Have a Cuppa with Shirley and catch up on what went before....

So you’re new to the neighbourhood are you? Well, welcome to Stoney Grove. Let me pour you a cup of tea and we’ll get to know each other, shall we? It’s no trouble at all, really, I’ve been on my feet all day cooking, and another few steps to boil a kettle won’t amount to much. There’s nothing like a good cuppa to warm your soul, my Martin says. Martin? You’ve met him, have you? Out in the garden I expect, bless him. Even in January he’s busy, making beds and laying manure to get the place ready for his vegetables. You’ve never seen a cabbage like his. His speciality is courgettes though - last year’s won first prize at nearly 4 feet. Pity Mr. Tinsley doesn’t take more of an interest.

I don’t suppose you’ve had a chance to meet Mr. Tinsley yet. He’s always gadding about, up and down the countryside. Used to be with his girlfriend, Ann Simmons (or more likely his bit on the side), but lately he’s been on the straight and narrow. You see he and Miss Simmons bought the place last spring, were going to "fix it up." She was a bit bookish and wanted to do it all properly, but he was just wanting his creature comforts and a bit of a laugh. They brought in a historian, little chit of a girl named Emma. Ann said she was here to do the research, but I think his lordship had other ideas. They were nipped in the bud, however, when the girl took a fancy to Frank. Moved in with him, she did, down to that dreary cottage that they call the Hermitage. Nothing but one up, one down with a cold tap and electric, it is. Nothing special about it. Surprised the council hasn’t made them close it down, really. Frank’s not one to complain though—he’s happy enough in his own little world.

Anyway, as I was saying, Tinsley and Miss Ann started renovating. Brought in the building inspector from the village, Chester Vyse. He took a liking to Ann, but since she’s gone we haven’t seen his face around here much. They tried getting involved in the village; giving money to the church restoration, having a cricket match out on the grounds, that sort of thing. In the end it didn’t last. Young people have no commitment these days, do they? Not like in my time, when once you said "I do," you meant it. ‘Course they were never married, were they? Well, they had a parting of the ways, oh, long about October. It all came to a head at a party they threw here—he was ogling some old flame like Martin eyes Tad Morris’s all-star beets, and Miss Simmons decided enough was enough. Packed her bags and left that very night. Some friends of hers was in town, an American girl and a bloke from the West Indies, and she ran off with them. Been living the good life in the tropics for the past several months. None of us know if she’ll ever be back.

So there you are. We’re all just rattling around in this old house. It’s a quiet life, really. You’ll like it here. Feel free to wander ‘round, catch up on the news and visit where you will. And come back, the kettle’s always boiling.

Go to Series Two

Read Series One