....has, for thirty of the thirty-five and a bit years that Bookhound and I have been married, mostly looked like this...
The nest is plenty big enough for five of us and at various times in recent years occupancy has been variable, with college and university and travelling, or those moments when children go off somewhere and we home the goods and chattels and the kayaks and the kettles and the cutlery and the bedding and the beds and the ...and the ...and the.
Then they come back and go off somewhere else and take some of it, but leave another lot in its place, and somehow we have been used to this odd traffic, and, whilst Offspringette (now teaching) and the Kayaker (now land-based and working for a big UK outdoor equipment company) have been off and settled in their homes elsewhere, we have always had one permanent fixture called the Gamekeeper, who since college has worked very very hard at learning his trade in order to build up the experience and the countryside wisdom that his job requires.
It seems a very long time since this picture was taken and published in the Shooting Times... a young lad desperate to work at the job he loves...
And I'll own up...at times it hasn't been easy for him or us to keep that dream alive, but for the last two years he has had a permanent keeper's job, and this coming week our last fledgling is leaving the nest as the Gamekeeper, and the very lovely Girlfriend of the Gamekeeper move into his Gamekeeper's cottage. Cue excursions up into the loft all weekend as we search out kettle and plates and cutlery and saucepans and curtains ...and...and etc
He will only be about two miles up the road, which feels like near enough for his two dogs to find their way back home to the third who is staying if they so choose, but hopefully not the washing. And we will have to call him back when we need to move furniture because he can do most of it with one hand.
But Bookhound and I are looking at each other and feeling slightly incredulous that we have really only ever had five years on our own together, and wondering quite what life will be like now...
...with no Size 12s to trip over as we come in the door
...no smelly wellies
...no larder full of energy-laden carbs
...no fifty-four sludge green, muddy coats in the boot room
...no cartridge cases/squirrel tails/other things in the washing machine
...no dead things hanging on the verandah
...no ferrets to escape
...no doors shutting and trucks going out at 5am
...no trucks coming in and doors shutting at 2am
I don't want to say it too loudly but we think our nest might finally be empty and it could be time to get on with the next bit of our lives. We have had some very exciting plans in the offing for quite a while, and though we still have a lot of work to do we are hoping they can now come to fruition...remember the extension that Bookhound was building??
And I never actually said what it was for... well it will be a very nice kitchen ...another one, so watch this space and think..
...book-lined holiday cottage sleeps four or more
...open fields as far as the eye can see
...'that' view from the bedroom windows
...miles and miles of fantastic walking on the doorstep
...new-laid eggs (our chickens are making a comeback)
...resident dowager cats
...bimbling old dog to borrow
...empty bran wolery to watch which might just fill the day someone is looking
...Bookhound's legendary cream teas
...nice hotel up the road for a posh evening
...peace perfect peace
...and all in the splendid area of outstanding natural beauty that is the Tamar Valley.