The next very small village we lived in was in North Wales...it was actually not so much a village as a hamlet. There was a row of nine stone cottages, the big house and a chapel. We had the end cottage on the terrace and everyone walked past regularly so if we were visible they stopped to chat. It was mostly Welsh speaking and I found that whilst my Welsh had disappeared completely my daughter had to learn it in school..and found it fairly easy as everyone on the school bus spoke it all the time. No one ever stopped talking at my approach but they changed into English for my benefit . I loved it there.
Not being Welsh speaking had its compensations...I was unable to get a job in school for instance, mostly because all the advertisements in the news paper were in Welsh, I stood no chance!
For three years I honed my writing skills...and walked the bouncy Springer spaniel every afternoon to the top of the mountain. This was Moel Famau....and the village was roughly half way up it. It rejoiced in the name of Tavern Y Gelyn which being translated meant pub of the enemy.
The chapel stood where the tavern had once been or so I was told. The village was close to Offa's Dyke .and many people walked through it every summer and of course during the winter, after the first fall of snow, we had winter sports people in transit every weekend.
Because I walked the forest and mountain regularly I was put onto the mountain rescue team. Not sure if its good news or bad news that I was never called out.
The chapel was within a few feet of our house and we did try..but the services were all in Welsh so mostly we attended the church of Wales in Mold and then the next village, Cilcain.
One Christmas though we went to the Carol service in our little chapel...
It had been described on the posters as multi lingual......we thought it should be Ok...after all a carol is a carol.
The only English spoken all night was "WElcome, welcome to our English visitors!" My husband muttered in his pew. We only lived 10 yards away!
The carols were in Welsh and we were coached about how to say "Silent Night" for the one that wasn't but it was a lovely evening....miles away from the Welsh Baptist chapel of my youth but a solid expression
of both village life and Christianity.
The village pulled together wonderfully well during the hard winters. When my husband went to work in London, leaving me and the children on our own during a particularly hard winter the neighbours always checked if we were OK. The school sent Land rovers to get my daughter out and I got help at digging out the car whenever I needed it. One man even brought his step ladders on the day I locked myself out and got in through our bedroom window...
I loved my time there , I joined choirs, was on the pub quiz team, I thoroughly embraced village life and was sorry to leave. Essex was not quite the same!