Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bookcrossing - the Devon Bookcrossers' Meetup, February 5th
bookcrossing n. the practice of leaving a book in a public
place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

The "3 Rs" of BookCrossing...

Read a good book (you already know how to do that)
Register it here (along with your journal
comments), get a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number), and label the book
Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend,
leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, "forget" it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone comes here and records journal entries for that book. And if you make Release Notes on the book, others can Go Hunting for it and try to find it!

Beginning of this month I decided that the Devon Bookcrossers needed another meetup - but this one ought to be a walk, inspired by Weebly's walk in Salcey Forest. I decided that we should walk from Castle Drogo to Fingle Bridge Inn, and back to the Castle. So I set about emailing the hundreds of Devon Bookcrossers, but got bored after 35. This was the result:
The weather was crisp and cold, with watery, winter sunshine creating a haze in the distance. I got to the carpark at Drogo Castle at 11am prompt (yeah, most unlike me) to find everybody I was expecting already waiting: Anglersrest and Craftyangler, Europea and her partner Malcolm with chocolate Labrador, Toffee; Pyxis and his son, Joshua and last but not least – Msoma. Only Mytilus was missing – maybe because she didn’t find her dog?! We elected to wait for 10 mins. or so, just in case, and lo and behold a couple more bookcrossers turned up – Sufiboy and his partner Alison, and an American duo: Diane (whose bookcrossing name I can’t remember) and her mum who has had a knee op. so didn’t do the stroll with us, and their two dogs (whose names I do remember and what does that say about me?) – Monty and Gizmo.
And so there were a dozen of us, with four dogs walking and one dog going straight to the pub with his mum.

Walking down Hunter’s Path is quite awe-inspiring – even with the trees across the valley reduced to a violet, green smudge and the river invisible but audible in the depths below. Craftangler thought it very atmospheric but had left his camera in the car. WE discussed bookcrossing names on the way down – Joshua wants to have his own bookshelf but all the names of Egyptian gods are taken. The possibility of Anub1s was mentioned or Anubis2 but Msoma wouldn’t want to be second at anything :-p

Drogo Castle seen up the valley

We made it down to the pub in one piece and got the books out. Diane’s mum was there with Gizmo and reading her newspaper in the sunshine. Joshua was kept busy throwing sticks into the river Teign for the dogs who were all in doggy heaven. Diane’s books hadn’t been registered yet – so we all took them away to make sure they ended up with a BCID. There was even a copy of the famous 'Wild Animus' (who had that???). In fact all the books disappeared!

Diane and her mum went back home at this stage (as the car was at the pub) and Malcolm and Europea had guests coming for dinner so took off before everyone else too. The rest of us were ready to set off back along the river – when mistake number one occurred: Craftyangler said he would catch us up and disappeared off to the loo. With the benefit of hindsight we should have waited for him. Or at least made sure he knew which way we were returning to the castle. Never make assumptions.

About a quarter of a mile along the river – only one path, difficult to get lost – Anglersrest decides to go back to get Craftyangler. Mistake number two. We walked on slowly then stopped to wait for them both in a patch of sunshine. There were lots of other walkers out that day – the footpath was quite crowded, but no anglers two came along. The river is beautiful down here, clear, flat and trout filled in places, tumbling over granite boulders in others. After quarter of an hour of chat, still no anglers. We collared the next person who was walking back and asked him to tell the Anglers that we had gone on. The guy was wearing a sheriff’s hat so I thought he was probably reliable. I figured the way was well signposted.

ON we trudged – the way back is more gradual but still definitely UP. The path swings around the bottom of Drogo Castle – The castle was built in The Castle Drogo was designed by the great English architect Edwin Lutyens for Julius Drewe, the founder of the Home and Colonial Stores. He had made his fortune and retired to Wadhurst Hall in Sussex in 1899. After researching his ancestry, he assumed a relationship with the Norman baron, Drogo de Teign and the land at Drewsteignton in Devon became his chosen site for a grand castle (and beautiful it is too). Lutyens' original plans show the ambition the commission inspired; it would have been three times the size of the present castle, but practical building problems and the shortage of workforce caused by the First World War meant that a smaller castle than was originally intended was built. Lutyens didn't give up his grand design easily however, and at one stage built a full-size timber and tarpaulin mock-up of his proposed Barbican, a four storey gate tower. Photographs of the construction and plans of the castle are displayed in the subterranean Gun Room next to the Chapel.
Castle Drogo is built of granite and resembles a medieval castle with Tudor embellishments. It is stark and unornamented on the outside, with mullioned and transomed windows lighting the higher status family rooms, smaller, deep cut windows for the servants’ rooms. The walls are battered, inclined to increase the sense of height, and without external guttering and down-pipes. At the entrance, a working portcullis is operated from a winch in one of the turrets. (got this last paragraph and pic from http://www.heritage.me.uk/castles/drogo.htm). Despite all this, Alison and Sufiboy thought it resembled a concrete observational post left over from World War 2! Alison hails from Northumberland where it is (apparently) overrun with all manner of castles and fortified mansions. She knows a castle when she sees one, and Castle Drogo isn’t. This debate took us merrily to the top where we met with Craftyangler who had come back the same way we went DOWN (giving himself terrible indigestion while doing so) – and NO ANGLERSREST to be seen. Disaster!

We swopped mobile phone numbers (no signal down in the valley) and organised search parties. Craftyangler took his car to check back down at the Fingle Bridge pub. He soon returned with the news that she wasn’t there. Sufiboy and Alison decide to go at this point as there was no point in all of us hanging around in the cold (and Sufiboy was a closet trekkie and guess what was on telly?). The tea shoppe was still closed (how inconsiderate of the National Trust). Just as we were splitting up into various groups – Craftyangler’s car screeched back into the carpark – Anglersrest was back! She was very bemused too. She had made it to the top of the path, the same way we had come, only to see her dh take off in his car and leave her there! His thought was to stop us driving off to search for her when she was already found. HUGE sighs of relief and huggles all round.

We all agreed that we would do it again – but not lose anyone next time. I made mental note not to assume that everyone knows where we are going. The Anglers and I retreated to pub in SandyPark to warmup and debrief.

Thanks for coming, everyone.

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