Friday, 12 June 2015

We visit Two Bridges and Princetown

The geese at Two Bridges Hotel dozing in the sunshine.

Marcia and I crossed the moor on Tuesday to meet a friend at Two Bridges near Princetown. This is where the infamous Dartmoor was built in the early 1800's to house not criminals but French prisoners of war. To add insult to injury, it was built BY the French prisoners of war.

Until recently there was an embargo on taking photographs of the prison without prior permission. I am not sure how rigidly this was enforced but on a couple of occasions I did see two prison officers arrive in one of their vans to accost people taking pictures and on one of those one of them removed the film from the camera before handing it back and driving off.

Getting permission was not difficult but rather complex and you had to specify make and number of your vehicle, time and date of your proposed visit and the reason why you wanted to take the photographs. Anyway, I applied and received a letter giving me permission and telling me to report to the prison gatehouse before I took any pictures. The guy to whom I reported seemed totally disinterested and so we set off.

This was the only person at all interested in what I was doing.
The weather on the moor changes rapidly and, as it happened, visibility on that day at that time was terrible. I still have the photos but they really are useless. I understand that these regulations have been relaxed (probably because in those days prisoners worked outside the prison on the prison farm which no longer happens). Anyway, after we left the hotel we drove anti-clockwise around the prison and Princetown so that I could take photos as we drove along. Quite pleased with the results, as you can see, and now I have what I wanted to put up on TP Country on the Companion. Won't go up until I revisit that page which won't happen until I have the basics up on all the other pages.

Dartmoor Prison (just 'The Moor' if you are an inmate).

Meanwhile, back in the days when we had the cottage up on Exmoor, after we had carried out whatever trips we needed to make (some for Marcia to brood and listen – some for me to take photographs) we would return back to the cottage where Marcia needed no equipment as she would be jotting things down in one of her notebooks but never writing. I am not sure why that was but throughout that period she was never tempted to write while we up there. I suspect it was because she did not have around her the various references – books and photographs – that she had in her study.

I, on the other hand, hate leaving something I am writing for more than a single night. So I installed an HP Lenova Thinkpad in the cottage and would put whatever I was working on onto a memory stick and take that with me. Judging by the state of the keys on that laptop now I did quite a lot of work up there – the ones that are most used are highly polished.

Anyway, under the present circumstances, as I am sure you will understand, Marcia and I tend to spend as much time as we can together while leaving each the space we both need. So it is that I decided I would rather write the Companion on a laptop in the sitting room (which is open plan to Marcia's study) than up in my study and, by the same token, sort through my photo 'files as required for the Companion's 'Country' pages. So, for the first time since selling the cottage I dug the old laptop out of store and booted it up.

There is something wrong with the poor old thing and I have no idea what but it wouldn't do what I wanted it to. Then I learned that a tiny computer outfit, Leaf-Tech Ltd, in South Brent had something that sounded really good. So it was that on the way back, having exchanged emails with him while we were in the Two Bridges, we called in and met the delightful Jake Hardy who owns the firm and bought a new one. Writing this blog on that now and very pleased with it.

Basically the firm buys computers from leasing companies, refurbishes them and then sells them at incredibly competitive prices. We all know that big companies tend to lease equipment for eighteen months and then change everything for new even though much of it has seen hardly any use. Firms such as Jake's buy them and recycle them. This is so much better than just throwing them away that those of us who do not need the latest should do all they can to support them. Incidentally, you do not have to live in South Devon to benefit from what is on offer – Leaf-Tech sells over the internet and to customers world wide. Clickhere for their web site. Why the plug? Well, I didn't want to see the Lenova thrown on the scrap heap and Jake offered to do what he could to make it work and then to donate it to the South Brent Community Centre where, as you may remember, Marcia opened the Community Library a couple of years ago. I felt such a gesture called for a thank you.

After we arrived back home, we had a visitor. He's rather nice and lives just up the road from us.