As he navigated the narrow streets of the old town, Martin noted that the weather was a touch colder than he’d anticipated, and he slightly regretted leaving the warmer of his jackets in his hotel room. The hoodie he had grabbed in his hasty exit was slightly inadequate. It was, however, still quite early and he was optimistic that conditions would improve as the day went on.
Otherwise it would, he felt, be a long day.
He pulled the hoodie tighter and increased his walking pace, hopeful that intensifying his cardiovascular output would counteract the effects of the cold.
As he neared the old docklands, the absence of any kind of sustenance in his morning thus far also began to play on his mind. He checked his watch. He had about ten minutes, time enough for a coffee at least. It was, however, so early, that although there was a plethora of eateries in sight, not one of them was yet open.
There was no time to look further afield so he resigned himself to his hunger and paced along the quay, trying to maintain something approximating a tolerable body temperature.
There was no denying that, at this time of day, the wharf was charming. As the day went on, and tourist numbers increased, some of that charm would inevitably disappear, but at that moment it was a serenely quiet and prepossessing location. Still, Martin would have preferred to be in the warmth of his hotel room, happily dreaming or tucking into room-service scrambled eggs.
Instead he was here, waiting.
The time dragged, and ten minutes turned into fifteen, which turned into twenty. A van pulled into sight, Martin recalled seeing it on previous visits and knew it would eventually add to the numerous waterfront food retailers. He hoped that it would begin trading soon, but the proprietor appeared to be in no rush, seemingly seeing to his own refreshment needs first by way of a small thermos.
Another five minutes went by and still no sign of anyone else.
He checked his phone, and only then did he realise it was on set on silent. He noted three missed calls, all received in the last few minutes and all from the same number. He returned the call. It rang only once and then he heard a familiar and slightly irritated voice.
“Where are you,” asked Martin, struggling to mask his own irritation.
He listened to the reply
“But we said we’d meet by the harbor,” Martin argued, “I’ve been here for ages.”
Had there been any passers-by at that moment they would have struggled to make out the muffled words coming out of Martin’s phone but the frustrated tone would have been all too clear.
“Ok, I’ll see you in a few minutes,” said Martin, “I’m sorry.”
Hanging up, he looked hopefully at the van and saw with relief that it had now opened for business.
After purchasing a bacon sandwich and much-needed americano, Martin began trudging back to the hotel, to what he already knew would be a reception so frosty that it would make the current temperature seem positively balmy.