Winter Holiday by Bruin Fisher – Day 2
The next morning Mother was not better. Her migraines follow a predictable course and so we weren't surprised that the head pain had eased but she was weak and shaky. We held a family conference and decided to cut the holiday short to get her home as quick as possible. It's a long drive down to Guildford from the lakes but it's usually not a problem because we all take turns driving. Dad's knee plays him up these days so we don't let him do long journeys, and Mum was in no state to do any driving so I was mildly surprised when Claire suggested that I stay for the rest of the planned holiday, and that she would take the parents home, doing all the driving. You see why I think she's great. I thanked her over and over again – I was going to get to turn the rest of the holiday into a photography-fest.
We spent the morning packing and by noon I was waving them off in the car. Once they'd gone I had to decide how to use the rest of the day so I started by walking into the village to the pub, looking for some lunch. I'm a bit shy and don't really like pubs, but I was hungry so I took a deep breath and walked into the Fallen Poet. I promised myself I'd ask someone how it got that strange name, and looked around. Quite a few people were there, and there was a hubbub of chat. It was a smallish pub with one bar and a lot of tables around which groups of people were sat drinking and talking. I went up to the bar and ordered a bottle of Budweiser. Once I had my drink, I checked the food menu chalked on a blackboard on one wall. I went back to the bar and asked the barman if they were serving food – off season it occurred to me they might not be, and I saw no-one else eating. He replied in a thick local accent which I couldn't catch over the noise so I had to ask him to repeat himself. This time I caught enough of what he said to know that food was available. So I asked for steak and kidney pie but I didn't want the salad that it came with so I asked could I have chips instead of the salad. The barman replied 'No'. Not 'I'm sorry sir, but we're not able to vary the menu items' or 'Sorry but I'm not allowed to take special orders' just 'No'. I've never been told No like that before so I was taken aback but I didn't argue the point. I went and found myself a table in a corner while I waited for my food. I wondered if I'd experienced the famous tourist hospitality that is said to fester in some of Britain's resorts – where the locals resent the tourists and show it by surly service and by exaggerating their local accents so they won't be understood.
My food arrived, brought by a different barman who couldn't have been nicer and made me feel quite at home. So I guess I just met an unfriendly local, or a local having a bad day. No matter.
I tucked into my pie and enjoyed it. When I pushed my empty plate away I took another look around the room. It had filled since I arrived and there were now other people eating. A group of locals drinking around a large table across the room caught my attention when they burst out laughing about something and to my surprise I saw my shepherd from the day before among them. I have no idea what they were talking about but it gave me a great opportunity to watch discreetly as he laughed and joked with his companions. I wondered what it would be like to be a part of that social circle. Who were these people? What sort of lives did they lead? Did I have anything in common with them? What would it be like to sit next to him and brush that rebellious curl of hair back off his forehead for him?...
I realised I was staring and forced my eyes away, glancing around to see if anyone had noticed. Hopefully not but I decided it was time to leave so I finished my beer and walked home.
My movements were going to be limited by the lack of a car but I decided to make the most of the afternoon and I took my camera kit on a walk around the lake. I got quite a few good pictures and was pleasantly surprised to find two or three other photographers out with their tripods despite the cold. I stopped and chatted to a couple of older guys who were out together taking pictures, setting up their tripods by the water's edge for a shot of some swans against the backdrop of the mountains rising up behind the lake. They were friends from a London camera club, on a photo holiday together, enjoying taking pictures and chatting about their cameras and kit. I'm afraid photographers, especially amateurs, can be very boring when they get talking about cameras and I can bore with the best of them. So I try to keep quiet on the subject unless I know I'm with someone who's interested. With these two I talked happily for a while. They were both Nikon users and my kit is Canon so we argued happily about the relative merits of the two rival systems. As I left them to continue my walk I thought when I reach their age I hope I'm as happy and contented with life as these two old guys seemed.
When I got back, the cottage didn't seem as warm and inviting as it usually does, and I realised I missed my family. I'd had a big lunch so I didn't feel like going out for another meal. So I made cheese on toast, and watched the DVD of The Bourne Identity on my laptop while I ate. Then for lack of anything better to do I watched The Bourne Supremacy curled up on the sofa next to the fire. By about 10pm the room was beginning to feel cold and there was quite a wind blowing up outside. I could have turned the fire up but instead I went early to bed.