The next day was warm and sunny, like the morning before. There was an almost spring like glow to the fields as he drove down to Thorncombe with the groceries. He wasn’t getting far with his tour of England but he was enjoying himself. He smiled. He had wanted to get reacquainted with the country and that part was working well. Whatever else they were, Hugh and Camellia were heart-warmingly English.
He drove past the fallen gates and bounced down the rutted drive, thinking to himself about the milkman’s suspension - and his own for that matter! In some ways it seemed (even more than yesterday) as if he were coming home - though he didn't like the prospect of being back in the smelliness and dirt! The glow of admiration he'd felt for Camellia yesterday evening had been brief and had worn off and he'd decided the glimpse he'd had of an underlying strength in Hugh was probably an illusion. But he could hardly hand the milk and the tins of fruit and the cereal packets over without stopping to ask how they both were this morning. Nor could he leave a box on the doorstep like a tradesman for Hugh and Camellia to take in later. And, the funny thing was, and this surprised him, he was looking forward to seeing them again.
The car dipped into the cutting and round in front of the house where Hugh was setting up hurdles. He was planning to bring the sheep into the yard while he and Camellia worked together on the drawing room. The trouble was, he didn’t know where he'd be putting them after the drawing room had reverted to human use. The outbuildings were full of dusty old clobber. If all that had to be moved . . . well - where to? There was so much. And every shed and byre and barn was stacked with something. But there were some with empty pens alongside and the sheep might like to be out in the air for a bit after their long stint indoors, if the weather held. And there were several roofed shelters which had walls missing on only one side. They'd have to be scrubbed out though. It was obvious more time was needed than Camellia was allowing for and, as usual, they were doing everything in the wrong order. They should have prepared somewhere for the sheep before they started on the drawing room and, after yesterday, he really didn't feel he should leave Camellia to work alone in the house while he cleared sheds and scrubbed pens.
He sighed at the impossibility of it - but lifted a cheery hand when he saw Stephen's car - and called to Camellia that he'd arrived.
Camellia popped her head from a window which Hugh had hammered open earlier and which she'd propped up with half a broom handle. Her hair was tied under a silk scarf and her face was streaked with slime but her cheeks were pink and her eyes happy. She fluttered her rubber gloves at him and asked if he would like coffee on the terrace, then laughed because he was startled.
"It does sound rather over-grand, doesn't it? But it's such a beautiful day!"
Stephen was delighted. He couldn't but agree - it was certainly a beautiful day and the holiday atmosphere of spring cleaning was infectious and coffee on the terrace meant he could be friendly without having to go indoors! Hurrah!
to continue - Eighteen
For the post before this - Sixteen