Friday, November 24, 2023

Autumn Comes

It's been a turbulent few weeks in every respect.  Autumn made its dramatic entrance with Storm Ciaran, which coincided with and compromised our mini break to Exeter.  It feels like much of life has been viewed through a pane of glass as a result.  Here you can see the storm clouds gathering on our journey down the M5.

 Our view upon arrival.  It didn't improve during our 48 hours in this small historic city.

I don't feel we are equipped as a result, to give an accurate appraisal of the city.  My biggest takeaways?  

1.  It's steeped in history.  Just opposite our apartment was the Dissenters' Graveyard, a plot of land collectively purchased by those who refused to adopt the Church of England faith.  During the Georgian and early Victorian period, Exeter underwent major social, economic and political upheaval and members of the dissenting community from the three Presbyterians Meeting Houses (Bow, Mint and George's - now a Wetherspoons) were buried here between 1748 and 1854.

Exeter Cathedral; an Anglican cathedral completed circa 1400.  We didn't visit on this occasion.  We were limited for time for one.  But we've also been spoiled by free entries with voluntary donations, (which we always opt to leave) at St David's, Liverpool and Chester recently and so balked at the £7.50 per person admission fee.  

The Norman, Rougemont Castle was built on a knoll known as red hill or rouge mont in Norman French, because of its red, volcanic rock.  This Norman three storey gatehouse's arched entrance shows evidence of Saxon workmanship and is therefore the oldest non-ecclesiastical Norman arch in existence.

2.  An iconic mural.  The paint you see is the result of vandalism, but as the building is owned by retailer Urban Outfitters, it hasn't been cleaned yet and the company is declining to comment.

The chiselled mural was created in 1991.  Members of the public were asked to send in photos which would serve as inspiration for the mural.  One local woman, Hollie-Jay Storer, sent in several of herself, one of which was selected for the final piece.

3.  Some rather good charity shops.  I picked up this book to add to my growing collection.  

4.  Character pubs and good beer; plenty of options for shelter from the storm.

5.  Amazing Wetherspoons!  First up, George's Meeting House, a former chapel connected to the aforementioned Dissenters' graveyard...

....and The Imperial.  Previously the Imperial Hotel, from 1923 until 1994, this had been converted from Elmfield House, built in 1810 for the County Surveyor James Green. 

We dined here, in the ballroom, which was intended as a replica of Buckingham Palace... that we could enjoy the view of the jaw dropping orangery, added by Dr William Buller Henderson, who purchased the property in 1897.

After a couple of stormy days, we were excited to meet up with our friends, Neil and Laura, for an overnighter in Cornwall.  Remnants of the storm continued to circle and we again took refuge from horizonal rain and road spray; this time in Jamaica Inn.  You can just make out the A38 in the distance.  I don't think I've ever visited this legendary place in anything other than perfectly imperfect weather conditions.

Eventually the storm retreated and relative calm was restored, although the waves were still choppy at Carlyon Bay.  The sea, the sea!  

Charlestown looked as picturesque as ever, but Poldark was nowhere to be seen.  We enjoyed great food, company and cocktails in this atmospheric fishing village and occasional film set.  No photos, sadly, as we were too busy scoffing and chatting! 

After 24 hours in Cornwall, it was back up the M5, homeward bound...and more windscreen photos of interesting cloud formations... 

...and fading light. 

Ah, seasons change with the scenery...

Weaving time in a tapestry

Won't you stop and remember me

At any convenient time?

The Simon & Garfunkel lyrics have been playing around in my mind since our return, for obvious reasons.  Our Autumn colours are more muted than those of our American cousins, but they are beautiful nonetheless.

 The leaves are falling in earnest now.  I had to stop and jump out of the car to capture this stunning spectacle in Low Town, Bridgnorth the other day.

Oh and check out this unique little fungus with its bendy stalk, growing in our garden.

Autumn always seems to me to be a time of reflection and I've been busy setting up a little home studio and working on my portraiture, recording those around me, in the hope of getting some future bookings.  I have plans (watch this space), but for now, I'll leave you with a selection of very simple, low key portraits of recent willing victims.  

Gareth, the Skater Boi

Dawn, feeling way more comfortable with a glass in her hand

Barry, my father-in-law, gurning at the camera




Take care and stay warm and dry!


  1. What a weekend to go travelling! You've captured those menacing clouds wonderfully and I'm shivering just looking at Carlyon Bay. I've never been to Exeter but it looks so grand, that must be one of the poshest Spoons around and as for The Imperial, goodness me!
    I rather like the paint splodged mural above Urban Outfitters.
    Your portraits are incredible, that book was a great find. Check out Skater Boi! xxx

    1. Not the best! It was actually quite pleasant in Cornwall...we sat outside at cafe in Charlestown.
      I thought the paint was part of the mural until I researched it. I agree with you. I think it adds a Banksy quality.
      Thanks Vix. Skater Boi did good! xxx

  2. I'm sorry to hear that storm Ciaran scuppered your mini break to Exeter, but I'm sure those charity shops and the amazing Wetherspoons somewhat made up for it. The Imperial in particular looks jaw-droppingly stunning!
    Having only visited Jamaica inn once, during a long hot Summer, I think it does looks suitably impressive - and definitely suiting the mood of Daphne Du Maurier's novel - in the rain.
    Gorgeous Autumn photos - can't wait to go back to Bridgnorth, we are actually booking our cottage for next June this weekend - and your black and white portraits are hauntingly beautiful! xxx

    1. We made the most of it Ann! We felt very posh dining at The Imperial!
      Jamaica Inn is atmospheric and the Smuggling Museum housed within is well worth a visit.
      Ooh I'm excited to hear you're booking up for next year. That will give you something to focus on during the winter months.
      Thank you very much! xxx

  3. yes - autumn is here! after a very long summer and a mild start its here with all its november power: torrential rain, plenty storms, we even had the first wet snow yesterday....... you made the best of it while away with visiting cosy pubs and snapping athmospheric photos - would love to stand at that beach with the wild surf.......
    gorgeous portraits - dear claire! love the black´n white and the low light.....

    1. Thanks so much Beate!
      We've had our first hard frost this morning. It's my favourite winter weather today. Sparkling white ground cover and a cloudless blue sky! xxx


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