A New Old Tradition
So, it's mid-morning on New Year's Day and the weather is fine. Time to set off on the Village Walk. This is a loosely circular route of about six miles which can be shortened if necessary and which largely uses the smaller country lanes where possible. It's a nicely undulating ramble, not too arduous.
There are two stopping points. One a very friendly householder who always happily welcomes the small hoards who descend on her. Inside we make free with the necessary conveniences as well as indulging in mince pies and mulled wine. It is also she who drives out later to revive stragglers with Christmas chocolates dispensed through the car window!
The final resting place before home for the footsore and hungry is the village hall, abuzz with cheerful chatter and the pungent smells of various homemade soups and hot rolls, all for a mere donation to local funds.
In the distant past before maps became common, and usually on Ascension Day or Rogation Sunday, village folk led by the priest or village leader, 'beat the boundaries,' just to make clear to all and sundry exactly where the parish limits lay. To reinforce that message, in some places boundary posts were beaten with birch or willow twigs, no doubt similar to the punishment that would be inflicted if the demarcation line was flouted!
We of course behaved ourselves impeccably and I don't know if our particular village ever followed those old traditions anyway, but happily the village walk on New Year's Day has already taken it's place in the calendar as an annual event not to be missed.