Cats have such a different way of viewing things. They seem to romanticise everything, adding fishes here and butterflies there. Taking an old scarecrow and making it into somebody who might, and did, give them a dish of cream with a sunflower smile. They can even take an ordinary dwelling and remodel it into an almost teapot, replacing the grey slate for thatch and setting it in a magical garden.
For my part, I just saw an overgrown garden, an old damp cottage in need of some repair, not a single butterfly – and just where did those fish come from? Yes, I hardly saw the crescent; whilst Luna? Well I guess that you know the song. Still, maybe Luna was closer to the truth than I had thought.
After we’d had tea and cake, scones with cream, and tomato sandwiches with the woodsman and his wife in their dingy cottage deep in the woods, I began to think how much like a dream those few hours were. According to my map we where somewhere, not far from the
but somehow I felt that we’d travelled much further. It was very strange. village of Rostherne
The woodsman wore gaiters and a waistcoat, a red neckerchief at his throat. He carried a broken shotgun on his arm – an old one, an antique worthy of any Antiques Roadshow. His wife dressed equally as eccentrically; a long gingham dress with petticoats and apron, hair in a tight bun tied up in a hairnet; but she had the most winning smile and the most wonderful scent of lavender water followed her wherever she went.
It was like stepping into a picture postcard of the past.
Back at the campervan the woodsman offered to help me get my ‘contraption’ free from the ditch, asking wherever I found such a thing and was it a ‘modern thingymacallit?’ I replied it was, humouring him – well he did have the shotgun lay over his arm and broken or not it was the work of a moment to unbreak and shoot. He went off to the barn and I - expecting him to return with a tractor - was surprised when I saw him leading a huge carthorse up the road.
“Old Nathaniel will sort you out; won’t you boy.”
And he did; making light work of pulling us out of the ditch by use of a thick rope slung around his mighty neck.
“There, he’s a strong horse is Nathaniel. Now, you can turn in the yard now that you’re out and be sure to go back the way you came, no turning off to left or right, just keep on the track and you’ll be fine. Like my sign says: there are no short cuts around these parts, regardless of what you might see. ”
“But it was a straight road in with no turnings,” I replied, “… surely it’s a straightt road out?”
“Maybes.” Said the woodsman, “But be sure you don’t get sidetracked. It wouldn’t do if you lost you way again, it wouldn’t do at all.”
“Okay, thank you Mr…” It was at that moment that I realised I’d never asked him is name.
“Barker.” He responded, “Francis Nelson Barker.”
“Well, thanks again Mr Barker and a good day to you.”
“Welcome.” He said; tipping his hat and breaching his gun as he slowly walked away.
A few minutes later we were on our way again. I was still somewhat puzzled by where we’d been but Luna seemed happy, a huge cat grin upon her face.
We must have passed a dozen side tracks leading off the main lane on the way back; I was sure that they weren’t there on the way in. Luna said nothing, just sat on the passenger seat smiling until we came to a lane on our left. A sign stood by the turning.
“That’ll be ours then.” Said Luna.
“But we were told not to leave the track. Besides, it says..."
“What you are told and what you do can be two very different things,” said Luna; “anyway, even nowhere has to be somewhere and I’m very interested to find out just what a ‘Dead End’ is. Take the turn please.’
So I did.