Weston-super-Mare… a cloudy summer day

Today I went into town to meet my friend Trish for a cup of very nice coffee at our favourite café, The Coffee House:

We tried the guest coffee today, it was lovely!!

We always take our coffee upstairs

We try to sit by the window but the seats were occupied to we sat in a cosy corner.Actually, we never mind where we sit.

It is always nice by the window, though, looking across the High Street and the Italian Gardens and just glimpsing the sea in the distance.

Trish went to catch her bus and I wandered round town, busy with holiday-makers and tourists.

Ice-cream or tattoo?

Ice-cream

The Grand Pier was busy

A cloudy day, but it wasn’t cold. In the distance the peninsula of Brean Down stretches into the sea and beyond it on the horizon, the hills of Devon.

Weston’s famous donkeys wait patiently

The economy might be in decline, the recession continues, so a day-out by the seaside is just what people want!

A magic man…

Medieval market Elx

It was the medieval market Elx

… suddenly among the crowd, above the hustle and bustle of noise, was the clear, unearthly calling of a pipe…

… there was the strangest man…

…upon a wooden bike…

… yes, a wooden bike…

…he played so sweetly…

 …no melody I knew…

His steed was extraordinary…

… and so was he from head to toe…

He was a gentle man

… a magic man.

River Cruise on Board M.C. Belle, August 31st, September 1st, 1937

31.8.37

This morning we had our usual swim, the weather being lovely and warm with the sun shining. We had breakfast and cleared the boat up and went to fetch milk from the farm. We then made our way to Wilton Road Bridge and walked 1 1/2 miles to Wilton where we bought some chops and provisions. We arrived at Cross Water again in time for dinner then had a good rest to work off the effects. The afternoon was spent in sun bathing and fishing and finished with a long swim through the locks. My luck was in as far as fishing was concerned this evening and several good specimens of roach were landed.

Perch (credit Algerdas)

1.9.37

After the usual routine of swimming and breakfast we decided that we would walk into Lakenheath for some pollard and stores. It was quite an interesting walk about 4 miles along the bank of the lode river. We saw half way along the bank where they were installing a large pipe to contain fen drainage from the small fen into the large fen.

The land is so flat this photo almost looks upside down.

After dinner as it was rather windy we played at cribbage and fished, likewise in the evening. Another pleasant evening in the Dragon was spent playing darts with the landlord’s daughter and a regular customer. Percy was engaged in a game of dominoes with the people from the auxiliary yacht “Spree” which came up this evening.

I don’t think many 18 year-olds would be buying chops and pollard ( a type of chubb, a river fish) for their lunch! Cribbage is a popular card game where the score is kept on a crib board, using peg markers stuck in holes.

Next book… maybe a love story?

I am thrilled at the response I have had for my first two novels published as e-books, ‘Farholm’ and ‘Rosa’, but now I’m thinking of what to publish next. I am thinking of ‘Loving Judah’, which – although there is some action, is really a love story. The hook is what the ending will be… will he, won’t he? Will she, should she?

The story does not just deal with romantic love but also the love of a father for his child, a wife for her husband, a child for its parents… and inevitably there is disappointment and sadness, betrayal and failure as well as the strong and enduring love of true friendship.

Life isn’t really a fairy tale… but sometimes you do find a prince!

The inspiration for Judah came from a news story about someone who betrays not only their closest friends and those who love them, but also family and colleagues and others who have expectations, maybe unrealistic expectations of what someone should be and how they should live. No-one is ever perfect, even the best of us has a chink, and the worst of us has feet of clay whatever the shining image.

The characters are all from my imagination, although their appearance was sometimes triggered by real people, although I hasten to add that the real person (usually unknown to me) is not the slightest bit like my character. For example, Gideon Mercer in my story looks superficially like the historian, author and TV presenter, Michael Wood.

However, Gideon is unmarried and a vicar:

Michael Wood – from his book ‘In Search of Myths and Heroes,’ (credit Steve Razzetti)

“Hmm, a career vicar, if you ask me,” said Sandi, writing something on her pad. “You know what I mean; he’s too good-looking and intelligent to be in the ministry for any other reason than to become a bishop before he’s forty.”

Sandi herself looks a little like my very dear friend Wendy, tall, blond and lovely. When Sandi and Aislin, the main character, talk about their adventures when young, it could be me and Wendy talking… although we never went on an earth-mother retreat in Glastonbury… Sandi and Aislin’s adventures are all in my imagination!

Peter Whitamore, Aislin’s husband looks superficially like a deputy head at a school where I worked; he was a kind and gentle man and I’m sure would never behave as Peter did in my story!

So… maybe the story of Aislin, her husband Peter, and Peter’s son Judah will be my next published novel… maybe!

David Hoy… what an extraordinary life

David Hoy died in Hobart on 9th February 1857, six years after his wife Janet “who died esteemed and much lamented” on January 17th 1851.

His death is recorded on the cemetery index of  St Andrews Presbyterian Church. On the 11th of February, two days after his death a notice was posted in the Colonial Times, announcing a sale of his furniture.

He was 72 years old and had an eventful life since his birth in Scotland in about 1787.

In the Hobart Town Gazette, on Saturday, 7th October 1826, this announcement appeared:

SHIP BUILDING: the colonists will learn with pleasure, that a very handsome brig, built by Mr David Hoy, and called the Apollo, burden 105tons, was launched last week in grand style from the banks of the Derwent. Mr Thomas Atkins, Mr Mason and Captain Laughton, are the spirited individuals who have accomplished this accession to our colonial importance.

David, trained in Boston as a shipwright,  is recognized as turning round the fortunes of the tiny village of Strahan in Macquarie Bay on the west coast of Tasmania. First settled in 1815, like many other Tasmania settlements there was a penal colony on Sarah Island in the Bay, infamous for the dreadful and inhumane treatment of prisoners. However, growing in the area was the Huon pine, which produced the perfect wood for ship-building,  it was particularly resistant to wood rot and therefore ideal in boatyards.

Ship-building started in 1824 and in 1827 8269 logs of Huon pine were collected, as well as other woods. This was the same year as David arrived; he was by then a Master Shipwright, and helped develop Strahan as a centre for ship-building, using convict labour, of course. David is credited with ushering in a surge of productivity and Sarah Island became at that time  the largest shipyard in the whole of Australia.  113 different ships were produced, mainly between the years of 1828-1832. Some of the ships were massive, including a 250 ton barque, six brigs, at least seven schooners and more than 70 other boats. David himself was responsible for designing and building 96 boats.

Sarah Island (credit M.Murphy)

The Sarah Island shipyard closed in 1833 and by 1838 David had moved to Hobart where he married Janet Millar, she was born in about 1785 and may have had a son 17 year old Alexander. Alexander was born and died in Port Arthur and is buried on the Isle of the Dead. Janet definitely had another son called James who was born in 1826; he died early too at the age of 40, and she had a daughter who she was visiting when she died, also of apoplexy.

David was involved in a mutiny in 1834… but that is for another story!

David continued his success as a shipwright in Hobart… and this takes me to what triggered my interest in him; in 1847 he built a barque, The Lady Denison. This was bought by my great-great-grandfather Samuel Moses and his partner, Louis Nathan.  He must have known Samuel, he must have shaken his hand when they did the deal, maybe they took wine together… maybe the Scottish Presbyterian and the Jew were friends?

David’s signature in 1834

River Cruise on Board M.C.Belle, 30th August 1937

We woke on Monday morning at 8:30p.m. and this was shortly followed by a brisk swim in the river the water being very cold. After dressing and attending to the engine, we took a trip down to the farm which was about 1/2 mile away and collected the milk which we had ordered. Breakfast was soon prepared after we had returned.

The remainder of the morning was spent in fishing and exploring the neighbouring copse on the other side of the river. For dinner we had corned beef, beans and potatoes followed by pineapple and condensed milk. In the afternoon we decided to go for a ramble round by a wood, passing the old mill, which we had previously explored, on our way.

The old mill

The old mill

We had to push our way through long distances of rushes which came about shoulder high, and climb overhanging trees to get across marshy pools and streams. It was while we were groping our way along, that we found a couple of swans eggs which we found after we had broken them; they were very antique. In fact we made our way from them as quickly as possible.

After uselessly trying to stalk two wood pigeons, we returned for tea. In the evening we fished, Snick catching nearly all the roach in the net.

Fishing

As my pen has run out I shall have to continue in pencil until we can buy some.

The evening at the Dragon resulted in a very close and exciting dart match between the Cambridgeites and the Fenites. The Fenites one by two matches to one. It was all due to “Old Percy” who, by the way has forsaken his “bombers.”

As my pen has run out of ink, I shall have to continue in pencil…

I love their style of writing, especially the incident when they accidentally trod on the old and very smelly swans’ eggs. Interesting reminder that there were no ball-point pens in those days and they were using a fountain pen and ink, which ran out. There is one little spelling error – ‘one’ instead of ‘won.’ Goodness knows what Percy’s bombers are – very smelly cigarettes maybe! The boys come from Cambridge, hence Cambridgeites, and where they are camping is in the are of England known as the Fens. The Fens,in East Anglia,  is a vast area of low-lying, peaty land, well-drained now by lodes – drainage channels