So, I am now going to tell you about the area that we live in.
Our village, Adstock, is surrounded by fields and hedgerows – typical English countryside. Scrubby green grass, dotted with sheep, cows, a herd of bulls which are scared of Juliette, some Roman mounds, which are, well, grassy mounds, and are apparently Roman.
Our nearest town is Buckingham, which dates back to A Very Long Time Ago. Though there are a few modern buildings, for the main part, the town is made up of narrow, cobbled streets, which wind betwixt golden stone 18th century buildings – amongst them a turreted County Gaol – Victorian and Georgian buildings and medieval terraces. A great golden swan – the emblem of Buckingham - presides over the town from the top of A Building, its neck arched, wings raised in warning.
This is fairytale England, probably rather Tory England - an England where grim, grey stained terraces and pound shops are another world away. My mother was appalled and shocked to hear that there is not a Marks and Spencer's, though I rather like the fact that the town isn't just a repeat performance of the same old chains. There is a Subway, but apart from that, there are no fast food outlets, but rather a lot of tea/ice cream shops, where you can get delicious pasties and dreadful coffee. There is a music shop, LOTS of charity shops, three pubs and two restaurants, one called Prego and the other called Prezzo, just across the road from each other.
Amongst many other things in its long life, it seems that Buckingham once had a mint, and just a couple of weeks ago, in a satellite village, Gawcott, (incidentally just 4.7 miles from our house!) the locals surprised themselves by digging up one of the biggest hoards of Saxon coins ever found in Great Britain. Many of the coins looked as though they had never been in circulation – bringing to mind visions of terrified Saxons, under a wild grey sky, hauling their new-minted coins to safety. Clawing sod and mud from the earth with their bare hands in the driving rain: “Come on Ethelred, put your back into it, the Vikings are coming!”
“I'm digging my fastest, Ethelwren - if we don't get them buried deep enough, the dogs will find them sure enough.”
“And while you dig yourself to countries as yet undiscovered on the other side of the globe, the Red Haired devils draw closer to our homes, with nothing but rape and pillage on their minds – think of our wives, Etheltracy and Ethelsharon! Get on with it!”
Tipping the barrels of coins into the ground, hessian shirts soaked through with mud and water, beards bedraggled, faces red and sweaty, eyes shining with panic. They trample down the earth over the barrels, replace the sod. “Come, Ethelwren, we must away, back to our families....” But as the men turn towards Buckingham, they see the smoke, rising above the buildings, the orange sparking flames, hear the hoarse cries of battle, the screaming and wailing and the clunk and clash of swords....
I was going to tell you about Milton Keynes as well – and about my new job, but that might have to wait for another time....
And this is an interesting link if you want to look at it.