A young American dressed for the hills wandered past our cottage last week with the air of someone lost. Alan who, since we moved here, has found his calling as a human Google map, asked if she was looking for something. “Yeah,” she said, “a Diet Coke.” He told her that, despite our community’s many attractions, a shop wasn’t one of them. Pointing her in the other direction, towards a village two miles away, he said she’d find what she needed there.

Hoolet has no shop, cafe or pub. There’s not even a public toilet, although friends who have three bathrooms have thought of putting up a sign offering to share their facilities. From spring to autumn flocks of birdwatchers, cyclists and walkers descend. Often they congregate on the village green, beyond our kitchen window. Usually they come supplied with sandwiches, thermos flasks and chocolate biscuits. Occasionally, though, a woebegone traveller will hunker down under the trees with only an apple to sustain them. At such times I feel the urge to invite them in for a bowl of soup.

So far I have resisted. There was one Sunday, though, when rain was bouncing off the road and a gale shaking the trees until they sounded like a surfer’s dream. In the midst of this I saw a woman prop up her hiking sticks under the horse chestnut, remove the sort of rucksack squaddies wear on manoeuvres, and pull out a tupperware box. She looked so bedraggled I went out to ask if she’d like to come inside to eat. An expression of horror crossed her face, as if she’d stumbled into an episode of Fargo, whose rustic psychopaths make axe-murderers look harmless.

There was a shop in Hoolet once, before our time. People continue to lament its demise, not just for its provisions but for the chat that went on there. Yet for some, it seems, there are more pressing requirements. The first question we’re often asked is if we have a pub. To believe the property pages or Location, Location, Location, the ideal country house is within easy walking distance of a foaming pint, where dogs and children are welcome, and the aroma of steak pie on a Sunday entices locals in for lunch.

Round here, if you walked to the nearest pub you might not get home. Ambling along our backroads in the dark you’d be fair game, if not for a night-time combine harvester then for hairpin maniacs who mow down everything in their path. I suspect they keep a count of roadkill like Spitfire pilots chalking up Messerschmitts.

As talk of quarantining reaches Hoolet, some have suggested that by living here we are already self-isolating. But we aren’t completely cut off. One hour a week the post office van alights, and every three weeks the mobile library pulls in – a red-letter day. And, even if you never stepped further than your front door, you’d not go hungry.

There was a frisson of excitement a few weeks ago when a dairy farm began to deliver milk, eggs and bread. The pleasure of hearing the clink of bottles – at half two in the morning – and scooping them up before breakfast, is like stepping into a Hovis ad. To a soundtrack of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, householders in Hoolet can now douse cornflakes and milk their tea, happy in the knowledge that by not sending plastic containers to recycling they’re doing their bit for the planet.

In the fabled winter of 2018, when we had no fridge, washing machine or freezer, there was a loud knock on the door. Outside, in the driving sleet, a small van had driven up, and its rear doors were wide open. The interior was like the Victorian shop windows you see on Christmas cards: brightly lit shelves of tea, coffee, biscuits, cake, and so many other good things Alan nearly passed out. He staggered back in, cradling boxes under his chin. Since then the monthly arrival of the Rington’s van has been a highlight, not least because of the cheeriness of the driver. Like a latterday pedlar, he’s not only a salesman but also updates us on what’s going on around these parts. And, because he’s permanently tuned into the radio, he knows every twist and turn of current affairs.

Should you not wish to move an inch from home, there’s a fish van that does the rounds, and a butcher’s shop that delivers in time for the weekend. This has to be the most generous business in the region. Last year friends ordered their festive turkey from him. The bird arrived, big enough to feed a platoon, and was with difficulty crammed into the Aga. Come January, they had not been billed. When a couple of phone calls failed to produce an invoice, they got into the car and presented themselves at the butcher’s counter, refusing to leave until they had been charged.

It was after a trip to the same shop that Alan got home to find an unexpected and unpaid-for package of chicken fillets at the bottom of his bag. When he rang to tell them, the owner asked, “Was it the wee fellow who served you?” Alan said it was. “Oh, he often does that. It’s your lucky day. Just keep them.”

The winter we moved in, there were many downsides to the lack of white goods, but keeping things cold was not one of them. Before we demolished it, we used the garden porch as a chill cabinet, and it served its purpose well. Of a morning the orange juice was so cold it made your teeth zing.

A delivery van reversed up the other day, and I half rose from my desk, anticipating the case of wine we were expecting. It was not for us, sadly, but for a couple nearby, who get a regular consignment of groceries from a catalogue. These go straight into deep storage. I had no idea of the treasure their garden shed holds until, later that day, I was allowed a glimpse. Our freezer is a matchbox compared to this wardrobe. Expertly stacked, and with every available inch filled, theirs has fewer gaps than a brick wall. Whatever happens in the coming weeks, this is one household for which quarantine poses no threat.