Annabel “Lally” Rowe was a weekender; although she didn’t see herself as one. She felt that despite only being in the village between eight on Friday and teatime on Sunday, she contributed a great deal and that consistent and vigorous input blurred the lines between permanent and second-homers.
When she first arrived in the village three years ago, she had made a point of trotting round knocking on doors to introduce herself. And she had not gone empty-handed but proffered gifts of simple loveliness to her new neighbours. Violet had been given rabbit fur oven gloves, Aubrey Sinclair an hilarious little book on knobs and the Vineys had got a Chocolate Orgasm cake from Harvey Nicks. On the more artisan families like the Potts and the Coxes Lally bestowed French linen squares for bread baskets and the like. She hadn’t minded the dearth of Thank You notes; country people lived by a more blunt code. She respected that.
Her friends in London thought she was going a bit potty when she announced that she’d taken a five year lease on Bent End cottage, but she knew they were wrong. In fact, it was London had been sending her nuts and her quiet evenings at Bent End had served her nerves well. She hardly ever broke down in public any more.
As Lally rolled into Popwell in her charmingly battered Golf, her shoulders dropped. It was marvelous, she reflected to feel part of a community, to feel held and shielded by the thick stone walls of her little cottage. She had hunks of hand-baked spelt and alfalfa bread in her basket, some ewe’s milk cheese from that gorgeous little shop on Marylebone high street, a litre bottle of Cotes du Rhone and a Wagon Wheel to see her through the evening. She was looking forward to some quality ‘me’ time.
By nine thirty she was passed out on the darling shabby chic sofa with wine stains on her teeth. Which is why she didn’t hear the knocking at her rustic little front door. It was only Violet Pegg who had cut out an article on traditional oilstone blade sharpening from The Lady and thought Lally might be interested.
Truth is, Violet was feeling a little rattled by recent events and fancied a soothing chat about something nice. And this dear girl with her un-brushed hair and penchant for whimsical prints was somehow soothing. Plus of course she knew nothing about the awful incidents of the past week, and Violet wasn’t about to bring it up. That was the wonderful thing about weekenders; they knew nothing.
But Violet walked away not a little disappointed. I wonder if Mr. Viney might be interested? she thought. After all, he had been maintaining his knives the night that Aubrey had exposed himself to them all. Cheered a little, she set off for Glebe Barn.