About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

On not getting to Watern Tor

Watern Tor was our destination. Tricky to get to on account of the bogginess of Gidleigh Common, it had eluded me for years. I'd seen it several times on the skyline at Scorhill stone circle, and really quite close at hand from Wild Tor (one of my favourites), although I had a long walk back the way I came at that point, and didn't press on to reach it. Yesterday, though, we were going to access it from Fernworthy Forest via the old fields at deserted Teignhead Farm. 

Except no one had told the Dartmoor weather gods when Son the Younger had his day off, and they were having a ciggie round the back of the bike shed. The smoke, or rather mist, blocked even the fabled view of Haytor rocks from the road as we ascended from Bovey Tracey.

We detoured to Hound Tor. I'd been hoping to see the beautiful sight of Dartmoor bluebells spreading over Holwell Lawns to Haytor in the distance, but this was as good as it got.

Hound Tor itself was murky too. (Somewhere up there is Son the Younger, waving his arms.) 

It wasn't without beauty, of course ... 

... but the views in all directions were non-existent. There was just the usual racket from the larks, and the crow's nest tucked into one of the outlying rock piles ...

... and this very vociferous stonechat. (There, perched on the highest sprig of gorse.) 

We made for Princetown, to have some lunch in the Plume of Feathers while we waited for the fog, which had been forecasted to clear by 9am, to clear.

It didn't.

We set off for Fernworthy Forest, and with that, everyone else got in on the act of Trying To Stop Us From Getting To Watern Tor. 

We parked, walked part way around the reservoir and then took a path through the forest, only to find that parts of it were shut off because of logging.  

In the end, that plus the relentless mist and rain led us to conclude that our open moor adventure was best left for another day. 

Instead, we opted to squelch around the rest of the reservoir. 

The South Teign

Bronze age hut circle

There were bluebells, after all. And lichen. And still only just blooming hawthorn blossom, which feels like a time-slip and would we all care to experience the month of May all over again? Maybe do things better this time.

Rowans starting to blossom

And it was OK. It's always Dartmoor calling the shots, after all, and sometimes it likes to remind mere humans of their place in the pecking order. 

And maybe we'll have better luck next time.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Return to Dawlish, Red Rock and the Warren

First we voted in the European Elections.

Then, as Son the Elder was being Son the Actor in Salisbury when it was his birthday earlier in May, we went belatedly to Dawlish Warren in Devon to celebrate.

First, though, a walk down over Lea Mount, where we parked the car. 

It was the first time we'd been back to Dawlish since the loss of the biscuit tin by the sea in 2015, and views that were once so familiar as to be commonplace are now beyond compare. 

It was a bit emotional. 

There've been a few changes since then. One corner of Dawlish seems to have discovered street art, which is great ...

... but the shack selling refreshments right on the front is gone. 

Though not to worry: Gay's Creamery is still in Brunswick Place for all your clotted cream with ice cream needs. 

Then we headed for Dawlish Warren along the sea wall. I was busying noticing familiar details with fresh eyes after our absence.

So was Ted, only with his nose.

All along the railway, under the bridges and station, was the sound of cooing. 

This part of the sea wall has been rebuilt since we last walked it, following the damage caused by the storm of February 2014. We missed the low section which was paved with bumpy local stone, though it does mean you can now walk to the Warren at high tide without getting wet. And the railway and houses behind it are a little better protected from tidal surges.

Looking back towards Dawlish

I wasn't sure I'd still be able to manage the very steep steps up through the thicket to the top of Red Rock.

'I'm not sure you'll still be able to manage these, Mum,' said Son the Younger.


Views from the top of Red Rock towards Exmouth ... 

... Dawlish Warren ... 

... and Dawlish


Back at sea level, we had our lunch ... 

... and made the trek out to the the dog-friendly section of the Warren ... 

... so Ted could have a play in the sea. 

Which he duly did, completely forgetting that he is a Senior Doggo now.

There were quite a few barrel jellyfish washed up on the beach. This one reminded me of photos in 1950s cookery books of the sorts of desserts served at sophisticated dinner parties. The orange looked a bit spongy, like trifle. 

It was time to walk back to Dawlish.
Just one last throw of the ball. 

And home.