Springtime at Home: VE Day, bunting and a street party

It is the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

We wake up to blue skies and sunshine and set to work tidying the front garden, whilst our resident house martins dart around us, swooping down from the eaves.

Repurposed paper fans and rugby flags decorate the iron railings. Our son’s homemade Union flag takes pride of place on our front gate. It is made from a collage of scrap paper. Our neighbour tells him that because he has made it himself, this makes it the most special flag on the street.

Our neighbours are also adorning their own houses. We carry all of our garden chairs out onto the front pavement just in time for the 11 o clock minute’s silence in remembrance of the fallen.

Afterwards, the street celebrates together. A tray of freshly baked fruitcake is balanced on a hedge so that our children can approach and take a slice, without breaking social distancing rules. A radio is brought out, playing Vera Lynn, I dance my little daughter in my arms.

We talk about the flour and yeast shortages, how we are having to improvise in our baking and which local shops are best for finding eggs. We chuckle at this faint echo of WW2 food rationing. A kind neighbour offers to post sachets of yeast through our door as she has some to spare.

After a lunch of cucumber sandwiches and scones, I take my second son for a walk around the village. Lots of people have set up parties in their front gardens; we receive many cheery smiles and waves.

There are chalk-drawn flags and messages across house fronts and pavements. We are deeply impressed by one family’s efforts, where bright, billowing ribbons cascade from their top windows down to the trees at the edge of their garden.

The BBC is due to broadcast Winston Churchill’s victory speech at exactly 3pm, just as on VE Day itself. Picnickers have set up radios outside in readiment, all playing the same channel. It creates a strange distorting effect as we walk between houses, so odd in this era of indoor tv and headphones.

My son and I walk through the centre of the village, known as The Nook, and then wind our way back home through the churchyard, down alleyways and small residential streets.

Embracing the bygone era, a group of young children are playing hopscotch. One household have set up a cricket pitch on a strip of grass beside their home, another is playing rounders.

We see socially distanced extended families, where the grandparents have organised a party in their front garden and their loved ones have joined them from the pavement, or are sat in cars with the doors flung open and music playing. Little children are dressed in party outfits. I spot one mother holding up a newborn baby for the grandparents to see.

For this VE Day anniversary, it feels that we have learnt a little more of what it is like to be separated from family and friends. We have certainly come to more intensely appreciate the freedoms that were secured for us by the World War generations now that we are living in a temporary lock-down.

I note that everyone, of all ages, is looking happy and healthy. Being surrounded by others again, albeit at a distance, is bringing a glow to faces just as much as the sunlight. We have become accustomed to the quiet and shadow of the last six weeks. The now familiar gestures meaning “shall I or shall you move aside?” have become the main communication between us all when we see others approaching. A friend of ours calls it “the corona dance.” It is good to be reminded that this is not our normal way of life.

To see and hear so much activity and noise all around us today leaves us with a wonderful life-affirming feeling.

Keep safe and well everyone. With heartfelt thanks to all those who are working to keep us safe, especially those on the frontline in the NHS and hospitals around the world.

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40 Comments

  1. It sounds like a fantastic day in memory of a wonderful day all those years ago. It must give you chills to hear Churchill’s speak everywhere like that. We’re having the same flour/yeast issues here. When I mentioned on Facebook that I still hadn’t been able to get any yeast (although I still have some), an online friend who I met once some years ago, immediately offered to send me some (and a considerable amount, enough to share) that should arrive Monday or Tuesday. Another friend a short while later offered some as well. Lovely gestures.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Janet, yes, it was brilliant to hear the broadcast, especially for my children who have been studying WW2 this past month, and talking over Skype with their grandparents about what their great grandparents did in the war.

      Lovely to hear you have experienced kind gestures too, the situation is bringing out the best in so many 🌿

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My father-in-law, who passed away a number of years ago, landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day and was later in the Pacific. He never really talked about it and it was only while going through the many things my husband had of his dad’s that we began to learn more about it. Fascinating and so important to remember.

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  2. How lovely that there was such a community feeling in spite of everything. I’m intrigued by the gesture of ‘shall I or shall you move aside’. That sounds fantastic. Appreciation is such a wonderful thing. Here in Holland, there is no such gesture. Indeed most people seem almost oblivious to the idea of social distancing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this – I hadn’t realised that the social distancing experience here would be a very British thing! I guess we do have so many polite ways of not getting in a social pickle here and this new addition has been somewhat sprung on us. Where I live this has turned into a good natured, funny kind of arm waving shuffle with a lot of so sorrys and thankyous – which our neighbour yesterday (after the group of us all hotched about) had termed “the corona dance” ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Even in grubby old london the sky in unfeasibly blue and the cars don’t drown out the birds or the milkman. Your village looks like a BBC costume drama. Surely there’ll be a murdered vicar somewhere, garotted with an antimacasser?

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  4. It is a lovely village, and the party sounds wonderful as does the English take on polite social distancing. It is semi practiced here in the US. Many people are just running away from each other. Which is oddly disconcerting.

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  5. My Dad was still fighting in Burma on VE day and my Mum still in mourning for the unexpected death of her Mum two months previously, for me then VE day is tinged with thoughts of how my parents were feeling and my grandparents too worried about my Dad. It is nice though of an excuse for a little party.

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    1. That must have been very bittersweet for your family – and it was the same here. One of our family was in Burma too, and went on to clear mines in the channel for years after the fighting ended. Another was still in Africa. However, I do know it was a huge moment, knowing that their families back at home were now safe from the bombing, and that they’d have a home to come back to.

      I think this year’s VE day had a poignancy to it too … and you’re right, it was so nice to have a reason to celebrate together in the lock-down 🙂

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    1. Thank you Anna x I’ve learnt a lot more about the fields and woodland nearby since the lockdown, I knew the main paths, but have had the OS maps out, finding less well known ones too 🙂 I hope you’re all keeping safe and healthy too xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing this post. I loved reading it. The celebration of love and family and community, is so evident. I, too, find it beautiful the way people are coming together despite the distance, and despite the challenges. Stay safe and stay well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much 🙂 Our village does tend to celebrate traditional dates, but I think it was even more so this year, it felt such a lovely day of relief from the lock down, even if we had to stand further apart. Stay safe and well too x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a lovely village. I thought of the wartime spirit today. As a carer and shielder I have not been near any shops for weeks, but with local shops delivering , great neighbours and Amazon we have got most things – except for Allinsons wholemeal flour. Today our friends brought a bag of plain wholemeal ( no Self Raising wholemeal alas ) from Asda and a newspaper in exchange for some cleaning stuff from my Amazon bulk buy!

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