So there I am throwing together a hastily assembled picnic to go paddle boarding up the River Dart with my old friend Kevin Pyne. He emailed me at 7.30 in the morning to say the weather was looking grand so to “come on down”. Anyway I happened to moan out loud that I didn’t have anything sweet ….so vital for exhausting water sport enthusiasts!!! Imagine my surprise when my husband piped up with,
“I’ve got some bits ’n pieces what do you want?” Well let me just explain my surprise. I do the shopping …mostly…and we seldom have sweet treats in the house. Not because we don’t like them. Au contraire. I am very partial to a biscuit or three, a scone or two and lemon drizzle cake. That’s the trouble too fond. It is just not safe around me so I find it easier not to buy it and ever supportive my husband always maintains he can “do without it.” Clearly he can’t as ’twould appear not only does he have a ‘man-cave’ but a man pantry AND ‘man fridge’ within it! I was escorted to his emporium to gaze with wonder upon his groceries which I am assured are purely for his walking/camping trips. As he is about to do the Two Moors Way his pantry overfloweth! Not only were there several packets of assorted sweeties and those glorious Tunnock biscuits but …get this….a joint of beef marinating ready to be made into beef jerky and in the freezer a haunch of venison whose final destination, after apparently I have cooked it, is his dehydrator for lightweight camping meals. Who goes camping with venison? Its not as if my husband is a fan of fine dining. What’s wrong with a packet of Smash and a tin of beans? Anyway not one to make a fuss I helped myself to his Tunnocks and set off for Dartmouth. What a stunning day. An azure sky, the river sparkling and the hoot of the Dartmouth Steam train just pulling into Kingswear station. Great to see those trains running again after the MD John Jones spent the greater part of lockdown putting up protective screens himself to ensure people could socially distance. Great news too that the Train of Lights will be running again over the Christmas period. That was one of the highlights of 2019 for me! Anyway another treat lay ahead. Straight into the centre of Dartmouth a parking spot sorted we piled into Kevin’s Orkney Coast liner ‘Provident’, Kevin, me and Molly the dog. Life jackets on I was instructed to do various things with knotted ropes before we made our way up river to a little private bay to join two more friends already happily ensconced and brewing tea. Kevin is a great person to travel on the Dart with. As a former lower ferryman for many years he knows just about everyone and if he doesn’t know them they certainly know him. We’d barely cast off before greetings were being shouted from passing crafts and a school of very attractive lady paddle boarders! Well I couldn’t wait to try that and amazingly after a bracing swim, the first in this country for a century, I got on got up….and stayed up! Not quite as successful rowing an inflatable dingy. I had to be talked out of a particularly dense crop of bladder wrack as I was just going round in circles! All in all a splendid day out on the Dart culminating in a mug of tea and a Tunnock biscuit.
G-d bless Kevin Pyne and G-d bless my husband and his man-pantry!
Read all about it: Western Morning News