She lived all her eighty three years in a small cottage in the woods in the heart of the Norfolk countryside.

She was the ultimate spinster and wanted for nothing.

Some locals say that she was once engaged to an American serviceman who was based at a nearby air base.

Nobody really knows.

Miss Emily was the retired Infant School Headmistress who tended her beautifully cultivated garden and wanted for nothing.

The cottage has been her life. She is accountable only to nature.

The simplicity of the lifestyle of Miss Emily cannot be underestimated.

On the cool autumn morning that she died, there can be no doubt that she had prepared and anticipated Gods calling.

There she sat, sound asleep in her rocking chair and her beloved Hilda, an ageless black cat, watching over her from her woven basket in front of the television set.

Miss Emily would not wake.

She effectively lived in a single room which served for sleeping, cooking and living.

Her only luxury was the television set which had changed many times over the years and which was positioned in the centre of the room.

The treasured Coronation Cup and Jubilee vase, always vested with fresh flowers, sit in splendid isolation on either side of the set.

The box, as Miss Emily insists to call it, was her window to the world, but to another world so far removed from her own.

Miss Emily can best be described as a tele-addict when she was not tending to her garden.

She was not anti-social but rarely engaged in conversation with the villagers.  She never bought groceries or visited the doctor if she was sick.

She did receive visitors and she did get provisions, such as were needed.

She was a kind, gentle, caring woman, was Miss Emily.

Loneliness was not a word she understood.

One particular visitor did come as frequently as she was in residence at her country home on the Sandringham estate.

She had once been an impromptu babysitter for two of her young children and had taught the youngest on how to make and fly a kite.

She had once mended the heel of the shoe of her visitor in the most rudimentary fashion and many years ago, almost when the two first met, had offered advice to the visitor on marriage to a certain foreign prince.

Betsy, as she called her visitor, would call by while walking her dogs and share a cuppa and a chocolate digestive or a buttered scone while indulging in unbridled companionship with a joke or two, a stretch down memory lane and an addiction to watching Coronation Street, a long running English soap opera.

The ageless black cat was apparently named after the character Hilda Ogden who featured for more than thirty years in the soap opera.

This then is the story of two women of later years who had given a lifetime of service to their country and who had, odd as it may sound, a lot in common, yet their real worlds and backgrounds could not be more starkly contrasted.

The unoccupied cottage has become a silent refuge.

Hilda still takes her dormance in the cushioned basket beneath the television set and the rocking chair occasionally still rocks.

As frequently as Betsy is in residence at her country residence on the Sandringham estate in the heart of Norfolk, she walks her dogs in proximity of Miss Emily’s cottage and tends the country garden.


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