Archives for : Short Stories

The Triumphal Arch

The Plym Valley Station at Marsh Mills was busy as it was Christmas Eve after all.  People with children in tow hurried along the platform to alight the Santa Special which was due to depart for Plymbridge Platform in a few minutes. Dusk was giving way to the darkness of the night. This was wonderful to see the excited passengers enjoying the decorations on the train and for a chance to see Father Christmas before he set out to deliver presents to children throughout the world.

Amongst the crowd were Lilly and Ross, who were looking forward to the short train ride along the side of the river Plym. The old steam engine at the front of the train gave a toot on its whistle and the train started to move.

Lilly and Ross boarded the train and found two empty seats that were together. Lilly turned to Ross and said “Rather than come back on the train, why don’t we get off at Plymbridge Platform and walk up the lane to Boringdon Park Golf Club for a drink?” “Sounds good to me” replied Ross.

Within a short time they came to a halt at Plymbridge Platform where the two departed the train. 

“Well that’s it then, we might as well get walking”. The couple slowly made their way up the hill toward the Bridge.

As they were walking up the hill toward the Bridge that led to the Lane, Lilly exclaimed “Crumbs, it is certainly dark down here along the Bridge”.  Indeed it was. The woodland that surrounded the bridge was most strange in the late dusk as the heavy late foliage and tree branches were very dense and scattered, making it seem very dark and eire.   The sound of the river flowing  beneath the bridge was quite rapid and loud, as was the whistle on the Steam Engine giving another toot as it started to make its way back to the Plym Valley Station.

After 15 minutes or so walking along the path, the couple emerged from the tree covered lane and continued towards the golf club. The sky was clear and hosted millions of stars that brightened the eve.  Walking across the golf links on a cold clear night was beautiful and the sound of cold crunching grass beneath their feet was breath-taking.

 “Look” said Lilly.  She pointed to one star that was much brighter than the others. “Yes” replied Ross. “I don’t think that is a star, it is the planet Venus. They call it the morning and evening star even though it is really a planet”. Lilly was impressed with this knowledge. “It certainly is much brighter than the others”.

Ross stopped suddenly and gazed into the near distance. “What is that over there?” he pointed to an Arch at the end of the woodland on the right hand side.  Just visible in the darkness, was indeed an Arch.  “Funny place to put an Arch, but let’s continue on to the Club House as it’s cold out here”.

The couple entered the clubhouse and made their way to the lounge where a party was in progress. The crowd was being entertained by a Cabaret act. It was most unusual for this time of year as it was the Christmas season.  The two dancers were giving a version of the Sand Dance. Indeed it was possibly the funniest Cabaret show seen at the club. The two dancers continued the dance after depositing some sand on the dance floor. Not a smile was given by the dancers during the whole performance, which contributed to the fun of it all.

“Hello, can I help” a warm greeting was given by the hostess.

“Yes, could we stay for a drink?” replied Ross.

“Of course, come this way” the hostess ushered them to an available table next to the window.

“Thank you” replied Ross and proceeded to order a drink. When the waitress arrived with the drinks, Ross enquired who the Cabaret team were.  The waitress smiled “I think they come from Cornwall, they are very funny”.

For all in the Lounge, an enjoyable evening followed.  Glancing out the window the Arch could be seen looking in from across the golf course.

With the singing of carols late into the evening, lights dimmed as the recorded chimes of Big Ben heralded in Christmas Day.

“WOW,  look at that” shouted Lilly looking out the window at the Arch.

Venus the star was right above the old Arch. As the crowd looked on, the Arch began to shine brightly with sparkling colours. The party goers made their way outside into the car park to watch the light show. The Arch then became surrounded with every colour of the rainbow and as if from nowhere images of angels appeared, filling the sky.

An enormous feeling of love surrounded all who stood and watched. The Venus star grew brighter and the sky was filled with feelings of love to the world on this special day.

Then with a fanfare of trumpets, the images began to fade and gradually disappeared leaving again the stillness of the night.

Such excitement embraced the assembled crowd. Some even thought that they had seen deceased family members who had come to give their love.

The show was of course like the Arch, just there.

By Ray Steed

Edited by Sandi McConnell – Canada

Copyright Ray Steed 2019

The Dartmoor Guide

The Dartmoor Guide

It was a beautiful bright & sunny morning in Spring.  Silence prevailed, it seemed that all was asleep upon the moor. Even the granite Tors that stand guard over the moor like resolute sentry’s did not appear to yawn in the morning light, but then again, it was still early.

A group of walkers led by Brian had set out on a ramble at the crack of dawn to the ancient pre-historic village of Grimspound. When reaching the remains of the boundary stones which once encircled the village, Brian turned to the group an announced, “OK guys, we will take a break here for 20 minutes”.

“That’s good” exclaimed George while taking a flask of hot tea from his rusack. “With such an early start, I did not have time for breakfast.  Sally, would you like a drop”?

“Yes please” she replied taking a mug from her rucksack.

“You cannot beat this” continued George, taking a cheese and onion sandwich from a plastic container. “Just imagine, people were eating breakfast on this very spot centuries ago”.

Sally smiled, “Not from a plastic container though”.

George replied with a cheesy grin, “Trust you to come out with something like that. I was going to offer you a sandwich but go on, help yourself” as he placed the container in front of Sally.

Brian studied his Ordenance Survey map where Grimpound was clearly marked. Wiping the dust from his round rimmed spectacles he leaned back and closed his eyes in reflection.

Alice looked at George, “Looks like Brian has nodded off”.

George smiled, “Yes I think you are right, it is good to have a rest anyway”.

Alice looked thoughtfully, “If only these old stones could talk, I am sure they could tell a story or two”.

The remainder of the group, which comprised of 15 all took advantage of the break, taking refreshments and studying their maps of the area.  All agreed; to be in such a beautiful place in the early morn was bliss. The pace of life in the modern world seemed to be a million miles away.

People who know Dartmoor are well aware how conditions can change quickly to catch the unprepared walker by surprise and this morning was no exception. From nowhere a grey mist rolled down the hillside to engulf the prehistoric village.

“Here we go” exclaimed George, “Best give Brian a nudge, we ought to make tracks”.

Alice wandered over to Brian to give him a shake. Brian stirred with a grunt. “Oh dear” he commented. Brian surveyed the misty moorland. “Best make a move to the nearby road, we can take our bearings from there”. Everyone stood up and congregated together behind Brian.

The group began to move forward but after a few paces they became conscious of a strange whistle which appeared to surround them. As they were hidden within the mist it was indeed eery and members of the group looked at each with some alarm.

“What on earth is that” commented Alice.

“No idea, never heard anything like this before” replied Brian. Hesitating, the walkers stopped and listened intently.

“Who art thee” a voice came from within the mist. “What be ‘ee doing ‘ere”?

“What was that”? exclaimed Alice.

Brian, as usual took charge of the situation. “Who are you and please come forward so we can see you”.

The reply came quickly, “Thee cannot see me, for I am not here but there”.

Brian asked again. “Please come forward”.

“No, I am here not there”.

Brian glanced around at the group, who were now becoming quite worried. Brian questioned further, “Ok, but at least tell me your name”.

There was a short silence, then “I be of no name for I am not here but there”.

Brian now puzzled and beginning to think this was some sort of practical joke spoke again. “We are a group of walkers lost in this mist and just trying to locate the road”.

“What road; there be no road” came the reply. “’Ee be walking the valley with much danger, I tell ‘ee”.

“Oh” replied Brian “How do you know where we are in this mist”?

“I see all as clear as the waters of life. Tell me, do ‘ee want me to help ‘ee”? the voice asked.

Brian wiped the mist from his glasses, thought for a minute or two and continued, “Ok, I do not know who or what you are but we are lost, some help would be greatly appreciated”.

“ Turn around and beware for the ground be wet. As ‘ee be walking keep the stones on the right”.

Brian looked at the group and said “Ok, let’s go”. The group followed the stones for a half an hour or so. It was rather strange as when they thought the stones had come to an end more stones seemed to appear. It was like magic, they appeared from nowhere – just a few steps in advance at each step.  Suddenly,  the stones disappeared and the walkers found themselves on the road.  The group looked at each other with amazement – all thinking the same. “What just happened”?

Making their way along the road, the walkers came to an old Inn. By this time they were certainly ready to stop for lunch. On entering, the tired companions were pleased to see a fire crackling in the old fireplace as they were damp from the strange mist. Now, a refreshing drink with lunch would be most welcome.

Brian went to the bar and ordered a pint of cider.

“Looks like you lot are a bit worn out” smiled the landlady.

“You would not believe what happened this morning. We got lost in the mist and a weird voice came and directed us to the road”.

“That would not be up at Grimspound would it”?  Brian nodded yes.

The landlady continued. “You are not the first to encounter the Dartmoor Guide”.   “Who is that” asked Brian.  She smiled again, “Local legend has it that a man who once lived in the village a couple thousand years ago, helps lost walkers to avoid walking into a mire which is nearby”.

“It was a ghost then” whispered Brian.

“If you put it that way, then yes.  At least he avoided you all getting wet feet!”

With that, Brian and the walkers enjoyed their pints, lunch and a curious discussion.

By Ray Steed
Edited by Sandi Mcconnell, Canada

Little Devon Drummer Boy

The moorland mist that had embraced Boringdon Hall slipped away to reveal a clear, fresh evening. Night had fallen to reveal a bright starlit sky.

Venus was exceptionally bright this Christmas Eve, with the light of the Moon highlighting the outline of the old Hall, silhouetted with the festive lights peering from its large windows.

The Hall, formally a monastery and once the home of the Parker family in Tudor times, was enjoying a new incarnation as a beautiful Spa, providing a high service of relaxation and recreation to its guests. The mansion too, had it’s tales of ghosts and odd goings on, filled the pages of local folk lore, fitting in well with many old English country houses.

The Great Hall was warm and cosy, with a wonderful log fire filling the early 17th century fireplace. Guests sat around enjoying an after dinner drink, relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere of the Eve.

Megan gazed out of the large window overlooking the car park. “Look, it’s snowing” she exclaimed excitedly.
Other guests joined her at the window. “Indeed it is” commented Mark.

Starting slowly at first, the flakes of snow gathered in volume until they began to cover all the cars and even the driveway, which led downhill to meet with the entrance at Boringdon Hill.

“Come on, let’s go outside” continues Megan. Mark looked doubtful, after all, it was warm and comfortable inside. “I think I will stay here” he continued. With this lack of interest, Megan decided to stay.

Darren the concierge had greeted the last guests to arrive, and as he gradually closed the large heavy oak front door, the latch clicked into position to secure it.

Leaving the lobby he joined the reception staff in a glass of wine to celebrate the arrival of the festive season.

In the Great Hall, Megan and Mark had been joined by their friends Amy and Chris and the quartet was talking about the history of the Hall through a book Chris had picked from the table inside the front door.

“Do you think there are any ghosts here?” enquired Megan.
“No, I think that is a tale the locals tell to keep things interesting” replied Chris.
“ What about him over there?” Amy pointed to the suit of armour that was standing in the lobby.
“No, I think he is quite safe; mind you if he moves I will be leaving very quickly”, came the reply.

The evening continued and as the guests continued to relax, the sound of laughter filled the Hall. There were guests from all over the British Isles, Europe, USA and even Canada. All were having a great time.

“Listen, did you hear that?” Megan concentrated,
“What on earth are you going on about” replied Mark. “Listen there it is again.”
The group fell quiet, closely followed by other guests in the Hall.

Everyone looked towards the stairs leading down into the Hall. From above the staircase could be heard the sound of a Gregorian Chant. Everyone looked and listened intently. The chant grew louder, but no sign of anyone.

The chant was accompanied by what sounded like angelic voices singing from somewhere; but where?

Everyone present was spellbound.

Mark laughed, “Sounds like the hotel is playing some music to increase the atmosphere”.
“ Hush” replied Megan.

On the landing of the stairs appeared a boy who could not have been older than 9. The boy was gently tapping a drum. He was dressed in a red tunic with large white lapels. On his head he wore a black hat and as he turned to face down the stairs a full image of him could be seen.

His face was indeed quite pale but what was most noticeable, was his extremely bright eyes.
His hair appeared blond and long but it had been tied back to form a pony tail. His smile was radiant and as he looked around the room, it was filled with a wonderful energy.

He stopped beating his drum, and stood still. With a gentle voice he spoke. “I come when Venus is bright in the heavens. I bring the love of the universe to wish you all well on this evening”.
With that the boy turned and once again started to beat his drum while making his way upstairs.

“That was brilliant. What a great way for the hotel to create an atmosphere for the evening. I must congratulate the manager on that performance, I will be back in a minute” excitedly exclaimed Chris.

The appearance of the drummer boy was indeed a surprise to all. All the guests were exchanging comments on how much they enjoyed the presentation. All were hoping to see the boy again to congratulate him on his performance.

Amy commented, “He sure looked cute even dressed in 17th century uniform; brilliant”.

A few moments later Chris returned looking puzzled.
“I could not find the manager but I did bump into Darren. I explained how much we enjoyed the show and asked if we could meet the boy who did it”.

He looked at me and said, “I have not got a clue what you are going on about. All the staff were in the reception area, we did not see anything”, as he stood there and just smiled.

By Ray Steed
Edited by Sandi Mcconnell, Canada

with Courtesy of Boringdon Hall Hotel

Flip Flop Florence

Flip Flop Florence

Florence from Tavistock had never married, she was a pure maiden.
Now in her late forties, she had resigned herself to be lonely in her future life. She spent her days just walking around the old Devon town, sometimes heading onto the nearby moor where she could be often seen standing on the top of a rocky outcrop, known as Pew Tor.

Florence was easy to spot as she was tall and very thin with her long auburn hair tied back in a ponytail. She wore round rimmed glasses, a plain brown top and a long skirt that reached down just below her knee. She was always with a backpack but her famous feature was her Pink flip flops which she wore all year round, whatever the weather.

She walked all day every day passing away the time, never speaking and always without a smile.

“Here her comes” Arthur glanced towards his friend George. The two men were sitting outside the town’s old Guildhall, in the centre of town. “Aye” replied George, “Her never looks too ‘appy does her”.

Florence strode towards them and passed by without a glance. “Funny Maid that one” said Arthur “Her always looks like her is going to break out in tears, such a sad face”.

Florence, now head bowed headed off towards the Old Market and Bedford Hotel. Arthur continued “I don’t think her has been outside the area, not even to Plymouth, her is a very funny Maid”. George agreed, “Aye, but can’t change her can you?”

It had been a good summer, plenty of sunshine which had made people happy; except Florence of course. She still continued her daily ritual complete with the saddest face one could ever see. It was quite noticeable, especially in the mornings where the temperature was getting lower in preparation for the coming winter.

As always, George and Arthur made their way to the town square at the normal time before going into the Bedford Hotel, to enjoy a lunchtime pint. Like most days, they stayed in the square to await the arrival of Florence.

To their amazement she did not show. “Wonder what’s ‘appened to her?” questioned Arthur,
“You can set your watch by her, hope her is OK?” George replied, “Maybe her is unwell or something, one never knows, for her lives on her own I think”.
The two friends waited a few minutes, but still no Florence. With the onset of a few drops of rain, they headed into the hotel bar.
“Morning John”, Arthur greeted the barman. “Just been awaiting the arrival of Florence, but no sign of her today”.
John smiled, “I hear she has gone away on holiday”.
“What!” exclaimed George, “Her has never gone anywhere. Where has she gone?”
“To Jamaica I think”.
“Crumbs, that is a turn up for the books, pour me a beer quick, I need one”.
John duly obliged, followed by a second, and placed them on the bar.

Florence arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica. As she walked towards the airport terminal to immigration, she glanced down at her passport photo and noticed how sad she looked. But then, that was Florence.
She passed through immigration and headed towards the courtesy bus, which would take her to the beautiful Resort in Negril where her beautiful Pink flip flops would fit right in.
“Afternoon Mellady”, the bus driver greeted her with a big welcoming smile. “Hope you enjoy your stay”.
“I hope so too” muttered Florence, without changing her expression, and proceeded to take her seat, resting her backpack beside her.
The trip was a great adventure for Florence, and it had cost her quite a bit of her savings from working at the Post Office.

Negril had caught her attention as she sat in the dentist’s waiting room, reading a magazine on travel. The picture of the resort took her breath away and for that reason, she just had to go there and see it. It really looked like paradise.

As the bus came to a stop outside the Resort, Florence got off and headed towards the reception desk. After booking in, she made her way to her room. Opening the door, she was well pleased on what she saw, a beautiful view over a golden sandy beach and palm trees that dipped their branches into a vibrant crystal blue sea. This she thought to herself is indeed paradise. She settled in and unpacked her backpack. She pulled out a white baseball cap especially purchased for her holiday and placed it on her head and headed to the beach.

Florence spent every day walking up and down the 7 mile beach admiring the view, stopping only from time to time to dust off her Pink flip flops. Other guests noticed her walking here and walking there with such a sad look on her face, even though she was enjoying herself.

The week passed by quickly and when the last evening arrived, Florence decided to take her last late day walk along the beach. It was beautiful, the sun slowly setting in the sky out to sea, the colours of the palms and tropical flowers melting together to create a restful scene. Taking in the view and not looking quite where she was going, Florence’s left Pink flip flop caught on a stone and she fell to the ground with a bump.

“Are you alright M’Lady?” a tall charming good looking Jamaican asked as he came to her aid.
“I think so”, she said, looking up into his face and feeling totally mesmerized.
“Here, hold my arm; I will help you get back to your resort”. Florence reached out and grabbed his arm. “Thank you, I do not know you name”.
“My name is Devon M’Lady; let me walk with you awhile to make sure you are alright.

Devon was so good looking and had a smile that was as wide as the ocean; and he was called “Devon” – what a coincidence. Happily the pair walked back down the beach for hours. Devon’s sense of humour captivated Florence. It was so romantic walking along a golden sandy beach at dusk with the stars beginning to shine and the moon reflecting upon the sea, indeed just paradise.

Florence did not return to her room that night. The next morning she was seen taking a dip in the sea with Devon. She was smiling like she had never done before.
As the day became late, she said goodbye to Devon before returning to her room to collect her things for the flight home.

Arthur and George made their way to the square as usual, prior to calling in for their lunch time pint. “Here her comes, her’s back”.

Both men looked to see Florence striding towards them. Nothing had changed, her auburn hair tied back in a ponytail, her round glasses, brown top and skirt that reached down just below her knee, the rucksack and her Pink flips flops.

There was one difference however; she had the biggest smile you could ever see on her face.

“Her holiday must have done her good” said George.

By Ray Steed
Edited by Sandi Mcconnell “Canada”

The Jigsaw Puzzle

Richard had done well in life. He had worked hard building up his business. Life was indeed good. No money worries, a lovely flat where he lived, over looking Sutton Harbor in the Barbican of Plymouth. After such a busy career he decided to take retirement and enjoy a more relaxing lifestyle.

However Richards life lacked in certain area’s as it does when one focuses on the business world, Yes, he indeed had all that he wished for, in a materialistic way, but this, like everything in life, come at a price. He had very few friends, most of lived abroad or in different parts of the country, so he did not see much of them. He had not married, no time for that, his business was his first love, and there was little room for personal pleasures of life. He had of course, met several ladies, but as usual, they had found that Richards work came first, and they embarked on there own journey

Richard sat looking out of his lounge window. Spring had come at last. The sun was shining in a beautiful blue sky. The Barbican, seemed to yawn like it too, was waking up from a long winter’s sleep. Richard, was in deep thought. He had just put down his newspaper, discarded his reading glasses, and just stared across the harbor. He had reached 59, but still looked quite youthful for his advancing years. It had indeed been a long winter. He had hardly left his flat. He had hardly seen a soul for weeks, except for the people going about their business on the quayside, or when he went to the shops. “Yes”, he thought to himself, “I really have become a hermit”, he thought even more carefully, “Yes, I really let life just pass me by”. To be fair, and like most people, who do not wish to admit it, he was lonely.

He stood up and walked across to the mirror hanging on his lounge, looking into it he felt quite sad. He had allowed the important things life to pass him by whist he made a place in the materialistic world for himself,. The long hours, the company of others just like him. No more, the pretty girls on his arm taking them out to dinner. No more the fabulous foreign holidays, lying on a beach in paradise, while working out the next deal. “Yes”, further depressing thoughts came into his mind. Feeling lonely, and unloved, surely this is not what it should be. He turned, and returned to his chair. What could he do? To be honest, he did not mix well at the best of times, only when a deal had to be closed. Where could he go? What could he do?

When he was a boy, he was fond of doing jigsaw puzzles. Indeed he still had a few stored away. Most pictures were the Devon countryside, and its beautiful villages and places of interest. He got up and went to his sideboard drawer. “Yes”, he muttered to himself, “Here they are”. The first one to come to hand was that of Totnes Castle. “This will do” he thought, as he returned to his seat. . He looked out the window. It was a lovely day, what is the point of staying in. He went into the kitchen and found a wooden board, roughly the size of the puzzle, grabbed an anorak, just in case, and headed down in the lift and out the door of the flats and on to the Barbican.

It was about lunchtime, so Richard headed towards a quite famous Barbican take away, “Captain Jaspers”. He ordered a “half yarder”, sandwich, and sat down on a nearby bench overlooking the water. When his sandwich had been finally demolished, he took out his wooden board, and started putting his jigsaw together.

Being a beautiful day, the Barbican was busy with people looking around local shops, or just going for a walk around the harbor. The spring weather had also attracted some early season tourists. Indeed, tourists came from all over the world, to visit the historic Barbican.

Richard continued with his puzzle, gradually building up the picture of the castle. It wasn’t long, before his activity caught the attention of passers by. People, being curious, stopped behind him, taking a glance over his shoulder, of what he was up too. Some even asked about the castle, and before long he was talking to lots of people, who he had never met before. It was so busy at times, that he had little time to complete his puzzle, but after a few hours the job was done, and after a brief rest, he returned to his flat.

The following day, Richard returned to the bench, this time with a puzzle of Widecombe in the Moor. Again, the same thing happened. People stopped and looked, and even exchanged a few words, intrigued by his activity. Richard was enjoying his new found occupation, and even started making new friends with people who came by just to look at what he doing.

Spring lead into summer, and each day, weather permitting, Richard returned to his bench. By this time he was becoming a bit of a tourist attraction. Some people even brought puzzles of Devon for him to complete. Before long too, passers by were taking his photograph, with some foreign tourists placing him on Face book. To show the folks at home this rather British oddity. Yes, he was definitely becoming famous.

“Good morning”, Richard’s attention was drawn to a rather tall man standing. The man held out his hand which contained a box. “You may remember me”, the man continued, “I took a photograph of you a couple of weeks ago” “Did you” came the reply, “Yes, and I would like you to have this”. Richard took the box, and was surprised to see his picture on the lid. The man continued, “I work in a printers, and I have made a jigsaw puzzle of you,”. Richard looked inside to find the pieces. Looking up with a smile, “What can I say, but thank you very much”. “My pleasure” came the man’s reply, “”I hope you will enjoy it”. Richard looked at the box lid. There he was sitting there in a short sleeved shirt, white shorts and sandals, a baseball cap, and his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose. He was thrilled and prepared to complete his new puzzle. As he shuffled around, the box of puzzle pieces fell to the floor and began to scatter around, being blown by a breeze that came in from the sea. Richard jumped up quickly and gathered the pieces before returning to his bench to complete the picture. Things were going well; the picture was taking shape quickly. “That looks interesting”, a woman’s voice came from beside him. “Do you mind if I join you, I love jigsaw puzzles, and I have heard a lot about you”, continued the woman. “By all means”, Richard replied, “Take a seat”. “My name is Jane, how do you do”, Richard acknowledged her greeting, and continued with his puzzle. Richard glanced at Jane, “Do you know, I feel I know you from somewhere”. Jane replied, “I don’t think we have met before, but I know you from somewhere too.” Richard continued, “Doing this puzzle reminds me of my life, indeed, what you see in the picture is a picture of my life.” “It seems that each piece represents an event in life, something I did, or something that happened to me, it really makes you think”. “Yes, I see what you mean”, Jane replied. “When completed it is who you are now”. Richard continued with his puzzle while Jane watched on. “There, nearly finished, one piece to go, it is the one that is part of his shirt’s breast pocket”. Richard fumbled around his box, but the piece was not to be found. “That’s a nuisance, it must have blown away when I dropped the box earlier, I will have a look around to find it”. Jane smiled, “Is this it?” she produced the piece from her jacket pocket. “Yes, that’s it, where did you find it?” “I noticed it on the pavement around the corner, so I picked it up”.” Here, let me put the piece in place”. Jane placed the last part of the puzzle in place” “There you are, just over your heart”. “Thank you Jane” “What do you think of it?” “It is really nice, a little older than I can remember, but it is the same Richard”. Richard turned, and taking off his reading glasses looked at Jane. It was then he recognized her. “Jane it’s you”, “Yes came the reply “It’s me”. Richard dropped his board and gave Jane a big hug. “I cannot believe it’s you” he repeated again and again. Jane and Richard had been engaged many years previous, but like things in life, they drifted apart, going there own ways. “Come on, let’s go for a coffee, we have a lot of catching up to do” “What a surprise”.

Fate had once played a part. The couple regained the friendship to find their feelings of love for each other were still there. Richard at last, had found a companion to share his life, and end his loneliness.

Life’s jigsaw puzzle.

By Ray Steed
Edited by Kate Whitmarsh

Season’s Point

Charlotte, stood silently looking out to sea. She had made her way along the cliff path from Wembury beach heading towards the Yealm estuary. It was a walk she had done many times. The beauty of the South Devon coast seemed to draw her to witness nature at it’s very best. The Sun, which had cast it’s warm light all day, started to set in a clear vibrant blue sky, creating a gallery of colours, that appeared to include all the spectrum of the light. The Mewstone Rock, and the Cornish coast, blended to embrace the dusk.  Only the cries of gulls interfered with the silence and the gentle passage of the onshore breeze, which rippled her long blonde hair.

She turned, and continued her journey towards the Yealm. Here too, silence prevailed, only interrupted by the calls of fishermen, heading out for a night’s fishing. Reaching the entrance to the estuary at Season’s Point, she sat on the rocks and continued to look seaward. Charlotte, had fallen in love, her heart felt different, never before, had she felt like this. It was a feeling of excitement, but then a sensation of peacefulness. The whole world appeared to be such a wonderful place, when love is found.

As she sat and reflected on the recent events that had change her outlook on life, a tear of happiness rolled down her face, which she gently wiped away with her handkerchief.

Charlotte, gave her thoughts to the wind, and hoped her message of love, would find a home all over the world. Although she had found love, she felt conscious of the hardship and fear that seemed to engulf many people in far off lands. In her mind, she felt their suffering. Why?  Does this happen to people, it felt so unfair. In her contemplations and reasoning, it seemed at the end of arguments and conflicts, the reason that caused them, had long been forgotten. In creation, the word had been designed by the universal light of the stars, to be a sanctuary of peace, in which mankind could enjoy their physical experience. Why then, did the minority of people inflict such suffering on the rest of humanity, who only wanted to live a good life?

Her deep thoughts had been prompted by her concerns for her new love, which had traveled away across the sea, to work to earn some extra money, in order to build a future for them both. Surely he will be kept safe, for he too, had been embraced with love. Again, she called upon the wind, to carry her greetings of love.  She stopped and listened quietly, the breeze appeared to whisper, “I love you too. ”



By Ray Steed


‘ello, if ‘ee have a minute or so, I’ll like to tell ‘ee a yarn. I’m from Dartmoor see, but then ‘ee may ‘ave guessed that from me accent. Life ‘as been up on this yer moor, for many a year. Back in the old days, this yeer moor was covered in forest, t’was a lot warmer round ‘ere too. It was such a shame when ‘em came yer and chopped all the trees down. They said at the time, that the wood was needed to build some ships down in Plymouth Dock. Luck ‘as it, some of ‘em was left yer, and they planted some foreign types from up north. Still the moor still is beautiful, can’t beat the place really.

In them early days, some folk started building an odd thing or two. Many these days don’t know why. I do thoug. It all started when these folk wanted somewhere to live. It t’was the same back then, with the missus giving out the orders. Don’t like it yer, put it over there, if you know what I mean. Anyway, after they built a little ‘ome for ‘em, usually a little ‘ut affair with a circle of stones, with a pole in the middle, supporting the roof. As time went lots of ‘em appeared, to make one of them there villages.

As time went by, them there villagers started to buil all kind of things. Before ‘ee know it, they laid out rows of stones, and then arranging them in circles. These things started popping all over the place up year. You modern folk seem to spend a lot time scratching there ‘eads, trying to figure out, what it is all about. They ‘ave come up with some weird and wonderful ideas, all a bit barmy, if ‘ee ask me. Seeing I was ‘ere at the time, I’ll let ‘ee in on the secret.

See, all them years ago, folk knew a lot about the ‘eavens above. All them there stars, and that there sun, that gives us all life. Yep, modern fok seem to think, that all these circles yer, were set up for some ritual or something. Not so, may I tell ‘ee. See what the old folk were doing, were looking at them there sunspots that appear on the Sun, from time to time. See, what they knew, was that, whem them there sunspots appeared, the missus stopped expexting little’uns, which was not good for village see. Them were using them stone circles to predict when them spots showed up. It was very ‘andy.

Over time, this ancient knowledge got a bit lost. Folk back then did not write anything down. They ‘ad no paper din’um. All this stuff was ‘anded down by telling the little’uns when they were old enough to figure it out.

They say, that them circles ‘ave some of them special powers. That may be right too. Last yer, a young couple came down this way, for a bit of a kiss and a cuddle, in the middle of a circle. ‘ad to close me eyes for a while, They got all carried away. I thought something was up, when the fella produced a yellow rose, and gave it to ‘er. Her was best pleased, and got all emotional. Anyways, about some months later, her and ‘im came back year, carring a little’un. Them wanted to come back to thank the ‘nery of the circle. Bless ‘um. They called this little’un, a little girl, Rose. That is cute init. Them sunspots could not been around at the time. Bless ‘um.

If you are trying to figure out where this yer circle is, it be near Merrivale, just down the road from Princetown. There be an Inn ‘ere too nowadays, so if ‘em ‘as to much to drink, ther may be mor little’uns coming along.

Who am I ‘ee may ask. My name be Granite, I be one of them stones in the circle.

my name is Gregory, Gregory Granite……

By Ray Steed
Written in Devon dialect

Edited by Kate Whitmarsh


Cockington Bells

The villagers of Cockington, were hoping for a white Christmas. For several years, the weather provided cloud and rain. Not quite the atmosphere for a romantic festive season, so it brought much excitement when the first snow started to fall on the thatched roofs of the cottages, two day before the big day. The snow continued to fall constantly, to provide the perfect winter scene. The village has always popular with visitors for its charm, but now, with a blanket of snow, the village looked exceptionally beautiful.

Christmas Eve arrived, and by the evening, the clouds had cleared to reveal a full moon, and a congregation of bright sparkling stars. The clear, dry evening, was just the tonic, for a small group of villagers, who had assembled in the warmth of Marion and Jack’s front room, to prepare to go out singing a few carols. After a few renditions of Silent Night, as a practice, closely followed by a large glass of sherry, to group made their way outside. Jack, in preparation for the dark of the night, had placed a candle in a lantern on the end of a long pole. There was only one technical problem, the candle kept on going out, and had be rescued by the use of a match, which Jack had in his overcoat pocket.

The carol singers were doing well. The residents of the village gave money quite generously, even though the quality of the singing was a bit doubtful at times. The collection was indeed for a good cause, to repair the church roof, which had a few leaks.
Making their way slowly around the cottages, the singers enjoyed themselves, with the offer of a mince pie and a winter warmer, making it even more enjoyable. “Look, who is that coming towards us” observed Jack. The group turned and looked behind them to see a figure, dressed, in what seemed a monk’s habit, coming towards them. “Looks like someone is going to a fancy dress party”, said Marion. “Not sure about that” replied George noticing the man had a donkey in tow”. The group looked with amazement, yes, there was this figure heading their way. “Evening”, Jack greeted the figure as it came nearer; “Greetings” came a reply. As the figure came nearer, the group could see from beneath his hood, the face of a man. Just at that moment, the candle in the lantern went out again. “Typical” exclaimed Jack, foraging in his pocket for his box of matches. “I heard your singing, so I thought I would come over and say hello” said the man. Marion stepped forward to pat the donkey. “What is he called”, she asked. “Gordon” was the reply. “I am making my from the Abbey at Torre, to Buckfast, the Abbot has got tired of him, he is so stubborn”. “Shame” replied Marion. The group looked at each other, it was indeed odd, the Abbey at Torre, had been a ruin for hundred of years.

“What is your name”, enquired Jack with a smile. “Father Frederick” replied the man. It was then that the group noticed his face. He had a beard, and his face radiated with a golden glow. Even more striking was his eyes which appeared to emit light and sparkled like diamonds. “The man continued, “I see the sky is beautiful tonight”, they all agreed, he continued, “Look, there is Venus, and over there is the star Osiris, they are bringing so much love to you all”. The singers looked stunned. “Anyway, I must continue my journey, Love and Peace to you”. With that the man turned and walked away. To their astonishment, when he reached the corner of the road, he simply faded away completely. At that very moment, the candle in the lantern glowed so bright, the church bells rang out loudly, and the village was engulfed in the most beautiful light of the moon. Who was this stranger?

The carol singers stood for a while, and then burst into Silent Night. It seemed their voices were filled of beautiful love. A gift to all at Christmas.

By Ray Steed

Edited by Kate Whitmarsh


The Bell of Sheepstor Bridge

Dora, quickly put a piece of cheese, slices of bread, and butter, and a jar of cider, into her basket and covered it with a cloth, tucking it in around the edge. She was excited, about seeing her boyfriend, Silas, for lunch. She had been in service since the age of 14, at Longstone Manor. Now 16, she had met Silas, at the village fair the previous summer, but due to her long working hours, had little time to meet him. Cook, had given her permission, to take the food and cider, which had been left over from the previous day, and had given her a couple of hours off to meet Silas. She adjusted her best dress, which she wore on special occasions, tucked her long blonde hair into her bonnet, and headed out of the kitchen door.

The summer of 1818, was hot, and she welcomed the shade of the trees, as she walked down the lane, heading to the bridge over the river, where she had agreed to meet Silas.
Silas, was tall and very handsome. His long brown hair, tied in a pony tail, beneath the wide brimmed hat he always wore an essential, to give protection from the sun, as he worked in the fields, for local farmer, Gerald. He had not seen Dora for weeks, and was excited about meeting her for lunch. From the bridge, he looked up the lane, to see Dora, walking towards him, with the biggest smile he had ever seen. He ran towards her, greeting her with a big hug and a kiss. Silas was 20, and with strong arms, picked up Dora up, and carried her to the meadow, by the river, where they were to share their picnic. Dora, removed the cloth from her basket, and laid it on the grass. She then placed the bread and butter, cheese and jar of cider, on top, smiled, as she looked at Silas and announced, “Well, what do you think?”. “It is a grand picnic, hey, and look what I have brought”. Unfastening his cloth bag, he produced an apple pie, which the farmer’s wife had baked, for the occasion. He placed the pie on the cloth, “Thank you” replied Dora, as the couple sat down to enjoy their lunch.

Dora smiled at Silas. “I do love you Silas, but we can only meet now and again”. Silas looked at her. “Yes, I love you too, and one day we will be married, and we will be able to spend all the time in the world together”. “I cannot wait for that day”, she replied, “But until then, we must make the best of the time we have together. She continued “Cook said that I must come when the church clock strikes one, it is such a short time” Silas agreed, but at least it was better than nothing.

Dora leaned towards Silas. He wrapped his armed around and kissed her gently. “It is very hard having so little time for us ” he uttered, giving her an extra hug. ““But at least I will be able to see you at church on Sunday”, “Yes, I always look forward to seeing you there” came the reply. “Talking about that” commented Silas, “Did you understand the Vicar’s sermon last week?” “Not really”, replied Dora. She continued “When he said the first will be last, and the last will be first. Totally lost me”. Silas looked puzzled, “Yes, but he seemed to know what he was on about”. “I think it was about going to heaven or something”. Dora looked him, “Yes probably, maybe we should adopt it as a code word next week, to mean I love you, then no one would know what we were talking about” Silas laughed, “Yes, okay, that would be fun. Only us two would know what it really meant”. Time went by so quickly, and it seemed like the wink of an eye, when the church clock struck one. “I must go Silas, or I will be in trouble with cook” exclaimed Dora. Rapidly, she collected up the cloth and picking up her basket, gave Silas a kiss, she ran down the lane, leading back to the manor, looking back to give Silas a wave as she went.

The following Sunday, Dora made her way to church with a spring in her step. She couldn’t wait to meet Silas by the gate to the church, under the yew tree. Where they usually met. As she neared the church, she noticed a gathering of parishioners talking very anxiously. Dora noticed that Silas was not there, and decided to wait by the gate, for him to arrive. Looking at the nearby gathering, she could not help to wonder what all the fuss was about. Catching the eye of the Verger, Mr Smith, she enquired what all the fuss was about. Mr Smith looked concerned. “Not good news Dora, the naval press gang from Plymouth, came to the Oak Inn last night, and made off with two of our lads”. Dora looked alarmed, “Who did they take”, asked Dora. “young Davey, from over yonder, and Silas, from Gerald’s farm.” Dora heart sank. “Was there no lookout?” she looked very alarmed. “there was. It was George from Dousland. The silly bloke fell asleep. Totally useless” replied Mr Smith.

Dora knew this was extremely bad news. She knew the only thing she could was to wait, hopefully Silas could escape and return home. She felt in her heart however, that the situation was impossible.

Days turned to weeks, then to months and then into years. Dora was heartbroken; she could not imagine life without Silas. Ten years or so past, Dora still waited, when on an errand to the village, she saw the Vicar, Reverend Toby. “Reverend”, she shouted, “Have you a moment I need to ask you something”, “Yes, of course Dora, what can I do for you” came the reply. Dora continued, “You remember my Silas being taken by the press gang all those years ago”. “Yes”, he reply. “Do you think I will ever see him again, for all I know he may be dead, you have heard the stories of the dangerous life in the Navy”. The Reverend tried to comfort her. “Yes Dora, that is a possibility, I really could not say”. Dora wiped away a tear and continued, “If that’s the case, will I ever see him again.” The vicar held her hand. “Dora, you may remember many years ago now, I gave a sermon that recorded a passage from the good book about life” “Yes, I do” she replied. The vicar continued” The first will be last, and the last will be first, I think it went”. “What does all that mean” “Well” people have many ideas on what it means, but the way I think about it, is that we all meet up in heaven or just another time” “But then, no one really knows do they”. Dora smiled, “Thank you Vicar that has helped me”. The two said goodbye and continued on their path.

The winter of 2016 was cold, in fact very cold. The snow had come to Dartmoor with a vengeance. But then, it brought a beauty of its own, with many people venturing onto the moor to enjoy the scenery.

Training for the coming Ten Tors event in the spring, a team of 9 sixth form girls, from a local college, made their way towards Leather Tor. The day was clear and a glassy sun shone in a vibrant blue sky. Fiona was leading the way, her mind focused on her Ordinance Survey map, “That is Leather Tor over there, come on let’s make our way up the rocks, the view should be great over Burrator lake from there”. The rest of the party agreed, “It’s about lunchtime”, mentioned Sarah, “Shall we stop there”. They all agreed, it was a splendid place to take a rest. Climbing to the top of the tor, the girls picked a rock to sit on, and opened their back packs.

Making their way from Crazy Wall Pool, a platoon of young Royal Marines, from Bickleigh Barracks, were making their way across the snow. They were training for a coming deployment in northern Norway,. As they rounded the ridge heading towards Sharpi Tor, the corporal Mark noticed the girls on top of Leather Tor. The opportunity to great by a group of Royal Marines, Mark turned to the others, “Hey guy, shall we take a break for lunch”. He nodded towards Leather Tor. Quickly spying the group of girls perched on top of the tor, the rest readily agreed. “Come on” shouted Mark, “Follow me, and remember behave yourselves”. The marines made up the rocks of the tor. “Hi girls” shouted Mark with a wave. The girls waved back. The day was becoming more interesting by the minute. The two groups exchanges greetings, and discussed each others objectives. To be fair, both groups were glad to see each other, with the marines giving the girls some guidance on their quest.

Mark sat down next to Fiona. “I hope we have been of some help”. “Yes, thank you” said Fiona’s. “We have enjoyed your company,” Mark continued, “the Ten Tors challenge is great for all who enter. It’s not a race, The first will be last, and the last will be first”. Mark’s words somewhat stunned Fiona. Somewhere, in the far reaches of her memory, they seemed so familiar, but she just could not think why. Mark looked at her, “Are you ok?”, “yes, it is just something you said about the Ten Tors, it seemed so appropriate, it is just so odd”. Mark looked behind him, the lads, in true Royal tradition, were swapping mobile phone numbers. Mark smiled at Fiona, “Would you mind if we exchanged numbers, for some reason, I would like to keep in touch, if that is OK”. “Yes why not, it feels that I have known you for ages”. As the two made a note of their phone numbers, the wind came from across the waters of the lake, the chime from the bell of church clock struck one.

Mark and Fiona looked into each others eyes. Yes, they knew. After over two hundred years, they had been re-united.

By Ray Steed

Edited by Kate Whitmarsh


Never My Love

Alice had not been well for a long time. As she lay peacefully in her bed, her husband Chris came and sat beside her, and held her hand. “Are you ok love” he enquired, “Yes” Alice replied, “I have just been thinking about us”. Chris looked concerned. “What have you been thinking my love”. Alice looked at him, and smiled gently. “Chris you have been so good to me, ever since the day we met, you have loved me so much. A woman could not wish for more. “She sighed slightly, “You have cared for me always, through all the trials and tribulations of life”. “ Of course”, replied Chris. “I will always remember the day I asked you to marry me”. “Yes, I remember too” she smiled, “It seemed like it was yesterday.” Chris squeezed her hand gently. “Over fifty years ago”. “We were sat in a restaurant, overlooking the sea on Plymouth Hoe”, “I was holding your hand, just as I am now, and I will never forget the record on the juke box”. “Yes”, replied Alice, “It seemed to be reflecting my feelings, I was so nervous”. “Can you remember what it was called?” continued Chris. Alice smiled again, “It was called, Never My Love, it seemed so fitting”.

“Treasured memories Alice”, Chris reflected on that beautiful evening. Alice spoke softly, “The words meant so much to me, it answered all my thoughts. My heart felt so full and wonderful, it missed a beat”.  Chris looked at her. “Do you know, I felt exactly the same? I just cannot explain it in so many words” “That feeling, when two hearts feel if they belong together, it felt wonderful”. Alice looked at her husband and whispered, “I love you”. Chris clasped her hand with both of his. “I love you too Alice, so much”. “Do you know Chris, the words were so special” she continued, “Will you tire of me” “you never have”. “will you loose your desire for me”, you never have, even though life was tough at times”, “ and would you ever change your mind,” “ you did not, When a woman comes to the moment she has waited for since she was a little girl, she has to trust her heart as I did all those years ago, I am so happy, I can not imagine life  without the love we shared, it would not be life, I would have been existence

Chris looked at his wife. “I would not have wished for a better wife, you are all a man could wish for, my heart is full with love for you, you have made my life complete”. He continued, “People say that love such as ours is made in heaven, I must say, it truly feels that way to me” “It seems our feelings for each other merge into one heart full of love”. His wife looked fondly at her husband. “Do you think it will last forever, even when we meet the end of our path on Earth?” “I am sure”, whispered Chris, “Otherwise, what is the purpose of it all”. “Love is the foundation of the universe, the stars, and all the light they bring” “It will always be there for those who seek it”.

Alice turned towards him. “Will you hold me Chris let me feel the beat of your heart”. Chris placed his arm around her and held her close”. As she felt his chest rise and fall with his breath and his heart beat for the last time, she whispered, “I will love you for always my darling”, “I will wait for you”, “I will watch over you”, her words gently faded, as she drifted away to heaven. With a tears in his eyes he murmured, “I love you Alice, wait for me in paradise”.

By Ray Steed,

edited by Kate Whitmarsh