Having spent the morning at the fabulous Endsleigh Gardens Nursery, choosing some wonderful plants for my new winter garden, we set off to do some final Christmas  shopping in Tavistock but not before we had eaten a filling and warming lunch, on what turned out to be a really miserable day. The road from Tavistock to Pricetown was bleak and almost eerie as we drove cautiously through an ever thickening mist, until we finally found the perfect spot to pull in off the road and tuck in to our lunch. A café in Tavistock simply didn’t appeal today, instead we were setting off for one of our favourite lunches up on the high moor, on the way to Princetown. We had bought fish and chips and, as it is nearly Christmas, this was going to be washed down with a miniature bottle of sloe gin.

We had barely unwrapped the ambrosial smelling packages and started eating when a blustery gale started to rock the car and our surroundings were no longer visible through the windscreen that was streamed heavily with what looked like a whole month’s rain.

The sloe gin was so welcome that we both wished we had bought a tiny bottle each, instead of sharing one between us. Never have fish and chips tasted so good. It is no exaggeration to say that people who live and work in busy cities often don’t have any idea what pure happiness there is to be had from simple country pleasures

There was almost a primeval sense of joy to be tucked up warm and well-fed away from what had become a howling gale and horizontal rain. Watching the waterlogged moor out of a slightly open window we saw sheep with sodden fleeces seeking mean shelter behind huge lumps of granite and tight herds of cattle, heads down against the driving rain, ambling close to the road as if looking for comfort and sanctury.

Although only a few miles up the moorland road, it all seemed a world away from Tavistock which had been busy with Friday morning shoppers. In the crowded Pannier Market we had purchased last minute presents, more plants, a freshly baked quiche and a whole variety of olives to munch in front of the TV later on. We always enjoy a saunter round this famous market that offers crafts, local produce, home baked bread, jams and preserves, roasted coffee, plants, flowers, toys, jewellery, wools, books, china, pens and much more.

In 1105 a royal charter was granted to the local abbey and the present Pannier Market was purpose built in the 1850’s by the beneficence of the 7th Duke of Bedford, the then holder of the Charter. Today’s market, open Tuesday to Saturday, is possibly the finest example of its kind in the South West and not that much different from the original, except that it is now heated in winter.

Arriving home at dusk to bring in our shivering wet ponies we could only gasp snatches of conversation against the now gathering gale. Tucking the ponies up in their warm stables and putting my new evergreen shrubs and winter interest trees in a sheltered spot, we felt both noble and relieved to get inside the house for a welcome cup of tea. However before the kettle had even had time to boil there was a sharp crack, that sounded like a large branch coming down, and suddenly all the lights went out.

Wet through, cold and searching for working torches in the fast fading light my other half observed calmly “It’s a good thing we’ve eaten a cooked meal then.” A huge crash had us running outside again, flashing torches in all directions. We soon spotted the damage; three large tiles had flow off the roof and shattered on the ground below.

“Darn it – now we will have to get the builder in and during the Christmas period. If we’re lucky!”

I reluctantly agreed and stifled a passing thought that perhaps, on occasions, city life did have a certain appeal!