Sunday, 25 August 2013

Adventures in Devon

 Somerton, below, was briefly the ancient capital of Wessex around 900AD, and the Wessex King Ine - 688-726 - was supposedly originally a farmer here.

I can wearily report we are back from our travels and just wish we had had more time to relax in between the bursts of long drives, but we had to be back to take our son to work/pick him up on Saturday.  Our first port of call was Street in Somerset and we seemed to be making good time (to view a cottage) but then suddenly realized after we had eaten a leisurely car park picnic, that we were actually running late, and I was allowed just 15 minutes to gallop from the car park into the Clarks Village to buy new winter shoes.  This would have just about possible, as I bought the 3rd pair of shoes I tried on, had I not then got totally lost and ended up in the wrong car park and NO IDEA where the one with my husband in was . . .  After running round like a chicken with its head off, I calmed down sufficiently to realize that I had best retrace my steps (all the shops and walkways looked the SAME!) and see if I could find him.  We were a little late for the viewing (as I then also realised that  being witless, I had NOT noticed that the estate agents' details printed from the internet failed to include directions on how to get there.)  This was to set the pattern for our entire time away.  I think I need a new brain . . .

A frantic phone call gave us directions and we viewed a lovely unspoilt Somerset cottage, which had a perfect complement of outbuildings, stunning English cottage gardens and ancient fruit trees.  However, someone had offered on it (which we knew) and it was possible, due to circumstances, that more houses might be built nearby.

We were staying that first night near Barnstaple in North Devon and after stopping to stretch our legs at Somerton,  we got onto the A361 and headed vaguely N-W.  Above is the view from the car as we crossed the North Devon countryside . . .  I know - it could be anywhere!

Our B&B was on a farm and once we had found it (I forgot to note the address, and again, we had to phone for directions on how to find it once we were nearly there). We had a very pleasant room and were the only house guests.  We had a fabulous meal in a pub a couple of miles away, recommended by the landlady, followed up by Honeycomb Ice Cream.  I thought I would burst and had to exhort my OH to eat half of it!

The next morning we drove to Barnstaple, nearby, to have a look around the town before dropping down to the village near Bideford where there was another cottage to view.  This photo was taken looking along some of the stalls at Barnstaple Pannier Market.  I bought some oddments of Paisley and similar material from a nearby stall (run by a lovely lady who was very helpful).  Had we been the day before, we would have been able to look around the Antiques and Collectables stalls . . .  Drat!  We were impressed by the Fresh Fish and Butchers and Deli etc shops on the other side of the Butchers Row, and we also had a wander round the charity shops.

We left in what we thought was good time to view the next property, as it appeared to be a simple left turn off the main road.  I looked at the house details - once again, no directions.  We couldn't find the left turning - I was map reading : (   . . .  I got more and more flustered, as we got into Bideford and didn't know where to turn next.  A phone to the agents gave us directions, BUT they omitted the final "turn Right".  We ended up in the middle of nowhere, but a further phone call finally got us to the property, which was absolutely superb, perfect, 10/10.  OK, much further West than we originally planned, but it was even better than the details I had of it and would suit us down to the ground . . .  One to seriously consider should we get an offer soon (we are about to change agents).

So we set off heading southwards towards our destination of Totnes, where I had booked B&B for the night.  We stopped for a cuppa in Great Torrington, a pleasant town, where we found this lovely puss taking 40 winks on a stall near the Fish Counter in Great Torrington Pannier Market.  Perhaps he got Perks at the end of the day . . .

Above, the view across the car park one way . . . and below, the other . . .

A pleasant little town and much more to our preference than the sleepy North Devon town where we had stopped to stretch our legs the previous day.  That had reminded me of some of the Welsh towns which are miles from anywhere and just serve the most basic of needs (though this did have more shops - and a sheep market, strangely enough).

For some reason, our map reading skills fled once again, and OH got us on the wrong road this time after we missed a vital turning (glad it wasn't just me!)  We nearly ended up in Crediton before managing to relocate ourselves onto the right road, and down through Moretonhampstead and Bovey Tracey and then on to Totnes.

Hurray!  But our B&B had no parking and I ended up driving round a loop FOUR times to drop my OH and luggage off and be back to pick him up.  I was nearly tearing my hair out by then!  More tomorrow . . .

A unicorn for my friend Yarrow . . .


  1. Lots of interesting things to note here--but will quickly state that I am just as witless when it comes to directions--inside a shopping mall or out on the road! I've found it helpful to go to google maps, type in a destination and print out all the turnings. Usually there are several alternate routes. [J. invariably chooses the shortest--I choose the one with least 'turns.']
    What is the tree in your header photo? The leaves resemble mimosa trees of the south-central US--but the golden flowers have me puzzled.

  2. It's a Rowan (Mountain Ash) tree up on Dartmoor - the berries were actually a little more orange-coloured than they look in the photo. Next time, I will make sure I get everything planned before I go - I just was NOT organized AT ALL.

  3. It all sounds absolutely exhausting but im glad you found a 10 out of 10 xx

  4. What a darling unicorn, and the black and white cat. I like the towns and scenes you show, but the driving sounds complicated!

  5. Hi Fi and Terra, 10/10's are RARE as hen's teeth! Only drawback was geographical position, but we could probably adapt IF we got a buyer here! We feel we need to have a couple of "irons in the fire" as WHEN we DO get a buyer, we can't' start looking from scratch . . . I have a soft spot for unicorns too, and of course, any cat is a given . . .

  6. Lovely countryside you have there in Wales, looks a bit like the acreage east of here before the Valley. So glad I'm not the only directionally challenged person about on the roads on any given day. Here's to a buyer making an offer TO you.

  7. I feel your frustration with all the lack of directions to the viewings. But I love maps and reading them !

    You always have the best header photos ! This one is beautiful.

    cheers, parsnip

  8. Lynda - these batch of photos were all from Devon, England (part of the "West Country"). The header photo is taken on Dartmoor, which is moorland towards the south of Devon.

    parsnip - glad you like my header photos. This one did come out nicely. Some are . . . rubbish, and you don't get to see those! We both love maps too, but I think the AA road map we used in the car is about to be swopped for a better one.

    1. Yes that header photo is beautiful, we might even relocate to Cornwall, but when heaven knows!. Anyway your tale of getting lost, and not having addresses/directions made me laugh. When we went to Cornwall, Paul kept saying you will see Jamaica Inn on the left hand side of the road, 30 miles further on, no inn appeared, unfortunately they had made a new road since he had last visited 20 years ago but we did find it on the way back though....

  9. Keep calm and carry on would seem to be the only possible comment here BB.

  10. Sounds as though you saw more of Somerset and Devon than you intended:) Do hope that a new estate agent will do the trick for you, the housing market is certainly looking up I think.