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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Clod-hopping on Dartmoor - and a valuable point at Exeter.


Back from a trip to Exeter, and what may be a last taste of summer. We flew down from Newcastle (and I can report that it’s a lot faster, and a lot more comfortable than taking the train) and, having arrived in glorious sunshine, were taken to see a stretch of the south Devon coastline. This is red sandstone country - which I write with a degree of hesitation but, having looked it up in wikipedia, can now confirm. However, for some reason my pictures have failed to pick up the actual colour of the cliffs. They are a far richer red than  that. Wrong setting, I suspect - the result of carrying the thing around in my trouser pocket.


This has, of course, been the lousiest summer any of us can remember, and what fruits have survived are very late indeed. There are a few ripe blackberries here and there, but still an awful lot of red ones, and my worry is that, should they manage to ripen over the next week or two, they’ll be lacking in flavour. Still, I’d better try to hunt some down over the next few afternoons. The idea of entering winter without a few brambles in the freezer isn’t worth thinking about.


On Friday A and I took off to have a look at Dartmoor, entering by way of Belstone village, where they still have the stocks on display.



There were moments when, through half-closed eyes, I could’ve persuaded myself I was back in the Nebraska Sandhills. The difference, of course, is in what lies underfoot - namely, marshy holes, sharp rocks, and gorse. Our big mistake, having climbed that tor in the distance [tor: a rocky peak or hill] was in deciding to make our way back across what looked like a grassy hillside, along the side of a gently sloping valley. So rough was the terrain that the two or three miles took us almost as many hours. The most unpleasant part was stumbling, as we did frequently, into a bog-hole, thus wetting our feet. And, of course, with such irregular terrain there were frequent stumbles. Every time we reached forward to break our fall on a tussock of grass there was a good chance that it hid a neatly trimmed gorse-bush. One can only assume that the gorse had been grazed by the sheep - or horses - and that they are singularly tough individuals.


Saturday I took myself  off to St James Park  and joined 191 other York City supporters who had made the 570-mile round trip for the game against top-of-the-table Exeter. We dominated the first half, went a goal up just before the hour, then allowed Exeter back into the game. Not surprisingly, they snatched a late equaliser - although they had to thank their goalie for a crucial save at the foot of the post in injury-time. It saved what would have been a dramatic winner for the Minstermen. Still, we are undefeated in six league games since that opening-day defeat. Not a bad start for a newly-promoted team.


The trouble with a long weekend - we flew back Monday midday - is that it presents you with a shortened working week. I now have three days in which to get some work done, before heading down to Leeds, Thursday afternoon, to be a grandfather for a day or two. Dash dash dash.