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

 

 

 

 

By the Photographer’s Assistant

 

We, that is The Photographer and I, are no longer listening to the news. We find it very stressful and worrying and we have already made our minds up as to which way to vote. The dreadful murder of Jo Cox was almost beyond belief, so we just can’t go there any more. This is a blog for those of you, who like us, have been thoroughly traumatised while sitting in your own sitting room.
Where shall we go?

Well, let’s go out into our Dartmoor garden, which we have been encouraging lots of friends to come and see. The garden has been a project for 14 years now. It has cost money, but not too much. Most of the plants have been unwanted or in sales. When the Photographer started slashing the undergrowth, he was looking worn by life and the world. Now, he is just worn by trying to reach the garden’s expectations, which are very high. He enjoys the fight and is often to be found in the evening slumped against the Assistant, who is fast asleep, pretending to watch a cultural program. She would rather be watching The Musketeers, but the Photographer likes the erudite.

 

Rh. decorum, NN0907 collected by Neilson in China in 2009. Isn't it wonderful, and fragrant too......Wow!

Rh. decorum, NN0907 collected by Neilson in China in 2009. Isn’t it wonderful, and fragrant too……Wow!

 

This year the garden has finally decided to give good marks for effort, and actually grow vegetables that are upright, strong and edible. The roses and peonies are bright and scented. Things are really happening out there. On the return from a short trip away, there was a shock in store. A rhododendron, which had been purchased for under £7 had flowered for the first time in Britain. It had been brought from China by the plantsman, who went on trips there, and sold the plants on the basis that they would probably do nothing. The plantsman was so excited that he sent an e-mail at 5 am asking for a photo. The Photographer has caused a stir! On the same trip around the garden, the large banana plant donated by Paul, an old friend, had flowered. No! We don’t think that it will produce the fruit, but we don’t know whether it is a sign that it will die. We hope not! So if you are near, do drop in. Fresh batches of scones are always on the go.

 

The sinister banana flower

The sinister banana flower

 

The silence of the countryside and the swish of the wind is so welcome. That walk up the hill to look at the sheep and animals and enjoy the greenery is such a wonderful counter to life out there.
It is almost beyond belief that some of us live in such a productive and peaceful environment. How lucky we are!

Of course, there is the odd necessary disturbance here. Some weeks ago, at around 8.30 am, just as the Photographer was getting the sleepy headed Assistant a nice hot cup of tea, there was the almighty roar of engines and people. The Assistant stuck her head out of an upstairs window. It was Mr. Pigeon, the thatcher. He had come to thatch the next door house. He had brought with him a team of scaffolders and fellow workers. The Assistant shivered as she saw the scaffold surround her study window, but most dreaded of all was her kitchen stairway, where she kept her beloved pictures of Wales. Here, each year, as the light expands through spring and summer, the stairwell captures the sun and throws it in a most miraculous way, highlighting the pictures. The Assistant can run and get a tot of whisky, a big cushion, and watch the pictures at their best. Time would pass, and there would be a long delay before this could happen. She knew this work was needed and felt utterly selfish and miserable at the loss of this light.

Mr. Pigeon, however, was a brave captain of his ship, he gave out orders and kept on course. At one stage, he was so determined to get on with the job that five men were on the roof. Further, the whole business gave the Assistant the excuse not to wash the windows until the job was over! Being born of the Moor, Mr. Pigeon proved to be related to quite a few people and was interesting on many aspects of life. He also, for example, drove the school bus part time and had some offers to make as regards the daughter’s wedding. This is all still under consideration. For some weeks, the Photographer and his Assistant quite thought that they were living through the more cheery scenes of a Thomas Hardy novel. The whole business could have been used as light relief in Far From the Madding Crowd, which is the Assistant’s favourite novel, though, of course nothing can beat The Wind In the Willows, recently illustrated by Steve Dooley of Dartmoor fame.

 

There's a man on my roof No. 2

There’s a man on my roof No. 2

 

Finally, we must mention The Two Hills Race, which takes place in the little town every year. The race starts in the recreation field and covers two enormous Moorland Hills. It is attended by most of the community and our visitors, who are usually stunned by the whole event. Large numbers of the braver and fitter members of the community of all ages enter the race and it is a real challenge. A few people put up the most amazing performance, but most people just flog themselves to the finishing line. It is a brave and outrageous event admired by all. In contrast to the athletes, the viewers variously resort to beer from the pavilion, cups of tea, or massive buns full of roast pork. The Photographer takes photos and puts them up on Flickr for inhabitants to relive the whole terror of the event. The Assistant looks for photo ideas. She is well known as a local walker and people are curious as to her and the Daughters non entry. Now this is when a real genetic illness can be useful. They both reply that they would love to do it, but are subject to athsma and the pollen count. So that’s that then. After all, wasn’t it enough that, after hearing a rumour that, despite being involved in the swimming pool, she couldn’t swim, the Daughter proved to be able to do a magnificent breast stroke for as long as you like, up and down the pool. As for the Boyfriend, don’t even bother to compete!

 

The eponymous Steve Dooley who really is 60 and amazing to have completed the 2 Hills for his birthday

The eponymous Steve Dooley who really is 60 and amazing to have completed the 2 Hills for his birthday

 

That’s it then, from a community that is so busy, swimming, running, walking, growing food and animals, appearing on Springwatch, running a film festival, having an annual agricultural show, and talking the world to rights in cafes, that it has no time for the News as mostly broadcast about the South East anyway. How many people commute from Dartmoor? I won’t tell you. They do it by plane and you would be amazed.
So amidst all this community achievement, what has the Photographer achieved this month?He put up a picture of which he was very proud on the Springwatch Flickr site. Was it a picture of a fox, a lovely wild flower, a fantastic bird? No. It was a picture of a slug and its slime, and, so far, 300 people have looked at it. Isn’t humanity wonderful!

 

A slug descending on its own slime. Delightful

A slug descending on its own slime. Delightful

 

 

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

May is a wonderful month on the Moor. It is not a frenzied month. It is not a demanding month. It is a pause between seasons. On the second Saturday of the month, we restart our trips to Hittisleigh market. This is a small community which punches way above its weight. It is a meeting of good friends, who are easy with one another’s company. The kitchen dispenses cups of tea and bacon butties with the consummate ease of long experience. It is a restful and happy place. From the market you can travel out and have a picnic in the complete silence of the countryside. Our friends always pack a tea flask, so that they can just sit away from the hustle and bustle for as long as it takes to feel at complete peace. The area is deserted. It was hit hard by the foot and mouth outbreak and some fields are still completely empty and the roads are rough and unmaintained. It has become an area of no interest to the hustle and bustle of modern life. We enjoy the beautiful wilds, the flowers, the bright purple grasses. It is what is happening to rural England with increasing neglect and is not all bad. It is rather lovely, but eventually, you will need good boots or a 4X4 to get here!

 

Time for bed....and thank you for the eggs, ladies

Time for bed….and thank you for the eggs, ladies

It is now 7.30pm and the Photographer is keenly walking down the lane to a neighbours house, where he is looking after their ducks. For him, this is one of the best parts of the day, the quiet collecting and putting away of these lovely animals, who add to the pleasure with a gentle conversation and by giving beautiful eggs for breakfast.

The country lane leading to the little town is full of wonderful flowers. They are all sorts of delicate and beautiful colours and the early morning silence makes for a magic atmosphere. The Daughter discovers sheep on the bridge and makes some hasty phone calls on her way to work. How many town dwellers long for such a hold up. The lambs are becoming larger, but, just for now, they can still be enjoyed.

 

Do you like butter?

Do you like butter?

The Assistant cannot resist the call to the wild. She has been to the store and found the tent that has been dormant for two seasons. She feels the call of another home far away, which can be visited now, before the major tourist season. She wants to stand on the shore and watch the wide sea, the birds and no surfers! The Photographer joins in. He erects the tent and finds it is still water proof. It is a preparation for the silence of the sea. They will go Celtic camping with the other celts while nature is still in charge.

The little town is in a state of anticipation. Notices are being displayed. Something very big is about to happen. The Photographer will record the event, but first, he wants to record this sense this feeling.The two, who are on foot, make their way along the town roads, over the river bridge and past the most glorious of buttercup fields, which is being enjoyed by every inhabitant that has the excuse to get out there. He can’t resist that photograph, cliche or not. Further on they have reached their destination. The door is locked. Silence reigns, but not for much longer. The Swimming pool is beautiful. It is at the smartest it has ever been, but, just for now, it is unused and perfectly quiet. It is difficult to say how much this place means to this community. Every effort every sinew has been turned to the pools improvement during the winter. Long, long evenings have been spent on the project. This is one of England’s rare fresh water pools. The community has worked to gain funding, so that the pool can now enjoy a little environmentally generated heat, where it had none before. Solar panels have been used to heat the water in the modernised shower block. Friends have come to put in a day’s work. Silent efforts have been put in. The Boyfriend has spent weeks here getting it all right.

The Daughter has put all her marketing skills into getting it the publicity it needs. Andrew has painted the decking. A member of the committee spent days with bureaucracy getting the place a post code, so it could receive its funding. People have baked cakes, and spent hours of their lives until they are absolutely exhausted on this project. And next week it all comes to fruition.
THE REAL CHAGFORD COMMUNITY FRESH WATER POOL WILL HAVE AN OPENING ON SATURDAY 28thMAY AT 2.00 PM. Swimming is free on that day. It is free to children under 9 for the first week. Normal admittance will be £4 for adults and £2 for children. That is the Little Town’s summer sorted. If you can’t swim it doesn’t matter a bit. You can meet other mums with the children. You can read a book and enjoy. Refreshments are available and have a good reputation. Get in there. It’s brilliant. Non-swimmers pay £1.50. If you are on holiday, you are very welcome. Perhaps our friends from the remoter areas will come and enjoy.

 

Soon.....soon those covers will come off and the pool will be open!

Soon…..soon those covers will come off and the pool will be open!

 

So, at the moment, we have quiet contemplation. From the start of June, we’ll all have visitors, which is as it should be. When they are impatient and don’t understand lane driving, slow lives and our general way of life, we should try to remember the way life is for them with all its fast and complicated ways. We are lucky and maybe, we should give a little, just a bit to the guys who bring their families up the M5 seeking what we already have. Silence is golden!

 

Footnote

 

Hey!....I'm getting good at these cliches!......"field of golden buttercups hails the onset of summer".....or just for Paul "potential grassweed trial site"

Hey!….I’m getting good at these cliches!……”field of golden buttercups hails the onset of summer”…..or just for Paul “potential grassweed trial site”

 

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 is a Thursday and the Photographer is arranging and primping his car. For the first time in a while the Daughter will be taking the day off on Friday. It is a special day for the family and the Photographer is taking his girls out for the day. When the day dawns, the Photographer packs his girls into the car. He is going to take them for breakfast at the Riverford Farm Shop, where the Daughter and the Assistant will enjoy a little shopping and a nice cup of coffee. His purchase of breakfast is very welcome and a real treat.

 

Blacks do great food!

Blacks do great food!

Breakfast taken, the party make their way to the coast, but they are not at the coast for the seaside, but for a very special shop. The Daughter has an acquaintance, who runs this shop and she is ready for them, excited that the Daughter has chosen here for this very special purchase. Lined up in a row are 6 white frocks. The daughter has finally found time to chose her wedding dress. The frocks are all beautiful, they come from a white, bejewelled fairyland. The Photographer is pleased. He finds a seat for the fashion show. The Photographer and his Assistant got married with the Assistant wearing a cheap “Dorothy Perkins” green and white nightdress, full length. They had only been to two weddings since in the past 45 years and were enchanted with this process so left the Daughter to choose her frock. There were “Wows” and “Ooohs” and “Aahs” and lots of giggles from everyone. The Daughter chose a beautiful fairy tale frock and her friend had given her a wonderful time. With a disguised tear, the Photographer made financial arrangements and the deed was done.

Ever since his daughter had been born, he had looked forward to this moment. He could not have been more proud. The Assistant was emotional and the Daughter looked overcome that her dad could love her, looking at the price ticket, quite this much. So to the many of you,who have dared to inquire, the wedding of the year continues to entertain the little town, where these two young people are so well known.

The Photographer was delighted to arrive back in the Little Town, where the whole family had a celebration courtesy of the Daughter, the Boyfriend and a dear friend, who had had one of his pigs killed and had brought along a beautiful piece of pork. The pork was simply delicious. The next day, the photographer topped his own efforts by taking his wife out to the Chagford Inn, for a delicious meal. (Thank you John)

Vince, the plumber, arrived soon after this event. He was meticulous in his duty. At last the elderly, smelly old oil boiler was replaced with a brand new Anglo German one, which was super efficient in every way. Radiators and pipes were taken away and replaced at lightning speed. The whole system was so improved that the Assistant insisted on roasting the whole house, touching all the radiators and revelling in hot water, all of it delivered reliably, on time and not on the usual wing and a prayer. The Photographer basked in being the great provider and opened, most unusually, a bottle of sparkling cider, which had been specially purchased from Blacks Deli together with a very special piece of cheese. Never had the family held him in this high a regard. He felt that he had to make the most of it before things returned to normal!

In the little town, the Boyfriend, now has such a heavy work load (he never says no to most jobs) is barely seen by the daughter as they both wave to one another going to or coming from work. The Boyfriend’s latest project, Chagford Swimming Pool,the refurbishment thereof, is taking shape. He feels proud of the work and is looking forward to the Grand Reopening in May. Meanwhile the Daughter and the Committee are making grand plans for the event. They are all very proud of it now being an environmentally heated pool. It will, of course, be photographed by you know who and no doubt feature in this blog.

 

Dusty sees the joke!

Dusty sees the joke!

 

Sadly, not everything in the country is perfect. The Assistant was woken recently in the very early hours of the morning by gunfire. She could identify the gunfire as being a distance away. It was faint, but disturbing. A couple of weeks later, she was out on her usual walk when she and the Photographer met the lady they often meet. She loves riding her competition horse around the same section of countryside and, today, she was anxious to thank the Photographer for a lovely photo, which he had taken of it. She also had bad news. She told them of the shooting of local deer by people from away. Worst of all, a small lamb had been run over, killed and thrown, just like a piece of litter, up into the hedgerow. The local deer had been disturbed and panicked, one of them almost walking into her and her horse as they rode the lane. No one like s this sort of event. It makes our cosy little haven seem less secure.

Well, that’s it from our cosy little town and surrounds, as we look forward to meeting more visitors to our town and making them welcome over the next Bank Holiday. Please use the Visit Chagford website to find out what to do and where to go.

Footnote: It was with great sadness that the Photographer and the Assistant, having just purchased their daughters wedding dress, watched Trevor Hicks, father of two victims of the Hillsborough Disaster tell of how, when his daughters were born, he had looked forward to paying for their weddings. Now, he never would. They were the sisters, who died in that terrible, searing tragedy.

Footnote: To two dear friends, who will know who they are. Many, many congratulations on your recent wedding.

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

 

 

 

 

Photo Footnote: Happy Birthday Queen

Photo Footnote:
Happy Birthday Queen

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