NOT FAR from where I live, there is a small bank of shops. All of them are independently owned and operated and everyone is friendly and welcoming when you go in. There’s a dress shop, a newsagent, a butchers.. but my absolute favourite is the bakery.
The bakery is quite tiny and often very crowded, especially on a Saturday morning. Whilst the produce is super fresh and baked daily, I think the reason people keep coming back is because of the proprietor. I know that’s certainly it for me. The bakery is run by an amazing Cambodian woman, easily the friendliest, nicest person I’ve ever met. She’s there from before 6 in the morning and doesn’t close up until 6 at night. It’s always warm and welcoming in the shop and we love it in there.
The proprietor has a welcoming hello for everyone who goes into her shop and she pretty much calls everyone “darling”. She let’s me practice my French with her, her accent is flawless, mine is appalling. She calls me gorgeous everytime I go in there and once she told me I was very beautiful and photogenic. She does not believe I am Australian, instead insisting that I must have European blood somewhere in my family to look the way I do. She may be right about the European blood, but I think perhaps her eyesight has become slightly impaired after starting work so early each morning because, I’m not being modest but believe me when I tell you, I’m not quite the beauty she proclaims.
I’ve been frequenting this establishment since I moved here seven months ago. The bakery lady (as the kids call her) knows that we only eat wholemeal bread and she only makes this on weekdays, so she reminds me to stock up! Recently she pointed out that she’d never met my husband. I smiled and told her I’m not married. She seemed baffled. “I’m divorced” I clarified. She looked stricken! I had to reassure her that it’s been nearly nine years and I am perfectly happy. I had to repeat this twice before she smiled uncertainly and said okay. I would have gone on to tell her that being divorced has seen me go to university, get two degrees, get a job that I love and make a whole new raft of friends I’d never have found if I’d stayed married. But my 10 year old daughter was with me so I’ll think I’ll save that information for another time.
Not only is this woman generous with her kindness she is also generous with her produce. There have been times when I’ve raced in close to closing time only to have her slip an extra bun in with my purchases. Last night when we dropped in she gave us three iced pink cupcakes (see above, so very delicious), half a dozen wholemeal rolls and two huge wedges of lamington cake. Ms 10 was thrilled! I was taken aback. For this huge amount of food I paid the princely sum of just $2. When I protested it was too much, she flapped her hand at me and said she would only be throwing it out anyway, so I may as well take it.
I just love this new little community of mine and even though there are definitely drawbacks as there are any place, I feel so lucky to have been able to move here and meet people like this. The unending positivity and pleasantness of the local baker never fails to put me in a good mood and hopefully that’s something I can pass on to others who cross my path each day.