Friday, 6 December 2013


Last week I said I was going to write about a trip on the River Dart I had made with my friend Roger Whitewood and to share with you some of the photographs that I took on that day.

Roger and I agreed to meet on Steamer Quay in Totnes where I would leave my car and he would (being a kind sort of bloke) drive me down the Torbay side of the River Dart to the boatyard at Noss from where we were setting out. Whilst I waited for him to arrive (no, he was not late - I was early) I took a few photographs of the buildings on the Totnes side of the river. There was not a breath of wind - and you can see why I have titled this post "Reflections"
There was a time when if Roger and I were together in a boat – be it his boat or mine – the main means of propulsion was the power of the wind turned into forward motion thanks to the skills of boatbuilders, sailmakers and (this goes without saying) the two intrepid sailors on board.

More reflections, this time near Dittisham.
Not so on this occasion. The boat was borrowed from one of the marine engineers who operate out of Noss Marina where Philips and Sons once built ships. 

Time to meet the Skipper.
I should add that Roger is a “Sparks” – a man versed in the way in which boat electrics and electronics work who, when he was a young man, sailed the seven seas as a radio operator. Now he runs a business installing, repairing and maintaining anything on board a boat that needs a few volts to make it work. Not surprisingly, a lot of his customers are also clients of firms such as Stephenson and Son who look after engines and it was one of their workboats that we borrowed which, since there was no wind whatsoever, was just as well.

Since this blog is supposed to having something to do with the business of writing novels, I thought these two pictures fitted in rather well. Top is a glimpse of "Greenaway" - the house where Agatha Christie lived - and below is her boat house which has featured in some of the Poirot films.
The purpose of the photographs was, as you will have guessed, because I want a few for the booklets I am working on. Not everything went according to plan. The forecast promised sunny intervals. It was wrong. The day was overcast and the evening drew in early so the light had gone before we finished what we set out to do. That is no disaster: it was a thoroughly enjoyable day and now we have the perfect excuse to do it again quite soon.

We weren't the only people out on the river. Top: the Harbour Master's Launch busily going about its business and below Cadets from Britannia Royal Naval College are practicing ship handling in one of the college boats. 
Meanwhile Marcia continues to chat to her new characters and to share their revelations with me both when we talk and when I am allowed to read the latest chapter. If you think you have a problem when reading one of Marcia’s books because you are forced to put it down for some utterly pointless reason (such as cooking, cleaning, shopping and so on) then spare me a thought. The book will be there when you want it. Not so for me: I have to wait until Marcia’s people have told her the next part of the story, she has brooded until she knows how she wants to tell us and then had to hit the keys until it is written. Then, and only then, can I get back to it. I tell you, the whole thing is extremely unfair. I can also say that this one is . . . well, the people are wonderful and they are as mixed up and muddled as usual, poor dears. Still, by the time Marcia has finished with them there will at least be a glimmer of hope on the horizon but not (Marcia being Marcia) any suggestion of everlasting bliss.

"Where has she gone? How long will she be?"
Jasper, attached to a pillar in Totnes' Butterwalk while his lovely mistress was doing a bit of shopping is a cross between a Dalmatian and a Collie (probably!).