Al spends a good deal of time in the morning perfecting the shop display. This was today's - just a regular Saturday morning.
Saturdays are always busy, but this one started relatively slowly. At about half-past nine, Al remembered that a village a few miles away was holding its monthly farmers' market. He had been annoyed to see it advertised in the local paper as being the only place one could buy local produce, when this is not true at all. The same newspaper is holding a 'buy local' week to support independent shops, and evidently hasn't thought through a policy of accepting adverts with wording that is misleading and speaks against small shops just as much as against the supermarkets.
Having joined the EDP's 'local' campaign, he was entertained to receive the 'action pack' in the post this morning. With a covering letter, it comprised five posters on bright yellow paper, five yellow balloons and seven ballpoint pens. Not quite enough to give away to all his customers, but no doubt he will do something resourceful and eyecatching. I'm not sure if the balloons will last all week though.
One of the regular Saturday customers, Robert, came in. He visits his parents and young niece and nephew every weekend and always comes in for a large order, £20 - £30 worth. He is very entertaining and jokes with all of us and a small queue builds up at the other till as Sarah spends ten minutes or more serving him. I glanced in the other shopping bag he'd left leaning against the counter. "I say, those look nice chocolates." He took them out to show them to us. Absolutely wonderful-looking chocolate truffles, and a small box of milk chocolates of equally high quality. He'd been buying Easter presents at the deli. We agreed that a small amount of wonderful and expensive chocolate is better than whole lots of cheap stuff. He also had the delicious multi-grain bread made by a local organic bakery. It has a lot of poppy seeds in it, so you have to check your teeth after eating it in case you tip someone the black spot accidentally. "What cheese have you got?" asked Sarah, "how much was that?"
No wonder he comes back to us, week after week, with the polite and respectful reception he receives. He and his partner have recently moved to the North Norfolk coast, so it's a long way to come, but he's very close to his family. They are planning their civil partnership ceremony at present and Robert's mother and father insist there should be a big party for which they'll foot the bill, which Robert is very touched by.
Another snap I took the other day is of the menu of the splendid local caff.
Just look at all those breakfasts. How to choose? They also have a blackboard with the day's specials chalked up inside, with at least one roast, shepherd's pie, homemade quiche, salads. It's all prepared from scratch in a tiny kitchen and I have no idea how they do it.
Mind you, I think the pricing of the hash browns is a bit cheeky.