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By The Photographer’s Assistant

The Photographer stood over the kitchen range. He was determined that there would be a good Sunday roast. He knew that it was too hot to cook a chicken and that the Assistant simply wasn’t up to the task to hand. The Assistant knew that The Photographer would not be dissuaded. She had forgotten all that they used to do to keep cool. She started upstairs. She opened every window and every door. She ignored her study while she opened the door. There were books and articles over every surface and if there had been a breeze, the result would have been horrendous.
The conservatory was unlocked and the front door was opened. The hall was the place to sit. It had tiny windows and thick walls. The Photographer made a Toad in the Hole as late as he possibly could, and they both slumped exhausted in the lounge and watched the cool sea on Poldark with an envious eye. The sea in Cornwall was as cool as cool and the clouds were magical. As Demelza served up a huge pork pie, the largest the Photographer had seen, the Photographer’s eyes closed and he thought of the delicious home made pork pies he had enjoyed on holiday. He had just been on holiday to their favourite place in Wales and he thought of the beautiful loft windows, which would keep you so cool and the trees under which he had enjoyed his book and dozed off. When he came to, he saw the vision of Ross Poldark fighting the dreaded Corn Laws. The news had been on and the Photographer thought of Brexit as Mr. Tusk made another pronouncement. He got up and turned the television off, possibly for some weeks. He went to bed, where the Assistant had not been able to find the beautiful thin white sheet that he was so fond off. He threw the duvet off. The Assistant’s chest was already producing that loud rasping noise, which meant it was struggling in the heat. He loved her, but wasn’t Demelza so lovely. He didn’t fancy fighting the Corn Laws, so with a deep sigh he read his book and prayed for rain. Thank you to Mr Pitt, who put the people before dogma and Party. The repeal was passed on 25th June 1846. (nearly July)

Blackaton Thatch_131

……and thatchers thatch…..in the heat

 

The little town produces real heroes it turns out when the temperature hits above 30C. Everything continued in the dreadful heat. Builders built, thatchers thatch, Adam at Casa looked truly cool in some very smart outfits. Early in the morning, Colin at Bowden’s, carried out his wares. Wares to cool you off and barbecues to cook on. He had loads of equipment for such weather. He was a little pixie enjoying his shop and proud of its contents.

Nominations for real heroes of the day, however are Chris and his wife Katherine from Blacks and Vincent and his wife Sara from The Forge. The Photographer and the Assistant attended Blacks, as usual, every Monday for al fresco breakfast and Chris continued to cook. Chris cooked through every hot temperature and in every circumstance. He stood in that kitchen and cooked up a storm without any hesitation. Katherine ran about at what was a very busy time, serving every customer with the little items that she knew her customers loved for a treat. Nothing was too much for either of them to do. People who were too hot had their bags carried down the steps out of the shop and everyone was treated with care and kindness, especially if they were old and hot. Amidst all of this Chris, Catherine and their son managed to support the Devon County junior cricket team, travelling great distances in what was left of their spare time.

Dartmoor Diary March 2018-81

Two hot cooks

 

Up at the Forge, Vincent and Sara employed fans and open windows to make their restaurant as cool as possible. Vincent spends all day in the kitchen however hot it is. He continues to produce the most delicious food amidst the oven like conditions that the weather produces. His lunches are particularly well thought out. He makes everything himself and the accompanying wines are very well chosen. Amidst all the heat, his customers remain admiring of his fortitude. Sara, his wife remains cheery and helpful, running about and seeing that the customers have what they want.

It is July and John, as long standing readers will remember, brought the wood. He and his assistant Chloe have been chopping and sourcing wood for our harsh winter. In July while the drought is on, they work as hard as possible to produce the logs that we need. They cut the logs to size for their long standing customers, each log burner often being quite different in size and build from the next. Chloe looks slightly built, but she is as fit as any athlete, and amidst all of the heat she has been assisting John in every way that she can. Being typical of the local population in a place where it can be hard to earn a living, she plays the harp with great delicacy as well as being skilled in the art of using a log processing machine. Many people from the little town have two skills and are adaptable. You can combine gardening with waitressing skills, or all sorts of jobs with your day job.

8676339090_7f3710dbd9_o

Clearly not Chloe……..but John

Down at the swimming pool, the team continue to provide ideal conditions for swimming in the heat. People stressed by the heat can arrive and do arrive completely whacked, stressed and feeling awful and leave feeling cool enough to go home, enjoy a cup of tea or a cool drink, sit under an umbrella and veg out.

Up here, where we are used to the coolest of British conditions and have a purposeful rescue team, who can testify to that, it seems that we are served by those who are just a resilient in the heat.

A foot note concerning the “footie”. In 1966, the Assistant was 16, she lived in a council house behind a massive private privet hedge in her father’s self built world. He had just had the biggest row you can imagine with authority and had been victorious. His daughter attended a council school with no sixth form and she wanted to be a teacher. Having no transport, he envied his daughter’s bicycle, and so one day he took his daughter by the shoulder and told her that they would walk the two miles to the college to attend an appointment with the principal. The daughter was surprised. Schooling was usually attended to by her Mother. Her father donned his best flat hat and jacket and they set off. Within a very short period at the meeting the principal capitulated and that was that. The Assistant attended the A level classes and a whole new world opened up, she became the only student from that Secondary Modern to go on to further and then tertiary education that year. Such was the world of 11plus and “social mobility” via Grammar Schools. On this particular day, her father, who was a huge sports fan, produced an enormous pot of tea together with a tea cosy and the two sat together all through without moving and the Assistant saw England win the World Cup and it simply didn’t happen again. It was a real celebration of triumph all round.

Murchington Jan 15 47

The teapot……at the heart of the family

Many of you have asked for this poem again, so here is “ When John brought the Wood “. Since I wrote this poem, John has gained a lovely wife and she cooks him a cake for when he has delivered the wood, but now he is drinking tea and eating honeycomb from his bees, who have more than they need.

 

It was July

It was July
And John brought the wood
The wood that smelt of winter

It was July
Drought stricken land
Burnishing heat
No water in the butts
Dead trees
A dwindling stream
No life in the air
Ground cracked wide open

It was July
But we all knew

It was July
We had all seen the signs
The birds on the wire
The moor’s cold night air

It was July
And John brought the wood
The wood that smelt of winter

End Piece

Angel Barn Wales jun 2018 D500-23

No. I am not moving. It’s too hot. Go away and let me ruminate.

 

 

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 Assistant was up and slightly awake. She was on her way to make the Photographer a cup of tea. The first sight of the day was a beautiful vase of mixed coloured roses. The smell was fragrant and scented the whole room so that it was lit up with a kind of wonder. Even more touching and inspiring was the way her friend, who was in some pain had determinedly picked and sacrificed her favourites to bring some beauty to the house.

The Photographer had got up this morning inclined to help a friend who was worried about his hedge. Having bought a battery powered hedge trimmer, which was a meaty piece of equipment, The Photographer wanted to share it. Later on he would help the Daughter and her husband by trimming their hedge. They had been worried about it as they were both working very hard and only had clippers. The Photographer had had a chat with the Daughter’s neighbour and they were both going to combine their efforts to get it into a good shape. The Photographer and the Assistant had both been very fortunate to come and live in this close knit community and had never been alone when he was very ill. This was his chance to make a contribution.

 

St O bird Jun 17-37

Balancing act

In between the community activities, there were some amazing sights given to all who were interested in wildlife. Eating their usual breakfast at Blacks on a Tuesday, rather than a Monday, having enjoyed yet another Bank Holiday, the two were passed quite closely by a torpedo of a bird. The Sparrowhawk had picked up its breakfast somewhere in the church yard and was carrying it to a safe place through the busy thoroughfare. At home, the two had been delighting in Spring Watch, but in many respects it could not compete with all that was on offer on the Moor. Animals and birds intermingled with the general populace in an entirely natural way. The heron had a regular run past the Photographers house on its way to refreshment or the nest down on the river. It was ungainly and dinosaur like, but indulged in a daily busy commute. There were Harold and Emily and their young, who were wonderfully scruffy woodpeckers intent on learning how to peck at the nuts in the bird feeder. They were now returning year after year. Another sparrowhawk alighted just at dawn on the telegraph poll opposite. It wasn’t very clear whether he too had just woken up. He spent a lot of time surveying the scene. Occasionally, as the Assistant stood at the sink, there would be a whisk of air as another bird was taken at the bird feeder. The hawk was so fast that it wasn’t worth even looking to see what had happened. The Photographer was busy guarding a robins nest in the mower shed. He had been amused to see them settled into a green plastic cover, comfortably situated and as silent as silent except for the tiniest of movements. The two were fascinated by the insect hunting swallows who sped to hoover up the insects in the evenings as they sat around their fire pit enjoying an end of day drink. Just one!

 

Dartmoor Diary May 2018 D7200-32

Robins….so I am reliably told. All now safely fledged

Down in the little town, in New Street, the Daughter had been invited to a party. She met a woman who was familiar with the badger activity. Most of the street was now involved in badger watching, especially since the chicken incident.  (See Diary edition “Murder on New Street” from April)  There was no evidence, of course, but it was theorised that one of the Little Town’s many treasured celebrities was very fond of badgers and, quite innocent of the consequences, had been feeding the badgers. There were two badgers, who often travelled about in tandem. The problem was that when the celebrity was away, as celebrities constantly are, the badgers missed his input and became very hungry! The woman who the daughter met, had had a traumatising experience. She had been dozing off in bed when she heard a blood curdling scream. Being a citizen of New Street, she had got out of bed to see if she could be of assistance. She saw the badger. This time it was a threatened species. It was a dear adult hedgehog. There was nothing that could be done. Nothing. It was like being in your own horror film. The woman got up in the morning and saw the terrible sight. All the hedgehog’s insides were missing and there was just a spiny coat laid on the ground. Now, the woman could barely sleep at night, aware that murder could take place amongst the beloved creatures, who lived in her garden. She felt as if she was a coward. She was just as frightened of the badgers as it’s victims! Who could blame her.

The little town had mostly been deserted by the Dartmoor ponies now that the late spring was here. Gardeners could rest easy about plants being nibbled and enjoy their flowers and veggies to their hearts content. Up on the Moor, however the ponies were on all sorts of business. Tourists would feed them and suffer dire consequences. Ever had your car door handle or mirror chewed? Yes! It was them! Learn the lesson. They are well up to feeding themselves. A lesser known problem with them is their love of swimming pools. Many of you may recall the incident in Only Fools and Horses, when the Trotters found a horse in their swimming pool. You’ve got it. At the more exclusive and beautiful houses on the Moor, you will quite often find a swimming pool. The Daughter occasionally answers her phone to a distress call. Her husband is a swimming pool expert, who must now turn out and rescue the pool!
Meanwhile, the Little Town has so many events on that you couldn’t possibly attend them all. The Swimming Pool is now open and is better than it has ever been. The water is warm and the tea shed is open. You don’t even have to swim to enjoy the environment. Sit in the sun and read a book with a cuppa and meet some friends at the pool side. Make the most of it while it is open for the summer. It is, by the way, free of badgers and horses! This is a huge effort for such a small community. Well done to that hard working committee, who even spend the winter fund raising and planning.

Dartmoor Diary May 2016-223

All that’s missing is you………come on in the water’s lovely and warm

The next film festival is on it’s way. This is a terrific event that will happen in September, from the 24th to the 29th. Once more, there is a hard working committee at work for the benefit of the community. Please support them when you can

 

Finally, on the community theme, this week a dearly loved couple’s home burned down and they have been supported and comforted by the community, which surrounds them. That’s what the Little Town and its community are like. It makes you shudder to think of what it must be like for those, who still need a home in a very wealthy area of London, where a whole tower block burnt down! One year on! We are not the only ones to wonder what ever happened to the country which had the blitz to cope with. The Assistant’s Parents were severely traumatised by the war. Her father, for instance was one of the first medical people to attend the Belsen concentration camp and her mother had similar experience. At the end of the war they endured temporary accommodation with their baby and their horrifying memories, which never left them. There was, however, a huge effort put in by an administration, which had far too much to do, but who got on with it and the Assistant and her family were moved to a little area of beautiful temporary homes, which were steel houses sent from Canada. The family felt like a family at last. The little baby toddled about her father in a huge vegetable plot, which also housed the television pole for the Queens Coronation. Her father and her mother loved their garden, which, at last brought peace and a sort of quiet into their lives. Yes; lots of people have been housed, but there are some who haven’t. Even if you have been housed in these circumstances, your lives will not be fully healed. You will still live with nightmares. No one can heal you, but you could be given beautiful surroundings for the bad days that come. Couldn’t we, at least do that?

 

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

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?

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!

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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

It was a really cold week, but the night of February 28th was particularly cold. We had friends to supper and had a jolly time. The heating had been on and we had left the dining room, to sit in front of the roaring log burner, because of the cold, in spite of the kitchen range pumping away non stop. They left later to drive home through the lanes, on a beautiful cold winter night, not seeing another vehicle all the way.

We left the stair door open so the fire would warm the bedroom, and went to bed. There were two heavy Scottish wool blankets on top of the duvet. We slept through the arrival of the snow. At 7.00 am, we were awoken by the phone, it was the Daughter, driving on the A30, going to work to cancel appointments and collect homework. The Assistant made a cup of tea with water that was already in the kettle, but she needed more water. She turned the tap on. There was no water. Absolutely NO WATER. The water had frozen the week before and the heater in the borehole shed had been turned on. Now it had failed to make an impression. The daughter rang to see if there was anything that we needed. Quick as a flash, the daughters husband arrived with bottled water, milk and coffee. How well he knew that his mother in law would not function without coffee! He wanted to emphasis that if this went on, we would be welcome at their house in the little town. He drove for home as fast as he could through the driving snow.

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A frozen borehole. Well so would you be left out in that all night.

On the radio somewhere around 8.00, a weather RED ALERT was declared and this was transmitted to the Daughter who was already back on the A 30, which was literally filling up with snow with multiple snow ploughs trying to cope. She had not done any shopping. She had got straight in her car and headed home.

At the Assistant’s home, the Photographer had put his foot down. On the first snowy winter in Dartmoor, the Assistant had had a cavalier attitude towards the snow. She had caught a cold and had an athsma attack. The Photographer had rung the surgery, and Dr. Sarah Wollaston (now MP for Totnes) had arrived having driven and walked through the snow. She had been delightful and they had felt awful! The Assistant was now banned from all outside activity. She was sad, because the Photographer was having to carry buckets of water, for toilet flushing , etc. Up from the stream. There were two grades of water. Drinking water was bottled. Second grade water was not very grubby and placed in the range for a boil up so washing up could take place.

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Deep and crisp and even

The Assistant secretly swore at the snow through the window and took on a real sulk. Yes, of course it was scenic, but you could only look at it, and she could see the Photographer having to feed her birds through the kitchen window. Happily, her mind turned to other snowy events.

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Special extra food for the birds

When she had met the Photographer it was at a Valentines Ball and she remembered how only a couple of weeks of acquaintance later, he had taken her home to Surrey. He had wanted some company and she had wanted to get away from a social history essay. He had a battered Land Rover, which seemed to be freezing cold and have a lot of “character”. On arrival, his mother was waiting. The Assistant felt a bit scruffy before this permed and heavily winter coated lady. Even her glasses sparkled, she was so smart. The puppy Labrador was very charming. Cups of tea were taken and the mother sized the student up. What a strange creature her son had brought home. He had only just finished seeing his cousin. What a lovely match that would have been! This was a very unhealthy specimen. She had nursed the victims of Dunkirk. She was highly experienced. This was a really sickly creature. It weighed nothing. Exhaustion was clearly not a stranger to it. Its hair could have been a honey blonde, but it was lank and lifeless, yet it really looked sparky and as if it could really defend itself. She would have to go very carefully. The Assistant was summing things up for herself. Here were a mother and son clearly riven by grief. They had only lost a father and a husband a month or so ago. The Labrador was meant to replace the missing member of the family and the mother might be too old to look after it. How old was his mother! She must be in her sixties. Blimey, She had had a baby in her mid forties! Think about that all you mums in your forties. Back then this was extraordinary. The valley they were situated in was known as the Little Alpine district. It was very high up and was full of picturesque snow and beautiful views. The Land Rover took them all out to the cinema, where the mother wore a silk scarf over her fur hat and they watched Dr. Zhivago. The Assistant never forgot that the best way to secure a Land Rover was to take out the rotor arm. The Photographer taught her how! Eventually, the Assistant found that she had been issued with Stan, the missing member of the family’s silver serviette ring as she had the same initials. She had actually replaced him, her and the dog. It was very strange, because poor Stan was hardly ever mentioned. He was put in an English middle class box in their heads. It was all too painful!

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“Battered” my foot!..A Little Gem

Another snowy time that the Assistant had enjoyed was as a child. Once again disciplined about the cold, she was allowed to walk to school which was a mile and a half away. She lived almost on the Great Western Railway. It was at the foot of the garden. Sometimes in the summer, their garden would catch light with the hot coals and the fire brigade would come and her father would swear at the loss of vegetables! The winter was great because the snow by the track and at the side of the road would be piled feet high as the two piles met and it was like being somewhere foreign. She was given sugar sandwiches for energy in her satchel. It was great. When she got home, her father would give her hot tea and wrap her up in a big towel to dry out, while he shaved in the sink ready for work. He would never miss his shift at the hospital. He was senior so he took the night shift and he walked through the snow no matter how bad it was.

Later, there was sledging with her children and living remotely so they could stay home and didn’t have to go to school, but could enjoy it all. When the Assistant had the rattiest car on earth, which must have been illegal, she got caught out. It snowed while the children were at school. The school rang and the Assistant had to act outraged to get someone to drop them off in a 4 X 4.

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Fun in the snow…1980s style

There were so many adventures to remember. The Daughter had once been stranded on a motorway whilst working away. She had always been taught to take a shovel and food with her, but that didn’t save her. She spent the night on the motorway and was so furious when she got back to Devon that she just didn’t want to discuss it. Now, she takes a sleeping bag with her as well. She is a good snow baby. She should be!

There it is. The Assistant loved all the pictures of sledging and snowmen, but she couldn’t go out. She was allowed out once to have tea at a neighbours, but that was a special exemption! The Daughter told her that she saw people skiing on New Street. They were going to the pubs in the little town. That really went down badly with the Assistant.

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….and then it rained.

There were many acts of kindness, but the Assistant would especially like to thank David R. Who brought her and the Photographer a weekend newspaper, David K. Who offered to do some shopping and dear J. and T. Who stayed in touch to see if all was well. How can we thank the Daughter and her husband for walking over when the snow was at it worst with the dog, cake and lots of cheer! They were exhausted. We are so fortunate.

To finish, we thought that you would love this picture of Chris, who does loads of cooking at Blacks and Vincent, who, of course is french and cooks up a storm at The Forge. England were defeated unexpectedly by the French at rugby, and after some banter, the two got together to share their love of the game. The Entente Cordial has never been dead, in or out of the EU! Certainly not in the little town!

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Just wait……next time revenge will be ours!!!!

You might like to know that as Vincent and Chris are not standing in the snow, the rooks are nesting in Mill Street and the night has assumed a noisy jungle like existence SPRING IS HERE.
Above all, the Assistant has been allowed out and is about to start forking the vegetable patch.
HOORAH!!!

Footnotes

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In spite of the special feeding and extra water, there were still some casualties. Very sad.

 

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It’s an icicle….but then you knew that anyway

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

 

It is a strange month on the Moor. Every animal needs sunshine, but there really isn’t enough. The Photographer and the Assistant have together with most of the Little Town and villages have adopted a strategy of ignoring the running water, the damaged and flooded roads and the damp chill in the air. The wonderful side of not working in the garden is that things get done in the house. The study has been insulated and decorated. Due to such endeavour for a couple of months, “The Two” have not really been anywhere and have being living on their hump, and so, at last, after 17 years resident on Dartmoor, they have actually been able to choose a carpet, which will be bought locally because its nice to do and so much easier!

It is now Sunday and “The Two” are up late. The Photographer cooked a wonderful chicken meal last night for some neighbours, who they haven’t really seen for two months. Wine was delicious and a wonderful bowl of flowers was given to the Assistant. Everything was caught up with including news of a significant death on the Moor. Dave Hatton had arrived with Dawn just before “The Two” had also arrived. Dave loved the Moor and was involved in much of the local activity. He was a famous local cyclist and the last time the Assistant had seen him was on a dangerous crossing on the stepping stones across the river, which was not in a particularly good mood. The Assistant thought that she was brave taking a hike, but Dave had made this crossing as if he was cycling on Exeter high street!

The Assistant loved getting up before the Photographer, who was now dozing away under a large duvet and a National Trust rug, which had been a considered purchase in Scotland. She put the kettle on and was amazed to see nothing dripping off the cottage. She couldn’t believe that it had not rained over night as usual. How lovely! Next she gathered kindling. She rolled tight some newspaper and collected a fire lighter from the cupboard. She placed the kindling and some small logs on the top, and lit the fire. A tiny curl of smoke rolled up the chimney. She loved this bit. It was just past eight o’clock. This was such a good time to light the fire, just as Sunday was starting. Everything in the world outside was still. She thought of her Aunt Lizzie Hannah, who taught her to light a fire. Lizzie had always lit the fire early. She lit it before her elderly mother came down stairs. She liked to get up as she didn’t sleep too well since her husband had died. She would get breakfast for her niece and just eat an apple herself. They would discuss the day ahead and the niece would help her by going down the steep hill to town with a little bag and her orders.

 

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Now that is a proper fire……..you could temper your sword in that!

While the fire caught light, the Assistant returned to the Moor and gave thanks for John, who had provided them with reliable wood for the past seventeen years. He had come in all weathers, never complaining. When the Photographer had been ill, John and his assistant had stood for hours in the rain, drinking tea and splitting the wood, which a neighbour had kindly given them. Kindness and care for your neighbour are a part of the community spirit that in grim times and poor weather make the Moor one of those special places.

 

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John controls the serious log splitter

While the Photographer dozed away, the Assistant enjoyed her first cup of tea of the morning. She was reviewing the week. It had been very busy! There had actually been no time to think about the weather. On the Monday she had felt really delicate and elderly as they walked into the little town. What a wonderful spoiling “The Two” had when they reached Blacks. Cushions were out on their favourite chairs and Chris had those beautiful bread rolls stuffed with eggs and bacon and a nice pot of tea ready for them in a trice. The Exeter Chiefs loss of a rugby match was much discussed. Devon expects the Chiefs to win every match and such a loss can blight the entire week. “The Two” had once gone to a match with the Daughter and found it a wonderfully uplifting experience.

The Photographer spent a few days in the last room in the cottage to face thorough reclamation. It was a tricky project to return this room to its former self. The walls of the room were mainly lath and plaster and there was a huge fitted wardrobe dominating what could have been a beautiful main bedroom. The wardrobe support had been craftily built so that it did not touch the wall, which formed its back. The Photographer struggled with dismantling this delicately woven structure, but had, after some period of time and thought found a way. He was able by the Wednesday, to order everything required for improving a very thin outside wall without destroying the old structure. The Assistant enjoyed the process of seeing the room become the room that it had once been. The wardrobe had been built for a military officer and his wife. The Assistant imagined the wonderful dress uniforms and beautiful frocks, which had once hung here. They would keep a tiny square of two layers of original Laura Ashley wallpaper, which had also been revealed during the renovation.The wardrobe wood was removed to the shed, where it would be internally recycled through more projects

On Thursday the Assistant had an appointment in the little town, and had taken the opportunity to walk. The air was cold and bracing and the river was in full spate as she crossed. Inside the dentist’s nobody minded her removing her walking boots and leaving them under a chair in the waiting room, which was where she found the Photographer when she came out. He had come to take her for coffee and cake. This was extra special as the Forge had reopened after the owners had finished their winter break. They were able to sit by the fire in great warmth and comfort whilst deciding what to do next. The rubbish from the upstairs room had mostly been disposed off, so “The Two” now took their cars to the self service car wash. The Beast had not been washed since the snows in Wales and the little car was just miserable. The Photographer worked away at all the grime and was finished for the day. He couldn’t even be bothered to visit Mole and buy a tool that he couldn’t do without, but which he hadn’t really known about any way. On his return home he had been given tea and a blanket while the Assistant lit another fire. They both fell asleep in front of WinterWatch, which was unheard off!

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Car wash……also available as a print!

 

Friday was off to Exeter for hair cuts and lunch with the Daughter and a very indulgent visit to their favourite organic butcher, where they both thought that they would buy an outrageous amount of meat, which was followed by Devon Coffee Company drinks and a wonderful chocolate cake made by a Japanese lady now resident in Exeter.

The Daughter and her husband managed to arrive for the family Friday night gin, where the aforementioned badgers were discussed. The son in law had recently parked his van on Mill Street really close to town, when he had been confronted by two enormous badgers. He had felt quite frightened and was glad that he dog had not noticed them. The badgers were moving fast down the hill out of town and past the recreation field. The Daughter had also seen an enormous badger walking along the road as she was driving home. “The Two” had seen the sad sight of a dead badger, who had been covered up with dead leaves by a kind stranger, quite recently on their daily walk. Two of their neighbours were having problems with badgers digging their lawns up probably looking for worms. ARE WE SUFFERING A BADGER INVASION? Over to you good reader!

 

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Mr Badger’s midnight feast

Finally, we must not forget the wonderful shindig held by our friend James, who was having a significant birthday. It was held at The Chagford Inn and anyone who was sober at the end was sober by accident. How lovely to meet so many amazing people and to be surrounded by so much love for a friend. It was the best shindig at the Inn since the Daughter’s wedding. Way to go James!

So really and truly, despite the weather, it hasn’t been such a bad time after all!

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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