Monday, 1 February 2010


The actor and writer of detective stories Victor Clinton Baddeley brother of Angela and Hermione Baddeley, was born in Budleigh Salterton in 1900. He died in 1970. When he was in his twenties he wrote a book about his natal county, "Devon", which was prettily produced by A & C Black in 1925. On a Thursday in summer he, with his 'push-bike', took the ferry from Exmouth to Starcross This was his diary description of the Estuary:

I never saw waters more subject to magical changes than the waters of the Exe. That day, (ten days before) passing the river in the morning, the Exe had been sheeny and misty, like a lagoon at daybreak. Coming across it that evening it was radiantly bright - around the boat an oily blue, like petrol in a puddle, and where the slanting sun fell upon it, like thousands of mackerel dancing. Exmouth glittered over the water Mediterranean-wise. The little boats were all like birds upon the river, dissolving in mists by Powderham.

A week later I was passing again by the Exe. the river was full and ruffled, and blue as steel. and now today the water was bright and mirror-like, reflecting only the gold rays of the sun. It is amusing to reflect that Exmouth, the fashionable seaside watering place, with its villas and shops, its amusements and populous sands, was once sacked and burned by the Danes. The Danes were up the estuary several times. I wonder how the river looked that day when Alfred the Great raised the siege of Exeter and the Vikings fled down the river to the sea. Was it the soft grey mists of morning? Or the sunset when the water glows so brightly? Or was the tide beginning to retreat, and did the mud flats shine mysteriously on either hand.

Well, young Victor was right to stress the changeability of the Estuary. It never wears the same face twice. When I, for some years, commuted between Lympstone and Exeter on the little trains that run along the banks I took great pleasure from its infinite variety.

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