My mother loved to shop. Years ago, when Woolworths was still around, she decided she wanted to go shopping in Sidmouth. Partly for the shops, partly for the seaside.

This took some organising. I was around sixteen years old, thereabouts anyway, and thus, could not drive. Hence, after some Yellow Pages-based research (pre-internet in the House of Bin), we found a taxi company who had an adapted van and would come to the village.

The road to Sidmouth was, at that time, full of potholes. Sitting in the back of a van, her wheelchair strapped to the floor, and with the driving doing a goodish pace, my mother felt every bump and crease in the road. I know because she told us all about them.


Nonetheless, she enjoyed herself. After twenty minutes or so in Woollies, having bought all the essentials (chocolate covered Brazil nuts, white spirit, teaspoons), the taxi driver stopped for a few minutes beside the sea, so my mother could look at the red cliffs and the tide coming in.

View to Peak Hill and Sidmouth

With an awareness that his meter was ticking all the while, my mother stopped herself from blinking for the better part of a minute, took in the view, and then told him to drive on.

She was only missing white gloves and a tweed jacket but I think she felt like the lady of the manor for a few minutes. She was delighted. I always think of my mother when I see the cliffs at Sidmouth.