By PJ Stephenson
The autumn wind had grown strong. It whipped up the valley to encircle the old stone cottage in its icy grip, turning fallen leaves into clouds of whirling dervishes and playing tunes on the chimney stack like an out-of-key flute. The window panes rattled and, somewhere in the dark, a wooden door slammed. But inside the living room, it was warm and cosy. A fire flickered and crackled in the grate and the smell of wood smoke and fresh baking filled the air.