Posted by: glenswatman | July 1, 2013

20130621-30 Exploring Devon & Cornwall

FRIDAY 21 JUNE – We arrive at Cotehele House to find it is closed on Fridays; however we can view a couple of rooms and enjoy the gardens.  In the orchard there is an unusual apple sculpture with a stone hand holding a green apple made from plants.  Nearby is the wharf with discovery centre where we both find out how difficult it is to play deck qoits.  A short walk takes us to the mill where they still make wholemeal flour today.  In Launceston we drop lucky at The Westgate Inn where 2 meals and 2 drinks total just £10.40.  At the next table is a local guy who used to be a travel agent and he gives us lots of tips on great places to go and tells us to call into his bar near where are going and he will buy us a drink.  The castle is relatively uninteresting but the gem is the Lawrence House museum (donation).   Each room has a different theme including the connections with Launceston in New Zealand and Australia. We love these places as you always find something to attract your attention and learn so much.  At Tesco’s I am curious to know what the grey holders are on the trolley handles.  Turns out they have a system where you can take a scanning machine, slot it in there and scan your stuff as you go around avoiding having to go through any sort of check out.  Claire calls us to say she had a shock when she went to pick up our mail.  The street outside our bungalow is all dug up as well as our back garden.  A letter tells us the gas board and doing necessary upgrades and it will be going on for 4 weeks.  This would have been a huge problem had we been at home as Steve cannot be in a place where soil is being disturbed – may just have to stay away a bit longer!  In Pyworthy we pull up at The Old Rectory.  Plym & Tony live here and we met them in India in January 2011, they also have a home in Spain and we were on our way to see them there when Steve was taken ill.  They’ve invited us to visit but won’t be arriving from Spain until tonight so tell us to introduce ourselves to their son Chris who lives in a studio.  The property has numerous rooms and cottages and is often used for wedding events.  Chris shows us to a 2 bedroom bungalow which is for our use and overlooks the outdoor swimming pool. 



SATURDAY 23 JUNE – Plym calls round and invites us round to the main house for coffee.  Tony is there and we also meet Moroccan born Zahra and Carmen from Spain.  Zahra is over for 10 days and will be visiting friends in London whilst Carmen is here indefinitely and going to help Plym with the weddings etc in July and August but hoping to get another job as well.  In the afternoon we leave the men behind and head off to Bude.  El Barco is a pub run by a man from Carmen’s village.  We go in and after introductions leave Carmen chatting about job possibilities.  Half an hour later Carmen has herself a job including accommodation at the pub.  She’s actually hoping to keep the job on as long as possible and maybe even find an English husband.   Think she may well change her tune once it gets to winter as she is already feeling the cold.  Plym leads us down to the beach at Bude.  It is a lovely sandy curve but so windy that we are sandblasted and opt to walk along the cliff top above.  We can see lots of children out from the surf school and many others using the huge tidal rock pool.  Heading back in from the beach are both a tidal river and a canal and with the canal being sheltered we enjoy a walk along there.  Stopping off to shop at Morrison’s the girls enjoy checking out the different products and neither has been to England before.  We get together again in the evening for a meal in the house and a chat afterwards.  Plym gives us tips about the best places to visit and I manage to get onto Mighty Deals and buy a voucher for a 2 night bed & breakfast stay in a posh hotel plus a Cornish tea and a 3 course meal all for £139.  Given that the normal rate is £99 a night B&B it seems good. 



SUNDAY 23 JUNE – First stop heading up the coast is Morwenstow.  The second highest cliffs in Britain are here but trying to walk out to them is horrible and the wind gets the better of us.  The church has an unusual memorial in the grounds based on the figure head of a ship.  Hartland Point is only a short walk to the lookout by the old coastguard station.  We can see Lundy Island in the distance, rugged coastline and the wreck of a ship on the rocky beach below.  There’s a small kiosk here serving delicious bacon butties and hot drinks that we can’t resist.  We meet up with Tony & Plym at Clovelly car park and Carmen and Zahra come with us to visit the village.  You have to pay £6.50 per person in the visitor centre in order to get through to the cobbled streets of the village.  It’s a long and steep way down to the harbour past wonderful cottages and other buildings.  The whole setting is magnificent and we can’t fail to be impressed.  After walking along the beach to see the waterfall Steve attempts the climb back up but has to give up and pay £2.50 for a ride in the land rover.  Surprisingly I fare rather better than the girls and just plod on slowly whilst they try to go more quickly then have to stop for ages.  The admission price includes some nearby gardens where I am able to point out typical British flowers to the girls, they particularly like it when I show them the “snap dragon”.  Our journey back is a little further on the main roads but much quicker than the lanes, apparently Devon & Cornwall have more roads per square mile than anywhere else in the country, maybe that’s because other counties would call them tracks!



MONDAY 24 JUNE – Today we head south down the coast from Bude.  Widemouth Bay looks great from the hills above and Crackington Haven is quite cute but we are amazed by Boscastle.  It’s a small village leading down to a harbour and very attractive but is also known for a terrible flash flood that devastated the town in August 2004.  Camera footage at the visitor centre puts it all into perspective as we can see exactly where it happened.  We enjoy traditional pasties and a hot drink each from the Post Office, £2.50, and very tasty too.  Tintagel is buzzing with tourists and we park in the main street then walk along to the famous castle of King Arthur.  It’s quite a walk down to the castle where the entrance is in the bay near Merlin’s Cave.  Next you climb up and across a bridge before clambering up many steps to the rocky headland with lots of remains.  The building outlines are not the main attraction for us as it is a sunny day and the coastal scenery is stunning.  To return we go back down and over the bridge then up steep steps at the other side to the last part of the castle area.  We enjoy wandering through the town and visit the National Trust “Old Post Office” which is a pleasant old building but very small.   This is all definitely on the tourist trail as we hear numerous foreign voices.  One of the car parks lets you stay overnight in your motorhome for £3.50 and we feel a bit homesick.  Our last stop of the day is another attractive village with a port, Port Isaac which has become famous recently as the setting for the “Doc Martin” series.  More hiking down then up the other side for fine views and a meander through the narrow streets completes our visit.  I get a phone call from the Gas people to say that they should have finished the work around our bungalow and street by a week on Friday but understand that we need to stay away in the meantime and if we keep receipts will help towards our costs later – think we can handle that.  When we get back to Pyworthy we notice the cover off the pool, Tony reckons it will be ready for use tomorrow weather permitting.   



TUESDAY 26 JUNE – Newquay is famed for the surfing beaches.  We’re a little surprised to find that the town is high on the cliff tops and the beaches spread out along the coast rather than a long stretch in front of the town itself.  As well as many surf shops there are loads of cheap stores and places to eat around town.  Travelling north along the coast we pass some really impressive beaches and the attractive rock formations at Bedruthan Steps, shades of “The Great Ocean Road” in Australia.  Padstow has become famous through Chef Rick Stein but we’ve already stopped for fish and chips so don’t feel tempted, not that we would have at his high prices.  It’s a very busy town with hoards of people wandering the attractive streets and harbour area.  We’ve never seen so many holiday makers with dogs, there seem to be more dogs than kids around and some people even have 3 or 4.  We stop off in St Minver to check out a static caravan park which is really nice but doesn’t tick all the boxes for us.  Delabole is famous as having the biggest hole in England, the slate quarry where there is a visitor lookout.  Back in Pyworthy the girls are having a swim but I’m cooking for us all tonight so set about preparing.  8 of us sit down to eat as Chris’s friend joins us.  The chilli pasta followed by bread and butter pudding goes down well.  Tony & Steve head off to play snooker and have some really competitive games.   



WEDNESDAY 26 JUNE – Within the grounds of The Old Rectory is a village hall which they use for functions.  Tonight they are putting on a Moroccan evening and Zahra will be belly dancing.  I help with chopping loads of vegetables for the meal for 50+ people.  Tony follows Steve to Pyworthy to drop off our car for the MOT.  It’s a nice sunny day so the swimming pool gets good use in the afternoon.  After the Spanish girls and the drummers have a “play” I settle in to do laps whilst they practice their routine for tonight.  The car passes the MOT £54 so we have bought ourselves another 4 days away.  In the evening about 60 people turn up for the Moroccan night.  For £6 guests are provided with a glass of wine, meal, mint tea and belly dancing show.  Carmen practices her English by greeting the guests and taking the money whilst Zahra earns her keep by doing a belly dancing display.  Plym is giving them the profits from the evening to get them started in England.   Steve stays in the cottage as the ex “village hall” is small and people jammed in.  I get to chat to loads of interesting people including another ex sub postmaster and a Wolves supporter from Dudley.



THURSDAY 27 JUNE – Plym is taking the girls to Plymouth today for them to stay with friends, do a show tonight then catch the train to London.  We head to Bude so that Steve can take a look at the beaches and town and I can do some shopping as we are staying on until Sunday.  Plym, Tony and Tony the Wolves fan join us for lunch and a chat.  Steve is amazed the Tony even knows of Trench the area where he used to live.  Plym & Tony are heading off to their sons in London until Saturday night leaving us behind along with their son Chris and his mate in the studio.  Plym’s asked me to get her washing in and when I do we are amazed to find out that not only is everywhere left unlocked but The Stables and other buildings have doors wide open, very trusting. 



FRIDAY 28 JUNE – Near Okehampton we visit Lydford Gorge.  The circular walk takes you above the gorge to the far end then you drop down to view “White Lady Falls” claimed as the highest waterfall in England. The return walk follows the stream with other waterfalls, rapids and bubbling pools of water.  On a hot day there would be so many spots to take a cooling dip.  Steve is unsure whether he should really be in this confined and damp atmosphere so opts out of the walk extension to the Devil’s Cauldron a larger pool with water pounding through.  On the outskirts of Okehampton we visit “The Highwayman Inn” said to be the most unusual pub in England.  The back of the building is made to look like the shoe that the old lady lived in and the front like a ship.  Entry is through an old carriage and then there are numerous rooms packed with amazing artefacts and curios packed into nooks and crannies. We love it.  Close by the Finch Foundry is a bit of a letdown unless you are interested enough to listen to an hour’s talk about how the old foundry worked.  The one thing that interests us is the connection with “Widicombe Fair” through the “Uncle Tom Cobley” song.  There’s a depiction of all the men on the horse and in the garden a summer house that belonged to Thomas Pearse whose owned the grey mare.   We’re almost passing it so drop in on Okehampton Castle ruins where you get an audio guide.  Don’t know whether we have done too many castle or what but the audio guide is too long winded for both of us so we just enjoy a wander around.    



SATURDAY 29 JUNE – A dry morning is forecast (more often than not there seems to be a cloud hanging over Devon & Cornwall) so we head to Bude and walk north along the coastal path.  The trail takes us in a figure of eight with tremendous views.  On one cliff top there are a few tents pitched up a field, they have views, a portaloo but absolutely nothing else.  Across the road from The Old Rectory is another piece of land owned by Plym and Tony.  Here an architect friend has built them a tree house and what a tree house it is.  More like a holiday bungalow as it is insulated and really solid.  Mid afternoon the mist rolls in and the temperature drops.



SUNDAY 30 JUNE – Plym & Tony got back late last night so I invite them for a full cooked breakfast before we leave.  We’ve had a lovely time here and hope to meet up with them again in Spain this winter.  Unfortunately when we are packed up and ready to say our farewells they get a tragic phone call of a good friend who has just died of a heart attack so it puts a bit of a damper on things.  Near Newquay we drive past then back track to see what Dairyworld is all about.  I’ve noticed a sign by the entrance saying £10.95 adult admission but we walk in and suddenly realise we have missed the area where you pay.  Oh well might as well have a look around now we are in.  It’s mainly aimed at young children with animal petting areas and playground sections.  We prefer the area that shows how the dairy produce is made and another depicting of the olden days.  Half an hour later we leave so it would certainly not have been worth the money for us.  Trelice is a National Trust Edwardian house with a few interesting rooms.  Today they are doing re-enactments and it is interesting to learn that a man could have shot 6 arrows from a bow in the time it took to fire one shot from a musket.  We’ve booked into the Penventon Park Hotel in Redditch a 3 star superior spa hotel.  Having booked a “Mighty Deal” classic double we are pleasantly surprised to find we are given a garden suite.  I spend half an hour in the gym and almost enjoy the tread mill; it has a TV screen and watching a quiz show with subtitles really helps ease the boredom of it!  After a swim and dip in the hot tub I return to get ready for the evening.  Tomorrow it is 40 years since Steve and I met on a blind date but they couldn’t book us in the restaurant tomorrow so we are having a meal tonight.  The restaurant has won many awards and rightly so.  Like the rest of the building the room is full of character with amazing lighting and wall features.  So often things sound fantastic on the menu then don’t live up to expectations but this is the opposite.  Every course is delicious and my problem of deciding which dessert to have is solved with the 5 mini dessert platter.  What a wonderful way for us to celebrate an equally wonderful 40 years together, hope we will fit in another 40!

REDRUTH, PENVENTON PARK HOTEL 1 (Mighty Deals 2 nights, 1 x 3 course evening meal, 1 x cream tea and 2 x breakfasts £139)


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