Across Continents

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Tempting aromas

Tempting aromas, I imagined, around the village the previous evening. Trapped by the still, cool evening air. Bacon. Sausages. Mushrooms perhaps. Gently ebbing amongst the cottages. Enough being cooked for hundred or more. If you’d have forgotten the next morning was the communal village breakfast in the Tithe Barn, you’d surely have remembered.

But I’d missed this chance for salivation. Enjoying wandering along the darkened lanes, interrupted only by the odd passing car or the occasional cooing of pigeons, the previous night. Off visiting friends for supper half a mile or so from my own place. Talk of China, of Sandhurst. Been quite a canter around. But no, this particular evening I’d joined my neighbours for a visit to a newly re-opened pub a short drive away.

Interesting I’d been told. And it was. Actually more of a surprise. On the outside the familiar look of a small country pub. But step inside and enter a smart restaurant. Pie and a pint no longer on the menu. No longer the place for the passing walker, the tired traveller or the local with his dog, wishing to quietly sup ale. The man that is, not his faithful companion. Now fine dining. I’d venture bordering on exquisite. And rather reasonably priced for what it was. It just wasn’t what we’d expected.

I’d returned to Fitzhead from a spell of house-sitting on the south coast, ostensibly to lend a hand with the village breakfast. But that’d been simply the excuse to catch up with friends, to reassure everyone that home was in the village. My absence a mere interlude, a passing moment in the scheme of things.

The breakfast seemed to go well. I’d volunteered my services and appointed chief washer-upper. There was only one. The bottom rung of a long ladder to become egg lady. Assuming you got past bean stirrer. I was optimistic, but it’d take a while. And there’d be a sabbatical to do as a table waiter. Let out of the kitchen briefly to tuck into tea and toast, a chance to meet the community’s new arrivals. Emma, Douglas, Monty and Bunny. Convinced I’d never remember their names.

There’d also been a chance to catch up on air with the local community radio station in Wiveliscombe a couple of miles away. It seemed to have gone well, chatting mostly about feelings, of emotions on the road rather than plain facts and figures. Stumped inexplicably only for a choice of music they might play. I’d a track in my head, obscuring all others, but couldn’t remember its name. Obliged instead to try and describe it with remarkably little clarity.

Interview complete, I’d drifted around the town for a while, waiting for my bus. Butchers, hardware shop, the delicatessen. All looked familiar. Unchanged. A small library. Converted from a shop. Thought that was new. Wandered past the open door of a terrace house. Didn’t think I’d been staring in, rather walking purposely past, but the woman inside nevertheless said hello. It was nice to be back.


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