“Does she have more feets?” Jeremy, our vet, and I both looked at my dog.
“No?” I was pretty sure that she still had the usual four that she’d walked in on. Remembering Jeremy’s French accent, I mentally translated. “Oh, fits.” Since moving into the castle, my children have accused us of becoming peculiar. Apparently, that consists of wearing lots of thick jumpers (sweaters), drinking our tea with milk, and having a dog who has fits. “No, she’s been doing fine.” As the dog in question was at that moment attempting to lick him to death, he gave her a pat and told me to have the new vet get in touch after the move.
And, from the How-Is-This-Even-A-Thing category—she might have feets, but my dog is normal compared to the extreme grooming poodles…
I’m not saying that I had a bad attitude about moving out of the castle, but it was only a week before our move. Of the long list of people my web downloaded list said I should notify, Jeremy was the only one I’d crossed off. It was going to be a long day.
I started with Mr. Milkman. Our relationship over the past three years has been one of cordial correspondence, and we have never, as far as I know, set eyes on each other. I received his note after leaving my goodbye letter with the final load of empty bottles. “Many thanks for your past custom, and we wish you well in your new home!” was hand-written on a piece of lined notepaper. I hope he doesn’t mind that I kept one of his adorable little bottles as a souvenir of a relationship based purely on respect, scribbled notes, and organic dairy products.
My farewells to Mr. Coalman were similarly distant and just as regretful. Over the past three years, many people had politely assumed the appeal of heating our castle tower with fireplaces was strictly the cheerful and cozy warmth they provided. But a few village friends who made a point to visit on coal delivery days had a whole different appreciation of the benefits of a coal fire. Having the seriously toned Mr. C shed his shirt as he tossed around huge bags of coal was one village highlight that the Archives Group neglected to list on their “Brancepeth Walks” brochures. If they had added pictures, I’m guessing they could have sold enough to get that new kitchen for the Village Hall. (Sadly, the only fireplace in the new house has a gas insert.)
The rest of my farewells to village organizations are a bit blurred. That’s because our little village is perhaps the only one in England that doesn’t have a pub. To make up for it, Village Coffee is probably the sole village activity which doesn’t involve regular and copious amounts of alcohol. Unless it’s someone’s birthday. Or someone is leaving. Or, you know, it’s Wednesday… Art class, the archives group, bookclub, garden club—if there are more than three villagers together, there are bottles. Progressive suppers and garden club walks are famous for the numbers of people who are overcome with…er…village events and are left behind napping in a bathtub or behind a hedge.
While my memories of my last farewell sendoff aren’t too specific, I do remember inviting everybody there and quite possibly some total strangers to move to Scotland with me. If you were one of them, let me know and I’ll make up a bed in the guest room.
We’re still peculiar. And in addition to the tea with milk, and the dog with feets, I have a few farewell bottles left over and a brand new one with single malt uisge beatha so peaty it’s like licking the bottom of a cigar ashtray. This is, they tell me, a good thing. But then, they also tell me that haggis are delicious. If I start to agree with either of these statements, I ask that someone please revoke my visa and send me home with a bottle of Jack and some Texas barbeque.