A couple of weekends ago, we had our first houseguests. My third cousin Courtney (whom I’d never met) and her friend Natalie. Two of my mother’s sisters, my Aunts Ruth and Iris had six children each and I have countless 2nd and 3rd cousins, mostly on the East coast of the US.
We met them at Salisbury train station (thanks to Facebook I positively ID’d Courtney as the train pulled into the station). We went to Stonehenge and Avebury and out for a pub lunch on a beautiful, hot summer afternoon.
Natalie and Courtney
One of the great things about having visitors is the opportunity to explore and discover new things in our own backyard. The next day, Natalie and Courtney had been online and suggested an outing to the coast via Dartmoor. First stop was a walk across Dartmoor to Jay’s Grave.
There are many variations on the tale of Jay’s Grave, but the story at the heart of it remains the same. Kitty Jay was a 19th century farm worker who became pregnant and hung herself when her lover disowned her. In those days suicides were buried at crossroads in order to confuse their spirits, so that they couldn’t find their way back to haunt the living. The twist to this legend is that even now, fresh flowers appear on Jays’ Grave every morning, but no one knows who leaves them, even though rumours say they’re left by pixies. For lots more on Jay’s Grave and all things Dartmoor, visit Tim Sandles’ Legendary Dartmoor.
Along the path to Jay’s Grave, we came across a huge oak chair.
It was built n 2006 by Dartmoor sculptor and woodworker Henry Bruce. Only locally sourced, hand hewn green oak was used for the 6 metre high chair which was jointed using the old, traditional mortise and tenon joints. The location was chosen because it provided a spot where people could stop and stare at the wide-spreading moorland landscape below. As with most works of art there is an underlying message and in this case it is one of ambiguity, that being the unattainable. The sculpture can be recognised as a chair but because of its size it is impossible to sit upon it – I want doesn’t get.
But that didn’t stop us from trying –
My little compact camera really washes out the sky when I shoot landscapes. Here’s a great one Steve took with his Fuji bridge camera.
After Dartmoor, we went to Blackpool Sands, a pebble beach in a lovely bay capped on both ends by a rocky promontory. After a pretty good lunch of hamburgers and fries in the Venus Cafe, we walked on the beach and scrambled across to the rockpools. I’d forgotten how much I love to be near the ocean and had the nicest time contemplating the sea and sky, walking along the shoreline and sifting through the pebbles for treasures.
I filled my pockets with stones and feathers . . . .