The ‘Egg Station’, with its one pack of gorgeous eggs, was literally in the middle of nowhere. Down a lane, behind the church where two footpaths crossed, one stealing, shamefaced, behind a row of houses where you could ogle people’s back rooms and pegging angles; the other, dipping across a stretch of green where trees raised fat buds to the sky.
It seemed to me incredible that a) Egg Person would put this here, b) He/she would trust people to take the eggs AND leave the money c) We might be about to take someone else’s eggs. I imagined an elderly lady wobbling down the hill with her stick in eager anticipation of an egg-based tea (‘Your eggs will be at the station, Elsie. You can pick them up at 3’). Only to find an empty shelf and a few coins. I saw her stumping back up the hill, sucking her teeth.
However, there was no indication that these eggs were destined for anyone in particular. so after a brief discussion, during which, in addition to cash, we considered leaving a note – ‘Dear Blank, Sorry if these eggs were meant for you. Please take the money and run (if safe to do so)’. But this seemed a bit excessive, so I suggested a smiley face sticker or half a pack of Extra Strong Mints, both of which I found in my pocket. But in the end we left the money and took the eggs (the mints were too sticky and the sticker had lost its stick, leaving just a smile).
I paused for a moment in the crisp air, wheezing (asthma bad at mo) Beside us, there was a field tipped with shadows where horses grazed, sun-warm and peaceful. Together with a lazy rise from distant chimneys and birdsong, the scene gave a slice of joy nothing, at that moment, could steal.
We tiptoed through the graveyard. mainly so as not to trip on the very tufty grass. It never fails to amaze me the detail that used to be put on gravestones and how ornate they used to be. Many of them sloped and beneath one was a cat, sunning himself on a patch of sheltered ground. I would be too concerned about the gravestone killing me but, having probably sat there before, he clearly trusted it wouldn’t.
Our weekly exploration of the villages of East Sussex had led us to Framfield which we often drive through but had never explored. It probably came into existence in the 9th century established by Saxon invaders. The -field part is said to refer to a clearing in the forest where it was built. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book and has a 13th Century church dedicated to Sir Thomas Beckett which probably superceded a wooden Saxon one.
Things I liked about Framfield: –
- The church tower fell down in the 1667 straight after a service (over enthusiastic singing?) But the congregation shrugged, kept meeting and started saving for a new one. This was finally achieved in 1891 when this particular congregation were underneath a forbear of the Gravestone Cat
- In 1792 the Framfield cricket team challenged any other team in Sussex to a game. No such game was ever recorded however and it was thought that people were too scared of being beaten by the Framfielders, who were all, to a man, in their seventies
- There is an annual Framfield Show every summer involving dog, vegetable and photography competitions. Events have also included terrier racing and a ‘Mouse Town’
I also liked this sign on the gate by the school playground: –
There are some beautiful buildings including the church with its ‘new’ tower.
All in all, it seems a very trusting place – putting away pennies for a tower they won’t see, nurturing self belief in their seventies, leaving eggs in Egg Stations. Even their cats focus on sun instead of stone. I pant my way back to the car and decide their message to the generations could be this: trust for a little and bigger things will come.
We drove away and I imagined God smiling at the thought of Framfield. I watch the church tower dwindle in the wing mirror and finger the sticker in my pocket.
Do you think Elsie’s got her eggs yet?