The locals had long been a source of concern. ‘They will think we are travellers,’ I wailed – and I didn’t think that wouldn’t be perceived to be a good thing. But more than being seen as an undesirable, I felt the biggest barrier we faced was a combination of resistance to change and Nimbyism. I was braced for hostility, anger – and racism – we were a mixed-race couple after all. But our early encounters showed that much of the prejudice we had to deal with, was coming from me.
Our field was on the main dog-walking route for the village and the fact we had moved a caravan on to it soon got around via the canine network. It wasn’t long before various faces appeared in the gateway, trying to work out what we were up to.
Some were bolder and drove on in their 4x4s to ask what we doing there. This led to some enjoyable and helpful encounters. The farmer who sat in our awning sheltering from the driving rain and laughed delightedly at our plans. ‘Truffles,’ he guffawed ‘I’ve never heard the like.’ But he wished us well and he meant it – and the next day he turned up unasked in his JCB and cleared part the hedge that we needed to widen the gateway.
We had made some tentative friends, but there was a long way to go. I felt desperate to reach out, which was as much to do with my intrinsic need to be liked as it was to try to garner support.