Occasionally we get an invite to something in Edinburgh and we are on the boat at the time and unable to attend. One might think that wild horses couldn’t drag us away from the canal boat. We have been well south for a while and had an invitation to a civil partnership in Devon. The canal doesn’t reach that far but we have been inching westward. We got a train from Newbury to Exeter and picked up a car from there to go to our B&B in Bovey Tracey.
We hadn’t been there before so it was another bit of exploring for us. Mosaics seemed to be a theme with various establishments having a little one outside and a larger one depicted some historical references such as the battle on Bovey Heath, seventeenth century the establishment of a Bovey Tracey market and church in the thirteenth century.
There are plenty of the little mosaics dotted around and plenty of quaint old town features, and some very step and narrow roads. The thought of driving there was quite scary. We found a road sign that suggested the streets were more dangerous than I had thought.
The sign was next to a cafe and motorbike shop and life model shop. I had not expected that. The quaint town image had just got wilder. We were small compared to almost all of them. I don’t know about the dinosaurs but many were larger than life.
We had a fine fish and chips at The Cromwell and he didn’t look that wild even though he was looking at me from the wall opposite. The next morning we were breakfasted and ready with a full hour to get twenty miles along an A road to the ceremony venue, only to be behind a tractor and trailer with continuous on-coming traffic. The tractor turned off and we were able to pick up speed to 30 mph behind two country buses. There was no chance of making it within the hour. There was further delay in the almost full car park so we were at the far end and the nearest ticket machine wasn’t working so had to seek out another, queue and then Shane ran back to the car. We crept into the building, heard through the room door that everyone was being asked to rise and thought we could slip in to the back and catch the main event. Shane opened the door to find we were at the very front of the assembled guests and Dave introduced us to everyone as we slunk swiftly to the back. Will Karrie want to get to know us? The celebrant commented that it was good that ALL your guests had arrived to celebrate with them. With that it was all wound up and we were all going outside. It was a lovely day and Karrie was the coolest bride ever in her shades outside.
We repaired to a curry house where we were excellently catered for, far too soon after our BnB cooked breakfast. Then we were shown the way to a bar by the estuary, taking us an attractive walk along the quayside.
The theme of excellent catering continued throughout the weekend. We had just returned to our BnB after an ice cream and a much faster drive back, when Dave rang to say he had booked a table for an evening meal in Bovey Tracey starting very soon indeed, and Shane said we could get there less late than we did the ceremony… A low bar.
The forecast for the next day was very wet so we headed for the museum in the morning. It is in the old station but covers a wider range of topics than the railway. Quarrying, mining, pottery, Cromwell and the war featured. There was a helpful volunteer there, who suggested we go to Widecombe on the moor which was a short drive over Dartmoor with some cafes and a church. The wet weather was all the more atmospheric for the moorland. The smell of pasties was appealling but we headed off to the gift shops (with cuddly pasties) and church (with wildlife welcome and a model horse, a grey mare to be precise) first. The Widecombe Fair wasn’t on (I hope they get better weather for it) but the song featured in many places.
We were ready for our cream tea, but being a wet day the large cafe was full. Nobody was using the outside tables. We spotted a sofa at a coffee table that was empty so we asked the two women on the sofa opposite if we could sit there. I said they could gossip if they liked we didn’t know anyone here. I went to order our scones and when I got back one said she thought she recognised us and had we been at a civil partnership the day before. I realised she was te registrar. Our entry must have made an impact that she recognised us. She had done four ceremonies that day and she only saw us for two minutes, dressed entirely differently. Okay Shane did have a red shirt on both times, but not the same kind of shirt.
As we made our way back across the moor we stopped to climb a little and then stopped again while I photographed the wild Dartmoor horses. Then stopped again when the horses wandered across the road.
I felt I had managed a pretty concentrated Dartmoor experience. We met up with Dave, his sister, niece and great niece and went to Newton Abbot for dinner. I very much enjoyed the company and was pleased that my hyper mobile joints were useful clambering into the very back of the car and out through the boot. Was delighted that little Betsy was learning signing and reducing her frustration as a result. It was a rare treat to have time with her sharing a book, while her mum and gran were at the carvery. She has had a few days of formal meals at an adult table and she and her mum Evie coped admirably with it. I don’t miss the administration at work but communicating with the children and watching them learn was a joy.
Dave had taken receipt of a parcel for me and I had brought an early one with me so had wondrous wool and a poetry book from my friends who knit, at the BnB. As is common my birthday was travelling by car and train and it was another rainy day, but I treated myself to an affogato in the morning and a tin of pimms in the train. My tomatoes were well watered and Shane pulled out the present Anne had managed to pass to him without my knowledge in Henley. I have made myself inaccessible for birthday presents and I have always been lucky to have my birthday often on holiday or in transit to or from one. Shane has picked up a senior Railcard application form from the station. There is not much space for card display but I propped Rhona’s and Anne’s above the spice rack. They look at home with the goldfinch.
On Tuesday we had a busy day of travelling again, we needed water and it was eight miles and eight locks away, but the weather was good and we had lots of fresh air. Mostly I drove and we shared locks and had a convivial time with others. Latterly I did a couple of the locks, though I had enjoyed my morning driving. We saw two or three kingfishers shooting past during the day.
Shane had heard that there was a horse drawn canal boat on the stretch near Hungerford and I was delighted to be working a lock when they arrived going the other way. I was introduced to Monty who was unhitched for the lock and grazing.