Sunday, and Anna shopped before making her way to the Crown Inn, which turned out to be a long, low-slung thatched building with a busy bustling air about it. She had timed her arrival for after any lunch rush, and made her way somewhat shyly to the bar.
“My name is Anna Marshall” she said to the blocky red-haired bartender, “I think you have a camping pitch booked for me.”
“We do,” he grinned. “I’m Ben. Landlord. Me and Sam go back a ways. Any friend of his is a friend of mine, and more than welcome. I’ll show you where stuff is.” He beckoned to a younger man who was busily clearing tables before stepping out from behind the bar.
“Camping field gate is just along the road. I’ll go open it for you if you want to get your camper.”
Anna nodded, and by the time she had driven out of the car park Ben had a big five-bar gate open and was floridly bowing her in. She drove slowly through and waited for him to shut the gate behind her. He trotted past the camper, and beckoned her to follow him as he jogged off along a well-made track. Anna was amused by his ebullience, and delighted when he motioned her to pull onto a shady pitch with hard tracks for the camper’s wheels. She stopped the engine and got out of the cab. Immediately she could hear the sound of running water, and see a tiny stream just at the bottom of the field.
“Okay to let the dog out?”
Bonnie jumped out and having sniffed Ben carefully, allowed herself to be patted.
“What a beautiful dog. Right. You have this little field to yourself. There are another dozen pitches, but they are through that gate over there. There’s a loo and shower block through there too. Here’s the key. Water point just here. Electric hook-up behind this tree. Toilet emptying behind the loo block. Holiday cottages through the other gate, the occupants will walk past you to get to the pub. If that’s a bother I can find you a different pitch. You get to the pub through the kissing gate there. Leads into the beer garden. Anything I’ve forgotten?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Good,” he headed off at the trot that Anna guessed was his usual gait then stopped and turned back to her. “Your dog is welcome in the bar, lounge or beer garden. Can’t allow her in the restaurant, the health and safety johnnies would have multiple babies.”
He threw her a salute, and was gone.
Anna pitched up, while Bonnie went for a paddle. A clang from the kissing gate alerted Anna to company, and she whistled Bonnie to heel. A group of about a dozen people ambled across the field.
“Afternoon. What a lovely dog. Is she friendly?”
“Yes. Though not annoyingly so.”
“We’re in the cottages. Won’t disturb you except on the way to and from the pub.”
“You were here first,” Anna smiled, “and there’s plenty of room for everybody.”
“There is, and isn’t it a lovely spot.”
And then they were gone through another gate into the gardens of the holiday cottages, leaving Anna alone with her dog and a delightful sense of anticipation. Smiling inwardly, she cooked lasagne, spread French bread with garlic butter and wrapped it in foil ready to warm, made ready the ingredients for salad, and took some chocolate brownies out of the freezer to defrost. With that done, she and Bonnie took themselves for a good walk which they both enjoyed. Then Anna availed herself of a small, but well-appointed shower block, and came back to the camper feeling as fresh as a daisy. She made liberal use of a bottle of scented body lotion before sitting in the sun to dry her hair.
“And that should do,” she said to Bonnie, who gave her a straight look. “Do you think I should dress up, then?”
The dog waved an encouraging tail.
“Oh. If you say so. But what should I wear?”
While she was deciding, the phone rang.
“Just finished. I’ll go home and grab a shower. Be with you by about seven o’clock.”
“Okay. I’ll have a glass of wine ready for you.”
“Yum. If I drive fast, I could be earlier…”
“No need to drive fast, just drive safe. We’ll be here when you arrive.”
“See you soon”