WE headed west at the weekend to give the seal of approval to the new home of our son, daughter-in-law and toddler Poppy.
After months of being messed around by the so-called system that operates in this country for the buying and selling of houses, they finally moved in last week, along with all their belongings that had been in storage through the summer.
After giving them all of four days to settle in, we descended. We ensured we caused minimal disturbance, stopping for no more than a tour of the house, garden, village and 700-year-old church and its dreamily beautiful churchyard, plus the requisite tea and slice of cake. The cake had been to mark Poppy’s second birthday the previous day, so she understandably expected there to be candles on it again for her to blow out and a hearty singing of Happy Birthday. We did not disappoint her.
On our way to the house Geoff and I had stopped a couple of miles away in Totnes to check it out and have a bite of lunch.
Spoilt for choice, we eventually hit upon a foodie’s paradise where you help yourself to salads from a choice of about a dozen bowls. Soon after we sat down to eat, we were joined at the end of our table by a sweet-faced child of about two-and-a-half and his parents.
Now this is the sort of scenario that causes Geoff’s bile to rise and his food to curdle. If that little boy so much as banged a fork or raised his voice, Geoff would start shooting dark looks – or worse. I felt tense at the prospect.
But we judged the child wrongly. He was an absolute charmer and didn’t once let down his parents, who talked with him and kept him focused on the job in hand.
I realised he must be an enthusiastic gourmand when I heard his mummy encourage him with the immortal words: “Come on, Freddie. Eat up your tapenade. You know you love it.” How very Totnes.
The following day I took my mother out for coffee (my, what a pampered life I lead) and overheard something else that I hugged to myself. It needs sharing.
The young man at the counter was taking an order from the customer in front of me in the queue. It was quite complicated, with various breakfast things as well as three different styles of coffee to be adorned with froth and sprinkles of this and that.
Once the mortgage had been arranged for the woman to pay for this mid-morning feast, she was handed a number to display on her table so that the food could be delivered.
At this point the very charming, multi-earinged chap on the other side of the counter had one final question. “Where will you be sitting?” The woman said they’d be upstairs.
Transaction completed – or so I thought, as I prepared for my turn. But no, the young man had one more thing to say to the woman. “Amazing, yeah.” That was all. Two words that were so utterly incongruous that my mind held on to them, turned them over, teased them out and could not, in any way, fathom why he had said them.
It could not possibly be amazing that the woman and her family were going to sit upstairs, especially since the main seating areas are on the first and second floors.
I don’t think there was any reason at all. He probably just says it, in the way of a full stop. So here goes: Amazing, yeah.