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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods November 2022

It's that time again and 2022 is fast disappearing into 2023. November has to have been one of the wettest on record but it has been mild too so not all bad. This opener is a random shot from Totnes Market, where I have to go and get a fix every so often. It didn't disappoint and I will be making a seperate post about it soon.

Millefiori Paperweights are composed of many separate coloured glass canes, which in cross section look like flowers. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words "mille" (thousand) and "fiori" (flowers).

At the beginning of September we went to a garden centre and garden where the plants of the world were planted out in world shaped sections according to continents. It was a specialist nursery with many unusual plants and I bought one in a small pot and planted it and forgot about it, thinking nothing would happen until next year. This happened.

This is Trollius chinensis "Golden Queen". The Chinese globeflower, is a species of flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, found from southern Siberia to the southern Russian Far East, Sakhalin, the Kurils, Mongolia, Korea, and northern China (to north Henan). Its cultivar 'Golden Queen' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

I am still wandering up and down the river Avon taking pictures for my river series,

so last week I found myself plugging gaps so that I could publish my latest chapter. One of my finds was this old piece of machinery in the garden of a pub.

The British Anzani company existed for over 70 years and in that time made engines for everything from aeroplanes to mowers to powered bicycles, to cars, motorcycles, ploughs and outboards. I never thought when I took this photo how much history I was going to discover in relation to this name.

Allessandro Anzani was born in Milan December 5, 1877. He was an ambitious bicycle racer/engineer who had travelled to France to make his fortune. His motors proved reliable and powerful and his growing reputation as an engine designer and builder was made. In 1907 he started a small manufacturing company with just three employees.

The factory moved and the name changed to Anzani Moteurs d’Aviation and was situated at 112 Boulevard de Courbevoie, Courbevoie, Paris. His first aero engines were a development of his 'W' or 'fan' configurated 3 cylinder motorcycle engines. It's reputation for reliability led to it being chosen by Louis Bleriot for his incredible ‘Traverse de la Manche’ first cross channel flight on October 29th 1909. Anzani, and Bleriots', fortunes were made.

The British Anzani Engine Company was an agency of the original French operation and the first premises were established on November 20th 1912 in Scrubbs Lane, Willesden, London NW10. After WWI the company diversified into motorcycle and car engines and by WWII the need for additional war time food production required innovative products and the extremely successful British Anzani Iron Horse two-wheeled tractor was introduced in 1940.

While in Totnes I noticed this sign under the butterwalk, which I hadn't noticed before. It has that medieval atmosphere you get in many of the tucked away passages and alleys in Totnes.

On a trip out to get some shots of Christmas trees at a local tree farm I ended up at Beesands and the late winter afternoon sun was just catching the white edges of the lighthouse at Start Point.

Beesands is a working beach with small boats that are mostly after shellfish. In season it is also popular with tourists who use it's short section of beach. At the end of the beach are some great rock pools at low tide. It also has one of the best seafood restaurants around these parts, The Cricket Inn. If you want to eat on the beach Britannia at the Beach also offers fantastic fish and chips, with a handful of tables inside.

When it comes to how The Cricket Inn in Beesands got its name, there are many tales from days gone by; from the noise made by the insects to the sport being played on the beach when the tide went out. Well, we can finally dispel the rumours. In 1857 No. 9 Beesands (as it was then known) was bought at an auction by Philip Prettejohn who was born in Beesands in 1838; a decade later he opened the premises under the 1830 Beerhouse Act, enabling him to brew and sell beer.

The story goes that on Saturday 3rd August 1867, opening day, Philip was enquiring as to where all the locals were (evidently, not in the pub as he had hoped!) On the day in question, a cricket match between Kingsbridge Cricket Club and the Start Bay Cricket Club was taking place on Beesands Green. When he heard that the match had gained much support, he decided to call his new pub The Cricket Inn.

Britannia @ The Beach evolved from an idea by local fishing family Nick and Anita Hutchings, as a way of completing the cycle from catching seafood, to retailing it and now also offering it as part of a varied and exciting menu at the beach shack.

Another visit to Dartmouth. This is Bayard's Cove, the only remaining part of the original quayside, as the rest of the town, restricted for space by a steep hillside, was extended out on reclaimed land. The Mayflower stopped right here to make repairs, and Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, watched from here as the herring fishermen went out to catch fish, while on his tour of Britain. The classic 1970's maritime drama The Onedin Line was filmed right here, with tall ships tied up while the quay acted the part of Liverpool.

It is backed with an original line of merchant's houses, most of which are listed by English Heritage. The tide was quite high, and when the wind blows too, the waves lap over the quayside leaving a line of seaweed behind.

The quayside walls are grade 2 listed. Quay walls. C15 and C16 with later repairs and alterations; extended southwards in 1839. Local limestone rubble with larger blocks as coping stones. Vertical stone retaining wall rises from the estuary to the old cobbled quayside.

When many listed buildings survive together as they do here, other normally mundane objects also get listed for "group value". So we find the lamp post at the end of the quay also listed.

Lamp post. Late C19, reset in its present position c1975. Cast-iron. Ornamental lamp post. Tubular pedestal to moulded base including gadrooned ring. Bulbous base, enriched with anthemia, to tapering stem, no arms. 4 curving brackets to hold restored lantern with top ventilator.

This house was the home of Sir Humphrey Gilbert born at nearby Greenway House. Greenway House in modern times was the home of the writer Agatha Christie.

Sir Humphrey was a courtier to Queen Elizabeth I and served in both France and Ireland. In 1566 he wrote a discourse promoting the idea of a North-west Passage to China. In 1583 he colonised New Foundland thus founding Britain's overseas empire. He later died, as he lived, at sea. His ship was lost, not long after his crying out "We are as near to heaven by sea as by land".

The Old Custom House. Grade 2 listed.

Formerly known as: No.4 Custom House or Trinity House BAYARDS COVE. House, former Custom House. Built 1737-39 on site of 4 cottages which were acquired by John Seale who erected the new building and leased it to H.M. Customs and Excise; extra storey added c1930, converted to domestic residence c1985. Painted Flemish-bond brick; brick chimney shafts to front end and rear lateral stacks; slate roof.

Morocco House, Grade 2 listed.

House; Cottage Hospital from 1887-1894. Probably c1820-30 with older core. Doorway with segmental arch head and unusual C19 timber doorcase - a curious design with frame of diagonal grooves under an oval medallion with bat-wing carving each side under a flat hood. Reveals and segmental-headed door enriched with a studded pattern and door has top lights. Deep eaves carried on shaped timber brackets which include a timber frieze carved to look like drapery threaded through the brackets.

This is the north wall of Holset House, and guess what? The old barometer fixed to the wall is also listed.

House, maybe 2 small houses originally. Probably early or mid C17, some early C19 modernisation. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Barometer fixed to the north wall to right of the door. Good Negretti Zambra manufacture in wooden case with glass front. An inscribed brass plaque explains that it was presented to the mariners of Dartmouth in 1860 by the MP John Hardy of Tunstall Hall, Staffordshire.

My monthly pasty shot. These were in the butcher's window in Salcombe. They were some of the largest I've seen, which explains the usual queue at lunchtime of mostly men in mostly hard hats from all the construction sites in Salcombe.

Speaking of which, this is one of the biggest at the moment. Salcombe is a blank cheque property hotspot I have mentioned before. They don't do loft conversions in Salcombe they move mountains. I will snap this one whenever I go by, it might make a good before and after collage one day. No project is worth its salt without parking, as Salcombe has none of it's own.

A new find in Plymouth, although it's the sort of place you don't find, you have to be told about it. This is "The Mess Room" at a large industrial site where boats are stored in their hundreds. It is a quirky restaurant that does a good "Full English Breakfast". You can have the usual or you can have "Will's Breakfast" presuming Will doesn't mind. Will foregoes the sparse veg elements in a Full English so a "Will's" loses you a tomato and mushrooms and gets you two extra hash browns.

It is full of maritimiana. Possibly an actual word. I will get more photos next time, there will be a next time, possibly this Thursday.

Behind the Mess Room is a Dive Museum.

Christmas is only just starting to appear. This was at the local Garden Centre.

Looking completely out of place after that snow is the beach at Strete Gate. As I said at the start it has been very rainy but mild this month and when the rain did go away it was almost like summer.

Although I don't approve of stumbling over these things everywhere you go these days, I have to admit this one got an 8 out of 10 for a bit of extra design effort. Please just admire the view, people, and leave the beach as you find it. I know this is a controversial view but when something unusual becomes rampant it starts to verge on despoiling natural places that are there for all of us to share.

.....and frankly nature does a far better job of this sort of thing.

My favorite tree The Ginkgo at it's best time of year. This one was in the park in Torquay, and proudly boasting its origins by waving thousands of bright yellow tiny Chinese fans.

There were three of these cute alpacas at a Christmas Fair we went to in Torre Abbey in Torquay. Apparently these are the ones that don't spit in your eye and they have an insatiable need for carrots.

I will do a seperate post on Torre Abbey.

There is an impressive art collection at Torre Abbey too and a lot of history. The Fair was held in the barn where the prisoners were kept who had survived the defeat of The Spanish Armada.

My favourite outing this month was to the violin workshop already posted if you haven't seen it, here.

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David Nurse
David Nurse
Dec 15, 2022

The barometer is amazing.

The line of seaweed is very picturesque but I suspect is a pain to live with in the winter.

Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Dec 16, 2022
Replying to

They have flood boards on the front doors so it is rare but a possibility. It's more the weather conditions than just the tide level.


Unknown member
Dec 04, 2022

Butterwalk? Well that's definitely a British word!

Huge pasties!! 😉

I will definitely have Will's breakfast......potatos are my friend!!

Nice "melange" again, my favorite one is the Bayard Cove.

Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Dec 04, 2022
Replying to

Butterwalks were a covered area of sidewalk near a market where dairy produce was sold under cover, cool in summer, dry in winter. Most of the old places around this area have one. They are often a few hundred years old. The one in Totnes is particularly long.


Chucks Digital Photography
Chucks Digital Photography
Dec 01, 2022

I really enjoyed this series Gethin, so many interesting places and images, as well as the unique history of that part of the world. I was pretty amazed when I saw the construction going on in such a tight space. Will be curious to see the end result. I have to agree about the self made structures on the beach, it can get out of hand for sure!

Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Dec 01, 2022
Replying to

Thanks Chuck, these random assortments are fun to do. Glad you enjoyed it.🙂

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