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Ancient Feet: 58 - Alternative Sundays

...After a while, we decided to move on to the youth hostel and, as Andy made his way to his car, I noticed that he seemed to be checking the back seats of all the parked cars along the way. Old habits die hard!...

Alan Nolan continues his ebullient account of a Coast to Coast walk with his mates.

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The Queen Catherine is a pleasant and popular place, although I did notice a rather unusual announcement on a chalk board, which read:

I was left wondering what is an alternative to a Sunday evening? Is it a Friday evening or a Saturday evening, and how would anyone know when to attend in order to enjoy the jazz? Being more charitable, even if the notice should have read: EVERY ALTERNATE SUNDAY EVENING, how would anyone know whether it was a week or a fortnight since the last jazz evening? Perhaps the people of Osmotherley are brighter than we think.

The confusion about which is the next jazz evening is similar to the bewilderment created by those signs so often stuck to shop doors - BACK IN HALF AN HOUR. When did the half hour start, you moron?

After a while, we decided to move on to the youth hostel and, as Andy made his way to his car, I noticed that he seemed to be checking the back seats of all the parked cars along the way. Old habits die hard!

During the short walk from the village to the youth hostel, we passed a guest house which prompted Tom to tell us about one of his previous walks with Andy. They had endured a long day in poor weather and, by the time they reached Osmotherley, they were wet, bedraggled and tired and just wanted to relax with a pot of tea before having a nice bath and going out for a meal. It was already about six o'clock and they expected the B&B to be in the village centre but could not find it. The address they had was simply the house name and, search as they might, they could not see it anywhere.

After several minutes of fruitless searching, Tom spotted a man he recognised as the proprietor of the aforementioned guest house (where he had stayed once before) and approached him and asked for directions to the B&B. Unfortunately, the property was about half a mile outside the village, inevitably in the direction from which they had come but he did point out that he had vacancies that night, if they didn't feel like walking the extra distance. Although they certainly did not feel like walking a further yard, let alone half a mile (plus another half mile back for their meal), they had already booked their accommodation and it would be unfair not to turn up. As they made their weary "way to the B&B, they thought it odd that he should have tried to poach guests from their landlady in such a blatant way.

They arrived at the B&B expecting it to be really nice as the nightly rate was higher than it had been at any of their previous B&Bs on that trip. However, they were disappointed. The landlady was kind enough to offer a pot of tea and a scone but, immediately, she proceeded to tell them about two Coast to Coast walkers who had stayed with her a few weeks before. Apparently, she had just baked a fresh supply of scones and had put them on a plate to cool and when she gave them their pot of tea, she told them they could take a scone from the plate but, when she returned, they had eaten the lot. Relating this story to Tom and Andy was her way of telling them not to be greedy pigs and she made a point of giving them just one scone each and only enough milk for two cups of tea each.

Although slightly disappointed with the quality of their accommodation, at least they were able to have a hot bath and relax after their difficult day. As they prepared to walk back up the hill to the village for their dinner, Tom said he felt certain that the landlord at the guest house who had directed them to the B&B had the same surname as their landlady and he proceeded to look up the names and found that this was, indeed, the case. On their way out, Tom mentioned to the landlady that they had had to ask for directions and had asked the proprietor of the guest house and commented that it was a coincidence that he had the same name as her.
'Oh, him,' she spat, in the sort of tone that only ex-wives are capable of achieving. They thought it best not to tell her about his guest-poaching activities although, by that time, they were wishing they had taken him up on his offer.


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