ELIZABETHAN MARKET

Today the Elizabethans have taken over Totnes Market Square. If I narrow my eyes slightly at the sights I’m seeing I could easily believe that I’d gone back in time to when Totnes reached its peak of importance as a thriving Elizabethan town!

 These current ‘Elizabethans’ have raised plenty of money for charity while also giving their wonderful colour to the town on summery Tuesdays.

I’ve just come home from the market with a lovely bunch of flowers that I gave myself as a reward for going to the gym this morning. (In case you’re wondering, I don’t usually reward myself after a gym session, but succumbed to temptation today!)

Totnes gym is down near the river, so when I’m feeling energetic I can happily combine a session there with my morning walk. But on the days I do that, I have breakfast before, rather than after, walking!

 After a quick lunch it’s off to China Blue, where Kevin will be glamorizing me in his Blue Hair Studio … and, no, he won’t be turning my hair blue. At least, I hope he won’t!

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TOTNES CASTLE

I have this view of Totnes Castle through my kitchen window. Its distinctive stone circular keep (with walls 15 feet thick) has stood here since Norman times and can be seen for miles above the town’s rooftops.

At 5.30 am on 1st May I climbed the 50 or so feet up to its inner bailey to watch the Morris Men heralding the dawn, as they do each year on May Day. Ideally we should have seen the sunrise, but – surprise, surprise – all we saw (apart from the distinctive dancing) was rain and then more rain!

I love having the Castle – and Totnes itself – virtually on my doorstep, as their proximity helps me feel ‘in the thick of things’. Yet my small walled garden is usually an oasis of calm where I can imagine myself to be in the heart of the country.

I can also imagine the goings-on of long ago – especially on summer Tuesdays, when many Totnes traders and some residents dress in Elizabethan costumes to bring gaiety and a taste of yesterday to the market place! Which reminds me that it’s Tuesday again tomorrow …

DARTMOOR & TENNYSON

While walking by the water on Dartmoor yesterday with friends from the University of the Third Age, these words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s flowed into my head:

 ‘I chatter, chatter, as I flow

To join the brimming river,

For men may come and men may go,

But I go on forever.’

 It can be tranquil on Dartmoor – and it can also be scary. What with the ghosts said to frequent the moor, and the mists that can descend with little or no warning, it’s best to prepare for all eventualities before going there!

Go with a group, as I usually do, and then at least when a mist descends everyone is lost together! The best bit of these walks, for me, is the meal we share once the exertions are over. We ate yesterday at Brimpt’s Farm Tea-room, near Dartmeet, where we were offered choices between ploughman’s, bowls of soups, filled rolls – or, despite it being ‘officially’ lunch-time – Devon cream teas.

Plenty of people chose the cream tea, but all our choices were declared afterwards to be simply yummy!

TOTNES & NARNIA

It’s probably not widely known that Totnes is twinned with Narnia! Such status seems appropriate to me, for it has a slightly surreal quality. I expect you’ll soon begin to see what I mean.

Dating back to Saxon times, the town predates me by a few centuries (though maybe some would disagree!) and  when Totnes was still walled one way of entering was via this East Gate.

Be warned,  if you dislike hills, that Totnes possibly has more than its share and visitors (plus some residents) tend to puff a bit climbing this one on the main street.

I climb it most mornings after walking by the river Dart to work up an appetite for breakfast. I reach the river via a very steep descent from my home near the castle to the path just beyond Totnes station. There’s a strategy of sorts here, on my circular tour, as returning home along Fore Street is a much cushier option than ascending seemingly vertical Castle Hill from the station!

Here’s ‘proof’ of the twinning I mentioned – found on a postcard in a favorite coffee shop at the top of town.

HELLO FROM DEVON!

Hello from Devon – and from me, as I begin My Devon Diary. Here you see a gateway on Dartmoor, the glorious moor that I can see distantly from my study window and reach within thirty minutes by car.

Let’s go through the gate together and also go out and about in Totnes, the historic market town where I live. I’ve lived here for just four years and learned that there’s nowhere else remotely like it!

I’ve also learned that there are endless delights virtually on my doorstep. I’d like to share these – and the varied pattern of my days – with you, through words and images, bit by bit.

So, do walk with me on a journey of discovery…