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Country notebook

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 02, 2012

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Each autumn during the 1950s the Crooked Oak provided us with a succulent delicacy. One afternoon while pretending to be a wizard I wandered into the calf linhay in Bulls Mead because I required a staff. Pulling out a stick from one of the wirebound faggots which made up a makeshift ceiling on which hay was stored I found a three inch iron hook on the end of it. I knew at once I shouldn't be touching it, and I thrust it back into the faggot recalling my aged maiden aunt's maxim about the cat which had been killed through being curious. Several years later my curiosity was satisfied when a picture in a book revealed it to be a poacher's gaff.

Several years ago one of the five evacuees who had stayed on the farm, recounted how one day, when one of the three girls was sick, the doctor was summoned. He was invited to stay for dinner. (Dinner was lunch and supper was dinner on the farm). Placing his knife and fork he remarked what a fine salmon he had eaten. The other boy replied that his Uncle John (my father) had got it with a pick (dung fork) in the river. He had then gone on to describe in graphic detail how they were caught without once using the word poaching. The doctor left and the errant evacuee was told that the doctor as well as being the mayor of South Molton was also a senior magistrate, and that in future he must watch his tongue.

As the evacuee said to me with a laugh, "But there wasn't much the doctor could have done about it because he had just helped to eat and destroy the evidence."

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