Thursday 11 June 2009

Onto Dartmoor we go, holiday part 2

So I left you intrepid readers at the close of the day on Friday with a full two days of adventures still to go. Saturday morning we awoke to see overcast skies and the promise of rain. Hey we thought, it only looks like rain and we are on holiday it won't rain.

Yes, I admit it, we were wrong. We had walked into Torquay and the heavens opened. As my boots filled with water and Sam whipped her pac mac out we decided even with shops to shelter in enough was enough, we beat a hasty retreat back to the house, only stopping to sample the local cream tea at cafe Driftwood (essential, when in Devon...). In the evening (it was very much still raining) a girlie film was selected (in this case the excellent romance and clothes drama, the devil wears Prada, and we took the car to Drakes fish & chip shop and acquired some most excellent fish & chips. An early night was decided upon as it just wouldn't stop raining. After a night of blissful rest (I think it was the food, or the bottle of red that somehow mysteriously appeared next to it) we awoke to clear skies (hooray, house high five). We decided to make the most of the day and headed off to what my father refers to as 'the Blackpool of the south'. Ladies & Gentlemen I give you Paignton Pier in all its glory.

And what a time was had, we gained (and lost) a fortune on the 2 penny slots, had our fortune told by a wind up gypsy (who I was clearly a bit too much for as I broke her and had to go and find a repair man) and had a go on the infamous grab machines. Our kid (my youngest brother) is a dab hand at these things and his absence was keenly felt at Paignton, I was useless but Sam managed to bag a care bear for herself and a pilchard cat (its the blue cat from Bob the builder) for me. Clutching our new prizes and a handful of rock/clotted cream fudge for housemates and workmates alike we headed into the wilderness of Dartmoor.

Our first destination (and pretty much the only destination I know how to get too on Dartmoor) was the excellent Rock inn ( Its quite near the outskirts but its still pretty desolate. It was a 16th century coaching inn, and the character has remained despite the changing times (when we were outside the low light made us wonder whether it was actually open). It is also reputedly the local pub of choice for folk heart throb and local lad Seth Lakeman, although I've been in there a few times (and embarrassingly my mum asked if the barmaids knew him) we've had no luck from either tactic. Not sure what I'd say to him if I did see him in there to be honest so we won't dwell. After having a drink (Jail ale, which is brewed on Dartmoor for me and a ginger beer for the lady/driver) we headed off in search of Sunday afternoon's goal. Jay's grave. This story has been told many times, most recently possibly on the aforementioned Seth's 2nd album, Kitty Jay.The story goes that Jay was a local orphaned baby back in the late eighteenth century, 1790 is the most common estimate. She was taken into the Poor House at Newton Abbot where she was named, as was the custom, with a surname beginning with whatever letter the Poor House had progressed to, in this case 'J'. As many of the commoner letters had been taken the baby girl ended up with 'Jay'. In those days the word 'Jay' was also a slang term for a prostitute so the Christian name of Mary was added. She was taken in by a local farming estate to work for them, which reputedly is where she got the name of Kitty. However trouble was afoot, the landowners son took a bit of a shine to her and had his wicked way. With a name like Jay it was easy for the farmer who was her employer to condemned her, saying she had thrown herself at his son. Before she knew what was happening she was pregnant by the farmers son and being cast out onto the moors by his father. Kitty knew that her prospects of future employment were ruined, she would have to go back to the poor house. She wandered for a while cold and alone, before taking the only route left apart from the poor house and hanging herself in one of the barns. She was buried, as all suicides of that time were, at a crossroads, so that if her spirit came back to haunt those who had caused her suicide it would be confused by the crossed paths. We took a few flowers from my parents back garden and went to pay our respects. After quite a few wrong turns we found what we were looking for

The grave of a young girl.

By this time the moors were brooding and it looked like more (ohh I've done it again, more/moor, this time not intentional, honest) heavy rain was on its way so we escaped while we still could.

Back to the comfort and dryness of the house to do the washing up, packing up and enjoying our final night in Devon. Monday morning dawned at last and we packed the car, but there was one more treat to brighten our way back to the heartland of Oxfordshire. On the way back we stopped off at Glastonbury and visited Glastonbury Abbey.

The ruins at the Abbey are really special and there was a lot more information there/things to see than at Berry Pomroy.

Although once again we got lost looking for graves (the body count on this trip really was quite high now I think of it). Anyway here is the supposed tomb of King Arthur (my old medieval teacher would have you believe he's was, and in fact still is in Glastonbury Torre) . The sign says the following "Site of King Arthur's Tomb. In the year 1101 the bodies of King Arthur and his Queen were said to have been found on the South side of the lady chapel (the corner pictured above). On April 10th 1278 their remains were removed in the presence of King Edward and Queen Elanor to a black Marble Tomb on this site. This Tomb survived until the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539."

And here it is marked by an outline of stones.

And that concluded our trip of the South. We returned home Sam to her houseshare, me to Dave the housemate and a very put out Mabel cat. It was a great holiday though.

1 comment:

Gretel said...

oh, Jay's Grave...that brought back some memories, poor little girl. I remember being taken past it and told the story (changed a bit, for discretion, I was told that she'd been wrongly accused of stealing, hence the name Jay) when we lived on the edge of Dartmoor, in a little tour bus called The Pony Express which went round the local legend sites; fittingly it was a dank, misty day, and made a big impression on an imaginative 7 year old. I'm now wishing we'd gone to South devon instead on North, for our hols...


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