Should we start building an ark?……

What a complete wash out of a day, it literally has rained all day, not torrential rain that is dramatic to watch and experience, or mizzly rain that is just a bit irritating when you realise that you are actually wet, but that doesn’t really stop you doing anything, just persistent, wet rain that even a duck or highly excitable Springer would rather watch from the inside!

So we took the opportunity to embark on some serious planning for our Welsh adventure, which starts from Tredegar House on 29th April.

What we have been trying to work out, is where we can hide during the school holidays?

  • Ideally somewhere that has plenty of dog walks from the site
  • possibly too much to ask for but a dog friendly beach within walking distance?
  • somewhere that doesn’t really cater for families, as Poppydog tends to get a bit hysterical at the sound of children playing
  • somewhere that has loos and showers
  • oh yes and somewhere in mid Wales as that is roughly where we will be!

That is our simple and short shopping list – now I must get on!

Two thoughts of the day:

We must well be in credit for a decent summer?

For some reason the rain plays havoc with the TV reception?

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What a lovely day out at Lynton and Lynmouth….

A lovely, mostly sunny day dawned, so we set off for Lynton, on a day out we had really been looking forward to!

With some rather spectacular buildings and twisty, windy little streets, there was much to gaze at and wander around in Lynton. The Town Hall and this cute little cinema to point out a few.

We wandered up through the trees to the top of Hollerday Hill, which sits up above Lynton and were spoilt by a beautiful peace and tranquility, on this calm sunny day and some stunning views.

With a glimpse of Wales, just apparent beneath a layer of cloud.

We then meandered down through Lynton, taking in the little shopping streets, with some very nice gift shops (sheepskin, wool and leather feature highly), in between little cafes and art galleries,

before wending our way down the steep hairpin bends to Lynmouth.

Past the entrance to the Glen Lyn Gorge (another day maybe), through the little arcade of shops, pick up a pasty and along the sea front to the beach.

It was lovely, sunny and surprisingly warm, so a good place to sit awhile and enjoy being, whilst keeping Poppydog amused by throwing stones! The beach is grey from the surrounding slate and really more pebbly than sandy.

As we walked back along the promenade, the first glimpse of the famous Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway which was opened in 1890 and is the tallest and steepest totally water powered railway in the world!

Indeed this was our chosen form of transport back up the hill! Wow and what a journey! It was £2.90 single (£3.90 return) and £1 for Poppydog, but the kindly stationmaster let Poppydog travel for free (as she is so small!) and gave her a doggy biscuit too! We stood outside the carriage and….

That will take some beating!

Back up in Lynton, we hunted down the Convent of the silent order of the St Clares, as it featured in a Whodunnit weekend, I attended with friends 20 odd years ago and I was just curious!

What a lovely day!

Two thoughts of the day:

Oh look High Street banking!

Is this Spring?

Flowerpot men of Berrynarbor….

Bit of a damp and mizzly morning and then things started to get better – not full on sunshine you will appreciate, but dry and mild, so we paid a visit to Berrynarbor. A pretty little village, nestling in and up the Sterridge Valley.

It proudly boasts of being ‘Best kept village of the year’ quite a few times during the 80’s and 90’s (does this competition still run?) and still feels very neat and tidy with all properties freshly painted.

The parish church with its weathervane if a fox (of which I have a vague memory of seeing before it was put on the church!) looms high overlooking much of the village.

Though some of the higher houses look down the valley towards the sea, we had to leave the village behind to get these sea glimpses, towards Combe Martin and Little Hangman.

The village is served by a well stocked community shop and post office, with a small free car park and though well worth a visit, would not cope with any serious volume of traffic, as all the lanes in, out and around are single track and we witnessed the school run!

What made our visit was the presence of all these lovely flowerpot men, all depicting different trades – what a fab and unique idea?

Two thoughts of the day:

I wonder what other village eccentricities we will encounter on our journey?

I am always so chuffed with myself when I happen upon little gems like this – I feel a book or at least a separate page on this blog coming on!

At last a little bit of sunshine…..

We managed a dry walk first thing, but then the rain came and it rained and rained the morning away. However by about two o’ clock, it dried up and a weak sun made enough effort for us to be encouraged to seize the moment and dash off to Woolacombe to make the most of it!

We weren’t alone in grabbing the chance, but as we have found before, most people tend to gravitate around the car park end at Putsborough or to the village end at Woolacombe, so parking along Marine Drive and joining the beach towards the middle is a pretty good strategy!

Poppydog happily ran up and down the beach, chasing a ball (with another one in her mouth!), whilst I ambled along behind.

Two thoughts of the day:

What a funny nation we are, I popped into Tesco’s today (the third time this week!) and the shelves are still nearly all bare! How can the country closing down for three days due to the weather the week before last have such a long lasting impact?

Really fancied having roast chicken for dinner tomorrow, but no fresh poultry available, so roast beef ready meal it is!

Westcountry Caravan and Motorhome Show at Exeter……

Well it was forecast to rain all day, so why not? I was quite excited at the prospect of wandering around the show, mainly to look at all the gizmos and gadgets, oh yes and maybe a small awning, and definitely some new wellies!

Poppydog was soon settled in the boot of the car, strangely she seems to be able to work out when we are on a long haul and only barks when the car slows down!

Anyhow we arrived, paid our £7.50 entrance fee and even though it was raining, wandered around the outside exhibits, mostly caravans (got one), motorhomes (had one) and campervans (still too small – but very trendy!) to give Poppydog a walk before going inside.

What a disappointment! Just more caravans (got one), motor…..you get the picture! No ‘must have’ gadgets or ‘I want one’ gizmos – the only things not falling into the above categories were a stall selling BBQ bags and beach bags, someone selling micro fleece towels (got them and they are great by the way) and a couple of stalls selling ‘wonder socks and gloves’ to cure all manner of aches and pains! The only awnings on display, were the ‘drive off ‘ kind, designed for campervans. So in other words nothing of any interest to me or Poppydog, so we wandered around another three times to get our monies worth and drove home!

Two thoughts of the day:

I’ve obviously been to too many county and agricultural shows in the past and assumed that these events would be the same!

I really do think it is time that it stopped raining ☔️

Ilfracombe wears it’s Victorian influence so well…

Similar day to yesterday, mostly sunny and dry but with some heavy showers and quite a chilly wind. I didn’t fancy going far, so we ventured into Ilfracombe and what a lovely Victorian town it is. Now I had previously written the town off, judged on the main High St, as being a bit run down, but as we explored the seafront and harbour, I believe that to have been unfair.

The sea is largely separated from the town by a series of hills and gardens running down the slopes to the town. These hills provide excellent views both out to sea and of the town.

Firstly we went to gave a look at the Tunnels beaches, unfortunately though they are closed until Easter, however we had a sneaky look from up above.

These were opened in Victorian times, with access created through the hillside, by tunnel to two beaches and sea pools, one for the ladies and one for the gentleman! How fab? Access is now £2.50 for an adult for the day.

Further along the front is the main beach, not massive but very attractive, Poppydog loved it, charging in, out, over and around!

The sand or really very fine shingle is grey, reflecting its main component being slate. We also found a nice little selection of sea glass on this beach,

The twin domes of the Theatre offer an interesting dimension to the background, seen as we start to climb Capstone Hill.

Up on the top of Capstone Hill, passing Windy Corner (and it was!) on the way up, is a beautiful statue in memory of a young Russian girl ‘Kate’ who sadly lost her footing and life on nearby Hillsborough Hill in 2000.

From here we wandered down the other side of the hill, to get our first glimpse of the oldest working ‘lighthouse’ in the UK, the Lantern.

The little chapel of St Nicholas (patron saint of sailors) dates back to 1321 and through the chapels varied history (as a church, family home and periods of near dereliction) it has always shone a light to guide boats into Ilfracombe’s harbour.

This is a very pretty part of town, with little boutiques, cafes, galleries and pubs looking out on to the sandy inner harbour and the old lifeboat station (now an Aquarium) in one corner and the new one in the opposite one!

And there just beyond the inner harbour is ‘Verity’ – I have seen signs all over the place to Damien Hirst’s ‘Verity’, with no idea (forgive my ignorance!) to what they referred to – well now I do!

I fine figure of a woman she may be, dare I say it though, I think the statue on Capstone is more beautiful, meaningful yet somehow carefree?

From the harbour we went up to take a closer look at St Nicholas’ church which unfortunately for us is currently closed for refurbishment.

Oh yes and look it is raining in Wales,

Two thoughts of the day:

Don’t judge a town on first appearances!

We have had a really good day, learnt a lot and have a lot of respect for the Victorians – they gave us ‘holidays’ after all!

On Military Exercise in Braunton Burrows…..

A mostly sunny day but with some pretty heavy showers around just to keep us on our toes! However we were lucky just catching the tail end of one when we arrived at Braunton Burrows and then it very kindly stayed dry for a few hours until we got back to the car! We enjoyed a lovely rainbow across the Burrows.

As there were Military vehicles in the car park and there are signs up warning of Military training activity, I decided (much to her disgust!) that it would be prudent to keep Poppydog on her lead as we wandered through the burrows to Saunton Sands. As it turned out, we only happened upon a group in the middle of the Burrows who appeared to be having a briefing, so I was probably being over cautious. Anyhow once on the beach, which was pretty much deserted as usual, so plenty of room for play.

This time I was ready and had 3 tennis balls to wind Poppydog up with! The theory being that she can only carry one, so I can keep throwing the other two. As you can tell I am desperately trying to find a method that works! Where we are currently is that I throw a ball which she chases, catches and brings back BUT doesn’t let go, so I then throw another ball, which she chases, catches (having just dropped the first ball where the second ball landed) and brings back but doesn’t let go, so I now have a third ball to throw whilst walking along to where the first one has been dropped! So that was a long winded way of saying we are getting nowhere!

Still the sun was shining and it was very pleasant, wandering along the beach, with just the roar of the waves in the background and Poppydog was getting all the exercise she needs!

On the way back, as Poppydog was calmer (bordering on worn out, not forgetting she is a Springer!) and seemed content to more or less stay with me, we ventured into the Burrows.

All seemed to be quiet so I assumed the Military probably packed up by 3 or 4 to get back for their tea! Wrong! We were just coming up to a bend in the track when the sound of gunfire quite close by, took us both by surprise! I quickly put Poppydog back on her lead and continued around the bend with some trepidation. Fortunately a couple of military vehicles came by and waved us on through, anyhow we got a shifty on, shall we say and once around the next bend World War 3 broke out behind us, so we got a shifty on all the way back to the car! I may add that other dog walkers we encountered back in the car park didn’t look in the least bothered, so I assume we were quite safe!!

Two thoughts of the day:

Who is more out of place walking through the sand dunes behind Saunton, me in my bright purple rain jacket or the Military with their faces all camouflaged?

I assume they were pretend guns or ammo at least – must have been, they didn’t sound loud enough!