My one weakness

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Recently, I had a conversation on this blog with a lovely reader called Jan. I’m paraphrasing, but the conversation went something like this:

Jan: Have you heard of the TV show “Lark Rise to Candleford?” It’s a period drama set in a post office.

Me: *Instantly leaves office and runs to find it*

Now I’m up to Season 2, and utterly in love with this little show. It is gentle, thoughtful, innocent, warm-hearted, and makes me feel nostalgic for a kind of life I’ve never known.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Lark Rise to Candleford (which is based on a semi-autobiographical trilogy of books of the same name by Flora Thompson) centres around two small rural communities at the turn of the 19th century: the tiny hamlet of Lark Rise, and the wealthier and bigger (but still tiny by our standards) town of Candleford, both in Oxfordshire in the UK.

When in Candleford, most of the action centres around the comings and goings of the Candleford Post Office, which is run, rather controversially, by a woman. The Post Mistress, Dorcas Lane, is truly delightful: wise, loving, independent, glamorous, and ahead of her era in so many ways. She claims to have “one weakness,” although depending on the circumstance, that one weakness could be anything from cake to feather pillows to buttermilk baths.

When Laura, Dorcas’ young niece from Lark Rise, comes to work at the Candleford Post Office, Dorcas takes her under her lovely, protective wing and teaches her the way of the world… and of the post. I have been learning right along with Laura as I watch, and here is what I’ve gleaned so far:

* A century ago, the post was the only real way that people could communicate with others at a distance. It was possibly the most essential community-service of the time

* The post office itself was a community hub. All but the most hardened recluse had need of the postal services at some time or another so, in small communities, it became a natural meeting place for neighbours to gather and chat and swap stories and gossip. To “pass the time of day,” as Candleford or Lark Rise folks would call it

* Postal workers were the keepers of secrets. They knew who wrote to whom, and how often. They could see the looks on faces – the shakes of hands – when letters of import were posted or received. They knew the contents of every telegram even before the recipients did

* The postie knew everyone in the community. Letters were delivered not into boxes but into hands, and the route to every home was an opportunity to observe and greet and forge connections

* And this, a quote from Season 4 (which I haven’t actually seen so no spoilers please!), which sums up rather beautifully the power of a pen-and-ink letter:

“When words are written down, they can be the finest expression of the human soul… Once words are marked down on paper, they can not be taken back. They are in the world for good or for ill. They wither or they endure. Words can be dangerous things.” 

Your comments make my day

  1. I loved this series as well and for the same reasons you listed. Post offices that still exist in small towns are hubs of sociability that continue to be much more than a means to distribute mail. In my tiny hamlet of Brantingham, NY, located in a remote part of the Adirondack Park, the post office is part of a general store where locals meet for coffee, locally made baked goodies and chat. We don’t have home delivery so everyone has to stop by for their mail. These iconic, friendly country gathering places are slowly disappearing in America. I feel so fortunate to be able to experience a 21st century version of Candleford’s post office. Thanks so much for your mention of Larkrise to Candleford. I hope other readers of your blog who love sending and receiving mail will watch and enjoy this warm-hearted series.

  2. Lark Rise to Candleford was … and still is … one of my most favorite series. Wish there were more like it!

  3. Wow, I am so pleased to see you write about Larkrise. I watched that series earlier this year and was captivated. Watching the series provided many lovely, inspiring and bright moments at a difficult time. I wanted to go live there and hang out for a while! I didn’t realise that the series came off books! Yes, I’m off to the library to see if the books can be obtained!

    • Ok Deb I need you to watch this TODAY, so that we can discuss Dorcas and Laura and Twister and Queenie and Mrs Arless (Dawn French!) TOMORROW. This is more important than anything else you need to do today 😉 xxx

  4. I watched this earlier this year. I was sad that it was canceled as it could have easily gone on for at least one more season!

    • I know – already I’m sad knowing it will come to an end. It just has the feel of those “endless country days” and the drama is all about the people, so surely that could continue…

  5. Yes! A friend of mine said the same thing “Have you heard of Lark Rise to Candleford? I have the DVD set if you want to borrow it, I think you’ll love it.” Oh my goodness. I did love it. But I felt terrible that it was taking me so long to get through all the DVD’s so I returned them to her. But now you’ve reminded me. I will reserve them from our local library and start again. It’s a lovely, lovely series! X

  6. I just requested it at my library! I’m pretty excited about this so thanks for sharing the info♥

    • Me too Joy. Not all entertainment has to involve explosions and betrayals. It’s kind of relaxing just to watch something non-stressful for a change!

  7. Oh, that tv show sounds really lovely! I am currently watching North & South, as I love period dramas such as Little Dorrit or Pride & Prejudice. My first one was Pride & Prejudice and I fell in love with the worlds of Jane Austen. Have you seen Little Dorrit? It is beautiful and lovely and I love Matthew Macfadyen so so much! Maybe you could recommend me some more show like these ones. Have a nice day, Hannah

    • I recently watched Little Dorrit too. I’ve read quite a few Dickens novels but not that one, so it was all new to me. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I really enjoyed it but think maybe I need to read the book to understand some of the sub-plots. Tattycorem (sp?) for example. ??? I haven’t seen North & South – now bookmarked!

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