The Second Thursday of the month
Since 1930, my WI has been meeting on the second Thursday of each month. Though August is not a formal meeting, we usually plan an evening of fun with our friends in someone's lovely garden. It's a chance to share a bite to eat and a glass of something cold on a warm summer's evening.
Before she went off on holiday, our secretary and mistress of games and quizzes, Shirley, had planned a treasure hunt around the village and keeping a close eye on my Dark Sky weather app, I headed out last evening and put an umbrella and raincoat in, just in case. The state of the roads after Gatcombe Horse Trials last weekend were evidence enough of recent weather patterns.
But Shirley had planned more than just the questions! The sun was still shining as I parked my car at Eileen's and joined my friends to begin the fun. Though the ground was damp, thankfully these limestone hills soon drain, those of us wearing sandals were pleased to note.
I haven't walked along these paths for years; not since I was one of the buggy-pushing playgroup Mums around here, when this route was a particular favourite.
No black sheep to count this evening, though, just a few puzzles to solve in the company of friends. As we spotted odd house names, door knockers and garden features, we caught up with the local gossip, discussed holiday plans and chatted about our families. As you do! Lovely.
I'd forgotten how tight this little kissing gate is and what a struggle it was to get a small child and his buggy through it. Last night, I had neither of those to manage but had the altogether different challenge of having to breathe in rather more than usual to squeeze through!
Once in the churchyard, we soon began checking a few more answers from our list. Being here reminded me that I'd heard something on the radio about a new biography of its founder the other day and intended to find out more. Not normally curious about such things, I nevertheless find it remarkable that not only did one of the most influential women of Medieval England build a church in a small corner of the Cotswolds but that it's still there in regular use almost a thousand years later.
It's a beautiful place to be and last evening, though the questions were tricky, we were happy to have a good reason to linger.
A few old friends are close by too, though sadly, weren't able to offer any assistance. Dear Georgie Edmunds was a founder member of our WI and was one of the first visitors I had in Stroud Maternity Hospital when Edward was born. She never forgot him and always greeted me with the question, "How's Edward?" Rosemary Evans, nearby, was another sweet friend with a smile and real sense of fun. She'd have loved an evening like this.
Sadly, no time to sit on Margaret's bench, but we'll think of her when we pass her cottage in a while. Another friend sadly missed, though we chat of her daughters and share news of them both. Life goes on.
We need to list the activities on the Millennium Cross next. It's a good opportunity to admire the lovely stonework too.
Aha! here's the answer to another of our clues. "Wot, no tree?"
Oh dear. At least we've got who planted it and when! Thankfully the question doesn't ask what befell it ;-)
Just one more answer and we'd completed the first section of the hunt. Two more sections to go, but lingering outside Margaret Crewe's cottage, we looked over the village and admired the view. Where better place to be on a Summer evening?
We missed five or six of the thirty five answers, but it didn't matter one bit. We'd enjoyed a walk in the fresh air, sharing happy memories and creating new ones.
And the sun shone! Thank you Shirley!