Today we headed to a small town along the River Exe called Topsham. It was once a thriving port and many of the houses are in the distinctive style of the dutch merchants of the time. It’s full of little alleys like the one I’ve drawn. Since moving away from Devon I have collected so many great regional words for these sorts of alleys. Vennels, ginnels, closes…to name a few!

There is a brilliant antiques warehouse on one of the old quays in Topsham. I love going and could easily spend alot of money there. Today I really fancied a wooden postbox and deckchair from a steamer. Never mind where on earth we’d put them in our house or how I’d get them back to Scotland!

Such considerations were far from my mind on a not dissimilar day not long before I got married. Getting married necessitated moving and my friends in my old job had been really generous towards my leaving collection. I wanted to get something special for my married life ahead. I spotted the chest of drawers from the door and I knew it was for me.Β  But it wouldn’t fit in my car. Nor would it fit in my Dad’s car. I managed to rope in a friend with a van to move it to Yorkshire for me but he wouldn’t be down to Devon for another month. How was I going to get it back to my parents’ house?

I’d hire a van! And my poor Dad would drive it! Brilliant. The chest of drawers was soon loaded into the back of the van. I surveyed my new purchase with pride. It was then that the van door was caught by a gust of wind. Swinging out into the passing traffic it met the side of a car. A deep scratch screeched down the whole length of the car. It stopped abruptly.

I knew this was going to be bad because the car was immaculate and had doilied cushions in the back window. I just knew that the owner of this car was someone who owned a small dog and spent a lot of time on his bedding plants (not that there’s anything innately wrong with those things). I couldn’t have been more right. The gentleman who got out of the car had on beige trousers, wearing the waistband far too high, and his shirt was one of those awful thin kinds through which you can see the wearer’s nipples. This was someone who was going to enjoy making us apologise. And he did. To his credit my Dad was very well-behaved, which is not like him at all. But I never did live down that chest of drawers and whenever we go to the warehouse my Mum always comments on how nice it is to buy small things from there.

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