Once again there was change, just as I felt that my life was following a settled pattern. I started to do the thing that actually helps me to think; just drive aimlessly around the countryside. I drove down to Hunstanton, and along the coast road to Wells. It was a crunchy autumnal day, and I rode with the hood down even though that meant my ears were freezing in the wind. Ever since that very first convertible I’d owned, I was a sucker for these rust buckets. So much fun, even though they were also so much trouble. Soon I found myself way over on the cliffs above Cromer, and as it was getting dark, I turned and headed back towards home.
On a whim, I turned as I got to Wells and went to the restaurant on top of the cliff that I’d taken Maggie to a lifetime ago. Sitting in the parking lot, I remembered that lunch time and my thoughts inevitably turned to Ruby. I was used to eating alone in select restaurants by now, but I rebelled against the idea of doing so here, so after a while I set off again in the direction of Old Hunstanton.
I drove along by the cottages where I’d renovated the one that George Smart lived in when I managed the Anchor, next to the one Maggie had owned. And these thoughts brought me to Ruby too, she seemed to be mixed up in my life in so many ways.
Carrying on towards Lynn, I spotted Graham’s Food Truck, so I stopped and ordered a coffee from the young boy who was serving. I tried to get into a conversation with him, but he seemed more interested in his loud music than his customers, and I gave it up with a shrug.
I was still not sure what the issue really was, so I drove back into Lynn, parked outside my apartment, and walked the short distance to the Anchor. I hadn’t been in here much since I’d been involved with Mary, and it was a shock to see that the snug had disappeared, and the two bars had turned into one.
I ordered a pint, and sat at the bar, slowly drinking and relaxing. I was almost in a meditation state when I heard my name called, and there was Ian, my old motor mechanic/farmer friend. I asked what he was doing here mid-week, and he told me he’d finally retired and handed his farm over to his son. He now lived in one of the smart new homes overlooking the river. Just as we were catching up with the changes in our lives, we were joined by John from High Street News. He looked a lot more presentable that the last time I had seen him, waist deep in the cleanup from the flood, and it was good to catch up. A couple of other people I knew from way back also came in, and soon we had quite a throng and a festive party atmosphere.
The new landlord called time, and we slowly dispersed into the evening air. As I walked back to my apartment, I realized that I’d really missed this. Travelling was OK, and having a different hotel room every week was very nice, but this camaraderie was hard to find anywhere outside of my hometown. The Walpole Arms was OK, but I never felt like a local there.