Claire Fuller on Sydenham, Oxfordshire: ‘My days were spent roaming the fields’

The author recalls the freedoms of childhood, long hot summers – and the frustrations of life in a small village

I was born in Sydenham, a small Oxfordshire village between Chinnor and Thame, at the foot of the Chiltern hills. There was a shop in a shed, a post office in someone’s front room, a church hall for jumble sales and discos, two pubs, and fields, farms, hedgerows, cows and streams.

When I was very young, my family – Mum, Dad, elder sister and me – moved into a 17th-century thatched cottage with an earth floor under the tiles and an outside privy, until my father built a proper kitchen and an indoor bathroom, with a bidet he told me was for washing my feet. He also built a barn for two pigs called Johann and Sebastian who disappeared to the abattoir one Christmas, replaced by ducks and chickens. My ...