Copyright© 2012 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
“Well as you’re all dressed up, I suppose I’d better take you out to lunch,” sad Simon with less than his usual good grace.
“Is this to celebrate winning your case?” I teased.
“Ha bloody ha,” was his response.
“We could just as easily go home.” In fact, that was my preferred option. It was a nice day and I had washing that would dry if we went home now.
“No, we rarely go out as a couple these days, so let’s at least do something nice, like have lunch.”
I wished I’d brought a change of shoes with me because rather than lunch, a walk along the sea front would have been nice. “Why don’t we have a picnic?”
“What you mean sandwiches and things?”
“It can be an impromptu one, just a French stick, some cheese and something to drink.”
“Yes, a nice Chardonnay, or even a Chablis.”
“One of us has to drive, Simon, so I’m not sure about the wine.”
“Bugger, that’s the best bit.” I’m not sure I’d have entirely agreed, because really fresh French bread and cheese is lovely in itself, but alas without a knife a tub of Brie would be out of the question.
We went back to the car and Simon dropped me outside Marks and Spencer, the plan was he’d come back in fifteen minutes by which time I’d have the food for the picnic. I sashayed in as quickly as I could but in these shoes, it was difficult.
First stop was their shoe department and I bought a pair of black flatties, then into their foodshop and I organised a French stick, an assortment of cheeses and some salad stuff, a small bottle of two glasses equivalent of Chardonnay and some spring water for myself. At the checkout I managed to acquire a set of plastic picnic cutlery and some paper plates. Our picnic was ready.
Simon was just driving off as I emerged from the shop, probably because of the presence of a traffic warden—not the most popular of council employees, but we all have jobs to do.
I waited perhaps ten minutes before he came past again and this time he spotted me and I jumped in, before he shot off again. We ended up parking by one of the forts, which is rather grandly called, Southsea Castle, and I changed my shoes.
His look suggested that he liked seeing me in high heels, because his expression changed when I stepped out of the car in my black flatties. I carried the food and drink while he got the car blanket out of the boot.
We found a fairly sheltered spot, from the onshore breeze, and settled down to eat our picnic. “What, no butter?” exclaimed Simon and my glower tended to kill his attempt at a joke, stone dead.
We both tore off lumps of bread and ate them with bits of the different cheeses I’d bought. I did get some Brie in the end, which with the knife, made eating it possible and with the vine tomatoes, was delicious.
I managed to eat two sizeable lumps of bread and tried three different cheeses, before I let Simon loose on the rest. It didn’t last long neither did his Chardonnay, which he said he enjoyed despite it not being chilled. It should have been, by the icy stare I gave him and it.
He lay back on the blanket and closed his eyes and I half expected him to go to sleep, but he didn’t—well not just then, he started to talk. “We should have done loads of this sort of thing before we were married.”
“We were always too busy, Si, then the children made it difficult.”
“I feel like I’m playing truant.”
“I suppose you are, what did you tell them in work?”
“I booked the day off.”
“So that’s okay then?”
“Yeah, it’s just that we do this sort of thing so infrequently, it feels strange—like playing truant.”
I agreed it wasn’t something we did half often enough, and we could do with the children.”
“That would be okay, but it would be different—then we’d be dealing with all the whingeing, I don’t want that sandwich or whatever—the squabbling over different drinks or begging for ice creams. Sometimes it’s nice to leave that behind for a few minutes.”
“Without feeling guilty, you mean?”
“Exactly that, babes, just you and me. I mean when do we get time together alone?”
“When we go to bed?” I suggested.
“That’s nice for a different reason.” He opened one eye and winked at me.
“It’s okay, I guess,” I said deliberately pouring cold water on his idea of romance.
“Only okay?” he looked hurt.
I leant over and kissed him, his breath smelt of a mixture of cheese and wine—not the most inviting. He pulled me down on top of him and we kissed some more. “It’s nice be able to do that without an audience,” he said although when I looked up we had a group of little girls watching and they giggled as they ran off.
“You were saying,” I teased him.
“How would you fancy living on one of those?” he nodded towards the Palmerston fort—one of a series of offshore forts built to protect Portsmouth from the French during the post Napoleonic period. They were owned by the government until the early nineteen sixties and are now rather upmarket private property, with such things as heliports for their millionaire owners.
“Might be difficult going for a bike ride.”
“Yeah, but at least we’d have peace and quiet.”
“Until you arrived by helicopter,” I added.
“Yeah, I suppose access might be a bit awkward.”
“Especially during the winter.”
“True—oh well, it was just an idea.”
“What was?” I asked him.
“One of them’s up for sale.”
“How much?” I was intrigued, I mean how do you value something which is almost unique?
“About five million.”
“For a lump of concrete in Portsmouth harbour?”
“Cathy, it’s bit of history, and it’s the Solent, the harbour is inside the forts.”
“Big deal, for that sort money you could get a large house in the country with a few acres of ground.”
“Yeah, but the opportunity to have fresh fish every day wouldn’t be quite the same.”
“If you could catch them in the winter?”
“We’d only use it in the summer.”
“A five million pound dacha—you are joking, aren’t you?”
“Of course I am,” his tone and the words weren’t quite congruent.
“’Course I am. You didn’t think I’d really be prepared to spend that much on one of those did you?”
“So the brochures that came the other day had nothing to do with one of them?”
“The ones you stuck in your bag without opening—that’s what brochures.”
“Did I? Can’t remember what they were now, what with the bank and Monica chasing investment properties all over the place, we get loads of them.”
“So it wasn’t for one of the Portsmouth sea forts then?”
“I can’t remember, babes, honest.”
“You lying toad,” I said and started to tickle him which only caused him to grab me and pull me right on top of him trapping my arms between our bodies. Then he kissed me and for a moment time stood still—until we heard a familiar voice saying.
“So this is your important court case, is it?”
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