Monday, December 10, 2007

Great Little Town, Cullompton

So then my brother John dropped in on his way from Germany back to Western Australia.

So we went to have another look at our childhood home - Cullompton again.

It's normal in these little Devon towns for the main street to be called Fore Street or High Street, but we found this amusing.

I got to have another look at the church ...

But this time it was open and so John and I managed to go inside.

It's a very beautiful church, with that multicoloured 'rood screen' across the front. The choir stalls - John used to be a sweet little choir-boy - used to be in front of the screen forty years ago.

This thing lay at the back of the church in those days too, and I remember looking at it often, not understanding what it was.

Of course, I probably never read the explanation - or maybe it wasn't there back then.

I know that it's a very old church, dating back to the 1200s, if I remember rightly.

The Butcher's Shop

When we left Cully John was 15 and I was 17. John had a job at Veyseys Butchers, delivery boy riding a bike. So he was keen to see if the shop was still there.

Only one butcher's shop in Cully these days - Veyseys!

John said there was an alley next tot he shop, and they used to butcher their own meat behind the shop.

Yup, there's the alley. And Roger Veysey - who was 18 and working there back then - assured John his bike was still there.

But they don't kill their own meat any more, a vet had to be on standby all the time and it proved too expensive. The meat is all still very local, as I read on their blackboard.

There was a young chap (about 9 years old) hanging around helping out wearing a butcher's apron - Roger's grandson.

We had a good chat and a laugh with Roger ... back then he had considered going to school a waste of time and couldn't wait to leave and get into the family business of butchery, and he's still there after forty years. He's happy - seemed to feel a bit sorry for John who is still stuck in 'school', doing research at a University.

Around Cully ...

The old Fish and Chips shop - on Saturdays we would often join the queue that reached right around the shop, out the door, and down the street. Now they offer takeaway Chinese as well.

Up the narrow main street - I'm sure traffic wasn't so heavy back then, and that was before the M5 was built nearby.

Lots of old buildings. This would be a tourist magnet in Australia, but here it's just ho hum another old building.

Then there was the "Secondary Modern" high school. It was brand new when we first moved into Cully. I attended here briefly (Dad taught here) before they decided I would fit in better at Grammar School in Tiverton. But in my short time here I was picked as a tree monitor to look after this tree - or maybe it was the one next to it - which had just been planted.

... and on to Tivvy

Where John and I both went to Grammar School. Now, of course, it's a primary school.

This little shed in the corner of the school playing field

was where John used to go to ATC (Air Training Corps). Lotsa fun.

The Tea shop - and a real surprise

It was a cold afternoon, and John and I were following the route we used to take to get to the bus after school each day. On the corner near the bridge there used to be a sweets shop where I often stopped for a little something. Now there seemed to be a tea shop in the same spot, so we went in.

Apparently I had got it wrong - maybe the sweets shop had been the other side of the road - because the proprietor (who had come from Birmingham a couple of years ago) told me he thought it had always been a cafe.

But he was a friendly chap, and we got talking over our Devonshire Cream Tea (yep, clotted cream again). We were talking about interesting people you meet in Devon, and after a few minutes we realised that my friend, Mary, from Cully 40 years ago was the same 'Mary' he was talking about. In fact, he said, she lives just over the road from the tea shop and drops in regularly.

Looking out of his window he said that he could see her sitting at the window of her flat. So he rang her, and she came over.

From left to right that's me, Mary, Helen, and (I think) Maureen.

She hasn't changed a whole lot - somehow we got talking and didn't take a photo of her in the shop.

She is the last person I expected to rediscover during my little sojourn back in Devon. The person I really want to find is Helen, and I hoped Mary would be able to help. But she had no information.

All the same, it made for a remarkable day of memories.