A family makes a decision in Em Barnard’s observant complete story set on the Norfolk Broads.
An inspiring story by Em Barnard
The Broads cruiser was almost like one of the family. But the family was changing . . .
TESS stepped out of the bungalow she and her family were viewing and walked across the neat rear lawn to the river’s edge. Across it, a landscape of trees, fields and cattle grazing stretched to the horizon under a wide blue sky.
She dropped her gaze to the river. This Saturday the Norfolk Broads waterways were sparkling. Folk waved to her from cruisers chugging past and she waved back, though she was unable to share their delight.
Minutes before, her joy about this house being exactly what she wanted had sunk like a stone.
“It’s too big. It’s five bedrooms, Tess,” Tony had reminded her. “We’d have to sell the Mirabel to afford it.”
“We can’t sell the boat, Dad!” Zac and Ben swung round from their exploration of the furnished lounge. Their sister, Lucy, was still wandering other rooms.
“The other one was more in our price range,” Tony went on, “and it had river frontage, with a cut to moor the Mirabel.” Tess frowned. “It only had three bedrooms, same as we have now.” “I could build on to it, Tess.” “Meantime, I could bunk down on the boat,” Zac added. “I’ll likely be at uni, anyway, by the time we move.”
That was when Tess had glared at Zac and left, leaving Tony to disappoint the agent . . .
She turned from the river’s edge to look back at the house. Cream-painted over pebble dash, it was dependable, its firm-rooted, hard lines already softening under climbing roses and honeysuckles.
It would always be bright and welcoming, even in winter when dark skies rolled over. The neat garden which encircled it was lawn, with a surround of shrubs backed by established trees. The only wooden construction was on the back lawn – a pretty summerhouse.
Tess went to sit in it now. As its warmth wrapped around her she closed her eyes and remembered her childhood. She’d grown up in a house beside an inland river with quiet fields surrounding it.
Aged eighteen, while walking the dog along the riverside, she became aware of a handsome guy, muscles straining as he scraped the hull of a 30-foot wooden boat boasting sails and engine. It had been left to Tony by his grandad.
They’d spent many of their courting days on it but had then sold it for a deposit on their first home, where they still lived. They had raised three kids there.
Then, five years ago while on holiday here, they’d bought a wooden Broads cruiser, the Mirabel. It was wintered in the boatyard belonging to Jim, from whom they rented their holiday cottage. Last summer Tony had rushed into the garden to find her.
“Guess what! Next spring Jim will be advertising for guys to join his yard. What do you think? I’m fed up with fitting kitchens; this would be more satisfying. And you love the river, Tess.” She blinked. “It’s not that simple, Tony. The kids need to have a say. There’s school to consider.”
“But this job doesn’t start till next September. Zac will probably be at university and it fits in with Ben’s GCSEs. Lucy will have plenty of time to settle in before she has exams.” Tess considered. “If Jim isn’t advertising the posts until next Easter, I suggest we keep it to ourselves till after Christmas. It’s not just you and me taking a chance, Tony. We’re a family.” He nodded, understanding. On a dismal Sunday afternoon in January, the kids were called into the lounge.
“How do you feel about moving to the Norfolk Broads?” Tony began.
“Why?” Zac asked.