Wendall walked a wiggly wire
Strung between two church spire,
Strung between two church spire,
Unfortunately for him he was undone
By an oblivious, bell-ringing nun,
Causing a result so very dire.
John Williams

THE SQUARE is now silent and still the pub and café doors are closed and barred. The only sounds to be heard are that of the odd barking dog and the church bell regularly chiming the hour, writes Jane Cooksey.

Celendines and bluebells adorn woodland

The landscape remains the same, but is burgeoning with new flora and fauna; colours seem more vibrant and somehow clearer as though a mist has been lifted. Bluebells cover the mossy ground in woods and fields, creating an iridescent blue haze speckled with bright yellow primroses and tiny delicate Celandines. Lambs are getting bigger and braver with no respect for social distancing as they come together in groups, jumping and playing in the Spring sunshine while the mothers watch and eat.

A pair of swans grace a pond | © Grace Ashcroft

Birds seem braver and louder, grouping together on telephone wires and tree branches, mocking the two-metre rule and singing and chattering from sunrise to sunset. Ponds, lakes and rivers, which normally would be crowded with people, are now deserted with only the sights and sounds of an amplified natural world filling the air and making ripples on the surface of the still water.

A stunning estuary sunset

Pets are confused, but happy to have the family home all day, but are not used to being constantly awake and having to entertain. ‘Normal’ life consists of an early-morning short walk, then spending the rest of the day following the sun round the house in various sleeping positions. Now everyone wants to go for a walk during the day and all the comfy ‘forbidden’ sofas and seats are taken up with individuals big and small working and playing.

Local shop remains open for business

A calm complacency has fallen over the village with people accepting new routines and making the most of the enforced lockdown. Gardens have never looked better and DIY is now a pastime rather than a chore. The villagers have come together not physically, but through various communication networks, making sure that people who cannot travel get all they need from the local shop and bakery. Meat, grocery and bakery orders are delivered to houses in isolation both in and around Broughton daily, with volunteers taking it in turns to do the driving. Even the local pub has a delivery service, which is extremely popular, especially at the weekends.

Bull in splendid isolation | © Colin Robertshaw

Meals are cooked and delivered to older parishioners once a week all on a voluntary basis, and a network of helpers has been set up to distribute whatever is needed, from plants and books to medicines and food. This crisis has brought a small community together in a common goal to help vulnerable individuals and those in isolation, re-introducing an age-old system of bartering, which entails swapping goods and sharing ideas.

Pop-up honesty box

As the lockdown continues people are adapting to these new enforced circumstances and adjusting their routines and habits. Communication has become a lifeline, bringing families closer together with time to chat and share hobbies, as well as taking a much bigger interest in others and their wellbeing. The café and pubs, which were the communication hubs of the village, may be shut, but the implacable and ever-strengthening community spirit shines through.

A sign in the village says it all

The church bell chimes the hour in the ‘empty square’, but the odd barking dog is no longer heard as it and all the other pets are trying to get some well-earned rest…!

To be continued…

Main image | Village pond with swans | © Grace Ashcroft

Jane Cooksey is a keen adventurer, which is convenient as her husband Andy is, too. She is a climber, mountaineer and skier, and loves exploring new places. She has had quite a few big trips exploring America, Canada and Australia, plus many remote parts of Europe as well as most of the UK. She has her own PR company (Real PR Outdoor – www.real-pr.com) specialising in outdoor brands, and in recent years has started freelance writing for various outdoor and travel publications.