Sunday morning dawned chucking down with rain. What a horrid start to our holiday after the glorious weather of the journey down. After a little research we decided to pop into Bude and visit the Heritage centre, Bude Castle. It was built by and the home of Cornwall’s forgotten genius Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (what a fabulous name) in 1830, it was the first building on sand with specially constructed foundations and though he was mocked at the time and people said the building wouldn’t last, it’s still standing and in use today. Well worth a visit, the museum was absolutely fascinating and I’m astounded that we’d never heard of this man before. Inventor of the steam drag, a precursor to steam engines on railways which ultimately failed due to lack of investment because the smart money was going into railways, he went on to invent limelight and the Bude Light which illuminated the House of commons and Trafalgar Square among others and he developed the system of the light with a revolving shield still used in lighthouses to this day.
I really enjoyed learning about the man and his inventions.
We enjoyed the other exhibits on shipwrecks and the Bude canal as well as a moving display dedicated to the American rangers stationed at Bude to train for the D-Day landings. A walk around the art on show in the various galleries in the castle and a sandwich and cuppa in the cafe conservatory overlooking the beach completed our visit.
With the weather getting even wetter, we jumped back into the car to drive round to Widemouth Bay for a look. Then back to Morrisons to buy ingredients for fish pie. My turn to cook tonight!
So wet and miserable that there are no photos taken today apart from the ones of the cottage that I added to the post for yesterday.
After an uneventful drive of just short of three hours we arrived in Stratton and found our cottage. It was evident that parking was going to be difficult, the ‘ample street parking’ as described by the owner is clearly only available at times when the village is deserted! We were very early for check-in anyway so headed off to Bude for shopping.
When we got back to Stratton, we were lucky that a kindly neighbour took pity on us trying to unload the car (parked halfway back to Bude) and directed us to a space nearby.
Higher Townsend cottage is very old and rustic shall we say! It’s very quaint with its thatched roof and rickety wooden door, complete with enormous key.
The living room is comfortable but the furniture is shabby and a bit fusty smelling to be truthful. The staircase to the bedroom leads off the living room and is wonderfully wonky, typical of a cottage of this age obviously. The kitchen is a small extension and is adequately equipped for a holiday let but by no means as good as some we’ve stayed in. There is a sweet little courtyard area at the back next to the kitchen which was bathed in sunshine when we had unpacked the shopping so what better than to sit out there and enjoy a beer!
The bedroom and bathroom are furnished nicely and are clean and welcoming. The wonky floors slope just enough to fool you and trip you up late at night…. and Patrick found a little secret door in the bathroom that leads to another staircase down into the dining room.
It’s a really quirky little place but I have to say that the living room lets it down a bit for me. The place is old but that doesn’t mean the furniture has to be!
We decided to see the lay of the land around Stratton, or specifically the local hostelries of which there are two. We thought that we may eat at one or both of them during the week so a bit of a reccy really. First up was The Tree Inn. I was expecting a bit of a gastropub after reading online reviews but we only popped into the public bar so didn’t see the restaurant. We bought a drink and sat out in the yard at a table. There was a table of local characters at the next table who seemed to find us very interesting. I felt like a zoo exhibit and it didn’t endear the place to me. Next up was the Kings Arms. I preferred this one but Patrick didn’t care for it. We again sat outside as there was no one at all in the pub, as there hadn’t been in the Tree. We may give them another try one evening but we didn’t feel comfortable in either of them on Saturday afternoon.
Having pre-booked a stopover to break up the long drive to Cornwall, we set off on Friday morning in Daisy, my little yellow car, to travel to North Nibley in Gloucestershire. The Black Horse Inn to be exact. We expected the journey to take about four hours but a couple of traffic jams and over five hours later saw us parking up in the pub car park.
Picture book pretty from the outside, unfortunately the inside needed not only a lot of TLC but also a bloody good clean! I’m pleased we were only there for the one night.
It was a scorchingly hot day but after some much needed refreshment (a beer), we set off for a walk to stretch our legs. The barmaid recommended a walk to the Tyndale Monument as having lovely views from the top.
Here it is from the pub beer garden. Yep. That tower above the tree tops!
It was about a mile perhaps, uphill through cool, shady woodland and the views from the meadow at the top were indeed spectacular. Including the Severn Bridge 12 miles away.
It was quite a steep walk in places and I found a sturdy stick to help Patrick. Once at the top though, he found himself a much bigger Gandalf style stick which he brandished proudly!
Once up there and having caught our breath back, we decided to climb up the steps inside the monument. There are 121 of the buggers. All was well until I came face to face with a nesting pigeon on a ledge right next to the steps. Those who know me will understand my panic! Patrick then had to squeeze past me and stand in front of the bird to shield me from it as I passed. It was worth the climb once we reached the top though.
Now feeling that our legs had been stretched enough, it was back to the pub for a swifty before freshening up for our evening meal.
The meals of steak and chips for Patrick and gammon and chips for me weren’t very good, the chips being frozen chips that had been deep fried to a tooth threatening crisp. I think least said soonest mended is my feeling about our stay at The Black Horse. We slept fairly well though and after a breakfast that was of the same standard as the previous night’s meal, we were ready to be on our way.
I’ve seen a few different performances at this fab little theatre space and I’ve just heard today that it is soon to close, the whole building being for sale. I really hope new buyers come in and continue the excellent work started here. I doubt that will happen though, the focus at the moment seems to be on redevelopment and I suspect that’s what will happen to this five storey building.A couple of weeks ago Patrick and I went to see my old work colleague Bernie Laverick and his Made in Hull band perform their album Another Day. Also on the bill were the brilliant Ched Cheeseman performing his one man blues show, All Gone South, a band of school kids who were all excellent musicians and Fiddler’s Elbow, a folk outfit who kept us entertained with not only their brilliant, toe-tapping tunes but a great banter with the audience. Bernie and his band, headlining the night’s entertainment were simply outstanding. Great musicians, talented song writers and a joy to watch. A brilliant night of music in a wonderful, intimate setting.
On Thursday night with our friends Pete and Donna, we went to see blues legend (so I’m told) Li’l Jimmy Reed. I enjoy blues but I’m not such a fan that I know any names but I can well imagine that Mr Reed at 81 years of age is most definitely a legend.Firstly though we had a meal, having heard so much about the pizzas and been wanting to try them for ages I naturally went for a meze platter of hummus, olives and bread! The others had pizza though so I was able to try theirs. They were as enormous as I’d been led to believe and very nice if a little dry. So, through to the theatre to find it packed. We were lucky to find four seats together and soon after, the trio came on stage with a combined age of around 240 at a guess, all sporting dazzlingly sparkly outfits.Bob Hall on keyboards stole the show for me. He was the spokesperson, informing us that “Jimmy is a man of few words”. His keyboard skills were something to behold. A lady on bass whose name I didn’t catch kept rhythm and Jimmy himself was fantastic on guitar and mouth organ. Another great night of music at this fab venue. It will be sadly missed.
One of my favourite places in the world is Flamborough Head on our lovely East Coast and at only 35 miles away from home, it is an easy day trip. For the past three years though, we’ve had a few days stay in a static caravan during May or June, to coincide with the visit of the thousands of seabirds who flock to the cliffs for breeding season. This year, having had beautiful, sunny and warm weather for a few days, naturally the forecast turned to colder and wetter for our upcoming weekend! We weren’t about to let that spoil it for us though. Packing my little car with food, essential kitchen equipment and of course lots and lots of beer, you’d be forgiven for assuming we were venturing away from the civilised world for a month rather than three nights on a caravan site.
We arrived just before midday on Friday and after unpacking had a sandwich and a beer (what did you expect) and set off for a walk down to Thornwick Bay. The caravan is well situated for access to the many walks along the cliffs and its just a short walk through and down the cliff steps to the beach. The tide was rapidly coming in as was a light mist and it was chilly by the waters edge. I remarked that it was very quiet in terms of birds on these cliffs yet around the next point was crowded with the noise (and smell) of thousands, at that we both spotted what appeared to be a puffin in a crevice. Eagerly scanning the cliff face through the binoculars we saw that there were at least four nesting up there. I then saw one take flight and following it’s progress saw it land on the sea for a spot of fishing. We stood for almost an hour enjoying the sight of them back and forth between sea and nest. At one point we counted eight on the sea with three or four still on the cliff. They were of course joined by the ubiquitous guillemot, razorbill and kittiwakes.
We were feeling a bit chilly so headed back to the caravan for a lovely meal of fillet steak with a glass or two of our favourite red.
We awoke on Saturday to thick fog but it eventually cleared enough for us to venture out. We decided to walk through the village to the lighthouse and on the way, spotted the remains of Flamborough castle. I think castle is a bit too grand a description, it was more of a fortified manor house according to the history. The ruins we see below are of the tower that would have been in the middle of it.
I must have seen this loads of times before but just not really noticed it. Its on private land so you can’t get close but there are information boards telling a bit of the history.
The rest of the walk seemed to take us forever due to Lighthouse Road being very long and boring! Although of course we did pass the old lighthouse which is always a good excuse for a photo stop. Built in 1674 but never used, it was replaced by the ‘new’ lighthouse in 1806.
I had wanted to do a tour of the new and working lighthouse but the fog would have made the climb to the top pointless as we wouldn’t have seen anything. I took a photo of it from the beach instead.
We enjoyed a light lunch of a home made fishcake in the cafe nearby and then climbed down the steps to Selwicks Bay.
We were lucky to see a seal playing in the sea, quite close to the shore. He knew lots of people were watching him and appeared to be showboating a bit but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photo as each time I pressed the shutter he dived and I missed him. After a little while we climbed back up and walked back to the site via the cliff top. We were lucky enough to still be able to see the fantastic flocks of birds despite the fog! Including a cormorant which we were pretty chuffed about.
We passed some impressive coastal architecture along the way too.
On Sunday we decided to go to Bempton. It was a lovely day so I was hoping for some good photo opportunities. On arrival, we were persuaded to join the RSPB but it is something I’ve considered in the past anyway so I wasn’t too difficult to persuade. We had a nice walk but I do find that Bempton gets too crowded at the viewing points. I prefer Flamborough Cliffs personally but Bempton is the place to see the gannets
Of course there are also puffins, this little guy or gal looks a bit fed up.
Razorbills. You can tell them from the Guillemots by the shape of their beak which is more rounded on the top than the pointed beak of the guillemot. Other to that, I can’t tell ’em apart!
And guillemots, see the pointy beak.
The sight, sound and smell of this amazing seabird colony is beyond imagination and if you’ve never visited, make the effort but make sure you have binoculars, you can hire them from the visitor centre. I’m a bit disappointed with my photos this year but the weather was very foggy, especially on the Friday and Saturday and I think that makes the photos look a bit fuzzy. Either that or I’m just a rubbish photographer!
All too soon Monday arrived and it was time to go home. We briefly stopped at Barmston en-route, just to see what’s there… Nothing much is the answer but the massive beach looked spectacular. As Patrick hadn’t been feeling well, we made tracks for home having had a great weekend.