I’m a great pub person – although, to be honest we actually don’t visit the pub more than a couple of times a week! However being that pub person, it’s not surprising that pubs feature in many of my books. In my latest genealogical mystery, ‘starring’ Thomas Radwinter (another pub person) he is commissioned to investigate strange goings on at a former pub, now a hotel called the Waterside. Here is an except, where he recounts his first impressions:
The hotel had obviously been an old pub, right on the quay side I think you’d call it, of the old harbour; this isn’t the old harbour in town, this is the old, old harbour in Hamwick – which must have been a separate little place once but is now just part of the outer edges of Strand. I don’t know anything about it, or this area and have never been here before. I shouldn’t think many people have, it’s got a seedy, desolate air, most of the businesses are closed, and look as if they’ve been closed for a long time.
It was sheeting with rain, so I’d literally run from where I’d parked in a supermarket carpark, half a mile away, run between the rather tatty very old houses to the harbour where the hotel was.
I stood looking at it and yes indeed, it had definitely been a pub – I must look it up. I guessed it was maybe a couple of hundred years old, and in the olden days it would have been busy and thriving, all those thirsty, fishermen, all the people coming to buy the fish and maybe other things. I imagined horses and carts and wagons coming to collect the bales and barrels and loads and people shouting and ropes swinging and pulleys – or whatever those things are called which lift things up – not cranes, well, maybe cranes… another something to look up.
In the funny light and with the rain making it all shiny it really did look a bit creepy. I noticed there were four parking places at the front of the hotel, two on either side of the steps which led up to it. It was a double fronted place but quite narrow, the building going back. There was an alley down one side, a very narrow alley, more like a passageway and I had a peer down there and could see that the place was fairly sizable… I’d imagined Rebecca having a small almost bed and breakfast type place… this was big… hmmm… I had a moment’s puzzle about the finances of it all but that’s nothing to do with me, her economic situation is not my concern – thank goodness!
I stood looking at it again, and took a couple of pictures, despite the light not being very good and then I had a bit of a wander.
There was like a broken pier part, the stones all tumbled into the sea, all covered in seaweed and green slime, and then there were some steps leading down to the beach with a hand rail. The beach here, which I’d never been to, looked quite nice, what I could see of it with the pounding waves. There was a bit of a harbour remaining, with some boats, so obviously it was still used to some extent.
There was the usual muddle of old buildings, some which looked as if they had been sheds, maybe for the fish, some of which were small houses, then this big hotel; even though it was bigger, it didn’t look out of place. There were a few closed shops, another pub which also seemed closed… it was all pretty desperate.
I could see how someone coming to stay here might be predisposed to thinking it was creepy, and sort of setting themselves up to find spooky happenings… This all seemed a complete load of bollocks, ‘bollocks’ is one of Paul’s words.
I came back to the hotel… yes, it really didn’t look very inviting. The rain was slackening off and I could imagine maybe on a nice sunny day it would be interesting, and certainly very near the beach. I wandered back to the worn steps leading down to the sand. An image came back to me… night time, and a dead woman lying on a beach as a ferocious storm raged all around, and I was dragged away from her, forcibly dragged away…
I’d got an appointment with Mr. S, and then I had to really dash, on dad-duty again; I’d leave this rather strange place and come again.
“What you up to, mate?” I nearly jumped out of my skin.
A big burly man had materialised behind me… he actually was huge, really tall and hefty, with a big black bushy beard and big black fuzzy hair.
“What you doing here?” he asked again on the verge of being threatening. Well, it was a public place, I was merely looking at stuff, not doing any harm…
“Just looking around, I’ve not been here before, got a bit of time to kill before I see a client,” I tried to sound manly without being aggressive; I used to be such a wimp – for most of my life I grovelled and apologised with no reason to, now I tried to stand up for myself.
“Had a few break-ins… stuff going missing…” he said grudgingly and totally unconvincingly. I really did not look like the sort of person who would break in anywhere or be responsible for ‘stuff going missing’; on my way to see Mr. S. I had my suit on and a tie (I don’t always wear ties these days but most of my elderly clients like it) and a waterproof.
“Tell me about it! Same round our way! Can’t trust anyone, not like it used to be when you could leave your doors unlocked… Huh, what is the world coming to!”
I really did say that. Kylie laughed like anything when I told her later. I said cheerio to the bloke – I actually did say ‘cheerio’ and he grunted, and then, trying not to look as if I was hurrying away, I sauntered back through the neglected and run-down little streets to where I’d left my car.
If you want to find out why Thomas was at the Waterside, what happens next time he visits, and who the big bloke with the bushy beard is, then here is a link:
My featured image is of Fowey, which isn’t the least like Hamwick!