Reverend Baring-Gould’s A History of Dartmoor would have looked perfect, lying carelessly on this polished table.
Indeed, the good gentleman himself would have looked very much at home reposing in one of these wingback chairs enjoying the warmth from the fireplace, possibly fortified with something equally warming to drink.
We very much liked the idea too. Alas, we were not the only ones with that thought.
Mr & Mrs Wingback were wedded to these chairs.
As we left the hotel after breakfast, heading into the January damp for our walk, there they were, reading magazines with a pot of coffee resting on the table. When we returned in the early afternoon they were still there: with books this time, and tea and sandwiches. An hour later as we passed through once more, heading for a drive, there they were – though the tea-tray had been exchanged for glasses of something stronger. Those books must have been engrossing. In due course we returned – me somewhat muddy – and hastened through the bar to change. Mr & Mrs W hadn’t shifted.
Now cleaned up and a little more respectable, we joined the other guests downstairs. Not in the wingback chairs of course since – remarkably – they were occupied. We chose a sofa and shot covert glances at the chair hoggers. They’d been sitting in those chairs for the entire day. Really – it’s just not British. What happened to sharing?
Mr & Mrs W were clearly pros. They never both left the chairs at the same time. They took it in turns to take a brief stroll and stretch their cramped limbs. They took it in turns to climb the stairs to their room to change for dinner. My sense of injustice was mounting: it simply wasn’t fair. I tried to be patient. The good Reverend would have counseled patience and warned against covetousness.
We went into dinner just ahead of them and we had them in our peripheral vision. Maybe, just maybe, we might leave the dining room before them?
It took willpower not to spoil dinner by rushing. I toyed with the notion of declining desert but I didn’t have willpower enough for that. But we did get out ahead of them – just long enough to be settled in front of the fireplace with our coffee. Settled, I should stress, in those chairs.
Mr & Mrs W took their coffee sitting very primly on a squashy sofa across the room.
I can’t be sure, but I think they may have shot us a glance or two as we enjoyed an after-dinner tipple. They didn’t stay long after that; they were probably tired after such a long day sitting. But we lingered. The fire was warm; the chairs were comfortable; the Devonian g & t with a slice of orange was superb.
We raised our glasses to the retreating backs of Mr & Mrs W as a thank you for making us smile. I like to think the Reverend would have approved. This week his leatherbound book will be returned to the library store.