A Love Nest
At the back of the Court, on the left-hand side of the tree-lined avenue, is a sort of pseudo-gothic building known as the Bath House. There used to be a fish pond below (maybe it had once been used for bathing, hence the name) with murky water, goldfish and lily-pads and there’s a passage, with rather nice stained glass coats-of-arms in the windows, leading from the garden at the back. Upstairs is a room reached by a spiral staircase from beside the fish pond. It was the upstairs room that many couples were drawn to for quality time together and there were some mattresses and things on the floor. No-one ever seemed to go there except the aforesaid couples. I never had cause to make use of the amenities myself but once stumbled upon some people there by accident and left hurriedly, mumbling sincere apologies for my intrusion!
    As it turned out I knew those people quite well and obviously my lips were sealed regarding our unplanned meeting in the Bath House. But I gave them a wink whenever I bumped into them, which they returned!
    Margrét and I went back to the Court in ’98 but the fish were long gone to a fishy heaven, which can’t be much different from the place they had left, the water had been drained from the pond and the door to the staircase was roped off. It was very strange having to buy a ticket to get in - I think they ought to have special rates for old students.

The Storm Before the Storm

    Towards the end of the summer of ’67, a very cosy time what with me and my new  girlfriend and that, blue skies and not a care in the world and everything looking rosy, I had just got home for supper on my bike. All of a sudden it thickened up, black clouds rolled in and a hailstorm started. At first it was just an ordinary hailstorm but after a minute or two the hailstones started getting bigger. And bigger, until soon I heard a sort of thundering noise on the roof and the house started vibrating. Water started trickling in under the back door and I got busy mopping up with towels. Dad came home from Stonar just as it was starting and had the presence of mind to put the car into the garage. Out of the window the hailstones were coming down the size of golf balls and the leaves were getting stripped off the big elm trees at the end of the field across the lane. This went on for a good quarter of an hour and the biggest stones were the size of cricket balls. Eventually the storm stopped and what a sight! It was as if winter had suddenly set in. No leaves on any of the trees. Dad had some vegetables in the garden, but there was nothing left of them but some green sludge. We had a plum tree with a promising crop but all that was left of it was some purple slime on the ground. The lawn was all in craters like on the moon. And there was a tractor shed by the farm across the way with a slate roof – and behold, no roof! After supper I went down to the hostel for my usual rendezvous with my girlfriend and what a sight! The High Street was a sea of mud and leaves and I have never seen so many dented cars, except possibly in Paris.
    I heard later that a chap over at Broughton Gifford, who had a market gardening business, lost all his greenhouses. Not a single pane of glass unbroken. And the insurance people wouldn’t cough up because they said it had happened some time before!
    There was an old boy who lived across the lane from us, a Mr Lewis, who had a gigantic hailstone in through a pane of his kitchen window. It was so big that it wouldn’t fit into a pint beer mug with a handle. He kept it in his fridge as witness to the event. Luckily for us there were no windows in our cottage facing the storm, so no damage other than to the garden and a few cracked tiles on the roof of the pigsty.

Jellybread and Other Pubs


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