Sunday, 16 May 2010

A Day by the Sea

My Lovely Girl

It's Sunday evening and the rains have come. 

It was pleasant and sunny all morning.   So good that, earlier this afternoon, I went out and watered the roses, fuchsia, geraniums and window boxes I planted so diligently yesterday.   

Looking out now, the raindrops denting the surface of the water, I need not have bothered.

It was all so different this same Sunday two years ago.

Amanda and Bob had invited us to join them and spend the day at Burnham-on-Crouch.  In view of the circumstances at that time, Bob had offered to drive so that we - and Amanda, of course - could enjoy a glass of wine.

So it was with pleasure that we drove over to them on a very warm Sunday and sat in their garden, relaxing in the shade before heading to Burnham. 

When we had parked on the main street, I remember we walked round to view a house, which Amanda and Bob had thought about buying some years earlier.

We then strolled along the front before dropping into one of the pubs that backs onto the walkway along the front. 

The pub's lunch menu did not look anything special so we agreed to head back to a restaurant we had seen earlier, near where the car was parked.

On the way we passed the cabin on the square that sells freshly-caught fish. 

Bob could not resist going in to see what was on sale.  Nor resist placing an order.

'They close at three' he said.  'I told them we will be back before then to pick them up.'

By the time we had walked to the restaurant, 'The Contented Sole' it was fast approaching two o'clock.

When the four of us walked in it was clear the lunch service was over. 

Only one couple remained, sitting at a table in the corner, and they had just asked for the bill.

Naturally, the manager was hesitant about serving us as it was so late.

'It's lunch for four' Bob pointed out.

The manager still looked uncertain.

'And we'll be looking at the a la carte menu,' Bob added.

That changed everything and we were swiftly shown to a table by the window in the now empty restaurant.

The setting was relaxed, the conversation good and the service excellent. 

The courses we had ordered - and the little extra taster items we hadn't - all disappeared with nods and words of appreciation.      

The only break in the mood came when Amanda suddenly remembered the fish.

A quick check of watches confirmed there wasn't a lot of time to spare.  

Amanda raced off to collect their fish while we explained her sudden departure to the puzzled waiting staff.

While she was away we asked if they would store the fish in their fridge until we had finished our meal.  

They had no problem with that and so we were able to complete our meal at leisure.

Finally it was time to head home - complete with fish from the fridge - glowing happily with the pleasure that comes from good food and the company of wonderful friends.

If Bob and Amanda's intention was to lift our minds and our spirits in the face of the concerns that lay ahead of us, they succeeded. 

I know that when you were in hospital, and after you had been discharged and were making such good progress, Amanda would have loved to have repeated our visit to the 'Contented Sole'.

But you knew that too much had changed for you in those few months, for you to be comfortable going back. 

So we never did - and now we never will.

When we left the restaurant that day I picked up one of their business cards.      

I still have it; I use it as a bookmark.

It's a bit weathered and worn, but is now much more than a bookmark.  

Whenever I open my book, it reminds of that lovely day, just two brief years ago, when you were so lively and lovely, and such fun to be with.

But then that's how you were - and why we miss you so much.

Love you my lovely girl,