Thruxton Parish Council
Birds Eye View
A microcosm of Thruxton
[This foreword was written anonymously for the 1997 Thruxton Village Appraisal and is reproduced here. Most of you will notice the changes that have taken place since then - for good or bad]
It is an hour before dawn on any day in early April. The first risers are up and about. A security light clicks on illuminating the garage and drive of a small house near the village centre. The car’s headlights pick out its path along the main street to the eastern exit and onto the A303: our early traveller perhaps on his way to Heathrow or even Dover at the start of an Easter family holiday. His car is certainly not alone on the main road even at this unfamiliar hour as there is a constant trickle of heavy goods vehicles heading in the opposite direction, their drivers taking full advantage of a relatively uncluttered road as they head down to the West Country. The A303 never rests.
Now the brightening light of a clear, cool, Spring day allows us to see some details. The snowdrops in the field below the Manor house have all but died leaving their greenery as a reminder of just how spectacular the pasture looked six or so weeks ago. Daffodils are everywhere, but these too are now past their best, leaving us with forsythia and primula together with the first loading of almond blossom scattered in our neat gardens.
Our regulars have already started their daily rounds bringing us milk and papers and we watch them as they scurry from house to house on well-worn rounds. The familiar Post Office red van stands temporarily alongside our equally red Phone box, its messenger weighed down this morning with his pouch full of unwelcome phone bills and, to our messenger, equally unwelcome annual reports of one of those ‘Sid’ privatisations - BT, BG or Railtrack, it matters not.
Those up and about might catch a glimpse of a small formation of Canada geese, swooping low over the village outskirts on their way to a watery landing at Mullenspond. This year, perhaps uncharacteristically, after heavy autumn and winter rains, our brook flows merrily through the village and Mullenspond is filled to a healthy level. Another loud honk and the gaggle has gone beyond our view.
Cars are moving everywhere as villagers leave for work, some locally and others, maybe catching a commuter train to Salisbury, Basingstoke, or London. Many we shall not see again until this evening, maybe even after dark. From today we shall miss the school bus collecting its gangling tribe from the shelter opposite the ‘George’ as holidays are with us, but the local bus will still arrive to gather up its trusty few and transport them to work or shop in Andover.
Along the main street there is constant coming and going to the Post Office, on foot or by car, to pay these ubiquitous phone bills, collect a pension, buy a packet of cigarettes or just exchange a few pleasantries with the Postmaster. One is placing a notice in his window advertising some no-longer-required and neglected heirloom to a good owner; another casts a glance at the agenda for tonight’s Parish Council meeting - umm.
At the top end of the village a string of racehorses move on their daily routine slowly up the short hill from Fyfield towards the houses at the top of Stanbury Road. A couple of the animals seem unusually frisky, perhaps concerned about the lorry, stacked with bags of solid fuel, following them up the hill. Their riders give a cheerful smile of thanks to the lorry driver as he edges past now the road is wider, but the driver is probably mumbling about these unthinking jockeys who always seem to be riding two abreast. The lorry moves on, parks near the old-people’s bungalows and the driver starts his burdensome task of unloading his sacks and delivering them to individual doorsteps.
Opposite the bottom of Lambourne Way the county mobile library arrives on its two-weekly visit, pulling up alongside the couple who have been waiting there patiently, albeit for only a few minutes. The van causes a traffic obstruction but most drivers accept this as a temporary hindrance and are happy to give priority to those coming in the opposite direction. As the library van moves off towards its next port of call at the top of Stanbury Hill and starts to negotiate the corner opposite Hamble House, two pairs of red brake lights flash on, each pair belonging to equal-sized vehicles approaching
from either direction. There is an impasse! One driver is gesticulating wildly: the library driver has seen it all before and starts to manoeuvre his vehicle as close as possible to the roadside hedge. Imperceptibly the two vehicles pass and once again the corner is empty.
From Stanbury Close an elderly man, stick in hand, set slowly off with his black and white dog along the footpath leading to Fyfield Church. The air is still and the sun bright - an ideal morning for a short walk. Walking some way along the A303 in the opposite direction, an unusual figure shuffles along, seemingly enclosed in two wooden boards! As we focus more closely we see that it is a ‘Sandwich Man’, perhaps a relic of former times, displaying his message to entice us to savour the lunch-time delights of the ‘George’, one of our two village pubs. A passing motorist gives him a cheery wave, but the majority speed along, impervious to both him and his message.
Grandma and her two small charges are on the village green, enjoying the sunshine, relieving mother of her continual cares for a few, brief minutes. A brightly coloured ball is kicked this way and that until, all too soon, her grandchildren tire of their game and demand instant attention. The party leaves, post office bound for some drink or bribe, but are soon accosted by the driver of a large delivery van who seeks the way to the Industrial estate. Why do we allow such juggernauts along our quiet, narrow village street?
Our walker, with his dog now safely on a lead, has left Fyfield church behind him and is crossing towards Mullenspond through a field alive with scampering ewes and their young frisky lambs. Neither sheep nor dog seems concerned about the other’s presence, each savouring its particular country smells. Their tranquillity is disturbed by the ‘whirlybird’ fast approaching from the east flying directly towards Thruxton airfield, its pilot no doubt revelling in the glorious flying weather the day has brought. A shallow turn to the left takes him out of the way of a light single-engine aircraft now completing the final part of its landing procedure to the same airfield. Both soon pass overhead, the sounds of their engines fading into the distance. What a wonderful afternoon.
Term is also ending at Kimpton school and the road outside harbours a lengthy line of cars. Mothers stand and gossip or plan their holiday strategies, while from the school entrance the first of a long line of children emerges. Soon the air is full of excited chatter; greetings to mums and goodbyes to classmates. Some carry folded posters, an end-of-term assignment, to be paraded gleefully to the assembled gathering of drivers. The cars move off leaving a few stragglers to wend their way back to their homes on foot.
The sound of the church bells heralds the evening - it is practice day and today the ringers are preparing for a village wedding here in the church the following week-end. The peals may not be a strict “Treble Bob Major” or “Grandsire Triple”, but their harmonic sound drifts leisurely across the village to the Hall. This evening there is activity in the village Hall - yes, the Parish Council meeting is underway. To the small gathering of villagers, a councillor is explaining why the Council believes there has been maladministration by the County over the planning procedures for the Waste Transfer Plant at the airfield. Another item for discussion will be the siting of a play area for small children. We’ll leave them to deliberate.
Groups of people, smartly dressed, seem to be wandering hither and thither clutching pieces of paper and half full bottles of wine. Some point to hidden targets and some gesticulate, but within minutes all appeared to have been swallowed up in various houses, only for the same thing to happen about an hour later. What is a ‘progressive dinner’?
It is now late. The street lights cast puddles of illumination here and there along the main roadways, leaving lengthy shadowy areas between these pools. The ‘George’ is closing, emptying revellers into the cool night some to drive and some to walk back to their homes. The village becomes quiet and peaceful. Tomorrow is another day.