So following on from the traumas (plural) of the journey to Ludlow we find ourselves in a lovely room overlooking a beautiful golf course. We had a much needed evening at an excellent pub , and the next morning we had a full English breakfast to look forward to.
Now I’ve never liked that moment when you first walk into a hotel restaurant of a morning. Everyone already in there looks at you and you don’t know where to sit so you hover near the door hoping that guidance will be provided as soon as possible so you can sink into the anonymity of your table for two. I know Reidski is the same. I know this because of the way he always, ever so politely, ensures I go through the door first.
We follow the directions for the dining room in a rather gorgeous Georgian house. I go through the door first (as always) and Oh The Horror! A huge table is laid out for all eight guests (maximum that can stay in the B&B accommodation there). Three seats on each side and one at each end. The end seats are both occupied, and one on each side. In other words, the two couples already installed at the table have put as much distance between the other couple as physically possible.
My first thought was that I would turn round to find that Reidski had done a runner. I know fully well how very much he was going to hate this situation. I selected a middle chair which at least meant he would only actually have one person (me) right next to him. And knowing it was entirely down to me I commenced with the small talk...or at least I tried to.
Couple the Elder were quite open to chat. TOO open to chat in Reidksi’s opinion. In fact within minutes of our acquaintance we had heard all about their crazy golf experience of Christmas Eve 2004 at Great Yarmouth. Couple the Younger however.....
It was the ‘He’ of Couple the Younger who was at the end seat and I turned to him to ask how long they had been staying at the Lodge. I swear to god he went purple and nearly choked before managing to stammer out the words ‘Just got here.’ Out of compassion – never mind out of embarrassment (mine) I decided not to give him a stroke by directing any further conversation in his direction. As for the ‘She’ of Couple the Younger: well she managed to keep her back to me the entire time we were there making it crystal clear she was not in any way whatsoever really have a communal breakfast experience with a bunch of strangers.
A fourth couple arrived. Nodded so quickly to us all that if you blinked you would have missed it, and sat down to whisper between themselves for the duration of the repast.
The owner of the place came through and said something directly to Reidski and I. Terrible moment because due to his accent I had not the faintest idea what he had asked us. At that point it was me who appeared to be without the power of speech. It turned out that he was asking us ‘Did we have a nice meal at the Unicorn?’ Reidski managed to answer him in spite of the fact that he thought the place we had eaten was called the Orchid.
Reidski who told me later he had mentally steeled himself to believe that it was possible to spend half an hour of his life in this horrendous social situation managed to contribute to the re-telling of the M5 story. He did however collapse on the bedroom floor with a panic attack when we finally made our escape. If I could have stopped laughing I would have been in a better state to administer first aid.
Should add that the breakfast itself was simply superb. Highly recommended if you are one of those rare people completely comfortable eating baked beans in front of people you have never met before in your life. But when I said to the (delightful) owners we would be back, Reidski was very clear with me as we came away that, ‘No, we would not.’
Expiration - I wonder when I will die. Just the other day as I was strolling through Ecclesall Woods, it occurred to me that eight years have passed since I walked away...
16 hours ago