Her father said nothing for a while. He sat and looked at the cottage she knew he’d left fifty years ago and never gone back to.
“Someone painted it,” he said at last.
“Well, I suppose they’d want to make it look nice now they’re running a B&B there,” said Belinda. “Still, perhaps it’s lost something? Some of its authenticity?”
Her father didn’t reply, so she turned to Jack in the back seat. “Put your tablet away, darling. Don’t you want to see the house granddad grew up in?”
“Do I have to?”
“Unless you want us to leave you in the car, yes. And now the engine’s off, this car is going to get very cold very quickly.”
With the whining rituals observed, Jack put the tablet away and let Belinda cajole him into his coat. The three of them got out of the car into a gale that whipped rain around their faces.
“How do you feel about the B&B sign?” Asked Belinda. “You don’t feel it’s trespassing on your old home, do you?”
“No,” said her father.
She wished he’d say a bit more, but he looked lost in his own thoughts.
Belinda pressed the doorbell. “I’m sure you didn’t have an electric doorbell either. It’s a shame really. We lose something when everything gets modernised and turned into things like B&B’s.”
“We didn’t have electricity,” said her father. “And they lost the outside toilet as well.”
Belinda frowned, then forced a smile as a middle aged woman opened the door.
“You must be Mrs Reade? Come in out of the rain and I’ll show you your rooms. And it was Mr Reade who lived here as a boy?”
She looked at Belinda’s father, who nodded.
“I’m cold,” said Jack.
“We always were cold in the winter,” said Belinda’s father. “I remember the winters being very long.”
They stepped inside into a hallway decorated with prints of Rembrandt paintings. Belinda had to admit that the central heating made for a welcome change from the wind and rain.
“Do you miss the way it used to be?” The landlady asked Belinda’s father.
“No,” he said. “I hate cold.”