As the last week of October approached, Ada and Stan started to look forward to welcoming their final visitors of the year. Their first couple from London : Julian and Francesca.
They arrived after lunch, on October 31st – Halloween. This was the first time they’d had guests on this day, and they were astonished when the two of them turned up in the most fabulous open-topped Porsche Boxter, bearing gifts of a homemade pumpkin tart and a bottle of champagne.
‘Well, that’s two firsts in one day’, Ada said to Stan. ‘ We’ve never seen such a car, and no-one has brought us champagne before. ‘This is going to be fun’.
Normally, Ada would welcome her guests with tea and biscuits, but, this time, their request was for ‘green’ tea.
‘Well, another first’, said Ada, thankful that her daughter had left some mixed teabags in the kitchen, which included some green tea.
Francesca and Julian were also keen to walk, take photographs, and enjoy the countryside, but they were totally different from all their other guests because they had come to experience something quite unique: fine dining at an exclusive and very expensive French restaurant in the heart of the Forest. They were keen to eat pigeon breasts and partridge, both offered on the menu.
‘Well, we’ve never even heard of the place’, they exclaimed ,when the young couple told them about the place.
‘But we can certainly give you directions on how to get there’, Stan said.
‘It’s not the sort of place we’d ever visit’,he remarked.
The visit went well. The weather was perfect, except for some light rain on one of the four days; the lovely greater spotted woodpecker made a special appearance, out in the garden, for the couple to see at breakfast.
They had also come to experience the autumn ‘pannage’ – when six hundred or so pigs and piglets roam the forest, gorging on the green acorns, beechmast and other nuts so poisonous to the ponies. This had been a remarkable year for acorns . They were so plentiful that the pannage was being extended until December 20th.
And when Ada asked if they would like some music played at breakfast, all they wanted was a track of birdsong to be played.
‘Well ,no-one has ever asked for that before’, said Ada.
After they left, the old couple went upstairs to find that their guests had left the flat in an immaculate state, and in the Visitors’ Book, Francesca had done some lovely drawings of ponies and piglets that were quite delightful.
‘Fancy that’, said Ada.
They had paid in cash, and, as Stan put the last payment of the year into his wallet, he turned round to Ada and said:
‘Let’s try that restaurant, what do you think? It would make a change , wouldn’t it’.
Yes, I think it would’, said Ada, smiling, as she raised a glass of champagne to her lips.