Doris Day at Tablehurst Farm

Yesterday was Doris Day.

Meaning I met up with my lovely friend Doris. Like the name suggests, she is quite ancient, 84 years of age to be exact. She is from my home town in Germany and I have known her for 18months.

Well, I was going to pick Doris up at 3.30pm to go to a lovely café at a nearby organic farm.

While I was out in the morning, Doris called to confirm our meeting that afternoon, and Andrew assured her he knew it was going ahead. Trying to make her laugh, he must have added something like he would have liked to go too, wasn’t she lucky to go for coffee and cake that afternoon.

Not two hours later, the telephone rang again. When Andrew picked up, a snarly voice said “Is Yvonne home by now?!” Well, I was, so Andrew handed me the phone, chuckling to himself as there had been no “Sorry to bother you again” or “Hello, it’s Doris”, just the ever efficient demand to speak to me.

I agreed to be at Doris’ place 15min earlier than planned as she had a letter which needed dropping off at her GP’s, and went to have a rest.

25min before the agreed time, the phone rang again. As Andrew was in the middle of a very important call, I rushed out of bed and picked up. Only to be met with an angry “Well, were you thinking of turning up today?!” Ever so slightly baffled, I managed to ask what time it was. When the answer was “Well, it is 2.50pm!!” and I mentioned there being plenty of time for the two minute drive to her house before 3.15pm, I was shouted at that I was already late! I bit my lips, breathed in and then out and managed to explain that I was going to be at her’s at 3.15pm.

I will spare you the explanation necessary to persuade Doris I wasn’t trying to get out of meeting up with her as it was a rather lengthy one.

Well, suffice it say that a certain somebody’s mood wasn’t the most pleasant one when I finally got to Doris’ house – with a very unGerman delay of 4 minutes!! Doris’ face was like thunder, and when she had climbed into the car, sorting her handbag, matching scarf and umbrella, not uttering a single word, I greeted her with “Hello Doris, lovely to see you!”. Only to be met with a stare which would have scared the living daylights out of me had she been a headmistress and I a delinquent student. After a dramatic pause, she squeezed a “Oh really?!?!” between clenched teeth.

I am told that at this point in time I should have called the whole afternoon off. Turns out I really am far too nice for my own good… Or maybe I have  a masochistic streak in me I hadn’t been aware of before.

Well, under the chilly silence from my passenger, we dropped off the letter and drove to Forest Row.

I never knew choosing a piece of cake or a cup of coffee could be this complicated! And that is saying a lot as I am usually the most indecisive person in any place of gastronomy…

I ordered a cappuccino for Doris as well as a piece of apple tart for which the lovely guy scoured the kitchen in order to find some whipped cream (a very German thing to ask for, I must say, they really know what customer service is at Tablehurst Farm!!), only to have to reassure Doris that the coffee in the making was for her, not for me, at least 4 times and to apologise profusely when she changed her mind on the cake too, not requiring the cream after all.

I must say the 20min we enjoyed the cuppa and cake were the most peaceful of the afternoon, ignoring the fact that Doris was still glaring at me in a strop no matter which subject I attempted to entertain her with.

We decided to go for a little walk around the farm shop where every single product was commented on with loudly sucked in breath and a shocked “look at those prices!!”.  I picked up some sausages which –  I kid you not! – were the best tasting sausages I had had in a long time, equally met with disapproving glances, gestures and tutting from a certain lovely elderly lady. In fairness, all her remarks where uttered in German but although I mentioned that a few members of staff were fellow countrymen and women, the comments didn’t ever cease.

We headed around the pond for a little stroll. Where I saw dragonflies on the water, a moorhen pecking amongst the reeds, fields stretching to the horizon, neatly drawn up and planted in straight rows, hundreds of yellow orchids in full bloom, little crooked houses tucked away under huge trees, a healthy looking pig with its piglets digging in a puddle, a barn cat snoozing in the sunshine, rose bushes laden with humungous flowers, Doris noticed algae, nettles everywhere, even around the shed – how on earth anyone would ever be able to get to it was beyond her – dirt, car drivers with no manners, the potential threat of having to milk the cows like she had been forced to in her youth, and warning signs. I didn’t realise how many warning signs there could be on any one farm, but Doris made sure I didn’t miss a single one, studying them closely and thoroughly.

Gosh, were we glad to be back in the car in one piece after all the dangers which could have befallen us!

When we arrived back at Doris’ house, I was finally met with a nice smile, a big thank you for the afternoon (which was heart-warming), for a lovely piece of cake and cup of coffee (awwww, bless!) and for managing to squeeze her into my busy schedule (….…!!) Oh and, if I had space in said schedule for her again, whenever that would ever happen (grrrr!!), she would be too happy to go to the same café. Which completely flummoxed me out of any sort of reply as she had been complaining about farms all afternoon, accompanying her tales of being used as a cheap milking maid 3x a day many, many moons ago by reciting a rather entertaining rhythmic poem at least 6-8 times as well as saying how much she has hated farms ever since and had made sure any advances by bachelors of the farming kind had been met with polite yet resolute refusal…

Suffice it to say, my patience levels were in as serious a need of replenishing as my energy ones.

I am – believe it or not – looking forward to my next meeting with Doris who despite being the Queen of Blunt has my husband in stitches as he listens to my recount of the afternoon. I am sure my sense of humour is going to catch up very soon.

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