Venetia Phair-Burney pushes boxes to one side and piles up papers to make space on the small living room table. Outside, on the drive, there is a large ‘SOLD’ sign. Queensmead, the stately house in Yew Tree Bottom Road, Epsom, just south of London, is full of boxes. Venetia’s son Patrick helps her to sort everything out and pack it all up. After the death of her husband in the spring of 2006, it is time to move to a smaller apartment. The Phairs lived in Queensmead for 39 years. The following year they would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Venetia shuffles through the room – a small but energetic woman with thick, grey curls and friendly eyes behind enormous glasses. Maxwell was 97. She herself is 10 years younger, but she seems determined to reach 100, despite the fact that the death of her husband and the sale of the house have been so exhausting for her.