Great Western engine

I wrote recently about my intention to travel to London for the day and said I’d keep you posted on that front. Well, my first attempt (at the end of November) failed completely as – resulting from bad flooding – there had been a landslip between Teignmouth and Dawlish during the night before my intended journey and no trains could leave the South West!

For quite a while it looked like my second attempt (yesterday) would meet the same fate. Maybe I should have taken the train pictured (I photographed it in its Paignton siding last week). Trains seem to have been more reliable in former days.

My train from Totnes made it to Reading yesterday, but then everything started to go wrong because of ‘severe signal failure’ between Reading and Paddington. So instead of travelling as intended to Paddington I had to change to a Waterloo train – and reach London one and a half hours late. Still, it could have been worse – much worse. Some passengers had planes and other connections to catch, whereas I was simply meeting my sister in Covent Garden for lunch.

We met up eventually (she’d had problems traveling from Dorset because of serious flooding in the New Forest) and had a wonderful time revisiting old haunts and loving the magical Christmas lights.

Telephone Box

We went to Claridge’s (just the outside) both because our grandmother once worked there and because we’ve also been enjoying a TV series about this unique and rather fabulous establishment. A visit to Fortnum & Mason’s was another joy. I bought (for one of my daughters) a special Diamond Jubilee commemoration tin of orange digestive biscuits coated with dark chocolate. It has a unique feature – playing Land Of Hope & Glory when it is opened!

On that note I send you my warmest wishes for the festivities and for 2013. May the coming year be kind to us all …






Old Totnes bridge, misty morning

This morning dawned frostily, with a slight haze over Totnes. As I approached the old bridge along the riverbank I thought again how blessed I am to live here in glorious Devon.

Then, tonight, was the second of the Totnes Xmas markets when the town comes back to life after the day’s trading is done. If you’ve wondered about the video in my left-hand column, then wonder no more for it was made during just such a market a year (or several!) ago.

I went with a friend and we explored all the colourful stalls before heading into Rumours Wine Bar for a glass of their hot mulled wine. Yes, we could have bought this from the stand you see pictured but by that time our tired legs dictated a seat somewhere – and preferably the warmth of an interior.

So we sat and chatted – and received an unexpected ‘visit’ from Liza, who used to manage the Tangerine Tree Café before spreading her wings and heading for new pastures in Exeter. She and some other former (and current) staff from ‘Tangerine’ were enjoying a meal at a neighbouring table and she had spotted me before I spotted her. It was touching that she had bothered to come over and say “Hello!” – but that tends to be how things are in Totnes. I’ve never lived anywhere friendlier!

Hot mulled wine, Totnes




Carrying coffin

I feel that this unusual Totnes funeral needs recording.  It took place yesterday and Fore Street was closed to traffic as the coffin of a homeless man – Michael Gething – who died of hypothermia outside the Methodist church last month was carried through the town to Follaton Cemetery.

The funeral procession halted three times en route, both to change pallbearers and so that poems and a eulogy could be spoken over the coffin. Graham, the man in the top hat – a homeless friend of Michael’s who sells T-shirts (saying TOTNES TWINNED WITH NARNIA) on the street – held a 48-hour vigil in memory of the deceased. This also raised funds from residents to pay for the funeral and to help the homeless.  One contribution was said to be £1,000.

The BBC and ITV news teams were there to record the event.

Graham reads a poem