Saturday is a pale blue day. I slip my feet into shoes that rub heart shaped blisters into my toes and decide that suffering for the sake of loveliness is very definitely worth it when there is a pair of twinkly flip flops involved. I walk into town (and beg you not to under-estimate the gasps that such an admission would cause amongst those who know and love me), a fifteen minute descent into the madness of the Saturday market. The hustle and bustle of a thriving market town high street and the best cheese stall a cheddar mouse like me could ever hope to wish for. A town famous for gingerbread, clocks, Victorian dog vaccines and, rather tellingly methinks, once renowned for breeding old maids.
Today is all mine. For once I have resisted swallowing up the day by driving out to goodness knows where and instead I am trying to re-discover the delights of the town I shop in daily without the joy that is a four year old wrapped around my legs. I call my Mum and tell her to ring me in half an hour to remind me to buy a light bulb, then promptly switch my phone off and forget all about it.
Because first of all there is, of course, the library. Kate Jacobs latest effort Comfort Food waiting for me behind the desk and a gorgeous book full of Scandinavian Christmas Crafts winking serendipitously from a shelf full of computer books. Then a cinnamon splattered latte and a gingerbread lady in a crimson coloured coffee shop.
Suitably refreshed I wander over to the only antique/junk shop my town possesses and hold the same conversation I have been having with it’s owner for the past ten years. “So” she say’s, running a gnarled hand through straw hair, “When are you taking over from me?”, and I laugh and tell her I’ve done my time as a local shop owner and I’m happy now to spend a cosy half hour in her company rooting through her cardboard boxes and squealing in delight when I find another Coronation tin for my collection and a pink and black Tala recipe book with scrumptious domestic illustrations inside. Then I say my goodbyes and wander with eyes half shut through the covered walkway where the shop I used to own still resides. No longer the frilly happy chaos it used to be when I was stenciling the walls and wandering into the street, (inspired by Anita Roddick), to entice my customers with a blast of my signature musky lavender, it is now two floors full of chi chi curtains and show stopping fabrics. And though it is as lovely as ever, it makes my heart hurt in the same way it hurts when I see my first boyfriend married to the girl who came after me: so very glad to be out of it but quite unable to cut the ties that bind to me to nostalgia and yesterdays dreams.
Onwards, feet aching, to the flower shop for sunflowers and blowsy white hydrangeas poking pretty out of my french pink basket and then to the bliss that is the second hand bookshop. To say hello to Carol and Edie who volunteer behind the counter and keep an eye out for the books that used to sit on their Mothers bookshelves when they were girls, for me. But the pickings are slim today so I go spend my pennies on a magazine or six and collapse in front of a mango smoothie with Selvedge. Then I zigzag my way through an alleyway to the new organic deli to buy made on the premises, quiche and walnut bread and wander back down to the market to buy blush pink apples and listen to a man, manic with religion, banish us all to hell for being seduced by the blatantly wicked temptations of Big Brother (of all things). I walk off laughing and smack my nose on an unexpected lamp post and wonder whether this is God’s revenge for not taking his bearded friends message seriously.
The basket is heavy now. The thought of walking back up the hill giving me horrors. I consider sitting with the old ladies gathered underneath the clock tower, but tell myself a violet scented dotage is long way off and walk determinedly, huffing and puffing, in the direction of home.
Home. For porcini mushroom risotto and plans for a Scandinavian Christmas. Home to collapse exhausted on the sofa. Home to catch up with Big Brother and secure my place in hell.
Home without a lightbulb.