Body boarding in Croyde Bay

Relaxed start to the day for me but three of the party went down to the beach at seven in the morning for a swim. Well I say seven but in reality even though Helen had prepared her stuff, she was still ferreting around and rustling about in our bedroom at 07:30! I got up at about 08:30 and made myself some breakfast, black cherry jam on toast and a mug of coffee.

The other came back at about 09:00 they had managed to get wet up to the ankles (ed: it was above the knee!) and complained that the water was cold. We sat around deciding what we should do with the rest of the day and someone suggested some body boarding. Great idea, so C & T and I got into our swimmers and headed down the lane to find an establishment that would rent out the kit. Our first stop was Baggy Lodge Surf Hire but there seemed to be no one on duty, so after trying to get some attention we headed down to the Croyde Surf school.

The surf school did not hire out kit without lessons but they kindly pointed us in the direction over the other side of the road where the caravan park shops are. We headed over and were soon kitted out with wetsuit, boots, gloves and a bodyboard each. We used the shops changing rooms to squeeze ourselves into the wetsuits, then wandered back across the road to the beach. We left Helen looking after the kit on a handy rocky outcrop and headed to the waves.

Surprisingly in a wetsuit the keeps you warm in the sea, unless you put your back into the wave then the water goes right down the neck and through the wetsuit giving you an all over chill. Being novices we took some time to figure out how to catch a wave, but after about half an hour we had figured that you needed to be not too far out, and wait for the wave that sucks you in before you launch yourself forward using the purchase you get from your feet on the sea bed.

Rather than go back to the shop we walked back to the hut to have a shower and extract ourselves from our wetsuits. Then I drove down to the shops with Helen and dropped off the gear. We had also decided to stay in and I had volunteered to cook pasta for dinner.

I had seen a recipe in the Tesco magazine for baked chick peas and J had purchased some while they were out for a walk near Appledore. You bake them with a teaspoon of olive oil and smoked paprika to which you add honey and seeds for the second part of the bake. It took a lot longer than the recipe but I think it was a combination of the oven and the fact I did double the quantity. I will try again at home, with my own trusted oven. They tasted fine with extra time in the oven.

I had a portion of the cheese cake I made earlier in the week. The middle was not divine but the edges were still split, so the fridge is not the answer. We watched the bake off then went to bed, C, T & J were going on a Lundy boat trip on Thursday the rest of us were undecided.

Pirate golf at Woolacombe and a long walk back

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.

Walking to Baggy Point and cooking dinner

Early but slow start with a leisurely breakfast. Some of us left the house at about 10 for a walk to Baggy Point and round to Putsborough Sands for a coffee before heading back over the top. The weather was a bit grey so I put my 50mm on the camera which forces you to think a bit more, rather more than I do when I have my favoured wide angle lenses. Part way round we lost two of the walking party as they headed over the top to get back to watch the Davis cup matches.

At the Cafe there was a rush on and it took some time to get J and I a coffee and a portion of chips each. The trouble with going to the Cafe us that it is a long descent so to get back over the top we had a fierce hill to climb, however once tackled the rest of the way back to the north end of Croyde Bay is level or down hill. The path follows old farm tracks where you can see the way carts have worn ruts in the bedrock just below the surface. We also had to follow the path of a stream which had been paved with breeze blocks to make walking dryer.

The tennis finished Murray won but not without making it look difficult, then we turned over to watch rugby world cup matches. I had volunteered to cook and spent the afternoon in and out of the Kitchen. On the menu was my usual tomato pasta sauce, my new favourite roast cauliflower and hazelnut carbonara, and a BlackBerry baked cheese cake, with the berries coming from the bushes just up the lane from where we are staying. There were plenty about but not at the edges, they grow low so it was easy enough to kind of walk on them without getting too scratched by the brambles.

Timing for dinner went well with everything ready within 5 minutes of of the predicted 19:00. All the dishes went down well, I was pleased with the  cauliflower dish I seem to have cracked it, so it will now be part of my small repertoire. The cheese cake was not as good as I thought it might be perhaps it was still a bit warm but it seemed a bit split. Not sure what I need to do to fix it?

Downton starts again tonight so it will be a late night all of 22:30 before it finishes, so a lay in tomorrow will be the order of the day.

Holiday centre change from Cornwall to Devon

Holiday change over day, from Cornwall to Croyde in Devon, and from just me and Helen to Helens family and hangers on. We were up early and ready to leave the hut at 09:30 without any trouble at all there was not much to tidy, so we had time for a leisurely breakfast.  Helen prides herself on leaving holiday properties tidily, today was no exception, ensuring the mantle piece items were repositioned where we had found them.

We took the coastal A39 which winds through the Cornish and Devonshire countryside, the sun was shining and the atmosphere pretty crystal clear, so the drive was a pleasure. We passed through quite a few familiar places from holidays past. At Bideford we passed the turn off to Croyde but we had planned a detour to the National Trusts Arlington Court where our first priority was coffee and cake in the Cafe. The gluten free lime and coconut cake went down a treat with a large americano.

Arlington Court was or is home to the Chichester family which are related to Sir Francis Chichester who sailed around the world single handed at a time without GPS. (ed: bloody good book). The house itself is full of shells, stuffed birds and model boats, it seems that they were a family that liked collecting stuff. The last of the house even had a museum wing to store all of it that somehow there was no room for on the house itself. We left Arlington Court at about 13:00, time for a supermarket sweep before our anticipated arrival at the new holiday venue in Croyde at 15:00.

I hadn’t banked on the amount of shopping that would be required at the Braunton Tesco we needed provisions for 7 for a week, almost £300 and a trolley full. The very helpful store manager asked if we had picked one of every item they sold! The shopping took about an hour, we wondered why people bothered doing that every week, we get Tesco to deliver which is far more convenient.

C&T were already at the hut when we arrived and five journeys later I had unpacked the car of luggage and shopping. Everyone was accounted for by 17:00 and we all settled in, some resting on the lawn others taking a stroll on the beach. Dinner would a simple affair preprepared salad stuff from Waitrose. Bring Devon on.

Tour of Britain and start of holiday in Croyde Devon

View from Kop Hill
View from Kop Hill

The tour of Britain was passing through the area and I had the day off so I thought I would go and have a look. After consulting the maps for the route I figured Kop Hill, a category 2 climb, would be the best place to see them as they would be going slower on the ascent. I figured that parking spaces would be at a premium in the area so I needed to have a plan. Looking at the ap there is a parking area about a mile away on a parallel road with a foot path leading to the whiteleaf car park.

Before heading out for the race I had and appointment with Roman Britain. There was an open day on Bishops field where an archaeology dig has been going on before a new housing estate is inserted into the space. There is an obvious track way across the field where the ditches which bordered the road showed up darker. The road was part of the Icknield way. They had some interesting finds on top of the usual bits of pot and animal ones they found a skeleton of a woman and in another spot the skeleton of a small child. I met up with Helen and parents to have a look around, and gave them a lift home on may way to Kop Hill.

Tour of Britain Bike Race 2014 on Kop Hill Buckinghamshire
Tour of Britain Bike Race 2014 on Kop Hill Buckinghamshire

On the way to to my parking spot, i had to negotiate many cyclists down the narrow country lanes. The parking area was about two thirds full probably unusual for a week day, so others had probably had a similar idea. The foot path was a familiar as I have walked in the area quite a few times in the past. It took about 25 minutes to get over to the whiteleaf parking area and I was glad that I parked else where as the car park was overflowing on the road leading to it. A short walk following the crowds that were gathering got me to the top of Kop hill where I walked down a few hundred yards to get to the steepest section, whch would make getting photographs easier as the cyclists would be going a bit slower.

It was not long before we saw some action, marshals and police on motor bikes and the odd official car drove ast and everyone cheered them by. There was not much room on the road due to spectators and it was not yet closed to traffic s the odd car tried to negotiate us who were spilling on to the tarmac. Eventually the motor bikes and cars got more frequent then word went out that there was a break away 6 minutes ahead of the bunch, and they were not far off. As if on queue they then appeared hauling them selves up the steepest part of the hill, then some minutes later the buch appeared passed and then the stragglers trying to keep ahead of the broom wagon passed followed by all the team cars and it was all over and very everyone started to disperse. I walked back to the car headed home again negotiating cyclists on the way, my next job was to pack for our holiday week in Croyde Devon.

Sky team car
Sky team car

Fairly early start on Saturday we picked up Helen’s parents and the dog and got away on schedule at 10:00, destination, Clevedon and Tyntesfield National Trust, which was just past half way on the journey and beyond Bristol a pinch point for M4/M5 travellers. We made good time and the roads although fairly busy kept moving all the way until we turned off towards Tyntesfield. Helen and I had been to Tyntesfield before when we had the good fortune to be able to say the weekend in the house when R who works for the National TRust was house sitting to give the property manager a weekend break.

We arrived at the house from a different direction the last time we visited from above the house on the Farm side, where they had built a large parking area. The place was pretty familiar as I had previously been for a run around the grounds. We headed straight to the cafe for a coffee and to get a slot to look around the house, we managed to get a 13:00-14:00 entrance slot which suited us perfectly. After coffee Helen loked after the dog while went with her parents around the house. The house was exactly as I remembered it not much had been moved, and I even got to see the bedrooomwe had used those years ago.

I managed to get a few panorama sets one f the chapel which although needs some further processing came out well, despite the low light, people in the way and having to hand hold the shots. We found Helen outside the cafe, and we left the property at 14:30 which would get us to Croyde for a bout 17:00. The going was good n the motorway but we got stuck behind a few lorries on the single carriage road, with very few overtaking opportunities. We arrived at the house just before 17:00 the sat nav took us down some very small roads for the last couple of miles.

I cooked a really tasty minestrone soup for tea the recipe came from the Guardian saturday cook section. It was mirepoix with tomatoes, green beans, grated courgette,canneloni beans, and spinach stirred in at the end, it was a very hearty soup with not much stock. I will most likely do the soup when we are home and freeze it for eating during the week.