Whitewebbs – a Quickie with a Question

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We visited Whitewebbs Park again last weekend past this “Old Man’s Beard” and into the woods…







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past the beautiful river.




There was a man shovelling mud in the cast iron aqueduct and, he didn’t see us and I did not want to disturb him.  We were looking for the dam but some chain link fence had appeared so maybe the route is blocked now.

Not far from a fallen beech Valerie spotted an enormous toadstool; she is much better at spotting things than I am as I tend to stride ahead into the tunnel before me.





Does any one know what it is?  It was just magnificent.




As we made our way uphill to the lake we discovered a stone memorial to Ranger, who we assume to be a dog. It looked a costly monument but there was a big house where there is now a restaurant.


Memorial to Ranger - Copy

The ducks were friendly and unafraid and I was able to take better shots of the turtles who were sunning them selves on half-submerged logs…

and one of a rather lovely water lily.

Water Lily

It was then home and here is photograph of me in my untidy corner gazing at you all wondering what to write.

Me in my untidy corner


Devon: Verity – Border Morris – Goats, Haiku

We recently rented a cottage for along weekend with old friends.  Valerie and Becky have known each other for nearly 70 years!   It was in Watermouth Cove, Devon  and, although the cottage was a bit seedy, it was a lovely place to be.

We missed seeing the cove at full tide, we were often out and the 13 hour cycle was out of sync with us.

The top end was an untidy jumble of a boat yard, they  always seem to be like this like this.  One evening I watched a huge mobile crane creep from the hard across the beach to the work shop where it lifted a shiny engine destined, I suppose, for one of the yachts being worked on.

I sat on a bench and chatted with someone who told me that there are pockets of Cornish-like language in Devon.  We were both interested in languages and dialects.  He was Cornish but now lived nearby.

Looking out to sea I realized that, as the sea is an electrolyte and with layers due to temperature, pressure and concentration variations it is in the way of a neural network that connects us with all continents and islands and boats  bring people to and from our land, eels travel from the Sargasso sea to our rivers.  It should nurture, help us understand others and enable development.

Devon Watermouth Cove Valerie





The bay and my thoughts inspired a Haiku.

“Sea-nurtured ideas.

This cove will soon run with them;

she waits with her  own.”






The second day we went to spend the day in Ilfracombe We parked above the town which was great as we were able to see the statue Verity” by Damian Hurst who lives nearby. 

devon veracity 2

It was quite a dramatic sight and I was pleased to see it from a distance.   Public art, especially statuary can be dramatic like this and always gives a lift to the ambiance of where ever it is.

Devon Fishing nets



On the walk down to the town we passed a tumble of fishing nets and lobster or crab pots.  It  smelt strongly of fish and the sea.  The air in our town is sterile the same as in all towns and cities but in the country and by the sea it has character, dung in a field, animals, old fish and the sea.

Devon seagull



There was, as ever, a seagull eying us up, gauging if we were a source of food or not.

Devon Morris dancing





We came across some Morris dancers in this case Border Morris. A friend who plays accordion for Morris Dancers tells me he saw dances in north west India who danced as the Morris does in England.  It is said the blacked faces were a disguise to prevent persecution in witch-hunt days.  I feel it could be a reference to the black faces of the doddymen who lit the navigational beacons long ago; perhaps.  The tattered coats remind me of the watchers wearing long cloaks made of feathers I saw in a vision, or they could be a reference to shamanic coats.

“Black face, tattered coat,

thwacking sticks to sensuous tunes.

They’ve danced for cent’ries”


Here they are dancing.  Like an idiot I had my iPhone upright so the video is narrow!

Devon Veracity 3 extractVerity was close by and we went to see her.  It is a striking statue of a beautiful young woman in 20 tonnes of bronze.  From the harbour’s edge we could see layers had been stripped from some parts of her exposing muscles, sinews and her baby; she is pregnant.

Long ago I gave up trying to understand meanings of art; I just enjoy it now.

Devon Veracity 3








There was the omnipresent seagull enjoying the warm, bronze foot.Devon Veracity 4

Up popped another Haiku

“Shapely, defiant

the beautiful Verity.

20 tonnes of bronze.”


After a Cornish pasty, we had a ride in a pony and wagonette.  the driver(?) was tall, dark-haired taciturn – though she did tell me how expensive the tyres were and how often they wore out and that she needed the camera to record the idiots she meets as she gives rides – her friend chattered away.  ” It is her pony and wagonette, she is my bestest friend.”

Devon Wagonette

“She’s my bestest friend.

  • It’s her pony and wagonette.

She and I are silent.”

Devon Kyaks

Before we left I took this picture and then we walked back up the hill to our car.








The next day we went to The Valley of Rocks where about 50 feral goats live in the cliffs.


We walked past Castle Rock that had fit, or daft, people dashing up and down but no sign of the goats.  Going round North to follow the path at the cliff’s edge we soon found evidence of goats in the masses of droppings, (sadly I did not photograph this).  A father told his daughter that it was rabbit droppings and I had a sudden image of giant bunnies bouncing around.

The view from the path was stunning.  Looking up the cliff we spotted the goats

one showing us his noble profile.  I like goats and once had one in our garden and used to take him for walks on the local green.  No one took any notice.

Devon goat on cliff

They are intelligent, mischievous and have a sense of fun and yes I like the smell of male goat!

Another Haiku.

“We walk goat-dung trail.

Heavy feet where hooves once danced.

I love to smell  goat.”


After lunch we went to Lynton and there was a great view of goat-dung trail across the bay.

Devon Lynton 3

Devon Lynton 2We wanted to visit Lynmouth and took the unusual, possibly unique, cable car down the cliff.  It is driven by the weight of water.  A tank in the upper car is filled with water from a 100 mm pipe as in the photograph to the right.  When the brake is released the weight takes it down.  The water in the lower car has been emptied out.  As one car goes down the other comes up as they are connected by cables.

Here is a video of the ride.  There was a busker playing jazz guitar at the top which gave us a good send-off.


At the bottom in Lynmouth I was impressed by the green of the river bank as it ran under a bridge into the sea.Devon Lynton 4We decided to have a  cream tea and were amused to see a jackdaw joining in the fun.


Then it was back up in the cable car and to Watermouth Cove.  Next day we headed off to Bideford to stay overnight with Becky and Tony.

Devon Bideford shifting sandsThe old bridge in Bideford is fascinating with its may arches of different sizes.  I am told that, as the arches were paid for by merchants long ago, the spans varied depending on how rich the merchant was.  The wider the richer.  The crane was digging berths for the working vessels that moor against the quay.


Here is a video of this most exciting activity.


Looking the other way there is the new bridge and one of the working boats.

Devon Bideford

Just in front of this were some youngsters having fun with RHIBS



We took a bus back to the house as Bideford is built on a very steep hill and we were weary.

The next day we drove back to London in almost record time thank goodness.




Whitewebbs: Ducks, Heron and Turtles

Whitewebbs is a lovely place to walk and we were there with our daughter and three of the eight grandchildren today and discovered something new! This prompted me to post a short piece and I hope it encourages you to visit yourselves.

Whitewebbs Stump


This photo and that in the heading were taken on the walk uphill to the lake near Whitewebbs House now a restaurant.  It is tranquil and magical.  Even passing dogs have a reverent air.



At the lake we fed the ducks – two or three species , coots, moorhens, with food pellets brought by Megan and Jake.

Megan spotted a heron and turtles the other side of the lake and we went to take a closer look.

There were several turtles including a baby one –

Whitewebbs Turtles

which you can see on the back of the large one on the right.

I have never seen turtles in the lake before and I was excited to discover them.




Tea at the Shard

Our children gave us the very generous Christmas  present of Tea at the Shard.  We decided to wait until the summer to ensure good weather and a clear view.  When we went last week it was raining and cloudy!  The week before, as it happened, I viewed the Shard on the London skyline from the roof of a hotel in Blackfriars.

Shard Skyline from Blackfriars
The Shard from the seventh floor, Blackfriars

It was at an interesting and optimistic breakfast meeting organised by the London Borough of Enfield.

On the way to the Shard  we went to Trafalgar Square,  to see the sculpture of a soldier created to remember the terrible battle of Passchendaele .

Passchandale 2

It was formed of mud and sand from Passchendaele and it brought home to me how awful it must have been living in the trenches, how tired and despondent the troops must have been.  The statue will slowly flow way in the English rain forming a pool of mud and despair.


I hope we never forget this time.  Poppy Day  keeps the memory alive as does the poetry of WWII  ; also the Kodak Vest Pocket camera .

vest pocket Kodak

 Introduced in 1912 it enabled people to photograph their loved ones before they left to fight and soldiers to carry one to record their experiences.  This latter was against regulations but they were small, 1″ x 2 3/8″ x 4 3/4 “, enough to hide away.  My grandfather was in the Royal Flying Corps and I have a photo of him sitting on  a shell on a goods train but, of course I cannot find it.  From the size of the picture it was taken with this camera.  He also gave me a Mills Bomb, 

Mills grenade with tape

(deactivated) telling me that he used to drop them on enemy forces from  bi-planes.  He was the observer.  He also dropped flechettes.  flechetteMade of steel they look dreadful things.





V in National Portrait cafeWe then called in at the café in the basement of the National Portrait gallery for a drink before taking the Northern Line to London Bridge Station where we walked a few paces though gusty rain into the Shard and whizzed up 32 floors in a few seconds.







We had a table by the window and the view was breath-taking.

Th thames from the Shard looking East

The window’s dirty, how do they clean them,  and the glass probably is treated to keep the UV out hence the blue cast to the photo but isn’t the skyline interesting?  There is always a crane in London:

There is always a crane

I was amazed as to how many leisure craft moving around at the same time and there were two official looking bright orange RHIBs zooming here and there and two tugs towing barges.


The one above,  is towing two barges with 28 shipping containers altogether, that is 14 lorries!  The other tug was towing just one barge but this still represents 14 lorries.  The warship is HMS Belfast , well worth a visit.

Now the Tea.  Well the tea, drink, was disappointing little choice and my black tea had little taste but at over 70 I have lost half of my taste buds.  The plate of savouries were wonderful – not shown the this photo unfortunately.


Goat cheese quiche, lobster sandwich, black pudding sausage roll and smoked salmon with dill in a small brioche roll.  The scones, see picture above, were delicate well flavoured, crisp on the outside, best I have had since my grandmother made them.  The sweets were dreadful and all tasted the same except for the chocolate cup which had an interesting chocolate crumble inside.

The mix of people was interesting, all ages,  rich, city types, the young, smart, thrusting, people from all over, Valerie and me, and a proud man leading a group of about 15 and his body language shouting ” I am going to pay for this lot!” The staff were super, to use an old fashioned adjective.

Before we left, we went to the loo.  Valerie said hers was all mirrors, she lost herself in images and mine was so stunning I quite forgot what I was there for, well almost.

There was even a light showing me where to aim for and.  I felt as if I was micturating into an exhibit at the Tate ModernLooking down I could see the lines running out of London Bridge Station.

Tarins from the Urinal

I love to see trains, like the concept of people travelling it thrilling and uplifting, mysterious.

We had to leave as the space was turning into a bar.  A price list arrived and I winced.  When I stopped drinking, beer was 58 pence a pint.

A final look down:


and we were gone.