A Letter from Nantwich

June 2008 (updated June 2012)                                                    

The umbrella tree         

A rainy day in Nantwich? Not really. This is the "umbrella tree" that used to be found in what was the Inglenook Tea Shoppe. Every item - and more - had been left behind by customers passing through town.

   The golfing umbrella later disappeared. See below.

   The last time I was in the tea shoppe (now under new ownership and called Molly's Tea Shoppe) there was just one umbrella on the "tree" and I couldn't be sure it didn't belong to another customer enjoying a meal at the time.

   Maybe the customers are being more careful about leaving their umbrellas behind. Maybe the persistent rain is reminding them to take their umbrellas when they leave.   

   The tea shoppe now has a set of umbrellas, with a Molly's logo, which patrons can borrow for the rest of their day's visit to the town - returning them to Molly's as they leave town, of course.

The things customers leave behind

WE'VE all done it. Left something behind somewhere, and can't remember when we last had it. Or know where it is but cannot go back to retrieve it because we were simply passing through a town.

   It is certainly true of the former owners of the umbrellas which "decorated" the coat stand in the former Inglenook Tea Shoppe in Pillory Street, Nantwich. (It's called Molly's Tea Shoppe now - see above).  At the time of writing this letter there were eight small umbrellas, a "golfing" umbrella, a raincoat and a pair of pink gloves.

   They had all been left behind by customers - mainly visitors to the town - otherwise they would have been reclaimed by now.

   The then proprietors, Caroline and Bob Hope, had more umbrellas at home (removed to make space for the next batch) - and yet more had been borrowed by locals caught out in a sudden downpour.

   Not pictured was a cushion which a person in a wheelchair had taken into the tea shoppe and transferred to their chair at one of the tables while they dined. When they left, they forgot to transfer it back. So it became available to any customer who needed to use it.

   But the best "lost property" of all (albeit briefly) was a pair of false teeth, or dentures if you prefer.  Bob told me that the wearer took them out in the "wash room" after a meal - and then left the tea shoppe without them. They returned, red faced, several minutes later to reclaim them.

   Didn't their mouth feel different? Weren't they talking differently?


Other lost property had been:

l A loaf of bread a customer had taken into the tea shoppe and placed on the umbrella tree while he enjoyed a meal. (What was wrong with his table?) And, yes, he left without it! The day was saved by Bob calling to him across the car park at the back of the shoppe to let him know.

l There must have been tears before bedtime when one youngster went home without a bug-eyed, purple plastic centipede. It wasn't nice to touch but the child probably loved it.


Bob and Caroline retired from the tea shoppe in 2010 but still call in from time to time.


Elusive dish

THE diner knew exactly what she wanted to eat for lunch. Fish and chips. But she couldn't find them anywhere on the menu. They must sell the dish, there were three fish adverts on the tea shop's windows. Eventually, she gave up and asked where the meal was listed. She was told that the "advertisements" she had seen was the Christian fish symbol (right, on the tea shop's front door).

    This happened in the days of Bob Hope (no, not the late actor) and his wife, Caroline. They are regular churchgoers, and while they would not insist on the customers saying grace before they eat, diners often got a cheery "God bless" as they left the tea shoppe. 


Missing brolly

BOB was bemoaning the loss of the green and white golfing umbrella seen on the umbrella tree above when I called in once. No-one had seen anyone leave with it, and no-one had borrowed it. Maybe the rightful owner had returned having realised where they had left it, and quietly taken it back rather than admit their absent mindedness . . . !


Me, too

THE problem with writing about people's fallibilities is that it can rebound on you. On a rainy day I took my red and white golfing umbrella - with the "Nantwich, Best Kept Secret" logo on it - to the tea shoppe and, yes, you've guessed, left without it. When I returned a few days later, Bob Hope, who was there at the time, lost no time in drawing the attention of customers to the fact. "Easily done," said one understanding customer. I thanked him as he left.   


lSee also this Letter from Nantwich.    

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