He thought about her dancing class and wasn’t surprised that there were plenty of willing partners for her. He imagined her in her hotel in Dorset – sat alone at her table until a stranger asked if he could join her. If she met someone she really liked, would she still want to avoid a divorce?
He still loved her and missed being with her – why was it so difficult for them to get on with each other?
All this thinking wasn’t helping. It was getting dark now. Perhaps the family would be back from their meal. He’d find out from them what they’d learned.
A holiday for Charlotte
Charlotte was ready to leave. She’d done most of her packing before the family dinner yesterday, so she was able to set off by mid-morning. From her house to the hotel in Lyme Regis was about 270 miles and, according to the internet, would take about five hours. She planned to do as much of the drive as she could using the M6 and M5 motorways. Because it was such a long way, she intended to make stops at the Frankley, Sedgmoor and Exeter service areas. She had dressed for comfort in flat black shoes, bootleg jeans and a blue cardigan over a white tee shirt. There was a light waterproof hiking jacket with her bags in the boot of her small Fiat 500 car. Her mobile phone was already charged but she connected it into the car’s usb port; her satnav was also plugged in and programmed.
The weather forecast had been for nationwide light cloud, and that’s certainly how it looked to be shaping up as she set off for the short trip to the initial Southbound junction of the motorway. Frank had phoned her before she set off to wish her a safe journey, and she’d been glad that he’d called.
The Monday morning journey was as she’d expected, with several stretches of nose-to-tail crawling traffic. Radio Four provided her listening background. It did take longer than she’d hoped for to reach her first planned stop, and she was more than ready to use the facilities. After a coffee and toilet break, she had a walk in the car park to get some fresh air – or at least as fresh as such a large car, coach and lorry park can afford. The next stretch was easier, but after her final break at Exeter, she was pleased to get on to the lesser roads for the final stretch.
It was six in the evening when she arrived to check-in at her hotel in Lyme Regis, on a road raised above the harbour and beach. She’d booked on a bed and breakfast basis to avoid a daily dash back to the hotel for evening meals. After a quick shower and change of clothes, she walked down to the seafront area to check out the restaurants. Following the road down towards Marine Parade, she came across a vegetarian restaurant that looked nice. She sat at a vacant table for two and selected a polenta dish.
While Charlotte was waiting for her food, a lady about her age or perhaps a little older, smartly dressed, and speaking in an American or Canadian accent, asked if she could join her at the table. Charlotte was happy to agree. They fell into conversation easily – her companion was an American expatriate who’d lived in England for five years. She and her late husband Carl had moved to England because of a transfer to the London headquarters of the bank he worked for. He’d died three years ago of a heart condition and she’d decided to stay.
Charlotte explained her much more recent change in circumstances. Carrie – that was her companion’s name – sympathised, but was sure that Charlotte would get back together with her husband soon. Carrie had arrived in Lyme only the previous week, and was staying for two weeks before moving on to Devon then Cornwall. She intended to spend the summer in the Southwest rather than in London where she lived. She explained that she was a keen photographer, and had seen so many online images of beautiful vantage points of the area that she felt that she had to see for herself.
Charlotte – she asked to be called Charlie – told Carrie that Frank had asked her, if possible, to bring back some photos of Durdle Door. Carrie said that, if Charlotte were interested, she’d be visiting Lulworth Cove the following day anyway, and suggested that they travel together. She explained that it would take about one and a half hours to get to the car park at Lulworth and asked Charlotte if she’d like to travel with her.
I took this photo a couple of days ago (18/02/2021) while taking Ted for a walk. I began near the nineteen arches at Carr Mill, St Helens, Merseyside, walked along the woodland path to its junction with Carr Mill Road at Chadwick Green, crossing though a housing estate along Powell Drive, Avon Road and Trent Road, to Birchley – and returning along Birchley Road and Martindale Road. This first shot (others will follow in the next few days) was taken looking towards Gate Two cottage looking towards Billinge Hill from Martindale Road.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a 35 mm f/2 full-frame prime lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/250 at f/5 and the ISO was 200 The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.