It’s been a while since I posted on the blog, due to our move from Surrey to Devon and the associated busyness related to finding our way round. We are gradually settling in and getting to know our new home and area. This all amounts to a work in progress!
I wanted to share a rather unique and wonderful Good Samaritan experience that came our way last week.
We were on our way back from shopping in Tiverton and as we rounded a bend on the A396 road to Bampton, we saw a man and a woman standing near to a car. The man had his thumb out, hitching a lift.
“Shall we stop?” I asked Shaun, who was driving.
“I think we should”, he replied, pulling over into the passing place.
The man and woman approached. They were wearing hiking gear and didn’t look particularly concerned, so we weren’t sure quite what to expect.
They greeted us cheerfully enough and we immediately gathered they were not English (the red classic Renault with foreign plates should have given us a clue).
It turned out that they were Austrian. “Can you help us, please?” asked the woman. “We need a lift to Exebridge, where our boat is moored”.
It turned out that they had driven from Exebridge to where we had stopped, a few miles outside Bampton, with the intention of walking back to board their boat, and ride it down the river to where the car was parked, a distance of some five miles in total. But they had come unstuck …
“The road, it is so busy!” they exclaimed. “No pavements and it is too hazardous to walk”, they added. We agreed. Although not an especially busy road, it is an A road and is thus not ideal walking territory.
“It’s fine”, said Shaun. “Get in the car and I will drop my wife off at home with the shopping and then take you on to Exebridge”,
They got into the car gratefully. I was racking my brains for anything to do with Austria to converse about, and eventually rather lamely came up with,
“I don’t know anything much about Austria, but I have eaten Sacher-torte” which seemed to please them. It was the only common ground we could find and I was amused at the thought of sitting in the car talking about chocolate cake with two Viennese strangers!
Shaun dropped me home and amid much nodding and smiling goodbye from the couple, he set off again to Exebridge, and soon returned having dropped them off.
We thought no more about it, except to congratulate ourselves on having the warm fuzzy feeling of playing Good Samaritans for the couple.
We hoped they would enjoy the rest of their stay and take back to Austria with them an impression that the English can be helpful and friendly, too.
Early that evening, there was a ring on the doorbell. I opened the door to see the Renault outside, and I was presented with a bottle of red wine; the Austrian woman stood there, effusively thanking us for our kindness. There was much waving and smiling before the couple drove off again.
We were amazed and touched that the pair had gone to the trouble of coming back with a gift for us; how very kind!
I had to laugh when I read what was written on the wine bottle label:
“Instead of Sacher-cake, wine from Vienna. Thank you for the ride! Greetings, Claudia and Christian”.
Somehow, this incident makes us feel more settled in this lovely region to which we have moved. We didn’t present to the Austrian couple as new strangers in town. As far as they were concerned, we were the locals, they were the visitors. This instils a new level of confidence that comes from feeling as though we are relaxing day by day into our new environment. Shaun and I agree that Devon is already offering some unexpected bonuses.
It is markedly unusual for my blog posts not to include something about grief and loss, but it does not have a place in this piece. Suffice to say that the enormous distractions of leaving work and relocating here have combined to put me into a place where, apart from around the anniversary of James’s passing, I have not had time to think about the ramifications of the changes.
There is something quite refreshing in the shift of focus and I am hopeful that it will give me inspiration in my writing and colour my words in a new way. Time will tell!