Last week I told you about how I was trying to create a fictional English village as the setting for my next book. Lots of readers contacted me, either here or on social media and gave me ideas for features to include in the perfect fictional English village. The things mentioned most often were:
- Church (which surprised me, as rural congregations have dwindled over recent years)
- Somewhere to sit and watch the world go by (preferably with ducks to feed!)
- War memorial (another surprise, although the popularity of soldier silhouettes probably explains it)
Lots of people suggested things other than buildings that went to create a village atmosphere. As a writer, I found those ideas equally useful. The things that cropped up most often were:
- Local characters – there’s at least one in every village, ready to give you the gossip, or a long-range weather forecast
- Peace and quiet, interrupted only by…
- Dark skies with no light pollution, perfect for romance under the stars
and two of my favourite benefits of country living,
- A little local shop
- Friendly locals (rather than the more unusual characters)
We have great examples of both right here in the middle of our village. Pip’s shop really is open all hours, and shuts only twice a year: on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. It’s within walking distance so you don’t need to bother with the car, and it’s saved my bacon (and milk, and tea bags, and coffee!) any number of times when there’s been a last minute call for school cookery ingredients or bits for science project.
Pre-Covid, our village shop was a meeting place as much a shop. It was somewhere you could find out all the local news even quicker than it featured on Facebook! All that changed with social distancing and face masks.
It’s very sad. I hope things can get back to something close to normal soon.