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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods October 2023

If you have been paying attention you will realise that I am slowly catching up with my monthly Odds and Sods, from publishing them at the end of the following month to the second week of the following month. There is a reason for this.

October was a month of dark skies, huge storms, torrential rain, high winds, low pressure, flooding and crashing waves, with some bright spots in between. It is the nature of photography that it does lie, if only for the reason that you need daylight and dry weather to actually take a camera out and use it. So this month I still offer sunshine and blue skies but in some cases with destruction part of the scene and in some cases rain clouds headed our way. All of that means fewer photos to sort and edit and more time inside on rainy days to do it.

This was a visit to Goodrington Sands in Torbay and although these beach huts survived the onslaught of the weather there are clues right in front, about how close they came to meeting their end. Seaweed and debris at the door.

Opposite the huts is a panorama of Torbay, from Torquay one end to Brixham the other, and in the bay some of the shipping that travels up and down the English Channel has taken shelter, as this bay offers some protection from westerlies and another storm is on the way.

Above the beach huts the steam train is still running at the very end of the holiday season before having a break. It returns before Christmas as the Train of Lights.

The coastal resorts always have Art Deco features and I love finding these old buildings, often forgotten and unloved, as they are so redolent of the seaside. In nearby Paignton there are plans afoot to save those that remain. I hope to photograph some of those in the next few weeks.

This is currently having it's winter maintenance done and you can only imagine what a noisy scene this must be in the summer when it is full of excited children. It is in the nature of children that if you build a cage to contain them, they will happily enter the prison, as long as it is brightly coloured and preferably, peopled with pirates.

Further along the beach and there is some more Art Deco.

Coming around a small headland where there is a hotel, and there is another beach which is only 200 meters away from the first one. Here you can see what a difference a small stone wall can make when storm waves are crashing over the seafront. That matchwood on the floor was a beach hut on this side of the wall. As you can see the ones on the other side survived. That large open area of grass behind, Young's Park, is the site of a former hospital grounds and then beyond that is the boating lake, another common feature of seaside towns.

This wall was built to protect that green area from sea erosion as it is a cemetery.

There was a crew loading all of the debris onto a truck.

This is Youngs Park and the site was once an Admiralty Hospital and the grounds were a graveyard. This was the site of the Goodrington quay hotel built around 1760 and in operation until 1800 when it became a military hospital for about sixteen years.

In 1800 the Commander in Chief of the Channel Fleet directed the navy's Sick and Wounded Board to report what measures had been taken for the accomodation of sick men sent on shore in the Torbay area. The board replied that they were looking at a house at Paignton that might serve as a hospital. At the time all they had available was a lodging house in Dartmouth with access from Torbay being a long and uncomfortable journey by horse and cart. The safe anchorage of Torbay had increasingly been used by the Navy by the time hostilities with France reached a peak by the end of the 18th century. The many wounded, from those terrible bloody battles came ashore here.

Today there is one visible grave stone left, that of Major Thomas Hill, although nobody knows how many graves there are in total. It is believed that there are also many French men buried here, former prisoners of war during the time of Napoleon. A nearby sign advises, "The public are asked to treat the area of the grave with the appropriate degree of respect. This plaque erected by Torbay Borough Council on July 6th 1994 with funding provided by the Goodrington Park Conservation Society."

The stone itself is carved with, "In memory of Major Thomas Hill of Helston Cornwall late of the 47 Regiment, who departed this life on the 22nd day of July 1815 aged 49 years."

Cornishman - Thursday 12 July 1900

In a pasture field adjacent to Goodrington-house, near Paignton, and within a few yards of the shore of Torbay, is a small oblong enclosure, 10 feet by six, surrounded by low walls. It is the grave of Major Thomas Hill, of Helston, who died July 22nd. 1815, aged 49. How came the major in this forlorn place of sepulture ? The explanation is simply Goodrington-house was a temporary naval hospital. Dying therein Hill was buried thereby; the adjacent ground being appropriated to burial purposes and in were placed the bodies of a considerable number of officers and men.

The boats were open for business but there were not many takers. One small boy had worked out that if he angled the surprisingly powerful motor just right, then the round boat just spun around incredibly fast. I suspect he later regretted that. On a more summery day I suspect he would have been inside a pirate enclosure.

Another nice day, but with the ground very wet underneath and this is a public footpath near Batson Creek, Salcombe, with a good view of the town and the inlet to the sea.

Just a random shot from a cafe which I quite liked.

This is a bit off the wall, but as I said, weather outside and all that, so this was a Phở restaurant, serving Vietnamese Phở noodle broth. I just liked the packaging design on this small bottle of fish sauce. I opted for spicy and added extra chilli sauce and my mouth was buzzing for a good half an hour. It is a wonderful and very healthy dish on a cold wet stormy day.

I particularly like the graphics on the label and the stormy sea and wave tossed boat seemed quite apt.

Phú Quốc is famous for its two traditional products: fish sauce and black pepper.The rich fishing grounds offshore provides the anchovy catch from which the sauce is made. As widely agreed among the Vietnamese people, the best fish sauce comes from Phú Quốc. The island name is coveted and abused in the fish sauce industry so that local producers have been fighting for the protection of its appellation of origin.

This sauce is according to the label 62.5% Stolephorus commersonii which could be a worry. It's always a worry when you cannot even pronounce what you are eating. Nothing to worry about here though because Stolephorus commersonii is actually the anchovies that are used to make it.

Commerson's anchovy (Stolephorus commersonnii), is a species of anadromous ray-finned fish in the family Engraulidae.

This could be a long thread of unusual words. Anadromous fish are fish like the Salmon that migrate from salt to fresh water to spawn.

Philibert Commerson, was a French naturalist, best known for accompanying Louis Antoine de Bougainville on his voyage of circumnavigation in 1766–1769. So these two Frenchmen gave us the name for both these little fish and also for one of my favourite flowers the Bougainvillea.

Fascinatingly, Commerson's girlfriend and assistant also accompanied him on his travels disguised as a man. It was only discovered that his nurse and assistant Jeanne Baret was a woman when they reached Tahiti. That was when she must have shaved off her beard. Baret is recognized as the first woman to have completed a voyage of circumnavigation of the globe.

I like to bring you interesting facts and in this case, all because I liked the label on this fish sauce.

A local geology outcrop which featured in my Sherford Walk. Playing around with the editing software is something I don't do much of these days, but this produced quite a nice effect.

Also on the Sherford Walk was this old barn door.

I have been dropping hints in several of my recent posts about this sign below. I'll cover it in more detail in my upcoming Plymouth Stonehouse series, Part 1 of which is now published, although you will probably have to wait until about Part 3 for this.

At Torcross the storm shutters were closed which was no surprise although on this particular day the sea was looking beautiful.

It was quite calm and this shot is one of my favourites, with the cloud detail in the distance sucking you right in. Rain headed across the horizon though. We missed it on this occasion.

In Torquay I went on a preliminary recce of a church I had just found described online. It is up several flights of stone steps.

By all accounts it is an architectural gem inside and full of treasures. Unfortunately it was locked and is only open at certain times, so more work needed to arrange a visit. You can tell just from the doorways that it is something special.

After climbing those steps there was a great view of Torbay from the other end to where we started in Goodrington. This time the rain headed our way did catch us out and we had to shelter under a shop canopy for about ten minutes. This is a good summing up shot for October 2023.

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