After a restless sleep Annie got herself out of bed and into the shower, the warm water soothing her aches. She had the viewing of the four properties today and a meeting with Daisy, she had never had so much to do in her life, part of her felt excited with it all, and the other frightened to death of what she has planned. Standing for another five minutes under the shower, she let the water cascade its warmth down her body. Sighing she turned the shower off and stepped out, the towel was soft and warm from the radiator, flicking a hair towel around her head she put on her bathrobe and pottered into the kitchen to turn the kettle on. As the kettle boiled she quickly donned a pair of jeans and a light blue jumper. Her hair she left to dry naturally, its long blond locks hanging down her back, she decided to put a splash of makeup to take away the paleness off of her face, her eyes had black rings underneath showing how tired she was. Walking into the kitchen, she poured herself a strong cup of coffee, whilst popping in a couple of slices of bread into the toaster. Switching the radio on completed her morning routine, the toast popped in the toaster and whilst humming along to the radio, she buttered lavishly and then her favourite jam raspberry seedless. Sighing with the peace and quiet of the little cottage, Annie knew that no matter what happened she was going to get her little hideaway. The time drifted away in the contentment she felt as she sat finishing of her cup of tea.
The road to Ilfracombe took forever as she had got stuck behind a small blue fiesta pottering at a steady 30mph, she had arranged to meet Daisy at the coffee shop opposite the estate agents, and at this rate she was going to be late. The scenery around the area was stunning; the sun had come out and added to the enjoyment she was experiencing even though she was dawdling behind the slow car. Looking in her rear view mirror she could see a snake of cars behind her. After a few miles and with relief the car indicated and turned off the road, leaving Annie and the queue of cars sighing with relief as they were able to pick up speed.
Arriving ten minutes late at the coffee shop had made Annie feel hot and flustered; as she looked around she noticed Daisy was nowhere to be seen, sitting at a table she quickly looked at her phone, no message. Ordering a coffee and a piece of chocolate cake, Annie wasn’t sure what to do, looking at her watch she realised she had half an hour before she needed to meet the estate agent. A ping went off on her phone making her jump, blushing and looking around to see if anyone had noticed she fished out her phone from her handbag, it was from Daisy ‘just parking apologies got stuck in traffic’ Annie chuckled to herself and wondered if Daisy had been sat behind her. Ordering a coffee and a piece of cake for Daisy, Annie sat back down and watched out of the window, the high street was busy this morning, mums with pushchairs rushing around, community police officers walking steadily giving a comforting presence, a flash of wild hair caught Annie’s attention and soon realised with a smile that it was Daisy walking at a fast pace down the high street.
The two women looked over the leaflets the estate agent had given; Annie still had her heart set on the one she had seen at the window. Finishing of their coffees they wandered over to the estate agents. The young man jumped up from his desk as they came through the door, his smile warm and welcoming, ‘Mrs Marsh pleased to see you again’ then turning to Daisy ‘I’m Ben Walters how are you?’ whilst ushering them to a seat ‘I’m Daisy, good to meet you Ben’ Ben sat down and pulled a pile of papers towards him, ‘I have arranged all the viewings and another cottage came on the market, so if you would like to view that one as well?’ he took out a leaflet and handed it over the desk to Annie. The cottage was nestled in woodlands, it had a neglected look about it, the doorway had some form of shrub that looked like it needed a good pruning. The inside rooms looked old and threadbare, quickly glancing down the details, Annie’s first thought was a ‘no’ then right at the bottom of the page after the details of the garden was an art room, a reasonable size of 16foot by 14 foot, it seemed to be pulling her. Daisy took the leaflet and looked at the basics and then the price £250.000 ‘a lot of money considering the state of the place’ nodding Ben immediately replied ‘it’s everything you wanted, yes it will need work doing to it, its secluded and sits on just under an acre of land, it’s worth a viewing I would say’ his young face looked keen and reminded her so much of Wayne when he got excited about something, so taking one last look she looked at Daisy, ‘it’s worth looking at, what can we lose?’
The first property was a three bed end of terrace cottage, though well looked after it wasn’t what Annie wanted. Her idea was to be secluded, a proper secret hideaway, where she could be herself and not worry over neighbours. The second and third properties were pretty much the same, to close to people. The cottage she had seen through the window, was smaller than she had imagined, it was nestled in woodlands and by the sea, the garden was poky and the house edged onto a public footpath which people walking by could look straight into the house. Feeling disappointed she walked back to the car. Daisy and Ben were chatting away in front of her, they were heading to the final cottage, the rundown property, she didn’t hold any hope of it being suitable, and laughing at herself she got into the car. She hadn’t realised how difficult it was to find what you wanted, it hadn’t been a choice when they had bought their house Simon had chosen and that was it. This cottage had to be perfect, had to be what she wanted, her secret hideaway.
They parked up at the bottom of a pathway; you couldn’t see anything of the cottage from the road. The path meandered through woodlands until opening out into an opening showing for the first time the cottage. It stood in its own elegant pride, the garden was like an old fashioned cottage garden where you could see flowers and vegetables mixed together, to the one side was herbs of all kinds, she could see thyme, parsley, a huge rosemary plant, lavender and so much more. As they opened the gate to go up the path to the front door, the wooden gate creaked and then banged shut behind them. The path was overgrown with moss and weeds, the garden needed a good sort out, a lot of the plants had overgrown
and looked sad and leggy. The front porch had an old honeysuckle and clematis growing over it, like the garden in need of a good pruning. It lay like a matted carpet over the porch entrance way catching their heads as they walked to the front door. The door was an old solid oak door with a big blackened door knocker, the hinges were also black though showing their age, Ben took out a large key and inserted it into the lock, it groaned as it turned and then with a creak it opened. Ben walked in, closely followed by Daisy, the house was in darkness due to the curtains through the house being shut. Ben pulled open one curtain and Daisy another which streamed light catching dust particles in the musty stuffy room. Annie walked into the living room, she was surprised at the dust and musty smell, and turned questioning to Ben. ‘I didn’t want to tell you until you had viewed… the previous owner was old Miss Charters, she had only one member of her family who lives in America and instructed that the estate is to be sold by her solicitors’ Annie looked around the room, she could almost sense the love for the old cottage, the chairs were threadbare in places, and small crotchet arm covers covered the arms of all the chairs and sofa. ‘ How sad, all her stuff left abandoned, what will they do with it all’ Ben shrugged and said ‘possibly get one of those firms in that clear houses and most of it will go to auction the rest to the tip’ Daisy had gone onto the other rooms, you could see light appearing as she opened curtains. Following Annie looked at each of the rooms and felt herself falling in love with the place, it needed work doing to it, but after all she was a millionairess, smiling and hugging herself she said ‘I’m rich, and I have found my secret hideaway’ after looking through the house, she asked Ben to show her the back garden and the art studio. They went through the kitchen door and out into a wooden lean to conservatory, on the wooden rafters were numerous herbs and flowers drying. Daisy shuddered, ‘this place gives me the shivers’ they headed out into the garden and along a pathway that took them to the edge of the woods, nestled was a building with a porch that ran along the front, almost like the houses in America, a rocking chair sat with a cushion that had gone wet and mouldy, a crochet blanket that was hanging stretched with the wet and covered in green algae. Annie touched the rocking chair and it started to rock, creaking on the wooden floor. Ben opened the door and stepped in, the room was large and very light, and paint easels, brushes dried solid in jars littered the sides. Paintings were rested in piles against the walls. Annie flicked through a few; they were mainly of the landscape, the sea. ‘Look at this view’ Daisy shouted back at them, Ben and Annie headed to the large landscaped window to be met with a stunning view of the sea, it took their breath away. For Annie that was the final decider, as a girl she had been good at art, Simon had deemed it a waste of time, so she hadn’t painted for years. Her very own secret hideaway with an art studio, this is meant to be. ‘I want it’ she said firmly.