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The village that smiled

It was new, it was brave and it was designed to raise money for the Milton scouts and guides – oh, and it was raining when the curtains opened on the day of the Scarecrow Trail.  Plus it had rained all night; a washout was feared.

Bless the weather forecasters – they got it right.  By breakfast time, the rain had stopped and from then on the weather mellowed, the wind blew, the sun appeared and the rain had finished for the day.

And what a day!  There were 70 scarecrows scattered around the village, all accessible with a route map on which families were invited to guess the film or T.V. character being portrayed by each numbered scarecrow.  The creativity and endeavour were, as the Americans might say, ‘awesome.’ Scarecrows lined the road on The Green, strapped securely in place to the fence or, a little precariously on the benches. Shrek was firmly attached to a supportive wooden cross making for an interesting biblical insight!  The BFG, Wallace and Gromit, the Lone Ranger (yes, some scarecrows went back a bit!), the Vicar of Dibley, Kermit the Frog, Noddy, the Fat Controller, King Kong, Postman Pat and even Monty Don, they were all there, while Mary Poppins swung winsomely beneath her umbrella from a tree in Green Lane and Snow White plus her vertically challenged attendants posed outside The Paddocks.  Scarecrows popped up in unexpected places, their life-like qualities often enhanced by the breeze. Meanwhile, up in the church, flower arrangements continued the theme of film and TV programmes and it is a testimony to the honest people of Milton that all the cakes illustrating ‘The great British bake-off’ were still in place at the end of the day.

If the scarecrows and arrangements were wondrous to behold, what will stick in the mind was the sheer joy and exuberance of the entire afternoon.  Families were everywhere, all shapes, sizes and ages. Dads struggled to write down answers on the sheet while resting it on one knee in the blustery conditions; before they could finish, there was another squeal of glee as children spotted the next scarecrow to be identified.  It was like one huge, wide-eyed treasure hunt. Grandparents did their best to keep up.

“Who’s that, dear?”
“Who?”
“Captain Nero?  Never heard of him, dear.”

It didn’t matter.  Pleasure and participation were the order of the day.  While the scarecrows were the focus of attention, the pleasure also came from the chance encounters in the street, neighbours and friends, all with so much news to update, so many scarecrows to discuss, so many smiles to exchange; ‘heart-warming’ doesn’t really do it justice.

A magnificent scarecrow of Neo from the Matrix won the people’s choice, not surprising at all as he dodged a line of bullets, a truly awesome superhero.  At the more refined (?) end of the scale, the flower arrangement of Mary Poppins – yes, another Mary Poppins, was the popular choice among spectators.

Sue Mellerick and her team deserve huge credit for a wonderful event, one that raised well over £800.  That one event provided more than enough smiles to power the entire weekend.

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August-September 2019