Grey start to the morning and another leisurely preparation for the day. We left in two cars to drive to Woolacombe for a round of Pirate golf. We took the really small lanes via Georgeham to Woolacombe, I suspect there may have been a longer but takes the same time route further in land. We had to do a lot of giving way, and had to reverse once. Confusion with a cyclist meant we had to sit behind them as they cycled up the road. The cyclist waved us past but in the confusion we missed the opportunity to pass and then the road narrowed, the cyclist shook his head in disgust!
At Woolacombe we parked up they have a car park where you pay £3 if you leave before 13:00 and £5 if you leave after 13:00, which means if you turn up at 16:00 and park for even 5 minutes it will cost you £5, is that the most expensive parking around? The pirate golf is an unusual 15 holes, and although it has a pirate theme that is more the surroundings than the golf itself. Each hole is basically a straight forward rolling patch of green carpet, some of the holes are in dips which makes getting a hole in one fairly simple and keeps people moving on. T was winning most of the time, until C awarded him a 7 on one hole, then I got a hole in one at the penultimate hole and pipped everyone for the win.
We grabbed a pasty from a little bakery on the front then headed down to the sea front benches to meet the non-golfers. Next activity was either the slot machines or a walk back. I opted for the walk back. We wandered down the beach along Woolacombe Sand towards Putsborough Sand. On the way we saw a dead young seal washed up, and a plastic crate that had what looked like mussels on stalks, they were still alive and were putting out tentacles as if they were trying to taste the sea. A look on Google when I got back but could not figure out what they were. At the Putsborough cafe I had a coffee and a slice of Banana Cranberry and Orange cake which was nice. At one point a squall passed over so we waited for the rain to stop, people taking shelter by returning to the cafe.
Next was the slog up out of the bay and onto the coastal path towards Baggy Point, about half a mile round we were hit by another squall and I had to get the poncho out, but it has seen better days and only managed to keep the worst of the rain off, luckily it was windy so we dried out quickly once the rain stopped.We decided not to go right round the point and took the route over the top that comes down into the national trust car park, but we sneaked over a field and came down just above the hut. The others got back an hour later. T ran back to Woolacombe to pick up his car!
For dinner we grazed on the contents of the fridge, most of it healthy.
The next door neighbours have have vacated the property next door and annoyingly have switched off their broadband hub, so we have lost the small internet access point that is the corner of the sofa in the front window of the property. Last full day in Cornwall we fancied a light walk, so Padstow was the obvious choice. Helen was not keen on a boat across the river Camel but a 5 minute drive to Rock and a ferry, compared to a 30 minute drive to Padstien made the sensible choice the boat. Parking at Rock is an exorbitant £4.50.
The wait for the ferry was short and we boarded with a family, and made the short crossing to Padstow. Feeling lazy and because it looked like it might rain we opted for a coffee before heading out on the coastal path. We nostalgically looked at the flat we rented above the public conveniences quite a few years ago, whilst make use of them.
The path hugs the headland and is relatively flat compared to the walk we had done the day before, and is semi paved with Cornish rock. The sun came out as we got to the point and it seemed like a good place to stop for sandwiches and to lose a layer. Two marmalade sandwiches later we popped round the headland where the wind was blowing and spent ten minutes with the coast lookout volunteer. I always find the coastal lookout people very accommodating, and always make a point of popping in. On a winters day they always have a heater going and it is a welcome break from the constant coastal wind.
The lookout also provided a short cut saving us a big descent and adventure on the coastal path, however it did mean that Helen had to walk through a field of friendly (ed: ???) and inquisitive cows. We were soon heading down hill as luck would have to a Cafe in a set of cottages called “Rest a while Tea Garden” where we stopped for another cup of coffee. A flock of house sparrows were scrounging for food but every time I tried to get a picture some one walked through the garden gate and they flew off, I even tried offering them my sandwich crumbs. (ed: very friendly and good quality food/drinks).
It was not far back to the ferry pickup which had moved closer to where we were because the tide, which had the added benefit of allowing us to walk on the sand directly across the bay. The ferry crossing was smooth enough for Helen to announce that she was enjoying the mode of transport.
We were back at the hut by 15:30 so we went down to the seafront where Helen did some shopping then after a brief walk on the beach we went to the Waterfront bar for a final Cornish beer, Tribute, before moving on to Devon beer next week. Pasta for tea then watched the opening game of the rugby world cup. Tomorrow a new county and another week of holiday.
The weather was not promising to be as warm or as dry with a deep low resulting from storm Henri passing just to the south of Cornwall. Just to keep a pattern going rather than a walk we decided a National Trust property was the order of the day. Llanhydroch was the closest so that was to be our first destination. We have visited before but if I am honest I can’t remember it. (ed: worth reading something about the Victorian family who lived here before you go. I read up after and wished I had known the details prior to the visit. It explains the warm, friendly atmosphere in the house).
There seemed to be a lot of roadworks on the way there perhaps they avoid the peak season and fit them in before the winter. They only delayed us by 5 minutes compared to the sat nav estimate. The family who owned Llanhydroch seemed to own a fair chunk of Cornwall with farms and pockets of land scattered all over the most south west county of the united kingdom.
I would recommend a visit the house is extensive and there are lots of rooms to see, and it has a lived in feel about it, very homely. There is a good Cafe where the food and sandwiches looked appetising, and the coffee was well made. I noticed that the barrista knew what they were doing by having up to 3 brews on the go, they need to send her down to Castle Drogo to train the barrista up there. It was almost 13:00 when we had finished the house, so rather than have lunch at the house we thought we would take a look at another house called Pencarrow which was not far away.
Pencarrow is a private historic house so not covered by our National Trust membership, but we did find a voucher online to get a £1 discount, which although they state you have print out they accepted the one I showed them on Helen mobile. There was confusion over whether we could get on the 14:15 tour as the lunch time relief person had not tallied the numbers correctly. Eventually after a phone call to the central administration to office we were allowed on the be the tour!
We had time for some lunch before the tour and the cafe, not National Trust quality, had sweet potatoes and butternut squash soup on offer. We both had a healthy and tasty lunch. We had a ten minutes to spare before the tour so Helen had a fag and I did a couple of photospheres.
The tour was quite interesting with the guide pointing out the expensive antiques and the more interesting facts about the stuff on display. China by various famous manufacturers featured prominently, as did quite a few artists that I had heard of. Photography was not allowed in the house so you won’t see any photos here.
We stopped at Wadebridge for some provisions then I dropped Helen off at the shops in Polzeath then I headed down to the beach for a look. I set up the time lapse camera on a rock and had to wait longer that usual because a couple went and sat below where I had placed it. We had a pint at the Waterfront, chance for another time lapse, before wandering back to the hut for pasta.
We were up around 0800 in time to get croissants from the deli next door, where there is a sign which says if you don’t want to be disappointed turn up at 0830 or order for collection. I changed my mind when I saw they had baguettes for sale but the woman in n front of me bought the last three! We had planned to get the bus to Cley but by the time we had got ready it was too late for the 0940 and the next one was not till 1020, so we got the car and just about beat the 0940 to the visitors centre at the reserve.
The centre was shut till 1000 so we hung around so Helen could have a pee before the tour of the marsh. We set out anticlockwise not our usual way and stopped off at the group of three hides. We realised it our I’d skills were rusty when we could not is the ruff in front of the hide and the sandpiper. We left the hide and headed to the beach car park where the Cafe used to be, and when we got there sat on some rocks and looked out to sea. Amongst the wind turbines was what looked like an accommodation pod, the sort that is a boat which up ends when you fill the pointy end with water. Terns were conspicuous by there absence all departed south for the winter.
We headed in land along the east bank, I was hoping for a sit down on the bench, near the sluices, but some one was already there, but as we approached they got up I thought that was lucky, but it turned out he was sitting on the grass bank, the bench has gone after being there at least as long as we have been visiting Cley. We stopped and sat on the grass bank in the hope of seeing some bearded tits but we had to settle for sandwiches, perhaps the wind was keeping them low in the reeds. Before we went to the visitors centre for a coffee we stopped of in the last hide on the anticlockwise route, there were plenty of waders, including an avocet spotted by Helen.
The lunchtime queue for food and drinks was long so we decided to whizz round to Cley Spy for some coffee and cake, and some binocular browsing. The Art Cafe at Glandford is a real specialist coffee brewing emporium. They roast and sell the beans. The Cafe offers four ways to brew filter, cafietier, espresso, and Aerobie. I went for an americano and it was great just about the right blend of bitter and nutty, and the apple crumble cake went down nicely too.
Helen and I now have matching binoculars because after a coffee Helen tried a few compact models, some priced at over £600 before settling on a more modestly priced pair just like mine. After that Helen needed a rest so we went back to Blakeney, where we parked at the village hall. After a look round the book sales at the village hall I went off to take some photos and Helen did some light tut shopping.
We had a table at The Moorings booked for 1800 so I headed off to move the car from the village hall to the quay side car park. I found a space at the high end of the car park then did a quick time lapse with the mini Cyclops. The food at The Moorings was excellent, Helen had a risotto and I had a seared tuna steak, then apple elderberry and gooseberry crumble with custard. After eating we headed down to the harbour to watch the cars left to the mercy of the tide a white fiesta was there long enough to get water inside. We hung around long enough for a great sunset. At one point someone tried to get away with my mini Cyclops which I had positioned on a traffic cone.
We set the alarm for 0730 and had the place a ship shape ready for 0900 when we sadly left the hut that had been home for a week. The traffic was fairly light as we headed down the A30 but it got a ore busy the further away we got. The usual tail back was still there on Bodmin moor the one we had circumnavigated the week before.
The traffic got quite busy as we hit the M5 but we had a plan which was to turn off before Bristol (an anticipated traffic jam) and head to a National Trust village called Lacock where there is and abbey and an exhibition about Fox Talbot the photography pioneer. The sun was shining and it was good to stretch our legs. We finished the visit by grabbing a take away coffee and a cake to share on the rest of the journey.
We were soon back on the M4 and back in the traffic which was becoming even more congested. We hit the M25 and all was good until we passed the M40 turn off where the traffic are to a stand still. We were stationary for 10 minutes, it turns out because of an accident which the police were clearing and everyone looked OK. We had fish and chips for tea and a few more episodes of Madmen.
My birthday was coming up and Helen had arranged a treat in London, for the Saturday so we were up earlyish and out of the house to catch the 0915 from Berkhamsted. We managed to find a spot in the free parking outside Berkhamsted castle. We got travel cards from the machine and only then did we notice delays and cancellations on the Euston line, apparently due to signalling problems. It turns out that we would have less of a wait because the 0901 was due in at 0908 so we only had time to get a coffee before the train arrived.
I had plans for the trip too, I was going to choose a new light tripod, with a tilting centre column to help with taking photospheres. I thought I might also have a look at a Canon 8-15mm lens, which would enable me to apply to be a Google trusted photographer.
The weather was grey with the threat of rain, temperature was below 10 degrees. It turns out the signalling issues were near Tring so it did not affect our journey time. We got on the 68 bus and because we were early I suggested that we get off the bus at the British museum. I thought it would be a good idea to take some photospheres of be fantastic roof inside the british museum.
Helen tried to help some Chinese guys looking for the university of London once I told Helen that she had the map upside down she send them on the right direction. We can across a load more Chinese tourists outside the museum some of them in factory overall suits, not sure if they were the guides or something else. Once at the museum helen send a happy half an hour with the elgin marbles while i went round and took photos of museum roof.
Suitably photographed we left the museum and got on the 188 and alighted on Waterloo bridge, then headed to the BFI iMax cinema which was the surprise that Helen had arranged, the film was about the Hubble telescope in 3D, which I was well pleased about. We had time for a coffee at the Costa franchise.
The film was excellent it told the story of a mission to upgrade the Hubble telescope in 1990. The result I on of imax is very high and the footage from n space was stunning. After the film we headed to o the National Theatre just in case there was a photo exhibition in the lobby, it turns out there was not but in the past we have seen the press photographer of the year and landscape photographer of the yeat., both free and well worth a visit to. On the was to the NT we past a street food market and after some deliberation I had an excellent griddle toasted sandwich and Helen had a Polish cottage cheese, onion and potato dumpling.
We decided to walk to Tottenham court road, I wanted to check out Park cameras. I looked at the to pods and liked the look of the 190 carbon fibre model with 4 sections, it is small light, has a 90 degree centre column feature and is very expensive. So I bought the even more impressive Canon 8-15mm USM lens because I asked and got a £50 discount. It is likely to become my goto lens as it covers that wide angles I look and is suitable for photosphere sets. Oh forgot to mention we also stopped off Foyle’s and helen bought some books.
Having spent enough money for the day we headed back to Euston on the 73 bus.
I have mentioned the Ian Visits website before on this blog, well today we attended two events we we spotted there. Both events are a bit unusual and completely different. First we visited a rarely open WW2 bunker, then we went to a dentist surgery to have a look at Elvis Presley’s false tooth. The day started with a bit of a panic, when I realised that although we had got up at 07:00 to get to Neasden in good time I thought we had to be there at 09:30 but when I checked the ticket it said 09:00. Any how we left the house at 07:45 and the Sat Nav was suggesting that we would be there by 08:55 plenty of time we thought!
The Sat Nav it turns out take account of traffic it knows about but that is not all traffic so after following it to detour the traffic it did know we ended up in queues that it had not anticipated. At 08:55 we called Katy the organiser to let them know we were running a few minutes late. We finally go there at 09:20 and they kindly allowed us to tag along with the school kids on the 09:30 tour. The tour started by obviously going down some steps quite a few in fact, the tour guide was very good and explained how far down we were and the little amount history of the place. The Bunker was only ever used twice during the war then was locked up to hardly ever be opened again so no one really was aware of it presence and those that were had signed the official secrets act and could not divulge anything. For example they had contact with a person that whose duty it was check the phones worked every week but she could not tell them much about the place as she was only permitted to descend the steps walk along the corridor check the phones then exit they way she had come, blissfully unaware of the size of the complex.
The tour took about an hour and was very interesting, the place was very damp (because when they built some houses on top they breached the water proofing) dirty mouldy and there were stalactites on the ceiling. The Paddocks as the bunker is know is made available to be viewed by the public twice a year by the housing association that built the house on the research site which was above the bunker. This was a stipulation of the planning consent and although the stipulation as run out they sill keep the pumps going to get the water out and pay for the lighting.
Once the tour was finished I suggested we went to the RAF museum at Hendon for a cup of coffee at the cafe there. It turned out to be a popular idea and a cheap one at that the parking cost £3 but the entrance to the museum was free so we had a bit of a look around while we were there. I took the opportunity to take a few panorama sets of photos before we left for the highlight of the day Elvis Presley’s false tooth.
Again Ian Visits tipped me off that there was a once in a life time opportunity to see Elvis Presley’s false tooth (or crown as they say in dental clinics). I set the sat nav and after 30 minutes in London traffic we pulled up outside a house in an Victorian housing estate in Bounds Green which had been pebble dashed and converted into a dentist practice. There appeared to be nothing happening but on the door was a poster suggesting an Elvis tribute would be there between 1200 and 1400. On entering we entered into a strange situation, there was an Elvis impersonator singing songs whilst the practice staff milled about with fancy dress on. On the reception counter was a clear perspex box containing a tooth moulding and a bright white crown, the object of our mission.
There were a couple of press photographers taking photo’s, some Cancer Awareness representatives and Virgin Active sales people apart from that we seemed to be the only people there at that moment. A woman approached us and asked if we wanted a free mouth cancer check we said yes and filled out the forms. As we waited we made sure we got selfies with the tooth and were interviewed by the Mouth Cancer awareness people. We both declared clear so we left with our sugar coated cup cake!
We headed back via the super market and endured a very violent hail storm on the A41 and were back home to good time, after a bizarrely interesting day.
Helen is at work this morning I was unsure what to do with my self, I had thought about the UK Photography show at the Birmingham NEC but decided against on Saturday. However when I woke up I decided that seeing as I had to drop Helen off at work I may as well keep on driving up the M40 and have a look.
Yesterday I made the most of the great weather by going for a walk in the morning . I did the walk I blogged here but I bit off more than I could chew when after I got back I had an offer from N for a walk from Nrothchurch to Ashridge NT Cafe. So that afternoon N&M walked from Northchurch to the monument at Ashridge. Trouble is by the time we got to the cafe my knees were complaining so rather than walking back I got a lift back to Northchurch with P and left the other two to walk back.
However I digress this is a post about the UK Photography show at the Birmingham NEC. I left Aylesbury just after 08:00 after dropping Helen off, then headed to Bicester to pick up the M40, and I stopped at the first services for a coffee as I had not had time for one earlier. The motorway was pretty quiet I noticed that spring was on the way as I say lots of rooks flying about in pairs as wells as quite a few common buzzards often being harassed by the rooks. I made good time and arrived at the exhibition center just before 10:00 and was soon on the shuttle bus from the car park to the exhibition halls.
The entrance fee was £10 which when added to the £10 for parking is quite steep. I need to figure out how to get trade entry to all these things, as well as saving money you get access to all areas. The exhibition was fairly busy and all the usual suspects were there i.e. Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, as well as a lot of the major camera shops.
A few things attracted my attention. First was a Chinese guy selling sensor cleaners that are basically a cude of gel on the end of a plastic stick, they were no cheap at £30 but they clearly work from the demo he gave cleaning someones camera. Trouble is I thought I would go back before I left to buy one but could not figure out where he was when I went back. I took my time to have a look at the Wacom Intuos tablets which replace the mouse with a tablet and pen. Helen asked to to look for a birthday present I think I may have found it. There were lots of stalls selling camera rucksacks which I could do with replacing but I just could not be bothered to fight the crowds to take a good look.
Amongst the other exhibitors there were plenty of people selling ways to print and display photo’s and plenty of tripods to look at . The current trend in tripods are ones where the legs folder right up in the opposite direction from which they are used, this ensures that the head is between the legs when it is folded up and it results n a very compact package. Trouble is the good ones are circa £250.
After about three hours wandering around I had had enough especially after all the walking on Saturday, so I left and headed south. I picked up the ingredient to make a Thai style coleslaw for tea and picked Helen up in Aylesbury.
The Eelsfoot pub at Eastbridge Suffolk near Southwold, is a gem of a pub we found quite a few years ago when we rented a cottage in the village. We have probably managed about two trips a year since. This year we were there for new year but have not managed to visit at all since. We both had a days holiday to take so just to keep up our records we booked two nights.
We left the house at what for us was a tardy time of 10:00 so we did not get to my aunt’s house until 11:30. After catching for an hour and suitable filled with coffee and cake we headed back onto the A12 destination Minsmere RSPB, and arrived at about 14:00.
We had a late lunch of cheese toasties and hot chocolate. On the way out I was tempted by a small pair of Swarovski binoculars, Helen owes me a birthday present but although the 8×25’s were lovely they were expensive at £400 and I would have liked to have tried a pair of 10×25’s so we left them for another day.
It was the middle of December so the light would be gone by 16:00 so we decided a walk out to island mere hide and back before some Christmas shopping in Southwold. It was raining so we did not spend much time on the way to the hide looking for birds. We joined for other hardy souls who were having to peer through windows covered in rain drops. We were so rewarded by a bittern fly by over the reeds across the water. There was not much else to report home about. The rain stopped so we took the opportunity to walk back to the visitors centre for some RSPB Christmas shopping.
Next stop would be Southwold just 25 minutes drive away. Parking is usually difficult but late on a rainy Friday afternoon in December there were plenty of spaces in the free car park near the top of the high street. We were quite successful on the Christmas shopping front, sometimes things just come together when you don’t try too hard. We just came across thing that made sense for the people we still had to buy for! I saw a male onesie in a shop window coloured grey and red stripes, luckily no one on my Christmas list deserved it. We got to the pub at about 17:30 so we chilled out in our well appointed room till about 19:30 as H&N would not be joining us until after 21:00.
The of first pint of Adnam’s is always the best way one and it did not disappoint. We had some great food I had cod and chips and Helen had cheesy chip and a side salad there was some ying and yang going on there somewhere the salad cancels out out the chips doesn’t it? N&H turned up at 22:00 they had not had the day off like we had. We caught up and discussed where we should walk on Saturday.
We woke up at a reasonable 07:30 and took our time getting ready for breakfast at 08:39. Very precise time you might think, N had suggested 8:30/9 and we thought he meant 08:39, but it was within N’s range. They have changed the breakfast routine at the pub you used to fill out a form the evening before but now they make to order. It does mean you can make up your mind at the last moment. It turns out that we prefer the pre-ordered breakfast. We sat down and had to wait quite some time before we were asked if we wanted coffee or tea, then once that had turned up we waited again before our breakfast order was taken. In all breakfast took over an hour!
The weatherman had offered us sun all day for Saturday and we were not disappointed blue sky horizon to horizon. We took the path from East bridge to the sluices down by the sea. The sluices are being renewed and there is lots of machinery and temporary piping. In the gorse we spotted a pipit but could not decide on water or rock, a stonechat was also perched as usual on top of a bush. from the east hide we saw some waders amongst the usual ducks, including godwit, redshank, and knot. The star duck was a single male pintail. Next stop was coffee at the coast guard cottages, and some of my mums Christmas cake from last year, which we had to freeze on large lumps and take on weekends away over the course of the year, it lasted well and was a much better alternative to an energy bar.
We headed across Dunwich heath in the hope of seeing dartford warblers, it did not take us long to find a few, quite close in and given the low winter sun, the views were cracking. Towards the end of the Heath we took a path which would lead us back round to the visitors centre at Minsmere RSPB where the cafe provided a great late lunch, including parsnip soup, baked potato, spinach bake and cheese and onion toastie. Suitably replete we headed out to Island mere hide where we were hoping to see bitterns, but we failed to see any, but we did get great views of a hen harrier, a bird I have never see before. It was very distinctive with light grey wings tipped with back feathers at the extremities. We left the hide at about 15:30 hoping to see some barn owls over the fields near the pub but they were not out hunting. We got back to the pub at 16:30 and retired to our rooms and agree to meet up at 18:00 in the bar, it had been a long day and we anticipated an early night.
The sweet potato and chickpea curry went down well so did the Adnams, the Eelsfoot won the annual best cellar award, so you would expect it to be good. We were relatively restained and retired to bed at a reasonable 22:30. Next day the sun was shining when went to breakfast at a tardy 09:00, when service was a bit more friendly and swift. We packed paid the bill and headed to the visitors centre at Minsmere RSPB. We did a quick loop along the new sea wall to coastguard cottages then through the woods and back to the reserve where Helen and H did plenty of shopping. The weather had clouded over and it was threatening rain. We had some lunch in the cafe but had to sit outside because a coach party had taken over most of the cafe. We left at 13:30 and made good time to be home at 16:00 with rain all the way. A great weekend with a lucky weather window.
Even though rain was forecast we had booked bikes for 10:00 from The Eelsfoot at Eastbridge, which is a very nice pub to stay for the weekend. We left the house at 09:30 earlier than usual., which was good because the rain was forecast for 14:00. At the pub we picked the best bikes out and T lent us his pump to get the tyres nice and hard.
We headed off keeping to the tarmac road that leads to Minsmere RSPB then took a right at Scotts hall up a shortt slop then took the bridleway on the right which headed over to Dunwich heath. When we hit the road that leads to the Coastguard cottages we went left and headed toward the beach at Dunwich. At the cafe we had tea and coffee and T and I shared a doughnut that they make of the premises when the fryers are not doing fish and chips, which are the main fayre of the establishment. If you are ever in the area I would recommend stopping off for a lunch of fish and chips, I have been visiting the place for over 30 years.
Suitably refreshed we headed back in land then found another bridleway that eventually turns into a tarmac road called Lodge Road, which starts at a fantastic looking house over looking the marshes then over the sea.We soon found ourselves in Warberswick and met up with the rest of the party who had chosen the car for the days outing. We took a look at the harbour and the famous ferry across the river Blythe, 90p for people or bikes dogs go free. The we headed back to the center of the village where a tea room supplied us with a great lunch, I had a tuna mayonnaise baguette.
After lunch we decided on a different way back, we left Warblerswick and took a left turn along a bridleway, which eventually dumped us onto the marsh were conveniently there were board walks to make the cycling easier. Then we did a stretch of sea wall which was new and nicely paved with two layers of different gravel. We left the sea wall and headed towards some trees which formed the only high spot around then we picked up a track that lead back to Dunwich, where we went towards the beach but headed up the hill past Greyfriars abbey ruins, then tracked back the route we had followed earlier, back to Eastbridge. The last 3 or 4 miles were done in the rain pub my poncho served me well and none of us got very wet, so once again we had made the most of the weather.
C cooked her tomato risotto with veggie sausages in it, which was very nice. A game of scrabble followed.