Authors: Tessa Hainsworth
Chapter One: New Year, New Beginnings
Chapter Three: Chivalry Lives On
Chapter Four: Doors Opening and Closing
Chapter Five: A Home is Not a Rental House
Chapter Six: Roosting Rooks and Piercing Peacocks
Chapter Seven: The Trumpeting of Angels …
Chapter Eight: A Mermaid’s Ear and Other Wonders
Chapter Ten: Lost in the Storm
Chapter Twelve: All in a Day’s Work
Chapter Fourteen: Farming Life
About the Book
After two wonderful but turbulent years, Tessa Hainsworth is no longer the outsider from London and is finally becoming accepted into her tight knit Cornish village community.
But everyday life is not like the holiday posters. Incomers have to tread carefully – if they don’t, the village soon lets them know and Tessa finds herself torn between old friends and new. Making ends meet is still a constant struggle and like many in the county she decides to rent out her home to summer holidaymakers – and helping run a B&B – with hilarious results.
Tessa finds that her job as postwoman involves being an amateur health-and-safety inspector, a shoulder to cry on and a matchmaker, but there’s always time for a sandwich in the sun and a bit of beachcombing in her lunch-break.
About the Author
Tessa Hainsworth worked as a marketing manager at The Body Shop. She now lives in Cornwall with her husband and two children.
Also by Tessa Hainsworth
Up with the Larks
Seagulls in the Attic
The best journeys are filled with inner smiles!
Richard, Tom, Georgie, my wonderful family and friends – you constantly enrich my life! Thank you. Extra special thanks to the incredible Karen Hayes, Jane Turnbull and the Preface team.
This is also for Chris and Gabrielle, with love.
Mid-January, and it seems as if the exceptional frost, the ice and snow usually so foreign to Cornwall, has gone for good. Today is a perfect winter’s day, cold but still, so still that even here at the edge of the sea there isn’t a breath of wind. The water is like a smooth carpet, the grey and black of the last weeks transformed to a deep blue-green.
It is late morning, and I’m still working, walking from the tiny post office in the seaside town of Morranport to deliver my last batch of post. My Royal Mail winter uniform seems heavy in this gift of a day, as I watch the oystercatchers scurrying along the shoreline. With their black feathers on top and the white plumage underneath, they remind me of commuters in London, hurrying to work with hasty, stressful steps. Their shadows, running along beside them, add to this image and I laugh out loud, once again not believing my luck that I’m no longer part of that scene. Even though I, too, am working, I’m certainly not scurrying but walking slowly, savouring the sea air, pausing to look at an interesting rock formation, or a flock of seabirds.
This is my third year in Cornwall, and I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else. I knew from the day we arrived that this was home now, and every day, every month, and every year, this feeling intensifies.
It’s so warm I open the jacket of my uniform. This beautiful day, this sudden winter’s prize, gives me a surge of energy and I jump over the low wall to walk along the pebbles and damp sand. The oystercatchers are ahead of me now, their skinny red legs flashing as they paddle in and out of the sea. I should be tired; I was up at four as usual to get ready for my round and it’s been an especially long morning, not over yet, either. My customers, who have been locked inside their houses during the last icy winter weeks, have come out with the sun, delighted, like me, with the spring-like day. Of course, they all want to talk, even more so than usual, which is fine with me. I’ve grown fond of many of them, and some have even become good friends. Mostly I just listen, my head bobbing up and down, nodding as they talk, just like the oystercatchers pecking on the wet shore.
Above me, the herring gulls are shrieking as they fly over the sea and sand. The sound is wonderfully familiar, somehow rooting me to this amazing coastal area I now call home. I take deep breaths, enjoying the relative warmth of the air after the bitter cold of the past weeks. I feel so full of energy that I start doing some Jumping Jacks right there and then, feeling my winter muscles stretch, my lungs fill with clean sea air.
Suddenly I stop. Ahead of me, a cormorant dives into the sea with such grace it nearly takes my breath away. There is hardly a ripple in the water. I stare, wondering where and when it will come up. Finally, after what seems ages, it surfaces, far from where it dived. The bird stays floating serenely on the water for some time, while I stand serenely watching. London, my old life there as a high-flying career woman, seems a million years away.
Then I turn, hop over the wall onto the footpath, and get on with my round. As I walk, the sun glitters on the sea with such promise that I know the New Year is going to be fantastic. My first two in Cornwall have been magical, so why not the third?
I take a few deep breaths, hoist my bag over my shoulder, and set off to finish delivering the day’s post.
New Year, New Beginnings
AS I LEAVE
our house with Jake, the family spaniel, preparing to walk to our tiny village shop, my eyes widen in surprise. There, on the narrow road between our house and the front lawn of the church, is a traffic jam. Hardly any cars drive along that road, for Treverny isn’t on a main road to anywhere big or touristy. Yet right there in front of me is a whole line of cars, trying to get up the road but not moving an inch. I can tell by the grim looks on the faces of the drivers that they’ve been there for some time.
Jake barks madly at this unexpected phenomenon. He’s not used to traffic either, though he should be as we brought him with us when we moved from London. But like all of us – Ben my husband, our two children Will and Amy, now nine and seven, and me, of course – Jake has become countrified. Not for him the city pavements, the roar of cars and motorbikes, lorries and ambulances, day and night. Not for him the neon brightness and high rises and not enough trees to wee on. The adaptation from town dog to rural hound has been swift and complete, as it has for all of us.
I walk up to a cluster of villagers perched on the grass verge of the green next to the church. I notice that it really is green, too, the snow finally nearly all gone. This creeping of colour back into the landscape after the unseasonal snow and ice makes me heady, feeling as if spring is here when it’s only January. The trees on the green, by the pond, are still nothing but trunks and branches but you can almost feel them getting ready to burst into bud and leaf. I keep telling myself it’s too early, but after all, spring does come early here in Cornwall.
I see Daphne standing with the other villagers, watching the cars. She and her husband Joe have a farm outside the village. Their children and ours have become firm friends, just as we have. ‘What’s up?’ I say, indicating the cars.
Daphne rolls her eyes. ‘It’s that thing. Look.’ She points up the road. There, blocking traffic from both ways, is the biggest removal van I’ve ever seen.
‘Goodness, that’s crazy, bringing such a huge vehicle down through the village. It’s almost wider than the road. And look how long it is!’
The other locals standing around join in our conversation. ‘It’s been there for half an hour.’
‘’Tis daft. The thing can’t go forward, can’t go backward. It be stuck now, I do believe.’
‘Fancy sending a great van like that down here.’
‘Must be one of them lunatics from Up Country.’
Everyone is nodding his or her head sagely as these words are bandied about, especially the remark about coming from ‘Up Country’. To the Cornish, anyone from the other side of the Tamar River is Up Country, and suspect.
One of the locals is up ahead chatting to the driver of the removal van. When he finishes, he heads towards our little group. ‘Doug,’ several people call to him, ‘what’s going on? Where’s that thing heading for, d’ya know?’
Doug’s face is smugly smiley, delighted to be the bearer of a bit of gossip. He’s a middle-aged bachelor, still living with his mother who must be a good cook as he’s got a belly as plump and round as his face. Doug works here and there doing gardening jobs as well as being a part-time farm worker on Daphne and Joe’s farm.
‘Oh, ’tis very interesting, very in-ter-est-ing,’ Doug says, dragging out each syllable to keep up the suspense. ‘Especially for this maid here.’ He gives me a nudge. My heart sinks. Doug is harmless, a decent sort, but he does like to wind me up, and has done so since I first arrived. He thinks, quite rightly I’m sure, that I’m a naïve city girl who hasn’t a clue about the countryside, and he gets a buzz out of trying to prove it sometimes.
Everyone looks at me. ‘OK, Doug, I’ll bite. Why would I be especially interested in that removal van?’
Doug grins widely. His face would be like a full moon, especially now that he’s starting to lose his hair, if it weren’t so ruddy. ‘Now wouldn’t you like to know, my handsome.’ He winks and nudges me again. He’s thoroughly enjoying this.
Though I’m dying of curiosity – this is rural life after all, and we tend to get excited about little things like huge removal vans blocking our narrow, windy roads – I know Doug, know that the more I want to know, the more he’ll hold back. So I pretend disinterest and say, ‘I’d better be on my way; it’s getting quite cold standing here.’ This part is true. In one of those sudden temperature shifts that happen in Cornwall, the mild weather I’d been wallowing in just a few minutes ago seems to have disappeared. Clouds have obscured the sun and it feels several degrees colder. The branches on the skeletal trees alongside the road and on the green no longer look as if they are ready to bud but seem to be drawing in against this new onslaught of winter. I’m so lost in staring at the beech tree next to me, admiring its shape and the pattern of its branches, that I jump when Doug shouts in my ear, ‘Tessa, maid, didya hear what I said? Lordie, you do be a dozy maid sometimes!’