We plan. God laughs!
We had a late arrival night followed by a late dinner followed by late night bottles of wine which meant ultimately it was a late start to the morning. The heavens opened up in the morning and the gale force winds made it a wee bit difficult to stand up. But we had set our minds on a walk along the coast and we were going on a walk, dammit!
OK, I surrendered the moment I stepped out the door. Abigail supported my surrender and joined me in the comfort of our car as the others set of for a bracing walk to Beesands about 2 miles away. We would meet them there.
The roads are single track surrounded by 10 foot high hedges are both sides and grass growing down the middle of the road. Abigail announced she felt like Alice in Wonderland. She was Alice. I was the White Rabbit what with my obsession for punctuality and all.
Thanks to the wonders of sat nav we made it without a single wrong turn and whilst enjoying the scenery. What did we do before this wonderful invention? Oh, I remember: bury our heads in maps and be lost for hours until asking for directions. Even then a local accent would lead to a nod and a smile but no closer to finding our way.
The initial drive by survey of the tiny seaside village took all of about 30 seconds. We got parked up across from the designated pub and I wondered what Abigail and I were going to do for the next hour whilst we waited for the others to survive the walk. There wasn't even a newsagent.
We spotted the car from the other family. M had decided that one car wouldn't be enough for all of us to return home after lunch so she would hang with us. With reasonably low expectations, we headed to the local fish shop. And then the magic started.....
The fishmonger greeted us with a hearty hello. It was a small shop but there was ample fish which we were assured had been caught that day. Yeah, yeah I thought "they always say that". We found the tea bags and instant coffee we were after and then found some homemade hot cross buns, which clearly we were not going to pass on. We headed to the counter only to be further tempted by the pronouncement that the fishmonger had just whipped up a large pot of crab chowder which would be ready in about 2 hours. As it was only 11 o'clock we decided, to postpone our purchases and return after lunch.
Back out in the wet weather,we headed. A sign outside a small church enticed us inside with the promise of hot tea and cakes, the price being only a donation to the church maintenance fund. We were greeted by 3 very enthusiastic women including the village vicar. They prepared 2 of the best cups of tea I've ever had and a delish hot chocolate for Abigail. We bought some cakes for after the walk back at our cottage and then sat down for a right proper natter.
M went to book the pub for lunch and returned with some bad news: the pub was fully booked until 2:30. Plan B went into action. We would wait for the walkers, eat cake for lunch, then go for our pub lunch. The church was happy for us to wait.
The walkers arrived soaking wet and chilled to the bone. We got them warmed up with hot drinks and gorgeous homemade lemon drizzle cake. As if by magic the boys gained a second wind and a piano was magically produced from a tiny little corner.
W sat down and started to play for the walkers in the church. Then Seb played. Then W played. the girls sat decorating cupcakes and colouring. Each and every person who walked into that church for a refuge from the wind and storm found a place filled with warmth and love.
The church emptied and the men headed for the pub when our little choristers decided to deliver a most beautiful gift. Despite it being Easter Monday, they began to sing Once in Royal David's City. Even though it is traditionally a Christmas carol, it seemed right and appropriate. Their voices blended beautifully. They were pitch perfect. They sang without accompaniment and hit every high note.
When they finished, everything was silent. You couldn't even hear the wind howling. They had stopped the wind. It was as if everything had stopped to listen to them. And then the little boys' sister broke into applause and I wiped away the tear from the corner of my eye. The rain on the windows invaded our space and the boys smiled shyly like 10 year olds do.
We thanked the church ladies of St Andrew's Church of England in Beesands, Devon for their gracious welcome. We made a generous donation to ensure that this haven of warmth and kindness is here for future generations to seek comfort.
The afternoon had not gone according to plan but the day had far exceeded our expectations. Who would have thought we could stop the wind?