Sunday, 30 November 2008

Winter carnival

In the last Friday in November, Ashburton goes carnival crazy. Everyone flocks into the town in the evening, and hawkers mysteriously appear, selling luminous sticks, bunny ears and the like. Some time after eight o'clock, you start to hear music in the distance, and then you see flashing lights bouncing off the houses at the top of the hill. It's the arrival of the carnival floats. They come down the main street, one by one, as brash as can be. You've got the traditional carnival queens, but there are also various other tableaux including, this year, the Kumars, the Jungle, and Men in Suspenders. It feels like a tradition that goes back to the beginning of time. The winter, the darkness, lights,'s almost pagan.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Aquatic exploring

Apparently the sea in November is warmer than it is in May. And when we plunged in off Castle Cove in Dartmouth, this definitely seemed to be the case.The waters were still, and a beautiful opaque green. We swam around by the Castle, admiring its ancient walls built into the bedrock. We then headed up the estuary where we got battered by waves and winds, and so returned to the calm of the Cove, where we amused ourselves jumping and diving off the rocks.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Down the dump

At the weekend I was initiated into the Ways of the Tip. Never having visited this hallowed place before, unlike everyone else it seems, I was rather excited. The tip in question is a little place in Buckfastleigh which is only open at the weekends. There is a man whose sole job is to sit in an old armchair in the driveway, reading his dirty magazines disguised in a copy of the Western Morning News, and directing traffic in. Once you get in, various hairy arsed guys in high visibility vests hang around watching you struggle to get your rubbish out of the car (and not offering to help). Then there's the siren call of the high quality tat to rummage through afterwards, to replace the tat you brought in....

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Desperate times for desperate measures. Is this the effect of the credit crunch? This sign has been put up in the window of the framing shop in Ashburton.

Monday, 3 November 2008

'Shroom report

There still seem to be quite a few hedgehog mushrooms out there, but the season hasn't lived up to its early promise. Virtually no boletes, apart from a solitary penny bun in September, and not that many chanterelles either, apart from a rash at the end of August/beginning of September. I found both types of hedgehog today: Hydnum repandum on the left of the picture, and Hydnum rufescens on the right.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Today it was such therapy to get in the water. Yes, it's the beginning of November, but it saved my sanity to leave the dreary damp of Dartmoor and take to the beach and sea at Mothecombe. The colours were beautiful and muted. The sea was grey-green, the eye of God was visible as the sun started to set, and the water was wonderfully calm.