I love our village.
It’s the type of place where you can sit in the pub with knitting and crocheting friends talking about anything, whilst people play cards at the next table and a dog snoozes near the door. There’s a fair-to-middling chance of bumping into someone you know when you haul your rear out of the sofa and get up to fetch more drinks. Occasionally there’s even a rival knitting group around.
People here talk to you because they’ve seen you around. They usually want to know exactly which house you live in, which tends to freak out folk who’ve only just moved here from London and who aren’t yet accustomed to revealing such incredibly personal information to anyone who isn’t their legal spouse. Anyway you get talking, and quite soon you can’t remember a time when you didn’t know these people. That said, you probably should have paid more attention five years ago when they introduced themselves, because this many conversations down the line, it’d be kind of awkward to admit that you can’t actually remember their name.
Most people say hello or at least smile when you pass them in the street, although it’s important to remember to switch off that habit when you venture anywhere more urban, to avoid looking like an oddball country bumpkin. (I call it ‘flight mode’, because all non-essential communications are turned OFF.)
I love going running on the various tracks out into the countryside, and witnessing the seasons played out across the Oxfordshire landscape.
One day recently, I’d just landed back in the village after a run, and as I turned onto the High Street, out of breath, hurty of lung, sore of foot, and malodorous of lycra, I noticed somebody meddling with a signpost in the distance. What outrage was this?! Some n’er-do-well spoiling our neighbourhood? Surely not!
Getting closer, there was a certain familiarity about the miscreant, and also about their bicycle, which was leaning against a nearby fence, its basket adorned with crochet. Hmm, could that be a clue to their motive?
I limped closer. (Have I mentioned the sore foot?)
And then I realized that the brazen daylight misbehaviour I was witnessing was yarn-bombing in progress, and that the perpetrator was my friend and allotment-mate, whom I am forbidden to name here by the terms of the Yarn Bombers’ Charter. Totes soz, but that’s one of her hands on the left in the picture below.
Our village lanes have long been the background to some pretty lovely yarn-bombing, but witnessing the act in progress felt a little like catching Banksy at work. What could I do, but go over and offer to help? (Out of consideration for my friend’s welfare, I did try to stand downwind of her – it had been a tough run.)
She was sewing beautiful knitted panels around lamp-posts. Each year, her pieces have a theme (buttons, for example), and this year, it’s tassels.
How gorgeous and cheering is her work?! Look at those textures! Look at the colours! She also knits twiddlemuffs for dementia patients at the nearest hospital.
So we got chatting, whilst she sewed up the knitting, but there was also a tiny problem. It was the day of the Open Gardens in the village, when owners of infinitely grander plots than ours throw open their wrought iron gates for anyone who wishes to come and see. Maybe we should have opened ours, as a sort of deranged, toy-strewn parody. We could call it ‘Future Garden’. Or possibly ‘Past Garden’. It’s still very much a work in progress, but in a year’s time, it’s going to be AMAZING.
Anyway, as part of this event, there was to be an exhibition of wedding dresses from times past at the church, so the call had gone out for anyone who owned a tailor’s dummy to come and lend it for the day so that the dresses could be displayed. (I’m getting to the point of all this, really I am. Or at least, I’m limping slowly in its general direction – I’ve got this painful foot, you see…)
We happen to own a very basic tailor’s dummy, so I’d already offered it for the exhibition. There was plenty of time to get home from my run, shower, dress in more appropriate clothing, and saunter along to the church, humming a tune, with the dummy under my arm, doing a convincing impression of someone who is calm, dignified, and whose hair isn’t feral.
Or at least there would have been, had I not spent ages chatting to the village yarnbomber, holding her work in place so that she could sew, and taking photographs. Suddenly it was five minutes before the dummy deadline, and I hadn’t even made it home. Oops. (I knew the Stoic Spouse wouldn’t be worried: when I roll in late, he just says ‘I assumed you got talking to someone’. He’s generally correct.)
There definitely wasn’t going to be time for everything.
All of this is a very lengthy explanation of why, just before 1pm, I sprinted the entire length of the High Street, listing slightly to starboard because of my busted foot, sweating revoltingly, and with a large tailor’s dummy gripped under my arm like I was kidnapping it. Dignity? Meh, dignity’s for wimps.
And no, there are no photographs. Or at least I don’t think there are. And if there are, could we please meet at the pub to discuss what you would consider to be a reasonable fee for their destruction? Thank you.
The open gardens were splendid by the way, even in the rain.
And I got to climb the church tower…
…to see the old church bells…
…and the view from the top, albeit in the drizzly gloom…
As I said, I do love this village, yarn-bombing and all. 🙂