top of page
  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods December 2020

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas JANUARY. 01, 2021

Odds and Sods, or "an assortment of small, miscellaneous items, especially those that are not especially important or valuable".

Because I am doing the 365 project I grab a camera whenever I go out each day. I never plan what I will photograph, so I choose a photo for my 365 post, but others get overlooked and potentially forgotten.

I take so many odds and sods of photos I decided to do an actual post each month for the odds and sods that are left over, thus encouraging me to go back and see what I missed.

This is Torcross, not the usual angle showing the Ley or the sea front, but this row of cottages are a great feature of the village, facing the still waters of the Ley rather then the open sea. Ironically there has been so much rain recently that the level of the Ley has risen to the highest I have seen it so that these cottages are now paddling their toes at their front gates. It is normally the cottages on the sea front that are most at risk.

As seen here.

This thatched cottage also set back from the sea front, backs onto those facing the sea. Many of the older buildings in this area are built from cobb, which is compacted earth, but this one is stone probably with lime mortar.

This seating area is for meeting the wildlife, feeding the birds, and sitting contemplatively looking out across the Ley. The wildlife has recently taken over though as the shore line advanced to submerge the bench. It would normally be about 8 to 10 metres further back. I liked this black headed gull showing off with his high wire balancing act.

This is Dartmouth, and the lane for the lower ferry which has not been overly busy this year.

And hereby hangs a great story. The Mayor of Monkey Town rang a bell when I took this photo below and I was keen to look it up when I got home. But I need to give you some earlier background first.

Hartlepool is a port town and the main administrative centre of the Borough of Hartlepool in County Durham, England. The town lies on the North Sea coast, 17 miles (27 km) north of Middlesbrough and 20 miles (32 km) south of Sunderland.

Bear with me, you are going to love this story.

Hartlepool was founded in the 7th century, around the monastery of Hartlepool Abbey. The village grew in the Middle Ages and its harbour served as the official port of the County Palatine of Durham. Hartlepool is famous for amongst other things, allegedly executing a monkey during the Napoleonic Wars. According to legend, fishermen from Hartlepool watched a French warship founder off the coast, and the only survivor was a monkey, which was dressed in French military uniform, presumably to amuse the officers on the ship. The fishermen assumed that this must be what Frenchmen looked like and, after a brief trial, summarily executed the monkey as a French spy.

"Monkey hanger" and "Chimp Choker" are common terms of (semi-friendly) abuse aimed at "Poolies", often from bitter footballing rivals Darlington. The mascot of Hartlepool United F.C. is H'Angus the monkey. The man in the monkey costume, Stuart Drummond, stood for the post of mayor in 2002 as H'angus the monkey, and campaigned on a platform which included free bananas for schoolchildren. To widespread surprise, he won, becoming the first directly elected mayor of Hartlepool, winning 7,400 votes with a 52% share of the vote and a turnout of 30%. He was re-elected by a landslide in 2005, winning 16,912 on a turnout of 51% – 10,000 votes more than his nearest rival, the Labour Party candidate.

That gives some insight into the respect politicians are now held in. So this boat could also be named "The Stuart Drummond". After serving three terms as mayor, Stuart Drummond retired and the town of Hartlepool voted to abolish the mayoral system. So The Mayor of Monkey Town will go down in history as being Hartlepool's only ever elected mayor. Now why there is a boat in Dartmouth at the other end of the country with this name, I cannot answer.

This sign below was a common sight in Gentlemen's public toilets of the standing variety in Victorian times. It leads one to believe that there were problems with men who had forgotten to adjust their dress. Clothes were particularly complicated back then. Here I think it has just been reproduced for amusement. The originals were small signs displayed over urinals, sometimes in cast iron.

General celebratory bunting around Dartmouth this year for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower which called into Dartmouth on it's voyage to the New World.

Britannia Naval College below, is probably the largest building in Dartmouth but rarely seen from the town itself because of it's position, high up and slightly set back. Here I am looking back from the harbour entrance at Dartmouth Castle.

Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), commonly known as Dartmouth, is the naval academy of the United Kingdom and the initial officer training establishment of the Royal Navy. It is located on a hill overlooking the port of Dartmouth, Devon, England. Royal Naval officer training has taken place in Dartmouth since 1863. The buildings of the current campus were completed in 1905. Earlier students lived in two wooden hulks moored in the River Dart. Since 1998, BRNC has been the sole centre for Royal Naval officer training. King George V and King George VI were naval cadets at Dartmouth. The first "significant encounter" between Prince Philip of Greece and the then Princess Elizabeth took place at Dartmouth in July 1939, where Philip was a naval cadet. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York also attended Dartmouth. Prince William spent a brief period at the College after leaving Sandhurst as part of his training with all three of Britain's Armed Forces. (Wikipedia)

About twenty years ago we went on a guided tour of the college. We met some friends from abroad in Dartmouth who came in their own European plated car. We all parked in the main car park and paid for the maximum 6 hours. The tour was 4 hours.

As you can imagine, being an active military base there are very strict rules about access including advance identification needed. You are collected by a naval transport in town and driven up there. You don't just turn up. We even had to take passports to get in. The tour is extensive and on the plus side, the day we went was unusual as it was a full dress rehearsal of the passing out parade later that week, something rarely witnessed by the public.

About half way around the tour, our guide ushered us into a dining room I think it was from memory. We seemed to have been in this dining room for a very long time wondering exactly what was going on before we were advised there had been a security breach and full alert going on without our knowledge. In some ways it made the trip a lot more interesting and in others it didn't. The eventual outcome after a long delay before any of us were allowed to leave the premises was that we got back to our car 6 and a half hours after we parked and had a very nice £65 parking ticket. To rub salt in the wounds our friends from Europe weren't ticketed presumably because of the foreign plates. We appealed the ticket under the circumstances, and we have had a grudge against the local council ever since. We're thinking of arranging a vote to abolish them.

After several grey wet days in a row it really lifts your spirit when you flip the blinds in the morning and are greeted by this sight.

A series of creek shots with a low winter sun.

A fascinating old building on the harbourside in Plymouth. Interestingly the rail tracks are still visible outside although there is no longer a link to the rail network from here. This very old part of Plymouth has narrow streets and steep lanes, resulting in oddly shaped buildings like this tall thin brick tower.

On the way to Totnes market we hit a traffic jam, the cause of which was not visible until we gradually turned the corner. We are getting used to sudden unexpected hold ups in this area as even the wide roads are narrow and the narrow vehicles wide. In this instance there is a clue in the distance as to the cause of the delay. A herd of Friesian cows on their way to somewhere, creating a black and white speckled line which had just crossed the road. Animals have right of way around here and it is a major agricultural area with much mixed farming.

We got our own back at the farm animals at the butcher who had made his own smart rows of speckled pigs in blankets. We were there to collect our pre-ordered meat for our Christmas lunch. We are lucky to have three or more farm shops locally that stock local produce, which has been a great benefit this year as they were always accessible and stocked when other more urban areas were having issues.

This is Bolt Tail at Bolberry Head, a great walk with sea views from the top of the cliffs.

Christmas Day and I saw one ship, not three as the carol goes. we went for a walk on the beach as it was so mild. It was strange to see a fishing boat working on Christmas day but it's possible because we had experienced a few days of bad weather they were forced to take advantage of the calm window in the weather.

"I Saw Three Ships (Come Sailing In)" is a traditional and popular Christmas carol and folk song from England. The earliest printed version of "I Saw Three Ships" is from the 17th century, possibly Derbyshire, and was also published by William Sandys in 1833.

We took our chances earlier in December to go for lunch at Beesands where the fishing boats pull straight onto the beach.

The salty air has it's wicked way with anything iron making for some striking colour effects.

This was just a snapped shot of the Egret in strong morning sunshine, before it flew off. It'll stand there for hours but if it spots a camera it's gone.

Warfleet Creek in Dartmouth. The former Dartmouth Pottery factory. If any of you have seen a Gurgling Fish Vase this is where it was made. They closed about 16 years ago and it was converted into extremely expensive apartments. We happened to be driving past when they had their closing down sale and purchased a veritable shoal of Gurgling Fish Vases in various sizes and colours for just a few pounds (A future post?). Now just a part of local history.

The earliest surviving mention of Warfleet was in 1210 when it was written Welflut. This is a Saxon name, the second part 'flut' being later written 'flete' and meaning simply a stream, referring to the one which comes down the Week valley to the creek. Later the name was written Walflete or Walfleet and not until the late nineteenth century was it written Warfleet. There is therefore no truth in the story repeated by the tripper boatmen that its name comes from the fact that a fleet of 164 ships bound for the Crusade of 1147 anchored there. (

I finish with another shot of Slapton Ley, showing the Slapton Line in the distance.


bottom of page