signs of living in the country


People coming from big cities should understand that the way of communication is different in the country. I know it’s an obvious thing to say but word-of-mouth is the way it’s done and the smaller the town or village, the more important word-of-mouth is.

I did a little tour today because I had a meeting to give advice to a man who had taken over the running of some allotments in Stoke St Michael. Four out of 12 plots were covered in docks and other weeds to the height of about 4 feet. We had a discussion on what to do and I suggested cutting them down to ground level. The clay ground made digging far too difficult. I then suggested running a cultivator over it, waiting for the inevitable weeds to grow and digging them up. When I got home, my wife suggested that the ground be soaked, covered with a tarpaulin for a couple of days making the ground easier to dig.

It is pretty much guaranteed that in the local pub, everyone knows everybody else. I remember going in there once and every single head turned round to see who it was.

a small cinema club has been started by a young couple who just moved into the village.It is run a shoestring. They need about 20 people to break even. Hire of the village hall costs about four pounds an hour and there are licensing fees to pay

I then moved onto Mells for an excellent lunch at my favourite post office come grocery shop, bakery come cafe. All the adverts are much more personal. You are very unlikely to get taken advantage of. This is something the newcomer finds it difficult to understand.

picture of Mells in the 18th-century exhibited in the cafe.


this is what the community is all about. in case you can’t read the detail, the phone number is (01373) 812804 and the e-mail is info @
in my experience, the more untidy, the more worthwhile the read
what a lovely leaflet

You do find an element of gossip but most of it is harmless. It is also mixed in with very interesting and relevant information, warnings, useful pointers so don’t dismiss it all.

I would say definitely do not speak ill of anyone without knowing who you are talking to. You may be speaking to their best friend, business colleague or fellow committee member. Again, you might think that is a completely obvious point, but things have a habit of bouncing back on you and the rejection will be subtle but it will be there. Thank goodness that has not happened to us and I hope it never does.





When is a bargain not a bargain – my beloved Lidl disappoints


Saturday 2 July 1664 Pepys diary here

To say that I’m a fan of Lidl, or ‘Lidlers’ as we are collectively dubbed is an understatement. I cannot resist going along every Monday and Thursday to see what special offers pertain. The people who order must be mind readers because as soon as my old item wears out, lo! and behold there is a replacement.

Last week there was a particularly tempting ad. for those wonderful four in one garden tools that do everything except make tea. Strimmer, brush cutter, chainsaw, hedge cutter all for £129.  What’s a chap supposed to do? Anyway I bought it and I did notice that when I took it home it was very heavy. It took me about 20 min to assemble it. The problems came when I tried to lift it. It was almost impossible to lift. Admittedly you have shoulder straps and a leather protector which hangs down on the right side of the body by the hip but as I am left-handed and have very little power in my right arm that is well nigh useless. This morning Monday I have already started to pack it up again so what happened with the normally immaculate ordering process? No one thought about the weight.

The specifications are immaculate and the build of good quality as you would expect of the German importer even though it is basically Florabest which I think is Chinese. A chain is as strong as the weakest link so off I go to get a refund. Lidl are most reasonable with refunds so I do buy from them with confidence although I confess that I have bought one of two things I don’t really need because they look so tempting.

Later… went to return the item. The chap at the cash desk was a quiet intellectual type but wanted to know what the problem was not because he was questioning my refund but simply for his information. I told him that it didn’t work for left-handed people and that I was not built like an ox so could not actually lift it with comfort never mind raise the end of the  hedge cutter 2 1/2 m above my head.  I have put it on my scales to find the weight in use would be 86 kg. Hard to believe that that’s what it said.

Last night, I wrote a long letter to a Gardening customer of mine who works for a Christian charity that does wonderful work. She is in charge of fundraising. I saw the website and I knew that it had been designed by an amateur. Sometimes I cannot help myself and I went through the whole site point by point and indicated ways that the site could be more effective. The problem is that when people create sites they only show them to their friends, and sympathetic people, who will praise the site saying how wonderful it is. What you should really do it is to show the site to someone who doesn’t know one charity from another. Their input is much more valuable.  By the way, before sending her the report I did ask whether she wanted feedback on the site and she said yes. That is always a better idea than sending a bombshell out of the blue.