Thursday 30 June
After the last few days rain and concerns over a repair to the car, we are on our way to Heysham. Sadly no fast ferry to Liverpool (it was on docking trials to Holyhead) so boat is crowded and we have the wrong ticket, only one +car rather than 2+car so have to go and buy another ticket – fortunately only £15.
Lovely smooth crossing with the sun glistening off the water and a few sea birds dive bombing around us for fish but somehow no internet access, nice croissants for breakfast though.
Take back roads through part of Yorkshire and Lancashire instead of the M6 Motorway as we always seem to be chasing up or down that awful road. Interesting buildings in Hebden Bridge, some good, some not so nice and we get to John & Deirdre’s just after 6.
Friday 1 July
Manage to get all the luggage into our car so only one car needed for our long drive to just outside Bideford on crowded roads, slow moving traffic, resurfaced roads slowing traffic even more.
A stop for lunch in Farringdon was very welcome, a good place is The Sadlers with it’s array of interesting artefacts.
Our cottage is in the Webbery Estate is a complex of about 8 properties spread out so that no one is overlooked, or too close to each other.
The Webbery Estate is about 5 or 6 miles inland from the North Devon coast in lovely undulating Devon hills.
The cottage is well appointed, with good internet access, a coal fire, many, many books although the settee is a bit uncomfortable.
We also have virtually a free run in the two walled vegetable gardens although the tomatoes are not quite ripe we are told. The rhubarb, the Loganberries, the gooseberries and the lettuce and beetroot all taste better when they go virtually straight from the ground to the kitchen table.
An early night after two days of driving.
Saturday 2 July
Head first of all for Croyde and then to Putsborough and a walk on it’s sandy beach at a cost of £8 for parking.
Lots of surfers, some on what looked like banana boats but others testing themselves on the constant breakers crashing on the incoming tide.
A surprisingly large amount of jellyfish stranded and waiting for the incoming tide and many dips in the sand still containing water from the last tide.
Lunch (bacon baps) in the beach café before we head off for Ilfracombe for a walk around the harbour, a homemade ice cream and a marvel at the big statue of the pregnant woman, Verity, by Damien Hirst that completely dominates the landscape.
One side of the statue is cut away to show the woman’s muscles on her back and the unborn baby in the front.
At ground level there appears to be no description of it’s name, what it represents or who created it and it is only if you venture up the hill behind and into St Nicholas Chapel that you can establish the facts.
I think they missed an opportunity here to advertise it more.
Back to the cottage for tennis viewing whilst the occasional shower passed us by followed by a visit to the fruit cage for desert tonight.
Sunday 3 July
We are off today to visit Arlington Court and meet up with friends Mick & Brenda.
Didn’t know much about it beforehand but it also houses the National Carriage collection as well as many interesting artefacts inside the house.
Sir Francis Chichester’s family owned it (he of round the world single handed yatchsman fame) so there is a nautical theme as well including a model of The Lady of Mann vessel used at Dunkirk.
Also shown to us was the original Wimbledon Ladies Final plate – the one presented today is a more modern version.
The rest of the inside of the house was pretty awesome as well!
Now to venture outside and to the carriage collection where many old and interesting carriages and fittings are beautifully preserved, many with fascinating histories and providence including a travelling Chariot.
Tea at the café was very welcome after our stroll and we parted knowing that we would all see each other again in January 2017.
Monday 4 July
Weather was not supposed to be so good today so we opt for a train ride to Exeter on the little line from Barnstaple known as the Tarka line – something to do with lots of Otters in the valley.
A very ancient bus type diesel two coach train sped its way southwards on the mostly single track picking up a few passengers at some remote stations on the way and was quite crowded by the time we reach Exeter St Davids where most seem to get off for connections elsewhere.
We however stay on and climb the very steep incline to Exeter Central for a stroll around the city.
We had seen on the local news that an “exhibition” or “art display” was to be held in the Northenhay gardens near the station based upon the numbers of people killed at the Somme in the First World War. (19240 Shrouds of the Somme).
Old fashioned “dolly” pegs covered in material to represent the fallen was very moving and very well presented.
The artist was there but was busy with other visitors so we didn’t have time to talk.
I did however find reference to 13 casualties with my surname – something to ponder for family research in the future?
Off now to join the many tourists at the Cathedral. Access not allowed when we get there due to a funeral so after coffee and lunch at Cote we venture in to a wonderfully preserved building.
The limited space on this blog prevents me from showing all the pictures I took – just go there and look for yourselves!!!
Tuesday 5 July
Ok, I admit it, I am a train “buff” and own shares in the West Somerset Railway Company based at Minehead.
It is not a long drive there and we soon settle down on an old fashioned 1970s type carriage with my free travel tickets for a nostalgic journey being pulled by a stream engine towards Bishops Lydeard some 22.75 miles away.
Comfy bouncy seating, a buffet on board and a friendly ticket inspector – what more do you need other than the evocative smell of a steam engine!
We pass a couple of trains going the other way but not a lot to see at Bishops Lydeard.
Some day they might be able to get a through service on a regular basis to Taunton and tap into some extra passengers into Minehead and off the clogged roads.
Return to Minehead behind Ravingham Hall (6960) with some still lovely sunny weather and good views over the Somerset countryside.
Back at Minehead, take a view of the books on sale before a walk along the sea front and a drive back along a different route. A great day out.
Wednesday 6 July
A bit of sea adventure today as it is a clear day – a Rib boat ride from Ilfracombe. 12 of us fit onto this boat which after a safety briefing speeds out to the sea heading Westwards. Stop No. 1 is by the tunnels built to allow bathers to reach other beaches.
There were once two sea water swimming pools, one for men and the other for women & children but now sadly they have fallen into disrepair.
Then onto Lee bay where a house on the beach recently changed hands for about £1m but is probably uninsurable as it floods at least twice a year on the spring tides.
We pass at speed the lighthouse that marks the boundary between the Bristol Channel and the Atlantic Ocean but slow down to see a few seals basking in the sun on the recently exposed rocks on the falling tide.
A fast journey back with a few turns, no spins, in the bay outside the harbour and our 1 hour journey is over too soon.
A fish & chips Lunch at The Pier and then off to Instow for a walk & an ice cream followed by a journey through Bideford and Appldore and return to watch tennis and ultimately the Euro football 16 Semifinal where, somewhat predictably, Wales were knocked out.
Thursday 7 July
A visit today to Marwood Hill Gardens (http://marwoodhillgarden.co.uk/), rather like the Bouchart Gardens on Victoria Island near Vancouver, Canada. Some lovely plants, including several colours of pinks blues and purple.
Lots of steep hills that Sal managed to climb and a welcome cream tea in the cafe after our visit.
Sadly, my e-mail to Katy at Webbery failed to get through so we didn’t get our requested potatoes. Still had a lovely meal and much cheaper than a meal out.
Friday 8 July
Drizzle first thing but by the time we left Webbery we were in glorious sunshine with temperatures up to 23 on the way up the M5. Some tailbacks delayed our progress but didn’t stop us getting to John Lewis at Cribbs Causeway for lunch and then up to the M40 before we had to divert off the A43 route as it was closed for the British Grand Prix.
An early night is called for and fortunately the music from the Bromham Village fete only lasted until 11pm
Saturday 9 July
Set off early to help Flic move her stuff from her High Wycombe flat prior to it’s sale. Car warning light comes on only about 2 miles from Bromham but carry on in the hope that it is an Oxygen Sensor.
It was a struggle for Wye Residential to locate the keys to flat but eventually they are found and we head up to Mickleford for the last time.
Lots of things to retrieve from the loft, including a Moses Basket and a Baby walker both in good condition.
Off to Reading after establishing that the IoM Toyota garage did not have an up to date dealership list and sent me to a Hyundai dealership instead. Take rubbish to tip in Reading using Flic & Gary’s pass. An impressive structure where sorting is done speedily although the queue to get in wasn’t speedy. Call AA who confirm my suspicion of an Oxygen Sensor fault and car is OK to drive.
Drive up to Birmingham HIE for an overnight.
Sunday 10 July
After breakfast, a visit to Notcutts to get a couple of matching flower pots and then off to Alan & Debbie’s for a catch up and a meet up with Sally’s cousin, Veronica Willks and her husband. The two had not met before!
A fantastic meal and lots of talking by the three cousins, Alan, Sally & Veronica.
The plan was for an Indian meal later that evening but we were all so full we just had nibbles whilst watching the Euro 16 final.
Monday 11 July
Debbie already on way to work by the time we wake up, we must have been tired, so just three of us, 3 dogs and a cat for breakfast ( no, we didn’t eat the dogs & cat!).
Drive cross country towards Llangollen and stop for a walk over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Not sure I liked it that much in the wind which was only probably a Force 4.
Certainly would not like it in any cross wind. Impressive structure constructed y Thomas Telford between 1795 and 1805.
On to Llangollen but difficult to park so venture on minor roads to Carrog for a coffee in the deserted station café.
A delightfully restored station with replica milk bottles on the platform making it very authentic.
Shame no train was due for another hour as we had to head off for the ferry via a Sainsbury’s and Aldi stop.
Not quite sure why, but a very crowded Executive lounge on tonight’s sailing with a couple of very loud business men nearby so no chance of sleep.
Another adventure over and we await in a few days time, the arrival of our friend Elizabeth later in the month when Sally & Elizabeth sample the Trike Ride around the TT course. http://www.iomtriketours.com