It was just after midnight last Friday as the three of us settled into bed, Bonita assuming her ever-present role as a highly effective feline contraceptive, stretched between us and condemning Amanda and I each to our own peripheral eight inches of mattress. The fire was raked and safe, the lights were off, and the TV was playing the third disc of a thirty-three disc box set of ‘Homicide:Life on the Streets’ when we heard a dull, but distant, bang.
I went upstairs to investigate (our barn is upside down) with the full expectation that a bottle had fallen off a worktop onto the floor, concerned that we’d acquired a poltergiest, or at a stretch, that we’d been broken into. But there was nothing to discover and after a few seconds looking around I went back to the DVD and we thought nothing else of it. Nothing else until the following morning.
As I passed the entrance to the bread-oven house I was stopped in my tracks. The area that Amanda and I had painstakingly cleared was again full of rubble and clay. Seemingly the rain had collapsed a high wall, newly exposed to the elements after being stripped of thirty years of protective ivy. ‘So that was the bang’, I muttered to myself as the days labouring priority suddenly changed to moving a couple of tonnes of stone and cleaning a load of soggy yellow clay.
I tutted to myself, cursed under my breath, decided what I’d need from the tool store and continued towards the big house. But as I approached the front door I was greeted by the strangest of buzzing noises. I looked for wasps, birds and electrical shorts but eventually my eyes rested on the water meter which was spinning uncontrollably, almost too fast to see with the human eye. ‘That’s not right’, I thought.
It turned out to be in the old milking stalls area, the part of the old house closest to the barn. And here I found a possible second reason for the previous nights big bang.
A two metre square hole had appeared in the roof and a large pile of slates and wood had descended two storeys, rupturing a water pipe on their journey, and creating a water feature where no water feature should be.
What was going to be a nice day pottering around and preparing for the impending construction jobs had turned into a day of hard labour, of shovelling detritus, and of using tarpaulins to protect ancient beams now newly exposed to the elements.
And we’re still no wiser as to which of these disturbed our Friday night DVD watching.