The Call Of The City – Episode 03

All the main characters Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

“New York’s so far away,” Meg prevaricated.

“I know, but it’s one of the best music programmes in the world, Mum.” Grace shrugged.

“I might not even get in. They just want me to audition. Loads will be turned away, I’m sure.”

“Still, it’s a triumph for you, Grace.” Meg roused herself and gave her daughter a bright smile. “Why don’t we celebrate tonight? I’ll invite Kerry and Daniel over for supper.”

“Great.” Grace hugged her. “Thanks, Mum.”

She stepped back.

“I’d better get ready for work.”

Grace hurried out of the room and Meg stared vacantly for a moment.

Juliet had been just as excited. More so, until she’d realised how upset Meg was, how angry.

She had got in the taxi to go to the train station without saying goodbye. Hadn’t even looked back. Meg knew this, because she’d been at the kitchen window, watching her go.

She had a mad impulse to beg Grace not to go to New York. There were plenty of good music schools in England.

But she couldn’t do it. It had been clear from the rapture on her daughter’s face that this was her dream, and Meg knew better than to get in the way of it.

She’d tried to keep Juliet from her dreams, and the result had been a yawning chasm that neither of them had yet been able to cross.

With another sigh she reached for the phone to call Kerry and invite her and Daniel to supper.

Kerry drove the battered Land-Rover down the rutted track to Ghyll Farm.

She’d worked with the Farmers Trust, an agricultural charity, for two years, since leaving university.

One of the best parts of her job was visiting farmers and helping them to put environmentally friendly practices into place.

Working for the Trust was how she’d met Daniel.

She’d come to Embthwaite Farm to give him the usual talk about hedgerow management. Daniel had responded with a lazy smile and assured her that his hedgerows were in perfect condition.

They’d toured his farm together, and Kerry had been impressed by how neat and productive everything was.

Afterwards, they’d sat in the farmhouse kitchen, stockinged feet stretched towards the Aga, mugs of tea cradled in their hands while they exchanged the basics of their lives.

Kerry was the coddled doctor’s daughter who lived in a sleepy, Postman-Pat-like village.

Daniel had lost both parents by the time he was nineteen and had struggled on the farm alone, turning it into the success it now was through determination and grit.

Kerry had fallen in love right then, even if it had taken her a while to admit it to herself.

She loved the drive and confidence behind his relaxed air and lazy drawl.

She’d come to the farm a month later to discuss dry-stone wall maintenance initiatives, and he’d informed her he was already offering a course at the local agricultural college in how to do it.

Then he’d asked her out.

Smiling at the memory, Kerry pulled her Land-Rover into the muddy yard of Ghyll Farm.

Edward Tomlinson, the farmer whose family had had this place for over 100 years, came out of the farmhouse, limping a little.

“You all right, Edward?” Kerry asked as she got out of the Land-Rover.

Edward grimaced.

“Blasted gout again.”

Kerry wagged a finger.

“You need to lay off the red wine and chocolate.”

“As if.”

He huffed indignantly. Kerry knew he was strictly a pint of bitter man.

“Come in the kitchen and have a brew.”

At least half of each day was spent drinking mugs of tea in farmhouse kitchens, listening to the complaints and concerns of farmers who struggled every day to make ends meet.

Kerry enjoyed the cameraderie, the sense that her most important work wasn’t inspecting hedgerows or drainage systems, but simply listening.

She’d joked to Daniel that she was part therapist, although he’d never needed that from her.

He was self-sufficient. She’d liked that about him.

Now, in the cosy clutter of a farmhouse kitchen, she listened to Edward talk about his gout, his three children who had left the Yorkshire farm for the enticements of Manchester, Leeds and London, and how he missed his wife, Betty, who had died last year.

“She never did like Yorkshire,” he reminisced. “Brontë country, she called it, and not in a good way.”

He drained his tea.

“She hoped heaven wasn’t going to look like Yorkshire; more like Bermuda. We went there once, on holiday.”

Kerry nodded, touched. In 50 years, would she and Daniel have such shared memories, disappointments and dreams, hopes and failures?

At the moment she couldn’t see it. She’d been married three months and felt she’d barely seen Daniel at all.

Not that she was going to be grumpy about that, she ordered herself as she headed outside to examine Edward’s latest ram.

She’d known what she was getting into. Lambing season was nearly upon them, and Daniel was incredibly busy.

They’d decided to delay the honeymoon for a while.

Kerry wanted to get into the business of real life, of making Embthwaite Farm her own.

She needed to give both herself and Daniel time to adjust to being married.

It was a huge change, yet Daniel seemed to expect her to slot into his life and his home without making any changes at all.

Kerry pushed such thoughts away. They didn’t help anything.

To be continued…

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.