Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ferry across the Dart

Ben loves travelling on the Hauley Ferry. It's not something we do very often, but when we do, he delights in standing right at the front of the pontoon, letting his furry ears blow in the breeze and muttering phrases like "Ahoy there, landlubbers!" and "Newfs Ahoy!" I've even been inspired to make a cushion based on Bayards Cove and the Hauley Ferry (at the top of this post) and was delighted to read its history in the Autumn magazine from the South Hams District Council.

The magazine informed me that there has been a ferry across the river Dart between Kingswear and Bayards Cove since at least 1365 - operated by a Mr William Carey at that time. In 1558 Robert Collyns was the operator, paying 12/- per annum rent to include half of the landing stage. In those days of course, rowing boats and a larger wooden float capable of carrying a small cart, with maybe a horse or two, were the only link across the river.

The picture above is a bit more recent than the 16th century - probably round about 1865 showing the first wooden "horse boat" with a lifting prow at each end capable of carrying two horses and a loaded waggon. It was powered by oars until the arrival of steam power in 1867 and in 1909 the first of a long line of Hauley Tugs was ordered by Mr Heal, the operator at that time, from Philip's boatyard further up the river Dart.

Then came the motor car ... and the ferry continued under a variety of operators right through the war until it was taken over by Dartmouth Corporation in 1949. It was taken over again in 1974 by South Hams council and continues to this day - currently with Hauley Tugs V and VI plying their trade across the Dart.

It's interesting to note how little the view across to Kingswear has changed in the last century - I expect the original operators would still recognise the route across and the landing area. I don't think Newfies were around in those days though - they're from Canada - which of course hadn't been discovered in 1365!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Too close to nature

Living in the country you get used to being close to nature ... a newf at the door ...

Sheep and cattle in the fields ...

Swallows in the woodstore ...

(rather messy!)

Even hippos, elephants and piglets on the radiator ...

but I feel that a line has to be drawn somewhere. Last night I felt that very strongly indeed..... during these warm evenings I have formed the habit of leaving the back door open until very late indeed as the newfies love to stretch their over-warm furry bodies on the cool slates of the courtyard.

I was tucked up in bed thoroughly enjoying a very good book when out of the corner of my eye I caught a movement. I looked up .... and a bat fluttered into my bedroom, circled past the curtains, round the lampshade and headed out into the hallway. OK, I thought, maybe he lost his way. Until he returned again for another lap around the room!

Too close to nature indeed I felt as I stood with cold toes by the back door waiting for him to find his way back outside so I could shut him out. Yes, I draw the line at bats in the bedroom - I think I'll close the door earlier tonight!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Frogmore Regatta

Today was the Frogmore Regatta. The sun shone and it was wonderful! There were icecreams, swingboats, lots of people falling in the water - and a dog show!

I had hoped to be able to report that one of the Newfies at least had won a rosette, but sadly this was not to be. Our classes - for most handsome dog and prettiest bitch were right at the end of the show - which was moving veerrrrry slowly. It started at 1 pm and by 1.45 only the first class, for waggiest tail, had been judged.

Now this was great in one way as it meant we had more time to meet friends, lick icecreams (and small children), lose money on the tombola etc etc, but in another way it was very bad as the heavily-coated Newfs just became hotter and hotter and more and more uncomfortable and, in Ben's case, worse and worse behaved. So we came away again. Never mind - there's always next year!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Of pots, pans and preserving ....

I love this passage from Susan Hill in "The Magic Apple Tree" ...

"Down Fen lane, the moonlight shows up the bramble berries, pale green, but fully formed, and the elderberries too, and there are nuts on the chestnut trees and bunches of keys on the sycamore and the ash, and acorns on the oak....... We are approaching the year's turning. I can see autumn just ahead and yet, in the middle of the day, when the early mist has cleared, it is still high, high summer."

She describes this time of year so well and, although it IS still summer I have brought down my heavy cauldron-shaped preserving pan ready for the autumn crop of blackberries, elderberries, apples, plums and sloes.

And, as a "thank you" to everyone who reads my blog, I'd like to share my preserve labels with you (image above). They're based on vintage American fruit crate labels, and have been altered to give you room to write your own description and date. I adore their lovely colours and great artwork and I hope you like them too.

Simply click here to download the free A4 size pdf. Then just cut around them and affix to your jars with some PVA glue. A pretty fabric cover for the lid would look great too if you're planning to give your preserves as gifts at Christmas - now there's a thought!! How many shopping days? OK I'm going now!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

At last the sun shone!

This weekend was very busy for us sleepy South Hams people (and newfies). We had guests!! Not one set, but three sets of people came to visit us in the course of only a week. Ben and Amy were overcome with hospitality, with so many people to snuffle, kiss and generally keep an eye on!!

Visitors are soooooo exhausting - Ben didn't even manage to finish his treat. Amy finished it for him later!!

Friday was Sasha's Christening. Sasha is my Russian friend Elona's young son - and I am his VERY proud godmother. The service was lovely and we were sooo lucky with the weather - at last the sun came out! After the service we all went back to Rory and Elona's for refreshments and were able to enjoy the novel (for this summer anyway) experience of sitting outside on the patio. Rory (who is very competitive) challenged Kyran (who is 5) to a game of Jenga.

Sadly for Rory on this occasion experience did not triumph over youth!!

Kyran was jubilant and Rory gracious in defeat. So everyone was happy!!

The following day we decided to take the number 93 to Dartmouth and indulge in a little liquid refreshment in the Cherub Inn. The Cherub dates back to around 1380 and features many low beams and wobbly floors - just right to trap the unwary drinker or unobservant tourist. We love it for its great atmosphere and extreme dog-friendliness. I am pleased to report that a tin of dog biscuits is kept behind the bar for distribution to all canine visitors. Sadly only one newf at a time can visit as the floor space simply isn't large enough for my two furry friends to lounge around.

I think that the bus route from Torcross to Dartmouth must be one of the most beautiful in the country. My camera was still in my bag from yesterday's christening so I was able to take quite a few photos from the top deck as we rattled along the narrow roads, pausing only to terrorise caravan and camper van drivers into submission. I love to sit at the front and watch the look of pure terror on some drivers' faces when they're faced with a series of narrow bends and an immovable double decker bus! (Yes I know I am a very bad person!!)

Anyway, back to the photos ..... please ignore the strange reflections and wobbles as they were taken through the window.

Slapton Ley from the bus stop at Torcross.

Sweeping view across Start Bay

On the beach at Blackpool Sands - could almost be the south of France - but there's nobody in the extremely chilly water!!

Looking down into Dartmouth

View across to Kingswear

Dartmouth was surprisingly quiet for a sunny Saturday in August - perhaps everyone was making the most of the unusually sunny weather by heading off to the beaches or onto the water. The pirates were in town ..
So we headed inland ...

One of my favourite shops
View across the Boat Float

Then the number 93 took us home again. On the way home the farmers were busy taking advantage of the sunny spell and I was struck by the golden corn and the feeling that soon the year will turn again and autumn is only just around the corner.

But there's still some more summer to come (I hope!) - the Dartmouth Regatta at the end of the month, then I'm exhibiting at Kingsbridge Show. I've also signed up for the Christmas Candlelit Shopping in Dartmouth, so keeping very very busy!
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