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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods May 2024

It's that time again and the sunshine has arrived, both here in Devon in the UK, and also in Portugal. This is the market in Totnes, where, as usual, you are guaranteed a riot of colour.

Here are a few shots from my latest jaunt to Totnes, from small alleys and from the market. This one was from a second hand sales area in an alleyway attached to a church. I do the spadework and with shear determination and hard wok aplenty, I crowbar in as many puns as I can to give the hoe'l picture.

I wandered into the church which was not spectacular but did have this rather nice Art Nouveau influenced stained glass window.

This tiled entrance caught my eye and I have a series of these doorstep decorations in another post.

Meanwhile the Lloyd's bank building built with no expense spared many years ago ( Mid-later C19 in Florentine Renaissance style) has about 5 of these capitals featuring flora, like these Hart's Tongue Ferns. I also have a post about these ferns.

(Granite-faced ground floor with foliated limestone caps to pilasters)

And here is some ivy. I think under those roughly 140 years of paint layers there is more than likely a lot of lost detail.

Here is a jumble of roof and chimney arrangements, which includes a frog on a bicycle if you look closely. This is Totnes, never forget. This is where the highlight of the morning was an old man in what appeared to be his 1945 de-mob suit walking up the High Street, pushing a cage on wheels ahead of him, which contained two parakeets, out for their daily stroll.

A far more ornate capital from 1797 on what is now the entrance to the Grade 2* listed mansion which fronts the town library, opposite the bank.

Into the old walled town now and the colourful shops are strung out along the steep hill.

There are so many of these old narrow alleys, you could get lost.

Some more tangled roofs and chimneys.

This is a new one on me, who innocently presumed that all cloth, rubber and plastic shoes were "vegan". These however are PETA Approved which I presume, adds a lot more than £10 to a pair in the first place.

The best asparagus in the world was available for a short window of opportunity last month.

More market posts here.

In Start Bay the beach was in full bloom. I have some other posts about this beach too. (It's like there is some sort of hidden intelligence at work)

Is this Devon marble? I'm not sure, but there is plenty of marble here.

This is the Plym valley, north of Plymouth, the end of the Plym valley railway line but the start of the Plym Valley Trail, a path for walkers and cyclists, where the trains once ran all of the way to Tavistock. Here is a post about Tavistock which shows where this rail line once ended up.

We walked along this route for about two miles during which time we smelled mint which got stronger. This morphed into a sweet fruity smell like children's sweets. How strange.

Then there was wild garlic too.

Some remains of an older bridge pier, long gone.

Some ruined buildings. Then on the way back fruity sweet smells followed by mint again. I resolved to look at a map when I got home and sleuth those smells.

There is the Plym Valley Trail, winding through the trees on the right, while surprise surprise, what have we got, just out of view, but upwind of us, on the other side of the woods, but the world famous creator of mint chewing gum and Juicy Fruits, Mars Wrigley. Mystery solved.

This is our only sighting of a Slow Worm this year, but they are very elusive, and we didn't see one at all last year. I have a post about the Slow Worm too.

Meanwhile in Portugal there are lots of tiles in unexpected places.

Beautiful painted buildings.

There is even someone with a sense of humour, in this tiny back street, where carved into the corner of the wall are the distances and directions to both Amsterdam and Prague, for some bizarre reason.

This partially naked tree is a cork oak which has been harvested for its bark some time ago, as the replacement bark is already re-forming.

This impressive monastery started in about 1340 is now a hotel, and is one of the many historic buildings of Portugal operated as a hotel, as a means of saving it. They are called Pousadas, and if you visit Portugal, try to stay in one or two of them if you can.

To give you some idea of the surprises that can lie in store, take this ceiling, which was the hotel bar. It looks even better when seen while sipping a G and T. We also stayed in a Citadel, a Castle and a Convent.

This is one of the many castles that line the border with Spain. It's castles like this that gave us Portugal, as opposed to more Spain.

While most Portuguese churches appear to be closed most of the time, we dived into some when we spotted an open door. This is what you find.

This tiled interior is 17th century.

Seafood is always on the menu and some of it comes from fishing villages like this, caught by hand from small boats. You can even buy it right here from the man who caught it, if you time your visit right. It helps if the tide is in.

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