Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More in Deepest Devon.

We hadn’t yet seen the dining room but the bar was so convivial and friendly we decide to have dinner there at one of the scrubbed tables – as soon as there were a couple of chairs free. But first we had to let our spouses know we had arrived safely. My mobile was out of cash; the last time I checked I had almost £20 left and I rarely use it. Go figure. S 2 had about 10p - enough for a quick text for him and a reassuring shout from me.

There was a red phone box near the pub but the windows were blackened with dead flies, the floor was covered in dead flies and there were still flies flying around. Neither of us could face it and I never want to see another Garibaldi as long as I live. Our rooms on the other hand were very comfy and old fashioned like staying with Grandma plus tea, coffee and a telly.

One wall of the bar is covered in easy to read dishes and there is always someone staring with a bemused expression, making choices. I had a delicious fish pie and S 2 had a sirloin steak. After that neither of us was hungry but I managed a chocolate pud because it was there.

Some years back I read an article by Adam Edwards in the Weekend Telegraph. His cousin Tony had inherited The Duke of York and because he was ‘an oenophile who hated beer bores and had little time for agricultural labourers.’ the 1978 Good Food Guide said ’It’s not often you find a landlord who appears to specialise in abusing his guests.’

In spite of this a 12 year old boy – Jamie Stuart, visiting his grandmother, was enchanted by the place and 30 odd years later owns it with his partner Pippa. Together they have made it into what many acknowledge to be the best pub in Devon – equally popular with the visitors from far afield and the locals.

Pippa served us an excellent breakfast and lent us a local map with a way- marked route which crossed the Tarka trail a couple of times and did a rough circular round the outskirts of the village – between 4 and 5 miles. Perfect. We could see Dartmoor to the south which looked as if there was a bit of weather looming but here there was blue sky and sunshine.

After a while we turned north (I blessed the fact that both boys had been scouts and were great at orienteering) and came across a farm by a creek. We spotted a peacock on the roof and then another and another - in fact in every direction there were peacocks. I spotted a woman hurrying down the lane and cheekily asked her how many there were. ‘Too many to count.’ she replied hurrying to catch- what? The visiting library? Already left missus.

There was a problem where the path – about a lane’s width – was completely flooded with muddy water. Both of us were wearing light weight non- waterproof boots. The path was flanked by wire fences and on the left was a narrow bank of about four inches wide. S 2 tried it out first and then came back for me. I was to hang on to the fence and he held my pole in a horizontal position for me to hold with the other hand. Miraculously we made it to the other side with dry feet.

Turning west the path disappeared – by now for me, any sense of direction had disappeared but S 2 struck out boldly up a steep grassy hill with a farm at the top. Half way up I was instructed to pause and look at the view and the words came to mind ‘Earth has not anything to show more fair.’ Dear Willie Wordsworth said it all. There was utter peace and tranquillity and birdsong. One of those moments that lodge in the memory.

At the top there was a pretty picture of four young girls in riding gear, listening politely with their ponies as the instructor talked to them. Even the geese gazed at us benignly. I was surprised at how much up and down there was during the walk and after a long trail downwards we caught a glimpse of the Iddlesleigh Church.

Soon we were slumped on one of the empty benches outside the pub, the only one with a table. I suggested we should have a sandwich lunch right here, right now when we were approached by a local ‘hayseed’ wearing an Ozzie bush hat.

More later – last bit.


lom said...

I feel as though I am there

R. Sherman said...

Thanks for bringing us along, dear.


PI said...

LOM: that's good to hear:)

Randall: next time you carry the rucksack.

Kim Ayres said...

Garibaldis - the squashed fly biscuit! Haven't had one of those for years!

Jimmy Bastard said...

Pat, we are looking at spending some time in a secluded cottage or farmhouse in the vicinity of Devon, around mid September.

Any suggestions or advice on a particular area to look for.
It'll just be the two of us, no bairns or pets.

Ideally nothing with fruit machines, flashy lights, or drunken tourists if poss.

...and yes, I know I am a hypocrite.

PI said...

Kim: I hoped someone would get the connection:)

Jimmy: we have used Helpful Holidays for the last few years and have been very pleased. In fact for the first time next month we are going to the same cottage. If you Google Helpful Holidays they have an excellent web site with details and pictures of all the cottages. I have written about the ones we have stayed in - usually in May or October. Let me know if I can help you further.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

A Fascinating tale, my dear...Now, I am going on to the pics! I love how game you are to do it all...!

Kanani said...

I even like your sweet little room! I'd love to follow your path here someday!

Sheri said...

Brilliant! I love reading about (and seeing) your travels in Devon and Dartmoor.

‘Earth has not anything to show more fair.’ Excellent. Such a great quote.

savannah said...

what a grand time, sugar! xoxo

PI said...

Sheri: funny how poetry springs to mind at certain points. Those old boys knew what they were talking about.

Savannah: as a Mom I know you appreciate it:)

Jimmy Bastard said...

Thank you Pat, most kind indeed. Herself is already perusing the site as I type.

I'll let you know the outcome.

PI said...

Naomi: I missed you hiding there. Lovely to have your ever welcome appreciation.

Jimmy: I'll be interested in how you get on:)