Still sharing my love of all things Penelope Fitzgerald I can't go an inch further without mentioning A House of Air: Selected Writings , which I keep downstairs near my desk, and the US version The Afterlife which I keep upstairs by the bed.There's no particular reason for that beyond the fact that I read the upstairs one more often and it has stayed in one piece; sadly my £20 hardback U.K. Flamingo edition must have been glued with a Pritt stick because it's falling apart.
Contained in both editions though a fine piece entitled The Moors in which Penelope Fitzgerald cites our nearest village, Milton Abbot, as her "favourite place".
When a writer describes a place you think you know well you realize that actually you don't know it that well at all. Writers have an unerring eye and they use it for our benefit, I dash up there to the post office and ashamedly take little notice.
So it was on a chill but sunny evening that I wandered across there with my camera and a copy of The Moors to walk in the footsteps of someone who had looked with that observant, knowledgeable and understanding eye and spotted everything I have missed or taken for granted over the years.
A good example, I had never but never noticed the rooks.I even wondered whether I'd be able to find the rookery, where on earth was it? As I parked the car and got out it was very obvious from the noise that it was right above my head and always has been.
"It is a village built on a slope...and sheltering round a noble fifteenth-century church, St Constantine's"
"This church is built of the beautiful local Hurdwick stone, green in colour - 'underwater green' it has been called"
"At the end of the churchyard there is a steep drop with a flight of stone steps, down to the Green"
"The village has been lucky enough to keep all its English elms, and the rookery with them"
"To the west, beyond the elms, the view opens towards the Cornish moors, scattered with rocks"
"If you look around the village you will see at once how Lutyens's favoured hipped roofs are exactly suited to the plunging sweep of the Green while the square chimney stacks - reasonably low for an Arts and Crafts man - stand out against the open sky like a modest echo of the church tower itself"