Sunday, 30 October 2016

Summing up our Holiday.

Towns in Devon and Cornwall are perhaps a little old, time has cost them some of there beauty and perhaps more their innocents. The years have done much the same to me, now that I think about it.

Autumn Watch, a television program about animals and birds and how they behave in the autumn, now graces our evening viewing. The cold nights are creeping in, while in the nearby forest the dear are rutting and the low sun graces the horizon. Birds are migrating to warmer places, quite amazing that the little swallow flies all the way to Capetown, leaving us with the robin, seagulls and those black crows. 
Badgers and foxes roam the night fields with the dear and the largest, most dangerous animal in the UK, the cow, munching the rich autumn grass. This is the time that the brackets and fungi bloom, through the morning mist. Terry Pratchet once said that all fungi are edible, some only once. They say that when Autumn Watch is over, it lasts 4 days, it is the start of winter. As I said in my last blog, the evenings are turning colder and the sun sets early.

Susan is travelling again, as you can see by the photos she has condescended to upload. To be fair she is quite busy and the lazy locals do not help. we asked for a photograph of her office and this is what she sent!
Susan office in Dubai
Susan is the only person I know that will exclaim an 'ooh' and make it sound like a national emergency.
From Dubai she moves on to Japan, another project for Merlin is in the making. Not sure if I am allowed to say what it is, so will err on the side of caution until the announcement are made. I know you are asking, does it entail little plastics block?
I would imagine that it will in some form, not sure how Japanese blocks work but I would imagine they all fit in the same way.,
Someone said it was less than 2 months to Christmas, seems too close but then time seems to march on at an ever increasing pace as one gets older. What to buy for Christmas? I have Susan sorted and Robert will be getting a flight home for 4 weeks. It is all the children I worry about. Will think on this small challenge and get back to you.

Well that's all for now, till anon.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Ilfracombe and Woolacombe

Bradshaws Handbook of 1861 says of Ilfracombe:
‘Ilfracombe is a considerable seaport town and now a fashionable watering hole on the North coast of Devon near the mouth of the Bristol Channel. The harbour is considered the safest and most convenient along the whole coast.’
I say it is a melancholy place. Rundown and neglected, with residence dreaming of the old days and waiting to die. A town empty of London's wealthy, who only go there looking for air.
Verity 
The town does have a big talking point, namely Verity, a statue of a pregnant woman. Verity is a stainless steel and bronze statue created by Damien Hirst. We did not get to see it as we decided to stay just outside the town and wanted to check in and then go to Woolacombe. We did plan to visit Ilfracombe the next day but things change and that is the beauty of travelling with not fixed agenda. 
Tourist information put us onto a Manor House hotel some 2 miles outside the town. The Trimstone Manor Country Hotel to be exact. I see their website says;
"We acquired Trimstone and 44 acres in 2007 at which time the property was very ‘tired’. Well it is still tired. 
Woolacombe Beach
Susan was eager to see Woolacombe, the actual purpose of this part of our trip was to visit Woolecombe. I dread to know how the summer traffic copes with the narrow roads we seemed to have all over Devon, going to Woolacombe was no different. It is actually a very small town on an amazingly large beach. Over three miles long and about half a mile from waterline to the shore. A 10 minute walk took us around the town and then it was only the beach to explore after having a sandwich at the Captains Table cafe.
Captains Table
Just to fill you in, these villages in the north of Devon, are full of old surfers, surf shops and cafes. Old weather beaten surfers, who are mostly single, as the bronze girls of yesteryear have moved on, married and now are comfortable in domestic bliss. These old surfers still chase the perfect wave.
Just a point I need to clarify. I am not a travel writer, I write about things and people. 
A travel writer, writes about movement. Just thought I should clear that up. 
Getting back to the beach and the shear size of it. In UK standards this is a big beach and we are facing the Celtic sea, so the waves are clean and really good for surfing. I just hope the photos we have uploaded do it justice. 
We walked to the water line and then over to the surfers, quite a few out and from what we could see, they were catching some very nice waves with clean breaks.
Woolacombe Waves
Went back along the coast and before we knew it we were back at the Manor House, and in the comfortable lounge downloading the images from the cameras. The owner came over and informed us that the restaurant and bar were closed and we had he place to ourselves. With that they left. This is when traveling gets interesting. Do we opt for a bad nights sleep in an unfamiliar bed, go out and find a place for something to eat? One look at Susan, I suggested we go home. Poole was only 2 hours away and it was only 5pm. Oh the joys of travel, we took less than 5 minutes to pack our bags and were home just after 8. Stopped for a cheese burger from Burger King for Susan. It had to be Burger King, lady knows her burgers.
That was our holiday adventure, I am sure the next time we will venture further a field for maybe 5 days, taking it gently. Sam was pleased to see us and sleeping in our own bed was most welcome. Something I did learn, was to maybe stay at a good venue and get use to the bed. Make it a base, a familiar place to come back too. Would love to go to the Lake District some time.

5 deg C this morning, who would of thought it this early in October. Till anon.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

North Devon

Getting back to Torquay from Dartmouth, seemed to take forever. Late afternoon traffic and school children going home slightly impeded our otherwise serene trip. I must admit the traffic in general was well behaved, they are more considerate in Devon. Dorset is every man for himself. Torquay to me is a half empty and dispirited, neglected and taken for granted. 
Anyway back to the hotel and we enjoyed a much needed drink and downloaded all the photos we had taken from the start of our trip. Looking through them it struck me that most places do one of three things for me. They make me happy, sad or indifferent. Seaton left me sad, Sidmouth, happy, thriving little town with a busy high street. People actually live there. Torquay left me quite indifferent. 
Back to our amazing dinner, again not disappointed. I had salmon and Susan had steak, both perfectly cooked and well seasoned. Overheard the woman at the table behind us making a phone call to her house sitter.

'Hi, just calling to find out if the tortoises have gone to bed ok?' 
Says it all really.
The next morning we set off to Woolacombe, North Devon. Easy trip up the M4 and on to Barnstaple. 
Bradshaw’s Railway Handbook of 1861 says of Branstaple: 
’This seaside port town is situated on the river Taw, which is crossed by a bridge of 16 arches. The principal manufacturers are baise and woollens but also trades in bobbin net, pottery, tanning and shipbuilding. Market day is Wednesday.’
We stopped at the tourist information office, for advice on where to stay. These tourist information office are little gems, full of all types of information and very helpful. If needs be they will book your accommodation and give you all the interesting places to go to in the area. I suppose that is what they are there for but refreshing helpful, none the less. 

All for now but I will finish this trip off in my next blog.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Torquay, first stop.

Torquay Bay
Arrived at Torquay at 3:35pm, just in time to check in, have a cup of coffee, and then we went for a walk around, what felt like to whole of Torquay. I suppose just a few miles. Torquay quite tatty, hotels all need a lick of paint and the pier is rusting, I do see a big bill coming the boroughs way. That is almost standard for most towns we visited, a little neglected and grubby. They, the people of Torquay, say this is the English Riviera, I believe the French Riviera has the upper hand.

Staying at the Grosvenor Hotel for 2 nights then we will move on, to where you want to ask, we do not know. This is the English Channel and the west I think is the Celtic Sea. We had a dinner, bed and breakfast deal so after having a very welcome drink after our long walk we made our way to dinner. The hotel does need a little modernising but seems to be homely and friendly enough. Dinner, what a surprise, more 5 star then the lowly 3 star that the hotel is. 

On waking we decided to have a nose around Dartmouth, via the ferry crossing. Google maps said it would take us about an hour as we were going the scenic route again. Scenic drive through Paignton and Torbay and then we arrived at Kingswear. 
Ferry Crossing

Ferry crossing to Dartmouth and we had a nose around the small museum about the invention of the first steam engine. Susan spotted a castle at the entrance to Dart bay, looked close enough, so we set off.  Looks can be deceiving, miles spent walking to get to a ruin and a church. Well we do that in England and to be fair it was a very enjoyable walk. Dartmouth is a tidy, clean town with loads of money spent on cliff side houses. 

Stopped at the Crab and Bucket for a much needed crab sandwich and a pint, manner from heaven really. Friendly atmosphere, crab sandwiches awesome and my ale, just right.

Britannia Royal Naval College
Dartmouth is also the home to Britannia Royal Naval College, built in 1902 and is one of the most splendid building I have seen. If you in the area, do yourself a favour and have a visit. Some of the most recent cadets were, either Prince William or Prince Harry, Derek will know.  

Credits: Image of College by Herbythyme.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Devon Break

Our holiday - Monday, 3 October
Set off with slightly hungry tummies so made our first stop at The Barn for bacon, eggs and coffee which hit the right spot! Making our way to The Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay and depending on the traffic and how we feel, will either take the scenic route via Lyme Regis and a titchy road or will go via Honiton. Weather is bright and just perfect for travelling - 17 degrees.  
Seaton Bay from Beer
Took the scenic route and I must say it is always better to take the local roads and avoid the main routes. We hugged the coast line and although the roads were at some times very narrow, we stayed on course and had the added bonus of seeing the most spectacular views of the small bays and quaint villages. Took pictures from Beer of Seaton Bay.  Beer has a population of 825 permanent residence, mostly elderly from what I could see, this age group does not lend itself to a growth and so like all of these villages, will become a town without spirit. This is happening all over England as most of the houses are holiday homes, for the well to do up north. Seaton is a small, old and slightly unloved sea side town whilst Beer, is very small but felt far more upmarket - very steep hills. 
Sidmouth

Next stop was Sidmouth for coffee and tried to get a watch strap! Susan loved the old fashion high street with all the independent shops still thriving. We had a coffee at the Cornish Bakehouse. They are a small chain of cafes selling Cornish Pasties as their signature. Coffee was very good and the pasties looked very tasty. Claims to bake the worlds best Cornish Pasty but then let's the side down a little by saying French pastries 'Feeds your soul'. 

The other thing we noticed very early on in our travels was that the people were all so friendly. Drove on from Sidmouth through many a small village with very English names. Newton Poppleford, a good example. To be continued. Contributions to this blog by Susan, ‘tummies and titchy’ just gives it away.