Archive

Spring

Apologies if this is the 2nd copy you receive, but it is being republished for “Techie” reasons. Thank You…….The Photographer

By the Photographer’s Assistant

It was a small problem. The chicken, which was ready to cook and had not been killed by a wild animal as described in the last blog, depending on your beliefs about humanity of course, was laid out on a defrosting plate, getting ready for Sunday.

The dog had just arrived in the red convertible mini. The roof of the car was down and it was sitting up making some very excited noises. Its assault on the house and the Photographer, who it loved beyond all reason, would be wholesale. The Assistant had the chicken in her hands and ascended the stairs to the spare room with only seconds to spare. The chicken was described as free range, organic and XX Large. It had been saved for a couple of months for the right occasion, which was a Sunday. The Assistant was feeling her age and the chicken wobbled, Acorn Antiques style in her hands. The back door opened and she and the chicken managed to attain the spare bedroom, closing the door loudly behind her. The window was open and a cool breeze was blowing. She put it down on the sill with a sigh of relief. Saved! The Photographer, who had saved himself with some strategic dog biscuits, came upstairs and enquired about the positioning of the chicken. Anything could take it from there. Bird, flying rat, who knew what with the amount of wild life that was moving about outside?

It was true. Summer had by-passed spring and was on the go. The Moorland dwellers were going from really cold to instant warmth. The mornings were lived from 4:30 am with more noise than anyone can imagine. Forget identifying bird noises. That would be useless. It was a total mix. The Assistant wondered that David Attenborough hadn’t just simply moved in, down by the river with full television regalia. The hounds thought that breakfast should be served at a very unreasonable hour, and were singing. Sheep were getting busy with their young. The cows were moving fields. To cap it all, the badgers were digging up their neighbour’s fine lawn again. In the distance, a farmer, who had probably lost his mind by now, was killing pigeons for all he was worth. A pigeon had moved into their own garden to escape the noise and imminent death. Anyone tuning into the early farming programme had to shut a window, which was not possible in the early morning heat. It wasn’t any wonder that the Photographer thought something could be taken off the window sill. Only the previous evening, the Assistant had been woken by a May bug in the bedroom and screamed the house down. They had both been working so hard in the garden, that their nerves were a shredded mess.

Dartmoor Diary April 2018 D7200-8

Peas and Beans ……I can almost taste them!

For months and months no one had been able to plant seeds for the garden. The house was a total pit of dust and empty plates as the two attempted to make up time. The propagation unit was full and the Daughter came over to plant seeds too. They planted hundreds of seeds and the nursing and praying over them took place several times a day. The Photographer raided his pocket money and filled cans with petrol for all the machinery. While he was at the filling station, he managed, at last, to clean both cars. There being no water pressure at the house and dreadful weather outside it, it had been four months since it had even been worth cleaning the cars. Now that the local petrol station had become so expensive, it was necessary to drive four miles to fill the car and all this stuff. It was a Sunday, and they never washed cars on a Sunday, but they did today. On their arrival home, the Assistant insisted that the Photographer did nothing for the rest of the day. He read his newspaper for the first time in ages.

Things were now improving. The Photographer got the car out and drove it across the Moor in the direction of Ashburton. The two were in ecstasy. They had quite forgotten how wonderfully wild the Moor was and how it absorbed people and cars. Today, though it could have been Cathy’s moor. It could have been Yorkshire with that wild expanse that could be so terrifying that the Bronte sisters wrote about it. It was possible today, here on Dartmoor, to think of Cathy’s excited terror when the branches of a tree so rattled her window in Wuthering Heights.

What a boost to moral it was, to think that the two could once more walk and picnic on the Moor.

Dartmoor Diary May 2018 D500-62

Deciduous Azalea Rhodedendron

In another day or two, the two donned their walking boots and made their way to Castle
Drogo, walking to the 600 year old heritage beech tree, wondering at its survival. The gardens were magnificent. The azaleas and rhododendrons were in flower and they talked with one of the gardeners about the garden, which was now so colourful and well cared for. The chapel was open and the WW1 memorial sculpture moved them greatly. They enjoyed a venison burger in the cafe and made their way home, much restored and excited for the prospects of possible good weather to come.

Dartmoor Diary May 2018 D500-80

WW1 memorial sculpture at Castle Drogo

In the next few weeks, the pace will pick up in the Little Town with amongst many events, the Swimming pool opening, with its natural water and solar heating, and its friends will once more meet there. Planning for the film festival and fund raising events will continue.

I would like to continue with a word for our lovely visitors. Please remember that the pace of life is slower here and that reverse gear can often be found opposite first gear!

Dartmoor Diary May 2018 D500-100

Most cars have reverse opposite or near first gear. But very few have Twin Overhead Trifles

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

And if you are feeling a little jaded, even though the sap is rising in this beautiful Spring, this advertisement has just been erected (if that is the right choice of words) in the window of the Little Town’s pharmacy.

Dartmoor Diary May 2018 D500-103

This tickled the Assistant’s sense of humour no end…….perhaps because the pharmacist is so serious and sensible…..who knows?

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It was a small problem. The chicken, which was ready to cook and had not been killed by a wild animal as described in the last blog, depending on your beliefs about humanity of course, was laid out on a defrosting plate, getting ready for Sunday.

The dog had just arrived in the red convertible mini. The roof of the car was down and it was sitting up making some very excited noises. Its assault on the house and the Photographer, who it loved beyond all reason, would be wholesale. The Assistant had the chicken in her hands and ascended the stairs to the spare room with only seconds to spare. The chicken was described as free range, organic and XX Large. It had been saved for a couple of months for the right occasion, which was a Sunday. The Assistant was feeling her age and the chicken wobbled, Acorn Antiques style in her hands. The back door opened and she and the chicken managed to attain the spare bedroom, closing the door loudly behind her. The window was open and a cool breeze was blowing. She put it down on the sill with a sigh of relief. Saved! The Photographer, who had saved himself with some strategic dog biscuits, came upstairs and enquired about the positioning of the chicken. Anything could take it from there. Bird, flying rat, who knew what with the amount of wild life that was moving about outside?

It was true. Summer had by-passed spring and was on the go. The Moorland dwellers were going from really cold to instant warmth. The mornings were lived from 4:30 am with more noise than anyone can imagine. Forget identifying bird noises. That would be useless. It was a total mix. The Assistant wondered that David Attenborough hadn’t just simply moved in, down by the river with full television regalia. The hounds thought that breakfast should be served at a very unreasonable hour, and were singing. Sheep were getting busy with their young. The cows were moving fields. To cap it all, the badgers were digging up their neighbour’s fine lawn again. In the distance, a farmer, who had probably lost his mind by now, was killing pigeons for all he was worth. A pigeon had moved into their own garden to escape the noise and imminent death. Anyone tuning into the early farming programme had to shut a window, which was not possible in the early morning heat. It wasn’t any wonder that the Photographer thought something could be taken off the window sill. Only the previous evening, the Assistant had been woken by a May bug in the bedroom and screamed the house down. They had both been working so hard in the garden, that their nerves were a shredded mess.

Dartmoor Diary April 2018 D7200-8

Peas and Beans ……I can almost taste them!

For months and months no one had been able to plant seeds for the garden. The house was a total pit of dust and empty plates as the two attempted to make up time. The propagation unit was full and the Daughter came over to plant seeds too. They planted hundreds of seeds and the nursing and praying over them took place several times a day. The Photographer raided his pocket money and filled cans with petrol for all the machinery. While he was at the filling station, he managed, at last, to clean both cars. There being no water pressure at the house and dreadful weather outside it, it had been four months since it had even been worth cleaning the cars. Now that the local petrol station had become so expensive, it was necessary to drive four miles to fill the car and all this stuff. It was a Sunday, and they never washed cars on a Sunday, but they did today. On their arrival home, the Assistant insisted that the Photographer did nothing for the rest of the day. He read his newspaper for the first time in ages.

Things were now improving. The Photographer got the car out and drove it across the Moor in the direction of Ashburton. The two were in ecstasy. They had quite forgotten how wonderfully wild the Moor was and how it absorbed people and cars. Today, though it could have been Cathy’s moor. It could have been Yorkshire with that wild expanse that could be so terrifying that the Bronte sisters wrote about it. It was possible today, here on Dartmoor, to think of Cathy’s excited terror when the branches of a tree so rattled her window in Wuthering Heights.

What a boost to moral it was, to think that the two could once more walk and picnic on the Moor.

Dartmoor Diary May 2018 D500-62

Deciduous Azalea Rhodedendron

In another day or two, the two donned their walking boots and made their way to Castle
Drogo, walking to the 600 year old heritage beech tree, wondering at its survival. The gardens were magnificent. The azaleas and rhododendrons were in flower and they talked with one of the gardeners about the garden, which was now so colourful and well cared for. The chapel was open and the WW1 memorial sculpture moved them greatly. They enjoyed a venison burger in the cafe and made their way home, much restored and excited for the prospects of possible good weather to come.

Dartmoor Diary May 2018 D500-80

WW1 memorial sculpture at Castle Drogo

In the next few weeks, the pace will pick up in the Little Town with amongst many events, the Swimming pool opening, with its natural water and solar heating, and its friends will once more meet there. Planning for the film festival and fund raising events will continue.

I would like to continue with a word for our lovely visitors. Please remember that the pace of life is slower here and that reverse gear can often be found opposite first gear!

Dartmoor Diary May 2018 D500-100

Most cars have reverse opposite or near first gear. But very few have Twin Overhead Trifles

And if you are feeling a little jaded, even though the sap is rising in this beautiful Spring, this advertisement has just been erected (if that is the right choice of words) in the window of the Little Town’s pharmacy.

 

Dartmoor Diary May 2018 D500-103

This tickled the Assistant’s sense of humour no end…….perhaps because the pharmacist is so serious and sensible…..who knows?

By The Photograher’s Assistant

 

New Street in the little town is long and leads to the Moor. Those who dwell in this street are upright citizens of the little town. Many of them are socially minded and drive many of the community efforts. There are retired folk, young families, artists, musicians, a dress maker etc.
It is a hub of quiet industry and community. What occurred during one night during the cold weather was disturbing and extraordinary.

Dartmoor Diary May 2017-254

Fiesty Chicken

 

The Daughter and her Husband (qualifications for residency; major movers and shakers on the swimming pool committee plus the daughter’s known artistic skills) were dozing in bed, completely secure in the silence of this old narrow street. In the distance there was an unusual noise. It was strange and the daughter was slightly disturbed. She turned over. This was always such a quiet place. Just as she had turned over, there was a piercing scream echoing down the street. It was terrible. They would have to see what was going on. There was another heartrending scream and she flew out of bed. She opened the window. Although she had lived in the remote countryside all her life, she had never seen anything like this. There on the narrow, confining road was a chicken screaming its head off, sending up the alarm. The chicken was a feisty one. It was running for all it was worth. It was brave and bold and wasn’t going to give up. Fast behind it, its feet clearly heard; its feet pattering on the road, was the predator. Assaulting the chicken, like a heavyweight prize fighter stood the largest badger she had ever seen in her life! The badger was light on its feet for such a heavy animal. The chicken was fighting its corner and it was running and you could hear the wild badger’s heavy paws. He was going to have this bird for an early breakfast. How dare it put up such a good fight. It was incredibly brave. The Daughter was admiring the chicken’s impudence when it made a wrong move and was killed with a final blood curdling scream. The silence was terrible. All you could hear was the badger’s paws as it made it’s way home with its breakfast. There was sticky blood, the consistency of glue, spread wide across the street. Badgers were clearly becoming resident in the little town. The husband had met a couple outside his van and was grateful that the dog had not seen them.The Daughter and her husband set off for work with a heavy heart. They had really thought that the chicken had stood a chance.

Other interlopers during the really cold weather had been the horses off the Moor, who had been helping themselves to the more verdant plants in people’s gardens. People who were missing their weekend pint, and those who possessed skis had skied down for a trip to the pubs. This second batch of snow had taken no prisoners. On the Sunday, the husband had set off in his van to help a friend, who had lost a front door in the flooding on the coast. On his way an unexpected blizzard had blown up and his van had an accident. The snow had suddenly become deep. His van had been written off and the Daughter had set off to rescue him. She had rung home, and the Assistant was worried. After the call, she went outside to top up the bird feeders. Now, there was a real squall outside and she was blown from side to side. The snow was in her mouth and hair, and even though she was just outside the house, she could see nothing. She got straight on to the Daughter, but she was already in trouble and had parked her little Mini at the side of the road.

Dartmoor Diary March 2018 D7200-348

Curved Snow……really…….look closely

What to do? She knew that the Daughter had taken supplies with her, but she had forgotten the shovel! The next moment there was another call from the Daughter, who had been rescued by some garage men with a 4×4. They had taken her home and she was grateful. They did not charge her anything. (Thank you Central Garage) They were pleased with their rescue. The Husband, meanwhile, had walked and hitched the ten miles home, so they were fortunate to both be safe. The next day, Andrew, from New Street and the swimming pool committee, set out with his van and a set of snow tyres and he and the Husband rescued the Mini. Deep sigh of relief all around. During this period of snow, the Photographer had put a powerful heater in the bore hole shed so this time there was even water!

Dartmoor Diary March 2018 D500-263

A tasty bit of ivy to welcome us home

Other news for the month should include the return of Duncan’s Guernsey cows to the little hamlet of Murchington. These characters had been much missed for a couple of farming seasons. Other animals had taken their place. There had been different cows, sheep and goats, but it had just not been the same without the Guernsey. One day, on their walk, the Photographer and the Assistant, fortunately with a camera, which was meant for photographing buzzards, came upon the great move. A huge number of black and white Friesian cattle were being driven off the field on the hill. The field was definitely being evacuated. The cattle were reluctant to go and the drive was difficult. The two had to help! They continued their walk and through the hedge at the top of their part of the Moor they felt that they could see something familiar. There they were. Feisty and as curious as ever, the Guernsey were definitely OUT. They are distributed now throughout the fields and are as clever and cunning as ever. There is already evidence of their main hobby, the means of escape, with various pallets in place in hedge gaps to stop them. If you walk up the hill from our cottage, you can meet them at the gate to the field, exploring the gate mechanism with some interest and they are always ready for a chat. They are so sociable!

 

Dartmoor Diary March 2018 D500-240

The last roundup. Friesians on their way out

So the month has gone on. There has been seed planting in the propagator, a visit to Totnes,fish and chips at Graylings in North Tawton, a tea with the Artist at the Forge. Wonderful breakfast cooked by Chris at Blacks, a local car service by Andrew at Crannafords, huge progress, despite the weather, on the new school building and on the site for the new houses, which are so needed. More of all this next month.

Finally, we cannot leave this month’s blog without mentioning the terrible toll on the community of the loss of so many of our citizens this winter. It cannot be denied that this has been a terrible winter for funerals, bringing so much sadness to the Moor and its surrounds. There are missing faces everywhere, and we shall be sad for some time to come. We are allowed to dwell on the loss of our people at such a time. You can’t always be expected to put a happy face on it!

We have a little spring weather now. At last a new season is here! When the sun comes out, it is so unbelievably warm and wonderful.

Wherever you are, whoever you are in our little community, as Dave Allen used to say, “May your God go with you!” See you next month with tales of spring and of hope. For one thing, the swimming pool will be open. The Daughter is cleaning and painting the children’s swimming pool. It’s always her favourite job!

Dartmoor Diary May 2016-233

Summer’s nearly here……..Chagford Pool opens this month!!!

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

 

By the Photographer’s Assistant

 

We are writing this blog on the sad day of the Manchester bombing.

Many years ago, The Photographer and the Assistant went shopping in Guildford, where we passed a pub called The Horse and Groom. We were in the habit of having a beer when we were out, but decided to go home and most unusually, have tea instead. When we arrived home, it was to an anxious Photographer’s mother ( no mobile phones ). This normally stable elderly ex nurse was by now in the most terrible state. She had had the Assistant’s father on the phone, who was also in a terrible state, asking where his daughter was. This was the day of an IRA bombing, which was simply indescribably dreadful. You could not believe the carnage and our parents were beyond hysteria. Today, is the day of the Manchester bombing and none of us ever got over the Bombing of the Horse and Groom. Our feelings could never have been described by the most literate of journalists. The long term effect, even though we weren’t injured, was for all of us, including, our children, to never go out without saying where we have gone and today, to never forget our mobile phones, even when we go a short distance. We will never forgot the day our parents nearly imploded and for the whole of the rest of the IRA campaign no one from our family went to London.
We couldn’t take the risk for all that pain. As the mayor of Manchester said it was an act of pure Evil, which has taken place. Obviously, now, our thoughts are with everyone involved in the Manchester bombing.

It is Monday, so, of course, we have our usual bacon butty at Blacks. People stop and speak as they walk past. Steve, a local artist ( we have quite a few artists in town), walks past on his way to training. Bank Holiday Monday will be the day of The Two Hills Race, held every year on the same day. Steve has a favourite pair of running shoes, which are worn out. The race is only a week away. What to do? The answer is to run in his trainers, which will be almost like running bare foot. We have met quite a few runners out on the hills. We live in the knowledge that while we love our walking, neither of us are up to this one. A huge number of the community are running. It is a tough gruelling race, not easy on rough terrain. It is a sign of unity and the true grit which exists in the community. It is pretty admirable stuff. It is heartening to see parents who we knew as much younger people, running their hearts out alongside their children, and friends sacrificing a good place to run alongside less able people.

We are walking to the river, which is a much frequented walk for dog walkers. On the way, we stop at The Courtyard and pick up our treat of the week, two organic bars of chocolate, which are the evening after supper treat of two squares each. Everyone wants to know if we are well. We have been gardening so much that we have not been in. They like to keep an eye on their more elderly customers! We must look bad today, but it was a good weekend!

Shortly, we meet a truck with a long load. The driver is tearing his hair out, almost literally and everybody is trying to help him back up an almost impossible load. He needs to get up the narrowest of lanes, and despite the queues, which are building, he is persuaded to take a break. He has a cigarette at the side of the road and we walk on. No one is swearing and cursing at the poor man. It is sad that no thought goes into the loads that pass through such a small community. Several times, we have watched as giant log lorries pass through and nearly rip the sign of the Chagford Inn. The National Park seems to be oblivious to the damage that will eventually be done somewhere in the town. On our tour of an American National Park all vehicles were stopped at the entrances and large vehicles had to park on the perimeter. It is a tribute to the local townspeople that they do not lose their tempers and do their best to help. This month the daughter arrived an hour and a half late for work on just one day due to one of these hold ups.

 

Inch perfect

On we go, nodding to acquaintances as we go. We amble past the school, which will shortly be replaced with a brand new, up to date building. You can hear excited chatter amongst the children as you go past. We pass a group of houses, which have been built for the elderly. The problem here is that the elderly don’t want them. Some wag has painted a slogan across the houses. It is bright red and points out the need for social houses in our community. Oh dear! This is going to see some controversy.

We walk past the old garage, which we all miss. It will shortly become a building site. The old architect’s office is empty too, and has been for some time.

Down the hill we go towards the river. Here we see a couple of cheery sights. On our right, out in the sunshine after the dreaded chicken flu lock up of the winter, the free range chickens, cavorting in the sunshine, wings flapping, they seem to be racing one another around and around the field.

 

Big Essential and Expensive!!

Also, on our right, the arrival of great works at the swimming pool. The photographer makes his way down and we are so pleased to see that funds have been raised to start the essential and environmentally friendly work. A further £10K is needed to complete the Waste Water Treatment project, and you can support it by donating to Chagford Swimming Pool link here. No committee can have worked harder to make this possible. The pool opens at 2pm on Sat 27th May with free swimming and free hot chocolate for swimmers…..enjoy! Hopefully, now we have the sunshine, people will soon be able to take a dip. Not being a swimmer myself, I hope to go along with a book and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere, soak up the sun and indulge in one of Pam’s delicious treats at the kiosk. When the pool opens any tension from the winter will be drowned in the water as the community soaks up the real arrival of summer.

 

Canadas on patrol

The banks of the river are covered in wild flowers and the fields are the greenest of green. All that recent rain has filled the worryingly shallow pools and side streams and the river is once more a mighty one. As we proceed along we open a new gate into each field and in the distance we can see the rust red of the Community Farm barn. Now, just by our side, two Canada Geese sail majestically along. We are still and they are not bothered. We meet a spaniel, who can swim all the way across the river to the other side. His master sighs. He is finding the exuberance of the animal just a bit too much on a Monday morning. We pass the old Mill with its glorious gardens and we are back on the road, over the bridge and in to the woods. The woods are cool and shady. We have bluebells, squirrels and a general panoply of wild life. Recently, we came face to face with a buzzard. We were both alarmed and frightened!

 

Springer takes some light exercise

At the bottom of the woods, we meet up with a pleasant stream and small water outlet, to which someone has attached a golden image of Aslan. This has been here some time. It is an amazing place to find it. No one has removed it, because it actually looks kind of appropriate!

 

Aslan

We cross the stream and into a field, where we are pleased to find the sheep, who have returned to the field with their lambs. How lovely for us, who have the field that they wonder into, right at the back of our garden. We talk to the sheep and they usually answer back. Amazing! It was a joke to start with, but now, it is real.

We reach our home in short order and take a fresh pot of coffee, down to our own stream into the river, and think how fortunate we are to live here on Dartmoor, and we think of those poor people in Manchester and their parents on the telephone.

 

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

It was, alas, almost the end of Easter. The Photographer and his Assistant stood at the entrance to the back field, where the hamlet’s inhabitants had created a well worn path along the uneven field and down its steep hill to the stream below. They were watching in silence as the blonde head with the woolly hat and the bobbing tail disappeared from view. It had been a lovely day with good food and wine, but it was over. The daughter and her dog had disappeared from view leaving the two alone on the hillside, thinking of what to watch on the telly as they gently snoozed the evening away. All around the hamlet guests had left or were leaving, some to go back abroad, and some to big cities. The whole place had the feeling of desertion and solitude. Never mind, it was only two weeks to the next Bank Holiday. Who knows who would arrive then?

Back to normal and no more food, probably forever, from the look of the weighing scales.

The next morning, the Photographer was surveying the sky for much needed rain when over it flew in the most casual of manners. It was that wonderful throw back to an imagined dinosaur age. We had a heron in the hamlet, flying straight over the houses. What a magnificent sight, not so for anyone with a pond, of course, but just glorious all the same. He was the shape of a modern plane, with those giant legs drifting majestically behind. He appeared every morning for two or three days, flying from the river and on to an unknown destination. He was followed a few days later by a hovering helicopter. It flew around and around. It was out of sight at first and all sorts of thoughts came to mind. Did someone need the Air Ambulance, a frequent sight heading for the little town’s school playing fields, but it wasn’t that. It had gone on for too long. Possibly, someone was missing or injured higher up on the Moor. The Photographer got his long lens out and, there was much relief when the helicopter turned out to be surveying the electricity cables for any faults. An amazing display of flying took place. You just couldn’t take your eyes off it. What skill!

Delicate flying……and all to check our electricity cables are up to scratch

 

Having surveyed the water butts, and giving regard to the bore hole, the household embarked on what was usually a summer occupation; water conservation. The blue bucket was lowered into the kitchen sink and stayed there. Washed hands, washed vegetables, coffee grouts and old tea and anything that wasn’t toxic was now carried into the garden on a rota basis. This water kept most of the plants alive, including the lovely pots of tulips, which had bloomed for some weeks now. Next the Photographer kept a daily eye on the oil tank read out. They had turned the oil off, except for heating the water, some weeks ago, the oil price had begun to be prohibitive. The mark had been on three for weeks, but now, it was down to two. The oil supplier arrived in a day and filled the tank. This tankful had just lasted 14 months, which was pretty economic. The installation by Vince, the plumber, had worked. He was determined to help the Photographer install a condensing boiler system, no matter what problems arose, granite walls etc. He had succeeded and they had gained an extra three months oil usage out of this system. All of this meant nothing to the Assistant, who just loved the steam, which came out of the outlet and reminded her of her obsession with the steam train. She thought that the disturbance was worth it just for that!

Tulip Black Parrot..in the rain

 

There may have been a shortage of rain, but, here was the perfect excuse for all types of work out of doors. Compost, which had been left for a year in its bin was now released and the Photographer turned to with a will. He sieved and sieved, until a cup of tea was really necessary. The two looked down on the compost in awe. Usually, the compost was mainly straw and the clearings from the garden stream Piled up and left for a year. It had never been sifted. They could not believe that the new bin used for kitchen waste, egg shells, waste veg, etc, could produce such a fine product. They decided to bag it up and keep it for very special plantings.

A fine product…….compost to die for!

 

There were some spare tomatoes in the greenhouse and the Photographer could not waste them, so he put them up on the little town’s Facebook page and they were gone almost instantly. He particularly liked seeing a small child and her mother carrying a couple away. This page is the life blood of the town. Everything that you can think of goes on this site.

Next, the Photographer turned his attention to dismantling and rebuilding a new smaller fruit cage on the veg plot. They both agreed that this would be sensible considering their age! They did, however remember various incidents in the cage. The cage, which was supposed to keep out deer, rabbits and birds, did no such thing. The local squirrel and his family would be regular destroyers of the netting, particularly, around the vulnerable edge of the frame. Naturally, any bird could now enter at will. The Assistant, being the most illogical creature on earth, would stand and just scream at the cage. Marcus, one of the most famous local spaniels, was then in his youth, and was severely distressed at the site of his mistress screaming at animals that he could not get in and catch. What was to be done? A friend offered what appeared to be the only possible solution with strawberries now disappearing almost before they were ripe. He offered a squirrel trap. It would be humane and the squirrel would be caught and could be released onto some other part of the Moor. Yes, that was naive, but we were just starting out! The trap was laced and baited with strawberries. Marcus danced about so much that it was felt he could destroy the cage. He was put indoors. A squirrel was soon captured, but it became obvious that anyone picking up the cage would be severely wounded. A fully licensed shot gun was produced by a helpful local, as per DEFRA guidelines, but do not worry, the squirrel bounced about so much that it wasn’t worth letting a shot off. Anyway, we south easterners weren’t used to that sort of practical solution and weren’t keen. It was decided to let the squirrel out in order to have a rethink. The spaniel appeared, having worked his way out to see where his mistress had got to. He gave his mistress a brave look and barked, Leave it to me, and disappeared over the horizon after the squirrel. Death was swift and the squirrel was swiftly disposed of without ceremony. What can we say?! Marcus was always keen to help in these matters. His love of squirrel chasing never subsided. In his old age, he would cry when he missed one. He is buried very close to where the squirrels now roam free. Poor Marcus! Incidentally, he came close to being the Best Dog in the West, but never quite made it. The best dog, when he was alive, was a resident of Wiltshire called Bilbo, a gentle man amongst dogs, not given to chasing vermin and always an adoring and not a deserting animal to his mistress. Currently, the Best Dog in the West is Finn, another fine and loyal dog. You might think that the Daughters dog, the ever glamorous Marilyn Monroe of the dog world, would qualify, but her appetite for anything, particularly whole lemon drizzle cakes, has ruled her out.

Dear Marcus…..squirrel wouldn’t melt in his mouth!

 

We are all hoping that this weekend does not produce the madness of the last Bank Holiday where the speed limit on the Moor was continually broken. The top speed on the monitor was 117 miles an hour. This is not a holier than thou attitude, as you know the Photographer is a devout petrolhead, but hit one of the many animals frequently sleeping in the middle of the road, hit it fast and you are dead. That means the Air Ambulance has an unnecessary call out and lots of people are sad. Please be careful! That said, have a happy holiday, out there in the wild, perhaps take a walk with Dartmoor’s Daughter, not to be confused with our very own “The Daughter” whose main preoccupation is now raising funds to help the Chagford Swimming Pool open on time this season.

Watch this space for more news on The Pool

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

 

 

 

Go for it young lamb……the world is your…um…er..field?

 

A sudden influx of people; people you thought had moved or died, or simply disappeared. They are startled, and irritated, annoyed with the weather. This is always difficult. They need to resettle. They have become used to the other world, the one outside the National Park. Surely, there would have been a new post office by now? The bank is closing. The little town has lost stuff that really belonged to the outside world. You have come back from where you were to Brexit land and you had forgotten all about it. The world changes, and who knows, it might be for the better. It is the Moor that is the Centre of this world and to illustrate the point, here is a lamb in extreme weather standing bravely on a rock and facing it down. It is alive and new and bold. The picture was taken during a walk, on which no one needed any money. A hot cup of tea was taken after, at home. In the background of the picture is Castle Drogo, awaiting the vast hordes that will visit over the holiday. We would like to wish them all a Happy Easter as we are not afraid to say that we are Christians, and we would like them all, especially the children, to have a nice time, out here in the wilderness amidst the absurdity of a late nineteenth century castle. Enjoy! There is brilliant exploration to be done.

Thinking of living in the wilderness, we do have shops and boxes and loads of animals. Here are a few local visitors to the village hall, who are leaving, finding the morning lecture a little tedious. They had hoped for a lecture on types of moorland pasture land, but this was not to be the case.

Well that was pretty boring

Outside the Deli, brave local cyclists are having one last round of decent refreshment before the first arduous and chilly outing to the Moor for a couple of nights wild camping. Yes, you can wild camp on the Moor as long as you are not in view of the road. It’s free and it is a real adventure. Soon a child’s group from Torquay are going to camp up there. What a brilliant idea!

As promised guys…..did the ride go well?

The postman has arrived with our monthly magazines. They are a really big treat and will take the whole month to read, it is our way of circumventing no shop in the hamlet. Later in the week, our daughter’s order will arrive from Riverford. Being busy at work and loving healthy food, her shopping is all sorted by them, and arrives delivered by a girl we have got to know, in a van that is small enough for our lanes. It is The Daughter’s big treat of the week. The boxes arrive with lots of ideas on a sheet in with the boxes, and she loves the recipes that Guy Watson sends. It is all very personal and what we call Very Devon! If you live in the little town, Chagfarm and Chagfood are currently registering new members and they have drop off points for their food, so you too can avoid big town shopping.

 

 

Other brands are available………including Chagfood

We have Spar for lots of other necessary shopping. It is an essential shop. The Photographer has just been in to Bowdens and picked up Gro Bags for the greenhouses, no need to go to a Garden Centre for them.

The other plants are desperate to go outside, so there is lots of fleece about. Especially, as the asparagus has suddenly, decided to appear, in this weather!. It is French and has never quite understood the climate.

C’mon chaps..time to go out into the big bad world

 

Today’s specials board outside the Courtyard Cafe has many delicious organic soups and a message, “First foal has arrived & so have the swallows. Spring is here.”

 

Not just foals and lambs but bunnies too

 

 

At the same end of town, there is a notice, put up by a householder, apologising for any inconvenience caused by his building work.

There is a notice in the bread shop window as follows

 

So now you know

 

Sweep away winter with one of these excellent brooms.

There’s no cliche like an old cliche…..new broom sweeps…

They are from Bowdens, of course
Get on the phone, or on the internet and order what you haven’t got for Easter. Spar has got cash if you need it, and lots of stuff too. We have an excellent new wine shop, which amongst most other shops here, takes contactless. Leave the big guys behind with their rude ways and general lack of care. Go native. You know you really want to, even if it can only be for Easter or the holiday season.

 

GENERAL NOTICES.

The Chagford junior cricket club has season tickets up for grabs at £35 a throw. There are loads of notices about this. Follow the link to their Facebook page

The Chagford school is collecting money for books. Go on. Give a child a world of wonder for very little money.

Boreholes and wells are commonplace round here so we know how important they are. Chagford PCC are buying a well for a village in Mali, and need just a bit more funding. Show you care too. Phone Tony Milton on 07834 665122 to talk about Joliba

The Chagford swimming pool committee needs help with getting ready for the season. This one really punches above its weight in such a small place. Visitors use it and if you have a business,they are probably going to come in to town and use you.Make the Daughter’s busy life easier. Go on. Volunteer

 

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

“Going to run over” … “getting gear on now xx” the text messages read.

The Photographer and the Assistant carried on reading their Sunday papers. This was last Sunday as spring began to show her ever beautiful colours.

Sunday morning papers

Sunday morning papers

 

To know the whole story to the text you have to go back to the early 1980s. Margaret, a character very like an older midwife in the television series “Call The Midwife” is standing at the window watching her daughter in law and a small child in the garden. The child is two and is doing her best to help her very pregnant mother tie in the raspberry canes. It is spring and there might even be daffodils soon. Though disguising it, the “midwife” is worried. Four years ago she moved in with a young couple who both had careers. It was difficult to tell which one was the most ruthlessly ambitious, her son or daughter in law? Now she lived with the same son, a delicate daughter in law and a toddler and there was another baby on its way. She could not voice her feelings. She thought that her daughter in law had way overstepped the mark in being greedy for another child. On top of that she was not the easiest person to tell what to do. Only last week this tiny athsmatic creature had been told plainly that she was an “Elderly Primate” in front of a crowd of other younger mothers. Now, she was flatly refusing to go to the ante natal sessions Thank goodness she had persuaded her GP to see her, although even that was with her travelling on the back of the son’s motor bike.

Time moved on and the athsma returned. It got worse and the daughter in law was struggling, as was the GP who came to the house to see her now and discussed strategy with the elderly nurse.
This went on for a while until the baby was born. Her son had, at last got the car repaired and the new baby duly returned home. The athsma had not gone away and the GP called to find, to his amusement, that the daughter in law had defied the ex ward sister and gone for a walk with the new baby and the little girl. On her return, the doctor issued prescriptions, which could help this woman to breath. The baby was fine. It clearly had a splendid set of lungs and quite a strong personality. All was fine for a while. The baby loved sleep, lying in the garden and settling down to the Archers. The attention now shifted to the father, who had to go to work and feed the baby at night. His wife, he had been informed would never be able to get up during the night for fear of an attack, and that having more children was also off the agenda. His mother was mortified and did all she could, but she was in her seventies and had to conserve her strength for the day time. The child, the baby and the mother seemed able to continue quite well though.

Things ticked along. An early christening was arranged as the child’s maternal grandfather had terminal lung cancer. Despite being ill the child’s grandfather put on his best clothes and managed to attend a very happy spring event. There was bubbly, cake and heaps of daffodils amidst the sunshine. So many friends came that the street was packed with cars. The little child was overwhelmed with affection. It was all lovely. The Grandfather had a good look at this new arrival. He kept looking at it, but there was more than the thrill of another grandchild here. He took the grandmother aside and they had a nurse’s chat for he was also a nurse. Nothing was said and the party continued. When everyone had gone, the Grandmother took the baby to one side and announced that she didn’t think that it was thriving. The next day some local expert in babies appeared, but Margaret was not happy with goats milk as a solution to the problem. She took the baby, the child and the mother upstairs and took a bottle with her. For the first and only time in the house, the child took the feed and then sprayed all the walls of the room with milk. It could no longer be held in the child’s system. Margaret rang the GP, who accepted her experience and sent the child to hospital immediately. Rarely for a girl, the child had a condition where her gut closed up and she could no longer drink. The parents were relieved. It had taken so much longer to feed her than it ought to have done. The Royal Surrey County Hospital had quite a time with the baby. It cried so much at the specialist, it was so angry at being hungry, and got its fists out, that the surgeon operated that night, probably for the sake of peace and quiet. The parents slunk off for a decent nights sleep and Margaret felt that she had not lost her touch!

The baby now entered a spoilt phase for the rest of its life. Each time it was visited, it had a new frock and toys. It was clearly the best toy baby the nurses had! The little penguin that its mother and father had chosen was clearly inadequate. So the baby went from strength to strength. It fought everything with aplomb. Of course, it had athsma. That goes without saying. It could not eat anything too fatty, like its sister, who enjoyed wonderful health and to this day is tremendously strong. The baby, however, began to accept ill health as the norm. In her teenage years, she even spurred up with a cruel and rare illness, which meant regular scans. Her determination to attend university was a total obsession. She had a year out in France, where she lasted nine months and came home too ill to do anything for a week. Margaret, by now a very old lady always looked at her with a deep suspicion. She enjoyed the company of the girls every evening. They would share boiled sweets and terrible soaps on television. Granny’s room was always full of private goings on, but every time she looked at the little girl it was with caution.

The elder child went to university and became an environmentalist, of whom we are all proud.
The younger child, despite her parent’s pleadings was highly ambitious and despite their doubts, entered a Russell Group university, and despite truly awful health worked in a bar and on her degrees for six years. She followed her father and became a career led woman. At Uni, amongst some illnesses, she seriously damaged a leg and she later also broke it. She has a thorough determination to be well, so she eats and works her body almost to destruction. She has rarely had a day off work. Her latest hobbies are cycling and running. Just recently, between us, she beat Nick Baker and her whole group at running, so, on Sunday, she and the very large dog, ran over to see her parents. Her father put the kettle on, while the sweat poured off her. She had run the three miles from the little town, the long way round, of course. She explained to her mother that she thought that she had hit the runner’s wall and just had to stop and walk a bit. She was disgusted with herself and sat against the AGA panting with the dog. The dog was licking her. She is her new nurse. Sadly most adult children do not live this close to their parents. She saw the Moor and fell in love. Nothing was going to stop her living on it. Nothing!

So here is spring again and it is something special in our house, ever since 19XX (we couldn’t possibly tell you how old she is, that would never do), but soon, her father will lash out for another celebration meal that couldn’t be beat and plan another ambitious year for his two asthmatics kept going by NHS GPs and nurses ancient and modern.

To finish, Margaret, that very useful and much loved nurse had a short spell in a home before having a stroke. She had lived with the family for over twenty years. She had been a part of everything and loved these children. They were her life. She died just as the children left home, aged 93 cuddling the teddy that the girls had just brought her. She had a distinguished career as a nurse, being a Sister in the operating theatre in the Royal Surrey County Hospital during Dunkirk. She died talking about these patients, whose dreadful experiences never quite left her.

 

Sister Caplen RSCH 1939

Sister Caplen RSCH 1939

Owen, the children’s maternal grandfather, was attached to the Eighth Army before and during the war. He was a medical commando, who together with the SAS attended to the poor victims of Belsen. After the war he was taken on by Dr. Goodman at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and helped in the treatment of spinal injuries until his retirement. He smoked heavily as a result of his experiences and died of lung cancer 6 months after the christening.

Meanwhile, the Photographer and his Assistant live a charmed life. We can sit outside Blacks and enjoy some tea and a bun, talk to the sheep on the farm next door, have a drink in the garden, meet our mates at Hittisleigh market and enjoy that rarity, living alongside our daughter, who, of course doesn’t have much time to do any of that. She is too busy helping with the swimming pool, running with her mates, and having a drink at the rec. club. She has become a regular Moorland citizen. Look out if you see her running your way, her generation are coming!

 

A Hittisleigh whopper!

A Hittisleigh whopper!

 

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

Footnote:

 

No gender stereotyping at Hittisleigh where everyone gets stuck in

No gender stereotyping at Hittisleigh where everyone gets stuck in

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