Transport (old and new), gardens and Great Fires

I am seeing the advantages of the C17th lack of reliance on the internal combustion engine. Few people realise that, due to the state of our roads, wheeled farm traffic came very late to the west country – probably not until the late C18th. River or sea was the easiest mode of transport, followed by horse or donkey, equipped with panniers or a device resembling a native American travois. Mind you, the current state of our roads is probably not much better. When looking for migrating ancestors people often don’t stop to wonder how these moves from a to b occurred. Even with minimal belongings, it can’t have been easy.

My dilapidated and elderly Nissan Micra has had to go to the big scrap yard in the sky. Chris seems to think I can drive his people carrier instead. Please remember, dear reader, that I am not a natural car driver – I don’t leap into any car without a thought and drive it as if it was my own, I don’t do busy roads, or indeed other traffic really (comes of learning to drive in the Isle of Wight where there is only a couple of hundred yards of dual carriage way). I am quite a dab hand at reversing long distances up narrow country lanes but there my driving expertise ends. I also have trouble with large cars because my feet are too small to comfortably reach the pedals. The people carrier is an automatic – I’ve never driven an automatic – I keep trying to change gear. I have yet to locate the hand brake. This is as bad as horse riding; I really don’t feel in control. I drive about 8 miles, twice. Chris now thinks I am fit and able to drive anywhere alone in this vehicle. I don’t even know how to make it go backwards (actually that is pretty much the same as other drivers on the Devon lanes). He is deluded. Fortunately for my North Devon friends I don’t think I am fit to drive anywhere, so you needn’t keep a safe distance from any people carriers that you see.

I now have a new to me car. The man in the garage asked what I was looking for. My criteria are: safe, reliable, ecologically sound, cheap, in that order. Oh and it must have four doors and I really don’t want a sun roof or electric windows. At this last the garage man looks at me as if I am barking – sorry hate them – I’ve only too often sat in a boiling car waiting for someone to turn the engine on so I can open a window. The car I fancy almost has a personalised number plate – when I see this I stop wondering if it is actually working and even ignore the fact that it has electric windows. Watch this space – I may be changing my middle name.

Apart from the time consuming job I must not mention, I have been to the C17th. So rewarding when a six year old says ‘that was the best thing ever’, when you have just blown up buildings in London to stop the Great Fire spreading. Ok, so some of his class mates were in tears but most thought it was a wonderful adventure and modern children really shouldn’t be so woossy. I also managed to make over a lovely gentleman in a mobility scooter as a C17th cavalry officer – well he had brought his horse. Mind you his horse apparently only goes 8 miles an hour instead of the more realistic 25 but it was the best I could do.

A lovely weekend in our village for Open Gardens, despite the weather. I did once open mine but currently, it would only serve as an example of what not to do. I do however now possess a certificate in healing garden design – just because I can!

Exciting developments afoot for local historians – plenty of possible projects for our proposed Buckland Brewer history group. Looks like there may be the chance to share my Neolithic house building skills with young people too.

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5 comments on “Transport (old and new), gardens and Great Fires

  1. Caro - Claire Wiles says:

    Thanks again for a very entertaining and informative read

  2. Brian Hall says:

    Come driving with us Janet. We are now about 4000 km from home and have just completed 1100km of red mud road across the Northern Territory into Western Australia. A great way to learn driving techniques.

    • Its not the driving it’s the other traffic I have issues with – so maybe where you are isn’t going to help!

      • Brian Hall says:

        The road trains are worth watching out for. A prime mover with three or four full length trailers travelling at 130 kph on dirt roads. You can see the dust from 10 km away so you just stop, close all the windows and vents and hang on! They can be over 60 m in length.

      • As long as they aren’t electric windows I’m fine!

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