Monday 21 March 2022

A Glory of beaches

 Almost every moment (when not exploring ancient Abbeys and flower filled lanes) I spent on the beautiful beaches of Devon. I have returned to my favourites and discovered new places and as always, been extremely happy. Like everyone I have my worries and my down days but time spent on an empty beach always lifts my spirits.

It is even worth the pain of getting to them. I did fall some considerable distance out of a hedge to the lane below trying to take a short cut and avoid the steepest part of the hill but that was entirely my own fault...

I love pottering gently up and down some quiet cove, looking for pebbles and playing my ‘Beach Art’ games. I have even had a couple of exhilarating extreme paddles.  The water was so very cold and misjudging waves left me breathless and totally soaked- yet I was also laughing and fizzing with the enjoyment of it all.

One evening, after a rainy day, I ended up on Bigbury beach near the famous Burgh Island. The sun was coming and going behind the clouds and the waves were sliding across the sands with hardly a ripple. Everything was lit up with the clear blue light and from the reflections in the water.

It was a magical moment and I felt so lucky to be there to see it.


Very nearly Summer

When the sun shines in Newton Ferrers, it feels as if you have arrived in a different country, or at the very least a different season. Looking out over the sheltered estuary of the River Yealm, I felt as if I had arrived in a tropical paradise.

 I have stayed there before- Pippa’s parents have often been kind and counted me as one of the family, yet each time I return I am stunned by the rich colours and the tranquillity of the view across the lawn to the water below.

This has been a week of re-discovering the Devon I love so well. I have written about the lanes but I also found an ancient Clapper bridge and spent an early evening in Exmoor’s wide empty beauty, which was lit up by the late afternoon sun.

I love the freedom of following a whim. I saw the sign on my map for the ancient bridge and decided that would be the focus of a day’s exploration. I drive slowly and with enjoyment, stopping whenever I see an interesting view or village, taking walks and picnics whenever it suits me. When driving home through the moors, I came across a small stone circle, it was nothing grand yet it was hauntingly beautiful in the evening light.

On one day I had planned to visit Saltram but was diverted by the sound of Buckland Abbey and spent the day there instead. It is such a pleasure to be here so early in the year- everywhere is peaceful and there are only a few travelers rather than hordes of tourists.

It has been a gentle peaceful week, with kind weather, spring flowers and I have even survived the knee punishingly steep slopes and hills without too many swear words.                                                            It has been a pleasure staying in Newton Ferrers and waking to enjoy this beautiful view every day.


Thursday 17 March 2022

By ways less traveled

Today I have let the lanes lead the way.

I have trundled down winding roads with their high banks, glowing red with the red earth of Devon in search of the countryside that lives in my dreams and imagination.

I love these lanes, that have sunk into the land over the centuries, they seem to hug me and I feel safe and sheltered.

Their steep sides are a tapestry of flowers, moss and tree roots. The hedges and trees at the top are twisted and bent by the wind.

 There is joy in the quick glimpses of the countryside seen at gates and hilltops.

They are rutted and slippery with mud, there is often a line of grass down the middle and a tractor met coming in the opposite direction means courageous reversing and my breath held as we squeeze pass.


It was meant to be a wet windy day but the weather was kind and apart from one dramatic hail shower the countryside was lit up with that clarity of light you only get when the rain has cleared away.

My trust in serendipity led me to a quiet valley, snug amidst the rounded hills. There was a mossy bridge and a lively river so I went exploring.

It was a true Devon river, full and lively from the recent rain, peaty brown yet clear and sparkling. Leaning over the bridge I could see a mass of wild daffodils ‘fluttering and dancing in the breeze'.

They were growing all along the riverbank, shining in the sunshine amidst the new spring grass. They are paler than our golden garden daffodils and looked so dainty and lively I found myself smiling in delight.

 I followed a path, climbed down to the river’s edge and paddled up stream until I came to a mossy overhanging tree where I could sit and watch the world and disappear into my surroundings. I like to take the time to be quiet and still and to listen and look at all around me.

These are the moments for which I come on my travels, these are my moments of being.



The best of friends

I have known Pippa since our children were tiny and we were both young mothers dealing with the joys and traumas of life and finding kinship in the way we saw the world. She is the best of friends and has been by my side during so many of the important times in my life. We have grown to know each other's characters and always feel comfortable together- we laugh and cry in equal measure. We've been on holiday, had parties and many adventures. We both share a deep love of the countryside (hers is a more active love...) and she is an amazingly talented sculptor.

I missed her dreadfully when she married and moved to Devon but her husband Andy is a brave man and he copes with my frequent visits and he too has become a friend.

There had been some changes of plan which meant I have stayed with Pip and Andy for five days. This was such a treat as we normally only manage short visits and it was so good to have a chance to spend some relaxed time together. Pip understands how I can't manage strenuous walks and that I will sometimes need to have very early nights, so I feel at home.

I had a yearning to be by the sea and we caught the sunshine on some happy pottering walks and beach wanderings. Spring has come to Devon and the glowing green of the grass and sparkling blue of the sea was beautiful. 

On my last day, Pip took me on her favourite walk along the cliff path at Bolt Head where we looked down at the beautiful beach at Starehole Bay. It has been a perfect start to my adventures.

We talked non-stop over the time we spent together and I think that we have nearly caught up...!

Wild West Adventure

When spring arrives, my heart turns towards the West Country. As a child, every Easter we went to visit my Father’s parents, Grandma and Granddad Delve, who lived in Exeter. Dad was a Devon man, brought up in North Tawton and so these holidays always had a feeling of homecoming.

I remember the long drive down from Buckinghamshire- it was before the A303 and how Grandma always made a delicious fish pie for our first supper, in case our tummies were feeling delicate from all that traveling. My memories of my Grandparents are linked to the red earth of Devon, the joy of being by the seaside at Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton and most of all -Primroses- masses of Primroses! Spring comes early to Devon and everything always seemed to be greener and the deep lanes full of flowers.

So when planning my next little adventure, a month in the West Country was my first choice. I realised from the start that this is going to be a very different trip from my time in Wales last September. That was a grand voyage of discovery, a new venture and I was buoyed up with the excitement of doing something new. The weather was warm and sunny and everything was suffused with a golden glow of achievement.

This month is entirely due to the kindness and generosity of my friends and family. I am staying with people and at places that I already know. In many ways, this makes it extra special and I am so very grateful but I also feel a little guilty that none of this is due to my own hard work.

In the weeks before I left, life had been filled with a myriad of minor annoyances and worries. With all the trouble in the world, I felt ashamed to be feeling stressed and down-hearted, especially with a holiday ahead but I have learned you cannot alter your emotions and I just have to accept what I feel and try to act in a positive way.

I decided to take a leisurely route down to Pip and Andy’s. They live in Aveton Gifford, a lively and lovely village in the beautiful South Hams area of Devon. It will come as no surprise that I stopped for lunch and an afternoon on the beach at my beloved Budleigh Salterton. I enjoyed my first picnic, heard the sound of the waves on those beautiful pebbles, and started to feel excited at the thought of everything ahead.

That evening, well-fed and very well looked after, I sat by the fire with my dearest friend and felt content. Life is good and I am very lucky.

Sunday 6 February 2022

What will I remember most?

It's now a grey rainy Sunday evening in February and the sun-filled days of my Welsh Adventure seem a long time ago. So I thought I would pick out my very favourite moments, to remind me what a life-changing magical time I had.

I loved the peace and isolation I felt when I sat outside my little cottage in Snowdonia every evening and watched the sun go down behind the mountains.

The fun of eating wild field mushrooms and the meal I had in the 'Boatel', reading ancient history by candlelight.

Discovering the secret oak wood and my first visit to the Isle of Angelsea - I will return ...

Meeting up with Emily and Jordan.

The view from the Panorama and finding the painted Church.

Slow days spent getting to know so many beaches, sea swimming, and having the time to watch beautiful sunsets.

Knowing I had my beloved home to return to when I pressed the SatNav button for the final journey.

Feeling like this again.