I love little British towns. They may not have much, but they all have a chippy, a bakery, a fruit shop, a chinese takeaway, an indian, more pubs than you’d think could stay in business, and some kind of ruin, castle or otherwise random touristy site. So we went to Chepstow where you will find all of the above plus a Woolies, several banks, a Sainsburys and a greasy diner.
We were headed for the castle, trying to picture what it would have looked like in its day. I love exploring places like that when there’s nobody around, climbing the walls and checking out the hiding places.
So we hid in a little enclave for a while, looking over the river, but gave up and headed back to town. The streets were deserted, Grannies were sitting in teashops laughing at us plonkers with no brollies and squelchy shoes.
So we headed to the greasy diner. It was full of plastic coated cafeteria tables. The deep-fried menu was written above the counter on chalkboards under harsh strip lighting. The room was hazy with an orange, smoky glow. and the cashier doubled as the cook. When she wasn’t working, which was often as there was only us and another two people there, she played on the fruit machines lining the walls and drank instant coffee. We filled up on milky tea, pasties and chips. I suppose it will sound unpleasant, but it wasn’t at all. It was one of those places that don’t really exist any more, outside of those little country towns. not a spot of commercialism in it at all, it is what it is and if you don’t like it? Have a chip. Greasy loveliness. And it put our shoes on their way to drying, so we were chuffed to bits.
We spent the evening and well into the night in Caldicott Labour Club with Johnny’s cousin and his wife who were a pure giggle. I spent my time with each new addition to the table trying to teach me how to roll the perfect cigarette, but let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks. I was a bit better by the time we got home, but not much. I’d had several ciders and several brandies, managing to get Jason the lovely cousin hooked on my South African brandy and appletiser concoction in the process. We were all a bit silly by the time we piled in to the indian next door for 2 am naan breads and curry sauce.
We made it into the house alright, without waking Grampi and munched a while in the kitchen. I left the room for a second and when I returned John was sprawled out on the floor, passed out. How he managed to get down there without shaking the whole house, I’ll never know. And so proceeded the production of trying to get him into his pajamas and into bed without waking Grampi. It was only when I got into my own bed that the room started to spin. Oh dear, good thing I don’t do that often.
Needless to say on the next morning’s train to Newport and beyond, I was not a happy lassie.