steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Two Paths Ran in Parallel in a Yellow Wood

For "yellow wood" read Romsey, the small market town where I was born and where my mother still lives.

There are two ways to walk from her house to the town centre. One involves going straight down Cherville Street, a distance of some 300 yards. There is also a path of the same distance that runs more or less parallel to Cherville Street, between the back of the Cherville Street gardens and the school fields where I "played" some forty years ago. There's nothing special about the path, but it does have some brambles growing along it, and in early autumn I've been known to raid them for blackberries. At the far end of the path (about fifty yards from the far end of Cherville Street) there is also a rather picturesque thatched cottage.

Now here's the strange thing. If I meet a stranger coming the other way along Cherville Street, we will pass each other wordlessly, as is customary with town dwellers. However, if I meet a stranger coming the other way down the path, we are apparently obliged - by what law I don't know - to say "Hello" or "Good morning!", rather as we might if passing each other in some isolated spot on Dartmoor. In other words, the path has somehow been designated as the countryside, despite being in the middle of the town.

Admittedly it's a small town, there's grass or garden either side of the path, and occasionally there are songbirds to eke out the crows and gulls that stalk the football fields. Beyond those fields the River Test flows somewhat bucolically, I suppose, but still.... With Cherville Street just fifty yards away, how did this custom get established?

Anyway, this is just a note for me to ponder, but I'd be interested to hear of any similarly inexplicable designations of community space as country, town, or something else, especially if they seem to have popped up without anyone apparently taking a decision about it.
Tags: maunderings, real life
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