Castle Drogo on the way to Cornwall

Polzeath Beach Cornwall
Polzeath Beach Cornwall

We were up earlier than anticipated and left the house to go on holiday  just before 8:30. Our late summer holiday was going to be in Polzeath down in Cornwall followed by a week in Devon. Sat nav told us the best way to go was via Bicester and Oxford then down to Swindon and onto the M4 before joining the usual road  to the south west eventually ending up on the A30. We hit the usual big traffic jam at Bristol but the traffic pretty much kept moving and by the time we stopped at the Sedgemoor motorway services just after Bristol we had only lost half an hour which is pretty good going.

As is traditional we had planned a stop at a National Trust property on the way there today choice was Castle Drogo. Helen was not amused when I decided to follow the single track signs to the property. It meant having to stop a few times to let cars and buses go by. In any event we got there without any mishaps parked up and got our tickets to have a look around the Castle. It turns out the castle was in the middle of a very extensive renovation project. The whole Castle is completely enveloped in scaffolding and plastic sheeting. On the inside of the castle they have some of the stuff in storage but they had special art exhibitions on in various rooms where you could see some of the historic things that might have been out had the house was open. The building itself is grey granite which looks very structural and it is a house I would like to return to someday. Our timing was not that great the trips up the scaffolding tower were shut for lunch, so rather than wait an hour we went to get some lunch at the visitors centre.

The queue at the cafe was interminably slow they needed someone to come in and do a time and motion study to get things moving a bit faster. We didn’t fancy the soup of the day or sandwiches so we both settled for cake, we are on holiday after all. Suitably replete we got back in the car and headed to Wadebridge where we wanted to pick up some supplies before heading the cottage in Polzeath.

On the smallish road that got us over the A30 we came across some slow traffic, a couple of caravans, which looked more like chicken huts on wheels and were being towed by vintage tractors, they were from Germany!

We did a quick tour of the shops of Wadebridge and I managed to get a hair cut without queuing, the hair dresser corrected my pronunciation of Polzeath apparently it is zeath pronounced like wreath. The co-op supplied us with some salad ingredients and emergency pasta meal, so we were all set to arrive at the cottage.

We had earlier got a text to say that the cottage was ready which I thought was a nice touch. The final few miles to the cottage were very rural. We found the cottage easily by the instructions provided. It over looks a valley which is a caravan park and even has a distant view of the sea. We were not prepared for the many steps up to the front door. I was regretting buying a new large holdall for holidays, I had to stop for a rest on the way up.

We unpacked and had a sit down then walked down to the beach to have a look around, it was a bit grey and the sea was a bit rough. Luckily for us there was a bar Cafe on the beach where we could get a beer, and some WiFi. Helen had committed the ultimate crime of booking a cottage with no WiFi!

We had salad for tea and I was in bed fairly early with a book.

The journey home from Port Gaverne

Stourhead NT

We were all up in good time and managed to leave the hut by 10:15 only 15 minutes later than we should have been, there was no cleaner waiting to get in so it did not matter. We headed off and filled up at the Delabole petrol station, one of the many independent service stations you see in Cornwall.

We made good progress and were soon at Stourhead NT and ideal stopping point for a stretch and some lunch. It was 3 hours from Cornwall and left us a 2 hour journey to home. The place wasa busy and the overflow car park was filling up, not surprising as the weather was gorgeous and bad weather was on the way for Sunday.

Stourhead NT is one of the more popular National Trust properties it has a house and extensive grounds with some follys and a large lake. It was (is?) owned by the family that founded the Hoare Banking company I believe similar to Coutts in terms of it’s customers. We had lunch first in the modern building which houses the cafe and obligatory shop, the queue was long because it was lunch time and there was only one till manned.

After lunch of sandwiches all round we went to look at the house, which was the type of NT house I prefer with a bit of old and a bit of new in it. After we took a walk around the gardens and lake followed by the walled gardens where I admired their artichokes which put mine to shame. We popped into the farm shop to get some essential supplies for dinner and then headed back to the car to continue you journey home.

There were signs suggesting the M3 was shut at a junction we needed to pass so we ended up diverting from our planned route onto the A34 via Oxford. It made no difference to our travel time and we arrived at home on schedule.

That evening we watched the ITV series called Bletchley something about a murder case solved by ex-wartime code breaker women, which we enjoyed.

Cragside on a rainy day

A bedroom in Cragside

We were not up early the weather forecast was rain so we took our time and had a cooked breakfast. We left the house just after 11:30 destination Cragside National trust property, originally owned by the Armstrong family. Armstrong seemed to have invented hydraulics, the house was the first to be fitted with electricity, and many things to do with water for example fire hydrants.

The house is also impressive built in to the steep hillside. The whole world had the same idea as us and were visiting the house, when it rained the house became even more packed. The tour of the house was full of the usual victorian paraphernalia, paintings, shell collections etc.

Stormy weather over weir

After the house we had a look at the engineering bits in the power house which is a bit of a trek up and down hill, we saw a Bullfinch pair on the way. The formal gardens seemed to be a work in progress or were between seasonal display.

Later in the day the sun came out and I managed a few pictures. We stopped off at the tea room the Buttery lemon cake was great accompanied by a cappuccino.

The women went to look round the shop whilst N and I went to look at the pump house and iron bridge, then see if we could join up to the NT as with the discount on offer we only needed to make one for property visit to be in pocket. We regretted not joining on the Farnes as there was an extra 10 quid on offer. We spent the refund at Lidl on the way home.

Arlington Court NT

Monday is always the first day of a holiday i.e. the first day you are not at work when you would normally be at work. Today is a trip to a National Trust property called Arlington Court.

After the storm Taffy and I headed up the coast in hope of finding some breaking waves, but although we found some very windy spots we could not find a coast facing the right way with an harbour wall, probably because it would be silly to build a harbour wall exposed to the prevailing weather.

We got back to the hut and soon we were off to the NT property. The owners of the property were collectors of tut, and it is in glass cabinets everywhere. There is a walk round the property that is about 2 miles long.