The sun often shines on the tree-lined village green, nestled in the Chiltern Hills, with pubs, shops and amenities scattered around it.
On one side, the parade of shops included a newsagent, which had sweets stored in large jars you could purchase in white paper bags by weight. Believe it or not, this used to be one of three paper shops surrounding this village centre. There used to be a butcher with meat hanging in the window and sawdust scattered on the floor – now in Italian Restaurant. The skinny video shop looked squeezed between the chip shop and chemist. The grocery store was next to the hairdressers and always had a display out front, selling plants in the spring alongside 25kg sacks of potatoes. I had a job here as a teenager serving shoppers and hoisting bags of spuds on my shoulder to carry to customers cars.
The Green used to accommodate three pubs and a Working Men’s Club. The Steps always had a jolly crowded sat outside either side of the short concrete stairway, which leads to the door. Chatting, laughing and watching traffic. Further round this side was The Cow with its low door. Always looked busy now living accommodation. The biggest of the pubs is the Red Lion. With regular live music, it drew the crowds from afar. It changed to an eatery, then back to a pub. It is now an eatery again. This time a posh one! The Working Men’s Club is often a hive of activity; it has a hall on one side to hire for wedding receptions, birthday celebrations or similar. Snooker tables in a rear room for members to play against each other.
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Green had a resident Kebab van that pulled up and parked up in the evenings along one edge that the drunken masses used to congregate around, lusting for fast fatty food.
Occasionay, police got to be called to alcohol-fueled trouble that happened when the pubs cleared out. Often this occurred where Kebabs were served from of the old converted ambulance.
As time has moved on and the big stores have taken over, the grocers I used to spend my Weekend Mornings is no longer there, along with the family-run newsagent and hairdressers. A chain store snuck in, taking over the three independent shops, converting them to one ‘mini’ supermarket. I can’t decide if this is a good thing; is it progress?
The barber in the old betting shop is always welcoming. A haircut comes with banter and village gossip, often about people I don’t know. It feels good keeping my roots associated with this village.
The veins leading away
Busy roads lead away from this wide circle of life. Three roads lead upwards out of the valley towards other villages. Whereas the other portals are the main route from one town to the next. In a southbound direction, the route travels towards an industrial estate located just after a pleasant park – the one mentioned in a previous blog. Ancient Ash trees, Poplars, Holm Oak and Cedar all grow in this area. By their size, you can tell they have been here a long time. The park used to be on the grounds of the old Manor house. Hence the name!
Big articulated lorries thunder through this village green on route to the industrial estate carrying various goods. These lorry drivers have to use maximum driving skills to squeeze their loads through gaps that seem too small, between parked cars and busses held at a stop, accepting passengers. The roadside kerbs chewed up as another lorry returning to the motorway junction meets another head-on and has to mount to the sidewalk to avoid any collisions.
More to follow about village life……