My home is quite rural. It’s not at the remoteness level of the Outer Hebrides, but it’s definitely approaching that of Hot Fuzz. In fact, that film was based partly on Simon Pegg’s home county of Gloucestershire. Herefordshire is next door to Gloucestershire, and is similar, but less well known. In one of the more obscure corners of the county is a village called Llangrove, whose only notable distinction (I like to believe) is to have produced me. It’s also got an excellent pub.
Because there isn’t much demand for direct trains to Llangrove’s nonexistent station, there’s an arduous journey in store for any friends determined enough to visit. From London, it involves at least two trains, an hour’s bus journey to a nearby village, then a three-mile walk (or pickup by car). There is one bus which stops in Llangrove itself, but it comes once a week and I have never actually witnessed its arrival.
The absence of public transport (or towns worth going to) makes online shopping the obvious way to buy Christmas presents. The problem with this is that most SatNavs give up the ghost the moment they leave the A40, persistently misplacing postcodes. This does not make navigation easy.
There has therefore been an increasing barrage of frustrated delivery drivers zipping fruitlessly up and down our lane with Christmas treats galore. I dread to think what we’ve done to their suspension, since the track is comparable to the surface of the moon in terms of driveability, and is rapidly turning into a torrent of mud. Tales of vans sinking into the boggy verge and getting towed out abound. Perhaps it would be better to go back to the donkey courier who was still around within living memory…*
Artist’s impression of the delivery-driver experience.
*According to a bloke my dad spoke to down the pub, this is actually true – a man with a donkey was the primary means of delivery in Llangrove mere decades ago. Laugh away, Londoners.