So it was with heart in mouth last Sunday that I looked towards Grea and Hound Tors from the Bovey Tracey to Widecombe Road, for if you are going to see them anywhere, it's there. And yes, there was the first glimpse, a faint blue haze at Emsworthy.
Not that all patches of blueishness were flowers ...
... but most of them were and they were stunning.
Haytor Rocks and Holwell Tor
There were other beautiful sights on our walk like the crows flying to and from the noisiest nest I've ever heard on Hound Tor, and the ominous clouds that made for such stunning skyscapes passing over without raining on us (much), and the lovely mug of tea we had at the Hound of the Basket Meals, but today the bluebells had it, and not just on the eastern edge of the moor either.
Here they are at Challacombe ...
... and at my much loved Hexworthy, where I set the main action of my novel, 'Dart'. Did my family living there in the 14th century see them like this? I hope so.
The day didn't end with bluebells, however, as a chance meeting with Bristol poet and friend Hazel Hammond in Shaldon the day before had reminded us about Tradewinds, the monthly open mic run by Susan Taylor and Simon Williams at the Tradesmans Arms in Scorriton. (Hard to resist even without the promise of a pint of my favourite Thompstones cider.)
Not having come to Devon prepared to read poems, I had to copy a couple out legibly by hand (surprisingly onerous when you are used to tap-tapping on a laptop and then printing them off in a large enough font to read without resorting to glasses). I chose one I wrote last year about a dead mole at Heaven's Gate and another about Mahala Northcote, who drowned herself at Chagford Bridge in 1867 - a poem in two voices and the first time I'd read it in public. I especially loved to hear other poets reading their poems about Dartmoor, which has sustained my own writing so generously over the years, and Simon's come-all-ye singing at the start of the evening almost made me weep, as it could have leapt straight out of the pages of 'Dart'.