Tales from the Finchbottom Vale

The Finchbottom Vale is nestled comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (01) Soft Lips and Sensible Shoes (Part 01)

The Finchbottom Vale is nestled comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (01) Soft Lips and Sensible Shoes (Part 02)

On the many evenings the house was taken over by Thelma and her cronies, Geoff either went out or more often than not hid himself away in his study with his books. He would sit in big leather chair with a book in his lap and his headphones on to drown out the chattering. And that was how he would spend his evenings a good book and Rachmaninov or Mahler for company. It was on one such evening when he first saw her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (01) Soft Lips and Sensible Shoes (Part 03)

Annest Anderton was a thirty two year old spinster who had lived her whole life in the parish of St Johns in Purplemere. She was brought up to be a miracle child by her mother who was 44 when she fell pregnant and her father was ten years older than her, and both her parents doted on their miracle all her life. But as often happens to an only child born to middle-aged parents she ended up caring for them when infirmity struck.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (01) Soft Lips and Sensible Shoes (Part 04)

For some reason he felt protective of her and when he spoke to her she looked up and smiled, she had a lovely smile, when she chose to deploy it. So when he witnessed her being bullied by Marisa Loock he was moved to intervene. “Stay there Annest, I’ll get another chair for the late comer” he said “Or you could just move” Marisa said to her in an intimidating tone “That’s settled then Annest will stay where she is and I’ll fetch another chair” Geoff corrected her and Marisa and Lisa both turned and glared at him.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (01) Soft Lips and Sensible Shoes (Part 05)

By the end of that weekend after a lot of frank speaking and soul searching Thelma and Geoff had made their plans. Though in all honesty Geoff did not lack the will he doubted his ability to achieve his aims. And so he spent many hours in his study over the following days racking his brain as to just how he should proceed.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (01) Soft Lips and Sensible Shoes (Part 06)

With his wife Thelma away from the house for a meeting, Geoff walked into his study and said to himself “At least I’ll have a nice quiet evening” But no sooner had his backside hit the leather of his Chesterfield than there was a loud knocking on the front door. “I spoke too soon” he said getting up again “It had better not be Jehovah's Witnesses or I’ll tell them where they can stick their Watchtower”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (01) Soft Lips and Sensible Shoes (Part 07)

Geoff had left Annest laying smugly beneath the covers in his bedroom. In order that she could redress alone because he knew she was shy and modest, he liked that about her, amongst other things. So he was already down stairs when she walked down the staircase managing to make her five foot nothing stature appear twice the height due to her self-satisfaction with the evening’s events.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (02) Paige Turner’s (Part 01)

Paige Rawlins had worked in the same bookshop in Finchbottom for twenty years, but it wasn’t one of those trendy and clinical impersonal places that seemed to spring up everywhere during the eighties, O’Brien’s was a proper old fashioned book shop, full of tall wooden book cases crammed with dusty well-loved second hand books.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (02) Paige Turner’s (Part 02)

It was on a rainy Friday afternoon in May when, Harry Edwards, a rather tall gaunt looking middle-aged man in an ill-fitting rain coat entered Paige Turners and stood dripping on the doormat. The raincoat was ill fitting because he had to borrow it from a colleague when he realized it was raining so hard. He stood on the mat for about a minute with the rain dripping off him before venturing further. He was immediately struck by the fact that, although it was 2003 the overall ambiance of the place felt much, much older.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (02) Paige Turner’s (Part 03)

The shop door opened and sunlight spilled deep into the shop, Paige was at the back cataloguing some new acquisitions while Karen and Iris, students from Finchbottom College, were putting the new stock on the appropriate shelves. She had to rely heavily on students to staff the shop as there was only her and Graham in the shop on a permanent basis. She had inherited Graham from Maureen’s time but now he was slowly cutting down his hours as he headed towards retirement.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (02) Paige Turner’s (Part 04)

On Tuesday he found the morning passed by interminably slowly in fact at one point he thought the clock had stopped. But despite that, eventually the morning passed and the moment the clock struck twelve he was out the door. “I’m taking an early lunch” he said “Ok Mr. Edwards” his PA said

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (02) Paige Turner’s (Part 05)

On Thursday morning Harry left his office about 10 o’clock and ran through the rain in his borrowed ill-fitting raincoat to the shop. He had not mentioned his movements the last time he was in the shop and had no reason to think his absence would be noticed. But strangely it meant something to him that he had missed seeing her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (03) In an Overstuffed Armchair

It was late when Alan Nelson travelled the short distance from Finchbottom to his home in Lower Gracewood. It was the final leg of a journey that had begun 11 hours earlier with a taxi ride to Tegel airport from the Berlin Hilton. Thus followed a 2 hour delay at the airport, a 2 hour flight, two trains and another taxi from Finchbottom Station.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (04) The Reverend Edwards Daughter (Part 01)

Katie Edwards was the daughter of the Vicar of St Hilda’s in Forestdean and Mark Holt was the village “Jack the Lad” and apart from them both being 28 years old, they had nothing in common whatsoever. Katie was a good Christian girl, whose life revolved around her widowed fathers Church and the associated parochial duties, Mark on the other hand was an agnostic, albeit a church going agnostic, but above all he was an unashamed hedonist.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (04) The Reverend Edwards Daughter (Part 02)

On the short walk home Mark had mixed feelings, he felt rather proud of himself, after all Katie had offered it to him on a plate and he had turned it down, and not because he didn’t fancy her, on the contrary, and he also reflected on the wonderful kiss and how much he enjoyed it. Katie ticked a lot of boxes for him and he was not possessed of any high moral principles, so why didn’t he take advantage of her was a mystery.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (05) Plain Sailing (Part 01) Friday

Victoria Johnson Higham was in her late twenties and worked for Lyndon-Sanders Properties in Shallowfield and it was on a grey overcast Friday in August that she had rushed around all morning to get everything done, because she was finishing at lunchtime for the Bank Holiday because her best friend Nerissa Gamboa was coming to town for the long weekend.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (05) Plain Sailing (Part 02) Saturday

Saturday was a glorious day coming at the end of an unsettled week, perfect for an August wedding. It was very warm, for that late in the summer but it was the type of day that Shallowfield and England was made for.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (05) Plain Sailing (Part 03) Saturday

Jeff knew the girls had always been best friends, were quite inseparable and very obviously gorgeous, when they knew them at Childean College they were lovely but now they were in their late twenties they were even more so. They were both really nice girls at college but they were in a different league to them so they were never more than friends, and looking the way they did now it would appear that they were still out of their league.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (05) Plain Sailing (Part 04) Saturday

Jon returned downstairs after half an hour and he was looking a little hot and bothered when he joined the girls on the patio. Nerissa smiled broadly and Victoria’s head drooped as Jeff then went inside to get changed. “So do you two not live in the village anymore?” Jon asked “I do” said Victoria “but I’m down the Childean end” “What about you Nerissa?” he asked

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (05) Plain Sailing (Part 05) Sunday

On Sunday morning the dawn chorus was deafening, at least it was to Victoria, it also hurt her head. Although dawn had broken, the room was still in semi darkness due to the heavy drapes. She opened her eyes wide and focussed on the glass shade on the ceiling light then she thought “I don’t have a glass shade”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (05) Plain Sailing (Part 06) Sunday

Victoria and Nerissa stepped through the formers front door just after 6.30am and the first thing Vic did was to put the kettle on while Nerissa chose to sit down in the lounge and when she walked into the lounge with a mug of coffee in each hand Nez was sat snoring in the arm chair.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (05) Plain Sailing (Part 07) Sunday

Victoria couldn’t believe her eyes, she was driving down the Childean Road towards St Mary’s Church and she saw Jeff Hammett walking along the pavement ahead of her. She drove past him to make sure it was him before she embarrassed herself again. Victoria was a bit confused once she knew it was definitely him, as to why he was walking back towards his house, where had he been. Had he even gone back to his house the night before? Was he doing the walk of shame from some slapper’s house?

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (05) Plain Sailing (Part 08) Sunday

After agreeing to go sailing with Jeff, Victoria pulled up outside his house. “Do you want to come in while I get changed?” he asked “Yes please” she said and switched off the engine “I really need to pee” “Well now’s a good time” he said “Once we’re out on the water there’s nowhere to go” While she was waiting for him to change Victoria texted Nez,

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (05) Plain Sailing (Part 09) Sunday

Victoria parked the car on the Lutchford’s drive and they both got out. “Ok Victoria” he said and smiled, “You look lovely by the way, I should have mentioned that before” “Thank you” she said and blushed “How are you feeling?” he asked “I’m a bit nervous to be honest” she admitted “As I said I’ve never sailed before” “Well just put yourself in my hands” he said “I will when the opportunity presents itself” Vic said inside her head

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 01)

Tallulah St George was among other things the property manager for the Mornington Estate, a role that was only going to get busier with the reacquisition of the Old RAF Base, Mornington Field. Her elder brother Gabriel was the Lord of the Manor but she and her three sisters Elspeth, Cordelia and Corliss all played a part in the Estates running along with Philomena Cruickshank better known as Aunty Phil.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 02)

Tallulah took the credit for sealing the deal between Aunty Phil and the Reverend Cockcroft, when pride and guilt threatened to keep them apart. It was a damp drizzly morning as July was coming to a close and Philomena and Biscuit had been out for their usual walk but neither of them were disappointed when the walk was over. When they arrived at the boot room door she opened it and the dog beat her through it and then she toweled Biscuit dry before kicking off her boots and hanging up her coat.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 03)

Michael St George lived in a grand Georgian House on the Highfinch side of the course and his rather impressive dwelling backed onto the 3 rd green. Michael was standing on the drive as they pulled up, he was tall and blonde and quite striking like all the St George men but striking good looks were not restricted to the male side of the clan, Tally St George was as strikingly attractive as her Cousin was and Aunt Philomena was merely an older version of her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 04)

“Sorry to keep you waiting George” Michael said “You’re right on time” he replied “This is Aunty Philomena” he said “and Cousin Tallulah” “Pleased to meet you both” George said and shook their hands. “And you” Philomena retorted “And I answer to Phil” “And I’m Tally”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 05)

After having spent the morning playing a foursome they were all quite peckish. After making their order the sat down and chatted “I understand we are to become neighbours in the near future” Tally said “Indeed” George replied “the whole family are on the move” “I’m sure you’ll be very happy in the village” Philomena “It’s been very good for me” “I’m sure it’ll be fine but it’s a big step” George added

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 06)

Tallulah played golf every day, sometimes twice a day. But Philomena and Michael couldn’t play with her all the time. Aunty Phil had other things she wanted to do and people she wanted to catch up with and Michael had to go off to Antique Fairs and auctions. She knew quite a few of the members at the club so getting a game wasn’t an issue but she found herself attracted to George Vineyard despite the fact he was a bit lippy so she took him up on his offer several times during the course of the week and also had lunch with him a couple of times.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 07)

The 17th was a blind hole, and although it was a par three it was a very tricky hole. You had to hit off an elevated tee over some 90 yards of nasty rough culminating in a hundred foot drop down a sandstone cliff to the green below which had bunkers on three sides. As they followed the path from the 16th green it passed close to the cliff edge and afforded them a clear view of the 17 th green below.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 08)

When they got to the clubhouse they found Michael and his Cousin William on the terrace having a drink, they were sitting quietly reflecting on the day’s events, and they invited Tallulah and George to join them. “So you two, have you had a good round?” Michael asked picking up their scorecards. “Bless me Tally what happened on the 18 th you really went to pieces” “Yes my mind was obviously elsewhere” she replied

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 09)

“Oh Hello” Tally exclaimed “I didn’t know you were playing this morning” “Erm nnno… nor did I” he stammered “I mean I wasn’t expecting to see you either” If there had been any doubts in their minds that they had been set up by Michael and William they were dispelled when Michael announced the pairs and Tallulah was partnering George. Although there was some embarrassment evidenced by Tallulah’s red face and Georges stammering they were actually rather pleased. Tallulah’s only concern involved being able to concentrate on the game and George just hoped he could live up to his pledge to seize the moment.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 10)

Tallulah was the last one to tee off, the other three had all taken decent shots and were safely on the short grass. She took a couple of practice swings and then addressed the ball before hitting a crisp clean drive which sailed straight down the middle of the fairway. George didn’t follow the flight of the ball he was watching her and appreciating the finer points of her swing. Not the swing of the club but the swing of her hips as she struck the ball.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (06) It was the Argyle Socks (Part 11)

After all hitting decent drives from the tee George played his second shot first as he was furthest from the pin and caught it perfectly and sent it sailing off and landing plum in the middle of the fairway. “Great shot George” William shouted

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (07) Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (Part 01)

As the coach pulled into the Sharpinghead Campsite on a cloudy August morning, Martin Carnell was half out of his seat and craning his neck to look for her among the many faces in the crowd, he hadn’t seen her for four long weeks and he had missed her terribly and he had been looking forward to seeing her again so much.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (07) Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (Part 02)

The outward bound camp was in a place called Sharpinghead at the Eastern end of the Finchbottom Vale that was once a working railway station before...

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (08) Isabella and the Geek (Part 01)

If you looked closely at Isabella Cross you couldn’t help but see why she was one of the most popular girls at school. Her Elphin face had a shape and symmetry that was very easy on the eye and both genders thought she had a figure to die for. Although there were girls in Christian Myers circle who were more classically beautiful than she was, they didn’t have any of the character of Isabella’s. Her silky red hair shone and shimmered as she moved her head and her brown eyes bore into your soul when you met their gaze and as if her unique beauty was not enough to set her on a pedestal she was also athletic, artistic, intelligent and downright sexy.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (08) Isabella and the Geek (Part 02)

There was just Isabella, Christian and four other guests at the party who were also old friends chosen for the longevity of their friendship rather than for their social standing. Kelly Reed was also one of the popular girls at school but she started with them in nursery as well and she had no affectation about her either. Then there was her cousin Roy Pollard who was 18, Mark Clench and Susanna Perioli. The party was at a Chinese restaurant called the The Scented Garden in Abbottsford which was Isabella’s favourite.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 01) Friday

Nerissa Gamboa was in her late twenties and was a legal secretary for Barrowman, Clarke, Braithwaite and Edwards Solicitors in Finchbottom but on a grey overcast Friday in August she was driving through the perfect English countryside of the Finchbottom Vale on her way to Shallowfield for the bank holiday weekend. She was originally from Shallowfield but moved away after college and had lived in Finchbottom for close to eight years. Although she no longer lived there she still had family and friends in Shallowfield including her best friend Victoria Johnson Higham who she first met at nursery who had been her best friend ever since. They also went to a private Girls School together in Kettlewell and then onto Childean College and Abbottsford University.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 02) Saturday

Saturday was a glorious day coming at the end of an unsettled week, perfect for an August wedding. It was very warm, for that late in the summer but it was the type of day that Shallowfield and England was made for. However apart from being a very pleasant day it was also a very special day at St Mary’s church because the Vicar Ben Shenton was marrying college sweethearts Jim McArthur and Jana Fuller. Jim was a longtime friend of Jon and Jeff having been through the school system together from beginning to end followed by two years of college. While Jana had known Nerissa and Victoria since nursery and went to the same private Girls School with them in Kettlewell and then onto Childean College and Abbottsford University.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 03) Saturday

Jeff knew the girls had always been best friends and were quite inseparable and although he hadn’t seen them for a while he could see were very obviously still gorgeous. When they knew them at Childean College they were lovely but now they were in their late twenties they were even more so.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 04) Saturday

Jon thought all his birthdays had come at once, Nerissa Gamboa was flirting with him of all people however in his excitement he spilt aftershave down his trousers and had to blow-dry his crotch which was the last thing you wanted to do on a swelteringly hot day. So when he returned downstairs 30 minutes later he was looking a little hot and bothered when he joined the girls on the patio.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 05) Sunday

On Sunday morning the dawn chorus was deafening, at least it was to Nerissa, it also hurt her head, Although dawn had broken, the room was still in semi darkness due to the heavy drapes so she ignored the birds and went back to sleep. She had always been a heavy sleeper and could sleep anywhere, she once fell asleep standing up on a bus. The next time she woke up it was very abrupt when her head thumped heavily on the arm of the sofa. “Ouch” she exclaimed

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 06) Sunday

Nerissa and Victoria stepped through the latter’s front door just after 6.30am and the first thing Nerissa did was to sit down in the lounge while Vic put the kettle. Nez was sat snoring in the arm chair when Victoria walked into the lounge with a mug of coffee in each hand which she set down on the table and said loudly “Wake up!” And Nerissa woke with a start and said. “Why did you do that? I was having a lovely dream” “Really?”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 07) Sunday

After the service at St Mary’s was over Nerissa and Jonathan mingled briefly at the back of the church before they ambled their way outside. “So where would you like to go?” she asked “I have the car so we can go wherever we want” “I think we should go and park the car at Victoria’s and walk to The Farmers Tavern, that way we can both have a drink” “That’s a great idea” she agreed

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 08) Monday

Peter Lutchford was well known for his Fancy Dress Parties he had them every Halloween and New Year’s but he would also throw an impromptu one at almost any time. And the August Bank Holiday party fell into that category and it was a typically theatrical affair. Whereas the Halloween and New Year’s Eve parties were very much grown up occasions the Holiday weekend party was aimed at the younger element as well and as a result it began at midday.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 09) Monday

There was no way on earth the Nerissa Gamboa was going to let Jonathon Samuel return to Finchbottom before he’d had a good look at her in her sexy schoolgirl outfit. She raced down the Childean road and parked the car hurriedly outside Jeff’s house and then ran to the front door. Knocking loudly several times she got no response and started to panic.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (09) Uniformity (Part 10) Monday

Jonathan and Nerissa went into Jeff Hammett’s house and Jon said “Bad luck cutting yourself like that” “Oh no it’s quite apt” she said “I always had scabby knees when I was at school, my friends always teased me” “Talking of friends, where’s Victoria?” he asked Victoria was her best friend after all and she was staying at her house for the weekend.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (10) When Fate Took a Hand

The two of them had been together for a long time but after 5 years of marriage Josh and Sophie Ferris had recently split and the only people who were at all surprised by it was them. There were never two more incompatible souls to share a life than they. In fact they had spent much of the previous two years constantly bickering and arguing about anything and everything.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (11) The Highfinch Summer Ball (Part 01)

George Vineyard lived in a 19 th Century cottage in the Hamlet of Lily Green but it was about to be relegated in status to his weekend home as his clock restoration business was moving from Purplemere to Mornington Field. “Time and Time Again”, as it was now called, was the latest manifestation of the family business that had been at the same premises in Purplemere for over a hundred years and the Vineyards had been in Purplemere since before the Civil War, almost as long as the St Georges had been at Mornington Manor. But things were changing in the county and the only place left in Downshire that had any respect or deference to tradition was Mornington and that was thanks to the St George family.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (11) The Highfinch Summer Ball (Part 02)

“Time and Time Again” opened for business at Mornington Field on the 2 nd of February, not that the majority of their customers would have even been aware that they had moved. At least the timepiece owners anyway, most of their work came from Jeweller’s shops all over Downshire and even beyond. Although an increasing amount of work was coming their way via the internet.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (11) The Highfinch Summer Ball (Part 03)

March also brought good news for Rebecca Vineyard, it was a big step for her moving the whole family to Mornington but she understood it was for the best. George greatly admired his sister in law and he couldn’t have loved her more if she were his own flesh and blood.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (11) The Highfinch Summer Ball (Part 04)

The countryside of the Vale was very beautiful but as he got closer to the Pepperstock Hills it got even more so. Unfortunately it was all wasted on George Vineyard. He had made that trip to the Hamlet of Lily Green on the edge of the Pepperstock Hills many times before, but on that Friday afternoon in June his mind was otherwise occupied. He wasn’t expected in Highfinch until Saturday but he was anxious to see Tallulah and couldn’t wait.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (11) The Highfinch Summer Ball (Part 05)

George was very anxious to get to the club and more importantly he was very anxious to see Tallulah so he arrived at 7.15pm. In his dinner suit, complete with cummerbund and bow tie, although he was so nervous about the evening that he had to wear a clip on bow tie. He was greeted by the sight of an array of stunningly turned out women, not one of whom was Tallulah St George.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (11) The Highfinch Summer Ball (Part 06)

Tallulah didn’t arrive at the table until a few moments before service began and sat silently next to him. It turned out to be a very lively table with the exception of George and Tallulah who barely said a word. Though as the evening wore on, under the table she was being very tactile, every opportunity she got she was squeezing his thigh or brushing his leg with hers even holding his hand under the table.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (11) The Highfinch Summer Ball (Part 07)

“You hold onto Michele and I’ll take Jo in,” he told Talluhlah “Ok” He didn’t want to take her to the front door in case any of the neighbours saw her in that condition as it was such untypical behaviour for her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (11) The Highfinch Summer Ball (Part 08)

When George and Tally reached the buggy they kissed again before climbing on board and prepared to drive up the track with Tallulah in the driving seat again. But before they set off she turned to him and smiled and then she kissed him once again. They’d gone about a hundred yards before they realised she didn’t have the lights on.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (11) The Highfinch Summer Ball (Part 09)

Tallulah was laying on the grass covered by Georges Dinner Jacket, he had just finished redressing himself and was sitting on the back seat looking upon the figure of his beautiful fiancé with adoring eyes and she lay there sighing beneath his jacket for about twenty minutes before she began to stir.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (12) The Girl in the Poppy Print Dress (Part 01)

The day began very early for Jerry as he reluctantly prepared to leave the arms of his lover, it was first light and the dawn chorus was in full voice. His real name was Julius Jeremiah Damien Quinton-Snape, which he always thought was like something out of Charles Dickens novel with a hint of Hogwarts thrown in for good measure, he thought he would probably be a villain though knowing his luck.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (12) The Girl in the Poppy Print Dress (Part 02)

On the long drive home Jerry couldn’t get Marti out of his thoughts and by the time he reached his flat in Abbottsford he was convinced that she was the one, she fitted the template perfectly, so logically she had to be the one. He had carried the “template” with him, etched into his brain almost since the moment of his sexual awakening.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (12) The Girl in the Poppy Print Dress (Part 03)

On Sunday and Monday there were a succession of family farewells and hug fests as Jerry waved goodbye to three generations of his extended family and after the four day weekend was over it was back to work in the thrilling world of accountancy. It seemed especially tedious on that particular Tuesday because his mind was elsewhere. He began the day by trying to get hold of Marti on the phone again but he had no more good fortune than he done at the weekend.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (12) The Girl in the Poppy Print Dress (Part 04)

On Saturday Jerry had to work a 12 hour day to put the finishing touches to the yearend accounts and on Sunday it was his mum’s birthday so he had planned to spend the whole day with her. However he had at least finally succeeded in talking to Marti and it turned out that she was tied up all weekend as well. But they were both hopeful that the following week would offer an opportunity for them to actually get together.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (13) Familial Relativity (Part 01)

Jonathon Masters felt as if his star was in the ascendency, his Web Design Business had finally taken off and he had landed a couple of plum contracts, one of which was a magazine publisher and the other was with the Big Cyril’s betting shop chain. However the news about his business’s new found success was not universally well received, his staff liked it, his bank manager was ecstatic about it but his mother was disgusted by it.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (13) Familial Relativity (Part 02)

It was on a Friday, also known as gardening day, when Rafa did the garden that someone threw a rock into the tranquil pond that was his life. So it was in the morning while he was making a cup of coffee and staring through the window watching the wiry Rafa pick up a planter as if it were made of polystyrene that the phone rang. “Oh shit,” Jonathon said reading the caller ID.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (13) Familial Relativity (Part 03)

Saturday came and Uncle Roland and Aunty Leslie arrived to drop Gemma off, and it was a reunion totally lacking even an ounce of warmth, he offered them both a drink but they declined, and he was not disappointed when they did, as it meant they didn’t intend to stay long and he was right because five minutes later they kissed their daughter goodbye before perfunctorily thanking Jonathon for helping out and all at once they were gone leaving Gemma and him quite alone apart that is for the rather large elephant in the room.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (13) Familial Relativity (Part 04)

Although Jonathon was very content with his life and could fulfill the majority of his needs via the internet, there was one thing that could only be experienced in the flesh, ok there were two things but the primary one for Jonathon was the cinema. There was nothing in cyberspace that could substitute for the pleasure of sitting in the darkened cinema to watch a movie on the big screen.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (13) Familial Relativity (Part 05)

When he arrived at the Oasis Centre in Childean he was still quite early so he parked in the multistory and decided to go and have a drink in the theatre bar but went to the box office first as it was on his way, and he was grateful that he had because there were only a handful of tickets left for that performance so he chose the only aisle seat left.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (13) Familial Relativity (Part 06)

On the journey home the conversation was strained and Jonathon began to wish he had trusted his judgement. Converse consisted of general small talk with each one struggling to find something to say and then when they were within 2 miles of their destination a Muntjac Deer leapt out from the forest and straight across the road in front of the car.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 01)

Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, the Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 02)

Boris and Lizzie had both taken three weeks holiday to cover the move from Abbottsford to Dulcet-on-Brooke which gave them a week to move out, a week to move in and a week of doing absolutely nothing at all apart from trying to make a baby.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 03)

When the two new men reached the glass window they expected it to be a mere formality and they would be quickly buzzed in through the security door by the desk Sergeant However they were confronted by a desk Sergeant even worse than the one they left behind in Abbotsford and George Frank was the most miserable, hard faced, moaning Minnie you would find anywhere on God’s green earth, but the one that faced them through the glass was everything that Sergeant Frank was on his worst day, was holding them up and was officious too boot.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 04)

Boris and Marty had known DC Richard Deacon when he was a wet behind the ears PC at Abbottsford. He was now a Detective Constable twenty-nine years old, six feet tall and was still pencil thin. In fact when they first knew him he was so thin he was known as the stick insect hence the nickname of “Sticky”.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 05)

It wasn’t until Thursday afternoon that Boris and Marty got to meet Superintendent Keith Tilbry, although Marty didn’t really consider that he had met the Superintendent who didn’t make eye contact and barely even acknowledge the DS’s existence.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 06)

DI Katarski explained at length the nature of his discussion with Superintendent Tilbry and the “Golliwog Gate” incident and tasked Marty to go and speak with the journalist and the organisers the next day. “Oh guv” he protested and DC Deacon laughed “And you can go with him to make sure he doesn’t get lost” Boris added “But what about the collating?” Deacon protested “Roxanne is quite capable of doing the collating on her own” The DI said and from across the office PC Kincaid-Smith was heard to titter although in truth she was unaware of the enquiry’s they were making having only heard the tail end of the conversation. “Did you say something Roxanne?” Boris called to her “No guv just clearing my throat” she replied

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 07)

Marty was enjoying his chat with Molly in the warm sunshine, she wasn’t like the journalists he was used to, and he almost forgot why he was there. “Any particular reason why you wanted to meet here?” he asked “Well first of all I like the Pier” she said “Piers are special places” “I agree, I had my first kiss on a Pier with Linda McMahon when I was 14” Marty said and smiled at the memory

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 08)

DS Marty Griffin left Molly Westwood sitting on a bench on the pier and was almost back on the promenade before he remembered he had walked to the Pier with DC Deacon who was supposed to have joined him in the interview after five minutes but he never appeared, not that he noticed. He took his phone out and rang him. “Sticky! Where are you?”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 09)

Later that day DS Griffin and DC Deacon sat in DI Katarski’s office and briefed him on the salient points from the two interviews earlier in the day. “So basically what you’re telling me is that it was a harmless bit of fun but somebody in a position of influence wants to make a mountain out of a molehill for reason or reasons unknown”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (14) Good Golly Miss Molly (Part 10)

When they eventually got to the restaurant and were seated in a quiet corner by a window with a view across the sea they ordered drinks and Molly excused herself to the ladies where she could discretely read the contents of the envelope Marty had given her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 01)

Sally Greenland was a sister on the paediatric ward at the Churchill hospital, she was five foot tall and quite trim, but stood an inch or so taller in her stout shoes. Her uniform fitted her perfectly, tapered at the waist where the broad belt sat. She was 45 years old but looked older, her once black hair was now streaked with grey like Lily in the Munster’s.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 02)

Ever since Sally had separated from her husband, she had volunteered to work at Christmas, as she lived alone and had no family she always worked extra shifts over the Christmas period to cover for the staff who did have family to enjoy the festivities with. It was quiet on the paediatric ward over the holiday as they always tried to discharge as many children as possible but for those who couldn’t go home the hospital relaxed the visiting hours so that families could share the day and this relaxation of the rules gave her plenty of time to think about her life.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 03)

W hen June came around Sally loaded her luggage and her painting equipment into her little car, returning briefly to lock the house, before getting into the car and setting off right on time from her home in Abbeyvale, not that she was on the clock, she had no particular place to get to and no set time to get there.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 04)

Sally was just getting out of the car to walk back to Sharping St Mary when another car came along from the direction she was traveling in. The car slowed down as it approached her and a balding head appeared through the driver’s window. “Do you need any help?” the owner of the head asked

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 05)

Caroline Hart was extremely welcoming and she reiterated that she would not have forgiven Donald if he had let Sally leave the village without visiting the vicarage and Sally found that she was every bit as friendly as her husband.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 06)

The next day was Wednesday so after breakfast Sally called in at Maslen’s garage to get an update on her car. She wasn’t able to find an English to Bumpkin phrase book so she had to wing it. When she left 10 minutes later she had a definitive date when it would be ready, “sometime soon”. Sally then continued on slowly through the village heading for Ben Noble’s farmhouse.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 07)

As they began the walk to the meadow there was initially an awkward silence so Sally told the story of how she had broken down and the Vicar had come to her aid. “He’s a good man” Ben said “But don’t you tell him I said so” “So it’s not him you’re mad at, then?” She asked “What do you mean?” he asked but she didn’t answer as she was looking across the river at the picturesque view of the church.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 08)

On Friday morning she repeated the pattern and set off from the Coachman’s Arms Hotel straight after breakfast, stooping once again at the General Store where she bought her lunch and striding purposely on along the lane and passed the Farmhouse and was set up in meadow by 10 o’clock. Sally was sure she noticed a curtain twitch as she passed the house but if it was Ben Noble he didn’t make himself known to her. It was a little cooler in the meadow that morning than it had been the previous two days with a refreshing breeze blowing off the water.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 09)

After her long relaxing bath she felt suitably refreshed and was possessed of a new resolve. Having dried her hair and made herself up she put on the most presentable clothes she had packed and stood in front of the mirror to check the damage. “Well that will have to do” Sally said to herself and then picked up her handbag and left the room.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 10)

On Saturday she slept late, which was very unusual for her and she had awoken with a most disagreeable headache. She sat up and took a couple of tablets and flicked on the kettle.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 11)

“I’m not at all sure about this” Ben said as they stood by the lych-gate outside St Mary’s on Sunday morning “Good to see you Ben” a man said slapping him jovially on the back. “You see they’re all friends here” she said and she held his hand as they walked up the path and into the church. She gave his hand a final squeeze and opened the door in to the church where he was greeted by a group of friends eager to welcome him back.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (16) The Highfinch Curate (Part 01)

The village of Highfinch sat just on the edge of the Pepperstock Hills and Lily Green Hollows Golf Club separated the village from the Hamlet of Lily Green and since moving there in January, Nick Faulkner, had completely immersed himself in Village life and they welcomed him with open arms such was the nature of celebrity.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (16) The Highfinch Curate (Part 02)

Nick was knocking on the door of his 40 th birthday but he still had all his own hair and not too much middle aged spread. On Sunday morning he was making his way to St Martins Church when Julia Thomas caught up with him. She was a rotund lady in her fifties who sat on the parish council with him and was his next door neighbour.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (16) The Highfinch Curate (Part 03)

Nick, Julia and Vicki all did the rounds amongst the congregants and then said their goodbyes, he for one was in the mood to socialise so as they were leaving he said, “Do you two need to rush off?” “I don’t have any plans” Vicki replied

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (16) The Highfinch Curate (Part 04)

Nick was still doing his weekly sports show while he was trying to write his book, which wasn’t going well, partly because he’d allowed himself to be distracted by committees and good works and his infatuation with the Curate. Frustrated by his inability to put pen to paper, so to speak, he decided to take a walk into the village despite the steady rain, where he chanced upon Jenna Lawton.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (16) The Highfinch Curate (Part 05)

“A “Godless heathen”?” he said after they had brushed the debris off each other. “That wasn’t a very christen response” “Turning the other cheek doesn’t extend to cyclists” she retorted and laughed.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 01)

Copper Beech Farm is in the Dulcets, the Dulcets consisting of a collection of villages and hamlets such as Dulcet Meadow, Dulcet St Mary, Dulcet Green and Dulcet-on-Brooke to name but a few, and it had been pretty much vacant for several months when 28 year old Anthony Holmes, a tall slight figure with sandy hair and hazel eyes, arrived as the reluctant incumbent.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 02)

Charlotte Clode felt resentment towards Anthony Holmes firstly because she loved the farm but also because she loved John Holmes like she was her father. She started working at the farm straight from school when she was 16 years of age only a few months after the final argument between John and his son.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 03)

As the weeks past Anthony was very pleased with his decision to put Charlotte in charge she had the farm running as smooth as silk which allowed him to concentrate on his work which revolved around his computer which was on his desk in front of his study window so when he looked up he could look out at the real world and when he did he liked what he saw.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 04)

Good to her word Charlotte opened the door and stepped onto the mat half an hour later. “Take your boots off and get in there” he said and marched her into the utility “no more work today” “But what about Dyno-Rod?” “I’ll deal with them” he said “take your coat off and put it on the drainer”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 05)

It was about half an hour after Anthony returned dripping to the house after speaking with the drain man when Charlotte finally came downstairs. “Anthony” she called “I’m in the study,” he answered The door opened and her blonde mopped head appeared around the door, her face all pink and shiny.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 06)

Anthony guided Charlotte’s limp skinny frame onto the bench and tried to revive her. “My God she’s burning up” He said as he touched her cheek “I have something in my bag that will bring her round” Lynda said “What is it smelling salts?” “No Horse liniment” she replied

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 07)

Anthony sat with the sleeping Charlotte for about ten minutes and then went downstairs to make a coffee and while he was in the kitchen finishing his drink he had a thought. He went to the office and opened the key box and having retrieved the appropriate key he went across the yard to Charlotte’s rooms.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 08)

Anthony spent half an hour listening to Lynda explaining why a relationship between her and the Doctor was a non-starter. After he watched Lynda drive off he drew all the curtains, turned on the lights then he went into the kitchen and boiled the kettle.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 09)

When he came to an hour or so later he forgot where he was, he couldn’t see much in the darkness and there were no familiar sounds to aid him, and then it dawned on him, there was silence. He fumbled with the light switch on the lamp and eventually switched it on. There before him, peacefully sleeping in his bed was Charlotte.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 10)

The next morning Charlotte was up bright and early, Anthony was awoken by the sound of the bathtub filling. He assumed she wanted to take her last opportunity for a soak. He got up and showered and went downstairs and started to prepare breakfast. When she appeared Anthony was satisfied she was fully recovered but he still made her sit in the kitchen and eat a cooked breakfast.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 11)

Anthony felt a definite closeness between him and Charlotte as he watched her sleeping in his lounge. But in the days following her waking up embarrassed on his sofa he felt that closeness fading along with the hope he had harboured that things would have progressed between.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 12)

Anthony became a regular congregant at St Mary’s after the first time he drove Charlotte there in September but although he offered every week to take her she only accepted when the weather was particularly bad.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 13)

After the drunken Guy Fawkes debacle Charlotte seemed to avoid him even more but everything changed on the day in December that he walked across the yard in the late afternoon and he met Lynda Radcliffe coming the other way.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 14)

Anthony led Charlotte and Lynda to the main bathroom and the large Charlotte length bath. He then left Lynda to take charge while he went across to her home to sort out some clean clothes for her. He gave Lynda the clean towels and put the clothes on the bed and Lynda took the towels into Charlotte and he went downstairs, Lynda followed a few moments later. In the kitchen they sat silently at the table and continued to drink their coffee. Lynda finally broke the silence

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 15)

When Lynda and Gemma had left Anthony ate the soup and sat at the kitchen table and pondered on how he was going to broach the subject of love with Charlotte without making a complete arse of himself. He sat in the lounge with her, on the sofa facing hers, just watching her sleep and unsurprisingly his thoughts turned to Charlotte and of course love.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 01)

It was Saturday night in Mornington-By-Mere and goods friends Roxanne Kincaid-Smith, Lindsay Cooper and Rosie Parsons were sitting in the bar of the Old Mill Inn discussing their plans for the Bank Holiday. All three of the girls were born and bred in the village but since starting out on their chosen careers they didn’t get together as often as they would have liked due shift patterns for Rosie and Roxy and the on call Rota for Lindsay.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 02)

In the cold light of day when they surfaced on Sunday afternoon the girls had serious doubts about the wisdom of dressing as Golliwogs for the Sharpington Day Parade but none of them voiced their concerns as they didn’t want to appear wimpy in front of the other two.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 03)

Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 04)

Detective Constable Richard Deacon was twenty-nine years old, six feet tall and was still pencil thin. In fact when he first joined the Police he was so thin he was known as the stick insect hence the nickname of “Sticky”. He was on duty during the parade and was in plain clothes and mingling with the crowd looking for pick pockets. Although in truth he had been following the procession with more interest than he had for criminals once he spotted a small group of clowns go by rattling their collection tins.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 05)

When the balloon went up, the three girls all ran in different directions and unknown to them the group of pursuers were halted in their tracks when the appreciative crowd put themselves between them and their prey, but not being aware of that fact, as they never looked back, the girls just ran hell for leather like startled deer and Roxy ran straight towards Richard.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 06)

When Roxy reappeared with a well-scrubbed red face she was wearing a different outfit consisting of baggy white shorts and an equally baggy yellow t-shirt and her hair was wet. “I need to go and find my friends” she said with concern “They might not have been as lucky as I was” “They’ll be fine” he said a little disappointed that the pale blue leggings had been replaced “But they might have been caught” Roxy said “They weren’t” Richard said confidently

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 07)

It was the 7 th of September when Roxy was instructed to rescue DI Boris Katarski and DS Marty Griffin from Sgt Orr on the front desk who had barred their entry into the building for over 20 minutes. “I’m sorry about Sgt Orr” she said “He can be a bit of a ….” “Dinosaur” Boris suggested “Neanderthal” Marty offered “Moron” The DI added “Arse” Marty said bluntly “Well I was going to say tartar” Roxanne said “but if the cap fits”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 08)

Life couldn’t have been better for Roxanne, she had a new man in her life who she was falling in love with and now she had been given a chance to make an impression in CID on secondment to create a crime map. But she wasn’t feeling quite so fortunate on Thursday afternoon when DI Katarski had a visit from Superintendent Tilbry followed by a meeting behind closed doors and it wasn’t long before voices were raised.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 09)

By the time Marty and Richard left the formers office Roxy had left for the day and the moment she got into her car she broke down and cried and when her phone rang and she saw that it was Richard she cried even harder. All the way home to Mornington she ignored Richards call’s because she didn’t want to hear the bad news but had she been privy to the meeting in Katarski’s she would have known that there was nothing to worry about.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (18) Betcha By Golly Wow – Roxy’s Tale (Part 10)

Roxy did eventually answer one of Richards call’s and he repeatedly assured her that everything was going to be alright but she didn’t believe him until she read the story in the paper on Sunday. But she still had some lingering doubts until Boris emerged from his office after putting the phone down on the ACC wearing a broad grin and announced to the office at large

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (19) Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining (Part 01)

The Purplemere Film Studio’s was a large complex of production spaces and studios that almost fell into disuse but its fortunes were turned around by Peter Lutchford the renowned film director who had turned it into one of the premier film industry resources in Europe. The complex catered for every aspect of film production including set design, costumes, sound and visual FX, in addition to the stages.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (19) Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining (Part 02)

A few minutes after the vertically challenged pompous Scottish git went away muttering to himself Karen arrived down the steps behind him. He didn’t relay the tale to her about his interlocutor other than to say he had been quizzed about parking in that car park and that would probably have been the end of it had it not been for the fact that the ridiculous little man, who it transpired was the de facto landlord, had made a complaint to the Facilities Manager, of the company Karen worked for.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (19) Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining (Part 03)

One evening, about a week and a half after he started parking in Studio Approach, which was a one way street about two hundred yards long which had parking spaces on either side along its whole length. He was sitting in the car when a little blue Renault Clio began reversing into the space behind him and hit his car, well it was little more than a nudge really.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (19) Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining (Part 04)

Je d got himself a drink and sat in a relatively quiet corner of the bar and then opened his book and had only read about four pages when he heard. “Oh hello again” He looked up and saw it was his vehicular assailant, “Hello Sue” he said “I just wanted to apologize again” she said

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (19) Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining (Part 05)

Jed got menus from the bar and they ordered their food and then they spent a couple of hours on a proper catch up which they hadn’t done in a while. When they split up, even though it was amicable and they remained the best of friends themselves, some of their friends felt it there duty to take sides.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (19) Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining (Part 06)

Despite the fact that Jed Anderson had spent the whole week in nervous anticipation, when Saturday came all his fears and apprehensions melted away from the moment he saw her and by the end of the night he thought it had even surpassed their first date, which took some doing. It again ended by her car, but on that occasion with a much more prolonged kiss. “Next Saturday?” he said hopefully “Yes” she said coyly “if you can wait that long”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (19) Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining (Part 07)

When Jed turned around to acquaint himself with Eleanor’s husband he discovered it was Keith Clarke, the lying sack of shit who had accused Jed of swearing at him and his new girlfriend Sue Moss was the officious pompous gits step daughter.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (20) Jubilee Girl (Part 01)

Sharpington-by-Sea had been home to Simon Clarke for his whole life and was a place that held very special memories for him and he never envisaged living anywhere else. The coastal town is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (20) Jubilee Girl (Part 02)

Four two years Simon Clarke continued to admire Bronwyn Topping from afar while attending form and a great many classes with her sister and the great benefit of being close to Rhiannon was that he got to overhear snippets of her conversations which gave him glimpses of her family life and he sometimes got to hear a little about Bron, what she was doing, who she was seeing, what music she liked, what films she went to see.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (20) Jubilee Girl (Part 03)

One day Simon Clarke was fishing up at Jubilee Park on the shady spot by the point on the south side of the Lake. It was during the school summer holidays, though he had left Jubilee Academy 3 years earlier he just happened to have a day off on that day.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (20) Jubilee Girl (Part 04)

Simon and Bronwyn sat on the peninsular in silence for a few minutes just enjoying the scene until they were brought back to the moment by a loud splash as one of the rowers on the Lake who had lost an oar, went in after it, the resulting wave headed rapidly to the site of his float so he started reeling it in.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (20) Jubilee Girl (Part 05)

Bronwyn Topping was the picture of concentration as she reeled in her line as the float was getting close to the bank and in its wake there was definitely a fish “Should I stand up?” she asked “If you want to” he replied and she stood up and reeled furiously for the last few feet. “Now lift the rod up slowly” he instructed and as she lifted the rod up vertically the fish left the water and swung towards her, he reached out and grabbed the line and wriggling on the hook was a little Roach.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 01)

28 year old Spinster Lynda Radcliffe lived in Dulcet St Mary in the house where she nursed her sick mother through the final years of her life. She had always loved horses and as relief from nursing her mum she began giving riding lessons to some of the local children, which grew over time into a riding school which in May she moved from Dulcet St Mary to Copper Beech Farm.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 02)

As Anthony wanted to take some time to weigh up his options he instructed his solicitor to rent out the majority of the surrounding land to neighboring farms, which was quite substantial, though underworked. The idea being it would give him an income which would at least cover any running costs for the farm as well as maintenance.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 03)

Having moved the riding school up to Copper Beach Farm another of fates dominoes toppled. One day when she was sitting on the bench in the yard talking to Anthony that it happened. The moment at which everything changed for the three of them without them even knowing. Charlotte Clode appeared from the stable block looking more lethargic and leggy than was the norm.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 04)

Anthony went back upstairs with a jug of water and some tablets just as Lynda was leaving the room. “What did they say?” she asked “Paracetamol, fluids and sleep” he replied “and a house call later” “Really which one?”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 05)

Dr Browning came downstairs a little happier than when he went up even though Charlottes temperature hadn’t yet broken. He was satisfied she wasn’t getting any worse for the time being anyway, but if it got onto her chest he would prescribe antibiotics.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 06)

Lynda rang his mobile later that evening and promised to call again the next day but in the end he phoned her instead. “Hello” A cheerful voice answered. “Lynda! The fever has broken” he said “Thank God” Lynda responded “is she still sleeping?” “No” he replied “she’s eating a bacon sandwich” They both laughed

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 07)

Over the following months Anthony became a regular congregant at St Mary’s after the first time he drove Charlotte there in September but although he offered every week to take her she only accepted when the weather was particularly bad.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 08)

It was a few days after Anthony made his resolution when he had risen early and decided to go to the stables and surprise Charlotte. She was always up early to muck out and since they got together he had got used to the fact that she would slip out of his bed in the darkness and he would not see her again until mid-morning.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 09)

After moving up to Copper Beech farm Lynda Radcliffe’s riding School went from strength to strength. So much so that she increased her stable of horses from six to 9 and in addition to her short term girls she employed an old friend, Hazel Morris, to manage things at the yard for her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 10)

Hazel Morris kept the identity of Lynda’s final Wednesday afternoon pupil a secret. They had booked Elliott in as the last one of the day in the hope that they would drift seamlessly into a date after the event.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (22) Betcha By Golly Wow – Lindsay’s Tale (Part 01)

It was Saturday night in Mornington-By-Mere and goods friends Roxanne Kincaid-Smith, Lindsay Cooper and Rosie Parsons were sitting in the bar of the Old Mill Inn discussing their plans for the Bank Holiday.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (22) Betcha By Golly Wow – Lindsay’s Tale (Part 02)

In the cold light of day when they surfaced on Sunday afternoon the girls had serious doubts about the wisdom of dressing as Golliwogs for the Sharpington Day Parade but none of them voiced their concerns as they didn’t want to appear wimpy in front of the other two.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (22) Betcha By Golly Wow – Lindsay’s Tale (Part 03)

Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (22) Betcha By Golly Wow – Lindsay’s Tale (Part 04)

When the balloon went up, the three girls all ran in different directions and unknown to them the group of pursuers were halted in their tracks when the appreciative crowd put themselves between them and their prey, but not being aware of that fact, as they never looked back, the girls just ran hell for leather like startled deer.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (22) Betcha By Golly Wow – Lindsay’s Tale (Part 05)

Roxy and Rosie had to be back at work the next day so they drove back to Mornington that night but Lindsay had the rest of the week off so she stayed on at her Aunty Lynn’s caravan for a few extra days. Roxy wasn’t really comfortable leaving her on her own but as she worked at Sharpington Station she pledged to check up on her during the week but just to be on the safe side she gave Lindsay her pepper spray just to be on the safe side. Lindsay didn’t feel at risk, she had after all stayed in the caravan on her own on many occasions and she knew the people in the vans either side of her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (22) Betcha By Golly Wow – Lindsay’s Tale (Part 06)

As Lindsay strode purposely on through the park she was totally oblivious to the fact that she something had fallen from her bag. So Chris hurried to the point where he had seen the envelope fall. He picked it up and saw it was addressed to Miss Lindsay Cooper, 4, The Close, Mornington. “That’s interesting” he thought, she only lived two doors away from his Uncle Andy.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (22) Betcha By Golly Wow – Lindsay’s Tale (Part 07)

Lindsay felt terrible after rewarding the man’s act of kindness with a face full of pepper spray. “Don’t rub them you’ll just make them worse” she advised and then produced a small bottle of water from her bag

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (23) Another Highfinch Curate (Part 01)

Since leaving the Army in January, Brian Lawton had been coasting along without any real purpose or goal that was until mid-October when he made one of his infrequent phone calls to touch base with his sister Jenna who was the de facto Vicar of St Martins in Highfinch while the Reverend Mortimer was recovering from a heart attack.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (23) Another Highfinch Curate (Part 02)

Brian and Jenna left the Vicarage just after 9 o’clock and walked to his car. Although there was a four year gap in their ages and they were different genders anyone who saw Brian and Jenna together couldn’t fail to spot that they were siblings. He was as handsome as she was attractive, they had the same open manner, the same brunette hair differing only in length, and they also shared intelligent green laughing eyes, broad toothy smiles, and pleasant demeanours.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (23) Another Highfinch Curate (Part 03)

On the 2nd of November Jenna woke up with butterflies in her stomach because she knew that Nick was due back in Highfinch. In fact her butterflies were so bad she had to forgo breakfast. In addition to that anxiety she was also nervous because Brian had an interview at Lily Green Hollows.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (23) Another Highfinch Curate (Part 04)

Brian was interviewed by David Pike for an assistant green keeper’s position and even though he had no experience such was the regard David had for the new Vicar, Brian was offered the job.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (23) Another Highfinch Curate (Part 05)

Once inside the house he got his first proper look at the new Curate and he wasn’t disappointed, he thought she was a very pretty girl a few years younger than him he figured late twenties possibly 30.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (23) Another Highfinch Curate (Part 06)

Nick and Jenna had a lovely meal in Purplemere and found that the Runcible Spoon certainly didn’t disappoint and they would both have agreed that neither did the company.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (23) Another Highfinch Curate (Part 07)

He didn’t want to broach the subject in front of the ladies so he waited until they were on their own back at the Vicarage that evening. “What’s the matter sis?” “Christmas is the matter” she replied

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (23) Another Highfinch Curate (Part 08)

On Saturday morning Brian rose very early and to his surprise Jenna and Rosie had already left the house. Although he was press ganged into the job and he was a bit nervous, well in truth he was terrified, he was pleased that he would not be enduring the ordeal alone and would be sharing the experience with Curate Rosie Coulter.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (23) Another Highfinch Curate (Part 09)

To get to the grotto you had to enter via an adjoining classroom, also festively decked out which acted as an ante room where a small number of children and their accompanying parents waited their turn, and where Cherry Overton-Brown, who for some reason was dressed as Robin Hood, kept order, and beyond the anteroom in the corridor there was a sizable queue of expectant children.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (24) A Curious St Stephens Day (Part 01)

Edward Carlisle and his brother George shared a flat in Jubilee Court, in Sharpington, they were twins, though not identical. George was tall and blonde while Edward was shorter and darker. In fact the only things they had in common were blue eyes and a surname. In every other way they differed and the best way to sum them up would be to say that Edward had a heart and a brain whereas George possessed neither.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (24) A Curious St Stephens Day (Part 02)

Edward was yawning as he left the bathroom and stepped back onto the landing not really paying attention to what he was doing and he subsequently bumped into Emily coming the other way, who pushed him back into the bathroom and planted a wet sensual kiss on his lips. “We shouldn’t be doing this” he said coming up for air “Why? You were enjoying it” Emily said and kissed him anew

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (24) A Curious St Stephens Day (Part 03)

“Would you ask me out if I wasn’t spoken for?” Emily asked “If you weren’t going out with George I would ask you in a heartbeat” He replied “Why?” Emily added

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (25) A Very Christmas Romance (Part 01)

Tommy Weir’s cab arrived back at the Tipton Country Park Hotel in the North Downshire village of Tipton just as the snow began to fall again. He paid the driver and then he and Danny walked into the plush paneled lobby of the hotel. It had been a really nice evening out, a phenomenal meal and good company.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (25) A Very Christmas Romance (Part 02)

Over the weeks that followed that first kiss on the racecourse, so did more sensual moments of intimacy, but they were really only tasters of what the two of them truly desired. They had tried on several occasions to engineer an opportunity to take their burgeoning relationship to the next level. One such opportunity was a three day trip to visit suppliers, which they got rubber stamped by management and booked appointments and hotels and they were feeling very pleased with themselves for their lustful scheming.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (25) A Very Christmas Romance (Part 03)

Once inside the room he was eager to get started again and immediately tried to get inside her clothes. Justine however put a stop to things and said “Not so fast, I want everything to be just so” “Sorry” he responded not quite sure what “just so” was. But he needn’t have worried as it seemed that she wanted to amongst other things get the lighting right.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (25) A Very Christmas Romance (Part 04)

He didn’t take the news well and for the week between Justine dropping her bombshell and the office closing for Christmas he barely spoke a word to her and when the office closed for the Christmas break he left without saying goodbye, it was just too painful for him. On Christmas Eve he spent the day laying on the sofa watching sentimental movies and eating comfort food.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (25) A Very Christmas Romance (Part 05)

On Boxing Day he spent much of the day in the Cross Keys and when he eventually got himself home it was dark. He went in and switched the lights on and he had been home for about half an hour before he fell asleep in his armchair and was woken about an hour later by a loud banging on the front door.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (26) Betcha By Golly Wow – Rosie’s Tale (Part 01)

It was Saturday night in Mornington-By-Mere and goods friends Roxanne Kincaid-Smith, Lindsay Cooper and Rosie Parsons were sitting in the bar of the Old Mill Inn discussing their plans for the Bank Holiday. All three of the girls were born and bred in the village but since starting out on their chosen careers they didn’t get together as often as they would have liked due shift patterns for Rosie and Roxy and the on call Rota for Lindsay.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (26) Betcha By Golly Wow – Rosie’s Tale (Part 02)

In the cold light of day when they surfaced on Sunday afternoon the girls had serious doubts about the wisdom of dressing as Golliwogs for the Sharpington Day Parade but none of them voiced their concerns as they didn’t want to appear wimpy in front of the other two.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (26) Betcha By Golly Wow – Rosie’s Tale (Part 03)

Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (26) Betcha By Golly Wow – Rosie’s Tale (Part 04)

When the balloon went up, the three girls all ran in different directions and unknown to them the group of pursuers were halted in their tracks when the appreciative crowd put themselves between them and their prey, but not being aware of that fact, as they never looked back, the girls just ran hell for leather like startled deer.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (26) Betcha By Golly Wow – Rosie’s Tale (Part 05)

Rosie gratefully accepted the invitation and darted straight through the door “Don’t let them get me” she said as she cowered in the corner “Who?” Kelly asked from the doorway “The lynch mob of course” she replied

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (26) Betcha By Golly Wow – Rosie’s Tale (Part 06)

“Are you ok Hun?” Kelly asked when she saw the paleness of Rosie’s countenance “It’s from my friend Lindsay” she said “And?” “I can’t read it, I’m scared” Rosie said

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (26) Betcha By Golly Wow – Rosie’s Tale (Part 07)

In the days that followed the Bank Holiday weekend Kelly cursed herself for not exchanging contact details with Rosie Parsons. She was positive that Rosie would be receptive to her advances but she could hardly make an advance if she didn’t know where she was.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (26) Betcha By Golly Wow – Rosie’s Tale (Part 08)

After a string of unrewarding relationships since she left college Rosie remained single. Though she had never had a relationship with a woman, the attraction to Kelly was very strong, but she didn’t know what to do about it.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (26) Betcha By Golly Wow – Rosie’s Tale (Part 09)

It was at the end of September and the weather was unseasonably warm as Rosie was getting dressed for the wedding and she wasn’t particularly happy. She wasn’t really fussed about going to tell the truth it was her day off and she really wanted to drive over to Sharpington.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (27) Christmas in Highfinch (Part 01)

Christmas was just around the corner for the inhabitants of Highfinch which nestled on the edge of the Pepperstock Hills where the Lily Green Hollows Golf Club separated the village from the Hamlet of Lily Green, which made up the parish of St Martins Church.
Cherry

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (27) Christmas in Highfinch (Part 02)

The month of November began in a much happier vain when Jenna and Nick began dating, firstly to bonfire night display at Sharpinghead and then on Saturday Night he took her over to Purplemere and they had a lovely meal at the Runcible Spoon.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (27) Christmas in Highfinch (Part 03)

However she became more troubled the closer she got to the first obstacle to be conquered in the marathon which came on November 29 th , and that was the First Sunday of Advent. But despite it being a test of endurance she got through it without a hitch and with it successfully under her belt she should have been able to approach the next leg with renewed vigour. However it soon began to look as if she wouldn’t get there with her sanity intact.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (27) Christmas in Highfinch (Part 04)

“So let me get this straight we need someone six feet tall, stick thin with an arse like a 12 year old boy” he asked “Yes” Jenna replied crossly, “That’s why it’s a disaster” “I know just the person,” he said “Really?” she asked doubtfully “Really” he said and taking out his mobile phone he got up his contacts list, scrolled down and hit call. “Rosie? Where are you?”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (27) Christmas in Highfinch (Part 05)

Jenna was much relieved by the end of the afternoon when everything was over and done. All the feedback she had heard was that the new Santa had done a very good job so she went to find him and thank him, she had been sharp with him earlier in the day and he hadn’t deserved it. To get to the grotto you had to enter via an adjoining classroom, like an anteroom, where the walls were hidden behind red velvet drapes, decorated with tinsel and coloured lights.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (27) Christmas in Highfinch (Part 06)

The Christingle Service has become ingrained in Anglican worship though it had its origins in Eastern Europe. The Christingle Service is a Service of candle lights where long ago people gathered in the street, sang carols and collected gifts to help the less fortunate in the community.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (27) Christmas in Highfinch (Part 07)

Gregg Scott had the work completed in plenty of time for Christingle which was On Friday December 18 th . First of all the children assembled at the church hall in their Sunday School groups and made their Christingle lights and when all the congregants were seated in the church the children carried them proudly in procession into the church where they were lit for the service. It was always a big hit with the children which was why Jenna wanted it to go smoothly, which it did.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (27) Christmas in Highfinch (Part 08)

On Christmas Eve Nick suggested they take a walk over to The Kingfisher over in Kingfisherbridge. They had taken a walk over there on a rainy lunchtime back in September before he had to leave to work on the Rugby World Cup. They hadn’t been back since, she thought it was sweet of him to think about going back. It was about a mile and a half walk from Highfinch but it was a much brighter day as they walked towards Hawks Wood on Christmas Eve than the previous occasion.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 01)

Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 02)

When the lights first went on he saw the shape of a figure, just one he thought, though he couldn’t be sure, then the light went off again and he lost the shape in the gloom and there were a lot of shapes that could have been the intruder.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 03)

“And what’s your name?” he asked “Wendy” “And what were you after in here anyway?” he asked “I was looking for food”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 04)

“Was that Wendy Corney?” A voice said from behind him as he watched Wendy walk down Potters Lane and when he turned around he saw it was Leslie Maher, his next-door neighbour, out walking her dog, Trio, so called as he had three legs.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 05)

While he was at the counter in Hemmings paying for his paper he was just about to broach the subject of part time work for Wendy with Sabr when Gwen Quinton-Smith walked through the door. She very flustered, though she often did, so he waited until she eventually regained her composure and he raised the question with her about full time or part time work for Wendy with the two of them at the same time.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 06)

Wendy turned away from him and he could tell the way her shoulders were moving that she was crying. “Well come on then” he said “Get your shoes on, they’re waiting for you” “What, now?” She said wiping her face on her sleeve and nearly falling in the stream then she threw her long arms around him in a big gawky hug.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 08)

The next day Leslie’s flight landed on time and she was back home by lunchtime but Frank being Frank left her to unpack while he went off to play Golf. She tried to pretend that she didn’t really mind but she wasn’t fooling David so he offered to take her out for lunch. “You really don’t have to do that” she said “Hello David” She said warmly “thank you so much for finding Wendy for me, she’s been an absolute Godsend” “I’m glad she’s been useful” he said and then he noticed she was no longer making eye contact with him but was looking at Dennis instead. “Gwen, this is my brother in law Dennis” he said “Hello Dennis” she said

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 09)

Just after David had introduced Dennis and Gwen a waitress arrived with a tray of drinks, Dennis took one and handed it to Gwen and then took one for himself and David grabbed a glass just in time before the waitress snatched the tray away and as she left, Leslie joined them, looking very shapely and David’s heart skipped a beat.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 10)

After David walked her back up to the ballroom she slipped away to attend to her makeup and when she returned she led him to the dancefloor which they barely left for the next hour, they didn’t speak but Leslie clung to him like a limpet and they were so engrossed they failed to notice Dennis and Gwen were also on the dancefloor and oblivious to what was happening around them.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (28) To Catch a Thief and Steal a Heart (Part 11)

He had spent the morning cleaning the car and was just finishing off when a taxi pulled up and Leslie got out. She smiled and waved and the driver removed a suitcase from the boot and a moment later Gwen appeared from her front door.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (29) Love at a Canter (Part 01)

When the Mornington Estate exercised its option to purchase Mornington Field from the MOD it also acquired all the buildings and infrastructure on the airfield itself as well as 29 houses in the village formally used as quarters for military personnel.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (29) Love at a Canter (Part 02)

So her professional life was on track and with her move to Mornington so was her personal life, at least in part the only fly in the ointment being her love life. Because she had always planned that she would be all loved up and in a stable relationship by the time she was 30 and that deadline was barely a month away.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (29) Love at a Canter (Part 03)

Hayley administered a local anaesthetic and the Charlotte held Hitch’s head while the she went to work on his wounds and finally applied a dressing and when she had finished she asked “So what became of the rider? I assume he was unseated” “Yes quite a nasty fall” Charlotte said “he’s quite badly banged up” “All finished with you fella” she said patting the horses neck “But I can’t do anything for your rider”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (29) Love at a Canter (Part 04)

Hayley drove out of the yard before turning into the lane and asked “Why didn’t you go with Doctor Browning? When he offered to drive you home” “I wanted to check on Hitch” he replied flatly “Well that’s all very admirable but you clearly can’t drive” she said though he didn’t respond further and after five minutes of silence she asked

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (29) Love at a Canter (Part 05)

Hayley wasn’t working on Sunday but after reading the Sunday Paper’s and attending St Winifred’s she set off towards the Dulcet’s. While she was reading that Sunday’s Abbottsford Clarion she had spotted something interesting in the entertainment section and a plan began to formulate in her mind.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (29) Love at a Canter (Part 06)

The Tivoli theatre was an old cinema originally built in the nineteen twenties. At that time it was the only cinema for twenty miles in any direction so Abbottsford was the envy of the district, by the late seventies however films had gone out of fashion and the theatre was closed.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (30) The Verger’s Patience (Part 01)

The village of Highfinch sits just on the edge of the Pepperstock Hills and the Lily Green Hollows Golf Club separated the village from the Hamlet of Lily Green, and the combination of the two made up the parish of St Martins.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (30) The Verger’s Patience (Part 02)

Tom took the Vicars advice and applied to fill the vacancy as Verger and his first official task saw him carrying the Virge at the Sunday service on the first Sunday of Advent and he had never felt prouder but when he went home he had no one to share it with. He did have someone in mind who he would have liked to share his big moment with and that was Patience Rudd.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (30) The Verger’s Patience (Part 03)

The grotto opened to the first child at 1 pm and there was a pretty constant stream almost non-stop until 4 o’clock. The new Curate, Rosie, dressed as and Bernard the Elf, escorted the excited or apprehensive child in from the ante chamber, who would then climb up on to Santa’s lap.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (30) The Verger’s Patience (Part 04)

Tom had only one thought in his head as he delivered the Parish Magazines on his way up Kettlewell Lane, Patience, and he wanted to get to Rudd’s Farm, the furthest most destination from the village on his route.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (30) The Verger’s Patience (Part 05)

A few moments after he had made his declaration of love he heard the ambulance approaching. “They’re here darling” he said and kissed her hand then he rushed outside to show them the way. “Over here!” he shouted

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 01)

Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 02)

She had been rummaging around by torchlight for about half an hour when all of a sudden the two lights lit up but one of the bulbs, the one at the rear, blew immediately, returning it to near darkness. It was a tandem garage and there was a car in the front half but the other half was full of everything and nothing, old pieces of furniture, tools, packing boxes and so on, junk mainly, and as a result not much light got from one end of the garage to the other because of everything in between, so she darted for the shadows.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 03)

As she was sitting drinking a hot chocolate Wendy asked “Why did you feed me?” “Because you were hungry” he replied “But I was trying to steal from you” she pointed out “Yes but you didn’t”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 04)

She woke up on Sunday feeling less confident than the night before and the doubts about her worthiness to be happy had returned. What hadn’t left her though was her anger at her mum so she avoided speaking with her and left.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 05)

The following Monday she walked up to David Goodman’s garden to introduce herself to Alison William’s. She was a self-employed gardener and was a muscular, big chested and thirty something with a great unruly shock of vivid ginger hair and Wendy thought she looked terrifying.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 06)

September 6 th was Wendy’s 18 th birthday, a very significant birthday for anyone else but for her it was just another day. Her mother was too hungover to know what month it was let alone that it was her daughter’s special day.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 07)

They were sitting together and Wendy kept looking at her presents, apart from her converse and hoody which she was wearing. “You like all your presents then” he said “Oh yes” she said and then she whispered to him “How do I put music on the MP3?”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 08)

It had been a busy morning in the shop and she was really surprised when she looked up at the clock and saw that it was 11.55am. However once she knew what the time was it seemed to slow down and those last five minutes seemed to take an hour to pass.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 09)

“You two wait here” David said to the other two and started walking towards her. “Hey Wendy” he called and she looked up and as soon as she saw him she was on her feet and bowling towards him at a rate of knots and she was still crying as she launched herself at him “Oh David” she cried

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 10)

In the sanctuary of the kitchen, as Leslie made coffee and Oliver held Wendy’s hand, David got to work cleaning Wendy up and attending to the cuts on her face. “Does this happen often?” David asked “No” she answered with a sniffle “she’s normally too drunk to catch me”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 11)

When Leslie returned, David and Oliver were still in the kitchen. Ollie had a very grave expression on his face as she entered. “Is she alright?” he asked “She’s feeling a bit happier now” Leslie reassured him

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 12)

“How is the poor girl?” Gwen asked with real concern “Much better” he answered, “come in” They went into the kitchen and while Oliver finished making the hot chocolate he chatted to the ladies.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 13)

They all sat together at the kitchen table eating eggs and bacon and when they had cleared their plates David said “You know we can’t let you go and live with your mum anymore?” “I know” she concurred sadly “But I can’t live here” “I know” David responded, “Which is why we need to find you somewhere else”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 14)

The “Master Plan” such as it was involved a drive over to Dulcet-on-Brooke and lunch at The Waterside Inn with an abundance of wine. Those present were David, Leslie, Gwen and Oliver, who was the designated driver. As they sat at a table Leslie asked “Shall we have wine?” “What a good idea” David said working off Leslie’s script. “I’m game,” said Gwen and so it began.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 15)

After two weeks of washing and ironing her clothes Gwen had become aware of the meagre selection that she had and the overall quality. With all her jobs, Wendy had accumulated a nice pot of money, Gwen knew that because she looked after her savings book, but she never did anything or went anywhere to spend it.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (31) Like a Thief in the Night (Part 16)

After that first Skype with Oliver in David’s kitchen she liked it so much that they arranged to do it once a week at David’s bungalow. Of course had she realized that she had more than enough money in her savings to buy her own laptop they could have Skyped every day.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (32) It Happened at the Seaview Hotel (Part 01)

It was towards the end of June when Iain Akhurst drove along the promenade at Sharpington-by-Sea. It always made him smile when he visited the traditional seaside resort which he was pleased to see still boasted a Victorian Pier, The Palladium ballroom, and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (32) It Happened at the Seaview Hotel (Part 02)

She was never a tall girl but in her flat shoes she had to stand on tip toes and he had to stoop so they could properly embrace. “I had to see a client locally” Iain said “It ran on later than expected so I decided to put up here for the night”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (32) It Happened at the Seaview Hotel (Part 03)

Francine was still wearing jeans but she now wore a white smock top decorated with tiny pink roses and she was made up to perfection and was already halfway through a large glass of white wine. “Hi” he said as he leant in and kissed her cheek Her hair was freshly washed and was subtly scented with the fragrance of apples, while her skin exuded the aroma of coconut and he lingered by her cheek, perhaps a little longer than he should have.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (32) It Happened at the Seaview Hotel (Part 04)

inner came and went as did desert and all the time their glasses were refreshed, but it wasn’t until they were having liqueurs that he plucked up the courage to say what was on his mind. “I’ve really missed you” She seemed both surprised and pleased by the revelation and Iain wondered if she heard him correctly or if it was just the effect of the wine on her processing ability “I’m sorry” she replied

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (33) Love at a Gallop (Part 01)

Copper Beech Farm is in the Dulcets, and the Dulcets consist of a collection of villages and hamlets such as Dulcet Meadow, Dulcet St Mary, Dulcet Green and Dulcet-on-Brooke to name but a few and After moving up to Copper Beech farm Lynda Radcliffe’s riding School went from strength to strength.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (33) Love at a Gallop (Part 02)

Hazel was almost 29 years old and had thought by the time she reached that age she would have been starting a family or perhaps had already started one and maybe that might have happened had her husband not gambled everything away.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (33) Love at a Gallop (Part 03)

Chris Harper was from a wealthy Tipton family in the north of the county whose business was making money, lots of money, and they didn’t care what they had to do to make more. His father wanted to put him in harness the moment he left University. But he turned his back on the family and the business he despised and instead of University he joined the army.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (33) Love at a Gallop (Part 04)

Hazel’s first days training at Larkspur was on the afternoon of the 1 st of June. She was so grateful to Lynne for recommending her, it was perfect for her as the distance between her front door and the stables at Larkspur was less than a mile.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (33) Love at a Gallop (Part 05)

The pattern of training continued for another week and after the 15 th day with him she announced to Chris. “I think he’s ready to be ridden again” “Excellent” Chris said “then you’ll be ready to take on Inky” “Yes” she agreed “Anytime now” “Well why don’t you come over to Nettlefield with me next week to pick him up” “I’d love to” Hazel said “Good, next Thursday afternoon then”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (33) Love at a Gallop (Part 06)

After she found out about Bobs gambling Hazel’s world fell apart, as one by one the bricks that formed the foundations of her life and their relationship were removed. The roof over her head was repossessed, their car was taken off their drive in the dead of night, and bailiffs took away all their possessions.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (34) The Shopkeepers Heart (Part 01)

Sabr Hemmings was petite and had beautiful strawberry blonde hair and at 27 years old she was running the family business. The name Sabr was an Arabic word for the Islamic virtue of "patience", although neither Belinda nor her husband were Arabs or Islamists, she read it in a book when she was expecting her daughter and fell in love with the name.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (34) The Shopkeepers Heart (Part 02)

By the time May came around she was a regular attendee at St Lucy’s and divined great strength from her time there. She had decided that she would put all of her energies into the shop and take all the burdens upon herself to allow her father to concentrate on looking after her mum.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (34) The Shopkeepers Heart (Part 03)

After failing to locate Adam at St Lucy’s on the following Sunday and initially being dissapointed by the fact she decided that in the end that it was definitely for the best. Of course she was unaware of the reason Adam had been conspicuous by his absence. He had been seconded to Tipton where there had been a child abduction and they needed to draw extra resoursees from all over Downshire. But Sabr wasn’t aware of that so as May drifted seemlessly into June she put him out of her mind.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (34) The Shopkeepers Heart (Part 04)

As the weeks passed she increased Wendy’s hours, so by the middle of July she was doing two full days a week and virtually every evening. Which was the only good news for her, as her mum’s health was deteriorating and she still hadn’t seen Adam again.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (34) The Shopkeepers Heart (Part 05)

It was the morning of the first Saturday of July and furthermore the gods had delivered to the folk of Sharpington a very hot day, the hottest day of the year so far in fact. Sabr didn’t appreciate that fact she was more concerned with her mum who had had a very bad night.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (35) Love Thy Neighbour (Part 01)

John Whittaker and his wife Kathy were getting divorced and as a result he moved out of the marital home. His departure however wasn’t due to any acrimony between them, it was just that he had no particular emotional link to the place, whereas she really loved the house so he had agreed to let her buy his half and as soon as she sorted out the mortgage he bought himself a flat.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (35) Love Thy Neighbour (Part 02)

He moved in to flat 43, Jubilee Court, on May the 1 st and he loved the flat from moment one, despite its initial dinginess, it was on the top floor so it offered spectacular views of the town, the other advantage being that there was no noise from above and in addition there were two flats between him and the lifts and so he just had the one immediate neighbour.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (35) Love Thy Neighbour (Part 03)

John returned from the bin store to find Faye had made him a coffee so they sat in her lounge to drink it. And as they sat on the sofa he said “I haven’t seen you out and about” “That’s because I don’t” Faye replied

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (35) Love Thy Neighbour (Part 04)

When John Whitaker offered to help a complete stranger to conquer her agoraphobia, it seemed to him at the time to be the most natural thing in the world to do. The look of sheer relief on her face when he offered to help convinced him that it was absolutely the right thing for him to do. The problem was that he had absolutely no idea how to achieve it.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (35) Love Thy Neighbour (Part 05)

After Faye’s frank and honest revelation John was even more determined to help her, so he decided to contact a doctor, her doctor, or at least the surgery where she was still registered. However it took 3 weeks to get one of the overpaid narcissists to do a home visit. So in the meantime John sat and drank coffee together every morning and talked about her hopes.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (35) Love Thy Neighbour (Part 06)

As John and Faye lay entwined in each other’s arms in the afterglow of making love he was thinking about the events that had lead them to her bed. It hadn’t occurred to John at any stage since he’d known her, even after she told him that she hadn’t left the flat for three years, that Faye Harry hadn’t had sex.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (35) Love Thy Neighbour (Part 07)

It was a gloriously sunny early December day when it all came to a head. “Today’s the day” she said as they left her flat, hand in hand, dressed for Sharpington in winter and he squeezed her hand in response and said “I’m with you every step of the way sweetheart”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (36) The Insomniac Muse (Part 01)

Alex Farrell first met Gloria Barber on a grey murky day in October when he had been into the village of Highfinch to buy some essential supplies, coffee, milk and bread amongst other things. He was staying in the sleepy hamlet of Kingfisherbridge which sat quietly between Purplemere and Sharpington nettled comfortably on the edge of the Pepperstock Hills.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (36) The Insomniac Muse (Part 02)

Alex had been walking back towards the cottage with his head down to protect his face from the slanting rain and was making slow progress on the woodland path in his totally unsuitable shoes. When he eventually lifted his head up he didn’t recognise a single tree and he was completely disorientated and as he wasn’t that familiar with the woods in the first place he didn’t recognise anything. So as the rain continued to fall and the mistiness showed no sign of clearing, he was starting to panic and thought he would wander the woods until exhaustion over took him and he died, such was a writers imagination.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (36) The Insomniac Muse (Part 03)

With a boot full of Stephenson’s Supermarkets finest tinned and dried goods he returned to Kingfisherbridge and didn’t really feel like stopping for tea with Mrs McEwan but she had invited him and he thought it would have been rude not to, so he pulled up outside The Villa.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (36) The Insomniac Muse (Part 04)

One day towards the end of October Alex was in Highfinch on another milk and bread run when he bumped into his landlady Kate once again. “Alex” she said “how’s the book coming along?” “Hello Kate, very slowly I’m afraid” “Well I won’t keep you from it then” she said and laughed “Don’t worry I need to rest my brain for a bit” he replied “in fact why don’t you pop in later and I will return your hospitality, I have cake” “Well in that case I would love to” she said amiably

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (36) The Insomniac Muse (Part 05)

It was Halloween and that time of the day when in his home town there would be a constant stream of expectant children knocking on the door. But due to the remoteness of the cottage and the foulest weather he had seen for many a day, he wasn’t expecting even one. So imagine his surprise when there was indeed a knock at his front door.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (36) The Insomniac Muse (Part 06)

About half an hour later Gloria appeared in her oversized Purplemere Diamonds Rugby shirt and black football socks fiddling with her tousled damp hair. “Do you feel better now?” he asked “Much better thank you” she replied “I’m sorry about the wardrobe” he added “it was the best I could do I’m afraid” “Its fine at least I won’t get cold” she said and laughed “Well sit yourself down and I’ll get you some food” “No don’t worry I’m really not hungry” she said and he gave her a look “Ok I’ll have a little bit” she said “A wise decision” he said and went out to the kitchen. He returned a few minutes later with a steaming bowl on a tray. “Lamb stew” he said

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (36) The Insomniac Muse (Part 07)

Once they got into December he was no longer disappointed as he saw her every single day. It began on the 1 st of the month when she helped him to put up the Christmas decorations and as they were hanging the last of the garlands she said “I love Christmas decorations”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (36) The Insomniac Muse (Part 08)

He watched the end of the movie and then switched off the TV. Gloria was still sleeping so he reached for the A4 note pad he kept on the end table and resting it on the arm of the sofa he began writing and the words flowed from his pen like an inexhaustible stream and after three hours of furious writing he had put the troublesome chapter to bed.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (36) The Insomniac Muse (Part 09)

After Kate had left he finished his drink and the lack of sleep suddenly caught up with him and he knew he had to sleep. But he didn’t want to leave Gloria to wake up on her own, but he was too tired to sleep in an armchair. So he thought for a moment and then went into the bedroom and got out the spare duvet before returning to the lounge. Alex then carefully drew back the throw from around her small frail frame and then picked her up.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (37) Still Waters Run Deep (Part 01)

Gwen Quinton-Smith had lived in Sharpington her whole life and had no desire to live anywhere else. Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (37) Still Waters Run Deep (Part 02)

On a beautiful day in June she had an early meeting with a Council Official, David Jamieson, regarding maintenance works on the Pier as they were trying to renege on their commitments. Fortunately the Sharpington Pier, along with the yacht club, the Fun Park and the Seaview Hotel had all been saved and protected by the Mornington Estate, the head of which was Gabriel St John.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (37) Still Waters Run Deep (Part 03)

Gwen had really enjoyed their converse on the Pier but unfortunately Gwen had to leave for her next meeting. It was only a short meeting but it was an important one but during it she found her mind wandering to the lean upright figure of the friendly and jovial ex police Inspector Dennis Simmons.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (37) Still Waters Run Deep (Part 04)

As she was going to Leslie Maher’s for coffee she had intended to pick up some pastries from Addison’s Bakery but after meeting Dennis it completely went out of her head so as Gwen didn’t want to arrive empty handed she decided to call in at Hemmings General Store to pick up a box of prepacked cakes.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (37) Still Waters Run Deep (Part 05)

There was a very good reason why Gwen hadn’t seen or heard from Dennis and that was because he had been out of the country. His oldest friend who he had known since police training school had suffered a severe stroke. He and his wife and moved to Spain when they retired and it was in a hospital there that he spent the first two weeks and then he stayed on for the funeral.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (37) Still Waters Run Deep (Part 06)

The Yacht Club Dinner Dance was on the 18 th of July and as Dennis dried, perfumed and powdered himself before he changed into his dinner suit, complete with cummerbund and bow tie, he was feeling rather nervous as he stood before his reflection and tied his tie for the fourth time and wished he worn a clip on. “She probably won’t be there anyway” He said to himself “and you’re a confirmed bachelor for God’s sake”.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (38) Christmas at the Seaview Hotel (Part 01)

Six months had passed since Francine Delise and Iain Akhurst made love in his room at the Seaview Hotel in Sharpington and two days short of six months since she said she wasn’t sure that they could be together.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (38) Christmas at the Seaview Hotel (Part 02)

He would have liked to have exchanged the occasional text or email with her but Francine had asked for total separation. As a result all he could do was throw himself headlong into his work totally and fill his every waking moment with thoughts of anything and everything that wasn’t her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (38) Christmas at the Seaview Hotel (Part 03)

Since her phone call his stomach had been in absolute knots and arriving in Sharpington late didn’t untangle it in the least. He wondered if she would be sat at the bar surrounded by admirers or sat alone in a corner the worse for drink and coiled to strike with venomous words on his tardiness.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (39) Christmas Miracles (Part 01)

20 miles inland from Sharpington-By-Sea, equidistant between Finchbottom and Pepperstock Green was the sprawling village of Denmead and it was Christmas day. Nick Waterfield was at his parents’ house for the big day and it was heaving with all of his happy semi intoxicated relatives, his Mum and Dad, his kid brother, two older sisters, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins and Nick was glad they were all happy even if he wasn’t.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (39) Christmas Miracles (Part 02)

It was midafternoon when Nick left his parents’ house and stepped out into the snow and it was already getting dark so he decided to stick to the main road until his eyes became accustomed to the gloom.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (39) Christmas Miracles (Part 03)

The snow was falling thick and fast and the wind was blowing it straight at him as he trudged up the hill, so discretion being the better part of valour, he decided to take refuge in the Church of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (39) Christmas Miracles (Part 04)

Nick and Charli were standing in the porch of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal as the snow continued to fall. “You look like you could do with a hot drink” she said opening the door “No I won’t come in thanks” he said “It’s Christmas, I’m sure you could call a truce for the sake of the day at least” “Oh ok” he relented and hesitantly followed her through the door into the church and the most overwhelming feeling washed over him and the moment he crossed the threshold into the sanctuary of the church he’d felt a weight lift from him.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (39) Christmas Miracles (Part 05)

Nick and Charli were sitting in the kitchen of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal Church and they sat and drank their coffee in a comfortable silence when Charli’s suddenly flicked her eyes upwards and caused him to do the same and he saw the mistletoe hanging above the table and then she leant across the table and kissed him and after the kiss it was Nick who broke the silence.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (40) Down to Earth (Part 01)

Although Alison Williams was originally from Shallowfield but had lived in Sharpington for five years and she had a nice little flat in Jubilee Court. The traditional seaside resort of Sharpington-by-Sea suited her very well with its Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park. To her mind the whole place, like her, was vibrant and fun.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (40) Down to Earth (Part 02)

The Monday after she spoke to David she had arranged to have Wendy Corney meet her in David Goodman’s garden. Alison was pottering about in the garden when she caught sight of a girl in the corner of her eye. She was a tall skinny waif with short mousy blonde hair which made her look like a shaggy dog. Wendy was obviously a tomboy, a pretty one with elfin features, but a tomboy none the less. She didn’t turn around to look at her properly instead she waited until the girl walked cautiously towards her to introduce herself and was amused when she noticed she looked terrified. “Aaaalison” she said “Hello sweetie, you’re just in time,” Alison said “come and help me unload the mower”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (40) Down to Earth (Part 03)

Alison was so pleased with Wendy over the first month she worked for her, so by the time it was over she was working with Alison for four days a week. So halfway through July she was working up a sweat cutting the grass in David Goodman’s garden and when she stopped to empty the grass box she saw him coming towards her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 01)

The Finchbottom Vale nestles comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 02)

Harry and Nerissa’s all-consuming purpose in life, their primary objective, their ultimate goal, was finding life partners, in particularly a serious romantic relationship, soul mates if possible.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 03)

The next morning he was up very early, and considerably brighter than he should have been after polishing off a bottle of Chianti on his own. He showered and shaved and then he went out, his first port of call was Addison’s bakery in Convent Road where he picked up some fresh croissants and then on to Labuschagne in the high street for two expensive coffee’s.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 04)

Harry and Nerissa had often talked about taking a holiday abroad, not that they ever thought that they’d actually achieve it, it was planned more in a fanciful way, a fantasy really. The prospect of foreign travel occupied their thoughts quite a lot as neither of them had been abroad before or even owned a passport for that matter.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 05)

On Monday morning Nerissa gave notice on flat 2b and over the following month she completed the move into Harry’s flat. This involved helping him clear the spare room and redecorating it to her taste. They then had to decide what she would take from the old flat and what would have to be dumped or sold. She and Harry then gave her flat a thorough clean and they were rewarded for all their hard work by the return of her deposit in full which meant she could clear her bills and put the remainder straight into the holiday fund.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 06)

On New Year’s Eve, which was normally a night when they would hit the town hard, they spent that New Year’s Eve at home where they saw in the New Year quietly watching the meagre offerings that the television had to offer and when Big Ben chimed they toasted the New Year with a glass of cheap fizz.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 07)

The first week of June was tortuously long but the day finally arrived and they got a cab to the station at the crack of dawn and got on the first train out of Purplemere. They were so eager to get on their way that they arrived at the airport two hours earlier than they needed to.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 08)

As Nerissa and Harry walked into their apartments they had travelled for a total of 12 hours door to door but they thought it would all be worth it when they met the person of their dreams. On the afternoon of their first day they had an orientation meeting with their tour rep who gave them all the spiel about the resort and handed out information on places of interest, transport timetables, day trips and local entertainment.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 09)

As the holiday drifted amiable into the second week they continued in the same vein and any casual onlookers could have been forgiven for thinking that Harry and Nerissa were in fact a couple, they behaved like a couple in almost every respect and a happily married couple at that.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 10)

As they sat on the terrace of the Medusa Taverna after having had a lovely meal and perhaps too much wine Harry thought Nerissa looked lovely. And on that night he was particularly pleased to see she was wearing the gold crucifix he had bought her for Christmas.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 11)

Harry and Nerissa sat in silence on the terrace of the Medusa Taverna after the startling revelation that they were each other’s “perfect other half” and as they sat in silence a confused turmoil raged inside them and thoughts raced in and out of focus.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (41) You can take it with you (Part 12)

Harry and Nerissa were both up and about early the next morning all though in truth they hadn’t really gone to bed. However both of them had made independent decisions on their futures. The quandary was, had they both made the same one.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (42) A Kind Heart Reawakened (Part 01)

It was the time of the biannual St Johns Church getaway when a kind heart was reawakened. St John’s Church in Purplemere was an evangelical church and the getaway was organized for the members of the congregation to examine and develop their faith and each such event normally had a theme, and the one in 2017 was no exception and was named "Footsteps" as in walking in the footsteps of Christ and it was all about the individual and collective spiritual journey or journeys.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (42) A Kind Heart Reawakened (Part 02)

Keith Hartley was in his mid-forties, a tall and upright man with greying and receding hair and he checked into the Clayton Manor Hotel late on Friday afternoon and was met with embraces from everyone he met and to be perfectly honest he was rather overwhelmed by it.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (42) A Kind Heart Reawakened (Part 03)

Louise Burrell was a friend of his, though she had not been such a close friend of his as much as she was of his wife because she was 9 years his junior. He had known her for quite a few years however as she had sat on numerous committees with his wife Glenda.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (42) A Kind Heart Reawakened (Part 04)

They sat in the small lounge on a big leather sofa in silence for about 5 minutes while Louise composed herself before she took a deep breath and began “I’m fine when there’s lots going on and it’s all busy, busy, busy” she said “But “free time” when everyone goes off with their families or partners, well that’s when it hits me”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (42) A Kind Heart Reawakened (Part 05)

The first afternoon most of the group activities had already started so they just walked around the grounds in an uncomfortable silence, Louise just wanted to go to her room but Keith knew she would just break down again if he let her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (42) A Kind Heart Reawakened (Part 06)

Because she had elected to play Golf and Tennis on the same day they only had time for nine holes. But after three holes the wry smile had gone from his face and he was wondering if he had bitten off more than he could chew as she was destroying him. At the end of the nine holes her victory was comprehensive.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (42) A Kind Heart Reawakened (Part 07)

After the Tuesday morning sessions were over they went off to their respective rooms to change before lunch, but agreed to meet at the top of the stairs and have lunch together.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (42) A Kind Heart Reawakened (Part 08)

On Friday morning there were no activities planned and the final program of the “Footsteps” events was a session worship and a wrap up meeting. Things would conclude by midday and they would be checking out after lunch. So at the start of the final day Keith and Louise planned to have breakfast together again.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (43) The Stable Girl and the River Warden (Part 01)

The traditional seaside resort of Sharpington-by-Sea suited her very well with its Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park and it was Emma Goldup’s hometown.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (43) The Stable Girl and the River Warden (Part 02)

Once she realized he wasn’t a nutter she saw him in a much different light, he was a tall skinny man, a few years older than her, with short brown hair and glasses with a lopsided grin on his face.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (43) The Stable Girl and the River Warden (Part 03)

When Emma left Brooke Side Farm on the morning in June that she eventually rode past David Goodman she was full of nervous anticipation about seeing Harry, much more than she had previously and she didn’t quite know why.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (43) The Stable Girl and the River Warden (Part 04)

As the trees began to thin out he knew he was close to the bridle path and when he was a few yards away he became aware of movement through the thinning woodland and as he got to the edge of the wood he saw that the movement was Emma and her colt Paris thundering along the bridle path.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (44) Vision in Yellow (Part 01)

It was a beautiful sunny day in the village of Dulcet-on-Brooke where Peter Nesbitt sat on the sunny terrace looking at the girl in the yellow dress, with her brunette hair cascading onto the sun kissed skin of her shoulders.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (44) Vision in Yellow (Part 02)

“Let’s go out on the boat” Johnnie suggested, though Patti wasn’t at all impressed by the idea and threw him a glare, she had just got herself settled on a lounger after clearing away after lunch. Despite Patti’s displeasure however the general consensus was in favour of cruising on the River.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 01)

The Purplemere Film Studio’s was a large complex of production spaces and studios that almost fell into disuse but its fortunes were turned around by Peter Lutchford the renowned film director who had turned it into one of the premier film industry resources in Europe.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 02)

Karen was very embarrassed when she was summoned to the office of Suzy Ford, the Facilities Manager, to be told that her husband had verbally abused the landlord, or at least his representative. “Ex-husband” she interjected

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 03)

It was Monday morning and the moment Karen walked into the office her boss Bob Turner called her over. “Karen! Just the person” He said “My favourite person” “What do you want Bob?” she retorted

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 04)

The favour for Bob Turner turned out to be a bit more complicated than just dropping off a few cans of film, she was also tasked with seeing the restoration through to fruition and she was required to meet with the chief technician and discuss not just the restoration of the film she was carrying but also a large number of other films found in the vaults, which would be a potentially big deal for Reel Times.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 05)

The diminutive receptionist, Lilya, sat with her disproportionately large breasts on display in a very low cut black top and they looked like two bald men sharing a coat.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 06)

When Karen came to, she was slumped on the floor leaning against the wall while Mark Cross, Peter Strickland and a skinny minnie of a girl called Claire, who was the first aider, all fussed around her uttering words of concern.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 07)

Karen and Peter had been going out together for two years and she was head over heels in love with him and she thought he felt the same about her. But her dad dropped the bombshell that the family were moving from Finchbottom to Abbeyvale and when the time came for the move Peter and her agreed to spend the whole of her last full day in Finchbottom together and planned to meet at the Mall as soon as it opened at 8am, but Peter was a no show.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 08)

As if she didn’t feel guilty enough about everything, the anger, the ranting, the insults and the tears, she left the offices of Reel Times, without discussing the cans of film she had taken with her at Bob Turner’s behest or even discussed them and then she allowed the victim of her wrath to buy her dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant, The Leathern Bottle and even drive her back to Purplemere afterwards.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 09)

As Karen pushed open the door of the Directors Arms she saw a young woman talking to Jed, she had jet black curly hair and she estimated she was mid...

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (45) What Becomes of the Broken Hearted (Part 10)

The day after Karen had given herself permission to get on with her life she was once again on the train from Purplemere to Finchbottom and once she had disembarked she hurried off the platform and out through the barriers and took the first cab on the rank and was quickly heading towards the Reel Times building.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (46) Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Part 01)

Gwen Quinton-Smith lived in Sharpington and had done all of her life and had no desire to live anywhere else. The traditional seaside resort of Sharpington-by-Sea suited her very well with its Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (46) Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Part 02)

The love affair between Dennis Simmons and Gwen Quinton-Smith blossomed after the Yacht Club Dinner Dance but the sweet music didn’t stop playing for them just because the band went home.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (46) Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Part 03)

Gwen and Dennis enjoyed the Sunday service and said a lengthy farewell to Reverend Morris who was at the door as they left.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (46) Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Part 04)

The rest of August was taken up with the arrangements for the Sharpington Day Parade which took place on the August Bank Holiday.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (46) Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Part 05)

Following the success of the party on Saturday Gwen had a quiet evening in on her own and an early night. The next day it was St Lucy’s as usual and was on the receiving end of a surprise herself when Dennis appeared unexpectedly halfway through the service as he wasn’t due back until the Wednesday.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (46) Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Part 06)

The next day Alison Williams and young Oliver had escorted Wendy to her mum’s caravan to pick up her things and afterwards she put Wendy straight to work, to keep her mind occupied.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (46) Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Part 07)

When Gwen suggested she take Wendy on a shopping trip to Abbottsford she said “Abbottsford? Really?” she said “Yes” Gwen replied “When was the last time you were there?” “I’ve never been to Abbottsford before” she said “I’ve never been out of Sharpington” “Well we had better make a day of it then” she said

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (46) Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (Part 08)

“I need you to get something for me” Dennis said to Wendy “I’m not a thief” she said defensively knowing he was an ex policeman “I know you’re not honey” he said

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (47) Strangers on a Train (Part 01)

Twenty eight year old Paul Ingram lived in the village of Forest Dean situated equidistant between Shallowfield and Childean and he worked for the Forest Ridge Golf Club.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (47) Strangers on a Train (Part 02)

As the train approached the station Paul and Jenny got up and she headed towards the door, he followed close behind, and as the train stopped he looked about the carriage for the lady in the peach suit and he spotted the diminutive beauty by the door at the other end of the carriage.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (47) Strangers on a Train (Part 03)

Just then the train jerked and the clumsy passenger fell into his lap but she quickly pushed back against him with her buttocks and scrambled unsteadily to her feet without him getting a look at them.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (47) Strangers on a Train (Part 04)

After going through the barriers Jenny said good night and rushed off to the car park where her girlfriend was waiting.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (47) Strangers on a Train (Part 05)

Once he had escaped he went for a walk along the promenade and hoped the fresh air would help with the head ache brought on by the stuffy heat and banging music at the reception.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (47) Strangers on a Train (Part 06)

It was two hours later when he woke up in his bed with Francesca draped across him with her head on his chest. His hand was resting on her hip so he caressed her from hip to buttock and he kissed the top of her head and in response she hugged his torso and sighed.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (48) A Man to be Trusted (Part 01)

Downshire is a relatively small English county, but like a pocket battleship it packs a lot in, a short but beautiful coastline, a channel port, the Ancient forests of Dancingdean and Pepperstock, the craggy ridges and manmade lakes of the Pepperstock Hills National Park, the rolling hills of the Downshire Downs, the beautiful Finchbottom Vale and farm land as far as the eye can see from the Trotwood’s and the Grace’s in the south to the home of the Downshire Light infantry, Nettlefield, and their affluent neighbour’s, Roespring, Tipton in the North but it’s in Nettlefield where our story begins.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (48) A Man to be Trusted (Part 02)

On the journey from Northern Downshire all the way down through the Pepperstock Hills National Park on their way to Finchbottom, Clare was still berating Martin on her mother’s distrust of her.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (48) A Man to be Trusted (Part 03)

On the first night of Clare’s maiden buying trip they stopped at the White Horse Inn in Finchbottom and spent the evening in the restaurant where Clare proceeded to drink more than was good for her. Martin thought she had been in a really strange mood since the journey down and all evening she had kept looking at him in a funny way.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (48) A Man to be Trusted (Part 04)

The next morning Martin woke up in the uncomfortable armchair next to Clare’s bed and stretched out his aching muscles. He hadn’t slept well, but that wasn’t altogether the fault of the chair. It was mainly his racing thoughts that robbed him of his rest, thoughts of love and hope.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (48) A Man to be Trusted (Part 05)

Once they had checked out they had plenty of time before their first appointment so they took a leisurely drive from Finchbottom to Highfinch which Clare spent with her eyes shut although Martin wasn’t sure if it was because she was suffering or she was still embarrassed.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (48) A Man to be Trusted (Part 06)

Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (48) A Man to be Trusted (Part 07)

“Well I’m not going to tell you” he said and then halted her protest by adding “But I will try and help you remember” “Oh ok” she said barely able to hide her disappointment “So what do you remember?”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (49) Entrapment (Part 01)

Downshire is a relatively small English county but like a pocket battleship it packs a lot in, a short but beautiful coastline, a channel port, the Ancient forests of Dancingdean and Pepperstock, the craggy ridges and manmade lakes of the Pepperstock Hills National Park, the rolling hills of the Downshire Downs, the beautiful Finchbottom Vale and farm land as far as the eye can see, from the Trotwood’s and the Grace’s in the south to the home of the Downshire Light infantry, Nettlefield, and their affluent neighbour’s, Roespring and Tipton in the North but it’s in leafy Shallowfield where our story begins but the main characters originate from the busy town of Purplemere on the other side of the Finchbottom Vale, which nestles comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns..

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (49) Entrapment (Part 02)

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (49) Entrapment (Part 02) Shallowfield’s fortunes had always relied largely upon forestry and agriculture for its survival. In the post war years with rationing and a shortage of work a lot of people moved away, to Abbottsford, Abbeyvale and beyond and it only barely survived, and the community around Teardrop Lake fared even worse.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (49) Entrapment (Part 03)

After a very pleasant lunch at the Phoenix Restaurant good byes were said and as there were only legal formalities to be dealt with it was left to the lawyers to draft the contract, which would be signed and sealed later in the day, so Annette said to Christine. “Do you need me for the next bit?”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (49) Entrapment (Part 04)

Jordan Donaldson came good and a mechanic, Darren, duly arrived in the allotted time and after 20 minutes said that he would have to get it back to the workshop and he’d have her up and running by midday on Saturday.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (49) Entrapment (Part 05)

“I know I’ll move the seat” she said to herself and carefully reached down and grabbed the handle, yanking it up as she tried to push the seat but she could apply enough force against it

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (49) Entrapment (Part 06)

Christine was mortified when she had to tell the man she fancied that she was stuck in her own car, but that mortification paled into insignificance when she saw Jordan Donaldson’s car drive into the lay-by.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (50) The Guilty Secret (Part 01)

Twenty eight year old Paul Ingram had fallen in love with an older woman, a forty year old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, Carrington Chase educated woman called, Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (50) The Guilty Secret (Part 02)

After Paul and Francesca made love in his caravan in the middle of July and he walked her back to her Hotel in the early hours of the next day Paul was very optimistic about the prospect of seeing her again, and in the very near future.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (50) The Guilty Secret (Part 03)

“Because I’m a wife and a mother” she retorted and then added almost as an after thought “And I love my husband” She may have once but not so much now he thought, her husband spent more time on the Golf course or in the club house than he did with his gorgeous wife.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (51) Do you Want Everything with that?

The Channing family owned and operated a number of “Burger Vans” one of which was on the Shallowfield road on the Childean side of Forestdean.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (52) Age is just a Number (Part 01)

Twenty-eight-year-old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty year old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, Carrington Chase educated woman called, Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (52) Age is just a Number (Part 02)

Paul Ingram knew from the earlier overheard conversation in Stephenson’s Supermarket, between Francesca Carrington-Webber and her friend, that she was going to be alone in the house most of the weekend as her husband was away and her parents had taken the children.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (54) Playing Around (Part 01)

Twenty-eight-year-old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty-year-old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, Carrington Chase educated woman called, Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (54) Playing Around (Part 02)

In deference to the season she was dressed for the early autumn, in a white cotton shirt, beneath a pale blue argyle cardigan, a knee length pleated skirt, very flattering, in the same grey fabric as her cap and long argyle socks, and her ensemble was then finished off with black brogue Golf shoes and a pale blue glove.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (55) Sweet Twenty Something

Every morning he saw her on the Finchbottom Express, in the same seat, she was a twenty something, a sweet young thing who smiled at him each day, occasionally a “Hello” or “Hi” was exchanged but nothing more profound that that.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (56) Moonlight Serenade

Twenty eight year old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty year old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, Carrington Chase educated woman called, Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (57) Cleaning out the Attic (Part 01)

The Finchbottom Vale is nestled comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (57) Cleaning out the Attic (Part 02)

So Sarah headed in the opposite direction while the other three walked their trolleys across the 18 th fairway. Katie and Dave were next door neighbours but Willi lived 5 houses along from Katie’s, so she said goodbye to the others and walked home to get showered before Marta arrived.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (60) Christmas Came Early (Part 01)

Twenty eight year old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty year old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, soon to be divorced Carrington Chase educated woman, called Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (60) Christmas Came Early (Part 02)

Paul was working all day Saturday, so he wasn’t able to get away to the caravan in Sharpington, as he normally would, so he was at home in his flat and spent Saturday night watching a movie and drinking wine but at some point he leant back against the cushions and promptly fell asleep.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (60) Christmas Came Early (Part 03)

“So you decided not to have David drive you home” he said “It would have been cruel to tantalize him with my gorgeousness for the whole journey only to dash his hopes” she said This bought about another burst of laughter and when she eventually composed herself she was laying at full stretch on her back looking up at Paul

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (61) The Lady in Tears (Part 01)

It was at the Lord Lieutenants Summer Ball when Dave Knapp found Lady Antonia Johnson-Claassens on the moonlit terrace and his first thought was that he might at last have found someone who he could have an intelligent conversation with, but as he got closer he noticed she was crying.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (61) The Lady in Tears (Part 02)

Lady Antonia stood in the kitchen doorway wearing a tiger onesie and fluffy slippers. “I thought this would be a bit more comfortable” she said cutely “It certainly looks comfortable” he admitted “Not a sexy outfit is it?”

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (61) The Lady in Tears (Part 03)

She didn’t respond verbally as she was crying again but she nodded, Nigel was her ex fiancé, Dave walked up behind her and lightly stroked the tops of her arms.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (62) Early Morning Call

Twenty-eight-year-old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty-year-old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, soon to be divorced Carrington Chase educated woman, called Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (63) The Propper Attire (Part 01)

The Finchbottom Vale is nestled comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (63) The Propper Attire (Part 02)

So Sarah headed in the opposite direction while the other three walked their trolleys across the 18th fairway.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (64) Feeling Alive (Part 01)

Twenty-eight-year-old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty-year-old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, soon to be divorced Carrington Chase educated woman, called Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (64) Feeling Alive (Part 02)

He discreetly slipped away from the funeral and headed towards the Vicarage and then he turned down the lane by the church, which led to the path that crossed the golf course and from there he traversed the course until he reached the back of Francesca’s house and then he remembered he wanted the house next door and went in the back gate and ran across the lawn and tapped on the door.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (66) Rained Off (Part 01)

Twenty-eight-year-old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty year old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, soon to be divorced Carrington Chase educated woman, called Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (66) Rained Off (Part 02)

It was an unpleasant morning; warmer than it had been the previous few weeks, but as those weeks were actually very cold that wasn’t really saying much.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (66) Rained Off (Part 03)

Just then it started raining hard so they kissed goodbye and then went their separate ways, Francesca ran towards home and he ran across to find Terry, by which time the rain was falling like stair rods,

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (67) Consulting the Pro

The Finchbottom Vale is nestled comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (68) Bath Night (Part 01)

Twenty eight year old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty year old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, soon to be divorced Carrington Chase educated woman, called Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (68) Bath Night (Part 02)

Paul kept to the shadows and made his way up to the house and looked through the window and he could see Francesca was already in her nightclothes and as he watched her pad around the kitchen he felt the tell-tale feelings of pride and then he tapped on the window.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (69) Sisterly Love

The village of Kettlewell sat in the rolling Pepperstock Hills that formed the northwest border of The Finchbottom Vale and it was half a mile from the hamlet of Kettlewell-on-the-Hill, the two of which made up the parish of St Augustine’s Church.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (70) The Wedding Planner (Part 01)

Twenty eight year old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty year old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, soon to be divorced Carrington Chase educated woman, called Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (70) The Wedding Planner (Part 02)

He got to the Hotel just after 10 o’clock, when the party was in full swing and slipped unnoticed up to the bar and mingled with the revellers as he looked for his quarry.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (71) Sisterly Love Reprised

The affair between Lionel Matthews and his sister in law Claire Tanning began after a party at the Kettlewell Village Hall when she got her sister Paula blind drunk on gin by ten o’clock.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (72) Francesca’s Garden of Delights (Part 01)

Twenty eight year old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty year old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, soon to be divorced Carrington Chase educated woman, called Francesca Carrington-Webber.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (72) Francesca’s Garden of Delights (Part 02)

Two weeks later, exactly one year to the day after they first met, the long secret affair was no longer a secret as Paul and Francesca told their friends and family.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (72) Francesca’s Garden of Delights (Part 03)

He stepped inside and said hello but got no reply so he figured she must be outside in the garden so he walked towards the open French doors.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (73) Miss Kirby and the Curate (Part 01)

Virginia Kirby was a ward sister at the Winston Churchill Hospital and she was a rather plain middle-aged woman just the wrong side of 50. Virginia was five foot six inches tall and very trim, and stood an inch or so taller in her stout shoes, and her sisters uniform fitted her perfectly, tapered at the waist where the broad belt sat.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (73) Miss Kirby and the Curate (Part 02)

The call from Victoria came too late, because Colin stepped over the threshold the moment he pushed the door open, but the sight that greeted him stopped him in his tracks and took his breath away, because standing in the middle of the room was an attractive young woman of a similar build to Miss Kirby, wearing a bra, pants and tights, and he had taken her by surprise before she’d finished dressing.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (74) The Roespring Verger (Part 01)

Downshire is a relatively small English county but like a pocket battleship it packs a lot in, a short but beautiful coastline, a channel port, the Ancient forests of Dancingdean and Pepperstock, the craggy ridges and manmade lakes of the Pepperstock Hills National Park, the rolling hills of the Downshire Downs, the beautiful Finchbottom Vale and farm land as far as the eye can see from the Trotwood’s and the Grace’s in the south to the home of the Downshire Light infantry, Nettlefield, and their affluent neighbour’s, Roespring and Tipton in the north and our story begins in the affluent village of Roespring.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (74) The Roespring Verger (Part 02)

It was about ten minutes later when she returned and the pashmina had gone and she had untied her hair glorious red mane.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (78) It Happened One Christmas (Part 01)

Sharpington-by-Sea is a traditional seaside resort complete with a Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, the Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (78) It Happened One Christmas (Part 02)

So in December Martyn Taylor, wife Michelle, 9 year old son Sam and seven year old twins Ben and Mark moved into a caravan at Whitecliffe and they had a bleak Christmas.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (78) It Happened One Christmas (Part 03)

Kirsty Wishaw walked up the hill from Sharpington just after six o’clock as she did every morning and she was normally the only soul heading through Jubilee Park at that time on a winter morning but she had seen several people that morning but she thought nothing of it nor did she give the acrid smell in the air a second thought it was only when she got into Whitecliff Hill Caravan Park that she noticed blue lights in the distance and her first thought was a break in at the shop so she quickened her stride.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (78) It Happened One Christmas (Part 04)

All that remained amidst the ashes were a few scraps of melted toys, half-burned books and scorched and tattered clothing. “How cruel” Phil said

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (78) It Happened One Christmas (Part 05)

The second call that Kirsty made was to Melville’s Holidays who had almost two dozen empty holiday caravans on the site and persuaded her old school friend Natalie Melville that it would be a very effective PR exercise to let the family use one of them for the Christmas period.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (79) The Christmas Gift

Claire Jarvis went to the University of Downshire where she studied English at Abbottsford and it was for her, like many girls of her age, a life defining time.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (91) Christmas Plans

“I fancy something to eat” she said and the movement of her head caused the golden earrings to glint in the Christmas candlelight.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (92) Christmas on the Ward

Kathryn Reed had just turned thirty and she was a nurse, but reaching her milestone birthday she realised she was in a bit of a rut.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (94) St Cuthbert’s Bazaar

The Finchbottom Vale was once a great wetland that centuries earlier stretched from Mornington in the East to Childean in the west and from Shallowfield in the south to Purplemere in the north.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (95) The Christmas Surprise

In this noisy city he made his way through the darkness as the people rushed by at a frantic pace as a quiet hush fell with a fall of snowflakes and the holiday rush seemed to slow down if only briefly. It was Christmas Eve, and he had been summoned, and as he had no other place to be, he went along. Bay View House was a large detached Victorian House sitting on a two acre plot so he walked up the gravel drive.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (96) Christmas in the Attic

Christmas was just around the corner for the inhabitants of Highfinch which nestled on the edge of the Pepperstock Hills where the Lily Green Hollows Golf Club separated the village from the Hamlet of Lily Green, which made up the parish of St Martins Church

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (97) Christmas in Sharpington – Alex’s Tale

“So it’s Christmas time again” Alex said as he looked out the window. “As if anyone could fail to notice” James added as he and Jenny joined him at the drawing room window.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (98) Christmas in Sharpington – James’s Tale (Part 01)

Every coloured light imaginable, Santa's on the roof or climbing a ladder, sleighs, elves, snowmen, bells, stars, baubles and last but by no means least standing almost four feet high that perennial favourite Winnie the Pooh.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (98) Christmas in Sharpington – James’s Tale (Part 02)

Because she was to be Elf to his Santa they worked closely together and apart from their mutual attraction they bonded over their dislike of the “Overlord” of the Grotto operation, Sharpington Council employee Amanda Rawlings, who was an officiously obnoxious control freak, which would have been ok, had she been any good at it.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (99) Christmas in Sharpington – Jenny’s Tale (Part 01)

The traditional seaside resort of Sharpington-by-Sea with its Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, has all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park and 55 year old triplets, Alex, James and Jenny Wardle live together in the huge house they grew up in, in the grand neighbourhood of Granite Hill, which in a nod to San Francisco, the locals had nicknamed Nob Hill.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (99) Christmas in Sharpington – Jenny’s Tale (Part 02)

The new experience that week for Jenny was ice skating, which she had never done, nor roller skating for that matter, she had a terrible sense of balance so the thought never entered her head at any time in her life that she should give it ago until she moved back to Sharpington.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (99) Christmas in Sharpington – Jenny’s Tale (Part 03)

Paul Morfett was not a native of the town but had lived in Sharpington for ten years since the death of his wife, they had lived in Abbottsford all their lives up until her passing, and after it everything in the place was a hurtful memory of her so he moved somewhere neither of them had been and so held no such memories.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (75) Oh Claire (Part 01)

Claire Jarvis went to the University of Downshire where she studied English at Abbottsford and it was for her, like many girls of her age, a life defining time.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (75) Oh Claire (Part 02)

When Claire woke up the next day she was laying on her back draped along the sofa, she tried to lift herself up but the pain in her head persuaded her otherwise and she closed her eyes and went back to sleep and dreamed romantic dreams.