Monday, 29 November 2010

Monday 29th November

Greetings to anyone who is still out there, from this small village.
While I haven’t completely forgiven Verity for being rather blunt with me last week, I suppose I have come round to the idea that people don’t want to read about me ranting about parking charges in the nearby towns.  Mind you, if they started charging for parking here, there’d be a bit of a riot!
It’s been quite a busy week since I last wrote, quite a lot of it not taking place in the village, so I won’t bore you with the details.  However, one entertaining item has occurred, and whilst I recognise that it *could* take place in a town with a pond, it happened here.
We have a couple of areas of woodland.  One, round the back of our house, has been there for ages, probably before the Enclosures Acts.  The other is known as Millennium Wood as it was planted to celebrate the millennium i.e. it’s been there since 2000.  It was previously a field, without being the sort you might encounter in Kansas, so the wood’s not massive, although the trees have now grown sufficiently that you could get lost with a little effort.  It does take a little effort as the wood has become a popular destination for dog walkers, in part doubtless because of the dog-poo bin just by the entrance, and so the path is relatively well trodden.  Or pawed.  Either way.  There is also a pond, with a small island in the sort-of middle where the ducks can nest (and do), and a bench where you can sit to admire the view across the pond to the island and try and spot the ducks.  In the correct season, there is fishing there as well, but you need a licence.  You can probably tell that I’m not a fishing aficionado but there are definitely signs up that warn of dire consequences for those fishing without licences.
Anyway, on with the item.  Not having a dog, but wanting a breath of fresh air and a brisk walk to counteract the effects of the biscuit-tasting sessions, I went for a walk this weekend around the wood.  It was relatively early, I suppose, with frost still crisping the leaves that were clinging onto their branches for another few days at most.  Some of the muddy ruts were a little hard to navigate, frozen solid as they were, but on the whole, it was pleasant.  I had taken the route that finishes by the pond, my ‘brisk’ constituting an amble for those who had to walk the dog more than once and would quite like to get back indoors, thank you very much, and I had nearly reached the end when I was overtaken first by a speeding spaniel, quite a remarkable sight in itself, and shortly afterwards by a less-speeding owner.  He looked vaguely familiar from the pub, I think, but on this occasion he was calling out, “Gertie – puff – Gertie – puff – wait – puff” (etc.) as he made his vain attempt to catch up with the excited dog.
Just as I rounded the bend, the pond, the dog and the owner all came into view.  Gertie had clearly stopped to check out an interesting smell in a clump of grass right at the edge of the pond, her owner had bent down to clip the lead back onto Gertie’s collar, and the pond was just being the pond.  And coldly so.   At that moment, something else – possibly a bird, possibly me – startled Gertie and head aloft, she shot off in the opposite direction from the pond.  Her owner, who it should already be clear was not up to the same level of fitness as Gertie, fell over.  Backwards.  Into the pond.
I smirked.  Sorry, but it’s true.  I may not be allowed to be entirely truthful about everyone else in the village, but I don’t see the point in glossing over myself.  Fortunately for the owner, the pond is not deep.  He sat up almost immediately, dripping wet and slightly muddy, and glared at me. 
“Sorry,” I muttered, and tried to slink past so that I could laugh in peace.
“You could at least try and catch the bloody dog for me!” he called after me as I broke into a gentle trot en route to home and hilarity.
I know, it was cold, it was wet, it was muddy, it was possibly slightly painful and it was certainly injurious to self-esteem, so I shouldn’t laugh.  But most importantly, it wasn’t me!  Tee hee!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Monday 22nd November

                Verity came round at the weekend to ‘sort me out’, to use her phrase.  It seems that my blog is not living up to her expectations, that there’s not enough about village life in it because I’m forever going into town and writing about that instead.
                “If you’re going to call it ‘Notes from a Small Village’, then it needs to be about the village,” she informed me.  “It’s no wonder that no-one’s reading it.  Who wants to hear about the cost of parking in the town?  They want to know what’s going on in the village.  And that’s another thing.  You need to be more careful in your descriptions of people.  Jessica Frobisher called me yesterday to complain about your blog.  Apparently you put her and her dogs in it and were rather unflattering.  You can’t write about living in a village and slag everyone off!”
                I found it a little hard to get a word in edgeways, Verity was running at such full steam.  I would have tried to point out the contradictions in what she said, since clearly Jessica Frobisher was reading it at least.  Reading it and writing comments after it are two quite different things.  But if Verity thinks I shouldn’t be putting things in that don’t happen in the village, then I won’t mention going to see the new Harry Potter movie at the weekend (quite dark, literally and metaphorically, but then so’s the book, so it would have been a bit odd if it hadn’t been) or meeting up with some friends for a coffee in our nearest ‘city’.  I would describe Delyth’s party, which did take place in the village in a rather nice converted barn that the owners run as a venue for weddings and so on, but if I have to be more careful about descriptions of people, then I can’t really name the ones who’d had too much to drink and started singing loudly and tunelessly as the entertainer was just getting starter, nor the ‘gentleman’ who greeted me as his long-lost wife, with associated grope, even though I’ve only ever seen him in the queue at the post office before.  I’ll just have to say that wine flowed freely and was drunk in similar quantities.  At least in a village, most people don’t need to worry about driving home afterwards.
                You may have gathered that I am a little peeved with Verity at the moment.  Doubtless it will wear off in time, but until then, I will be posting severely censored blogs and we’ll see if anyone would rather read those, Verity!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Thursday 18th November

                Verity is finally back in the village – though I’m not sure exactly how long she’ll be around – full of tales of Spanish woe and London excitement.  She dropped round for coffee, bringing with her a box of the biscuits she’d bought at the deli.
                “They’re rather good,” she said, dunking a chocolate cherry cookie into her coffee.  “I didn’t know you had it in you!”
                I did point out that she didn’t need to buy them, I could easily make a few extra for her.
                “That’s not good business practice!  This way you make an extra sale, a little extra money, and the three people behind me in the queue in the deli heard me singing their praises.  The biscuits, that is, not the people in the queue... Anyway, who knows, they might have bought some too!”
                I had to concede the point and she continued to fill me in on Max and Spanish hospitals and the parties she’d been to in London in the last few days.
                “Spanish hospitals are very clean,” she admitted, “but they all speak Spanish.”
                This should not have come as a surprise to her.  “Didn’t anyone speak English?”  I knew Verity only spoke the one language fluently, and I didn’t think Max’s business Spanish ran to ‘my pee bag needs changing’.
                “Well, sort of, but never the first person you found, and even when you did find one, they had a strong accent.”
                This seemed a somewhat unfair criticism but there was no telling Verity.  The biggest thing in favour of Spanish hospitals, it seemed, was the lack of large wards, but maybe Max had ended up in a private hospital.  It would certainly explain why it had all cost so much.
                “And the party last night!” Verity went on, full of excitement.  “It was all to do with that charity I’m involved with, you know the one, it was technically a fundraising do with canap├ęs and champagne at £50 a head, plus a raffle and a tombola and so on, but I was chatting to the social secretary and she’s asked me to join the events committee.  Lots of do’s to be organised at places like the Savoy, maybe a chance to be in the second circle at next year’s wedding –”
                “What wedding?” I interrupted.
                “Will and Kate’s, of course.”  She gave me a pitying look.  I’d brought it on myself, I suppose.  I don’t really see the wedding as having much impact on life here in the village.  Verity sees things rather differently.
                Unsurprisingly, she had to dash.  She leads a very exotic life at times.  But we have our own little dramas.  There was a phone call later from an angry advertiser about the newsletter.
                “I haven’t received a copy of this month’s newsletter!” they rumbled down the phone.  “I’m supposed to get a copy of each issue my ad is in!”
                I flicked through the latest issue and told them that their ad wasn’t in this month’s, so that would be why they hadn’t received a copy.
                “Well, I’m paid up until January, so now I expect an ad in February too.  You can’t just not run my ad because you don’t feel like it.”
                I got the impression that they’d been annoyed by something else previously, because I couldn’t quite see why they would be so angry about a missing ad in one month’s edition, but I assured them I  would look into it and adjust our records accordingly.  Naturally, when I checked the records, if you can dignify the collection of bits of paper that I have with such a title, the advertiser was only half right.  They’d paid up to January but they’d indicated that they didn’t want an ad in November’s issue.  I’m going to wait until tomorrow to let them know, though.  Give them a chance to calm down a bit.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wednesday 17th November

As predicted, the weather has been grey and/or wet and miserable all day, but at least I don’t live in Cornwall.  They’ve clearly had even more rain and if anyone wanted to get into or out of the county, they’d be hard-pressed.  I wouldn’t even recommend making the trip by boat, as there is talk of gales.
So, remaining in again, I trawled the internet.  I am getting better at Facebook, though Celeste still complains that I don’t understand the difference between writing on her wall and writing a status update and has threatened to come home and give me lessons.  George has been more laid-back about it: ‘Cool, Mum, welcome 2 FB’ was written on my page from him on the second day, and I haven’t heard from him since.  
But I have also been spending time looking at local pages and blogs and was somewhat irritated to find one today that says the local council is putting up parking charges.  Now, 10p an hour is not much extra to pay, in the grand scheme of things, I suppose, but I was rather more narked to see that they are going to start charging for parking in the evenings – when the town is already half-dead anyway – and on Sundays, presumably to nab the people visiting the outlet mall who park in town and then (shock horror!) walk to the shops.  And although it doesn’t affect me directly, I was a little surprised to see that they are thinking of charging the blue-badge holders.  What with the clamp-down on obtaining a blue-badge in the first place, I’d have thought those who managed to claim one would have been in even more need of flexibility when parking.
Will it stop me from going into town?  Probably not.  I don’t go in that often as it is, trying where possible to buy from the shops in the village, which supports them rather than the supermarkets and also saves the cost of petrol while giving me some exercise.  Some things I have to drive for, such as the doctor (who has his own car park) and the dentist (who doesn’t).  And of course, the parking in town is not nearly as expensive as the parking in the city, which has an hourly rate of approximately three times that of the town.  We still pay it, though it does make the park and ride look quite attractive these days.

Tuesday 16th November

                Given that I now have a party to go to and some house guests on Friday night, I thought it might be an idea to tidy up a bit.  It’s a funny thing how my daughter’s room remains relatively tidy no matter what happens in there – not that Ronnie was having late night parties or anything – but my son’s room always looks as though as bomb has hit it (and it’s not an unpopular place).  George seems to have a knack for distributing the smallest number of things over the maximum number of surfaces, and once he’s done that a few times, you’re left wondering where to start.  However, I think I’ve got it more or less under control now, after a day spent up there rearranging cables and stuffing boxes into cupboards.  I’ll vacuum and polish later in the week when there’s less time for the dust to spoil it before someone has to sleep in there.  
Fortunately the weather has been foul today, so it was no hardship at all to stay home.   Fog apparently cleared in the local towns but of course, because we’re a village, the microclimate or something meant that we had a grey haze over the entire day.  I had wondered about getting Colin to tidy up the sort-of cut he did last week, but once I’d decided not to leave the house, that was removed from the plan.  And Verity, in case you’re reading this and worrying about Hedonism, when I say ‘I decided not to leave the house’, I meant by car.  Of course I walked round the corner to feed the cat!
I’m hoping the weather is a bit nicer tomorrow because not only does my hair need its trim, but a party is a good excuse for a shopping expedition.  The forecast does not look promising, however.