I am, I admit, generally pretty unsociable. I have always been happy to curl up in front of the fire with the cats and a good book and, since we moved to Yorkshire, I have probably become even more reclusive. Partly it is due to working from home, I think – in Aberdeen, I would go out for dinner with friends or to the gym straight after work, whereas now I have to make a positive effort to go out. And I love my home and garden (can you tell) – why go anywhere else? D is generally more sociable than me and occasionally drags me to the pub or the social club in the village, however, which is really good for me and I always enjoy myself when I get there. Village life should be about building a community, and I know you can’t do that unless you talk to people.
So, compared to my usual tranquil life, this past week has been one big mad social whirl for me. I was lucky enough one day to have a visit from a very dear friend of many years’ standing and her partner, who were on holiday in York from the Midlands. I took a day off and, after showing off our house and garden, we went to Castle Howard, which is around 20 miles from here. As well as touring the house, we spent a fair amount of time in the tearoom, watching the rain, catching up and, of course, eating cake (an essential part of any country house visit!) The sun came out right at the end of the day so we even managed to get a walk around the beautiful grounds, getting ideas for new plants to try in the garden, before heading home to meet up with D for dinner in the next village. It was a lovely day and I was reminded again of why we made this move – they feel so much closer now, a mere couple of hours away, and I can’t wait to visit them in return, so that they can show off their new home too.
Then on Sunday V came to see me with her young son. Regular readers of the blog will remember V’s wedding in April and it was great to catch up with her again. As with anyone who visits, she too had to admire the library and D’s ever more ingenious water collection methods (he has now refined the first lot of water butts and the result should collect more water, but looks not unlike some sort of still for brewing undoubtedly lethal spirits). Her son loved the garden and toddled round quite happily on the grass, playing with his ball. The cats kept a safe distance and a wary eye but he was really good, chatting away and clearly fascinated, but making no attempt to chase them. Mind you, I wouldn’t fancy his chances had he tried – even the Calamity Cat could escape him, as he is still finding his feet.
As well as seeing friends, though, we went out on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Being out 2 nights on the trot – I’m too old for this! On Friday, we went to the pub at the end of the street for what was supposed to be a quiet drink. A few of the regulars from the club were down there and I admit it was nice to be recognised and for people to pop over for a chat. Thanks to D’s more sociable nature, it is starting to feel like we are integrating into the community at last. We also got chatting to another couple and agreed to form a quiz team with them at the club fundraiser on Saturday. Again, it was great to turn up and know in advance that we were meeting people there. We had bonded in the pub over the fact that we always came last in quizzes, so it was no surprise when we did, but we had fun anyway.
And you never know where chatting to new people will lead. Our new friends have been involved in organising the inaugural Village Fayre next weekend, which we have been very much looking forward to. There will be lots of stalls and things to do, although the cats have been excused from going – there is a dog show, we understand, but not one for cats. I’m not sure either of them would appreciate a cat show, anyway – the Princess would consider it is far beneath her dignity and the Calamity Cat would undoubtedly break something! One thing that we weren’t planning to do was enter anything into the produce and handicrafts show, although I was awaiting with anticipation the chance to see what other people had entered. However, our quiz-mates had other ideas and they asked us to take part. We resisted initially, unsure of what we had that was worthy of entry. You will remember the carrots last week – they certainly wouldn’t be winning any prizes, good as they tasted – so we had to think outside the box. In the end, we decided to focus on the handicrafts section, rather than the produce. D has dug out a photo he took in New Zealand some years ago, of which he has always been rightly proud, and I am submitting an embroidery I did a few months ago and which hangs in my office. We had to be talked into it, but I think we are secretly quite excited now – I never thought I would be entering anything into a village show, but it somehow feels very in keeping with the life we are trying to lead here. I’ll let you know next week how we get on.
If you would like to know more about the fayre, have a look here: http://www.greenhammertoncountryfayre.co.uk. If you are in the area, please try and pop in – we need an admiring audience for our competition entries!