Cindy & I are born and bred Kentish, she from High Halden and me from Woodchurch (four miles apart). I am not sure if we are “Men of Kent” or “Kentish Men”, which has something to do with being born one side or other of the river Medway, apparently to some folk’s that matters! . We have never moved out of the county, I supposed that makes us a pair of stick in mud’s which given the glutinous properties of Wealden Clay seems totally apt. We had no desire to ‘move away’ we like the Kent countryside from the neck craning chalk hills of the North Downs to the big sky’s of Romney Marsh.
In about 1976 we brought our second home, an end of terrace cottage, No3 Forsham Cottage, which is to be found four or five miles south east of Maidstone at the bottom of Sutton Valence Hill, in Forsham Lane. The attraction of Forsham Cottage was the third of an acre garden and as the asking price was at extreme top end of our budget, we weren’t going to get better for our dosh.
No3 had been ‘done up’ with not a penny more spent than was necessary so was totally void of any frills like carpets, curtains, the heating was an open fire which smoked (we smelt like kippers). The garden was rough pasture consisting monster lumps of couch grass, black thorn runners, and a prize selection of brambles and nettles. It needed the repeated application of an industrial grade flymo to make it even walk-able. At this stage I am meant to say ….. “but we loved it” . We had just left our first home, a tidy fully furnished semi with central heating and double glazing so during the winter of 76-77 we had some very intense ‘what have we done’ moments.
I have told Cindy and anybody who will listen she is a witch. I love her to distraction but that don’t change the facts, she performs spells. Three hundred years ago she would have been strapped to the wet end of ducking stool. Critters love her they trail along behind her. She reckons they talk to her, which to Cindy’s perception is perfectly normal, because she talks to them. If you ever see Cindy without a dog, cat (that’s a witch thing) or horse within chatting or patting distance, then its because she’s in the bath.
She will drive towards red traffic lights and barely slows forcing them to go green. Me, I get stopped at every light even pedestrian crossing with nobody there! She pulls up at junction and practically never has to wait. I look left, no traffic, look right and I have an on coming traffic stream longer than the Toyota output but for an entire shift. Cindy drives into a car park and there WILL be a space. I try to park and loose the will to live.
Over next few years we had various adventures at No3, but they are stories to be told another day. After we had tamed the garden, built an extension, installed a wood burning stove and had a baby, Cindy went into witch mode. From the landing window she would gaze out over the garden and adjoining farm and started to insist we were going to own the field next door. It started with an odd comment like “I want a horse”. Then I’d find her staring out and plotting where the paddock fencing would go, and planning how I would convert the pickers hut at the top into a stable.
Now given that the field Cindy had her mind set on formed part of a neighbour’s long established fruit farm. Was hardly standing fallow being planted with trellis after trellis of loganberries and cultivate blackberries. Was NOT for sale, and perhaps I should also mention we were ‘ without funds’, so all in all the omens for Cindy’s equine expansion plans did not look promising.
We took ownership of the field and pickers hut a few months later. I could regale you with how this happened, but to me even now, it is still a blur. Back then I brewed cider, now I would have to seek therapy …… just go with the flow, I have to.
At this point in time we now had a mortgage, a land loan, a horse, a baby, three acres of posts wire and brambles and a wood burning stove, which did keep the house warm and got us an introduction to the Reserve Fireman from Headcorn , twice, on the same night ….. they were not happy chappies.