For over three years, Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) has been helping development of the village Neighbourhood Plan. This aims to set out for the District Council how the people of Horsley wish to see the land in the village used and developed over the next 25-30 years. The Plan has required much consultation, drafting of fine words and picture taking, and very many meetings for LSW. I also got involved earlier this year in drafting and formatting a particular section on preferred green spaces in the village.
The group co-ordinating the Plan development, including LSW, are now on the final push to get the plan to a state ready for review by the Council and a further round of local consultation. Last week they asked for help to structure the Plan appendices and to achieve greater consistency of look and feel across the whole document, mainly by reducing the range of formatting quirks employed by each contributor.
Following prompting from LSW, I volunteered. LSW has long wanted me to get more involved in village affairs and this was my chance. Little did I think that it would end up echoing the intensity and effort of my pre-retirement days but, after 25 hours of sitting at my PC editing the document over four days, I’m done!
There may be further rounds of such intense effort required following review and consultation. However, I’m a Windows user and the bulk of the others who have technical and design input are Mac users. The two are not compatible and so I’m ready to bow out. Even if I am not required going forward I have earned some ‘brownie points’ with LSW.
That is just as well since I have proactively planned to be away during the village fete where LSW has a key role organising the Village Hall catering. Some time ago (admittedly when I knew the date of the fete), I arranged to meet up with my Best Man (BM) in Cambridgeshire and to fit in Forest Green Rovers’ (FGR) away game at Milton Keynes Dons. My absence this coming weekend, which will include a trip to London too, is being frowned upon by LSW. But at least I moved the Neighbourhood Plan forward beforehand so, on balance, I’ve got away with it.
I have been away from home quite a lot recently. In late August I was in London to catch up with a couple of past work colleagues and to see a band that I have been tracking for about 5 years. They are The Correspondents and, although the music is not all to my taste, the live act is as full of energy as anything I have seen. I even played a part in the lead singer’s crowd surfing exploits and got my hands on a (minor) celebrity for the first time. I recommend checking out video of their gigs – the lead singer’s moves are amazing.
Following that, I went to Nottingham to visit my parents and see FGR win at Notts County. It was great to be able to show my Dad how far FGR have come since I first started supporting my local team 20 years ago.
Despite being away so much, there has been time to participate in a couple of regular village events which I used to miss when working in London: the monthly Village Quiz Night (we came second again) and the monthly Men’s Night. Both are good ways to keep up with village gossip.
The quiz is particularly well constructed and run and is a very enjoyable challenge. Our team, usually of six but occasionally augmented by visiting offspring (Middle Son (MS) joined us a month ago and someone else’s daughter joined us this week), is varied. That means our knowledge doesn’t overlap too much and we are contenders. I usually can contribute on sport and geography but I’m too slow or too dense to add much elsewhere. These events are nice slices of rural life I didn’t have prior to retirement and both events help to keep our pub in business.
One less alluring aspect of rural life this week was an invasion into our garden of 70 sheep through some broken fencing in the adjacent field. Our grass got a welcome trim and some unexpected fertiliser but a few of the fruit trees and my leeks took a bit of a battering. Fortunately the farmer was nearby and available. He shooed them back within 30 minutes or so and damage to garden and sheep was insignificant (indeed, the sheep probably enjoyed the change of routine). Oh, the joys of country living!