I have just had a look at a blog I wrote in 2011 about Feast - the big bash which takes place in our village each year the first-ish Saturday in July. What I enjoyed reading about the 2011 weekend of fancy dress, pipe band, sports and fairground attractions was the reassurance that some things stay blissfully just the same.
We've lived on the outskirts of this very sociable village for over 25 years now and one of the things we love is the summer (especially when the weather decides to play ball as it is currently) when the village becomes the hub of all sorts of social and sporting activities. Sometimes it feels as if we haven't staggered further than the sports field or the pubs or the homes of our gorgeous neighbours for weekends on end! Once we've had the May Day weekend with the schoolchildren dancing round the maypole and the most unlikely scarecrows gracing village gardens, summer seems to speed on apace towards Feast, the Fun Run (never done it and never likely to), tennis tournaments and the Burty Cup. And the same good friends as well as folks that we hardly see during the miserable winters of recent years all come out to enjoy the fun. We look in amazement that the children seem to have grown at least six inches taller over the winter and the youngsters who competed in the fancy dress of yesteryear are now enjoying their first experience of the late-night dodgems at Feast as carefree teenagers (possibly with a certain amount of under-age alcohol on board!)
This year's Feast was no exception or rather, it was, in my world. I had forgotten my responsibility as washer-upper at village tea when I agreed to do 2nd team tea on Feast day. Actually what I had done was exchange one afternoon of washing up and waiting on for the same thing about 100 yards away in the cricket pavilion rather than the village hall. The requirements for cricket tea appear to be as follows: four loaves of sandwiches, four cakes and 'please can you make scones with cream and jam?', quiches, cocktail sausages, crisps etc served, of course, with lashings of tea and squash - not in the same cups. All of the above was cooked the day before apart from the sandwiches which were buttered and filled whilst the British (well, mostly Welsh) Lions whupped Australia.
So twenty two hungry men fed and a quick change later, we were in the pub for supper whilst our teenagers did exactly as their older siblings before them - enjoyed the fair, joyfully made themselves feel sick on The Edge and made the most of the freedom of unsupervised fun whilst occasionally returning to their parents for more cash. We enjoyed supper in the pub before the braver amongst us were strapped into seats on The Edge or did some rather aggressive driving on the dodgems.
One week later and it's the full-on weekend of tennis tournaments starting with the juniors on Saturday who hurtle about the court with great enthusiasm and, in some cases, considerable skill, with the very serious shaking of hands across the net at the end of every match and a prize-giving and bbq to follow. Then on Sunday it was the adults' turn, except that some of our juniors are now so good that we have promoted them to play in the adult event as well. After three hours of mixed (sometimes very!) doubles, we had two pairs ready to battle it out in the final. And battle they did - it took a tie-break to conclude matters with Mrs Broccoli and the singing dancing doctors' son coming out on top.
Half an hour and a shower later (of the bathroom variety) and we reconvened at Mr and Mrs Bonjour's house for a splendid bbq cooked by chaps who all mysteriously turned up in blue shirts (why?) and the children who ranged from five to eighteen played rounders all together with great spirit - partly perhaps because of the number of beers they had consumed and, for clarity's sake, I refer here only to the teenagers.
So one more summer weekend gone, packed with memories to be stored up and revisited in the long, cold winter months. One more weekend to go before the holidays proper start but the highlight of that will no doubt be the Burty Cup - a limited over, 6-player cricket event named for the late, lovely Neil Burtwhistle who was so encouraging to number 3 child when he first started playing adult cricket. And yes, I'm baking again!
Why would you ever want to live anywhere else?
The boys in blue!