Lying in bed this morning, listening to the dismal weather being wet yet again, I thought about this some more. I realised that when I lived in Newcastle, my life was full of bloggable ups and downs, delights and anxieties, Flossie's innards, house-doing-up/selling/buying/moving, with a rich (and occasionally eccentric) variety of friends and neighbours, who didn't mind being blogged about, to enliven the quieter moments.
Here, I haven't written about my neighbours or my new friends, and no one knows that I have a blog. And might look at me in a sideways Somerset-y sort of way were I to tell them.....
Anyhow.... as no one knows, and in any case, probably looks at me sideways more often than I care to notice, why shouldn't I write about the little community in which I now live? Or about what I do to keep myself amused, other than plodding up and down muddy lanes with a filthy dog, shouting at her to leave the fallen apples alone?
So.... this is an update on life in the slow lane. It's busy, in a laid-back, lazy sort of way. There's the Women's Institute, the WI skittles morning, the volunteer attendance on behalf of MIND at the weekly Seniors' Lunch, and the regular room guide session at Dunster Castle. Not to mention life with The Gardener (also occasionally eccentric) and the furry tribe, as well as Flossie's innards and the too-familiar consequences of not preventing her from eating the fallen apples.
*Actually, I have paused the volunteering in recent weeks, when the everlasting shingles really began to take its toll, but I'll go back to it when I'm properly fit and well again, because it is very enjoyable, the visitors are mostly very nice people, and the other volunteers feel like a peculiar sort of family - not quite Downstairs, certainly not Upstairs, but comfortably proprietorial.
We volunteers are a decidedly mixed and cheerful bunch; some are immensely knowledgeable and remember facts and dates, while others among us (ahem) Do Our Best. We have our favourite rooms - time can go rather slowly if you're allocated a room that doesn't interest you. Some are gloomy; some have ghosts; many have breakable things that an enthusiastic toddler will home in on like an exocet missile; one has a beautiful silk patchwork bedspread that had to be repaired after two small boys leapt enthusiastically onto it with their outdoor shoes....
Volunteers also have favourite stories of things visitors have said or asked; mine is from one woman who was - as happens occasionally - touring the place with the seeming sole aim of disapproving of how the wealthy lived. Coming into the billiards room, with its huge Edwardian - not Viking - table, she remarked sourly, "I suppose they had to have somethin' to do when they weren't rapin' an' lootin' an' pillagin'..."
(Looting and pillaging does take place, however; the hand-cut wooden jigsaw depicting the Drawing Room has to be replaced on a regular basis when several pieces go mysteriously missing.)
Tea breaks last for 15 minutes, time that can be taken up simply getting to and from the staff room, with its urn and biscuit tins; you have to be adept at drinking your tea very hot indeed and scooting back to your post in time.
I hope to learn the A&B (Attics and Basement) Tour next season. Thank goodness the National Trust doesn't expect its volunteers to dress up; I wouldn't at all mind the housemaid's apron, but the cap? Perhaps not.
More in due course. Tomorrow I'm leaving the slow lane and going off to Exeter (on the train from Taunton, 40 minutes away; nowhere is that easy to get to here!) to shop. A branch of John Lewis has just opened there, and excitement in our little town is running high, so high, indeed, that the local WI have booked seats on a coach for the sole purpose of visiting this icon of modern consumerism. Me, I'm the Lone Shopper, too easily distracted to go in a group, and I need some ideas for Christmas presents.
Don't go away; you know you want to know about the skittles, and the Seniors' Lunch, now, don't you.....