England was resplendent in its autumn colours for the last two weeks of my stay. My sister and I rented a house between Teignmouth and Torquay for a small family gathering. The house was located on a hill with a beautiful view of the Devon coast. It had a large kitchen table that was perfect for family chats and catching up on the news.
Sun shining through old man’s beard
On one day, we made a foray into Torquay and had a walk along the beachfront. On another one we caught the small ferry from Shaldon over the estuary to Teignmouth and explored that small coastal town. We also enjoyed walks in the late afternoon across the fields to the undulating Coastal Path. I would love to have hiked more but there was not enough time and my cousins were not as enthused with the idea as I was!
An unusual vessel in Teignmouth estuary
Waiting for the Ferry at Shaldon
Boats at Teignmouth
A window sill in Teignmouth
A sign after my own heart!
I spent my last weekend with friends in Weymouth. We took a day trip to Bridport, where we explored the market, and then drove on to Lyme Regis. All the boats were high and dry in the harbour as the tide was at its lowest ebb. Rock formations and sand patterns were exposed on the beach. The sun was out, but the wind was bitter as we strolled along the Cob wall. It didn’t deter the large number of people wandering around and one or two even ventured into the cold water. We didn’t linger but returned to the high street and bought pasties for lunch. These we ate as we walked along, guarding them from the marauding seagulls that have been known to snatch ice creams and sandwiches from the arms of babes!
Allotments – a good English institution
Staircase to the beach at Lyme
Doorway on the waterfront at Lyme
The Cob wall at Lyme
Beach huts at Lyme
The following morning, after completing my first ever lino print under my friend’s guidance, we walked down to the beach where a race track had been constructed. Approximately 140 motor bikes were competing against each other in various noisy races. There were a few breakdowns but no accidents or injuries. Somehow, the riders avoided collisions. The wind blew straight at the spectators and sand blasted our faces. We returned home with it in our ears and hair but the event had been fun to watch.
I left Norwich on Friday and headed down the A11 to meet Geoff and Ginny, friends from way back when, at a hotel near Stanstead. There, we had coffee that extended into a most enjoyable lunch, sitting next to the duck pond. Unfortunately, the hotel was right under the flight path so it got a little noisy periodically!
Afterwards, it took an unbelievable 5 hours to reach Weymouth. I was anticipating the M25 and M3 being slow but hadn’t considered the time I would arrive at the Winchester bypass and the consequent traffic. To say I was pleased to arrive in Weymouth is probably a slight understatement but the journey served as a reminder as to why I choose not to live in England anymore.
Saturday was spent in a far more relaxed manner. After a leisurely breakfast, we drove out to Lulworth Cove and walked to the next cove, in the opposite direction to the one all the tourists were taking to toil up the steep cliff path to Durdle Door. It was a good decision, as we met no one else on the track itself and the only people in the cove seemed to have arrived by boat.
Admiring the view of Lulworth village
Lulworth Army Camp is nearby
Empty coastal path
Walkers toiling up the cliff to Durdle Door
Low tide has uncovered the rocks
We sat on the beach for a while, eating our sandwiches and admiring the chalky cliff faces and the unusual stratified rock formations. When it looked as though it was about to start raining, we set off back to Lulworth, where it was now extremely busy. As ice cream is an essential part of any visit to the seaside, we queued up with everyone else so that we could indulge ourselves (blackcurrant and cream is highly recommended!).
Sunday saw me on the move again. This time, I was flying to Knock (Ireland), from Bristol to stay with my sister. The journey was, once again, quite slow, and I only just returned the hire car in time. (Following the GPS lady’s instructions, I had also managed to bypass the petrol station that I would normally have used and ended up driving some distance to find another one. Sometimes, it is not wise to follow all her advice!)
Bristol Airport was the busiest I had ever seen it but everything went smoothly and it wasn’t long before I was airborne. It is only an hour’s flight, so the transition from the beautiful sunshine of England to the cold and grey of west Ireland was very quick. The weather has been variable ever since. We have had a couple of trips into Sligo and one to Enniskillen in ‘The North’, but, otherwise, time has been spent relaxing at home, which is also needed from time to time.
We did manage to get a couple of visits to the beach but Strandhill was a bit too wet and wild when we arrived for our walk so we sat in the car and ate ice creams instead! However, Russ, Minnie (the dog) and I went for a lovely walk at Dunmoran on Friday afternoon when the sun finally came out. The beach is very long and is part of Sligo Bay so we could look across to the mountains of Donegal. It was very revitalising. And Minnie enjoyed chasing a stick! Sadly, there were no ice cream shops.
Today we woke to torrential rain and we were, very sadly, leaving Le Pouliguen and returning to England. The manager of the apartment was arriving at 10am by which time we had packed up our belongings, cleaned the apartment and packed the car. The latter had to be moved under the cover of the garages to be loaded because of the rain, and, at one point, the garage floor had water flooding over it when the drains couldn’t cope with the torrent. Luckily, by the time the bikes had to be strapped to the roof, the rain had eased, as we had to do this outside, the garage roof being too low to load in there.
We stopped in Le Pouliguen for the essential purchases of croissants, chausson de pommes and, of course, tartlette de mirabelles, and set off towards Cherbourg at about 11am. Navigation with the assistance of the delightful sat nav lady resulted in a great deal of discussion, some merriment and eventually slight alarm, as she led us across country and really not in the direction we wanted to go at all! However, shutting her up and reading a map, saw us on the right road, by which time we had to hunt for a petrol station, which for some reason are not easy to find in France. When you track one down, there is a tendency for them to have no option to pay cash and you have to pay by card and they are very, very choosy about which ones they will accept!
After encountering a traffic jam, we left the motorway and detoured along a minor road very successfully without the sat nav lady, for some way, before re-joining the motorway at the foot of the Cherbourg peninsula.
About mid afternoon, we decided we were all hungry and required coffee, so turned off into an ‘aire’, which is like a motorway service station. This was horrendous as everybody (and I mean everybody), had done the same, so there were queues everywhere. Nevertheless, we bought our sandwiches and coffee and then set off again.
Throughout the day, the weather had been decidedly changeable, with torrential rain one minute and mere clouds the next. By the time we reached Cherbourg, however, the sun was shining and the sea looked very calm, which was very reassuring.
As I had booked as a foot passenger, I had to go through the terminal onto the boat whilst my friends drove the car on. Once onboard, after an incredibly slow process, which included a bus ride to the boat, I rejoined them and we went up on deck to watch as we left the harbour on our way to Poole.
My friends had booked seats and, whilst I hadn’t, I was still able to sit in a reclining seat for the journey, despite being told that they were all booked. It was a very smooth crossing and extremely comfortable! Unfortunately, on arrival in Poole, they were virtually the first car off the ferry and then had to sit and wait for me as, for some inexplicable reason, the foot passengers weren’t allowed off until all the cars had gone. It did very little for my blood pressure and I felt obliged to complain to the information desk (who, needless to say, couldn’t have cared less!). I will have to remember never to travel as a foot passenger with Brittany Ferries again.
Once disembarked, it took about 3/4 hour for us to drive to Weymouth, eventually arriving back at about midnight after a very long day.
Today was a sorting out day! It was a beautiful day and we managed to get a lot of washing done!!
We went for a bike ride at about 5.30pm and set off along the Rodway trail towards Chesil Beach. The conditions in the harbour were perfect for kite and wind surfers so we stopped and watched them for a while before returning to the house and having fish and chips for dinner.
Today was a very early start as we were driving to Surbiton to clear anything left in my friend’s mother’s house that had just been sold. It was where he grew up so it was a bit nostalgic for him.
We arrived about 11am, packed up some garden pots and one or two other things, and whilst they attended to the last minute administration, I waited in a cafe, where we then had lunch. After that, it was back to Weymouth via Claygate to look at the house they used to live in many years ago. A real nostalgia trip!
We eventually arrived back in Weymouth, after encountering fairly heavy traffic, at 7pm where their daughter and her boyfriend had arrived and cooked us dinner, which was very welcome after the long day.
The morning was spent packing up and collecting the hire car that I would need for the next couple of weeks. I left Weymouth around lunchtime and drove to Milborne Port, going via Cerne Abbas, as the ‘top’ road that I would normally take between Dorchester and Sherborne was closed (or at least, the signs said it was and, of course, I believed them!)
After chatting to Mum for a while, I went off to see Dad at the nursing home in Yeovil. He seemed fine and was coherent for a reasonable amount of time. Back in Milborne Port, a quiet evening was spent in front of the television on which, coincidentally, there was a programme partially about the coast and history around Nova Scotia, which is one of my next destinations.
The next couple of days were spent very quietly at Mum’s and visiting Dad in the nursing home. We did experience a blocked drain but the less said about that the better!
The last few days have been spent with the family, who have now departed.
Apart from visiting Dad in the nursing home this afternoon (who greeted me with “I am glad you are here. Can you put my motor bike in the back of your car?”!), I had a blissful day on my own, sorting through my possessions, which now require at least 3 back packs, and watching the tennis. It was a beautiful day and the house was calm and peaceful.
I packed up the house as, unfortunately, I had to leave it today, did one or two errands in Sherborne and picked Mum up for an appointment at the bank. After lunch, we went into Yeovil to visit Dad, who was mostly coherent, but had the odd wander on one or two occasions!
I was staying at a hotel in Sherborne for a couple of nights so, after checking in, I went for a lovely long walk around the old haunts on a beautiful June evening.
After breakfast, I walked around the very attractive gardens at the Eastbury and then checked out. Before going to Mum’s, I had a walk around the town again, which was very quiet as it was a Sunday morning.
After stopping to listen to the end of the service in the Abbey, I then wandered through the Boys’ School and up to the gardens that had been made from my old school tennis courts and which were in much better condition than the poor building itself.
Then it was off to Milborne Port for lunch, after which we drove into Yeovil to see Dad, who talked total nonsense for the first 20 minutes but then rejoined us in the real world. A quiet evening was spent at Milborne Port.
Some gardening and a little light housework for Mum took up the morning. The afternoon was passed with a visit to a solicitor and a drive through the Dorset countryside to Weymouth to stay with very good friends, who wish to remain anonymous (henceforth referred to as ‘The Anons’).
Female Anon and I sat in the garden drinking wine, whilst Male Anon finished teaching guitar lessons, and then we all had an enjoyable dinner, unwinding from our various tensions and stresses.
I was woken at 4.40am by Mia, The Cat, hurling herself at the door handle attempting to open it. Luckily, I had experienced this phenomena before and had taken the precaution of wedging a door stop underneath the door so she was thwarted in her attempts. However, it didn’t prevent her from trying for quite some while. Also, luckily, I managed to doze off again so that it wasn’t until much later that I got up and joined the Anons for a leisurely breakfast.
We then decided to go for a walk along the Promenade and into town. Having parked the car part way, we wandered slowly (Male Anon’s pace) through the gardens and down to the beach playing the ‘Who can spot the most mobility scooters’ game along the way.
As it was such a beautiful day, the beach was full of white and red ‘grockels’ (seaside visitors). There were various typical beach activities, such as donkey rides, Punch and Judy Show and mini putt, strategically placed along the beach, to encourage parents to part with their money. Many people were parked in the deck chairs that were lined up along the Promenade and which could be hired for use on the sand.
We walked around to the port and then back through the town, stopping at one or two shops, where I made a couple of purchases with the aid of my personal shopper, the Female Anon.
Afterwards, we stopped at the upturned boat cafe on the beach for a bacon sandwich, (one each) and this was followed by a large ice cream from Rossi’s, as no visit to the beach is complete without one. The sun was so hot that it was a struggle to eat them before they melted and dripped onto the pavement, but we managed. (Female Anon had hers in a tub, so cheated at this game!)
On our return to the house, a cup of tea was followed by an hour or so sorting my exponentially growing possessions, with the result that a rubbish sack sized bag is being left in Weymouth, to be sorted on my return in August.
The Anons’ teenage son arrived back and we all had dinner (and more wine of course) with a lot of chat and laughter, which is what happens when you are with good friends you have known for ever. A lovely day!