Over the stable door: Castle escape just the ticket

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IT’S AMAZING how much a holiday can revitalize the spirit.

I love my work, granted it can involve long hours, the usual stress animals and staff provide, rushing around and occasionally complete work overload but running a business it’s to be expected.

I began to dislike the person I sometimes heard myself turning in to: short tempered and increasingly impatient. A tell-tale niggling pain on an evening where old injuries still haunted me. My painkillers weren’t enough to mask its spikey intensity. I was overdoing it.

Tris had been under plenty of pressure at work too. He had developed something of a grey pallor. A land agents’ job has been increasingly stressful this year courtesy of the Rural Payments Agency’s foul-up with the Basic Payment Scheme. The complete melt down of their costly new operation meant every form had to to be filled out by hand, a pain for farmer and agent alike with expectations it will result in a delay in payments. Tris would arrive home from a long day at work, murmur a few words before disappearing to study for his surveying exams.

I knew it was time we both got away for a few days so I booked four nights in a 15th century castle in Italy. It was set high on a hillside overlooking the Umbrian countryside. We arrived early as the sun was rising in a cloudless sky. Immediately I felt the peace and tranquillity of the place wrap its arms around me. We both slept for two days, waking only to move from bed to sun lounger and to eat. It was heaven. The wired energy and impatience slowly ebbed away leaving me idly content to drift in my thoughts. On day three I rang my mother, she thought I’d been doped I sounded so different.

In the soaring temperatures even my pale skinned boyfriend managed to give his off-white complexion a reddish tinge.

We returned to England rejuvenated, tanned and happy. I felt like we had returned to the land of the living.

We went to Cartmel races a few weeks ago. As we led the runners in to the racecourse stables I noticed a number of stable staff gathered round a poster. It was a photo of a cheerful terrier named Jack who’d gone missing. I recognised the dog as belonging to the Cartmel course clerk Anthea Morshead; he was a constant shadow by her side. Anthea explained Jack had vanished whilst she walked the course the evening before. He never wandered far especially when away from home, she explained.

Cartmel is a small village, surrounded by woods and hilly farmland. Jack could be stuck in a rabbit hole or have chased something and got lost. He failed to appear that day or the next. Search parties were sent in all directions and the operation attracted a wide social media following, but there was no sign of the little terrier.

Then ten days after his disappearance, the little chap suddenly reappeared, found trotting through the village, skinny but alive.

No-one will ever know where he was but his return was a wonderful surprise to Anthea and her family, and the 500 social media followers got their happy ending.