Unbelievably Leslie arrived with her charge – a dog. Across London, and on a train from Liverpool street changing at Ipswich. I’d never placed Leslie with a dog, just as I’d never imagined her in India, until she arrived. Actually she’s far more open and versatile than I give credit for, and she’d got a handle on dog psychology. We were the dog girls.
First stop Redisham Hall, for their Open Gardens. Two acres of walled gardens, in full production. We learned over tea the kitchen garden was run by one girl, who made a living offering a box scheme. Round my corner and I knew nothing about it. Magnificent healthy tomato plants, and yes a peach tree. What was the conversation we had over tea? The girl came and sat down with us, remember?
‘He’s the head gardener’ (taking the money) ‘And she’s my daughter. My husband is not here. I love him so much that I’m fat with contentment’.
The weather was warm, and we motored round the corner to see Westall Church and have a picnic and walk the dogs. (http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/Westhall.htm)
Final outing to Flixton Museum – Leslie had found it in the Times of London. It’s joy was in it’s being left alone, not Farrow and Balled, captions still in Courier Typewritter script. Each story in a picture frame, and so many stories, collected, gifted, like the collection of British Airways cutlery someone had collected over the years. An eclectic collection including a graveyard of air craft wreckage. We were disappointed to find the Adair walk was closed to us – too dangerous we were told, but it introduced us to the Adair family who resided at Flixton Hall for 200 years, and where “patrons of the living”. Death duties and deaths of sons forced General Adair to sell in 1950. The Hall was sold privately to a speculator, who removed and sold all the protective lead from the roof, water was causing serious problems to the interior so he applied and gained permission to demolish the building in June 1952. As a result, one of the most magnificent buildings in East Anglia was allowed to disappear forever – only the shell of part of the ground floor survives today and is used for farm storage.
Of course, we went to the wood, ate good food, and chewed the cud on our lives, Leslie with the death of her landlady, Tilly, who she’d cared for so assiduously the last few years (another surprising aspect to Lesley, she did it brilliantly, lucky Tilly) – and similar to me, received little materially in return. And I of course with the Bob end game all mixed in with Brexit, Trump, words forgotten now, but what remains is a warm hearted friendship over time and geography. We are both humbler now. I still admire her.