Thursday, October 27, 2005

Fingals (3) - Our Lady Of The Books

Fingals is situated in a steep little valley about a mile out of Dittisham, which lies on the river Dart. The river was brown and tea-like, presumably from the days of heavy rain washing down from the surrounding fields. We caught the little ferry from the pontoon outside the pink pub - very luckily, as there were more people waiting than it could take. With a maximum load of twelve passengers and only three spaces left, the group in front of us was a four so we just scriggled on. The trip down river takes about half an hour, and goes past Agatha Christie's boathouse (and house, Greenway, presumably, but this is hidden in the trees). Also on the boat was the waitress from Fingals, who of course in the manner of these things we then kept bumping into as we wandered round Dartmouth (which is clean and pretty, with a couple of streets of shops and plenty of choices for eating).

Walking up the hill away from the main shopping area, we came across a dilapidated church, with a sign reading "secondhand books and junk emporium" which sounded promising. Venturing up the excitingly steep, dark, twisting and crumbly steps past rows of hanging teapots being used as flowerpots and other peculiar items, we emerged in the main body of the church - which was absolutely filled with books. Shelves and shelves and shelves of them, on every topic you could think of, quietly mouldering to themsleves and watched over by a beautiful fading Virgin Mary at the end. The roof was leaking, the windows were cracked, and there were just books everywhere, it was fabulous.

After about an hour (I'm told) I took my selection to the chain-smoking man sitting in the middle of the books, and he let me have them for a fiver, which was kind, as it gave me about £1.60 off. Possibly because I made him laugh - "well you've got quite a mixture here, haven't you" he said. Twice.

Back into the sunlight, and we took a flight of steps between the houses down to the waterside, and made our way back through the town to a pub for lunch - the Cherub Inn. This was a lovely old black and white timber-framed building, with a profusion of planters and hanging baskets outside. I had a pint of Cherub Bitter and a fresh Dartmouth crab sandwich, and C. had a cheese and pickle sandwich and a half of Doom Bar. We were tucked in the downstairs bar, with a high-backed wooden pew-type bench under a twisting staircase to the upper floors.

After lunch it was time for an ice-cream (well this was the sea-side, sort of). We'd passed a likely looking place selling home-made ice cream on the way to the pub, and went back to select delicious morrello cherry and ginger cones respectively.

The weather, which had been sunny and quite hot so far, began to cloud over as we took the ferry back up-river, and as we were nearing Dittisham the rain began - we made it back to the car just in time before the downpour began in earnest. The drive back was still considerably drier than the journey up however - giving us at least an idea of what the surrounding countryside was like this time!


At 12:20 am , Blogger Matt said...

Blimey what a lot of posts!

All sounds very good though. I've got to go and find that book place now. Sounds fabulous.

I shall look forward to your next installment of "The Traveller's Guide"; possibly in the times?


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