It was early morning when we stepped quietly into the cozy dining area of the bed and breakfast. A quick glance told us we were first, so we took a seat at one of the several small tables arranged intimately throughout the room. Soon other guests trickled in and sat where they liked, usually leaving the empty “buffer” table between themselves and those already seated. A few “good morning” nods were traded but no one spoke. We were, after all, strangers.

Each table solemnly eyeballed the others to see just who chance had decided they spend that particular weekend with. No one in the room knew the other guests, but by luck of the draw and an online reservation we were about to share breakfast. Bad hair, puffy eyes, and all. It’s an awkward silence that wins as strangers size up one another.

That silence was broken when the friendly owners burst from the kitchen. With genuine smiles they floated gracefully from one table to the next informing each of the breakfast menu, asked how we slept, and were sincerely interested in our plans for the day. As they spurred on discussion at one table, another listened in, and then another. In their wake, the owners effortlessly seeded conversations between tables which grew through breakfast.

Though brief and somewhat formal, as conversations between strangers generally are, we all slowly began to open up. Where are you from? Where do you work? What will you do while here? Suggestions from one table spilled over to the next which prompted ideas from another which resulted in recommendations from one more. Conversations dwindled as we began to eat, but cracks had formed in that initial awkwardness. Still, when breakfast was over, we parted ways to go separately into the day. We were, after all, still strangers.

The next morning’s breakfast shaped up a little differently. “Good morning” nods were replaced by the real thing called across the room. People sat beside each other to compare notes on the previous day’s adventures and “buffer” tables ceased to exist. Conversations were lively as common experiences were discussed. Oh you went there too? We must have just missed you! Where are you going today? Several invitations were offered to join in another’s day or perhaps meet for dinner. The awkwardness had vanished.

People who otherwise would have never crossed paths met in that cozy dining room as strangers. Conversations ultimately revealed the cities and states each had traveled from to be there. One woman, I learned, was from my own hometown. We talked about our high schools, how things had changed over the years, and wondered how many times we’d probably crossed paths on the streets around home. Yet, the one and only conversation we were likely to ever have took place miles away from home in that dining room over breakfast. A weekend of relaxation and fun was surprisingly enhanced, for all of us, because of a few chance conversations over breakfast.

In the end, none were strangers.

Stuart M. Perkins



As a special note: The bed and breakfast was The Hope and Glory Inn in Irvington, Virginia. I couldn’t write a proper review even if that were my intention – so I won’t try here. I enjoy watching what goes on around me, seeing stories unfold, and telling them in my own words. That’s what my blog is about.

In this case I watched unfold the story of a group of strangers who became, through the power of simple conversation, friends for a weekend. Conversations that were often initiated, always encouraged, and certainly made more entertaining by the participation of the owners of The Hope and Glory Inn, Peggy and Dudley Patteson. I’m not sure a friendlier or more down to earth pair exists!

I’m from Virginia and my extended family has ties to the Irvington area that started before I was born, so I’ve spent a lot of time on the Chesapeake Bay. Some of my blog posts center around family time there. The Hope and Glory Inn has a long history. That history, combined with the obvious beauty of the place, first prompted my interest to stay there even though it was just down the road from the family cottage where I’ve spent many happy vacations. So glad I did.

Rather than repeat all that I love about the Inn, the area, and the people, I’m attaching the Inn’s link below. It’s so much more than a bed and breakfast and Peggy and Dudley are happy, and certainly able, to point guests in proper directions so they’ll not miss what that beautiful part of Virginia has to offer.

Or you just might learn all you need to know over breakfast.



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115 responses to “Strangers?

  1. Sarmad Tanvir

    This is very nice. Hello by the way. You had previously been following my blog but unfortunately I had deleted it. But now I post my poetry and quotations on my site “”. Kindly give it a visit and I believe you will enjoy it. 🙂

  2. Karen

    Another great story

  3. I’m interested in your warmly talking morning as a start of day !

  4. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now and you became one of my early followers, my goal this Summer is to visit the blogs of my followers and say “hello”. I enjoyed reading your post, it brought back some good travel memories and you are right, if we take the time to get to know “the other”, we quickly stop being strangers!

  5. fashionariablog

    Fantastic. Just like reading a movie. You truly are made just for writing. Keep doing it.

  6. fashionariablog

    Fantastic. Just like reading a movie. You truly are made for writing.

  7. Virginia has been on my to do list. Having a starting point is very nice. Lovely post.

  8. amarriott1011

    Last October my mother and I went to Irvington for a Long Weekend. We stayed at the Tides and had one of the best times. It is such a lovely place. I found myself reading your story and wondering if I knew the B&B you spoke of, and sure enough I remember seeing it, and in fact visited the winery on its website. Thank you for sharing such a kind story, probably one of the best reviews I’ve ever read, I will be sure to look into staying there the next time I visit!

    • Thanks for the comment. Yes, the whole area is a great place to visit and I’ve been to the winery too, of course! I know the Tides Inn also, but for me the Hope & Glory just has the feel I really enjoy. Thanks again !

  9. Reinforces my love of breakfast.

  10. I had a similar experience but ziplining in Costa Rica. For a day, a group of us became fast friends. But alas, strangers again when it ended.

  11. A very lucid and lovely story telling. A very simple thought so strongly delivered. Grrrrttttt….

  12. I SO enjoyed this! Simple, well written and entertaining all in one!!

  13. A @ moylomenterprises

    Lovely story (as always).
    Glad you had a nice time.

  14. Pingback: Saturday 7 – Space, Time, and Raspberries

  15. Thanks for sharing this story. I’ve experienced it many times in my travels, how dialogue opens between strangers and these strangers evolve into fellow travelers with a shared experience. I’m familiar with Irvington but I’ve never been to this inn. We may have to check it out for a weekend getaway. 🙂

  16. You’ve really captured what is magical about traveling – making new friends, no matter how brief the friendship.

  17. Strangers are no strangers. Actually we didn’t meet at right time right place. Its a link which connect us. A small incident.
    I was born and brought up in capital of India New Delhi. My mother was born in small village in himachal Pradesh. My mother expired in 1969. We rarely go to village. Afterthe death
    Of my mother in 80’s I visited the village and
    Sitting in small sweet shop sipping a cup of tea. On another corner one shabby old guy puffing a bidi and staring at me as if to say something. I couldn’t avoid him. He is looking like a beggar. I said do you wanna say something to me. He came and sat on my steps and said “Are you Shakuntla’s son, I m sure that your mother name is Shakuntla’s.” I was stunned. This whole village don’t know who am I. Even my near relatives in the village didn’t recognized me. And I said how you recognize me. He said “your features”.
    The shop keeper said he is a Bag piper of this
    Village. He used play some tune through his flute/bag piper earn some money to make both ends meet. Now no one is interested.
    I was so stunned. I couldn’t hold my tears.
    So at that moment what ever I can do I did that. At that moment whatever help I would do is precious to me. No one ever can bring that moment of joy to me

  18. You have a lovely style of writing. I’m enjoying your posts very much.

  19. I love the concept of your blog! This is my first time dropping in, but I’ve always felt that the world needs more storytellers. Thank you for sharing!

  20. What a great story! You add interesting details like the buffer table which make it so “relatable” (is that even a word?) as we have all probably seen that but it has not registered in our consciousness.

  21. Thank you, Stuart, for a beautifully told story. I follow several blogs but yours is one I always visit when I am notified of a new post. You make the small things of life so vibrant and worthy of notice. I can relate to all you write. Thank you for pointing out the events in life we tend to consider insignificant. Who knows what those strangers, who became friends for a while, may remember from your encounter – and how they may be changed by it. Life is full of ‘chance meetings’ that come together to make us who we are. Keep writing – you make a difference in our lives when we read your posts. God bless you

    • Thanks! That’s about the best compliment I could receive. You’re so right that all of our little experiences come together to make us who we are just as much as the occasional big ones. Thank you again.

  22. sheetalspage

    Loved it… That’s how I met a lot of my current close friends, through being strangers at the bus depot from where our trek would start.. and after all we were all strangers when it all started.

  23. stepbystep

    Thanks for your article… it’s a nice one 🙂
    I’m looking for help on a relationship situation.. if you think you can help…
    I’m having a dilemma (do I break my engagement or not) and I really need an advice…
    If you can stop by and let me know what you think about the situation it would be really nice ❤
    (the last article: everything is falling apart)

  24. First of all, thank you for following my blog. Hope that you will like some of the posts I have written.

    What an interesting experience you got there! But it reminds me of life itself. It is common that we are mostly strangers to one another. It is instances like this that bond and made us connected.

  25. Deb

    This is a great story. It works as a different kind of review.

  26. I LOVE ice breakers! That bed and breakfast owner sounds like a cool guy. This is a wonderful example of how small connections can make a larger impact on our interactions with those we encounter. Thank you for sharing!

  27. Beautifully written. It’s a true gift to enable people to make connections. Sitting at breakfast in a strange place can be a miserable and embarassing experience, Peggy and Dudley sound like an amazing pair! What a compliment to them your story is.

  28. Lovely posts, Storyshucker! Thanks for the follow.

  29. Great tale. We love B&Bs — in France even better when they offer evening meals and you sit together with others over dinner and wine. Thanks for becoming a http://talesand follower..

  30. Enjoyed your blog. It is always interesting to meet new people. B & B’s offer that unique opportunity when we dine with others and are forced to stretch out of our comfort zone in this tech-conversational world in which we live where we seldom make eye contact with others anymore. How sad it seems that we feel so awkward around others. We miss so much by not having face to face conversations. Thanks for the reminder. Thanks also for following my blog. .

  31. That’s exactly how it is! I love this! I notice that when staying at an inn like this, people are awkward at first, but they part as friends a few days later.

    It looks like a great place to stay. I’ll have to check it out if I’m ever in the area. Thanks!

  32. So true 😊. There’s something refreshing yet awkward about finding out other people also have “bad hair and puffy eyes”. Nicely written. Thanks for following my blog.

  33. It is always a pleasure to read your blogs. Thank you for sharing . 🙂

  34. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I really enjoy it. Wishing you all the best.

  35. Years ago, when cruise ships were much smaller, we sat at assigned tables with the same folks every night, and the same “stranger-walls” crumbled with the inevitable conversations and shared experiences. Miss that camaraderie with interesting new friends. Won’t sail on a ship with thousands of passengers now, but we’ll have to get into the B&B world to get that same feeling again. Lots of really nice folks to meet out there.

  36. We stayed in a B&B near Lynchburg, Tennessee when I was expecting our baby, and the other couple there was also expecting.

    It’s been over 10 years, and I wonder what ever happened to that couple. Did they have a boy? girl? And so on.

    It’s funny that my mom, dau, and I never meet a “stranger.” We’re such social butterflies.

    Keep up the great stories, Stuart!

  37. I absolutely adore this! Thank you!

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