Cove Diary 1995
occasionally poetic commemoration of an extended family holiday
Yesterday we arrived at Hope Cove in brilliant sunshine. The temperature has been in the low 30’s (very hot) though it’s a bit windy. I have been for my daily run, but have noticed that the hills have got higher again, just as they did last year. It’s something to do with global warming, I expect. Today it was the end of Wimbledon (well, not the end of Wimbledon, as such, I mean the place is still there, or at least I hope it is or there’ll be another impossible day at Clapham Junction on Monday, I mean the end of the tennis), but we entertained ourselves on the beach digging irrigation systems. There were some Germans (they got there first, of course) who insisted on sullenly breaking down every dam we built but with reinforcements in the shape of Nicholas and his brother from Rossendale we soon saw them off. This evening Tessa, Marie-Noelle, Emma and Joel have gone up the hill to look at the view, while Adam is asleep and a little sunburned. The journey from
on the motorway?
in the car
can be very dull,
and to brighten things up
along came a bull.
We saw it
by the motorway
with two policemen
trying to get it away.
poking at it
with a long brown broom
to escape their doom.
would have happened
if he got onto the road?
All the cars would have to stop
or he’d be a dead toad.
to brighten our day
we’d be sitting in the car
with nothing to say!
A bull nearly went on the road one day—
it stopped right at the motorway!
of course, provided
insights into the deeper significance:
I saw thee in one moment’s
proud and defiant (and quite clearly out of place),
and yet, reflecting on the incident just now,
I reckon on the whole you were probably a cow.
from Tessa, the
police, keep a bull at bay!
What better way to earn your pay!
the last word from
Look, Adam, its a bull...
Overnight there was a tremendous thunderstorm. Everyone woke up except for Emma. No-one was frightened by the thunder, but every few minutes all the lights went off for a few seconds, and Adam didn’t like this, so he spent the rest of the night with Mummy while Dad slept in Adam’s bed. Today Daddy spent as much time as he could asleep. Or tried to.
the morning Mummy,
Emma, Joel and Adam (“the nuisance” - Emma) went to get a newspaper.
a little boat. Adam didn’t want to get his feet sandy, which is
something of a
challenge when you are walking across a beach. Then when Mum washed
didn’t want to get them wet. Later we went to Mouthwell beach where we
the stream with the boys from Rossendale. Then Daddy went and bought a
boat, as Emma had been asking him to every five minutes and this seemed
best way to try and get some more sleep. The boat was a black and
inflatable dinghy big enough for two to sit in, with two oars. This
after supper, Emma and Joel rowed from the jetty to the beach, while
followed them along the shore and stubbed his toe regularly on the
poem, requested by
Tessa, is about Adam’s favourite cuddly toy.
likes to play with cars
and eating lots of chocit bars
and building castles in the sun
and shouting NO!!! at everyone
but most of all he likes to be
with one out of his special three:
one’s just ”Bunny”, one’s called “New”
but “Different Bunny” heads the queue!
Different Bunny used to be
white and fluffy (just like me!),
now he sags and flops about
as if his stuffing had come out.
His fur is rough, his coat is faded,
his grubby ears are limp and jaded
but it would take a special rabbit
to break Ad’s Different Bunny habit
it was muggy and
miserable a lot of the time so the beach was a non-starter, at least
afternoon. We ate our Golden Grahams and about eleven o’clock set off
Ivybridge to the South Devon Leisure Emporium. Well it was actually
Centre but a true Emporium it was. Two swimming pools, one in, one out,
latter large and entirely empty due to a brief onset of the Ice Age.
though did not deter Emma, who in her charming, gently insistent way
that two lifeguards were despatched out of doors to supervise all
the tribe making free with the facilities. In fact it was pleasant
outside (in the water at least) with the result that getting back into
indoor pool had the effect of entering a sauna. Tessa once more
Tourist Information Centre, returning triumphant with another clutch of
leaflets and the knowledge that the legendary Sea Tractor had been
between 10 and 1 making its way between Bigbury and
(after the manner of Thomas Hardy)
from Kingsbridge on the road -
And car after car drove sullenly by
In an endless line,
And the the road ahead was wan and gray
While I in my heart tried to be gay
As we drove along that dismal day
was shrunken, like my heart
Though it was an “A”
With barely room for two to pass
And looking up the track ahead
The trailer lights burned brightly red
And began reversing back instead
Right in our way.
Oh, had I
known what that vehicle was
In the bitter queue
I might not now look back upon
Such waste with rue,
For we were too preoccupied
To reach the swimming pool (inside)
And so impatiently decried
The Portable Loo.
golden minutes there we sat
And yet knew not
This was the zenith, all afterwards
Would go to pot.
Now when our loo is blocked, I think next
Of the time that our life had a simpler text
When the Loo blocked the road, and we were vexed
On the A329.
is Joel’s more
Loo on the road?!
One day when we were
going to the swimming pool
to brighten things up
it was portable
(portable means that
you can carry it).
The road was blocked.
It took about 10mins
to get past.
The Day of the Tractor. We set off to Bigbury at 11 following the information supplied by the Ivybridge Centre. But we were misled. The Sea Tractor ventures out only at higher tide, so we would have to wait until late afternoon. The Beast itself lay sleeping at the foot of
Mont St Michel
was all very well
but clearly lacked a
Today was the day of the Famous Devon Artist. Each Thursday he takes up residence in the Reading Room at Hope Cove. For weeks Joel had been planning to take him a picture of Thurlestone. This was finished (with a second copy for Mum & Dad) this morning, and we made our pilgrimage (30 yards up the road) to the FDA’s studio. Joe gave him his picture. He showed Joe how to paint shadow onto rocks, and gave him a laser copy of a photo of
The Artist Song
Words and music by E and J Rust
We’re going to see the Artist
with paintings in each hand!
Today we went to Pennywell Farm, where the following activities were undertaken by Emma and Joel, with Adam’s occasional intervention:
Feeding milk to lambs
Sitting on a tractor (Adam)
(Joel took one home to eat for breakfast next morning)
Sitting on a tractor again (Adam)
Milking a cow (Joel 2 spurts, Emma 1)
Ferret racing (learning that ferrets are very smelly)
Want to sit on tractor again (Adam)
Spinning wool (Emma and Joel)
Holding pet ducks and rabbits
Riding ponies and donkey
(Emma twice, Joel 3 times, Adam twice)
Final ritual sitting on tractor
At noon Mary, Colin, Michael, Judy, John and Anne arrived to take up residence in Eddystone next door. Hope Beach House has six flats, all named after local rocks, and we’re in Thurlestone, which is the bottom left. Eddystone is bottom right, so we now get to hog the front patio and the flowers in the low wall between the two front doors are taking a terrible pounding. Colin and Mary are the Grandparents, the other four are Great-Aunts-and-Uncles, except that John is Colin’s cousin as well as being his brother-in-law, which makes everyone related to everyone twice, including being his own second cousin, I think. We had a Grand Lunch prepared apparently by someone called Al Fresco who I suppose is a local chef. Adam had a good afternoon shouting “NO” at everyone, and then we went to order fish and chips from the Lobster Pot. Eleven portions of cod and chips were obviously the culinary highlight of Hope Cove’s weekend and stretched its catering resources to the limit. At 8.30, as we played progressive table tennis, Julia’s little red car drove up. And Julia was inside it.
In the morning an expotition walked to Sawmill Cove. Everyone except Daddy (childminding Adam) and Colin and John (reading the Sunday papers and talking about Important Things). Daddy drove to Bolberry Down with refreshments 45 mins later (stamina takes time to build up on these outdoor pursuit weekends). Everyone wanted to continue to Sawmill Cove, except Mary who insisted she had been sold a dummy and that there had been many Frightening Drops on the way, so Daddy took her back with Adam.
hour later, all the
stay-at-homes drove back to Bolberry to meet the Long Marchers for a
After lunch we took to the beach for an Epic Game of Rounders, which
several hundred innings. John’s catching ability showed that his choice
over sport as a career was probably sound. Adam ran round very fast at
opportunity. Daddy made a series of breathtakingly athletic catches at
back-stop [how did this stuff get in here? - Ed].
The preponderance of
lefties among the teams caused Emma and Marie-NoŽlle to run several
between balls as the cry “Left-hander” rang out across the sandflats.
Colin propelled the ball great distances. Emma’s team finally won
the grown-ups (well anyway, the bigger people) went to Salcombe for a
Anne got cramp so Colin massaged her leg during the first course. The
the jazz band insulted Volvo drivers. All in all a highly successful
Michael and Judy couldn’t take the pace and slipped through the police cordons back to
unstoppably, and then unaccountably stopped, after Tessa had hit three
consecutive rounders and led them into a 5-0 lead. Julia demonstrated
ingenuity by successfully bowling, batting and fielding while being
surgically attached to a two-year-old (that is, Adam). However, her
did not, unfortunately count double and Joel’s team hung on for a 6-4
before the tea interval was called. (I’m not quite sure what it was
though “Gerald” seems a nice enough name). Colin has been helping
with her translations. With such a tutor, of course, you would not
mundane material. Anyone walking in could hear excerpts from
Dull weather. Weaving Day. Everyone aching from Rounders. An expedition was mounted back to base camp [Somerfields in Kingsbridge] for supplies. Julia was chief entertainment officer. She helped Emma set up to weave a wonderful “E”, and then took Emma and Joel out to run up and down the beach to wear off this excess energy that the rest of us dimly remember.
the evening Joel did
some equally successful weaving. Colin and John entertained each other
testing each other with snatches of classical pieces whistled or hummed
less in tune. Godfrey’s early enthusiasm for the game waned quickly
when he learned
that mid-60s Beach Boys’ songs are not technically considered to be
Music, so retired to bed complaining of being unwell (or perhaps just
complaining). Marie-Noelle is now translating excerpts from Becket and
the lighter parts of Bertrand Russell’s History Of Western
scene then changed to
an old railway, but with strangely the same people hurrying onto a
the back were what seemed a group of Grumblers, regularly muttering “Do
to rush? Do we have to rush?” The train vanished into a tunnel,
in a place
remarkably like Blackpool, at which time I was attended by a vision, I
why, of one of the party (a man with grey-white hair who regularly
air of mild bewilderment) seated, mouth open, in a deck-chair with a
handkerchief on his head. All around him ran small children
bats, while an indeterminate number of women miraculously each holding
different simultaneous conversations with themselves and each other
left and right. I was overwhelmed by this vision and fell down as if
then awoke, and am left pondering its significance, and continue to
enlightenment. This evening, Marie-Noelle translated fourteen chapters
Dickens, Eliot’s “Notes Towards A Definition Of Culture” and, for
selection of James Thurber.
69th birthday. He
was well booked: Sebastian Faulkes’ Birdsong (“Magnificent
moving”, Sunday Times) from John, Anita Brookner’s Incident
in the Rue
Lougier from Marie-NoŽlle, Rachel Cusk’s Saving
Agnes from Mary,
along with a kite (unclear if there is any connection at this point),
socks from Tessa and Godfrey, and the following poem from Godfrey:
Marie-NoŽlle walked from Salcombe around the coast path back to Hope
liberally punctuated with refreshment breaks. Emma, Joel and Adam spent
morning burning on the beach with Dad and Mary on hand with the sun
Daddy went for a run up to Malborough and kept going up all the hills
nearly). Colin read things, and in the evening was taken for dinner at
Pot. The evening began inauspiciously. The pub had not reserved a
could smell drains. But we took over the tables outside, with
structural rearrangement, and the drains turned out to be seaweed.
outdoors in the balmy (that’s with an ‘L’) evening, things began to
look up. As
in some Mediterranean cities the local youth parades itself up and down
main thoroughfares in the evenings to be seen, in Hope Cove they seem
their dogs. A whole contingent of Crufts’ also-rans came by, again and
We ordered, several lobsters (Colin wisely having steak and kidney pie
deference to his white shirt). All that the al fresco scene lacked was
harbour view, but this feature could be gained, however, by jumping up
table and travelling some twenty yards round the corner of the Post
look at the impending sunset over
logistic support to
the Semillon, while Mary and Anne completed the crustacean rout. Tessa
just in time to eat her lobster pavlova, and find a candle for Colin to
out. The evening was a great success. Back at home, Marie-NoŽlle had
War & Peace and would have completed the
third volume of Voltaire’s
Letters had Adam not wanted her to read Big Trucks
The day started, as all last days of a holiday should, with progressive Tabletennis. Both Emma and Joel have improved dramatically here, though Joel’s “in-off-the-roof-beam” shot has been referred for legal judgement to the Chinese authorities. Tessa, Julia, Anne and Emma then went to
the beach (Adam
having lost all his clothes again), Colin flying his kite (well, what
and Mary and Anne, well, being Mary and Anne and making sure that
wet that couldn’t be dried and that someone would be in a fit state to
tea; and later, John did just that, recapturing the glories of the
appearing on the beach with a tray, teapot, mugs and glasses of orange
for the kids. Then there was supper, with a remarkable plate of
lettuce, and a
really good sunset. The end of a splendid holiday is always a little
it was clear that the time was right to leave. Marie-NoŽlle, having
all available literary resources, was reduced to producing Chaucerian
adaptations of the South Devon Tourist Attractions leaflets, and
had been stripped clean of Golden Grahams. So, goodbye Hope Cove. For