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 . . .