Yesterday, Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) and I went to the village pub: The Hog. Whether relieving the coronavirus lock down at this point in vaccination programme and while new coronavirus variants are swirling about is sensible or not, I’m not sure. But after almost 6 months of missing out on going to the pub, it felt like progress. It felt like near-normal fun!
The pub was well organised in catering for an excited bunch of villagers amid the continuing social distancing guidelines. The pub garden was very tidy, new table service app worked, the sun was shining and the beer tasted good.
The pub management are a lovely village family who have been very resilient during they took over the pub lease just before the first lock down last Spring. They have done a lot of work to make the place a pub with a traditional, drink-focused and village feel. The improvements inside and out look judicious and practical and all we need now is good weather without onerous social distancing.
Hopefully lock down will continue to be relieved (with just cause) and we will soon be allowed use of the inside of the pub as well as the (still rather chilly) garden area. That way, we customers can benefit from all the effort and investment the management have made and the pub can again become a full, vibrant focal point for the community and for impromptu gossip and discussion.
The only downside is that the re-opening of the local pub will put pressure on my alcohol consumption. I’ve done so well in the last year to reduce my alcohol units consumption and to increase alcohol-free days as advised by doctors and the press. Hopefully the restraint of the last three months, in particular, has left me a sufficient contingency as I strive to meet my New Year resolution targets for 2021. I can certainly see those targets are going to come under pressure now the pub has reopened, and I am enticed by the long awaited pleasure of beer drinking after weekend walks and on days of celebration – like pub reopening day, yesterday!
Recent life has otherwise been fairly unremarkable, although we did go on a new (for me) and delightful walk last weekend around Sapperton and Edgeworth a few miles north east from where we live.
I have also continued to busy myself with local village activities. The Neighbourhood Plan which I helped develop many months ago, is finally being presented to the village for a referendum for approval or rejection. After so much effort by so many over several months (nay, years!), rejection cannot be contemplated so posters and leaflets have been prepared to encourage a ‘yes’ vote. I’m discovering some previously unknown nooks and crannies in the village as I deliver some of the leaflets.
Work with our village climate action group has also rumbled on. Somehow, involvement has crept up to, I estimate, an average of over an hour a day. The focus in recent weeks has been on a phone around of people in the village who have expressed interest in the group and who receive our seasonal newsletter. Now the focus is on the Spring edition of that newsletter and on following up the points raised during the phone around including discussion of how we embrace the Ecological Emergency as well as the Climate Emergency.
None of this is exactly earth shattering but it all takes time and, despite the availability of almost infinite discretionary time in retirement, I do need to maintain boundaries around this stuff. Otherwise, I can see I will get frustrated by lack of attention to other areas of pleasure such as walking, reading and gardening (nothing gets in the way of watching Forest Green Rovers!).
I have also, rather fleetingly, been involved in a proposal to establish a Community Land Trust in the village. The idea was to find funding from the village, loans and other financial means to enable purchase of a house and its 13 acres of woods and fields, and then run the assets from a Community Land Trust that would provide affordable housing and preserve the excellent biodiversity in the fields and woods.
The opportunity was precipitated by the death of an old and rather famous activist in the village who had been generous with both the house and the lands by providing young people with accommodation and allowing community cultivation of some of the surrounds. Unfortunately, the scale of the financing for the purchase and the short timescales in which the funding needed to be raised proved to be insurmountable obstacles.
The idea has therefore died for now. However, the need for affordable housing in rural areas like ours and the desire to increase local biodiversity remains and finding out how Community Land Trusts work was engaging. It was good, too, to make some completely new and interesting acquaintances during the ultimately aborted process. Maybe there will be a chance to get involved in similar projects in the future.
Meanwhile, another trip to the local pub needs to be scheduled…….