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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods January 2023

January feels like it was a long dark cold and wet month. Mainly because it was. But the last week or so was a huge improvement with milder weather and even occasional sunshine. Flowers are even appearing and green shoots are literally popping up all around.

On a visit to Salcombe, mainly in an attempt to find somewhere to walk that wasn't muddy we explored the upper town for the first time, which is why we were up amongst the birds.

In Frogmore the wall on the bridge was mended during a lot of wind and rain, which had cleared by the time the bridge reopened.

For more on the bridge repairs see my last post here. When everything had been cleared away there was just the portable loo left which suffered in a gale before it was finally collected. It was tempting when finding it on the slipway to see if it could be launched. People have crossed the Atlantic in a bathtub, so this could have been a first.

At Torcross the mega boulders built into the sea wall had been exposed by the high tides and this one caught my eye. Is that mineral or animal? I'm not sure.

Here is part of the sea wall with one of the boulders. By the summer the beach returns and I would be submerged in shingle standing here.

Out at sea is an unusual sight, a part loaded container ship looking like an island of skyscrapers.

Further up the beach, normally empty at this time of year, a mile long fishing contest.

Here is the rest of the sea wall in the late afternoon sun.

Further west, down the coast, is Bolberry Head, a long line of 300 feet high cliffs edged with the South West Coast Path. Although high up, this short stretch is relatively level and paved, making it one of the rare parts of coast path accessible by wheelchair.

The clouds were doing strange things that day and were spectacular. A learning moment here, always remember to check that there is a storage card in your camera before you leave home, or even leave a spare in the car. That's why these were taken on my phone.

That flat green plateau that looks like it has had a slice taken off, is home to an Iron Age Hill Fort.

There are no fences or warning signs and it is a long way down.

In Brixham for a day out there is always something interesting to see. It's a working seaport with the largest fish market in England. Brixham also has a world famous Pirate Festival every May, so check out Pirate Festival 2022 here.

The tide can be very useful and it's free when you don't need a dry dock for repairs.

The church is up in Cow Town, while the harbour is Fish Town.

I did more exploring this month for my river series, searching out small and ancient remote bridges to photograph. My River Avon series is about half way down the river now. My last piece featured the village of Diptford where I saw this odd sign. I have been working on this series now since last July. Will I get to the sea before next July? I had no idea it would become so involved but it has been a fantastic experience and I have learned so much.

This is Diptford church. I will be doing a future post featuring more of it in detail.

I visited the Hedgehog Hospital this month so I had to drop in another picture just as a reminder. You can't get enough hedgehog photos.

One of my regular trips to Plymouth and this time we visited the museum, where I found this model made after the war, showing the Plymouth Plan for rebuilding the Civic Square. The plan went through several renditions and this must be a very early one because it shows two white cubes where the Guildhall stands today. The Guildhall was bombed out and a hollow shell after the Plymouth Blitz, as was most of the city centre. It was proposed that the Guildhall should be knocked down and not restored. There was a vote held on the City Council and by one sole vote the building was saved. You can see the Civic Square and the Guildhall as it appears today right here.

This is where we parked, I never miss a car park shot. Drake's Circus.

This is the exterior.

Back in the museum and some of the collection of ship's figureheads. These are larger than life size and carved from wood. They hang over the cafe seating area so sit and relax as you contemplate the breaking strain on those cables.

Down by the harbour is this unusual interior of a fish restaurant which overlooks the inner harbour and all the bobbing yachts and clanging masts.

On the old harbour front, now mostly aimed at tourists, a cafe sign has dropped off revealing a sign from the time when this area was populated by fishermen not tourists.

Here are the rest of the upper level of Salcombe views. In summer this water is a sea of yachts.

Here we are above the yacht club, with it's stylish pinnacle and weather vane. This view is the estuary/ria up to Kingsbridge and if you turn right half way along, Frogmore.

"An Englishman's Home is his Castle"

With its own stone tower, built in 1795, this is an iconic house in Salcombe blending heritage and style. Modernised with sliding glass doors and balconies, it takes advantage of its position to show off the glorious views over the Salcombe estuary.

Spacious, well-equipped and close to the action in town, this is the ultimate house for a holiday with family or friends.

I was going to tell you how much it was to book a holiday here in the summer but it is already fully booked until September. See it in more detail here.

The views are some of the most expensive in England.

The Tower, is a freehold detached house - it is ranked as the 4th most expensive property in Salcombe, with a valuation of £2,027,000.

This seagull has no idea how privileged he is, getting the view for free.

I think the rest of this area of Salcombe is probably Edwardian, with it's icing sugar fronted villas. The one above features an Ancient Egyptian style Capital. All things Egyptian were very fashionable in the early 20th century as pharaoh fever hit the world, culminating in the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922.

This, below, is the counterpart sculpture to one in Kingsbridge at the head of the estuary/ria. Both are by the same artist and it was a really pleasant surprise to find it in a small park up here. The one in Kingsbridge is one of my favourite public works of art. Both commemorate the Salcombe lifeboat.

This is the Royal National Lifeboat "The Baltic Exchange 3". It is a Tamar Class Lifeboat stationed at Salcombe in 2008.

On the 21st September 1869 the first Salcombe Lifeboat "The Rescue" arrived in Salcombe. This sculpture marks 150 years of the commitment made by volunteer men and women of the area towards the saving of lives at sea.

Both sculptures are by Jim Martins. To see Jim at work and read a bit more about him check out this post. Personally I think they are objects of great artistry and empathy as can be seen by the small details. They are not grandiose statements dominating the public space but small, ( the figures only about 6 inches high) and they require you to get up close and they demand that you engage with them on a personal level.

Note the small almost missed detail of the rescue victim being pulled from the water, his clothes hanging from him. There is an element of bathos and a just missed tragedy about it. There is just enough detail in the faces and on the boat to convey so much.

Both sculptures are adrift in a sea of light stone waves, beautifully carved, and have the added bonus of being stained green over time by the bronze. They also feature small natural rocks which form part of the landscape such as one sees in Japanese gardens where small rocks serve the same purpose.

Please make the effort to seek out these sculptures if you are in Kingsbridge or Salcombe.

Finally I visited Stoke Fleming church a local landmark which over the centuries has also saved lives at sea, in being one of the main markers for daytime navigation into Dartmouth harbour, standing as it does with a tall tower on top of the cliffs.

I will cover it's history in a later post and this is just a taster. This cross on the left is the last resting place of Charles Parker Bidder and I will tell you more about him in the later post. He certainly rests in a place which has a spectacular view.

Inside the church I found this carpet, eventually, which hides a secret. One I nearly missed.

Something I haven't seen before is a collection of hassocks, or kneelers, which feature all the main houses of the village. Here we have the Post Office, Stoke Lodge, Ashleigh and Wayside, and Middledown. You never know what you will find in these local treasure houses.

This tiny carving of a bird, also has a story to tell and I have featured it's sculptor before.

I end this collection with a lovely rendition of a stylised oak branch with leaves and acorns.

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4 Kommentare

Unknown member
03. Feb. 2023

A true odds and sods post but really intersting and eye opening...the kneelers were the best....odd indeed 😉

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
03. Feb. 2023
Antwort an

Thank you.🙂

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John Durham
John Durham
03. Feb. 2023

Keep the car park photos coming - really fascinating exteriors!

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
03. Feb. 2023
Antwort an

🙂 Thanks John.

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