A little time to kill.

 My hair appointment was not until 12.30pm. It was only 11.30am, and I had already been loitering in several shops to the obvious annoyance of the staff. No one wants a customer who has no intentions of buying. I had a good hour to wait, and in our small town, there’s only one place to do that when your alone and in dire need of somewhere to wile away an hour or two, the Merrie England coffee shop. I’ve blogged about our Merrie England coffee shops before, they attract a varied age group, some young mothers with their offspring, some older patrons who frequent the tables to meet up and enjoy a good natter, some lone patrons such as myself, who maybe just fancy a coffee and a sit down before going on their way to elsewhere.

As you walk in, the counter, always filled with appetizing goodies such as their delicious home made apple pie to give just one example, is on your left. The Merrie England staff are always attentative and I was served immediately.

Tea and a Gluten free Turkey salad sandwich please.”

The sandwich has to be made to order, so I was instructed to go and sit down and one of the staff would bring my sandwich to me once made, and so armed with my cup of tea I looked around for an empty table. No luck, but I noticed that my favourite place had one man sat in it, engrossed in looking down at something in front of him on the table. Carefully navigating my way down the aisle between the tables, cup and saucer perched precariously in my hand, I made my way to the right hand corner at the back.

Is it okay if I sit here?” I asked the man.

Yes, of course! I’m going soon anyway!” he replied. Sitting down opposite him, with my back to the rest of the other tables, I placed my shopping bag on the empty seat beside me, noting as I did so that the item he was engrossed in on the table was a Kindle. Hmm. That peaked my interest immediately because as I’m such an avid reader, I’ve been considering getting one myself. Always strapped for storage space in our tiny flat, I’m constantly having to recycle my books practically as soon as I have read them. But how to open the conversation about his Kindle? I decided to act dumb.

Is that a Kindle your using?” I asked.

Yes it is!” came the reply.

I’m considering buying one myself, as I love reading. Have you found yourself reading more since you bought it?” I enquired, genuinely interested in the answer.

Yes, I think I have. It’s the convenience I suppose.” he replied. I then asked him if you could now get most books on the Kindle to which he replied the affirmative.  Shortly after, he rose and left and I hoped that I hadn’t made much of a nuisance of myself, asking my questions of a stranger, but I simply couldn’t sit at a table with someone and not make polite conversation, its not in my nature to do so.

As soon as he had vacated the corner seat, I moved into it, finding it still nice and warm. People were still leaving and arriving, as soon as one table became vacant it was quickly filled with new faces, all earnestly engaged in conversation with each other. Deciding to do an experiment of sorts, I took out my phone, and took a picture of them all, enjoying a tea or coffee and a good natter. Would anyone notice?

I think I already knew the answer, and its why I prefer to sit tucked away in the corner seat.

It's always crowded.

 Technogran

Throwing caution to the winds.

Is anyone else diving out the door at the first opportunity whenever the sun peers through the clouds or is it just me? Following the lousy summer we’ve had so far, I simply can’t bear to waste a moment of it. Throwing caution to the winds and not caring if I looked like mutton dressed as lamb, I even went as far as donning my pedal pusher trousers and my open toed sandals. Even the raincoat and umbrella were left at home!  Foolhardy? Tempting fate? Once again my destination was the doctors and I had allowed a good half hour for my walk down. I can walk a lot faster when K is not with me. She is going swimming this morning with Day Care and I confess that I really envied her as she set off. 

For once I had remembered to grab my watch but a quick glance reminded me that I hadn’t made allowances for the frequent stops along the way I was tend to make these days taking snaps with my phone. I had to adjust my walking speed accordingly and although my doctor is always running late, the one time that I risk it and arrive late will probably be the one time that she is running to time. It’s a gorgeous day. Everyone I pass seem so cheerful.

Good morning! Isn’t it lovely to be out in the sunshine?”

Yes, and not before time!” I reply.

Following my stint at the doctors, I pick up my prescription and saunter down to town, no longer having to rush. Nearly every person I encounter is dressed either in shorts or cool summer clothes. Its so colourful after the dingy sight we’ve all become used to of raincoats, umbrellas and the like. I linger outside Websters furniture shop, peering in the windows at their recliner suites and chairs. I ponder for what must be the hundredth time on how they manage to be about the only shop in Brighouse that has survived. I have yet to see any customers in the shop purchasing anything. Most of their stock is very expensive and yes, okay, the best quality, but this is hardly what I would consider an affluent area. Yet I reason to myself, someone must be buying it for whilst other shops have died a death in our town, Websters marches on.

Merrie England scrumptious home made apple pie.

I enter Merrie England and stand at the ‘take away’ part of the counter to order a Turkey Salad on Gluten free bread. As usual, its quite full and there are probably as many customers sat outside in the back area enjoying the sunshine.  I was tempted to linger myself and have one of their delicious decaff cappuccino’s but had second thoughts, seeing as I intend to walk home and not waste any of this glorious sunshine. Trouble is, I am stood directly opposite the display of their fantastic home made apple pies, which are sorely testing my willpower. At last she hands me my sandwich, I pay and saunter on to Hartley’s bread shop for K’s order of a Chicken Tikka and onion sandwich with salad cream on white bread. (Yes, she has strange tastes, my daughter.)  I also purchase a side salad for my lunch and a piece of Quiche.

My walk home is very enjoyable, I’m in no hurry and anyway, its slightly uphill with some steep bits, so I take my time, greeting people who are busy in their gardens as I pass. We’re all mostly a friendly bunch, its one of the reason’s I like living here, practically everyone knows everyone else and that’s the way I like it. By the time I arrive back home, I’m lathered and have to open most of the windows to compensate. I’d much rather be too hot than cold though, and I quickly set too making my Quiche and salad lunch. It’s been so enjoyable, being able to throw caution to the winds for once and leave that blasted umbrella at home!

Technogran

Incognito.

I set off from the safety and privacy of my home.  With a furtive glance around as I lock the door, I step outside and walk swiftly along the estate paths with my hands tucked inside the pockets of my warm coat. Its chilly and despite the presence of the sun in a clear sky, it affords no warmth.  My face and cheeks quickly become chilled and my feet quicken on the ground as I walk past ‘the house that should have been mine if I’d won the lottery’. Someone is braving the cold conditions and hammering away nearby, the sound echoing eerily in the cold air. So far I have seen no one that knows me. So far so good.

Keeping up the pace, I quickly arrive at the narrow path that runs alongside the junior school. A lady is walking down in front of me, and in exactly the same way that I detest someone walking behind me, she keeps turning round to look at me as if to reassure herself that I am no threat to her.  I step up my speed with the intentions of passing her but as I draw alongside, she begins a conversation with me about the weather which moves onto how we both detest walking in the rain and then ends in the subject of people we both know who make the mistake of buying houses out in the middle of nowhere and the problems that can cause in winter. We part company in town and I continue on to my selected destination, the Merrie England Coffee shop. Before entering, I have to visit the cashpoint for some money as I find that my purse doesn’t actually contain  all that much in the way of coinage, and cups of cappuccino and sandwiches are unfortunately not free.

I enter the cafe and quickly glance around the tables that I am able to view from the doorway. Thankfully I don’t see any familiar faces, but from that viewpoint the whole seating area is not visible. However the seat where I had planned to sit in order to remain inconspicuous is occupied by a lady wearing  a red coat. The assistant, who is obviously a new girl as one of the older assistants is stood at her side showing her how to input items into the till, takes my order.

A large decaffeinated Cappuccino please and a Turkey and salad sandwich on Gluten free bread.’

None  of the assistants behind the counter seem to be giving me strange glances despite the fact that they know me by sight.  Nor do they seem particularly surprised by my unfamiliar appearance. My confidence grows. Still, I wish the lady in the corner seat at the far end would kindly get up and leave.  After receiving my coffee I am forced to sit down at a middle table as all the others are occupied.  I see someone I used to live near to sat at one of the far tables. She recognises me instantly and says hello with a smile. My nerves are on edge. In order to appear calm and collected I drink some of the coffee whilst waiting for my sandwich to arrive.  When it does, I enjoy it despite the fact that its really too early for lunch.  Another lady arrives that I am acquainted with and smiles a greeting. The lady in red sat in the far corner folds up her magazine that she was reading and leaves by the back door. I quickly pick up my half eaten sandwich and coffee and make my way to the corner bench seat.

Tucking myself right into the corner as if vainly trying to melt into the walls, I can now observe everyone whilst remaining fairly inconspicuous.  Or so I hope.  I’m feeling much more confident now. Those people who know me by sight have not stared or looked strangely at me, or worse looked shocked or burst into howls of laughter.  I finish eating my sandwich and spend the next few minutes scrutinizing the other occupants. At the opposite corner from me sits an elderly gentleman who rather reminds me of a cow chewing its cud seeing as his mouth is constantly making chewing movements, yet strangely I do not see any food on the table in front of him.  Perhaps this is some habit he has, perhaps he is always making chewing movements. I drink some more coffee which has by now gone cold. At the table directly next to me are three people, a man and two ladies. The ladies are sat on the bench seat next to the wall, whilst the man is seated opposite on a chair.  I don’t take in their conversation at all, despite the fact that I can hear it clearly as my mind is occupied elsewhere, mainly toying with the decision on whether or not to take full advantage of the sunshine and walk home rather than catch a bus.

Another lady who is familiar to me has sat down at a table directly in front of me and smiles as she does so.  My confidence is building with every single smile of recognition.  I check the time on my phone and leave the cafe with my usual ‘goodbye girls’ parting to the staff as I walk out of the door into the cold winter sunshine.  Having decided that I will walk home using an entirely different route I set off.  This route takes me along the main road but strangely I don’t see anyone I know.  It ends in a rather steep walk up a hill where I find myself beginning to flag a little and my aching back isn’t helping.  At last I arrive back home feeling really pleased with myself.  It has all gone far better than I had imagined!  What on earth had possessed me anyway? I have never considered myself to be vain at all, and to be so concerned about my appearance to others and what others would think, especially at my age, was in hindsight a complete mystery to me. I feel confident enough now to do the same tomorrow for our journey down to exercise class.

Having the confidence to face the world outside and let them see the new me, that’s all that was needed, so I’m so proud that today I plucked up the courage to go out without wearing my wig!

TG