Archive

Autumn

 

It is Saturday morning and the little town is quite still. There is very little traffic about. The Photographer has collected the papers. The Assistant has been helped to a simple breakfast by Chris, who, as always, has arrived early, has his apron on and is getting down to making delicious smells emanate from Blacks’s Deli kitchen. Fresh coffee is on and Catherine arrives ready for the Saturday rush. The Photographer and the Assistant sit quietly contemplating the birds which hang out on the chimney opposite. They are always there, definitely rebels without a cause, but they wish they had one. Until now, all has been quiet, but a little queue is building up. Dogs are hooked up to the outside of the deli, and are complaining . Various customers have been in and out, but they have not been able to collect their favourite Saturday treat. Some customers have sat down to quietly wait. Endacott’s are late. This is unknown. This is not meant to happen. The Photographer and the Assistant are enjoying a second cup of coffee when THE VAN arrives. Out jumps the delivery driver and, avoiding the customers, manages to bounce into the deli without being confronted. The delicious bread and treats are unloaded and he is on his way. Disaster is diverted and there really is no need for Catherine to arrange the goods, they are simply disappearing.

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Fresh baked bread from Endacott’s…..treats for all

 

As the two finish their coffee, a magnificent mobility scooter appears up the hill. This is the little town, so the scooter enters with an air of triumph. It is driven by a war veteran and sports wonderfully coloured British maritime flags. What a hint of cheer! The sight is most definitely going to wake you up.

This is all the start to a typical day in the little town. As the two leave the town, they are distressed to see a fire service van, two police cars and a doctor’s call out car, all parked up in various positions all over the centre of the town. There had obviously been some sort of incident, and living away from the town, the two thought that they would never hear what had happened. Four days later the Daughter appeared for supper and reported on how stressed she had been on the Friday night.

She had arrived early on a scene in the road. An early responder had just arrived on the scene and was trying to control everything. Someone was lying unconscious in the road, and she had found the sight upsetting, but had started controlling the traffic. This was in the real spirit of the little town and we were proud of her. She does not know what had happened to the person, but she and the first responder had done all they could until more help arrived. In these circumstances, the fire brigade will often be the first to arrive, having been trained in emergency care. Otherwise, the little town is too far away from the emergency ambulance. The little town likes to think that it takes care of its own people and it must be said that it does this splendidly. There are many people living here, who have everyday kindnesses from the community.

On a less serious note Autumn/Winter life goes on. We have enjoyed a wonderful autumn. The Assistant picked her last raspberries at the start of November. She picked and served her last courgettes on the 7th November. The work in the garden has never been so advanced at this time of year. Shrubs have been cut down and moved. The Photographer continually cut the grass and the Assistant was able to prevent the leaves from blocking the stream. Her shed had really benefited from new tool hangers erected by a very busy Photographer.

After a long break from keeping the house up to scratch ( everyone who visits has been enjoying the sunshine in the garden) the Assistant had turned to work with a will. The house was stuffed with out of date magazines, newspapers, and total disorder. How did that huge saucepan get stowed away there? The Assistant had reached the stage where only the very closest of friends could possibly come through the door! Fortunately, as long as he was fed, for his work was exhausting, the Photographer was too busy having a doze to notice. After she had actually uncovered the kitchen range, which was covered in drying washing, the Assistant unearthed the necessary cleaners and spent a fruitful three hours cleaning it. She was full of pride when her neighbour popped in and complimented her on how shiny the kitchen was! The work continued apace. You can now see through most of the windows, though not all.

The Photographer organised the logs, have started using them late in the year. John’s logs were as good as they had ever been. The two were often to be found fast asleep in front of the telly, the Yorkshire vet solving animal illness as they slept through the evening.

 

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A tit after enjoying the new feeder

The Assistant filled the empty bird feeders and indeed went to the extravagance of buying a new nut feeder. The birds returned in their droves and were such an enjoyable sight over breakfast. As the weather has grown colder, cooperative feeding is taking place. There are goldfinches, robins, chaffinches and all varieties of tits, all feeding together.

The apple crop has been an average one in the garden this year, but there are still enough to go around. The Assistant has eating apples of all sizes stored in her shed. They nestle in kitchen paper in old recycled veg and fruit boxes. There were enough potatoes to store in sacks, nestling in the corner against the wooden walls. These crops will last until Christmas. Spinach, kale, carrots and leeks are all available in the garden. Best of all, the Christmas sprouts are coming on a treat, even if the birds are enjoying their tops! Being able to feed the family and friends at Christmas is always a really lucky bonus and we enjoy it.

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The “Granny Apple” factory. Nothing goes to waste

 

The apples are the big bonus. The Assistant uses the cookers to make granny apple, named after the Photographer’s mother, who spent all of the autumn preserving and cooking the apples in whatever way that she could. The apples are peeled, and lay in a little water with mixed spices. Often it isn’t necessary to add sugar. This simple mix is put in the oven at a low temperature to cook away to its heart’s content. If you over cook it, it can still be used, just don’t burn it. You can use it in pies, crumbles and as it is. It is an excellent winter warmer. The apple mixture can also be frozen. It may sound a boring thing to do, but it is a good excuse to have another Yorkshire vet program on in the background. The apples that you don’t use, plus peel and cores can simply be left on the ground, where, even now, the blackbirds are enjoying the feast. When you have eaten an apple simply throw it out into the garden, the core will be eaten.

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When you’ve eaten all the apples, mealworms will have to do

Last of all, what a delightful time of the year to get together with friends. You can feed them and they can feed you. We had a lovely meal with some new neighbours where the first course consisted of all the samples of food that they could find in their new garden. A delightful piece of pork was enjoyed with another neighbour. Just as the two could not be bothered to get a Sunday lunch, another friend invited them for a most delicious chicken and fruit hot pot. After a twelve hour day at work and in the gym, the Daughter managed to muster enough energy to cook a delicious venison casserole. Shortly friends and acquaintances will disappear on urgent Christmas missions so this is always a wonderful time for a catch up with one another.

As we all disperse, and we say this not we hope in a self righteous way, lets enjoy all the preparations, because nobody really cares if you get it wrong, they just want to enjoy your company. In the next blog, we will tell you how all the preparations are going.

Footnote

The full quotation from St David’s final sermon to his monks

“do the little things, the small things you’ve seen me doing”.

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Dewi Sant (St David) from his shrine in St David’s cathedral

 

And finally, we have added a link to the Facebook page

Dartmoor Diary Facebook Page

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

 

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By the Photographer’s Assistant

 

The Photographer stood there, wondering how much longer the Assistant could possibly take to finish choosing second hand books. She had just informed him that on their next holiday in Hay on Wye, if the weather was not good enough for walking, that they could spend their whole week in here. This was Booths, purported to be the largest second hand bookshop in the world. He longed for a cup of tea. This was it. He would have to intervene. He decided on real action. What was she doing in the military section anyway? She never bought military books. He gently took the pile off her and suggested cake. She was reluctant, but holding on firmly to a pile that she could not do without, he managed to take her to Booth’s cafe, where she was in raptures over the loose leaf tea, which was truly exceptional.

This was the last day of an adventurous holiday, though they had only been able to get in a couple of good walks. The Photographer listened to the endless excited prattle as he remembered it all. They had accidentally ended up in the Aberaeron area of west Wales, where the sea lapped the shoreline, boats dwelt in the harbour and pretty painted houses dominated the town. It was a great place to start the day. The Italian deli had the best coffee. It was so good that even the Assistant was silent enjoying the taste. Her eyes glazed over at the pasta and wine and supplies were purchased. Everyone was so nice. It was simply a lovely place to be.

 

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Delightful Aberaeron

The Assistant could, of course, have spent all day drinking coffee and reminiscing about Welsh Italian ice cream, but she knew this wasn’t to be. She arose with a deep sigh and rucksack in hand, ready for the day’s project at the National Trust beach, which was spectacular and also had an excellent tea shed. The new parking system was not working, and lots of members with honesty in mind were confused. The Photographer wasn’t. He just set off on the walk. As they roamed along, there did seem to have been a real disaster here. The mud was very tricky indeed, even in boots. They should have put two and two together. On the way through Wales they had seen many flooded fields. The rain had ruined the footpath, but they persisted until they reached a honey trap area of luxury houses and boats. They walked through this moneyed area, aware that the village in which they were staying had no facilities, and at least one abandoned property. Neither of them made any comment. In Devon, the empty house would have been a valued home, such was the shortage of ordinary homes on the Moor. The two continued up a long hill in a beautiful rural area.

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The simple church at Pembryn. Elegant simplicity

Much to their amazement, they were confronted amongst the wonderful green trees with a completely bright white church. It was in a wonderful condition, even the grave yard was well tended. It was very old and clearly much loved by it’s local community. It was like something out of a Clint Eastward film. It had the simplest bell tower with a small bell at the end of a rope, which was used to call this rural population to prayer. There were flowers above the porch entrance and the place was the most peaceful of the trip.

The walk ended back at the tea shed, of course!

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The name says it all

On the Sunday, they visited one of their most favourite places. They had a day devoted to farming and old farm machinery at Llanerchaeron, a farm and house taken over by The National Trust. It’s story went back over ten generations, and it had a beautiful small house which was one of the earliest designed by John Nash, who later became famous as one of the most respected architects in the country. The Brighton Pavilion is an example of his work. The photographer spent hours admiring his work and taking photographs of it. As an engineer he loved the balance of it all. On this particular day, the farm machinery shed was open displaying all sorts of wonders from the past. The Photographer was very excited. He had discovered a set of Avery weighing scales, which were actually the same as he used to work on in the 1970s. In fact there was a lot of machinery that was entirely engrossing, so the Assistant quietly sneaked off. She loved the old farmyard and animals. Gosh! There were all sorts. There were geese, pigs, cows, horses and beautiful white geese, and they all had to be visited and talked to. This was frustrating as they were mostly asleep. The Photographer managed to find her and point out that she had got her best boots on, so that was that!

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Maybe I ate too much…….

 

The highlight of the week was the train journey between Machynleth and Pwhelli, which had been recommended as possibly one of the best train rides in the world!!This had to be done; so sandwiches were packed and the photographer prepared his camera. It was a wonderful journey through open country and almost literally along the beaches. Almost on the whole of the trip a man from Yorkshire regaled the carriage and his newest companions with talk of the wonders of Spain in the winter. It appeared that he was the only person who had not come for the view, but to catch his connection to Birmingham. This was all very entertaining. There was no real food during the trip so the sandwiches came in handy. If you choose to enjoy this beautiful trip, get off at the station before Pwhelli, which had no toilets open and no real time for a decent coffee. Although, the two did manage a Costa, but had to rush it and the Assistant came across a notice not to leave your drug taking equipment in the toilet, so give that bit a miss!

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The Assistant loves a train ride

Next, there was a trip to Aberystwyth, which has a very colourful seafront, where the Photographer’s camera was really in use. You can see a sample below. The Assistant was thrilled to find the location, which is used as a police station in Hinterland.

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Do you recognise the Police Sation?

It is just about her most favourite television programme. Pursuant to this end she also visited The Devil’s Bridge, the scene of one of the dastardly murders in the series. The two also found some glorious scenery two or three miles away. Here is a wonderful arch at the Head of the Pass of Lost Existence. The two consulted an expert on these other worldly matters via mobile phone, and were strongly advised not to pass through it.

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The arch at the Head of the Pass of Lost Existence…..scary

That was all very “little town” like and so, we return home, having done far more than we thought we had. The Photographer relieved that on her return home, the Assistant was able to say, “There’s nowhere like the little town”, as he handed her a large glass of red wine, and then he remembered that she was after all half English and anyway, her spoken Welsh was truly awful!

 

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They all went on an Autumn holiday too.

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

….The Photographer’s bit…..

I really couldn’t leave out the Nash staircase at Llanachaeron

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Wow….Nash symmetry from his early work.

By the Photographer’s Assistant

 

It is a Saturday night and it is most definitely heralding the last embers of summer. It is quite dark and seemingly silent, but across the river and through the valley, there is the sweet sound of music ebbing its way into the corners of the house. The window is open just a crack. The weather is indefinite and we are not sure that the Moorland wind will leave us alone. There is a comedy scene if we get this one wrong. At some small hour of the morning the two will be woken by the enemy. It will be like the scene from “Wuthering Heights”,where Cathy hears tapping on the window pane. This is guaranteed to so terrify the Assistant that the Photographer has to anticipate the terror and grab a pair of socks to wedge them in the door! The music, though, is lovely and the two drift gently off to sleep. A tasty Devon steak and a bottle of wine from the Little Town have been consumed. Eleven hours later, the Photographer awakens to the bubbling noise of the Assistant’s chest. She has a sweet little smile on her face and is perfectly still, but the bubbling must not go on. He creeps off to get the necessary antidote, which is an enormous mug of really hot tea. When she is awake, it will be all go and action. If he is really lucky, the Photographer will reach her before the Sunday morning News programme, which could produce a rant about the state of Britain, which he really can’t do anything about. He sighs as he listens to the kettle, which has recently begun to sound like a jet engine. That’ll be something else, a new kettle, but not today and just for the moment he can be alone enjoying that wonderful feeling of absolute stillness. He hasn’t drawn the kitchen blind. He is just standing there enjoying his Sunday.

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The essence of Sunday morning……..can you hear the sizzle……can you smell the bacon?

While the Photographer stands in the kitchen, the Assistant rattles herself awake. What’s on the radio? There is usually a Sunday homily, which she only listens to if Will Self is on. He is a particular favourite and his homilies often chime with her own cynical view outside the paradise in which she lives. She has lived so long in this beautiful valley that mostly the outside world feels a treacherous place. Now, the Assistant is wondering where her tea is, and she is not too sure about how much she wants to know about the Artic Tern, information about which is now being broadcast. What about the birds in the garden? They are endlessly fascinating and she is not sure if she will ever come across an Artic Tern. Her mind is straying, which is good. The Photographer arrives just in time to turn the news off with the excuse that he doesn’t want to hear who won the Formula One race, because he is watching it later. The Assistant is happy and the two have a silent cup of tea until the news is over when the Sunday morning programme plays this weeks meditative sound, which always pleases the Assistant, and at the end of which, she arises to make breakfast. She rants at the newspaper review over a frying pan and the bacon. She can’t make up her mind between mushrooms and tomatoes. Meanwhile, the Photographer impedes her progress by emptying the dishwasher around her. She is wondering now whether to eat breakfast outside. She stands for some moments in the doorway, and decides that it is actually too hot outside, so it will have to be taken inside after all. As soon as the Photographer sits down, he is up again. She wants him to make coffee. He is beginning to feel tired again. It is only ten in the morning. When is she going to calm down in life? He makes the coffee and peace descends. While she reads Saturday’s Guardian, he reads the Financial Times, and that, he thought was the nub of their relationship. They always had a great deal to discuss. Basically, she wanted social justice and he wanted to recognise reality and that had made for a life time of debate, which actually took them back to the beginning, the college debating society, where they had met.

As the Assistant disappeared to organise something which actually didn’t need organising, the Photographer thought of the pleasant week which they had both enjoyed. On Monday, they had had their usual breakfast outside Blacks, where Jim the Artist had joined them, and several other people had arrived to have a chat about the weekend, which was always eventful in the Little Town. Christine talked of her new love of sewing and a late discovery of an appreciation of classical music, which was fuelled by the purchase of CDs from Proper Job, the recycling centre to which the music was always returned so that some other customer could enjoy it. Everyone was pleased that the dearly loved retired priest had managed a holiday with his wife, so that he didn’t have to struggle with mowing his friend’s lawn, as referred to in the previous blog. The Assistant reported that the Husqvarna mower was a real bargain and all agreed that we could underestimate old machinery at our financial peril.

Later on the Monday, The Beauty and The Brain rang. They had been to the swimming pool and wanted to swing by. This was welcome news as The Brain had been away with lions, and all sorts of animals in Africa, treacherous terrain had also been involved. The Beauty had been enjoying working while he was away, and the Assistant had pictured her surrounded by her beloved runner ducks, and playing the piano in her church all to herself in the evening to bring a quiet and meditative end to her day. How pleased the four were to see one another after so long. Much news was discussed especially Africa, which always seemed a romantic place to the Assistant since she had seen Out of Africa all those years ago. The Photographer having worked in Africa had an optimistic but practical alternative view

On Monday evening the two had gone to see friends for supper. They sat outside on a perfectly warm evening, which was the idyllic. They enjoyed listening to the river at the foot of the garden. The friends had a large garden, which grew grass to a productive level, so that on this evening, it stretched out cut into windrows ready for the local farmer to come back and bail, so that it could be of some use. The hay was a green and golden colour. In her mind, the Assistant arranged it into a scene from Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. She pictured celebrations with pipe and fiddle playing at the end of a good harvest. How romantic! The Photographer dived into the windrow and immersed himself in that most evocative smell.

They had also had a delicious meal of chicken at The Farmer and The Professor’s house on a colourful tablecloth with such attractive flowers. What a treat! Later in summer they had wondered at one of The Farmer’s cow’s, which at the age of twenty-one was still, literally enjoying motherhood! She loves The Farmer and the little town. We will miss her so much when she is gone.

So August roved on with visits to and from friends in the most relaxing way, though the garden had begun to look a little unkempt. Most wonderful of all was the visit from the Assistant’s niece, her husband and their baby, who was the most content of babies. The baby bubbled and chatted to its heart’s content, and those of you who regularly read this blog, will be pleased to know that it has a terrific interest in food, even accepting and excellent piece of pear to accompany its dinner. There will be no trouble getting him to Blacks for a decent bacon and egg butty. We can’t wait!

The Little Town continued on its way with a good summer and a pleasant atmosphere. Coffees and teas were served and there were a few times when it was overrun with visitors, who everyone did their best to absorb.

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Should I stay or should I go now, Should I stay or should I go?

 

Now, we are near the end of this most gentle of seasons. The swifts and swallows have been chattering away about departure, always a tricky decision. An animal has taken up residence somewhere in the structure of the house ready for cold nights. It is a pathetic creature, awaking at six in the morning, storing some food, which is being scrabbled away, it’s possibly a squirrel or a mouse. It isn’t causing any harm, but its arrival anticipates colder nights, The fox and badger vie for space in the garden. The badger has been digging holes and feeding on oil beetles. The tits are wearing their boxing gloves all the time now and have no mercy on any other small bird that dares to cling to their feeders. It’s hell out there in bird land. Which bird is really going to finish the apples which the two had been looking forward to eating? Damn it! Most extraordinary of all was the visit from a mining bee, which took a good deal of time to mine a hole in the cracks in the patio. The Photographer was very excited and reached for his camera.

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Go for it little bee Dig your burrow and lay your eggs We’ll see your children next year

The real sign of the little town’s summer’s end has been the closing of the swimming pool, which has shut with a BBQ and cake event. Now all the committee have to do is spend the winter raising funds so that it can open next summer, but how proud they must be of all the write ups it has had in magazines and in the national press. What a catastrophe it would be if the pool users and supporters failed to raise the necessary cash and it didn’t open ever again. Donate now on Just Giving  Just Giving Donation Link for Chagford Pool

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The opening of the Pool….but it may not happen again if they can’t raise the funds needed

That is what the Little Town does best. It punches way above its weight on all fronts and makes a continuous and massive effort to keep going against the prevailing weather. We are all massively proud of it.

 

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

Preface

On the Thursday before the wedding, the Bride’s mother and father decided not to go out at all as the weather was terrible, so, almost for the first time ever, they spent the afternoon sitting, holding hands watching their namesakes in Pride and Prejudice and it was a lovely start to a lovely weekend. How soppy can you get!

A Dartmoor Wedding

By the Photographer’s Assistant

The Assistant and one of her dearest friends took the road to Gidleigh Church. They drove cautiously in case there was a fast oncoming vehicle. There could be no bumps at this stage of the proceedings. The lane was narrow and it was noticeably cold. They had an enormous bag of ivy and trimmings from the garden. The Assistant had her trusted secateurs, some scissors, all sorts of string and useful bits and pieces in an old box. The car came to a halt by the church and the two set out into a beautiful sight.

Stiffly starched and all the same. The bridesmaid's work of art

Stiffly starched and all the same. The bridesmaid’s work of art

 

There, was the work done by a bridesmaid and her fiancé. Beautiful white bows adorned each chair in the church. It was an amazing sight and here, was the natural greenery to adorn it. Outside, there were to be candles in personally decorated jars. The bridesmaids were busy clipping and snipping. There was nothing in the church that had not been made and crafted by friends and that was the essence of the wedding. There were no vast amounts of money spent, just friends who wanted to join in. The small family involved (just the Bride, groom and four close relatives) were both amazed and touched at all those wonderful helping hands.

A wedding lectern

A wedding lectern

 

As her friend decorated the lectern, the Assistant heard a car door shut outside but it was some while before the occupant appeared. This was a dear elderly lady who had known the Assistant since she arrived on Dartmoor. This was an unexpected appearance. The lady had forgotten that there would be no flower arranging this weekend. She had the most beautiful flowers to contribute, so the Assistant’s friend helped with arranging her flowers too. Only that morning, the Assistant had been sad that all of the brides grandparents had died years before. The lady who had come to fulfil her role on the flower rota was the only person the Assistant knew with a connection to her own father. This lady, who was now very old had had a husband who was a doctor attached to the Eighth Army in the war, and the Assistant’s father had been a medical commando, also attached to the Eighth Army. The Assistant found this a strange happening. In a way, her father had made his way to that church. He had always loved children and had only seen the bride for nine months before he had died.

This eve of the wedding passed in a haze of preparation. John, the bride’s godfather had arrived and had been a great help with all sorts of jobs, which hadn’t been completed. The threesome sat down and had an early supper, at the end of which they all agreed that age was catching up with them and went off to a night’s heavy sleep, despite the next day’s coming event.

Oh! The day itself was wonderful. The bride left for the wedding from her own home. John and the Photographer had decorated the Photographer’s car, which had been left in a kind neighbour’s garage, one of the few on the Moor. The Moorland mist would have ruined the ribbon. There was a touching scene in the bride’s home. When the bridesmaids were going to be late getting away from having their hair done, the bride was left with her mother for some last precious moments. The bride’s mother had never been very good at dressing the daughter as a toddler, let alone getting full bridal gear onto her as an adult, but the two struggled away together, the bride’s patience being immense. Eventually, the dress was on, but the mother’s fingers could not hook up the fastenings, a hook was really needed. Just as the mother thought she would never get there, the bride’s father arrived. He had decided to park the car early to collect the bride. Father immediately set to, just as he had when the bride was a toddler. With some hesitation, as the bride was a woman, and no longer his small child, the father shyly asked if he could proceed with the fasteners and was shouted at to get on with it! He had the bride done up in no time and completed the job just as the bridesmaids arrived. The father and bride left and had a pleasant chat as they waited outside the church in a wind swept car for the allotted arrival time, specified to the minute by the vicar.

With much amusement the two watched the late arrivals zoom to the church; find all the parking taken, dash back as suggested by helpful locals to the Village Hall, find that full for a pre booked other event, disgorge slightly flustered guests, then disappear down granite lined lanes seeking the non existent parking spots. Meanwhile the more laid back late arrivals spotted the bride and just had to have a gossip.

What a wedding! People who arrive at weddings usually feel a sort of tension. Will it all go well? The mother of the bride did her best to talk to the arrivals and what happy meetings of old friends there were there. The priest, who took the service was a dear man, who had only recently retired from being the hospital chaplain at Great Ormond Street. He is a splendid person, and we were lucky to have him there. The bells rang, the organ played, and there was a silence as the bride entered the church with her two glamorous bridesmaids. As the bride made her way up the aisle, it became obvious that her father could not steer such a large frock in tandem up the narrow aisle. Here was the breaking of the ice. Everyone laughed and the father announced that they just didn’t fit in such a small church. The vows were beautifully said between two lovely people, who clearly loved one another very much. There was solemnity mixed with much smiling. The bride’s artist friend read wonderfully and the bride’s mother managed to do one of the things she was trained to do, and actually used her teacher trained voice to make a clear reading. An achievement at last. You simply can’t let the bride down! The organ played wonderfully. Snacks were laid on in the church and in this the bride’s mother was grateful to her niece, who could not be there because she was expecting a baby. Her niece had insisted that it was essential to feed people throughout the wedding, so Black’s Deli had provided excellent local pasties and there was mulled wine too, provided by the bride’s father and Pilates wine shop. The father had spent the previous morning having a fun time boiling the wine to get rid of the alcohol content! The bell ringers joined in the snacks and a jolly time was begun.

While the guests remained in church munching pasties the Bridal Party and the Wedding Photographer set to work

While the guests remained in church munching pasties the Bridal Party and the Wedding Photographer set to work

 

The reception was just a blast, as they say. There were short speeches, during which the brides mother nearly broke down after the groom gave her a glowing report and a really large bunch of flowers. The conversation flowed, as did the wine. The father and mother of the bride were immensely pleased with the acquisition of a step grandson, who was so fond of their daughter in this lovely frock that he couldn’t help constantly giving her a big cuddle. Needless to say, this handsome young man was in great demand when the dancing commenced until he finally collapsed and was carried to the blue room for a snooze.

The happy bride

The happy bride

There was good country rock music with plenty of dancing and lots of conversation. John, the landlord of the Chagford Inn seemed to have unending energy. He and his staff were simply amazing. The bride’s mother was given a beautiful book, by a friend, signed by the artist, who had earlier in the year seen her own son get married The cake made by the bride’s father was robustly beautiful, and the second cake made of cheese was very very tasty.

Engineered cake!

Engineered cake!

 

They knew the reception had gone well, when the men had whisky to finish off, and the mother’s had a cup of coffee, because they simply couldn’t keep up with them!

It was all like a scene from a Thomas Hardy novel, that joyful playing of music in the wedding of Bathsheba and Gabriel in Far From the Madding Crowd.

Music, wine and good conversation, was had by all...including The Photographer.....who needs focus anyway?

Music, wine and good conversation, was had by all…including The Photographer…..who needs focus anyway?

 

Footnote:

 

Go on, you really just wanted to see the frock…….and the lovely bride

 

The Frock

The Frock

 

 

 

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

 

The daughter and the Assistant were dressed in everything you can think of to keep warm and dry. The forecast for the Moor was dreadful. The dog attempted to walk beside them, but it was trying too hard to be good so that however hard it tried, it went around in circles. It was funny, but not helpful. Eventually, she was let off the lead. It wasn’t quite autumn, but it felt close. It began to rain and the rain became so hard that they knew they would be soaked. Cars passed. They were so pleased as here came the Photographer, ready to pick them up.

 

They were just around the corner from the church and they all quickly entered out of the rain. They stood and surveyed the scene. In four weeks time, the Daughter’s wedding would take place here. Observations were made. Where to place greenery, particularly the ivy from the garden? How many were coming? Where would everyone sit? The discussion went on and Zaney, the dog, attempted to join in by sitting knowledgeably on the floor, sighing, shifting and attempting to direct proceedings. Eventually, the church door was shut and the foursome drove home to a cup of tea and a “warm up” by the kitchen range. The whole event had brought home something other than wedding arrangements. It had brought home the arrival of autumn. There was no denying it.

 

The wonderful rood screen at Gidleigh Church where The Daughter will be married soon

The wonderful rood screen at Gidleigh Church where The Daughter will be married soon

Here was a reminder to put the coats through the washing machine and apply some waterproofer.
The Photographer thought of the boots and the need to work on them, so that they were warm and waterproof. Laces would be checked and the thickness of soles would be reviewed. The lawn would need cutting at every opportunity. However, this was the last day of real rain. The local reservoir was dry and old buildings stuck out above what water there was left. The Assistant spent hours clearing the garden stream out, as weed unexpectedly took over. The pump inlet for the Victorian water system had stopped filling. Their own bore hole, which was shallow, could dry up, for there would be no warning, just a sudden cessation of the water supply.

 

What is it?......Answer at the bottom of the blog

What is it?……Answer at the bottom of the blog

On the following Monday, the Photographer and his Assistant went for their usual breakfast at Blacks in the little town. It was slightly chilly, but dry. They sat outside enjoying the fresh air, when a man in shorts walked past. He always wore shorts and the two admired his bravery. They met a friend who had arrived in a full winter coat, large jumper, thick socks and full winter regalia. He nodded towards the man in shorts and exclaimed, “Nutcase!” as he left for the high moor in his giant 4×4. Opinion on the arrival of Autumn was obviously divided.

 

The man from Endacotts brings the pasties......all will be well

The man from Endacotts brings the pasties……all will be well

Returning from their walk, the two decided to carry on gardening and washing windows, whatever the state the house was in, it would have to wait until the weather finally broke. Frequently, when this happened on the Moor, the weather shut down completely and only the brave gardened until the spring. Your fingers could freeze in just a few seconds. The Photographer decided to mow rather than strim for now. He spent the day mowing neat paths and clearing debris. The Assistant, being of a lazy frame of mind, picked up a small box and started to collect apples. Both the Assistant and the Photographer remarked on a pear possibly missing from the pear tree. Surely not? They decided they must be wrong. The next day, one of the three remaining pears in the garden was missing. There was no sign of it anywhere, not even a core! They sat in the garden and thought about this for a while, over a cup tea of course, there is no point in making a martyr of yourself in the garden. Alan Titchmarsh always said spend time looking at your garden. Now that the two were getting older, they certainly did a lot of this. Having carefully watched Springwatch over a couple of years, and seen a badger climb a tree, they decided one must have taken the pear. There was a back entrance to their home in the garden, and only a few years before the whole family of badgers had driven through the sweetcorn like a bulldozer! The two remaining pears were picked by the humans and the badgers were left some apples on the ground together with the evidence that Mr. Fox had also paid a visit. Some wonderfully coloured jays continued to occupy the same stretch of lawn. The humans began to wonder whether they should sit on their seat at all, considering the number of animals who considered this to be their domain. Zany the dog, meanwhile paid a late visit to the garden and made her presence felt. The two remembered dear Marcus, who died around this time of year. That dear spaniel had taken no prisoners, even tangling with the badgers when really enraged. The two sighed and visited his grave. Life was just not the same without Marcus, then they remembered how very depressed he got in the winter, sighing when it was raining and grumbling during the evening as he lay damply by the fire. You have to be incredibly tolerant to actually live with a proper springer. Their moods are those of a prima donna, no matter how many badgers they have a punch up with!

It does, however, go without saying, that the little town is well up to the arrival of autumn and winter. The aforementioned Blacks was filling up with Chris’s fresh home made soup only this morning. The man from Endacott’s arrived with a fresh load of pasties, they’ll keep the cold out. Casa Magnolia has clothes to keep the ladies of the town looking ravishing, while actually not exposing too much skin to the elements. Bowdens has a large number of individual heaters all ready to go with the frosts that are now arriving. The town’s inhabitants try out various winter garb while surveying the hills for clouds and storms. Spar has had a wonderful offer on various soups. The town is paused, coats are on and The Courtyard Cafe is stuffed full of regulars, some of whom have just arrived from foreign summer adventures and some of whom will now go abroad for the whole of the winter, returning only when friends have told them that spring is here. They will miss the lovely log fires, the smell of the wood wafting out of the wood store as they fill their baskets. Poor John, the wood supplier, will, as usual, together with his team members, pray for a rest on Christmas, as his phone continues to ring in the corner. We will all have a moan, but we’ll really enjoy the chance to catch up with friends, sitting by the pub fires reminiscing about the summer of ’16, when the streams dried up and you had to strip off to keep cool, how the gin and tonic flowed and the beer cooled the working breast. What a summer we had as we await the winter to come.

 

The end of summer.....a wet empty cafe table. But the sun will be back!

The end of summer…..a wet empty cafe table. But the sun will be back!

 

Answer to the quiz:

It is the dry spillway from Vennford Reservoir, waiting for the rain to come and fill it up again

and the blog title is by John Lee Hooker from the album Best of Friends

 

 

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

The Assistant is standing in Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. She is beyond excitement. Some dear friends have invited her and the Photographer to stay with them in the Lake District. She has always had an ambition to learn more of the great A.W. ( Alfred Wainwright ) Here she is at a whole exhibition about him. He was the big figure in the encouragement of fell walking. Here, you can touch the suit that he walked in and stand under a bus stop that he will have used to get to the start of his walk. There is an enormous map of the Lake District on the floor. You can walk on it and see all those famous walks. You can read his school report and see some of his drawings. As many of you will know, his books are full of information and details. They are exquisite and even if you can’t walk, you can go with him in his writings and drawings. Indeed, unable to find a companion or a way of walking Hadrian’s Wall complete, the Assistant has bought his guide and will sit in front of her Moorland winter fire engrossed in vicariously doing just this.

The dreadful bonus of this trip has been to see the endeavours of Jo Tasker and Pete Bordman repeated in an adjoining room. She had met their climbs before in an all encompassing exhibition of mountaineering in Scotland, and The Photographer, who was born the same year as Tasker, had followed their exploits whilst they were alive, with enthusiasm and admiration. These two amazing pioneering climbers forced out the boundaries of Alpine style climbing. Tasker had taken a decision as a young man not to become a priest, but to climb instead. Both men perished on Everest in 1982. Their bodies have never been found. Tasker’s camera was found and the film had been developed. Other bits and pieces turn up from time to time. There are postcards to his parents. The exhibition is too evocative and heartbreaking. You long to go back to that mountain and help these two to continue, but it is this impossibility that is so cruel!

Well, you can’t just go to the exhibition and sit and have an Eccles cake, you’ve now got to do some fell walking yourself. The Photographer, the Assistant, and John, their experienced friend, set off to “do” Catbells, one of Wainwright’s easier walks. The Assistant is thrilled to have such companions and takes an extra puff of medication so as not to let them down! What wonderful views await the three. A walk not too long, but just right, the beauty of which is so incandescent, you wonder that Alfred ever returned to his day job. He must have sat on that bus, puffing on his pipe with great satisfaction.

A view from Catbells above Derwent Water

A view from Catbells above Derwent Water

Before reaching the Lake District, the two had visited the Brecon Beacons, where they painfully knocked off a few of the highest Beacons. Having previously used a less well known route to climb Pen Y Fan, the mountain, now famous for killing some soldiers shortly after their own climb in 2013, the two decided to deal with unfinished business on the slopes by taking the less risky but most used route. This was a mistake. A path had been installed by the National Trust which was so uncomfortable that the two found little enjoyment in it. The car park for the hill was packed and the toilets were deplorable. The only salvation was a tea van!

The Assistant devours the obligatory pork pie near the top of Pen-y-fan

The Assistant devours the obligatory pork pie near the top of Pen-y-fan

 

Sitting in their remote cottage that evening, the two decided that they would tackle a less well known slope next, Sugar Loaf. On the map this climb looked a sheer delight of boundless scenery for very little effort. The following day, the two found a deserted car park and no tourists at the chosen start point above Abergavenny. They became quite cocky. You couldn’t see Sugar Loaf from the car park and they almost decided not to wear boots, but casual shoes. This would not have been a good decision. On rounding a bend at the foot of Sugar Loaf, they were presented with a very steep climb. They were a little tired, but neither wanted to let the other down, so they continued. The climb was much steeper though lower than any other on the trip, and they wondered if it was worth it. Worth it? The views were amazing with no mist and a perfectly clear day and flocks of sand martins swooping around the peak. We would go back to it again any day. Just to top it all, while the two were standing there, a power glider flew over and saluted them!

Backlit Fournier RF5B salutes the summit of Sugar Loaf

Backlit Fournier RF5B salutes the summit of Sugar Loaf

 

Here we are now back on the Moor, having had a thoroughly enjoyable trip, which was far more adventurous than we thought it would be and feeling all the better for that. To come down to earth, we are now wedding cake baking again. The morning’s effort has sunk again! The Photographer is now viewing this as a scientific challenge and has a major weapon in the form of a meat thermometer. He is not thinking of joining Paul Hollywood on The Great Bake In.

By the time of the next blog all wedding preparations will be at the hysterical phase, though it must be said that the bride and groom are not worried. Should the wedding give cause for alarm, they have now booked a honeymoon well away from the experiments, which constitute their wedding. After all, they are doing the cooking at Christmas, and have that to look forward to!

Wishing you all well, now that we can all enjoy fresh apples and pears from the orchard, and the beautiful autumn mists which presently surround us.

 

Harvest Home

Harvest Home

 

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 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

 

 

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