I guided the lawn mower back to the wheelbarrow, turned it off, and removed the grass box, placing it on top of the pile of grass cuttings already in the barrow.
Then I took a few moments to savour the perfection of the stripes on the neatly cut lawn; another good job. On a summer's evening like this, it was almost a pleasure to mow the grass before our evening meal.
I trundled the barrow through the gap in the yew hedge and into the vegetable garden. Laura had insisted on planting an evergreen hedge between the 'entertaining' and 'productive' parts of our garden; I hadn't objected because the slightly warmer microclimate within the shelter of the hedge meant that the growing season was extended by a week or more. It had more than repaid the work involved.
The compost heap is in the far corner, against the ugly concrete retaining wall that the developers put in when they built the 'exclusive development of six executive homes' in what had been the orchard. The even more intrusive wooden fence on top had responded well to a couple of 'mile a minute' Russian Vines, and it was now almost acceptable.
I sat down on the bench for a moment and thought of Laura.
We'd had five good years here in our dream home, and then I'd discovered that she was cheating on me with the bloke who I had thought was my best friend.
It had been quite a shock at the time; although with hindsight, the more frequent rows, the lack of communication, the nights away on business and the reduction in love-making should all have given the game away, long before the night I came home to find her wedding and engagement rings sitting on the kitchen table, together with her note telling me that she had left me for Derek.
It had all happened very quickly.
Over the next few days, with the help of Derek's wife Becky, and the police, I put together the pieces.
The fraudulent remortgage of our house for another £100,000, with the money going into Laura's own account and not into the joint one which made the repayments.
The regular withdrawal of that money in cash until there was nothing left.
The reservation of two seats on Eurostar to Paris, in Derek and Laura's name, paid for by my credit card.
The final betrayal of £300 taken out of the cash machine opposite the railway station, and two train tickets to London, bought from the machine at the station, again using the same debit card from the joint account.
Becky had also discovered that her savings account was empty; again withdrawn in cash.
.... There is more of this story ...