scribbles tagged ‘Devon’

inbetween jobs

Sunday, July 21st, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

A room wih a viewA week break between jobs, during a national heat wave, I scuttled down to Devon and my favourite peaceful, energising place. A thatched cottage in Sheepwash that is the writers retreat.

flowersThe white painted walls remind me of the peaceful optimism of Scandinavian homes. Each room is quietly alive with freshly picked garden flowers. A Sweetpea aroma gently fills the kitchen following the fresh, daily, baked bread scent.

kitchen windowI sketch, read, write and research on the internet in the cool privacy of my room that supplies a gentle shady breeze from the village square.

The visiting writers gather for lunch in the courtyard in the shade of a massive awning hung from Bob’s workshop. The conversation moves smoothly from light entertainment through the business of writing to the content of novels. Always engaging, such good company. Writers come from all over the country, the world. I’ve met Americans and South Africans here. Given that almost everyone is writing a novel, I’m normally the exception, I still find the diversity of guests’ age and experience an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

I feel welcomed by all and rarely actually want to leave…

1 wonderful musing »

short changed

Thursday, November 29th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Morning cup of teaRecently I spent a long weekend on holiday with a friend – seeing the local sights pottering around in Thomas and on foot, eating local delicacies, and sharing a room in a thatched cottage.

I learned that I am more comfortable with silence than my friend. It felt like my friend talked almost non-stop. They didn’t, but it felt like it. As if they needed to fill every silence with words.

At first, I listened to all the words, then gradually my mind wandered away. Their words like a radio programme chattering in the background as my thoughts wandered around the fabulous autumn Devon views. My friend didn’t appear to need my listening, no input from me needed.

Normally living alone, with much silence, I found this stream of talking most strange. On the occasions when my friend was silent they were tapping away into their phone, or computer, presumably social networking. They would read, with verbal annotation and explanation, the text’s they’d received.  This total sharing is not something I’m used to. Unsolicited, it felt somehow inappropriate. I suspect it was actually some kind of generous gift of openness, non-exclusion. A sweet generous friend.

If I said something, made a statement, it would be followed by my friend’s analysis of the topic of my statement. I learned a lot about my friend. They learned about my silences and way of being,  little more.  They didn’t ask. I wonder if they felt short-changed.

5 bits of fabulous banter »


Sunday, November 25th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

Bideford towards the seaThis could be many places in the world. It reminds me of the pacific north west USA coastline, La Conner.

On a cold November afternoon Bideford, Devon, is beautifully calm with a sky full of colour. When I took this photograph I was in exactly the right place, nowhere else I’d rather be.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

identity crisis

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 | tags: ,  |

Bude beach hutsThere are days when the wendy house wants to be a beach hut.

Technically speaking, as a play house, the wendy house can be any type of house.

Given this wonderful phenomena, for today, the wendy house IS a beach hut.

Pass the towel.

2 bits of fabulous banter »

blob of the road

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Dartmoor - Thomas goes offroad!The Dartmoor ‘blob’ is akin to the Bermuda triangle with extra dollops of fuzzy boundaries.

In the photograph on the right we see how Florence, the SatNav, has decided that Thomas, the car, in not actually on a road and has to turn left, not on a road, in 0.4 miles. Such are the ways of the Dartmoor.

this is actually a roadFlorence is often suprised that we manage to stay on the Road when we’re out in Devon.

In  the photograph on the left we see how Florence proudly announces that Thomas is actually ‘Driving on Road’.


3 bits of fabulous banter »


Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Recently, at an undisclosed Sheepwash location there was an unconventional gathering of undisturbed people, and me.

silent thunderbirds, light of footSheepwash is a strange and quiet village. There are 3 roads, ways to approach Sheepwash. No approaches wider than one car. All of them guarded by cunningly placed, seemingly innocent, wildlife. On my last visit three potentially blind sheep raised the alarm to notify the Sheepwash inhabitants they should hide their ancient secrets from an approaching stranger. This time a herd of flight-recalcitrant pheasants, or silent thunderbirds, ran along the road ahead of Thomas until they finally, reluctantly, decided to fly.

When we arrived Thomas parked in the pub car park and I mentioned that I had never been into the local pub ‘the half moon’. Happy frog and I was clearly suprised by this revelation and asked why.  It’s suspiciously cosey in the retreat, once you’ve gone in through that door, its very, very difficult to get out again until you have to leave. Happy frog and I wisely suggested that we try going into the pub BEFORE going into the retreat, to sidestep the known problem. Clever. I like the company of solution oriented people.

Unfortunately we couldn’t work out the entry code that was displayed in the guise of an ‘opening times’ sign. We gave up and were drawn inexorably into the retreat, not to emerge again until it was time to leave Sheepwash.

sparklers!Once inside the retreat Happy Frog and I supplied the fox stories and some large outdoor sparkers together with a huge open firepalce provided the fire. Fire and fox. Now the cupboard is featuring firefox, the browser. Scarlet dropped in to check that everything that needed to be in hand was indeed being handled. When the smoke cleared it left behind the ashes of conversations about motorbikes, trees, CEOs, PMTs and other significant three letter acronyms.

Top hole

3 bits of fabulous banter »

introducing Dawn Chorus

Monday, July 12th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Summer morning’s in Sheepwash start with the cheerful hubbub of the local dawn chorus. 

Turning-over in the thick, crisp, white, ironed sheets and taking a deep breath through my downy pillow is like a dream come true, my idea of perfection. Not so different from the wendy house, where the sheets aren’t ironed.  There is no phone or TV in my room.  There is an internet connection. Simplicity and power.

what do you think of that »

getting the foundations right

Sunday, July 11th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Back in the 1990’s I had developed a strong brand loyalty to Sloggi because they produced comfortable, outdoor activity sypporting, stylish, white, underwear.  Sloggi underwear wasn’t cheap but it lasted, it maintained it’s strength and looks.  Sloggi products were sold in  good department stores, the quality town stores.  Stores like Reading town’s Jackson’s.  I had no problem finding Sloggi underwear on the rare occasion I needed to purchase new stuff.

When I lived in the NW US, the quality department stores such as Nordstrum didn’t sell Sloggi.  In a recklessly adveturess streak I branched out into local underwear brands, Victoria Secrets. Nothing special, mass produced femininity. My underwear draw went pink and everso slightly twee.

In Tiverton I picked up my first Sloggi’s since 2000.  They feel and look good.  Back to my favourite high quality foundations…

4 bits of fabulous banter »

suicide banker

Thursday, July 8th, 2010 | tags: , , , , ,  |

On the wall of a shop.

A small graffiti image in the style of Banksy shows a man holding a gun to his head.

The image is near where Woolworth’s used to be.  The Woolworth’s site still unoccupied in the centre of town.  In the other direction a bank has been converted into a pub, called ‘The Bank’.


1 wonderful musing »

rose motif coffin

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 | tags: ,  |

The south west of England, Devon and Cornwall, attracts many very talented artists who ply thier wares in craft stalls, markets, barns and sheds.

This artiste has taken box-painting to the edge of the mortal coil.  With a pleasant pastel green coffin sporting a cottage-style rose motif on top and as a base-side border.  The artist made me smile and think of burial in new ways.

Excellent work!

3 bits of fabulous banter »

gandolf’s gnashers

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

The graffiti of Tiverton shows the local religious practices.

The Wzards of Tiv breed a rare form of magic moth known as the gizajob.  To keep the moth pupae both moist and warm they weave the pupae into their beard just below their nose where it cunningly covers their mouth. Luckily its not currently the breeding season, though I did see many wizards with appropriately sized beards.

1 wonderful musing »

foundation garment shortage

Monday, July 5th, 2010 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

In Reading town its Jacksons

In Tiverton town its Banbury’s

A family run store, named after the family.  Selling everything in tiny departments on split-level floors arranged with a maze-like series of turns and staircases. These stores are Tardis-like, seeming small from the outside then corridor after staircase after turn they get larger and larger.  The staff are normally experienced people with well structured hairstyles or quirky youngters. All are personable.  When leaving the Wendy house this morning I was in the middle of scat-fest.  Things I forgot to bring with my included, pants, watch,  tops to wear.  Banbury’s was just the place to temporarily solve my foundation garment shortage

While searching for the cleverly hidden underware department I stumbles across a Linen top with a print reminiscent of the fabulous Finnish Marimekko Unnikko print.  Yummy.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

chasing sheep

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

is best left to the shepherds

The roads in Devon and Cornwall are a wee bit thin to pass a sheep, or three.

Thomas and I waited while these bleety little chaps found a passing place with sufficient grass to keep them happy.

2 bits of fabulous banter »

this way to no parking

Thursday, October 1st, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

this way to no parkingI didn’t know which way to turn.

2 bits of fabulous banter »

Africa, through the door

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

Africa, through the door, second star to the right….  

The swallows in St Nectan’s church were flying from window to stained-glass medieval-window.   Chirruping.    Sounding distressed, desperate, like people making 999 (US = 911) phone calls.  Plenty of painted stars on the church ceiling but no phone service to answer the calls…  

It’s autumn equinox, getting noticably cold.   It’s a long flight south,  I hope they find the door before winter sets in.  Painted stars can be fatally distracting from the things that really make life…

My drab, starless,  self  felt helpless in the  hermitted church.

1 wonderful musing »

scribblers advance

Saturday, September 19th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Thatched house

Long post warning.   Plot spoiler –   ‘The Court’ is a great place to spend a relaxing break from modern city life.

Deborah: Wendy?   Would you like a glass of wine,   a cup of tea?

Wendy:   Yes!   both please

Sunday early evening, I’ve just stepped into the Court,   a large thatched cottage in the heart of Sheepwash, North Devon.   What a wonderful welcome.   Deborah takes my bag and gives me a tour of her home while making tea, pouring two glasses of wine and finishing the ironing.

Dining roomDeborah Dooley and her family have  opened their home  to paying guests. Deborah gives subtle and caring attention  to all her guests,  making sure they have what they need, keeping the atmosphere welcoming. Guests might come to write, to hike, to take time-out from being a mum.

Sheepwash bustles at 8am in the morning.  The local shop opens it’s doors, literally.  School children chatter and scream  as they wait for the bus.  Milk is delivered,  tractors roll by and I wake from a deep sleep amidst thick white cotton sheets.

When I wander downstairs in the morning a mug of tea soon finds me.   Fresh fruit salad, cereals and  a full cooked breakfast with eggs from the hens in the garden  are served on the visitors’ book,  a table with messages scrawled from past guests.  Packed lunches are prepared for guests’ planning day trips.

My mornings are filled with workshop activities designed to improve my writing.  Whether my writing improves is up to me,  Deborah’s workshops  give fun, tactful, feedback and encouragement.

Cottage fireplaceEvenings are warmed by  a real crackling and hissing fire.    Guests recline and share stories from huge embracing sofas.  The pub across the tiny town square feels like an extension of the house, not that I’ve spent much time there because the hospitality in the Court is magnetic.

I stayed with 3 other guests,  an  Essex accountant with a detailed colourful story on any topic your care to mention and a Cambridge couple taking a Hiking holiday.  We share breakfast, dinner and evenings and mainly do our own thing during the day.  Deborah listens, thinks, then uses what she’s learned. A simple but rare combination.  An excellent combination for a hostess.

Our roomThis is not the sort of place to stay if you like all the modern conveniences available in a  multi-star  Hotel.   The Court provides a  different kind of luxury, not one that is packaged with the check-list criteria of hotel stars.

The bathroom is shared by all the guests.    None of the modern trendy en-suite nonsense.  The bath is BIG,   deep and long, surrounded by a wide selection of dissolving things that you might want to soak in.  You need to check if there is enough hot water in the tank for a bath before taking a bath.  This reminds me of  living in a house with a hotwater tank and 4 other adults, my family, coordinating use of the bath was something we learned to do without giving it a second thought.  There is an electric shower with always available hot water.  If this  breaks your idea of a cosey retreat  then maybe this isn’t the place for you.

There is a TV in one of the rooms, I have not used it.  There are no TV’s or phones in the guest bedrooms. There is a  wireless base-station hidden in the lounge which provides internet  connections. I couldn’t get cellular reception from either T-Mobile or Orange services.  If this type of thing will be a problem for you, the Court is not the place for you.  Lack of cellular service was a bonus for me.  The Court has a landline number that I gave  to the  neighbour looking after my fluffballs and thankfully  she had no reason to call.

My experience is a warm friendly, active, family home full of people that respect each other.  The atmosphere and attitude of  the place and people made my stay interesting and welcoming. This is a very pleasant change from the benefits of living alone. I’ll definitley be visiting again.

4 bits of fabulous banter »

shop talk

Thursday, September 17th, 2009 | tags: ,  |

No-one ever told me that when in  a jewelry shop you must browse quietly.    Myself and the other jewelry shop browsers abide by this unspoken rule.    The churchlike atmosphere is dull, unlike the jewelry.    A spritely looking elderly gent stands  in the doorway of the store and shouts across the shop to the lady behind the counter

Have you got any bright shiny things luv?

1 wonderful musing »

facilitated footwear

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Wendy:   I want Oxblood red please!

Conkers footwear facilitator (CFF): You can have any of these colours, you can have different colours for different feet, different colours for different sections of the boot, what would you like?

Wendy: Oh, Oh, OH,   purple, no green, no this electric blue,   no brown.   Oh!   …   um,   Oxblood red please..

Conkers, TotnessI discovered Conkers shoes in the summer of 1986.   discovered after having been sent there by a bouncy student friend from Newton Abbot who’s boots I couldn’t help but admire.   By the time I found Conkers  they were 9 years old and had a small shop at the top of Totnes High street.

They now have a larger shop half way up  Totnes High street. As a student I couldn’t afford the luxury of a well made, durable, easy to repair, natural tree-rubber soled, funky coloured, personalised pair of shoes. I sulked and promised myself that when I had a job I would come back and treat myself.   I’ve had one job or another for nearly 20 years.   This week I went back to Totnes and now I have a pair of boots being made-up to fit.   I suspect I will be back again…   for purple, or green, or…

3 bits of fabulous banter »

cream tea

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007 | tags: ,  |

thirtieth in a series of  posts about taking tiffin with  (black) tea  in the NW USA.

Thursday Tiffin #30: cream tea

conversation with an American:

American:   would you like cream in your tea?

Wendy:   I’d prefer milk if you have it.

American:   I know about how the British drink their tea with cream,   my mother was British,   she taught me about cream teas.

Wendy:   Oh

Occassionally there appears to be a smidgen of confusion where some people raised in countries outside of the common wealth  think that the cream in cream tea  refers to cream poured into the tea.   Actually a cream tea  refers to the combination of black tea served with English scones and Devonshire clotted cream.  

what do you think of that »

Ashburton tea shop

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007 | tags: ,  |

On the way to Cornwall I stopped for Tea and a Pasty on the edge of Dartmoor.   Everything was comfortably as expected.   Pot of hot water,   pot of tea,   milk,   cup without any roses or pink on it,   see:

1 wonderful musing »