Down the lane from the church in my village are some pretty former farmworkers cottages, mostly lived in by locals, permanently, none of your holidayhomes here thank you very much. Built in a time gone by, when houses had front gardens and not 'off road parking', and when back gardens were big enough to keep livestock, grow all the vegetables and fruit for a family, and not the modern apology of a square box of lawn to go with the square box of a modern estate house.
There are four of them, two pairs of semis, young couples with children live in one pair, and in one of the other two lives Sam, an old boy of seventy or so. The house next door to him had been empty a while, since the elderly lady who lived there alone sadly passed on a year or more ago. There had been some wrangling over the house, but eventually it was put on the market earlier this year and snapped up fairly quickly. It was 'in need of modernisation' would be a kind way of putting it I suppose, and was bought by a single young man, quite a novelty in this area! 'A bit of eye candy for us ladies for a change!' joked Sheila, the landlady of our local.
Sadly the eye candy wasn't actually going to live in the house. I haven't quite figured out how news gets around in small places like this, with only a village store-cum-post office, a pub, and a crafts gallery with coffee shop attached. But somehow it did and this young man, called Jeffrey apparently, had bought the house on behalf of his aunt, a lady in her sixties, and he was going to be overseeing the doing up until she got back from a trip to America. There were various tales about this American trip going around... she was a famous writer doing a lecture tour, an actress in an off-Broadway production (the gossipers daren't hope for a real 'celebrity', just a minor one would do you see!), but the reality naturally turned out to be more prosaic when we found out more about her.
So far, all we know is that she is called Esme, 'spinster of this parish and many more before' is how she introduced herself in the post office in a rather loud voice, and laughing at her own wit. She wears the kind of clothes you would probably expect from someone like that, sensible shoes, twinsets and pearls, with tweed skirts in various shades of heathery hues. Apparently she sold her Edwardian terrace in Norwich and then took herself off to America to visit a long lost cousin or something, leaving 'dear Jeffrey' to buy the cottage and do it up.
She has called the cottage Walnut Tree Cottage, because of the walnut tree in the garden, laden with nuts at the moment, which she rather took a fancy to. This led some of us with a mischievous bent to be thankful there wasn't a big compost heap she took a fancy to!
She seemed a little disappointed there wasn't a WI, or an active ladies bowls team, no decent bookshop for miles and a rather irregular newspaper and milk delivery. She was assured it came every day, but there was just no guaranteeing what time of day that might be, since Tom, he who delivers both, wasn't always reliable at getting up, depending on how late he'd stayed in the pub the night before. This went down like a lead balloon as Esme is very anti-drink, and smoking, and swearing, loud music, rude people, people who can't keep appointments... all this, and we've only known her for a month!!
But one thing we do know is that she has her eye on Sam. Now OK, so far as old gents go he's... well, no oil painting you understand, and the designer stubble around his chin isn't designer stubble just indicative of the fact he can't be bothered to shave every day... but it does give him a slightly roguish air. As does the caped raincoat he wears, the large hat helps too. But underneath Sam is just an old bloke who's never married, never wanted to marry, prefers his own company to anyone else's. Over the years, several of the older, single ladies in the village have shown interest, but in the end, all have given up.
She has been asking about him, been seen to go around armed with casserole dishes, or a bag of apples off the tree in her garden. She won't get anywhere though, we all know that, and eventually she'll know it too.
On a happier note though, we have a wedding in the church this weekend, the first in a long time. This is not a large village, and there aren't many youngsters living here, because as with a lot of places like this, they have all had to leave to find work. But the exception to the rule is Andy and his bride-to-be Lisa. Both work in Norwich, and commute each day by car, but live in a house his parents have had built on some land they own at the edge of the village. Not that this was a handout, the youngsters are buying it in the normal way, but everyone is so excited at the prospect of a wedding in the old church. It's never seen so much greenery and flowers, ribbons and candles, and on a miserable day like today, when I went for a nose, they had lit some candles and it looked so pretty, you almost hope it's miserable tomorrow. Candles lend such atmosphere don't they?
Anyway, rain or shine, it will be a lovely day for the village, because there's an open invitation to everyone to the party in the old barn on his parents farm, which has also been done up, after a good clean out, and due for conversion next Spring. Though where the village Christmas party will then be held, who knows?