Sadly, I took my leave of my uncle, Claude Arkell, knowing that it would be the last time I would see him as he had admitted to me that he had bladder cancer. I told him that the family gossip had it that he would be bequeathing the Donnington Brewery to the distantly related Arkell Brewery family in Swindon, Wiltshire. If that was so, I told him, then I was very happy that it would continue to be run by Arkells. He was shocked, perhaps expecting some sort of protest regarding our inheritance, as Richard and I, besides his sister, our mum, were his closest relatives, and then he seemed very pleased,
Via email, I had been in contact with an estate agent in Uniondale, and had confirmation in the last week of October, 2006, that our home at 10 Rose Street had a buyer, which was good news. (But the sale fell though later when the buyer failed to get his bank to evaluate the property at a sum that would cover him, so I had released the tenant there to no purpose.)
In London, I spent my last week in the UK just off Clapham Common with nephew, Stephen Earle and niece, Jennifer Earle. My search for a music shop with an Irish bodhran drum for Sheila eventually bore fruit, and after a return visit involving three bus changes, I collected it.
Finally, picking up all sorts of horrible germs on the way that laid me low for a week afterwards, I got home on 8th November. Sheila had managed to finally sell her Pumpkin Art & Craft Co-op shop in Uniondale and buy her dream home on Constitution Street in Haarlem. Being addicted to cows and milking, she bought two Guernsey cows from a neighbour, and the two hectare adjacent strip of land along the Groot River on which to graze them. I had a milking shed, chicken run and pig sty built for her.
An elderly newly acquired local friend of mine in Haarlem, Oom Nick Thyssen, had an empty plot across the way from Sheila’s place in Haarlem. He was complaining to me that he had been offered only R15,000 for it when he would accept no less than R17,000! Prices were taking off in Haarlem, what with more affluent buyers, seeking rural peace and quiet, beginning to move in. Having given Sheila’s son, Timothy, and my son and daughter each an equal lump sum from my share of my late aunt’s estate, I decided to offer Oom Nick R30,000 for that plot for Sheila’s older son, Nicholas. I suspected that some disgruntled locals would accuse us newcomers of cheating property owners and was determined that I could never be accused of the same.
Needless to say, Oom Nick was delighted. Obviously, it was made available to Sheila to plant pastures for her cows as Nicholas was still resident in East London.
The year 2006 rounded off with building a shed-cum-workshop on Sheila’s Haarlem property, and welcome visits from Botswana friends.
Not to mention the hanging of Sadam Hussein, on 30th December.