By Kev Richardson
Contemporary Romance, 416 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald
A loving couple chooses a derelict old Hospital to turn into a family home.
Stanford Lodge had a proud past. Its heritage must be preserved.
Guts and dreams in satisfying its old inhabitants, inspire lovers—yet a labour of love is not all joy. How much can dedication bear?
“Shouldn’t you be getting a bricklayer for that, darling?”
I had mortar mixed and was laying bricks for two steps from the back door, down to the terrace floor level. I had already built a solid foundation for them.
“No-one is going to see it, my dear. I will be crazy-paving all the wall, the terrace surface and steps.”
“You told me this would be only one step. You are laying two.”
“When building the retaining wall, I realised not only how many bricks would be saved, but how much time I would save by reducing its height two courses, another step level.”
“Oh well that’s all right then. You know how to do crazy paving?”
“I’ll learn on the job, dear.”
She waited, before rolling her eyes, until I looked straight at her.
“You are sure the Old Ladies won’t mind?”
“I will let them know, dear.”
~ * ~
A flexible rule was that Maggie or I would cook dinner, and the kids feed the dish-washer and finish homework before considering TV. That was made once Mags and I decided not to wait on the new kitchen before installing a dishwasher. This reduced the workload on all, even Evelyn’s. Her work had increased, however, to keeping all windows clean, inside and out, even rooms awaiting Restoration.
“That way, darling,” Mags had pleaded, “it just makes the place that much more liveable.”
Dinners during the week were grilled chops or something easy to heat up. The summer’s long twilights were great for barbeques. We were also great salad fiends. Sometimes we gave Evelyn the task of shopping for and preparing casseroles for our freezer. All this gave Mags and me extra time for Renovations. For weekends, Evelyn would prepare roasts. Leanne was encouraged to become adept in roasting potatoes, pumpkin and parsnips to perfection, and boiling up greens.
Tiffany grew quickly and was now being walked each afternoon. She was trained in her toilet hygiene and to alert us when hearing the front gate opening. In a corner of the Big Hole, I had built for Tiffy, a plank ramp. Leanne showed her, time after time, that this was the way to her toilet. A sand-pile was out back and each evening before dinner, Leanne would throw a shovelful over the mess.
Maggie acquired a gardening fetish. The House and Garden magazine we subscribed to had given her the urge. She made time between rehearsals for George, not only to read up on rose culture, dragging me around plant nurseries on weekends, but insisted on doing her own digging in the formal rose-gardens. Paul on occasions helped with the heavy digging along the front veranda facings. She had planned for there, in full view of all approaching up the front path, an English Garden of foxgloves, lily-of-the-valley, petunia, lavender and pansies in their dozens of colours. I had a man in to dig the soil over along the entire side fence, and fertilizing it ready for Maggie to plant hydrangeas, rhododendrons, azaleas, golden forsythia and camellias.
“I simply cannot wait until the veranda posts are painted so I can plant climbing roses and sweet peas,” she kept hinting. “And a passion-fruit vine,” she added for good luck.
“Next summer,” I promised with crossed fingers.