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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods August 2022

It's been a hot and dry and chilli couple of months. We have had the driest period of weather since 1976 and you will notice from some of the landscapes that our "green and pleasant land" is looking rather parched. Mostly.

"A green and pleasant land" is a phrase from a poem by William Blake. Today it is best known as the hymn "Jerusalem", with music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. The famous orchestration was written by Sir Edward Elgar.

The phrase "green and pleasant land" has become a common term for an identifiably English landscape or society. Sometimes it refers, whether with appreciation, nostalgia or critical analysis, to idyllic or enigmatic aspects of the English countryside.

This photo was taken on a return visit to the local Chilli farm where the fruit are now abundant. There are some more chilli shots here on my seperate post.

They are amazing plants and here is a variety that is producing different colours of fruit all at the same time going from pale yellow through pale orange, to dark orange to red to pale purple to dark aubergine. Quite beautiful.

This very large, crazy, and twisted looking variety, below, is the "Chinese Space Chilli. In the 1980's the Chinese started experimenting with "Space Breeding", the process of sending plant seeds into space attached to satellites. The process was said to mutate the genetic structure of the plant and produce "Super plants" that were larger and sweeter than the original. They are certainly super sized being 8 to 10 inches long.

I cannot vouch for the truth in any of that but it does make a great story and they are certainly the most unusual chillies I have seen.

This is a distant view of the headland at Dartmouth and the tower on top is the Daymark, a larger tower than you think, designed to aid shipping in daylight when the lighthouse can't do the job. This one however is not warning ships to keep away but guiding them in to port. More on the Daymark on a seperate post.

Quite a few of my photo expeditions at the moment are documenting the journey of the river Avon from Dartmoor to the sea. This means many of my Odds and Sods are taken on those trips. This is one taken at Avon Mill Garden Centre which as you may suspect is next to the river Avon.

I think this is Echinacea or Cone Flower. Traditional medicine practitioners reckon it is good for colds and coughs. I presume it is extract of the plant and not actually eating the plant itself that is recommended, as that flower looks a bit hard to swallow.

Walking along the Avon I found this nicely faded and aged front door. People will pay a fortune now to replicate this weathered look.

Driving along the Avon at this point means checking the movements of the moon as this part is tidal, hence those posts which help you to follow the road if you should misjudge the flow of water coming in. It is only the very knowledgeable or very foolish who risk driving into the water though. I captured this Yodel delivery van coming through to give an idea of scale.

Only a week later and look what made the local news headlines? Yes a Yodel delivery van. I think the unusually high tides of this particular week caught out a total of three vans, one carrying a family of five. Nobody was hurt. The extreme movements of the moon and sun also show up later in this post.

On one stretch of the river there is a very busy and very narrow bridge and I risked my life to bring you these photos and those that will follow in the river series. This is a permissive path.

This path is provided by the landowner through his field to make crossing at this point safer. Declaring it a permissive path distinguishes this path from a public footpath. Thousands of years of rights of way attach to public footpaths and carry a right to use them by anyone in perpetuity. A permissive path however is one offered as a benefit to the community by a generous landlord and does not carry any automatic right of way. In English law a path used for a defined length of time without objection automatically becomes a right of way, so such paths are usually signed to make clear that their use is by agreement and not by right. These cannot then be adopted as rights of way.

Here is where the permissive path ends and where the road has to be negotiated again. Don't step out without checking first as the cars are mere inches from the exit and travelling at high speed.

Further upstream and this time I am following a disused railway line where it runs parallel to the river. The station building and railway yard are now a B&B with garden, and one tiny railway building alongside the path has been turned into a pocket sized, unattended, museum and honesty gallery. Browse the old photos showing the railway, read the history and buy prints or cards, leaving your payment in an honesty bucket. There are also ice creams and iced lollies in the fridge for hot and weary walkers. There is even some hand sanitiser.

The small building was once a yard office used for record keeping of the stores and activities processed by the station. The Goods Yard extended along the footpath.

Here are three photos of Cutwaters. Cutwaters are exactly what you would think they are. Attached to bridge piers usually upstream, they both "cut" the water aiding it's passage and reducing friction, but also add protection for the bridge from any large objects that may float downstream in floods, like heavy tree trunks. These cutwaters will take the brunt of a direct hit, giving some protection to the bridge structure. These three are all in about a one mile section on three different bridges.

In architecture, a starling (or sterling) is a defensive bulwark, usually built with pilings or bricks, surrounding the supports (or piers) of a bridge or similar construction. Starlings may be shaped to ease the flow of the water around the bridge, reducing the damage caused by erosion or collisions with flood-borne debris, and may also form an important part of the structure of the bridge, spreading the weight of the piers.

The term cutwater is used for such a structure shaped with water flow in mind, as a pier or starling with a diamond point. Wikipedia

This is the Tradesman's Arms, a beautiful thatched pub that went up in flames about a year ago, it also took with it the three adjoining thatched cottages. Nobody was hurt. A year before the fire I had photographed the row of buildings for this post. I also did a later post just after the fire.

Now, the full restoration of the buildings has begun. Because they are listed buildings English Heritage, a government heritage body oversees any of the work, to ensure that they are restored exactly to their former glory. This also means it is a slow process as inspectors have to sign off all the work in stages as it is completed. My fourth post on the pub will come when they are finished and you can judge then what you think of the restoration.

The neighbouring Stokenham Church has this beautiful stone set of steps and stile in one. There is a vertical stone slab at the top which you have to step over. It was important to ensure livestock could not enter a churchyard. Yew trees were grown for traditional medicine and yew trees are highly toxic to animals so there is a very old tradition of yew trees in English churchyards. There are also many myths and legends associated with these venerable trees.

There are two chemotherapy drugs that were originally developed from yew trees:

docetaxel (Taxotere) was first made from the needles of the European yew tree

paclitaxel (Taxol) was made from the bark of the Pacific yew tree

Some UK firms used to collect yew tree clippings as part of the process of making the drugs. But they are no longer doing this. Both drugs can now be made synthetically in the laboratory.

The church is very large for the size of the village and hints at what rural populations were like only a few hundred years ago. The church is Grade 1 listed by English Heritage. English Heritage lists 18 buildings or objects in this tiny but ancient village. Included are separately listed tombs within the church and in it's grounds. See those railings in front of the church? Yes, they are listed as well.

This is the official listing.

Churchyard retaining walls, railings, gatepiers, overthrow and gates. Probably C19. Tall slate rubble retaining wall immediately south of church, the churchyard is at much higher level than ground to the south. The wall has battered buttresses with weathered set-offs and slate coping with iron railings above with baluster stanchions and fleur-de-lis finials to the shafts. The wall is stepped up to high level on right. At the left end there are scrolled iron overthrow and pair of gates with fleur-de-lis finials to shafts and maker's name "Lidstone Kingsbridge". The gateway and steps lead to a ramp into the churchyard and to the west of the gateway the retaining wall returns along the road where its saddle back coping has been rendered.

The present church dates from 1431; an earlier Norman church predated it.

"The church as it stands today, is a fine example of the perpendicular style of medieval architecture. It is built on the side of a hill so that its whole length can be seen from below and is dedicated to St Michael and All Angels, which was common practice for churches standing on elevated sites. It was, however, dedicated to St Barnabas and prior to that to St Humbert the Confessor."

A friend of mine, Lynne, arranges the flowers in the church. I don't know if these are hers but the scent from the lilies was incredible.

I am no expert in stained glass but I was pleased that I was now able to identify the perpendicular style of glass. It is quite a distinctive style and very beautiful.

Gothic architecture developed in medieval France during the 12th century. Because of advances in building technology like pointed arches, vaulted ceilings and flying buttresses (external supports that braced church walls), builders were able to create large, open structures with high roofs and large windows. The Gothic style gradually spread throughout Europe and in some locations, variations developed.

In England from the 14th through the early 16th century, one of these variations became known as Perpendicular Gothic because it emphasized strong vertical lines in many architectural elements.

I mentioned earlier that the moon and it's orbit featured quite heavily this month. The tides were very high and fish very active.

The tide was so high in fact that drivers had to watch out for passing kayaks.

High tides often seem to coincide with great sunsets too.

August is High Season for visitors and for activity on the water.

Sadly, it looks like one of our adult pair of swans has died or been killed. Nobody seems to know what happened. On the plus side their four cygnets have been doing well and are fast progressing through the ugly duckling phase as their first white feathers are starting to appear.

The weather has been so hot during the day that we decided to go to the beach one night at about 9.00 pm. We were surprised to find it well populated with beachgoers of all varieties. Families, picnicers, fishermen, paddlers and drone fliers. Quite a strange spectacle so late in the day.

We took our miracle pop-up folding chairs and sat while the sun went down behind us lighting up the sky.

The whole effect of the pale colours and the gentle rustle of the waves sifting the shingle on the beach was quite magical, until, unexpectedly, the moon started it's best performance for years.

The Sturgeon supermoon is the third and final supermoon of the year. The Sturgeon Moon reached its peak here in the UK at 2:36am on the 12 August 2022.

The interestingly-named supermoon gets its name from the Algonquin tribes of North America. They observed that August’s full Moon coincided with increased numbers of sturgeon in their rivers and lakes. In the UK it was also known as the Barley Moon, Fruit Moon, or Grain Moon.

I don't apologise for noticing the increased numbers of fish in the creek, although if I had been a bit more observant I could have dubbed it a Grey Mullet Moon, not quite as romantic as Sturgeon. I do apologise for the photo quality though. It was very hazy out at sea and by now very dark, so I did my best with my pocket sized camera.

We went to Royal William Yard again so I have just added two shots here and you can check out my previous shots including a very sorry seawater pool back in lockdown when it was proposed to demolish it. Now it is back up and running again after a local backlash to the suggestion.

On a day trip to find more of the river Avon, this time with some friends. Another warning tale of SatNav and roads in the South Hams. It was at this point that we decided to stop and turn around, which was easier said than done. This was the way ahead, and this is not a road where the tarmac has worn away, it is a road that never saw tarmac at all. Who knows how old this road surface is, how many hundreds of years has this been like this?

While trying to turn around you can see the road, I use the word loosely, that we had arrived on, and that we now had to negotiate a second time.

The tiny Shetland ponies were fascinated by all the activity.

Later, on our hike to the top of Dartmoor on the day the drought ended, the rain finally set in and I ruminated, like this cow, how easy it would be to see, if I invented windscreen wipers for my glasses, while she was imagining something like an Alice Band for her fringe.

Ruminate - To think deeply about something, (of a ruminant) to chew the cud.

I thought I would end with the sort of vehicle actually designed for those stony narrow lanes. For their day they were lightweight and manoeuvrable, but above all narrow. This is a Cornish type at Mt. Edgcumbe Country Park which has slight design differences to the Devon type, which featured in my July Odds and Sods.

That was supposed to be the end, as I was so organised this month that I had compiled my Odds and Sods early, but then we went out and about again. So Here are a few more shots.

Yesterday we went to the Aveton Gifford Classic Car Show. A dedicated post will follow later.

.....and today we went for a riverside walk in South Brent. The riverside walk is yet another trip for the river series.

Near one of the old bridges which will feature later was this lovely entrance to a house with a wrought iron gate and inbuilt mail box from the Victorian era. It has VA moulded into the front which makes it at least 121 years old, and you can still post your mail in it today. Amusingly the last collection time is 9am and on a Saturday it is 7am, so you better run.

Not quite as old is this unusual shop front in the village of South Brent, which has an Art Deco feel to it. The blue glass bricks were gleaming as the sun shone through them. So I am drawing a line under this post with this image, a nice thick blue line.

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4 Kommentare

Unknown member
13. Sept. 2022

Never disspaoint when looking/reading your odds and sods. 😊

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
13. Sept. 2022
Antwort an

I think it's the first one I have done before the month was out.

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John Durham
John Durham
29. Aug. 2022

Why didn't you venture down that beautiful lane? What's the worst that could happen? Oh, wait...that's not my car. Sorry.😆

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
30. Aug. 2022
Antwort an

The really funny thing was that as we progressed, the image on the satnav started showing that it just stopped at a dead end. You're right though it was a beautiful spot, but maybe on foot.🙂

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