The place I love (is a million miles away)
This morning, as I walk the spaniels around the field, I hear Russell's Crow shrieking in the hen coop across the valley. The sun comes up over the beech wood on The Hill. The summit of its flat-topped sibling across the way grows in silhouette.
The secondary school children saunter down to the school bus, singing some inappropriate pop song as they pass The Extremely Pleasant Company, a stationery business run from the old telephone exchange.
I think of my old journalist classmates, getting on their bikes or tubes or whatever mode of transport they use for travelling across The Smoke. My quietly ambitious friend, Curious Girl, roaring off in her company BMW to a high-powered business meeting.
It is quiet here in Mu-Mu Land but it's been a busy weekend. The applause is still ringing in my ears after the harvest supper. And the chitter-chatter of old colleagues at my reunion is whooshing around my head.
Mrs Bancroft and the Parson's Daughter can congratulate themselves on a fine evening of entertainment in the village hall. Who needs West End theatres when we have an elderly farmer on the piano, playing the right notes but not necessarily in the right order? When we have Dudley getting carried away on the introduction to Summertime and a child prodigy playing Moonlight Sonata? The village stalwarts, Mr and Mrs Cardinal, doing a modern take on Nelson's last moments, complete with diversity, health and safety restrictions and EC laws? And a rousing finale of risque jokes by Celebrity Farmer before he donned a mask and moonwalked to Michael Jackson's Thriller?
I have captured it all on video and when I have a bit more time will try to upload a few clips for your delectation. My own contribution was a poem by my late Uncle George, which you can find by following the thread here.
Meanwhile, back at the reunion in Plymouth, the city of discovery, I thought of my late grandfather as a child, swimming across the harbour to seize second prize in an adults' race and then a few years' later heading for adventure in Australia in 1910. I looked out across the wonderful sweep of Plymouth Sound and thought of Gatsby gazing longingly over to Daisy's dock and the green light.
As I walked along, flanked by two senior section editors of very well known broadsheet newspapers, I remembered how Plymouth had filled me with fear and joy and all those things because for me, it was a big city, a step into a new life and whatever lay beyond. For the Oxbridge folk it was probably a step backwards, a means to an end.
Thirty years on, I can feel happy with what I have achieved. Two children, three step-children, grand-daughter and step-grand-daughter. A loving husband, a quirky cottage with a fantastic story behind it. A career in PR for public sector organisations, a spell as a local newspaper editor, running a pub, publishing a book, learning how to sail, ring bells and being comfortable in my own skin.
And the biggest privilege for me is doing it in this wonderful place, surrounded by softly-rounded hills, trees, big skies. If you double click on the photo at the top of this post and scroll from left to right, you'll see what I mean. Such beauty. It's enough to make me weep. And it does. Frequently.
'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.'
That's about it
Love Maddie x