Saturday, 10 January 2015

Bodmin Moor and Other Stories

Eek!  It's been almost another month again. hasn't it?  I fear this is a hopeless case. :(

September 21st 2011

Didn't leave the house again.  Boy, I lead a fascinating life!  Not only that, I was so convinced that I was going bald and would soon be completely housebound (not wanting to show my face - and bare head - in public) that I didn't want to waste these last few days indoors.  And I'd finally dared to use dry hair shampoo on my hair too so it was looking at its nicest (not that it looked very nice anyway, but you know what I mean!)

David never wanted to even take us to Tesco any more.  In fact, he'd gone to the supermarket at lunchtime without bothering to ask us what we needed.  He then wasted his evenings playing on the computer instead of spending the time he'd saved doing something useful.

I was pleased to get another five bids on eBay.  I was not so pleased to find out that a Silly Slammer toy that I'd listed as "not working" was now magically working again!  I might have got more money for it if I could have said it still talked!

I did a lot more photo scanning and resizing and began scanning my kiddie ride leaflet collection.  I soon discovered that most of the leaflets were actually too big for our scanner though so I ended up cutting the edges off of a lot of them!

I also tried to update my sales album on Photobucket without much success.  Despite the lit screen, I was finding it surprisingly hard to use the computer in the extension with no lighting.

September 22nd 2011

David went to see a lawyer about all of the house problems caused by our cowboy builders.  He didn't even bother to report back to us what they'd said to him though.  How do we stand to live with such an uncommunicative man?

We were supposed to be going to the ever-exciting storage depot that night, but it didn't work out.  Firstly, I had a panic attack about my thinning hair, convinced that my "bald bits" were showing at the back.  Then David said that Mum wouldn't fit in the car anyway with all the boxes of her photos (we were supposed to be going away again the following day and she refused to leave her photo albums in the house).  She got upset and I stuck up for her...and so we didn't get out.  Another day cooped up indoors.  For goodness sake, why didn't I just take it upon myself to go out for a walk on my own if Mum didn't want to come?  Were the arguments and nastiness really worth keeping myself prisoner for?!

Not only that, but in my panic attack I uttered something about not wanting to go away anyway due to feeling self conscious about my hair.  My parents were only too happy to accept this, so David brought all the photographs back indoors and announced that we weren't going.  The trip had been a couple of days in Cornwall so that I could finally go to Dingles (a fairground museum) where my parents had been promising to take me for many years.  But it didn't bother them in the slightest to let me down again, despite my deep depression and wishing I was dead at the time.  I could have really used a distraction from day to day life!  I wished that I had a way of getting there on my own to show them.

September 23rd 2011

Since we weren't going away and had no reason to get up early, we actually ended up going to Grottsville very late the previous night to collect some more eBay stuff.  I was horrified to see that everything was getting damp and ruined over there (but David couldn't seem to notice it).  I had some kind of funny turn while he was looking at his books in the library there.  I staggered to the armchair but felt cold, dizzy and breathless.  It sounds ridiculous now but I really thought I was dying at the time.  There was obviously something wrong with me but I still don't know what it was.

When we got back, I stayed up until 2am chatting to Mum.  Mum was apparently in a fowl mood (although she seemed quite normal by her standards!) and had decided to take her latest anger out on Emma, laughing about the way my sister's friend wrote on Facebook in a mix of text speak and "common English".  It was the first time we'd seen such weird spelling at the time and we thought it was hilarious, but I never would have said anything to Emma.  Emma got defensive over her friend, of course, saying that it was "clever" to write phonetically.  Hmm...not sure I'd call it clever to write that way, but I suppose it's a clever way to cover the fact that you can't spell!

Anyway, staying up so late meant that I overslept badly the next day.  I was awoken by Mum's dreary voice calling, "There's no point getting up but you have to".  Gee, thanks a bunch for that positive thought, Mum!

Then we realised that the heating had packed up overnight.  David didn't get up until noon, then started ringing around trying to find somebody to fix it but there was no one available at such short notice.  He thought he'd try fixing it himself with a new fuse, and it seemed to work for a little while...then it packed up again.

Realising that we had no heating for a few days anyway (and it was very cold in this house at night without it, even in September), I finally convinced my parents to go to Cornwall as originally planned!

By the time we had taken the boxes of photos to the storage depot and bought some new bed linen in Asda, it was 4.10pm.  A great time to leave for a nice relaxing holiday, huh?

I photographed this pretty hot air balloon somewhere along the road but remember little else about the drive, other than it was long and boring.


By the time we arrived in Bodmin Moor where our holiday camp was located, it was pitch black dark.  It was NOT nice making our way along those dark, bendy Cornish roads with high bushes on either side, I can tell you!  We could hardly see two feet in front of the car, let alone read road signs and we were driving around in circles for well over an hour.


We were extremely relieved when we finally pulled into the Michaelstow Manor Holiday Camp, thinking that now we could at last relax and get a good night's sleep.  We were sadly mistaken.  I know it's a bit hit and miss with the cheap Sun Breaks whether you get a nice chalet or not, but this was definitely the worst we'd seen.

The floors were mouldy...


The radiators were splattered with filth (and this one appeared to have once fallen off of the wall, as can be seen from the hole just to the right of it!)...


and the beds were stained with something sticky.


The bed was conveniently located if you wanted a nice shower in the morning though!  (Yes, the roof really did leak - just look at the soggy fitted sheet that was on my bed!)


And oh my god.  What IS that on the pillows? o_0 (Mildew, I think, along with yellow staining where countless people have apparently drooled/sweated - yuck)


And if you were after a cup of tea, forget it.  Two milks and a dash of rust please?


David went and complained to reception but they had no other chalets available (I expect the others were just as bad anyway!) so we'd just have to put up with it.  It was too late to turn back for London now anyhow!

At least David told me that there was an "old kiddie ride motorbike" at reception (one benefit of going to run down holiday camps is that they often still have the older amusement machines).  I was too tired to go and look at it now though, so I just settled down on my wet bed and tried to sleep.

September 24th 2011

I had an awful night.  The mattress was damp so I decided to try sleeping on top of my waterproof coat...and only succeeded in making THAT damp so that I wouldn't be able to wear it for the rest of the break if I needed it.  I couldn't use that filthy, mildew-covered bed linen, so my coat became a makeshift blanket and my bag of clothes acted as a pillow.  I'd forgotten to pack any pyjamas in the rush to leave the house after finally convincing my parents to go away so had to wear my dirty clothes from the day before...and a short sleeved t-shirt was not a good idea in that cold, damp place!


I was still horribly distressed about my thinning hair, so Mum agreed to spray it with dry hair shampoo and comb it for me so that I didn't have to see how much I'd lost and upset myself by trying to cover the bald bits.  She made me feel tons better with the kind remark, "I don't know how much I can fluff it up really..."  Gee, thanks, mother.

I walked into reception with David on the way out of the camp to have a look at this kiddie ride motorbike.  It turned out to be an old RG Mitchell model - quite a rarity these days.  Sadly, I didn't have the nerve to film it in case I got told off by a member of staff.  Nowadays, I'd have just taken my chances but I hadn't become so courageous in my ride documenting back then!  There was also an Amutec Robot in the little arcade.


We then made our way to the Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre which was even better than I'd ever imagined.  I had a lovely time looking at all the old fairground equipment and arcade machines.  Mum even convinced me to pose for a photograph, despite my hang up with my hair.


 Unfortunately, I'd forgotten my bag of 2p coins that I save for occasions such as this one but I still got to play on some of the old machines in the Penny Arcade.  I didn't know half as much about the old penny slot machines as I do today (and am kicking myself for not taking more pictures!), but I was pleased to see machines made by companies such as Streets and Bryan with my own eyes.


I also rode the Ark and Switchback.  I'd been wanting to ride an Ark since my mum had put me off of riding one at the Black Country Living Museum six years previously (it was too fast and too dangerous or something!) so I was pleased to finally have the chance.


I even found out some information on coin operated kiddie rides for the website which I wasn't expecting at all.  There was a board about Edwin Hall and his connection to Muffin the Mule related rides which mentioned Hall's first ever kiddie rides - Muffin (of course), Silver the Cowboy Horse, and Georgie the Giraffe.  I knew Edwin Hall had made a giraffe ride but hadn't previously known its name or, indeed, that it was one of his first ever designs.  There was a display of adult-sized Muffin the Mule figures, used on galloper sets in place of horses in the 1950s.


There was also quite a bit of Edwin Hall's fairground artwork on display.  If his painting looks spectacular in photographs, it is breathtaking in real life.  You feel as though you could walk right into the pictures!


I got so swept away looking at all the beautiful artwork and carousel horses that I took very little notice of the one coin operated ride on display...an Edwin Hall Muffin the Mule, of course.  I bought the guide book which said that the ride had been donated by a man named John Harrison (as had a lot of other items in the museum) but the name meant nothing to me at the time.  I didn't even notice that the painting style and signwriting on the base was very similar to that on some rides I had been chasing for many, many years.  But all in good time, my friends.  (Many of you already know the story anyway, but let it be told in sequence on my blog...)


Looking through my folders, I'm surprised how few pictures I actually took that day.  Still, here are a few of the nicest random shots. (mostly galloper horses as you can see!)


Also a couple of films of the organs at Dingles which were being played in honour of some kind of special event which was taking place there that weekend.


Several enthusiasts' had stands dotted around the museum as part of the special event.  It wasn't until we were making our way out of the museum that I noticed a pile of newspapers on one of the stands.  It turned out to be a complete collection of 1972 and 1977 "The World's Fair" trade newspapers.  I had been dying to get my hands on those papers for years and the owner kindly let me take as long as I liked to leaf through them and take photographs of all the coin operated ride-related things I found.

Despite "The Coin Slot" supplement being missing from the newspapers, I found lots of information for my website...  Now I was even more desperate to get to The National Fairground Archives in Sheffield and read the rest of the papers!


After leaving Dingles, we didn't want to head back to the cold and dirty Michaelstow Manor straight away.  We couldn't think of anywhere specific to go so late in the day though so we drove aimlessly for about three hours.  We were all starving but couldn't even find a McDonalds for fries.  We thought we'd try Newquay but it was dead as a do-do.  All the shops/cafes were already closed for the night and the street was full of drunken youths.  There were a couple of amusement arcades which were still open, but I didn't fancy getting out and walking past the drunks.  I could see that all the coin operated rides were recent Italian models anyway.

David wouldn't turn the central heating down in the car, despite my breathing problems.  After a couple of hours of having nosebleeds on and off, I overheated and went dizzy.  At that point, David apologised and said that he was only "warming us up" before we got back to Bodmin Moor.  I'm afraid getting out of the hot car would just make the caravan feel even colder!

We finally found a Tesco somewhere along our route and bought a yule log.  Yep, it was September - Christmas was upon us!  So we each had a slice of that for tea.  I forgot to get Volvic and was shouted at, but I notice that nobody else remembered it either!

David cut a corner on the way back and went sharply up on the kerb.  Mum screamed and he blamed her for "making too much noise for him to concentrate".  Uh...how could she have put him off when she only started screaming AFTER he mounted the kerb?

The caravan felt even worse tonight.  My clothes (and makeshift pillow) were all damp and would get damper when I wore them to sleep on the wet bed.  Once again, I cursed myself for forgetting my pyjamas.

September 25th 2011

I had a restless night unsurprisingly, waking up several times in the midst of nightmares about Marwell Zoo of all places!  In the dream, I was struggling to take photographs of lots of rare old coin operated rides before a loud, common-voiced woman unplugged them and...wait for it...folded them up for storage.  Yep, apparently fibreglass now folds as easily as paper!

Organised as ever, we hadn't even decided where to go today.  David took so long to get ready that we didn't leave Michaelstow Manor until 11am anyway.  Even at that, he felt he had "rushed" by not getting sandwiches and then drove fast in a bad temper to make up for lost time.

Mum requested that we went to Modbury to re-visit her ancestors' graves.  There was a lovely little shopping street, but all of the shops were closed because it was Sunday.  We still did a bit of window shopping and I fell in love with these guinea pig and rabbit kitchen accessories.


I'm pretty sure some of our relatives lived in this street at some point in history as Mum had me photographing specific buildings.  I must admit that I don't have the faintest idea who it was who used to live there (somebody on my Grandma's mum's side of the family, but that's all I know!)  I will have to ask Mum for more details...and then she will shoot me for not remembering!


We moved on to the churchyard after that.  The grass was muddy and I had to wear my boots...then I ended up laddering my tights on the velcro straps.  I wouldn't have minded except that Mum started mocking me for how stupid I looked.  Nice, when I'm here to do YOU a favour by taking photographs!

Mum was really just upset and snappy to see how her relatives' graves had deteriorated since the last time we'd visited them.  It was sad to see how they had gone down in just three years.  I could hardly read the inscriptions now.


Our next stop was Charleston Church for more grave hunting.  We couldn't find any graves for the Phillips family (Ah! Phillips was my Grandma's grandmother's maiden name so I WAS thinking of the right family!) which was Mum's real goal.  We think the graves had been flattened under a new-ish looking house.  We did find a few Lamble graves though...and no, don't ask me who the Lambles were.  Some distant relatives of the Phillips family, I should imagine!

We met a dear little Cairn Terrier who came up to us on our way out of the churchyard but David was scared of the dog and kept laughing nervously while his owner tried to restrain him!  How an animal lover like myself can have a father who dislikes animals so much is beyond me.

We had no idea where to go after that.  I fancied St Ives or Teignmouth but thought they were too far away.  So I (stupidly) suggested Seaton where I knew there was an old Edwin Hall Basil Brush coin operated ride which I wanted to photograph and film for the website.  I had no idea how far away Seaton was or I would never have mentioned that either.  We eventually got there at 4.56pm...how would we ever find the ride before the cafe it stood outside closed for the day?  Not to worry, the search didn't take long at all.  In fact, the cafe was the ONLY thing on Seaton seafront.  Don't get me wrong, it was a very pretty place but there wasn't another sign of life to be seen!

What a wasted trip anyway.  Basil was still there, but had been pushed into a corner, his wire sadly wrapped around his tail.  Yes, we were just too late.  Basil's riding days were through.


In his old place stood a rusty red Spilsby Amusement Machines steam engine ride...which was so run down that it didn't look like it was too far behind Basil, to be honest!


I was so hungry that I was actually going faint in the car but refused to eat anything at the cafe because it didn't feel right in front of Mum (who wouldn't eat in case she got one of her bad pains so far away from the caravan).  That didn't stop David eating an enormous Cornish Pasty though!

Mum was in a very bad mood now.  She "hated Cornwall".  It was an "ugly, boring place".  "All it had were a few piles of stones and pretty place names".  I had to endure her moaning all the way on the long drive back to Michaelstow Manor

She remained in a bad mood all evening and refused to come to the Manor House when David and I went to the restaurant there to get chips.  Mind you, while the food was nice, she wouldn't have appreciated the very loud disco with "Sammy the Seal" (a mascot for the children) in the same room!


We had one more day in Bodmin Moor before we had to make the long trek back to London.  Maybe tomorrow would be a better day?  Well, you'll have to find out in the next installment!

Best wishes,
Desirée  xxx

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