Saturday, 5 March 2011

Village Life

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.


Titus said...

Wonderful post, Weaver! Oh, to live such a long, and useful, life.
I'm not a natural village dweller, but after 13 years now I'm getting used to it. Penpont certainly has the greatest sense of community of anywhere I've lived since my childhood in Romford, and they were different days.

mrsnesbitt said...

I can picture it well Pat. Yes a lovely lady. We have get togethers at the Village Hall - walking distance from our house so really handy when we have "do's" where we take a bottle!

steven said...

what a lovely post weaver! i remember as a child the magic of church teas and our times accompanying my grandad into the countryside on his circuits there. steven

Totalfeckineejit said...


Dorothy you are 105
so full of life, so fully ALIVE!

But do come back and tell us when
you are celebrating 110 !

Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely post and great to have the photos of the young Dorothy and as she is now (blimey still going strong at 105!)

Our nearest village proper is 6 miles away, and when the children were small I was very much part of it, but now the Post Office has been sent walkabouts and it is a community shop, and the pub has shut . . .

Pondside said...

I love both photos - the eager young teacher with all those pretty little girls, bows in their hair, bright eyes and smiles. The second photo, of Dorothy is lovely - an elegant woman (great hair!) in a beautiful blue coat, pretty earrings - we should all be so together at any age.

angryparsnip said...

What a lovely post today.
Maybe your village is small but so big in heart and community.

cheers, parsnip

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Happy Birthday, indeed!
My husband has lived in our little town, in fact in our little neighbourhood, all his life. Perhaps he'll be serenaded with Happy Birthday by the neighbours when he turns 105!

Lovely post!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I went back and enlarged that wonderful old photo! Obviously, twin hair ribbons were all the rage!!

And Dorothy looks the same then as now!

Heather said...

What a remarkable lady Dorothy is, and still looking so well. Her hair was beautiful as a young woman, and still is today. I remember wearing hair ribbons like the girls in the first photo. Your village sounds a delightful place to live. It is very comforting to know that inspite of losing so many aspects of country life, some villages are managing to preserve that special community spirit.

John Going Gently said...

I love the thought of a local history group
I am collectingf some old photos of our village at the moment and am awaiting them getting back from the chemists..I will post them as soon as I get them!
greta blog entry!

Jo said...

Weaver, how I love the profound beauty of your descriptions of village life! They are rife with dignity and respect for each member, no matter the form or age.

I see the joy in Dorothy's eyes...come, no doubt, from years of teaching the youngsters of your town.

Lovely post, Weaver. Thanks as always.

Dartford Warbler said...

We have some remarkable people in their nineties in our village , but no one as venerable as Dorothy. She looks well and contented after a hard working life teaching the young ones of your village. An inspiration!

Our village has a good community spirit, although this is at risk because many of the houses are now second homes or holiday homes.

Elizabeth said...

She really looks much the same as when teaching ---though obviously older and resembles my Aunty Mary (maybe the white hair!)
Happy Birthday indeed

Dominic Rivron said...

Looking at the photos, she hasn't changed that much in 84 years.

These coffee mornings are good. I never noticed the fire in the grate. Remind me I've got a raffle prize for Wendy (she left befor they drew it). It's a bottle of some sort of shower gel, I think.

Carolee said...

What a lovely post...

Happy Birthday to Dorothy! What a beautiful lady, and what a rich and rewarding life she's led. :)

~ Carolee

Hildred said...

Oh, this is a wonderful post Weaver, - I am amazed and inspired by your friend Dorothy, - how elegant she looks and she must have great satisfaction with the things she has asccomplished. And she played the organ until almost 100!!!!!! Oh dear, I thought 90 would be a good time to retire permanently..

I love the smiles and smirks on the little girls' faces..

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I'm thinking Dorothy has more than a few stories to tell. How lovely to have her to visit with.

I also thank you for a gander at village life. Sounds much more peaceful than where I live.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I shall tell Dorothy about your birthday wishes next time she comes to a coffee morning. She no longer lives in the village but lives in a care home in our nearest little two, two miles away.
Sadly, the lady who used to be so very good to her is herself very ill and can no longer be the companion she used to be.
People do live a long time in our village - a lady of 104 only died last year and several people have lived well into their nineties.
It seems to me that old age is fine as long as one retains one's faculties.
Thank you for the comments.

Mary said...

This is an amazing story, not just of the sweet Dorothy's birthday (a lot of candles required for the cake!), but of life in the English countryside. Takes me back to days when I snuggled up to listen to The Archers on the radio - such lovely memories. We didn't live quite in the country, but it was at the top of our road - between the seaside and Dartmoor! I spent much of my time in the fields pursuing wildflowers and mushrooms (perhaps initiating my love affair with risotto!), chasing sheep, and climbing stiles. I loved every moment.

Mary said...

P.S. I too wore double hair bows.......and just look at those gym slips! Didn't wear those until I went to Torquay Girls' Grammar, part of our uniform, along with white blouses, ties, black or brown 'sensible' shoes, and velour brimmed hats, of course.

Ahhh, great school days memories.

Lisa said...

Such a wonderful post, and what fun to read all the comments! Like Dorothy, I am a teacher, but have moved all over the United States and elsewhere all of my life. I can only imagine Dorothy's experience and the satisfaction she must feel having served her community so loyally. Weaver, you are a great writer!!!!!

Arija said...

How delightful and what a wonderful and wonderfully well preserved lady she is.

Could not sleep, I think I am just too tired, so i had a chance to read and thoroughly enjoy some of your posts Pat. So interesting to find a relic of the past.
Our house on Mt.Lofty, the oldest one there before the fire, built in the early 1850's when the colony was a mere 20 years old, occasionally also produced a keepsake or two dug up in the garden. Once I found a 2" unglazed porcelain father christmas figurine. It must have been a factory sample. I also found a cannon ball but some scavenger stole it after the fire. There was nothing left except the cannon ball and some large, clear natural quartz crystals I had surrounding a garden bed and the looters took the whole lot.

I do hope the physio is helping you . My thoughts are often with you.

Blessings . . . Arija