Home > Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #1)(5)

Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #1)(5)
Jenny Colgan

She Google-Earthed Mount Polbearne and was surprised to see that yes, there were a few streets of cobbled houses leading down from a ruined church on the top of the hill. The streets wound their way down to a little harbour, at right angles to the causeway, where a handful of fishing boats were visible. It obviously hadn’t been gentrified yet, unlike so much of Cornwall; in the unfashionable part of the county and far from the motorway, it had escaped attention. But it was only fifty miles from Plymouth, so she could still nip back for things…

With slightly wobbly fingers, she clicked on the ‘Contact estate agent’ button.

Chapter Four

‘I think the thing to do now,’ said Kerensa, who was wearing a ridiculous blazer with gold buttons that nevertheless managed to look quite chic on her, ‘is marry someone with money. This is not going to happen in this hole, I can tell you that for nothing.’

‘Thanks as usual,’ said Polly. She was wearing black. Normally she never wore black; it didn’t suit her strawberry-blonde hair and pale skin and made her look short. It was as if she’d kind of forgotten how to go about her normal life, without a job, or her other half, or a set of car keys jangling.

‘You really need to stay near a big city,’ said Kerensa. ‘Dress with a bit of style. Hook someone.’

‘Is that what you’re trying to do?’

‘Please,’ said Kerensa, rolling her eyes, and Polly looked out of the window quickly, before Kerensa started singing Beyoncé songs.

It was a grey, overcast Saturday and they had limped out of Plymouth, confused by the satnav and all the narrow, windswept roads it wanted them to take. Finally they decided that if they kept the sea on their left they would get there eventually, and so it had proved.

There was a car park by the causeway, and a daily tide table, which they had both neglected to check before they set out, so they lingered round the car park and studied the island in the distance. Finally Kerensa said it.

‘Looks… windy.’

It was true: Mount Polbearne had a windblown, tumbledown look to it. The waves were worryingly high; it seemed unlikely that this place was, as the sign promised, going to be accessible in twenty minutes. It looked like something out of the past; as though they were staring at something forgotten, the ruined castle looming over the just visible streets.

‘It looks romantic,’ said Polly, hopefully.

‘I wonder if they still do wrecking,’ said Kerensa. ‘And marry their cousins.’

‘It’s not far out of town,’ said Polly.

Kerensa looked at her watch. ‘Well, that very much depends, doesn’t it? What if I have a terrible martini accident and you can’t get to my house because it’s all watery? And you don’t even have a car! Look around!’

It was a desolate spot, just narrow country lanes leading away from the little car park.

‘I don’t see a bus service, do you? How are you going to get to Plymouth? Horse and cart?’

Polly’s heart sank. But the previous day she had gone out, under Kerensa’s orders, to look at a couple of flat shares closer to home. Both of them had been unspeakably filthy, populated by twenty-somethings, with sinks full of washing-up and fridges with notes pinned to shelves and the smell of unwashed duvets and old bicycles in the communal hallways. She hadn’t cried till after Kerensa had gone to bed.

‘It would only be for a bit,’ she said hopefully. ‘Until the flat sells.’

‘The flat that’s exactly like the other fifteen thousand overpriced Plymouth executive waterside apartments built in the last ten years?’

Polly’s brow furrowed. Chris had always seen himself as a man with an eye for a good investment; she remembered his excitement. ‘It’s got a gym in the basement, Pol!’ (He’d used it once.) ‘It’s got fingerprint entry!’ (Always broken.) What it didn’t have – a garden, space for a nursery – was never commented on.

‘Let’s just take a quick look,’ she said.

The water slooshed back from the causeway incredibly quickly, like it was revealing a magic road. Very carefully they drove across, parking in the car park on the other side, which today was empty of vehicles – too early for holidaymakers, Polly surmised, and pretty chilly – except for a grey Vauxhall Astra, out of which emerged an overweight young man wearing an extremely cheap suit and a bright red tie. Even though he’d been sitting in a car, he seemed out of breath.

‘Oi oi!’ he said in a surprisingly jocular tone. ‘Are you our city girls?’

Kerensa sniffed. ‘Does he mean Plymouth?’ she said. Even though Kerensa had been born and raised in Plymouth, she liked to pretend that really she was more at home in London, Paris or New York.

‘Ssh,’ said Polly.

‘This must be a small town if you think Plymouth is Vegas,’ said Kerensa, stepping out of the car and immediately having to extract a stiletto from between two cobbles.

The portly man got closer. In fact, he was more of a boy. It struck Polly how young he was. That implied that she wasn’t young, but she totally was, she told herself. Totally. There was a huge grin plastered on his face. Polly thought that if he’d been born in a different era, now would have been the time for him to pull out a massive spotted hanky and dab his forehead with it.

‘Lance Hardington,’ he said, offering a ferociously strong handshake and staring deep into their eyes. He’d obviously been on some kind of training course. Kerensa was stifling a grin. Anyone less like a Lance it was hard to imagine.

‘Nice to meet you, Lance,’ she purred, making the boy’s red face even redder.

‘Don’t start,’ said Polly sotto voce as they set off behind him. For a chubby man, he moved at quite a clip.

‘Oh, I’m only having fun,’ said Kerensa.

‘You’ll terrify him.’

‘That’s fun for me.’

Lance turned round, waggling his eyebrows at them in a way that obviously meant hurry up, time is money and you clearly have far too much of one and hardly any of the other. He made a show of checking his iPhone, but Polly took her time and looked around her. It was actually rather pleasant to be here, in this little place, away from the noise and traffic of Plymouth. They were standing by a jetty next to the causeway, on the far side of the town, which curved around a bay to their left, facing out to sea. Overhead, the castle – more of a ruin, really, its crumbling walls full of holes and covered in moss – overlooked the higgledy-piggledy collection of weather-beaten houses, made of old Cornish slate and sandstone, often with peeling window frames. There were very few cars; Polly guessed, correctly, that the locals generally left them on the mainland and walked across the causeway.

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