Over the eighteen years we’ve been coming here, a number of traditions have evolved. One year, shortly before our annual visit, my cousin Hilary tracked down some pictures on t’internet of a family celebrating Christmas at Cross Tree. One of the pictures showed an elderly lady snuggled into a red armchair which always stood by the fire; it was captioned “Gran in ‘her’ chair!”. I can’t remember exactly how, but for some reason we started talking about ‘Gran’, who over the years morphed into a terrifying old harridan with a criminal past, a frightening capacity for alcoholic consumption and a penchant for young men. On one occasion I wrote a long story in the visitor’s book about Gran’s celebrations of her seventieth birthday, a terrifying debauch involving the police of three counties. For some reason we developed a running joke about Gran having lost her false teeth in the septic tank, and this came to the attention of John, the owner of Cross Tree. The next year when we arrived we found a pair of joke false teeth on the hall table, with a note “The fruits of a long and painful search – with thanks to Lopen sub-aqua club.” 

More tomorrow.