I’m typing this at the kitchen table in a little house that’s just been turned upside-down so that new carpeting can be fitted in the living-room and hall. We bought the carpet a couple of weeks ago (a nice remnant at a very good price) and the fitter should have been here with it this morning, raring to go. So far, at nearing mid-day, we have an upside-down house, no new carpet and no fitter…
In other circumstances this wouldn’t be a problem worth mentioning, but unfortunately these aren’t other circumstances. Late on Saturday evening we had an email from the son of our farmer neighbour in Wales, telling us that his elderly and chronically-ill father had died peacefully in his sleep and that the funeral would be this Thursday.
We have been friends and neighbours for over 40 years, ever since DH and I moved into our shabby old farmhouse as a couple in our twenties with two small children. Our neighbour was then in his late forties, a busy, hard-working dairy farmer, but never too busy to lend a helping hand when we needed one. He and his son sank a new well for us when the old one proved insufficient for our needs, all for just the cost of the materials.
Until the regulations changed and milk had to be stored in sealed tanks until collected, we bought all our milk from their farm. I have such vivid memories of watching him or his wife ladle totally fresh and un-homogenised milk into our one-gallon carrying churn, knowing that the cream would rise to the top and be able to be scooped-off to be poured over puddings. Those were the days.
Since the news arrived we’ve had three days of chaos – packing the van, saying our goodbyes, moving furniture ready for the carpet-laying, even cancelling my birthday present order from Amazon, since I won’t be here to receive it. If the fitter doesn’t turn up we’ll have to leave the furniture where it is and get the carpet fitted on our next visit.
For some things are far more important than a bit of chaos or a delayed new carpet or the loss of the last few weeks of our visit. Saying goodbye to someone we've known, liked and respected since we met him nearly 41 years ago is essential – so this evening, come what may, we’ll be heading south.
Update at tea-time: The carpet is being swiftly and expertly laid and an early evening departure is now a certainty.