It was a gentle devouring to begin with. The abandoned bicycle was settled into the bed of leaves and twigs, and then caressed and entwined by grass, nettles, cobwebs, and questing finger-like branches.
One day in 1745 in the hamlet of Gubblecote, near Tring in Hertfordshire, an elderly woman named Ruth Osborne went to beg for some buttermilk at a local farm. She lived in poverty with her husband, John, neither of them able to get much work or support from their neighbours. The Osbornes were shunned for the double reason that they were thought to be witches and Jacobites (1745 also happened to be the year of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rising).