I'm sat at the back of a gently shelving beach, on the north Somerset coast next to the WW2 pill box still guarding the beach but slowly returning back into the beach material from which it was made so
many years ago. Behind me there's a railway line that runs into Minehead and I'm waiting for the 14.08 to go past because it's a steamer and I want to take some photos of it. The dogs (GOD BLESS'UM) are still on the beach doing what dogs (GOD BLESS'UM) do best which is running, jumping and standing still! The weather is doing its best to be nice but, as always, it's about 'four season's in one hour' which, if it was anywhere else, would be terrible but here, today, right now is perfect. My missus is coming with the ice creams; Ash, our daughter, is staying with her grand parents so this time we're on our own and missing her like crazy! Which, too, is about right and ok!
The place is called Blue Anchor Bay. It's in some sort of time warp. I'm always expecting someone to ask for our ration book or try to sell me petrol coupons when I'm here. It's like it's still in the mid thirties - that period of English history when we were 'so terribly English, white flannels, tennis rackets and cravats' (and that was just the women). The Indian summer of the British Empire, just before WW2 started, when everyone had their place in society and dressed for dinner in the evenings. Thinking all this I take my second lick of my ice cream... it's missing. I lick the air just above the ice cream cone; the missus is sniggering and Ferguson snacking on the ice cream.
'Awww, I'll get you another.' she says
'Nope, we'll walk the beach while the tide is still out.' I say getting up and brushing myself down. We start to walk and the dogs (GOD BLESS'UM) follow!
An hour later we find ourselves at the station!
'WOOOOOOooooOOOoOOwop!' I'm watching the train slowly come to a halt at the station. I take some pictures - the smell and sound of a steam train makes them sort of alive. The coaches are full of tourists and local people.
'Cup of tea?' my missus says.
'Please.' I respond and we head off with the dogs (GOD BLESS'UM) to the Driftwood Café (just what else would a café to be called at a place like this? It's not a made-up name either.) The café is just how I left it last time we were here with a smell of stewed tea and damp people. The menu is also the same, 'chips with everything'. There's a slight vibration of the cutlery on the table as the train leaves the station heading for Watchet. A small woman appears wearing a white lab coat and a hat!
'Two cups of tea, please!' I ask her. Nothing, she's just looking at me!
'Two CUPs Of TEA!' Again I ask but with a slightly raised voice with inflection.
'OK, don't shout.' she says tapping a small beige box on her chest. Only then do I notice the 1960s national health hearing aid and wires going to her ear's with what can only be described as tiny tin cans stuck into her ears.
'It's me battery' she shouts 'It's on the blink, today of all days. It's going to be a busy day and the place is full' she again shouts. We look around and it's empty! We're the only ones in the café.
'So... How... many... people have you had... in today then?' I ask.
'Don't shout! Eh! You're the first' she shouts1! and, sliding the full cups of tea on to the tea tray, picks up the tea tray and says (shouts) 'FOLLOW ME, SIR. WE CAN'T HAVE YOU SITTING ANYWHERE CAN WE?'
I notice that most, if not all, of the tables have 'RESERVED' notes on them and I am warming to this person with her gentle air of authority. We're seated in a nice window seat just in time to see the rain storm heading our way. The dog's (GOD BLESS'UM) are in the cover of the café's porch.
'They'll be in any minute now because of the rain.' she shouts from behind the counter in an informative manner. So we wait out the storm and for the people to arrive into the café from it!
Alice, which is the name of the waitress, comes over and her hearing aid is sort of whistling in time to her head movements. I hide my head behind the menu and my missus looks that girly look of 'behave and just don't go there!' Alice produces a cleaning cloth and spray cleaner and starts to clean our table, spraying everything in sight and rubbing the pattern off the top of the table. This includes the food and tea, too! All the while the hearing aid is whistling what seems to be the tune from 'Close Encounters' - badly but quite discernibly. I snigger some more. From under the table comes a bit of a reminder that it's not nice to snigger at people. My shin is sore now. Alice finishes the cleaning and takes the cups and plates with the uneaten food away - we haven't eaten anything. She returns with a bill, says 'Hurry up, we have a bus load of people arriving any moment.' and thrusts the bill in my hand. £8.47 it says.
'For what?' I say.
'It contains a service charge!' she says.
'£8.46?? Is that the service charge?' I say in a very sarcastic tone adding 'For the last hour we have been the only ones in here and I'm still waiting for the great unwashed to arrive.'
'Well they're going to here any minute and I think you should leave your table because it's reserved.' She puts a little plastic sign on the table!
I pay the bill and we leave the café, picking up the dogs (GOD BLESS'UM) on the way. We sit on the sea wall and wait for the bus to arrive. It never does and the seagulls use us for target practice! It's time to move.
The tide is coming in fast and we're sat on the top of the pill box watching it. The day has been good and the weather has been somewhat British. We walk the sea wall and we're the only ones around enjoying the sunset. This place is empty and so nice too! The tent awaits - and a comfy night in!