Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)
TITLE: Updown Hill: Semi-Detached to Let
By Dee Yoder
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The local estate agent had promised me that I would love the Victorian semi-detached* character cottage house on Updown Hill in Windlesham. Between his accent and the unfamiliar words, I was already confused.
I took the off-ramp to Windlesham from the M3 and made my way northwest to the village center. The pharmacy built on the corner of Updown Hill and Chertsey Road looked like it was constructed in the Victorian era, too. Its curved walls let it sit comfortably in the rounded-off corner of the intersected streets. Afternoon shoppers strolled up and down Updown Hill, and I slowed to park in a lot behind the pharmacy.
I walked to the corner and looked up Updown Hill to my right. The estate agent’s office was supposed to be near here, but I didn’t see it.
“Excuse me,” I stopped a lady with a rosy-cheeked toddler in her arms. “I need to find Edward’s and Elliott’s Estate Office. Is it close?”
“You’re American, aren’t you?” she smiled.
“Yes. I’m going to be working here and am renting a house. It’s located on Updown Hill.”
“It’s that way. Up Updown Hill. That’s a character cottage.”
“Um…you mean, the estate agent?”
“Oh no. The cottage you mean to let.”
“The cottage...to let?”
“To…rent, you say in America. It’s up Updown Hill.” She pointed toward the top of the road to my right.
“I see. What about the agent—“
“Oh, that’s down Updown Hill. Edward’s and Elliott’s.” She pointed behind her to a small brick building beside the rounded pharmacy. Her blue eyes twinkled, and I had a feeling she was enjoying my confusion.
I thanked her and headed to the agent’s office. The outside was quaint, but the inside reflected an attempt at modernization.
“Be right with you,” a voice called from a small hallway to the back as I entered. I sat in an office chair perched before a large desk, and soon an older man, dressed to the nines, came to greet me.
“How nice to see you, Miss Farmington. I’m Mr. Elliott, Senior,” he said cheerfully. “I have the papers on the character cottage to let up Updown Hill. It’s not far, if you’d care to walk. It’s through the village and on the opposite side of the road we’re on.” He pulled a sheaf of papers from a drawer and stood.
Outside, we turned right and strolled casually up the road as Mr. Elliot gave me the history of the picturesque town.
It’s a charming town, you know. It makes us quite a popular little village of late.” He pointed to several buildings that were obviously old. “Some of these were built hundreds of years ago. That’un dates to the twelves.”
“The twelves?” I repeated.
“Yes. The twelve hundreds.”
“Oh!” I eyed the aged structure and was amazed that it was still in use.
We came to a small, double-story white house with black shutters. Its two front windows faced the street, but I didn’t see a door at all. Mr. Elliot stopped and waved his hand toward the cottage. “Here ‘tis.” He said happily. We went around to the side and entered the “front” door to the living room. It was quite modern inside, in spite of the age that was evident from the outside. After viewing the house and lovely garden attached to it, Mr. Elliot invited me to lunch at the local Indian restaurant. “It’s this way…down Updown Hill.” I turned the wrong way, and Mr. Elliott smiled.
“Do you ever get confused?” I laughed.
“No, but I admit it’s fun to have a go at you visitors once in a while.”
At the Roshoi restaurant he introduced me to a few locals. “Townies” he called them, and by the time I signed on the dotted line to “let” the house, I began to feel at home on Updown Hill. Mr. Elliot even gave directions to the church I planned to attend on Sunday.
“It’s up Updown Hill…down past Mac’s Automobile Service and up from Ladybird Taxi…all on Updown Hill, of course,” he laughed.
I laughed, too, and made my way back to Lloyd’s Pharmacy. If I could find my way on Updown Hill, driving on the left would be a cinch!
*semi-detached: half-double house in the U.S. (And Updown Hill in Windlesham is a real road.)
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