The Ferryboat – Episode 13

HOW’S life at the Boat?” Roberta hailed Tom as he passed her garden during the daily 15-minute constitutional he allowed himself.

His walks frequently took him down to the pier and the company of Donnie. He enjoyed Donnie’s yarns about the area while suspecting some of them to be tall tales and his amusingly forthright opinions on the demise of ferries. Having found out that Donnie played the piano accordion, he’d engaged him to play in the hotel one night a week and that was proving popular with the regulars.

So he was intrigued by this woman to whom his new friend had apparently been engaged for how many years was it? Not, of course, that he’d discussed that particular subject with Donnie, but he’d heard Judy and Holly speculating about it.

It’s called the Bridge Inn now, Tom said, but only to himself. His qualms over the name change had morphed into a certainty that he’d done the wrong thing. It seemed that to Roberta, and every one of the locals, the hotel would always be the Ferryboat, the Boat for short.

“Going well,” he said aloud. “Four booked in for dinner, bed and breakfast tonight.” He leaned on the gate. “Your garden’s looking good. What have you planted?”

Roberta looked around with dissatisfaction.

“I’d love a bigger plot. I’ve put in beetroot and spring onions here today, and marigolds there. Come in I’ve got a small greenhouse round the back. I’ll show you.”

Tom admired the neat shelves of pots with plants at various stages of growth.

“Your fingers are very green!” he said. “Corin and I have been talking about having a kitchen garden. Perhaps you could tell us what grows best in this part of the world and what won’t work?”

Roberta’s eyes lit up.

“I certainly could. Shall I come up this afternoon?”

“Er, OK. That would be great.” Tom was taken aback by her immediate enthusiasm. “There is a vegetable garden but it’s all overgrown. It’ll be a lot of work.”

“The sooner we get started the better, if you want veggies this year.”

Tom grinned, nodding his thanks. Roberta didn’t hang around.

His eyes fell on two wooden half barrels.

“We’re getting a couple of these for the front entrance. I’m sure I remember there being some but they’ve gone.”

He was surprised to see Roberta look uncomfortable.

“Confession time, Tom. These are the same tubs. Iris was trying to jazz up the hotel before potential buyers saw it. We took these up when the fuschias were in bloom.”

“That explains it.” Tom burst out laughing. “Judy and I thought we had a tub burglar on our hands at the at the Bridge Inn.”

“It was Iris’s idea,” Roberta said again. “And it worked, didn’t it?” She led the way out of the greenhouse and wiped her muddy hands on her skirt. “Tom. If I may speak frankly. ‘The Bridge Inn’. What’s that all about?”

Tom groaned.

“It seemed a good idea at the time. New owners, new bridge. I rushed into it.”

“If you take my advice you’ll rush out of it. The bridge will bring changes, you’re right, but the Boat will always be the Boat. I’ll see you later.”

The latch of her gate gave a loud click as she shut it behind him.


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