Peters Tower Photo AlbumNovember 12, 2010 at 12:18 am | Posted in Anne, Cycling, Eating and Drinking, George, Julian, Timmy, Travel | 1 Comment
Tags: Five Go to Demon's Rocks, Five on a Hike Together, Joel Segal Books, Landmark Trust, Lympstone, Peters Tower, Route 2, Topsham
‘”What I’m looking forward to is our first night there,” said George. “All alone, high up in that old light-house. Nothing but the wind and waves all around! Snuggling down in our rugs, and waking up to hear the wind and waves again.”‘ (Five Go to Demon’s Rocks)
On my weekend trip to Peters Tower I mostly channeled Demon’s Rocks (life in a lighthouse), with a hint of Five on a Hike Together (an autumn excursion). It was dark and rainy by the time I arrived in Lympstone after a 3 and a half hour train journey from London. I had a simple supper (by FF standards) of cheese and biscuits and then wrapped myself up in one of the tower’s regulation rugs to reacquaint myself with its small but perfectly formed library.
The Landmark Trust provides a thoughtful selection of books, many with local(ish) interest. Titles like Devon Shipwrecks and A Book About Smuggling in the West Country sit alongside novels (some Hardy, Austen, Sterne and Fowles) and modern cookery books.
The next day dawned bright and fine. Peters Tower is a clock tower and chimes the hour between 7 in the morning and 11 at night. As the bedroom is immediately under the bell I woke up at 7. You never know what view will be waiting when you look out of the window. The Exe estuary is extremely tidal so sometimes the water comes right up to the tower and sometimes there is nothing but a long stretch of mud between each shore. On Saturday morning there was water.
A few miles up the estuary from Lympstone is the small town of Topsham. I took the train but had cyclist envy. National Cycle Route 2 runs alongside the coast here (it is planned to eventually traverse the south coast all the way from St Austell to Dover) and Topsham is the home of the Route 2 Cafe and Cycle Hire. It’s nice inside and they have their own Route 2 cups. I had a fruit scone and a pot of tea which was fine – but not a patch on the scones served just around the coast at the Cosy Teapot in Budleigh Salterton.
There are other nice things in Topsham too – the views, an array of good pubs, a good deli/butchers, a cheese shop, and the excellent Joel Segal Books. The shop is spread over three floors of an 17th century building and its contents range across most subjects. The books are arranged in aesthetically pleasing ways, often organised by publisher/edition. I liked the current (and slightly 70s feeling) autumn-inspired window display.
There were more autumn colours and leaves when I went for a walk along the cycle path on Sunday. This bit of Route 2 (between Lympstone and Exton) could seem a bit sanitised but cycling in London on a daily basis makes me think that a little bit of boardwalk riding away from terrifying taxis and white vans is actually ok.
The storm on the final night was quite appropriate, as per the climax of Five Go to Demon’s Rocks:
‘”Are you quite sure that the light-house [tower] can’t be blown down?” said Anne, in a small voice.
“Dear Anne, use your common sense,” said Julian [unbelievably smugly]. “Would it have stood for all these years if it hadn’t been strong enough to stand against storms far worse than this?” […]
There was an extra big gale of wind that buffeted the light-house, and made Timmy stand up and growl. Rain pattered against the window, sounding as if someone was throwing pebbles…’
The next morning (my final morning) I went out to look at the tower from the small jetty that sticks out into the estuary. The flood gate next to the tower had been closed, the dustbins blown over, and the water seemed higher, and murkier, than usual.
And then it was back to school. Well, work…