecting Eloise, and Russell had bought another house. He was an estate agent as well as auctioneer and this particular house had been on the books for ages. In the end, he bought it just because he felt sorry for it. It was in a very poor state and he had planned to do it up and sell it, but we decided to move in. And dear friends bought our Rectory Road house and turned the big downstairs room into an art gallery. 45 years later, they still live there.

Free ranging

The four young pullets were three months old on Sunday and they’ve been hankering for an excursion into the big wild world, so I opened the door of their run and let them out. They are rather sweet, nervous little girls who don’t squabble with each other for food, but just help themselves to the plenty that’s offered, so they were wary about going out. I sprinkled a handful of dried mealworms, which encouraged them. Later, I looked again and they were pottering about happily and, later again, the other chickens were with them and there was no bullying going on. So this seems to have been a smooth transition to the grown-up free-range world and, in a few weeks, I expect they’ll join the others in the hen house at night. They are, at present, very biddable and go back into their coop when I guide them.

The younger chicks, who hatched on 31st July, are also impatient to get out, but they’re too young. With the predators we have about here, I can’t take the risk. So I give them handfuls of grass and scraps from the kitchen as well as their own food, and they’re doing all right. Of the five, I’m sure that two are girls but don’t know about the others. They may well be cocks, but they don’t square up to each other and bicker, so I won’t come to any conclusions yet, until they start to crow or they don’t. The other ones were accosting each other from a few weeks old but, just as Canasta and Scrabble, their mothers, have different personalities, so do they.

Indoors, we’ve been putting together a cabinet to hold drinking glasses. In the dining room, there’s an alcove that used to house a cupboard staircase until 1928. It’s not used except to hold a small corner cupboard with Russell’s collection of Goss china. I’ve been looking for a shallow cupboard for quite some time, but haven’t been able to find what we needed. Display cabinets for small collectables seemed to be promising but the glass fronted ones were too shallow and I just couldn’t find the right thing. Finally, it occurred to me that a CD cabinet might fit the bill, and that’s what we now have. It isn’t glass fronted, but that was not possible to find, and the shelves are completely adjustable. Of course, the cat will jump up there if she has a chance, but I’ve found a suitable curtain – there are advantages to having a lumbar room – and we can put that up to stop her doing so.

We’ve also finished the catalogue for the next auction and that will go on the website and be posted out within the next week. So progress is gradually being made. I still have sleepless nights about personal admin and so on, but I may manage to get through all that too, one of these days.

Seaview, the bedrooms

My parents’ bedroom had an en suite bathroom and dressing room – of course it did. The bath was a six-footer and, when I was a child, I used to lie full length under the water with just my nose sticking out. There was another bathroom, but it was a big, cheerless room and only guests used it. There was a separate loo – of course there was – and no cistern, when you pulled the chain, the water came straight from the tanks up in the attic, so if the valve stuck open, as happened once, water just kept flushing through. There was a wooden seat, a nice old one, well polished by years of sitting. There was no lid.

Also on that floor was the spare bedroom, which was above the dining room, which had its own washbasin, so guests didn’t have to use the cheerless bathroom unless they wanted a bath. There was the housemaid’s pantry, which was a room about five feet wide and ten feet long, and the linen cupboard; about the same size. Not sure why they needed both, but of course my grandparents had Staff. Then there was a passageway, with the day nursery halfway down and the night nursery at the end, down a couple of steps, above the scullery and next to the back stairs. The day nursery was used as another spare bedroom – in 1976, my son Alex was born there. The night nursery had all sorts of things in it, including my father’s office stuff. He had a printing set – the proper thing, you set the individual letters to make up the words and there was a Roneo duplicator and a franking machine.

Tim asked delicately, what happened to all the money, then? Death duties, taxation and a kind but unwise investment, in short. The investment surcharge of the late 1960s raised a top slice of over 100% on invested earnings – it was retrospective, so couldn’t be planned for in advance. A year or so after that, my father died suddenly and a company he’d put a lot of money in, to try to keep it afloat and help a friend keep his job, went bust. It was, unfortunately, after it had been included in the valuation of everything Daddy owned; because, in those days, a widow paid death duties on the death of her husband. So she had to pay tax on an investment that no longer existed. My father had set up a trust, which was only intended to last until Wink and I had grown up and wouldn’t need a guardian, and really was planned for if both our parents were killed in a cross-Europe trip in their sports car, which they’d taken ten years earlier. But that didn’t happen, my mother didn’t inherit the capital and nor did Wink or I. So, if you’re thinking of me as an heiress, I’m not, in fact. Russell inherited this house from his parents (which needed a lot of work done at the time), but otherwise we’ve made our own way in life. And that was easier to do than it is for our children and there are no complaints.