Well, dear Reader, I do apologise for my tardiness in posting but things have been blissful chaos here of late! Last week was the first week of Jerry’s daily commute back to the Big Smoke and the first week for the girls and I to brave it in the sticks alone. Quite surprisingly, the house, children, puppy and pussycats were all intact at the end of the week. I, however, needed a rather large gin! Trying to get things done in the house has been nigh on impossible, not least because the girls and I have been very distracted by all the sights and sounds around our new digs. Primrose, Poppy and I watched with glee as the combines rattled up the farm track and the fields of rapeseed disappeared. The farmer (a stereotypically grumpy farmer as described by his wife!) must have been rather bemused watching us staring at him at the edge of his field as he carried on with his harvest routine. An incredible thing for two small girls who are used to the hustle and bustle of city living. I still haven’t tired of hearing Poppy whoop with delight and yell “Tractor” from her bird’s eye view of the countryside in the backpack, every time we greet farmland at the top of the bridleway! Pure magic.
I know you are dying to hear all about the village, dear Reader and believe me, it really hasn’t disappointed. I feel like I have walked into a scene from a Jilly Cooper novel most days. Gifts of vegetables continue to flood in from the villagers, offers on cut price game birds and invitations to tea, lunch and drinks parties. I feel more sociable here than I ever did in London. Still waiting to spot Rupert Campbell Black on a sizeable stallion though….!
The local village flower show proved a delight. The entries were suitably charming and the comments were hilarious……clearly a leaf taken from Paul Hollywood’s (Great British Bake Off) textbook of harsh judging. A seriously competitive business and some impressively polished silverware for the mantelpiece at stake. I hear, over the garden gate, that one year, pots of jam were marked down for lacking a doily. I stuffed a rules and regulations handbook into my ridiculously townie-sized tote to give myself necessary ammunition for next year’s show. I am determined to prove that Margot can give the bumpkins a run for their money in the jam stakes.
Monty pup has settled in well but has caused quite a stir with local dogs, landowners and has only just narrowly missed a run in with the gamekeeper. Turns out that he is rather interested in the fat little partridge who taunt him at every turn on our walks. Back to training for us and walks on a long lead for the foreseeable future. God help us when the gamekeeper releases the pheasants…. In the meantime, Monty is happily decimating local wildlife on the doorstep and devoured a live toad last week. WHOLE. I leapt in to intervene but it was too late as I watched it still wriggling as it went down. Deeply distressing but all part of nature as Jerry said when he returned from London to a wailing woman in the kitchen, worrying about karma and whether or not it might have been a prince in disguise.
The house is starting to take shape now and finally we unpacked a few boxes of books and it felt more like home. Dear Anthony Powell was quite right when he said “Books do furnish a room”. Jerry and I really can’t wait to light our first fire and spend our evenings curled up in its warm glow. Our life in the countryside so far seems to suit us well.
Most importantly, I have learned a few lessons in our first couple of weeks here:
1) Monty is not to be trusted off the lead here, no matter how much he gives me his best soppy spaniel face. Farmers, gamekeepers and villagers with large fields and horses do not appreciate a cheeky spaniel.
2) Expect flurries of expectant villagers all dying for a look round the house and….
3) Most importantly, always have biscuits! Seriously. With a hamlet full of folk bearing welcome gifts, biscuits and cups of tea are a necessity here.
Good Lord, I really wish I had taken some baking lessons. I seem to be constantly rushing to the next door village and will be soon know as the shortbread queen by the owners of the shop at this rate!