the trip to Devon
The Trip to Devon
Sally Wilson was a pretty thirteen-year-old girl with long golden blond hair and a funny little turned up nose, she lived very happily with her Mum, Dad and sister Annie in a small house close to the river Thames in London.
Sally loved drawing, and she was very good at it. In fact her school friends all thought that one-day she would end up as a famous artist.
Archie Smith was also thirteen and he lived in Devon with his parents in their guesthouse with its wonderful views from the cliff-top across the small bay to the open sea.
Archie loved the sea and he was very sure that one day he would become a very successful fisherman like his dad, owning his own boat and becoming a member of the Lifeboat crew.
Sally and Archie had never met, but following their meeting during the sunny days in July 1938, they were destined to share many strange and exciting adventures together.
It was the beginning of July and Sally was very excited as she was going to meet her Aunt Mary and Uncle John, who lived in Devon, for the first time. They were coming to London by train to attend the wedding of her elder sister Annie.
Sally was overjoyed that she was going to be a bridesmaid wearing a pretty long frock. She was very proud that she would be carrying the wedding flowers down the aisle behind Annie and her husband Joe.
Joe was a tall and handsome 23-year-old with flaming red hair, and Sally had a real crush on him, although she kept that fact secret!
After leaving school, Joe had trained as an apprentice bricklayer, but after several years being a part time fireman he had now become a qualified full time fire fighter. Sally thought he looked wonderful in his uniform, and that Annie was very lucky to have found him.
It was with growing excitement that Sally, together with her sister and their Mum and Dad boarded the bus that took them to the station to meet her aunt and uncle on the day before the wedding. As a treat their dad had purchased them all tickets from the machine at the station, so that they all could wait for the train from Devon on the platform. Sally had never been on a train so, when it arrived in a cloud of steam, she was amazed how big the engine was and how much noise it made. It was even more special when the train driver smiled down at her from his cab as she waved to him.
Her Mum pointed out a couple when they climbed down from the carriage, and despite
carrying their cases managed to wave as they walked towards them down the platform.
“That’s them!” Sally’s mum shouted as she ran to greet her sister.
Sally’s Aunt Mary was taller than her mum with a brown sun tanned face, while her Uncle John, who was also very sun tanned, was much shorter than her dad.
After a lot of hugs and kisses Sally and her sister Annie helped carry the smaller cases out of the station into the sunny and very busy street outside. Sally’s uncle insisted that they all would go home by taxi.
As Sally had only ever travelled by bus before, this was another real treat. Uncle John said to the taxi driver, “Please can you drive round Westminster on the way, as I have never seen Big Ben or Westminster Abbey”. Sally was thrilled sitting on the small drop down seat behind the driver. She excitedly pointed out all the sights of London to her uncle, and all the family joined in the fun. By the time they reached Sally’s house they were laughing and joking as if they had all lived together for years.
The next morning was bright and sunny and the long awaited wedding day had arrived at last. It was wonderful, as everyone seemed so happy. When they got to the church Sally was very excited as she carried the flowers down the church aisle behind her sister and her dad, who proudly had Annie on his arm.
The church was full with their friends and relations and Sally got lots of smiles and winks from the congregation in the pews as she walked down the aisle, so she had an enormous smile on her face and did not feel at all nervous.
Annie looked beautiful in the long white wedding dress her Mum had made for her. Sally thought Joe looked even more handsome than usual as they left the church after the service.
The firemen that Joe worked with had formed a guard of honour outside the church. The first two held short ladders with flowers tied to them to form an arch for them to walk under. The other firemen held their axes high above their heads also making a passageway for the bride and groom to walk down. With the sun glinting on their brass helmets and buttons that shone on the blue uniforms, Sally thought it was perfect and she could not wait to draw the scene in her sketchbook later.
After the service they had a big family party in the church hall. Her mum together with an army of friends had worked very hard for most of the morning getting everything ready. The tables and chairs had been set up and there was a lot of food for the buffet covered with tablecloths to keep it fresh. Sally’s dad had set up a small bar with a barrel of beer from the local brewery together with glasses and bottles of other drinks.
On the small stage a small local dance band had arranged their instruments ready to play for dancing after the meal.
Annie and Joe stood by the door to welcome the guests and Sally felt herself blush when Joe gave her a hug and kiss to thank her for her help.
The meal and the speeches passed in a whirl and then the band started to play for the dancing. Annie and Joe had the first dance and everyone stood and clapped. Sally’s dad took her hand and led her onto the dance floor. It was the first time that she had danced with her dad.
“You looked very pretty today Sally,” he said. “I was so very proud of you.”
Sally noticed that he had a tear in his eye and she squeezed his hand saying, “You and mum have made this a wonderful day for Annie, and she looked so beautiful.”
The evening passed so quickly for Sally, but the highlight for her was when Joe asked her to dance.
It was very late when all returned home tired but still laughing and talking about the wedding and the funny things that had happened at the party afterwards.
However, the excitement of the day was not over for Sally. While they all sat talking around the kitchen table it was agreed that Sally could go back with her aunt and uncle to have a few days holiday in Devon. Sally was thrilled. She had never seen the sea, nor had she ever been on a train before, so as Sally snuggled down in her bed she decided this was the best day she could ever remember.
Before she went to sleep Sally took out her pad and sketched several memories of what had been a very happy wedding.
The next morning was spent rushing round to find things for Sally to take with her on her holiday. Dad had to climb up into the loft to bring down a large leather case for her Mum to pack.
Finally, everything was ready for the journey and Uncle John went out with Sally’s Dad to find a taxi to take them to the station.
t had been agreed that it would be best if Sally went alone with just her aunt and uncle in the taxi. When the time came to leave, there were a few tears from her Mum. However her Dad gave her five whole shillings to spend while she was away. This was the most money that Sally had ever had to spend and she carefully put into her purse.
The next hour was a blur to Sally, the taxi ride, the noise and bustle of the station, the excitement of waiting on the platform for the train to arrive. Then, at last, she was climbing up into the carriage to start the journey towards the great adventures that awaited her.
Uncle John put all their cases up on the rack above the seats. Sally sat in the seat by the window so that she could enjoy all the sights of the journey to the seaside. Sally thought the train ride was wonderful. She loved the noise the train made and she could see the smoke that came from the funnel behind them as they sped along.
The first part of the journey went through London with all its houses and crowded streets, but quite soon the train was puffing along with trees and fields with cows and sheep grazing. Sally was amazed that the animals kept on eating as the train passed by and did not run away frightened by the noise and smoke.
Suddenly the train went into a tunnel. Sally almost jumped out of her seat in fright as the train whistle screamed out a warning. There were lights in the carriage and Sally could see the walls of the tunnel speeding past the window. Sparks flew by and the smoke made it very dramatic, however the thing that Sally noticed most was the noise. The windows rattled and the engine noise became a roar. Then she could see a trace of daylight in the darkness. Suddenly the train emerged from the tunnel and the carriage was bathed in sunlight again, but the smell of the smoke was very strong for several minutes.
After several hours they finally arrived at the little country station and they then had another taxi ride. This one, however, was far different to the trips in London where all the roads were lined with houses and shops.
After leaving the station they soon left the small town and drove down lanes that got narrower and narrower until there was only just room for the taxi to pass.
When they stopped it was at the end of a lane and they got out beside the gate that led to her aunt and uncle’s cottage. The cottage was at the brow of a hill with a curving path between flowerbeds. As they walked up the path Sally realised that the cottage was built close to the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea.
“Can I go up the path to see the sea?” Sally asked her Aunt Mary excitedly.
“Of course you can dear, but don’t go too close to the edge as the cliffs are very steep” her aunt replied
Sally ran up the path and through the small wooden gate at the top of the garden that led to the cliff edge. She looked down and could see the rocks and a small sandy cove far below her. The sea was breaking with small waves that creamed white over the rocks, the spray twinkling in the sunlight.
As it was the first time she had ever seen the sea Sally just stood and stared at the breathtaking view far below. She smelt the salty scent, heard the seaside sounds of the waves breaking over the rocks below, but above all she heard the plaintiff sound of the seagulls cries as they soared above her against the clear blue sky.
Sally thought it was the most wonderful sight she had ever seen.
“Its just magic” she said to herself. However, she did not realise how true this saying was to become in the near future. Then the feeling of magic would not be wonderful, but terrifying.
Sally ran back into the cottage. It was very bright and cheerful and her Aunt Mary took her up the rather creaky wooded staircase to her bedroom that, to Sally’s delight, looked straight out over the glistening blue sea.
Later Sally and her Aunt Mary went for a lovely long walk along the path that ran past the cottage and along the cliff top. The path followed the cliff for miles and Sally could see it clearly as it went up and down the hills along the cliff with the sea sparkling in the sunlight.
Below the cliff were small sandy coves with rocks and gleaming rock pools and very few people. On the other side of the path from the sea were fields with beautiful lush green grass and where the earth showed it was deep red in colour.
Another thing Sally noticed was how wonderful and sweet smelling and clean the air was. In London the air was always rather smoky from all the chimneys on the houses. Also, in some parts near where she lived, there were also many factory and workshop chimneys that always seemed to be belching smoke high up into the air.
Here on the cliff top with a gentle warm breeze blowing, Sally could see far out to the horizon where the sky seemed to meet the sea. It was so peaceful.
When they got back to the cottage they had supper and afterwards Sally went up to her bedroom. When she looked out through the window she saw a wonderful sunset. As she watched the sun appeared to sink into the sea, turning the sky red and sending out a bright glow to the shimmering water of the sea.
Sally stood and watched as it became darker and darker outside so she lit the small paraffin lamp with its pretty glass shade her aunt had given her, turning the burning wick down to give a warm flickering light to her lovely bedroom.
She took out her sketchbook as usual and enjoyed drawing some of the things she had seen on this exciting day.
Sally said to herself as she snuggled down in her comfortable little bed “I do love being in Devon.” She turned out the lamp a fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.
Little did she know that this was to be the last peaceful sleep she was going to enjoy for many nights yet to come!