Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The last post

A sad sign of tough times in rural England . . .


For the past 15 years, when I needed to send a parcel, buy stamps, get some cash or pick up a prescription, I have driven to the next small village – just over the gently rolling hills and down into the next valley – to this shop and Post Office.

Over that time there have been three owners – the first I remember was a gently spoken gentleman who eventually went to follow his love of music as an organist/choirmaster after a particularly horrid armed raid (who can blame him); then a sweet lady and her eccentric husband complete with collections of wartime memorabilia, vintage biscuit tins and the train set that was displayed in the window; and finally a young woman who really really wanted to make a success of her local shop. She dusted down the shelves and changed things around, introduced grocery deliveries and veg boxes; but she kept the stools near the counter for elderly residents to sit down and have a gossip or drink a mug of tea.

Sadly it just wasn't enough. I could tell she'd lost heart after Christmas, the through-road had been closed for 10 weeks for the water main to be replaced - no-one could just drop in on their way to or from work, it was the final nail in the coffin.

Today I posted a package to a customer in the US, for me it was probably my final visit – on Friday the post-mistress will lock the door for the very last time.


So next time I need to post a parcel, I will drive in the opposite direction down to the town. In truth the distance from my studio may just be slightly shorter, but I will miss the chatter and local gossip – the two part time shop assistants had been serving in the Post Office for all the years I have used it, so I know them quite well. It was the sort of place where you could ask advice if you had a bee swarm (true story) or go in wearing your messiest gardening clothes and not look out of place. Now I'll have to park in the supermarket car park, walk down to the High Street to the big main Post Office and join the queue for "cashier number ..." 

. . . and I'll have to check I haven't got ink or mud smudges on my face before I go!


Celia
xx







19 comments:

  1. I would be devastated if our village Post Office closed! It is indeed a very sad day.

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  2. So sad. We simply couldn't do without our village shop - it's a drive away but has a post office too. More importantly it has a good stock of gin! Very sad when these things happen in rural communities.

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  3. Celia, I am so glad that you included a photo of this Post Office, to go along with your excellent telling of its history.

    I remember your telling me about this little shop and I had formed an image not too different from this photo. I am so sorry that it is now closing...it does cast a dark shadow over my "country dreams," even though I can understand that business rules these days. I am sure that the current postmistress must be very disappointed. Will she be trying to open some sort of other shop elsewhere?

    As I believe I've mentioned to you, I am very fond of my own big city post office, Since I have lived in my neighborhood, this Ansonia Post Office has moved its location four times, and is now on the ground floor of a huge skyscraper that also features a multi-plex cinema and many retail shops, with lots of expensive apartments overhead. ABC Television has studios and offices across the street. Despite all this stuff, the P.O. staff retain a very helpful and friendly atmosphere, and I do count my blessings that the Ansonia is in my neighborhood.

    xo

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  4. It is a very sad day - that post office was lovely and it will be a real loss to that village.

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  5. A very sad story of the end of an era.

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  6. Hi Celia - being originally from Devon and growing up in a village with a full service Post Office, I know where you're coming from. In the '50's I even did a paper route as a teen and would ride my bike there to collect the evening edition to deliver. Kids today would laugh at working that hard - I needed the few shillings I earned! When I visit now the shop is much larger and contains a full grocery, and up until my last stop by two years ago, the P.O. was still operating. Today - who knows. I notice in the news online other ones around Devon are closing left and right……all this, along with the terrible Winter storm damage in my hometown, and all along the coast, makes me hesitate to even consider a visit back anytime soon, just too depressing.

    I hope the lady who tried so diligently to keep the business going is able to do better some place else. I truly feel for her, her assistants, and all of you who used the village P.O.

    Hugs - Mary

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  7. Sad isn't it? Our village post office in due to close in the next few weeks. Our lovely postmaster is due to retire and no one wants to take over.
    Twiggy

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  8. It's a sad sign of the times. It's such a shame that so many rural post offices are closing down, communities depend on them, yet it just isn't enough. It sounds as though the post mistress has tried her best, let's hope that she finds success elsewhere.

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  9. How sad. We are set to lose our P.O. next year when our postmistress retires. There is no one willing to take on the business which she continues to run at virtually a loss. And when they've gone we won't ever get them back.

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  10. The passing of another institution ... civilisation crumbles...

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  11. Very sad Celia. As Gina says, ours will close later this year. For the people in the village without a car it is a lifeline and people who come from other villages will also have to go elsewhere. It's a wonderful place; cottons, wool, buttons, ribbons, cards, packaging, notebooks, toys, food items... the list goes on. I too love to use local businesses, it's good to have a chat and you always see someone you know. Again, such a shame for older people who will miss the social contact.

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  12. Oh that's so sad. What will the current owner do now?

    Carole

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  13. This is so sad. Places like that make the heart of a village, and contribute so much to life. I always try and use the little local shops whenever I can, it's such a shame when it's just not enough. Just found your blog (someone recommended you because of a question I asked about the "three sisters" method of growing beans, corn and squashes) and I'll be following along.

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  14. Life is tough for rural post offices. I have a friend who runs one and she seems permanently stressed by things these days.The sad thing is that this is a story of someone who wanted to make it work but circumstances conspired against her. Such a sad tale.

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  15. So sad. Here the post office services moved some years ago from the dedicated PO, which closed, to the village convenience store. It's a Londis, so is far from having much charm, but it has become the hub of the village and the surrounding hamlets.

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  16. Same here, my local post office closed when pensions had to be paid direct into the bank. They said they relied on the footfall to buy milk, cards etc. Now I have further to walk and the community feel is no longer the same.

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