“What is that child doing?”
This was the question we asked ourselves as we prepared to eat our long-awaited meal.
The child in question was a girl of perhaps eight years of age. Prior to this point, she had been sitting with her large family, at the next table, chatting quite happily.
What happened next was most bizarre.
I should explain that Fowey was incredibly busy on Saturday night. We know one has to book a table if one wants to eat out in the holiday period. We had left it too late. Hence, at 7.30pm, we joined the other, “forgot-to-book” holidaymakers, shuffling along the busy streets in the vain hope of finding somewhere that could fit us in and serve us food. Everywhere we came to was full. Forlorn groups of hungry tourists dragged themselves from restaurant to restaurant. It was looking as though a take-away was our only option.
Our search ended at The Ship Inn. The place was packed. We edged up to the bar and waited to be served. The couple who had come in behind us, took matters into their own hands as we should have done, and nabbed the landlady as she was making her way across the room. They were given the last table in the bar. We waited.
The landlady asked someone to go and check in the other room to see if there was a table free in there. The barman returned saying there was a table right at the back of the room if we wanted it. There was an hour’s wait for food.
The rest of the small room was occupied by a large, rambunctious family. (Large in number that is) We were not overjoyed at the prospect of squeezing in but, needs must, as they say. In we trooped.
It was not ideal by any means. The small circular table sat flush with the window seat. Our chairs barely fitted between a deep leather sofa, piled high with cushions and coats and the table.
We gritted our teeth. I moved some of the cushions that threatened to suffocate us, to the window seat and slid the coats along to the far end, thus creating some space and some air behind us. A pair of child’s wellington boots resided under my chair. I retrieved them and placed them midway between our table and the next.
The large family chattered and laughed as families do. Presently, a German Shepherd joined them with his owners. The enormous dog lay down in the doorway, panting. Its owners divested themselves of their coats (why such big coats? It was neither cold nor raining) and walked towards us, stopping short of our table (were they intending to sit with us?) and throwing their coats onto the sofa behind us. We were now an official cloakroom it seemed.
It was not long before the child, the one who was now causing us such consternation, skipped over to retrieve her wellington boots before disappearing to the loo. She seemed full of energy. She made a noisy return and we continued to wait for food. We waited for over an hour. Lisa made a few trips to other establishments in hopes of finding a better deal, in the meantime but had no luck.
The family received their main course and began to tuck in. They had finished their meal by the time we spotted a waitress bearing three meals that must be destined for our table, should she manage to get through the throng.
Some of the family seemed to have left the table and were lounging against the far wall. The waitress stepped over or around the German Shepherd. It was at this point, that the slightly odd turned to bizarre.
The mother of the group steered her daughter towards the sofa behind us and helped her climb aboard. The sofa cushions were pressed against our chairs so there was no way she could walk in front of it without standing on our laps. (Nothing would have surprised us) The mother picked up a couple of coats … were they leaving?
No, the child, not a small child by any means, lay down and allowed her mother to throw the coats over her. The mother stroked the girl’s head. We felt a little uncomfortable to say the least. The waitress was waiting to put our meals down. The mother stepped back and allowed her to pass.
The meals were lovely it must be said but our appetite had gone with the fidgety child so close behind us. She shuffled and rolled and twisted and turned in an apparent effort to get comfortable. The mother returned to her table. The brother came across and perched on the arm of the sofa. He too began patting the girl and threw another coat on top of her. By now, she had wriggled down the length of the sofa so that her head was literally hanging off the edge and was between our chairs. I looked at Lisa, she looked at me. The child regarded us both with smug eyes.
Dave shrugged. We ate our food with the child lying there, watching. As we swallowed the last mouthful and prepared to leave, the family began pulling on their coats. The girl jumped up and ran across to them, apparently no longer tired and in need of immediate sleep.
We made sure we got to the bar to pay before they did. We needed to get out of here.
Out on the street, we breathed a sigh of relief. Incredulous at the rudeness of the family and only mildly amused by what had just transpired, we made our way down the road towards Treleigh.
“They’re behind us!” Lisa hissed.
Sure enough, the family and the child were following us.
We quickened our step. They seemed to be quickening theirs. Surely they were not going to invade our home? Lisa wondered whether the child would appear in her bed, like some ghoulish creature from a horror film.
It was unfair of us to liken the child to a ghoul. She was just precocious and possibly spoilt rotten, as my mother would say. I blame the mother. What possessed her to send her daughter to our table? I suspect she had earlier told the child she could lie on the sofa if she felt tired and our arrival had threatened to scupper those plans. The child had evidently decided to stake her claim. The family followed us all the way home but we were thankful to climb the steps to our house and hear them continue on their way to the car park.
As my grandmother was want to say, “There’s nowt so queer as folk.”
Other than that bizarre episode, we had a wonderful short break. Here are some photos to prove it!