Work at Orchard Farmhouse has been moving on apace, thanks to the generally fine and dry weather we have had in this area, no rain for several weeks now, though the strong winds did send some large sheets of bright blue plastic flying across the fields where they got caught on hedging, luckily. Pru and Leonard have done so much work in what seems a relatively short space of time, gutting the old farmhouse, though managing to retain some of the original features. Life in the caravan has become a little fraught at times, mainly those times when there was no escape, and when even all the tempting items to be found in various catalogues did nothing to raise the spirits. But these things pass, and now we are accustomed to seeing vans and lorries going up the long drive carrying materials, and a few luxuries too, mainly from the local reclaimation centre. (Funny how what would probably have been called once a scrap yard now has this upmarket name and image!) Terribly tempting these places can be, as Pru found to her cost. She went in looking for some old fireplaces, wanting to reinstate them in the master bedroom and main guest room. Leonard left her to it whilst he looked at the old hand tools and gardening equipment, but later he regretted not keeping a closer eye on her, especially when he saw several items being loaded into the trailer and the back of the four by four. Not only had she found two fireplaces, but an old butler sink, two fabulously over the top mirrors, an old dresser which was being delivered later by the owner of the yard, and several boxes of books, china and old tablelinens. He knew better than to question her choices, or ask where she thought they would go in the grand scheme of things.
But when they returned home, Leonard and Pru both regretted having gone out together, for there was a yurt in the orchard, and a rather battered 2CV which had obviously driven across the field to get there, was now parked on the edge of the orchard. Pru looked at Leonard, Leonard looked at Pru. Neither was too sure what to do, both hoped the other would take the initiative. Leonard knew this, and knew too he was expected to be the man and go and get this sorted out. He went to their caravan to retrieve the two labradors, and manfully strode across to the orchard, Pru following closely behind.
There was the sound of strange music coming from inside the yurt, not loud at all, so Leonard harumphed and Pru shouted 'Oi' trying to sound a bit rough and ready, rather than the lady she was. The labradors, not being used to this noise, barked loudly and began to leap about on the ends of their leads. The music stopped and a silence fell. Leonard called 'EXCUSE ME' in a very loud voice. A few seconds passed and eventually a man crawled out of the yurt, a rather hairy person with dreadlocks in his head, several facial piercings too. Well, as Leonard explained in the pub later on, he was rather prepared for the worse, expecting some grunts or foreign language to come out of the man's mouth, instead of which there was quite a cultured, 'I say old thing' type of voice, which rather threw Pru and Leonard somewhat.
It transpires that this man, Gerry, is a wandering poet, going around festivals and so on, giving recitals, busking in parks and on beaches, anywhere he can...during the finer weather. The rest of the time he goes back to his normal job of gardener/handyman. 'He's not without money it seems,' explained Pru, 'so more or less able to do as he pleases. He only works as a way of breaking the monotony, he says.' Mumbles of 'All right for some' came from several of the drinkers at this point. 'Quite' muttered the Major, who everyone fully expected to start on one of his rants, but who was strangely quiet, and has been for some time now. Those who know him know they will find out the cause for his unusual reticence to pontificate on most subjects, when he's ready.
Well, Leonard and Pru said it was all very well, but they would rather this man left, at which point he began to mumble something about the farm having belonged to his ancestors, that he came here every year and nobody bothered him. The locals all said this was a load of tosh, there had never been anyone camping or living rough there on a regular basis, and this man was a nutter if ever there was one.
All this happened a few weeks ago, and despite their best efforts, despite being polite and brusque by turns, Gerry and his yurt are still taking up space in the orchard. Whenever he nips out to the next village (where he has to shop as Esme has refused to serve vagrants as she calls him!) Pru and Leonard think about taking down the yurt and dumping it at the road side, but neither can figure out quite how it's put together, and are afraid of the consequences of doing it anyway. So they fall back on the politeness for a few days, going up to the yurt several times a day to ask him to leave... putting letters on the windscreen of the 2CV... shouting at him to GO AWAY. Nothing, so far has worked, but now they've decided enough is enough and the law is being involved, with hopes that this will resolve the situation sooner, rather than later.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the village, in the village shop, Daisy's hopes of finding a man have taken a step nearer realisation. Everyone in the village knows that Daisy wants a man, and whilst it sounds a bit crude like that, what Daisy wants is a gentleman and a gentle man, someone to take her dancing, out to dinner, to the cinema, to woo her, and eventually to bed her, not to put too fine a point on it. Everyone also knows that at some time or other Daisy has been out with most of the eligible, and one or two ineligible, men in the surrounding villages and hamlets. Not that there are many eligible ones, which is why she fell prey to the other sort, on a couple of occasions. She reads the columns in a certain magazine for people over fifty, hoping that an advert will appear that will 'speak' to her, of a man seeking just such as she. Months go by, and although there were one or two who looked possible, the reality of the words behind the ads proved to be less than honest. The usual thing, 'own hair and teeth' turned out to have little of either, so technically he wasn't being untruthful, but wasn't the impression Daisy got naturally. 'Enjoys the high life and having a good time' turned out to be a Lothario looking for an older lady to add to his 'present collection of lovelies' as he put it. Not what Daisy wanted either, she wants to be the one and only, and why not?
Then one day she overheard one of the young women in the village - a single mum - talking to her friend whilst waiting their turn in the post office, about this chap she was chatting to on the internet. 'Ooh, you want to be careful you know, there's all sorts goes on there!' her friend pointed out. 'Oh, don't you worry, I'm not about to meet him or anything, not yet anyway.' Daisy got to thinking that maybe this was the route she should be following... trouble was, she had no idea how to use a computer, and the only one they had was for Post office and shop use only. She could remember the day the letter came for Esme, telling her she had to go on a course to learn how to use the new computer that was being installed, 'to make life easier, keep up to speed with modern life' were amongst the reasons given for the computer arriving the next week. Esme had railed against this, she was of the old school, though stopped short of quill pens and double entry ledgers thick with a coating of dust. She couldn't see why things couldn't stay as they were, but Daisy pointed out to her that they had to keep pace or get left behind. It was a phrase she'd read somewhere and thought it suited the moment, though it caused Esme to look at her rather oddly.
When the idea came to her of using a computer in her search for a man, she knew that the one in the back room wouldn't be any good, for Esme had access to it, and this was something she had to do in private. Not secret, she told herself, just private, there was a subtle difference.
So armed with her library books, one fine morning last week Daisy took herself off into the nearby market town, ostensibly to return her library books, but she knew there was an area of computers for public use. Not that she knew what to do, but ever the optimist Daisy knew she would find one of the librarians willing to help her get started.
It being market day, when all the buses from the outlying villages descended on the town, the library was busier than usual, and after handing in her books, Daisy slowly strolled over to the bank of computers. Most of the seats were occupied, there was just two empty ones. Daisy chose the one by the window, thinking she could sit and stare out, look as if she was thinking about something. Sitting down, she took a notebook and pen from her bag, and then just sat staring at the screen. She hadn't a clue what to do, and suddenly she felt useless, and sad, and ridiculous, who was she kidding, find a man, at her age... daft old woman. She put her notebook back in her bag and just then a male voice said, 'You all right there Gran?'
'You cheeky young .... I am not your Gran, don't be rude.' Well, as Daisy told me, in confidence, later, this young man went bright red, apologised, and then in a very pleasant voice, which didn't go with the trousers hanging off his bottom and shirt hanging out and hair that could have done with a good stiff brushing, asked if she really was all right. For some reason she couldn't explain, Daisy then apparently went on to tell this young lad of about 18, this perfect stranger, that she was looking for a male friend on the internet, only didn't know how to even switch the damned thing on! Darren showed her everything, helped her sort it all out, got her registered on sites, and an hour sped by she said. She now knows how to get 'locked on' again and find the sites, see if there are any responses or any 'newbers' to look at - as you can see, she hasn't quite got the hang of the terminology yet, but she's not too bothered either.
So Daisy's hopes of finding her man have moved on apace. Of course, I am telling you this in the strictest confidence, Esme would have a blue fit if she knew what Daisy was up to, but you have to admire her don't you?