We walk past the Italian restaurant at the end of our road and the waiter putting out tables, the nice one, waves us a friendly bonjour. I check the road and thank the driver who stops to let us across, steering the pram around the various parts of machinery that the guys working on the train extension have left strewn about.
As I approach the corner pub, the lady who is always either working or drinking there spots us, and comes over 'Eeeeelsie! Eeeeeelsie!' she calls. 'How are you today?' She meets Elsie's solid stare with a smile and remarks on her hair. Again. We move off and wish her a good day. She got a wave from Elsie yesterday, but my little girl doesn't seem to be in the mood today.
We pass the mini supermarket and I look out for the checkout girl but don't see her. Yesterday I left Elsie with Marek to pop in for some cold beers. The shop was full and the girl was stressed. When I said hello, she looked at me and asked where the little one was. 'but I want to see her!' she protested, when I said she was outside. I considered calling Marek to the door but glanced down the long queue and decided the checkout girl would probably survive without her dose of Elsie just this once. She, however, had other ideas. 'I'll be right back Madame' she said to the lady behind me in the queue and skipped outside to where Marek and Elsie were waiting. 'Oooooooooh' she cried, right into Elsie's face. 'You're so mignonne!' as her fingers squeezed and squashed her chubby cheeks. 'I abandoned the queue to see your little girl' she confided to Marek, before giving one last pinch to the highly surprised and slightly amused baby, and running back in.
We continue down the road that leads off the roundabout and as Elsie has started moaning, I decide we can make a little detour and head to the newly renovated garden around the spring statue. As I bring the pram to a halt under a tree, Elsie lets out a little trill of anticipation, and I unbuckle her and sit her on my lap on the bench. For a moment she sits there, looking around her and taking in the plants, trees, sunshine, waiters setting up for the lunch shift and pigeons pecking at the ground. She pulls herself up to standing with a wide grin and I help her get a grip on the back of the bench. She's staring off behind me and I turn to see the man pulling at the cherry tree branches and picking off the fruit. Cunning.
Soon a lady comes up and smiles at Elsie. 'A little boy?' she checks. I smile, and shake my head. 'A girl.' The lady looks put out. 'She looks like a boy. Beautiful eyes.' Elsie uses them to look at her warily, then after a second or two, flashes her a quick smile. 'It's hot for little ones.' the lady says, taking a look at what Elsie is wearing. 'I would put her in the bath this afternoon when it heats up. Play with her little boats and give her an early bath.' I try not to giggle. 'Yes, good idea.' I don't think the lady cares enough to hear about Elsie's eczema and the bathe once every two days advice we've constantly received. 'That's what I'd do anyway' she sniffs, and walks away. I thought it was only Poland where unsolicited advice was bandied about.
I strap Elsie back into the pram and we head off to get our shopping done before lunch.