Monday, July 28, 2008

The power of positive thinking ....

In these days of food and energy shortages, the credit crunch and global tensions sometimes it's good to count our blessings ...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Across the Tamar!

Yesterday we left the sheltered South Hams behind and drove north keeping the moorland and tors of Dartmoor to our right. We (townie husband and I) had a meeting arranged with our PR lady, Sarah, in Clovelly - and afterwards - dogs away at their favourite kennels - our time was our own! FREEDOMMM!!!

Clovelly was indeed beautiful, but we've visited before, and anyway I think my legs are getting a little too old for hills quite that steep. So we didn't linger, but followed the coast road west into Cornwall, heading for the Rectory Tea Rooms (as recommended by Sarah)

Well, Sarah obviously knows a thing or two about scones is all I can say!! The tearooms themselves occupied part of the ground floor of an old farmhouse and were in a lovely location set back about 500 yds from the cliff top. But, as I'm sure everyone will agree, the test of a good Cornish teashop is its cream tea!

This one did not disappoint! (But should cream or jam be applied first? Who knows? Does it really matter?)

Afterwards a walk was definitely required to burn off at least a few of those calories, so we set off a little way along the coastal path. We could see Lundy Island ...

And then a National Trust sign telling us we were close to "Hawkers Hut." Who or what was hawker we wondered. We postulated about Cornishment looking out for pilchard shoals, but they turned out to be "huers". Had to wait until I got home to discover that the hut was named after the Rev Richard Hawker who became Rector of Morwenstow in 1834 and remained there preaching to the smugglers, dissenters and wreckers of the area for the next 40 years.

But what about the hut? We climbed down to it ...

And husband was persuaded to try out the accommodation. He felt it was a little cramped!

But back to the Rev Hawker. Apparently he was an eccentric who is known to have dressed up as a mermaid and excommunicated his cat for mousing on Sundays. He dressed in claret-coloured coat, blue fisherman's jersey, long sea-boots, a pink brimless hat and a poncho made from a yellow horse blanket, which he claimed was the ancient habit of St Pardarn.

He talked to birds, invited his nine cats into church and kept a huge pig as a pet. (don't see what's so odd about that - after all I keep 2 huge dogs as pets and certainly wore a poncho during my 1970s youth). Apparently he spent a lot of time in his hut contemplating, writing poetry and smoking opium. Wow! Sort of like an early hippy then.

On our way home we stopped for fish and chips in Kingsbridge. We sat on a bench looking over the estuary at the fun fair (it's our carnival this week) and decided to go for a wander round the attractions. The Dodgems were great fun, and I was amused by one booth in particular - I'm going to use this photo to frighten the newfies into good behaviour ...

They too could find themselves hanging by their collars like these stuffed toy dogs - and as for the free puppy if you lose - watch out Ben, or you could be donated !!!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The ancient sport of newfie-wrestling

DevonBear Promotions are proud to present an evening of newfie-wrestling from the garden at Coombe Leigh. Here the two participants are evenly matched, and although the fight was energetic neither party sustained injury during the making of this video. Although the outcome was unclear I am inclined to nominate Ben as winner, due to the copious amounts of dog hair, slobber and mud he succeeded in plastering over Rory during their match. (Well, no one said newfie-wrestling was completely without risk!)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Amy's accident - and a new idea!

Last weekend Amy was a competition at the village fete - "Guess the weight of the dog". Here she is wearing her special harness complete with bunting! She of course had a great time as the centre of attention, and I went along to act as her minder. I spent a couple of hours accepting people's twenty-pences and recording their estimates of her rather too substantial weight. This was great fun, especially as helpers received free cups of tea all afternoon!

You can see in the photo above that she stands with her bum very rounded and her back legs tucked under her at an angle. She also walks in a crooked fashion due to a spinal injury sustained in her earlier life when she used to do water rescue work. She has a huge jagged scar running all the way down her back and can't raise her tail - it's a very funny shape having been broken in several places. She does the cutest little wag of just the tip when she's really happy, and she isn't in any pain now (except on damp mornings) as she is on medication from the vet. She still loves swimming which is the best therapy of all for her.

Is this a happy dog? I think so!

Anyway, all that time spent contemplating the roundness of Amy's backside started me thinking ... and I've come up with THE AMIE BAG!!!

Note how perfectly the shape of the bag corresponds to the shape of the sleeping Amy. Do you think this is a legitimate design technique? Should I offer myself as a special speaker on design courses? Probably not ... but I still think the Amie Bag looks really good. Vintage linen too, so recycled - just like Amy! It will have its debut on the DevonBears stall at the Saltram Craft Fair next month, so I hope the customers there like it too!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Strawberries and more ...

I love strawberries ..... and our friends the MacIntoshes have the most wonderful strawberry patch ... full of the juiciest, sweetest berries. And, like all old-fashioned varieties, the fruiting season is relatively short, and once picked the berries don't keep .... but ahhh, the flavour! We've been picking loads and gorging ourselves till we just can't eat any more.. so I painted some (not very well) and then I made some jam ....

Last month I mentioned the old letter concealed in the chimney breast that the builders found when renovations were in hand. Here it is ...

It's hard to read in the picture, but what it actually says is

"Fryday 15 Septr 1837

Enclosed in a cupboard being part of an old chimney built time out of mind lately belonging to and rebuilt in all its parts this House (save this Chimney) in the Year of our Lord Jesus Christ 1812 by the late James Torring Esq and now altered improved & beautifyed by me the Owner a newspaper being enclosed with it describing among other things the Funeral of our late King Wm 4th it now being the first year of the reign of Victoria a young Lady of great promise.

Robt Webb"

And that's it. I haven't been able to find out anything about Robert Webb, but do know that the back part of the house where the cobb walls are 2 feet or more thick dates back to at least Tudor times, whilst the front is definitely Georgian. I think Robert must have been the gentleman who laid our wonderful hall floor and I think of him every time I sweep and mop it (rather more often than I would like thanks to those newfies!)

And having mentioned the newfies ... it was our village fete last weekend. Sadly it rained and rained and rained and we had to hold the event in the hall. Having made all our preparations though, we carried on and it was a great success. Our most important task here at Coombe Leigh was to create a special harness for Amy to wear on her big day - for of course Amy was a competition in her own right!

She loved it!! She preened and posed, delighted to be the centre of attention - and raised £21.45 - which is a lot of 20 pences!! (No, I'm not sure where the 5p came from either!)

Amy was trained to do water rescue work before I adopted her following her accident. Interestingly, when I put the harness on her she puffed out her not insubstantial chest, and became very serious and important - I don't know if she thought she was going to be working again. She did actually save a little girl once, bringing her in from the sea at Looe, and was in the local press. But she's been resting on her ever more substantial laurels ever since. In fact she weighed in at 10 stone 11 lbs!!

As usual, Ben gets the final laugh!! (He's simply impossible to ignore)

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