It’s no longer the place I grew up in. It hasn’t been for a long time.
Back then, women pushed prams along the Main Street, while stopping to chat to every other person. A neighbour, a friend, a connection.
Local shops spilled their wares onto the pavement and whitewashed prices in their windows, enticing shoppers in with a smile and a service second-to-none.
Standing beside my mum at a counter that rose high above my head, while she read from her list of requirements. Or, sometimes, she handed it over.
Staff got busy, collecting and packing from high shelves and a back-shop too impossibly small to support the vast array on offer.
Butter was patted and wrapped in waterproof, cheese sliced with a wire stretched between two wooden handles.
Workers scurried back and forth behind the counter while I admired the niceties behind the glass, touching with fingertips and nose.
Mum paused briefly in her bletherings to tap my hands away, me guiltily looking at my fingerprints left on the glass.
‘Do you want that delivered?’ they would ask.
‘Yes,’ was often the response.
Double-checking the address was merely a courtesy.
Freddie’s cafe followed. Booths with red-vinyled seats back-to-back, filled with mums and kids. Italian ice-cream made from scratch smothered with raspberry sauce, licked till the bowl was clean. Another tsk! from mum.
At 13, I had my first part-time job in this cafe, serving with a smile and pleasure; to be part of a world where chat and good cheer were pervasive.
Those days, a memorial to simplicity.