When Lyn and Geoff Porteus wanted a holiday in the past they handed their store in Hampshire over to a couple from Manchester. “We found them through the Subpostmasters’ Federation,” says Lyn, “and they were happy to come here for four years.”
However, the busman’s holiday in the pretty village on the outskirts of Andover came to a sad end for the Mancunian couple when one died and the other couldn’t face the memories. Lyn wanted to know whether I knew anyone who might fancy two weeks with accommodation. I have a very sketchy list of would-be relief people – a fellow who doesn’t go beyond the M25, a couple covering the South West and Wales, and the Gough brothers in Scotland who specialise in CTN and c-store cover and who venture as far down as the Midlands. I once had a couple who covered the entire country, but that came to grief after an incident involving rather a lot of alcohol.

Lyn and Geoff lost the post office element of their business recently and have been looking at ways of making up the deficit, but Lyn admits it’s a struggle. The couple have run the 500sq ft licensed store for 31 years.

“So, we are stale,” adds Lyn, “to be honest we probably need a good boot. A few people, just a few, have said they would buy organic and we’ve found some local suppliers, so we’re looking at that.”

There are no staff to worry about. The store trades from 7am to 6pm (selling only counter news, so no deliveries to handle) and closes for an hour for lunch and on Sundays.

Winchester and Salisbury are nearby – if I’m starting to sound like a travel brochure then, fine, it might do the job of persuading someone looking for a change of scenery for a fortnight.

You can either ring me, and I’ll add you to my contacts, or ring Geoff direct on 01264 363361.