Feb 1

We were unable to locate Tinker’s grave yesterday, but arguably made a far more interesting discovery – if that’s the correct word for it.

My mum went into service aged thirteen at a clergyman’s abode in Wicklow, Ireland. Further skivvying led her to becoming ill and being put into hospital and treated for anaemia. While she was there, an English woman approached her and told of a cook’s job available at a small residential hotel near High Wycombe, Bucks. Following her recovery, the young colleen was quickly on board the mail boat sailing out of Skerries and eastwards across the Irish Sea.

The hotel building was actually the converted vicarage down the lane from the graveyard where we had hoped to find the missing headstone. We pulled up outside in the car and went to take a look at the courtyard where dad used to park his vehicle when he went courting her there. Naturally, I asked him to pose for a photograph and this gave a woman standing nearby the opportunity to ask if we required help.

We explained, and she called her mother and then we were invited to take a look inside. By now, dad was in tears as all the memories came flooding back. As a listed edifice the Gothic building has hardly changed outwardly since 1843. Even the interior has much the same layout and we could easily imagine how my parents’ wedding reception had taken place at the behest of the hotel-owner, who was obviously grateful to my mum.

The current owner then shared some of the secrets she had found out about the place and we exchanged emails for further contacting.

As for Tinker’s grave, I shall have to pick my aunty P – ‘s brain, since I can remember her mentioning something a friend had told her about how a bunch of elderberries always fetched up on my great-uncle’s grave every autumn, in commemoration of his favourite tipple.

NOVELS

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