The Girl In The Easter Dress (Part Two)
The repairs and renovations plus some new fixtures and fittings cost them just under half of their nest egg which they were exceedingly pleased with.
But they knew that if they didn’t get a steady trade through the door the remainder would be eaten up just in running costs.
They could put on novelty nights like Pub quizzes, or a clairvoyant doing reading, open mic comedy nights, poetry slams and the like but they planned to steer clear of live music or DJ’s, Holly thought they were more trouble than they were worth.
Also they had to make the most of the annual special occasions, all those occasions that Steve had a phobia about in fact, but they had just missed out on St Patrick’s Day.
But gimmicks only got you so far, the bread and butter patrons needed a reason to come back for the rest of the time.
The food would certainly help with that especially with the conservatory.
It was midway through March when Holly and Steve sat down to catch their collective breaths one evening on the patio in the pub garden.
“You know what’s next?” Holly said
“Another drink” Steve said hopefully
“The Garden” she said bleakly
It would have been more appropriately called the jungle.
It had been largely neglected not only by Phil but by his predecessors as well because the extent of the growth had occurred over more than a generation.
As luck would have it there were three regulars who drank at the pub, the Beaumont brothers, who were proper old country boys and the jungle was right up their street.
When they approached the Beaumont’s, they gladly picked up the gauntlet and they and various other members of the family pitched up the next day and got straight down to it.
By the end of the second day they had made great progress and as they sat down to an end of day pint Steve asked
“How’s it going?”
He hadn’t anticipated it would take that long with such a large crew and his bean counters brain was doing cartwheels
“Another days clearing” Kenny Beaumont said “But you can at least get down to the River now”
“River?” he said “What river?”
“The Trott” Old George replied
Just at that moment Holly stepped out from the Conservatory
“Did you know the garden backed onto a River?” Steve asked
“No” she replied with surprise
“Well it’s there Missy” Old George said and chuckled
“Well we’d better go and have a look then” She said to Steve and took his hand, pulling him to his feet.
It was a much longer walk than they anticipated, the pub garden which they thought was huge to begin with was almost three times bigger than it appeared to be before the Beaumont’s got to work.
In fact it was bigger than either of them had anticipated and the great bonus was that the garden led down to a section of the river Trott, only accessible from the pub garden.
Holly and Steve didn’t even realise they were that close to the river
“Wow” Holly said as they stood on the bank
“Kerching” Steve responded
“Spoken like a true bean counter” Holly said and laughed
It was Easter Sunday and the first major occasion since the refurb was completed.
When the Beaumont’s had finished clearing the pub garden there were quite a few large areas of bare earth which needed to be turfed in order for them to make the best use of the garden and the new found view of the river.
And a month later it had taken sufficiently to take a light cut and the overall effect wasn’t bad at all, viewed from the patio.
The improvements to the beer garden would bring great rewards with summer just around the corner.
It wasn’t quite an uninterrupted view of the river, as they thought it expedient to have a small wicket fence put up to separate the garden from the running water and thus prevent small children venturing to close and being washed away.
Holly had arranged an Easter Egg hunt straight after church, they had invited the children from the local area via Sunday Schools, cubs, brownies and primary schools, the idea being the children would come along for the egg hunt and their parents would spend over the bar and buy from the BBQ.
Holly and the other girls had been out that morning and hidden the cream eggs and every child who took part would get a ticket for the Easter Egg raffle.
It was an excellent turn out in the April sunshine and there were so many children they had to go out in groups, the youngest went first.
“Ok Children, only six eggs each” Holly said dressed in a pink puffy dress and a flowered Easter bonnet. “One…Two…Three…Go”
And off they went in all directions like marbles in a game.
Steve was down by the fence making sure none of them reached the water’s edge and he watched the beautiful girl in the Easter dress amidst the mayhem laughing as the children raced around her.
And he knew at that moment without any shadow of doubt that he was in love with her.
When all the children had there eggs everyone repaired inside for the big draw, this was tactically delayed to allow the adult’s time to recharge their glasses.
And it was in the bar after the last prize was won and presentd that Steve stepped forward and called.
“Could I just have your attention for a moment?”
The assembled crowd hushed and turned their gaze on him and he continued
“I would just like to take this opportunity to thank our lovely hostess Holly for putting on such a fun activity today”
A round of applause rippled around in responce.
“And I would like to present her with this special gift”
And Steve handed her with great aplomb, a handmade Easter egg which she quickly unwrapped
“It’s lovely” she said “Thank you” and then she kissed him.
“Read the instructions” he instructed
On the egg was a hand written card which read
“Must be opened upon receipt”
So Holly placed the egg on the table and obediently untied the ribbon holding the two halves of the egg together.
And as they separated it revealed inside, where the handmade chocolates should have been, a small square box.
She handed the egg to Steve and opened the box to reveal that it contained a small Ceylon sapphire ring he had bought in a local antique shop.
“Does this mean what I think it means?” she asked quietly
“I don’t know, do you think it means I want to marry you?” Steve said
“Yes” she said
“Good because that’s exactly what it means” he replied
“Will you marry me?”
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” she screamed
And the whole place was in uproar.