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.

A gentle walk from Saunton Sands to Croyde Bay

We woke a a reasonable 08:30 to rain, as expected, so we took our time with breakfast, followed by some card game version of Monopoly. By about 11 the rain had stopped and the weather looked good for taking photos. C&T were planning a bike ride and the others were going to Saunton Sands, so I hitched a ride.

I walked for a while on the beach at Saunton there were some surfers and bodyboarders. There was also a kite surfer, I think because the beach is not  patrolled by the RNLI and as such kite surfers are allowed. It seems that kite surfers are often not welcome on beaches.

We walked about half a mile down the beach and then the others decided to head into the burrows, I chose that moment to head back to Croyde on foot, the burrows are sand dunes and therefore hard going under foot. I purchased some Polos from the souvenir shop, then headed up the stepped path to the famous hotel, and sneaked through the car park. Rather than the coastal path which heads high up above the road, and for a good part of it the view is obscured by the bushes. I thought it might be possible to walk below the road on the field.

It turns out you can’t walk in the field despite what looked like a path, so I ended up walking up the road. There are a few parking spaces along the road and I stopped and sat on the wall and took a time lapse of the view across Saunton Sands. At the end of the road the coastal path crosses and I was able to get down to the sea, for another time lapse. The tide was out so  was able to walk straight across Croyde Bay which saves a lot of time. The hut is across the bay and up the coastal path, and there is a jetty you can take to get just about 100m from the hut.

Dinner was to be a fish and chip supper from the best chip shop in Braunton, South Sixteen fish and chips I volunteered to go and collect. After dinner we were planning some card games.

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.

Padstow to Stepper point look out including Padstow to Rock ferry

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.

Port Quin to Port Isaac the high road and the low road

The nearest place to the east of Polzeath is the little hamlet of Port Quin, on a previous holiday we had walked from Port Isaac to Port Quin and back, we had taken the coast path but the overland route back. Today we decided to do the route the other way, more for convenience than anything, there were coffee shops and loos in Port Isaac but Port Quin only had a coffee van and a car park.

The road into Port Quin is very narrow and quite steep in parts, but it is worth the thrill. The port itself is a natural feature, a rocky inlet that stretches a couple of hundred yards in land, apart from a storm in a perfect direction it is hard to imagine that waves of any significance reach the port.  The coastal path starts very steeply between a couple of cottages nestled into the rocks.

The weather was a treat again with blue skies and white fluffy cumulus cloud, perfect seaside photography weather. The coastal path however was far from perfect clinging to every contour and believe me there are lots of them, and for good measure the downward ones are matched equally with stretches of upwards ones, for the whole 3.2 miles. I am not sure if the distance on the signs was measured on a flat map or reflected the true distance a tape measure placed on the ground would have measured, it seemed longer and took more than the hour 3 miles should usually take. (ed: Cornish cliff miles!)

After several rests, one for lunch, we descended the final set of steps to Port Isaac, which is where the ITV series Doc Martin is filmed, it stars Martin Clunes as a doctor, dealing with his patients and getting into lots of moral dilemmas. That all I know about that as I don’t watch it myself. Down in the town itself it started to rain and we were fortunate enough to get a seat in the terrace for a coffee and a packet of crisps, where we nursed them until the rain stopped and the sun came out.

The walk back was quicker and simpler, although the first hill was a long up hill trudge. We took the direct route straight over the top avoiding the undulating coastal path. We also avoided cow fields until the very end, much to Helen’s relief, as she does not feel she can trust cows. (ed: sensible woman!). Back at the car park Fiona’s coffee wagon was still serving coffee and biscuits, I had an Americano and a white chocolate and raspberry shortbread.

They had had trouble at the mill today, so I took the opportunity when we had a mobile signal to check in. The outage was just about cleared by the time I checked in which was good to hear. Back at Polzeath we headed to the beach and enjoyed a well earned pint in the late afternoon sun. We had had an energetic day with great weather, all in all another great holiday day.

Two historic houses in one day

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.

Polzeath and back via Pentire Point and the Bee Centre

We had a lay in finally surfacing at 09:00, we are really recharging our batteries. By the time we had had breakfast and got sorted it was 10:20. We headed away from the hut by climbing to the very top of the garden and then taking the footpath down into Polzeath we thought it might save some time but in the end it didn’t. The storm had passed overnight and the sun was out, but we went prepared for showers. The sea was quite rough and lashing the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs. We stopped for a rest, a look at the view and a time lapse on an out crop. Helen pulled her usual trick of being the first to spot seals, an adult and young pup. Her day was now fulfilled!

Just around the headland there is a plaque marking the spot where the poet Laurence Binyon composed the poem “For the Fallen” in 1914:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we shall remember them.

I’m sure you will recognise it from the remembrance services, and it was quite fitting that we were there on the day of the Battle of Britain anniversary.

On the lee side of the Headland out of the wind it really was quite hot and we decided that rather than walking the long way to the Bee Centre we would head back across the inland part and onto the beach. The far side of the beach we found a cafe that sold a nice coffee and we sat there and watched the world go by for a while. We were back at the hut by 15:00 and although we had forgotten to put the rubbish out in the morning we noticed that the bin men still hadn’t come so I did two sets of steps up to the house to put the rubbish away.

We spend the rest of the afternoon lounging around on the terrace watching the sea in the distance and reading the newspaper. We went down to the beach to watch the surfers before we ate, the light was not good as it meant shooting into the sun and through haze. The meal was OK I had seared tuna and chips, and Helen a pizza.

Journey Home From Gwithian Cornwall

Lacock Abbey NT
Lacock Abbey NT

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.