River­side

It’s all about sprouts at the Old En­gine Room this Christ­mas . . .

The People's Friend - - News - by Glenda Young

ITHOUGHT I’d make steak and chips for tea to­day, Ge­orge,” Mary said brightly. “And I’ve made tri­fle with hun­dreds and thou­sands on top, just the way you like it.”

Ge­orge put down the string of Christ­mas tree lights he was un­rav­el­ling.

“That’s kind of you.” He pat­ted his stom­ach. “But there’s no need. I feel like you’re fat­ten­ing me up for Christ­mas!”

“Non­sense!” Mary smiled. “It’s the least I can do for my hus­band. Shall I put the ket­tle on and bring in those bis­cuits you like?”

With­out wait­ing for an an­swer, Mary headed to the kitchen.

Ge­orge shook his head and re­sumed un­tan­gling the tree lights. He wasn’t sure what had got into Mary lately, but she’d been act­ing rather oddly.

What he didn’t know was that Mary had never felt such a fool. There she’d been, think­ing that Ge­orge was hav­ing an af­fair, only to have the truth re­vealed after she’d gone to the length of spy­ing on him up at the allotment.

It wasn’t an­other woman Ge­orge was tex­ting; it was an­other gar­dener who spe­cialised in her favourite flow­ers – tiger lilies.

As Mary pre­pared the tea, she tried prac­tis­ing sur­prised ex­pres­sions for the mo­ment Ge­orge pre­sented her with the pot of tiger lilies on her birth­day next year.

Over at Anna and Carol’s hair and beauty sa­lon, Carol was flick­ing through the ap­point­ments book at the re­cep­tion desk.

She let out a long sigh. “What’s up?” “We’re fully booked with ap­point­ments from now un­til we close at noon on Christ­mas Eve.”

“Well, that’s good, isn’t it?” Anna smiled. “Why are you so down about it?” Carol closed the book. “I was try­ing to find a day when I’m not likely to be work­ing. I wanted to go on a date with that guy, Joe. Do you re­mem­ber him?” Anna laughed.

“The one who saved you from the botched pro­posal of mar­riage from Juan in the Old En­gine Room the other week?”

Carol smiled. “We’ve not been out on a proper date yet and I thought we might be able to fit some­thing in be­fore Christ­mas. But after I’ve spent all day in here, I don’t have the en­ergy to go out in the evening.”

Anna went to the re­cep­tion desk and opened the ap­point­ments book. She ran her fin­ger down one page, then an­other, then she flicked through a few more pages.

With a pen­cil she struck through an af­ter­noon of Carol’s ap­point­ments.

“You’re free this time next week. Does that suit?”

“You can’t just can­cel my ap­point­ments like that!”

“I’m not busy that day, so I’ll take your ap­point­ments for you. There are only two clients com­ing in.” Anna peered at the book. “You’ve got Mrs Mar­shall at three and Bob Lewin at four thirty. They’ll not mind me look­ing after them. All Bob Lewin ever comes in for is a cup of tea and a bit of peace and quiet.”

“Thank you,” Carol replied. “I ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

“What does he do, then, this Joe?” Anna asked. Carol shrugged.

“He says he works in pub­lish­ing. A big book­seller by the sound of things. I’ll call him to see if he’s free.”

In the kitchen at the Old En­gine Room, Clive was sit­ting with Dave and Mike, plan­ning the deli’s Christ­mas menu.

“It’s not that I don’t like sprouts,” Mike said. “And you both know we’d be lost with­out Ge­orge’s veg­eta­bles from the al­lot­ments, but I’m not sure what we’re go­ing to do with all of those.”

All eyes turned to the five sacks of sprouts propped up against a work­top.

“Ge­orge said he had a bumper har­vest this year,” Dave ex­plained. “He kept bring­ing them in. I could hardly say no, could I?”

“Not when he’s your fa­ther-in-law,” Clive agreed.

“We’ll get through a lot of them,” Mike ac­knowl­edged. “Most peo­ple have sprouts with their Christ­mas meals, don’t they, Clive?”

“Yes, but folk are look­ing for some­thing new and ex­cit­ing to eat at their Christ­mas meals these days. We need to come up with some recipes to use up the sprouts.”

“Sprout soup?” Mike sug­gested.

“Sprout curry?” Dave added.

Clive shook his head. “Some­thing more ex­cit­ing, that will grab peo­ple’s at­ten­tion.

“Some­thing that will get us into the ‘Rye­mouth Ad­ver­tiser’. Imag­ine – we’ll be the talk of the town.” Clive waved his hands. “We might even make it on to the telly. I’m go­ing to come up with ways to serve sprouts that Rye­mouth’s never seen be­fore!”

Mike and Dave ex­changed a look as Clive ex­cit­edly scrib­bled his ideas down on a notepad.

“We’ll have cus­tomers queu­ing from here to the Ship when they get wind of my plans for sprouts this Christ­mas,” he gushed.

“I’ll drink to that, Clive.” Mike raised his glass. “Good idea.” Clive added

sprout wine to his list. More next is­sue.

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