Friday, 7 June 2013

Lunch amongst the birds

The other day we received a copy of the latest book to be published in Brazil: The Summer House. Its cover has real charm but we are both wondering who the girl is meant to be.

Incidentally, a bit of advance warning for those living not too far away: Marcia will be in The Harbour Bookshop, Kingsbridge from 11 am to 1 pm on Wednesday, 3 July.

By way of celebrating my birthday (which was actually at the beginning of May) a great friend of ours treated Marcia and me to lunch at Turtley Corn Mill. Time for some history.

Turtley was a prehistoric ovoid hilltop enclosure of which there are still a few surviving ramparts. Despite its ancient beginnings it is known locally as ‘the Roman camp’ although there is little evidence that the Romans ever occupied it. The name Turtley or Thurreclyve derive from the Old English for a dry slope: dyrre clif. At some point – probably in the 1300’s but I have been unable to pin down the date – a grist mill was built alongside the Glaze Brook just before it joins the River Avon. It was called Turtley Mill and it continued to grind corn until 1956. After falling into dereliction it was converted into a restaurant which opened in 1978. At that time it was known as The Mill at Avonwick and when we lived in that village it was one of the places where we would go to have a good meal. Since 2005 it has become something even more impressive. Now known as Turtley Corn Mill it is, and rightly so, one of the best places for a good meal in this area. Click here for their web site.

Apart from being a pub with a restaurant, it includes four rather swish bedrooms should you wish to stay. As a result of all this, it is extremely busy and M and I tend to go there only in the winter when things are rather quieter. Last Sunday, however, the place was heaving, every table inside and every table outside (and there are quite a few) was occupied. Nevertheless we had a great time and the birds were in good form.

Birds? A word of explanation: the mill has its own resident bird life: chickens of various breed, ducks and guinea fowl. These are all free range (although they are not allowed in the pub itself) and the guinea fowl in particular were in a state of high emotion with males chasing females, males chasing males and one female chasing everything in sight – including one really inoffensive chicken who wanted nothing more than to be left alone to check out under the tables for dropped eatables. I hope you enjoy the pictures I took there.

And before we move on from bird pictures, here is one that arrived as an attachment to an email from Jeanne Meyer in Oklahoma showing two of the Canada Geese that spend the winter in her neck of the woods but disappear in the summer to go up north to breed.

Talking of birds, the village has a fairly large resident population of jackdaws. They can be very funny at times but quite a nuisance at others. At this time of the year they have nests in all the chimney pots we can see except those that have been fitted with cowls to keep them out. Click here to see a short video on the subject. Some people here love them, some hate them and yet others hardly seem to notice them.

I was brooding on the relationship between the jackdaws and the villagers when I came across the following which is about a completely different sort of relationship. Anyway, I decided to share it with you.

Now, an hour or so later, I eat my breakfast and brood upon the delicate mechanism that exists in an intimate, on-going relationship between a man and a woman. I see this relationship as a long intricate dance; sometimes the dance becomes almost tribal, aggressive, with stamping feet, waving fists and ugly contorted mouths. At other times each rests peacefully against the other, smiling dreamily, the rhythm slows and our arms go out to encircle the loved one, drawing close, heart against heart, eyes closed. Most of the time, however, the steps are weaving, dexterous, advancing, giving ground, circling, hesitating, marking time. We watch our partner's movements, studying the body language; the energy or lassitude of movement; summing up, giving out, rejecting, in turn.

As I crunch away at my toast, which is loaded with my own home-made marmalade, and pour a second cup of coffee, I try to decide at which point the need for subterfuge, emotional blackmail, the cut and thrust, enters these relationships. Do we even recognise that we are using these stratagems? Surely we do. These little parrying lunges on the matrimonial dance floor are so integral with the daily round.

I am sure you will agree that this is all very true. Any idea who wrote it?

Lucy, above, is often to be seen in The Bedford Hotel in Tavistock keeping Jean in control.