And the Little Red Van……..

By “The Photographer’s Assistant”


The Photographer sat with his back nestled into the sofa. It was 11pm and he had missed the news. He had turned to the BBC 24 hour News. He had vaguely heard that there had been some shooting in Paris. He had an old friend who lived there and was seeking clarification of the arrondissement in which this shooting had taken place. The news appeared to be very serious. He and the Assistant had only just missed being in the Guildford pub bombings. and the memory was vivid. The Photographer was desperately worried, so he concentrated hard on the report, however, after five minutes of news, the Photographer drifted off into an exhausted sleep unable to concentrate any longer. This terrible event overshadowed the day.

The two had had what turned out to be a lovely day. There had been a reluctant trip to Plymouth to collect the big car, which had some repair work done. They had enjoyed a bit of a dream about a next car as they drifted behind copious amounts of plate glass, whilst being attended to by a customer care person. A never ending supply of coffee was on hand and the Photographer, with his engineering hat on, had asked the sort of questions a Formula One engineer would ask. Experts were called from all directions. Nothing had been too much trouble. The Assistant had been glared at by an overweight customer with enough jewellery and make up to supply the whole of the little town. The Photographer was ecstatic at the 106 p/lt price of petrol at the supermarket.

Riverford showing that Organic doesn't have to be scruffy

Riverford showing that Organic doesn’t have to be scruffy


From Plymouth the two had drifted in their big car bubble to that marvellous organic emporium, Riverford, where egg and bacon sandwiches were consumed, and the flour supply for home made bread had returned to normal. The Photographer was ecstatic again. He made the decision to take the Assistant, still smarting from the glare at the posh garage, to the Devon Guild, an activity which he always felt was dangerous. Here the Assistant was allowed a new soup bowl and a salt container for the pottery set which she had been collecting for some years. The Assistant was happy, The Photographer relieved. The day was going well.

Next, was the final call of the day. Safely back on their Dartmoor haven, the two took up an invitation. The Wood Man’s wife was home writing her next academic paper, and she had invited them for tea. Waiting on the table was a special Christmas cake, made by the Woodman himself, it glistened with snowy icing. The Woodman arrived home and we all enjoyed tea and first class catching up.

In the evening, the Daughter and The Boyfriend arrived with the new dog ensconced in the mobile kennel that Marcus had once enjoyed, and a satisfying chicken and ham pie was consumed. A good day. Hence the Photographers exhausted snores amidst the carnage of France.

So to Christmas, which was much as nice as this trip.

The little red van trundled up the lane and delivered the post.

This all seems a bit smug, but it isn’t meant to be. Christmas, had, after some years, gone well. There had been one snag, the phone had died and BT had decided that repairs would not take place until long after Christmas. The internet, never at its best out here in the country, began to wave about unpredictably. The Pay as you Go phones were fine, however.

And the little red van trundled up the lane and delivered the post.

The Photographer maintained contact with family and friends without a word sworn. If it came to it, he simply got in the car and went to see people. Was anyone bothered about an area like Dartmoor losing services?

And the little red van trundled up the lane and delivered the post.

The Architect and the Ballet Dancer threw a village party, “which couldn’t be beat”. The gossip and wine flowed in equal measures, and an artist daughter returned from her travels produced a mouth watering selection of food.

And the little red van trundled up the lane and delivered the post.

The Daughter and the Boyfriend had been terrific over Christmas, coming and going, making a slap up meal on New Years and appearing often for tea or a chat. Their black and blue cars kept trundling up the lane no matter how busy they were. The Daughter had actually dragged her parents, screaming and shouting at being wrenched from the fire place, to the seaside and a wonderful walk and lunch. We felt spoiled.


Sunset Surfing at Saunton Sands for the New Year

Sunset Surfing at Saunton Sands for the New Year

There was a lovely carol singing around a Christmas tree in the little village, where we attend the monthly market. The warmth and friendly welcome with mince pies and mulled wine were so typical for this tiny Devon community.

Christmas Village Matters

Christmas Village Matters


And the little red van trundled up the lane and delivered the post.

Christmas Eve in the little town spent with the Daughter and The Boyfriend was a delight. The Church bells rang out at midnight and there was magic in the air.

And the little red van trundled up the lane and delivered the post.

Christmas saw a gathering of friends and dear neighbours, who brought much fun to the proceedings. Boxing Day was simply a blur of sleep and good wine.

And the little red van trundled up the lane and delivered the post.

In between New Year and Christmas, the little town community coped. Some shops were open, some were shut. We missed our coffee shop dreadfully. Like a determined warrior, the tiny Spar shop soldiered on, some shelves emptied immediately, but there were enough supplies to feed anyone who had fallen short. Another cafe was beautifully decorated and was short of a member of staff when we were there, but that one member really worked her socks off to keep us all happy.

And the little red van trundled up the lane and delivered the post.

What a wonderful New Years Eve, spent in a cosy home in the tiny community, everyone sharing food and wine and good conversation. How kind it was for this lovely couple, who had had a difficult year, to share this event with company.

And the little red van trundled up the lane and delivered the post.

The simple kindness of friends and neighbours had made this season a truly memorable one for us all.

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Joe, who brought great pleasure with his music, and of Dave, a good farmer, who died too soon. Our thoughts are sincerely with their families and fellow villagers, and of course, the friends and families of the Charlie Hebdo victims. The Photographer and his Assistant remembered with pain the loss of their own fathers so many years ago at this time. What a mixed emotional time Christmas can be as we all go forward into the New Year.

And may your God, whoever it is, go with you.

By the way, the little red van, that simple old fashioned delivery system, is due any minute.


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