The Raleigh Gallimaufry 4

Welcome back to the fourth in our weekly gallimaufry of Frank and Ella Raleigh’s wonderful world of East Devon. Retirement, as before, is anything but dull.

Frank said to me, “What rhymes with orange?” I said, “No, it doesn’t!”

A noticeable event for me this week was a request from The Old Bakery Tea Room in Branscombe to stock my books. This was a first and hopefully not the last request. The good people at the National Trust site at The Old Bakery Tea Room are worth a visit.

I think I should include them in a future book!

As their web page states:- “The licensed Old Bakery is a welcoming and relaxing place to enjoy homemade cakes with teas and coffees or a delicious light lunch with a glass of wine or beer. The Old Bakery displays some if its baking equipment and through scrapbooks and photographs tells of his baking past. Look out for the old wood-fire bread oven on the ground floor thought to be one of the oldest in the country.”

Having enjoyed Sunday Afternoon tea there, I can concur with the above comments. The building made of stone with a trimmed thatch roof obviously used to be a bakery. It was taken over by the National Trust in 1965.   Sadly, it ceased being a bakery in 1987. It was, at that time the last traditional working bakery in the county. You can see the old baking equipment preserved in the baking room. Scrapbooks and old photographs tell the story of the Collier Brothers, the bakers, and the simple process of how bread was made there.

In the near vicinity can be the Forge and Manor Mill. As with the Old Bakery, both are run by the National Trust.

You can find out more about the Old Bakery Tea Room on Facebook and Instagram and on the National Trust site.

The final cover

Excerpt from Chapter 9 of Cidered in Sidmouth

On the drive back from a visit to Sowdon Valley Farm…..

.After a couple of gentle miles, Frank frowned, “That’s strange.”
“What?”
“Well, there’s an old rusty landrover behind us. I swear he was behind us on the way into Cullompton. I think we might be being followed.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know. I’m going to take a right here. Signposted Luton and Clyst William.”
They turned off the Honiton road.
Ella checked in her wing mirror. “They’ve turned off as well. Could just be an unfortunate coincidence.”
“OK. Let’s go through Luton and head for Payhembury.”
Frank kept a watchful eye on their followers in his rear-view mirror. Ella kept her gaze on the wing mirror. “They’re still behind us. Frank, I don’t like this.”
Then she screamed, “Watch out!!”
Frank was confronted by a large tractor towing a muck spreader manoeuvring itself around the approaching t-junction. The road was only wide enough for one vehicle. Frank skidded to a halt, swerved onto the grass and narrowly avoided scratches from the overhanging hedges. He missed the tractor by what seemed like millimetres and slid back on to the narrow winding road.
The tractor was slower to react and stumbled to a standstill some 10 metres later blocking the whole road. The rusty landrover screeched to a halt and despite a cacophony of horn blasts, was forced to reverse. The front seat passenger wound down his window and shouted, “Stop! Wait! Stop!”
Ella turned to Frank. “I don’t think so. Drive on whilst they’re stuck.”
Frank sped onwards towards the main road. When he reached it, he turned left back towards Cullompton. He sped up when the road was straight, took the corners and bends as quickly but as carefully as he dared. It wasn’t a road for over-taking, very few Devon roads are. There were too many occasions when they were travelling too slowly for their liking.
“Must be the slowest car chase ever!” scrawled Ella.
Frank was too busy checking the rear-view mirror.
“Still behind us. A couple of cars back but still behind.”
“What do we do now?”
“Well, we could stop and confront them. Or we could head to the motorway and try to lose them. This car is surely faster than an old landrover.”
Ella’s face had turned paler than usual but there was steely determination in her voice. “I hope we don’t regret this but let’s lose them on the motorway.”
“How many in the landrover? It looks like three of them?”
Ella tried to use the wing mirror but with the speed they were travelling at, it was shaking and wobbling all over the place.
“It’s difficult to be sure. I think, there’s three. There’s definitely two, the driver and a front seat companion. It looks like there’s just one in the back. They’re all wearing sunglasses. On a day like today!!”
They reached the junction that led down to the motorway. The M5 had its usual share of lorries and vans. Frank weaved a bit around a couple of large lorries before heading for the outside lane.
With a cry of “Geronimo!” he put his foot down. The car responded and soon reached triple figures. It didn’t feel that fast until Ella glanced out of the window at the crash barrier posts flashing by her.
In no time at all, Frank was pulling off the motorway at Junction 30. Thankfully, he had driven the eleven miles without attracting the attention of the traffic police.
“I’ve never driven so fast before in my life. And I don’t want to ever again!” Frank breathed an enormous sigh of relief that they had left the motorway and were still in one piece. However, he was forced to wait, for what appeared to be forever, at the traffic lights at the foot of the slip-road.
“Come on, change!”
“Can I open my eyes now?” Ella looked over at Frank. He was sweating. She looked in her passenger windshield mirror. She was still a whiter shade of pale.
The car now appeared to be travelling really slowly as they settled into the usual 40mph on the A3052. They were headed for home.
“Frank?”
“Yes?”
“They’re still behind us. About three cars back.”
“Oh no, I thought we’d lost them. Right, I think it’s time to put Plan B into action.”
“I hope it’s less scary than Plan A.”
“Let’s wait and see. It involves a little bit of a confrontation.”
“Oh, go for it, I’m right beside you!”
Without warning, Frank turned sharp left off the main road towards a village signposted Farringdon. At a convenient passing place, he screeched to a halt.

Last week’s Mystery Snap was the Parish Church at Ottery St Mary featured in The Ottery Lottery. This week? Where is this? Somewhere in East Devon?

Wouldn’t it be nice if authors could just give their books away? Well, no!!

However, it’s been a good idea in the past to give one of my books away free for a limited period. Cidered in Sidmouth was free for a few days last summer and 1500 copies were downloaded!

When I’m looking for free kindle books I head to eReaderiQ. Here there’s a choice of free books, books for under £1 or price drops. As the people at EReaderIQ sayeReaderIQ is a price tracking service for Kindle books. Our goal is to help you make faster, easier and smarter decisions when it comes to managing your Kindle. We strive to help you spend less time shopping and more time reading.”

Harpford Woods Railway Walk

Newton Poppleford started as a Saxon ‘new town’ by the pebbly ford. The Roman road from Exeter to the port at Axmouth crossed the River Otter not far from the present A3052 road bridge which was built in 1840 by James Green, the first County Surveyor for Devon. It was one of only three bridges on the Otter to survive a great flood in 1968.  

  1. Leave the Recreation Ground car park in Newton Poppleford by turning left at the main entrance into Back lane. As the road bends left go through the gates and follow the footpath alongside the river for about 200 metres. Cross the footbridge over the River Otter and continue to the road.

You are now on the East Devon Way, a long-distance path from Exmouth to Lyme Regis, passes through both Newton Poppleford and Harpford. The Village Hall, on the right before you reach the church, was built in 1902. It fell into disrepair and by the early 1980s was unusable and derelict with a leaking roof. Due to village volunteers the Hall was completely renovated by 2004 with a new roof, floor and heating. In 2014 the Village Hall was bought from the Diocese and run by the villagers for the village.

  1. Turn left at the road towards the church. At the church turn left and then turn right up Knapp’s Lane.

Harpford, previously known as Happerford,  has a church described in 1878 by White’s Devonshire as “a venerable fabric, consisting of nave, chancel, south aisle and a tower containing three bells. It has a wagon roof which has some curious carving.” Harpford Church is dedicated to St. Gregory, but confusion with Harford in the Archdeaconry of Totnes has led to its being referred to sometimes as St. Nicholas. Augustus Toplady was Harpford’s vicar from 1766 to 1768. The churchyard cross was restored in his memory with an inscription and quotation from his hymn ‘Rock of Ages’. 

  1. As Knapp’s Lane road bends to the left keep straight on and follow the East Devon Way footpath. Go through a kissing gate to enter Harpford Woods. Keep on this footpath ignoring any paths that branch to the left, including the East Devon Way as it branches to the left going under a tunnel. Keep the stream to your right and follow the path through the woods until you reach the road by the Bowd.
  1. You may wish to stop for refreshments at The Bowd Pub. If not, then just before reaching the road turn a sharp left and follow the path of the old Sidmouth railway back through the woods.

The branch line from Feniton to Sidmouth was built by the Sidmouth Railway company and opened in July 1874. Feniton station was immediately renamed Sidmouth Junction. The line from the Bowd to Tipton has 1 in 45 downhill run for 2 miles. The first decades of the twentieth century saw the branch line at its most popular. In 1923 the Sidmouth Railway was absorbed into the Southern Railway. In the 1930s there was a peak of 24 services making the 30 minute journey each way between Sidmouth and Sidmouth Junction. The line eventually closed in 1967.

  1. Just before crossing under a road bridge take the path to the right. This leads up to Knapp Lane, turn left and cross over the railway path following Knapp’s Lane to Harpford Church. Retrace your steps back to the Recreation Ground car-park.

Once again, that’s all for this week. See you next Monday.