Then one day Farmer Fortissimo came to visit. Larger than life and at least four times louder, and smelling quite strongly of cows. Every stitch on his tight shirt straining (who was I to talk?) and every button bursting (ditto) as he tried very, very hard to find out what our Dream Home had cost us. In theory, he was there to see if we would let him graze our cows in his paddock. In practice, he was clearly to desperate to find out how much we had paid for the place. Understandably suspicious of Londoners and our motives, he was also out to dig and rile while quaffing as many beers as I ill-advisedly provided, desperate as I was to get it right and not seem stand-offish. I resolutely refused to walk into any of his traps (Round One to me), and as we sat in the then-kitchen and he probed and fished, my tiny septuagenarian mother, walked past the two open doors behind him, thumbs up or down according to how well I was doing. Not an easy task with a ten pound baby in her arms. Before I knew it however, I’d agreed to him putting his cows in our field for a nominal (a VERY nominal, as it turned out) rent, and upkeep. (Round Two to him.)
And then came the coup de grace. ‘So you’ll be Antis then’ he boomed, confidently. Or cleverly, as it turned out. ‘Not at all’ I replied ‘We’re firmly pro, actually.’ ‘So you’ll have the Meet then’ he retorted, quick as a flash. ‘Delighted!’ I beamed, with no clear idea of what that might entail. Damn. Round Three to him.