No matter how I angled my umbrella, I couldn’t keep the rain off my shoes. The rain fell quietly, tentatively, but by the time I’d made the corner, and crossed the street my shins and thighs were already spattered, and my black leather shoes were gleaming as if freshly oiled.

I’d passed the pub several times in the past, having stopped just once to glance at its menu and judge its $12 range to pricey, but this time the combination of cold, rain, sore throat and fatigue drove me in, to grab a corner table and shrug off my coat and look around and wish I could have a Guinness.

Not much business was going on, the bar tender standing with her arms crossed next to a regular, chatting in lilting Irish tones, while a kid studied and sipped from a glass of water at the far end of the bar. I glanced at the menu and instantly decided upon the Shepherd’s Pie – mashed potato and minced meat and hopefully just like my mother made it.

And it was! It came in piping hot, too hot almost to eat, a large clay tureen. I cracked open ‘The Fair Folk’, a collection of Fairy tales by modern authors, and read Megan Lindholm’s ‘Grace Notes’. Brilliant. One hand slowly forking delicious Shepherd’s pie into my mouth, the other turning the pages, I passed an entire hour without thinking once about work, the rain, or my throat.

Nothing like a good fairy tale, a hot lunch and quiet, warm pub to put some vigor back in your stride 😉