The hedgerows are heavy with white Hawthorn blossom and winding brambles that will soon enough bear dark fruit. I would have walked; carried my suitcase of wares through uneven meadows dotted with nodding yellow cowslips and hopped over the bubbling spring of crystal water avoiding over curious cows. But today my hopes are stacked high in the back of my van.

The village appears over the brow of the hill, the houses gathered in neat rows overseen by the towering pithead rolling its wheel as if time was not an issue. Even my tuneless humming sounds sweeter as I trundle toward the village basking in the warm spring sunshine like a quiet red brick oasis in a lush green desert. I check my watch, an irresistible smile creeping across my face. Women are much more pliable when unencumbered by ill-tempered spouses, tired and hungry from a long shift underground, and the swarming hordes are let loose from the school with the kind of ravenous hunger only children can muster. Today my timing is perfect; I even have time to spare.