The Primrose Line – Episode 06

Illustration by Ged Fay

They made a trip to see the chalet that afternoon. Once they had negotiated Nyon’s busy streets, the drive took them through the beautiful Campagne Vaudoise.

Neat fields dotted the plain, while quiet farmhouses slept in the hazy sunshine. The narrow road began to twist and climb.

In the far distance a faint outline of the Alps was discernible.

The chalet, a solid wooden structure, was just off the road, with a stunning view of the lake.

To the back was the beginning of the pine forest that would climb to the snow line of the mountain; to the front the garden sank in a deep slope.

A wooden nameplate hung from the door. Les Pins.

“Well, they got the name right, with all these pine trees!”

Jim hadn’t expected anything quite so imposing. It was so unlike his modest semi-detached in Solihull.

“What do you think, Jim?” Martin asked.

“It takes my breath away,” Jim said honestly. “I was expecting something less grand.”

“It needs work. It’s been empty for a while. The old couple who owned it also had a smallholding further down the valley.

“They sold their produce at the market in Nyon when we first took over the hotel. I remember the carrots. I’ve never tasted anything like them since!”

“The family put it on the market quite recently,” Laura went on. “It stretched our budget, but I think they were happy to sell to us and keep things local. So many properties around here go to rich Geneva businessmen or foreign investors.”

“Emile and Adrienne like it, that’s for sure!”

Jim watched the children race up and down the slopes. They rushed up to him, out of breath.

“Well, Grandpa, what do you think? Do you like your new home?”

“Adrienne, Grandpa has to decide first.”

There was nothing like kids for putting you on the spot. Not that it was a bad spot to be in – compared to retirement in the Midlands this was in a different league.

But Jim was not a man used to making instant decisions, and this would be a big one.

Martin stepped in with a dose of reality.

“Don’t forget you’re seeing all this in spring sunlight. In winter, snow can fall in October a little higher up and you can go weeks without seeing the sun at all. It can be lonely.”

“Dad can come down to the hotel for the winter if he wants the bright lights,” Laura said quickly.

She had it all worked out, Jim could see. And, in a way, it made sense. She wouldn’t worry about what was happening to him in England; the grandchildren would be on his doorstep for the first time ever, and that purpose that was lacking from his current mental state would be back with this new life.

He could see it now – summer walks in the countryside; hikes into the mountains behind him; an unhurried coffee in a quiet café, the log fire roaring the winter snow away. All he had to do was say yes.

But, taking into account his recent conversation with Laura, it wasn’t the easy decision it might have been.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.