Tuesday, 1 April 2008

A day at the races

Rah, rah rah! Point to point season hits this area with a rash of signs 'to the races' here, there and everywhere, as the thunder of horse boxes and cattle lorries reverberates around the village. This is a social event, high on a hillside overlooking the Axe Valley and several stately piles. Tweed is the order of the day here - with hats, trousers, jackets and even suits jostling for attention. Some are handed down from generation to generation. Barbour jackets are so yesterday, dahling, in these surroundings, as are Wellington boots, in the main, a poor relation to the Game Fair boots that cost £200 and up. Red cords are teamed with yellow shirts, public schoolboys and girls play rugger in between the parked cars and every one kisses each other twice on the cheek. If you don't have a four by four here, dahling, you are an absolute nobody. Because it is not possible to have your hamper, rug, six directors' chairs, sturdy table, tablecloth, linen napkins, enough smoked salmon to feed an army and a case of champagne and copious crystal glasses in a clapped-out hatchback. The racing itself is secondary, although the bookies, as always, make a profit. The ground is either too soft or too hard (in this case too soft) for all the runners to turn out and the odds are very short indeed. Here and there, an ordinary farmer, with a lovely, quizzical Dorset voice, chats with a friend, having been given free tickets because he has allowed the hunt to use his land. There is also the occasional pleb, white heels sinking into the churned-up mud, comparing their cocker spaniel with a ground-scraping daschund and wondering what the hell they are doing here. Next year, we need an upper class twits' race to round off the proceedings.

Breaking news
The point to point has resulted in several, up-market, designer label scarves being blown around the village. I picked up a pashmina from the middle of the road and put it on the pavement and then went back to see if it was still there. It is now in my laundry basket, awaiting a good wash. Another scarf with zebra markings has been tied around a rose stem in my neighbour's front garden.

A change to rubbish collection and recycling days has sent many into a spin. As the bin men whip through one street, a man looks at all the bags outside his house in horror as the bin men forsake him for their next collection point. Just four days later, we get another collection and it is rather worrying to see just how many wine bottles can accumulate in less than half a week.

A number of houses are up for sale and there is no sign the market is picking up. However, a 1930s red brick bungalow, which requires modernising and has a lovely garden with views to nearby hills, is snapped up in a fortnight. The guide price is £270,000 and with £50,000-£100,000 spent on it will make someone a quick buck.

The lighter evenings and birds singing make it feel that spring is really on its way. When Scooter Boy wears a lighter jacket and shorts, summer will be well and truly here.

That's about it,
love Maddie X

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