Friday, 21 November 2014

Hello Autumn

The River Dart upstream of the weir.
The autumn has arrived here on the River Dart and at Dartington Hall with temperatures dropping (but not that much) and some periods of nasty cold showers. Worst of all has been the wind which has been quite something - even though all the photographs here were taken on very quiet and still days.
We are now well south of Totnes/
If you walk down the path at the end of the lane, passing a couple of fields on your left which were planted with barley this year and are now lying fallow, you will find yourself on the banks of the River Dart. I would like to suggest that we all boarded a boat and I took you down the river but that is not possible: not far down stream there is a weir which maintains the water level above it. Once it provided a constant flow of water through a mill leat which fed Totnes Town Mill. Now there is a plan to build a small hydro-electric generating plant alongside it. Today it means your journey must begin on foot.

There is a delightful path that runs alongside the river which will take you down to the weir where you will find me waiting to pick you up in a nice safe work boat (of the sort that Roger uses when we go out together so that I can take photographs). Obviously I am assuming that we have agreed the time because it needs to be just about at the top of the tide.

A glimpse of Greenaway where Agatha Christie once lived.
The river winds a bit and I am not sure how far the journey is in terms of miles but it will take us about an hour and a half to reach the mouth of the river. Then as we head out to sea and clear the Mew Stone we shall see, away on our left to the east, Berry Head topped with a tall edifice that looks for all the world like a chimney. It’s not – it is called the ‘Day Marker’ because it carries no light and was built about two hundred years ago to make it easier to find the entrance to the River Dart. I have been delighted to see it on a number of trips.

All of which is only of interest because the other day the wind speeds as recorded on Berry Head exceeded 90 mph and some of the gusts when they hit us here were not far short of that. Thankfully no more trees came down near us but there was some damage done – our greenhouse took a battering and is in need of extensive repairs.

And here we are, back at Dartington Hall again.
But, wind or not, we are seeing some wonderful colours now. They do not compare with those you living in Canada will be enjoying but I am sure you will agree they are pretty gorgeous. Oddly, our native sycamore – a close relative to the Canadian Maple – offers no real visual delights in autumn: the leaves just turn a dull brown as the wither and fall.

This time last year we were without a real fire and we really did miss having one. Not so now: there is a cheerful fire in the sitting room in front of which, as soon as I have posted this blog, I shall sit as I enjoy a toasted tea-cake and, of course, a cup of tea.

All of which is making life very difficult for Marcia. In the other world in which she is presently spending most of her time it is late in spring with the result that when she decides to pay us mortals a quick visit she is shocked to find that nothing looks the way it should. 

These two whippets, Jet on the left and Minnie, belong to a budding young photographer called Thomas Freeman. They are seen here playing on the beach known as Slapton Sands near Torcross.