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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods April 2023

I'm way behind this month and I blame the King. It's been a busy week this beginning of May so I have been playing catch up. What with quizzes, coronations, trifles and parties it has been difficult to find time for editing and compiling my April selection. But here it is.

The pirates were back for the Pirate Festival in Brixham so of course I had to go along. I have no idea when I will have time to be able to select the best shots for a pirate post but for now I have put in some tasters of both pirates and Brixham, coming up later.

There are some colourful single shots thrown in too for good measure. Here are some child's plastic spades for the beach at Charlestown in Cornwall. More on Charlestown later.

This is a small plant I put in the ground two years ago. It's a strange one, with both tiny flowers and leaves. It's only about a quarter an inch or 7mm wide. It grows out of the ground in the winter as a wiry climbing frond which needs something to climb up. I originally planted it next to a Clematis. A year ago it disappeared and I assumed it was lost and then out of the blue this winter it appeared and produced long thin chains of tiny paper lanterns. What a pleasant surprise, especially as it flowers when the Clematis vines are bare and before the Clematis takes over. It is the Tropaeolum tricolor or Bolivian Nasturtium.

Here is the harbour at Charlestown in Cornwall. It is made all the more attractive by the masted vessels tied up here. This was originally a hellscape of industry although it is difficult to imagine that today. The right hand part of the harbour exported China Clay from nearby St Austell, while the left hand side imported coal for use in all the local mines and quarries. You could not get two more different products, and back in the heyday of this working port everyone knew which side of Charlestown you worked. The quayside, buildings and people on the right, including their actual faces, were coated with the white dust of the China Clay while the opposite was true of the left hand side where everything was coated in black coal dust. Today it is somewhere to while away a lovely afternoon with a pint of cider from the many restaurants, bars and quayside pop-ups. I will do a later post on Charlestown.

Boats are still being worked on. I am not sure if this one is a new build or a repair job.

Various remnants of its former past are scattered about the quayside. The china clay was shipped in hard blocks on wheeled carts on tracks through underground tunnels and storage facilities. Some of these tunnels can now be seen at the Shipwreck Museum.

At the shipwreck museum, I guarantee you will not see everything on your visit, there is just so much to see. They have managed to display nearly 8000 objects from shipwrecks near and far. The majority being from the southern English coast of Devon and Cornwall. Some of the wrecks are 20th century while others are many hundreds of years old.

These coins were recovered from the Admiral Gardner of 1808. She was an English East Indiaman. They are the only coins recovered sealed in a wooden barrel, opened under the supervision of a marine archaeologist. It is thought to be the only surviving intact treasure barrel found in the world, of any period.

They are marked East India London and are a 10 "cash" denomination. The copper was from Cornwall, it was refined in Swansea in Wales and the copper ingots rolled into sheets in Birmingham England, they were then minted at the Birmingham Mint of Messrs. Bolton and finally packed in small wooden barrels and shipped to the East India Docks in London. On one side the script is an Indian language and these coins were destined for India to be used as currency.

Another first, as they were the first coins in history minted using steam power. Packed in wax, they were loaded on board the proud British East Indiaman, Admiral Gardner, to make the treacherous journey. But on January 24, 1809, she was caught in a storm in the English Channel and sank on Goodwin Sands, never to be seen again until 1985.

“We sailed out of the Downs on the 24th, with the Carnatic and the Britannia, the wind from the eastward. On getting a little to the westward of the South Foreland, the wind drew to the south-east, and about dusk fell calm: it being flood tide, let go the anchor in fourteen fathom water. At 7pm, while giving the ship cable, the wind sprung up from the west-north-west. The people were sent up to hand sails immediately, but the wind increasing violently, they could not effect it. The people continued on the yard until 10pm: the pilot then feeling the lead, called out the anchor was coming home; the people were consequently called off the yards to give the ship cable, and when I was below seeing a little more service clapped on, a little before eleven I heard the pilot exclaim ‘cut away the sheet, the ship’s on shore."

Still in Cornwall, we spotted this while driving by. I had to stop and take a photo. It is the entrance to a small ancient church and this is a coffin rest flanked by two benches, all carved from granite. Luxulyan Church is Norman in origin but was completely rebuilt in granite in the 15th century. I have a few more pictures for a seperate post to come.

Spring is here and the cliffs at the beach are yellow with gorse.

Meanwhile the rusting of this old lifebelt stand continues. What is left of the paint is still putting up a bit of a fight against the salt air.

This is a rooftop shot of Loddiswell, a village I have just covered in my River Avon series.

The cottage of Little Gate in Loddiswell, with it's new thatched roof.

This shot says it all, Brixham and Pirates.

On the day, it was chilly but you could not have asked for better, as Brixham was reflected in the mirror of its inner harbour.

Where there are pirates there are Redcoats.

If you arrived unpirated you certainly have the choice of leaving as a very smart pirate with all pirate needs supplied in the many street stalls.

Out in Torbay this monster was anchored, but they needn't have worried as Brixham's pirates were otherwise engaged. You can just make out the natural seawater swimming pool of Shoalstone in the middle distance.

The star attraction of the pirate festival was El Galeon just arrived from Spain, probably the first Spanish Galleon to arrive in Britain unscathed.

El Galeon was built during 2009 to 2010 by the Nao Victoria Foundation. Designed and developed by Ignacio Fernández Vial at the Punta Umbria shipyard (Huelva, Spain), the boat was launched on November 30th, 2009 and then the masts were added at the beginning of 2010. El Galeon has covered more than 48,000 nautical miles between 2010 to 2016 along the world’s largest seas and oceans, visiting ports in four continents and participating in many cultural projects.

On a different trip to Cornwall was the Calstock Viaduct on the right here squeezing its way between old cottages on the hillside. You can see it in full here.

This is a view from South Milton. It's one of those lucky, being in the right place at the right time with the wrong lens moments. In other words, it was a great shot, or could have been.

Having walked from South Milton to Hope Cove we ended up in the cafe there, which themes itself around the local popular water sports. The pizzas smelled great but we made do with coffee. However the pizzas were served through the back window of a VW camper van which was quite a sight. Unfortunately the beer delivery had arrived so it was mostly obscured from view so, no photo. It just wasn't my day.

Here is the view from the cliff path, down to Hope Cove. The promontory in the distance is Bolt Head with the remains of an Iron Age Hill Fort.

Nearer to home. We have a new pair of swans nesting in the creek. They have taken possession of the slipway so be warned.

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