Downshire Diary – (40) In an English Country Garden (Part 01)
The village of Brocklington was on the River Brooke about six miles downstream from Sharping St Mary in the Finchbottom Vale which was 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.
The 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.
But over the many centuries the vast majority had been drained for agriculture, a feat achieved largely by the efforts of famous Mornington Mills, of which only three had survived to the present day and even those were no longer functional and were in various states of repair.
There were only three small bodies of water left in the Vale now one in Mornington, one in Childean and third of course was Purplemere.
One of the newest inhabitants of Brocklington was a Purplemere native, Sam Townsend, who had moved to the village to live with his widowed sister Ruth and her two children Olivia and Cecily.
Ruth was five year older than her brother and was a few months short of her milestone 30th birthday.
They were unmistakably siblings with their dark curly hair and green eyes.
Sam wore his hair collar length while Ruth’s tumbled lavishly onto her shoulders.
She was originally from Purplemere but her husband Jack was Brocklington born and bred and when they married she moved into his house and they raised their family and they were very happy and content.
They met while at University and married when they graduated and they were married and a year later the twins were born.
Jack Martin was 33 years old and by profession was a gamekeeper,
when he died suddenly and tragically of anaphylactic shock when he was on a charity bike ride and he was stung by a single bee.
His death came completely out of the blue and left her high and dry, with the only bread winner dead she struggled to make ends meet and very soon went through what little savings they had and because she was originally from Purplemere and living in Brocklington she was a long way from her support network.
Which was why her brother Sam moved in with her, he still worked in Purplemere and travelled back and forth to work by train and in the evenings and he babysat the girls while Ruth worked behind the bar at the Mulberry Tree and thanks to Sam stepping into the breach Ruth was able to get her finance’s back in the black.
He became a vital part of the household and Olivia and Cecily loved their uncle Sam but far apart from his babysitting duties he also regularly took the girls to school in the morning and often picked them up when they did after school clubs, the school had a breakfast club and an after school as well as clubs during the summer holidays, when Sam’s involvement would lead to some confusion later.