Although the weather cleared this evening, it was through steady rain and silvery mist that Jackie drove us on a second window shopping trip. The windows in question being of course attached to residences we wanted to check out from outside. We scoured bits of Hampshire and Dorset.
First on the list was Ossemsley Manor. Taking a rather different route than yesterday we managed to find it this time. One reason for our previous confusion had probably been the sign that read Tiptoe and Sway, which, until we realised it was leading to a couple of villages, we had thought was an indication of how we should proceed. It would, in any case, have been quite difficult in a car.
The problem with Ossemsley is that it is in the middle of nowhere, yet not far from Bashley. As far as we can tell, even the correct road through tree-lined lanes, is exceedingly pock-marked. We decided we would need to invest in a 4X4 for a suitable measure of sturdiness. The house itself is a wonderful Edwardian castellated folly. We loved it and its ambience. Not that we went inside or saw anyone. There was evidence of children in a summer house, shells laid out on a table, a sand pit, and a boat; someone like Jackie had filled various pots with flowers, and even constructed a raised bed in a frame that contained various vegetables. The mature gardens contained a giant redwood tree, and a pheasant emerged from a hedge. There is an idyllic view across sloping fields. A string of cattle of differing ages hugged the tree line in an attempt to shelter from the rain. This prospective dwelling tugged at our hearts but Jackie insisted that we should think about what it would be like when we grew old and she couldn’t drive and I couldn’t walk. Why did she have to bring in a note of good sense?
Have I mentioned that only a small part of this building, in the shape of a flat, is either available or vaguely affordable? And there would be nothing left over for a jeep. Well, one can only dream.
From there we viewed the outside of a similar flat in a possibly older building in Salisbury Road, Burton. Far less romantic, it had the advantage of proximity to the village green with all necessary amenities including a GP which should come in handy for the aged. We could just see the patio garden that came with this apartment. This is, of course, a plus for my lady, the lack of which is a minus for the first place.
Then it was on to North Street, Bere Regis to recce a corner house and the village. We wandered by the side of the house next door in an attempt to see the garden which wasn’t visible from the road. A very friendly couple called Rachel and Phil invited us to the very top of their steep terraced garden in an attempt to satisfy our curiosity. In fact, all the gardens were perpendicular and needed layering with steps. We still couldn’t see much, but we did learn that whoever bought the house would have very friendly neighbours. Sadly, what was originally two cottages didn’t have much kerb appeal. Phil told us which of the two pubs to patronise for lunch, so, after a walk down the main street, we repaired to Drax Arms in West Street, and enjoyed a cheese and bacon sandwich and cheesy chips, and cod and chips, with Kronenbourg and Badger’s First Gold.
We congratulated the barmaid on the food, told her Phil had recommended her establishment, said goodbye, and toddled off down the road. A few minutes later the rather discombobulated young woman called after us. She came to a standstill and the piece of paper in her hand told me I had forgotten to pay. She was far more embarrassed than I was; after all, I do it often in Le Code Bar; so I apologised profusely and gave her a gentle hug which she appreciated. Back I went inside and settled up.
Jackie is now beginning to get a little worried about me, for, in the shop attached to the petrol station where she filled up on our way there, I had picked up a Bournemouth Echo newspaper from a pile in one of those metal frames that usually contain London’s freebie newspapers. As I walked out, the assistant called to let me know that ‘that costs 65p’. I’d only picked it up for the advertisements that usually fund free newspapers, but I thought I’d best look big, and handed over the cash. I could hardly say I didn’t want it if I had to pay for it. It was a daily newspaper. And there weren’t any housing adverts either.
The bottle of Canti prosecco that Don brought Jackie at the weekend was the perfect aperitif and accompaniment to her superb roast chicken and vegetables meal this evening. Don, you must have sought the advice of your favourite wine merchant who has scored again.