This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.
 
Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which not only documents all our trips but includes product reviews, site listings, storage locations, mobile service engineers and much more. It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Devon Delights pt 2 – Climb every mountain

Hello again. Not only part 2, but also the end. Yes our time in North Devon is nearly up. We’re due to stay one more night have decided to head off this evening in the hope of quieter roads. We have some things to get on with at home too thanks to developments in the long running saga that is selling our bungalow.

It’s been great fun here. The site is great, nice and quiet in our little plot despite the abundance of kids and we’ve never had to wait for loos or showers either. Talking of showers – they’re massive. Heated tiled floors and  divided in to large cubicles with a mottled black panelling. Black! Lovely. The shower itself is operated by a motion sensor that activates when you wave your hand across it. Anyway, I was in there the other evening, having spent the afternoon covered in suncream, and having soaped and rinsed extremities, crevices and all bits in-between was in the process of drying off. I must have been doing it fairly vigorously as the corner of the towel  - or one of aforementioned extremities – I’m not sure - just swiped the sensor causing the shower to strike up again. Momentarily surprised I recoiled, slipped on the floor and nearly went arse over tit – and ended up with a wet towel too!

The other morning, having been over the facilities for the morning visit I called in to the site shop to pick up some milk. The lady behind the counter asked how I slept. Very well – as I usually do on site. Anyway, this woman who was getting a coffee piped up that she hadn’t slept too well. It was her first time camping and she wondered what the secret was. I was able to call on my years (well 16 months!) of experience and advise her in one word. Alcohol!

Right enough of the waffle. Catch up time. Here goes.

Tuesday afternoon and having completed and sent the last blog we headed in to Woolacombe. We wanted a couple hours or so – time for some lunch and to stroll around and get a few photo’s, however the main car parks were only charging for a full day. We were too mean to pay but eventually found some off road parking that gave us an hour. We had just enough time for a pint and  a sandwich then headed back, planning to return one evening for some photo’s.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to enjoy the sun but waiting anxiously for the phone call from the solicitor. Time was running out and it looked like we were going to have to carry out our threat when the phone rang. Our gamble had paid off and contracts were exchanged. I can’t describe the relief because although we’ve had a great time, both here and in Cornwall, it was always at the back of our minds.

Wednesday, and after another late start – and nothing to do with grog before you ask – we headed south to Barnstaple. A nice high street and a pretty little church and chapel tucked away in the middle and an excellent light lunch too.

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On the way back we called at a camping shop and picked up an electric cool box. Now, in the past you will know that when we’ve been caravanning, the weather hasn’t always been all that. In fact some of our trips have been more like arctic expeditions, but the upside of that was that when we’ve been out and about we’ve been able to pick up some local fresh meat (stop it!) without fear of it going off in the boot. This trip of course has been different. the box will work both off the mains and car so it can be pre-cooled before we go out anywhere. Not only that, but it heats too. Handy for the winter excursion to the curry house…..

In the evening we met up with friends Pat & Chris. Through the wonder of social media we discovered that they would be on the campsite just half a mile up the road from us. See, farcebook does have it’s good points! They came over for a bbq then we went in to Mortehoe to for a drink and a good old chinwag.

Thursday and with a lovely sunny but slightly breezy day in prospect we decided to go for a walk. Well, we left at 11am or thereabouts across the fields at the back of the campsite and returned around 4pm. All but half an hour of that was walking. We ended up on the National Trust coastal path at Lee and walked, climbed, puffed and staggered all the way around to Mortehoe.It was hard work but the views were simply stunning and it was worth it. For Trev it was a reminder of what a great job the surgeon at Papworth Hospital done on his ticker nearly ten years ago and he done really well.

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Of minor disappointment was the snack in the pub at Mortehoe. Reasonably tasty but the panini in particularly was poor value for money. We didn’t want to wait over an hour for the next bus so we walked back along the narrow road to the site.

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Friday and after un-seizing our tortured  muscles  Bideford was first on the list, stopping for coffee and to procure some delicious looking sausages from one of the butchers before heading on to Westward Ho! for no other reason than we were curious about the name. A large beach – when the tide is out and clearly popular with families. We stopped for lunch at the Rock Pool Cafe near the car park and the baguettes were truly delicious. Excellent value, well presented and tasty, in stark contrast to the previous days offering.

Last night we met up with Chris & Pat again, and went to Woolacombe for a drink and the chance to take a few photo’s as the sun began to set. Still very busy and clearly a very popular place – with a long stretch of sandy beach it’s easy to see why.

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So, that’s it. The end of another trip. We’ve been away nearly four weeks and the time has just flown by. We’ll certainly be back at some point – there’s so much more to see – the south Devon coast and northern Cornwall too. If only we could guarantee the same weather next time. It’s been lovely to finally be able to caravan in the summer – a proper one. Apart from the first couple of nights we’ve not sat in the van once and made full use of the awning. It’s been lovely.

So what’s next. Well home tonight and start clearing the rest of the house before the handover on Friday. We’re heading up to Cambridge for a few days to see HRH and catch up with friends before heading over to the Cotswolds again for a meet up with some Twitter friends near Adderbury. Then, who knows? It depends how long it takes for the flat to come through as to where we go next. There’ll probably be a blog or two though…

So, thanks, Warcombe Farm for putting up with us, you have a great site here and we may come and pester you again at some point – oh and the wine was lovely too. Thank you.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Devon Delights pt 1 – A new arrival

Yeah, I know,  another Royal baby theme but if everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon then why not? Funnily enough, no sooner had I posted a message on Farcebook last night suggesting that HRH might want to hurry things up a bit – for our benefit as much as hers – when out it, sorry, he pops. Maybe she had her phone with her and took notice of me, although I don’t recall accepting a friend request from a duchess. Queens yes…..

Right, enough of that nonsense, let’s get on with the real nonsense – and the title should give you a none too subtle hint that we’ve moved north – to Warcombe Farm near Mortehoe in north Devon. We’ve had glorious sunshine, mist and  a little bit of rain too though it has remained warm. In fact this particular trip may go down in history as the first one where my trusty leather jeans have not seen daylight. Mind you, given the volume of grub and grog that’s successfully navigated it’s way through the  treacherous path that is my  my digestive system since we’ve been away it will be a miracle if they still fit…..

Right – update time – eventually. Here’s what's been happening.

Packing away the awning on Saturday morning was surprisingly stress free – although with all the lights to take down, untangle and put away – de-rigging  a west end musical  would probably be quicker. We decamped to the other side of the ‘van for the rest of the day to get out of the wind. A late bbq’d breakfast was the only interruption to the cricket as England slowly turned the screw.

With nearly everything ready for an early departure we adjourned, for the last time to the First & Last in Sennen for some more research. The increasing regularity of our visits of late meant that there was nothing new to try, so Sharp’s Doom Bar was the ale of choice. some live music started around 9pm – a band called ‘The Hoodle’. We stayed for the first half, but conscious of an early start didn’t hang around. They were very good though.

Sunday, and time to depart – which meant of course all the usual caravanning carry on – loo emptied, legs up, motor mover on, etc etc. And rain! The heavens opened for the first time in nearly three weeks, and despite it stopping soon after, by the time we got to Penzance and topped up with diesel, Patsy was already filthy.

The journey itself passed without incident. We paused for a loo break and to swap  over driving duties but Trev was happy to carry on. We’d also heard from the site that we could arrive when we like – which was great news and very helpful. We pulled in to the car park soon after midday, were checked in by some very friendly staff and were shown to our pitch.

Warcombe farm is a big site – some 260 pitches accomodating a variety of tents, motorhomes and caravans and well landscaped There are large open spaces where a group can pitch together, uniform inline pitches, and secluded lots separated by trees and shrubs. Many have electrical hook ups and some have water and waste too. There is also a pretty little fishing lake in the middle. Ours was on the perimeter road with nothing but countryside behind us. Lovely.

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The awning went up really easily – although it’s erection was disturbed by frequent slaps to the limbs as yet another horsefly settled down for a feast. The dregs of two different sorts of insect repellent procured some years back marginally effective, eventually halting the little buggers before a blood transfusion was needed.

Time was marching on by the time we’d finished – and with the news from Lords that England had trounced Australia we showered and headed off in search of grub and grog.

Mortehoe was only a few minutes away and we drove through slowly on the look out for dining and drinking options – in fact you have to drive slowly – from what we’ve seen so far Devon is on a par with Cornwall when it comes to narrow winding roads. With options logged we carried on around to Woolacombe to see what was on offer there, but decided to head back. It was still very busy – and given the fact it was a warm Sunday night at the start of the school holidays, so it should be. It was very pretty though and on the list to do later on.

Both the ale and food, were a little disappointing to be honest. Clearly the warm weather was causing cellar coolers to struggle – in the two pubs we visited the ale was too warm, although still clear and tasty.The food was ok but greasy and overpriced for what it was sadly.

Monday and and a clear blue sky was visible through the skylight as I got up at silly o’clock to relieve my aching bladder. Later at a more sensible hour and with the kettle on it was a little overcast, but still nice and warm.

The little towns of Lynton and Lynmouth were the first ports of call, the drive to which took us through some stunning landscapes and the western edges of the Exmoor forest too.

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Lynmouth sits at the bottom of a gorge accessed by a very steep and narrow road and is joined to it’s neighbour above by a water powered cliff railway. There is a pretty harbour area with hotels perched on cliff edges and a very stony beach.

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The railway is a delight. Two cars joined by cables go up and down the 860 odd feet climb to Lynton. The car at the top fills a tank with water until it is heavier than the one below, which at the same time empties it’s tank. Gravity does the rest. Great fun and a must if you come here.

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Lynton is pretty too, although there is evidence of tough times. Hopefully the good weather will give our seaside resorts the boost they desperately need. Talking of weather the sun had returned, albeit rather hazily, slowly bringing in a sea mist whish was loitering just off the coast.

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We headed back along the coast pausing at Hagginton Point for photo’s of the rocky coastline and the village and beach of Hele below. Hele is home to paper mill now producing tea bag paper amongst other things but the first glazed writing paper was produced here in the 1840’s. For the interest of my old stationery crowd at CBS but probably on-one else; Wiggins Teape (or whatever they’re called now) own the paper mill  here.

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Next stop was Ilfracombe - another seaside resort so loved by the Victorians but has suffered in recent years. Consequences of the current economic climate were in evidence in the high street but there were plenty of people about. What should be doing ok – for the quality of their baguettes alone - is the cafe and take away called Rainbow Corner. Bacon and cheese for Trev and sausage and onion for me – they were both divine. A quick mention too to the very nice chap that handed over his parking ticket giving us a couple of hours free parking. Thank you – every little helps!

It was certainly busier down by the harbour area and far more promising. Boat trips were on offer and there is a ferry over to the Island of Lundy. The 66 feet high bronze statue of a pregnant lady called Verity sits in a prominent position looking out over the bay. A 20 year loan from artist Damien Hirst, it apparently didn’t meet with universal local approval. Half of the statue shows Verity in all her glory. Move to the other side and her skin is peeling away to reveal her skull, flesh and her unborn baby. Bizarre. After a disappointing start I warmed to Ilfracombe the longer we were there and glad we stuck with it.

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The sea mist was rolling in as we called in at the supermarket and the open fields took on a much eerier quality as we drove back to the site. A ‘veg’ dinner provided the evenings nourishment -  although still with bbq’d bangers - accompanied by a bottle or two of a lovely EPA procured from a certain German discount supermarket.

So, up to date again. Another cloudy start this morning but the promised storms have not materialised and the sun is making regular, increasingly successful attempts to break through. Today is the day that we are ‘assured’ (that word again) that contracts will be exchanged, although at the time of typing – just gone midday – there is no news. Still, they know the score. Right, going to get this sent and then we’re going to Woolacombe.

Look out for pt 2 coming soon(ish!)

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Pt 7 A Cornish Concoction Concludes

Hello again. Our last full day in Cornwall and so the last blog from here too. I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. It doesn’t seem nearly three weeks since we rolled up bleary eyed in the rain after driving through the night. The weather has been just great – like in most of the country though I see dire warnings have been uttered about covering up, keeping in the shade etc, yawn, etc, by various official doom mongerers. For gawds sake, just let people enjoy it, we’ve had to wait long enough!

Mind you, there has been a slight change – the wind got up yesterday and has continued throughout the night – should make taking the awning down interesting. I’ll let you know.

So, it’s the usual clear up today, ready for an early start in the morning. It should only be a three hour or so drive to the next site, in north Devon, but with the rest of the schools now broken up, the roads are likely to be busy. Hopefully there will be a layby near the site that we can pull up in until our pitch is ready.

Right, so what’s been happening? Well, not a great deal to be honest. Thursday morning we returned to Porthcurno; to the Telegraph Museum. The focal point of communications with the British Empire for  many years there are now interactive displays and equipment to view as well as an informative talk by an ex telegrapher. Most of the museum is housed in an old bunker style WW2 fortress built to protect the (at the time) largest and busiest telegraph and cable station in the world.

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There is an escape hatch – a dark and damp stairwell that takes you up to the roof through foot thick blast proof doors. I trudged up to get a view from the top.

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Ironically for a place that played such a huge part in Britain’s communication, I couldn’t get a signal on my mobile, but, whilst at the top it did bleep to tell my I had a voice message. Hoping that it would the call from the solicitor we had been waiting for we finished our tour and drove off, waiting for the bars on the ‘phone to spring in to life.

Sadly it wasn’t. It was my favourite estate agent (?) advising that assurances given just a week ago were, basically, something that sounds very similar to row locks.

We’d stopped at another tiny bay – accessed by an equally tiny road – for a few pictures, but decided to head back to the site to consider our options.

Having phoned both solicitor and agent and issued ultimatums, followed up later by email, we chilled out for the rest of the day, listening to the cricket.

Friday, and a quick excursion to Redruth up the A30. Not anything obvious here for the casual tourist but we did procure some bits and bobs that we had been meaning to pick up, virtually since we got here. We drove back a different way, passing through Carnkie on the way back. The number of old brick chimneys tell you that this was once a big mining area in days gone by.

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The rest of the day was pretty lazy, enjoying the sun and the cricket, well most of it. An email appeared mid afternoon from my solicitor  with an assurance (yeah, another one) from the buyers solicitor that contracts will be exchanged on Tuesday – which conveniently was our deadline. I’ll believe it when it happens and not before!

So, that’s it. Your up to date. It’s been wonderful here, a beautiful site in a beautiful location and very easy to find. Cornwall is wonderful – we’ve barely scratched the surface but the coastline, little coves and harbour villages and towns are wonderful. Get yourselves down here but If you can make it outside of the school holidays, do so. It’s been fine but one can only imagine how busy it will get in the next couple of weeks.

Right, look out for Devon Delights next week, See ya!