A change of scene

Change is both exhilarating and frightening. I do not necessarily subscribe to it being as good as a rest, and there are aspects of change that I find somewhat depressing, especially the gradual loss of physical attributes that I once took for granted. Nevertheless change is, by and large, a companion I welcome. Perhaps this is just as well, given the events of the past year.

Although I have spent much of the the past few months working in Bristol, I have, again, moved office within my firm. I am now back in Plymouth, where I began ten years ago, when I first left Bristol. Much has changed, both in the office and in the city, but I had a feeling of coming home. It was a change I did not look for but which was welcome for all sorts of reasons, and which I am enjoying enormously. A number of people have asked whether Caroline and I are moving. I have been able to tell them that we are staying put.

Ten years ago living in Moretonhampstead, and working in Plymouth, raised eyebrows; this is now not the case, as the professional and business community no longer live exclusively in the city. Not perhaps that they ever did, as many of the people I met and worked with lived in villages across the South Hams and up the Tamar valley. It was just that for many Plymothians the northern edge of the Moor was terra incognita.

Moving office means a different drive to and from work: from home along the Wrey valley to Bovey Tracey, then skirting the Moor on the A38, before dropping down to Marsh Mills, where the River Plym meets the sea. It is a longer journey, and at this time of year I drive much of it in the dark, but it has such variety. A local coach firm’s slogan, “Moor to Sea” is certainly true of my morning journey. At this time of year both woods and Moor seem almost monochrome in the early light, and such colour as there is, is to be found in the sky. I had forgotten this aspect of the daily drive until a week ago, when the black wooded valleys framed a dull blue sky with clouds of the deepest magenta to fiery orange. It was not the picture-pretty red sky of autumn evenings, but a meteorological warning of imminent storm (which we duly had). What leaves had been left on the trees are there no longer.

Coming home, I have a choice: back up the A38 or across the Moor from Yelverton. If I am doing the journey in the light I invariably choose the latter. It is a longer exit from the city but once over the last roundabout at Roborough, it is open country; and after Yelverton only a short climb through Dousland before the Moor proper. Because most of our trips take us south from Moretonhampstead, and rarely beyond Princetown, travelling north from Roborough Down lets me see the Moor from a different, unexpected angle. A December evening, however, is not the ideal time to drive this way home: too many ponies next to the road, always the chance of sudden mist, and on the desolate stretch of country north of Two Bridges the possibility of a meeting with the Wish Hounds.

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