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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Tavistock Part 2

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

I left Tavistock ,Part 1, in the market square, which is where we take up the tour again.

Opposite the market stalls is the church which will have to wait for another day for me to get photos from inside. Although I did go in, masks were required and it was a very hot day. It also seemed a little chaotic in there to start taking photos. But it has some interesting features inside so I will return.

St. Eustachius is a new one on me so of course I had to Google him. My only reference was Eustachian Tubes in the ear. No connection, he was a sixteenth-century Italian anatomist Bartolomeo Eustachi.

St Eustachius was a Roman general in the second century who became a Christian. He was disgraced and exiled and was finally martyred with his family for refusing to sacrifice to the Roman gods. He is one of the fourteen Auxiliary Saints or Holy Helpers who are commemorated in particular at Vierzehnheiligen in Bavaria. Only one other church in England is dedicated to St Eustachius..... which explains why I haven't heard of him before, even with two Eustachian Tubes of my own.

By the way when you are coming in to land in a plane and you do a false yawn or swallow, to click your ears, you are in fact opening your Eustachian Tubes to equalise the air pressure in your middle ear. Originally when your ancestors were air breathing fish they would have had a holes in their heads through which they breathed when they surfaced. They had little flaps that shut when they went back under. That is what evolved into the Eustachian Tube enabling us to hear. Well most of us.

If you have already seen Part 1 of Tavistock and I can't blame you if you haven't, I mean look at the mess that is Part 2, the following sentence won't mean anything.

Below is a solid looking edifice which I am sure would have been a bank when it was built, it just has that classic bank look, with loads of castellations of course, this being Tavistock.

It was built in 1895, The year Sam Flather was still working on Flather's Trade Recipes, which he would publish a year later. I only throw that little factoid into the mix as an advert for a future post about Flather's Trade Recipes. As the magician Pauls Daniels used to say, "You'll like this", "Not a lot".

Paul Daniels was a clever magician with an irritating stage presence which to be fair did nothing to prevent him becoming a massive success. His assistant was Debbie McGee, very glamorous, young and an unlikely wife for Mr Daniels, so as the comedy character Mrs, Merton asked her in an interview, “So what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

But I digress.

On the opposite corner another grand granite affair. It is almost like there was a competition going on for best gothic grandeur.

This architect below, didn't check his emails and accidentally went Art Deco instead, which has to be the most spectacular pasty shop in the world. There is an actual idea here though for a visitor attraction, a sort of Devon Hansel and Gretel's cottage but not made from ginger bread but made out of pasties, a genuine Pasty House.

When I see buildings creeping up steep hills like this, below, I always have an admiration for the architects. How easy it would be to get a measurement wrong and find that one doorway was just the right height but the next one was only fit for Hobbits. Or you could walk into a hallway and find your head upstairs before you have gone anywhere. Or you could walk through a side door into the next room and fall down into a basement. The shop at the end of the row has three different floor levels, how does that work? Is it all steps inside or if you keep walking do you end up under the road? What really blows the mind though is that they did all this with slide rules, pencils and graph paper. Not a mouse or chip or byte in sight.

Which reminds me, mentioning pencils, I read an article today about the top visitor attractions in Britain, sadly none involved pasties. In the comments some buffoon actually maligned the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick. Where would we be without pencils? Many years ago on a holiday to the Lake District we were driving randomly around the stunning scenery looking for a visitor attraction, like you do. We stumbled on the pencil museum which made us laugh. I mean who wants to go to a pencil museum? Well as we drove past the sign I spotted the pencil factory which was Art Deco (twice in one post), so that sealed the deal, I really just wanted to " have a dekko at the deco". That's a British joke, I think, so you may not get it.

The dekko in this instance is variously spelled so I went with the dekko as it looks better written down than decko or dekho.

Have a dekko - 'Dekko' is the usual spelling, but as it is a slang term derived from spoken language the spelling is somewhat arbitrary; sometimes 'decko', sometimes 'deko'. The proper spelling, which is virtually never used, is 'dekho'. 'Dekho' is a Hindi word meaning 'look'. The expression first began to be used by the British in India in the middle of the 19th century and soon migrated back home with soldiers on leave.

So, anyway, back to the pencil factory/museum. It was excellent and well worth a visit. The whole history of carbon without any annoying footprints. Graphite to be exact. Who knew graphite was quite rare and expensive hundreds of years ago and that the history of the pencil involved wars, cannon balls, smugglers and spies.

Something else that goes through fashions is bread. Back when this building below, went up, it was all "untouched by human hand". Pure and healthy and made by machines, none of your fingering the stuff after removing some earwax, or sweating over the dough and dropping moustache hairs in it. This was the Machine Bakery and Confectionery Works.

Of course today we have regressed back to sourdough and hand made and artisanal and earwax and organic free range moustache hairs. Now it needs to be as crunchy as toast before you toast it, the Sourdough Association is funded by dentists. After you toast it you'll definitely need a machine to cut through it or at the very least a new crown.

Hygiene is long gone, just throw flour into water and leave it somewhere warm for sixty eight years until it crawls into the oven on it's own. In fact the age of your dough is a selling point. Artisanal bakers boast about where their dough came from and how many generations of their ancestors have cuddled it through wars and pestilence, carrying it across continents in old leather satchels, feeding it occasionally and taking it for a brisk walk, adding a bit of spring water from a mossy rocky cleft at the top of an Alp where goats paddle. Hiding it down their trouser legs when crossing international borders, that sort of thing.

The EU have ruined all that romance as there are no borders to smuggle things over anymore. It is however an authoritarian super state full of very crusty bread that tastes fantastic but which goes stale an hour after you buy it.

Consequently the Machine Bakery, purveyors of pure unadulterated white sliced, is now a row of shops one of which sells lingerie, albeit they are "Passionate about Lingerie", who isn't? I thought that was the point? There's no other use for lingerie. Unless I am missing something. I mean it doesn't keep you warm.

This is the blue wall below, that ended up as white in my monochrome entry on the group Facebook page, Friends of PhotoBlog. If you haven't visited yet, please do, the more the merrier.

The more the merrier - “The more the merrier” is often used to welcome those who wish to participate in an activity but hesitate to join in uninvited.

So, you have been invited so no excuses.

The larger the number involved, the better the occasion. This expression was first recorded in 1530, when it was put as “The more the merrier; the fewer, the better fare” (meaning “with fewer there would be more to eat”).

The original expression is interesting and I hadn't heard it in full before. It seems it is an advisory that although fewer people means more food, as regards a merry party, more people is better. So the original meaning has strayed over time. I'm not convinced myself as to how merry a party would be once the food and drink ran out early.

Up the hill from the main square there is evidence of older properties even if they display satellite dishes and plastic windows. Some of these have been knocked through making bigger properties hence the missing front doors which would have existed in the place of some of those windows.

The original Union Inn opened circa 1823. The present house below was built in 1918 on the site of three premises: the Union Inn, a temperance hotel and the Globe Inn. All three properties were sold in the 1911 sale of the Duke of Bedford's property and the present building commissioned. The style is typical of the period but it is architecturally and materially untypical of Tavistock.

Those of you of a certain age and predilection will spot two familiar characters in the window of the barber shop below. Presumably a commentary on either the staff or customers or both.

The characters are Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show.

Statler and Waldorf are a pair of Muppet characters best known for their cantankerous opinions and shared penchant for heckling. The two elderly men first appeared in The Muppet Show in 1975, where they consistently jeered the entirety of the cast and their performances from their balcony seats.

In The Muppet Show, the two are always criticizing Fozzie Bear's humour. In contrast, they find themselves vastly entertaining and inevitably burst into mutual laughter at their own witticisms. It is later revealed in the A Muppet Family Christmas special that the two hecklers are friends with Fozzie's mother, Emily Bear. Despite constantly complaining about the show and how terrible some acts are, they always return for the following week and occupy their usual pair of seats in the balcony. Their reasons for doing so are a mystery even to them.

Waldorf: "Why do we always come here?" / Statler: "I guess we'll never know"

I sometimes think this might be a good catch phrase for PhotoBlog.

I like towns like Tavistock for their quirky independent stores, and here is the perfect example below. A store devoted entirely to jigsaws.

Jigsaw is a great word. First it sounds good. Second you unmistakably know what it means even though you are technically wrong, nearly every time. Most people who use the word are thinking of a puzzle, but are in fact using the word that denotes a woodworking tool.

A jigsaw is a saw which uses a reciprocating blade to cut irregular curves, such as stencilled designs, in wood, metal, or other materials. Jigsaws first emerged in the 19th century and employed a treadle to operate the blade. The modern portable jigsaw was introduced in 1947 by Scintilla AG (later acquired by Bosch).

In 1946 Albert Kaufmann, an engineer of Scintilla AG company in Solothurn, Switzerland, replaced the needle on his wife's sewing machine with a saw blade. In 1947, after development of Kaufmann's invention, Scintilla started producing jigsaws under name "Lesto jigsaw". In 1954 Scintilla was acquired by Bosch and in 1964 the name "Lesto" was replaced with Bosch.

According to Wikipedia a jigsaw puzzle is a tiling puzzle that requires the assembly of often oddly shaped interlocking and mosaiced pieces. Typically, each individual piece has a portion of a picture; when assembled, they produce a complete picture.

Beginning in the 18th century, jigsaw puzzles were created by painting a picture on a flat, rectangular piece of wood, then cutting it into small pieces. Despite the name, a jigsaw was never used. John Spilsbury, a London cartographer and engraver, is credited with commercializing jigsaw puzzles around 1760.

You may have worked out by now that if the jigsaw tool was not around until at least the 1880's and the puzzles were around long before that, then they must have been called something else.

Full marks, you go to the top of the class.

What we are looking at below were originally called dissected puzzles. Eventually the name jigsaw stuck. So this begs the question of why meringues aren't called whisks or why lawns aren't called mowers. Mowers came first by the way, nobody had lawns until the mower was invented. People just had grass, which was grass sized or shorter if they had servants to hand cut it or sheep to nibble it.

I bet you don't know that meringues are named after a Swiss town either. A certain pastry chef called Gasparini in Meiringen in Switzerland invented the meringue in 1720. He was going to call them whisks but he had a lisp so it never caught on. As they spread all over Europe, not literally, because Europe would have become a bit slippery covered in meringue, people said that the Gasparini chap in Meiringen came up with these, what do you think? Some people called them Gasparinis and some people called them Meiringens. The chefs advertising their Gasparinis gradually went out of business leaving in a sort of last Gasp-arini sort of way, leaving just the chefs who called them Meiringens.

The reason they caught on so quickly is that chefs all over Europe made so much custard or Creme Anglais (they blame the English for everything) back then that Europe was being flooded by unused egg white, the canals of Venice were awash with the stuff. Then Gasparini saw a Gap-arini in the market and invented the meringue. The rest as they say is history.

In the Canton of Zurich there is actually a town called Bad Egg. The world is so lucky that Gasparini did not live there. I mean, who would want to eat a Lemon Bad Egg, or Bad Egg Nests, or a Bad Egg Roulade?

Tavistock, Part 3 will feature just one aspect of the town that arches over the whole.

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