Sunday 29 November 2015

West Country – South Zeal, Menhir … part 4 …

Lunch was to be along the coach road or turnpike lane at The Oxenham Arms … full of history and ancient finds … and only about ten minutes away … we’d been a-wandering and looking in the area, so were happy to have a lunch recommendation …

Oxenham Arms covered in autumnal
Virginia Creeper - gorgeous

Now I take you back to the Triassic period – 225 million years ago – the world was in a huge period of change – the continents were shifting into place …

… Pangea was still around, Gondwana had not split apart yet … Britain was beginning to form, and was moving towards its present position … see another of my magical rough blue pencil marks!
The blue circle is where Britain is being formed ... we have travelled
some - we were down by Antartica at one stage ... and we are still
in two parts ... one day I'll do a post!

Early dinosaurs walked the earth … the granite of Dartmoor, used in the floors and walls of The Oxenham Arms was formed 290 – 300 million years ago as the earth’s crusts collided forming granite magma.

Unusual granite entrance arch

The climate during the Triassic period was considerably warmer than Devon today being much like Indonesia … petrified agatised fossil wood found in the locality matches that found in Madagascar … a dinosaur could have brushed against the West Country trees 225 million years ago.

South Zeal village
 Caves found in Devon are famed for the remains of extinct animals and evidence of man’s early occupation of our islands – bones of hyenas, woolly rhinoceros, cave lion, cave bear, reindeer, sabre-tooth tiger and bison.

Smilodon - sculpted by
Erich Oehme (1064) - to be
found in Tierpark Berlin 

The Sabre-Tooth Tiger or Smilodon looked similar to a cat … however they were heavy weights and more the size of a horse.  As you can see its two front teeth were over 12 inches long.

This ‘Granite Squeezing’ formed minerals including the copper and tin of the West country … these metals were exploited by the Bronze Age peoples around 4,000 years ago …

Suit of Armour outside the dining room

… with extensive trading being built up between Britain and what we now know as Europe, down south to Mesopotamia in the Middle East.  Fur routes on the rivers had opened up trading routes across northern Europe …

Details re the Menhir ... 

The Oxenham Arms at South Zeal has one last hidden treasure, which has been built into this Coaching Inn.

Around 1,000 years before Stonehenge, Neolithic man carved the South Zeal Menhir Standing Stone from granite (i.e. 6,000 years ago)  ...

… then in the early 12th century Benedictine Monks built a Monastery around the Standing Stone … now to be found in the ‘Snug Bar’ in the middle of the hotel.

 As you can see in the photo … the Menhir is at least 25 feet in height … archaeological digs in the 1930s dug down another 14 feet and DID NOT REACH the bottom of the stone … so how long it is no-one, for now, knows …

Shale Rock at Hope's Nose on the south Devon
coast; there's a raised beach here ... showing
that the sea levels were much higher

It was found to be embedded in shale rock and was most likely used for ceremonial purposes.   Shale rock is composed of mud that is a mix of flakes … and ‘easily’ splinters.

Model of Captain Oxenham's ship

Captain John Oxenham, Earl of Oxenham, sailed with Drake, and was the first sea captain to sail the Pacific before the fate of gold and the Spaniards caught up with him – he was executed before Drake could rescue him.

‘The Ox’ has been featured in many novels including Charles Kingsley’s “Westward Ho” … Charles Dickens wrote Pickwick Papers here, Admiral Nelson, the Reverend Sabine Baring Gould, who wrote the hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, have stayed here …

It was an interesting place for lunch before we hot-footed down to the coast and our next night at Paignton.  We both had the game terrine with apple and damson chutney.

We were happy to see this former 12th century monastery built around a pre-historic standing stone … and were glad not to have missed the sight of South Zeal Menhir!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday 26 November 2015

West Country tour - Layby stopover 1 ... Granite Ice-cream anyone? ...

Layby needed … a time to relax – how about ice-cream? … after all that history, granite outcrops, delicious food … I thought for Thanksgiving we might take a wee break and make some ice-cream – Neapolitan flavoured: strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ...

A block of Neapolitan Ice-cream

… taking me back to one of my early childhood treats … and then I remembered something I’d read a few years ago, which would tie nicely in with granite ice-cream.

Geology brought out the comparison of granites being like ice-cream … while in 1963 a young Tanzanian boy, Erasto Mpemba, had noticed that if he put hot ice-cream mix into the freezer, it froze more quickly than the cooled ice-cream mix of his fellow-class mates.

Tanzania shown within Africa

They and his teacher laughed … much as I expect you’re doing now – thinking what on earth is she on about – Granite Ice Cream and the Mpemba Effect

Erasto Mpemba’s ice-cream story fascinated me … he was a young lad in Tanzania who, in 1963, wondered why his hot ice-cream mix froze more quickly than the cooled ice-cream mix of his fellow classmates.

When a Physics lecturer, Denis Osborne, was visiting, Mpemba did the experiment again … and asked the Professor – why?

The phenomenon had been observed by some of the world’s finest minds, and has been used in everyday life for centuries …

In the 4th century BC – by Aristotle …

Roger Bacon in the 13th century …

Rene Descartes also tried to solve the problem in 1637 …

Erasto Mpemba and Denis Osborne (2013)

Erasto Mpemba and Denis Osborne, in 1969, catapulted the question once again back into the public eye …

The ingredients of granites can be
'likened' to flavourings ... 

Surprisingly an analogy can be made about ice-cream and granite … they both start out as liquids which when cooled become solid, and both will melt again if the temperature gets hot enough …

Ice-cream freezes at temperatures below 0 deg C (32 deg F), while granite freezes at temperatures, somewhat colder, ~650 deg C (1200 deg F).

Just to ensure you I’m not speaking through my hat … or that I didn’t lose my marbles when in Dartmoor … the links are below.

(not one of mine!)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all … this is the first of the layby posts, and I’ll be doing some diversions – while I post about the Emily Hobhouse trail with Jenny around the West Country that we have undertaken …

Have a wonderful family time to all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving … the tradition seems to be spreading, as some families embrace this idea with their friends and family, much as those of you do in the States …

The History of The Mpemba Effect” – his story, and there are other links available …

 A Way Cold Analogy” – Texas University notes on Granite Ice-creams

Here’s another article “An Ice-Cream of a Different Flavour” from a geo-cache …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday 23 November 2015

West Country – Food, Glorious Food at The Old Inn … and Dogs … part 3 ...

Thanksgiving is almost upon you … and I was very thankful for this delicious stop over … 

The welcoming sight of The Old Inn

... if you’re ever tempted to visit Dartmoor … this is one place you should visit …

This picture (not the dog) may be the one that visited

… historically very interesting, after your delicious dinner your health will improve with long walks on the Moors, or hikes up the Tors … dog loving trips ... 

A Beloved

...the stone below could well refer to John Hore, Church Warden for Sir Hugh Chagford, who owned the nearby manor of the same name, in the reign Henry III (1216 – 1272).

This was done by John Hore,
Churchwardon ... March
(obviously the rest of the story has
been lost over time)

Jenny and I tried to visit the Church dating from the 1400s … but it shuts at dusk and was duly closed up for the night … so we had a brief wander before going back to prepare for drinks at 7.00pm.  My previous post shows some details re the Church.

You will be satisfied with the company of the owners and their Golden Retrievers, Tyne and Teign, and the subsequent array of delicious dishes forming dinner … 

Brent Tor

... they greeted us again … one with a donation of firewood for the wood burner … the other ‘collopsed’ on the warmed flagstone floor.

Just ready for us to have a drink ... 
There are art works around the Inn … of Dartmoor, animals, Chagford Pony Sales, and Golden Retrievers, who have left us … one painting had even been to Vancouver and back … Jenny, who lives on Vancouver Island, was amused to hear.

The small restaurant was full, but we had booked in for the night … so didn’t have far to go.

Our aperitivo

We were settled in front of the wood burner, dogs nearby … glass of Verdicchio to hand – to find an aperitivo presented to us … Herb Risotto on a slice of local hog’s pudding (Devon sausage) with tomato topping …

Our starters came with three breads  (looks like I had a blank here and forgot to post the photos!! - they were delicious too ... I'll give them light of day soon!)… one I remember was onion flavoured – I’m not good with breads, as I rarely eat them – but these looked so good … still I resisted.

We both had meat ... Jenny had the local Grilled Loin of Venison with Black Pudding and assorted vegetables ….

While I had Roasted Calves Sweetbreads (not something I’d do for myself – and a dish I hadn’t eaten in decades, which took me back to my roots of cooking) with oxtail, smoked bacon and port - so it was a real treat … 

Desserts were just as good … a Puff Pastry Cream and Strawberry Balsamic with basil ice-cream ...

... while I had Vanilla Crème Brulee with a tuile, or round pane of lightly burnt-sugar topping it off, with a basil sorbet on some sugared apple slithers …

We thought that was it … we had enjoyed more Verdicchio … Jenny was looking forward to her coffee – then the Petit Fours arrived, I let Jenny have them both … they did look very delicious, but I had had an elegant sufficiency.

Now to bed for a good night’s sleep and happy remembrances of our busy first night away ...

The sheep from my bedroom

...we seem to have found out lots of interesting things … and were very well satisfied with our restaurant style Old Inn.

… but I had cheekily asked to snap a couple of other diner’s main dishes … these, a saffron lasagne and grilled fillet of sea bass, which I will post later on …

Chagford Pony Sales late 1800s

We were contented souls … one blogger was rife with ideas!  This post as you will have gathered is dotted with lots of pictures …

A review of The Old Inn – by TheGuardian food critic, Jay Rayner … it’s rather good … you can drool some more!

Tors on Dartmoor
You may wonder why Tyne and Teign are the names for the dogs … Duncan Walker, the chef and owner, comes from the north-east of England, while he spent time in Chagford on the Teign … both are rivers … before joining up with Anthea at The Old Inn.

The Old Inn, Drewsteignton website, where you will find plenty of other information ... 

PS - we had our first snow flurry on Saturday morning, while yesterday morning our first frost ... we are due for some warmer weather again by tomorrow ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday 20 November 2015

West Country – Drewsteignton, coach roads … part 2

Our first night was in this village at the very good restaurant with rooms – The Old Inn – highly recommended by us.
Looking into the village square from The Old Inn

The pictures and photos I took of artwork in The Old Inn, and other interiors … I’ll show in the next foodie – drool post!

Looking from the Church towards The Old Inn (side view)
beyond the red cars

Drewsteignton was on the Old Coach Road west from Exeter into Cornwall, via Okehampton.  

Spinsters' Rock

There’s a lot of history here with settlement going back to the Neolithic period: Spinsters’ Rock is a chambered tomb from that period, dating about 3,000BC … I’ve some more dolmen and stone circles to show you later on.  I’m just glad to escape the spinsters …

Granite Altar in side Chapel
in Church

The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086), and by the medieval period was relatively prosperous … as a wool producing area, the quarrying of limestone and the mining of tin at a small local mine.

Spectacular granite pillars - each pillar is one piece of
granite and carved as such 

The east-west coach road, crossed another north-south one … an essential cross route in those days of horse and carriage travel … which gave further prosperity to the village shown through the high quality of some of the buildings – The Old Inn, the Church (1400s origin), the Drewe Arms (pub) and the now closed school.

Carved Pew End

Coaching inns provided a vital link to inland transportation from early medieval times until the arrival of the steam engine, replacing the tired teams of horses and extending hospitality to those travelling the road.

The pub's sign

While coaching inns were normally spaced seven miles apart, distances could vary, particularly in more inhospitable or remote areas such as Dartmoor.

Henry VIII started the network of Posting Inns in 1516, when he arranged for mail to be delivered from London to wherever he happened to be at the time. 

The Post Inn a few
miles west of the village
A ‘line of posts’ was set up where the King’s courier could get fresh horses – the coach road – Turnpike as it became - formed part of the London to Penzance route.  Henry didn't make it to Penzance, but his daughter Elizabeth I knew about the town in Armada times.

Anyone who read my “X” post during the A-Z this year might remember that the Romans traded with the Cornish for their tin … the Guide/Gate post at Trethevy in Cornwall near Boscastle and Tintagel indicating this wealth in trade … ancient routes linking the main trading stations.

Medieval Carved Window in cob walls
So we had started our journey encountering really early times … but also moving into medieval eras of lime rendered cob walls … the buildings of which can last 1,000 years … which would indicate that some had been occupied by Celts, prior to the Anglo-Saxons arriving.

My sister-in-law gave my mother one of these Olive Wood
Crosses, which she enjoyed holding ... 

Historically over time these changes can be seen – 5,000+ years of history … much recorded in writing, or can still be found in the surrounding landscape.

Dusk came quite early … but after a brief walk to Holy Trinity Church we were ready for a drink, by the fire … and some sustaining fare – it was stunning too!

Drewsteignton Clock in Church
tower - lightened up .. it was nearly

The church clock duly told us it was time to move along … and I gather from a local magazine in 1890 that “Discussions were being held over the erection of a clock in the Church tower.  £5.10s.6d. was raised towards its cost and George Aggett was asked to measure up” …

Yew tree in churchyard - large girth

The Sun had gone well over the Yardarm … at which time we were permitted to have a drink!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories