A river wound its lazy way past what had been a medium sized townhouse in years gone by, a house converted to a modern cafe which nevertheless still retained the impression of antiquity. In the muddy brown water, large, grey-backed fish flicked their tails lazily, searching for food without noticeable enthusiasm amongst the reeds. A variety of small birds chittered and squabbled in the treetops and on the ground, industriously clearing the area of tourist scattered crumbs. It could have been almost any one of a hundred similar places, pretty, popular and probably expensive. A steep cobbled street ran past, surfaced thus to give the long-vanished horse a firm grip on the road in icy weather. The cobbles were new, having been put down only a few months earlier in an effort to keep, or rather to restore, what was felt to be the original character of the area. Motor cars, indeed all traffic larger or more powerful than the ordinary pedal bicycle had been banned from this stretch of road, offering a sort of oasis in the middle of thundering traffic noise.