A wandering bird's-eye overview of most things even vaguely related to travel, and an opportunity for writers, artists and photographers to contribute the historical, the hysterical, the quirky and quixotic... anything with heart.

helenpatrice
2 years ago
All ashore who are going ashore
All ashore who are going ashore

At the near end of the pier in Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island is Stan.  Stan is a retiree and one of the official greeters.  He wears a green polo shirt and a jaunty hat.  He holds a set of maps to Penneshaw.  He has quite the spiel that includes the recommendation of Devonshire tea at Ye Olde Tea Rooms(name changed).

As we who have just flocked off the P&O cruise discover, if you haven’t booked for one of the day tours, or the quad biking, then there’s very little to do or see in Penneshaw(population approx. 1500).  The main drag has an IGA supermarket, a post office that shares premises with the book exchange, the local hippie tie-dye store, and a chemist(closed). There’s a pub, and a few cafes.

I go to Ye Olde Tea Rooms, which are at the back of an op shop.  Local arts and crafts for sale, also.  Paintings, publications by the local writers’ group, many books of poetry by a local poet, jams, chutney, knitwear of all sorts.  I must traverse all this before coming into the tea rooms. 

The man in charge of the op shop also takes the money for Devonshire tea orders.  Then it’s a case of nipping through the open wooden door, and standing by the kitchen door, reminiscent of a community hall kitchen, but smaller.  When you catch the eye of Babs, Maisie, or Doris, one of them will write down your order.

“One serve of Devonshire tea, please, and do you have any herbal teas?” I say.

Babs looks about in confusion, behind her at Doris, and then up at the ceiling, then out the window.  “I…I don’t know.”

Doris produces a dusty peppermint tea bag.  That’ll do.

Babs writes the order down on a piece of paper the size of a postage stamp, with a thick stub of pencil.  One pencil stroke takes up nearly the whole sheet.  She peers at her writing.

 “I can’t read that.”

Maisie takes it from her, and adds it to the parade of notes tucked into the metal of the stove, above their heads.  the microwave sings as it heats a serve of scones.

Beside the microwave sits a huge basket of scones ready to be nuked as customers order.

The girls are approximately ten orders behind, and Babs can’t remember who belongs to which order.  Some people have opted to sit outside in the hot sunshine.

I sit inside, and watch the ladies in their dance of confusion.  Babs brings pots of tea to tables and then whisks them away again, as the pot is for someone else who ordered earlie

A large man in a chair by the window has been waiting some time.

“Come on, Babs,” he calls. “Make it snappy, old girl.”

She doesn’t hear him.  He’s enjoying himself.  He’s off the ship, same as the rest of us who’ve had the Devonshire tea recommended by Stan the Man at the pier.

The large man’s friend is pretending he doesn’t exist, as she chats with her friend.  Both of them are pretty much ignoring Large Man and his jollity.

Large Man sees me writing in my journal.  He asks about it.

I say I’m blogger(untrue.  I’m a writer who happens to have a couple of blogs). I say I’m a poet, novelist, memoirist.

“I read poetry,” says Large Man, almost defensively.

I wait for him to follow up with a recitation of ‘the boy stood on the burning deck’.  He seems the type.  I am mistaken.  He doesn’t, but nor does he elaborate.

“I read poetry,” he repeats, and then sees Babs.  “How’s it going, Babs?  Got anything for us yet?”

Babs keeps chugging back into the kitchen, holding a plate of scones, cream and jam. She doesn’t know who they’re for.

My scones arrive after half an hour.  I have broken open one of the two scones and smeared it with cream.  I am about to apply lilly pilly jam when Babs appears at my elbow.

“Sorry, they’re not for you,” she says, and takes the plate away.

I am left with my silver knife in mid-air.  Someone out the front is getting pre-prepared scone.  My scone.

I wait another few minutes, and my scones arrive, with a pot of hot peppermint tea.  I pause to see if anything will be taken away.  No.

I proceed with my cream dolloping, and jam dropping.  Maisie observes that I’m not touching the large serve of fig jam, only the lilly pilly.

“No, I’m not fond of fig jam.”

 She takes it away and gets me more lilly pilly.  Truly, I had enough without the extra, but the ladies are keen to please.

“We haven’t quite gotten used to the ships,” says Doris.  “A lot of the shop owners haven’t quite come on board, opening up for the ship days.”

Stan the Man mentioned that there are nineteen ships pencilled in for next year.  Apparently, the arrival of the Queen Victoria, a huge tourist ship, last week, caused quite the stir.  Penneshaw put up some decorations, and even the chemist was open.  P&O don’t rate decorations, or the chemist. We do rate a local market of six stalls, and the making of a basket full of scones.

The cream is wonderful, the jam delicious, and the scones hot and fluffy.  I dine in happiness.  Large Man has ordered two serves of scones for himself, and his two lady friends have a serve each.  The big order barely fits, with two different tea pots, on small table they’re at.  Ha!  I have a table all to myself.

More people come in.  More orders. Babs looks a bit flushed.  Her tartan pants are bagging at the knees.

But they manage.  Everyone is served.  Everyone eats, and likes. 

For me, it’s a welcome relief from the all-you-can-eat-right-now life aboard ship.  I sit, I watch, I write.  I eat scones, and drink tea, and be, just for a while.

 

Photo: High Tea and Scones _ Nathan