Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Assing about in Devon

For a change, something a bit lighter - but not less important for all that, since such times take on a special significance when you have a chronic deteriorating condition.

Last week we returned from a week away with all our family. They're all busy people; in fact one of them is in the throes of completing his master's dissertation. So their giving up a week of the year to spend in the company of Jane and me means a lot. Not that we don't have fun together, but a wheelchair grouch imposes limits on what can be done.

We stayed in a large house in mid-Devon which Jane had found through the New Wine magazine. It was in reach of her parents and so we were able to call on them - which the great grandchildren enjoyed. The weather was of course mixed - but never bad enough to prevent us doing what we wanted. Not far away was Dunkeswell Airfield from where on the Saturday a continuous stream of sky-divers flew and gave us a grandstand display of their descents against a clear blue sky and even out of the clouds.

On the Monday we drove to the National Trust house at Knightshayes Court, once owned by the Heathcoat-Amory family. Our granddaughters dressed up as below-stairs servants. In the magnificent billiard room there was a series of corbels depicting fables. Near the door was this one:

Not a fable I'm familiar with, but it seems to refer to this one from the Latin writer, Phaedrus. "A donkey saw a lyre lying in a field. He approached the instrument and as he tried to strum it with his hoof, the strings resounded at his touch. 'What a beautiful thing,' said the donkey, 'but completely inappropriate, since I don't know anything about music. If only someone better equipped than myself had found it, my ears would have been delighted by heavenly melodies!'" 
So it is that talents often go to waste because of some misfortun(trans. Laura Gibbs). Sort of apt!

The next day we continued with the theme of donkeys, and visited the vastly over-endowed Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary. Suppressing my reservations about how much money is donated to animal charities, I enjoyed the morning. It is free to get into and has pretty good wheelchair access (and posh disabled loos). An excessive number of photos were taken of the old ass with the sleek-looking donkeys. 
Looking at my stomach explains the notice!
Silent fellowship of asses
And of more importance the girls didn't seem to tire of  viewing the unexpected variety of donkeys. Then we had the exclusive use of Blackbury Camp for our picnic.
Under the greenwood tree

I mustn't forget to mention the two discoveries of our holiday. The first is the excellent Ashill Inn. Last year we went to have our final meal at Clyst Hydon's Five Bells. Now it's a bit out of our price bracket; and so we were delighted to find somewhere which suited us just as well and served excellent food. It's not stodgy pre-cooked microwaved pub grub, but a freshly cooked, locally sourced, delicious menu. Good wine list and local beers, I'm told.
At Ashill Inn
The game of Mölkky

The other is the game of Mölkky, to which one of our family introduced us. It's from Finland and it's a sort of sophisticated and longer version of skittles, but with the mölkky thrown rather than rolled. All generations could take part. Sadly my lack of coordination and muscle power meant I scored nothing when I played, but that didn't stop me enjoying it.

Life is good.

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