Monday, 14 April 2014

Herbage's idea

Like every Monday morning, Herbage Dappledawn started his day with a stroll through the village of Sugarbush Valley. This gave him the opportunity to have a look around and chat with the local villagers. Like every Monday morning he also hoped that he may just stumble upon something new that he can use as a great selling point to attract more tourists to this beautiful village. But if there was one thing that Herbage learned since he moved to Sugarbush Valley, it is that things happen very slowly here. After the foundation was laid for the tourism office, nothing new happened, and he is beginning to feel like a failure, he never felt so blank about a task at hand.

His thoughts drift to his wife, Theodora, or Thora as he fondly calls her. He knows that she loves the outdoors too and that she is just as passionate about tourism as he is, it was actually her idea to buy a caravan and travel from one camping site to another for "research" purposes, but he does sometimes wonder if that is really what she want to do still. Does she maybe long for some more normality in the form of a permanent home?

Part of the reason for his Monday morning walks was to give Thora some alone time, which she usually uses to clean their caravan, get the washing done and just recuperate, even though she's working while doing it. After a whole weekend of dealing with the twins, who can be a handful, Herbage knows that she longs and appreciates this time. He has many times told her to rather go for a stroll in the forest or read a book, but that is what his Thora prefers to do.

As he rounds the corner into Village street, Herbage is pleased to see the street abuss with activity, but it immediately strikes him that it is only local residents doing their normal Monday morning shopping. How on earth will he ever get tourists to visit this hidden gem. He notices Katrina Whiskers in the door of the Florist and head over for a quick chat.
Herbage: Morning Katrina, you are busy so early? Guess business is good?
Katrina: Morning Herbage, and hello you two adorable babies. Well, business was great over the weekend, Saturdays are usually the busiest day. Some tourists drive to our village to get away from The Big City or the ever expanding Blueberry Hill, for some peace and quiet. And they love our fresh produce, but there is still some flowers that will have to be thrown out, as they wont stay beautiful much longer.
Herbage: That is interesting, but what a shame about those flowers.
Katrina: Yes indeed, but luckily I have a gentleman's agreement with some of the other shop owners like the Periwinkles form the shoe shop and the Thistlethorns form the Haberdashery. They and many others buy the flowers for their shops on Monday mornings, at a slightly reduced price. It is a win-win situation for both parties, but really not ideal if you think business wise. I lose some profit and they don't get my best.

Perplexed and even more downhearted he says his goodbyes to Katrina. He passes the Laundromat and are glad to see some desperate housewives queuing outside, to get their washing done. At least Mae's business is thriving even without tourists. He waves to her and politely greet the ladies as he passes.

He passes the old shop that Ben Henry-Lloyd wants to convert into a Fishmonger, where mostly trout caught in the local dams and ponds will be sold. That will be another wonderful tourist attraction, but Ben has been having so much trouble with regulations that the opening of the Fishmonger looks doubtful. He smiles to himself when he passes the school. It looks like Daniel Fielding, is again having a disagreement with his teacher, Mr Huckleberry about something. According to Raddish this is a regular occurrence.

Herbage, however, laughed out loud when he passed the clinic and see Mable Periwinkle sitting on the bed. It is common knowledge now that Mable is a hypochondriac and visits the clinic with every cough and ache. Schroeder looked exasperated and just fed up. Herbage wondered how Kate was coping, the last time he heard she wasn't very happy with her Parents-in-law's move to Sugarbush Valley. Maybe he should offer them a free stand in the camping site ... Then it hid him, that was it! That was it! It was under his nose the whole time and he never thought of it before!

Herbage quickened his pace and made his way to the Commune. He had to see Sydney Hazelnut. In the distance he could see two unfamiliar faces entering the real Estate Agency. Who can it be?

He past the Furbanks Real Estate Agency and craned his neck to see who Kenneth is talking too. On any other day Herbage would think up a reason to pop into the shop to meet the strangers, he was just that  curios. But not today he had to see Sydney.

Sydney was the town planner and part of the town council. Sydney was quite open minded about new ideas, even crazy ones. In no time Herbage reached the commune and went straight to the kitchen. The kitchen of the commune was the heart of activity. The Hawtons were in there preparing the school lunches and were assisted by Mona. Mona noticed him first and immediately came over.

Mona: Herbage, good morning. What brings you here ... aah look at these two cuties, aren't they adorable?
Herbage: Hey Mona, I would like to speak to Sydney if he is not busy?
Hildie: What is up with you, Mona? Cooing over these babies? You don't even like babies?
Mona: Don't be silly, Hildie, of course I like babies.
Herbage looked at Hildie and they both frowned, it was a known fact in the village that Mona indeed wasn't very font of babies, and she never pays attention to them. What was up with that, he wondered?

Mona: Sorry Herbage, Sydney is upstairs. You can go right up, and leave the babies here, I'll look after them.
Herbage: Are you sure, they will be no trouble?
Hildie: Yes, Mona, are you sure, remember they are babies.
Mona: What is wrong with you two, of course they are babies and we will be fine. Hildie you can continue to help Barry and I'll look after the twins.

Herbage made his way up to the first floor and found Sydney at his desk.
Herbage: Hi Sydney, sorry for disturbing you, but I have a little matter that I would like to discuss with you.
Sydney: Herbage! Come in I need a break and I'm all ears. Please, sit down.

Herbage told Sydney of his idea. Like expected Sydney loved it and the two spend the next hour discussing it in detail, as well as how Herbage will break it to the Mayor and Slick Slydale, the other member of the town council. It will not be easy to convince Slick as he is very money driven and this is not a very profitable idea, but a great way to attract tourists to the village

After finishing their talk, Sydney and Herbage went down to the kitchen. Sydney needed some coffee and Herbage had to go home. Thora was probably wondering where he was. They were both astounded to find Mona sitting on the floor surrounded by Cotton and Dillion. 
Sydney: Mona, what are you doing?
Mona: I'm playing with Dillion and Cotton.
Sydney: My dear, not to sound rude or anything, but you don't like babies. You loved your own, yes, but other people's babies? You just don't like them!
Mona: Oh nonsense, where do you get that from...
Sydney: Mona, really?
Mona: Oh ok, I guess I was a bit reluctant to like other babies, but people can change especially ...
Sydney (interrupting Mona with a smile): Ok good, as long as you admit it  and are trying to change.

Sydney and Herbage shook hands and agreed that they will share the great plan with Mayor Hugo and Slick at tomorrow's weekly meeting. Mona were very reluctant to let the twins go.

After what felt like the longest night ever and no sleep, Herbage got dressed and went over to the Frasier's Pizza Parlour. A while back the members of the town council decided that the Pizza Parlour is the ideal place to have their meetings. According to Frasier he was usually very quite on Tuesday mornings and that was exactly what they needed. Frasier usually closes the shop during the meeting and tend to his bookkeeping chores while the meeting is ongoing, but only after he dished up one of his breakfast pizzas.

Mayor Hugo opened the meeting with the usual hello and a quick prayer, where after Sydney summarised the agenda.
Sydney: Guys, I hope you don't mind but I added a point to the agenda after it was send out. I'm sorry that I haven't informed you earlier but it was brought to my attention very late yesterday morning by Herbage here. I thought it was quite important so I didn't want to let it stand over till next week.
Hugo: That is all in order, thank you Sydney. And I must say if you think it is important, it probably is.
Slick: So why don't we just start with this mysterious and important point.
Sydney: Great idea, Herbage over to you.

Herbage: Thank you Sydney, so where should I start. I guess at the beginning. It has been bothering me for a while now, how quiet our village is during the week. It is very seldom that we ever see a tourist during the week. Yes, the village is busy over weekends and sometimes there is even ques outside this very Pizza Parlour and the Hamburger Restaurant, but it usually is only on weekends, and I really feel that we need that financial injection during the week too.
Hugo: That is a very valid point Herbage and something I've been thinking about too.
Herbage: I've wrecked my brain about ways to get more people in, but though all was great ideas, I was just worried that it will not keep bringing the feet to the town.
Slick: And then you got this great idea?
Herbage: Yes, I did. And all the time it was right in front of me, I actually live there?
Slick: The camping site?
Herbage: Indeed. As you might be aware the Sugarbush camping site is one of the most beautiful ones in the country, because it has the indigenous forest to the one side and the river to the other. It is also a World Heritage Site, but we have never really marketed it before as we have a steady flow of visitors over the weekends. Which, again, is fine, but we need people to visit during school holidays too and why not during the week as well, surely there are tourists that have their vacation during a normal working week?
Hugo: But how will you get them here Herbage?
Herbage: My suggestion is as follows, we ask the campers no fee to come here (gasps were heard all around the table) or not entirely no fee, but 10 Sylva per entrant.

Slick: But that is outrageous. 10 Sylva is nothing, one can not even buy a bread with that. How on earth do you want to get a financial injection from such outrageously low fees.
Herbage (smiling): Thanks for the question Slick. I know that 10 Sylva is nothing and that it will barely cover the paper that their receipts will be printed on, but keep the bigger picture in mind. First of all we get people to the village, surely at that rate who will not want to come here on holiday. And once they are here they will have a taste of the good life. Faboulous gourmet pizzas and burgers, the pastries and delicacies in Pippa's shop, wonderful handcrafted shoes at a steal, designer dresses, fresh flowers that will stay beautiful for weeks. Home made ice cream, the most freshest organic vegetables, quality hand stitched bedding, should I continue? Their basic needs will be looked after too, as here is a doctor, and the deli and country market for some basic shopping. The aim of it all is to get the tourists here and when once they have experienced everything, they will come back or would refer their friends.
Slick: Ok, it all sounds fantastic, but I'm still skeptical.
Herbage: Well that is ok, someone should be, to keep my feet on the ground, you know.

Hugo (getting up): Herbage, thank you, thank you. I think it is a great plan. I really believe that it will work, we really do need the feet in this little village of ours.
Herbage:  The pleasure is all mine, and I will work very hard on this project to make it successful.

After some more discussions the meeting was adjourned and for the first time in many months Herbage went home feeling lighthearted and ready for some real tourist action.

(*Sigrun once again helped me with some photos. The two of Theodora in the caravan and the Berchers in Kenneth's Real Estate shop is all her. Thank you so much Sigrun!!! The Berchers (my very original surname for the JP Labradors) are my family that made a detour to Iceland first, hopefully they will reach me around end May!)(**Anyone noticed the very subtle hint of something that is about to be revealed soon?)


  1. The question is will it be twins or? Great story and hope there will be follow op on the camp site:) Thora What a beautiful name lol Loved to see all the businesses in action as he walked by them.

  2. Baby fever just seems to never end. The camp site is just a dream lol! It will never look as great as the one in MV! Thora is a favorite of mine and if I didn't have such an extremely afrikaans surname I might just call my own daughter that one day!

  3. Thank you for this very nice story, it was a wonderful start in the day :). I like the variety of your businesses - Sigruns photo of Kenneth's Real Estate is great. Did I say, that I love Maple? I've seen the photo and had to laugh :D. She's a great hypochondriac :D.
    Looking forward to your next story, respectively how it goes on.

  4. My pleasure! I love Sigrun's Real Estate very much too, and might just copy her idea. I needed someone like Mable in my village but never new who, and when Mable come she was perfect!

  5. Your story captivated me right until the end! I was curious to find out what Herbage's idea was! And Thora... oh I expect some new cuties soon! I laughed at the "desperate housewives" queue in front of the Laundromat!!! Very great storytelling and lovely photos to boot!

    1. Thanks for the kind comments Jane. Yes yes some more babies on the way!

  6. What a fun story, Eaton Blackberry! I love all of the complex story lines going on in Sugarbush Valley. It really keeps my interest! I'm looking forward to seeing your next installment! xo Jennifer

    1. Thx Jennifer. I often refer back to previous stories just to make sure I have all the detail correct ;-)

  7. Oh this story is amazing! I love seeing street views and I'm excited to see the conclusion of all the different story lines in the village :)
    Hugs, Aranera

    1. It is just hard work to think up a new story each time, maybe I should do a survey on who you want to see next?

    2. That could definitely work - and it would give you some hard-earned rest! All your stories are so brilliant though - but as we are on the subject are we to be seeing a baby Petite soon, or should we wait nine months? ;)

    3. Soon, soon! Hopefully not 9 months ;-)

    4. I don't think Pete will want to wait that long - he seems like good father material ;)

    5. I just wished I had a house for them. Not sure that Savannah will survive with another extra baby in the house.

  8. Fun story and great decorations!

  9. What a darling story! I do love the Dappledawn rabbits :)

    1. Thank you, then this one is especially for you, Lily!