Torbay or not Torbay

By “The Photographer’s Assistant”


The Photographer was enjoying one of last summer’s treats. In a pretty green box on the plain wooden table in the conservatory stood his honey comb. The bread was home made and his knife spread the honey in a thick swath across the middle of the piece. The Assistant, her craft well known, mentioned in measured tones, that the car was due another trip to Torbay. The Photographer
was totally distracted by this announcement. On Dartmoor these kind of trips can bring a kind of death knell to the day. He shuffled his feet, abandoned the toast and consulted a twenty year old box file in the study. It was true, the car would need a repair to damage caused by an attempted break in, which had occurred on a pleasure trip some months ago.

Unspoken, the two finished their coffee and stared dismally into the distance. Both their cars had had business in Torbay this year, a huge amount of it. It was not as if everyone there, at the garage, was not pleasant. The Photographer always enjoyed copious amounts of free coffee and the scenery around Berry Pomeroy was beautiful as in a story book. The Assistant would collect up her sacking bags and visit The really well known organic farm shop, the original and the best. There would be bacon rolls and fine coffee. Once more she could obtain food that offered no threat of allergic reactions and the meat was so so good! Oh my! The problem was that all these trips were such a long way from home.


The little the garden......just where it should be

The little car… home again… the garden……just where it should be

The thing was that they didn’t really want to leave the Moor, and certainly not in summer. Bees were buzzing, new calves were appearing, and, at last, the veg garden was coming into its own. The runner beans had just been planted out. What if rabbits came while they were out? It all felt very disturbing. The Daughter had appeared and announced to her parents that they, the retired, had no idea what modern life was like. It would do them good she declared, to live like the rest of the world now and then. The Assistant concentrated fully on Spring Watch while all these announcements were being made. She was fascinated by the bright and rather strange shade of orange that Chris Packham was wearing. She could swear that another member of the team had swapped brands of activity wear. The Daughter could not get through. Her mother, who was about to take a trip to the Black Mountains, was wondering whether her walk wear was out dated. Of course the parents knew how jolly well off they were, spending every day in a sort of paradise.

The thing was it was all getting very intrusive. It wasn’t just the car that needed maintenance. It was them as well. Only a couple of years ago, they had felt that they were living in the main hospital in Exeter. Of course, their visits were handled well and you could spend time in Waitrose sipping coffee, but it simply wasn’t like being at home and visiting the little town. They had had no idea how much maintenance the state felt that you needed when you were over a certain age. This year, so far, the Assistant had been threatened with a non existent breast cancer, and The Photographer, who had actually had cancer, had got terribly worried. The Photographer was subject to the sort of health checks that always required a large whisky on return home and a restful sit for the rest of the day. The Assistant had been called into the surgery about her long standing illnesses at least twice and had received reassuring praise for her fitness level, but she was happy in the first place and hadn’t felt ill. All of these checks had been well meant, but very worrying and distracting. The weeds in the garden were climbing over the fence! Now, the car was paying a lot of visits. Next week it would have its MOT in the little town and a trip to Torbay and it was a lovely car with not much wrong with it. That would be two days gone. Oh dear! When to break in the walking boots?

Recently, the Assistant took to rebellion. Their bacon butty due to previous commitments on the road yet again, had been eaten on a Wednesday rather than their usual Monday and she had followed this up with a trip to the best clothes shop in the little town. She could not remember when she had last had a new frock. It was going to happen. The Photographer thought this a jolly good idea, having put up with faded and broken skirts for some while, he wanted his wife to look like somebody. The frock was ravishing and she bought a matching scarf and bracelet. The shop assistant was unflappable. For the past years, he had seen this woman only in walking boots, jeans and fleeces. He did not turn a hair as the moths flew out of her purse and the purchase was made. Jolly good. Now, the Assistant can go upstairs and look at the frock on the back of the door and know there is someone else within beside the mass traveller on maintenance contracts. Of course all these checks are well meant, and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t grateful for them, but, just sometimes, you need to feel like the person, who used to be you, We all feel, no matter what our age, that we would like to spend some time on that desert island the relaxation tapes tell you to imagine. Well, the Assistant’s advice is that islands of great beauty exist in this country, and they are real, so don’t think twice, raid your piggy bank, or your credit card and get out there before the next summons!!


By the babbling brook, in the bluebell wood, the new frock pauses, on its way home

By the babbling brook, in the bluebell wood, the new frock pauses, on its way home

As the late, great island hopper Dave Alan himself used to say, “May your God Go With you. “in the month to come.


Come on......get out there.......and you don't even need a passport ......yet!

Come on……get out there…….and you don’t even need a passport ……yet!



Note from the Editor

This is the 49th in this blog series, so if there are any issues you would like tackled or re-visited in the 50th please let us know by comment or e-mail. We promise to read, mark and inwardly digest.


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