Just A Dream


It was always a dream of mine, to one day, open my own second-hand bookshop. A shop where people who loved books, could browse at their leisure and enjoy a peaceful interlude and of course, buy some books!

It was late summer and Hub had a job in Silves. It was a restaurant on the edge of town and the owner wanted a partition put in to separate the bar/dining room from the small storeroom at the back. We had to pay a few visits before work was carried out and during a lunch break one day Hub suddenly asked the "patron" what he was using storeroom for. He replied "nothing much". Then, looking at me, Hub asked if he'd consider renting it to us. There was no hesitation as he gave a positive "sim" and said it was ours if we wanted.

To say that I was overjoyed is an understatement! We went round immediately to view my potential shop and found it to be just perfect. I had my own front door and was completely independent of the restaurant area. We shook hands on an agreed weekly rent, equivalent to £25 a week and we all came away well-satisfied.

Back at the workshops we arranged for Carlos to spend some time fitting in good strong shelving units. Then I set to putting ads in shops and newspapers to buy books. I had quite a collection of my own but needed many more.
One day when we'd been to see how Carlos was getting on, we were standing on pavement outside the restaurant, when Hub said to me "What are you going to call it Elle?"
I stared at him, having completely forgotten about that, then looking up towards end of road the shadow of the castle caught my eye and I suddenly said "The Little Crusader"! (O Cruzado Pequeno).

The restaurant owner knew of a local artist and it was soon arranged for him to make the sign up for me. The result was superb. A knight, an English one, painted in grey chain mail with red cross of St George on white tabard against creamy white background. The sign was hung near to restaurant and had broad black arrow pointing round to my little shop.

Within days I had answers to my ads. 3 good positive ones and we arranged to pick up the book collections. The first was from an English woman who lived near Boliqueme. After some time of searching and going back and forth across a level crossing we finally pulled up outside a large old Portuguese house with a bright green painted garage. The plump rosy-cheeked lady welcomed us in "warm Yorkshire vowels" and showed us through to her large back garden. I say garden, but it was more an orchard, filled with lemon, orange and fig trees and a huge peach, hung with ripe golden fruit, sprawled "Espalier" fashion across the south-facing house wall.

No sooner had we sat down to talk, a small dark-haired man emerged from the house carrying a tray of large glasses filled with orangey gold liquid. The lady introduced her husband as he handed us each a glass of the most delicious pure peach juice, made from their handsome fruit tree. The man was Portuguese but spoke excellent English, learnt from his wife, where he'd also picked up a slight "Yorkshire" accent!

We then went to the garage to view the "collection". It amounted to almost 400 books. They were a lifetimes collection of an old friend who'd served for years in British army. I flicked through a few and found them to have come from the four corners of the globe.
We took them to the workshops where it took me a few days to sort and price them. I picked up 2 more loads, one from a young girl in Guia, mostly Mills & Boon, Jackie Collins and another fabulous collection from an American lady which contained some absolute classics. Amongst the old soldiers collection I was delighted to find quite a lot of books in German and Portuguese and when I showed these to Maria she said "I have the books of love in Portuguese. You can have them".

When she brought them round I found that they were the equivalent of our Mills & Boons and offered to buy them. She wouldn't take any money, so I did a deal and she accepted a bottle of her favourite tipple-Vodka!

The next couple of evenings Maria and Carlos worked diligently with me to set the books in place; all in the right section including one for Portuguese readers and one for Germans. Carlos hung the word "open"/aberto" on my "O Cruzado Pequeno" sign and I was ready for business!

On my first day, I was nervous as I sat at the tiny desk just inside the doorway. But I needn't have been. A few loyal friends appeared that first morning and I sat on a chair outside, giving them room and privacy to browse. The following afternoon after school, Jamie turned up with a few mates who eagerly bought some of the science fiction books. I was on my way. Word was getting round and as the weeks went by business gradually increased.

A few months went by and everything was going fine. The bookshop was just beginning to pay for itself and though I was tired fitting it in with my garden work, I was very happy.

I was sitting outside the shop one morning- a few customers were inside looking through the books, when the restaurant owner came round the corner. He stretched out his hand with usual friendly smile but as I shook it he handed me an envelope with the other, then wished me "Bom dia".

I was puzzled as I tore open the envelope. But puzzlement turned to dismay as I read the "bill" amounting to 100,000 esc. At that time equivalent to around £400 pounds! When Hub came to pick me up he went round to ask what the amount was for? Turned out to be deposit and key money. There had never been a mention of this previously and I was devastated. I didn't have £100 to spare, let alone £400! All Hubs money was tied up in the business. We had wages to pay, apartment rent plus Jamies schooling. Hub tried to explain to the restaurant owner, but he wouldnt budge he wanted the money and that was that!

By the end of that week, with Carlos and Marias help we had removed all the books (and my little crusader sign) to the workshops office. Carlos was nearly exploding with anger at the mans treatment and he went round to the shop one evening and removed every bookshelf that he had lovingly built. He brought them back to the office, and set them up once more.
It didn't end there. Maria told me that they returned to the restaurant one evening. Told the owner what they thought of him and said they wouldn't use the place ever again. Which they never did!

I was able to sell the books from the office. But it was never the same. My "dream" had begun and ended in 3 short months and when I look back now, that is how I see it. Just a dream.

Of course I'd loved to have had my shop in my home town of Lagoa. To me, that would truly have been a dream come true!