Golly Gosh Cafe

tea shop and sanctuary


I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow. ~ Jane Austin, Pride & Prejudice

The first time he saw her she was with a friend and they were smiling.  He recognised the friend as the young woman who walked with the poise of a dancer.  Like his mother had.  He couldn’t remember the dancer’s name but he’d met her on the beach one day with her nephew, Noah.  It had been a blustery afternoon and he’d helped them tame a bright blue, red and yellow kite.

It was the day he came home.

It reminded him of other endless summer days he’d spent here: picnic baskets and red and white gingham; windbreaks and obligatory flasks of hot water for tea; noisy seagulls and snatching sandwiches; new friends and giggles and finding a lighthouse; sunburn and freckles and being buried in the sand. And how could he ever forget the never ending palaver of Uncle Ralph’s old camera; the precious results of which were now stored in a green and red box under the stairs.

The second time he saw her she’d passed by, only inches away, walking briskly and with purpose, head down, unaware of people around her . He remembered the floral scent that lingered after she’d gone and curiously thinking it suited her.

The third time he noticed her was from his uncle’s window; the house at the top of the hill. He’d caught sight of her on the beach after a summer storm; a lonely figure in wellington boots and a waterproof jacket that was more than a few sizes too big. Borrowed perhaps. She stood at the edge of the water as it ebbed and flowed but, unlike excited and carefree children who jump the waves, she stood motionless allowing them to wash over her feet while she stared into the distance; her fragility and vulnerability emphasised by the power and vastness of the sea in front of her.  He suddenly felt protective towards her.

Watching. Waiting. Wishing.

He needed some respite from the heavy stillness of his uncle’s house with its thin layer of dust and dependable grandmother chimes.  The tick-tock he’d found hypnotic and reassuring in childhood on quiet Sunday afternoons after church now began to irritate him; like an intruder its sound seeping into his consciousness and disturbing the peace.

Fancy a walk Harry?

He sat on the wall watching Harry run flat out towards the sea before screeching to a halt.  It amused him and he laughed out loud at his antics.  He knew he didn’t like his feet wet!  With typical boxer-like curiosity he investigated scattered pieces of driftwood and seaweed then proceeded to playfully demolish various works of sand-art created earlier that day. He’d inherited a house that came with its own faithful friend; a brown and white bundle of fun that now bounced mischievously up the beach towards him, barking for attention and carrying something in his big smiley mouth. I really hope it’s not a dead thing.

He looked around him and concentrated his gaze on the attractive white cottage. Like an artist he captured quickly its style and elegance and committed it to memory; the glossy blue door, shuttered windows with white cloth and vibrant boxes blooming with colour and the name Golly Gosh over the door. There was activity at the window and he realised he was being watched.

He smiled and waved. He knew he would visit this place. But not yet.

He joined Harry on the beach, throwing sticks for him to catch, trying to wear him out.

Tom almost missed seeing her for the fourth time.



formidable (adj): tending to inspire awe and wonder; great strength, powerful

Jan and Maggie sat by the window and admired a glass jug filled with beautiful pink roses fresh from the garden; full and in bloom and softly scented.  Sally’s favourite had become  theirs too.  They were enjoying their usual choice of tea with Alice’s award winning lemon cake.  In cahoots.  Like when they were little and mischief was in the making.

I’m a bit jealous of her you know.   


Sally. She’s sort of … unflappable and I’m, well, more the Calamity Jane type without the horse and Howard Keel.  Guess it’s all part of my charm!  Aunt Kate knew her before she moved here and seems really fond of her but won’t go into any details. And you know what she’s like, she’d never give any information away.

There might not be any ‘details’.   And I thought you made a great Calamity Jane in that school production, actually.

Look at these! Silk, pure silk! I’ll bet her mother spun ’em!  ~ Calamity Jane

They giggled like two school girls, reminiscing; opening night in the school theatre, the badly fitting costumes and the wobbly scenery, the primadonnas, trying to keep a straight face singing Once I had a Secret Love, the boy who played Wild Bill Hickock and the gloriously camp and wonderfully funny director.  And wanting to do it all over again.

Their eyes followed Sally about the room admiring her grace and confidence.  In awe of a woman not that much older than themselves but in many ways older and wiser than anyone they’d ever known.  Charismatic.  Energising.  Always hopeful.  That’s what they saw.  This was their experience.

I really like Sally.  She’s lovely without being  full of herself. 

Honestly?  I think she’s formidable.  Maggie reflected on an earlier conversation she’d had with her boss that day; appraisal time.  Bet Sally’s got a five year plan!

She reminds me of you a bit Maggie but with a better taste in shoes and probably a social life.


Anyway … the only thing that Aunt Kate told me is that Golly Gosh wasn’t meant to be a long term thing and that’s the reason Sally has never moved into the flat up above the cafe.

I thought it was because she didn’t want to be available to everybody 24/7 and who could blame her? So, since your Auntie Kate’s the font of all knowledge, what’s next? Surely she can’t sell up?

We could always just ask her but I don’t want her to think we’ve been gossiping. Let’s ask Alice instead.

They laughed knowing that Alice would be the last person to tell anything.




You can’t remake the world
Without remaking yourself.
Each new era begins within. ~ Ben Okri

Sally and Alice had colluded in the birthday surprise, inviting Golly Gosh regulars on behalf of the shopping girls who now waited, giggly and excited and a little nervous; their friend’s special birthday.  A birthday that, ten years ago, they were afraid to believe was possible.

They squealed with delight when they saw the cake and hugged Alice in gratitude; the red ballet shoes reflecting their friend’s personality to perfection.  They knew she had never regretted her decision all those years ago but also knew that the sadness and loss leading to that decision would never dampen her love of dance.

Where is she?

Sally stood at the window watching.

She’s coming …and Noah is with her!

Today, the dancer thought she was simply meeting her friends for some tea and cake.  In fact, she was.

Noah followed her through the door as everyone jumped up in unison. Happy Birthday!  Renditions of happy birthday to you rang out from voices with happy smiling faces, their tears mixed in with laughter and jubilation; party poppers and champagne corks; flowers and presents and fragrances that reminded her of Jerusalem; and beautiful ballet shoes taking centre stage.

Surprise and disbelief overcame her and she stood, still, like a beautiful statue with eyes glistening and tears welling up.

I don’t know what to say.  I’m speechless.  This is such a surprise … I had no idea!   You’re all so kind and I wish you knew how much you mean to me.  This place, this wee place, Sally, Alice, everyone else, you’ve been there for me and I couldn’t have done it without you.  You’re like my family.

So much for you being speechless!

Have a glass of bubbly, birthday girl!  What about you Noah, what would you like?

Can I have an orange juice please Sally?

Is this yours?

It’s my new kite.  Auntie Jan promised to take me to the beach to fly it before dinner.   She said we’re going to chase the wind.

That’s exciting!  Better make sure she doesn’t have too much champagne then!