The sun continued to shine this morning so, rather than waste a perfectly wonderful day in dusty records, Carol wanted to investigate Shaldon at the mouth of the river Teign, opposite Teignmouth, in fact. I now define genealogical addiction as wanting to investigate someone else’s family. In this case the family in question was that of the husband of a cousin. Still, it’s a harmless excuse to go somewhere.
Arriving in Shaldon and spotting lots of double yellow lines, we first opted for a car park and scraped together the £1.50 with our shopping trolley pound coin from the car. The pound coin looked a bit odd to me. It clearly felt a bit odd to the ticket machine, too, which promptly rejected it. No more change – foiled! We drove off and happened across some free one hour parking spots in town. Sometimes fake money can be an advantage.
There must be something about the Devon diet or air that makes birds particularly argumentative. Yesterday we watched a mute swan tirelessly hounding a pair of Canada geese on Stover Lake. Today, having parked the car, it was seagulls apparently locked in mortal combat. Seagulls are argumentative at the best of times but we’d never seen anything like this before. These two had each other fast by the beak and would not let go for anything. Locked together, they struggled along a stretch of pavement (that’s the pedestrian bit for the benefit of Amerispeakers), jumping, tugging, flapping, straying into the road (pavement, for Amerispeakers), stopping traffic – one car actually bumped one of the birds – and still they remained firmly attached. Blood appeared to have been drawn. The locals had not seen the like before, either; everyone stopped to watch. Whatever the argument was about (sex or food, I imagine) it lasted a full 10 minutes but eventually they parted and flew off, one still chasing the other.
We found a pub in which Carol thought her non-relative may have been born. The pub was called the Shipwright’s Arms. The pub sign was on the road. The pub wasn’t on the road. The pub was tucked down an alley in the direction of the river. The pub wasn’t actually on the river, either. The pub was, well, nowhere, really. The pub was also closed on Mondays. Go figure.
Leaving Shaldon, we came across another car park along the cliffs to the south. Furthermore, we found the required genuine 60p so we parked, donned our boots and walked along the very hilly coastal path back towards Shaldon. Carol narrowly managed to avoid stepping on a very small, basking adder which squirmed off safely into deeper vegetation. Stumbling across our island’s only poisonous creature is always a thrill – and a reminder of why walking boots are more appropriate footwear than sandals.
At the end of our walk we found an open pub which, to my delight, was a Hall and Woodhouse house selling their wonderful Tanglefoot brew. I was less delighted when I was informed that they sold neither crisps (chips, for Amerispeakers) nor peanuts. “We do sell fries, though”. Ah ha, a sneaky ploy to make more money than you would from crisps and peanuts, I thought, cynically. “Fries”, I said, rather less cynically, “do you mean chips?”. Oh, I give up. The beer was great and so were the chips/fries and garlic mayonnaise.
We returned and I had a brief chat with Mr and Mrs D. Curd. We are distantly related, after all.