The Bungalow

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The Bungalow.

Firstly a brief personal biography.

I was born into a wealthy family, I have one younger sister, and no brothers. Both my parents also came from wealthy backgrounds, our family had what is commonly termed ‘old money’.

When I was twenty-seven my parents were both killed while out joy riding in a helicopter, so I suddenly found myself in possession of a very large country house and all that went with it. My sister had already married, against our parent’s advice and had subsequently been disowned.

Even after paying all the appropriate taxes, and making a substantial allowance to my sister, with whom I was on very good terms with, I was a wealthy man. I had been married, briefly, but that had ended in an amicable way eighteen months after it started, we had both realised that we were too young and had made a mistake.

For a few years I did nothing, became the proverbial playboy, but I eventually got very bored and looked around for something to occupy myself with.

That’s when I discovered old houses, abandoned cottages, old farm houses. I bought one, refurbished it, and sold it on. I was hooked.


Back to the present, and after five years of renovating houses I have become fairly well known in the industry. I am very choosy about the properties I work with, they must be reasonably old, fairly substantial, and in desirable settings.

After living for a year in the huge house in which I grew up, I had sold it and moved into an apartment, but I was now wishing for something a bit more substantial, preferably with some garden space, which I had missed.

For as long as I could remember, we, as a family had used a rather nice hotel in a small cornish seaside village for purposes of rest and relaxation, a get away from it all sort of place. I had continued this practice.

A mile or so outside the village I regularly drove past a set of large wrought iron gates, firmly closed and wrapped around in chains. In all the years I’d been driving past, I’d never seen those gates open, and I knew that no other roads around the area had any similar gateways, which I would have expected should the property actually have another entrance.

I was puzzled, and quite fascinated by the place, so decided to make enquiries. Non of the local agencies seemed to know anything about the place, but realising that they were probably too recent in the business I resolved to widen my enquiries. But first, I wanted to take a look at what was hidden behind those gates.

The Google Earth satellite view didn’t give a lot of detail, it showed me that there were several buildings about a third of the way down the plot, with what appeared to be a swimming pool next to the largest, and that there was a substantial amount of woodland at the bottom of the plot but not much else. One thing it did show was that the plot was large, much larger than it appeared from the road. I decided to go take a look.

I wasn’t exactly inexperienced at finding my way into closed properties, and had come up with a strategy that usually worked. First I borrowed a dog, a rather energetic little spaniel, belonging to the hotel owner, then I took it for a walk in the country! I walked the mile or so up to the property gates and started exploring. We followed the edge of the property line, which was bordered by a high wall, until it turned at right angles, and then followed that. The going was very tough in places, there was no proper footpath and the still continuing wall was often hidden behind thick undergrowth and trees. After about three hundred yards I found what I was looking for, a narrow arched doorway. The door was obviously closed and locked, but had seen better days, it wouldn’t take much to get through it.

We continued as far as the small river I had seen online and seeing no way to cross it, made our way back to the closed doorway.

It was even easier than I expected, one good kick and a good portion of the door gave way, leaving a gap easily large enough for the dog to get through.

Having chased him through the gap, I crawled through after him. We entered into what had obviously once been a well tended orchard, now overgrown and left to go wild. Making our way through it we came out into open grass, and a few hundred yards away, I could make out the buildings.

With the dog running off ahead I made my way over to the buildings. The dog was my excuse, if I was discovered and challenged, I was merely trying to catch my runaway!

I needn’t have worried, the place was totally deserted. I walked around the main building.

It was a cottage, or large bungalow. Single storied, but much larger than any I had previously seen. All the doors and windows had steel shutters fastened across them, except for one window around the side, where the shutter was hanging by its fastenings. The window behind it was broken. On examining the window I discovered that not only was it broken, part of it had been removed Ataşehir Escort to allow easy access. I availed myself of the opportunity.

The evidence of use since the place was closed up was all around. Empty beer and spirits bottles, a few syringes, and some condoms. I wandered around.

The place was remarkably clean all things considered, I was used to finding these properties in a dreadful state, but in spite of having been broken into this was very good. I counted six bedrooms, although other rooms could have also once been used as such. A huge living room, an equally large dining room, another large reception room, kitchen, pantries, several other rooms that had no defined use, and four bathrooms.

How had I identified some of the rooms? They were still furnished, some of the furnishings were still covered by dust sheets while others had been uncovered. The items I could see were of good quality, I was surprised that they were still there. A discarded newspaper I found alongside some beer cans was dated forty years ago, but the house must have been locked up some time before that, I decided to definitely do some more research.

Something about the place struck at me. I could live here, I liked the house, I liked the grounds, I liked the location. If I could get this place, I wouldn’t be selling it on, I would have it as my own.


It was surprisingly easy to locate the property’s owner, using a few contacts gained during my years as a renovator I was able to find that the property was owned by a Lady Avotelli, with an address in Knightsbridge, London. Being very careful, I had my solicitor contact lady Avotelli’s solicitor. One thing I had learned in this business was, people like Lady Avotelli didn’t like property developers. I made sure to make plain that I was interested in the property as a future home for myself, not as a land grab for building multiple houses or similar.

A week later I received an invite to meet the lady in question at the property.

As I drove up to the gates I found for the first time that they were wide open. There was a long winding drive up to the house, and parked outside it was a Rolls Royce. The next thing I noticed was that the steel shutter had been removed from the front door.

As I got out of my car I saw a tall immensely elegant lady walk from the side of the building. She stopped as I approached and we introduced ourselves.

This was Lady Avotelli, about five feet ten inches tall, shoulder length blonde hair, and dressed in immaculate country style clothing. I had great difficulty in guessing her age, somewhere between fifty and sixty I guessed, it was impossible to be more accurate. Even at her age, she was a beauty.

She explained that she had done some slight research into my background and that was the reason why she had agreed to meet with me.

“You must understand that I have been approached by several building companies over the last thirty years or so, all wanting to build housing estates on the land, I shudder to think how many houses they would build.”

I assured her that that wasn’t my intention at all.

“No, I understand that you would like to renovate and move in yourself?”

I gave a brief description of my history, to which she smiled.

“Yes, in fact I think I may have been slightly acquainted with your parents, they had a helicopter crash I believe?”

I confirmed that that was the case. We walked slowly around the outside of the house, Lady Avotelli doing the talking.

The first thing she pointed out was the enormous conifer hedge that not only blocked the view of the ocean, but was probably the reason why the house had survived so untouched by the weather.

“That wasn’t there when I was a girl, the view used to be quite breathtaking, it’s a dreadful thing!”

I didn’t like to explain how It had protected the house. But she was right, it would have to go! Turning back to the house she waved her arm.

“It was called The Bungalow, it was my parent’s country retreat and party venue, I loved it here as a young girl. We used to have parties that went on for days. The children used to go picking fruit in the orchard in the autumn, and down in the soft fruits garden in the summer. There were gardeners then, two of them I believe, although I never had much contact with them.”

I asked if she didn’t mind me asking why the house had been closed up?

“Ah, I’m rather surprised you haven’t heard about that, it was the talk of the district for years. It was nineteen sixty one. I was away at boarding school at the time. There was a scandal, My parents were having a weekend party and one of the guests fell and was drowned in the pool. It was reported afterwards that she was here as an escort, a paid guest, and that she was drugged. Whether she took the drugs willingly or otherwise was never proven, but the scandal was too much for my mother and she ordered the house closed Bostancı Escort up.”

We looked at the broken shutter on the side window and both agreed that we were surprised that that was the only damage. I had to admit when asked that I had been inside, but pointed out that I had found the window broken when I came here to look at the house.

“Yes, I’ve been inside, I had the front door opened this morning, I can see someone was in here years ago. We should take a look around inside, there’s something you might be interested in.”

We entered the house and went from room to room, Lady Avotelli pointing out various features and reminiscing about the past. When we came to the dining room she pointed out a picture on the wall.

“That’s apparently what the house used to look like before it was demolished and the bungalow built in its place.”

I looked closer, it was one of those very early sepia coloured engravings, it showed a very typical Georgian country house, the exact type that I had been raised in. I commented to Lady Avotelli.

“That could almost be my parents house, the one I was raised in!”

“Yes I thought as much, very large drafty houses, there are hundreds of them dotted around the country, most of them are hotels nowadays.”

A thought hit me as I looked at the engraving.

“If this house was so similar to my parent’s, then it should have cellars, there were extensive cellars below my parent’s house, it took me weeks to empty them when I sold the house.”

“Oh, yes, you’re quite right, there are cellars, quite large I believe, I was never allowed down there, but the door is hidden in the kitchen!”

We went through to the kitchen and found the door to the cellars. It was one of three identical doors along one wall. When Lady Avotelli opened the door it looked like a shallow cupboard, but the shelves at the back were fastened onto a second door which opened onto a set of stone steps, descending down into blackness.

“I really have no idea what is down there, I’m not sure if it was ever even emptied out or just abandoned like the rest of the house. I never came back when my parents were alive, and later I spent most of my time in Italy and Spain. I haven’t been back here in many years, it was just so sad to see what used to be such a happy place turning into a ruin.”

I saw my opening, and took it.

“I’d like to do something about that, I’m serious about renovating this house, and about moving in and living here, if you would allow me to purchase it.”

When we both drove away quarter of an hour later it was me who was the last to leave, having to lock those heavy chains around the gates, Lady Avotelli, whom I now was instructed to call ‘Lucy’, had handed me the keys and said we would discuss the details in a week or so, when she was back in the area.


A week later I was sat in my usual hotel dining room eating lunch with Lucy. Lady Avotelli had explained that her full name of Lucretia had always reminded her of the Borgias, a name she didn’t wish to be associated with.

“Well, Mr Sinclair, I’ve reached a decision regarding the bungalow. I’m willing to sell it, and the grounds to you, under certain conditions. Firstly, you must promise me that you wish to use it as a home, not turn it into a hotel or rental.”

I easily made that promise.

“Secondly, do you think you could have it habitable for Christmas?”

I was fairly certain that I could, as long as my surveyor reported no major structural problems. I told her that I was pretty confident that I could.

“Good, because my second request is that I spend Christmas in it, I know that might seem a rather unusual demand, but I would truly like to do that, like I always wanted to as a girl, but never got the chance to do it.”

I must admit that I was taken aback by that request, I wasn’t sure how much research into my background she had done, did she know I was single, or did she expect to have the place to herself? My confusion must have shown.

“Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to move out or anything like that, and I will contribute substantially to provisions et cetera. I will come on my own, but you must of course have a chaperone if you think it necessary!”

Obviously she did know my circumstances, and after only a seconds hesitation I told her that I would be more than happy to entertain her for Christmas, and that I didn’t think a chaperone would be necessary.

“Good, at my age I think I’m past all that nonsense, what two adults do behind closed doors, and all that!”

What? Just how was she expecting me to entertain her?

“Now that we’ve settled that, we’ll move on to the sale. I’ve had my solicitor draw up these papers, if your solicitor is happy with them we can get this sorted and you can get to work!”

Lady Avotelli pulled a bunch of papers from her bag and handed them to me, I began to read.

‘Whereas The Viscontessa Kadıköy Escort Maria Lucretia Avotelli, the vendor, and Mr Philip John Sinclair, the purchaser, agree upon the sun of £1000…’

WHAT? I looked up in shocked surprise.

“Mr Robins said you would react like that!” Lucy laughed heartily.

“I wanted to just sell for a pound, but he insisted that I at least get sufficient to cover the legal fees, I didn’t want all that fuss with taxes and things. Besides, if I get to spend Christmas there it will be worth it, to me. I’m seventy years old on the twenty seventh of December, so it’s my birthday present to myself as well!”

I honestly didn’t know what to say. I had expected at least five or six hundred times that amount, there was about a hundred acres of land, as well as the buildings, even if they were derelict to a certain extent. Lucy went on, in a very quiet voice.

“That will give you more money to spend on the renovation, and I may ask a further small favour from you somewhere down the line!”

A small favour! I’d walk through fire for a deal like this, I already had the money, but this would mean I was not only getting the house and land, I could do the whole project for next to nothing! Call me greedy, but I didn’t care what favour she wanted, or the kind of entertainment she expected at Christmas, sign me up!


A week later and I was walking around with my good friend and surveyor, James. James was thorough, very thorough. A new roof, complete with major insulation, all new external doors and windows, preferably triple glazed. A complete rewiring, and upgraded water supply and drainage and a new heating system completed his assessment. Everything internal was just cosmetic he had said, “clean it all up, get rid of the lead based paintwork, it’s a good one!”

He very nearly fell over his own feet when I told him the deal I’d struck to get the property.

“You do know that this place is a gold mine, don’t you?”

“Maybe, but it’s what I really want for myself, once that bloody great conifer hedge is gone I’ll have the best view on the Cornish coast, I love this place Jim, I’m going to make it a real home!”

The price wasn’t the only thing that had amazed my friend, together we had explored the cellars. We had only used a couple of large hand held torches to illuminate the place, but that had been enough.

The first part of the cellar had contained a huge old boiler, a type I’d never come across before. James explained that it had originally been a coal burner but had been badly converted into an oil burning boiler. It was completely unsafe and had to go, although the huge iron radiators in the house proper would be excellent, once cleaned up.

The rest of the five areas of the cellars was what got us both excited.

Stacked on racks from floor to ceiling were hundreds, if not thousands of bottles. Wine, Whisky (That’s whiskey to the Irish and Americans), brandy, and other stuff I’d never heard of, along with sealed boxes of cigars, apparently sealed with lead. The place was a treasure trove. According to Jim, if the boxes of cigars were what he thought they were, and remained sealed, they themselves would, if auctioned in the right places, pay not only for the house and lands, but for most of the renovation as well.

A couple of weeks later, work started in earnest. I called in favours, I called in experts, I spent a lot of money, but not nearly half as much as I had expected to. The conifers I felled myself, I’d always wanted to try my hand at lumberjacking, and after a lesson from an expert, I felled my first tree. After that I spent the best part of a week just cutting down that hedge. I called in a professional tree surgeon to them cut them up and take away the detritus, leaving me with just the heavy wood for logging and burning. I had hoped to be able to use some of it for other purposes, but it was apparently too wild and out of shape to be any use. I did need to get a kiln though.


The twentieth of December. I was putting the finishing touches to the Christmas decorations around the outside of the house.

I had worked hard for the last six months, the house was finished. It did smell a bit of new paint, but they say that that is how the Queen smells the world, new paint. I had plenty of festive air fresheners around, cinnamon etc. but even that didn’t hide it completely.

I had already had one delivery van roll up that morning, and I turned to see another coming up the driveway. Boxes from Fortnum and Mason! I know that Lucy had said she would contribute towards the provisions, but she seemed to have gone completely over the top. Just that morning I had received six cases of champagne from a high end London wine merchants. The boxes that were being unloaded now indicated that their contents were hampers, very expensive hampers. I had occasionally splashed out on one of these in the past, especially at Christmas, so I knew how much these cost. Lucy really was not sparing the expense. It also seemed like the Viscontessa had completely ignored the details of the contents of the cellars that I had informed her of. Her answer to my message was

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