Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cornworthy and a Willow Woman

My day off. It was grey and gloomy. I stay around the dairy. It is Kay's last day. She's moving to Bristol. Nick gives her a couple of Strawberry Switchblade singles. They have a couple of books and a card for her, too. The day goes quickly. Since it is Thursday, we've got to go pick up cheeses from Sharpham, the cheese dairy and vineyard down the road. Ben grabs Kay and takes her with him. He stop at the Denby Arms, the pub in Ashprington and makes her get a half pint of beer. He runs to Sharpham, picks up the order, and swings back by the pub to get Kay. They arrive back at Ticklemore and Nick gives her a glass of Scotch on the rocks. "Drink this," he says, you're not working any more!" Kay puts up a fuss, but gives in. She sips the Scotch and has a big smile on her face. They quit early and we all say goodbye to Kay. I'm actually seeing her on Friday to go drive around Dartmoor. She wants to see it one last time, and I just want to explore the windswept moors that are just a few miles away.

Later that afternoon, as I was turning the day’s cheese, the clouds parted and the sun came out. The light was beautiful. It had that golden quality that comes with late afternoon light. I finished my chores, raced inside and grabbed my camera. I had been waiting a sunny afternoon to drive down past the Maltster's Arms pub and find the Wicker Woman sculpture that lives in a glade beyond Tuckenhay. Nick told me about it. He gave me directions a few days ago, so I set out in the white van to find the woman made of willow. Tuckenhay is not far away. It's a five minute drive down a very, very steep and windy lane. There are high hedgerows that close in on your car as you whisk down the hill to Bow Bridge. Bow Bridge is just before Tuckenhay, perhaps a quarter of a mile separate the two. Bow Bridge has a 16th century arched bridge and a pub called the Waterman's Arms. There are a few houses tucked into the hillside and Bow Creek runs through the center of the village. Down the road is Tuckenhay, another small village that straddles Bow Creek. Just beyond the village I spot the Wicker Woman. There is a break in the trees and hedge, and there she is! I couldn't stop in time and there was no where to turn around, so I drove on to the next village of Cornworthy. Cornworthy proved to be a picturesque Devon village that spills down from an old, red stone church at the top of the hill, to a collection of thatched and slate roofed cottages. Set in the middle of this quaint scene is an inviting pub. I might have to give this place a try because it is so QUAINT.

I turn the van around and head back to the wicker woman. I find her easily this time. She is situated in a small clearing and across a creek that separates her from the road. There are wildflowers blooming all around her and vines are growing up her skirt. Wicker weaving is an ancient art form in the British Isles. Willow branches are used to form figures, baskets, hats, fences, houses, etc. This figure is woven into the shape of a woman wearing a hat and a full skirt. She's holding a basket. Nick says she appeared in the springtime. She's a nice piece of public art. I'll have to go back when the light is different, because she's in a pretty shady spot. Stopped at the Waterman's Arms for supper on the way home and had half a pint of Thatcher's cider, Mussels from the River Exe, and chips (moules et frites!) Yummy stuff! Had to see what the local pub was like. Not too shabby.

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