Clutch, and the front door latches behind me. Pooped, me not the door. I’m home! It’s cold. Tea me up! Damn, I need to go get some milk. Hmm… and food. Proper peckish, I am. What do I want? Oh God, it starts already… indecision. I’ve had a handful of nuts, a few cheese biscuits of a well known brand that I can’t remember the name of, a good portion of a chocolate muffin, and I think that’s it. I’m feeling pasta with garlic bread and some arancini — yeah, that’ll hit the spot.
I’ve just got back from a place called Chagford, the jewel of Dartmoor — not to be mispronounced. I spent the weekend there with my best friend Kayte and her family and I’ve had a wonderful time existing outside the usual same old.
Chagford is a delightfully narrow and quaint village with a good selection of shops, pubs and eateries (The Globe gives out free muffins to those with the need), and its people are welcoming and chatty. You could easily lose hours perusing the gravestones, the knickknacks, and the wine selection — the food and booze burnt off on the hill and dale walk home is a bonus — and it snowed, I made Cleetus the Snowman, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
We stayed at Down Cottage, a cottage some country-mile from the centre of life, and it was pleasantly comfortable with a fire in the hearth roaring and a glass of wine. Somewhat decently appointed, its quirks went by unnoticed once their inconveniences were felt, and its view over the valley was lovely, especially at night when the moon rose through the stars. The beds were comfortable, the bath didn’t seem level, and it was warm and dry, and had signal and WiFi, and everything else you’d expect like doors and curtains, floors etc. If I were allowed to leave my mark on the property I’d put a sink in the downstairs loo (it is certainly big enough) and I’d have the open fire in the living room as opposed to in the dinning room (or in both!), but then sinks aren’t everything and TVs can be moved, although the 50s/60s/70s throwback decor would have to go, no quibble.
We were a stones throw from the main house, built of a grey stone used in headstones. Granite, I believe, but I had a D in AS Geology and when I was selling masonry in the funeral home I had a brochure, so it was a grey stone that’s very cold and sombre looking. Resident here were a duo of friendly but mischievous Dobermans, and a third dog of a breed that Kayte might know but I don’t (it was black and on a lead so clearly more naughty) — they were quick to greet us and did so with surprise. We walked the grounds that were vast and well kept, and we took in the air of nature. We found some stables but unless horses can turn into assorted stored things we didn’t find any horses, which was a shame. I like horses, used to own some you know — a missed opportunity to be a smart arse.
I had a great time with great people — I drank a lot, I ate a lot, I laughed — what more could be needed?
This morning with it being home time, and because Kayte and Co. live the complete opposite direction to myself, I was a brave boy and caught the bus to Exeter before catching the train home. Brave is definitely the right word to use. The 173 Dartline service from Chagford to Exeter is an experience worthy of Thrill Seekers Weekly — for £3.80 you get thrown through narrow country curves, experience G-forces an astronaut would envy, and all to the driver’s screams of incoherence that could only have meant that we were alive and he was taking us to the edge. The train was a train, actually 2 trains that were running on time — I don’t praise expectation so there we have it, I’m home!
Tea. Damn, shop — ta-ra!