A post by Madame, with help in remembering conversations by Monsieur
Another lovely, all-too-brief collection of memories, walking through a precis of my day at Home.
I arrived in the morning as I often do, walking in the front door like any visitor, or anyone coming home. Louis was on the couch, reading and obviously waiting for me, as he put the book down in haste and jumped up in welcome.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Time for breakfast!” he answered, taking my hand and heading to the kitchen. Once there, he put on bacon and eggs as usual. “No porridge today?” he asked when he saw me putting out two plates, knives and forks.
“No, I want bacon and eggs. Fuel for all our digging!”
“You are just trying to lure Katie away from me. It will not work.”
“You can keep her, and share your bacon with her. I want mine for myself.”
“She will need hers too. We will have help digging today, I think.”
“How sweet. Who else is going to lend a paw? What about Magnus?”
“He is outside already, asleep. He is in the sun.”
“Nice to know he's saving his energy. Oh, good morning, kits and pups!” A chorus of woofs from outside returned my greeting, and various hard-to-describe feline noises (“grunts” probably sums them up) from in the main room.
I put on coffee while Louis cooked – more for the scent than anything else, I think – and we sat to eat. It wasn't long before a grey tabby personage appeared, walking under the table and jumping into Louis's lap, poking her little head over the table to get her share of his breakfast. Tradition is a wonderful thing; cats invent ancient traditions all the time. My darling husband made the appropriate fuss of little Madam, giving her snippets of bacon as required.
We were also joined by Juliet and Quadrille. Juliet stood about quietly, wagging her tail and getting her head patted; Quadrille just flopped under the table. I don't know if they were begging or just saying hello.
The next thing I remembered this morning was sitting on the front step, drinking our coffee and looking down the courtyard and drive.
“What do you reckon to a fountain in the front?”
“It is something to consider. But it would be simple.”
“Oh, yes. I'm not thinking the Apollo Basin! Just something small.”
“Perhaps we could do it. But not now. We have a major project in hand. One is enough.”
“How true that is. You finished your coffee?”
“I have now. Come, Madame.” You have to see the smile and feel the little warm sunny touch to understand how that sounded; he wasn't being formal, not a bit of it.
We went back inside – I presume we took our cups back to the kitchen, though I don't remember it – and walked, holding hands, through the main room, into the ballroom (which takes up the whole back width of the house) and its streaming sun, and out the recently-installed back door. From there it was off to the shed, fill a wheelbarrow with our spades and forks and whatnot, and off to our day's digging. We're turning over the earth for our great garden feature, our brand-new ruined wall and turret. (This is what happens when you watch Time Team for years: you want to install archaeology in your garden!)
I don't recall anything else of the day, apart from twisting my hair out of the way (it seems to be self-fastening – very useful) and commenting that I'm glad I don't get sunburnt at Home. I know the digging was energising in a way it couldn't be here, even if I were fit enough to do it. And yes, that's allowing for the fact that we are tired out and ready for a long soak by the end of the day. I dare say it's the sheer pleasure of the work that makes it so … and the company of the beau jardinier. Yes, I suspect that has something to do with it, too.