Today the sun shone so brightly that I was able to open up the front of the Coffee shop and put some tables and chairs outside for the customers. The birds were singing and the smell of fresh summer air made my lungs feel as though they had been deprived these past few months during a harsh winter. Days like these were my favourite I was so happily engrossed with the beauty of the day that I forgot to put the radio on for the customers and instead sang away to myself whilst I set up for the day.
“Good morning,” I said as Bianca arrived to help.
Bianca was an art student who worked whatever hours she could fit in around her course. I paid her by the hour and she enjoyed the freedom of flexible working.
“Morning, it is beautiful. I nearly never came as I wanted to paint by the river but when I went to look I was uninspired,” she said pouting.
I looked at her art bag and grinned.
“Set it up over there and you can make some extra money painting portraits or landscapes. It will draw in customers too,” I suggested.
“That would be fantastic. Could I invite some others over?” she asked.
“Yes but if I get busy you all have to help clear tables,” I said.
She squealed with excitement and hurried off to call her friends from college to come join her.
“Can we have some breakfast?” she yelled back as I was cleaning the coffee machine.
“Yes!” I yelled back.
“Victoria,” was called from the kitchen.
“Coming,” I replied.
“How many cakes would you like taken out?” Mary asked. She was retired, grey curly hair and had been a member of the Women’s Institute since World War two.
“The choice is yours Mary, just make it look pretty and cover them so no wasps or flies try to take a bite,” I giggled.
“Tie that hair of yours up,” she said. “You don’t want cake on it.”
I nipped upstairs and tied my long brown hair in a pony tail. My summer dress was airy and sleeveless. My flat shoes were comfortable. I put a thin belt around my waist to show it off whilst making my bust look bigger. Little bit of make up to bring out the blue of my eyes and the fullness of my lips and I was ready.
“It’s hot so people will want Ice Cream. Shall I ask Tony to pop and fetch some more from the freezer,” Mary asked.
“If we start to sell them then yes,” I replied as I was called out to the front. “Good Morning Natasha,” I said as one of Bianca’s friend arrived.
“What would you like me to do?” she asked.
“Set your easel and paints up where you like. If we get busy and you are not painting and there is a table that needs clearing just bring the stuff in to the kitchen to Mary,” I replied. “Help yourself to tea, coffee or cake.”
“Thank you,” she said hurrying off excited to find her spot as three other arrived and I told them the same.
As the day progressed and some of their friends spread the word and the front of my shop was awash with art students. Followed by some of their friends who were musicians and jugglers who all turned the place into a tourist haven which meant we were rushed off our feet.
“Tony has fetched the last of the ice cream and ice. Don’t worry I’ve started to make some more and Bet his coming to help,” Mary yelled from the kitchen. Bet was her sister who lived ten minutes away.
“Thank you, put her name on the board,” I said referring to the wages board so I knew who I was paying at the end of the day.
“She is bringing some cucumbers from the allotment,” Mary added.
“Wonderful!” I called back as I took another order.
Bet arrived carrying a woven basket full of salad and jam she had made herself. I loved having the mixture of pensioners, students and musicians in my coffee shop as it added to the ambience and takings were definitely up.
There were a steady stream of customers and some who had stayed here all day just sitting on their own outside in the sun, drinking coffee and reading.
I cleared some tables outside as the students all had customers. They had even sold most of the art they had brought from home and displayed against a wall. Bianca’s boyfriend was taking photos and printing them out for tourists which he did quite often on busy weekends.
“As coach trip is coming!” Tony announced as he came to help clear tables.
“All hands on deck,” I said smiling. “There are more tables out back but I haven’t painted them yet. Just throw a table cloth over them.”