He took his remaining sandwich and a top-up of his drink, and sat in Gloria’s conservatory. His plans were still going through his mind. “Maybe it’s as well doing things in stages,” he thought, “Given the vagaries of English summer weather, hoping for a solid ten or eleven days of dry weather would be very optimistic.” Doing it a day or two at a time he’d be able to check, with more confidence, the weather forecast for dry spells just before leaving. He also realised that leaving his rented house for an entire week or more was increasing risks such as burglary. Being insured was not the same as peace of mind. On top of all that, he didn’t really want to have on his conscience that Charlotte would be completely alone for such a long time. Not living with her didn’t mean that he didn’t love her or care about her.
He decided to ring her a bit later when she’d be back from the Library.
Tuesday April 23 Week One – At Gloria’s – Frank
It was just after three that Frank rang his wife from Gloria’s house. He was sat in her living room.
‘Hello love, it’s only me,’ he said when she answered.
‘Hello,’ she replied, ‘I thought that you were supposed to have left me.’
‘I can ring off if you’re going to be stroppy,’ he said.
‘Oh, don’t be so touchy,’ she said, ‘I’m pleased you’ve rung. How are you? What have you been doing with yourself?’
‘I just wanted to check in, hear your voice and make sure that you’re okay,’ he said, ‘Did you go to your Local History meeting?’
They spent forty minutes or so telling each other what they were up to. Frank hadn’t said anything about his original plan of spending more than a week away in a solid block and was a bit surprised when Charlotte dropped her surprise on him.
‘The long-term forecast for the South West looks as if it’s going to be nice,’ she said, ‘I’ve booked a holiday in Dorset next week. Do you mind?’
‘How could I object – as if I would anyway? Are you going on your own?’
‘Why, Frank?’ she answered, ‘Are you worried that I’ve found myself a fancy man already?’
‘Have you?’ he asked, and he wasn’t sure if she were serious.
‘Don’t be daft,’ she said, ‘It was bad enough having to try to housetrain you. I’m in no hurry to take on the trouble of another useless man.’
‘Well, that’s put me in my place,’ he said.
‘Isn’t that why you left?’ she said.
Frank felt that he’d managed to put himself on the defensive.
‘I just wondered if you might be going with one of the women from the Library group,’ he said.
‘No,’ she said, ‘I’m planning to go on my own, but before I left, one of the women there asked if I’d considered taking up ballroom dancing. She was telling me that a new session of lessons was about to start in the Community Room.’
‘What did you tell her?’ he asked.
‘That I’d think about it and let her know before Thursday evening when it starts.’
‘Are you serious?’ he asked.
‘As I said, I’ll think about it,’ she said, ‘I might turn up for the first night and see how it goes. I won’t be going next week though when I’m away.’
‘When are you leaving?’ he asked.
‘ Next Monday,’ she said, ‘for eight days – seven nights. I’ll go down on the Monday and come back the following Monday – May Bank Holiday – it’s later this year.’
‘As soon as that’? he asked.
‘I managed to get one of those last-minute deals,’ she said.
Frank didn’t want to admit it but he was worried. He didn’t know why – after all, it was only that morning that he’d been planning to be away for almost two weeks. He didn’t want her to think that he was jealous – he supposed that by leaving he’d forfeited any right to be jealous – but he hoped that he had nothing to be jealous about. He trusted that she’d be all right on her own. He thought that it was quite adventurous of her and, on reflection, felt sure that it would do her a world of good.
‘Will you be driving down to Dorset?’ he asked.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘ that’s what I’m planning.’
‘It’s a long drive,’ he said, ‘You will be careful won’t you?’
‘Oh!’ she said, ‘You almost sounded as if you cared.’
‘Now, now,’ he said, ‘just remember, it wasn’t because I didn’t care that we ended up separated.’
Almost as soon as he put the phone down, Gloria phoned to ask how he was. He told her about his conversation with Charlotte.
Gloria was pleased that he’d phoned her mum. She was fascinated by his account of his conversation about her mum and how she was considering dance classes. She was even more interested by the Dorset plan and impressed by Charlotte’s show of independence. She was amused again by her dad’s reaction to her mum’s decision. The questions that he seemed to have been asking, in Gloria’s mind, indicated that her dad might be having second thoughts.
I took this photo last week (12/02/2021) at Sherdley Park, St Helens, Merseyside. It’s another of several shots that I took of the bare-branched trees. The branches of most of them already bear buds, and soon these lovely structures will be hidden by summer foliage.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a 35 mm f/2 full-frame prime lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/400 at f/9 and the ISO was 1250 The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.