JOURNEY – Physical and Emotional with a Profound Effect

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Journey.”

When I was child of about 3, we lived in a tiny village that had only one shop. It seemed miles from anywhere but my cousin, she lived just around the corner and around the next bend on the same country lane lived Grandma and Grandad. For some reason I wasn’t over keen on Grandad, but I adored my Grandma. She was such a loving person and I really enjoyed being with her. I was allowed to ride my tricycle along the pavement, all on my own to visit them.

It was a delightful place to live, surrounded by wildlife, farms and an abundance of greenery. We took regular walks thoroughly indulging in the effect of the changing seasons. To this day I have a similar passion for nature, the countryside and the seasons.

We would watch the butterflies dance from flower to flower, noting which one it was and if we weren’t sure, we’d look it up in a book when we returned home. We’d breathe in the scents of the blossoms on the hedgerows, trees and the wild flowers in the grass verges. I was renowned for sticking my nose into flowers.

There was always something riveting to watch or exciting to explore. Many of the fields roundabout had small ponds in them. Here we would sit for hours just watching the dragonflies dance from reed to reed, or watch the pond skater insects whizzing over the water’s surface or catch newts with our nets, putting them into a jar so that we could get a better look at them. We would always put them back into the pond before going home. Other times we would keep a watch out for calves or lambs being born, watch the farmer plough a field or bale hay.

Big cousins would come to visit quite regularly, cycling all the way from their village miles away and we would ride our bikes or play ball games and drink cordial, something that was only available when visitors came. We were rarely indoors and my selective memory can only recall rain in April, though we must have had days when it poured.

Then one day, which for me seemed quite out of the blue, we were moving. A giant green lorry with a cavernous space at the back was taking all our belongings and we were going to live somewhere else. I can only remember horror. All the things I would be leaving behind. My Grandma would be miles away, how I would miss my dear loving Grandma. And my cousins, I would have no friends to play with.

When we arrived at our new house, it was on a straight main road and it felt as if it were on another continent. Being a new house it didn’t have the old established gardens around it so it felt barren. The whole place felt empty, the whole area felt empty. Where was the greenery?

There was a big hedge over on the other side of the road and there were some big trees but the cosseted feeling of the old village which just oozed greenery, was non-existent in this strange place.

I was told not to make a fuss, I would make friends. There was a girl next door that I was encouraged to play with, but a part of me didn’t like the feel of her. I started school and began to make some friends but somehow they never felt like the deep comradeship I had had with my cousins. My only saving grace from living in that very empty feeling place was that at the weekends my dad and I would go for long walks along the riverbank or the canal and we would observe all the bounty that nature had to offer. Those days were like heaven on earth.

One of the things that sticks in my mind was the feeling of isolation, I felt as if I was ‘out on my own’ and despite having moved from a verdant green village, I felt separated most strongly from my beloved sea. Now we didn’t live by the sea but we were probably only a couple of miles from the sea as the crow flies and less than an hour away by train in those days and whilst I have no recollection of being at the seaside when the sun went down, I can clearly remember sitting in my bedroom with my head poking through the curtains, watching the sun going down behind the hedgerow across the road and wondering just how many miles away the sea was and how I yearned to be near it. This has stayed with me ever since and must have had such a profound effect on me that I now live right by the sea and would have it no other way.

Writing 101 DAY 15 – Your Voice Will Find You – The Community that Once Was

I live in a quiet rural area. A place that used to have a wonderful sense of community about it.

That is, before they closed the local post office. A place where local folk met most days for a chat. It doubled as a store, stocking only the basic provisions but it was a valuable asset to our community. Especially as it was over 5 miles to the nearest similar store. If you didn’t have access to a car, if weren’t fit enough to cycle the hilly roads to the next village, your best hope was to catch the school bus, wait for half the day, to catch one of only two buses back home again.

As if the loss of the store was not enough to break the spirits of the local folk, who now had to catch a bus and ride for an hour into the main village for their groceries. They provided a minibus once a week for the elderly folk but it hasn’t replaced the camaraderie so prevalent the local store provided. There is no longer any sharing of old tales or the imparting of valuable ancient knowledge to the younger generation. No one goes out any more. No point. They sit inside glued to their television sets or computers.

Rarely is anyone seen walking along the roads. There is no longer anywhere to walk ‘to’. Yes, you could go for just a walk but it has always been much more of an incentive to walk ‘to’ something, and then back again. That’s why people like to go out for a paper, or a pint of milk. It is a reason to go out, a focus, a purpose, a reason to be.

And now, the final nail in the coffin. The only event in the year that united everyone in the whole area and from miles around. Our Annual Agricultural Show. So dedicated were the folk who diligently planned it. Arduously toiled for hours to set it up and clear away afterwards. Now even that has gone. Gone forever? Probably. These things are very difficult to resurrect. It was the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak over 10 years ago that put paid to that. The new stringent rules meant that small communities could no longer afford the costs incurred in running such events.

I am not a sceptic. If I were the implications would be mind boggling. I believe in change but I am struggling to see a positive outcome on the horizon.