Toys for Boys
Alpha nerd Will Charles teams up with Caridoc ‘Doc’ Jones in a coast to coast walk across England reviewing outdoor gift suggestions for the Christmas edition of Toys for Boys—an online magazine dedicated to the latest gadgets to tickle a man’s fancy. Will is recording their adventures with the latest smart phone technology. Doc is reviewing the latest outdoor gear. The two quickly discover the great outdoors provides even better toys for boys, toys best shared al fresco, toys that, in spite of Will’s great camera work, will never be reviewed in Toys for Boys.
Note: Toys for Boys has been previously published as part of the Brit Boys: With Toys boxed set.
“I really am sorry, lads,” the proprietress at the Keld Lodge said, “but I’ve only a tiny single room available which, due to health and safety, I can’t rent as a double.”
“God, I really don’t want to spend another night in that leaky tent,” the dark-haired bloke was barely understandable between chattering teeth. “There must be something else close by.”
“Not within easy walking distance,” the proprietress said. “I can let you put up the tent around the back,” she offered. “You can even use the showers and the drying room for your wet gear. Of course stay inside by the fire as long as you like.”
The weather had been abysmal when I arrived the night before on a short writing and walking retreat. It was worse today, so I’d spent my time ensconced in the pub’s restaurant at a table by the window looking out onto the misty Yorkshire Dales. It was mid afternoon when the two drenched, bedraggled lads slogged through the door, bringing with them a gust of icy, wet wind. I had just come to the bar to order a pot of tea and, as I stood quietly in the queue behind them, I noticed the blond casting worried glances at his shivering companion.
“Walking the Coast to Coast?” I asked.
“We are,” the dark-haired bloke replied. “Though I’m pretty sure we swam most of it today.”
“You taking the high level route through the mining ruins tomorrow?” I asked.
They both nodded. “Supposed to be sunny,” the blond replied. “Three days of bad weather and last night the tent sprung a leak. We were hoping for a hot meal and a real bed tonight.”
“I’m truly sorry, lads,” the proprietress said. “I wish I could help.”
I’m not sure what inspired me to make the offer, perhaps memories of the times I’d walked cold and wet, but more than likely it was simply because I’m a hopeless romantic and I recognised that the two men were more than just mates out for an adventure.
“Look, why don’t you take my room for the night? I’m on my own and I have a nice double until the end of the week. I can take the single, and then we can switch back tomorrow. Wouldn’t that work?” I asked the proprietress.
“I don’t see why not,” came the reply. “I’ll sort it with housekeeping, and you can work out the details among yourselves.”
“It has a bath and lots of hot water,” I said, recalling what a pleasure an actual bathtub was after a long, cold walk.
“Oh God, you’re a saint,” the dark-haired one said, offering me a blinding smile between chattering teeth.
Still thanking me profusely, they introduced themselves as Will Charles—the dark-haired lad with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen, and Doc Jones—the blond with a lovely Welsh lilt in his rich, baritone voice. They helped me switch my meagre belongings to the smaller room. Then I returned to my table and my tea. I couldn’t help wondering what their story was and just what they might get up to in that deep tub and on that nice bouncy bed. Quite the coincidence that I was here because I had agreed to write a story for the Brit Boys: With Toys anthology and, with the deadline bearing down on me, I was still drawing a blank, but with Doc and Will’s arrival, I suddenly felt inspired.
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