Author Topic: The New Venture  (Read 2144 times)

Offline norfolkdumpling

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The New Venture
« on: January 01, 2024, 09:51:38 PM »
So- if anyone is interested I'm going back to the time just after the series finished. For the purposes of it the Colonel still lives at his large home and did not move to something smaller.

The new venture.
Steve was reading the local paper while Slugger was frying bacon.
'Anything interesting, son?' asked Slugger.
'Nothing yet- I'm looking for a job..'
'I thought you were staying here.
'I've got ambitions, Slugs- you know that and there's no prospects here for me.'
'Does Dora know?'
'Not yet.'
'What don't I know?' asked Dora as she came into the room.
'Steve's looking for a new job.'
'Why Steve?'
'I need to get on with my life, Dora. I can't stay stuck here with no prospects. I'll try and find somewhere near so I can come back and visit on my days off- even help out.'
Tears welled up in Dora's eyes. She turned away quickly but not before Slugger and Steve had both seen.
'You could come with me.'
'Don't talk nonsense. You know I'd never leave uncle and Slugs.'
'You once talked about letting Hazel take over.'
'I wasn't well then.'
'I'm sorry girl but I'm going to go and see the colonel and hand in my notice.'
Dora fled upstairs. 'Ere, what abaht yer breakfast?'
'I don't want any.' Dora wanted to hear what happened next so she didn't go to her room but sat out of sight on the landing.
'Now see what you've gorn an' done! She loves yer  yer know.' said Slugger.
'And I love her- like a sister. I don't have any money to spend on going to the pictures or anything else like that. She deserves someone who can treat her properly, buy her presents, take her out for a meal.'
She's not like Wendy. she doesn't care for those things. All she care cares about is the horses.'
'Yeah!'
Later at the colonel's house Steve told him of his decision. The colonel sucked thoughtfully on his pipe.
'I know you only need to give me a weeks notice, Steve but I need to advertise for someone who can do your job. It's not going to be easy given the wages, accommodation and indifferent food.'
'I'll stay for a few more weeks on the understanding that I may need some time off to go for interviews.'
'Of course, and it goes without saying that I'll give you an excellent reference. I wish I could persuade you to stay but I do understand how you feel.'
When Dora learned that Steve would be with them for a few weeks more she was determined to do all she could to make him stay.
'Loves me like a sister does he? Well we'll see about that!' She went into the box room where there was a tin trunk full of her smart London bought clothes. When she went down to supper that night she was wearing a flared blue denim coloured shirt with a pretty white broderie anglaise blouse.
'Blimey girl- you going out. You look smashing Dora - don't she Steve?'
'Yes very nice' he replied being in no doubt for whose benefit she had dressed up.
'No, I'm not going out. I'm just a bit sick of constantly wearing the same old work clothes.'
Steve decided to play along. 'Seems a pity to waste that outfit just sitting around here. I'm going down to the Harefield Arms later. Ron's team is in the area darts final and I said I'd go and support him. You can come if you like.'
'I know nothing about darts.'
Well, we don't need to spend much time watching, probably won't get near anyway. We'll just show our faces and let Ron know we're there. What about you Slugs, fancy a pint?'
'Na, got me smalls ter mend. I'll give you some money to bring me one back.'
'Alright, I'll come' said Dora.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2024, 10:19:45 PM »
The public bar was crowded and smoke filled. They watched Ron throw three darts and Steve groaned.
'Not good?' asked Dora.
Only 41, that's all' said Steve.
Ron spotted them just as Dora started to cough and her eyes began to water.
'Take her in the snug, Steve. I don't think the team's luck's in tonight. I'll be in later.'
Steve saw her to a seat in the snug which was empty.
'There's no-one serving in here. I'll have to go back next door for the drinks. Lemonade ok?'
Dora nodded. He was gone for a while and Dora stood looking at the juke box. She didn't know much about music but had heard of some of the artists. She decided to take pot luck, inserted a coin and pressed a button. When Steve came back she was tapping her foot in time to the music. Steve put the drinks down with a couple of packets of crisps.
'Here, make it last.
'What have you got?'
'Just a Shandy. I'm driving so I can't drink much- not that I could afford to anyway.'
'Can I have a taste?
Steve pushed his glass over. Dora pulled a face.
'Think I'll stick to soft drinks. I'll have a cola next time.'
'I hope you're paying.'
'Yes, okay. I think I've got enough for one drink each.
She opened a bag of crisps and as eating them made her thirsty quickly finished her lemonade. She handed Steve some money.
'Here get me a cola please and whatever you want.'
'I'll go and see how he match is getting on.'
Ron went over as Steve was being served.
'I'll bring these through for you.' he said adding their drinks to the tray he carried He began talking to someone at the bar so Steve went back to Dora. When Ron joined them Dora said 'Put some music on, Ron.' and took a swig of her cola.
'Okay but I'll have to go back and support Jacko in a bit. We're level at 3 all. There's a 10 minute break then it's the decider. If we win I'll buy you both a proper drink.'
'Not for me, Ron. I'm on my second Shandy and I don't want any more'  said Steve.
'I'll have his' said Dora. She got up and began jigging around to the music stopping every so often to have some of her drink. The music stopped and she asked Steve if he had a coin so she could put another record on. Steve fished in his pocket and pulled out two coins.
'That's all I've got left apart for the money for Slugger's pint.'
Strains of Elvis Presley filled the room and she pulled a reluctant Steve to his feet. He let her put her arms round his neck but kept his firmly by his side.
'Phew, it's hot in here.' she said downing the rest of her drink  and removing her jacket. A second Elvis song came on  as a big cheer sounded from next door. Ron entered with another tray of drinks.
'We won and that's my favourite Elvis song' he said and began to croon 'I can't help falling in love with you.' He handed Dora a Babycham and raised his glass. 'To you, your ladyship' he said.
'What's in your glass?'
'Vodka and tonic- here have a sip- just a sip mind.'
Dora had a sip, then a swallow.
'Do you really not want that cola Steve?' she said.
'No- I told you I've had enough.'
'I don't know why I'm so thirsty tonight' she said finishing the Babycham and starting on the cola.
'We'd best be off soon, we don't want to get caught up with Ron's crowd leaving.' said Steve. 'I'll just go and get Slugger's pint'
'Ok, I'll just finish this cola.'
When Steve got back she attempted to put on her jacket  but missed the sleeves. Ron held it for her and Steve gave him a suspicious look.
Ron grinned as Dora got to her feet rather unsteadily. She gave Ron a peck on the cheek.
'Thanks for the drinks Ron. You too SSShteve.'
She tried to kiss him too but he snatched his jacket and said angrily
'I think you've had too much to drink, girl!'
'Praps a little, yes. I think the Babycham's gone to my head.'
Steve picked up the cola glass and sniffed.
'More likely to be the rum in this' he growled giving Ron a filthy look. Ron strode out of the room grinning and by the time Steve managed to steer Dora through the crowd he had disappeared.
'I don't feel very well' said Dora.
'You're going to have one heck of a hangover in the morning. Try not to be sick till we get home.'
Steve hoisted her into the land rover and opened a couple of the windows.'
'Please Steve, don't tell uncle.'
'He's bound to hear it from someone!' said Steve as he started the engine and headed for home.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2024, 11:02:15 PM »
'Slugger and Hazel will probably still be up when we get back and you'll need her help getting to bed.'
'You could do it.'
'No, Dora. It will have to be Hazel.
When Slugger saw the state Dora was in he shouted at Steve angrily.
Why did you let her get into that state?'
Ron spiked her colas with rum and gave her a Babycham too.'
'I'll have a few words to say to him in the morning.'
'Join the queue.'
Hazel had helped Dora upstairs and came down a few minutes later with her blouse in her hands.
'She's just been sick and it went all over this, I'll just put it into soak. I've sponged her down, got her into a pair of pyjamas and given her a bucket, now I'm going to have a shower.'
'Thanks Hazel. I'll sleep in the box room tonight in case I'm needed' said Steve.
'Goodness knows what the colonel will say' said Slugger.
'I'm probably going to be in trouble, I should have kept a closer watch on Ron.' said Steve.
During the night he was woken by the sound of vomiting coming from the bathroom.
'Better out than in' he muttered to himself. Next morning he woke early and having washed in warm water for a change he quietly opened Dora's door. She lay on her back snoring gently so he closed it again and went downstairs.
'Wanna cuppa son?' asked Slugger.
'Please, I guess I'll be doing Dora's share of the morning chores. I'll leave Copper till last in case she feels well enough to see to him later.'
'You applied for any more jobs Steve?'
'A couple, but that was a couple of weeks ago and I've heard nothing.'
'I dunno how we're gonna manage wivout yer,'
'The colonel needs to advertise more because I can't see Ron stepping up to the mark. Hopefully if I'm not working too far away I can come back on my day off so long as I can get a bus or a train.'
'I dunno why you're going when you're needed so much here.'
'After last night I'm wondering that myself as Dora is so vulnerable- but I would like more than a few bob to call my own each week. I will miss you so much, Slugger and I promise to visit as often as I can'
Will you miss Dora?'
'Yes of course and the colonel and even Ron!.'
Steve ate his breakfast and went outside to start on the chores. He looked towards the woods and then the lake. How he loved this place, the first place he had really felt at home. Hazel soon came out to join him but there was no sign of Ron. Copper was restless seeing all the other horses attended to and made his feelings known. There was no sign of Dora so Steve saw to his needs. When he went in for morning tea Slugger said 'I'd best go and wake Dora.'
'I should leave her Slugs. Sleep is probably the best thing for her. I'm sure when Ron finally arrives the noise of the bike will wake her.'
'He's getting later and later.'
'He's probably got a hangover too. His team were celebrating their win.'
'Dora needs to have a word with him' said Slugger.
'She won't and she doesn't like it when I do.' said Steve.
'He's had enough warnings from the colonel!'
At that moment they heard the sound of the Tiger and a bleary eyed Ron came in.
'Sorry I'm late, I got held up.' he said. He had been hoping that Steve and Hazel would be outside working.
'Where's her ladyship this morning?' he asked.
'Sleeping off the hangover you caused her you idiot!' said Steve.
'Any food going Slugs? I'm a bit peckish.'
'Well think yerself lucky I saved yer breakfast!' said Slugger slapping a plate of cold, congealed bacon and eggs down before him.
Ron looked at it with disgust but as Slugger stood watching him brandishing a bread knife in his direction he slowly began to eat.
'Seems like even the Tiger hasn't woken Dora this morning. I'd best go and make sure she's okay.' said Steve.
He knocked gently on the door and getting no answer opened it a short way.
'Morning girl!'
'What time is it?'
'Just gone eleven o'clock.'
'Oh heavens!' she tried to sit up but groaned and sank back down holding her head.
'Easy girl. The morning chores are all done. You don't need to rush to get up. I'll bring you some juice and a couple of tablets. Let them take effect then you might feel like getting up, if not just rest.'
When Steve returned Dora was sobbing into her pillow.
'Hey, none of that.' said Steve giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze. 'It wasn't your fault. Ron spiked your drinks. Hangovers are not a nice experience. I've had a couple myself and they make you feel that you'll never touch alcohol again.'
'That's certainly how I feel!'
'It probably won't last! You liked it when you were drinking it!.'
A ghost of a smile crossed her face as she reached for a tissue.
'That's better. I'd best be getting on, I need to fetch the shopping for Slugger. Anything you want?'
'I'd love some cereal as a change from bacon and eggs but I don't think Slugs will give you enough for that. We've only just convinced him we need orange juice and that's the supermarkets own cheapy.'
Steve said nothing. He had some coins in his coat pockets so he'd see what he could do. The colonel arrived just before lunch and found Dora sitting nursing a black coffee and feeling sorry for herself. He was very angry when he found out what Ron had done.
'Irresponsible young idiot. Steve should have kept a better eye on you. Where is Steve by the way?'
'He's gone to fetch the shopping and he did warn me not to drink too much but I didn't take any notice.
'Well I hope he's not too long. I need to speak to him. I'll be in the study.'
'What about?' asked Dora worried in case Steve had had a job offer and had asked her uncle for a reference.
'That's between Steve and me at the moment.'
Dora felt out of sorts and went outside to get some fresh air. Ron was in one of the barns  smoking a cigarette.
'Morning girl. did my little plan work?'
'What little plan?'
'Making Steve all concerned about you and looking after you.'
'I just about made it home without being sick all over him- thanks for nothing. Now uncle wants to see him.'
'He's probably for it!'
'If I were you I'd stay out of uncle's way. He's not best pleased with you.'
The landrover pulled up just then and Steve got out holding the shopping.
'Uncle's in the study, Steve. He wants to talk to you.'
'Oh mate! Looks like I'm for it!'
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2024, 10:13:57 PM »
He showed Dora a packet of the supermarket's own brand cornflakes.
'How did you manage that?'
'Never you mind! Are you feeling better?'
'Yes, much thanks, the fresh air has done me good and I'll try a bit of lunch'
Steve stowed the shopping away and knocked on the study door. The colonel called to him to go in and Slugger followed with two cups of strong coffee.
'What, no biscuits?' said the colonel who had a sweet tooth.
We're out of 'em'
'But Steve's just been shopping.'
'I didn't tell him to get any because I'm making Rock cakes.' The colonel and Steve both hid a smile.
'Now Steve, I understand you've not had any offers of work yet.' Steve shook his head.
'And although I've put out a lot of feelers no-one seems keen to take your job here. Now something else has come up. My groom, Manners,
has been feeling unwell for some time. As you know he's getting on in years and he's handed in his notice. He's been unable to work this week and I've told him not to try and work out his notice. It would be difficult for me to find someone to work for just those few hours a week so I'm wondering if you would consider staying and working an extra two hours a day at my place. It would mean some extra money in your pocket and if it means getting up even earlier than you do now I'm sure Mrs. Porter will give you breakfast so you can get straight on when you come back to Follyfoot. I dare say she'll often have some scones or sausage rolls for you to bring back for morning and afternoon tea. If you could give me some time later in the day as well that would be really helpful and would mean I don't have to get rid of my remaining horses. There'll be some Sunday work too of course but I'll try to see that you get some time off. I'm suggesting an extra £1 an hour on top of what you earn here which is what I pay Manners. I know it wont mean a lot more money but my two remaining hunters mean a lot to me. What do you say? if possible I'd like you to start in the morning.'
'I'll need to speak to Dora as obviously I'll need to fit in the extra work with my work here. She's down by the lake. Do you mind if I go and talk to her?'
'Off you go and I'll stay here till you get back so you can let me know your decision.'
'Provided it's okay with Dora I'll stay. I'm not greedy. Colonel and the extra money will mean I can put a little aside each week instead of once in a blue moon and I'll still have some to spend as I like.'
Steve decided to tease Dora a little.
'I've just heard I've got a new job girl.'
'Oh- is it far away?'
'Not far at all and I can do it and keep my job here as well!'
She turned to face him and he could see the trace of tears on her cheeks. Quickly he explained her uncle's plan to her.
'I can only do it with your agreement girl.'
'It will mean a lot of extra work for you.'
'I don't mind that and the best thing is it won't cost your uncle any more because he'll be paying me what he pays Manners. Now what do you say girl?'
'If you think you can manage then go ahead, Steve.'
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2024, 09:54:33 PM »
That night Steve went to bed at 10 o'clock which was earlier than usual. As a rule he didn't need an alarm clock to wake him up but as he
needed to be at the colonel's place by 5am he unearthed his ancient but trusty clock with a very loud ring, tested it and convinced himself that there was no way he could sleep through that. The water from the outside tap was freezing cold which served to drive the sleep from his eyes the next morning. He'd made sure that he parked the land rover as far from the farmhouse as possible so he wouldn't wake anyone when he started it up. The colonel still had Dancer which he rode occasionally and an older horse, Casablanca. They both looked in need of some TLC and their stables were not in a pristine condition. It was clear that Manners had not felt well enough recently to do his job properly and Steve knew that to put things right it would take most of the time he worked for several days. He mentally put aside Sunday afternoon to finish getting everything up to scratch but that didn't include cleaning tack. The first thing he did was to make friends with each animal. He knew Dancer quite well already but Casablanca was still a bit of a stranger to him, He was glad when they both responded to his care and he enjoyed helping them. As he was preparing to leave Mrs Porter emerged from the house.
'Come and have some porridge, Steve, she invited. Steve accepted gratefully as it would mean he could get straight on when he returned to Follyfoot and not have to contend with Slugger's bacon and eggs.
'That was lovely Mrs Porter 'he said draining his mug of tea.
'Would you like anything else- toast or cereal?'
'No thanks, that's set me up for the morning.
'I'll be baking this morning so there'll be some goodies for you to take home later. In the meantime the colonel asked me to give you this packet of fig rolls, they're Miss Dora's favourite.''
Steve thanked her and drove back to Follyfoot. 'The colonel sent these for morning tea' he told Slugger.
'Have you had breakfast Steve?' asked Dora.
'Yes, so I'll get straight on.'
Dora looked disappointed so he gave her a wink. 'See you later.'
Ron had just arrived and when he heard that Steve had already eaten he said 'Cor, more breakfast for me!' He eyed Dora's bowl of flakes.
'These aren't for you' she said and Slugger set a plate of bacon and eggs before him.
Fortified by a good breakfast Steve set to work with a will and was surprised when Slugger went out with tea and biscuits. Dora arrived and he told her to take a couple before Ron scoffed the lot. He was  still too full to want one himself.
'I think Mrs P will be feeding me every morning so don't wait for me to have your breakfast.' He told Dora then went on to tell her about the work he needed to do at the colonel's while they drank their tea.
'Can I come with you on Sunday afternoon? Perhaps we could take the horses out for some exercise if I help you to get everything else done.'
'Course you can come but you won't get paid you know!'
When Steve spoke to the colonel about it later he asked them both to Sunday lunch.
'We'd love that but Slugger won't like it. I'm already missing breakfasts.'
'Leave Slugger to me.'
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2024, 09:54:57 PM »
By Sunday Steve and the two horses Dancer and Casablanca were great friends. Their stables were clean and they were well groomed. There were just a few odd jobs that needed doing and then there was the tack to clean. All the jobs at Follyfoot were up to date and Slugger was happy to take a break from cooking and eat the meat pie and salad that Mrs Porter provided for him and Hazel. As Dora and Steve sat eating lunch with the colonel he said 'I'd like it if we  could do this more often. It will give us the chance to talk things over in a relaxed atmosphere. I don't like it when you two are at odds with one another unnecessarily.'
Mrs Porter always had lunch with the colonel on Sundays and Dora asked her if it would be a problem for her cooking not only for them but for Follyfoot as well.
'Bless you no, Miss Dora. I love cooking and it will be good for the colonel to have some younger company. Dora looked at the apple pie which came out after the roast beef with all the trimmings.
'I couldn't eat dessert after such a lovely roast dinner.' she said.
'Me neither' said Steve.
'Well you must take some back with you. The colonel has such a sweet tooth which is why we always have dessert. You may have noticed he has quite a small portion of the main meal so he always has room for pudding! You'll have a coffee though?'
Dora nodded but Steve shook his head. 'Thanks for a lovely meal Mrs. Porter but I'll go and get on. Come out and find me when you're ready Dora.'
She joined him quite soon afterwards and began to help him clean tack.
'You weren't  long.'
'I tried to help with the washing up but Mrs. Porter was having none of it and Uncle has gone for a nap.
'Well if we start coming for lunch regularly we'll have to insist that one or both of us help with the washing up. We can leave the rest of this now as it's a beautiful afternoon for a ride. You go and saddle up while I tidy these things away.'
They enjoyed putting the horses through their paces. Dora rode Dancer and was pleased to see that the work she and Steve had already done with him had not been forgotten. Steve was looking forward to a nice long ride on Casablanca as so far he had only had time to take each horse for a short ride a couple of times during the week. It was good to ride in a different direction from the one they generally took from Follyfoot.
'Shall we go to the shop in Whistledown for a drink?' asked Steve,
'I didn't bring any money.'
'The Colonel gave me my extra wages this morning- not a full week obviously but plenty enough for a drink.'
'Can I have an ice cream instead?'
'Sure and I'll get some cream to go with the apple pie. It should keep ok till we get back.'
Dora stayed outside with the horses while Steve went into the shop. When he came out he had a carrier bag in addition to her ice cream.
Dora looked in the bag to see what else he had bought. There was a can of Ginger beer for himself, a carton of cream, a packet of chocolate biscuits and some orange and apples.
'These treats  are for us to share with Slugger and Hazel but Ron can only have some of the biscuits.'
'You haven't spent all your money have you?
'No- and I'm not going to do this every week so make the most of it.' he said taking a drink from the can and stowing the rest of the purchases in his saddle bag. When they got back to the colonel's he put the cream in the fridge until they left. Mrs Porter had just taken some scones out of the oven.
'Some of these will do nicely for your tea with the apple pie' she said. It's lucky you got a large carton of cream'
'Do you want me to leave you some?' asked Steve.
'No, it's fine we have some. I'll give you a pot of my blackberry jam too.'
Dora helped Steve settle the horses for the night. She was relaxed and happy and Steve felt the same. As well as the blackberry jam she'd mentioned Mrs Porter gave them a pot of Strawberry jam.
'You mustn't spoil us Mrs. Porter.' Steve said.
'Nonsense and whenever I'm baking there'll always be something for you too.'

norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2024, 10:06:53 PM »
When they got back to Follyfoot Steve told Dora to take everything inside and put it away while he got on with settling the horses for the night.
'We'll all be putting on weight if this carries on' said Slugger.
'Don't eat everything before Steve and I get in.' she said although in fact she was still full up with lunch and ice cream. Ron didn't work on Sundays unless he was particularly asked so once again Steve and Dora did the evening chores together as Hazel was having a rare evening off. Over the weeks a pattern evolved and Steve managed to put some money into his post office savings account each week. He also had money left to spend as he wished. Every week he and Dora had Sunday lunch with Mrs. Porter and the colonel and Slugger and Hazel were also sent lunch. Hard work, good food, time spent in the fresh air and physical exertion made Steve's frame fill out. One morning Dora woke early and heard Steve in the yard. She peeped out of her window and saw him stripped to the waist having a wash. She licked her lips, badly wanting to go outside and throw her arms around him but she didn't. Over the weeks Steve had become much happier. He and Dora laughed a lot together and regularly talked things over with the colonel meaning that their silly arguments were practically non existent. After lunch one day Steve was reading the local paper when something caught his eye. The little cinema in Tockwith was showing a film in which horse featured prominently. He thought Dora would enjoy it and she  hadn't had an evening out since the disastrous darts match incident so he decided to offer to take her.
'Oh Steve- you don't want to spend your hard earned money on me!'
'Why not- I could do with a bit of a break too.'
'Watching a film about horses!'
'Well- if you don't want to go'
'Oh I do please.'
'Tomorrow night then, okay?'
Dora nodded happily. A night out with Steve at last!'
They passed on tea deciding to get something after the film. Steve felt content that he had money in his wallet and he didn't have to watch every penny. The supporting film was a kitchen sink drama and not very interesting but the main feature held their attention. Of course there was a sad part and Steve had read the reviews in the paper so had been prepared. He handed Dora a clean handkerchief when the tears started and gave her hand a gentle comforting squeeze. When they left the cinema he was still holding her hand. Burgers and fries were a real treat. Dora offered to pay something towards the cost but Steve was having none of it.
'I told you tonight is on me'
As they parted outside the farmhouse Dora felt a bit daring. She reached up and gave Steve's cheek a peck. 'Thanks, Steve.' she said.
'It's ok, we'll do it again soon. Let me know if you hear of anything you fancy and I'll watch the newspaper.'
'Okay, goodnight Steve.'
'night Dora' he said pressing her hand and giving her a wink. He waited until she was safely indoors before going to his bed in the loft. He'd enjoyed the evening. Discounting the darts night he hadn't been out with a girl since Wendy. Slugger was still up and noted Dora's starry eyed expression.
'Don't read too much into tonight girl' he warned but she just smiled, gave him a hug and ran lightly up the stairs. The sun woke Steve before his alarm clock. Hopefully summer had arrived at last and they could turn some of the horses out into the field so that the stables could be thoroughly cleaned and left open to the fresh air before clean bedding was put in. He thought about the night before as he got ready for work. Should he have returned Dora's kiss? He'd wanted to he realised. She was not just a pretty girl now but had developed womanly curves and was simply beautiful. Last night he had spoiled her with her favourite sweets and an ice cream in the interval. In some people's books that would mean they were courting. Steve was loathe to do anything that would spoil their friendship but now he was earning more.......
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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2024, 10:36:34 PM »
The colonel came out as he was  grooming Casablanca.
'They're looking good, Steve!'
'It's a pleasure to look after them, colonel.'
'How did last night go?'
'We had a great time. I told Dora we'd do it again.'
'I've seen the way she looks at you, Steve. How do you feel about her now?'
'I really am a bit mixed up. I know I'd be lost without her in my life but we come from different worlds. She'll be wealthy one day but what prospects have I got?'
'You have a wonderful way with horses- well both of you do. I want to talk to you both about the future. Young Hazel is coming along well
and can probably be trusted with more responsible jobs. I won't say anymore now but I want you to bring Dora at least half an hour before normal on Sunday.'
When that time arrived the colonel took them into the drawing room.
'I've been thinking about the four empty stables I have here. It seems a pity not to use them- but not for old horses, Dora. We could take in more horses for training or use them as livery stables- preferably the former because it would bring them more money. I know, Steve, that is something you would love to do but you would need help from Dora. As I said the other day Hazel is ready for more responsibility and if we ask Ron to keep an eye on her it might make him buck his ideas up. The only thing is that really one of you needs to sleep here in case anything happens 'after hours' as I might not be able to cope.'
'I like the idea very much' said Steve and of course Dora should be the one to move in here.'
'But I don't want to' said Dora.
'What about you, Steve?'
'It doesn't seem right, colonel.'
'Well to be honest it would be good to have a man about the place. Sometimes I need a bit of help and it's not always convenient to ring for Slugger' also after all your years of loyal service, Steve, you shouldn't still be sleeping in the loft in all weathers. You'll be getting arthritis or rheumatism if you don't watch out.'
'Aren't you feeling well, uncle?' asked Dora.
'Oh I'm doing alright but after two major health scares I do need to be careful and take precautions if I can. I'll leave the two of you to talk things over later today.'
Lunch was quieter than usual with Dora and Steve both thinking things over. As they set out for their afternoon ride Steve said
'Later on  when we stop for a rest do you want to go to go to 'The pretty Cafe' for a cuppa and a chat or would you prefer to go back to Follyfoot?'
'Let's go to the cafe. I haven't been there for ages and there's less chance of us being interrupted or overheard.'
'They had a good long ride. The cafe was in the village on the way back to the colonel's.
'Do you want an eclair?' Steve asked.
'I shouldn't but they are my favourite.'
Steve ordered two coffees, an eclair and a cream doughnut. When it arrived he looked into Dora's face.
'I need you to be straight with me, girl. What do you really think about your uncle's idea?'
'I think it's going to mean a lot of extra work- especially for you.'
'I don't mind, it's the sort of work I love. But what do you think about me living at the colonel's?
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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2024, 10:47:42 PM »
I don't like the idea of you not being at Follyfoot but better you're at uncles than far away in another job.'
'And will you help with schooling? I'll still help with the old horses. There's no way I want to give it up. Actually I've had an idea. We could ask the veterinary college if they want to send us some students on day release. They would be a big help to us and it would help them with their training.'
'That's a good idea.'
'If we make a bit of  cash maybe you and Hazel could have a bit extra each week.'
'What about Slugger and Ron?' asked Dora.
'Slugger maybe if we make enough but Ron will have to prove he's worth it. He doesn't really do enough to earn what he's being paid.'
'It would be hard to keep it a secret.'
'We can try. Anyway we don't know how much extra we'll be able to afford- if anything. If Ron pulls his weight we'll have a rethink. I know you've got a soft spot for him and even though he annoys the heck out of me sometimes he's still my mate.'
'Ron won't change. That's part of the reason why I like him. You always know where you are with Ron.'
'Unlike me you mean.'
'Yes- and that's why I lo- like you so much because you can change and now you are willing to do so.'
'I could say unlike you- in some ways you'll never change and that's why I care  so much about you.'
He hadn't said he loved her but Dora could hope. When Steve went to pay he noticed that they had some home made sweets for sale including chocolate coconut ice. Dora had once said she used to buy it from a sweetshop near her house in London because it was one of her favourites so Steve bought her some and treats for everyone else including nougat for himself.
'What's in the bag' asked Dora who had gone out to the horses which were tethered to two trees in the car park.'
'Wait and see, Miss Nosey.' he said. He was enjoying being able to spend a little money on treats more often now. When they got back to the colonel's he took the sweets for him and Mrs. Porter indoors and stowed the rest in the land rover. Then he and Dora went to tell her uncle that they were happy with his plans.
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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2024, 10:49:59 PM »
'Good. I'll put some feelers out. I still have a few contacts many of whom were sorry when I had to give up. I don't think it will be too long before things start to happen so Steve I'd like you to move in before next weekend and as soon as you can start putting the spare stables to rights.'
'That's no problem. It's not as though I've got a lot of stuff to move.'
'I'll help with the stables when I can' said Dora.
Back at Follyfoot Steve shared out the treats leaving Ron's on the table .
'You shouldn't spend all your money on us.' said Slugger while happily sucking a Humbug.
'I'm not. I'm putting money in the post office every week. Don't expect treats like this often but Dora and I have something to tell you that will affect everyone so a little sweetener seemed a good idea.'
Hazel was delighted when told she was to be given extra responsibilities but Slugger was more concerned about the extra work for Dora and Steve.
'Will you still be here for meals?' he asked.
'Not breakfast but I'll be here for lunch and supper most days. Sometimes I may need to be at the colonel's in which case I'll be sure to let you know and of course the arrangements are already in place for Sunday lunch.'
' Well make sure you do let me know if you're not going to be here. I hate to see good food being wasted. Steve and Dora grinned and Hazel smothered a laugh.'
'Dora do you want to make the initial approach to the veterinary college?'
'Can you do it please Steve?'
'Of course but I didn't want to do it without asking you first.'
Over the next few days Steve gathered together his few possessions, cleaned out the loft and went shopping for new towels and a supply of toiletries. On Sunday when he and Dora left for her uncle's everything he owned went with him. The colonel told Dora which room was to be Steve's and she took him up to show him.
'Oh Dora, this is bigger that your room at the farm!'
'But smaller than the one I use when I stay here which is two along on the right. Your bathroom is on the left. I have en suite facilities and so does uncle. His room is at the top of the stairs and I expect you know Mrs Porter has a bedroom and sitting room downstairs. You know where everything else is don't you?'
Steve nodded. Since he'd been working here he'd got to know the downstairs layout quite well.
'Let's go and check out the disused stables. We've got time before lunch' said Steve.
'Gosh, there's a lot of rubbish in here.' said Dora as they peered into the first stable.
'Yes' agreed Steve. 'If they're all as bad as this we're going to have our work cut out to set them to rights.
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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2024, 12:30:02 PM »
As it happened the first one was the worst, the others were merely dirty and dusty.
'Best we have a good wash before lunch' said Dora.
'What do you want us to do with the stuff left in the first stable, colonel?' asked Steve.
'Well, it's stuff Manners must have put there and I don't suppose it will be much good. If you think there's anything worth keeping let me see it but anything else you can just dispose of.'
'Is there anything that might belong to Manners?' asked Dora.'
'No, he would have said so by now. How's your room, Steve.'
'I didn't expect it to be so big but it is very different to the loft and of course much better, thankyou'
'You're very welcome- none of the bedrooms in this house is small.'
When the colonel retired to his room for his afternoon nap Steve asked Dora where she would like to go that afternoon.'
'It looks like it might rain so perhaps we should go on the figure of eight ride. We can turn back easily if we have to.'
'Okay and if we get back early enough we can make a start on the stable clearance.'
They did get back early and after they had seen to the needs of the horses they went into the stable in question leaving the door open to let in some fresh air. There were lots of old pieces of wood, rusting tools, old tack that was no good and in the corner, a bicycle. It was wrapped in polythene and looked in good condition.
'I might be able to use this. It would be handy for getting between here and Follyfoot but I'd best ask your uncle about it first.' said Steve.
'A bicycle, you say. Yes I seem to remember a stable lad I employed for a while had one. I believe he got himself a motor bike and the family have since moved from the district so he won't be needing it.  You're welcome to use it if you want to.' said the colonel.
Steve went back with Dora to do the evening chores at Follyfoot and stayed for tea which was scones, jam and cream and a slice of fruit cake all provided by Mrs. Porter. When he returned to the colonel's he asked Mrs. Porter if it would be okay to have a shower and she said it was fine and to put anything that needed laundering in the utility room ready for the weekly wash the next day. Steve showered and shaved revelling in the convenience of the facilities which were so much better than those at Follyfoot. As he didn't intend to go downstairs again he put on his pyjamas and dressing gown, He arranged his few possessions and was engrossed in a paperback when there was a knock on the door. It was 10 O'clock precisely.
'It's only me, Mrs Porter. I've brought you a mug of hot chocolate and some biscuits. Steve opened the door.
'I'm sorry I'm in my night clothes. I wasn't expecting this- you shouldn't have bothered!'
'Bless you, I always take the colonel a bedtime drink and he's always in his pyjamas- sometimes in bed.
'Well thank you but in the future I insist on coming downstairs for mine. I'll even take the colonel his.'
'That would be kind and a good idea to see he's comfortable for the night. I'll wish you goodnight.'
'Goodnight' said Steve wondering how things were at Follyfoot.
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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2024, 09:42:14 PM »
Dinking chocolate made him think of the times he and Dora had sat together after a busy day with their mugs talking things over and he smiled at the memory. He finished his supper and set his alarm clock wondering if he would sleep in the unfamiliar bed. It felt very warm so before getting into bed he opened a window. He knew nothing more after his head hit the pillow and woke refreshed in the morning before his alarm went off. He had a 'wake up' wash but in hot water not like the water from the outside tap at Follyfoot. He quickly saw to the two horses in residence and as it was still quite early spent some time getting one of the spare stables ready for occupation then went and had a quick shower before breakfast. Beautiful creamy porridge followed by fluffy scrambled egg on toast was such a wonderful change from burnt bacon and eggs. He had had the bike he'd found fully serviced and cleaned and used it to get to the farmhouse. He went straight to work on the morning chores knowing that everyone else would be having breakfast. The Tiger was not in the yard so Ron had not arrived. Steve had been at work for over half an hour when he finally roared up to the gate and Dora and Hazel emerged from the farmhouse.
'Gosh, you've been busy' said Dora.
'Well it's the day for doing Slugger's shopping  and as I'm picking up Mrs. Porter's as well I wanted to crack on so I can get off as soon as we've had morning tea. If there's anything either of you wants let me know.'
As they came out after their break Dora said
'Steve, we've finished all the nice biscuits and I know Slugger will only have put cheap digestives on the list. I've got a bit of money but probably not enough to buy much so do you think you....'
Steve laughed. 'Okay, save your money I know what sort you like and I'll treat us.'
When he came back he had a tin of assorted chocolate biscuits and packets of pink wafers , ginger crunch and fig rolls. They were on offer because they're all near the sell by date but that shouldn't be a problem.'
Without thinking Dora threw her arms round his neck and kissed his cheek. 'oh Steve, thankyou!'
He was surprised by how good that kiss felt and held her close for a few minutes. 'It's okay. Just don't let Ron have more than his fare share.' Just then Slugger rang the bell for lunch.
'The colonel's been on the phone Steve. Says he's got a couple of horses coming tomorrow so the stables need to be ready for them

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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2024, 10:32:05 PM »
'Can Hazel help you with exercising the horses this afternoon Dora? One stable is ok but the other still needs a bit of work and I need to put the bedding in both.'
'That's fine but Alex does need some exercise.'
'Hopefully I'll get the stables and settling the colonel's horses done before supper then take Alex out this evening.'
'If you want some company I'll leave Copper till then.'
'Yeah, sure.'
When Steve returned to Follyfoot later he found Slugger was in a foul mood. He'd been fishing for trout but only caught two small ones.
'Don't worry, Slugs. Dora and I will pass on supper and get fish and chips before we come home. That should leave enough for you and Hazel if you make plenty of chips. Ron can go home and fend for himself.'
'Flashin' yer cash abaht a bit intcher.' said Slugger.
'Don't be such an old grump, Slugs' said Dora putting her arms round him and giving him a hug.
'Well- all that time wasted for two lousy trout!'
'Never mind, you had a nice nap.'
'Who me?'
'Yes I saw you.'
'Well maybe I dropped off for a few minutes.'
Dora laughed but didn't say it was more like an hour.
'Are you up to date with things here girl?' asked Steve.
'I've left Hazel and Ron to finish off so we can go now if you like.'
It was a beautiful evening and thy really enjoyed the ride.
'Shall we take our fish and chips back to Follyfoot?' said Dora.
Well- we don't want them getting cold so how about we stop off somewhere?'
'Good idea. I've got a blanket we can sit on in my saddlebag.
Dora set the pace as they headed for 'Whistledown' where they stopped and let the horses drink from the stream. Then they tethered them to the trees near the pub. Dora stayed with them while Steve went to fetch the food. When he came back he gave it to Dora then went into the pub and fetched her a soda and lime and a cola for himself. They were thirsty and downed them quickly He had bought a bottle of squash too and they had bottles of water in their saddlebags.
'I'll go and ask the landlord for a couple of plastic cups when I take our glasses back and put some money in the charity box.'
'I need to freshen up, Steve so I'll do it if you give me some money.'
The horses were now rested and refreshed and they set off ay a good pace to the secret lake where they enjoyed the meal washed down with squash. Afterwards Dora stood with her back to a tree looking up at the stars and brushing herself down. Steve went and stood in front of her.
'Do you remember us standing here like this after we had sorted out the Derwent sisters?' he asked and she nodded looking down at her feet. He gently lifted her chin and smiled his lovely smile.
'I should have done this then' he said brushing his lips gently against hers. 'Now though I want to do this'
He drew her into his arms and kissed her fully on the mouth.
'
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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2024, 04:32:55 PM »
'By holding back and being honest with you that day I started to build a bridge over the gap between us. Now that my future is a bit more secure and I have extra money I feel I've found my niche and can finally admit my feelings for you. I love you Dora, not as a sister but as my own special girl.'
'Oh Steve'
He kissed her again, this time the kiss was long and tender and Steve felt her tears on his cheeks. He held her away from him and fished in his pocket for a handkerchief which mercifully was clean.
'Hey- I hope those are happy tears.'
'Of course and now I can openly say I love you but I suppose we had best keep quiet about it for the time being.'
'It will show in our faces and in the way we treat each other that our relationship has changed.'
'I'd like to tell everyone but...'
'But nothing. We'll tell your uncle , Mrs. Porter and everyone at Follyfoot but not a big announcement just play it by ear especially where your parents are concerned. Now we better be getting back or Slugs'll be worried.' He gave her another long hug and a kiss. For a change Dora did not want to race him back but was content just to ride by his side. When they got back Steve dismounted first and stood waiting as Dora slid down from Copper's back into his waiting arms where she was greeted with a kiss. As he stroked her cheek Copper pushed his nose in between them.
'Okay, we know boy. Soon have you sorted' said Steve and led Alex to his stall. He hummed a tune as he worked and hearing the door open he turned with a smile expecting to see Dora but it was Slugger that stood there with an angry scowl on his face.
'What do you think you're playing at? he shouted.
Guessing Slugger had seen them from the window  he said
'Grooming Alex.'
'Don't get smart with me. I mean with Dora.I saw you kissing her.
Dora had heard Slugger shouting and went up behind him putting her arms round his waist ang giving him a hug.
'Oh Slugs, don't be angry, we're in love!'
'Since when may I ask?'
'Look Slugs, let us just finish settling the horses then we'll come in and have a talk over a nice cup of tea.' said Steve 'is Hazel around?
'No, I took her to town to the pictures. I'm picking her up shortly.'
'Right, well we should have time to sort things out' said Steve.
'If you say so' said Slugger and stalked off towards the farmhouse muttering under his breath.
'Well I didn't expect that!' said Dora.
'He's just looking out for you sweetheart. You know how much he thinks of you.'
'Yes, but he feels the same about you.'
'Which is why he'll be happy for us both. Leave the talking to me and don't worry.' he kissed her forehead. As they emerged from the stable a little later it had started to rain so they ran hand in hand for shelter laughing. They sat down at the kitchen table and Slugger banged a mug of tea down in front of them both before sitting down and folding his  arms.
'You not having one Slugs?' asked Steve.
'No I had one earlier on.'
Dora fetched the biscuit tin and offered it to him.
'No ta. Let's just get on with it!'
She took a chocolate biscuit herself and offered Steve the tin who shook his head and took her hand in his.
'Ok Slugs. You asked when us being in love happened. Well it's been coming a long time. You know Dora's had feelings for me for a while now.'
'Since just after you came.' she interrupted.
'And if I'm honest I was attracted to her then but I wouldn't let things develop between us because of the difference in our parentage and upbringing but when she got close to Chip and Joe I was as jealous as hell and I started to try and assert myself more in the business. Things got awkward between us culminating in her asking me to leave. When I told her I needed her it came from deep down within me and when she said I could stay I resolved to be a better person and mend things between us and I succeeded.'
'A few weeks ago you were set on leaving.'
'I did say she could come with me and I never wanted to cut the strong ties I have with Follyfoot completely so I only applied for jobs that were not far away and would allow me to come back often and when the colonel offered me a way to stay I jumped at the chance. Now I have a bit of money and can afford to take Dora out and put some away. My prospects have also improved greatly. Spending time apart has made me realise how much I miss her and having the opportunity to sit round the table and talk things through with the colonel means we hardly ever argue now and that suits me fine. Spending our free time together has become very special  so please Slugs, just bear with us while we explore our very new relationship.' Dora leaned across the table and kissed him.
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Re: The New Venture
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2024, 07:51:38 PM »
When Ron got Dora drunk that night I realised how vulnerable she was and it weakened my resolve. When the colonel made me his offer it didn't take much to persuade me to stay. Since I've not been working exclusively at Follyfoot  Dora and I have become closer, we work better together and..'
You're spending a lot more time together socially. How long is it going to be before you're sick of the sight of each other?'
'It's not going to happen, Slugger. Since having Dora in my arms and sharing kisses I've realised there was a Dora shaped hole in my life that can't be filled by friendship alone.'
'Let's just hope there's a Steve shaped one in hers!' Dora smiled and nodded.
'Okay, if you're both happy then so am I but just watch it- the both of yers.'
Steve gave Slugger a man hug and was surprised to see tears in the older man's eyes. Dora went to hug him too and dried his tears with her handkerchief.
'Right- I'd best go and fetch Hazel. Behave yourselves you two! If either of you hurt the other you'll have me to deal with.'
'Yes Slugs, we know.'
'I'd like to be a fly in the car on the way back. said Steve.
'Do you think he'll tell Hazel?'
'Course he will and one of us needs to tell Ron first thing and I'll need to tell your uncle before he finds out from someone else- Slugger for example.'
'Will you stay until he gets back?'
'Yes, I'm not leaving you here alone. Let's have a hot chocolate then I won't need one at the colonel's. I need to get to bed as soon as I can because I don't know what time the horses are coming tomorrow.'
'We can do he morning chores without you- no problem.'
Dora made the drinks then she and Steve sat side by side on the sofa dunking digestive biscuits as they didn't have any marshmallows. When they heard the sound of a vehicle approaching Dora and Steve said a private goodnight and as soon as Slugger and Hazel came in he said farewell to them both and returned to the colonel's. Mrs Porter was still up and told Steve the colonel wanted to see him.
'I'll take him his hot drink. I had one at the farm. I'll say goodnight now as I'll be off to bed as soon as I've seen the colonel'.
Steve knocked on the bedroom door and went in.
'Ah Steve. I just wanted to let you know that the horses will be here about 8.30am tomorrow. I hope that's alright with you.'
'Of course. I'll set my alarm for 6 and get Dancer and Casablanca sorted before they arrive. Dora said they'll manage the morning chores without me tomorrow.'
'Did you have a good ride tonight?'
'Yes and we wanted you to know that Dora and I are now officially an item and we're both very happy.'
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin