By “The Photographer’s Assistant”
How is that possible? Sun tanned in Torrington? The arrangement was made on a Saturday over tea. There were five of us neighbours. Two of us were discussing Audi gearboxes and three of us were discussing the beauty of camellias. To say that we were all stir crazy would be an understatement. We all loved our gardens and could see them destroying themselves before our eyes. The Assistant had been able to inspect her garden, and when half drowned, had informed the Photographer that one third of a border would have to be dug up and started off all over again. She knew how bad it was when the Photographer simply agreed, despite the expense!
The three camellia fans wondered where these purchases should be made and it was decided that the Photographer would drive to Rosemoor, the RHS garden about 45 minutes away. The gathering of four took place a day later, the fifth was concentrating on the construction of deep vegetable beds, and had much the best and most envied camellias, so he was left behind. The four tipped themselves into the car and headed off, being grateful that the brave Photographer was able to steer himself through the now icy conditions. There was much wonder at this different part of Devon. It was like driving through a flat plain of small settlements and was a real contrast to the Moor.
It was an excellent day. There was much appreciation of the RHS garden mixed together with an envy of how we would never get our own patches looking this good. Phones were got out and plants were photographed. The stunning white birch close to the buildings took everybody’s breath away. We all seemed warm, gloves were removed and clothes rearranged. A decent lunch was taken, and, after much consideration, plants and seeds purchased. The car boot was stuffed and the Russia Expert even managed to obtain his beloved newspaper. All agreed that they had had a really lovely day. They sat back in the car and sighed one of those sighs of true contentment, the sort of sigh that means a good night’s sleep. It hadn’t rained all day. The Assistant examined her companions in wonder. There, it was on everyone’s face. It was a kind of bloom, a sort of flush. My word! This was a sun tan. The sun tan was , not from abroad, but from Torrington! Dear old Devon, trying so hard to combat the wet!
Other lovely happenings during the month have been numerous. There was news of a wedding and a baby for the daughter of two lovely friends. Our dear neighbour brought us the most delicious bag of chipolatas from a trip away. They were so tasty that we oozed pleasure. The milk tanker man, stopped his mighty beast in the narrow lane and chatted about the better weather to come. How nice! Jim, the Artist was wonderful company over a couple of teas. The Courtyard cafe was full of interesting and diverse company. The children providing wonderful company in their colourful winter wear, some of them just able to speak through mouthfuls of deliciously wholesome cake. The Assistant gathered her ingredients for home made Meusli and the choice was just too much. She sat down and had the most delicious piece of chocolate and beetroot cake made with almond flour. You have no idea how wonderful. Efforts were made to help the Cyclist with his crossword and the rain carried on and nobody cared.
The highlight of the Photographer’s month was to get a letter in the Financial Times. To be honest, the Assistant had thought that it wasn’t worth doing. Nobody took notice of people like them, particularly not urbanites. It was the most enormous surprise when it was printed uncut on the letters page. The Photographer and the Assistant were gob smacked and both had to sit down and draw breath. The letter had been in reply to an article which claimed that the infrastructure in Britain was complete. Everyone had all the necessary facilities. The Photographer had replied that there were many small villages in Britain, which had very few. Our own hamlet was an example. We had no public transport,no water supply, only half had sewage facilities, no gas, no DAB, no 3G or 4G, limited digital TV, and 0.5 to 2 Mb broadband. The only council facility was refuse collection, which had to be dragged along the street by some very elderly people. Well done the Photographer. You should know though, that we wouldn’t swap living in this community for any of these things. Right now, there are those among us who are not well and one who is very ill indeed. Those who are frail, are being looked after, not in a home, but amongst our neighbours, who run errands, cook, provide company, and collect medicines, running one another to hospital and the surgery. We are none of us alone unless we want to be. Anyway, if you live here you can even get a sun tan, not abroad, but in Torrington! Why not try it some time!