The waitress with the wild, unruly hair, greeting us with a cry of,
“It’s a Mad House here, sit where you like! Yes, the window seat is lovely,” lives up to our first impressions.
“Three teas and three ploughman’s, one ham, two cheese,” she scribbles madly, scratching out what she has just written, and flipping the page over with a sigh, twice, before finally being satisfied. All the while she regales us with tales of how busy they have been and how lovely the town is and how lucky we are to be out and about in the sunshine (we are indoors at this point but by the window ‘tis true).
We feel lucky.
Informing us that she’ll not be a minute and flicking a stray strand of unmanageable hair from her eyes, she stops at every table en route to the kitchen to chat about this and that (including the alleged haunting of this quaint and ancient building – a friendly ghost by all accounts) before finally delivering our order to the chef. From the sounds emanating from the kitchen, we deduce that the chef is a little harassed and can only wonder how long our lunch will take to prepare.
Returning, minus our food, our waitress brandishes three sets of cutlery and a single napkin which she lays on the table, chatting all the time. Noticeably more dishevelled than before and very out of breath, she pauses,
“Oh dear, what am I like? You’ll need more than one wont you?” she beams, “are you travelling far?” We explain we are heading home from a weekend in Cornwall and express our delight in the town in which we now find ourselves. The waitress waves her arms about her and indicates some point beyond the window,
“I have lived here most of my life and my aunt used to live by the church – everyone knew her round here, always dashing around, in and out, a very busy lady. She was only 4’ something tall, used to drive a little mini and you couldn’t see her head over the steering wheel, just her hat. She was known for her hats, a very eccentric lady, died a while ago bless her,” the memory obviously stirs her but she moves on briskly,
“I’ll be going out shortly and leaving the chef on his own for an hour but don’t worry, he can manage,” she promises and with a flurry of brightly coloured skirts, and hair that seems to have grown even bigger as she speaks, flies back to the kitchen.
We stare at the solitary napkin on the table. We don’t hold out much hope for any more and where is the tea?
“Your tea!” announces the waitress brightly, as teapot and milk jug hit the table at about the same time as our jaws, and cups jangle to a standstill on the tray she is carrying. We adjust our jaws and are about to thank her but she has already left the building, wild hair flying and an oversized wrap flung around her shoulders.
There are no more napkins.
Sometime later, the chef appears with our order though he seems to be about to deliver it to a table of elderly ladies sitting to our left before catching our eye and making a quick detour. He plops the plates down in front of us, wishes us ‘bon appetite’ and is gone.
One napkin will have to do.
Lunch proves to be delicious and we manage with one napkin between us. The bill arrives eventually (Chef, in his role as Jack of all trades, is hard to pin down) and we leave refreshed if a little dazed. I would love to meet that waitress’s aunt – what a character she must have been!