Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Delightful Discovery

I received this email a short time ago and was delighted no end:

Hi, Betty Debbie, hi, Betty Keira,
Need an idea for a new post for the blog?
Did you know The Great Betty used the small town where her parents lived, where Betty and her husband Johannes sought shelter after they were bombed out of their new home in London, as the heroine’s home in one of her novels?
I was reading Betty Neels – the Author’s Own Story, that Betty Kelly uploaded for us on Facebook, and jotted down the name of the place where Betty’s parents lived. Actually, I typed it into a file, and days later found it Only By Chance—I had typed it into a list instead of below it...
Anyway, I checked if the place-name occurred in the Canon, and it does!
If you want to turn this into a post, go ahead. I would have done it myself, but, sadly, I am lacking any ideas that go beyond stating the bare facts. Of course, if you don't feel like doing anything other than stating the bare facts, that's fine. ;o)
Take care,
Betty Anonymous

The name of the village is Budleigh Salterton in Deveonshire. Betty Neels writes in her own history that her parents kept an open house during the war for "such of the family who needed a roof over their heads". 

The population was under 6,000 in the last census and it sits right on the ocean with two miles of pebble beach. I can imagine that La Neels, with her love of walking and fierce winds, tramped up and down it. 

If you chance to make your way into town, be sure to stop at The Cozy Tea Pot and walk the beach and think Betty-ish things.

Also, while leafing through Only By Chance I found this awesome paragraph which I want to paste into all the books in the Canon where our villainess gets an insufficient comeupance: "He said in a voice so coldly violent that she flinched, "Let me make myself plain. I would never, under any circumstances, want you for my wife." He added, "Nor have I given you any reason to suppose I would."


EDIT: Alas, Bettys, we always knew that The Great Betty cast a skeptical eye on "computer" and she was right--as she always is. Though I searched and searched for Budleigh Salterton in Only By Chance, I did not find it. (We were enjoying a family birthday celebration and I gave it up.) Anyway, dear Betty Annonymous tells me that it was The Gemel Ring (!) she meant me to see.
Here are her notes which (ALAS!) did not make it to me. I blame computer gremlins:
Betty Neels' Parents' Place of Residence
Charity Dawson’s Home in The Gemel Ring

She still had a few days of her holiday left; driving down to Budleigh Salterton beside a calmed and rested parent, she was thankful for them. She hadn't really wanted to go to Bremen; she would have preferred to have stayed at home,
It was nice to be home again, back in the unpretentious Edwardian house perched up on the hill behind the little town, with its large garden and only a glimpse between the trees of the neighbouring houses. Charity had been born there and had been brought up—with suitable intervals at boarding school—in its peace and comfort. She knew, now that she was older, that there wasn’t a great deal of money, but looking back, she couldn’t remember feeling anything but secure and well cared for, and although the house was a little bit shabby now, it still provided the same comfort.
She went up to her room, and instead of unpacking, hung out of the window which overlooked the side of the house where her father grew his roses; they were in full bloom now and their scent filled the evening air. For some reason which she couldn't guess at, she sighed, unpacked and went downstairs again to undertake the task of setting the supper table so that Lucy, who was more or less engaged to the doctor's son down the lane, could pay him a quick visit.
The remaining days of Charity's holiday went far too quickly, taken up as they were with the pleasurable occupation of discussing Lucy's still distant wedding, taking her mother to Exeter to shop, exercising the dogs and helping her father sort through the mass of papers he had spent years in collecting, with an eye to writing a book on military strategy during the last war.

The quiet peace of home was wonderful to her. No one questioned her decision to leave St Simon's, there was plenty of room in the house for her, Lucy was delighted to have her home for a while and her mother and father absorbed her into their lives as though she had never been away. She tramped for miles with the dogs, gardened with her father and drove her mother down toBudleigh Salterton to shop and visit her friends. Her days were healthily full; she should have bloomed.
Charity had been home two weeks or more when her father was stricken with a touch of lumbago just as the early potatoes needed digging. Lucy was useless with a spade, there was no question of her mother attempting such work. Charity, glad of something to do, put on a pair of old slacks and a cotton shirt which had seen better days, and repaired to the kitchen garden. It was the best part of her father's modest grounds, up on the hill behind the house, with a view of the sea through the trees and the great sweep of Woodbury Common at its back. Even early in the morning it was warm work but rewarding; she had several piles of potatoes to show for her labours when she heard footsteps coming along the path from the house.

Home looked just the same. It was autumn now, of course, and the garden was full of dahlias and chrysanthemums and late roses. The virginia creeper which rioted over the house was turning colour, presenting a welcoming and well-remembered picture.

mentions of Budleigh Salterton in THE GEMEL RING, © 197