Preface

On the Thursday before the wedding, the Bride’s mother and father decided not to go out at all as the weather was terrible, so, almost for the first time ever, they spent the afternoon sitting, holding hands watching their namesakes in Pride and Prejudice and it was a lovely start to a lovely weekend. How soppy can you get!

A Dartmoor Wedding

By the Photographer’s Assistant

The Assistant and one of her dearest friends took the road to Gidleigh Church. They drove cautiously in case there was a fast oncoming vehicle. There could be no bumps at this stage of the proceedings. The lane was narrow and it was noticeably cold. They had an enormous bag of ivy and trimmings from the garden. The Assistant had her trusted secateurs, some scissors, all sorts of string and useful bits and pieces in an old box. The car came to a halt by the church and the two set out into a beautiful sight.

Stiffly starched and all the same. The bridesmaid's work of art

Stiffly starched and all the same. The bridesmaid’s work of art

 

There, was the work done by a bridesmaid and her fiancé. Beautiful white bows adorned each chair in the church. It was an amazing sight and here, was the natural greenery to adorn it. Outside, there were to be candles in personally decorated jars. The bridesmaids were busy clipping and snipping. There was nothing in the church that had not been made and crafted by friends and that was the essence of the wedding. There were no vast amounts of money spent, just friends who wanted to join in. The small family involved (just the Bride, groom and four close relatives) were both amazed and touched at all those wonderful helping hands.

A wedding lectern

A wedding lectern

 

As her friend decorated the lectern, the Assistant heard a car door shut outside but it was some while before the occupant appeared. This was a dear elderly lady who had known the Assistant since she arrived on Dartmoor. This was an unexpected appearance. The lady had forgotten that there would be no flower arranging this weekend. She had the most beautiful flowers to contribute, so the Assistant’s friend helped with arranging her flowers too. Only that morning, the Assistant had been sad that all of the brides grandparents had died years before. The lady who had come to fulfil her role on the flower rota was the only person the Assistant knew with a connection to her own father. This lady, who was now very old had had a husband who was a doctor attached to the Eighth Army in the war, and the Assistant’s father had been a medical commando, also attached to the Eighth Army. The Assistant found this a strange happening. In a way, her father had made his way to that church. He had always loved children and had only seen the bride for nine months before he had died.

This eve of the wedding passed in a haze of preparation. John, the bride’s godfather had arrived and had been a great help with all sorts of jobs, which hadn’t been completed. The threesome sat down and had an early supper, at the end of which they all agreed that age was catching up with them and went off to a night’s heavy sleep, despite the next day’s coming event.

Oh! The day itself was wonderful. The bride left for the wedding from her own home. John and the Photographer had decorated the Photographer’s car, which had been left in a kind neighbour’s garage, one of the few on the Moor. The Moorland mist would have ruined the ribbon. There was a touching scene in the bride’s home. When the bridesmaids were going to be late getting away from having their hair done, the bride was left with her mother for some last precious moments. The bride’s mother had never been very good at dressing the daughter as a toddler, let alone getting full bridal gear onto her as an adult, but the two struggled away together, the bride’s patience being immense. Eventually, the dress was on, but the mother’s fingers could not hook up the fastenings, a hook was really needed. Just as the mother thought she would never get there, the bride’s father arrived. He had decided to park the car early to collect the bride. Father immediately set to, just as he had when the bride was a toddler. With some hesitation, as the bride was a woman, and no longer his small child, the father shyly asked if he could proceed with the fasteners and was shouted at to get on with it! He had the bride done up in no time and completed the job just as the bridesmaids arrived. The father and bride left and had a pleasant chat as they waited outside the church in a wind swept car for the allotted arrival time, specified to the minute by the vicar.

With much amusement the two watched the late arrivals zoom to the church; find all the parking taken, dash back as suggested by helpful locals to the Village Hall, find that full for a pre booked other event, disgorge slightly flustered guests, then disappear down granite lined lanes seeking the non existent parking spots. Meanwhile the more laid back late arrivals spotted the bride and just had to have a gossip.

What a wedding! People who arrive at weddings usually feel a sort of tension. Will it all go well? The mother of the bride did her best to talk to the arrivals and what happy meetings of old friends there were there. The priest, who took the service was a dear man, who had only recently retired from being the hospital chaplain at Great Ormond Street. He is a splendid person, and we were lucky to have him there. The bells rang, the organ played, and there was a silence as the bride entered the church with her two glamorous bridesmaids. As the bride made her way up the aisle, it became obvious that her father could not steer such a large frock in tandem up the narrow aisle. Here was the breaking of the ice. Everyone laughed and the father announced that they just didn’t fit in such a small church. The vows were beautifully said between two lovely people, who clearly loved one another very much. There was solemnity mixed with much smiling. The bride’s artist friend read wonderfully and the bride’s mother managed to do one of the things she was trained to do, and actually used her teacher trained voice to make a clear reading. An achievement at last. You simply can’t let the bride down! The organ played wonderfully. Snacks were laid on in the church and in this the bride’s mother was grateful to her niece, who could not be there because she was expecting a baby. Her niece had insisted that it was essential to feed people throughout the wedding, so Black’s Deli had provided excellent local pasties and there was mulled wine too, provided by the bride’s father and Pilates wine shop. The father had spent the previous morning having a fun time boiling the wine to get rid of the alcohol content! The bell ringers joined in the snacks and a jolly time was begun.

While the guests remained in church munching pasties the Bridal Party and the Wedding Photographer set to work

While the guests remained in church munching pasties the Bridal Party and the Wedding Photographer set to work

 

The reception was just a blast, as they say. There were short speeches, during which the brides mother nearly broke down after the groom gave her a glowing report and a really large bunch of flowers. The conversation flowed, as did the wine. The father and mother of the bride were immensely pleased with the acquisition of a step grandson, who was so fond of their daughter in this lovely frock that he couldn’t help constantly giving her a big cuddle. Needless to say, this handsome young man was in great demand when the dancing commenced until he finally collapsed and was carried to the blue room for a snooze.

The happy bride

The happy bride

There was good country rock music with plenty of dancing and lots of conversation. John, the landlord of the Chagford Inn seemed to have unending energy. He and his staff were simply amazing. The bride’s mother was given a beautiful book, by a friend, signed by the artist, who had earlier in the year seen her own son get married The cake made by the bride’s father was robustly beautiful, and the second cake made of cheese was very very tasty.

Engineered cake!

Engineered cake!

 

They knew the reception had gone well, when the men had whisky to finish off, and the mother’s had a cup of coffee, because they simply couldn’t keep up with them!

It was all like a scene from a Thomas Hardy novel, that joyful playing of music in the wedding of Bathsheba and Gabriel in Far From the Madding Crowd.

Music, wine and good conversation, was had by all...including The Photographer.....who needs focus anyway?

Music, wine and good conversation, was had by all…including The Photographer…..who needs focus anyway?

 

Footnote:

 

Go on, you really just wanted to see the frock…….and the lovely bride

 

The Frock

The Frock

 

 

 

The Photographer’s snapshots can be seen on Flickr (follow link) or the serious stuff is on Artfinder (follow link)

Any similarity between characters in this blog and real people, products or events is entirely co-incidental

Any similarity between “The Little Town” and Chagford is entirely deliberate, Click on this link to find out more. Visit Chagford

By the Photographer’s Assistant

 

The daughter and the Assistant were dressed in everything you can think of to keep warm and dry. The forecast for the Moor was dreadful. The dog attempted to walk beside them, but it was trying too hard to be good so that however hard it tried, it went around in circles. It was funny, but not helpful. Eventually, she was let off the lead. It wasn’t quite autumn, but it felt close. It began to rain and the rain became so hard that they knew they would be soaked. Cars passed. They were so pleased as here came the Photographer, ready to pick them up.

 

They were just around the corner from the church and they all quickly entered out of the rain. They stood and surveyed the scene. In four weeks time, the Daughter’s wedding would take place here. Observations were made. Where to place greenery, particularly the ivy from the garden? How many were coming? Where would everyone sit? The discussion went on and Zaney, the dog, attempted to join in by sitting knowledgeably on the floor, sighing, shifting and attempting to direct proceedings. Eventually, the church door was shut and the foursome drove home to a cup of tea and a “warm up” by the kitchen range. The whole event had brought home something other than wedding arrangements. It had brought home the arrival of autumn. There was no denying it.

 

The wonderful rood screen at Gidleigh Church where The Daughter will be married soon

The wonderful rood screen at Gidleigh Church where The Daughter will be married soon

Here was a reminder to put the coats through the washing machine and apply some waterproofer.
The Photographer thought of the boots and the need to work on them, so that they were warm and waterproof. Laces would be checked and the thickness of soles would be reviewed. The lawn would need cutting at every opportunity. However, this was the last day of real rain. The local reservoir was dry and old buildings stuck out above what water there was left. The Assistant spent hours clearing the garden stream out, as weed unexpectedly took over. The pump inlet for the Victorian water system had stopped filling. Their own bore hole, which was shallow, could dry up, for there would be no warning, just a sudden cessation of the water supply.

 

What is it?......Answer at the bottom of the blog

What is it?……Answer at the bottom of the blog

On the following Monday, the Photographer and his Assistant went for their usual breakfast at Blacks in the little town. It was slightly chilly, but dry. They sat outside enjoying the fresh air, when a man in shorts walked past. He always wore shorts and the two admired his bravery. They met a friend who had arrived in a full winter coat, large jumper, thick socks and full winter regalia. He nodded towards the man in shorts and exclaimed, “Nutcase!” as he left for the high moor in his giant 4×4. Opinion on the arrival of Autumn was obviously divided.

 

The man from Endacotts brings the pasties......all will be well

The man from Endacotts brings the pasties……all will be well

Returning from their walk, the two decided to carry on gardening and washing windows, whatever the state the house was in, it would have to wait until the weather finally broke. Frequently, when this happened on the Moor, the weather shut down completely and only the brave gardened until the spring. Your fingers could freeze in just a few seconds. The Photographer decided to mow rather than strim for now. He spent the day mowing neat paths and clearing debris. The Assistant, being of a lazy frame of mind, picked up a small box and started to collect apples. Both the Assistant and the Photographer remarked on a pear possibly missing from the pear tree. Surely not? They decided they must be wrong. The next day, one of the three remaining pears in the garden was missing. There was no sign of it anywhere, not even a core! They sat in the garden and thought about this for a while, over a cup tea of course, there is no point in making a martyr of yourself in the garden. Alan Titchmarsh always said spend time looking at your garden. Now that the two were getting older, they certainly did a lot of this. Having carefully watched Springwatch over a couple of years, and seen a badger climb a tree, they decided one must have taken the pear. There was a back entrance to their home in the garden, and only a few years before the whole family of badgers had driven through the sweetcorn like a bulldozer! The two remaining pears were picked by the humans and the badgers were left some apples on the ground together with the evidence that Mr. Fox had also paid a visit. Some wonderfully coloured jays continued to occupy the same stretch of lawn. The humans began to wonder whether they should sit on their seat at all, considering the number of animals who considered this to be their domain. Zany the dog, meanwhile paid a late visit to the garden and made her presence felt. The two remembered dear Marcus, who died around this time of year. That dear spaniel had taken no prisoners, even tangling with the badgers when really enraged. The two sighed and visited his grave. Life was just not the same without Marcus, then they remembered how very depressed he got in the winter, sighing when it was raining and grumbling during the evening as he lay damply by the fire. You have to be incredibly tolerant to actually live with a proper springer. Their moods are those of a prima donna, no matter how many badgers they have a punch up with!

It does, however, go without saying, that the little town is well up to the arrival of autumn and winter. The aforementioned Blacks was filling up with Chris’s fresh home made soup only this morning. The man from Endacott’s arrived with a fresh load of pasties, they’ll keep the cold out. Casa Magnolia has clothes to keep the ladies of the town looking ravishing, while actually not exposing too much skin to the elements. Bowdens has a large number of individual heaters all ready to go with the frosts that are now arriving. The town’s inhabitants try out various winter garb while surveying the hills for clouds and storms. Spar has had a wonderful offer on various soups. The town is paused, coats are on and The Courtyard Cafe is stuffed full of regulars, some of whom have just arrived from foreign summer adventures and some of whom will now go abroad for the whole of the winter, returning only when friends have told them that spring is here. They will miss the lovely log fires, the smell of the wood wafting out of the wood store as they fill their baskets. Poor John, the wood supplier, will, as usual, together with his team members, pray for a rest on Christmas, as his phone continues to ring in the corner. We will all have a moan, but we’ll really enjoy the chance to catch up with friends, sitting by the pub fires reminiscing about the summer of ’16, when the streams dried up and you had to strip off to keep cool, how the gin and tonic flowed and the beer cooled the working breast. What a summer we had as we await the winter to come.

 

The end of summer.....a wet empty cafe table. But the sun will be back!

The end of summer…..a wet empty cafe table. But the sun will be back!

 

Answer to the quiz:

It is the dry spillway from Vennford Reservoir, waiting for the rain to come and fill it up again

and the blog title is by John Lee Hooker from the album Best of Friends

 

 

The Photographer’s snapshots can be seen on Flickr (follow link) or the serious stuff is on Artfinder (follow link)

Any similarity between characters in this blog and real people, products or events is entirely co-incidental

Any similarity between “The Little Town” and Chagford is entirely deliberate, Click on this link to find out more. Visit Chagford

By the Photographer’s Assistant

The Assistant is standing in Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. She is beyond excitement. Some dear friends have invited her and the Photographer to stay with them in the Lake District. She has always had an ambition to learn more of the great A.W. ( Alfred Wainwright ) Here she is at a whole exhibition about him. He was the big figure in the encouragement of fell walking. Here, you can touch the suit that he walked in and stand under a bus stop that he will have used to get to the start of his walk. There is an enormous map of the Lake District on the floor. You can walk on it and see all those famous walks. You can read his school report and see some of his drawings. As many of you will know, his books are full of information and details. They are exquisite and even if you can’t walk, you can go with him in his writings and drawings. Indeed, unable to find a companion or a way of walking Hadrian’s Wall complete, the Assistant has bought his guide and will sit in front of her Moorland winter fire engrossed in vicariously doing just this.

The dreadful bonus of this trip has been to see the endeavours of Jo Tasker and Pete Bordman repeated in an adjoining room. She had met their climbs before in an all encompassing exhibition of mountaineering in Scotland, and The Photographer, who was born the same year as Tasker, had followed their exploits whilst they were alive, with enthusiasm and admiration. These two amazing pioneering climbers forced out the boundaries of Alpine style climbing. Tasker had taken a decision as a young man not to become a priest, but to climb instead. Both men perished on Everest in 1982. Their bodies have never been found. Tasker’s camera was found and the film had been developed. Other bits and pieces turn up from time to time. There are postcards to his parents. The exhibition is too evocative and heartbreaking. You long to go back to that mountain and help these two to continue, but it is this impossibility that is so cruel!

Well, you can’t just go to the exhibition and sit and have an Eccles cake, you’ve now got to do some fell walking yourself. The Photographer, the Assistant, and John, their experienced friend, set off to “do” Catbells, one of Wainwright’s easier walks. The Assistant is thrilled to have such companions and takes an extra puff of medication so as not to let them down! What wonderful views await the three. A walk not too long, but just right, the beauty of which is so incandescent, you wonder that Alfred ever returned to his day job. He must have sat on that bus, puffing on his pipe with great satisfaction.

A view from Catbells above Derwent Water

A view from Catbells above Derwent Water

Before reaching the Lake District, the two had visited the Brecon Beacons, where they painfully knocked off a few of the highest Beacons. Having previously used a less well known route to climb Pen Y Fan, the mountain, now famous for killing some soldiers shortly after their own climb in 2013, the two decided to deal with unfinished business on the slopes by taking the less risky but most used route. This was a mistake. A path had been installed by the National Trust which was so uncomfortable that the two found little enjoyment in it. The car park for the hill was packed and the toilets were deplorable. The only salvation was a tea van!

The Assistant devours the obligatory pork pie near the top of Pen-y-fan

The Assistant devours the obligatory pork pie near the top of Pen-y-fan

 

Sitting in their remote cottage that evening, the two decided that they would tackle a less well known slope next, Sugar Loaf. On the map this climb looked a sheer delight of boundless scenery for very little effort. The following day, the two found a deserted car park and no tourists at the chosen start point above Abergavenny. They became quite cocky. You couldn’t see Sugar Loaf from the car park and they almost decided not to wear boots, but casual shoes. This would not have been a good decision. On rounding a bend at the foot of Sugar Loaf, they were presented with a very steep climb. They were a little tired, but neither wanted to let the other down, so they continued. The climb was much steeper though lower than any other on the trip, and they wondered if it was worth it. Worth it? The views were amazing with no mist and a perfectly clear day and flocks of sand martins swooping around the peak. We would go back to it again any day. Just to top it all, while the two were standing there, a power glider flew over and saluted them!

Backlit Fournier RF5B salutes the summit of Sugar Loaf

Backlit Fournier RF5B salutes the summit of Sugar Loaf

 

Here we are now back on the Moor, having had a thoroughly enjoyable trip, which was far more adventurous than we thought it would be and feeling all the better for that. To come down to earth, we are now wedding cake baking again. The morning’s effort has sunk again! The Photographer is now viewing this as a scientific challenge and has a major weapon in the form of a meat thermometer. He is not thinking of joining Paul Hollywood on The Great Bake In.

By the time of the next blog all wedding preparations will be at the hysterical phase, though it must be said that the bride and groom are not worried. Should the wedding give cause for alarm, they have now booked a honeymoon well away from the experiments, which constitute their wedding. After all, they are doing the cooking at Christmas, and have that to look forward to!

Wishing you all well, now that we can all enjoy fresh apples and pears from the orchard, and the beautiful autumn mists which presently surround us.

 

Harvest Home

Harvest Home

 

The Photographer’s snapshots can be seen on Flickr (follow link) or the serious stuff is on Artfinder (follow link)

Any similarity between characters in this blog and real people, products or events is entirely co-incidental

Any similarity between “The Little Town” and Chagford is entirely deliberate, Click on this link to find out more. Visit Chagford

 

By the Photographer’s Assistant
It was the first day of September. The Photographer stood outside his workshop surveying the Assistant at work. She was in the garden stream with a fork and her own small pair of gloves. He had had to buy so many gloves! She was totally absorbed. This was not good. Could it be that after all her promises, she actually had Mother of the Bride Syndrome. She had been very tense and the very mention of the wedding produced a stream of babble. How to cope? He was taking her home to Wales, to border country soon. Would this work? He was certainly taking her away after the wedding. The thing was you had to quietly say and she had to admit it, that her practical side as regards arranging anything, was missing. In the scheme of things, she managed life by racing around and not being caught. All this brought to mind, his first meeting with her.

The stream in the Valley without the Assistant

The stream in the Valley without the Assistant

 

The Photographer met the Assistant a very long time ago, around 47 years ago. From a distance, she had had a reputation for running. There had been various events that had not helped the reputation. When she lived at home, her mother and father had always covered for her. There seemed to be various boyfriends to be avoided, her mother had estimated a total of three in one week, and once her very liberal father had upbraided a lad for bringing her home late. The worst had been the Runner. He had appeared to be a steadying influence. He seemed to call for her, take her out and was lasting. The problem was that he and most of the runners were sick every time they finished a race. The Assistant really couldn’t take this. She began running. The Runner became a stalker. Running meant that he became a bit of a stalker. He had developed two addictions, the long distant competition, and the daughter. He even took up delivering the post so that he could be near. The mother never knew where her daughter was and the daughter kept running even faster. The daughter now had a broken nose after falling from a dustbin escaping through a toilet window. This is still prominent on her friends wedding photo, where the bridesmaid’s broken nose was preeminent. In fact, weddings were mounting up. The daughter had attended three in one day and had been mistaken for the bride at a registry office. She had no idea why all these friends wanted to lose their freedom.

Well, now, she was off to an all girl’s teacher training college and academia became a blissful occupation until men arrived to boost numbers in her second year. It was a it of a mixed year. She had become very ill and very tired and lost the lead role on her drama course. Instead of appearing as a beguiling creature, she had a bag placed over her head and became one of the Elements. Her current boyfriend got her best friend pregnant. She was sent on teaching practice to a hell hole in Luton. She was forced into standing for the Student Union Presidency, did no campaigning and still had to face three recounts. There was bitter rancour from her supporters, who were mainly folksy academics. The Assistant had to hide and run for some weeks again. It was at this stage that the Photographer spotted her out and about at, of all places, Cranfield Institute,  where he occasionally attended some interesting engineering lectures. He had heard the odd bit about her and he felt sorry. She was very thin and pale. She was wearing an old frock and was having a rest. He thought that he would go and have a chat. She was clearly not up to dancing. She saw him approaching and could not run away. She was a little worried. She had heard that he had a wild reputation. His latest event being his 21st birthday, which had got out of control at his college bar. The staff had been unable to prevent a tractor being parked in the ornamental fountain outside the main entrance. None who had attended could remember anything. So the Assistant was strangely quiet. The Photographer thought that as they were at a loose end, they could go to the Valentines Ball together. After all, she intended going to Canada, and had actually filled the forms in, so there was no harm in it. So that was that. She was dissuaded from going to Canada. Her friends would become very excited every Friday night, when he would ring. She didn’t need to run to the Common Room to answer the phone. There were plenty of women who were ready to do it. He was a dish and he had a wonderful Home Counties accent. They were getting married and he clearly had prospects. The running stopped.

Now, he stood in their garden with what may turn out o be a similar situation if he didn’t gain control. Suddenly she laughed and produced an enormous ball from the stream. It was Zany the dog’s. They sat and looked at autumn and were much cheered. She talked of all the people coming to the wedding. She wasn’t stressed. She was excited and he could become excited too. All these lovely family friends, coming on difficult journeys to get to the West Country. They must be given a nice time. She did think that lots of things about it were fun. For example, here is a picture of their attempts at country style wedding cakes! Let’s hope that Mary Berry isn’t there!

(The aforementioned frock was dyed a dark shade of purple….very 1970s…..the Assistant had dyed it in the College laundrette, but being impractical hadn’t rinsed the washing machine. For months after all the girls had pale purple underwear…….no one ever found the culprit….(The Photographer))

 

How many ways can a sponge cake go wrong?

How many ways can a sponge cake go wrong?

Autumn Events

Autumn is a lovely time of year on the Moor. The fields are greening up and the evening’s cool air returns. Evening walks can be taken. The birds are on the wing. The buzzards fly high above the valleys and, in the garden, the heron returns to a small dell in the stream. As it takes off, it is like a
Medieval visitor dominating the sky. Whilst standing at the foot of the garden, a distinctive drone can be heard approaching high in the sky. It is a rare appearance of a Spitfire returning home from an event. The two wave and the Spitfire dips an acknowledgement. What a sight! What a sound!

John has worked hard at delivering the wood and it smells beautiful in the store. There is to be an arts event in the garden. The swimming pool will be open till later in the year as it is now heated and there is the film festival to look forward to.

At this moment, the electricity is down for a six hour revamp of the system. There is a fascinating process taking place outside and much needed work is being done, but no one has water as all the valley’s water is pumped.

The Assistant is eyeing up her maps and the Photographer is tuning up his camera. The boots are to be waterproofed for planned travels

The pears and apples will soon be here.

Here’s wishing you all a very happy Autumn.

Footnote

Wild!.....what nonsense.....completely undeserved.....

Wild!…..what nonsense…..completely undeserved…..

The Photographer’s snapshots can be seen on Flickr (follow link) or the serious stuff is on Artfinder (follow link)

Any similarity between characters in this blog and real people, products or events is entirely co-incidental

Any similarity between “The Little Town” and Chagford is entirely deliberate, Click on this link to find out more. Visit Chagford

 

 

 

It is the 5th June 1962 and the Assistant’s aunt has died. She was sixty two and she died of cancer.

It is term time but The Assistant has been taken out of school and sent to Wales. She will sit with her grandmother while the funeral takes place. Although it is June, they will sit by the fire, one is old and frail and the other asthmatic, though she is not wheezing today. No women attend funerals and all the other female relatives and mourners are being led in prayer by a priest at the dead aunt’s house. The grandmother has now lost four of her children, two of whom will now have been buried in the plot, which she meant for herself. The two companions do not talk of death, except for the grandmother to say that children should not be sent to funerals. The grandmother is dressed from head to foot in black, which she has worn for some years. She is a chapelgoer and despite her age, she will attend chapel every Sunday. She does not talk of religion, but she testifies to it by being loving and kind to all she sees. There is no dissent in this house. She gets up now and puts out the bread and the eggs on to boil. They can enjoy a small meal together before the others arrive. It is quiet, peaceful and they sit together thinking of the dead aunt, who used to hide housekeeping money, so that she could give her niece the school equipment that she needed but could not afford.

 

Granny Thomas (Mamgee)

Granny Thomas (Mamgee)

Amidst this silence, there is a shove at the back door. It is a warning and the child is sent to open the front door. The child is examined as each person enters. Eventually, the house is so full that shorter people are forced into the large kitchen pantry. There is a lot of Welsh being spoken, a lot of clatter, clamour and general mayhem. The child had never seen so many cups of tea and people kept on coming. Worried about the fragility of her grandmother, the child timidly opens the front parlour door, insisting that her grandmother sits on a supportive dining chair. This room is flooded with people and everyone wants to talk to “Mamgee”, the mother. They speak in English now, so that the child can understand. There are tributes and there is laughter and many, many memories and so the day goes on into the night when the uncles come home roaring drunk and the aunts are silent. The child sleeps on the floor with an aunt deemed fit enough to give up her bed. The strength of the grandmother is undiminished as she is summoned in the night to give instruction on the care of an asthmatic aunt who has all her pillows removed and who breaths more deeply at the sight of her mother.

Well, you might ask what has all this got to do with Dartmoor? It has a great deal to do with community and this place.

It is the day of Winnie’s funeral. The family are expecting a few people to attend at Providence, the chapel in Throwleigh. All around this area of Dartmoor, people are preparing. Even the photographer, who has only attended the funeral of one great friend since his own illness, is getting dressed in his best moleskin suit and black tie. The Assistant is wondering about hoping to look inconspicuous. They will start off early and the Photographer will drive the car. They are taking David, their close neighbour and he is looking very spruce. They are anticipating a lot of parking difficulty ( chapels were built for walking to ). The Photographer parks a short way down from the chapel. When they reach the chapel, there are an enormous number of people going in. The church itself and its balcony are full to busting already, so the threesome make their way to the anteroom. There is much chatter along the lines of, ” I haven’t seen you for years ……. “. The service is lovely and the priest makes a good job of it despite having to make himself heard over a very large area. There is much talk of Winnie’s great kindness and understanding of people. Everybody present had been touched by this dear lady, whose Christian beliefs had been so unfashionable that it made you wonder why a cup of tea offered in a time of worry could be so unworldly. Winnie had grown tired and had never got over the loss of a dear daughter. She wanted to be peaceful and her wish had been quite simply granted.

After, what a wake there was! There was tea and cake and pasties, of course, and talk and chatter, memories and wonder at such a wonderful life so simply and well lived. The attendance at this funeral was well over 200 souls, people of our community joining together in love and unison. When the Photographer and the Assistant got home, they had another cup of tea. The Assistant remembered that day, years ago, when her grandmother had buried her daughter and everyone came, so that she too was not alone.

 

If you go down in the woods today........you will surely find something beautiful in Stone Lane Gardens

If you go down in the woods today……..you will surely find something beautiful in Stone Lane Gardens

What to do this month on the Moor? Well, what not to do would be more accurate. Have you managed to get to Chagford Swimming Pool yet? Castle Drogo continues to display the Grayson Perry tapestry. Coffee shops and Blacks continue to buzz. The Photographer continues to purchase a very fine steak every weekend from Andy, the butcher. Have you, though, and I bet, you haven’t, visited Stone Lane Gardens, which are now managed by a charitable Trust carrying on the work of the Ashburners. It is just up the road from Chagford, past the Mill End Hotel. It has a tea tent this year.What a lovely place to go! Teas continue at Gidleigh Church on Sunday afternoons. You can walk yourself to exhaustion along the river or up on the Moor. Chagford Show is on 18th August. We are looking forward to the Chagford Film festival and Open Studios in September. Go on, get out there, knock yourselves out before the Dartmoor Autumn winds arrive!

Sorry. That’s it, we are off out to sun ourselves in the best venue of all, our garden!

 

Tailpiece

 

The rough end of the stick Betula dahurica at Stone Lane Gardens

The rough end of the stick
Betula dahurica at Stone Lane Gardens

 

The Photographer’s snapshots can be seen on Flickr (follow link) or the serious stuff is on Artfinder (follow link)

Any similarity between characters in this blog and real people, products or events is entirely co-incidental

Any similarity between “The Little Town” and Chagford is entirely deliberate, Click on this link to find out more. Visit Chagford

A special Dartmoor Diary

Winnie Kingsland

 

Winnie at the Village Royal Jubilee

Winnie at the Village Royal Diamond Jubilee

We have never written a ” special ” before, but feel that this should be done this once on the occasion of the death of a very special Dartmoor lady.

Winnie Kingsland died yesterday after a long illness. She was a major Dartmoor person and the lynchpin of this hamlet. Everybody for miles around knew and loved Winnie.

Winnie died in the house that she was born in surrounded by her large and loving family. The fact that she was in her eighties was not really relevant. She was a caring loving person who enriched the lives of those around her. She and her husband represented old Dartmoor and she had been the oldest inhabitant of this hamlet. They both represented a wonderful past that we can never recapture. Some years ago we were involved in an arts event, where a long piece of Devon dialect had to be read out to a hall full of us incomers. It was difficult to find anyone, who could train the actor concerned to pronounce the words. Winnie and her husband, who was very ill, took time out to come and read these wonderful words, which under John’s tongue took on a magnificent lilt. They constantly gave of their time to us incomers, telling us of time past on the Moor.

Winnie, however, was not a dweller in the past. She was very active. Let no one say that she did not keep up with the times. The day that she took a mobile phone out of her pocket to ring a relative was a revelation. She was often to be found manning a charity raffle at the local cancer care events. When her husband was alive and he was quite old, he could be found strimming on his boundary wall while she was having one of her famous bonfires. When her John died, she took on the care of her fields and was to be found with a can of weed killer, killing dangerous weeds there. At night, she could be found taking a late evening walk, enjoying the fresh air. Sometimes, she would roam up our lane to see what was going on and she really enjoyed a chat and a nice piece of cake. She was the true keeper of many confidences with a ready concern and a smile. Yesterday, my neighbour, who usually took her to the shops, got into her car with a tear in her eye. She would go to the shops alone today.

There is a great deal more you could tell about Winnie, but that is not a job for us. We, who knew her so fleetingly.

Those of us in this little hamlet on the Moor can really say that we will never see the like of Winnie Kingsland again. May she have rest safe in the care of the God she so trusted and loved.

 

Winnie and her old frien share a joke

Winnie and her old friend share a joke

Always smart and with apretty frock. The Diamond Jubilee

Always smart and with a pretty frock. The Diamond Jubilee

 

 

 

Winnie with her trademark winter scarf and red coat

Winnie with her trademark winter scarf and red coat

Winnie outside her barn

Winnie outside her barn

Winnie at the Village Show with that laugh that was never far away

Winnie at the Village Show with that laugh that was never far away

 

 

Winnie walking round the village

Winnie walking round the village

By The Photographer’s Assistant

We are having a special day. The Assistant is getting the Photographer a cup of tea. He lifts a foot into the open air and replaces it under the covers. It’s a bit chilly and it’s only 6.50 am. The Assistant is busy in the kitchen. A very special visitor is coming. The visitor is very glamorous. She is silken and has a pale delicate complexion and wonderfully pointed nails. The air of royalty will be all around. The Photographer stumbles into the kitchen. He is dressed and ready for a croissant and cheese. Any minute she will be here, all glitter and silvery show. She is late. They are worried. Around the corner and up the drive comes the chauffeur driven car. She emerges and bounds up the drive to shake hands with the man. The daughter waves as she drives past on her way to work. The guest bounds into the house and greets the woman in the kitchen. She is so enthusiastic to see them that she is beside herself. Yes, she would love a quick ball game in the garden and she delicately helps with the vegetable collection, disappearing now and then to say hello to her fans.

Zany, the rescue dog has arrived for the day. Her usual carer, the Boyfriend, is in London, fitting a posh bathroom and the other carer has to earn dog biscuits and bones in Exeter. These people, somewhat more elderly than her usual carers will have to do for the day. Boring! A chance, however, to catch up on one’s beauty sleep, ready for her next engagement.

Bread......and by suppertime half of it was eaten!

Bread……and by suppertime half of it was eaten!

 

The Assistant has collected beans and courgettes for lunch, which she will stir fry, mix with a tin of tomatoes ( Spar’s best bargain ) and cover in a cheese sauce and bake. A lunch mainly from the garden. Raspberries have been picked for tea. The Photographer has made two rustic loaves, which will last the couple quite a while. Back in the garden, the tomatoes have been inspected and there is worry over the variability of the weather. Blight has already arrived in the potatoes and the haulms have been cut off. The sweet peas, however, are like jewels shining in the damp weather. The threesome adjourn for morning coffee. Zany slips away to spend an entire morning sleeping in the conservatory, getting that sun tan so needed by a leading celebrity.

 

A box of good things to eat

A box of good things to eat

The Assistant is catching up on podding peas and beans with Zany. She is also listening to, and watching five episodes of Gardeners World. She is relaxed. Zany is busy being a watch dog, barking at the washing machine man, who has just arrived next door. She turns lazily over and goes back to sleep. There is a large red sofa in the lounge, but she can’t be bothered to move. She is dreaming of her glorious outfit for her carer’ s wedding, which she will grace with her presence. She has told them nothing less than a glamorous hair-do with a gold ribbon will do. She supposes the Assistant will find one, it’s the only sort of fashion item, to be honest, that she can be entrusted with. Look at her this morning! Well, actually look at him too. Has anyone ever told him that his hair could do with a trim? Life is hard. Zany wonders if this May woman will have a dog to add a much needed hint of glamour to Number Ten, it is so needed. Who needs a cat for goodness sake!

They are having dinner now. I ask you! NO meat! They are on about a visit to Castle Drogo when they haven’t got me. He is going to have a venison burger and she might have the same. They are going to look at Grayson Perry’s tapestry. He thinks he might be allowed to take a picture of it. Pearls before swine, my dears. She is really looking forward to walking to the 600 year old beech tree and he thinks it will do them good after they have looked after me. They will need a peaceful walk! I ask you! I could have given them a really good six mile run. That’s what would do them good!

A wonderful piece of art. The more you look, the more you see. Amazing

A wonderful piece of art. The more you look, the more you see. Amazing

Hello! She is getting up. Don’t say we have to do bird watching again. They are both thrilled that they have two juvenile wood peckers that come and feed close to them outside the front door. They watch it through the glass. It and the tits. When the woodpeckers aren’t in the porch, they are on the phone pole outside. I can’t see them. Apparently, I disturb the birds. Scruffy looking creatures! There, I do agree with Coco, the cat next door. They are only fit for a good sandwich my dears. They are the thugs of bird world. On that theme, thank God that I’m not staying the night. They have enough rooks and crows to stock the whole country. The noise in the morning is dreadful my dears. They love it. They think it’s wonderful. They actually open windows so that they can hear it. The last time that I stayed here, I had so little sleep that my fans didn’t recognise me for the wrinkles As for their television watching habits, I thought I would die. I don’t know about you, but how many nature programmes can you watch? If it’s not nature, they scare themselves with the news. Reporters zoom up outside posh houses and they have this look. You know the one where their eyes stick out and they tell you there isn’t any money, especially for cadgers like the elderly. Who cares! I’ve got my biscuits!

Woodpecker of the week!

Woodpecker of the week!

 

My God, at last I’m allowed in the garden. I’m off. I’ve had a good sleep. I can get through the woods into the little town and off to London. I can’t take another round of dead heading the roses. I need to see my carer. I need some proper meat. Out of my way you country bumpkins!

Sadly for Zany, this last was all a dream. When she woke up, the Assistant was looking down on her clutching a pair of pruning shears.

 

Tailpiece

Tailpiece

 

The Photographer’s snapshots can be seen on Flickr (follow link) or the serious stuff is on Artfinder (follow link)

Any similarity between characters in this blog and real people, products or events is entirely co-incidental

Any similarity between “The Little Town” and Chagford is entirely deliberate, Click on this link to find out more. Visit Chagford

 

 

 

 

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