Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Award for Budleigh’s Lily Farm wine

Within three years of opening their vineyard on Dalditch Lane, Budleigh producers Faye and Alan Pratt (pictured left) were delighted to find that their red table wine has been a hit at the South West Vineyards Association's annual blind tasting.

The husband and wife team who run the two-acre Lily Farm Vineyard won trophies for their 2007 vintage at the tastings, held at Kenton Vineyard near Exeter on 4 September.

“Our first vintage has been awarded The John Buchan Agronomy Shield – Best Red Wine from a small scale producer – and also a bronze award in the main red wine category where we competed alongside top wine producers in the UK,” announced Mr and Mrs Pratt, from Moormead in Budleigh. “We are very excited to have received such prestigious recognition of the quality of our wine and we will work to maintain this standard in future vintages.”

Lily Farm Vineyard made national headlines in 2007 when picking of its Rondo grape harvest began a month before anywhere else in the UK.

A World War memory via the Web

Otter Valley Association (OVA) members were urged to use the internet to research local history during the talk given by Dr Todd Gray on 5 September in East Budleigh, previously reported on my pages http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2009/08/new-englanders-view-of-old-england.html8/new-englanders-view-of-old-england.html

On a personal note, that advice was borne home to me when I received out of the blue a few days ago an email from Argentina. The writer had contacted me after reading about a sad but inspiring episode during World War Two that I had described in my book Oundle’s War, published in 1995 and featured at http://oundleswar.blogspot.com/

Major Patrick Dudgeon MC (pictured above) had nothing to do with Budleigh Salterton as far as I know. A former pupil of Oundle School in Northamptonshire, he had joined the Royal Corps of Signals at the outbreak of war, and won the Military Cross for ‘gallant and distinguished service in the field.’ Later he was engaged on various secret and dangerous missions by submarine and air in North Africa while serving with the Special Air Service Regiment.

Operation ‘Speedwell’ was Patrick Dudgeon's last mission. The plan was to reduce the rate of German reinforcements to the south of Italy by attacking rail communications between Genoa and Spezia, Bologna and Pistoia, Bologna and Prato, and Florence and Arezzo. Had the operation been properly supported in terms of aircraft and supplies, it has been argued, the strategic advantage gained would have been immense.

On 7 September 1943, two aircraft took off from North Africa carrying two groups of SAS men. By midnight they had landed successfully in the mountains north of Spezia, some hundreds of miles behind the German lines. Patrick Dudgeon set off with his six men to attack the Genoa-Spezia railway. Two members of his group succeeded in blowing up two trains on the Spezia-Bologna line, and finally made their way back to British lines. Patrick Dudgeon, with fellow-soldier Trooper Brunt, then ambushed a German amphibian and succeeded in killing a number of the enemy before being captured near Parma.

It was clear to the Germans from the explosives he was carrying that Patrick Dudgeon had been hoping to reach a further objective, but nothing could make him give any information about the target. In the presence of his staff the German General responsible for the interrogation expressed admiration for the British officer's courage, but gave the order for him and his companion to be shot the next morning on Hitler's orders.

News of Patrick Dudgeon’s capture and death came after the war in the form of a letter to his father from the German army Captain who had acted as interpreter at his interrogation, and who wanted to fulfil his pledge to the person he described as the bravest English officer he had ever met. (Right: Victor Schmit in 1943)

My Argentinian emailer turned out to be the grandson of the German officer who had befriended Captain Dudgeon shortly before he was executed. Attached to his email was a copy of the original letter that his grandfather Victor Schmit had written in 1945. I found it so affecting that I decided to reproduce it here:


May 11 1945.

Dear Sir,
By this letter I fulfil my word pledged to the bravest of English officers I met in all my life. This officer is your son, Captain Dudgeon, who fell for his country in Italy on October 3rd 1943. Before he died I had to promise him to give you information about the circumstances and the spot he was buried.

I was at that time a platoon commander in the 65th Infantry Division of the Germans. My unit lay in the Passo della Cisa about 30 miles west of Parma on the road Parma – La Spezia.

About 0100 o’clock a.m. I was wakened by my men who told me they had captured two English soldiers driving in the direction of Parma, their clothes were smeared with blood, in their bags they had about 40 pounds of explosives. I went down and found in the Guard Room two English soldiers, one of whom a captain. When I asked who they were they gave me their military cards. I reported to the Coy. Comdr. and later to the Division. The Divisional Officer on duty told me that half an hour ago a German Sgt and a private driving towards La Spezia had been shot and the car stolen.

This having happened several hundred miles behind the lines and the two soldiers carrying explosives they had to be treated as Greischarler (? Freischarler) and would probably be shot.

The battalion commander who had arrived in the meantime tried to get out of your son anything about his purposes, where he was coming from etc.etc., I being the interpreter. When the German insisted your son asked me to translate “If you were my prisoner should you betray your country talking about your mission?”

Upon this my captain told him that probably he had to be shot by an existing order of the Fuhrer. Captain Dudgeon took the news, answering something like this - “All right I’ll die for my country”.

When my captain had withdrawn I sat beside your son on the straw and we were speaking together all night long. He told me he knew little of Germany, that he had been during his holidays to Switzerland etc.

In the morning the Divisional Commander, General Von Zielberg, informed the Bn. That he would come and see the English captain before he was to be shot. I told him (your son) that the German officers were scandalized that an enemy who had behaved in so brilliant a manner had to be shot but were mightless against an order of the Fuhrer. To me the behaviour of the young officer of 23 years old had made such an impression that I couldn’t help telling him when we were alone “Your country may be proud of you. If you were not my enemy I should ask you to be my friend”. Captain Dudgeon gave me his hand saying “I thank you for telling me that”.

Page 2.

The interview with the General was quite resultless. At the end of it (all German officers were present) the General told me to translate to your son the following sentence –
“Sagen Sie ihm dass ich vor Seinen Haltung alle Achtung habe. Er wird, mit seinen Kameraden in einer Stunde erschossen.”

Your son saluted militarily and left the General. He asked me to stay with him until it would be over. He gave me your address asking me to inform you. He asked for a protestant priest. Before he died he asked to die with free hands and open eyes. He knelt down for a short while praying with his hands in front of his face.

Then he got up and died like a hero.

I wasnot allowed to give you notice of your son’s death by way of the Red Cross as the enemy was to have no information whatever regarding the efficiency of the parachutists. So I had to wait and keep the address hidden up to now. The grave of Captain Dudgeon is 200 metres South West of the Chapel on the Passo della Cisa going in the direction of La Spezia, 100 metres behind the last of the buildings.

I am, Yours sincerely,

Victor Schmit,

C/o Veura Schmit - Zoller
pris de Luxembourg

And perhaps, after all, in my mind there is the vaguest connection with Budleigh. Shortly after settling here two years ago, while sunbathing on the beach, I was struck by the sight of 30 young men jogging along Marine Parade towards the coast path. On a weekday? Suddenly – it must have been the haircuts – I realised that they were marines from nearby Lympstone. Probably on a 30-mile jog, in training for Afghanistan. Possibly some would never return alive. And I thought of all the tragic loss of life of young people which I had described in my book: Patrick Dudgeon was only 23 when he died.
Above: Victor Schmit with his grandson Rodrigo Quiroga Schmit in 1966

Monday, 28 September 2009

Another rape in Budleigh Salterton?

Below: The Rolle Flats on Budleigh’s sea front are now one of the town’s major landmarks, thanks to planners who gave the go-ahead to the demolition of Budleigh’s best known hotel.

The headline may seem sensationalist, and this story may appear nimbyist. But ever since arriving in Budleigh Salterton I’ve been struck by the number of fine old buildings in the town that have been destroyed, to be replaced by architectural eyesores. Budleigh is a lovely town, beautifully situated, with an interesting historic heritage. That has not helped to save it from the greed of developers and the stupidity of planners.

The full story of this desecration is told in a series of 20 or so files kept on a shelf in the town’s excellent Fairlynch Museum. The title of one of the files, 'The Rape of Budleigh Salterton', seemed to me to be highly appropriate.

Right: Clyst Hayes House on Exmouth Road,
Budleigh Salterton. Planners have given the go-ahead to its demolition.

So when I received a letter from East Devon District Council (EDDC) inviting me to comment on the impending demolition of Clyst Hayes House, it seemed only natural to make the following response.

27 September 2009

Dear Sir/Madam

Your ref: 09/1857/RES Letter dated 17 September 2009
Clyst Hayes House 4 Exmouth Road Budleigh Salterton Devon EX9 6AF

We have already registered our objections to the proposed demolition of the above property in letters to EDDC Planning Service dated 26 March 2008 and 10 October 2008.

Along with many other Budleigh Salterton residents, including the Town Council, we feel that the demolition of Clyst Hayes House would constitute a flagrant disregard for, as our Councillors have already stated, “guidance laid out in the Budleigh Salterton Design Statement.”

The Budleigh Salterton Town Design Statement (TDS) notes in at least three of its sections that the greatest threat to the open rural character of the town is from infill or “backland” development, where large gardens are particularly vulnerable to opportunistic development (4.5.3), quoting examples of large detached houses saved from demolition or “successfully converted to multiple occupancy” (5.6.2), and suggesting that “greater attention should be paid to the sub-division of large houses of distinctive character rather than the soft option of demolition and redevelopment of the site.” (5.9)

Clyst Hayes House is described in the Site Description by EDDC, available on the internet at http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/dc_report_091208_08-2519-out-central.pdf
as “a large slate and render, Edwardian house of attractive proportions.” This description would clearly indicate on the basis of the TDS guidelines that the property should have been considered as a strong candidate for being preserved and restored.

On your website at http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/planning-budleigh-salterton-town-design-statement East Devon District Council states that “The Town Design Statement was adopted as interim Supplementary Planning Guidance to the emerging East Devon Local Plan on 13th October 2004. It's [sic] guidelines add detail to, and complement, the Local Plan policies and will be used in the determination of planning applications and to guide householders undertaking works not requiring planning permission.”

By approving this demolition, East Devon District Council is making a mockery of its publicly stated policy with regard to such buildings, and demonstrates a lack of integrity which we find hard to understand.

Yours sincerely

Michael and Anthea Downes

Above: Clyst Hayes House garden: a tempting prospect for developers who would like to see it filled with houses.

Friday, 11 September 2009

An Avian Extravaganza: Colin See-Paynton Exhibition enchants at The Brook

Coinciding with the launch of Budleigh Salterton’s first Literary Festival http://www.budlitfest.org.uk/ on Friday 18 September the town’s Brook Gallery will be exhibiting until 19 October a wonderful selection of ‘Avian Alphabet’ woodcuts by a renowned artist viewed as a ‘national treasure’ for his skill and craftsmanship.

“His delight in the lines of a bird so elegantly inscribed by the cut of his graver, his skill in varying texture… his palpable pleasure in composing his subjects into joyous designs have brought something new to the portrayal of birds,” comments the celebrated naturalist Sir David Attenborough of Colin See-Paynton. Above: A Gaggle of Geese

Widely regarded as the leading exponent of the art of wood engraving, Colin See-Paynton, with his exhibition ‘Of a Feather: An Avian Alphabet’ brings an elegant vision of our feathery friends to Budleigh Salterton’s renowned gallery this autumn. The series of prints has been produced from a body of fresh new engravings, launching with a talk by the artist at 3.00 pm on 18 September followed later by a private view party at the gallery.

Pictured above: Sir David Attenborough, left, with Colin See-Paynton

Collections of Colin’s work are also held in the UK at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the National Museum of Wales and the National Library of Wales. Worldwide he is also held in many private collections and his work is exhibited at the Berlin Graphotek, the Fremantle Museum and Art Gallery in Australia, the Gaudi Salon in Barcelona and the Yosemite Wildlife Museum in California.

A Fellow of the Cambrian Academy, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and a member of the Society of Wood Engravers, Colin brings a new vigour to the art of printmaking while earning praise as a meticulous observer of the natural world.
Above: Tidings of Magpies

Opening hours: 10.30am - 5.00pm
Closed Sunday mornings
Tel: 01395 443 003
Email: art@brookgallery.co.uk
Brook Gallery Ltd
Fore Street
Budleigh Salterton Devon

Friday, 4 September 2009

Heritage Weekend 2009: Budleigh-based collection’s glimpse into the past

Striking images and fascinating memorabilia from a vanished age will be on display at East Budleigh’s Salem Chapel over Heritage Weekend on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September.

Budleigh Salterton’s Nick Loman has been collecting pictures, documents and artifacts for more than 30 years.
Above: A view from the past of Fore Street Hill in Budleigh
The result is an impressive archive giving a unique insight into life as it used to be in Budleigh, Exmouth and the surrounding villages.

Having spent his working life as a fish merchant, Nick, of Swains Road, has a special interest in the local fishing industry, and felt that there was a need to preserve memories of it for posterity. Visitors to Budleigh today wouldn't necessarily realise how much importance the industry had for the town, as there is no real sign of how much fishing went on, he believes.
Above: A map of 1895 showing the hamlet of Kersbrook, north of Budleigh Salterton

“A hundred and seventy people attended my last talk about the history of fishing, which shows the huge interest there is in this area,” he says.
Other subjects which make up Nick Loman’s collection include the railway, Budleigh Salterton’s main street and its hotels, of which there were 15 at one time.
The Nick Loman Collection at Salem Chapel is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm each day.
From the pre-plastic bag era, a memory of Kersbrook Farm dairy

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Fairlynch Heritage Day: Friday 11 September 2009

With one of the important costume collections in the country, Budleigh Salterton’s unique thatched museum is not just a collection of fascinating fossils and other curiosities from the past but a unique opportunity outside London to see how clothing fashion has changed over the centuries. And it’s not just Victorian ball gowns and 19th century Honiton lace underwear. This year has seen a special exhibition of costumes by the designer Zandra Rhodes http://www.zandrarhodes.com/ celebrated as one of the new wave of British designers who put London at the forefront of the international fashion scene in the 1970s.

Visitors to Fairlynch will be admitted free of charge all day on Friday 11 September as part of the Heritage Open Day programme organized by English Heritage.

It’s an amazing building dating from around 1811 in the ‘marine cottage ornĂ©’ style so frequently found in Budleigh’s larger Jurassic Coast neighbour Sidmouth. The original owner, ship owner Matthew Lee Yeates, is said to have added the thatched turret so that he could see his ships coming into the bay carrying limestone and coal for the Salterton lime kilns and timber for Exmouth.

Inside there are collections of geological specimens, including radioactive nodules discovered by Budleigh archaeologist George Carter http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2009/07/george-carter-and-archaeology-of-east.html There is also a lace room as well as a costume room, and an exhibition of toys and items for children, souvenir china and model ships. And the shelves of folders in the Local History section testify to the impressive amount of work carried out by Fairlynch volunteers to catalogue all the photographs, documents and artifacts which illustrate the fascinating history of Budleigh Salterton and the surrounding villages.

Outside the Fairlynch building itself there are some curious and interesting features in the surrounding gardens, like this chair.

The gardens themselves deserve a mention, if only because they are a beautiful place to sit in, overlooking the sea. They were lovingly restored to feature plants contemporary with the building.
Heritage Open Days celebrate England’s architecture and culture by allowing visitors free access to interesting properties that are either not usually open, or would normally charge an entrance fee. They are England’s biggest and most popular voluntary cultural event. Last year the Open Days attracted around 1 million visitors.

For more examples of interesting buildings in Budleigh Salterton see http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/google/plg-cons-bs.pdf

It’s a gas with the Lions at Budleigh Salterton in spite of the weather

There’s nothing like a spot of patriotism to cheer you up on a typically British bank holiday. So the bright red, white and blue of our national flag was an effective antidote to the drizzly mist which covered Budleigh Salterton seafront in time for the town’s Lions Club’s Balloon Race.

Lion Peter Mason promotes the event with bell and balloon.

Proceeds from the day went towards the Lions’ campaign to provide Medic Alert pendants and bracelets.

Over 700 balloons went soaring up into the cloud, bearing their greetings messages along with the hopes of many seeking that prize of £100 for the person whose balloon travels the furthest. The winner’s balloon last year was returned from Switzerland.

The weather did nothing to keep the crowds away from the 23 charity stalls which took part in the event. But Budleigh Salterton Carnival Club's Margaret Briggs, pictured left, and her fellow- Club member Julia Meredith are understandably keeping up their spirits with a hot drink. They'd been cheered by the news that the Budleigh float was awarded 2nd prize in Topsham Carnival the previous day.

East Budleigh actor’s journey from Delhi to Dali

Budleigh Salterton’s recently founded Film Society will soon have the option of screening a locally-made movie starring one of the area’s well-known theatrical names.

East Budleigh resident Michael Terry, pictured left, has been combining rehearsals for the Salterton Drama Club’s production ‘Murder, Mayhem and the NHS’ at Budleigh’s Playhouse with appearing at Torquay in a surreal comedy docu-drama directed by Exeter-based film maker Tom Austin.

The movie is based loosely on the life of Spanish artist Salvador Dali. “It’s called ‘La Legende~Dali’ and looks at the relationship between Dali and Hitchcock in the making of ‘Spellbound’– I play Alfred Hitchcock,” says Michael.

Set in a boxing ring, the film tells the story, in a dramatic, theatrical way, of Dali’s relationships – with his family (primarily his dead brother, of whom he believed he was a re-incarnation), his nymphomaniac wife, and the canvas. Dali duels in the ring with his ghost brother, who is a Dali figure/alter ego showman. He also travels through the landscapes of some of his paintings.

The 1945 film ‘Spellbound’ is not one of Hitchcock’s best known works, but is notable as the first cinematic example of psychoanalysis being used as a plot device to solve a mystery. Its most celebrated scene is the visually stunning dream sequence, designed by Dali, where the central image is of an oversized pair of scissors cutting through an eye painted on a curtain.

Michael has been a member of the Salterton Drama Club for over 25 years and has appeared in and directed numerous plays, plus around 10 Pantomimes. More recently as a member of the Northcott Community Company http://www.exeternorthcott.co.uk/ he has been seen in ‘Matthew Miller’, ‘Cider with Rosie’ and ‘Cold Comfort Farm’. ‘La Legende~Dali’ is not Michael’s first venture into cinema. Last year he and fellow Northcott Community Company member Jan Hookway were filming in Mumbai, playing a naive English couple who accidentally get caught up in the rivalry between different sets of Indian gangsters in a film called ‘Delhi Belly’ due to be released next year.

Michael has had to juggle the surreal scenes of the Dali film with the very real problem of getting back from Torquay to rehearsals at the Salterton Playhouse in time for the Drama Club production, which opens on Monday 7 September. “In between rehearsals I am filming in Torquay on Saturday and all day Monday, with a quick dash back to Budleigh for the show,” he says.

I reckon he deserves an extra round of applause on the opening night from his Budleigh audience for all his efforts.
For information about the Salterton Drama Club see http://www.saltertondrama.co.uk/

Images of Salvador Dali (above, right) and Alfred Hitchcock (above, left) courtesy of http://www.clker.com/ and http://www.woodworkersworkshop.com/

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Talking of heritage

Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum (pictured left) and East Budleigh’s Salem Chapel will be among the many historic centres which are celebrating this month with special exhibitions.

Since 1991 Heritage Weekend European Heritage Days have been held annually in September in 49 countries, from the Baltic to the Balkans, from Iceland to the Iberian Peninsular, highlighting not only the dazzling diversity of Europe’s heritage, but also its intercultural links.

Across the Atlantic, interest in heritage is just as strong. This September will see the anniversary of the launch of an exciting new project by the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities.

Brewster was the first Cape Cod town to be visited by the Mass. Memories Road Show.
On the afternoon of September 13th 2008, residents were invited to bring up to three photos or documents that illustrate the early – and and/or – current life of Brewster. The items were scanned onsite and the originals immediately returned to the owners. People were also invited to contribute to an oral history video project and tell the story relevant to their photos or documents – on camera.

Over the next few years the Road Show hopes to visit all 351 communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Above: Local resident Bill Wibel holding documents at the Brewster Mass. Memories Road Show at the Brewster Ladies Library on September 13, 2008.

The Sept 2008 event was locally sponsored by the Brewster Archives Committee, a town-wide committee which includes members from the Town Clerk’s office, the Brewster Ladies’ Library, the Brewster Historical Society, the First Parish Church and interested Brewster history researchers. The Committee’s mission is to collaboratively and cooperatively identify, preserve, catalogue and provide online databased access to Brewster historical and archival records.

“Everyone who lives here probably has a piece of the history of this town, either in documents or pictures,” explained Brewster-based author Sally Gunning, who has been instrumental in the Committee’s ambitious project. The goal, she says, is to scan all public records for online use, giving “a much better picture of the history of Brewster.” Above: Nina Gregson holding a photo of her house

Brewster Ladies’ Library was already the base for the Brewster Oral History Project, a collection of taped interviews with people who have been part of the town's history. The tapes are arranged alphabetically and each one is accompanied by a transcript.

Subjects include Brewster resident Washington Chase talking about the cranberry industry from the time of the Depression to 1997, when the recording was made; Bob Finch talking about the town’s ghosts; Roz Gage describing how she and her husband found a cache of bootlegged whiskey in the sand on Brewster beach; and Cathy Kroeger relating stories of her great-great-grandfather's seagoing days in the heyday of the Brewster ship captains. Above: Clippings of Brewster and scrapbook of Bernice Hayes

“We are aware our collection is far from complete,” say the project’s organizers. “We are looking for additional interviewees who would like to hand down their memories of Brewster throughout the years, and we are also hoping to recruit volunteers who would act as interviewers to help keep those memories alive.”
Above: Staff, volunteers and contributors pose for a photo at the Brewster Mass. Memories Road Show at the Brewster Ladies Library on September 13, 2008.
Images courtesy of the Mass. Memories Road Show http://www.massmemories.net/
The link to the Mass. Memories Road Show in Brewster is http://massmemories.net/searchresults.php?search=brewster&type=res_captions
For more information on the Brewster Oral History project see http://www.brewsterladieslibrary.org/resources/brhistory.php

Fact and fictions in Brewster, Cape Cod

[This September sees the launch of Budleigh Salterton’s first-ever literary festival http://www.budlitfest.org.uk/ with a pre-festival event on 5 September, when Michael Morpurgo will be the guest author. The festival proper will take place from 18-20 September.

To mark the occasion I reproduce with acknowledgement to the Boston Globe newspaper a recent feature which highlights the literary debt owed to the landscape and history of Cape Cod by one of its best-known residents.

Sally Gunning writes award-winning historical novels that have won praise for their compelling storylines, thorough research and strong characterization. She is a resident of Budleigh Salterton's sister-town of Brewster.]

Below: Local author Sally Gunning sits at one of her favorite places, at Lower Mill Pond under a willow tree. Photo credit: Bill Greene/Globe staff.

Fact and Fictions

Sally Gunning sets her novels in familiar, favored places that bear the imprint of the town’s history.

The wet sand stretches out as far as our eyes can see, and a mist hides all but a sliver of the homes on a nearby rise. It is low tide on the Brewster flats. No tourists are in sight as Sally Gunning, the historical novelist, shows off the Cape Cod town she loves. “You come out here, and there’s nothing but space,’’ she says.

Spend a day with Gunning and the town she reveals is intimate, quiet, and rugged, with a rich history and unique sights. First stop is this patch of beach just 100 yards from her and her husband Tom Gunning’s home, a 1,200-square-foot cottage once owned by her grandparents. Five of her family members, including her mother, live here in homes on six acres. The nearby nameless beach is accessible to anyone taking a stroll down the shore from Breakwater or Points of Rock beaches.

Gunning, 58, traces her roots back 300 years in this town. “The Cape literally is a part of me,’’ she says, having been barely a month old when she spent her first summer here. In 1977, she moved here from Providence.

As she stands on the flats in late June, she thinks back to the mid-to late 1700s.

“I can picture this beach just covered with these whales. The cry was up. Everybody rushes to the beach, gets into their boats, and drives them in purposely. In those days, it was heaven. They’d just sit there and hack up the blubber, load it into the barrels,’’ she says.

Brewster is the setting for Gunning’s The Widow’s War, published in 2006; Bound, published last year; and, in part, The Seeming Truth, due out next year. All three books are set in the 18th century.

The Widow’s War begins as the main character, Lyddie Berry, hears a shout, “Blackfish in the bay!’’

Writes Gunning of Berry’s view from a hill above the beach: “She leaned into the wind and soon had a clear view of the beach, blackened as far as her eye could see, by the whales, driven ashore by the men’s oars beating against the water. It was a rich sight.’’

Her characters walk around Brewster. We climb into Gunning’s silver Honda CR-V to get to our next destination: Hopkins House Bakery, the setting for the home of character Betsey Hopkins, Berry’s cousin. The house is now a bakery and gift shop.

Mary Beth Baxter, who runs the gift shop while her daughter runs the bakery, greets us as we enter. She chats about the history of the house while she threads wire into signs made of old window shutters, souvenirs for the shop. Baxter says she discovered that it was always known as the Hopkins house because members of that family lived here for at least 200 years.

The building is two structures, linked together, a house built in the late 1600s and a 19th-century home. In the back of the shop, there’s a four-foot-long bed, akin to what Cape Codders used to have because they slept sitting up.

Baxter says Cape Cod book groups visit just to walk in the footsteps of Gunning’s characters. At the bakery, they can purchase Intoxicating Rum Balls or Gunning’s favorite, Georgia peach muffins.

While her husband is at his job as a social worker, Gunning, like her characters, spends much of her time alone, writing or walking. With an index card tucked in her bathing suit in case she wants to jot down a description, she strolls the beaches, reflecting on Brewster’s herring run and the Grist Mill along Stony Brook Road. That spot entrances Alice Cole, the teenage servant on the lam in Bound. [“On the lam” is a popular American slang expression meaning “on the run.”]

Writes Gunning of what Cole sees: “Behind the tavern the millpond shimmered in a slice of newfound sun, its waters somersaulting down the hill into the millstream below. The mill wheel spun under the force of the spring flood waters, churning gobs of spray into the air that the sun turned to minute snowflakes.’’

In June at the mill area, the scene is bucolic. The tavern is replaced by a house. The upper and lower ponds shimmer, but the mill wheel is inert.

Gunning remembers her childhood as she stands on a footbridge overlooking the brook.

“When we were kids, we dropped sticks to see whose would come out first,’’ she says, then grabs a stick, drops it, and darts to the other side of the bridge to watch its path. “I’m having a stick moment.’’

Herrings are nowhere to be seen, though a lone seagull perches on a rock. “He’s hoping,’’ Gunning says.

Only months before, I had stood in the same spot. In late April, the brook was black with fish fighting to jump up the rocky ladders to get to the ponds to spawn. Gulls sat on the ledges, squawking, then dove into the waters to snag a hapless fish. People lined the path and bridges to watch the show.

Gunning points out remnants of the foundation of another mill that burned to the ground, then leads us across the road and sits under a willow tree near the ponds.

“This is one of my favorite spots. It’s peaceful,’’ she says.

Minutes later, we amble along a nearby path so she can show the rock where her character Berry sits pondering her future. Gunning rests on the rock, crossing her jean-clad legs, gazing at the lily pads and a turtle sunbathing on a log.

She advises visitors to consider the history of this place more than just its natural beauty. “You have to think of that as a teeming business center, the mills, the tannery. There was a cobbler’s shop near there,’’ she says. It is hard to think of commerce with the ponds so serene.

Later we head to Wing’s Island, another favorite spot of Gunning’s, accessible on trails behind the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Because we underestimate when high tide is over, we have to wade in ankle-deep water on the boardwalk over a marsh and past the resident osprey. We get to a dry path, then take an easy jaunt to the island, seeing a sandpiper, red-winged blackbirds, and once again, with Gunning’s help, the past. In the 1800s, dozens of salt mills dotted the landscape, and the Sauquatuckets, a Wampanoag tribe, camped, fished, and grew crops in an area known as Quivet Creek.

On our return, Gunning picks leaves off a bayberry bush, crumbles them, and holds them near my nose. “Smell,’’ she says. It is the sweet scent of a bayberry candle, the same candles Berry is making when she is burned in a fire. A bird whistles in the trees above. For Gunning, on this island, as on the beaches by her home, history, fiction, and nature collide.


If you go, what to do in Brewster:

Stony Brook Grist Mill and Museum at the Herring Run
830 Stony Brook Road
Museum 10.00 am – 2.00 pm. Saturday-Sunday, June-August.
Herring run: Active mid-April to early May, but beautiful anytime.

Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
869 Main St.
Tel: 508-896-3867

Exhibits on Cape birds and sea life.
Highlights: Osprey Cam and series of nature trails that lead to Wing Island and other spots.
Daily 9.30 am – 4.00 pm. June 1 - Sept. 30; 11.00 am -3.00 pm Wednesday - Sunday, Oct. 1 - Dec. 30, and April-May.
Adults $8, seniors $7, children ages 3-12 $3.50, under 3 free. Trails free.

Where to stay:
The Candleberry Inn on Cape Cod
1882 Main St.
Tel: 508-896-3300

One of two historic B&Bs recommended by author Sally Gunning. Rooms $135-$199.

Isaiah Clark House Bed & Breakfast Inn
1187 Main St.
Tel: 800-822-4001;508-896-2223
Another Gunning recommendation. Rooms $129-$179.

Where to eat:
Brewster Fish House
2208 Main St.
Tel: 508-896-7867
Eclectic seafood menu for lunch and dinner. Gunning recommends the fried oysters. Lunch entrees $8-$17, dinner $20-$30.

Hopkins House Bakery
2727 Main St.
Muffins, cookies, and other baked goods with adjacent gift shop.
Open at 8 a.m. Thursday-Sunday.

To see Sally Gunning’s historical tour, go to www.sallygunning.com/tour.html

Text reproduced courtesy of Linda K. Wertheimer and the Globe Newspaper Company