Photo Diary

Archive for May, 2007


Sunday, May 27th, 2007

DSC_0059.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Now, you see, the idea was that as I rode off over the wilds of Devon I could carry my camera and take beautiful, moody photos as I went.

As far as it goes, that is a brilliant idea. Just one problem, which occurred to me after last week’s little disaster when I fell off the blasted bike, and that is that if I take another tumble like that, I’m likely to be swearing more over the damage done to a damned expensive camera than any harm done to me or the bike. So I had to reluctantly come to the conclusion that taking my SLR on the bike was a plain silly idea.

However, what I can do is take plenty of photos from the car as I drive around, and then also take my wife’s mini-digital occasionally (because it’s cheap, robust, and she probably won’t notice!) and grab some snaps.

This was from the car, and I just wanted, as the comment says, to show how old Brent Tor church stands out in the landscape all about. The next photos will have to be more about the middle of the moors, though. And hopefully I’ll get some pictures with my SLR that will give some hints of the way that the land used to be. That’s the aim, anyway.


Monday, May 21st, 2007

DSC_0002.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

For those who wonder what Surval’s bridge would have looked like, well, this is the one I was thinking of at the time. Mad Monk of Gidleigh was a fun book to write, for me. I had thought that I was going to write a fairly short book for once. My contracts normally demand that I write about 90,000 words, but I’ve never been below 110,000. Except Mad Monk seemed to be coming in at about 100,000. I was delighted. At last I was achieving the sort of size Headline wanted. But then I saw one little red herring which I hadn’t quite tied up properly. Finishing that meant a siege, a fire and a battle . . . and the book ended up at 150,000. Easily my biggest book!

After my little crash 18th May 2007

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

I’ve already replaced the tape – shown here languidly dangling in a coil – and hopefully I’ll get the other bits and pieces fixed. One thing I do have to say, though, is that the ride itself was marvellous.
We took a lift into Okehampton, nearly, and from there went down to the bottom of the hill, to the B3217, the Brightley Road. From there we went up the hill into Abbeyford Woods, and along the road to Jacobstowe. Gorgeous ride. From there we carried on nort on the Tarka Trail, and I fell off on the corner you can see a couple of fields below Lower Cadham. It is as sharp as it looks! Then on to Deckport Cross, and right, taking the left up to Iddesleigh Bridge. A pause at Iddesleigh, then back via Monkleigh, Monkokehampton, Exbourne, and southwards. Although we didn’t go straight to Okehampton. Oh, no. My friends wanted to see if a minor heart attack could be induced in me, so they took the road up from there to Higher Chichacott Farm. That hill was deadly – but I lived to ride another day!

After the crash!

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

After the crash!, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

The trouble is, I’m committed to the London to Brighton cycle ride on 17th June. I’m looking forward to it generally, but the thing that’s been tough recently is the weather. It’s been awful. Every week my friends and I have tried to get on the saddle, but each time the rain’s set in. So it was a week ago I bought a fantastic coat. Waterproof, breathable, set up with reflective markings, and so light as to be hard to feel. And on 18th May at last the weather broke. Four of us set off on a ride to loosen ourselves up. And I found a lovely bend that was fast, flat, clear of gravel and rubbish, and pelted into it. I knew it was ninety degrees. Easy.
And then it sharpened a little more. Before I knew what was happening, I was skidding along the ground – yup, in my nice new coat. It’s still breathable. In fact it’s VERY breathable indeed! But the waterproofing’s a little damaged. As is the poor little bike. There’s a chip in my beautiful paintwork now, the two gear changers/brake levers are badly knocked, and the handlebar tape’s been ripped. Well, the tape’s been replaced already – I did that this afternoon. The coat is a little holed, but I think it’s still usable, and the bike went on to do another (nearly) twenty miles after the smash, so that’s all right. The real damage was to my ego (as three “close” friends tried hard to be sympathetic between gasps of hilarity), my glasses, and my body. I have not bled so much in many a long year!
Ah well. Next time I’ll be a little more wary about corners that appear on entry to be ninety degrees, but which turn out to be more like a hundred and twenty or so!


Sunday, May 13th, 2007

DSC_0060.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

There can be few other churches in such dominating positions as this, St Michael’s at Brentor. It stands out for miles around, stuck incongruously on top of a little pinnacle of granite. According to legend, when the parishioners started building this place, they did so at the bottom. The devil took against this new church, and decided to make their lives harder, and each night after the poor fellows had lugged the necessary rocks back to the bottom to build their church, the devil went back at night and tossed them to the top of the tor, reasoning that the congregation would never bother to visit the church at the top of such a steep hill. This continued for some days, the parishioners diligently collecting their rocks and trying to build at the base of the hill, while their indefatigable opponent eradicated all sign overnight. In the end, some say, the villagers gave up, accepted the challenge of the church on the hill, and enlisted the help of St Michael, who wrestled the devil away from their new church.

If he meant to make life impossible for the little church, he failed. Centuries on, this little church still draws a congregation each week.


Sunday, May 13th, 2007

DSC_0050.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Sorry this is so overexposed, but I was handling the Ridgeback on a lead while trying to take the shot, and my concentration was a little affected. This is the road bridge over Lydford Gorge. The gorge is a deep cleft in the granite, created over millennia by the swift-flowing river. Now it’s certainly not the Grand Canyon, I know, but you stand there on that tiny footbridge under the bridge when it’s been raining, and you’ll appreciate the immense power of water, I promise you.

For more pictures on Lydford, including the church, have a look at pictures tagged "Lydford" on my Flickr account.


Sunday, May 13th, 2007

DSC_0031.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Many people have asked about Lydford, the town where Simon Puttock was based as bailiff. This is the castle – or court and gaol more accurately – from which he operated. Grim, austere, chill, are just a few of the words that strike you as you stand inside this really rather repellent old keep. It was put up as a defensive fort, I believe, but was almost immediately modified as a gaol. The place has chambers underground where inmates were held, and their lives must have been terrifying if brief. Well worth a visit, though.


Sunday, May 13th, 2007

DSC_0006.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

The last week or so has been a bit busy, and the weather’s been so dire, there’s not been much chance to take photos for the blog. However, last weekend there were a couple of brief windows when we managed to get out, and I managed to bring the camera. First, we rode on the new cycle path from Sourton going south. The views from the path are fantastic, and because the ride’s based on an old railway line, a pleasant, easy journey can be enjoyed. Today some fellows, two thousand plus, are heading off over Dartmoor to cover 109 miles in 9 hours. And the weather doesn’t justify the effort! Good luck to ’em.


Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

DSC_0002.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

This must have been the kind of view that travellers would first have of Okehampton Castle as they wandered westwards towards Cornwall. It’s taken from the old road, so it’s the view that Simon and Baldwin would have had. Their path would cut across to the left here, in front of the main entranceway, and from there, along the flank of the castle, where all the tents would have been set out for Tournament of Blood.

This is only one of the photos on Please go there to see the rest of the set by clicking on the picture, or follow this link for all my pictures tagged Okehampton.


Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

DSC_0055.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

With enormous thanks to the staff of the Beaconsfield library for all their work promoting my visit last night. It was a fun evening, with a good audience who had so many questions, my evening overran by an hour! Also thanks to George Gamble for getting the books there to be sold!