Room To Grow

This is another project where I wrote on the same basis as my friend Carys Thomas, who at that time was on a writing course.

She was told to look in the local newspaper, select one article and then write a story using the information contained in the article.

This is the newspaper article I used on which to formulate my story

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Newspaper Headline from Herald Express, Hemel Hempstead
Date: Thursday, 31 March 2011

Success in campaign for more plots to address massive waiting list.

Allotments call on the veg of success

A new allotments site is being constructed in Hemel Hempstead to help cut a massive waiting list.

Plots for around 26 people will be available when work is completed at the site off Bennetts End Road.

The allotments shortage was highlighted in a series of articles in The Gazette last year.

The site is now being cleared  by volunteers and fenced by the council.

The Bennetts End allotments will make use of ‘water harvesters’ to collect rainwater and save the cost of plumbing into the mains supply.

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Well I have taken this front page article about new allotments being opened up.

This area, or at least 6 miles from here, St Albans (Verulanium on the River Ver), was a large Roman Settlement. 

There are regularly new Roman finds being uncovered.

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ROOM TO GROW

Julie Valentine
 2011

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romanboy1

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Chapter 1

Amy’s father was sitting eating his breakfast of toast and marmalade and sipping at a large breakfast cup of steaming coffee before leaving for work.  Amy heard the snap of the letterbox and rushed to see what was on the doormat.  They were expecting a letter from the local council.

Rushing back to give it to her father, Amy waited anxiously for him to open it.  With a huge smile on his face, he picked Amy up, gave her a big hug saying:

‘OK young lady, now you’ve got some serious work to do. We’ve got that allotment you wanted, so you’ve got to help mummy and me do the digging. On Saturday we must all go down the garden centre and get some tools.’

Amy was overjoyed with the news and couldn’t wait to get to school to tell all her friends that she now had the ‘plot’ she had always wanted. Two floors up in a block of flats without a balcony was not an ideal place to grow flowers or runner beans and tomatoes so Amy knew that she would have to help her parents and work her own little corner which her father said would be set aside for her.

All that week Amy never stopped asking questions,

‘how long does it take for a bean to grow?’… ‘can we have a pear tree?’ … ‘can I plant some daffodils?’

Her parents were very patient and told her that they would show her ‘how to grow things’ worked once they had the ground made ready with good rich soil to make sure there was plenty of food for the plants to grow big and strong.

Saturday morning arrived and Amy was first out of bed and dressed ready to go out. She had forgotten about the bathroom and having a wash and cleaning her teeth so her mother sent her back there after breakfast to wash, clean her teeth and comb her hair. Amy kept on and on at her father until he got up out of his chair, pulled on his coat and picked up the car keys. Off they went to the garden centre, straight to the garden tools department. Whilst her father was talking to one of the assistants, Amy went with her mother to try and find some garden shoes for them both. Amy immediately spied the most beautiful pair of pink Wellington boots, not only were they pink but they had glitter sparkling in the rubber. Her mother sorted out the correct size for Amy, allowing some spare growing room and also for an extra pair of socks when it was cold, but Amy insisted on wearing the boots, so they had to go to the counter and pay for them. She proudly walked round the Centre in her new pink, with glitter, boots that were a little too big and with her feet slipping about inside, but she didn’t care about this, she liked her new boots.

By the time Amy and her mother got back to her father, the trolley was loaded with a large digging fork, two different kinds of spades, a rake, sieve, bags of fertiliser, bean poles and ties, weed-killer, watering can and a miniature fork and spade for Amy. Amy’s father thought the new pink wellington boots with glitter were very smart, but secretly wondered whether Amy would want to get them all dirty and muddy at the allotment, but he would worry about that later. Amy loved her own little fork and spade and wanted the handles painted pink to match her new boots.

They now had everything to get them started at the allotment and decided that the following day they would make a visit to find where their allotment was situated in the field.

Chapter 2

Sunday morning was sunny but crisp, so they all wrapped up warm and Amy’s mother packed some sandwiches and flasks of tea and some juice for Amy. All the garden implements would have to be carried in the boot of the car, and brought back as there was nowhere for them to be left at the allotment. Amy’s father was trying to find a second-hand shed to put on the plot so the tools could stay there locked away but Amy said that she wasn’t going to leave hers there, or her pink glitter boots. Off they went, all ready for a hard day’s toil working the soil that the council had kindly ‘turned’ with a machine to make it easier to dig and flatten.

The first thing Amy insisted on was to know where her ‘plot’ was so her father gave her the choice of which corner she should have. Happy with her choice, and with the tools unloaded and laid neatly on the ground, they stopped for a cup of tea and a chat with one of the other allotment holders who said he would always be happy to give them any advice they needed as they were ‘new’ to allotments. So with flasks and biscuits packed back in the bag, everyone started to lay out their plot and decide what would be planted where. Amy went over to her plot and started to dig it over with her little fork and spade but soon gave up because it was hard work and she asked her father to help her.

Amy’s father decided to put some edging around Amy’s plot and needed to dig deep to put in some posts so that some of the old planks of wood he had been given could be fixed to them. He dug four deep holes and told Amy to be very careful and not fall down and hurt herself.

After another break to eat their sandwiches and have some more tea, because it’s thirsty work digging, Amy was getting tired so her mother decided that it would be best if they all went home so she could start cooking a proper dinner for them to have later. Amy helped pack all the tools back into the car but had to take off her pink glitter boots before getting into the car herself, as they were covered in dirt and weeds from the ground.

Her father carried her back into the flat on the second floor, but it wasn’t long before she was curled up asleep on the sofa, tired out from all the hard work and fresh air, dreaming about beans growing right up to the sky and tomatoes hanging in baskets over her head, trailing their fruits over the sides. She would certainly have plenty of ‘news’ to tell her teacher and the class about the ‘allotment’ on Monday.

Chapter 3

All week at school, Amy was excitedly talking about how she was going to dig her ‘plot’ and plant beans in the middle, hang a basket of tomatoes on a pole and plant daffodils round the outside and she just couldn’t wait for Sunday to come round again to go with her parents to the allotment.

She was up early on the Sunday morning and wearing her clean pink glitter boots ready for the ‘off’ when her father told her that he wouldn’t be able to go. So disappointed, Amy ran to her bedroom, threw herself on her bed and started to cry. Amy’s mother came into the bedroom and said to her

‘D’you know, if you had waited, your father would have told you that I am taking you, so it will be just you and me, together’.

Amy was so happy; she threw her arms round her mother’s neck and gave her a big hug.

‘Oh’ she said ‘I am always in a hurry I know, but can we go now?’

‘Of course we can, come on, everything is in the car, I packed it last night when you were asleep.’

Off they went to the allotment. Nothing had changed, except that some of the other people were there, that Amy had not seen before, so it meant that her mother spent a lot of time talking to them. Amy went over to her little plot in the corner and started to dig at the bottom of one of the holes her father had made the week before. She lifted out a lot more soil and set it to one side, then she looked carefully and could see something underneath the soil still in the hole, so she carefully scraped it out to see what it was. It looked very much like the mosaic that her grandmother had on a garden table so Amy called her mother to come and look.

Amy’s mother was amazed to see what Amy had found and cleared away more of the soil, making the hole even bigger, then she decided to clear soil from one of the other holes that had been dug the week before and Amy started in one of the other holes with her little spade. Low and behold, both she and Amy found more of the mosaic.

‘Oh’ said her mother ‘I think this could be a very important find Amy, but I think we should cover it up again until your father can come and have a look, perhaps he can pop down later’.

So they shovelled soil back into the three holes and packed up to go back home. Once again Amy had a sleep on the sofa. It had been extremely hard work and a very exciting day.

That evening, Amy’s father came home and listened to what his two ‘ladies’ had been doing. He decided that they should all go together to the allotment and have another look.

He only looked in one hole but agreed that it was definitely a mosaic, so covered it back up again. They all went home and looked on the internet to see if there was any information, but could find nothing in the immediate area, although 6 miles away there had been a very large Roman settlement, and it was quite possible that a Roman Villa could have been built where the allotments are now. To bed, to bed, to sleep and ponder.

In the morning Amy’s father had a talk to her over breakfast, he asked her not to mention what they had found in the holes, at least not until he had the chance to find out more about what the mosaic might be. Amy was very disappointed, but could keep a secret if she had to, so off she went to school, still chattering about her ‘plot’ and all the people she had met whilst there on Sunday. Not a word was mentioned about what had been found at the bottom of 3 holes.

Amy’s father could find no information on the internet about any Roman buildings, settlements or monuments that might have been in the area so decided to further excavate in the corner where Amy’s plot was, as well as preparing the allotment for their vegetables. Amy was given a different corner of the plot, but her father decided not to excavate any post holes for the time being in case he disturbed whatever might be beneath them.

Amy’s father dug and broke up all the large lumps of soil in her plot and Amy levelled it off ready for planting. A second-hand shed had been offered by one of their neighbours in the block of flats which had been in a friend’s plot on another allotment, and this was carried down the road by four strong men one Sunday morning and ‘planted’ in the middle of their allotment. Amy’s father had decided to put it in the middle so they could work round and have a small patio in front of the shed to have their chairs and a small table with an umbrella for when it got too hot in the summer. Amy loved going to her plot and every Sunday watched the soil where she had planted beans and her father had helped put up the bean poles because they were taller than she was, but it was quite a long time before she saw any shoots.

Quietly but slowly Amy’s father was clearing the soil away and making a wall of it round the edge of the plot so it was not obvious what he was doing. It looked as though he was taking out all the old soil to put new topsoil in to make the plants grow better. Everyone thought he was going to grow marrows. He always left enough soil to cover the mosaic so it couldn’t be seen by passers-by.

The hole was 2 feet deep and 4 feet along both sides, which was the size of the plot that had been given to Amy. Her father knew that the mosaic would be bigger but he didn’t want anyone to suspect what was there until he was ready to tell.

One Sunday morning, Amy was standing in the hole wearing her pink glitter boots when she looked at the soil her father had loosened, still laying in the hole waiting to be removed. She saw a small round flat object about the size of a 5p piece but caked in hard soil. Not having any pockets, she popped it into the top of her pink glitter boot and forgot about it.

When they were packing up to go home, Amy took off her boots to get into the car and remembered the thing she had found. She tucked it back into one of the boots and when she got home, took it out and put it in a small glass to soak overnight in some warm water and washing up liquid. The glass stood by her bedside all week until the next Sunday when Amy decided to take it with her when they all went back to the allotment. As they were sitting having their first cup of tea and biscuit, Amy brought out the object. Her mother scratched off most of the softened soil and gave it back to Amy. ‘I think it looks like a coin you have found there. It needs to be cleaned properly so we can see what it says on it.’

Amy was very excited at this and a little later, while she was resting under the umbrella she picked up the coin. She remembered hearing that you could clean coins by leaving them standing covered in Cola. As she had a can of Cola to drink, she put a little of it into her glass, dropped in the coin and sat watching the bubbles working on the dirt on the coin. After a little while the coin looked quite different so Amy, impatient as ever, threw away the Cola and rubbed the coin in some old cloth her mother had taken with them to clean off the tools.

Amy’s parents had wandered off and were talking to a group of other people in the allotments so Amy continued to rub the coin until she could start to see what it was. Very slowly, the dirt was falling off with each rub. Very slowly, Amy could make out a head facing sideways. Very slowly, she could read writing encircling the head. The letters were clear, but Amy could not read or understand what they said. Amy was disappointed, she looked around for her mother and father who appeared to have wandered off to the other end of the allotments with the other people, but as she looked around to see if there was anyone else around she saw someone dressed in strange clothes, wearing open toed sandals, and ‘strangely’, for what appeared to be a boy, a dress coming down to his knees and wrapped round his shoulder, fixed with a broach.

This person was walking slowly towards Amy, and he seemed not to be bothered by the uneven ground on which he was walking.

Amy watched as he approached, she had a strange feeling come over her as he got closer. What could be causing it? She had no fear, just strangeness, probably because of how he looked, his haircut, his dress and the way he walked so erect, almost as though he owned everything about him, even the air that he breathed, he looked to be about 12 years old, but Amy could not be sure of that, although she could see that he had no beard or face hair.

She stood up as he came closer, ready to run if she must, but she still had no real fear.

Thinking she should perhaps speak first she said a hesitant

‘Hello’.

The response she received she did not understand, but thought it must be another way of saying hello.

‘Salve’ said the boy ‘Quid est teum nomen?’

Oh dear, thought Amy but guessing she should introduce herself, she went on

‘My name is Amy, what’s yours?’ After a few seconds the boy responded

‘Meum nomen Claudius est.’

There was then a moment of silence and Amy felt strange tingling feelings inside her head. The boy spoke again but this time she could understand what he was saying.

‘Amy, I am pleased to meet you. I am Claudius and lived here hundreds of years ago. You are standing in our main family room, where we ate and spent time together inside our Villa just on the outskirts of Verulamium.’

roman-children family life

Amy remembered going to the museum in St Albans and seeing that name so she knew to what Claudius referred, but it wasn’t until she remembered the mosaic she had uncovered at the bottom of one of the holes in her plot that she realised that the boy must have lived in a house on this site and that this indeed could well have been his ‘living’ room.

‘Ah’ Said Amy ‘I think I understand now, but how is it I can see and talk to you now?’

‘Well’ said Claudius ‘You are holding and have been rubbing a coin that was given to me by one of the martyred priests and it has magical powers. When you rubbed the coin to clean it, you called on me to return. So I am here.’

Shaken by what he had said, Amy stared at the coin in her hand, no longer was it tarnished, it now shone brightly, and was burnished as though brand new. Amy held it tightly in her hand as though it would be lost again. As though reading her mind, Claudius said

‘Amy, have no fear, I will not harm you or your family, neither will you lose that coin, you have found it and it will remain with you until you pass it on, but remember, it must be a secret between us, and you must never tell, not even your parents’.

This upset Amy, of course, as everything seemed to be a secret these days, and she so wanted to tell all her friends, although perhaps thinking about it they might find her a little strange to be saying that she rubbed a coin she found in her ‘plot’ and this Roman Boy called Claudius appeared and spoke to her in modern-day English. She was so confused she didn’t know what to do.

Claudius then spoke again.

‘Amy, I know you are excited at what you have found, but I would say to you again, that the coin you hold in your hand has magical powers. If I told you that you could tell your parents and all the people on this allotment about my house, would you believe me that they wouldn’t mention a word to anyone else?’

Amy was surprised at this, and became very happy, she hung onto the coin even more tightly, and Claudius just smiled.

‘What would you like to do about what you have found Amy?’ he asked.

Amy thought for a moment before answering. ‘

I think I would like to clear all the soil away from the plots and the buildings and with your help, leave any stones or bricks that were in the walls where they are, or put some back so it shows the layout of your house and gardens, and then plant up the gardens and vegetable patch as it was when you lived here. Would you like that to happen?’

Claudius smiled.

‘Amy you are just wonderful. That would please me very much. There is already a high fence surrounding most of the grounds that your Council has built and this will serve to keep out prying eyes whilst the work is being done.’

Amy looked around and could see her parents returning, she wondered if they would be able to see Claudius. Reading her mind again, he said to her

‘You are the only one who can see me and talk to me Amy, so it is for you to explain to your parents what you would like them to do, You do not need to say anything about me, but I will be here at all times to help you. They are coming back now, so I will leave you to speak with them, you can show them the coin but say no more about me and that it is magical. I think you will be surprised and how quickly things will change.’

With that, he was gone and her parents walked round the end of the shed in the middle of the plot.

‘Come on Amy’ said her father ‘I think it’s time to pack up and go home. We’ll come back again soon, I can see that the coin has cleaned up very nicely. That’s a good job you have done there’

Chapter 4

When they arrived home Amy had hoped to be able to talk with her parents but her mother disappeared into the kitchen to prepare dinner and her father had his head buried in the Sunday papers so Amy decided to leave it for another time and think carefully about what she would say.

The following evening they were all sitting at the dinner table, her father had arrived home early and took his meal with them both. Amy had thought lots about what to say and when there was a lull in the conversation she started.

‘I’ve been thinking’ she announced. Now that got her parents’ attention, she had never said that before in all her six years.

‘Oh yes’ said her father smiling at her mother ‘and what might you have been thinking about young lady?’

‘Well, I’ve been thinking that we really should be doing something about that lovely mosaic I found and I think it’s time we told the others on the allotment about it too in case they have some under their plots and do some damage if they dig too deep without realising’.

‘Ummm, that’s a very profound thought for such a young lady like you. Now I wonder where that came from?’ her father replied.

Amy continued, not being put off by her father’s teasing.

‘There’s a big fence round the allotment so nobody will see what we are doing and we can cover up our diggings so they don’t, and, if everybody joins in, the site could be opened up very quickly to see what is underneath.’

Startled at this ‘deep’ thinking by his young daughter, her father started paying attention rather than teasing.

‘Yes, that’s true but do you think everybody will want to do that, after all, they have a plot to grow their vegetables, and there won’t be any if they clear all the soil off, will there?’

Amy would not be distracted. She continued talking and her parents sat either side of the table mesmerised by what their daughter was saying. They, of course, did not know Claudius was standing next to her prompting her with his words of guidance.

Amy continued,

‘Oh, I think there will still be plenty of growing space for people to grow their vegetables, although it may not be where they are growing them at the moment, but the soil is very fertile and will give a good yield.’

Both parents looked at each other, their jaws dropped and their eyes opened wide at what Amy had said.

‘Well’ said her mother smiling ‘I didn’t know Amy that you had lessons at school in horticulture and agriculture, but if that’s what you think, then I’m sure there must be something in what you say but before we speak with the other people at the allotment, I think we need to know more about what you’re thinking. Do you think you could go to bed now and decide how we put it to them?’

Amy was pleased with this response and Claudius said

‘There you are Amy, I told you it would be easy. You go to bed now and I will speak with you tomorrow evening.’ He then disappeared again.

During the next few evenings Claudius returned to speak with Amy after she had gone to bed. Amy had said nothing more to her parents until she was sure of what she and Claudius had agreed. It was suggested that a meeting of all the allotment holders be held around the shed on their plot. Amy’s father would uncover the mosaic that had been found in the post holes, which were now much bigger and showed more of the mosaic, then Amy would talk to everybody about what she thought was under the allotment and where she thought the Villa was, and how the plots were laid out. She would say that she had learned from her visit to the museum that the Romans built their Villas to a set design and size, so it should be easy to locate the other parts of the building once they had a starting point. She would also point out that the Romans always had extensive gardens and water sources for their flowers and vegetables and their bath houses.

Once Amy had all this information straight in her head, Claudius suggested that she speak with her parents the following evening so they could organise a meeting for the following Sunday, so long as it didn’t rain.

Sunday arrived, and it was a lovely day, everybody turned up for a cup of coffee and a biscuit, curious as to what the meeting was about. Amy’s father had unveiled the mosaic and people took turns to look. They were all amazed at what they saw and even more amazed when Amy started to talk to them. In no time at all there was agreement that as there was very little already planted in the plots because most people were still clearing the land, that there would be no harm in doing a little exploratory digging.

So, on that Sunday, out came the spades and forks and soil was flying everywhere. With Amy walking round in her pink glitter boots and Claudius directing her to show people where to dig, it was amazing how soon the outlines of the Villa became clear. Claudius did not worry about the areas inside the Villa, because he felt these should be protected for now, but he led Amy all round the outside, along the Villa walls to the outbuildings, the bathhouse, the garden sheds, and various other buildings, then to the water fountain in the garden and the channelling that brought the water supply.

Everybody was overcome with how much had been uncovered in such a short time with Amy’s help and they all met together before leaving that evening, vowing not to disclose what had been found.

Amy was so excited, but very tired as were her parents who had been clearing soil by the bucket load, that they all fell asleep after a quick dinner, too tired to even talk about it.

Claudius stayed around the Villa for some time before he disappeared, but he was very pleased with the progress that had been made. He knew where some of the stones from the building had been moved to when the building was burnt down so he was going to ensure that the layout of the Villa and grounds would be complete and as it was when first built and lived in by his family hundreds of years earlier.

Chapter 5

Every weekend, without fail, everybody turned up to clear more soil. Amy, guided by Claudius, had the soil moved to the garden terraces so that there was plenty of good soil for people’s plots, one of the plot holders was a plumber and able to work out how to get a water supply into the fountain and a small pond that had been uncovered on the terrace of the Villa, stones were found all round the allotments and relocated to areas on the terraces to hold up the soil and stop it falling back, paths round the Villa were cleared and there was even trellis erected along the walkways for climbing, scented plants which were planted and some already blooming. Claudius told Amy the names of the plants that had been there before and they tried to get the ones Amy suggested. They had even uncovered an Amphorae in one but although it was in pieces, someone had managed to put it back together so it was decorating one of the plots for a while out of harm’s way.

Everyone worked hard, because they wanted to see how it would look when finished and get some idea of how the Romans lived hundreds of years earlier.

Claudius guided Amy and her father to a field where there was quite a high bump at one end, where it looked like a load of rubble had been dumped and covered with soil. Claudius told Amy that this was indeed bricks and stone from the Villa, moved there by someone wanting to build their own house, but had been killed in the wars before it was done so the bricks and stone were still there, buried over time. Amy suggested that her father clear some of the soil from the top and he was surprised to find the bricks there as Amy had said. Not only that but some of the stone was beautifully finished and there was writing engraved into it which her father said he would find out what it said. Amy already knew but Claudius told her not to say.

It was arranged with the farmer whose field it was in that one of the plot owners would use his flat back lorry to move the rubble back to the allotment. Several others helped and it didn’t take long for the field to be cleared.

Claudius then had an idea and suggested to Amy that a corner of the Villa could be built up using some of the brick and stone, to show how it would have looked. Amy thought this a really good idea because she wanted to know as well, so she told her father about an ‘idea’ and it was put to the other plot holders, who all agreed. A corner of the living area, where the large mosaic was first uncovered was built, the walls plastered in Roman ‘type’ plaster and painted with colours indicated by Amy, guided by Claudius as being close to how it used to look. Everyone was very pleased with this and someone put a large tent over the new brickwork and plaster to protect it from the weather.

It took a few weeks with everybody working flat out over the weekends and some during the weekdays before the site was ready to be finished off by uncovering the mosaics and other floor coverings on the inside of the Villa. These were carefully washed down using damp sponges and any loose pieces of mosaic that were still there were carefully replaced to complete the patterns. Claudius was thrilled that Amy could see how he had lived in his time at the Villa and everybody was very proud that their hard work had preserved the site and in fact renovated where possible to give an idea of how things were.

All that was left to do was to replant the gardens and to relay the terraces with the vegetables that would have been grown to support the family, servants and slaves who lived and worked at the Villa.

Each plot holder was allocated a terrace, and was amazed after only a few days, that the seeds and plants they had dug in were already growing and showing strong shoots and some even had flowers which would turn into fruit or vegetables. Claudius had to explain to Amy that normally things didn’t grow as quickly as that, but of course the magical coin was making things mature much quicker.

The gardens and terraces of the Villa now looked so clean and luscious with all the new vegetation, that it could have been almost as it had been, but of course, it was the case that the gardens and terraces, pond and fountain, which was now working and splashing beautifully in the summer sun, were indeed exactly as they had been in Roman times when the Villa was occupied. For some reason there were no weeds, and the paths were always clear of fallen leaves, with the scent of the climbing plants filling the air as you walked around.

Claudius had a word with Amy one day when she was sitting quietly in the terrace, suggesting that there be another meeting of the plot holders to decide when they would disclose to the council what they had been doing. This Villa, was a very important discovery and really the plot holders, were not qualified to have done what they had done in restoring the bricks and grounds, but of course, nobody knew about the coin with magical powers which had, in fact guided their hands, kept their backs in good health, and made the plants grow so beautifully as they had.

Chapter 6

A meeting was called and it was decided that Amy’s father should be the one to contact the person on the council in charge of allotments and invite him to visit to ‘see how they were getting on’.

The allotted day had arrived and Mr Jenkins from the council walked in through the wooden gate which had been fitted at the time the fence had been built by the council workmen to keep the plots secure. He took two steps and came to a complete halt, his eyes wide open and his head turning 180 degrees in slow motion. He just could not believe his eyes.

The overgrown field he had passed over was now transformed by the plot owners into a luxury paved terrace with fountain, gardens full of flowers the likes of which he had not seen before, walks and pathways leading all round what appeared to be the skeleton of a Villa, with one corner built up and decorated with painted plaster, now covered by clear plastic to preserve the work and the most delightful mosaic floors, repaired and almost complete. He looked at the terraces and saw the various vegetables growing there; to the raised beds with an assortment of herbs and in one corner, small trees fruiting with everything he could name and some he couldn’t, but there were fig, apricots, nuts, as well as the apples, pears, plums, greengages, blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, rhubarb and things he could not name and had never tasted. Mr Jenkins asked for a seat and had to sit down.

Amy’s father explained how she had uncovered what looked like a mosaic at the bottom of a post hole he had dug, and how it had gone on from there with everybody working together to clear and restore the Villa, terraces, gardens, paths, walls and plantings. There was even a small dove cote in a corner beside the fruit orchard. He told how they were self-sufficient with their water supply, having found the water course from a spring up in the hills which they had cleared and were now using and which was held in a storage tank and topped up by the natural rainfall to provide water for the pond which they had lined with natural clay. Mr Jenkins just could not believe what he was hearing.

An hour later, a group of people including a photographer turned up from the local paper. Mr Jenkins had telephoned and asked for a reporter to come and see him in Bennetts End at the new allotment site that the paper had covered a few months earlier when it was first opened.

It seemed that the newspaper office had closed for the day, as they all wanted to view this ‘Wonder’ that Mr Jenkins had told them about which had been done with no support from the council, and indeed without their knowledge.

It was not long before the local television service had a large van parked on the road outside the gate, with news reporters, cameras and all those in attendance, dancing round filming and taking photographs for the evening news bulletins in the area. Bennetts End would go down in the history books, as would the names of those who had undertaken this wondrous restoration without help or advice from any archaeologist or historian in the country or abroad, or indeed the internet, which seemed to be the source of all knowledge at this time.

Amy was interviewed and showed the coin she had found, but never mentioned the magical powers it had. She was told that she could keep the coin once it had been examined by a specialist Roman historian, and indeed, it was returned to her very soon afterwards as she knew it would be, because Claudius had told her that its magical powers would ensure it would be hers and not be in some collection or in a museum somewhere in the world.

The next thing which caught everybody by surprise was that a message was received to say that the Queen would be most interested to come and look at what had been done. Amy could not believe this and neither could she believe, although she should, that the Villa, gardens and terrace sparkled, the flowers bloomed, the fruits, nuts and everything ripened in time for the Queen’s visit and she saw everything glistening and at it’s very best for her visit.

When the Queen spoke with Amy, she told Amy that it had been agreed that as Amy had been the one to discover the mosaic and thus the Villa and in appreciation of all the work she had done in guiding the restoration works, that it should rightly be named after her. Therefore, the wood hoarding was to be taken down and smart new railings installed around the site and painted black with gold tops and that there would also be a large marble slab placed at the entrance gates for all to see saying :

AMYSFIELD

Amy asked the Queen whether the marble could have added the words:

Claudius Caesar

In memorium
425 AD

The Queen smiled at her sweetly, turned to Mr Jenkins and asked for this to be arranged, at Amy’s request.

But you can only do this if you are 6 years of age and show the Queen the brightly burnished coin with magical powers you found in a post hole dug by your father.

Claudius of course was very touched by this and gave Amy a huge hug..
6,822 words (un-edited)

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See also A Dragon’s Tale

https://julievparsons.wordpress.com/childrens-stories/the-dragons-tale/

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