Number 17 Allhallow's Lane was in the middle of a terrace of three, red-bricked with small white-painted windows, and a step down to trap the unwary immediately behind the front door.
Sidney, a large silver tabby with an unpredictable nature, glared at Libby from his vantage point half-way up the stairs as she tripped down the step.
'All right, I know I'm late,' she said and wondered why she was saying it. There was no need to apologise, no excuses to make, nobody to placate. Not now. Not at all - not ever, if she didn't want to. But old habits died hard. After twenty years of living with other people, being on one's own came as rather a shock and not always a welcome shock at that, if she were honest. She wove her way between assorted tables and chairs, displacing several newspapers, books and typescripts as she did so and switched on the kitchen light. Sidney had been at the bread bin again.
'Listen,' she said, as he jumped up on to the table, having tried the Rayburn once or twice and suffered the indignity of burnt paws. 'You are not a vegetarian - neither am I. And cats don't like bread.'
She moved the big kettle on to the hot-plate and hunted round for the half-full tin of cat food.
'There,' she said, decanting it into a chipped Victorian saucer. 'Get on with that and shut up.'
She made her coffee, took it into the living room and sat down by the empty fireplace. The script of The Hop Pickers lay on the hearth, interleaved with pages of untidy notes. She picked it up and riffled through it.
She had been so enthusiastic about this project, everything falling into place just as she was in the process of buying the cottage. Peter's lovely play and the newly converted Oast House theatre had fired her imagination and given her an entree into the village community. But now her enthusiasm was ebbing away, leaving behind it a flat, uncomfortable sensation rather like thinking there was an extra step and finding that there wasn't.
'It isn't fair, you know,' she said out loud to Sidney, who spread himself out on her feet and gave a desultory purr. 'After all I've been through, this bit should go right.'
Sidney opened one eye to a slit and slowly closed it again.
Sighing, she began to read the first page of the script where the young Hetty met the handsome young squire's son Gregory. Incredible really, that this positively Shakespearean plot should be true and should actually have happened to people still living here.