Home > Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(5)

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(5)
Jenny Colgan

This morning Flora was standing in the middle of a very untidy shop, with crumbs from yesterday not swept up, a disenchanted look on her face.

‘Hi, Flora!’ said Polly, trying not to sound exasperated. Jobs were hard to come by in this part of the world, particularly out of season. Polly had always sworn not to be a horrible mean old boss, but Flora did wind her up. Huckle thought she was hilarious.

‘My ankles is soaking,’ Flora was saying crossly, staring at the floor. Sure enough, when Polly looked closer, she could see that Flora was standing in what was almost a puddle, her shoes and socks soaking wet and dripping on the floor.

‘Did you mistime the tides again?’ said Polly.

‘They don’t print it right on them almanacks,’ said Flora. ‘They just gets it wrong.’

‘It always seems all right to me,’ said Polly mildly.

‘That’s because you’ve got a posh watch and that,’ said Flora pertly. It was a new experience to Polly that somebody thought that because she was the boss she was rich and powerful.

‘Well, shall we get on with setting up?’ said Polly, as Patrick the vet strolled in for his morning scone.

‘Hello, Polly,’ he said. ‘How’s that ridiculous bird of yours?’

Polly had been about to say that she was thinking of giving Neil a job in the bakery, but managed to bite her tongue in front of Flora.

‘You know, daft as a brush,’ she said.

‘I have never known anyone keep a seabird as a pet,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘Never known anything like it.’

Polly smiled. She liked hearing compliments about Neil.

‘But don’t let any of those cats near him,’ Patrick added, shivering. ‘Nasty creatures.’

Patrick’s dislike of cats had never held back his veterinary career, and he rarely bothered to hide it.

‘I got a nice cat,’ said Flora, still standing there as Polly wrapped up a fresh scone still warm from the oven.

‘This smells amazing,’ she said. ‘You know, Flora, you should go on Bake Off.’

Flora giggled, her wet feet forgotten.

‘My ma says that!’ she said. ‘Reckon it would be nice being on television.’

‘You should do it,’ said Patrick to Polly.

‘You are joking,’ said Polly. ‘I can’t think of anything more horrifying. Plus, I think if being a baker is actually your job, you can’t enter it. Otherwise Paul Hollywood would just win every year, don’t you think?’

Patrick glanced at Flora.

‘You should get out of those socks and shoes,’ he said. ‘You’ll catch a chill.’

Flora scowled. ‘I don’t know why you can’t just have your shop on the mainland, like normal people.’

Polly picked up a tray of scones and sandwiches and gave Flora the loaves and savoury twists she had brought with her. Division of labour was the most efficient way to run things, although she was under no illusions that it was particularly efficient at all.

‘Can you tidy and clean up in here, please? You’ll have the lunchtime crowd in soon enough, and there’s a few day trippers. And can you prep for tomorrow as well?’

It was Friday. Saturday was a big day for day trippers. Sunday they were traditionally closed. Polly was trying to figure out a way to open on a Sunday for the massive throughput but then take Mondays off. Having thought about this a lot, she had settled on the fact that nobody who lived on Mount Polbearne wanted that to happen and therefore they had better stay exactly as they were if she was to get a day off at all. Some things you didn’t mess with. She was considering getting an extra member of staff to cover the summer season, and maybe even a café licence to extend the Little Beach Street Bakery…

She smiled wryly at her own ridiculous ambitions. At the moment she couldn’t get the two members of staff she did have to either stop eating the profits or avoid getting drowned on their way in to work. Possibly best not to leap ahead too soon.

As it was a fine day, Polly headed straight back to the Little Beach Street Bakery. On good days, it had queues out the door at lunchtime, because everyone wanted to eat their lunch sitting on the harbour wall in the sunshine. The fishermen had a kind of kitty situation going on and all ate whatever sandwiches Polly had made for them.

‘Hey,’ she said. ‘Today I have warm giant sausage rolls with ketchup and mustard on the side, plus a little pot of beans.’

Archie, the fishing boat skipper, tried to smile.

‘That sounds absolutely champion,’ he said.

‘You tired?’

The fishermen were always tired. They had to land their catches early in the morning to make sure the freshest of fish were available for the restaurants that day. They worked extraordinarily long hours, and still had to live their lives in the daytime. There were EU regulations on how much they could catch, but none on how long they could work, and it showed.

Archie had taken over Trochilus II, the boat that had replaced the original one that Tarnie had captained. He also had a baby boy, his fourth, called William. He looked knackered.

‘Oh, you know,’ he said, handing over a pile of coins. ‘William’s a lively one. Then the others have got to that age… they’ve got sports days and outings, and you know the schools are always on holiday, right? Children at school never actually go to school. When I was a kid I remember being at school the entire time. But now they don’t ever go. It’s called inset days, and it means, can you arrange some extra childcare, please.’

Jayden served the rest of the queue whilst Polly got Archie a coffee from her beloved espresso machine. He obviously needed it. She passed it over with four sachets of sugar, and he emptied in all of them.

‘And then the wife wants to go out to dinner and says I’m no fun, and…’

This was a long speech from Archie, who was normally a taciturn man, and he trailed off before it was finished and turned slightly pink.

Polly nodded. ‘I understand,’ she said. ‘You guys work so hard. Can’t you sleep on the boat?’ Sometimes Tarnie used to snatch a quick half-hour as they headed out to the fishing fields, before the real work began.

Archie winced. ‘Maybe after I’ve been in the job a while,’ he said. ‘Right now, it’s taking all my energy just to stay afloat. Me and the boat.’

Polly nodded and patted him gently on the shoulder.

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