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by Robert Cooper

Chapter 9

Back to the scholastic grindstone. Geoff. and I had a lot to do to gain Mr. Timms' approval so we just got on with it. Trying to avoid distractions such as Roman Rubbish Dumps.

During the next month we completed Mr. Timms' revision list. Answered a few questions from Mrs. Sloan. Put out the building plans for the School and Leisure Centre for comment. By now we had 275 returns from 300 sent out to our survey, apart from a few 'flames' we had mostly favourable responses and no further indications for a 6th Form level at the school. March had come in with some really horrid weather, we had a few instances of minor flooding in both villages. Sheldon was able to deal with those with some minor alterations to the water run off provisions. By third week Sheldon and the water company consultant had produced a satisfactory plan for the drainage for the Leisure Centre and for the School. This would have to go to our Architect for submission as an addendum to our planning application. They were under the name of the Water Company Engineer to give them some professional status. The Manor staff had chosen their favoured plans and I had asked the Rector to request a meeting of the same 'leaders of opinion' to give their thoughts. I was expecting a lively meeting with the more conservative element being against the more modern ideas in the plans. I expected the people with younger families to be more in favour. We shall see.

I was, by now becoming anxious about Stevens affairs. Apart from Mrs. Sloan's questions to me, I heard from our legal team that there had been quite a few enquiries to them. All legal details which they had handled without needing my input. I did feel positive about things as I felt a 'NO' would have come already. Meanwhile back to the books.

Last full week in March and the Rector's meeting had been as I expected. Some mild opposition from the older residents which was quickly put down by the younger set who had a greater interest in the school for their families and potential advantages to be gained by the villages from the Leisure Centre. Indeed both Thatchers and Wheatsheaf Pubs had expressed interest in a franchise for the catering operations at both ventures. They even suggested a joint venture.

On 28th March we had news. Steven was ours. Standish and Mrs. Lang wanted a party for the youngsters which I agreed. It was to be a surprise party and Steven was kept in the dark. Mrs Lang suggested this coming Saturday afternoon as it would be difficult keeping a secret for longer. Geoff. and I agreed to keep Steven out of the way for the morning and take him shopping for his present. New tack and saddle for his pony. Despite his plaster cast he had shown good progress with his riding skills. So it was arranged. Edward would deal with invitations. Surprisingly, all the youngsters maintained the secret and the party was a huge success. Steven was properly 'inducted' into the Manor family. He asked me later if he could become a Levitt. He did not wish to keep the name of a convicted sex criminal. I told him that I would ask the legal team to deal with it.

April went past in a blur, revision for our exams took most of our attention. The first of the examinations would be on 5th May with the others following inside of two weeks. As external students we had to make appointments at the nearest Grammar School. This was dealt with by Mr. Timms. Stevens arm came out of it's cast looking white and weak. He was given physio. exercises but he was relieved to wash it clean as he said it was starting to smell a bit.

Water, gas and electricity points were established at the boundaries of the project with terminals for later connection when the buildings were erected.

Request for full planning permission had been submitted by our Architect after further consultations with the planning office who wanted only minor amendments in the way of parking facilities and landscaping. Now we wait. One building company had been chosen for both buildings so they could work on both simultaneously. Once we had planning permission we could get the pool dug and the foundations poured for both buildings. We already had estimates for them and chosen our contractors and Sheldon could get the drainage ditches dug in between his other jobs.

Because of the upcoming exams I had to delegate more to Edward who was coping well with Anthony's help and he was sensible enough to know when he had to ask. Fortunately there was a bit of a lull while we waited for planning permission so Edward was not overloaded. He also had Anthony researching school supplies with input from Mr. Timms. He was also able to secure a promise of a supply of computers at a good discount from the agency that did our system. All told, things were ticking away nicely leaving Geoff. and I to our studies. Mr. Timms worked us hard in the weeks prior to the exams, he wanted us to get good results.

Exams are hell! Fortunately we had them all inside 11 days. The Manor went into 'Quiet Mode' which we appreciated. Fortunately we were not constrained by school uniform as the other students were so we dressed for maximum comfort and as soon as we had finished we escaped back to the Manor. We both felt that we had written good papers and hoped for good results. Again, patience. We did not expect results until late July.

Now the exams are over, we can get back to running the Manor.

The lease for the extra land was ready for signature. Stevens name change was approved.

Probate for Geoff. was expected by the end of the month. The planning committee was due to meet around the 15th and we were hopeful of getting started as soon as we heard. We had a provisional booking with the foundation company for 17th and we had been told by the building manufacturer that most of the school building was stock items with only a few special panels to be fabricated. They saw no reason why we should not be ready for pupils by September term time. The pool would slow the Leisure Centre but they suggested operational by the New Year.

Sheldon had his new machine and already started working in the lease fields. He expected revenue generating crops by late spring next year. He said that with the new land he needed another tractor. He wanted permission to apply for a land improvement grant for this. Mr. Lang told me he had ordered petrol and diesel fuel for the Manor tankage.

Things were getting lively. Geoff. and I found our new freedom from 'school ' refreshing. We paid frequent visits to Upton Lodge where things were going well. We looked in on the dig to find they had the whole of the original marked area cleaned and looking splendid. From the exposed foundations they were able to estimate that the building was two floors high and as they said originally they suspected cellars below part of the building. The dig leader was eager to get at the rubbish pits that they had found in the ground radar survey. He had them marked out ready for us to look at and approve. They had the one behind the back wall and another further down by the underground part of the villa which had showed up nicely on the ground radar. I gave permission for both pits to be dug.

Mr. and Mrs. Betts had been up twice to see their cottage and approve the work done. They had selected furniture they wanted from the house and when probate was granted they would arrange it's removal. They also gave Geoff. an update on how things were going at his old home. Geoff. had sent an e-mail to Mr. Dawson saying that he wanted to retain most of his mother's jewellery as it was family heirlooms. He also wanted to retain the long case clock by William Barrow from the hall. He thought it would look good in the estate office. When I mentioned this to Standish he said that if it did not go into the 'posh' office then it would look good in the foyer. Geoff. said that if that was what Standish wanted then there was a very good French mantel clock in the dining room which would look good on our office mantel. There was other good antique furniture that we might use as well. The rest could go to specialist auction after probate. Geoff. e-mailed Dawson for a copy of the probate inventory. Geoff. said that he would deal with the removals as the William Barrow clock would need special handling. Also he did not want any other pieces thrown around and damaged. There are removal companies that specialise in transporting antiques.

16th May our architect phoned us to say that he had the planning permission approval notice in his hand. Big Cheers all round. Land lines and mobiles activated to get the news around and get things moving. Get Mr. Watson to send out cheques or bank transfers for deposits so that the construction companies could get started. I had already had contact with the Modular Building company and the project manager for our account stressing the need for the school to be functional as soon as possible.


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