Caroline Saunders liked to dabble in palmistry. When she had a few drinks she could be persuaded to do this party trick. She preferred to read palms of people she didn't know, or at least those she didn't know very well, so she couldn't be accused of, 'ah, well you knew that about me anyway.'
After several years in personnel administration, she was now retired. She could even see a similarity between her work and her party-palmistry because she believed both applied an understanding and empathy towards human nature.
She had been happily married for forty-five years to Peter, who joked about her palmistry, and teased her whether she could see whether they would come into any money in the near future. Sadly - or fortunately - depending how one viewed it, her party trick failed to predict that Peter would die following an accident at work. She was devastated by his death.
From then on she constantly dreamt of the sea, and concluded that her subconscious was at work, predicting her future destiny. She decided to sell the house to provide her with much needed finances and move away
For several years she had taken 'The Lady' magazine which advertised jobs. She saw an advertisement, 'Elderly widower requires Housekeeper/Cook/Chauffeuse, Pembrokeshire.' She telephoned and was invited to stay the weekend to show her abilities. She enjoyed cooking and driving so she felt confident she could cope with the duties.
She and Peter and she used to underwater dive around the Pembrokeshire coast when on holiday. She knew Pembrokeshire was a beautiful part of Wales, a magical place, where time had stood still. A land of dragon-shaped mountains, with hidden coves along its long coastline, together with an abundance of wildlife.
On a wet, windy Saturday in March,she drove along a rutted gravel path until she saw a derelict farmhouse, framed against a background of grey sky and angry sea. She parked the car, and knocked on the front door, which was opened with a creak and a groan by a short, fat woman
'Oh, hello. I'm Caroline Saunders, I rang earlier about the job. Mr John Hillbourne is expecting me.'
At the sound of her voice an old gentleman, he looked to be in his late eighties, came to the doorway. He was very tall and thin. She refrained from giggling when the short, fat woman and he stood side-by-side. Mr Hillbourne introduced her to the woman. who was employed as the cleaner. Perhaps because there were no other applicants Caroline got the job.
When her employer died two years later, Caroline bought a small house with beautiful sea views, five miles from the farmhouse.
She got to know the new owners who bought John's property. They renovated it and restored the old corn mill, together with a dilapidated waterwheel. Once the restoration work was completed she was invited to the opening ceremony
The sluice gate opened. Slowly, the waterwheel started to turn. Within a few minutes trickles became torrents, the sparkling, tumbling water cascaded from the paddles. A great cheer went up from the gathered crowd as the wheel came back to life after dormant for so long. That old wheel is like me, Caroline thought, out of action but now it has found a new lease of life.
Inspired by the beauty of her surroundings, she took up painting and joined a creative writing class which encouraged her to return to writing, something she hadn't not done since she was a kid.
She reflected on her present life-style, somewhat thrust upon her, but the completely unexpected reward was, in this quiet backwater, she had found peace and contentment
She felt happy again; prepared to meet life's challenges. Yes, she thought – every cloud does have a silver lining.