Home > Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(4)

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(4)
Jenny Colgan

‘Is there a new young man coming?’ said Mrs Corning. ‘Oh, it’s all excitement round here these days.’

When Polly and Huckle had first met, he had been a beekeeper nearby, and she had sold his honey through the shop. After their first attempt at romance hadn’t worked out, he’d gone home to his native Savannah and worked in an office job there. But he hadn’t been able to readapt to an indoor, air-conditioned, corporate life after six months in the fresh open air of Cornwall, and had come back again – his father had been born in the UK, which helped a lot with the passport situation.

Now, with so many people downsizing and moving to the country, where they had perhaps a couple of goats, some chickens and a hive or two, he’d become a travelling apiarist, consulting and helping people concerned about maintaining bee stocks and reversing the trend of the declining bee population. He also still had an interest in his original cottage, which was now occupied by an elderly couple who happily enjoyed the flowers and let Huckle manage the hives in return for a couple of jars of honey every month or so. It was a very cheerful arrangement. He wasn’t making a lot of money, but then apart from a bit of diesel for the bike, and a big veggie box once a week from a local farmer, they lived pretty simply, him and Poll. They didn’t need much. Well, he thought occasionally, actually, to do up the lighthouse and buy out Polly’s business properly – she was still under licence to Mrs Manse, the original owner, and had to funnel a great deal of the profits that way – they would need a ton of money. But they didn’t have it, and that was absolutely fine, he told himself, because what they did have was more than enough.

Chapter Two

‘Okay,’ said Jayden. ‘I’m off to the other shop. Check on the mainlander.’

Polly rolled her eyes.

‘Jayden, everyone on the entire earth is a mainlander. There are seven billion mainlanders and seven hundred Polbearnites. You just can’t separate the world out like that.’

Jayden was busy with his broom, but she could tell from the cast of his forehead that he disagreed with her.

‘Let me go and see her,’ said Polly. ‘I can walk Huckle to his bike.’

‘That means she wants rid of me,’ said Huckle, twinkling at the old ladies.

‘I don’t want rid of you,’ said Polly. ‘I want rid of Neil. I’m just hoping he’ll follow you.’

Sure enough, as they left together, Neil hopped happily into the sidecar. There was no doubt he enjoyed the ride.

Huckle grinned back at Polly.

‘Do you want to cook?’ she asked.

Huckle shrugged. ‘How about you cook and I run and get all the condiments and things you’ve forgotten from four storeys below.’

‘Deal,’ said Polly, kissing him again. Huckle glanced at his watch, then hopped on the big bike. Neil stuck his head to the side to enjoy the slipstream.

‘I don’t know what that bird thinks he is,’ grumbled Polly, but she enjoyed watching them zoom off at high speed – accompanied by an infernal noise – towards the causeway, which was still uncovered from the morning tide.

She took a breath of fresh salty air deep into her lungs as the clouds danced like clean laundry across the sky, and wondered what Huckle’s brother would be like. She’d never had a brother of her own; maybe it could be like that.

She made her way down Beach Street. Even though the island was so small, it supported two bakeries. The Polbearne bakery, the original one, still sold sandwiches, toasties and more traditional fare – iced biscuits, sponge cake and fancies. Whereas Polly had been allowed to make her own way in her little bakery, with artisan breads, interesting olive loaves and savoury tarts. Now that Mrs Manse had retired, Polly was technically in charge of both shops.

It was the clearest of spring days. In the springtime, Polly really couldn’t imagine living anywhere except in Mount Polbearne. Mind you, she felt like that in the summertime too, with the clatter of buckets and spades and the smell of suncream, and ice cream, and little lost sunglasses in pink and blue plastic left carefully on the harbour wall in case their owners returned to pick them up. And she liked the autumn, when the surfers came to make the most of the waves off Breakwater Point in their black costumes like seals, and turned up at her bakery freezing and absolutely starving. She served coffee and hot soup then, when they were quieter after the summer holidays were over and the children were back at school. And she liked the winter, when it was absolutely windy and freezing and pointless going anywhere, and she and Huckle would snuggle up together and watch box sets of American television shows and eat hot buttered toast and drink gallons of tea in their little eyrie as the storms raged outside. It was impossible to avoid the changing seasons on an island; impossible to insulate yourself from the world like you could in the city, in climate-controlled offices, under fluorescent lighting, with the occasional scrub of a park square covered in cigarette ends.

Here, she liked it all.

Polly had never imagined two years ago, when her entire life was in ruins, a blackened husk on the floor, that she could ever reach a state of such contentment, so in tune with the seasons and the days of her life. Even on the most freezing of mornings, or after a back-breaking stint with the oven, on days that didn’t end until she’d done all the cashing-up late into the night, or the long hours sweating over VAT returns and deciding what was a cake and what was a biscuit; even when it rained for days and days on end whilst the rest of the country had bright sunshine, or when she wanted something new to wear and realised that nobody would deliver anything and it was too far to drive and she couldn’t afford anything anyway; even then, she never regretted changing her life so radically, couldn’t truly believe her luck. She also reckoned that she had had her share of bad luck, and that nothing more was likely to go wrong.

The universe, in general, has absolutely no truck with this kind of thinking.

Chapter Three

Flora Larson, who worked in the old bakery, always had the look of someone expecting to be in trouble at any moment. She was thin and stooped, with a hangdog stance, and had a way of peeking up through an overlong fringe that simply looked guilty, even though there was a pretty face hiding in there somewhere.

But she could bake, which was a huge help to Polly. Jayden could do simpler things, but Flora had a touch with the dough, even though she had a tendency to mumble at customers, which Polly had asked her not to do, and she fiddled with her hair constantly, which made Polly worry about hygiene. Mrs Manse would have eaten her for breakfast. Also, Flora’s timekeeping was atrocious. Polly didn’t want to make a fuss, but she thought it was very bad form when customers at one bakery had to pop into the other because they couldn’t get hold of a sandwich.

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