Welcome To SladMature

                                             The car pulled away from Stroud Railway station and into the high street.  The cramped little town had all the chain names, GAP, River Island, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, all crammed into a very small place.  It seemed to take forever to drive anywhere, numerous zebra crossings and traffic lights, giving more mobile time to the pedestrian than the driver, which normally, as a life long pedestrian, Jonathon 'Jack' Williams, wouldn't normally complain about getting the right of way so often in a town centre, but his journey had been long, he wanted to get back to the house, not wait for country buntkins to get a move on.

                                             He liked Stroud, it had everything he could expect to find back in London, perhaps not on such a large scale, but he wouldn't be short of a shop to visit, but he loved Slad.  The tiny village, two miles away from Stroud, was a country paradise, solitude and quiet were always assured, plenty of time for him to write and relax.  Jack looked across at his grandmother, Anne, a kindly looking woman, slightly plump with rose red cheeks, brown eyes and a winning smile.  Anne was in fact, Jacks step-grandmother, she had married Jacks grandfather sometime before he was born, his real grandmother having also remarried.  As far as he was concerned, he knew exactly who's parents were who's,  Pat and Bernard were his mother and her sisters parents, when they divorced, Pat married John, and they had his aunt Lucy, and Bernard married Anne, who in turn gave birth to his aunt Debbie, and he liked it this way.

                                            After the devorce, Bernard had bought a large house, buried deep in the depths of Slad, Down Court, the house had once, long ago, been five tiny cottages.  A previous owner had smashed through, creating a large, spacious house.  Jack had loved spending summers hear as a child, playing with Anne's last dog Ebony, a beautiful black labrador, Ebony had died some time ago though, Anne now owning another black lab by the name of Rosie, a rather naughty 3 year old puppy!  Jack had spent almost complete days walking Ebony, taking her down the lane from the house, through the huge blue swing gate, blocking the road, that he could still remember his grandfather volting one handed.

                                             Further down the path, they would reach Snow Farm, he had never met the owners, it hadn't been a working farm for years, converted into a family home, but they were always away for the summer.  Then, over another gate, the style being much easier than opening and closing the gate, lay the valley, a lush green, endless play ground, where you could pretend to be anyone, and do anything!  He could remember coming down to the stream with the rest of his family when he'd been a toddler, playing 'Pooh Sticks', off the tiny stone bridge.

                                     Jack had a few friends, Conrad, who lived at the top of the lane, leading to Down Court, Alex, a pretty brunette girl who lived on the main road, separating Slad and Stroud, and Hannah, perhaps his oldest friend, she lived on another farm, along the lane, between Conrad's house and Down Court.  Jack hadn't seen his friends for years, his last visit, he was aged 19, now, nearing 30, he was hoping they were still near by, although it was not the point of his visit, his grandfather, Bernard, had died, the previous winter.  Anne had converted Down Court into a Guest House, just after Bernard had retired.

                                  Jack had offered to come up and help Anne for a couple of weeks, she didn't really need it, but he thought she could use the company.  The house had six bedrooms two bathrooms, two sitting rooms and a dinning room, plus kitchen, out house, and large storage house, built at the end of the house, at the top of the garden, which would be his make shift bedroom.  The house also had a very large garden, a vegetable patch and a paddock, which Anne often rented to local farmers needing to store live stock some where for a while.

                                The house was stone slab, lime stone and rock build, every inch of its outside walls were a different shade of grey, white, cream and black, its  polished oak front doors glinted in the sunlight, and the lead lined windows could be seen shinning at the top of the hill built road, leading to the house.  As Jack and Anne pulled out of Stroud, the drive suddenly became that much easier.  Slowly but surely, the houses became less consistant, until there was nothing but a steep grassy hill on Jack's side of the car, and the edge of a steep drop into the valley on Annes.

                               They drove past Alex's house, he half expected to see her open the door and come out waving as they drove past, her house, an old converted school house, was built into the hillside on Jacks side of the car,

"Shall we stop?", Anne asked, sensing his desire to see an old friend,

"No, It's OK, I'll try calling everyone tomorrow", Jack replied, for tonight, a warm meal, a walk down into the valley with the dog, and a few hours of well deserved sleep was what he wanted!

                               They pulled past a large, brilliantly red, brick house, that Jack had always seen as a bit of an eye saw and on to the lane, which ran for about half a mile to Down Court.  As they drove, Jack watched the thick, dark green leaves of the trees whip passed his window, his relaxation interrupted every so often by Anne beeping her car horn, to alert any drivers around the blind corners.  Up and down, the lane was built on three rather steep rises, up and down, past Hannah's farm, the strongest urge to stop takes Jack, but he has time for that.

                             Up and finally, their on the last rise, taking the next corner, the only part of the lane to be canopied by trees, they turn and see Down Court coming to meet them, sloping down its little bank.  That car pulls to a stop in front of twin garages, one containing the car that had belonged to his grandfather.  Anne walks off towards the house while Jack gets his things from the car, he turns and heads across the drive to a small iron gate, only there to keep the dog from running into the lane whether she felt like it, which apparently was quite a lot!, and then I'm there, standing in front of the back door, which lead to the kitchen, back stairs and dinning room.  He can't help it, a little smile creeps across his face,

"Feels good to be back!"

 

The End

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