1st February marked St Brigid’s feast day (patron saint of cattle, chicken farmers and dairy maids to name a few) and the beginnings of early spring. Time to leave winter behind and embrace the coming of a new season. Rain gods – hope you are listening up there? 1st February was also a milestone for us: six months of living in the countryside, dear Reader. Strange to think that it has been six months since we shut the door of our tiny railway worker’s cottage with a SW postcode and left the Big Smoke. London seems a distant memory these days and it is difficult to imagine that we could live anywhere else now. Visiting our dear friends Minty and Tree up in Oxfordshire made me realise how much time it can take to settle into the ways of village life. Sometimes it can be very hard to get used to. Minty is an out and outright townie and misses the wandering of high streets and the buzz of city life, whereas Tree seems quite at home. Perhaps it is because the one at home has to work so much harder to fit in to a new way of life and establish new friends? I almost envied Jerry’s commute in the beginning, so I can sympathise with the serious amount of energy required and having to summon up the effort to join in and find one’s niche in the local community. Embracing it wholeheartedly is the thing, dear Reader and I can report that village life is never dull here with people always popping in to say hello. I am still getting used to the fact that a knock at the door is usually followed by the visitor coming in and yelling up the stairs for me if I am not in the kitchen!
With shooting season over, our little corner of Hampshire is beginning to show signs of spring appearing – that St Brigid must definitely have something to do with that. Pockets of snowdrops have appeared and villagers have insisted on us visiting nearby woodland to see the snowy white flowers appear in a patch planted up in a guerrilla gardening raid by one of the village elders some years ago. Gardening is well and truly on the agenda for Jerry and I too and we have begun the mammoth task of transforming our own cottage garden. Trees have been cut down, shrubs removed and now, the garden looks more like a building site than a tranquil plant haven. Years of jungle growth had left the dear old cottage will little light coming through its windows and a garden that Primrose and Poppy couldn’t run around in. So continue to dig we must. I am not sure I have ever seen myself as filthy as when digging in the flowerbeds. Jerry talked of hiring a rotivator…..but to be honest, dear Reader, can you imagine that machine in the hands of townies like Jerry and I? Bet the village would turn out to see us getting it all wrong! As it is, our neighbours have had to replace a dilapidated fence along our boundary because Monty has been hopping over to relieve himself on their lawn. There can’t be a household in the village that hasn’t giggled at the chaos that has descended on the old cottage in the village in the last six months.
Marking our six months of rural living was a wonderful and long overdue visit from the fabulous Tom and Barbara with our darling godson. There was wine, wine and more wine followed by talk of their smallholding and new business ventures. I admire their spirit of adventure! Tom and Barbara have well and truly embraced all things country with 4 hens, 2 pigs, a new business, 2 dogs, renovating a farmhouse and plans for so much more. I’m not sure Jerry and I are ready for that much of the good life quite yet but I think that we are a long way from the townies that arrived all those months ago. Barbara’s description of our village still has me in stitches, thinking of it even now: “It’s like Midsomer, without the murders!” I suppose it is in some ways but then I always did like a bit of drama.
Despite all our calamities, we continue to welcome in our own version of country living here and have even been invited to join the Parish council! The vicar triumphantly bellowing something about inviting the young people to give their tuppence worth. I am not sure that the dear Reverend has any idea what he is letting himself in for….Margot….on the PARISH council….oh dear. They’ll be asking me to become a church warden next…..now that would never sit with my gin soak reputation, would it dear Reader?!