|(Picture borrowed from the Internet)|
Saturday was always the day Joe and I had a meal out and since he died I have tried to maintain the tradition. It’s not easy, though. I don’t mind eating alone but there are some restaurants/cafes that are so filled with family groups that I feel a bit out of place. Thus, I tend to stick to the places where I know I will feel comfortable.
I listen to others and get ideas from their experiences of eating places so that I can do the rounds, so to speak. A couple of weeks back I went to a garden centre, one I visited many times when Joe was in Australia. It’s quite nice to eat a meal when surrounded by plants and other gardening stuff, particularly if the sun is shining, but this particular place is quite a distance from home so I don’t relish a long drive just to get some food inside me.
Paola, my lovely cleaning lady and friend, told me that another garden centre, a local one, had opened a restaurant. It was her opinion that the food was really good so I was quite interested. It's funny how the thought of food stimulates my interest. Anyway, I checked it out last weekend and was pleasantly surprised.
Halls Garden Centre is a family run business and has been on that site since 1952. It’s very popular with the locals and a pleasure to wander round. Right next door there once was a public house with a huge car park that extended right past the garden centre. The convenient car parking facility probably encouraged customers ... well it would in this age of the car. Eventually the pub closed and the building was used as a wine bar. With bars only opening at lunch time and at night the garden centre did well for customers. Now, though, that building has been taken over by the centre and that’s where the new-to-me restaurant is. Why I haven’t found it before is a mystery. I guess I don't read the right newspapers!
The restaurant interior had been well thought out, with tables on various levels and spiralling steps to reach each one. The decor was comfortable and interesting. Putting it mildly, I was impressed, especially with the service and food. The menu was appealing; it catered for the breakfast crowd, through to dinner and then afternoon tea. There were dishes I felt like trying but to be on the safe side I went for the home cooked ham with two eggs, a bowl of chips and a side salad. It might sound ordinary but it was cooked to perfection and tasted wonderful. The price was better than some eating houses that serve the same fare at twice the cost.
Afterwards I decided to look round the garden centre. I know it well and have photographed it often, but not yesterday. Pity I can’t find those photographs! There's a picturesque Japanese water garden with a red bridge to enable people to get close to the Japanese Koi and other fish. I wished I had my camera with me but without it I could still appreciate the view. Anyway I have pictures of the bridge somewhere in the house – if I only knew where!
I decided to cross the bridge and take a look at the Aquatic Centre, something I have often done but I was younger then and didn’t realise how much my walking had deteriorated. The foot-way might have been uneven and the steps to the bridge unevenly spaced but really I think the fault was mine for not looking where I was going.. Yes, I fell. Ouch! I had landed on my knees which felt as if one of the flagstones had tried to cut them off.
Nobody was around so I didn’t feel embarrassed. I managed to swivel round so that I was in a sitting position. Then, of course, I couldn’t get up. These days I can’t leap into action from a sitting position on the floor... instead I have to crawl towards something I can grab and then haul myself up. It’s all very unladylike! Well, I couldn’t do that on the uneven steps so I just sat there trying to recover from the shock. Fortunately a young couple spotted my predicament and came to help. Oh the strength that woman had in her arms... she had me on my feet in no time. After checking that I was okay they wished me well and went on their way. As they walked off I heard her saying that the centre should really even out the steps to the bridge. Maybe I was wrong then, maybe it wasn't all my fault.
Feeling surprisingly calm I drove home, thankful that I was still in one piece. It wasn’t until later, when I knelt to turn on the gas fire, that I felt the pain in both knees. Fortunately nothing was broken but they felt badly bruised. They took an awful knock so it’s no wonder they felt sore. The soreness is wearing off now but I can still feel it when bending and walking.
Reflecting back on the scenario I came to the conclusion that maybe I should have another type of alarm, one that connects to ‘helpers’ further afield. It’s that or stay home and vegetate ... heaven forbid such an idea!