• Veronica Cline Barton

There’s Something About Village Life…

I’m back with the folks in the village of Maidenford, my fictional  village outside the gates of Cherrywood Hall, aka Castlewood Manor. Sally Prim, Henry the barkeep, and Vicar Hawthorne are alive and well again in book 3, ready to be scandalized, mortified, and put in the throes of danger (a typical day in a cozy mystery). I feel quite at home in Maidenford, walking the cobbled streets, visiting the beautiful church, and of course, stopping in for a pint at The Howling Pig.

Now I know the quaint villages such as depicted in Miss Marple’s St, Mary Mead may be a thing of the past, but even the larger, modernized villages have huge appeal to me. Living in the very trendy, high paced, suburban burbs of southern California has me longing for a place I imagine to be more quaint and inviting for everyday tasks. A place where people walk to destinations, stop and talk with one another on the street, and not hop in the car and fight traffic (supplemented with hand gestures when the road rage emerges).

Whenever we travel, we try and go to places that have that small town or village feel. Hubby and I enjoy walking around and exploring, grabbing a cup of coffee and watching the world go by. I feel more relaxed in these type settings, and deep down my heart longs to live in such a setting some day. For now, I entertain myself in my fictional Maidenford. I thought I’d share some of the “village” settings that warm my heart…

Is it the pubs…

I love pubs—and not just because of the drinks (although a hard apple cider on tap has become my favorite pubiliscious drink, no doubt). I love going into an older establishment, dark with lots of carved wood, filled with years of collected memorabilia and experiences. Each pub seems to have its own unique style, and the ones that are off the beaten tourist path are my favorites. There’s nothing better to me than to sit with a pint, leaning against a thick wooden table, reading the papers, and just listening to the whispered voices (which do become a bit louder as the-ahem-alcohol kicks in).

My favorite are the pub names—who comes up with these charming monikers? The Drunken Duck, The Gate Hangs Well, Boars Head, Bucket of Blood, The Hung Drawn and Quartered (yikes), Mad Dog, Nobody Inn…the lists go on and on, and I want to explore each and every one. I also want their signs, to me, these beauties are the best kind of collectible art. I’m so inspired by pubs we have our own California version right in our suburban front yard, The Rusty Pig (and yes, neighbors do stop by 🙂 )

The allure of gardens at every turn?

I’m mesmerized by gardens of any sort, but particularly the ones that are meticulously laid out, and groomed to perfection. I don’t live in a location where such a garden is possible, so on my travels, I love roaming the streets and parks, checking them out. I love the flowers of course, but some of my favorites are the herb gardens I’ve seen, artfully planted, the aromas of the herbs permeating the air. That to me is the perfect garden planting, one not only pleasing to the eye, but also yummy to the tummy.

People’s gardens give great insight to the personalities of the owner I think. Organization, quirkiness, adventure, you can learn a lot about the humans by studying their gardens. What does your garden grow?

The markets?

Tell me what woman doesn’t love the lure of walking down the middle of the street, gazing at vendor stall after vendor stall of goods, be it fruits and veggies, or garish art? I can spend hours just walking and looking, inspecting the proffered baubles. I love the vendors, but also the artists, musicians, and of course the foodie stalls. The picture above was taken at Notting Hill’s famous Portebello Road market (OK, technically not a “village”, but I think you can picture what I’m talking about).

I love the idea of going to such a marketplace each day, getting the meats and produce for supper, hearing the latest scoop on what’s going on in the neighborhood…much more enjoyable than pushing a cart in a refrigerated supermarket, don’t you think? (And yes, that lady in black walking down the street is moi  😉 )

And so for now…

I’ll have to content myself with visits to lovely villages in our travels (still thinking about you, Avalon, population 3500) and of course my fictional village of Maidenford. One day though, I think I will live in a village, complete with pubs, gardens, and markets. I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be…

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. What are some of your favorite things you imagine about village life? I’m dying to know, Gemma would approve 🙂

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