Una and Jim followed me through the Bunkhouse out to the kitchen area. “I don’t have any ice,” I say as I reach up into the cupboard and pull down a couple of plastic glasses and set them down on the counter. Unscrewing the cap from the bottle of the pinot grigio, I fill up each one and hand them to my guests. “Cheers!” I offer and we each lift our glasses simultaneously. My tongue rolls against the roof of my mouth tasting the lingering bite of the warm semi-dry wine. Jim rests against the countertop, his eyes sweeping about the ceiling, taking in the construction of the building, then drop down to look at the old fashioned wood-burning oven. “This is nice,” he says, stroking the stove with his left hand. “It is there for aesthetic purposes only.” I point out the sign taped to the front: “Do not use-out of order.” Una leans over the sink and peers out the single-pane sash window.
We make small talk about the great weather, then shift our conversation to how the bunkhouse would be excellent for a group of friends or a family coming to Battle Harbour. “That would be fun,” we all agreed. This segued into the topic of their family and their home on the east coast of Newfoundland. “If you ever get out that way ..” I get an invite to be shown around to all the good spots.
I pour us all more wine. “One bottle doesn’t go very far,” I say regretfully as I drain the remaining contents. Trying to be a good hostess, I am wondering if it would be uncouth to offer some from an open bottle I had stashed under the sink? I thought it best to start with a fresh bottle when having guests.
“This is fine, we have some in our room,” Jim says. “He likes something a bit stronger and I have some wine,” Una smiles.
When their glasses are empty. Una says they are going to the store, she wants to use the WIFI to contact their daughter. “I will see you both later then?” They nod and head towards the door and up the path. I wave after my guests from the porch.
Sipping what remained from my glass, I change into my evening wear and at 7:00 pm I am on the boardwalk toward the pub feeling giddy from the wine.
Up the stairs and through the door into the loft I go, stopping just inside the entrance to have a look at the space. The same as any hay-mow, this one is all shiplap walls with huge beamed rafters. Designated areas have been cleverly, or haphazardly, created with careful furniture placement; a lounge area with a mix of leather and fabric couches and chairs that are illuminated by the candelabra bulbs of a nautical-rope chandelier. One oval kitchen table and four mismatched high-back chairs in another area perfect for a group of kitchen partyers. A sealskin floor rug and two sealskin art pieces hang on the wall of the back left corner- this area is reserved for the entertainers. There is a mic on a stand and a acoustic guitar leaning in a cradle, waiting for someone to come pick it up. To my left I see my dinner companion Sophie seated at the bar and I cross the floor towards her and pull out one of the black metal-framed stools and take a seat.
Peter has now taken on the roll of bartender, and he stands with his back to the display cases. All the spritis available for purchase are in plain view. He asks me ” What will you have?” I glance briefly at the IPA beers then say, “A white wine please,” not wanting to stray from what I had already consumed. Sophie is smiling and relaxed. “Bonjour,” she says and introduces me to her new friend, a travel writer for the Globe and Mail newspaper. “He was telling me about his trip to…” she stumbles over the location and giggles to cover up her inability to come up with the name of the place. He inserts the name, but It doesn’t ring a bell with me and I don’t know what country the town was in. Just then a young man has stepped out onto the entertainers’ area. He grips his guitar and takes a seat on what looks like a box. It is a little too high, as he can barely get his sandals to reach the floor, but he hunches over his instrument and begins strumming and singing.
Sophie turns in her seat and asks Peter to retrieve one of the two large bottles of sparkling wine she has asked him to put on ice for her. He brings the bottle over, along with three champagne flutes, and places them on the bar. The cork gives a jubilant pop, and Sophie begins to pour the liquid slowly into each glass. “We are celebrating.” she says handing me a flute. She rhymes off her reason: “Being on vacation, being in this place, being alive.” Her enthusiasm is infectious and we clink glasses. “À votre santé.” We drink the effervescent liquid to our health. Uma and Jim step through the door and take a seat around the kitchen table. Sophie’s aunt Pauline joins us at the bar. I offer her my seat but she declines, says she isn’t staying long. Peter brings another flute over and Sophie fills it up for her aunt. Other guests arrive and with all the chatter, it is getting hard to hear, and I have to lean in to catch what is being said.
I notice Sophie seems very interested in what Globe and Mail writer is talking about. She has a permanent smirk on her face and she nods up and down as he tells his stories. She says very little just pours us all more sparkling wine. “To our happiness,” she cheers again. Mr. Globe and Mail, will be writing about this trip to Battle Harbour. “I am not sure where I will take this story,” he admits and holds his flute out for another top-up. I can see a bit of flirting between the two and I excuse myself to go visit with Una. She is sitting alone, but only because Jim has take a place next to the guitar player. With his toe tapping the floor his fingers work the keys of his accordion and together they play some traditional Irish and Newfoundland songs.
Una and I go up for a dance and others join us, filling in every square inch of the narrow strip of floor between the bar and musicians. We dance two or three sets of music then have some more wine. Some where near sundown I go outside to take some photos of the purple and pink sky. A beautiful end to a fantastic day .
I’m not ready to go home just yet, and I return to my seat at the table, where I am instantly greeted by Sophie’s outstretched hand offering to keep my glass full. There is more dancing and singing. I meet the counsellor of Mount Pearl and his lovely wife and I think I stopped to greet Paige and Cory at some point. Sometime after 11 pm we stagger from the loft and filter out towards our accommodations.
I sway in front of the mirror brushing my teeth and washing up for bed. I drink some water and pop a couple of Tylenol, then wall-walk my way down the hall and drop onto my bed. The last thing I remember thinking is, I hope my hangover isn’t too bad tomorrow. I have some hiking to do. Please join me again as I explore the trails of Battle Harbour.
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