Friday, November 21, 2014

The perfect gift from Jane - - - - -

Do you have friends who seem to know exactly what to give you?
Friends who are the best gift shoppers and bowl you over with totally 
unexpected, awesome gifts. 
My blogger friend Jane always does this. It's as if she has a sixth sense when 
it comes to finding treasures which have me left speechless with joy on unwrapping!
Jane and the husband love to shop together - something Bob and I do a lot of also.
Apparently, just prior to visiting Asheville where we'd made plans to meet again a couple 
of weeks ago, they were perusing the old tomes in a used book shop in Chicago. 
Out of the blue, Jane reached up to a shelf and and pulled out a yellowed book with 
the word DEVON on the spine, and recalled that I am from that particular county down 
on the south coast of England. As they turned the pages they realized it was a book I 
would perhaps enjoy.

ENJOY! I am over the moon with happiness. This book, printed in 1908 but still in 
wonderful condition, is a Great Western Railway Company travel book on Devon, 
complete with beautiful vintage b/w photographs, and historic stories of all the places
I'm so familiar with, and love dearly.
A back section of the book has detailed train schedules to Devon with prices 
so inexpensive compared to today's train travel. Also coaching excursions to 
exciting tourist places such as 'Western Borderlands of Dartmoor', 'North Devon 
and the Exmoor Country' - this trip being just 11/-  return journey in the 
'old British money' before changing over to metric.
The last section contains many ads for hotels and B&B's
(many of which are still in business), restaurants and cafes, local shops, and old 
time products such as Symon's Devonshire Cyder" - "Has no Equal",
Paish & Co., Piano Merchants - where in the 1950's after I acquired my first 
record player, I visited often as they sold the first 78 rpm records and you could 
sit in little booths and listen to the latest American hits.
There's a page on Torquay my home town ------
TORQUAY - population 34,000 (now 66,000 in 2011 census)
Ideal Seaside Resort for Health and Pleasure
Magnificent Scenery - Owing to Unique Position
Summer - temperature cool
Warm in Winter

In the very back of the book is this wonderful fold-out map of the county of Devon 
where I've marked my home town TORQUAY (more info here).

The lovely, funny Jane from Blondie's Journals and her really charming husband.

It was here at the restaurant in Asheville that I was presented with this fabulous gift.
You just don't know how thrilled I am with such a wonderful book Jane and A.
It was really great to meet up with you yet again - here's to the next time.

Jane's husband, like me, enjoyed salmon, and Jane and my Bob fearlessly 
ventured into bowls of Cioppino after tying on those lobster bibs, for dinner at 
Asheville's Lobster Trap - a really fun evening in every way!

Well, needless to say I'm homesick just writing this post and sharing a little 
about my true home. I was truly blessed to grow up there.  In a simple house set 
midway between the blue water of the English Channel and the bucolic 
Devon countryside, life was especially good and childhood perfect.

You will find me curled up by the fire these winter evenings 
enjoying every page of this amazing book, thinking about and thankful
for our great Chicago friends who discovered it tucked away on that shelf.

If you've never visited southwest England, particularly Devon and Cornwall, 
I really hope you can some day - I promise you won't be disappointed.


  1. Jane nailed it and how! What a sweet, uniquely perfect gift. Say, know anything about Lancashire? ; >

  2. What a lovely post, Mary. And a lovely gift. 11/- eh - 55p!! Devon is a wonderful place - but it sounds like you were blessed with a wonderful childhood too. A good friend told me he dislikes Torquay intensely now - though I have very fond memories of it. If it's any help, my next post features a tiny bit about Somerset!

    1. Don't forget Mike, I grew up there in the '40's and 50's and it was truly a fabulous, elegant place, even following WWII as only a couple of bombs fell there, When I left in 1962 it was still one of Britain's premier seaside towns, quite posh and sedate before batchelor/hen parties were ever invented!! It stills holds on to its moniker, 'Queen of the English Riviera' but I do notice now when visiting home it's showing some peeling paint and rusty railings!!! Overall though, Devon is still beautiful, especially the countryside, moors, villages, and of course home is always special no matter what.
      Look forward to seeing your Somerset post - spent plenty of time there also.
      This book I received is truly awesome - London to Torquay by train was only 29/- in Third Class in 1908 - 57/6d in First Class!
      A nice looking boarding house overlooking Tor Bay - From 35/- per week!!!


  3. I can feel your excitement in your words on receiving this wonderful book. I'm sure Jane will be really happy to know what a treasure this will be for you now. I do hope to get to England some day. It's on my wish list. Hugs

  4. What a super gift, one you will enjoy browsing through many times.

  5. Mary, that is such a thoughtful gift for you. I'm sure you will enjoy this little book and wandering through your memories of your Devon. Blessings and hugs. Pam

  6. What a perfect and wonderful gift! I wish, I wish, I wish I could go to Devon. I love reading your comments about it. Thanks.
    Farm Gal in VA

  7. It was so sweet of Jane to know that was the perfect gift for you. She is very thoughtful. That is a great picture of the two of them!

  8. How amazing is that, Mary? Wow. A true gem indeed. I am sure you will love perusing its every page. I would love that too. What a lovely, thoughtful gift and amazing find!

    Just wanted to say, too, in case you did not click on follow up alerts I relied to you over on CT blog. Thank you so much for your lovely thoughtful words and how wonderful to get a pop in visit from you. :) I am very thankful, truly.

  9. It's my dream to one day visit Devon and Cornwall. What a wonderful friend to think of you and gift you the book that reminds you of your home. Enjoy dreaming of the past and reliving happy times that this book reminds you of.

  10. Mary,

    As much as I love you, I've missed so many posts, so I want to say that I've spent a good amount of time catching up on your last 6! And this, I can't tell you how happy it makes me to know that you are enjoying this book, that you shared how I so randomly found it in Chicago of all places. Pure serendipity...or fate perhaps? A and I were just squirming for the moment we could gift this to you!!! He is going to read your post next!

    The picture of us, it makes me smile. We had so many laughs that night, proof positive that true friends, much love, and good times can erase the stresses that life sometimes can spring upon us. Yes, we should all move to Asheville! Still, it's just lovely that fate again made us get THIS close (geographically and of course, in our hearts!). Perhaps a trip to the coast for us next year as a meet up?

    Love to you and Bob, and wonderful Thanksgiving wishes should I miss a post again. Gosh, I so apologize. I've been here and there on my computer. The hand(s) is/are feeling so much better, thankfully.



  11. Oh wow! Jane done good! That is an absolutely perfect, and wonderful gift. Enjoy! Tammy

  12. Back from vacation and catching up with all the posts that I've missed, what a wonderful thoughtful girl that Blondie is! To have found this rare book in Chicago of all places is a miracle. What a very special gift to receive. I know that you do still get homesick for Torquay, it is a lovely place, and I can just imagine how much joy this book has brought into your days.

  13. Don't you just love when that happens? One of my sisters was like that. She could read me from the inside.
    I lost her a few years ago but will always have the treasures she found for me.

  14. Mary, the book was a perfect gift. I've decided that blogging friends are generous individuals. It's so special when we connect with kindred spirits. I'm thrilled that you four get to meet and enjoy real time visits. I'm envious! '-)
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Bob.

  15. Mary, what a wonderful gift!! I'm glad you had fun with your friend! Friends and treasures make for a wonderful visit!

  16. What a wonderful gift Mary and truly appreciated by you. Devon is such a beautiful place and I have visited it a couple of times and loved the countryside there. The meal looked amazing!! Take care x

  17. What an awesome and very thoughtful gift of the book and the friendship.
    How special to have a friend that would think of you when she saw this book.
    Now I want to go to Devon on our next trip to Europe.

  18. Quite the opposite here....I have friend who always tells me that she's sure the most appreciated gift would always be

  19. What a touching and wonderful gift! I know it brought back memories for you in droves. And your friendship is also a treasure. When I read this I thought about your very sweet comments about the treasures I received from my Mom that had belonged to my grandmother and great-grandmother. About how you loved your grandmother's china things that you inherited, and I know this book and those wonderful keepsakes always take you back to your sweet childhood back in Devon. It's always so wonderful to have those tangible things to bring a loved one and a childhood home back to us. Thanks for the comments you always make. I love having you for a blogger friend! Have an awesome week!


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