Diary of a Sussex newbie - Bolted in and out...

Dear daughter's birthday was the most eventful yet. Not, however, because of raucous behaviour, wild entertainment or fireworks. It was her mother that delivered the night's drama, and unintentionally at that.

'It was a particularly dark and stormy evening'
'It was a particularly dark and stormy evening'

Being a taxi service is part of the deal when living in ‘the sticks’ as dear daughter likes to refer to life in Sussex.

Fortunately I enjoy driving, so am quite happy to give her and her friends lifts here and there.

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After much deliberation it was decided that for her birthday this year she wanted to have dinner with some of her closest friends, in a restaurant in a nearby town.

The plan was to drop some of them there and then pick a group of them up again 2½ hours later and bring them home for some post dinner aperitifs and chat.

By 7.30pm all the girls had met at the restaurant and I was back home as planned.

Devoted doctor was out, and it was a particularly dark and stormy evening, so for no particular reason, I bolted the front door shut.

Since moving here, it’s become a bit of a habit of mine – when I know no one is expected home, I tend to bolt the front door and draw the curtains.

I’m still not fully used to no street lights and no near neighbours I suppose. All well and good.

Come 9.30pm and I received a text from dear daughter asking to pick them up.

The rain had set in, so I decided it would be easier to simply nip out the back door to the car and avoid the longer walk from the front door.

The girls were duly picked up and we arrived back home just after 10pm.

I went to unlock the front door.

It wouldn’t open.

Realisation dawned.


The front door was still bolted from the inside! And there was no other way into the house.

I had four scantily clad girls shivering in the rain.

Panicking, I started trying to force the door open and managed to cut my finger rather badly in the process.

The Admiral! Dear daughter very sensibly suggested that the girls knock on the Admiral’s door and seek shelter there.

I meanwhile rang our fabulous handyman, who offered to come straight over.

It was like something from an Ealing comedy. The Admiral hadn’t seen so much excitement for months and was delighted to have a sudden influx of four beautiful young ladies into the annexe.

Then his night carer joined the throng, plus myself, and our handy man. Party time!

The wonderful handyman had a life-saving idea; to climb into the loft and crawl along the length of the house and come down from our loft hatch right at the other end of the building in to our utility room.

The carer and I managed to help him clamber up into the pitch-black loft, with a head torch, and waited and waited... poor thing it took him ages, but finally we heard noises coming from the other side of the inter-connecting door. He had made it and disaster was averted. What a star.

Devoted doctor arrived home half an hour later, wondering why I had a big bandage on my finger and there was so much excitement.

“Oh you know what teen birthdays are like,” I said, hastily hiding the broken bolt which I’d managed to force off the door whilst trying to break in.