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.


Filed under Uncategorized

115 responses to “Strangers?

  1. Such a lovely story, thank you for sharing your experiences with us! If I’m ever in Virginia, I’ll be sure to check it out! What a great way to make new friends! It’s amazing how quickly strangers can become pals, if we can only find the spark to connect!

  2. Sounds like a fantastic weekend. Where is Irvington? I noticed it’s in the Richmond area code. I live in James City County (suburban Williamsburg). Do you still live in the area? sd

    • It was great! I now live in Alexandria VA, but am from Richmond. My extended family still has the cottage on the bay which is about 7 or 8 miles from Irvington. Do you know where White Stone VA is? If you’re near Williamsburg then from I-64 you’d use the West Point exit. It’s in that direction.

  3. This place looks lovely! I must go there one day on one of my random VA trips. Great story. You have a keen eye of observation and a great talent for story telling!

  4. Paul

    Very cool Stuart.

    • Paul

      I find the behavior of the B&B owners familiar. Some people are natural at talking to strangers and I call them honeybees. They flit from person to person taking a bit from each and leaving a bit so they pollinate the group and discussion. People who do this are naturals at building relationships and at inspiring businesses by breaking down silos (closed groups who do not associate outside the group – like sales versus engineering vs operations,etc).

  5. I love your writer’s voice, vivid and drawing your readers into the room.

    I would love to have the talent of the B&B owners. Though introverted to the core, I recognize such beauty in the gift of hospitality that fosters new relationships and connection.


  6. I love the Hope and Glory! And your story is so true, not only about the guests sharing conversations but also about Peggy and Dudley! For you dog owners, Cottage 4 accepts pups!

  7. It is a lovely gift to open humanity’s kindness, wherever or whenever

  8. TheMoonLitHowl

    There is something about Virginia….Years ago when my husband (now ex), my children, and I vacationed around and in Williamsburg, we were blown away by how friendly everyone is. Seriously considered moving there! That said, while touring Williamsburg and surrounding areas, we met one family on a home tour that were also from the Atlanta area. We ran into them every single day we were in town. If we were leaving a tourist site they were arriving, and vice versa. It was pretty funny. Of course, we never saw them again, either. Looks like a beautiful place where you stayed.

    Oh, and I LOVE that the show Turn: Washington’s Spies is filmed in and around Williamsburg!

  9. Your experience is so similar to mine when I stay at a bed&breakfast. thought of all the conversations at the tables and the smiles and waves good-bye when leaving.

  10. Lovely story and such an accurate description of how strangers can meet and end up friends. One never knows who they will meet at breakfast.

  11. I am guessing you are a morning person. I don’t want to see anyone but my dogs til 2 cups of coffee kick in. Enjoyed the story.

  12. I think there is a special kind of person who appreciates the mood of a B&B. From your many stories, you seem to be one of those. Enter as strangers, leave as friends. Lovely. ❤️

  13. I’ve always wanted to travel to Virginia and then along the East Coast, maybe Martha’s Vineyard. I’m 58 now, so hoping that soon I will be able to do this. I’d love to see the East in the fall. It must be a magnificent beauty that comes to your part of the world at that time of the year. Thanks for sharing.

  14. What a great recommendation. I love the line, “Conversations dwindled as we began to eat, but cracks had formed in that initial awkwardness.” Thanks for sharing. Now I know where to go if I get to VA. 🙂

  15. It is interesting how people act around strangers.

  16. That’s a great review! I felt connected to the essence of the place, to the other guests, and to Peggy and Dudley. You got me interested and wanting to stay there!

  17. I was nodding all the way through. Your writing had the ability to make me picture the scene in my head. Once when we were in Malaysia, our boys came out of the toilet with great excitement and chuckle and asked for the camera. They’ve seen a notice/post on the wall that warranted a quick snap. It was a “Do not” rule post. Do not wash the vegetables in the sink, do not wash your feet in the sink.. etc. My eldest spurted out “mum it says don’t wash vegies in the sink”, I think there was a hint of the Aussie accent, but the vegies made the guy standing next to us turn around and he went ” are you guys from Australia” Even with the brown skin the accent and the use of word “veggie”, made tare down the wall “stranger”. We chatted for awhile. Talked about which state we came from and the foot ball team we supported. We parted as friends or at least not strangers.

  18. I stayed in Hostels in Europe in the early 80’swhile on a school sanctioned, but not funded by, summer trip. I met so many people in that month. Once the ice was broken we discovered we are not so different one from another.
    Enjoyed the post. Many memories surfaced.

  19. Such vivid narration of the ways of the humans. I thoroughly enjoyed the simple but deep portrayal of the wayfarers in a dining room.

  20. I think you did, in fact, write the perfect review. One of the reasons I’ve never stayed at a B&B is the idea of having to share meals with total strangers. But you make it sound like an experience even I could enjoy.

  21. Well, my goodness, Stuart, I think you’ve changed my mind about never staying in a B&B after my children and I stayed at the B&B from H-e-double-hockey-sticks somewhere along Michigan’s sunset coast. The grumpy spinster hid the TV remote from my adult son when he took a bathroom break, told two delightful little girls to finish their Cheerios because it was wasteful, and bragged about the breakfast casserole she had scraped together from “yesterday’s leftovers” to keep her expenses down! Your delightful and well-written experience just might be enough to help me take the plunge again. Thanks, Stuart!

  22. Reading this brought to mind a lovely B & B in Pennsylvania. I was nervous my first time but ended up feeling totally at home. It is almost like staying at the home of cherished friends. Thanks for sharing.

  23. So true! Something similar happens on group tours. We come as strangers and leave as friends. Loved the piece!

  24. I do know one truth. All man-faced people have on pristine parents. After the great deluge Noah’s three children & their wives, in about three thousand years, have given birth to over seven billion humans, all traced to Noah who is traced to Adam and great Grandma Eve. But for the sake of social safety that calls for grave caution, who is a stranger to who, actually?

  25. Beautiful imagery. People are fascinating creatures. There’s nothing I love more than sitting back and observing (to the discomfort of some at times 🙂 )

  26. robjodiefilogomo

    What a great way to observe the situation—we’ve been to a bed & breakfast many times, and you really showed how it is!!

  27. lisaorchard1

    Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us!

  28. When we moved from Upstate New York to coastal North Carolina, I came first several months before my husband. I used my daughter’s home in Raleigh and traveled through the 19 counties in the Collaborative I joined as Exec. I stayed frequently at the Captain’s Quarters in Edenton, (the first colonial capital of NC) an came to love it and the innkeepers, Don and Diane Perrisault. Like your experience at the Hope and Glory, I met many people as i traveled and Don and Diane especially helped none of us be strangers. Lucky for me, my husband found a job here in Edenton and now we live in this charming little historic place, just a block from the Captain’s Quarters…and became real friends with them. Really well written piece! Jo

  29. Micha

    It nice to see that people can be nice to each other. And I always like a story of “the world is a small place”. It is strange and yet endearing to find people that you share acquaintances, high schools, hometowns and other things with, miles away from home.

  30. Ok, Stuart, The Hope and Glory is now on my bucket list! Are you sure you are not a psychologist? Such a short, simple story yet full of profound lessons around the mysteries of human behavior. As always, thank you for the added sunshine to my day!

  31. As always, an inspiring read.

  32. Love the voice! I appreciate little coincidences like that… meeting someone from your hometown thousands of miles away. Great post!

  33. Reblogged this on Perth Words… exploring possibilities. and commented:
    Great ad for Irvington. 🙂

  34. Pingback: Strangers? — Storyshucker – Notables

  35. It’s interesting how people are the same everywhere.Great post and thanks much for the follow

  36. Kaypius

    Hi..i am from India and spent some time in the Chesapeake area while on attachment to Navair, Lexington Park. I stayed in Days Inn and was a regular visitor to the Chesapeake Bay and the neighbourhood of the most peaceful and beautiful homes!
    Lovely read, thank you for sharing!

  37. I always find it amazing how much people are alike all over the world. Yet there is so much hatred against others. People with other believes, other religions, other skin colour, other lovers, etc.. But we are all people with the same needs; to be loved, to be respected. If only everybody could visit this B&B…

  38. This is beautiful!
    I love the flow!
    And how little conversations can lead to great adventures!
    Wish you many such stories to unfold before us!
    Keep up the great work!

  39. The characters in all your stories have the best kind of universal interactions. As readers, we cannot help relate to them and be drawn in. 😀 Wonderful story and fabulous reading.

  40. Part of what I love about traveling are the shared experiences. People from completely different backgrounds enjoying the journey. thanks for your perspective, it puts beautifully the joy of conversation.

  41. Mary Jordan

    Thank you again for the beautiful sharing – you truly embrace the ordinary and reveal its magic….

  42. This made me smile.

  43. Stuart, your story was awesome. I haven’t traveled to places like that for a long time. It’s amazing how the beauty of that experience resonates in locales around the globe. It makes you want to get out of the room and away from the TV. Your writing is sharp and soft, ebullient but not showy. I have only one constructive comment. The “A weekend of relaxation and fun . . .” line is not needed. If the reader doesn’t grasp that information by that point, he or she is not going to get it. You write in a way that I can not, and that is one of the reasons that I enjoyed reading this piece. Peace out.

  44. What a wonderful story I love the way you all interacted with each other and in some cases, even extended invitations for others to join parties. The owners sound a wonderful couple who are the perfect hosts 🙂

  45. Thanks for taking me with you to Virginia. I’d never been there. Shall have to put it on my bucket list. Keep writing. Muriel

  46. You made the Inn sound so inviting. That is one beautiful piece of the country and now I have another reason to visit. Thanks for posting.

  47. Starting out strangers and then miraculously, over a cup of coffee and smiles, becoming friends even if just for a weekend. Lovely. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s