[all these pictures enlarge with a click]While it may be true that once I seemed to know everyone in my town, from the local Beach Photographer [oops! there's another story] or the one time headmistress, later 'crazy' woman, her matted hair pushed under a tea cosy, who shook her walking stick at any school-aged girl and shouted 'Get back to class, now!' -to the woman who sat in a small windowed cubicle mending nylons - that familiarity ended years ago as the town grew and it's population flourished.
Now, up here in the village-which is truly a small finger of the Bay, I believe I can say we are back where we started..
The Butcher's shop is next door but one to our right and they know my name, and JP's. They know when I have family over for Sunday lunch as we discuss the merits and price of each joint. Rob knew when I had my hip operation and I know where he is taking his family on his days off. Thanks to my requests he now sells Quail and wild rabbit, Pheasant and Venison.
To our left is our Dentist, Stavros, who has become a dear friend and not only because he has saved my mouth from a fate, for me, worse than death or taxes; filling in the Cumberland Gap that kept my mouth closed for a month, but because he really is a sweet, funny and generous gentleman. Next to his surgery is the Chemist, that JP keeps afloat with his huge monthly prescription. I am commanded by the Chemist to fetch her should JP have another hypo, and as Stavros has demanded the same thing, and I know they mean it-I shall pour glucose into his mouth and run to them...well, hobble.
Opposite is a Funeral parlour. JP swears the boss sizes him up every time their paths cross, and next to their 'shop window' which contains a large coloured photograph of two fine black Shires pulling a black and gold hearse/carriage is a TV repair shop, though lord knows how it can make a living with electrical goods so cheaply available in Superstores. The owner's name is Chris, but to us he is Matt- for his extraordinary likeness to the late, great Matt Monroe.
A small break for the Village Hall and a Tea Shop then another short row of two shops, a Co-op and a Londis, and both, happily for their customers, vying for our custom for what is basically the same stock.
To our right we have a Video store, two hairdressers, a Florist, 2 Charity Shops, pet store and a Garage. All in all we are pretty well catered for.
When what is now our sitting-room was a shop, an ill-fated project we began in the certainty that we were too young to retire and because it seemed like a good idea at the time - I would sit near the register by the window, wrapped in a poncho and sketch passers-by.
Looking for something totally different- [actually some flower paintings I had done ages ago so that I could prove a point to JP. He had bought me a huge bunch of trumpet Lily s and suggested that I paint them - I told him that I could not paint flowers-he said 'rubbish'...end of explanation.] - I found these sketches that I did at the time, Good Grief! JP just reminded me that was all of fifteen years ago. Well, the middle-aged must be old, and the kids, adults. All caught in a brief moment in time.