Sunday, June 12, 2005

An English Village

Godstone Green
Originally uploaded by HocusOpusUK.
I had to get out for a walk today. Too many days shut up inside school, inside the house or in the a car. The sky was overcast, but there was a breeze and the temperature hovered around 70 degrees (21 Celsius). It was Sunday afternoon and even the roar of traffic from the M-25 had diminished.

I had Rick’s iPod Shuffle since my mini had a dead battery. Down the street, turn right through a neighborhood of manicured lawns, then left again onto one of the many footpaths which form a network across England. There is public access to land here, even private land, so long as you follow the signs. Groups called Ramblers meet up to hike the countryside, usually ending up at a pub for refreshments.

Our village is the home of a natural wildlife sanctuary. There’s a huge pond, surrounded by fields and bordered by paths. I followed one of them up the wooded hill to the Godstone church and then back down the other side of the pond, ending in the centre of the village near the green.

They were playing cricket today. Yes, cricket. The teams wore whites and small groups sat around the edges of the green on benches, watching the game. I have never figured out the game. It can go on for days and the scores reach the hundreds. It’s not just a sport, but a way of life, part of the British Empire. I even found a news story on the internet about tsunami survivors playing cricket in the Nicobar Islands.

On the way home, I passed through the heart of the village. It has nearly all of the necessary amenities. There are three pubs, a posh restaurant/hotel, a pharmacy, a newsagent/post office, a local grocery shop, a petrol station, a car garage (for repairs, car sales and MOT), a cafe, an antique shop, a ladies’ dress shop, a haberdashery, a Mormon bookshop (!), a village church, a town hall and a building supplies store. We have to go to the next town to find a bakery, a butcher, or a green grocer (fruit and veg store). Down the road in two directions, there are garden centres. Not bad for a population of 2,700!

We’ll miss the serenity of village life when we move. Unfortunately, our commute to work is nearly fifty miles each way. That’s far too much time wasted when we could be enjoying time at home.

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