Quiet Routines In A Dartmoor Home

By “The Photographer’s Assistant”


It is 7.30 and the Assistant is rearing to go. The kettle is on and the noise mercifully drowns out John Humphrys, who is talking about a crisis that doesn’t matter to this remote part of the world, and about which we can do nothing. The view from the tiny bedroom window is simply beautiful. It is going to be the best of days. It is a little chilly, as it always is first thing on the Moor and there is a wonderful blue haze over the hills and the fields. It is spring. The Photographer is hanging onto his sanity, this being too early in the day for him. The Assistant is running down stairs to fetch the ready prepared camera. The dog is harnessed up and the Photographer makes haste. The scene must be captured.



The little town emerges from sleep into the morning mist

The little town emerges from sleep into the morning mist


While the Photographer is away, the steady tick of the day begins. The radio is firmly turned off and the window opened. The dawn chorus is still on. For all the world, it is like the jungle out there. You can imagine yourself deep in the Amazon …fantastic!

Breakfast is simply toast or yoghurt. Anything else is a treat. Not allowed on weekdays.

Our neighbours have woken at 7.00 and have let their dogs out. Their door sticks and is another announcement of the day begun.

The gate swings gently open on another neighbour as she takes her morning walk, her prelude to the day, a look at the high moor.

Dogs are exercised on the road. There is not enough traffic to bother us.

As the day goes on, newspapers are collected. Those who have outside interests may need to contact offices to move investments about. Coffee and tea is served at the Photographers house,where the happiness, or otherwise of members of the family are discussed in case some support is required. The members, who work outside the Moor often need help of some sort or another. These days it seems to be a really hard life out there. Family members are never safe and heartless irrational stuff seems to happen.

The Photographer has surveyed the garden. More seeds must go in if we are to feed ourselves and one of our daughters. He will fetch the hoe and it will make that gentle trickling noise as it moves through the soil.

In the kitchen, the Assistant washes and prepares vegetables for lunch. The tap is just adequate to run the water and it is spring cool. The water is saved to go on the garden. Conservation is good and the electric water pump is quite costly to run.

The day runs away. Lunch is a pleasant hasty affair. The garden is always the main talking point. It is rigidly planned and thought provoking. The Moor always challenges the gardener. You have chilly drying winds, irrationally hot bursts, water butts of a significant number which must catch the rain. Wild animals are always waiting for their turn for an edible conquest, if one piece of protection is awry they are in in an instant.

The day is good. The gardening proceeds with a hum of quiet satisfaction. We can hear our neighbour over the fence struggling with his second year in a newly created vegetable plot. He has tall erect bamboo beanpoles, which we can see the top of. There will be a feeling of satisfaction when we see eager shoots climbing above the fence line. There is the clip of shears, the pleasant sound of the trowel as more weeds are removed.


That'll do..........now time for tea

That’ll do……….now time for tea

It is tea time and sometimes the neighbour comes over for a cup of tea. As a treat, the Assistant will arrive with fresh scones. There will be chatter and a pleasant buzz as we all talk of what surrounds us. We will feel tired but satisfied with what we have done. The dog sighs and stretches himself out in the last of the hot sun.

Fresh scone and cream and jam.............nectar of the gods

Fresh scone and cream and jam………….nectar of the gods


Our neighbour has returned to his supper preparations and we remain seated in the conservatory. The birds are putting on their evening display. This evening there are three buzzards and one crow just above the garden. The buzzards glide as the crow mobs them, upset over territorial rights. To see three buzzards together is wonderful as wings outstretched they show their patterns off to the world below.

We make our weary way into the cottage. Baths are taken and the day’s photographs studied with both annoyance and satisfaction. Too tired to read, we watch whatever we have recorded or have on the iPlayer. We are like a pair of natives peeping through the trees. We are so fortunate and blessed to live in this remote place, how can we summon up any comprehension of what goes on out there. We must try. We must be connected to the world.

HAPPY EASTER and as the late Dave Allen used to say, ”May your God go with you.”

On a lighter note you may like to know that the dog has after thirteen years, started to watch television. He is very keen on sport, particularly golf, but he walks out of the room during sex scenes, his nose could not be held higher with disgust


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