Sunday, 25 November 2012

Down in the Country

Here's looking at Moo
Ah the countryside.  Peace and quiet, pipe and slippers, an absence of street lights and a sky full of stars.  Idyllic and boring as hell by turns.  Or is it?

I grew up in Basingstoke; a town that gets a very bad rap but actually has some nice countryside on its doorstep.  Walks down the farm were commonplace, as was being told off by the farm manager for touching the electric fence 'for a laugh'.

From there to Reading for a ten year feast of pubs, clubs, restaurants, and shopping.  Happy, happy, days but there came the point when the paper-thin walls of our Victorian terrace (we knew our neighbours far better than we wanted to, or perhaps they intended us to - rather like my friend in 'The Sound of...') and spending an hour stuck in traffic to travel eight miles lost its shine so we departed to a village on the outskirts of Newbury.

And it does tick all of the boxes you would expect.  Horses on the high street, tractors on the school run, sheep and cows coming up to the garden fence and visitors from nearby towns wandering the streets searching in vain for a mobile signal.  If you don't have a car, you are at the mercy of just six buses a day and if you are sick - best make it between the hours of 9 and 12 if you want to be seen at the local surgery.  So far, so predictable, except that lots of far from predictable things have happened in the eight years that we've been here....

The Weather.  Not to be messed with.
  • The bike ride where we encountered a full-blown rave happening in an underpass. 
  • The pig running purposefully up the road en route to who knows where but certainly escaping being turned into chops.
  • The 'Missing Llama' poster that appeared in our shop window.
  • The naked rambler who wasn't quick enough with his 'modesty screen' to escape a friend's husband from seeing his buttocks winking in the sun. 
  • The house that keeps a flock of ostriches in its garden.
  • School raffle prizes including donations from a certain Mr Walcott. 
  • The weather being something of real interest rather than something that just happens outside.  Snow closes the village off.  Torrential rain brings a normally dry river back to life and sends shoals of 'Monster' energy drink cans through the village (other heart palpitation inducing beverages are available....).  It also threw our trampoline across the garden with the gusto of a professional bowler going for a 'strike'.
  • Discovering the best way to break into your house after locking yourself out is with the help of a heavily pregnant woman and a 12-foot ladder.
  • Bumping into people we last saw 10 years ago at the Reading Festival at a Beaver-Scout meeting.
  • Being told that a pub in a nearby village was to be avoided due to the feistyness of the local jockeys and stable-hands.  Oh how I wished to see silks flying but we heeded the warning and relied on our imagination to fill in the blanks.

So eight years in, we're looking forward to at least eight years more and for a move that we thought was all about space, and peace and quiet, it has instead been one of discovery, amusement, and surprises.  Ravers, llamas, and naked ramblers - not so boring after all :)


Soundtrack: In the Country - Cliff Richard & The Shadows

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