Friday 27 November 2009

Day 1: Dive, dive! dive! in Devon

Well, here we go. What I Did On My Mini-Holidays. Such a meaningful little trip, that has left me with my head whirling with thoughts and images, and oh, such a confusion of feelings, so I shall just start at the beginning and walk through the (edited) highlights. Sit back and be prepared to voice your opinions.

It didn't start well. I had set my alarm clock, double-checked it to make sure, gave myself a generous amount of time to get up and ready, and the next morning found that I'd set it for 6.30, not 5.30, and had exactly 30 minutes to get the early morning essentials done and drive over to Rose's house for us to be taken by her husband David to the airport. The animals looked on in horror as a flying demon whirled through the house hurling their breakfasts into dishes, cursing her own stupidity, rushing out with the dog and exhorting her to relieve herself at high speed, and running for the car without a backward glance at the poor abandoned creatures. Thankfully, the street aunties would be in later to take over and shamelessly spoil them all in my absence.

But we made it. No one cared about the size or weight of our hand luggage. No one noticed that my passport was 7 months out of date. I still haven't told Rose about that.

After a brief and bumpy flight from Newcastle to Exeter, we got into our hired car and drove straight to Sidmouth, the little town that had been my first possibility when seeking somewhere new to live.

Rose had brought her sat-nav device (my first experience of one), to find that it had been programmed by her brother, who liked every sound effect possible, to give an alert to every edifice, service, hazard and natural feature it is possible to pass on the average British road. The alert took the form of an ear-splitting "Woop! Woop! Woop!" as though we were submariners preparing to dive.

It took Rose until day 3 to remove them all, so for a time, we were alerted at full volume to: tree at side of road; traffic sign; church; telephone kiosk; council building ahead; small scrap of litter in hedgerow; imaginary friend in distance. And so many more... so many! At first we laughed, then we puzzled, and then Rose began to speak irritably to the device. She would sort it out later, she said - although she was to find that the sat-nav had other ideas about that. It was frightening to see how quickly a small plastic box was invested with a life and will of its own, a character and a personality, and deliberate intent to drive us mad.

But lovely Sidmouth didn't disappoint. The weather was changeable, but mild; the sharp, bracing (skin-exfoliating) sensation we are so used to up here when we step out into north-eastern sea air doesn't seem to happen in the south.

We had rain.

We had sun.

We had a walk through the town, stopping for tea and toasted teacakes, hot and generously buttered (as a scone maker myself, I don't go for cream teas, as a rule). We watched the crashing waves, and I fell in love with the place. Every other person was a well-wrapped-up old lady with at least one dog; there seemed to be hardly any men around. I would fit right in, I thought.

After strolling, admiring, counting the mobility scooters that Rose had warned me would be out in droves, we set off for where we were going to stay for the next three nights. We were delighted to find a Waitrose en route, and stocked up on the things we'd need for Rose to cook lovely homely dinners for the dark quiet evenings ahead.

The sat-nav directed us along the aptly-named Dark Lane

To an old converted barn overlooking fields

It had a whopping great door key (too big to accidentally take home with you in your pocket)

And a whopping great porch light

And it belonged to this beautiful old house (C.1600) and its welcoming owners

It had something of interest to see from every window

A tiny thatched cottage tucked mysteriously between house and barn

A busy little wren in the creeper, too quick for me to photograph

Lots of space inside, two comfortable, simple bedrooms with bathrooms

And two sofas to loll about on after dinner

And Budleigh Salterton, with its famous Pebble Beds, just down the road

It was quiet; very quiet

And very pretty in the late afternoon sunshine

With the usual chi-chi little shops. We looked in, of course. We may even have made a small purchase

This is where John Everett Millais painted 'The Boyhood of Raleigh'

It has a thatched museum. Imagine being able to state "I'm a Master Thatcher" when someone asks what you do for a living

Time to go home, to cook lamb and vegetables, and to plan for the next day.


Gretel said...

This is sounding promising! I told you it was a gentler place, and can you imagine how lovely it would be in summer?

judy in ky said...

What lovely photos! You have taken me to a place I could only imagine. I have read about it but never seen it before.

Marie said...

Would you post names and contact information for guest cottage? This is a wonderful way to plan a future holiday!:-)

BumbleVee said...

those red cliffs could be somewhere in Canada....
..what a fun time it must have been!... I bet it is a lot quieter this time of year than in summer though.......

Maybe you should go a few times during the year before packing and moving..just to check the differences... and next time..I'd probably go alone... just to see how that feels....Not to say you won't soon make new friends if you move there..but, initially....

I love the look of it all from here.... lots of interesting "stuff" to see and do for sure..... maybe it would be one big holiday for many years to come. I thought that about Clacton on Sea when I visited there several years ago, but, this.... this looks much better ...I'm sure I could have very easily moved to Clacton..where there were miles of walkways along the seafront.. people and dogs always walking and enjoying being out any weather... ... I really enjoyed my stay...... .

Pam said...

Sidmouth is indeed lovely, though packed in summer. BS seemed quieter - also wetter - when we were there. I'm sure you'd like being there.

Beer, now. It has a wonderful shop with paintings and things. Yum.

mountainear said...

I'm making all those strange meow-ie noises that cats make when they see birds but can't actually get them...blasted windows get in the way etc.

Your mini-holiday sounds so tantalising - I want to be there.

Fran Hill said...

I WANT that little house where Millais did the painting. So cute! Your pictures are lovely. I almost thought I myself was on holiday. But, to use a cliched story ending, I woke up and it was all a dream. Bah.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

That all looks most satisfactory . You seem to have found a perfect holiday cottage , if nothing else !
And a beautiful beach .
But it was true genius to go with a willing cook .

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post with great links, thank-you.I was so pleased the Pebble Beds link took me to such fascinating information about the Jurassic Coast world heritage sites.My husband was amused by my exclaiming every 5 seconds "Oh yum!", thinking it was a food blog.Really I must come back and look at it all in more depth because it would be my idea of heaven to explore all these areas...and stay in that cottage! Your photo of Dark Lane was wonderful - I can imagine that on a dark night, the twists and turns and gnarly treeroots in the headlights!

Anonymous said...

How lovely, and what a beautiful holiday cottage. A shame it was such a short break...

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