Thursday, June 30, 2011

And another thing…

Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers.

Lord Alfred Tennyson

Keen at the start, but careless at the end.

Cornelius Tacitus

It’s all right letting yourself go as long as you can let yourself back.

Mick Jagger.

The really frightening about middle age is that you know you’ll grow out of it.

Doris Day

We are all of us failures, at least the best of us are.

James M Barrie.

Never make a defence or an apology until you are accused

King Charles 1

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life,

Herbert Henry Asquith.

Mick Jagger

Doris Day
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Monday, June 27, 2011

I’ll tell you what I want – what I really, really want.

But first back to the last days of our Instow holiday. We went north to an old haunt – the Tarka Inn for lunch, dodging the showers and learned that it isn’t residential – just good grub. The weather didn’t encourage wandering up the trail so we called it a day and went back to our comfortable cottage.

There was something about the sound of Hartland, Hartland Quay and Hartland Point that caught my imagination and then when I saw photos I was hooked. Hartland is a small town about three miles inland from Hartland Quay where there is a hotel. From there is a thrilling walk up and down three miles, to the lighthouse at Hartland Point.

I’m not silly and I knew there was no way I could do this alone but it wouldn’t harm to do a bit of a recce so we drove to Hartland, parked by a handy (for lunch later) inn and I left MTL reading the paper whilst I went for a mosey. We didn’t want to risk three miles manoeuvring down a narrow lane so I started walking – just to see what it was like- towards Hartland Quay. It would be worth it if I could catch a glimpse of any of that dramatic coast but no matter how the road dipped and climbed the coast was hidden.

I passed the Abbey which was founded by St Nectar. It was the last monastery to be dissolved in 1539 and Henry V111 gave it to his Keeper of the Wine Cellar – Mr Abbot. There are lovely gardens apparently with paths designed by Gertrude Jekyll. Woodland gardens, a Bog Garden, Victorian Fernery and a secret 18C walled garden. There’s a gazebo overlooking the sea and the house and estate were used as a setting for ‘Sense and Sensibility.’

I was torn and tried to phone MTL but he was switched off! I decided to save these treasures for another time and walk a little further knowing I had to walk back before long. Interestingly the road was perfectly wide enough for two cars to pass with care. Halfway between Hartland and the coast is the little hamlet of Stoke with St Nectar’s Church - the ‘Cathedral of Devon.’ It was originally built as a thanksgiving for deliverance from a shipwreck and the 128’ tower rises in four stages – a landmark to sailors at sea before the lighthouse was built at Hartland Point. Maybe I could climb the tower and get the view I wanted.

When I reached Stoke and established from a lady kneeling in her garden that there were no taxis in Stoke, I took a photo, dismissed the thought of any unnecessary climbing and set off back to find my husband. I had been within one and a half miles of my goal but was now determined to – eventually one day - reach the Quay and maybe persuade a stalwart son to do the cliff walk with me.

Lunch at the handy inn was a great success and I had the best dish of the week: sword fish on a bed of sweet potato wedges with a mango and passion fruit salsa.

See photos below.

The last of the Holiday

The Tarka Inn

View from Tarka Inn

Stoke and church tower - the cathedral of Devon

The 'handy inn' the Hart Inn Hartland

Yummy sword fish

MTL's fave - ham egg and chips



The photos below are by LOU JOHNSON. Can you see the lighthouse?

Remains of a shipwreck ripped in half by the force of the sea LOU JOHNSON

Part of the walk with a view of Lundy Island LOU JOHNSON
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Sunday, June 26, 2011


It's so hot I went out to lunch in my whites - which can resemble a shroud.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo

1927-2011 Rest in Peace
Always a favourite in this house.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Joe - my grand cat- takes his medicine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Holiday part 2

We decided to ignore the weather, as there were frequent sunny spells amongst the blustery rain, and drive to Westward Ho which didn’t exist before Charles Kingsley’s novel of the same name. A school was built and Rudyard Kipling was educated there completing the literature connection.

The beach stretches all the way to the Taw/Torridge estuary backed by the Northern Burrows, and Pebbleridge is a natural phenomenon nearly two miles long. As we drove down towards the sea we were struck by a high bank on the left with enormously high houses – four and five storied.

The weather was miserable, I didn’t know what we would find at the end of the narrowing road so when we saw the Pier House Hotel with an empty space in front we parked and went in search of coffee. Inside there were very large rooms with great windows looking out onto a terrace. The terrace was surrounded by great rain-lashed windows which a window cleaner was doggedly attempting to clean.

We ordered coffee and as soon as there was a break in the weather I went onto the terrace and down steep steps to the beach. Walking along the cliff I marvelled at the turbulent seas and rugged cliffs. When they were constructing Westward Ho a pier was built outside the hotel in 1870 but in 1880 the storms washed it away. At low tide, apparently, one can see the iron stanchions.

It overlooked Bideford Bay and Lundy Island. Having seen an old photo of the pier I’m amazed it lasted for ten years.

Back in the hotel we admired a large photo over the bar, of one of the first surfers. There were some fascinating old family photos around the room and as we were looking at them, a gentleman came up and told us the elderly couple we were looking at were his great grandparents ; the six young men were their sons and the four young ladies their daughters. He was the owner of the hotel and sat and chatted with us.

I felt a little mean when we said goodbye that we weren’t staying for lunch but I’d noticed a sign on the way there pointing to the Riversford Hotel which had a restaurant overlooking the river. We’ll save the Pier House Hotel for another time. By the time we reached the Riversford Hotel the sun was out but we cravenly eschewed the terrace and admired the view from indoors.

After yet another excellent meal, on the way back to Instow I got MTL to drop me by the Taw Bridge and walked back along the Tarka Trail to the cottage. We were lucky – throughout the week neither of us got wet.

Holiday Part 2
The view from The Pier House Hotel

Walking along the cliff

An early surfer.

Mine host and great grandparents.

View from the Riversford Hotel Restaurant

Back home on the Tarka Trail

Wild flowers.
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Never too late!

Happy Father's Day Dad - wherever you are.
We remembered your birthday Mum on the 17th

Happy Days!
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Runaway Post

How dare they? The photos below published themselves before I had written anything.
The first is walking back to Instow after lunch - I got MTL to drop me. The town is Appledore.

I was intrigued by this flag visible from the bathroom. It looked like a rising sun so I thought it may be Japanese but a closer view revealed the black centre resembled a Watusi warrior.

Beloved sandhills. We parked here for the two restaurants at the top end of the town. Just too far for MTL to walk.

Inside the cottage with a large TV and you can just see the telescope.

This house, on the top road is so different from the others - a Miss Faversham of a house.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This week's blooms.

Sweet peas - the smell is divine

A long awaited peony.

My birthday rose - New Dawn.

See my little shepherdess
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Home again.

Amazing how a change of scene can brighten one’s outlook. We didn’t get wet – not for want of chances, and MTL was able to sit in the sun frequently. There were some high winds and fluctuations in temperature – typical June weather in fact. The tides seem even more relentless in an estuary and we had a special clock so you could see at a glance how many hours to high or low tide. There was also a splendid telescope which we finally learned how to use by the end of the week

I drove the first half (first time for six months) to The Black Venus on Exmoor where we had lunch and MTL drove to the cottage which we were allowed to enter at 2pm. All was clean and satisfactory and no traces of the three animals that are allowed, other than water bowls by the back door. We had taken food stores apart from main meals which we intended to eat at local restaurants. It’s 18 months since we were in the area and the quality of meals available has risen a notch or two. Lunch – the highlight of the day!

South Corner – the cottage, is ideally placed – a constant view of all the messing about in boats and in sight of the old signal box which is alongside The Tarka Trail, named after Henry Williamson’s famous otter. A few steps along the street is The Bar where we had an excellent Sunday lunch. Another few steps and there is the post office which sells absolutely everything – except cleansing cream, but I made do with Cyclax 2 in 1 Aftersun lotion – for one night only. If it’s good enough for her Maj….

At the other end of the esplanade is another excellent restaurant and The Wayfarer’s Inn where we had our last lunch. After a meal of salmon on spinach with veg and new potatoes I asked mine host if he did desserts.

‘Are you still hungry ? Look you only left two potatoes?

I assured him I was about to do a five mile walk – not strictly true - and ordered Raspberry Pavlova. Cheek!

I took an old notebook with me and came across the diary I kept 6 months ago when MTL was in hospital. It was good to re- read it and realise – almost without noticing – how far we had come. Important for us to remember this and be thankful- and patient.

Instow is very laid back with boating, jogging, cycling and walking the main pursuits Looking out of the picture windows, or sitting in the garden, we enjoyed seeing happy relaxed heads gliding past over the low hedge that borders the flower filled garden.

Instow means John’s Holy Place. In WW2 Ted Beckwith, a local boy was a POW and wrote the following.

Instow Town

If you should care to come with me,

I’d take you south of Severn Sea

(Prepared for sun or rain)

To where, a splash of white and brown

The cottages of Instow Town

Bestride a Devon lane.

No Town Hall tops a market square,

No clever – tongued Town Council’s there,

No milk machines are humming;

The sheep bells and the buzzards’ mew

The only sounds that come to you,

Those and the brown snipe drumming.

A forge, a few thatched cottages,

White- washed alike, do all comprise,

And as you wander down

You’ll maybe meet a farmer’s gig,

Some barnyard fowls, or a pig,

In all that thriving town.

Or come and climb that sheep-cropped hill,

Turn to the west and gaze your fill,

Over a grey church tower –

You had not noticed it before

Tucked in the Combe at Appledore

Bathed in a passing shower.

There goes the ships both small and large,

Ferryboat, schooner, gravel barge,

About the estuary.

While like a warship in the Bay

Hull down and twenty miles away

Lies Lundy and the Sea.

Oflag VIB

Ted’s brother Richard was a lieutenant on HMS Prince of Wales. The vessel was lost and Ted went ‘missing.’ He survived and assumed command of The Elizabeth in which he left Singapore. Intercepted by a Japanese destroyer he was given the choice of being a POW or staying with the ship. Refusing to abandon his crew he stayed with Elizabeth which was blown out of the water. He is commemorated by a plaque and the ship’s lantern in the church Porch.

The above taken from Instow – A History by Alison Grant and others

More later.

The Black Venus on Exmoor

South Corner

South Corner from the signal box

The signal box

Falling tide

The Bar and Post office

Our Tide Guide
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