BREAKFAST AT TURTLEY

 

Yesterday I had the inspired idea of inviting four friends to join me for breakfast at Turtley Corn Mill. They were two couples who had never met before and of course I was a bit concerned as to how well they would hit it off. But it turned out that they had lots in common and long before we’d finished our delicious meal it seemed as if they’d known one another simply forever.

Part of my thinking in inviting them was that we’ve all been somewhat restricted recently by the torrential rain and floods, so it would be good to be ‘out and about’ enjoying good food in a beautiful venue. I must admit that the Mill didn’t look quite like it did when I took these pictures, back before our rainy season! There was in fact a torrent of water running down towards the entrance, but fortunately it flowed on past the actual door …

So we were able to kind of sidestep it and enter without getting wet feet.

Now I’m back ‘on the case’ of whether or not it will be possible to reach London by train tomorrow. The latest news is that the Penzance to Paddington service might be resumed sooner than expected, in which case there’s a strong possibility that my train will run at 8.16 am (or thereabouts) tomorrow – with a 30 minute (or so) delay at Exeter because the signaling system (inactivated by flood water) won’t be reinstated for about two weeks.

It seems nothing definite will be known until sometime tonight – so till I ring at 7 am tomorrow I still won’t be sure whether or not my sister and I will be enabled to meet.

Well, whatever will be will be …

 

PAIGNTON IN THE RAIN

 

Have you ever visited Paignton in the rain? That’s what I did today after working out in the Totnes Pavilion gym and, as you can see from the picture, its beach was a bit damp and dismal! So I didn’t linger there, setting off instead for one of the best cups of coffee in the South West.

That, at least, is my opinion of the coffee they make in Café Tutto! Nestling unexpectedly amidst all the amusement arcades, this Italian café really does serve wonderful coffee. After my Latte I felt much better equipped to face the day.

I then went to Totnes station to enquire about trains to Paddington as I’m meant to be meeting my sister in London this Thursday for some Christmas shopping. But, thanks to all the flooding in our region, the Penzance to Paddington train has been unable to run for some days and the stationmaster couldn’t yet tell me when it will be running again. He said he might know by Wednesday afternoon whether it will be back in service by Thursday …

Ah well, my problems are few (virtually non-existent) compared with all the poor people whose homes and/or businesses are flooded! So I’ll simply be philosophical and hope for the best, while preparing my sister (who lives in less flooded Dorset) for the fact that our plans will need to stay in a state of suspended animation till Wednesday.

Finally, for today, I’ll just mention my thankfulness for having photographed the glorious carpet of leaves on the river-bank in Totnes before the deluge came to turn them all to pulp!

 

RAINBOW OVER TOTNES

 

This morning as I walked before breakfast along the riverbank I saw storm clouds gathering yet again. The Dart was very swollen from all the recent rain and some of its banks had vanished beneath the fast-flowing water.

Looking from the old bridge across Vire Island (which mostly disappeared beneath the river yesterday, only to reappear today) I could see the (red brick) terraced house where my hairdresser, Kevin, and his partner live. As this is lapped by the river, I couldn’t help wondering how they fared yesterday and whether they were able to keep all the water at bay. No doubt I’ll find out when my hair next needs Kevin’s attention!

I also keep wondering how much more rain there can possibly be in those clouds that keep gathering above us. But it was a joy to see the rainbow that seemed to rise from the Clock Tower as I returned home up Fore Street. A rainbow over Totnes has to be a positive thing, doesn’t it?

After listening to the weather forecasts and ongoing flood warnings for Devon and Cornwall, my daughter and I have now abandoned our plans to meet up in Looe tomorrow. Sometimes it seems best to err on the safe side – and now that I have more time on my hands than expected I’ve just been doing as she requested and checking out her new website: www.feng-shui-tips.co.uk. Maybe I’m biased – but I found it rather impressive!

And, needless to say, Joanna has feng shui’d me (my home, at least) …  I must mention that the results to date have been wonderful.

 

 

DELUGE IN DEVON

 

For the last few days we’ve had rain, rain and still more rain! Our dramatic weather forecasts for the past 72 hours have been filled with storm warnings and we had 35 flood alerts yesterday. On last night’s local news for the South West we saw extraordinary pictures of the sea ferociously assaulting our coast (Cornwall’s and Somerset’s too!), of rivers overflowing, the Grand Western Canal and some bridges collapsing, power cuts – and of people’s homes and businesses being awash with water.

All this (together with the recent hurricanes in the USA and elsewhere) is a stark reminder, isn’t it, of the sheer force of Nature? I think it also reminds us of our powerlessness at such times.

Do you agree that that can be a good thing periodically? There are moments when it’s tempting to feel self-important – that we are in control and that man has the upper hand. But does he? Do we?

Those are, of course, questions for which we each need to find our own answers. All I know is that storms such as these fill me with awe – and, strangely maybe, with a sense of being protected. Perhaps I’d feel differently if I were ever to find myself directly in a hurricane’s path (and my heart certainly goes out to all those whose lives or property are endangered). I think, though, that I’d still be awed – still sense a higher hand at the helm.

Me, oh my, this deluge in Devon is certainly having a profound effect!

Is this swan saying: “I like the results of rain.” ?

 

 

TOTNES ON SUNDAY

 

Yesterday my walk by the River Dart here in Totnes was amazing! After a frosty night there was a mist rising from the river, giving the scene an ethereal quality.  Added to this, the sky was a clear blue and the leaves that had fallen overnight from the trees formed an autumnal carpet for me.

I found myself giving thanks for where I live (something I often seem to be doing) as I approached the picturesque old bridge at the foot of town and then started up Fore Street. There I encountered Chris and Andy from Totnes Television & Electrical, who were in the process of putting up the Christmas lights – a task they perform annually, with apparent pleasure. Cheerful as ever, Andy was up their ladder and Chris was taking a turn directing procedures from ground level.

Once we’d exchanged greetings I climbed higher toward the Market Square, where traders at the Food Fair held in Totnes on the third Sunday of each month were setting up their stands. I do hope the owner of the rear view pictured here at this colourful stall will forgive me for not waiting till he (she?) was facing the camera before clicking my shutter – but I was in a hurry to get home and have breakfast.

That said, I couldn’t resist delaying long enough to buy a wonderful homemade fish pie from a stand where they also make and sell the tastiest fish cakes imaginable. It provided me with a simply scrumptious lunch!

Where better to be than Totnes on Sunday?

RAINBOW AT DARTMEET

 

Last Saturday it was supposed to rain. At least the weather-forecasters said we’d have torrential rain all day. So we nearly abandoned our visit to Dartmoor as that’s no place to be when the weather’s murky. Thank goodness we relied on our own assessment of the day that dawned, rather than on the ‘experts’!

Joanna and Leo were staying with me and when we saw the cloudless blue sky that greeted our awakening, off we set in the direction of Dartmeet. You’ll see from the rainbow that when we reached the signpost showing us the way there must have been rain somewhere in our vicinity – but it didn’t touch us!

So we had some wonderful walks, exploring several more of the magnificent Tors, where Leo demonstrated his prowess as a would-be mountain goat. Sometimes I think he forgets he’s a dog, so skilful is he at accessing the tops of rocks and various other ‘obstacles’!

At Dartmeet (where West and East Dart rivers meet) we had coffee at Badger’s Holt and then watched some canoeists plunging into the water before being swept away at an alarming rate between somewhat hazardous-looking rocks. I rather envied their enthusiasm and seeming fearlessness.

Leo helps launch a canoe!

After seeing them off, we headed to Widecombe. Are you familiar with the Widecombe Fair song – supposedly based on a true happening? In case you aren’t, here are its words (and by the way, Tom Cobley’s grave can be visited at Spreyton – just north of Dartmoor):

“Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare,

All along, down along, out along, lee,

For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair,

With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,

Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.”

 

“And when shall I see again my grey mare?”

All along, down along, out along, lee,

“By Friday soon, or Saturday noon,

With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,

Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.”

 

So they harnessed and bridled the old grey mare

All along, down along, out along, lee,

And off they drove to Widecombe fair,

With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,

Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.”

 

Then Friday came, and Saturday noon,

All along, down along, out along, lee,

But Tom Pearces old mare hath not trotted home,

With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,

Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.”

 

So Tom Pearce he got up to the top o’ the hill

All along, down along, out along, lee,

And he seed his old mare down a-making her will,

With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,

Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.”

 

So Tom Pearce’s old mare, her took sick and died,

All along, down along, out along, lee,

And Tom he sat down on a stone, and he cried

With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,

Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.”

 

But this isn’t the end o’ this shocking affair,

All along, down along, out along, lee,

Nor, though they be dead, of the horrid career

Of Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,

Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.”

 

When the wind whistles cold on the moor of the night

All along, down along, out along, lee,

Tom Pearce’s old mare doth appear gashly white,

With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,

Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.”

 

And all the long night he heard skirling and groans,

All along, down along, out along, lee,

From Tom Pearce’s old mare in her rattling bones,

With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,

Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,

Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.”

 

HISTORY STILL LIVES TODAY

Isn’t it interesting how our past and present are somehow intertwined? I’ve been vividly reminded of this twice recently – first in Cornwall and then in Devon.

Zennor is a small coastal village between St Ives and St Just in Cornwall and it was there that I found the Zennor Plague stone pictured above. Imagine, if you can, a time when a stone such as this one was relied on to keep the deadly Plague at bay!

(In case you can’t see all the words on the plaque, here they are:

Was positioned here at the boundary of Zennor Churchtown during the outbreaks of disease.

The depression in the centre was filled with vinegar. Money that changed hands between villagers and outsiders would be placed in the vinegar and thus disinfected.

The main cholera epidemics in Cornwall 1832 & 1849.’)

In a very different vein, when walking near glorious Noss Mayo in Devon, I came across this notice giving the various fares for transporting quite a selection of passengers and goods across the river. How glad I am that these things are preserved, giving us a glimpse of how things once were!