Like all of Marcia’s books, this is definitely a west country novel. However, that does not mean that the characters never leave the west country and in this book, as would be expected, Marcia takes us to other places where you will find submariners’ wives.
There is Chatham, the very first Royal Naval Dockyard created in the days of Samuel Pepys, where the submarines go for repairs and refits. Then there are the three submarine bases at Devonport in Plymouth (just down the road from Tavistock), Faslane up on the west coast of Scotland and Gosport in Hampshire (on the opposite side of the river to Portsmouth.
From the point of view of the wives, Chatham is the least popular. The number of submariners’ wives there at any one time is very limited and there is certainly no point in buying there as the boats are moved out to one of the bases on completion of the works being carried out.
Thus there are really only three places where you would find any concentration of submariners’ wives and one of those is around Plymouth on both sides of the River Tamar. Most of the communities in the area boast a naval connection – not just with submariners but from all branches of the Royal Navy and, indeed, the Royal Marines.
So it is that for most of the time we find ourselves in Tavistock and the villages in the north west quarter of Dartmoor. Indeed I think it is true to say that in this book (and others) Dartmoor is really one of the characters.
Kate especially loves the moor and in her early days when she lived in Dousland one of her favourite places was Walkhampton Common from where, on a rare and very clear day, you can see the hills in Cornwall way to the west. I took this photo a good few years ago and, as you can see from the one below, things never stay the same.
This taken in 2008 shows that the old hawthorn tree has succumbed to a strong gale The last time we drove by, in the autumn of 2014 I think it was, there was nothing left.
Another favourite place for walking the dogs was around Burrator Reservoiur.
This is the reservoir taken from above the village of Sheepstor.
Taken from beside the dam.
Trees run down to the water’s edge in many places.
And here is the spillway after there has been a good deal of rain.
And then there are walls. Some quite new like this one . . .
. . . while others have been there for a long, long time.
Some include very large stones like that one in front of Marcia. This is a fairly modern wall near Fernworthy Reservoir but some of this size were included in walls and buildings built long before there were any mechanical aids other than pulley blocks and crowbars.
Time to potter into Tavistock and see what the chums are up to. Not very surprisingly, we find Cass and Kate sitting at one of the two window tables in the Bedford Hotel, their favourites, which overlook the church of St Eustachious.
They have both been shopping. Cass popped in to Crebers to buy some groceries before . . .
. . . crossing the road and poking her head into Brigid Foley’s clothes shop in Paddons Row to see whether or not there was anything new she would be interested in.
Kate, meanwhile, had been stocking up on dog food . . .
. . . and buying bread in the Pannier Market.
Tavistock has been the market town serving the countryside around for hundreds of years and continues to meet that role today. For those who wish to buy fresh produce of the highest quality the farmers’ market . . .
. . . which attracts hundreds of customer will meet that requirement,
As so often happens, markets attracts buskers . . .
, , , of all sorts, all hoping to earn the odd pound or so.