Edition 52 - February 1998

Artwork by: Helen Armstead

Artwork: Judie Weedon


Another Christmas over and 1998 certainly came in wet and windy! I do hope that everyone is now over the loss of power, telephone, roof slates, tiles, trees and other 'flying objects'.

Wind and rain we have had in abundance but a lack of sustained cold weather has produced some strange happenings in the gardens - trees are budding, bulbs are well through, daffodils are flowering in the Valley and my yucca has been struggling to flower since November - it doesn't know whether its late or early!

With spring in our thoughts, I must thank Helen Armstead for her delightfully fresh and topical cover. Whilst chatting over ideas, she brought to mind the rhyme to help, children in particular, remember the number of days in each month, but neither of us could complete the last lines about February. On consulting the quotation books, I was intrigued to find two versions:

Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
Thirty days hath September
April, June, and November,
All the rest have thirty-one
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.
Anon [c. 1555]
Bloomsbury Dictionary of Quotations
Thirty days hath November
April, June and September,
February hath twenty-eight alone
And all the rest have thirty-one.
Richard Grafton [c. 1552]

I wonder how many other slightly different versions there are!

In thanking Helen once again, I must thank so many of you for the kind donations received and everyone who has contributed to this issue [which at this point looks like a real bumper edition] - keep 'em coming and please let me have items for the April/Easter issue by Wednesday, 18th March, at the latest.




A very successful Coffee Morning was held on the 29th November, and even the sun shone. Many thanks to everyone who supported not only us but the Cheshire Homes and the Newsletter ... also for contributions to stalls, especially the excellent Raffle, manned by Ivy and Margaret.

2nd December saw us 'Preparing for Christmas' and what better way than with a well-attended meeting and Alan Rowlands, our genial Postmaster, as guest speaker. Wine, the subject, and after explaining the art of making and bottling same, came the tasting - everything for the Christmas Dinner ... certainly added a sparkle to the afternoon and sharpened appetites for the special tea with cakes provided by the Committee, and mince pies by the competitors. Margaret Andrews, a prospective new member, kindly acted as Judge and the joint winners were Olive Kent and Josie Bozier. A small gift as we left gave everyone, I hope, that wonderful feeling of friendship and the meaning of Christmas.

Twenty-four of us enjoyed the warmth and colourful atmosphere of The Globe for our Christmas Lunch on the 19th December. As always, the meal was perfect and enjoyed by all. Joan Berry, Edna Barnes and Bobbie Hacker were the lucky draw winners. After coffee, we sang-a-long, helped by the song sheets and I am not sure if we cleared the Inn, but the village was certainly deserted when we left!! Thank you Phil and Lyn and the staff for making us so welcome.

What a start for a New Year! Twenty-one stalwarts battled through wind and rain on the 6th January only to find the Hall in darkness and very cold, too cold to sit but nice to meet up for a chat, if only for a short time, during which we leamed that Eunice Allen had raised over £300 in 1997 for the Cheshire Homes by selling greetings cards, and was once again collecting old cards for recycling. Ethel brought me 18 more teddies for tragedies and a little cash was raised for the Hospice on the sales stall - so, congratulations to all concerned. Our speaker, Fire Admin Officer Prince, had been called out to an emergency in Exeter, so we decided that 'home was best' and we look forward to a longer meeting on 3rd February when Kath Arscott will be taking us on another of her wonderful holidays, complete with fantastic slides. Visitors are always most welcome. Cheerio for now.

Vi Kingdon - President

P.S. Message from the Treasurer: Subs are now due!

Another New Year
I don't know what I will encounter
On the unknown way,
But I know beyond all doubt,
Whatever may betide,
He, my Lord, will walk with me
To be my guard and guide.





It is with sadness that we report the death of Arthur in early December at the age of 74. Arthur, a well-loved village character, and the son of Jack and Florrie Edwards, was born in Berrynarbor and lived all his life, until some six years ago, at 2 Hill Cottage, Castle Hill. During his last years Arthur was cared for by a family in Ilfracombe but often visited the village.

He will be particularly remembered for his helpfulness, especially when it came to moving chairs for events at the Manor Hall and Church fetes, and his competitive spirit at snooker - a game he enjoyed. During the summer months, he helped on the local farms, picking potatoes and assisting with the harvest.

Arthur's ashes were buried in his parents' grave at St. Peter's on Christmas Eve.


The whole village was shocked and saddened by Reg's sudden but peaceful death just before Christmas, on the 23rd December.

Reg was at the heart of so many village activities and his friendly and cheerful presence will be missed at so many events and by so many people.

His funeral service, held in the aftermath of the storms, was a fitting tribute and the sun managed to come out briefly to see him leave the Church he had so loved and tended with such care for so long.

Our thoughts are with Betty, Graham, Gail and the family.


Betty, Graham and Gail wish to say a very big thank you to all their friends for the prayers, cards and letters of support and sympathy during the sad and sudden death of Reg - a friend to so many people.

Although he was an Ilfracombe boy, he dearly loved Berrynarbor. The 43 years we spent together here have very happy memories for me to cherish.

Grateful thanks to everyone.




Dear Readers,

This is the third time in the last 7 plus years that we have written about Tootsie, our pet Jackdaw.

She, as you know, has been with us since a tiny baby after being found down a chimney by a friend. We have, over the years, had loads of pets - tame and wild - but Tootsie has taught us a thing or two, she is a very nice bird!

We have noticed, especially during the past few years, that she not only feeds her families when they are young but she takes food from her tray and flies up into the large tree outside our window and calls to her friends to share it with her. We love watching her put nuts and pieces of cake or biscuit on the branches for her mate or her friends.

She really is a good example to us all - perhaps we could all take heed from her and share a little more this coming New Year.

Bet and Alf Turner - Castlemount, Watermouth



A sincere thank you to everyone who so generously bought Christmas Cards
to support the Leonard Cheshire Foundation Home at Westmead, Braunton.
You helped to raise the magnificent total of £383.02.
I shall now be delighted to collect your old cards - Christmas and all other
greeting cards - so that they can be made into new ones.
Cards - Greetings, Birthday, Anniversary, etc.
will be on sale throughout the year.

Eunice Allen - Tel: 882491



Manor Hall
Mondays, 7.30 p.m.

For more information please contact:
Mary Hughes Tel: 882580


Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook


To Margaret Andrews awarded a Diploma in Pastoral Care with Theology from the University of Plymouth, where she worked until her retirement. Margaret now hopes to take the course for the Exeter Diocesan Certificate for Lay Church Work.

To Peter Hinchliffe for his poem 'Success' which will appear in an Anthology entitled 'We Can Achieve our Dream' to be published by Forward Press in March. The Anthology will be available in all good book shops.

And best wishes to Rod and Sue Skelly of Langleigh House who were married on the 29th November and sprnt honeymoon in Cyprus.

To our Rector, Keith, and Christine Peach on their recent engagement. Keith and Chris, who teaches Art at Ilfracombe College, have set their wedding day for Easter Tuesday. Our very best wishes to you both for your future happiness together.



"Christmas at Hollow Tree Cottage" was certainly bright and cheerful and if entries were lacking in quantity they were certainly not lacking in quality! Thank you to everyone who got colouring.

With an age span from 6 to 84 years, making a decision on the winners was extremely hard, but with the help of Paul, our 'Illustrator in Residence' and other colleagues at the College, the prize must go to Lil Moyle - 84 years young! Lil is Gladys Toms' sister who used to live in Ilfracombe, a regular visitor to Berrynarbor until she and her late husband moved to Farnborough some ten years ago to live near their four sons. Gladys sends her the Newsletter which she looks forward to and reads from cover to cover. Congratulations Lil!

Other winners who must also be congratulated on very fine efforts were:

  • Joint Second: Eloise Maloney [6] and Katy Vellacott [23] - a joint effort, and Vi Kingdon [second childhood!]
  • First Junior: Robert Parkin [8]
  • Highly Commended: Kayleigh Richards [9], Ahmed Al-Saedy [8], Katrina Parkin [10] and Julie Parkin [25+]

Illustrated by: Debbie Cook


Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook


Timely blossom, infant fair
Fondling of a happy pair,
Every mom and every night
Their solicitous delight.
Sleeping, waking, still at ease,
Pleasing without skill to please!

Ambrose Phillips

Tracey [nee Yeo] and Jason are happy to announce the arrival of their second son, Devon, on 15th October, 1997, weighing 8 lbs. A brother for Dylan and Vashti, a third grandchild for Marlene and a fifth great-grandchild for Ivy.

Rita and David Duncan are proud to announce the birth of their grandson William Duncan Albert, a son for Angela and Lance, who weighed in at 8 lbs 2 1/2 oz on the 16th November, 1997, a brother for Ella Catherine and nephew to Fiona and Rebecca.

George and Yvonne Davey of Ropes End are delighted to announce the arrival of Eleanor Kate in Romsey, Hampshire, on the 29th November, 1997, a daughter for Alison and Mark. Alison is an Oncology nurse on the children's cancer ward at Southampton Hospital and Mark, a Policeman with the Hampshire Constabulary. George and Yvonne's four children have now given them eleven grandchildren a full football team!

Congratulations and best wishes to all the new babies, the proud parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.


Artwork: Peter Rothwell


The Rectory
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

I have just discovered that 'February' comes from a Latin word meaning 'purification', which is a festival at the beginning of the month [2nd Presentation of Christ in the Temple].

The month name is also appropriate for the end of the month, when we have Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, and the words of the collect that we should 'purify ourselves even as he is pure' come readily to mind. To become more and more like God's children is a mixture of Gods grace and our will. Together, God can do great things for and with us. Like the Greek word for love, it is a matter of our will. It is a question of our wanting to improve, to grow, and there is no better time than Springtime, Lent.

So what are we going to do?

I expect that most of us pray, read our Bibles, each and every day; some of us go to special services, like Compline, or attend Evensong with the teaching series; some of us attend House-groups, especially Christians Together on Thursdays. So many extra things are laid on for Lent that it is a pity not to take full advantage of them.

At Evensong the sermons will be on the Crucifixion. On Sunday, 29th March, there will be a performance of Stainer's 'Crucifixion' in the Church. Compline on Wednesdays at 7.15 p.m. will have a series of homilies on 'Discipleship', and afterwards at 8.00 p.m. there will be a short meditation followed by a drink and a natter at 'Middleton'. The Discipleship talks will be the basis of the House group meetings at Berrynarbor. The Lent Course for the Christians Together in the Church Hall will be taken from 'The Return of the Prodigal Son' by Henri J.M. Nouwen, based on his book of the same title.

For those of you who like to read a book for Lent, you might like to consider the book set by the Bishop of the Diocese to some clergy: 'Good News for a Suffering World' by Philip King.

Let us try and make this a period of purification and sanctification as we come up to the great festival of Easter.

With all good wishes.
Your Friend and Rector,

Keith Wyer



Padraic Colum

O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped-up sods upon the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall !
To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down,
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!
I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!
I could be there at night,
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and shining delph!
Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there's never a house or bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!
And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house, a house of my own
Out of the winds and the rain's way.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes




Studio Theatre, Ilfracombe College, presents 'Crime and Punishment' by Dostoyevsky, 25th to 28th March. A strong, dramatic play involving guilt, love and redemption, and with a cast of 30 actors [some from Berrynarbor], it contains tragedy and humour and will make thoughtful entertainment for a wide range of audience. Please make a note in your diaries - you will not be disappointed.


Artwork: Helen Armstead


CHRISTMAS SERVICES - were well attended and enjoyed by all who came, in spite of the inclement weather. We had snow on the morning of the day of the Carol Service and rain and high winds on Christmas Eve! The Sunday School put on two performances of their play, which was much appreciated by the congregation and finished each time with a very lively calypso carol. As always, the flower arrangers did us proud - thank you once again A cheque for £113 has been sent to the Children's Society, our Christmas charity.

A shadow was cast over our celebrations by the sudden death of Reg Davis. Reg did so many tasks around the church and churchyard and he will be greatly missed. One of the last things he did, with the help of his son, was to erect and decorate the Christmas tree, which was truly splendid this year.

During 1997 we also lost our server, Alan Prater, and Preb. Eppingstone. Nevertheless, church life has continued smoothly with others coming in to take on their duties, although we are still awaiting the promised replacement for Preb. at Parson's Pightle.

St. Peter's suffered a further blow on Sunday, 4th January, when the whole ridge of the roof to the South aisle blew off in the gale. The damage would have been much worse had the roof not been felted and kept in good repair. Work for re-instatement of the ridge is already in hand and the cost will be met by the insurance.

LENT - begins with Ash Wednesday on 25th February. There will be Holy Communion at 10.00 a.m. that day and again at 10.00 a.m. on Thursday, 26th. Don't forget Sally's Pancake and Coffee Morning on Shrove Tuesday in aid of the Sunday School!

The Rector has arranged House Discussion Groups to take place on Monday aftemoons during Lent. The first will be at Tree Tops, Old Coast Road, the home of Margaret Andrews, on Monday, 2nd March, at 2.30 p.m. The course will run for five or six weeks and the theme will be 'Discipleship and Mission'. Everyone is cordially invited to join in. Please get in touch with me if you would like to come but need a lift. The venue will vary from week to week.

FAMILY SERVICES - will be on Sundays 15th of February and March, 10:30 a.m., followed as usual by a short Holy Communion Service.

MOTHERING SUNDAY - falls on Sunday, 22nd March, and there will be a special service at 10.30 a.m. with the Sunday School. Please watch out for posters nearer the time.

The P.C.C. invite you all to a CHEESE AND WINE EVENING [fruit juice, tea and coffee will also be served] to be held in the Manor Hall on Friday, 27th February, at 7.30 p.m. Tickets £2.00, will be on sale the week before at the Post Office or at the door and there will be a special welcome for those who have recently moved to the village. Various village groups will be invited to publicise their activities and we look forward to a lively evening. Any profits will be divided between the Church and the Manor Hall.

Advance Notice: The Annual Meeting of the P.C.C. will take place in the vestry on Friday, 3rd April, at 2.15 p.m.

Mary Tucker




Sunday School has re-started for 1998 in the Penn Curzon Room, 10.30 to 11.30 a.m. every Sunday except for the 3rd Sunday in each month when we are in church for the Family Service - any children out there, please join us. The P.C.C. treated the children to the excellent Pantomime 'Jack and the Beanstalk'.

Our annual Fund Raising event will be on 24th February at Berry Home - Lemon and Maple Syrup Pancakes, Coffee or Tea, 50p. Cake stall, Bric-a-Brac and Raffle. 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. Please come if you can - you are under no obligation to eat my pancakes!

The Rector has presented the children with their Attendance Prizes - Katie Gubb coming first again, with Peter Hiscox a very close second. They performed a Christmas play entitled 'A Christmas Star Called Hazel' at the Carol Service which was repeated, by popular request, at the Family Service. Eloise Maloney was 'the star called Hazel' and her career must surely be in Drama - a wonderful performance.

My sincere thanks to Ellie, who despite studying for a degree, nursing at the Tyrrell Hospital plus three lovely children, still manages to take Sunday School on alternate Sundays, as I, due to hour shifts and age, can only manage every other week now!!

The children very persistently bring their jokes, the latest is:

  • Little Robin's mother was very worried when she was asked by the Headmistress to go and see her because Robin had been very naughty.
    • "What's he done? " she asked when she got to school.
    • "He wee'd in the swimming pool", said the Headmistress.
    • "But all little boys do that, " said Robin's mum.
    • "Not from the top diving board, they don't!"

Sally B.



British & International Sailors Society - This regional office would be grateful to hear from anyone interested in participating in their house-to-house collection fund-raising in March. Please contact the office on 01823-334405

Post Office Christmas Raffle - Thanks to everyone who participated in the raffle the £115 raised being donated to the Salvation Army and Macmillan Nurses, both of whom have sent letters expressing their appreciation. The 35-year-old bottle of Port [donated by Vi Kingdon] was won by Tom who is now awaiting the appropriate occasion on which to open it! The cake, providing a nice welcome to the village was won by Colin and Wendy of Bessemer Thatch, and the poinsettia by Carol at Tree Tops.

Get Well - Get well wishes to everyone who has not been well just recently - we hope you will be feeling better soon.

Twinning Invitation - 1st - 4th May - Bernadette Richards [evenings - 882221] or Jill Sidebottom [evenings 882337] would welcome enquiries about the 20th Anniversary visit to Cormelles Le Royal, Normandy. The fare, coach and ferry, will be about £60 and accommodation is with host families. A few words of French is helpful but not essential. The fare includes travel insurance and the French Committee meet any sight-seeing group expenses. It is courteous to take English-made gifts to one's hosts. Because of the particular anniversary, it promises to be another very enjoyable visit.



John and Peter and their mobile vehicle with its purpose-built, stainless steel, spotlessly hygienic kitchen, call in the village weekly on Wednesday evenings.
They can be found by the Church steps from 6.10 to 7.00 p.m. Orders may be made in advance on 862702.
For a quick and easy mid-week supper, from a well priced menu, pay them a visit.


"Ancient winter ...
a little sun; a haloed glory" - Salvatore Quasimodo

Not 'local', this month's walk is located in South Somerset, near the village of Chaffacombe, a little over a mile and a half from the Devon border and three miles from the boundary. Chard Reservoir Nature Reserve - not a very glamorous sounding name, but despite its prosaic title this modest stretch of water has a romantic history and a pretty setting, as well as being a winter refuge for wildfowl.

The reservoir was built in 1842 to provide water for the Chard Canal, which was one of the last to be built in Britain. By 1868 the canal had closed, following the arrival of a railway link with Taunton and the reservoir had become redundant as far as its original use went. It was then absorbed into a sporting estate for fishing and game and duck shooting, when shrubberies of rhododendron and dogwood were planted to provide ground cover for the game birds.

During the Second World War the reservoir was used as a recreational facility for boating and swimming and the Chard Lido was opened there as a 'holiday at home' centre to dissuade local people from using the railways during troop mobilisation. Eventually it was acquired by the local authority in 1990 and became designated a nature reserve, managed as an important habitat for wildlife.

We crossed meadows which are traditionally managed to encourage wild flowers and insects and reached the reservoir via the woodland on its southern flanks. A 'tree trail' helpfully identifies the wide variety of native and exotic trees which were planted in the 19th century.

Carvings of great crested grebes decorated the information board; having been chosen as the reserve's special logo because the reservoir is recognised as a nesting site for this bird, described as 'perhaps the most elegant of all the water birds'.

A large hide, perched on stilts, extended out over the water. A watery winter sun lit up the glossy white fronts of two long, slender necked birds which were swimming towards the hide from the far side of the reservoir. [My bird book had pointed out, 'the shining white foreneck can be seen clearly across the water at all seasons'.] The great crested grebe almost became extinct in Britain because of the demand for its gleaming satin-like breast feathers.

These graceful, slim-headed, long billed birds were in their winter plumage; grey-brown upper-parts, light faced with a dark crown. In the spring the ruff and crest appear, with chestnut and black frills on the sides of the head. [Males and females are adorned alike.]

Then, the elaborate 'penguin dance' forms part of their courtship ritual, with the birds presenting each other with pieces of water weed. Although capable of swimming and diving themselves, the stripy chicks spend their early weeks travelling on their parents' backs, cradled between the raised wings, as their own heat regulation mechanism is not properly developed and they cannot tolerate being in the cold water for long.

A raised boardwalk had been constructed over the reedbeds and marshy areas and this led us to the quieter end of the reservoir where most of the grebes were situated.

Very much a 'now you see me, now you don't' sort of bird, the grebe dives frequently for small fish, insects and crustaceans, completely disappearing beneath the surface of the water for some time. The great crested is the largest of all the European grebes and is widely distributed on ponds, lakes and reservoirs, although less common in the west of England.

The walk is closed from the 1st March until 30th June each year to prevent disturbance of nesting birds.

Illustrations by: Paul Swailes

Sue H


Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook


A rather belated welcome to Malcolm and Janet Knight who have moved Into Summerhill, Hagginton Hill. Malcolm and Janet have moved, after three years, from Lynton, but originally came further west from Basingstoke in Hampshire. Malcolm is a self-employed builder and Janet an enthusiastic volunteer for the R.S.P.C.A. and they have two married daughters and a granddaughter. Their present family of 'other animals' includes 4 dogs, 5 cats and 2 ponies, and Janet is currently caring for I stray - a collie called Clyde'.

We should like to thank all who helped us move from Lynton to Summerhill and for everyone's kindness since. It's a long way from Basingstoke where we were involved with animal rescue - we still try to help if we can. We should like to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year.

Malcolm and Janet

Again a belated welcome to the Morris's now at Wood Park; to Joy and Paul, a customer liaison officer in Plymouth, and their family, Adam, Annemarie and Kayleigh, and their son, Jamie, and daughter, Kerry, who live in Ilfracombe.

After scouring the South West for a house with a view, near the sea and accessibly inaccessible, Ed and Debbie Hillier have found their ideal home at Channel View. Ed and Debbie, who is Chinese, have come from afar - Hong Kong to be precise where they worked for the Government as Police Officers. A very warm welcome to you both and our belated congratulations and best wishes on your marriage last June.

Ed and Debbie would like to thank everyone for making them so welcome and especially the helpers who assisted the power-less Ed during a stormy move!

Vincent and Pat Hitchman are the new residents at Laurel Dene. They have moved to the north of the county from Lustley on Dartmoor, having come to the West Country from North Watford. Now retired Vincent was with British Telecom and Pat an engineering draughtswoman, and they have a married daughter, Patricia, son-in-law John, and two grandsons, Paul and Robert. Not to be left out of our welcome is Suzy the cat!

Alan and Caroline Forward are currently moving in to Berridale, Barton Lane, and we extend a warm welcome to them both. Alan is a self-employed builder and Caroline works for a well-known supermarket! They have two children - a son Keith and a daughter Terri-Anne.

Warm wishes to you all.
We hope you will be very happy in your new homes here In Berrynarbor



On this day a woman might choose who should be her Valentine, and tell him so. He was then under obligation to present her with a pair of gloves. In practice, these were only given 'if there was a little sweet-hearting in the case'. So, this month, a mystery centred around love in celebration of Valentine's Day.

The Cannonball Marriage

Combe Sydenham House

A lady of the Drake family of Ashe House was, it is said, betrothed to a sailor; but during his absence on a voyage she broke the engagement and found another bridegroom.

The wedding feast had begun and the proceedings were rolling happily along, when suddenly the door opened without hands. Everyone in the room turned to see who was coming in. For a moment the doorway was empty; but when the attention of everyone present had been obtained, a cannonball appeared and rolled along the floor of the ballroom; it continued on its path until it finally reached the feet of the faithless bride, where it stopped. Upon examination, it was discovered that the cannonball had rooted itself so firmly into the ground that the united strength of those in the room could not move it. It was apparent to the bride that this peculiar event was a portent - and she wisely took it to be a gentle hint that she had treated the sailor badly. It was not too late, however, to rectify the situation and she sent her new love away and waited patiently for the sailor to return.

It is possible that the origin of this piece of folklore is some sort of moral 'fireside tale', as this is not the only version of the story that exists. In Somerset, the same circumstances have been described as happening at Combe Sydenham House. In fact, the so-called cannonball was preserved there for some time.

Some have speculated that the original cannonball was a meteorite, although it is quite easy to construct an argument against this theory. It is also quite possible that the event never happened in the first place!

Mark Norman




Alex Parke had us all really guessing at the November meeting which took the form of a 'Blind Tasting' of different white and red wines, as well as two champagne types! A very interesting evening. The Christmas meeting, by ticket only, turned out to be the most popular meeting ever, with over 50 members in attendance. Ivor Francis of Victoria Wines, Ilfracombe, presented a super range of wines and food, provided by members under the capable charge of our Treasurer, Jill McCrae, ensured a meeting fit for Christmas and everyone looking forward to Christmas 1998!

New members or visitors will be most welcome to attend our meetings, held in the Manor Hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 8.00 p.m. Details of the February and March meeting are given in the At-a-Glance Diary.

Tom Bartlett - Publicity Offcer


Artwork: Peter Rothwell


The week-end before Christmas saw our annual Christmas Card Delivery. More than 930 cards were delivered and this, together with the Sherry and Mince Pie Morning, raised £116 for our funds. Our thanks to Vi Davies for providing the excellent mince pies, to the Committee members who donated the raffle prizes and to everyone who helped to deliver the cards.

Members of the BBC have been hard at work raising the level of the stage so that the entire audience will be able to see their next performance. Our thanks to them, especially as the work has been carried out at no cost to Hall funds.

The Hall seems to have survived the early January storms reasonably well, but unfortunately in December we sprung yet another leak in the water supply pipe to the Hall.

The project to improve Hall facilities was well discussed at an Open Meeting on 30th December. By the time you read this, the result of the Parish Poll called to decide funding of the project will be known. More on this subject next time!

We need a volunteer with 'green fingers' to organise the 1998 Horticultural Show. A number of people have offered to help but we need someone who knows what has to be done to take overall charge. If no-one comes forward, sadly another tradition may bite the dust'. Please telephone Brian Mountain on 883032.

A Timely Reminder for 1998

Will all users of the Hall please remember it is only cleaned once a week, so it is the responsibility of you all to ensure that it is left clean and tidy so that the next 'users' do not have to clean up before they start! Also, when you leave, please check that all heaters and lights are off, the dehumidifier is ON, all fire exits are closed, and don't forget to lock the door on the way out! Thank you.

Stop Press: The result of the Ballot was - For: 104 votes Against: 141 votes


The Berry Broadcasting Company presents their 1998 Show:


At the Manor Hall, 13th and 14th March, 1998

Tickets available from the Post Office and Saw Mills Inn
Proceeds to the Manor Hall



It was about 1942, during the Second World War, and before bird-nesting was banned, that we boys - Don, Alan, Keith and I - talked about a Heron's egg. Now, we agreed, it would be great to add to anyone's collection. In those days, Berrynarbor Lake [Mill Park] was surrounded by trees and there were quite a number of fallen logs there. We reconnoitred to decide on the best way to reach the heron's nest, which was on the island. A raft would be needed.

The next weekend, our visit to the lake was more practical. Equipped with some sash cord, we removed both the lift-off hinged doors on the boat house and proceeded to sandwich some fallen logs them, tying both doors together with the cord. Keith volunteered to be first and the raft was launched. As soon as he stepped on it, it capsized and into the water he went! The project was a flop! Keith clung to the overhanging branches and was none the worse, apart from a good soaking. We undid the raft and replaced the doors before running across the main road to the kiln [lime kiln] in the woods, where we lit a fire.

Keith got his clothes dry and we all went home.

Tony Beauclerk - Colchester

We look forward to more 'stories' from Tony in future.



Citizens Advice Bureau, The Candar, Ilfracombe Tel: 863121

Did you know - Millions of pounds in welfare benefits in Devon are unclaimed?

Are you: living on a low income? elderly, ill or disabled? caring for children or someone who is ill?

Does someone you know need extra help?

Many people do not get all the state benefits to which they are entitled. Ilfracombe Citizens Advice Bureau is running a Benefits Take-Up Campaign between January and April 1998 focusing on Ilfracombe and the areas along the North Devon coastal belt. The Campaign is being run with the support of the Devon County Council and the Devon Welfare Rights Unit.

We can help you to check whether you are entitled to any extra benefits and to help you make claims. You can get in touch with us by phone: 863121 or 863549

  • visit the bureau: in the Candar, Ilfracombe, Mondays, Tuesdays & Fridays, 10.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.
  • visit the Waterside Practice in Ilfracombe Health Centre Wednesdays between 1.00 and 4.00 p.m.
  • visit Combe Martin Health Centre, Tuesdays between 3.00 and 5.00 p.m.
  • No appointment is needed: we can arrange home visits if needed.

The help we give is free, confidential, independent and impartial



Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o'er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor sharks overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

Rudyard Kipling

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes


Artwork: Angela Bartlett

Steerage Valley - 18031

This photographic postcard by Hawke of Helston would have been taken c1925 and shows just how well the sloping fields beyond Riversdale, Brookvale and Woodvale were maintained. It is of particular interest to me since it shows the roofed tap-house which provided water to all those cottages shown here, even if the occupants had to cross the lane to collect their supply of water! This particular tap-house has long since disappeared and I should welcome any information on when it was finally demolished. We are fortunate, however, that the other tap-house in the Steerage Valley remains - the one lovingly restored, preserved and owned by Vi Kingdon just opposite her cottage, No. 71.

It is strange in this day and age to go back to the mid-20's and realise that most households were fetching water from individual taps located all round our village. Those that can be readily located are on Hagginton, where there were at least two sited in the retaining walls of the properties on the west side. In the village, tap-points can still be seen in the Church wall and on the wall opposite the School. I wonder if any of our older residents remember any others - if you do, please let me know.

These two pictures were taken by Miss Theake when she lived at Woodvale around 1927-31. The first shows the peaked roof of the tap-house whilst the other shows part of the tap-house and another shed/stable opposite Woodvale. Does anyone know what this building was and for what it was used?

Below is a photograph taken around 1968 by Colin Harding which shows his daughter Lisa at the entrance to Glenbridge. Glenbridge was built for Colin and Doreen and they moved into their new home in 1965. [Note Bill Gammon's Hillman Minx parked outside Brookvale.] It would seem likely that both the tap house and the stable-type building were removed to make way for the bridge entrance and parking for Glenbridge. What is of greater interest, are the buildings shown beyond Riversdale on the west of the 'marble' topped wall of the bridge, and why do they not show up in the picture taken by Miss Theake so many years earlier?

May I, through the Newsletter, ask Loma Bowden if she can throw any further light on the questions I have raised? A reply, perhaps in the next newsletter, would be very much appreciated

Tom Bartlett
Tower Cottage, January 1998



5thWhist Drive, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
10thParish Council Meeting, 7.30 p.m., Manor Hall
12thWhist Drive, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
14thSt. Valentine's Day
15thSt. Peter's Church: Family Service, 10.30 a.m.
16thto 20th [inc.] College and Primary School: Half Term
18thMobile Library in Village from 11.30 a.m.
Wine Circle, Manor Hall, 8.00 p.m. - 'Berrynarbor Beauties', Alan Rowlands
19thWhist Drive, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
24thShrove Tuesday: Sunday School Pancake and Coffee Morning, Berry Home, 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
25thAsh Wednesday: St. Peter' s: Holy Communion, 10.00 a.m.
26thSt. Peter's: Holy Communion, 10.00 a.m.
Whist Drive, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
27thPCC Wine and Cheese Evening, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
2ndLent Discussion Group : Tree Tops, 2.30 p.m.
3rdW.I. Meeting : 36th Birthday - Music Quiz '40's/' 50's, Geoff Green
4thMobile Library in Village from 11.30 a.m.
5thWhist Drive, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
10thParish Council Meeting 7.30 p.m., Manor Hall
12thWhist Drive, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
13thand 14th BBC presents A Night at the Berry Palladium, Manor Hall
15thSt. Peter's: Family Service, 10.30 a.m.
16thItems needed for April Newsletter
18thMobile Library in Village from 11.30 a.m.
Wine Circle, Manor Hall, 8.00 p.m.: Wines of Chile - Jolly's
19thWhist Drive, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
22ndMothering Sunday, St. Peter's: Service with Sunday School, 10.30 a.m.
25thto 28th Studio Theatre, Ilfracombe College - 'Crime and Punishment'
26thWhist Drive, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
1stMobile Library in Village from 11.30 a.m.
2ndWhist Drive, Manor Hall, 7.30 p.m.
3rdCollege and Primary School: End of Spring Term



When she saw the Raleigh International [a youth development charity for conservation and the community] poster in Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital where she works as a Staff Nurse on a surgical ward, Louise, younger daughter of Keith and Margaret Walls of Higher Rows, knew she just had to apply! Having been accepted as a Staff Medic, Louise will have to sacrifice her job at the hospital to work voluntarily on a project in Belize, Central America.

For months, the volunteers will work alongside local people to improve the communities by building schools, medical centres, etc. They will work in remote and poor areas and Louise, as the only staff medic, will be responsible for the health of not only the 15 volunteers in her team, but also, if need be, the community's health.

Louise, who leaves for Belize in mid-February, will be briefed by the Army on tropical medicines and will have to know all about malaria, snakes, bugs and fevers, which will, she says 'be a great personal challenge'. But since hearing the good news of her acceptance and the realisation of her dream of a once in a lifetime experience, Louise has been busy with the task of raising £1,500 to support her venture. Well on her way and having raised over £500 by a car boot sale and other ventures, Louise was totally taken aback when, whilst on duty one night at the hospital, an anonymous Welshman arrived at 11.30 p.m. to hand her the full £1,500 in travellers cheques! This incredibly generous gesture has allowed her to take an Advanced Emergency Care course, as well as purchasing other necessary items of equipment.

Congratulations, Louise. We wish you 'bon voyage', have a wonderful time and please come back and tell us all about it!


[Or 3,000 miles in Two Weeks]

We left Berrynarbor at 4.00 a.m. and travelled to Bristol Airport to catch the KLM City Hopper to Schipol Airport in Amsterdam to connect with their schedule flight to Los Angeles. This way had been recommended by Joy and Michael Morrow and they were right, for travel to Bristol is painless, so is Bristol Airport and we had only a one-hour wait. I never find airports boring - Bristol is humming, restaurant packed, duty free till ringing and the bar is open. Eyes focus on a middle-aged man who in the space of 30 minutes has consumed three lagers and three whisky chasers at 6.00 in the morning! Got to be nerves, hasn't it? Can you tell me why people wear sunglasses at this time in the morning and the only available paper is the Sun or Star? The flight to Holland was relaxing and quick, and equally easy was the boarding the 747 to Los Angeles. Then we were off on the 11 hour flight, totally in daylight, that took us over Manchester, Derry, the tip of Iceland, Greenland, the wastes of Alaska, Winnipeg, Chicago, the Rocky Mountains and Las Vegas before starting the descent to Los Angeles. Now Joy, if you are reading this, entering your country is not that easy! We landed at 1.30 p.m. and it was nearly two hours later before we cleared Immigration and the guy didn't even say 'have a nice day'!

By this time, my sister Jackie and brother-in-law Paddy, waiting in the reception, were ready to take anyone home, and after the first question, 'Have you brought the North Devon Journal?', we joined the 5-lane freeway for the one hour drive south to Laguna Niguel in Orange County. Actually, there were six lanes as one lane is called the 'car share'. To reduce congestion, if two or more people share a car, this lane gives a smooth, uninterrupted ride but there are heavy fines if you are caught cheating. By early evening, we were sitting in the garden enjoying a temperature of 86 Deg F and breathing in the scent of lemon and orange trees.

Next morning we woke early and life is good when you can grab a cup of tea and wonder in the garden, where I had a great conversation with two mocking birds, who suddenly left. Was it something I said, or did they know something I didn't? Just as suddenly, the garden sprinkling system burst forth [if burst is the word] and I was at the wrong end of the garden. Who said a 50+ man can't do a hundred yards in 10 seconds! This sudden monsoon is some system. Controlled by a computer mounted on the wall of the house with a printed map of the garden layout and the names of the plants, it is programmed with the amount of substance each plant requires, so each sprinkler gives its adopted plant the correct amount of water and liquid fertiliser to ensure healthy growth. The computer also controlled the fountains and garden lights - a total labour and cost saving system.

It was decided that this day would be spent on a local tour and just after 10.00 a.m. we set stop off. Dana Point, which is a large [and I mean large] marina. There is every type of vessel there, from floating gin palaces to little 'put-puts', but the biggest gathering was boats for fishing, because this is big sport and that generates big money, boats to sell, boats to repair, boats to equip, bait for fish, fish to sell, people to feed, people to sleep the list is endless as are the boats coming in and out - its a 24 hour operation for nearly 365 days of the year. We sat at a restaurant on the wharf in the sunshine and a pelican joined us for lunch. Not even a boat unloading lobster after lobster could break the concentration of my new-found friend as he gave me the hard stare every time I put fork to mouth, 'C'mon buddy, spare us a chip'!

The next day we started on our long trek and the first task was to head for and clear Los Angeles. Now I'm used to Barnstaple at 8 o'clock in the morning, but this was horrendous. There are 16 million people living in L.A. and it felt as if they had all come out that morning and the most listened to radio channel is devoted to continuous traffic up-dates, with helicopters covering every tarmac artery leading to this vast city.

Nearly 3 hours was spent on the freeway, which circles the city, and above it lies a haze of pollution. Eventually we moved to Highway 101, the main coast road that would take us to Monterey. Traffic and fumes were quickly forgotten. How do I describe this journey? The scenery reminded me very much of our beautiful North Devon coastline - rugged cliffs with crashing seas. So, if you can imagine a road running the edge of our coastline, but taking from 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. to drive it, then hopefully you have the picture in your minds and the size of that picture! After arriving at Monterey, we ate an excellent meal [food in this country is a separate story] we hit the hay. The next morning we awoke to another sunny day and started to explore. When I win the Lottery [and note not if, but when] this is where I would buy a second home. The buildings represent architecture of Spanish, Old Settler American and a touch of English influence - wooden buildings with balconies and in soft colours tinged with a gentle, I guess you could call serene, atmosphere. Monterey is a State Historic Park, for during California's Mexican era, the Custom House presided over Mexico's only port of entry on the Alta California coast. It was here that Commodore John Drake Sloat raised the American flag in July 1846 claiming over 600,000 square miles of territory for the United States and Monterey became California's first capital. The main part of the harbour is Fisherman's Wharf and as soon as possible you step from the car you are greeted by the sound of sea lions. You walk along the pier where fish restaurants line each side and with that distinct 'oowh, oowh' getting louder and louder, and at the end of the pier and below is the sea lions' equivalent of 'chorus girls' - their chests swell as they belt out their song. Magnificent creatures with black shiny coats, weighing in at 1/2 ton, but their grace and gymnastic ability when they dive into the crystal clear water is spell-binding. Our next stop was Cannery Row, made famous by a son of Monterey, the author John Steinbeck. Even today when very much catering for the tourists, it is still a centre point for the fish industry. After lunch we departed for the famous 17 mile drive.

This is another highly scenic coastal drive, but the main attraction is the houses. Two million dollars will give you a 'starter home' and that's all I want to say on that! At the end of the drive we arrived at Carmel-by-the-sea, the town where Clint Eastwood was Mayor and where he still lives today and where he has a restaurant called 'The Hogs Breath' - quaint little old name. Carmel smells totally of money and as Valerie and I stood with our mouths wide open - a physical state we had often found ourselves in since arriving, a large car stopped and out stepped a lady of advancing years wearing half of Fort Knox and with 6" stiletto heals to match. But our eyes were drawn to the tight, permanent smile on her face ... created not by nature, but by the surgeon's knife. The skin was drawn so tight that I found myself staring at the back of her head to see if there was a knot! Time was marching on and we had to make our night stay at Windsor, Sonoma County in Northern California, the home of my niece and her husband, who had given over their home [did they have a choice?] to us. Home is a 150 year old wooden farmhouse, straight out of a western film set - rocking chair on the veranda, coyotes roaming round at night time - are you getting the picture? Let me add that we are now in the winegrowing area and beyond their land, regimental rows of vines stretch over the hills beyond the zenith. That evening we ate Chinese and the meal was too much, even for this Devon lad, but hey, no problems, doggie bags are standard and the food all packed up for you in foil containers. Other nice touches I found when eating out were that a glass of water is also standard and if you order coffee, your cup is continuously filled until you decline.

For the first time we awoke to find it had rained overnight and the temperature had dropped, so trousers replaced shorts on the day we were going to realise a dream - visit San Francisco. Having had the luck to be a teenager in the sixties, San Francisco was synonymous with that era, although serving on board one of Her Majesty's warships at the time, I was not able to run around with flowers in my hair with the greeting 'peace man' on my lips, even though my superiors had suspicions that I was walking a thin line and passed on, I suspect, their worries to the ship's barber. We made the long climb to Lincoln Heights and looked down on San Francisco Bay and one of the most beautiful landmarks in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge. Mouths open again! The initial view instantly becomes tattooed in the mind for life as you grapple to take in the panorama.

We crossed the bridge and headed for the other Fisherman's Wharf. A great tourist attraction, alive with activity and even people begging do it there in style with notices around their necks, 'why lie, I want a beer' What next? It had to be the cable car and we join the queue, but waiting is not boring as you are entertained by buskers, vintage aircraft giving an aerobics display and Don Johnson making a new movie in the street below. San Francisco is built on hills - we call them mountains here - and of course, the San Andreas Fault runs right through them. The cable car climbed [Barton Lane, you're a pussy] and climbed, never losing sight of the Bay and the island of Alcatraz. At the crest, having gone through China Town, you make the steep descent to downtown San Francisco, which is the main shopping area. Time for a cuppa, and where better than the Japanese Tea Garden situated in the City Park - mouths still open.

At 7.00 p.m. the time had sadly come to leave with one last look at the Bridge, now illuminated and the million lights of the city skyline. Now I understand Tony Bennett's song, because I lost my heart.

The traffic was quiet at that time of night but eyes were drawn to a large glow on the horizon and as the glow grew brighter, we could identify a sinister man-made concrete cube and the large sign in blue writing on a stark white background stated 'San Quentin Federal Prison', the replacement for Alcatraz. This was the other side of America and as I stared at this incarnation, I thought 'inside there are many men sitting in Death Row who will never see the sun again', but not being a soft left-wing liberal, I immediately thought, 'well, they didn't give their victims that chance either'.

The next day was to be a quiet day, proclaimed my brother-in-law, just a steady drive about 200 miles, OK? The first stop was Healdsburg, situated on the Russian River. Berry people, you would love this village/town, about the size of Braunton, but with a very easy way of life - tree-lined streets in the full lustre of their autumn colours and in the evening people basking in the last of the sun's rays as they drink their coffee in the outside cafe. Over the mountains and a tour of Bodega Bay where Hitchcock made his famous film 'The Birds'.

From there through the country following the Russian River, which at times reminded me of Switzerland, which again reminds me of North Devon, but there is a distinction. Every kind of fruit and vegetable seems to grow here. Three things are necessary to make crops grow - sun, good soil and water. Sun and soil there is an abundance of and water, too, through human technology, i.e. catchment and recycling completes the triangle that enables each patch of land to produce three crops a year. We have now moved into Tulare County, the capital of which is Exeter, so Devonians do go beyond, and approach a beautiful place called Dunkersville, a small hamlet in a heavy forest area and parked on display were trains and railway carriages of a by-gone era. Tulare County promotes itself as the Land of the Giants - we are talking trees, giant trees. The named General Sherman tree is 36 feet in diameter and 275 feet tall, the largest living thing in the world. The backdrop to these trees are high, snow-capped mountains with water falls, lakes and rivers, an area that attracts over a million people a year as the National Park is a major leisure area, but if you intend to go exploring, you are required by law to log your route with the Park Rangers, because as the sign states, people have just disappeared out there!

We are now at the most northern part of California and Paddy casually asks, 'Fancy doing a bit of gambling?' Well, except for the Lottery and the Globe Christmas Draw, that's about the end of me giving money away unless, of course, you include the council tax. But, when in Rome ... so left hand down and we head across the Sierra Mountains to Reno in the State of Nevada. There is now a distinct drop in temperature as we head along the highway and climb the mountains. You are now in Cowboy Country and the radio reflected this - driving through this rugged terrain only country and western songs would fit. High in the mountains you hit Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America. This lake is so large and contains so much water that it would be capable of flooding California, which is larger than Great Britain, to a depth of three feet. Beneath Lake Tahoe lies, amongst other major cities, Carson City, named after Kit Carson, and also in this area is Squaw Valley, the Olympic ski resort and, of course, Reno. Stopping at another breath-taking view, I watch a train, a goods train, 2000 feet above, navigating the Donna Pass. The train had already climbed 10,000 to reach the Pass and it was still climbing, on a single track and in temperatures up there below zero.

With a loud cry of 'RENO' we reached this city in the middle of nowhere and booked into our hotel for the night, Circus Circus - this hotel was a town within a hotel, and why Circus Circus? Obvious, isn't it - there's a 24 hour circus going on whilst you gamble. Now our room contained two beds and they MASTER beds, I mean you could park your car on them. A quick shower and then off to explore Reno. Casinos everywhere and everything else is in support of getting you to part with your money and the support is 24-hour back-up in eating or drinking and if you want a break, there are top stars waiting to entertain you. Three hours after arriving, the wailing sound of a train could be heard - it was the train we had seen navigating the Donna Pass and now it was passing through the main street of Reno. Before retiring for the night, I watched a man pour silver dollars into one of the machines and on checking out at 9 00 the next moming, there was the same man playing the same machine, he had not moved all night - now that's dedication.

We climbed the mountains again and took Highway 395. The scenery had become very rugged and snow was threatening. After an hour's drive, a sign stated that we had reached Virginia City and believe me, it was as if you had driven into a time warp and the next person you would meet would be Wyatt Earp! This is a preserved western town, even to the cemetery on the hill. Gold was discovered in 1859 and a miner by the name of James Finney, nicknamed 'Old Virginny', is reported to have named the town during a drunken celebration when he dropped a bottle of whisky on the floor. The biggest problem in this grubstake paradise was the sticky blue-grey mud that stuck to their shovels but when this mud was analysed, it was found to be silver ore, worth over $2,000 dollars a ton - in 1859!

We travelled all day and at 4.00 p.m. reached Yosemite National Park. Nevada is the home of the Indians and you could feel them as we entered one of the world's most outstanding concentrations of spectacular mountains and valley scenery. Sadly we were fighting time and light and at this time of the year parts of Yosemite were closing due to the elements. Much has been written about this wonder of the world, and our short drive - 67 miles - took us through indescribable beauty that makes you realise there is a God. Thankfully, my camera recorded it. There was some concern as night fell. Ice was apparent on the roads and other traffic became spartan as we navigated the twisting roads, conversation also became spartan. We made it and entered Mariposa, a town on the end of the Park, to stay the night. By this time a welcome sight! Sitting in the motel room, I switched on the television and heard the news of the death of John Denver, who had crashed in a plane on the same beach we had visited at Monterey two days earlier. I felt profoundly sad, he was of my era and not only had the gift of a unique voice but was a unique poet. He once said, "Most of the critics who write negatively about me are people working in big cities, on big newspapers or magazines. I come from the country, singing about mountains, the wilderness, about love and family." He hated exploitation of the country and put his money into fighting it. Why do some people see beauty and simplicity as a way of making money? The legacy of John Denver's music and words will live on.

We headed home to Orange County via Los Angeles and Pasadena, and shorts replaced trousers and the traffic built up. Back to base where I struck up my conversation with the mocking birds - there are people who would say I've been talking to them for years! No respite the next day, we are off again. Where? Universal City, the world's largest working film and television studio, and boy, don't you know it. We queued for a tram ride, the temperature was in the 90's, but there is an ingenious way of cooling down, sprays above your head giving a fine mist of cooling water. The tram takes you through the film lots of epics, old and new - 'All Quiet on the Western Front', The Sting', 'Bedrock City [Flint Stones] and even 'Jaws' came to say hello and not to be outdone, King Kong tried to attack the tram! The finale was an entry into a covered film studio and you found yourself in an underground railway station. Unknown at the time, this was the film set of 'Earthquake' and it started to happen. The tram started to rock, girders above you collapsed, fires raged and then a train came in on the platform next to you and crashed, stopping, it seemed, just inches away. After that it was time for refreshments and it just so happened that a live Blues Brothers concert started just to entertain us as we drank our cuppa. Live shows are in progress all the time - Western stunt work, Back to the Future Rides, where do you go next? Well, this brave man had to on the Jurassic Park Ride. You board a raft that goes through large wooden doors and there in front of you are gigantic, prehistoric creatures quietly sipping from the river. A public announcement informs you that these creatures are environmentally controlled and you are quite safe, so on you sail. Suddenly an alarm sounds and everything starts to go wrong - these monster mammals ain't safe any longer and they are looking for something to eat, and this 35 ft creature with blood-shot eyes is eye-balling me! The public address system booms out that this is an emergency and you have only 15 seconds of life support system left. The river seems to speed the raft up, suddenly one of these creatures looms towards you and just as it is about to grab you, the raft drops vertically 40 feet, as stomach reaches mouth and you whoosh to the bottom where a large wave hits and you're soaked to the skin! Funny, I didn't see the notice at the start that said this ride was not for those of a nervous disposition! I now have the T-shirt to testify to my bravery! On the way home we drove through Hollywood - it is so busy and the film star houses in Beverly Hills are not for me.

'Ready to go?' asked Paddy at 8.00 the next morning. 'Where?' 'Mexico.' Close your mouth, Neil. So off we went to Tijuana, which is a crazy place lots of things to buy, including prescribed medicine at very low prices and loaded with souvenirs we crossed back over the border and headed for home.

Sadly all good things come to an end and the next day it was time to make the long journey home. It was an unforgettable holiday. California, we are saving our pennies, you're irresistible!

I have made a film of the holiday, if anyone would like to borrow it, you are most welcome.

Neil Morris