Owl baby 2105

We’ve had our own owl baby again this year. I am told, by those that know these sort of things, that it is a tawny owl baby and jolly noisy it is too.

We have plenty of tawny owls around here, so it is no surprise that they have been breeding and I’m delighted that it has been successful – so far. A couple of months ago I started hearing a rusty creaking sound in the trees during the evenings. Over the past few weeks it has gradually resolved into a more recognisable “Kee-wick” though it still has a way to go before it turns into the true adult sound.

It can be quite startling when I go out with Rocky at night to hear this loud, creaky screech very close to the house, but I’ve gradually got  used to it so don’t jump quite so high. Like all fledglings our owl baby can be very persistent and will sit and call for it’s parents to feed it for hours during the night.

One night, when returning home late, I found it sitting on the drive looking a bit bemused about the world. It was at the base of a large tree and turning it’s head to an improbable degree.  As it didn’t seem to know what a car was it stayed where it was as I sat and watched it and then very slowly moved closer and closer. Eventually it had the sense to take off clumsily, nearly blundering into the hedge, but just clearing it and making it into a tree.

I was worried that the recent heavy rain might have  caused it problems, but late last night when the rain finally cleared I heard that unmistakable creaky “kee-wick” again. Owl baby 2015 is nearly grown up!

Posted in Countryside, Dartmoor, Hill-walking, Rambling, River Dart, Uncategorized, Village life, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Dartmoor goes to the seaside for a good cause

It’s not every Tuesday afternoon in the summer holidays that we go to Salcombe. Nor is it every time that we visit Salcombe that we keep bumping in to friends and neighbours from Dartmoor.

This Tuesday, 4th August 2015, was a bit special though. Everywhere we looked, by the waterfront in Salcombe, was someone we knew – the local farmer, his wife and three children were on the harbour wall, the vicar was at the back of a large crowd, friends were rattling collecting buckets. The reason for all this activity was the end of an epic journey.

In December 2012 a local  man, Luke Rainey, died from a brain tumour at the age of 54. He had been a keen sailor and his son, Tom, decided to do something to raise money towards earlier detection of brain tumours to help improve detection rates.

Tom and his friend Lawrence Walters set out from New York in May this year aiming to become the youngest team to successfully row the North Atlantic and raise money as they rowed. They had a torrid time, with massive challenges, as you can see below.

This Tuesday, after 93 days at sea, they completed their journey, landing in Salcombe, where Tom and his family had spent many happy hours sailing so we all went to welcome them home. I have never seen anything like it! Every space on the riverside was crammed with people; a massive flotilla of small boats and kayaks had gone out to the mouth of the river to welcome them and Salcombe was heaving like it has never heaved before.



Somewhere in the middle of all those boats was a small, indomitable boat and it’s crew of two. As they drew alongside the crowded harbour wall they waved and celebrated.



You may just be able to see two tousled heads in amongst the family and media that welcomed them onto the pontoon. Champagne was consumed, along with a longed-for bacon butty and a cup of tea!!



If you would like to donate to their JustGiving fund for The Brain Tumour Charity then click here and follow the link. http://www.oceanvalour.co.uk/

Our little corner of Dartmoor is recovering from all the excitement now, but I think it will take a few more days for Tom and Lawrence to recover from their exertions! Plenty of bacon butties and cups of tea, not to mention many hours of sleep, will be required.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good grief – I’m back!

Dear Blog,

I know you have  been much neglected – can it really be December since I last posted? I hope you are still talking to me. I’ve been really busy – honest.

Lots has been happening.  There was a tearful, on both sides, trip to Heathrow in early January to see my daughter off on a 3 month volunteering stint in India. For a first time travelling overseas on your own, it was quite an adventurous choice. Then there was a much more cheerful trip back to Heathrow in April to collect her.

Only a few days after she got to India I had the pleasure of letting her know that she had got an offer of a place at a rather prestigious university – not bad for a state school, bog-standard comprehensive kid.

Rocky and I have been continuing our regular stomps around Dartmoor, visiting lots of favourite haunts and finding a few new ones. We also had the pleasure of meeting some fellow Dartmoor tweeters at a litter pick in the Dart Valley. The pleasure was meeting them, not having to pick up litter that other people thought it was OK to leave scattered around a beautiful, natural site. Ironically they probably came because it was a beautiful, natural site.

We’ve watched the year unfold with snowdrops followed by wild daffodils and then the bluebells, which were magnificent this year. Now even the foxgloves are pretty much finished, but there looks to be a bumper crop of blackberries for this year, if the bramble flowers all come to fruition.

There was local excitement one morning when a bough off a large tree blocked the lane for several days, but luckily it has two entrances so we could still get out. In the end the impending bin day encouraged the chainsaws to get to work at double quick speed.

The daughter is now working in a local hostelry, to help fund the prestigious university, so Rocky and I are getting regular walks in further afield after essential taxi duties. A dog has to be taken to Hound Tor, so here are some pictures from a recent trip there. It should have been renamed Outdoor Ed Tor that day. There must have been over 6 different school groups there, ranging from primary to what looked like Sixth Form. It was wonderful to see so many young people outdoors getting to grips with the natural environment. The climbing parties certainly involved some firm grips as well!











Well, Dear Blog, I promise to make more of an effort and not to leave it so long next time.

Posted in Afternoon walk, Countryside, Dartmoor, Hill-walking, Rambling, River Dart, Uncategorized, Village life | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Happy Christmas Dartmoor Smile

Cor! The Boxing Day weather up here is horrible enough to drive a wall to drink!


Posted in Countryside, Dartmoor, Hill-walking, Rambling, Uncategorized, Village life | Tagged , | 3 Comments

A long way from Dartmoor

When I was very young, 5 or 6, my dad would sometimes take me outside in the dark Devon countryside to look at the velvety dark night sky. He showed me the Milky Way, talked about stars and planets, pointed out the constellations and helped me to learn to love the dark. Well, that dark. Bedtime without a night-light was a different matter then.

Since then I’ve looked at stars in both hemispheres. I’ve watched the Swift-Tuttle comet grow and brighten in the sky till I could see it’s tail, whilst my baby son slept. I’ve grown to love Orion, seeing his reassuring presence stride across the night sky whilst anchored in a deserted bay on an earthquake ravaged Greek island. I see him night after night in the Dartmoor sky, over the garden wall, behind the bushes and over a Tor. I’ve lain on my back and watched shooting stars in the summer as a teenager and as the taxi-driver of a group of giggling teenagers and one bemused dog.

And then, today, mankind landed a robot probe called Philae on a comet so that we can understand more about the world beyond our little planet and about the history of our little planet. As I looked up at the sky tonight somewhere out there, a very, very long way from Dartmoor, a bit of humankind’s imagination and ingenuity was trying very hard to cling on to a lump of ice and rock hurtling through space. Good luck, Philae, and greetings from another lump of rock called Dartmoor.

Posted in Countryside, Dartmoor, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dartmoor Smile 2

I am reminded, following a comment on my previous and ludicrously long ago posting, that I haven’t shown you the finished wall.


The farmer who created it says that if he makes one person a day smile as they drive passed it, then he will be a happy man. So come on then – keep your eyes peeled and your lips ready to twitch! These Dartmoor farmers are a surprising bunch. Who knew there was a stone artist lurking beneath that rugged exterior.



Posted in Countryside, Dartmoor, Rambling, Uncategorized, Village life | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Dartmoor smile

I’ve recently been passing a field gateway on the Widecombe road that is being widened, presumably to allow larger tractors and other equipment into the field. Now stone gateposts have been put in and a small stretch of wall rebuilt. Today’s surprise was spotting that the new wall has a smile built in to it!


The full effect is still a bit hidden by a trailer, but it is definitely a smile. This has set me to wondering – are there any other smiles hidden in Dartmoor’s walls underneath the brambles?

Posted in Afternoon walk, Countryside, Dartmoor, Rambling, Uncategorized, Village life | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment