13. Village life.
I live in what is one of the largest villages in the country, and quite possibly the world. In the States, or Canada, we would definitely be a town. But we LIKE being a village. People talk to each other. People walk to the centre of the village - the Square. Mind you, if anything was less like a square, I have yet to find it. A triangle is probably more apt.
But it is the Square. Old and ancient buildings like it, and in the late afternoon sunlight in autumn or spring, the old stone glows so warmly. There are some thatched cottages, and there are sweet little shops, where you have to bend to get in the doors. The Infant and Junior schools are in the centre of the village, with the 4 churches. Anglican - up on the hill with the tower over 1000 years old - the Baptist, Methodist and Catholic. And so is the library. And the shops.
There are societies and clubs, and meetings, and classes, and tennis and bowls, and football or cricket. There are allotments, and growing competitions, and estate agents, and photographers, and a supermarket, corner shops, hairdressers, beauticians, doctors, and dentists. Alternative therapies, choirs, orchestras, and dancing classes - ballet, keep fit and line dancing.
Brownies, Guides, Beavers, Scouts, Cubs, Rainbows. Meals on Wheels, Lunch clubs for the elderly. Butcher, sweet shop, electrical shop, garden and kitchen shop. Gift shops and chemists. Places for tea and lunch. Take aways of all description, and our own village magazine too for good measure. Florists, fancy dress costume shop and undertakers.
I have shown you photos of our annual Carnival, and Carols in the Square. But what you don't see from the photos is the essence of Village Life. This morning, we went to the Traidcraft (Fair Trade) coffee morning at the Hall, and the opening of the Christmas shop, which is staffed by volunteers till Christmas. We sat and chatted to people who popped in for a cup of coffee and cake, and browsed among the books which you can take for a donation. Bring a bag and take a bag. Recycling in the best way. I chatted to a lady who told me she has lived in the village all her life and in the same house she and her husband moved into when they married 60 years ago. She knew everyone and everything which had happened here, and she also remembers exactly when I moved here, and that David was a babe in arms. How he used to race round the church during services. That is the village life I love. Where you are recognised and where you have a place.
The butcher makes and delivers hot meals to people stuck at home. There is a Village Help Scheme where retirees offer to transport people to doctors or hospitals when needed. There is a recreation ground, called the Rec, where there is a playground for little kids, a skateboard ramp, and play equipment for older kids. And a basketball court. The Rec also hosts the dog training classes, and playscheme in the summer.
This is England, so there is the WI - the Women's institute - remember Calendar Girls? And I am just scratching the surface here. Playgroups, nursery, martial arts, badminton....... the list goes on. All within walking distance. Full of people who grin, and who love living here. Tobogganing on the farmer's field in winter.
I grew up in a huge city, and I loved it. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it has a host of natural atractions which would be hard to beat. But that was then, and this is now, and this suits me.
It is a good place to live, among people who are my friends. The annual Christmas Card Village stroll is comign up soon.... no-one posts cards in the village. We all take to the streets with our stacks of cards, and walk round delivering them all through the slots in the doors. Bumping into others on the same mission, and laughter in the air.
Village life........ I am thankful I live in this place.