“Let’s go for a coffee.” Lashes suggested the other day. It took me about a nanosecond to think about it before picking up my bag and heading off to meet her and Munki.
Hhmm. Where to go? Not enough time to go into Bigtown, not enough money to go to the posh coffee shops since the economy drive is still in top gear. “I know” Lashes said, “let’s go in the market.”
Our little town doesn’t have a lot to boast about but it does have spectacular scenery and it also has a lovely little market, one which I’m ashamed to say I don’t frequent nearly as much as I should as the supermarket is more convenient and cheaper.
“Does it even have a cafe?” I asked bemused. Lashes looked at me with a little smile on her face, “Follow me, it’s like a little secret, this place.”
And so it was. She led me through to the annexe, where I’d never even set foot before, and through a door that gave no clues at all as to what lay behind it.
Behind the door lay the tiniest cafe you’ve ever seen. There were no leather settees, huge pictures of coffee beans, menus offering coffees with fancy names, sandwiches with a choice of six different kinds of bread and no business men and women on their smartphones with their laptops open in front of them.
Instead was half a dozen formica topped tables with fake flowers in chipped vases. The walls were painted a cheery yellow and the menu, a laminated piece of paper,offered straightforward tea from a Tetley teabag or coffee, instant, from a jar. There were a couple of pensioners who obviously spend a lot of time there, and a warm welcome. We ordered our food and drinks and while we waited we chatted with the ladies on the other tables. The food, which arrived in due course, came with a smile and a little chat with Munki. The serviettes, if you felt the need to dab at your mouth after every mouthful of food, came in the form of kitchen roll which you helped yourself to from the shelf on the back wall, along with the cutlery in a tray that reminded me of my school days.It felt like we were sat in a friends kitchen – and just as comfortable.
Music played quietly in the background, songs from the 50’s and 60’s, songs that don’t challenge the emotions, tax the brain or jangle the nerves. At one point a couple of the customers joined in with a song, singing, “Love Letters in the Sand.’ to no one in particular. Did anyone bat an eyelid? Did they heck. It was all just part of the atmosphere. if anyone tried that in Starbucks, they’d be forcibly ejected from the premises.
An elderly chap came in, looked around at all the tables and then went and spoke to everyone in turn, leaving them with a sweetie as he moved on. The sweetie in question was another memory from childhood, Werthers originals. Delicious. He had an extra special chat with Munki, obviously enjoying her company, mind you, she was being extra cute.
We spent a lovely half hour chatting with total strangers who were obviously curious about us as we stood out like a sore thumb, and enjoying good, plain and wholesome food at prices reminiscent of twenty years ago.
I think that little secret places like this are at the very heart of a community and help to keep it all together, a place of stability when the world is going mad. I don’t reckon this place has changed in fifty years and I hope it never does. Every town needs it’s little secrets.
Munki came to my house for her regular Monday afternoon play date. She’s been a bit nervy around the dog so we’ve had to take it slowly. The poor dog can’t understand why Munki keeps screaming when all he wants to do is play. As the weather was nice I decided to let them have a play outside in the filed. Munki decided that she’d train the dog how to run through the weaves by pretending to be a dog herself, woofing as she ran. “You do it like this. Nanny, why won’t he do it? I’ll show him again.” It kept her, the dog and especially me, entertained for a good hour.
I was watching the Cruft’s world championship agility trial last night. I’m not sure me and Mrs Woofy are quite as slick as this yet. This is last years winner.