Friday, 20 July 2012

On the move

This is the last blog before we move back to the South Hams of South Devon. We shall be sad to leave as we have loved living in such a remote and quiet place – and we shall be sorry to leave the wild life that we have attracted into the gardens. We can but pray that the next people to live here will want to nurture them or, at the very least, leave the wild bits around the ponds as untidy as they are at present. This is a state of affairs that would shock any self-respecting gardener but would appeal greatly to anyone who is as nutty about the natural world as I am.

I have never actually seen the herons that pop in catch any of our frogs (which is not to say that it doesn't happen) and so have no photographs of such an event. I fear this cartoon will have to suffice. The caption is “Never, ever, give up!”

Having said that we are sorry to leave, I should add that we are excited to be going back to the area which we both think of as home. I suppose the centre of our lives will once again be the lovely town of Totnes which, and this is becoming quite important, has a railway station. No doubt we shall be looking in at places such as Salago and Effings (both mentioned in the books) as well as some of the hostelries where we shall be meeting old friends for coffee or a drink. At the bottom of Fore Street is the Seven Stars where Marcia and her family stayed. They always sat at the big round table in the dining room and, there being two parents and five girls, they became know as “the seven stars”. Quite right, too.

Totnes is connected to Dartmouth by the river. This river has been important throughout my life and for much of Marcia's, I learned to swim in the boat float at Dartmouth (would you be allowed to do that now?) and to row and handle a sailing boat on the river itself. Marcia and I have owned three boats which we kept on the river which we have thoroughly explored from outside the mouth right up to the weir just up the river from Totnes. Hattie's Mill owed much to these jaunts.

Apart from the fact that we lived on Dartmouth for a while shortly after we were married, we have both known it for ever. My mother was born there (in what is now the hotel associated with Dartmouth Marina) and my father arrived when his father became the Borough Engineer for the town just after the first world war. It was in the Royal Castle overlooking the boat float that I enjoyed the last drink I had with my father shortly before he died.

A rather odd thing happened the other day. I was sorting through things (as you would expect) when I came across a membership card for the South Hams Society. It told me that I became a life member about forty years ago. I had completely forgotten this. It was formed to protect and enhance the natural beauty and heritage of the South Hams – which is something I agreed with then and still do. In those days the society was busy planting hundreds of primroses along the lanes. Now these are well established and we are able to reap the benefits of all that hard work. They are even more active now: tomorrow they are organising an event to clean up the West Charleton beach and the have another eight events planned during the next few months. Reading the list of the present committee members I have to confess that I recognise not one – and I am sure they have forgotten all about me, too. I might pop along to one of their meetings just to repair that connection.

Now I must return to the packing while Marcia, who will be at Chagford Library this afternoon (an event planned long ago), is getting ready to meet some of her readers.