I’m first told about a village called Plymtree whilst I’m on holiday in France.
My feet are dangling in the warm swimming pool whilst my friend tells me about this place. It’s a village in Devon that has remained untouched by the passing of time, he says, a charmingly quaint village that looks like time has frozen there for decades. Whilst the cars are certainly of a modern design, there have not been new builds there for years and even the more modern homes have been built in the style of cottages and have been weathered to blend seamlessly in with the rest of the place. For some reason I’m comforted by the thought of this idyllic village existing in a forgotten corner of Devon, even whilst I’m digesting my late-lunch and contemplating wandering back to the villa for an afternoon nap.
I spent a few weeks driving between various villas in southern France, and whilst I was certainly charmed by the villages that I saw whilst travelling through the country, I found myself yearning for the simplicity and homeliness of an English village. Even after weeks in the glorious sunshine of southern France, I found myself yearning for a slice of English countryside, despite knowing that that weather would probably be nowhere near as good there!
After soaking in the sun for nigh on three weeks, I packed my bags, got back in the car and headed back to England.
It might come as little surprise that the first destination upon my arrival back in merry old Blighty was Plymtree. I scoped the place out on a map first and noticed how the entire village was planned around triangular road system. The school, the church, the village hall, the recreational field, the local shop – all of these places were plotted on the road, easily accessible to every person who would need to use them.
Much to my surprise, and that of the rest of the country, I arrived in Devon to find a gauzy haze of sunshine mystifying the horizon. I wound down my window and opened up the sunroof to allow the fresh scent of singeing cut grass to percolate through the car, before parking up by the village hall. The squat building looked well looked after, if not well-used, but before I could inspect it closer the brief sound of cheering drew my attention away.
I wandered down the road to the source of the sound and came upon a sight that was certainly amongst the most typically rural that I’ve seen in a long time. The crack of leather upon willow, the quiet hubbub of men talking and the drifting smoke of hand-rolled cigarettes. A cricket game was in progress on the recreational ground. The ground was a large one, beautifully flat and green, you could tell that it had been well looked after. The game was well under way, the home side having already scored 150 runs with plenty of time left to score more. Spirits were high and the team were happy to introduce themselves, soon we were fast friends and I was invited to stay and watch the entire match.
You don’t find this kind of generosity of spirit in the city. It’s the reason why I travel to these wonderful corners of the world.