Tea and cake at Arlington Court……

I think it pretty much rained throughout the night, but by 7 this morning, at last it had stopped! Though not promising to be a fab day, it at least stayed dry for us to enjoy a day out courtesy of our National Trust membership at Arlington Court.

Though not the most architecturally beautiful of buildings, the grounds were pretty impressive and extensive (some 2700 acres with 20 miles of footpath) and incredibly peaceful, most of the time just the twittering of the birds and occasionally the gurgle of running water for company – just how we like it. We happily wandered around the wooded footpaths, which surprisingly weren’t that muddy, barely seeing another soul.

I loved the monkey puzzle tree avenue, leading down to the old lake.

From there we followed the trail through Deer Park Wood, but alas didn’t see any deer – probably heard us coming! Though we happened upon this random obelisk on our travels.

As the circular route came to an end, we ventured in to the old stable block, which now houses the Carriage Museum, with some 40 carriages on display.

My personal favourite was the little carriage, designed to be pulled by a Newfoundland dog – Poppydog was not keen on the dog and gave it a seriously wide berth!

We continued past the estate church of St James and round the formal Victorian gardens, though it is too early in the year to fully appreciate these.

Back to the Old Kitchen Tearoom for a lovely slice of Victoria sponge and a pot of tea – perfect!

A very enjoyable day. In another few weeks time, the grounds will be covered in bluebells and many of the rhododendrons in full bloom – so well worth a visit then.

Two thoughts of the day:

National Trust membership is well worth the spend – I think I have already covered the annual subscription in car parking alone!

You could spend a small fortune in the NT shops very easily, I saw a beautiful cushion which would go perfectly in the van, though I would need a matching pair of course – but at £35 a pop – I gave it a miss!


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 ☔️

Winter Wonderland at Hidden Valley……

So excited to see the snow still here this morning, a little more had fallen, sometime during the night as all our footprints from yesterday evening had gone.

At first Poppydog just peered out the door at the whiteness, but once she realised that we were venturing out, she was off!! Scampering about like a pendulum at the end of the lead, so once we got to the unused field on site, I gave her ‘freedombird’ and she was away!

We watched the sun come over the hill, into the valley, Poppydog chased scents across the fresh snow (my ignorance but I didn’t think there would be any?) and the odd hapless small bird who happened to make their presence known until my toes and fingers said enough was enough!

On our return to the caravan, I realised the water container had partially frozen, preventing the pump from supplying us with water, as indeed had the nearby standpipe – shock horror! Anyone who knows me, knows I need my tea and that need can make me quite creative, so a kettle full of boiling water, fetched from the dishwashing area, poured over the standpipe soon had us back in business (and I am already prepared for tomorrow with a full kettle of fresh water on standby!).

I have decided that we shall stay put during this cold snap, as there is no point in adding to the traffic, if we don’t need to, also many of the lanes we have been travelling along to reach our walks are well off the beaten track and likely to be icy. Instead we took the opportunity to go for a long walk through the neighbouring woods (which we dismissed last week as being way too muddy) and enjoyed our very own Winter Wonderland.

On the way we captured this pretty lilac coloured heather, snuggling in the snow.

The moss growing on this tree stump, glistening in the sun.

And a lone random icicle just hanging from a branch.

And now we are back in the warm again, just as it starts to snow – I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Two thoughts of the day:

How nice to not be under any pressure to do or go anywhere in this weather!

If it snows enough, do you think the dirt on my car will just slide off with it?

Morte Point and Mortehoe……

What a beautiful sun shiny day – all day! Wow a sign of things to come – how exciting, even had to take my jumper off whilst walking today! Woolacombe was quite busy, not surprisingly, so we parked over on Marine Drive again. Poor Poppydog thought she was off for a romp on the beach, but not today, we are on a mission to walk to Morte Point over there.

On our way we had a look back to see Woolacombe Sand from the other side, in all its glory and it truly is stunning!

Just around the corner from Woolacombe we passed Barricane Beach, which is another beauty to be experienced another day.

And not forgetting the next one along being Grunta Beach.

We then joined the coastal path and started to climb, fortunately the path crossed some open terrain which I felt was safe for Poppydog to enjoy scampering around ‘off roading’, that is to say, off her lead, until the path took us closer to the point.

Looking across the bay to the sun shining over Baggy Point and down on those magnificent beaches.

Once we got right up to the point, the wind suddenly whistled around from nowhere and it was a job to stand still and upright to take a photo of the rocks off the point!

It was very strange, as once we went round the point, the wind gradually abated again and we enjoyed the views towards Rockham Beach and Bull Point (you can just make out the lighthouse on Bull Point) before turning inland at Whiting Cove to follow the footpath to Mortehoe.

Just before arriving in the village, how is this for a final resting place?

Mortehoe is a small village sitting on top of the headland, not a great deal to see or of note, apart from hosting a couple of pubs and this church.

On the way back down, Barricane beach looked particularly inviting, as the tide had gone out further, but no – another day!

Two thoughts of the day:

Lighthouses – we are going to make a point of visiting as many as we can, to add to our collection of beaches!

It is 6pm and still light!

Back to the desert – ok then Saunton Sands……

Another damp start to the day and poor visibility pretty much throughout but undeterred we revisited Saunton Sands, partly to see if the car park was now free (it was!) and partly because it is just so beautiful and quiet.

To get to the beach we wondered through Braunton Burrows, having first checked with the lone soldier in the car park that it was safe to do so! This area is such doggy heaven, just miles and miles of partially covered dunes, criss crossed with pathways, both human and animal and for me wide tracks made in the firm sand by military vehicles, makes for easy walking.

See the beauty of the wild grasses creating structure against the sky.

Once on the beach, we walked away from Saunton itself and soon had the massive expanse of beach to ourselves.

And even the sun tried to break through and join us!

This beach is going to take some beating.

Two thoughts of the day:

Very randomly this sign had been positioned part way along the beach, but had been collected on our return at about 4.30 – any ideas?

Why does it take 16 hours to recharge an electric toothbrush?

Route 27 to Ilfracombe….

Started damp and mizzly but dried up by mid morning so didn’t put us off our stride.

For a change, I thought we would give the beach a miss today and so we parked up at a tiny little (free) car park at Lee Cross and followed Route 27 (National Cycle route from Ilfracombe to Plymouth mostly using disused railway lines) through mostly wooded countryside, up above the Upper and Lower Slade reservoirs to Ilfracombe.

We didn’t see any cyclists, just other dog walkers or families out for an afternoon stroll, so after reassurance from another dog walker, Poppydog got to off road!

We passed under bridges and through quite a long tunnel.

Enjoying little signs of Spring on the way.

As we approached Ilfracombe we had a good birds eye view of the town winding down the valley to the sea.

From the end (or start) of the trail we had a good view over the town and in the distance a beacon marking the entry to Ilfracombe harbour could just be seen.

We didn’t go down into the town, as we shall visit the seafront there another day, but turned back at the incredibly ornate marker point on Route 27 – which incidentally could be misread to indicate that Swansea is only a mile away!

On the return journey we stopped awhile and watched the mist swirling down the valley over the Lower reservoir bringing with it an eerie quiet, excepting the vibrant birdsong.

And spotted a pretty little waterfall that we hadn’t noticed earlier.

All in all a very enjoyable afternoon!

Two thoughts of the day:

It is thanks to Mr OS (Ordnance Survey App for which I paid just £19.99 for an annual subscription giving me access to maps on my phone for anywhere in the UK) that I am able to discover these little hidden gems!

Haha just worked out how to switch the sound system on – so we can now have music whilst we work!

Woolacombe again – well why not?…..

Not quite such a nice day today, but still dry with good splashes of sunlight, so I for one am not complaining! I actually got on with creating a spreadsheet to enter all my expenses into, today, though not quite complete, it is taking shape nicely. This has been on my to do list since we set sail in October, so long over due! The most pleasing thing is that I appear to be running under budget, not massively but enough – whopee! As a treat we headed back to Woolacombe for a walk and play in the sand.

The beach was much busier today (I thought it would be the opposite with many half-termers on their way home!) but without being too greedy still plenty of space for all.

From the hill behind the beach there was a group of paragliders launching from the top and landing in the dunes behind the beach – looked like perfect conditions for them, catching thermals above the hill, keeping them up in the air for quite a time. Their views must have been amazing.

Back on the beach however, Poppydog disgraced herself by stealing a families football and popping it! Fortunately, it wasn’t a young family, so no tears or wailing and I would have offered to pay for it, but the woman was so whingy and whiny that I changed my mind! But we did scoot along fairly quickly, because we needed to go to Tesco’s, I’ll have you know!

Our parting shot was of these lovely silver clouds just peaking over the top of Baggy Point.

Two thoughts of the day:

How can I stop Poppydog’s obsession with footballs? I don’t know where it has come from, but she can hear a football being bounced from about half a mile away!

I have decided to read a little less each day and be more productive instead – at what I’m not totally sure but will let you know!