Saturday, 28 May 2011


When in, probably, 1933 that remarkable young man Raymond B Cattell came paddling down the Exe in his two seater, German, sailing canoe, Sandpiper, he and his bold companion, Hugh Crowther, spent the night at Lympstone.

"Lympstone, like many fishing villages, is in its material possessions a slum, but in this picturesque setting and with the sturdy independence of its inhabitants, to say nothing of their fine and handsome appearance, it might be a dwelling of kings."

The two young men walked by 'the ruined sea wall' where they met 'a tall dark girl, whose handsome face was as attractive as the lithe freedom of her carriage.' The boys passed themselves off as 'yachtsmen' and the tall dark girl and and Hugh took an instant fancy the one to the other. Raymond left them to flirt with each other while he 'sat on a tiny red cliff, watching the water ebbing from the estuary and dreaming of the magical nights he had spent with his lost girlfriend Monica on Dawlish Warren the previous summer.'

The next morning the two young men knocked on the door of the 'very tall, handsome and dignified fisherman' who had undertaken to look after their canoe.

"Lo, there appeared at the door the tall dark girl of the night before! She had a duster in her hand and a scarlet handkerchief about her dark hair, which accentuated her gypsy appearance...Her face wreathed itself in delicious smiles. "So you've come for the 'yacht' that father's keeping for you?" she laughed. We assented, blushing as red as her handkerchief. "You'd better get it before he comes," she said to Hugh. "He may be keeping something else for you because of my getting in late last night."

It would seem that the father was subsequently pacified and was paid a shilling for the mooring he had provided. The fisherman's daughter sent the boys off with one kiss for Raymond and two for Hugh and with a warning for both of them:

""The swell's grumbling on the bar a lot this morning, you oughtn't to go out" she added, her face suddenly grave and judicial. We listened with all our ears, but to us the still morning air told nothing of what was happening three miles away at the sea's edge. We had no senses to detect the ominous drone which meant so much to the professional sixth sense of the fisherman's daughter."

Long, long ago these innocents parted.

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