Thursday, September 28, 2017

Last Performance (short story)

   His body moved passionately with every note, absorbing the music.
His fingers kissed the ivory and ebony keys in changing tempo's. The violins in complete harmony; tender and loving.... energetic and impressive. Or in total silence, listening to the careful touches, waiting to join in.

   Beethoven was always his favourite composer, particularly No. 3 in C Minor, Opus 1, no 3:IV, Finale, Prestissimo. It was the first music he heard as a little boy of only 2 years old, during a concert at home, organized by his parents. He sat in a little chair in the corridor upstairs, looking down at all the guests in their beautiful clothes. Jewellery shone in the light of hundreds of candles which sent their warmth and the scents of all the different perfumes his way. It did not bother him, with his eyes wide open he listened and listened.
His little hands mimicked the hands of the pianist in the black suit. His head moved in the same rhythm, his blond and silky hair waved. His little body relaxed when the music was slow but straightened by a higher tempo. Although he was too young to describe his own feelings, he knew that he had never heard something as beautiful as this.
   His governess watched him, thinking she needed to talk to his parent. This beautiful child was born to play the piano and the lessons needed to start at a young age.
She did not notice the tears at her wrinkly cheeks. Tears because she knew the childhood of this lovely little boy was going to be different than that of other children. But how could she keep it away from him? Look at his face with the soft cheeks that coloured red by the emotions he felt.

   She was right, this evening changed his life.
His parents were delighted to learn about the musical gift of their child and looked for someone to teach the boy piano lessons. Their choice was Monsieur Augustin Joguet, a Frenchman famous for tutoring gifted pupils.
But M. Joguet never met a child as young as the little boy who was even at the age of almost 3, also very stubborn. A child that heard music in his head, music his hands wanted to play on the beautiful grand piano in the music room. His young attitude drove M. Joguet almost insane by the look of his behaviour; next to the child (the poor boy was never called by his name) he made little jumps on his chair, raised his white hands with the long pointy fingers in the air, dramatically shouting: "Mais non, non non!!! Ze child first needs to learn ze scales!! 'E can not play Beet'oven at once!!" Then shook his head, spreading desperate little drops of sweat.
   Arguments about his payment, patience and to his great annoyance also his competence, followed.
The little child did not understand what was said, he did not even hear it. His head was full of beautiful almost heavenly music where dissonance was not allowed; he closed his ears for the ugly music produced by the adult voices. Instead he let his little wide spread fingers search for the right tones of the performance he heard during that  beautiful evening. In his head the violins.

   M. Joguet resigned; thinking he might be too old for this which worried him far more than the future of this gifted child who played the piano in unawareness. Parents and governess wondered if he had even noticed his teacher left for good.
   A new teacher arrived. And another one, and another one until the very young pianist that understood the music in the child's head and the connection between these tones and his fingers performing an excellent translation.
Of course there were other lessons to follow and as long as the child knew the piano was waiting for him, he obediently listened to his governess and made his homework.

   At the age of five he had his first performance for the guests of his parents.
The sight of his little innocent body sitting on the chair, his back turned to the guests, was very touching and many ladies could not hold their tears.
The child's teacher sat next to the piano, his hands folded, his eyes fixed on the boy as if he read the notes inside that little head. There were no music pages to turn, the boy knew it all by heart.
   The evening was very successful although more realistic people agreed that this child should climb trees or play cricket instead. Though the parents were very proud.

   The years went by, he became very famous, his parents added extra space to the music room to entertain more guests because the only problem was that the child, a man by now, never wanted to leave the house. The sound of the outside world confused him, too many notes that did  not make sense, notes causing agony and disorder. He once described the sounds outside the walls of their stately home as 'ugly' and the way he pronounced it, left no doubt.
   A situation causing great concern with everyone involved, not in the least his parents. They shook their grey and wrinkly heads but could not avoid leaving this world when old and tired; like the guests. The younger generation the man wasn't familiar with, developed a different taste for music.
He wasn't aware of it and as long as people looked after him, he played and played until his body also bent for physical decay; his back round and aching, his knuckles swollen in pain. He did not want to give up, did not want to stop. He could not stop, there was so much music in his head.

   Still came the day of his very last performance.
The sight of his shrunken lean body sitting on the chair, his back turned to the non existing guests, was very touching and angels above could not hold their tears.
Photo: @glory.of.disrepair (Instagram)
The translucent posture of his long gone teacher was seen next to the piano, his eyes fixed on the man. There were no pages to turn, the fading fingers of the man found their way without thinking. Beethoven's No. 3 in C Minor, Opus 1, no 3:IV, Prestissimo was the man's personal Finale; he played with all the energy that was left. The tones echoed against the walls and ceiling, made the structure move; tearing the plaster apart until the tones slowly drifted away when the teacher reached out for the man who allowed the elements to take care of his beloved grand piano. His music travelled with him to never be heard again.

Word of thanks: the photo of @glory.of.disrepair (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Mathias!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @glory.of.disrepair

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Wind of Seasons (short story)

The edge of the cliff. A dangerous place to be, she knew that, was born here.

   But an indefinable feeling that made her body tremble, drove her from the cottage to this edge of her world. She was so much a child of the beautiful Northern Irish landscape where the many shades of green competed  with the grey and blue colours of the sky. Where the wind waved the grass or tortured the scarce trees that bravely survived the storms with bowed backs like old men.

   She was born in a heavy storm in April and named Aibreann. Her paternal grandmother predicted a strong and determined will, always prepared to fight storms in her life and even looking for them.
Aibreann did not disappoint her grandmother with whom she had a close relationship. Both women had a wild almost earthly edge to their character. Both inherited the free will and combativeness from the Vikings that once ruled Northern Ireland. Add a little blood from the Cromwell's soldiers and a generation of brave women was born. 

   Strong women needed strong men at their side; it wasn't an easy task for the parents to find the right one. Most men were easily either discouraged or too impressed and Aibreann was very seldom impressed by the men who dared to try to approach her.
Her mother shook her head and believed her daughter was never going to marry. Her father laughed and said that the man who could handle his daughter was out there somewhere to turn up when Aibreann was ready for it.

   Watching the wild sea beneath her, Aibreann smiled. Yes, she was 24 and yes, there was a man - Lorcan - she liked but her heart still belonged to the seasons and not to him although she admired his tenacity. The first man that seemed not too impressed with that wild side of her. Still....
   She straightened her back even more, raised her head, her chin pointing forwards, her eyes wide open. She opened her arms and welcomed the wind that gained in strength, trying to subject her to his power.
Aibreann did not give in and laughed, the wind swirled her laugh over the fields towards a man on his horse.

   The man sat high on his tall dark brown horse, his left hand on his knee; the wind blew the manes round his right hand that loosely held the bridles.  He looked at the woman at the edge of the cliff and could not take his eyes of her, feeling a sensation of which he thought he lost it long ago.
   To an ordinary spectator it might have looked if she was going to jump but he knew that she stood their to embrace the wind. She was too far away to hear her laughing still the sound resonated in his chest. Man and horse did not move and stood like a statue in the middle of the green field defined by large ferns that obeyed the law of Autumn by fading into yellow and brown.

   At the same moment the man guided his horse to the cliff, Aibreann knew someone was watching her. She turned around and the wind blew her hair forwards; her hands held her hair back to watch the magnificent combination of strength and solidarity of the man and his horse.

   She was alone but not afraid. Her chin still up, she waited; her eyes fixed on the man's face until she could see his eyes grey as the smoke from the chimneys.
   She raised her hand and laid it on the nostrils of the beautiful horse who nodded a few times to approve with her touch. She did not look at the horse, she looked at the man who's emotions were clearly visible in his eyes; the grey turned from bright to dark but he did not blink.
   She lost track of time, the world around her stood still. The wind got hold of her heart and blood, raced through her body and she knew that the man felt the same. She knew she found her equal and she knew she needed to fight for him; he was the main storm in her life and nothing that followed later in life would cause similar sensations.


   Aibreann smiled and thought she was indeed an old sentimental fool. A forgotten tear dripped on the letter in her hand. One of the many the man wrote to her. Letters in which he told her about the storm in his heart the moment he saw her. That incredible sensation that raced through his blood. The recognition of equal souls; creations of the wind.
   Their secret relationship was not meant to last, they both knew that, but until it ended it was fiercely, unruly. Their passion grew with the Autumn winds, raw and reckless. The rain washed the tears they did not want to cry, their time together was too short.
   The storm inside her held on for months after he left but then came the day she calmed down and accepted the proposal of  Lorcan.

   Poor Lorcan who was good to her, who loved her and kissed the ground she was walking on. She was loyal to him, never betrayed him with another man but also never told him about the letters of her wild and passionate lover from long ago. A lover she never met again but who's letters she received though never replied to, until the announcement of his death 60 years later, long after Lorcan passed away.

   After she read the final letter from the stranger that told her about the death of her friend ("we found your address in his agenda"), she walked to the cliff but instead of looking at the sea, she looked in the opposite direction, the wind in her back, searching for the contours of man and horse but they were gone. 

Photo: @beautifully_derelict_ni (Instagram)
   All what was left was a case full of letters, carefully preserved in the attic and never to be read twice or found by anyone. Until now after she towed the case downstairs. Sitting in her chair in front if the peat fire, she opened them one by one before she laid them back in the case.   She read for days and days, forgot to eat, forgot to drink. The peat fire stopped burning but she did not feel the cold; she felt the heat of the fire that burned with the same flame in two bodies, enkindled by the storm.

   Aibreann too died long ago but the heritage of her character and the unlimited love for the seasons once united in the only man on earth that understood her, still remains. Exposed in her little home in front of a cold hearth until the elements destroy what is left of the abandoned cottage, allowing the storm to blow the written memories towards the wild sea.


Word of thanks: the photo of @beautifully_derelict_ni (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Jules!!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of Jules

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination. 


Friday, September 22, 2017

Anxiety (short story)

   They told me they were coming back, that they would never leave me.

   But that is not true, is it? Or do I have to wait longer? If so, can you please tell me how long?
Oh... I have so many questions and I can't answer them. Nobody answers them for me.
I was told not to leave the house "It is an evil world son", Mummy and Daddy said. And they know all about the evil world.

   It has not always been like this, oh no! I still remember the warmth of the sun. It is so long ago that I do not remember anymore which year. I do remember that I sat in my little wooden chair in the garden, together with my fluffy Teddy Bear. Do you know his name? It was Arcot, Mummy said it meant 'bear' in a foreign language.
   I should not have mentioned my Teddy Bear, he is gone too and now I feel sad again and cry. I must have lost him somewhere in the garden. Long after everybody else left and Arcot left me too. Why??
   I was looking for food in the garden, digging carrots like Mummy did but I found a strange white carrot that looked like the bone our old dog ate. It scared me, I must have dropped Arcot and I do not want to go back.

    Why is Mummy not coming back? She promised after Daddy never returned.
I loved Mummy and I loved Daddy but I did not love them when they were shouting at each other.
And they shouted so often; I always hid in the wardrobe, holding my hands over my ears and then I cried but they did not hear me.
   One day Mummy said to Daddy: "It is enough, I'll make sure you never shout again" and she took Daddy to the garden. I stayed in the wardrobe so do not know where they went.
I waited and waited, maybe an hour, maybe a week, I don't remember. Here on my own an hour is as dark and lonely as a week.
But when Mummy returned she had mud on her hands, I thought she looked for carrots too.
After she washed her hands she took my arm and told me I was never to go out in the garden again: "Never! Do you hear me?"
I cried, shouting I wanted Daddy but she shook me until my teeth rattled and since that day I often have this terrible pain in my head. Pain that confuses me. I do not always remember the days or the weeks when I am in pain.

   Sometimes I wake up in a dark house with dirty shoes. I don't understand where the mud comes from and I don't know who else wears my shoes. I don't go out in the garden, not after I found the white carrot. And I could not tell Mummy, she had gone too.
I often sit near the window, looking if she is walking down the path but the trees grow and grow, I don't think she can reach the house anymore.
   I stopped looking in the mirror because I see an unknown man, dirty with long filthy hair and grey irregular stripes on his cheeks. His large eyes with the red eyelids are so scary! I am so afraid of him but he does not come after me. He stays in the mirror.
It can not be me, I am still little and looking for Arcot. I want to tell Arcot how very afraid I am, he will understand me.

   I look at the photo's. Daddy always took photo's, there are boxes full of them. He had many camera's too, they are all still in the house. I do not know how it works, I tried to open the yellow boxes with the strange rolls in little plastic cans. But I d not know what to do with them. I rolled them out but do not see anything, it is all grey. Nothing like all the photo's where I see the old dog, Mummy and Daddy. Photo's on which I see myself in the wooden chair, that is how I know I am still little so the man in the mirror can not be me.

   I do not want the photo's to go away. I talk to them, ask them to bring Mummy and Daddy back. Do you think that is possible? I try hard, I hold them against my chest and close my eyes. I repeat over and over again "Please step out and come to live with me!".  Nothing happens and I am so scared!
   I think hard but still do not know what happened to Mummy. The last thing I remember was that she was so angry at me and my headache got worse and worse. The next I knew was all the mud on my shoes, I don't know what happened in between. And if I try to think hard, my anxiety grows and grows and I look for Arcot. I look in every corner, behind every chair, I walk faster and faster, bump into furniture, throw things aside and shout. Shout for Arcot. Arcot! ARCOT..........!!

   The man that waded through the weed and bushes, stood still. The awful sound that echoed through the woods was too scary to be human. Still, it were not the crows, it were not the deer.
He listened but only heard silence. Total silence, if every living creature in the forest held it's breath.
   The man noticed how cold it was and rubbed the goosebumps at his arms. He was not sure any more if he still wanted to visit the abandoned house deep down the woods. The house that no one wanted to visit but he did not believe in ghosts.
   He shook his head and continued his walk, surprised the temperature went down so quickly. He blamed the sun not being able to find it's way through the dense trees.

   Suddenly the house was there, without a warning. The temperature was as low as it could be, it felt as if the cold came from the house and not the woods. The dark filthy windows glared at him, hostile and angry. He was not welcome but he did not give in to his fear.
   The door was covered in cob webs with spiders as big as he had never seen before. With his sleeve over his hand, he pushed the doorknob and to his surprise the door flung open, tearing the cob webs apart, angry spiders running in all directions.

   The temperature in the house felt below zero, the man's teeth started to rattle and he rubbed is arms for some warmth. If there was an evil world outside, in here it was even worse.

Photo: @thedarkveil (Instagram)
   Entering the room he noticed the camera's and photo's sooner than the chaos of smashed furniture. He took some photo's and looked at a man and woman, probably man and wife. The smile at the face of the woman made his goosebumps return, he felt a frightening chill going down his spine.
   While he put the photo back, he noticed another one with a lovely little boy in a wooden chair. A boy with angel-like curly hair, wide open eyes with long lashes. He smiled at the camera, happy in his own little world. In his arms, tightly pushed against his chest, a fluffy Teddy Bear.

   "ARCOT!" This time the man clearly understood that gruesome scream. It echoed in his head, penetrated his body and bones. His blood froze and for the very first time in his life he knew what anxiety meant. Anxiety that made him run and run to never return.

Word of thanks: the photo of @thedarkveil (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful.Thank you Cameron!!

Links: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @thedarkveil and his impressive website Cameron and Evans Fine Art Photography!
Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trapped (short story)

   'Young and Happy'.... words from another world.

   Followed by 'Old and Sad'? No... I am not old nor sad. I am forgotten, yes, but so is she and I did nothing to accomplish that. Well, nothing... If agreeing to make her happy helped to accomplish it, then that was my little share. But not on purpose.
Knowing what I know now, I definitely wished I had my share in her end but the stupid fool I was, did not recognise the signs.

   Please accept my apologies, I know I sound confusing but that is exactly what it was.
Let me start at the very beginning. When we met, we were young and I felt attracted to her because she was the opposite of what I was. She was beautiful and full of life. She liked partying, dancing and laughing and had many friends. Her energy was almost unbelievable and to me like a glass of sweet bubbly wine.
The bubbles found their way to my heart and brains; I entered a whole new world and I loved it.

   Still I never understood why she liked me enough to live with me. I was astonished when she asked me to dance with her on a party I never wanted to be but dragged to by a few friends who thought I needed to have some fun. I hated the crowd, the cigarette smoke, the make up of all the girls and I hated the Charleston. The latter because I do not have a feeling for any form of rhythm.
I hated her make up too but my heart decided to fall in love with her and the pace of my life changed.

   We married, moved to her house and continued partying. With her money! I gave up my job and did not even feel ashamed. In those days you were a gigolo if you did not earn the income and your wife provided the money. That she clearly insisted was a good excuse but I should have known better...
And when I started to enjoy myself, surrounded by her friends, celebrating her way of life, spending her money on parties and travelling, she announced out of the blue she was sick and tired of this way of living and wanted a change.
   At first I tried to persuade her to skip a few parties and going to bed earlier but she said this was not going to change much. What she needed, she said, was a different life, a total change.
I talked and talked but had to give in to her ideas of changing.
She (not we) sold her house and bought a house in France of all places!

   Did she understand that her friends stayed in Derbyshire? Yes, she did but knowing them they would come over for holidays for sure.
What ever I said, she always had an answer and off we went, driving in front of the removal van packed with our belongings.

   And indeed friends came to visit us but thought it was less fun than at home. They asked me what was wrong with my wife as she was less fun too. I explained she was tired and things were going to change for the better. But it did not.
   She got more and more demanding and bossy, hardly smiled and took a great effort in commanding me. Soon came the day that friends stayed away, local visitors didn't come by any more and going out stopped. We became prisoners in our own house. Pardon, her house.
I longed for a life of my own but with any attempt to go out on my own, she reminded me I was going to spend her money. And she never failed to remind me that I lived in her house.

   Silly me, where the average spectator would have noticed long ago that I was treated as a doormat or almost a slave, I still tried to see the bright side of life and still believed that one day she would become her old self again.
It never occurred to me she successfully took control over my life. She humiliated me until I was nothing more than an insect under her shoe. An insect to play with, to pull it's wings out.
Cruelty enjoyed her, it even made her laugh again but what a horrible laugh.
It started with a smile of which I thought was the beginning of her recovery. It took so long to realise she only smiled when I suffered but at this point I could not reverse our life's, let alone mine.
Her control over me was beyond the point of change.

   Maybe it was a blessing what happened next, when she asked me to bring her suitcases from the attic. She said she hurt her back working in the garden and she suddenly decided we needed a break.
I was relieved and pleased and hurried upstairs while she was preparing a meal.
I hoped we were going to leave soon and took all the suitcases to our bedroom, starting to fill mine with my clothes and carried them to the car in the garage behind the house.

   We had a lovely meal and for the first time in years she behaved normal. She even kissed me for carrying the suitcases and asked me to come to the garden to view all the work she had done so we could leave the garden on its own until we returned.
I kissed her in return and followed her happily, looking forward to our unexpected journey.
We walked through the garden and admired the flowers until we ended up at a large hole, hidden between roses and hedges. She stood still and with a smile explained she wasn't finished yet, the hole was for the pruned branches and old leaves. If I was kind enough to inspect it being large enough?
   Happy to please her I bowed and inspected the hole. Therefore I did not see it coming, the blow on my head that knocked me inconscious. Even worse, the blow that killed me but not before I heard her last loud laugh that scared the crows in the trees. The crows that screamed my death song.

   But there is no rest for the wicked and wicked she was. She filled the hole, replanted it and walked back to the house. She took a shower, put her cloths in a bag in her suitcase with her other cloths.
   She carried the heavy suitcases downstairs, all on her own and to the car.
When she tried to unlock the car, she noticed that she had left the keys upstairs and went to get them.
To her anger, they were not upstairs and she was very certain they were not in her pockets when she undressed. The only thing she could think of was that she accidentally packed the keys in one of her suitcases.
   Annoyed about her own stupidity, she left the bedroom to hurry downstairs; she wanted to leave the house as soon as possible. But this was a mistake. Instead of walking down the stairs, she started to run and already on the second step, slipped. She tried to hold on to the banister but could not reach it any more. Her scream was an echo of that of the crows earlier that evening and ended abrupt when her head hit the tiled floor.

Photo: @urbexsud (Instagram)
    She was silent, for ever. She created an environment where nobody was ever going to look for her. She distanced from all her friends and neighbours. She became her own victim, never to know she lost the keys in the grave in the garden. The grave she filled with her own hands.

   The car and the suitcases still wait to be collected, covered in thick layers of grey dust only disturbed by spiders catching their food in large webs.

Word of thanks: the photo of @urbexsud (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Merci beaucoup!!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @urbexsud
Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Monday, September 18, 2017

Roses (short story)

    The music she heard was composed by the sea.
Its whispering sound louder when the waves born at the horizon, grew on their way to the beach to die at the wet sand. After their temporary death there was a moment of silence and the sand beneath her feet moved as if it called her to the dark water where a lost moonbeam- disturbed by black clouds flying through the sky - lighted the splashing froth on top of the rolling waves.

   She listened to the music, her arms folded around her body. The wind played a game with her long white dress that could not decide to fly with the wind or to protect her.
From a distance she looked like a ghost, floating above the shore. But there was no one to watch her.
She was alone with her memories which went back a long time. Happy memories that made her smile and forget about the wind.
   Instead of the cold wind, she felt the warm sunshine at her skin. Of course she had a beautiful lace parasol that protected her. A lady was supposed to have a pale complexion, a tanned skin was for the girls working on the fields. But she loved the sun so much and did not understand why a tanned skin was not fashionable.

   She heard the voice of her little brother running after his beach ball of which the coloured stripes whirled in the Summer light. It was warm and the sand in her elegant white button boots was sharp. She wished there were no other people so she could walk bare feet. What a shock this would cause
 She envied the farmers daughters with their rolled up sleeves, not tormented by the many rules for Victorian girls, pardon... ladies!

   She remembered her mother sitting on a white chair sipping tea form a porcelain cup and eating delicate sandwiches; a large parasol planted in the sand. Her mother's large hat with the ribbons and flowers moved softly in the wind from sea. The warm sun did not seem to bother her mother who looked relaxed, with a cool attitude that never left her, regardless the circumstances, emotions or weather.
   Being young, she had secret thoughts about the love life of her parents but did not dare to ask about it of course. This was so not done! Like her mother never talked about the intimate details to her daughter. She sighed and knew she had to rely on the stories from her friends who heard their stories from other friends and so on. And not all stories were romantic!
   Or maybe she would know intuitive when the right man was there. From all the men that were interested in her as a future well brought up and beautiful wife there was not even one she considered to be the lover who was going to show her the secrets of love. Hopeless situation if money was more important than love.

   But it was that day at the beach that she met Anthony, the love of her life who also received, and this she always treasured, the approval from her parents. He was from an excellent family and rich with good perspectives for a future together.
  And he was very handsome! Tall and slim, beautiful intelligent hazelnut eyes above a straight nose, a masculine mouth partly covered by a fashionable moustache. She never understood why he set eyes on her, she did not think of herself as exceptional beautiful nor ladylike as expected. Deep down her heart she felt locked up within the boundaries of her upbringing.

   Right now, a life time ahead, she knew that it was this part of her that he recognized. It answered her question why he wasn't married, regardless the suitable young ladies his parents approved on before he met her.
   While she watched her little brother playing at the beach, she knew she was observed but although she loved to turn her head, she did not and waited. It did not take long before the tall young man walked by, raising his hat to greet her mother who replied with a slight nod of her head.
   The following days he was there when they were at the beach. He took his time to approach them for a sociable talk but from there he spent more time with them and met her father who joined his family for the weekend.
As soon as his parents arrived, he introduced them to her family and both parties knew there was love in the air.
   They were never left alone until that particular warm evening when she walked on her own in the garden of the Hotel. Candlelight lit the dark trees but did not reach the corners where secret whispers reached her ears. She felt lonely and wondered where Anthony was and if he felt lonely too. Did she occupy his thoughts as much as he did hers? She learned to recognise the twinkle in his eyes, to appreciate his sense of humour. Or his love for books, nature and travelling. She knew he had a good and well paid position at his father's company and how contentious he was about his future.
   But she also learned the wicked and naughty side of his character; seen in his eyes and the expression of his mouth.

   At that very moment, the man of her dreams stood in front of her and called her by her name. He did not frighten her, her heart expected him. He took her by her hand and walked from the garden to the beach where he guided her to a dark corner behind a dune. He spread his jacket and helped her to sit down.
They looked each other in the eyes but did not speak. The air around them vibrated, the voices from strollers faded away as did the sound of the waves when he laid his right hand in her neck, softly stroking her skin. And when he lowered his head, she was not afraid of the very first kiss.
When his lips touched hers, she opened her mouth and welcomed him; this is what she had been waiting for. His kiss was so familiar still so exiting. His hand moved from her neck to the back of her head and with his left arm he pulled her softly against his warm and longing body.

   Never had she forgotten about this moment where both knew that their lives were for ever connected.
She also never forgot the first roses he gave her. Not as flowers in a vase but as leaves, soft as velvet, scattered throughout the house as a delicate path up the stairs to their bedroom.
Making love surrounded by the scent of roses, leaves touching their skin, was a sensation forever locked in her heart. Even now, after he had to leave her; not in tears but in memories.
She laid in his old and wrinkly arms, her hand on his now skinny chest, feeling the rising of his ribs until he was silent. She stayed with him till the next morning when it was time to inform the family.

Photo: @soul_mining (Instagram)
   And now it was time for her to go. She was old and stiff and would never be young again.
Before she walked to the beach, she scattered all the preserved rose leaves through the house and on top of her diaries which were the witnesses of a life as happy as she had never imagined.

   While she obeyed the call of the moving sand under her feet, her mind and heart left her house; it was not important who was going to find her life and intimate thoughts.

The darkness dissolved her old body, the retrieving waves her shadow in the sand.

Word of thanks: the photo of @soul_mining (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Dan!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @soul_mining

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Friday, September 15, 2017

Dialogue (short story)

We have always been close friends, haven't we?
And not just friends, often we were one person and neither you nor I knew the difference between our characters. More or less like twins although we don't look like each other. And we were 'joint to the hip'.
We were so close that we could read each others mind!”

          “Indeed we have but I disagree about not knowing the difference between our characters!”

“Why? You are I and I are you! From the moment you created me or as I prefer, was born. I am not going to argue about it again! We have been down that road numerous times. You do not want to admit you created a copy of yourself. Oh yes, I do now you so well! You had hoped for a totally different person but (and here I giggle....) I became your wicked you!!!”

          “Yes, yes, you do not need to rub that in my face. I made a mistake uh?”

“I do love that broad smile on your face. It is so good to have fun together. You did not have much to laugh about lately. It is my duty to bring back the twinkle in your eyes! Come, give me a hug! Good boy... Like in the old days, isn't it?” 

          “It is and here is your hug. By the way, do you still remember our performance in Glasgow?”

“I do, I do!! I thought you were so brave; the first time in Scotland. The Scots are famous for their wicked sense of humour and I was very certain they were not going to laugh about us. Yes, we were good but there is a difference between good and very good. And nobody knew our names. And our performance was not exactly in The Theatre Royal. Actually we did not know where it was, we only had an address.” 

          “And the address was not very promising either but we had to start somewhere. And the fun already started in the train because you did not behave. Again....”

“So sorry, so very sorry! But not. You wanted me to sit on your knee which I did not mind of course; I love travelling and seeing the landscape and towns passing by. And it was not my fault that the train was full of schoolchildren on a day out. We both love children, don't we."

          “Yes, we do. They are less complicated than adults and easy to please.” 

“Particularly when we start singing, our famous duet 'Somethin' Stupid' although I agree with you that we should really leave that to father and daughter Frank and Nancy Sinatra. You can hardly call us father and daughter!” 

          “No, not even father and son."

 “Not even a little bit father and son? Sometimes I wished we were, I would still be lonely but as your legitimate offspring and living another life.” 

          “Alright, just a little bit father and son. I don't think I have children. As you know I have been in love a few times and I have spent nights with different ladies but do I have children?” 

“Don't ask me!! Remember that you always left me in the hotel or where ever we stayed when you were seeing a temporary lady friend! I was not allowed to take part in all the fun. No, instead I was on my own, not even with a light on, waiting for you to return and that was often early in the morning. Can you imagine how boring that was for me?” 

          “Please, don't. Do not mention that again, I have suffered enough for it already without you telling me. I do blame myself for it, honestly. Please smile again, I want to have fun and not feeling sad.”

“You are right, I am sorry but I am the victim here as well. I promise not to mention it again. Back to the train in Glasgow. All those children that almost stood on top of each other not to miss the fun. The ticket collector did not think it was fun, the whole corridor was blocked. But who can resist laughing children on a day out? A memorable journey that ended with all the passengers singing 'Old MacDonald had a farm...'” 

          “And the ticket controller snoring like a pig! Teachers mooing and bleating! Do you think the children will still remember that day?”

“Certainly they do. They are now grown ups with hopefully children of their own and I bet it is occasionally a bed time story. At least we still remember that day. Not knowing our performance in Glasgow was going to be such a huge success that we stayed there a whole week instead of one night. The people kept coming to listen to us.”

          “It was indeed a good start of a career. We never became very famous but we made good money and travelled a lot.”

“Shame isn't it that we needed to spent most of the money on travelling, trains did not come cheap, nor hotels although we never stayed in the Ritz. And you of course also spent it on treating ladies on nights out. No, no.... I do not start again but it is true!”

          “Hush, I do not deny this, I know I did. But how could I have spent money on you? I bought you new clothes but you only needed to wear them during the performances. You and I kept your clothes nice and tidy, you did not wear them off like I did.”

“Well, well, that was a long sentence! I must have upset you and I am sorry for that. By the way, can we stop saying sorry over and over again? Life went how it went and we can not reverse it.
Then..... after a lifetime of performances you fell in love again....."

          “Yes but this time with someone I wanted to marry. I loved her so much!”

“So much that you did not listen to my warnings. I knew immediately what kind of 'lady' she was. She thought you were famous enough to be rich and she was going to spend all your money. You know what I learned there and then....???”

          “I know, you learned not to argue with someone who is deeply in love. You learned that love is blind.”

“Indeed I did. First I was jealous, knowing I was never going to meet a nice lady of flesh and blood, warm and comfortable. Never. But my jealousy changed into deep concern. How could she know I understood everything she said when you were away for a moment, leaving me with her. She mentioned you a lousy lover but as soon as you had married her, she was going to run off with your money. Off to her next victim. I still do not know why I never found the courage to tell you these exact words.”

          “Please calm down, I do not blame you. I know now that I would not have believed you, thinking you were jealous indeed.”

“Most terrible of it all, you did not even had the time to end in poverty with me. You did not have much time at all but both of us did not know. She forced you to buy a house and expected a villa. When you showed her the house, proud and pleasantly nervous, she acted if she liked it though she did not and you did not notice.”

          “No I did not, I thought she liked it and I went on decorating. Making it a nice and welcoming house."

“You even bought me my own chair, I was touched. I still am but goodness am I lonely after her new boyfriend followed her one evening and pointed his gun at you! It is hard for me to say what happened next but you and I know. Our future together ended. I am glad we can still talk but I will never sit on your knee again, joint to the hip. We will never make people laugh again. I will never make people laugh. I am all on my own in this by everyone forgotten and abandoned house.

Still sitting on my own chair, staring out the window with that stupid, useless perdition smile at my face......”

Word of thanks: the photo of @jasonbakerphotography (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very thankful. Thank you Jason!

: please  visit the beautiful Instagram account of Jason Baker.

Note: the story is (of course) pure fiction! A figment of my imagination.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Choices (short story)

    Are you too a woman? If so, do you love clothes like I do?

All my life I loved dresses. And shoes! I remember being a little girl wearing the dresses of my mother and grandmother.

   My first memory goes back to the age of 5. I stood on a chair, one finger at the tip of my nose, asking myself which dress I wanted to ware. My other hand touched all the beautiful clothes in the wardrobe, pushing them aside one by one and by the last dress I started all over again.

Not only because I could not choose but also because I loved the smell, touching the materials and the sound of the metal of the cloth hangers.
   The wooden hangers itself were covered in the most beautiful fabrics with prints of roses and filled with lavender that mingled with the smell of the dresses with my mother's perfume. 
I stood bare feet on the chair, once I was wearing my mother's shoes which were way to big and Mummy said that was far to dangerous! I did not understand but was still at the age mother's knew best.

   Being a little older, Mummy gave me old clothes that I stored in a large wooden box but I have to admit that it wasn't as interesting as have them hanging in the wardrobe. But I loved to sit on my knees and wading through the dresses with my hands. And when I wanted to dress up I could never choose which dress. I loved them all. Thinking of the occasion to wear them was helpful. One day I imagined being at a very posh party, lipstick smeared around my mouth.
   An other day I was the hostess at my tea party and neatly dressed, serving my guests (indeed, my many dolls) tea and cakes. I held the tea cup with my pink up in the air but Mummy said that was not posh. And that is how a little girl learns to become an adult.

   Isn't everything in life about choices? First your parents make choices for you but sooner or later choices become your own responsibility. And cloths have always been a red thread in my life. They helped me to make choices. It may sound strange to you but they transformed me into another person next to myself. I could play roles; being someone I was not deep down my heart. Deep down my heart I was very insecure but you might have guessed that because I take so much time to choose.

   It will not come as a surprise to you that I had the same problem choosing the right husband. Don't laugh.... Yes indeed I had to choose! Mummy and everybody else told me I was a very charming, elegant and exceptional good looking girl, very beautiful. 
Of course I was only beautiful in the right dress (so I thought). I must always have been wearing the right dresses because the house was very often visited by handsome (and less handsome) men who paid my parents a visit introduced by someone in the large circle of friends of my parents, but who also put a lot of effort in to staring at me.
Occasionally I was allowed to go to a party but always with a chaperone. You will agree that it is very difficult to get to know someone if there is always a chaperone walking two steps behind you!

   At the age of 21, Mummy and Daddy told me I was going to be an old spinster if I kept seeing all these men without giving a minor hint which one I liked most. Oh, I often wished all these man hanging in wardrobes so I could touch them one by one, pushing them aside for the next one. And if no one was looking I would probably smell them as well!! I am very certain they all have there own scent!
   I hardly slept thinking of all these young men approved by my parents because they choose first.
After many sleepless nights I imagined putting some men in a wooden box with the lid firmly closed, my way of shifting the handsome from the less handsome. I did the same with the rich and the less rich and lo and behold, I had only 3 men left. I then shifted by age. I did not choose the youngest nor the oldest (although Mummy and Daddy said the oldest was the best choice). No I choose the one in the middle; only 5 years older and from a very good family.

    If I ever knew this turned out to be the most terrible choice I made in my life.....

    We married at my 22
nd birthday, it was a glorious day; the sun shone, the lavender was in full bloom like the roses. The church was filled with wonderful bouquets of the finest flowers, leaves and ribbons.

The guests were dressed in their best clothes; the men with top hats and the women large decorated hats matching their dresses in the same colour as their shoes.

   Everybody was happy and cheerful. Accept I...... After the “you may kiss the bride” moment, I turned my head and looked in the dark brown eyes of a very handsome man with a beautiful moustache and oh, did I love moustaches!! He was tall, well dressed and even more well mannered. And he looked at me, hypnotised me with his eyes until I felt like a rabbit in the headlights of Daddy's limousine.
   I knew there and than, that I made the wrong choice. Don't you agree that if I had not married what was now my husband, I would never had met the man with the dark brown eyes? So in that respect I made the wrong choice for a husband. 

   I could not forget the man and my marriage was over before it started. My poor husband promised 'to have and to hold from this day forward; etcetera, etcetera'.  And I would not let him. I said the same thing to him but it was easier not to remember that.
   My husband changed into a very disappointed man who slept in his own bedroom, seldom being home. My parents were worried about us not having children but how could I explain what was wrong: “Mummy and Daddy I am sorry but I made the wrong choice”? They loved me to bits but were certainly not going to say: “Oh poor girl! Will you come home again or do you want to marry another man?”!!

   One day my husband did not come home at all and was found drunk in the bed of a woman of a certain profession. And because of that, everybody agreed to a divorce although it was 'not done' in those years. I am talking about 100 years ago.
   Did you think I am that old? I can see you counting and thinking: “Oh no, you are not 127 years of age!” and of course I am not. I passed away at the age of 90.
And why am I still here to tell you this story? Think.... you might know though!

   Indeed, I did not know what to choose, to stay here or to go to the other side.
And do you know what made me choose for staying? A long time ago I was told that there are no beautiful cloths and shoes at the other side and after being put on a long white nightgown made of the fine lace of my voile of the wedding dress (I never choose to give to to some one else) the day of my death, I fully believed it.   
   And I could not leave all my cloths behind, could I? I still wanted to touch them and run my hands from one to another, listening to the sound of the metal of the cloth-hangers.

   Do you understand how disappointed I was that I indeed still can run my hands through the dresses but nothing is happening? My hands are like the rest of my body, transparent and go right through everything I touch without moving it. And I can not hold my finger to the tip of my nose!
   One advantage is that I can walk through doors and walls as long as it is within the four walls of the house. But I can not wear all my cloths! I can not even take them from the wardrobe, how hard I try, it does not work.

Photo: @dennislexmond_photography (Instagram)

    I know you are here, wondering about all the dresses and why nothing has changed over the years. How could it with no next of kin. Even the man with the dark eyes and the beautiful moustache was never mine because again I could not choose.

   Do you agree that I think I made again the wrong choice by staying??? Or.........

Word of thanks: the photo of @dennislexmond_photography (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very thankful. Thank you Dennis!

Link: please  visit the beautiful Instagram account of Dennis Lexmond Photography.

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination.


Saturday, September 09, 2017

The Stethoscope (short story)

   Once upon a time…
Do not all fairy tales begin with this phrase? I don’t know if I tell you a fairy tale, it is up to you to decide.

   Once upon a time I left the Fine Medical Instruments Workshop as a stethoscope. Although we were not a very rare breed there were fewer doctors those days than in the modern medical world of today.
I was fortunate to be bought by a very young doctor who just finished his medical study at the university. I did not know of course what the expectations of my duties were and this way we were able to grow together.

   I still remember the very first patient, it scared me to death. I was held against the chest of a man covered in thick black bushy hair and I was pushed in between it. I made a strange sound which worried the doctor who took me out of his ears, shook me and held me again to the heart of his patient. This time I was prepared and the doctor could listen to the heart which wasn't well even without my extra noise.
Fortunately the diagnosis was correct and the patient recovered with the right medication.

   My doctor was a very shy and humble man and started a practice in a small village in Devon.
He could have become a rich doctor in a city but preferred the village with hard working people who could not always afford tot pay their bills. But he did not mind. Curing diseases and comforting was his main goal.

   At first the villagers did not trust the new doctor but they did not have a choice; the former doctor died of old age, still doing his work.
The practice was old but apart from a new stethoscope, everything was still useful , including all the pots, bottles, ointments and liquids with their typical smell which I learned to love.
It did not take long before the new doctor was accepted and appreciated.

   He got used to the sturdy people and their beautiful but often very difficult to understand accent. We both learned to love it.
We also learned about the characters of the patients who came in various sorts and sizes. Let me name a few:

   The Librarian, a tall and very skinny spinster with a long and thin nose with on top a pince-nez, in my opinion held in place by a thick hair. I could not think of any other reason why she did not remove the hair... Through the glasses of her pince-nez she looked at the doctor as if he was a strange book from her library, wondering who put it there without her permission. My doctor always felt uncomfortable with her and we both dreaded the moment he had to listen to her lungs; she always suffered from some sort of cold. The skin of her back (and probably everywhere else) was extremely wrinkly and needed to be pushed aside to allow me to come as close as possible to her lungs. And what a relief if my job was done!

   The teacher, he was a very sad person; unattractive, always in a gloomy mood, never smiling, walking with a bowed back and never looking anyone in the eyes. Of course he was not married and lived in a small room in the house of his landlady.
He did not have any control over the children of the very fist classes and these children, often from very large families, took advantage of his humourless character. Without doubt the teacher was very unhappy. That is why he often visited the doctor feeling unwell and depressed.
   I thought that he had special feelings for my also unmarried doctor, in those days a criminal offence. His eyes were always fixed on the doctor's hands and he blushed very quickly. But my doctor showed no interest and the teacher left even more gloomy than he arrived. Poor man.
   He could have lived a better life because the daughter of one of the sheep farmers, and I never understood why but the doctor said that women are never to understand, was very much in love with the teacher and took great effort to attract his attention but to no avail.
And she was so disappointed the day he did not arrive at school and his landlady found him and his scarce luggage gone.

   The midwife.... oh did I like her! She was big, round, cheerful and had a bosom like a side table! A perfect place to hold the babies she delivered. But she also loved to embrace the doctor who got smothered in this voluptuous amount of female flesh and warm heartedness.
   Her voice was deep and loud. She was never interested in other peoples opinion about her, she was who she was and was a very good midwife too! Not at all jealous if the doctor delivered a baby. “I can't do th'm all on my own!” is what she said. With very difficult births, she worked side by side with the doctor and hugged everybody in the room when a new born villager started to scream at his very tired but happy mother.
   She spread a smell of babies and cakes, the latter she often took to the practice and they were delicious according my doctor. Although he never admitted, he was extremely fond of this lovely lady that cycled in fast speed from one baby to the other, waving and smiling at at least two generations she delivered.

   All these people have long been gone, like my doctor and many other villagers.
The young ones moved to the cities for jobs with less long hours and better payments. The elderly stayed here until they passed away. The new villagers who moved from the cities to the countryside, brought there own cars and preferred their own specialists in town.

   Soon there were no patients left for my doctor and he died as poor as a church mouse but without regrets. He lived his full life as he always attended to do and I admired him for that.
Photo: @__ephemeral_6090 (Instagram)
Because there was no other doctor needed in the village and no one knew of any next of kin, the practice was never sold and nothing ever changed.

   I still hang at the wall with the stethoscope of the doctor before mine.
The pots and bottles are still here but the smell of dust and decay overtook the smell of ointments and liquids. Silence overtook the sound of all different Devonshire voices, the typical accent is never to be heard again.

   We are a forgotten era in a new modern world.

Word of thanksthe photo of @__ephemeral_6090 (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given persmission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very gratefull. Thank you!!

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Thursday, September 07, 2017

Seònaid (short story)

   She sat on a stone at the bank of the River Wharfe in Langstrothdale, her arms folded around the long skirt that covered her legs, and looked at her own reflection deformed by the fast flowing water.
Her flaming red hair, the same colour as the leaves of the very few trees on the hills that surrounded her, moved softly in the wind.
   It was an exceptional warm day for Autumn and the sheep, only recently separated from their lambs, walked up and down the hills calling for their absent offspring.
Their wool was still stacked in the barns but would soon be transported to the wool factories. A long journey for her husband and the other farmers and hopefully the job was done before the rain started to poor down from what was now a perfectly blue sky.
   Seònaid, a Scottish lass who married the Yorkshire sheep farmer Mathe, moved here from the rough Highland Glens to the hills of Langstrothdale. Both families were not happy with the two young people falling in love with each other! Although there were no great wars anymore, the Seumasachas (Jacobitism) was still busy to restore Roman Catholic - leaded by England and Ireland – to the throne of the heirs of the Kings. And the Scots were wild people!
   But the young couple was not interested in the endless discussions about Seumasachas, they were very much in love with eachother and hoped to raise a family in their own little kingdom Cowside Farm, built by the grandparents of Mathe who’s family belonged to the more wealthy sheep farmers.
   The view from Cowside Farm was breath taking on a sunny day like today. For the best view she had to leave the house that was built with only a very few small windows viewing the river at the cold side of the house. The front was up hill with the vegetable garden and the beautiful flowers that passed their best time in late September. Although there was enough work to do for her, she could not resist a walk down hill, watching the water following the bends in the river with high speed, curling around the boulders and falling down the flat stones. When the water level was low, you could cross the river jumping from one stone to another but there had been much rain and she needed the wooden bridge to cross.
She did not so, she felt comfortable and at ease where she was, listening to the sound of the sheep, the lark in the bright sky, the pheasants and the many crows gathering in the large trees surrounding and sheltering the farmhouse.
   Seònaid smiled when she thought of her parents who she had to leave to follow her heart and Mathe. It was not an easy decision but she hoped to visit them next year. If there were no fights between the English and the Scots! Their war history goes back many centuries and she would not be surprised if they continued the following centuries! But she did not want to think of wars, only about nice things and happiness. Like her pregnancy, Mathe would be thrilled tonight!
There was so much to be thankful for!
   It was time to return to the farm and she climbed the steep hill. Close to the farm she could smell the bread she was baking and she hurried the last few yards, afraid she stayed away too long.
She ran through the corridor to the kitchen at her left and opened the large range with the ovens for bread, cakes and food. And during the cold season it kept the house, together with the large fire in the room at the other side of the corridor, comfortably warm. The thick walls kept the warmth inside during the winter and the warm sun outside. 
   The next few hours she worked hard to get tea ready for Mathe and afterwards she cuddled up next to him on the sofa in the cosy room with the beautiful fresco decoration and proverb, painted by her father in law who was more an artist than a sheep farmer. Being retired he made beautiful paintings for customers in the surrounding area and villages.
  While she looked at the paintings she wondered if she was going to tell Mathe the great news now or tonight in bed, in the intimacy of their bedroom and she lay her hands on her belly which soon was going to show the growth of their very first child.       
   This was now all a very long time ago. Their life passed by and that of many generations after them and the world changed.
Not for the better Seònaid thought when she observed the female visitor of her long abandoned farmhouse which she never left after she died at the very old age of 83. Not many people got that old in those days!
   There were still wars, she remembered the first World War in which two descendants of her, strong young men, died. She could feel the loss and the grief of their mother and wanted to comfort her but could not reach her. Only a very few people felt her presence although they could not always explain it.
These very few people were her own blood and therefore she immediately knew if a visitor of the derelict farm was one of her descendants like the woman who now entered the house.
   She could feel the atmosphere changing when the woman stood in the corridor, looking around. She saw a sign of recognition in her eyes, if she had been here before. She spoke softly, only to her self but Seònaid could hear her clearly: “I must have been here before but a very, very long time ago. I know the kitchen is at my left hand and the room with the decorated wall at my right. Straight forward is the diary and ‘cold’ storage room and the stairs to the next floor. But I have not been here before, how come I feel at home in an unknown farmhouse I enter for the very first time in my life??”

   First the woman entered the kitchen and looked at the rusty Yorkshire Range which went cold long ago and smelled bread and food and not dust and damp but this was impossible! Instead of food, there were generations of twigs of crows nests, pushed down the chimney for decades.
Seònaid watched her walking around the kitchen table made of sanded pine and smiled, did the woman realise there was no table?
The woman went to the right side of the hearth and looked if she was looking for the salt and herbs which were stored there in the past.

Photo: Helen Varras
Then she turned around and walked through the corridor to the room and looked surprised, even disappointed, as if she hated the idea of the chalk paint covering the once so beautiful fresco and proverb. She shook her head and turned to the hearth which was blocked in to fit a ‘modern’ heater.
   Seònaid understood the disapproval but there was nothing she could do when a new generation modernised the farmhouse. She learned to ‘live’ with it. The expression made her smile again.

   The woman wanted to go upstairs but Seònaid warned her softly, the wood was rotten, so were the floors. The woman turned around and instead walked to the stone bench in front of the windows where she sat down, her head resting against the wooden shutters, closing her eyes. Sunbeams danced around her.
Seònaid watched the woman listening to the sounds of the house. Not the usual sounds of the flutter of the wings of insects or cracking floors but the sound of the people who lived here long ago.
The sound of the voices and laughter of Mathe, their daughter and 3 sons, their many grandchildren and herself. The sound of ancestors.

   For the very firs time in almost a century, Seònaid felt happy and in harmony with the visitor from abroad to which she had passed on her love for the Dales.


 Seònaid is fiction, a figment of my imagination. However, the visitor and Cowside Farm are not!

The visitor entered the farmhouse for the very first time in 1978, very determined to restore it to its former glory but lacked of necessary finances.
Instead The Landmark Trust restored it and did justice to the dignity of this beautiful and very old and rare survivor of maybe even the 17th century. And of course to the approval of

Cowside Farm is available for holiday bookings. Please visit the link for more information about prices and availability and for details about and photo’s of the restoration: The Landmark Trust/Cowside farm

Last but not least my word of thanks to Amy Taylor of The Landmark Trust.