WRITTEN BY MHAIRI GRANT
All Eva wanted was a peaceful home to share with Matt…
“It’s really very peaceful here,” said a potential buyer as the old man in a waistcoat and tackety boots clumped up the stairs.
“Yes, it is,” I replied. “Come, I’ll show you the rest of the house.”
It didn’t take long. It was a natty, two-bedroomed cottage, spacious for one, tight for two, but home to a multitude of ghosts. And they were crowding me and Matt out.
“Call-me-Barbara” oohed and aahed at all the right places.
“I love sloped ceilings,” she said in one of the bedrooms as I listened to someone humming.
Then the giggling started. I wished the gaggle of kids would keep it down a bit.
“This place,” announced Barbara, “has an atmosphere. I can sense these things, you know.”
Here it comes, I thought, it’s a bit spooky, I have other places to see, it’s a bit isolated…
But no, Barbara surprised me…
“I feel as if I would be part of a family if I lived here.”
How apt, I thought as I made her a cup of tea. On the second digestive biscuit she was moving in her furniture and debating the merits of a herb garden.
“What do you think?”
“I think it would be a great idea.”
But perhaps if she heard the creaking of the garden swing it’d drive her mad. I’ve got used to it. The girl with the apron and ribbons in her hair loved her swing.
“Tell me, Eva,” she said, “where did the name Shoe Cottage come from?”
“The cottage is very old and several generations of a large family once lived here. There are records of them at the parish church.”
“How delightful, it’s just like the old lady in the shoe.”
I was warming to Barbara more and more by the minute.
Half an hour later I went looking for Matt. I found him sitting in the shed. He was reading the newspaper.
“I think we’ve got a buyer! She loves the house!”
“Nope, she’s very sensitive but –”
“She’s not a ‘sensitive’,” he said making quote marks in the air.
“No, not a ‘sensitive’,” I replied, returning his gesture. “She shouldn’t be too bothered by the ghosts.”
We gave each other a high five. The ghosts were harmless but active, and at times it was like living in Piccadilly Circus. What I needed was a ghost-free house where I could just chill.
And this place, I thought a few months later, was just the place.
It was new but old, modern but full of character
It was a barn conversion. No-one had lived here before. I danced round the rooms revelling in the space. And more importantly – the peace and quiet. It was new but old, modern but full of character. It was the best of both worlds. Suddenly I stopped dancing.
“What? I can’t hear anything,” said Matt, puzzled.
“Well, except for the hens at the farm nearby.”
“Things of this world,” I said, smiling. “Do you fancy a cuppa?”
The day was sunny and the patio doors open as I pottered round the kitchen. Outside the hens scratched in the dust and the farm cats slunk by. There was no heavy farm machinery, creaking swing nor hob-nailed boots. Neither was there any giggling or humming.
“Bliss,” I said, handing Matt his mug in return for a kiss.
Then I went back to the fridge, took out the milk and poured it into two saucers.
“Come on then, Puss in Boots,” I said to a little black cat with four white paws. “You too, Big Boy.”
The two cats had just walked in through the patio doors, meowing plaintively for food.
“Come on. I won’t bite. Promise.”
“What are you doing?” asked Matt.
“I’m giving the farm cats some milk.”
Matt looked at me and then followed my gaze to the open patio doors.
“What cats?” he asked.