A walk through an English village

Isn’t it great when the pictures of a place and the realities of the same place, are exactly spot on!

I mean we’ve all entered into a destination; hotel, beach, restaurant, the kitchen of a house you’ve gone to view – and thought, “somebody somewhere has mislead me here!”  So equally, we all know what a good feeling it is when we get somewhere and whoever, or whatever, has sold you on the place, has delivered!

My home village Sarratt is one of those places.

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Poetry Time:

“Weeping willow with your tears running down, why do you always weep and frown?
Is it because he left you one day? Is it because he could not stay?
On your branches he would swing, do you long for happiness that day would bring?
He found shelter in your shade, you thought his laughter would never fade!
Weeping willow stop your tears, for there is something to calm your fears. 
You think death as you do forever part, and I know he’ll always be in your heart.”

– Emma Jane Rae; from the movie ‘My Girl’

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I’m not an avid reader of poetry. But I do appreciate the elegance and flow that a beautifully written or well read poem can offer. This is one I often think of when I walk through the village and spot this willow tree. Perhaps it’s because I’m more of a movie person that this one has stuck. But whether from a movie or not from a movie the words are still the same. I’m told occasionally that trees have souls, they’ve been around for many years and multiple generations. They’ve seen and heard and evolved themselves around hundreds of interactions, human and surrounding wildlife. Surely if they could talk they would have many stories to speak of, joys and sadnesses. Would they feel those emotions? I think this poem just sort of captures that.

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Sarratt in Spotlight

I’ve always known Sarratt was a special little village. When I was a little girl, long before we moved here, I would come for horseriding lessons or for the village annual fireworks display. Toffeeapples on the green, wrapped up warm in hats and scarves, cheeks turning pink from the flame of the bonfire. If Enid Blyton ever needed inspiration, these would be scenes that would do just that!

It’s not just me that has noticed its local village charm over the years. Sarratt has been the filming location for countless films, tv commercials and tv programmes. Ever watched Grantchester? Yep…James Norton and Robson Green were not so long ago shooting a scene down the bottom of my road. If I had of known at the time I would’ve been straight down there offering cups of tea and embarrassing myself silly with rantings and references to Robson’s Extreme Fishing show! Big fan! (It was more the exotic destinations that grabbed my attention rather than the fishing, and obviously Mr Green’s witty, occasionally cringy, commentary!) Gotta love the guy.

Recognise these doors?

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Used as the background for a scene in Grantchester.

How about this church?

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Amongst other things, you might recognise this 12th century church mostly from Brit classic ‘Four Wedding’s and a Funeral.’

For me though, I know it just as the church at the bottom of my road. The church that I pass when I head out for one of my walks. I look and I try to imagine what life must have been like back when the church was first founded in 1190ac. To think that people once stood where I’m stood staring at the same building, over 800 years ago! It’s kinda cool really, almost like a time capsule.

Lace up your hiking boots

About a year ago I was counting down the months, weeks, days, until my little legs (they really are kinda little) had to carry me towards the high altitudes of Everest base camp. I’d donned myself a pair of hiking boots, had googled the best ways to prepare myself physically for the challenge (and immediately disregarded most of it), and I hit the streets of Sarratt. I figured it’s a walking challenge, so hey…let’s walk!

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Moments

I would start  my walks simply by opening the front door… and away I went. Turn right and  you end up in Sarratt Bottom, turn left and it’s the greens. Personally I like to turn right.

Now one thing I’ve noticed when walking is that we tend to spend most of the time looking at our feet, making sure that we don’t accidentally trip over something sending us arse over t**! Which can cause somewhat of a mental confusion when we’re trying to keep up the pace whilst also enjoying a view. My advice…just stop. Take that moment to breath it all in. It will do wonders for your clarity. These are the sorts of moments that can bring tears to the eyes. Yes these tears could be from the cold that is whipping past your face. But, just imagine, they could also be tears from the emotion that needs to escape the body. I find that nature has a very special way of making this happen, even without us being prepared for it. The epic scale of something, the absolute beauty of something, or even just the perfect stillness of something, can bring us to a crashing halt. Frozen there in our footsteps. Different things may work for different people. What one persons soul attaches onto, another’s may not. But that’s great. This just means that more worldly features get to be appreciated.

One of my places is at the top of the hill overlooking Sarratt Bottom:

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I like to stand at the top of this hill for a few moments, my eyes desperately trying to take in every beam of sunlight or wisp of cloud in the sky. If I were a kid again and I skipped, I would probably have done it somewhere like this. Remember when we would do things, like skipping or running, just for the sake of doing it. Seems like a million years ago doesn’t it. Remember running so fast to the point it felt like your body would topple over because your little legs couldn’t keep up! I’ve done that a couple of times here as a grown up…and I promise you, it’s even more exhilarating than what I remember from doing it as a child (although I certainly can’t run for as long I used to!) The dangers seem more real as an adult, perhaps that’s why we don’t really do it as much. We’re taller so there’s further to fall, we notice all the things that could go wrong; dips in the ground we could twist our ankles in, steep hills we would absolutely end up tumbling from top to bottom down, or the barbed wire we would more than likely end up face planting! Kids just don’t notice or even care about these things. That’s their beauty though I guess.

So let’s keep going shall we…what’s at the bottom of the hill? The ever so eloquently named… Sarratt Bottom!

A pretty stream flows through. In the summer you can picnic down at the waters edge and paddle in the stream. Remember those brightly coloured fishing nets you would try to catch a fish with (but really the only things we ever caught was watery mud and riverbed rocks?) Well those things are still a thing! And they’re out in abundance down here in the summer. In the winter though it’s different. Quieter, mistier. The sun is lower so the light reflects in a different way. It’s the time of year I like to come down here by myself.

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Time for a quote by Winnie the Pooh…

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known”

Over the years, my mum has come to affectionately name one of the bridges down at Sarratt Bottom, Pooh Bridge.

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“Just popping down to Pooh Bridge,” is usually how we explain where our gallivants are taking us.

To Where All Good Trails Lead To

If you’re anything like me you’ll just love walking around this pretty little village. You’ll want to get all snuggled up in your hats, scarves and gloves, and you’ll want to familiarise yourself with all of the nooks and crannies; head down that tree lined lane that looks like a tunnel…

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….or take a walk along that pretty little street that has all those pretty little cottages…

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I mean, it really is all so English looking isn’t it.

But if you’re REALLY anything like me, you’ll want to wrap all of this up by plonking yourself down next to an open lit fireplace with a glass of something warming. Nothing ends a good old country walk like a good old country pub! And Sarratt isn’t shy of a few different pubs to choose from:

One of the things you have to love most about our ancestors of Ye Olde England is how they unknowingly and very innocently supplied us (the modern world) with the gift of hilarity amongst today’s silly minded and easily pleased, all just with a name…

Pub Number 1: The Cock Inn

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Yes, I am one of those silly minded and easily pleased folk of today 🙂

Can you see on the right hand side? The headstones? So this pub is directly opposite the church. A real locals pub this one, as in most people in here know most people. It’s usually the pub we come to on Christmas Day for our lunchtime drink. Other than that I would say this is the pub I come to the least. Not really sure why, I like it, it’s cosy. Open fire, friendly faces, warm atmosphere (I think I’ve just talked myself into a little visit here later! haha).

Pub Number 2: The Boot

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New management has turned this pub from having not much atmosphere and being quite unwelcoming to having just won the title of Best Family Pub in the UK 2016! Not bad right. I spoke with the new owner earlier in the year and she told me all about the vision she had for it; boutique, warm, friendly and quirky. Well she pretty much nailed it! Well done girl.

I like to come here for their Monday evening offer; Two wood oven pizzas and one bottle of wine for £20. Delicious!

(Click here to follow The Boot and their journey as Best Family Pub in the UK)

Pub Number 3: The Cricketers

In my eyes this is saving the best til last. I don’t know what it is but I absolutely love this pub…I walk in and instantly I feel calm and homely.

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If I were to recommend you somewhere to enjoy a glass of red, or a pint of ale, it would have to be here. Sitting by the open fire place seating area will start to invigorate all of those warm, cosy, happy feelings we get when, just for a few moments in life, we feel content.

(Click here to find out more about my favourite pub)

 

I’ve been home for just over a month now and I’ve been lucky enough to have had the time to spend enjoying it. Slowly, unrushed. I’ve been able to get to appreciate all of its little quirks, there are plenty. The friendliness of its residents, the community and togetherness. On Boxing Day every year this little village comes alive with the annual vintage car show held on the green. Everyone comes out in their finest country attire and newly given Christmas presents; hats, wellies, tweed jackets,you name it they’ve got it. They all have rosie cheeks from the cold but still they come out with big smiles on their faces. The village starts to look exactly how it would have when some of these vintage cars or vehicles were modern day…and I absolutely love it!

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I’ve got a few weeks left before I leave again, so if you find yourself even just slightly inspired or intrigued enough to head here for a morning or afternoon, you’ll be sure to catch me somewhere walking around in my boots and with a dreamy look on my face.

Enjoy.

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