Wednesday, September 27


Miss Clare invited me to her cottage for the evening.  She refuses to let me fetch her or run her home in the car, but cycles very slowly and as upright as ever, on her venerable old bicycle.

As usual, the best china, the snowiest cloth and the most delicious supper awaited me.

Miss Clare's cottage is a model of neatness.  The roof was thatched by her father, who was the local thatcher for many years.  She has early-flowering honeysuckle over her white trellis porch, and jasmine smothers another archway down the garden path.

In the centre of the table stood a cut-glass vase of magnificent tulips, flanked by a cold brisket of beef on a willow patterned dish garnished with sprigs of parsley from her garden, and an enormous salad.  The freshly-plucked spring onions, were thoughtfully put separately in a little shallow dish.

'It's not everyone that can digest them,' said Miss Clare, crunching one with much enjoyment, 'but my mother always said they were a wonderful tonic, and cleared the blood after winter.'

Miss Clare's silver was old an heavy and gleamed with recent cleaning.  how she finds time to keep everything so immaculate I don't know.  Her house puts me to shame, and she has no one to help her at all, whereas I so have Mrs Pringle occasionally to turn a disdainful hand to my affairs."

Miss Read

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