Saturday, 5 March 2011
When you live away from the main village, as I do - it is a mile across the fields or two miles round by the road - it is easy to become totally disconnected with village life. Ours is not a large village. There is a pub and a church but no shop. The Post Office provides services from the back of a van for two afternoon each week. There is a limited bus service into one or the other of our local small towns with connections on to larger towns. That is about it. The school closed twenty odd years ago and the children go the two miles into our little market town.
A local history group meets every Wednesday night throughout the Winter, as they have done for well over twenty years. In the Summer the same group organise walks on alternate Sundays. Both the farmer and I used to go to the Winter meetings and the farmer still goes on the Summer walks.
But there is now one other activity which brings the village together. It hasn't been running for all that long - it is a monthly Saturday morning coffee morning. A friend and I go sometimes (As I can no longer drive she has to come and collect me) and we went along this morning. It is £1 to go in; the tables are really nicely set with cloths and there are flasks of hot coffee on each table and plates of biscuits. A nice fire is burning in the grate (it is in the Village Hall) and people come and go. There is a cake stall, which is always very popular and there is usually a bric-a-brac stall as well and a monthly raffle.
W and I arrived as it opened at 10am and already there were a dozen or so there. As the morning progressed some people went and others came - couples, ladies on their own, mums and dads with babies, toddlers - and one very special lady this morning. The village's oldest resident - Dorothy - who, would you believe it, is 105 years old today. Dorothy came to live in the village when she took a job at the village school as a teacher in 1927. She has lived here ever since.
The photographs show her as a young teacher with her class (one of the farmer's sisters is in that class) and today sitting at our table in The Village Hall. We all sang Happy Birthday to you. She had difficulty holding back the tears, but she managed it. She played the church organ until she was almost 100 and also taught piano up to the same age. So Happy Birthday Dorothy - what a full and rich life you have had.