St Enodoc

In previous years I have approached St Enodoc Church from Daymer Bay but this time we parked at Rock and ended up walking down the tenth in the company of a local four-ball.  At stroke index 1 (i.e. ranked the hardest hole on the course), it looks a real stinker with thick trees and bushes all the way down the left, steeply banked rough to the right and the narrowest of fairways in between.  The pin remains out of sight to the last.

Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman  was buried in St Enodoc churchyard in 1984.  His coffin was carried down the tenth in the heaviest of weather, perfect conditions for a bleak Cornish funeral.  As a middling golfer I doubt he looked forward to playing this hole.  His poem, Seaside Golf, was inspired by the 13th:

I played an iron sure and strong
And clipp’d it out of sight,
And spite of grassy banks between
I knew I’d find it on the green.

And so I did. It lay content
Two paces from the pin;
A steady putt and then it went
Oh, most securely in.
The very turf rejoiced to see
That quite unprecedented three.

The parody, written by fellow member Sir Robin Butler, must surely have been inspired by the tenth:

I played an iron sure and strong,
A fraction to the right
I knew that when I reached my ball
I’d find it underneath the wall.

And so I did. I chipped it low
And thinned it past the pin
And to and fro, and to and fro
I tried to get it in;
Until, intoning oaths obscene
I holed it out in seventeen

This well known view from the St Enodoc churchyard captures all that Sir John loved about this place – the ancient church rooted to the landscape, the wild Atlantic Cornish coast and the links course in between:

We caught up with the same four-ball as we crossed the fairway to Daymer Bay:
Golfer: ‘Been to seek forgiveness?’
Me: ‘Nope, to pray for a better a golf swing’
Golfer: ‘I’ve tried that – it doesn’t work’.

Despite the prospect of the tenth, St Enodoc remains on my golfing bucket list – the game is fundamentally a masochistic endeavour.

The background to St Enodoc on Wiki is so good, I thought it worth repeating here:

The church is situated in sand dunes east of Daymer Bay and Brea Hill on the River Camel estuary. Wind-driven sand has formed banks that are almost level with the roof on two sides. From the 16th century to the middle of the 19th century, the church was virtually buried by the dunes and was known locally as “Sinking Neddy” or “Sinkininny Church”. To maintain the tithes required by the church, it had to host services at least once a year, so the vicar and parishioners descended into the sanctuary through a hole in the roof. By 1864 it was unearthed and the dunes were stabilised. The church is surrounded by the course of the St Enodoc Golf Club.

More random thoughts …

Last week I posted this image on  On a circular walk around Hexham we cut through the golf club car park to avoid the muddy public footpath where shafts of light from a low winter sun highlighted drifting smoke:

Smoke in the woods...

A split tone filter from ON1 Perfect Effects has turned the smoke blue which immediately put me in mind of the early television advert based on the Platters record:

They asked me how I knew
It was Esso Blue
I of course replied
With lower grades one buys
Smoke gets in your eyes.

I had hoped to find the original advert on Youtube but this was the best I could find:

All this reminded me that John Betjeman had a fondness for product names like Omo, Oxydol etc but could not find the reference despite much searching on Google.  Instead I found this, one of my favourite pieces by Betjeman which I had not thought of in years – A Shropshire Lad:

I love the rhythm of this poem and its repetition:

Captain Webb from Dawley,
Rose rigid and dead from the old canal
That carried the bricks to Lawley,
Rigid and dead, rigid and dead,
To the Saturday congregation.

I have traveled the full length of the Shropshire Union more than once but could not remember passing through Dawley.  I wondered if the ‘old canal’ might be a convenient invention by Betjeman but a quick Google search came up with this explanation from the Dawley Heritage site:

In 1788 the ironmaster William Reynolds proposed an extension to the Shropshire Canal southwards from Donnington Wood to the River Severn. After parliamentary approval, work started in that year. Following a route alongside the present-day Stirchley Pools and after exiting from a tunnel at Southall, the canal split into eastern and western arms. The eastern arm, through Oakengates to near Aqueduct, was replaced by a railway in 1860 which followed wherever possible the line of the old canal. The western arm from Aqueduct to Coalbrookdale, via Little Dawley, Wide Waters and across Doseley terminating at Brierley Hill declined in use and was closed in 1810 when the new tramway was built from Castle Furnaces across the Lightmoor Valley to Coalbrookdale.

Oakengates, Coalbrookdale and Dawley are all mentioned in the poem.

So, that is how I got from Hexham to Dawley.

As you climb up the golf course approach road you are walking almost parallel to the 18th fairway and at the top is the tee box adjacent to the 17th green.  Earlier in the week this had been as ice-smooth as a skating rink:

Hexham Golf Club ...

I cannot mention ice rinks without thinking of Ravel’s Bolero … and so,  it goes on, randomly 🙂