Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some Oddities in my Garden Today

A wild violet growing out of a tile in the sun room

A new plant that looked like nutty crunch

And turned into a parrot tulip.
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A clematis that smells of vanilla

A white bluebell.

A rose with no thorn

A brown camellia
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

'Do not let this parting grieve thee...'

Do you remember I told you that one of our quartet of gels was leaving to be near her daughters? She was opening her garden one last time for 'The Cotttage Gardens Society,' so I offered to help with the coffee , tea etc. It was hard work - over 50 of them but fun and reminded me of how I expected the customers in my shop to behave well at all times. When a couple of the Society proffered £20 notes instead of a pound I managed to restrain myself and smile fairly sweetly. I think my days of serving the general public are well over -fortunately for them.
You can embiggen, inflate or enlarge the pix with one click

Malcolm doing a good impresssion of Marco the chef.

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These were taken before the Cottage Garden Group arrived

The views are incredible - 180 degrees.

I think the little Victorian girl may leave with them
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I've always loved wandering round Margaret's garden

The tulips never flop

It's been a labour of love for my friends

Nothing lasts for ever.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Post Script

is a bit of a pain - doctor in the morning and dentist in the afternoon - hence this now. They are a few photos taken by S 2 which differed from mine ( except one of them taken by me - guess which.) His photos were prints which I scanned and they lose something in the process. S 2 was amused that I had misspelt Adnams - and i can't remember the correct one now and said he found the ales MUSh to his liking. MUSH is MUCH - obviously. Thankfully my readers make allowances and politely ignore my errors.

The river at Tiverton

The special seat for the three men in hats

A garden looking towards Dartmoor.

Photographers should always go on holiday with photographers.
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The larger bedroom - a little rumpled!

One of us is a great cat lover.

Journey's end.

I know someone said they loved goatsl
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Past Blast

Not to everyone's taste but it had me jumping last night.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Deepest Devon – the end.

As the man in the hat approached S2 said,

’What do you reckon?

‘I reckon this seat’s big enough for three,’ said the man in the hat and plonked down beside us – snugly.

‘Us smokers ‘ave been banished out ‘ere.’

Dilemma. No way was I going to eat lunch inches away from someone’s cigarette smoke, but he was pleasant and friendly and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. After a decent interval I said we’d love him and leave him to have lunch in the pub. I realised I had worried needlessly when he was very soon joined by two other locals – one also in the Ozzie waterproof hat. I realised this was their own little snug – a comfy bench, a table for the pints and if it rained their fit –for-purpose hats kept their fags dry.

After a sturdy lunch of ham sandwiches and salad we both felt drowsy and repaired to our rooms, S 2 to work on some psychology stuff and me to read ‘Still Life with Chickens’ recommended by Angry Parsnip and perfect for this sort of break. En route I called at the gift shop next to the cottage and bought ’Iddlesleigh’ by Barry Downton crammed with facts, photos and history about the village and environs. Turns out the man in the middle of the trio – in a hat -was Barry himself and he sweetly signed my book.

I must have dozed off and woke missing MTL . Kim (side- bar) felt the same on his road trip sans Maggie. He puts it succinctly:-

‘Pat - it's like trees that grow together and entwine so you no longer know where one ends and the other begins.’

S 2 felt like a drive – despite the narrow lanes. At one point we passed an interesting looking memorial which would be an ideal picnic stop as it faces astounding views. Alas we didn’t stop and went through strange sounding places till we reached Holsworthy. Time for a tea break and we chose a large empty corner cafĂ© where the lady waitress insisted on knowing what my perfume was – must have been the morning’s exertion that brought it out. Dior’s ‘Cherie’ if you’re interested. Wandering round the town we found a shop with about thirty fridges and washing machines outside. Do they bring them in each evening?

The friendly waitress had told us where there was a phone box so S 2 dropped me as we were warned the parking warden was hot stuff. I could have had 20 minutes for 40 p but it was sufficient just to hear his voice and know – like me - he was eagerly awaiting our return. We had a brief stop at Sheep Wash where the hotel was closed and then we passed the memorial again. This time there was a couple sitting soaking up the view and imbibing red wine. Again we drove on and heard later it was a memorial to the men who died at Balaclava. How I wished we had stopped – as you may know Florence Nightingale is a hero of mine.

Another jolly evening in the pub – the people we were sitting with were folk from round about and warm and friendly – good company. S 2 found the Tawny Bitter and Adman’s Broadside beer very mush to his taste.

It was a good mother - son grown up experience and only once did I over step the mark when I carried my luggage down stairs after being told not to. Oops! I had a memorable time – I hope he did.

A last look at Iddlesleigh

A pretty spot near Dulverton

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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.

Another view of the village

The convivial bar

Just a third of the dishes available

My dear little bed-room- that's a giant wardrobe in the right. There's a knack to the opening and closing of it:)
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Back to Iddlesleigh Church

Passing traffic

Weather over Dartmoor to the south

That phone box, behind is the cottage and top right the long building of the Duke of York
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Deepest Devon

Iddlesleigh was our destination; so named after Des Leigh and his wife – many, many years ago, found a field. The wife said:

‘’Ere Des Leigh, this 'ud be a good place to put our ‘ome.’ And Iddlesleigh was born. (Uncyclopedia)

It’s a beautiful village north of Okehampton and Dartmoor. But first we had to make a detour to the other side of the M 5. An American internet friend of my son had his ancestral home there – had never seen the area and # 2 son (S2) had promised to take some photos of the area and nearby Tiverton.

With the sun shining, everywhere looked beautiful. To my great delight I was the first to spot a memorial to one of the ancestors in the church yard, whilst S2 prowled round the church. Earlier the village post office had said he had never heard of ------ House but seeing our fallen faces he kindly told us there was a ----- Manor. However he said there had been a death there over the week-end so we shouldn’t go to the house itself. We just drove round the periphery of the grounds and called it a day.

I was thankful S 2 is a good driver and unfazed by the exceedingly narrow, high hedged lanes and I enjoyed my first introduction to Sat Nav. By the time we reached ‘The Duke of York’ it was 6pm. I had already gleaned that it was not your normal pub/ hotel from their laid back manner when I phoned to book; no asking for a deposit or card number or confirmation letter. It’s the sort of pub that men fall in love with, as happened to S2 when he and his wife stayed nearby – women take a little longer.

Carrying a bag or two we walked into a bar full of people obviously having a ball, queuing patiently to get drinks and talking nineteen to the dozen. There was no sign of a reception so – in front of a roaring fire which never appears to go out - we stood like tripe at fourpence, until we could speak to the bar-man. When he had checked that we had indeed booked two rooms he told us we were in the cottage over the road – one room at the right of the front door and one room at the right, at the top of the stairs. S 2 asked for the keys and we were told there weren’t any although there was a flimsy little bolt where one could lock one’s self in one’s room.

We decided to take him at his word when he said locking wasn’t necessary here and most of the time the front door was wide open. Being a kind Mum I let the birthday boy have first choice of room so got the upper twin – bedded room with shower whilst S 2 had a large double with roll top bath and two large mirrors – I had to make do with a shaving mirror but it couldn’t have mattered less and at least I had my son and a flight of stairs to protect me from any drunken marauder.

More later…


I asked S2 if he knew what this was. 'Stairway to Heaven?' he asked. I believe it is a mounting stair for the gentry to mount htheir horses.

The Duke of York Iddlesleigh.
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