Are you being served?

“Let’s nip out for a coffee,”
The phrase is bandied about at weekends here. It can cover a multitude of things. We could be suggesting going somewhere to discuss a new plan, share some exciting news. The coffee might turn out to be tea, the venue might become a pub but generally, we end up sitting in a quaint little café or tea room or at a ‘Costa Coffee’, to get away from it all for half an hour.
The experience is normally relaxing, often insightful and in most cases, refreshing.
Occasionally, the trip will include lunch but either way, it is one of life’s little treats in the busy world we inhabit.

Just the other weekend, Dave suggested we “nip out for lunch”. Driving round the local countryside, he and I ended up at a pub we had never frequented before. The Tichbourne Arms, tucked away in the countryside, with its thatched roof and delightful garden, was quite idyllic. The landlady welcomed us and we ordered a “Cheese and Ham Ploughman’s” and sat in the sun, just listening to the birdsong and the lack of traffic noise. We both agreed the food and the venue were ‘spot on’.

The Tichbourne Arms
Delightful country pub

Remembering this delightful experience, today, a Saturday when the odd shower does nothing to detract from the general warmth and positive vibes of the day, Dave utters those immortal words again,
“Let’s nip out somewhere for a coffee,”
He has a place in mind. He has seen a sign for a café on his way to somewhere, recently and wants to try it out.
We drive to a delightful village only a few miles from us. We follow the sign to the café. The café is in a shop it appears – oh, it is at the back of the shop to be precise. The girl at the shop counter steps back and ushers us through a doorway,
“Yes, just walk through – it’s out the back,” she smiles but does not follow.
We edge our way past the counter and through a narrow passage to the very back of the shop. We enter a room divided in two. To our left, is a kitchen area where there appears to be a lot of frying going on. To our right are three small tables wearing chequered cloths. We hesitate, where should we sit? Beyond the room there appears to be a small garden but it is hard to see.
An assortment of pretty crafts and hand-made items adorn the shelves and bunting hangs from the ceiling.
A young girl brushes past us and addresses the person doing the frying who we can just see above the screen that divides us. Neither seem to see us.
They look busy. We decide to sit ourselves down although the smell of frying is quite off putting. I joke that someone we know well, who shall remain nameless, would not like this at all. I am already filing the episode in that pot labelled, ‘strange experiences’.
Having found ourselves a couple of chairs at the back of the room which really is not very far from the front of the room, we smile at the girl who is carrying a tray of bacon and eggs into the garden. She does not appear to notice. She cannot have failed to see us. We are the only people in the room.
“Do they want brown or white toast?” calls out the woman who is frying and presumably, now toasting.
The girl returns.
“Danny wants brown toast but the other guy with his son doesn’t want any,” she reports.
“Ok, now take this bread out please,” the toasting woman orders. The girl passes us with a board full to bursting with bread and butter. We can only see three heads in the garden. Who is eating all this food?
We are patient. She will notice us in a moment and perhaps apologise for the wait or maybe even ask us what we would like to drink. We wait.
The girl returns. The woman behind the screen tells her what else she must do. The girl stands there and nods. Perhaps she is new, we tell ourselves. We talk between ourselves for a bit.
The toasting woman seems to have finished toasting and frying and is now busy doing something else. The girl reappears and awaits instruction. She appears to be doing nothing now. Our hopes rise. The phone rings.
“If that is for me, I am not available unless it is Brian or John,” instructs the woman behind the screen, “I’m far too busy for anyone else,”
The girl answers the phone.
“Hello? Yes, we are open from 10am until 6pm. Yes, we do breakfast. Um, I’m not sure…let me read out the entire menu to you…”
She doesn’t actually say that last bit, she just reads the entire menu out to whoever has phoned up, at the speed of a snail.
Maybe that’s what we need to do – phone up! I consider it as an option.
We have sat here quite a long time without anyone acknowledging us – twenty minutes at least, surely not half an hour? Since the girl does not appear to be getting rid of the caller any time soon, we look at one another and make the decision to leave. I’ve a feeling that no one will notice.
We stand up, pushing our chairs in so that they are bound to hear and make our way to the front of the room. Being polite, despite the way we have been treated, or not treated, depending on how you look at it, we smile at the screen and call out,
“Thank you,” as we leave.
In unison, the pair turn and call out breezily,
“Thank you very much, Goodbye!”

We have to laugh. It is so absurd!
Needless to say, we end up in Costa Coffee and agree that today is one to put down to experience.

Fancy a coffee?

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow www.theglowstudio.com.


  • hilarymb

    Hi Debbie – oh I can believe that scenario .. I’m not sure I’d have been as polite as you … but at least you’ve ticked that sign off your list of possibles!

    Honesty – just glad the pub is good and no doubt you’ll be going back to Tichbourne sometime fairly soon …

    Have just heard Cleve West of Chelsea Gardens fame .. tell about his childhood and how his parents ran the Lorna Doone hotel in Porlock (one of the places Jenny and I didn’t get to on our tour of the West Country – checking out places Emily Hobhouse might have visited – blogged about!) … and how it was as Basil Faulty hit the tv screens and how his father was just like Basil Faulty … those were such fun to watch …

    Sorry – just tied the two together .. cheers HIlary

    • Debbie

      Ha ha! Hilary, love how your mind works. I don’t think we will be going back to that place but you never know…as for patience, well, to be fair, we did get the impression that the young girl was new to the job and they were short staffed. However, a polite, “sorry for the wait,” or something, would have been nice. As it is, I fear we were indeed invisible.

    • Debbie

      I can recommend the Tichbourne Arms, Teresa and where would we be without these odd experiences to make us smile? I checked Trip Advisor and the cafe has some 5 star reviews – another day obviously…x

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