Thursday 19 July 2007

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

Last Thursday, we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean III, as a sort of late birthday treat. It had been planned to go on Tuesday, but circumstances prevented us from doing so. Anyway, we then planned to go on Friday (still with me?) but I discovered that if we were going to swash our buckles we would have to go Thursday at the latest, as it was the last day the film was being shown. I say ‘we’, by the way, but Jon could not come as he was feeling under the weather, but not wanting to be a party pooper, he insisted that we go ahead without him. So off we went to Barnstaple - Richard, Oll, Shosh, Gav and I.

A great film, although still not as good as the first of the three – well I don’t think so anyway. It seems that it has been left open for a further instalment, but I think they should leave it there or it will lose its charm. Much to the usherette’s (are they still called that?) disgruntlement, we all sat patiently through the credits to wait for the snippet at the end. Poor woman - she pointed out that she wished they wouldn’t put things at the end as it means she has to wait a further 10 minutes before she can ‘shut up shop’. I can see her point I suppose, but it does give a certain thrill of anticipation to try and guess what is coming at the end. I won’t say what does occur just in case any of you have not seen it yet.

An eventful few days have followed since the film – along with the obligatory, not so surprising, threats of people having to walk the plank or being keelhauled for any misdemeanours they have made since we saw it. (Well you just have to, don’t you?)

Firstly: on Sunday, just as I was settling down to watch the spuds laboriously come to the boil on my rather slow electric rings and to listen to the sausages sizzling in the oven, we received a telephone call to say that there had been a big cat sighting in Huddisford Woods – a couple of miles down the road from us. Leaving unsuspecting Oll, Shosh, and Gav in charge of the culinary goings-on in the kitchen, Jon, Richard and I went off to investigate the area in question, and to interview the chap who had seen the creature.

Mr. Harris had been disturbed by the loud squawking of his chickens in a field next to his home. From past experience, he recognised that their sudden loud calls meant there was something amiss, so he went to investigate. He saw a large animal lying under a nearby, low-growing, tree and realised that it was no ordinary dog or cat. It bounded off when it saw him, but not before Mr. Harris identified it as a large black cat. He showed us where it had been laying under the tree – there was a large area of flattened grass. It was obvious, by the tracks left in the long grass, where the animal had taken large strides across the field to escape its discovery.

As it bounded away from him, Mr. Harris lost sight of it from where he was standing, but we followed the tracks and it seemed apparent that it had jumped through a hole in the hedgerow, which led straight into the darkness of the wood behind it. Apparently, this was a well-used passage to and from the wood – there was a distinct gap and by the flattened undergrowth around it, was clearly a well-used route to and from the wood. Mr. Harris told us that he often gets deer in his field that access it from this very gap.

Mr. Harris was a very nice chap, interesting to talk to, and we spent a good half to three quarters of an hour chatting to him and photographing the tracks left by his visitor. Richard also found some hairs on a bramble by the supposed exit route – these we have stored safely away until we can send it off for analysis.

The impression left by the creature was definitely larger than a domestic cat – much larger. Besides this, there have been many sightings over recent years in Huddisford Woods, and most that have been reported seem to come from the same particular area too, so perhaps there is, indeed, one or more of these creatures in the locale.

There is also another place, quite close by, that several people have seen a big cat. We drove through it on our way home - a very eerie place. Nothing much to note about it – it is just a road that dips into a small valley, over a tiny Devonshire bridge, and then up again. However, there is something very unsettling about it. Driving through it, I felt quite anxious – almost to the point of the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. A minute or so later, after leaving the area, all felt well again. Very odd – and definitely not a place I would like to walk home by myself late at night – in fact, I would not even fancy driving through it by myself. It oozed a sense of doom - I wonder why that is? Strange how some areas can give you a real sense of dread as you pass through them, for no apparent reason at all.

We got back to the cottage, a little damper around the feet department than when we had left, and I once again settled down to the lazy bubble of the potato water and the sizzling porkers in the oven. I tell you what though, I really enjoyed my dinner that night – my mother always says that a dose of country air builds up the appetite and I have to agree with her.

The second eventful occurrence? Tuesday – 17th July – 2007. An event to be added to the entries in the journal that no-one will ever see, until I have shuffled off this mortal coil that is! ‘That’ll get ‘em worried’, says she with a wink, suppressing a wicked giggle. I shall have to lock it away now unless they try and destroy the evidence.

Intrigued? If I were to say ‘stag night’ perhaps that would explain it all. Perhaps, also, I should end there and leave you all to conjure up your own images of what may, or may not, have occurred? Nah … can’t miss this opportunity chaps!

I could write that lashings and lashings of ginger beer were consumed, but you would not believe me. I, of course, was not there so I can only go by snippets that have been divulged. To tell you the truth, I don’t think I really want to know the complete story in all its sordid glory. However, at 12 ish or thereabouts (to be honest I have no idea, as I was basking in a man-free environment and was paying no attention to the clock whatsoever) Shosh and I were rudely awakened from our ‘mother/daughter’ time together, by the faint dulcet tones of Jon in the near distance. The tones became louder until the familiar squeak of the gate told us that the ‘boys were back in town’. Hmm .. a stag night is a stag night after all, and I was expecting Jon to be merry but I was not prepared for the merry to be quite so merry.

As events took over, and the repercussions of an evening out with the lads began to loom forebodingly, Graham then enquired of me when the ‘best man’ duties finished and the moral duties of me, as soon-to-be-spouse, took over. I calmly, and quite concisely, informed him that this did not occur until at least the altar and that the succour of the nauseous still sat firmly, if not rather unfortunately, with him. After, I think, three attempts at trying to barter on this one, Graham took over his allotted responsibility with, I must admit, a certain aplomb, considering the outcome that awaited him. Yes … nausea developed into the inevitable … say no more.

I slept downstairs.

A certain editor laughed when told of the evening’s events and was happy to learn that, for a change, it was not him having to apologise whilst in his cups. I am sure there may be others out there too that may read into this things that they shouldn’t. They must just remember that this was a stag night and, in Britain at least, there are certain traditions to uphold. Well, male traditions that is.

Well folks, that is all for now. I am sure you will forgive me if I do not write another blog until after the weekend!

Just one more thing though – our Mark has found a new vocation! You should see the way he has decorated the wedding cake. It is absolutely stunning, and I have warned him that he may get orders from far and wide once his talent is unveiled on Saturday. I wanted to have a cake with a difference – and very much in keeping with the CFZ - and asked him for his advice and – well … wow! You will see what I mean when I post a photograph of it next time. Thanks very much, Mark – you are a star!

PS: he is pretty good at catching degus in plastic bags too – but that I shall leave for another time.


Anonymous said...

You know, I wouldn't mind knowing the exact location of that eerie spot over the little bridge. I'm going to be coming down for the Weird Weekend, and aim to bring a bike down with me, and I'd appreciate a few points of interest in the immediate area of Woolsery, and/or the route between there and Clovelly.

The reason for this is that I like cycling, and you see so very much more of the countryside on a bike, as opposed to a car, plus most wildlife doesn't know what a cyclist is, and treats one as "probably not a threat".

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan. The name of the place is Ashcroft Hill I believe ... I can let you have directions when you come to the Weird Weekend. It will be interesting to see if you feel the same - especially cycling down it ... makes me shiver to think of it lol.

Look forward to meeting you in August.