Out on my trundle again today, I thought I would head for Charlton. I must admit, the direction of my daily wandering is chosen more or less at random and on the spur of the moment, unless there’s somewhere specific I need to go. I go to Charlton fairly regularly , but today, for the first time in months, I found the cafe in the park open for table service again. Until now, of course, it has been take away only, meaning I could not stop for a coffee. Today, however, the situation was different, and rolling up to one of the well distanced tables I asked for my time honoured combination of a double espresso and a cappuccino.
As I sipped my coffee, I thought about the innumerate times I had sat in that very spot over the last decade or so: of the memories I had built up there, and the friendships I had made. I used to spend hours there, talking to people. Lyn would often join us once she was ready, coming rattling around the corner in her powerchair. I half expected that to happen today, although I knew it couldn’t. I suppose it’s just an inevitable part of the human condition that, however much you want things to stay the same, however much you return to the places which once meant so much to you, nothing ever stays the same. Apart from the staff there was nobody I recognised there, and I didn’t stay long. The Old Cottage Cafe in Charlton Park may still serve the best coffee in South London, but for me, it can never quite be the place it once was.