There are at least five ways to access the village by car, all of them narrow country roads. Narrow they may be, but they seem like wide motorways compared to the two anorexic lanes we had to use to get to anywhere from the farm. Two of these roads lead to a main road, our access to bigger towns and villages. One leads to a community pub in the next village. Another takes us to the West Somerset Railway where, because we are now residents of the area, we apparently get a 25% discount on tickets for this lovely old puffer. The fifth takes us to a road which heads north toward the coast, 27 minutes away. We discovered where each of these led through planning, accident (taking a wrong turning – it’s a bit embarrassing when you don’t know where the house you’ve just bought is), curiosity, and nature forcing us to find an alternative route when one of the roads was flooded.
There are 250 residents of the village, of which we’ve met three so far – one of our immediate neighbours; the woman who welcomed us with a little booklet full of useful information, such as when the next meeting of village craft group takes place; and the man who delivered a truckload of wood for our fire. As well as the craft group, there’s a lunch club, a singing group, and a book club. Of the other residents, we know little except one is a potter and another cycled around the world. Both these pieces of information came from two different sources in the neighbouring county, Devon.
Until relatively recently, there was a pub in the village, a 17th century inn, but it’s now used only for accommodation, which is a real shame as it is barely a minute’s walk from our front door. As compensation, there is a semi-regular pop-up pub in the village’s 14th century barn, the central hub of village life.
We moved into our new house one week ago, on the most miserable day of the year, when the rain fell incessantly, turning roads on Somerset’s flatter levels into rivers, forcing our movers to spend two thirds of the day huddled in their vans waiting for breaks in the deluge. We’re lucky, we had good advice about areas in risk of flooding when we moved back to Britain a year and a half ago. The village is 100m above sea level, relatively high for these parts, which meant although some roads leading to it were affected, the village itself was high(ish) and dry. Even so, instead of being done and dusted in just over half a day, it took till 16.30 before all (slightly damp) boxes and furniture were in place and we could begin to sort things out.
We celebrated moving into a new home with a bottle of champers and an Indian take-out from Wiveliscombe, only handed over after a friendly interrogation – ‘Where do you live? How long have you been there? How many bedrooms are there? How big is the garden? How much did you pay for it?’ The replies must have been to the owner’s liking as he threw in some poppadoms and mango chutney for free. As we drove back through the village’s one and only street with our car filled with the tantalising aroma of butter chicken, we noticed just how dark the place was. There is not one streetlight. Plus, our outdoor light wasn’t working, so there was much fumbling around in the dark before we could regain entry to our new abode. This wasn’t helped by a reluctant front door lock which seemed peeved that its previous owners had abandoned it and did its best to refuse us entry (a blast of WD40 in its eye the following day showed it who was boss).
And that was it, we were in, feeling all warm and fuzzy and stocked with food and sparkling refreshments, ready for our first night in a new home and a newish location.
Now we can start to try to figure out who the potential murderers are.