Outside in the garden a pair of long-tailed tits was busy building an intricate nest, somewhere in dense shrubs. Daffodils bloomed, and lungwort, as I sat outside in the sun- a kitchen consultant ready to listen to advice. What a peaceful afternoon! I wondered for a moment if Nigel the builder was there in his domain, once the kitchen of the house, now a shell of a kitchen.
Work in the kitchen began on a beautiful March day when sunlight flooded into the house, and Nigel paused late in the afternoon to tell how his home was deep in floodwater at the time of Storm Desmond, 5 December 2015, and how he renovated everything himself.
As he worked, I was on hand to be consulted. So I followed a serialisation of Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey, so deep in the loneliness of the governess that I waited eagerly to see if the vicar Mr Weston, whom she loved, would seek her out in Scarborough. The final episode saw Anne strolling the shore and looking out to the sea in wonder as Edward Weston came to claim her. And I thought of Anne Bronte taken to a boarding house in Scarborough, in the forlorn hope of the sea air restoring her health. Somehow, the hopeful conclusion of Agnes Grey's story seemed to assuage that toll of Bronte deaths.
Book at bedtime, is Helen Dunmore's Birdcage Walk, set in Bristol at the time of the French Revolution and the fine Georgian architecture of Clifton Terrace. I had not realised how affairs in France put a blight on property development in Bristol. There's a sense of foreboding in Dunmore's novel. The author herself is ill and thoughts of mortality run through her work. Her protagonist, Lizzie, suffers coercive control at the hands of her husband . We've already glimpsed a scene in Leigh Woods, across the Avon Gorge, and the young woman is doomed.
Meanwhile, I post an image or two of a kitchen coming into being. And share the secrets behind the façade to come.