I had no idea what to expect as we travelled down to Liverton in Devon, having that day completed the sale of our house in Sussex. The area we were to live in we did not know that well and, to be honest, had only been chosen following the failure of the purchase of a property in Buckfastleigh, our original area of choice.
Added to everything else, we were late getting to our new home to pick up the keys. So the estate agent had kindly given us instructions over the mobile phone as to where they were to be found.
So it was with these instructions whizzing around my brain that I climbed out of the car and stretched my stiff body before moving, only to hear these words behind me, “I take it you’re our new neighbours,” spoken in a broad Devon burr. Turning I saw an older man, short in stature, standing at the entrance to our new drive looking over at us, walking stick in hand.
Introducing himself, we discovered that he was our new neighbour, and before we had entered our new home, we had received an invitation to his house to meet his wife and to take tea, when we were settled.
Within a week, we had got to know all the neighbours (on each side, across the road and beyond the back garden) by name. For me, as one who can forget names so easily, I resolved to remember these ones. This involved me naming who lived in each property each time I walked up and down the road when walking our Border Terrier or when visiting the village store (much to Alan’s (my husband) amusement).
But the ‘community spirit’ went further than that. Within two days of moving in, the neighbour at the rear of our home came round with his chainsaw to help Alan cut up some of the tree stumps that needed to go. This same neighbour also took us out for a two hour ride around the area to show us the narrow lanes that Devon is famous for.
Vegetables have been given as well as helpful advice and recommendations for plumbers etc. to carry out works. Walks around the area with our dogs became rather extended as we talked with people we met on our way, who took the time to answer any questions we had and to tell us more about the area we had moved to. Even now, when Alan takes the dog for a walk in the morning, I can never be sure how long he will be, as these conversations still go on.
We were told by others when we mentioned how friendly everyone was, that as most of the people that lived here had moved in to the area over the past thirty years from different parts of the UK as well as from different parts of Devon,that people made the effort to get on with each other. Whatever the reason, it makes for an enjoyable beginning to our new life here. Or maybe, it’s just the Devon way.