Monday, 27 August 2012

The Woollies in Wales!

We headed back up country, via Cardigan Bay to meet up with our oldest lad and family who were there on holiday from Bishop Auckland, Co.Durham.
Our pitch was a small farm, working Jacob sheep. They had originally come from Nantwich so we had Cheshire in common. We parked up on their yard so were on solid concrete – helpful given the rain they'd had.

Eldest grandson in action
Eldest granddaughter with grandmother in conference
Eldest son enjoying his holiday?

The next day we visited the National Welsh Woollen Museum at Dre-fach Felindre, near Newcastle Emlyn, near Cardigan.
It was an excellent visit (free courtesy of the Welsh Assembly), interesting for adults and children alike.

Following the road down the Teifi Valley, we came to the Cenarth Falls – an area for trout and salmon fishing, although a local said that the high summer river levels had led to poor fishing.

Interesting bridge, with circular openings to reduce the weight to the footings whilst maintaining strength and to let the flood water through; this whole car park gets flooded in winter. Built in 1787.

We set back to Cheshire on Saturday 25th Aug and called in at the National Trust Property Llanerchaeron – the home for ten generations of Welsh gentry. Built by John Nash (he of the later Buckingham Palace), it was a great place to visit and we stopped longer than we expected for 4 hours.
We arrived back at the Overwater Marina (our Cheshire base) early evening – 10 weeks touring the West Country – a great 2012 summer holiday.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tourists in Somerset

We've moved on now - saying thank you to our lad Daniel and our granddaughter for a great holiday in Devon. We stopped off at Tiverton, to see our old house where we lived from 1973 until 1976. This is the terrace house that we renovated and built an extension, re-wiring (done by my father-in-law), damp proofing, re-plastering and plumbing etc. Also where our 2 older children were born! We just got it finished and then moved to North Yorkshire for my first job as an Ed.Psychologist.
Our old house is the one on the left – the blue door is to the communal back path giving access to the back door and garden.

Seven Stars Pub – my 1st local?
We have driven up to just beyond Bishop Lydiard, to a very isolated Camping Field ready for a trip to the West Somerset Steam Railway. When I say isolated, we needed to take the motorvan down some narrow single lanes!

Which way is it?


There were a couple of bee hives on the site – the bees were busy!

We visited the admirable West Somerset Railway – the longest in the UK, as it winds it's way down to the coast at Minehead. There is some incline work to do, steepest at about 1 in 75.
On the day of our visit, they were running a 'Manor' class, named after the local 40 Commando Battalion – Norton Manor. The classic DMU also had a turn. A great day out!

Back to the 1950's rural branch line

Whilst we were down this way, we drove over to Holcombe Rogus to meet up with one of Chris' cousins (and her daughter) and the next day also drove over to meet up with Chris' younger brother in Yeovil and had a pleasant time catching up.
On the way back, we dropped into Montacute House (National Trust) for tea and cake and a look round – very impressive, especially their collection from the National Portrait Gallery of leading characters from the Tudor and Elizabethan period.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Rocks and Rescuers!

When over at Lynton, we always get to the Valley of the Rocks – a curious dry valley just behind the cliffs. We saw a number of the goats that roam here and I spotted a pair of sparrowhawks on the wing. The valley resembles our north Derbyshire gritstone area?

Picnic time!

Grandparent sandwich!
Daniel then drove the rather hairy coast lane – sheer drop to the sea! - to meet up with the road to Ilfracombe, another favourite place of ours. This time the crabs were on the menu?

We saw a number of interesting boats, including the service vessel to Lundy Island, a trio of local trawlers and a harbour full of assorted craft.
MV Oldenburgh

I was told by the fisherman that one trawler had just been 'banned' from Welsh waters as being 'too big'? They trawl about 50 – 100 miles off-shore and the fish are boxed up and sent to Bideford for selling. He buys up what he needs there and then sells it at their quayside shop back at Ilfracombe as 'fresh fish!'
Heavy duty tackle being prepared.
Whilst we were there, the lifeboat was launched – a Mersey Class 12-007. I wasn't sure if this was an exercise too? It was soon down the ramp and into the sea and shot off from the harbour and round the headland.

After about 45 minutes, the lifeboat was back and to my surprise, they proceeded to drag it up the beach near the ramp!

It then poured with rain and we went for fish and chips – inside!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Past Re-visited - N.Devon

As we had use of Dan's car, we all squeezed in and travelled up to the small and charming town of Lynton. Made famous by the travelling curiousity of the Victorians, they would have come by the narrow gauge railway from Barnstaple.
The former splendour of the time can be seen by their majestic Town Hall.

How to get down from Lynton to the sea front?
The Victorians simply built a vertical railway (actually about 45 degrees). Constructed in 1888 and completed in 1890, it drops the 400ft to the sea front at Lynmouth. It runs on the gravity of water from a tank fed by a local stream. Needing 2 drivers via a bell system, the top carriage tank is filled with water. When ready, the lower driver winds off the brake and releases water – when the tanks balance the rail carriages begin to move up to about 12mph when a governor puts on the brake. 400ft in about 4 minutes – all with a renewable source! Not bad for 1888!
Passing round each other …

Arriving at the Lynmouth Station

Lynmouth has special significance for us Woolfords as this is where my Mum and Dad came for their honeymoon in 1947 (I think?). My Dad said they stayed at the rather grand Tors Hotel.

As children we came to visit many times (and we have brought our children here in turn).
The visits always had a poignancy for us as our parents re-called the terrible flood disaster of 1952 when an extremely severe storm caused a flash flood sweeping down the valley at night and 34 people died. A small museum recalls the events of that night and the aftermath.
As it happens, we were there on the 60th Anniversary of that fateful night 15th August 1952.
This Rhienes Tower was rebuilt after the floods, as was the harbour.

Cottages that did survive with a holidaymaker

Back to Braunton!

We had planned to meet up with our lad Daniel and our granddaughter near the surfing beach at Croyde, North Devon - and found a delightful Caravan and Camping site just outside Braunton.
We have been coming to this area of north Devon since we first got married and lived in Exeter and then in Tiverton. We have brought our children in turn and now our grandchild!
Evening swingball competition

The main reason for coming back to Braunton was to be close to Croyde surfing beach. Despite variable weather, we managed to get 3 days on the beach – 2 great sunny days and one at times sheltering from the rain!
Even so the beach and sea is magical and the surf improved during the week to be crashing in on our third day.
Future engineer?

The sea was warm enough to go in for a while (at about 16 degrees), so we had 2 good swims/bodyboard surfs each day, although I wore my wetsuit on one of those.
Our granddaughter was great and really enjoyed the surfing on a small board we had got. She was more confidant than the conditions warranted and she took a couple of dunkings!

On one of our beach days, the local RAF Rescue Helicopter was much in evidence.
Flying out from the local RAF Chivenor, it was just offshore, lowering it's winch man. We weren't sure if it was a rescue or an exercise?
Later, it dropped a red flare into the sea to mark a swimmer way out. The beach RNLI jet ski went out and brought a swimmer back in.

Later, a RNLI Lifeguard told me they had made 20 rescues that day, including 2 people who needed to go to hospital. You can see why as the swimming area was packed with bodyboarders and the surf was crashing in. Collisions were inevitable.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

More St.Ives

We've come to the end of our 3 weeks camping at St.Ives - rounded off today by a swim at Porthmeor Beach and a bbq. A lovely day even though the easterly wind has not let up all day. It's a windy place here and many caravaners have flag flying on fishing poles.
I have managed to get a couple of walks in along the South West Coast Path, dropping down from our campsite to meet the local Llama.
The coastal path west is quite rugged and has some interesting features including a 'stone circle' called "The Merry Harvesters".
Fable has it that these stones were once 13 old farmers and one beautiful 19 years old virgin from St.Ives. They were all caught dancing an ancient harvest fertility rite Morris Dance on Feast Sunday by the local Magistrate. They were immediately turned to stone forever! They say this was about 1947?
The views along the Coastal Path are wonderful as it passes along the cliff tops.
I needed to cross a delightful granite footbridge - quite recently built though?
Classic coastal path routes - a lot of up and down.
Having arrived at Zennor, I consulted the bus timetable for the 7 mile return to realise, as it was a Sunday, no service buses run and I was fortunate to catch the last 'tour bus', even though it meant a 90 minute wait - in the local pub!
The long road back and a welcome sign!
On a wet day we joined the coach trip to Port Wenn (i.e. Port Issac). A delightful, small fishing village surprisingly unspoilt by it's Doc Martin fame.

We then travelled over to Padstow, by contrast very commercialised and the wet weather had brought us holiday makers off the beaches into town. After the traditional pasty we wandered around the harbour. Let me see, which boat will we get next?

Alert readers will notice the 'crabbing' activity!
On this last Thursday, we finally moved the motorvan (1st time for almost 3 weeks) the grand mileage of 8 miles to St.Erth. The occasion was a beading course that Chris wanted to get to in the shop (her new hobby!) and  happily, this allowed me to take the rail connection to Bodmin Parkway. They still run the old Class 40's, 125 service here into Paddington. So people of a nervous disposition, please look away now as I take to a steamy affair on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway.
Modern? HST set
5552 taking on water

1928 'Small Prairie' Class 4575 - note the sloping water tanks
The even older 1899 T9, No 30120 - a 4-4-0
And in a message to the Men's Group sub Steam Group, what is the significance of the 2 white roundels on the smoke box? Answers gratefully received!
Chris and I finished the day by spending a great later evening with Jan and Paul who we had met on St.Martin's as they live locally.
We arrived back at the campsite so late (gone midnight) that we needed to park up outside and get our heads down after a great day.
Our last day here always is somewhat sad as we pack down ready to move on. However, with glorious weather, we did this in full sun, though again windy and finished the day with a trip down  to the beach for a swim and a bbq to finish.
Onwards to Devon next!