CONTENTS AND FRONT PAGE STORY - HOUSE SWAP
THE WEBSITE OF AUTHOR JANET GOGERTY
You can do anything on the Internet, even swap your house; intrigued I read the invitation on the screen.
‘Jenny and Chris and their lively family would like to spend two weeks in London sightseeing, living in your house. Why don’t you come and enjoy a fortnight’s holiday at the seaside, living in theirs.’
It was an invitation too good to miss; I e-mailed back immediately and soon we were off on our free holiday to Bournemouth. I read the directions Chris and Jenny had e-mailed us, while Mike drove and the children hit each other with their buckets and spades in the back seat.
‘Here we are, 206, Town Avenue, Netherbourne’ I said excitedly.
‘Where’s the sea then?’ yelled my son.
‘Just be patient and wait till we check the house out.’
‘Wicked’ cried the children as we looked at the four bedroom detached house. Inside I admired the en-suite while Mike inspected the barbeque on the huge patio. I wondered what Jenny and Chris and their five children were making of our tiny two and a half bedroom terrace house.
The sun was shining and the twins were already in their swimming costumes.
‘Directions to the beach are on the kitchen notice board Mike.’
Mike frowned as he read the notes out.
‘Walk up the high street, the buses are every half hour (if you’re lucky), then it’s a very scenic ride to the cliff top, ten minutes walk down the zig zag.
If going by car DON’T use the car parks, they cost a fortune!! Better to park in the avenue and walk down the chine - see map.’
‘Are we near the sea?’ asked my son.
‘Well let’s go and find out’ I said brightly.
‘I’m not carrying all this stuff on the bus’ declared Mike.
We drove down a very long high street, looking at the same shops we had left behind in Handsford, then through endless avenues of pine trees.
‘Ah, this is it, Mayfair Avenue; did he say we could park anywhere Mike? Looks like everyone else has had the same idea. Well done, no you didn’t hit the car behind.’
‘Why is that man looking cross Mummy’ asked the twins.
‘Why did he call us “Bloody Holidaymakers” Daddy?’ asked my son.
‘Just ignore him, let’s get in the woods quickly; have we got all the bags?’
Actually it was very pretty in the woods and the children enjoyed hopping over the stream as we wound our way slowly down to the beach. When we eventually got on the beach it lived up to our expectations, we had our first swim in the sea; this was going to be a great holiday.
‘You can have an ice cream when we come off the beach, just be patient while Mummy and I pack the bags.’
‘Do we have to walk all the way up to the top Daddy?’
Back at the house I tried to summon the energy to cook dinner. I investigated the welcome pack of food Jenny and Chris had left; they hadn’t mentioned they were vegans.
After dinner the children had a second wind and ran riot round the big house. They slept well that night and weren’t even woken by the horrendous thunderstorm.
‘Can we watch a DVD?’ piped the twins the next morning as we watched the rain lashing the windows.
‘We could go to the aquarium, or um….’ suggested Mike.
We were thankful for the lovely big house that fortnight, as we spent so much time in it. We didn’t go to the beach again, what with the weather and the distance.
‘I wonder how Chris and Jenny got on?’ chuckled Mike, relieved to be going home.
‘Well I did tell them we weren’t Central London’ I replied.
Handsford; on the edge of Greater London, bottom end of the borough; only a mile walk to the mainline station, half an hour to Paddington or a short bus ride to the tube station and fifty minutes to Piccadilly Circus.
FOR SEASIDE POSTCARDS AND ‘WHEN THINGS GO WRONG AT THE SEASIDE’ TURN TO CHAPTER TWO COASTAL VIEWS.
ALL THREE OF MY SHORT STORY COLECTIONS INCLUDE LOCAL STORIES; READ ABOUT THEM IN CHAPTER ONE.