top of page
  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods April 2022

Here we are well into May and I am posting my Odds and Sods for April, what happened? Well "Events dear boy, events". When Harold Macmillan asked Rab Butler, his Home Secretary, what represented the greatest challenge for a statesman, Butler replied: 'Events, dear boy, events'.

Even on a smaller scale we all have times like that when events just catch up with us. But, "Don't Panic" as Corporal Jones said, I am not going to bore you with my actual events.

Here running late, like HS2, are my April Odds and Sods. With a difference. The difference for you regular viewers will soon become obvious, as the Odds and Sods are usually the ones that never made it to the big time of getting into their own dedicated post during the month, so they are the has beens, or the reincarnated. This time, because the dedicated posts themselves have not made an appearance yet, some of these shots now turn out to be teasers or tasters, forerunners of posts to come. Posts which will see the light of day, but I'm just not sure when.

There seemed to be far more yellow around this year. Maybe that is just as well as we are being warned that cooking oil shortages will ultimately be coming our way due to a certain war and this yellow stuff is the "oil in them thar hills".

In nearby Brixham there is one of the last glimpses of the Covid cruise fleet that has been sheltering in our local bays. Last week the bay was empty, just small tourist sightseeing boats flitting back and forth.

This is the Shoalstone sea water pool at a very high tide, getting a change of water, nature's way, with an added bonus of seaweed.

These were views on a coastal walk ending up at Berry Head, a peninsula with a lot of history in this geographically important area. It is geographically important because it is that bit nearer to France and commands views from quite high up over more than 180 degrees of The English Channel. This explains why these massive stone walls line the promontory.

The upheavals following the French Revolution and the general political situation in France at the end of the 18th century, coupled with the Napoleonic Wars of 1800-1815, sparked a very real fear in England that an invasion might be mounted by the French. By 1803-05, when the threat of invasion was at its greatest, the decision had already been taken to revive and heavily strengthen the defences of the south and east coasts in anticipation of a French naval attack. At Berry Head, work was underway as early as 1794 on the recommissioning of batteries first constructed in 1780, as a response to threats arising from the American War of Independence.

A new fort and redoubt to protect those batteries from land attack were under construction on Berry Head before the turn of the century. Berry Head Fort and Hardy's Head Battery formed part of a very strong defensive network, the remains of which represent a major and rare survival of a monument of the Napoleonic era on the south coast of England. The Berry Head defences are exceptionally well preserved and the fort is one of only a very small number from this period which survive with anything approaching completeness. (Historic England)

An underground Royal Observer Corps Cold War monitoring post built in the centre of the fort, in about 1960. This is just the access as it is all underground.

Over 1,500 of these small bunkers were built at various points around the country during the Cold War. They were designed to house three members of the Royal Observer Corps, whose job it would be to use supplied equipment to gauge the bomb power and ground zero of a nuclear blast and report back to a group H.Q. The posts were built to a similar design, with a single monitoring room 15ft below ground, which was accessed by a ladder with a hatch on the surface. Internally, the furniture, bunk beds, communications and monitoring equipment remained standard. The posts began closing in the late 1960s with the last few remaining operational until 1992. (Subterranean History)

Berry Head Lighthouse is an active lighthouse, located at the end of Berry Head near Brixham in Devon. It was originally built in 1906, and was then automated and converted to run on acetylene in 1921, and further modernised in 1994 (since when it has run on mains electricity); in 2019 it was converted to LED operation. Berry Head is reputedly the shortest lighthouse in Great Britain, but also one of the highest, being only 5 metres (16 ft) tall, but 58 metres (190 ft) above mean sea level. It was also said to be the deepest because the optic was originally turned by a weight falling down a 45 metres (148 ft) deep shaft. (Wikipedia)

Am I now starting to see Ukrainian national colours wherever I look?

This is a nearby public footpath to West Alvington woods, here lined with flowering wild garlic.

Allium ursinum, known as wild garlic, ramsons, cowleekes, cows's leek, cowleek, buckrams, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek, Eurasian wild garlic or bear's garlic, is a bulbous perennial flowering plant in the amaryllis family Amaryllidaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia, where it grows in moist woodland. It is a wild relative of onion and garlic, all belonging to the same genus, Allium. (Wikipedia)

This is the disused phone box in West Alvington and it now looks as though it is used as a plant exchange. It makes a great greenhouse.

This is West Alvington church. It is a Grade one listed building.

Parish church. C13 origins remodelled in C15, restored in 1866-7. Parts of the original wooden carved Rood Screen remain. On this occasion the church was locked so I will have to do a return visit to see the inside.

The present Church is a rather grand 15th century building built of green local slate with a pinnacled tower. The slate was quarried locally at Charleton and then shipped up the estuary from which it had to be taken by cart up the hiill. The interior Pillars of the church were built of hard sandstone from Beer. This also had to be shipped in and transported up the hill. There is evidence that an earlier church stood on the same site as early as 909 although the present church is the third to have been built. (West Alvington PC )

Things sometimes work in mysterious ways. Until a few weeks ago sandstone from Beer would have meant nothing to me. But by massive coincidence only a few weeks ago we were on a trip passing Beer on the way back home and we stopped to visit Beer Quarry Caves. During the tour it was explained how many cathedrals and churches were built from Beer stone. Here is the proof, the interior of Beer quarry caves where the pillars from this church originate. The stone was cut and carved right here as when cut it was buttery and soft. Once exposed to the outside air it cured and hardened becoming very good for building. Exeter Cathedral was cut and carved right here in the late 1300's and transported to site in kit form ready to assemble.

Also waiting for posting is the 2nd Car Tour which ended up being a church crawl, which is like a pub crawl but without the beer.

There were several points of interest along the way but this was a surprise, a Holy Well with some less than holy looking water. This will feature in more detail when I put together Car Tour 2.

Another church to be featured in Car Tour 2.

This is a close up of something very old with a remarkable tale attached.

These carvings have a story to tell.

Moving on, there is another post still to come involving this stuff.

If you didn't instantly recognise what it was here is another clue. This man is measuring the acidity in whey, and where are we? It's cheese of course and the one place in the world that can claim the fame for this particular cheese which may be the world's favourite, made all over the world using a process named after this town.

The trip that brought us back through Beer was to the county of Dorset. In Dorset there was a thriving Roman community two thousand years ago. In the 1950's a local council set out to build a large office building and when they dug down for the foundations they discovered this, a mosaic that had lain undisturbed for hundreds of years. That office building was built next door instead.

Not far away is this similar looking surface. These sorted pebbles about the size of golf balls form a heap 16 miles long and they have been rubbing along together for thousands of years.

Right next door is this historic harbour with two very large concrete blocks the size of small ships. They were put here for a very specific reason over sixty years ago, but never used. These were emergency spares.

This is a view of Wells Cathedral from the grounds of the Bishop's Palace. They started to build it in 1175 and it has been called one of the most beautiful and poetic cathedrals of England. Inside are many treats, including a machine that still works, which is the second oldest of it's type in the world and was made in 1390.

Historian John Harvey sees it as Europe's first truly Gothic structure, breaking the last constraints of Romanesque.

This is another taster of a post still to come. So keep watching out for more posts coming soon.


John Durham
John Durham
May 23, 2022

Wonderful post! That last shot is fabulous - the shadows really make it special. That little lighthouse is truly unique. Can't wait for the next car tour. Still didn't get an email notice, so I'm glad you posted this on FB.

Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
May 23, 2022
Replying to

Sorry John, The notification thing is beyond me but I will continue sharing on FB. Glad you enjoyed it.


Unknown member
May 23, 2022

Love the idea of a plant exchange, but sadly I would not be able to contribute to the exchange since I am known to have a black thumb. As to the cheese...Yum! Yum!! As per usual, brilliant!! Especially the doors. 😉

Unknown member
May 23, 2022
Replying to


bottom of page