Though small and unfathomably old (the pub dates back to 1450, the church to 1100), this isn’t one of those villages where you need three generations in the churchyard before you’re considered a local. In fact it’s reassuringly full of DFLs, as we’re known (Down From Londoners). Fortunately they’re all very friendly, in the way that you are when you haven’t a large pool of friends to choose from.
Next door (moved down from Battersea last year) turned up to welcome us bearing homemade malt loaf. I was impressed, not least because I didn’t know malt loaf could be homemade, having just assumed it always came in those little packets with the grapes on from Sainsbury’s. I also like that people turn up without calling first, which no one ever does in London.
Having a dog and small child helps on the meeting-people front, though meeting so many at once has its drawbacks. The woman who runs the toddler group keeps getting my name wrong, which I now know is something you need to nip in the bud immediately. Through a combination of embarrassment and laziness, I didn’t, and now it’s too late and is going to look really weird when I pluck up the courage to tell her that my name isn’t Anna.
Anyway, it’s as well people are friendly, because apparently we’ll be snowed in with them for the best part of the winter. Which isn’t something you appreciate when you’re smugly contemplating how nice it is to be away from the main road. So next time you’re driving through one of those villages on an A road, thinking, ‘This village would be so pretty if it wasn’t bang in the middle of this massive A road,’ remember that they’re the lucky ones, the people who, come January, will be considered worthy of gritting. Meanwhile we will rot here, with all-night Whistlestops and other walkable amenities but a distant memory.
** Am now feeling enormously guilty because about 45 kids and their parents have turned up to trick-or-treat, rendering my single family bags of KitKats and Maltesers woefully inadequate. I had no idea there’d be so many of them – it’s the first time I’ve ever had trick-or-treaters. They don’t come to Shoreditch; or if they do, you don’t want to open your door.
Actually, the reason I’m feeling so bad is that I’d eaten half the Maltesers before any trick-or-treaters even arrived.