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Holness Holds Forth - Pat Holness, South Hams Radio Presenter, on Life in Devon

PUBLISHED: 21:43 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:32 20 February 2013

Pat Holness from South Hams Radio sounds off about aspects of life in Devon that give her pleasure - or not<br/><br/>Listen! If you stand very still and close your eyes you can almost hear the sound of honking...

In this new series, Pat Holness from South Hams Radio sounds off about aspects of life in Devon that give her pleasure - or not

Listen! If you stand very still and close your eyes you can almost hear the sound of honking horns. Sniff and the air's redolent with road rage. Yes, high summer will soon be here. But it's not rough winds that shake the darling buds of May in Devon, it's the visitors arriving in their droves. And it's not so much the droves that is the problem, rather the drivers behind the wheels of their precious cars.

To the indigenous, the vehicle without scratches etched at random on its paintwork is a rare thing to behold, but try explaining this to the visitors from 'up country' and you might as well go the whole hog - lean on a gate and chew on a piece of grass while they nudge one another and laugh at you.

Devon's lanes are narrow. Some are even narrower than that. Others are narrower still. So it's no good anyone imagining that it's possible to drive them without the car looking as if some two-year-old has practised artwork across the bodywork with a nappy pin.

And I hate to say it, but if you want to drive in Devon, you've got to learn to reverse. Going forwards down the lanes is bad enough, but to reverse is worse. It's a process that seems to have gone out of fashion these days in the big cities.

A friend of mine was wending her cheerful way along a Devon lane last summer when suddenly she found herself bonnet to bonnet with another woman driver. Nobody moved. My friend, realising she'd have to reverse a substantial distance to reach an inlet fit for passing, got out of her car and politely pointed out that a metre behind the other driver was a perfect passing place.

"I'm not doing that," snorted the woman.

"Let me do it for you then," said my friend.

"Certainly not!" The woman's face turned a scary shade of puce. "It's muddy. My car wheels will get absolutely filthy."

Unable to think of an answer that didn't contain a smattering of four-letter words, my friend climbed back into her driving seat and executed the necessary lengthy backwards manoeuvre, at which point the woman sailed by in her pristine vehicle without so much as an acknowledgement.

Oh, and while we're on the subject, don't forget the thrills and spills of tidal roads.

I live near the Bigbury tidal road and a holidaymaker asked me one day when the tide would be in.

"Two o'clock," I replied.

"Super!" she cried, leaping up and down with delight. "It's so pretty! Sidney and I will be able to drive back to our holiday home each day at that time after our trips."

"Ah, but tomorrow high tide will be at three o'clock," I said.

"You've just told me two," she replied. "Make up your mind, dear!"

When I reminded her that the tide alters each day, she stared at me as though I was some exhibit in a collection of the weird and not so wonderful.

"Of course," she said at last. "Silly me! Tides alter. You Devonshire folk have such quaint ways."

Summer visitors? Roll on winter, say I!


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