Tuesday, June 30, 2015

England Vacation - Journal - Part 3 - Totnes

June 2nd, 2015

11.40 p.m.   Great excitement for me first thing.  Very early this morning I saw my first English Robin.  He was in the bushes when I first spotted him, and when I saw movement I immediately went to the window to get a closer look, which scared him away.  But I had seen him. 

I honestly can say I don't remember seeing one when I was growing up, but I think this is because I never took notice, as I certainly wasn't interested in birds as I am now.  I knew of them, of course.  I think every child in England did by their illustrations, and those always seemed to be on Christmas Cards that popped through the letter box each December.   But as a child I only noticed the much larger birds like seagulls and crows.  As far as I am concerned this is a lifer for me.  

(The next day I bought some bird seed and put it down, but it attracted a couple of other birds, like this Common Wood Pigeon...

and the male Blackbird.  They seemed to make the Robin even more scarce as later they brought all their relatives.)

 (During our vacation we discovered our Robin was a daily visitor to the garden.  I suspect he/she had a nest in the bushes.  Maybe I was actually seeing two Robins, never at the same time.  I really don't know enough about their habits.  My niece was awakened by a tapping outside her bedroom window all through our time at the cottage, and when she looked outside it was the Robin on a small branch resting on the glass.  A nice early morning alarm clock.)

Our sightseeing today started off in Totnes.  At this link it says that Totnes' recorded history starts back as early as 907 AD, when its first castle was built, and that it was already an important market town.  A fascinating history, it was one of five Devonshire towns originally mentioned in The Doomsday Book, and was considered one of the wealthiest towns in medieval and Tudor history, second only to Exeter.  

In the above photo you can see the East Gate Arch which was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1990.  The original gate dated back to the early 16th century, when Totnes was a walled borough and it was the main entrance way coming up from the port.  

The clock was installed by the town council in 1879 when they leased this part of the building from the Duke of Somerset. Sadly, in September 1990 this structure, along with a couple of neighboring buildings, was devastated by a fire which threatened to engulf the whole town center.  Fire crews from all over Devon were called in and by the time they had the blaze under control, all that was left of the East Gate was the stone shell.  Fortunately it was insured and it was recreated using as much of the traditional materials and techniques, a process which took almost two years.  

I had friends who lived here before I moved to the States, and used to visit them occasionally on weekends.  

My family and I also liked to shop in Totnes and we would occasionally bring our dog until he had an unfortunate incident when we were walking towards the East Gate Arch. He was just a puppy and we were passing a small terrier that attacked him without provocation. 

It bit our dog's nose so hard it bled profusely. Our poor pup, for the rest of his life, hated small dogs and never got over his fear of them. Whenever we approached one we always had to shorten the leash, bend down and try to calm him, but the poor thing never got over that distressing incident.  It's not only humans who have long memories.

There were still lots of dogs being taken shopping today. I noticed everywhere we went on our holiday, how many dogs were escorted by their owners everywhere we went. I heard the little dog below tied up in the alley next to the shop we were visiting.  He was whining and yipping a little bit and he stopped and stared when I talked to him.  His human came out of the shop and I saw them both walking down the hill a little while later. Shhhhh....don't tell him he was having a bad hair day.  I thought he looked cute anyhow.

This little girl was taking her cat for a walk.  I did a double take seeing it bumping down the road and it took me a moment to realize it was a plush toy.  I think her mum was concentrating on where she was going.  

I love taking pictures of kids though I have blurred faces to protect privacy.  In the following photo you can see a group of school children making their way down the high street. 

Most of them were all carrying a bag.....

and I realized later when I looked at the photo below, that they were heading for the RSPCA charity shop.   What a super project for a teacher to organize.  

The shops were fun to browse around.....

and I enjoyed window shopping.

We stopped and had lunch in one of the pubs, the King William IV, and discovered how much we liked cider.

The food was also very tasty.  Our niece took photos as she wanted to show her friends how good our English meals were.  (During our vacation we always had delicious choices and never had any complaints.)  Our niece had a chicken dish....

and nephew and Gregg ordered a Thai Chicken Curry.

I had the Steak and Mushrooms Pie in Merlot....

and we shared the Cajun-seasoned onion rings.

I also liked the sign on the wall.

Well fortified we continued to look around the town and pop into one or two shops.  Gregg spotted a W. H. Smith.  He loves their stationery and purchased a couple of fountain pens.  I liked the look of this cheese shop but didn't go in.  

It was all uphill, we got our exercise.  In fact, I had forgotten how hilly everywhere we went was.  We were always climbing up or climbing down, with plenty of steps in between.

It was nice to see the smaller, family-style shops instead of the huge supermarkets we are used to.

There were many pretty courtyards we passed by on our way back to the car.....

and we walked over the River Dart.

There were kids rowing down the river.....

and it was fun watching them for a while.  School was still in so P.E. class?  Now that's the kind of P.E. class I would have enjoyed.  A teacher was in the last boat and there was at least one adult in the others.   I also noticed that a rope tied each boat to the other.

The river sure was very pretty.

And even the crows were interesting to look at.  Added note on the bird.  Thanks to Stewart of Paying Ready Attention - Photo Gallery, I now know this bird is actually a Jackdaw.  Thanks Stewart!

One more photo not too far from the car.  Let's just say the name of this street really tickled me.

Before going back to the cottage we went for a ride into Torquay as my niece wanted to go to the aquarium.  However, by this time the clouds had darkened and it was so wet and windy, with huge white caps on the sea.  After almost being blown over trying to walk down to the aquarium, with heavy rain stinging our eyes, we decided it would be better to go another day, and come back when it was at least dry.  The walk was invigorating but you can only take so much of invigorating walking.

One last stop at the three village shops, which are all joined together.  There was a newsagent, a hair salon and a general store for essentials.  They have been there for as long as I can remember.
The man behind the counter of the general store was amused as we all walked into the shop in single file, and asked us to join the conga line.  It was a small shop with not much room to move around as the waist-size freezer containers were also in the middle of the shop.  Our purchases were cider, two six-pack packets of eggs and bars of chocolate.  The lady thought our purchases were funny and asked if that was all we were going to get.  With a smile I told her that I thought we had covered all the necessary food groups (not telling her we had done our main shopping the day before) and she laughed.  These shops are just up the hill from where we were staying, and Gregg enjoyed a walk each morning to get the newspaper and also any necessary items we might need before we started our day.  We were all in a good mood after our day out.

Off to bed and an end to another lovely day.

In case you miss vacation posts I will be adding a link to the previous ones.

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

(To all the hosts of the memes I love to participate in, I will posting my journal for a while but will be back joining in once these are over with.)


  1. Hello Denise, what an awesome day of sightseeing and touring. The views of castle on the hill, the East Gate Arch and the river scene are all wonderful views. I like the photo of you and your niece! And the pup is cute and pretty variety of birds! The food look delicious too. Thanks for sharing your trip! Enjoy your day and week ahead.

  2. Such a wonderful stroll through that quaint town. Enjoying your trip so far.

  3. i have enjoyed every single photo here. i love the narrow streets, the awnings, the cat being dragged, the bad hair dog... and my favorite is the 3 sale boats in the reflection of the building... awesome photos and they all say wonderful vacation ..... keep them coming, this is the only way i will ever see your home country...

  4. Just have to say I am enjoying your journal! The next best thing to being there....

  5. Marvelous shots, and an inviting area. That steak dish suits me the most!

    Regarding your comment at my blog, if Washington or Richmond don't have similar programs to Doors Open, I know Denver and Chicago have them. I suggest having someone in a Chamber of Commerce or tourism bureau or heritage society take a look at the Doors Open Ontario website. It's been going on successfully in large cities and small towns here for years. It is a wonderful way to engage the community.

  6. Dear Denise,
    Now you are really taking me for a trip back home aren't you! How lovely to see the robin. They are such cheeky characters. My son spent some time in Totnes on an exchange after he left school. It is a lovely looking town though I have never been there. Cider...mmmm!
    We should all tickle more!
    Have fun, Jane.

  7. GREAT post!

    I've had french fries in cajun seasoning, but never thought to try it with onion rings! I will now, so thanks!

    Great, great photos. :)

  8. Memories abound. Both old and new.

  9. What a lovely vacation! Thank you for sharing your images. :)

  10. I'm really enjoying this series of posts ...
    Robins are quite territorial I think and often when in the garden the robin always comes down to say hello - and yes the Christmas Cards for sale here in the UK so often have a robin redbreast on them.
    Your photo's are lovely to look at and enjoy, I especially like the name of that street!

    All the best Jan

  11. How absolutely lovely. Thank you so much for taking us along.
    I suspect you all slept very well after all that exercise.
    Where did the Robin Red-breast get his name? I was amazed when I first saw a photo and realised their plumage is MUCH more orange or ochre than red...

  12. Oh my goodness Denise you were only about an hour's drive away from where I live. So pleased you enjoyed your time back in England. A xx

  13. You've covered a lot of territory in this post. You are in a great place to tour.

  14. I do so enjoy reading travel blogs and this was no exception. Looks like a lovely town to wander around. Loved the little girl taking the cat for a walk and the river scenes, especially the ones with the reflections.

  15. This is an amazing village. The robin is so cute too. It is great to hear how much you are enjoying the trip. I would have thought it would have been warmer though.

  16. Hi Denise, that was a fabulous day indeed. Lovely sights, great food etc. I too loved seeing all the local shops.
    Totally enjoying your holiday posts and the way you present them :D)

  17. Wonderful series of images, at least you had 'atmospheric' weather. It's far too hot and sticky here at the moment... and Robin's are such friendly little birds. There's one on the Great Orme who always flutters down to say Hello most days when I walk around it!

  18. WOW! I am sure after you hadspend that wonderful day exploring the lovely village you fell into bed! Loved seeing all the things you came across and I felt I had come along with you. Thanks.

  19. Oh my! I am so loving this. Thank you for sharing the joy of your travels with us. The Cajun onion rings made my mouth water.

  20. Reading your post made me yearn to be back down there. Some terrific pictures, especially the first one of the robin.

    Sending special hugs for your father-in-law.... that should drive the infection away. Tell him we'll be praying for him when he has the operation.

  21. What a pretty bustling interesting town. I love the small shops and people taking their dogs with them and the pretty gardens. I loved the sight of the canoes on the river. It looks like you had a great time.

  22. Looks like you had a really good time. Our robin is here all through winter and then it disappears. Wish I knew where it went! Have a good week Diane

  23. Denise, I just had a wonderful tour and an see how happy you were to return for a revisit. The streets in these photos looked a bit tight for traffic. After reading this post, I back-tracked to Part 1 and 2. The seashore excursion look wonderful and nice that you spotted one of your favorite birds. The cottage looked great and it was clear to see that you were all having a wonderful reunion and sightseeing trip.

  24. Hi Denise,
    Such a delightful post of birds and scenes from England - enjoyed it thoroughly!
    Of particular interest to me was the organic perfumery.
    Have a Beautiful Day!!
    Peace :)

  25. Hi Denise, what a lovely tour that was. When I travel, I much prefer to visit and linger around small towns because I can learn a great deal about the people and the way they live. It must have been so nice for you to be back and share your childhood with your family.

  26. Wonderful pictures and memories! Although I have not yet been to England, my visit to Europe opened my eyes to how charming and cozy it is to wander along narrow streets with small shops filled ancient histories and away from the big box stores and freeways.

  27. We visited Totnes last year and I keep meaning to do a quick post about it - but your pictures are MUCH better! Looks fun. I thought I'd left a comment here before, but obviously not..

  28. You are creating a great journal for your old age! Love the kid dragging her "dog." Wonderful photos of a place we once visited, although a bit off the beaten track.

  29. gorgeous images Denise. I must go back and see part 1 and 2

  30. Great set of shots - just about to leave the UK to go back to home to Australia - I did not take enough 'out and about shots' - maybe next time.

    Trying to catch up on visits and comment while I wait for a flight - one busy week to go and it's back to normal!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Heathrow Airport UK (for the next couple of hours!)

    PS: your crow is a Jackdaw!

  31. so much to comment on - nice shots of our common birds, robin, blackbird, pigeon - love the dog shots - yes typical English food like Thai curry!

  32. Boy you packed a lot into one day...and seeing the robin greet you was fabulous!

  33. Another good account of a day out and about.