No place like home
The sunny square has not changed very much while we were away in the Ionian. Our return is marked by colourful patchwork blankets hanging from makeshift washing lines and hedgerows. Mr Grigg thinks the gypsies have set up camp on the village green. But we discover the display is part of a quilt exhibition.
At least it is not like a few years ago when we discovered on return from holiday a new extension had been added to our house. Before leaving, Mr Grigg had put a couple of doors outside, hoping someone might pinch them as he had run out of time to take them to the dump. We came back to find that Nobby Odd-Job and Manual had made us a new porch, complete with a council planning enforcement notice signed by a Mr R. Sole. A sign proclaimed the work had been carried out by a firm called Bodgit and Scarper.
This time, the homecoming is more genteel. Bellows and his family walk by with four black goats on red leads, Super Mario heads for the cricket pitch for a spot of maintenance and Mr St John and Lady Friend have jetted off to the sun. They are taking a villa holiday in Greece, hoping to join us for a spot of sailing. Unfortunately, Mr St John booked the week after we came back, thinking we were there for a fortnight.
'He only went for that week because it was cheaper,' Lady Friend snarls. 'I wish he'd let me bloody organise it.'
Have they travelled on separate planes? Mr St John on Easy Jet and Lady Friend business class? We wonder about them - will they make it through the night, let alone the week?
Meanwhile, Pelly has been diligently coping with a broody Nigella and clipping runaway hens' wings at dawn, Mrs Bancroft has met the new neighbours, Mr and Mrs Champagne-Charlie, the flowers next to the village pump are still going strong, Monty Chocs-Away's party (with the hired-in caterer) was enjoyed by all and Titch the blind terrier is still barking at nothing in particular as he goes for an early morning stroll.
There are two bits of big news. Our publicans are throwing in the towel after four or more years. Prospective new tenants are being shown around as I write. We will miss them but they have decided the time is right to move on. And change is good for a village, as long as the brewery keeps the pub open. Luckily for us, the site is not big enough to be developed so it is not in the brewery's interest to turn it into houses.
But the biggest and best news for us is that Mr Loggins and Darling have at last won the right to build an eco-friendly log house on the site of their hillside love shack. They have been trying to work with the planners for over a year. But obstacle after obstacle has been put in their path. The planners agreed that the love shack - rather like something built by one of the the three little pigs - should come down but prevaricated time after time over the plans to replace it. The use of timber was never in dispute but there were concerns over size. So the Logginses accommodated the planning officer's whims. After pre-application meetings and post-application meetings, the case officer, aged 12, then turned round and said that timber was not appropriate.
So Mr Loggins and Darling had to the get the plan 'called in' and discussed by councillors because the officers were recommending refusal. After hearing an impassioned plea from Darling, and then parish councillor Bellows and then their new neighbour most affected by the plans, hand after hand went up for a resounding 'yes' in the council chamber.
Darling says she felt like crying.
'I was so emotional. And so proud to be part of it. British democracy at its best.'
It doesn't happen often but when it does, triumphing over officialdom is really very sweet. Mr R Sole indeed.
That's about it
Love Maddie x