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More Local Views – Haytor and Widecombe-In-The-Moor

Posted by cotojo on March 3, 2009

Over last weekend my daughter came to stay and as the weather was dry we decided to go to Dartmoor.  Now, Dartmoor is a wide open expanse  of moorland in the centre of Devon, England and is protected by National Park status, it covers 368 square miles (953 square km).

Firstly, we drove out through the village of Bovey Tracey and headed up the winding country lanes that lead to Haytor.

Haytor seen from the car park

Haytor seen from the car park

Haytor

Haytor

Haytor or Hay Tor is a granite tor on Dartmoor and has a height of 457 metres and is situated right on the eastern side of the moor, providing excellent views of the coastline, the Teign estuary and the rolling countryside between, with the ridge of Haldon behind. It is near the village of Haytor Vale in the parish of Ilsington and until the late 18th century Haytor was known as Itterdown.

Adjacent Haytor Rocks

Adjacent Haytor Rocks

Haytor and the adjacent Haytor Rocks, is a natural beauty spot popular with coach parties and walking groups.  The granite here is of a particularly high quality and there are several disused quarries near the tor, the rock being transported by the Haytor Granite Tramway to the Stover Canal.

Quarry Face

Quarry Face

Inside Quarry Basin

Inside Quarry Basin

The tramway itself was built out of the granite it would carry,much of which remains visible today.  Granite from the quarry was also used in the construction of London Bridge which was opened in 1831, but by 1962 the bridge was sinking and had to be replaced. The last rock was quarried here in 1919 and it was used for the Exeter war memorial.

Piles of Granite Blocks from Quarry

Piles of Granite Blocks from Quarry

Haytor on left looking over the Teign Valley

Haytor on left looking over the Teign Valley

View to West over Dartmoor

View to West over Dartmoor

After walking back down to the car park we drove on to Widecombe-In-The-Moor which is probably best known for Widecombe Fair, held annually and celebrated by a well-known folksong of the same name, featuring ‘Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All’.

Widecombe-In-The-Moor

Widecombe-In-The-Moor from Widecombe Hill

Widecombe-In-The-Moor sign depicting Uncle Tom Cobley and All

Widecombe-In-The-Moor sign depicting Uncle Tom Cobley and All

The church of St Pancras is known as the ‘Cathedral of the Moors’ in recognition of its 120 foot tower and relatively large capacity for such a small village. The church was originally built in the fourteenth century using locally quarried granite and was enlarged over the following two centuries, partly on the proceeds of the local tin mining trade.

The church clock tower

The church clock tower

Inside, the ceiling is decorated with a large number of decorative roof bosses, including the tinner’s emblem of a circle of three hares (known locally as the Tinners’ Rabbits).

The church was badly damaged in the Great Thunderstorm of 1638, apparently struck by ball lightning during a severe thunderstorm. An afternoon service was taking place at the time, and the building was packed with aaround 300 worshippers. Four of them were killed and some 60 injured. According to local legend, the Great Thunderstorm was caused by the village being visited by the Devil.

The Church bell clappers from 1638

The Church bell clappers from 1638

In Widecombe churchyard is the grave of novelist Beatrice Chase who spent much of her life in a cottage close to the village. Her real name was Olive Katharine Parr, and she claimed to be a direct descendant of William Parr, the brother of Catherine, the sixth wife of Henry VIII.  Chase was often referred to as ‘The Lady of the Moor’ following the publication of John Oxenham’s novel in which she was the heroine. The book was called My Lady of the Moor, and she simply adopted the title.

Headstone of Beatrice Chase -The Lady In The Moor

Headstone of Beatrice Chase -The Lady In The Moor

She died in 1955, and was buried in Widecombe churchyard. The small granite cross on her grave is inscribed with Beatrice Chase on one side and Olive Katharine Parr on the other.

Reverse side of Beatrice Chase headstone

Reverse side of Beatrice Chase headstone

The village is very small, but locals would walk for many miles over the open moorland from other hamlets to attend church, and the pathways across the moor can still be seen and are also used by many walkers. Even now, it has around 196 households.

The village is full of old buildings and one of the earliest signs of a settlement is the Saxon Well, which is said to never run dry.  One of the most picturesque wells in Devon, even if its antiquity is disputed. Located downhill from the centre of the village, just below the old post office this charming little well is known variously as ‘Holy’, ‘Wishing’ and most commonly ‘Saxon Well’, although no one really knows how old it is. More recently coins have been thrown in and  a door was fitted.

Saxon Well

Saxon Well

Inside the Well

Inside the Well

The lyrics of Devon’s best known folk song tell a simple enough story, seven men and a grey mare set off for Widecombe Fair, but before completing their journey the old horse becomes sick and dies.  People from mid-Devon would have travelled to the annual livestock sale at Widecombe at the end of every summer to trade their goods for sheep and it is this cross-country journey that is described in the lyrics of the song.

The song lyrics, in full:

Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare.
All along, down along, out along lee.
For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

And when shall I see again my grey mare?
All along, down along, out along lee.
By Friday soon, or Saturday noon,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

So they harnessed and bridled the old grey mare.
All along, down along, out along lee.
And off they drove to Widecombe fair,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

Then Friday came, and Saturday noon.
All along, down along, out along lee.
But Tom Pearce’s old mare hath not trotted home,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

So Tom Pearce he got up to the top o’ the hill.
All along, down along, out along lee.
And he seed his old mare down a-making her will,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

So Tom Pearce’s old mare, her took sick and died.
All along, down along, out along lee.
And Tom he sat down on a stone, and he cried
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

But this isn’t the end o’ this shocking affair.
All along, down along, out along lee.
Nor, though they be dead, of the horrid career
Of Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

When the wind whistles cold on the moor of the night.
All along, down along, out along lee.
Tom Pearce’s old mare doth appear ghastly white,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

And all the long night be heard skirling and groans.
All along, down along, out along lee.
From Tom Pearce’s old mare in her rattling bones,
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

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Posted in Haytor, Haytor and Widecombe-In-The-Moor, Life, Widecombe-In-The-Moor | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Monday Already

Posted by cotojo on February 23, 2009

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Posted in fun, Life, Monday Already | Tagged: , , , | 32 Comments »

Friday the 13th

Posted by cotojo on February 13, 2009

Are you superstitious?  It is estimated that 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed.

According to folklores, there is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century.

Most folklore is passed on through oral traditions and determining the origins of superstitions is an inexact science, at best. In fact, it’s mostly guesswork.  Consequently, several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition.

Friday 13th

In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness:  twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus and so on, whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular.

There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects.

Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday was the day that Jesus was crucified.

The actual origin of the superstition appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil – a gathering of thirteen and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as ‘Witches’ Sabbath.’

Another theory traces the event to the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar. According to one expert:

“The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118, whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. Over the next two centuries, the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy. Threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 – Friday the 13th.”

The connection between the superstition and the Knights Templar was made popular in the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code.

It wasn’t until the 20th centurythat the superstition became common, with little evidence to support it prior to 1907 when Thomas Lawson’s novel ‘Friday, the Thirteenth’ was published, telling the story of an unscrupulous broker taking advantage of the superstition to create a panic on Wall Street on a Friday the 13th.

Have a wonderful Friday the 13th!

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Posted in Friday the 13th, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Innocent Humor of Children

Posted by cotojo on January 30, 2009

JACK (age 3) was watching his Mom breast-feeding his new baby sister. After a while he asked: ‘Mom why have you got two? Is one for hot and one for cold milk?’

MELANIE (age 5) asked her Granny how old she was. Granny replied she was so old she didn’t remember any more. Melanie said, ‘If you don’t remember you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say five to six.’

STEVEN (age 3) hugged and kissed his Mom good night. ‘I love you so much that when you die I’m going to bury you outside my bedroom window.’

BRITTANY (age 4) had an ear ache and wanted a pain killer. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seeing her frustration, her Mom explained it was a child-proof cap and she’d have to open it for her. Eyes wide with wonder, the little girl asked: ‘How does it know it’s me?’

SUSAN (age 4) was drinking juice when she got the hiccups: ‘Please don’t give me this juice again’ she said ‘It makes my teeth cough.’

DJ (age 4) stepped onto the bathroom scale and asked: ‘How much do I cost?’

MARC (age 4) was engrossed in a young couple that were hugging and kissing in a restaurant. Without taking his eyes off them, he asked his dad: ‘Why is he whispering in her mouth?’

CLINTON (age 5) was in his bedroom looking worried When his Mom asked what was troubling him, he replied, ‘I don’t know what will happen with this bed when I get married. How will my wife fit in it?’

JAMES (age 4) was listening to a Bible story. His Dad read: ‘The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and ‘flee’ out of the city but his wife looked back and was turned to salt.’  Concerned, James asked: ‘What happened to the flea?’

HOLLY (age 4) was with her mother when they met an elderly, rather wrinkled woman her Mom knew. Holly looked at her for a while and then asked: ‘Why doesn’t your skin fit your face?’

The Sermon I think this Mom will never forget. This particular Sunday sermon ‘Dear Lord,’ the minister began, with arms extended toward heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face. ‘Without you, we are but dust.’  He would have continued but at that moment the Mom’s very obedient daughter who was listening leaned over and asked quite audibly in her shrill little four year old girl voice, ‘Mom, what is butt dust?’

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Posted in Life, The Innocent Humor of Children | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Tickle Me Elmo!

Posted by cotojo on January 23, 2009

There is a factory in Northern Minnesota which makes the Tickle Me Elmo toys. The toy laughs when you tickle it under the arms.

Well, Lena is hired at The Tickle Me Elmo factory and she reports for her first day promptly at 8:00 am.

The next day at 8:45 am there is a knock at the Personnel Manager’s door. The Foreman throws open the door and begins to rant about the new Employee.

He complains that she is incredibly slow and the whole line is backing up, putting the entire production line behind schedule.

The Personnel Manager decides he should see this for himself, so the 2 men march down to the factory floor. When they get there the line is so backed up that there are Tickle Me Elmo’s all over the factory floor and they’re really beginning to pile up.

At the end of the line stands Lena surrounded by mountains of Tickle Me Elmo’s She has a roll of plush Red fabric and a huge bag of small marbles.

The 2 men watch in amazement as she cuts a little piece of fabric, wraps it around two marbles and begins to carefully sew the little package between Elmo’s legs.

The Personnel Manager bursts into laughter. After several minutes of hysterics he pulls himself together and approaches Lena .

‘I’m sorry,’ he says to her, barely able to keep a straight face, ‘but I think you misunderstood the instructions I gave you yesterday… ‘

‘Your job is to give Elmo two test tickles.’

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Posted in fun, Humor, Life | Tagged: , , , | 12 Comments »