It was a Summer just like this one when I helped H.I. restore the medieval Doom-Board at the church of St James the Great, Dauntsey, Wiltshire.
"What does this remind you of?" we would ask each other every now and then.
"A Month in the Country, but without the shell-shock", would be the answer, sometimes tinged with a wistful regret on my part that the vicar's wife was not so accommodating as the book's one.
When the architect first arrived for a site-visit to see how the work was progressing, he finished the business by slowly looking around the cool interior of the gloomy church and said, "This whole situation really reminds me of A Month in the Country".
The painted oak boards were hidden somewhere under the flag-stones of the old building to preserve them from destruction during the Reformation. Then they were forgotten about, after all the fuss had died down.
As in so many cases, it was this neglect that saved them, but - for some reason - several boards went missing, never to be found again. That's where H.I. came into it.
New boards of the right size were pit-sawn in the old way, then given to me to be gessoed and primed with red ochre and rabbit-skin size - also in the old way.
All of the original boards depicting sinners going to Hell and the righteous going to Heaven were put up above the rood-screen, and H.I. was brought in to apply colour to the new infills - in a deliberately non-figurative way, so that the new could be discerned from the old without resorting to the museum battleship-grey that was the norm before this job.
The old boards did not match the 'new' roof-line, so I painted that band of running cloud on the face of lime-mortar which fills the gap. That was my most obvious contribution, and I'm pleased it might out-live me.
This bold approach won the architect the John Betjeman prize for that year, and we are hoping that the boards will last as long again, assuming the black flag of ISIS does not fly over the Town Hall any time soon.
This really - and literally - was a dream job, and the time spent at the church was so unspeakably precious and contemplative, that I am amazed we were actually paid for it as well.
When it finished, we suffered a sort of withdrawal which was actually painful, but as Autumn turned into Winter, the feeling of loss slowly subsided.
I got a key made - about 8 inches long to fit through the massive oak door - so we didn't have to go through the rigmarole of collecting one from a warden every day, and I have not yet got around to giving it to the church, now that the job is done.
Somehow I can't bear to part with it. We feel a sort of ownership attached to the place, and this is the last memento of an unforgettable experience, though we haven't snuck back and used it.