Sunday, 14 April 2013


There are summer nights when the Estuary waters glitter.
The boat leaves a wake of sparkling light.
Water burns where the oars dip
And fingers trailed are fireworks.

(One knows one is witnessing a chemical reaction.
Bioluminescence would seem to be the word.
Something to do with living organisms,
Something to do with the Science we were never that good at!)

But look!  I have put all that in parenthesis.
What is outside the brackets is a dazzling miracle.
What is left is light in the water.
Dip your fingers and gasp at the show!

Saturday, 13 April 2013


On October 8th 1797 a Topsham pilot-boat was out at sea plying for trade when she was signalled by a Prussian ship,  some accounts say Russian, some five miles off Bolt Head  but the Prussian ship did not want a pilot, she wanted to offload fourteen British seamen,  two of them grievously wounded,  who had been taken off the frigate 'Quebec'.  On 6th October,  the 'Quebec' had been in a desperate sea battle off Ushant  with the French frigate 'Surveillante'  and the Prussian ship had found 'Quebec' burning and had brought these few survivors back to British waters.  The Topsham pilot must have been dangerously overloaded but she brought the fourteen sailors safely into Salcombe  and into the hands of the principal customs house officer there,  Richard Valentine,  who found doctors and all necessary comforts for the 'poor souls' who had survived.

Just another day's work for a Topsham pilot!!!