A quick visit to Devon
I love working from home, but as I cannot afford a Victorian detached house surrounded by fields just yet - it might come one day *one can always dream* - I just need to escape the lack of space, the neighbours, the constant noise and filth and go some place where nature is Queen, where one can sleep without being disturbed and one is able to get some proper thinking space.
I do this by escaping to Dorset and Devon a few times a year.
This weekend, we fled to Ilfracombe, North Devon, where we have family. It immediately proved rather productive, as I woke up the first morning at 6.30 with ideas for The Book of Thoth and The Right Place pouring into my head - I just HAD to write them down.
First a theatre dubbed "Madonna's Bra", then a logo that looks like a cheeky little sperm has got itself stuck to the letter "i", and now Damien Hirst's hideous Verity statue. Some people really must have something against this slightly downtrodden yet charming Victorian seaside town...
Instead of celebrating and making the most of its fabulous 19th century architecture - it has some of the most impressive houses I've seen - the local authorities seem adamant about imposing their somewhat weird, misplaced vision to bring Ilfracombe up to date with the modern era.
Well. What can I say without being rude? I have quite a lot of things to say about Verity, but I will not voice them on here because 1) this is a blog on which I'd rather waffle on about things I like and 2) what I have learnt by reading other people's blogs and websites is that it is far better not to post anything controversial anywhere on the web. If it makes me a coward, then so be it. I really can't be bothered to start having stupid online fights because I have got a life, like, a real one.
Anyway. Let's say that I find Verity disgusting, but I find anything by Damien Hirst or most other YBA (hello, Tracey!) completely abhorrent anyway. (My own, ignorant-of- the-subtlety-of-the-Art-World opinion, mind). I wouldn't have minded a sword-wielding Amazonian mermaid or a Poseidon-like warlord figure, you know, something related to the sea - hey, the statue is on the HARBOUR . Not a pregnant woman with half her body sliced open. I am used to "alternative", even darkly beautiful, anatomically challenging works of art, but there is a time and a place for it, and I genuinely do not think Ilfracombe harbour is one of them.
It will bring some more celebrity-worshipping tourists, though, which can only be good for the local economy, at least let's hope so.
To forget about Verity, nothing beats two hours at Woolacombe Beach - I would also suggest Saunton Sands a few miles away. Local and visiting dogs will approve. Sadly, we don't have a dog (yet). The wind was crazy and made the rain sting our faces as if thousands of tiny pebbles were being hurled in our direction. We had to abandon ship and walk the other way with the wind behind us. We reached Combesgate Beach as the rain stopped.
Along The Esplanade, we found this abandoned house, The White House. This is a lovely, lovely building in a prime spot. The gate was open, and we climbed up the steps to have a nose... Looking in the ground floor though a window, we could see that the inside was in a sorry state but still salvageable - just. Pictures and furniture were still in place if a little worse for wear - an antiques dealer's dream. The whole house is probably full of great stuff.
At the back of the house, a kind of summer kitchen/scullery was full of books, objects, letters, clothes, all apparently left to rot. How I yearned to unlock the door, get in and explore!
If I had the money, I would buy it, refurbish it and turn it into a writer's retreat.
I'd love to know more about this house, and how on earth such a big, beautiful building in need of a lot of love can stand abandoned like this in one of the most popular places in the country!
Give it to me!
All pictures © Carya Gish
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