Former City Girl columnist for The London Paper has moved to the country and in her new column she swaps her satirical, tongue-in-cheek Tales from the City, for warm and witty Tales from the Village ….
I didn’t really know what to expect when I first moved to the country. Of course, I knew there would be fields, lots of fields, and cows and the sweet sound of birdsong at the crack of dawn, and sheep … all of the sheep in my garden, or so it seems.
Our very first morning in the Oast and QT squealed in delight when a very muddy-bottomed sheep came trundling towards her down the garden path. Inevitably, this sheep now has a name, Dolly Poo-Bottom, which may sound charming, in a whimsical, Famous Five Go Rambling sort of way, but it also means that lamb is off the menu, because it’s really hard to hand-feed grass to a sheep loitering by your back door, and to then saunter into the village pub only a few feet away and tuck into the roast lamb dinner, with all the trimmings. My brain just can’t banish the image of Dolly’s little face surrounded by a puff of white wool, plus QT shrieking, ‘but you can’t eat Dolly Poo-Bottom,’ is very hard to ignore without feeling like the most heartless mummy in the whole wide world. So, that’s something I didn’t expect … to give up eating lamb, and I suspect it could be the first step to me becoming a vegetarian, given that I’ve also spotted a herd of big brown-eyed, black and white splodged cows in the field just down the lane ….
But what I also didn’t expect to find when I moved to the country was the warm welcome from the villagers. It’s true that everyone says, ‘hello’ in the country, and not just, ‘hello’. I’ve been asked allsorts – ‘where have I come from?’ ‘Do I have any chickens?’ Do I want some chickens?’ Do I have a dog?’ If so, ‘there’s a gap next to the five bar gate in the field opposite the pub where everyone goes to walk their dogs’. ‘Am I going eat all the apples from the trees in the front section of my garden’, and, ‘do I mind if they help themselves to the blackberries on the hedgerow that runs along the back?’, because they, ‘always have and there really is plenty to go around.’
My first trip to the shop in the village ended up taking best part of a morning after I got chatting to the cosy, bun-shaped, slipper-wearing elderly lady behind the counter, who asked if I had, ‘moved into Maureen’s bungalow’. I have no idea who Maureen is, but I’m quite certain she didn’t live in my house before me, because it isn’t a bungalow, it’s an Oast, which sounds very grand, but it really isn’t, it’s just like any other country cottage, except that some of the rooms are round. Anyway, being the nosey author that I am, I was instantly intrigued to know more about Maureen and her bungalow.
So that is how I came to find out about poor Maureen, a much-loved, life-long village stalwart, who died last year, all alone at the grand old age of ninety, because she had no family left and she, ‘never liked a fuss’ and was, ‘collecting her eggs from the hen house right until she took her last breath, and everyone knows this because poor Maureen was found by her neighbour, having a little rest in the armchair by the Aga … with the fresh, mud and feather-splattered eggs, still warm in the basket clutched in her hand.
Sounds to me like Maureen was a country girl to the very end and I half wish that we had bought her bungalow after all, as I imagine it has a lifetime of memories wrapped within it’s walls ….