Saturday, September 23, 2017

Holiday: National Trust’s ‘Strode House’ (Day 2)

A slightly later start to the day as we realised that the travel clock we use for holidays was an hour behind the rest of the UK. I suspect it wasn’t changed the last time the clocks went forward. No matter, our mission for today is quite simple! – drive to Honiton and then grab the train to Exeter. After yesterday’s visit to Selworthy Beacon, today is mainly a bit of ‘retail therapy’ – I think it’s down to both of us having spent (far) too many years working in retail on a Saturday!

I’ve never been to Exeter, so everything today would be a new experience!

Things started well as we arrived in Honiton in good time after the thirty-minute drive from the Apartment. It looked quite a large town based on the amount of shops in the high street, but the railway car-park, in contrast, was tiny - 30 spaces max! After taking our pick of a parking-space, it was a quick trot over the bridge to the ticket office where we managed to get two return tickets to Exeter for the very wallet-friendly total sum of £10.10!!! A bargain! To add to the good news, we only had to wait 5 minutes for the train – perfect timing! (as they only run hourly on Saturdays).

On-board, we soon found a seat – a very comfy one at that! – for the thirty-minute (ish) journey to Exeter Central. Free wi-fi too, so one of us is ecstatic! On arrival, the good news continued as the station is handily located on the outskirts of the shopping area in Queen’s Street, so it was only a short walk into the main shopping strip.

First stop though, was a bit of culture in the shape of Exeter Cathedral

DSCN2401  DSCN2406
Wow! This place was in great condition and a real joy to look round. It felt large too, and unlike a lot of cathedrals, it was very bright inside. Fabulous!

With the cultural stuff ticked-off, it was off to our own ‘retail-cathedral’ – the newish (2012) John Lewis (Exeter) just a few minutes walk away. Yummy! this had floors and floors of good stuff, and for once us blokes don’t have to scale to the top to see the latest TVs – they’ve thoughtfully put the AV department on the lower-ground floor!

But before any serious shopping, sustenance was in order, and an obligatory trip to the JL Café was our first destination…

Suitably refreshed, in the next hour, we gave the store a good workout before taking a slow walk in the direction of our reserved table at the local Café Rouge…

Service was excellent, as was the food. The bonus for us was that I’d received a voucher recently from Café Rouge for a free bottle of Prosecco as a birthday gift, and it would have been rude not to use it even if it is three days before ‘the day’!

I needed something to soak up the alcohol as even though Ann was driving back, we were determined to get our money’s worth and not to leave any behind. I really needed something to soak up the booze, so as my main course, I chose the new (to the menu) Lamb Tagine -  it was absolutely delicious and acted as the perfect culinary blotting-paper!
Smile with tongue out

All-in-all, we made lunch last just over an hour-and-a-half (well, it took a while to sink my five glasses of bubbly!). Then, after a few more shop visits, we took the short walk back to the station, saying goodbye to Exeter’s retail scene and catching the 3.30 back to Honiton.

By 4.45, we were back at the Apartment and we’d had a really good day. It was great to look round the Cathedral and our short dose of ‘retail-therapy’ was very welcome!

Tomorrow we’re off to:

I’m exhausted already!
Winking smile

Friday, September 22, 2017

Holiday: National Trust’s ‘Strode House’ (Day 1)

After a good night’s sleep and leaving the laptop on overnight to download the photos we’d taken yesterday, I discovered that the router was still at it, having spent all night downloading just TWO! (shown below). For the biggest router I’ve ever seen in my life, it certainly lacked speed!

After a hearty breakfast, we had two priorities in mind for today: go exploring and then find some civilisation where there’s a reasonable internet connection!

But before all that, it looked like a beautiful morning in the making, so we had a quick wander around the ‘neighbour’s grounds’ – Barrington Court before leaving.

Barrington Court

Then it was back in the car, and off on our travels. First stop was Dunster and then its Castle. It was a torturous route to Dunster due to the volume of traffic going through Taunton, and as a result, the short 29 mile-ish journey took almost an hour! Yeesh!

The Market Cross at Dunster

Dunster was a picture-book town from a bygone age – simply gorgeous!. Unfortunately, the internet connection was from the same age!! How the heck anyone runs a business here, using their mobile is beyond me! No mobile signal on O2, EE or 3... and no sign of any wifi either!!

Thanks Dunster!

More than slightly disappointed that I couldn’t post yesterday’s blog, we took the short walk up to Dunster Castle.

This was an impressive place from the outside…

…and on the inside too…

These are Dutch painted-leather ‘paintings’ from the 17th century, believed to be the only ones left in Europe.

Then it was off to the Castle’s own Water-wheel. What’s more, it was a double! We’ve never seen one of those before!

They even mill their own flour and oats – very entrepreneurial!

Next stop? LUNCH! We’d packed a picnic and found the perfect spot just down from the water-wheel, by an old bridge

Some nice tropical views too…

…plus some great views from the top too…

And having got to the top, we grabbed a seat to chill-out for a bit and soak up the surroundings. We'd almost given up on a mobile signal, but I thought I’d check the signal one last time to see if things had improved. They had! Right at the top of the Castle, we picked up 4G (yep, 4G!) and I have no idea how or why it should suddenly be available at this specific and remote location. No matter! I uploaded the blog, Ann retrieved her Daily Telegraph on her Kindle, and I was able to finally sync all the photos from my phone.

Next on the itinerary was Minehead – famous for Butlin’s (and still famous looking at the queue for it!). We dropped into the local Morrison’s to pick up some picnic provisions, before heading of to nearby Selworthy. First we looked around the unusual looking Church – All Saints.

It was more traditional on the inside and in really good condition. Lovely!

For our final look around Selworthy, it was a choice from two locations: The village itself or the Selworthy Beacon. Well, the latter to me sounded much more exciting, so we chose the route to the Beacon (it was NT, so it was free!). As we passed though the gate pointing in the right direction, we immediately noticed that the signpost didn’t show the actual distance to our destination! But surely it would be just around the next turn and over the next hill?

Well, 39 turnings and 17 hills later, we almost gave up, but something said ‘go a little further’. We’re glad we did, because as we crossed the main road for the final climb…

…we saw this in front of us! Wow!

..and five-minutes later, we made it! Maybe slightly underwhelming to look at, but I’m glad we found it after all the walking! It was now raining much harder, so we were pleased that the walk back was all downhill. Forty minutes later, we were back in the car. We opted not to simply reverse the route and take on Taunton! Instead, we headed south towards Tiverton,  east along the A361 and then eventually picking up the M5 for a couple of junctions, eventually exiting at the Yeovil exit. It was a longer route back, but it felt shorter – one of our better decisions!

Back at the Apartment, we quickly unpacked all of our provisions from Morrison’s and got dinner ready. We were both knackered, but the ribs, suede mash, broccoli and broad-beans went down a treat! So did the profiteroles and the alcohol too!!!

Wow, what a day! We certainly walked a fair amount and I won my battle for the internet too!

Tomorrow, it’s Exeter (thankfully, by train!)

Photos of the interior of our Apartment, that I couldn’t post yesterday…