Since the early days of bathing machines on the beach Teignmouth has always been a sea-side resort.
A couple of months ago someone came into the Heritage Centre in Teignmouth bringing a small book of poems called “Gillyflowers”. It was a selection of poems by her mother, Dorothy Heard, who had moved to Teignmouth many years before. The collection has been compiled and published privately by Dorothy’s brother.
Dorothy was born in a small Yorkshire village and had to leave school before matriculation. She went to work on the fields in a local farm before moving indoors to help the farmer’s wife. At school she loved English and enjoyed reading poetry; one of her favourite poems was Meg Merrilies by Keats. In the seventies Dorothy found herself working at the Minadab, on the Dawlish Road, which at that time was a restaurant. Later she ran her own Bed & Breakfast. Dorothy, aged 97, is still living in Teignmouth.
The poems in Gillyflowers reflect her thoughts and memories from Yorkshire and Teignmouth. This first one is about Teignmouth as a holiday seaside resort 40 years ago.
Holiday in Teignmouth
(Dorothy Heard – 1972)
Crowded beaches, sun-kissed faces,
silver sand and sparkling sea,
gay striped awnings, Granddad’s braces,
children digging merrily,
picture postcards, sticks of rock,
paddling pool and donkey rides,
trains arriving choc-a-bloc,
roundabouts and local guides.
Landladies, all working hard,
changing linen, sparkling clean,
flower beds on the promenade,
cricket matches on the green,
busy cafes, fresh cream teas,
lobster, crab and cockles too,
ice-cream parlours, chips and peas,
candyfloss from Lindy Lou.
Daily trips across the moor
visiting historic places,
Tavistock and Widdecombe, or
chance one’s luck at Newton races.
Pennies clinking on the pier,
scent of pungent suntan lotion,
local inn for ice-cold beer,
moonlight bathing in the ocean.
Singing hymns on Sunday morning
in the ozone-laden air,
dancing till the day is dawning,
sudden hectic love affair.
All too soon the days have flown,
cases packed, a goodbye tear,
back to work, and home sweet home,
promising to meet next year.
Deck-chairs stacked away once more,
little town now strangely still,
lonely seagulls on the shore
screaming through the autumn chill.