Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tordown Farm

At last some real sunshine to venture out in! This is Tordown Farm and we found it by accicent today. Just outside Barnstaple on the road to Landkey is a signpost which reads Tordown Farm Nature Trail. So we followed the signs. They lead us down three miles of single track country lanes to the Farm car park. A handwritten sign told us to report to the farmhouse which we duly did. Tordown Farm is a working farm but they offer a two mile nature trail to visitors for a donation at the Farmhouse, and Cream Teas are on offer in the dining room. The farms wife is very friendly and gave us a map and explained in detail what we had to do. But before we set off we were able to pet the farm's dogs and check out the guinea pigs, lambs, chickens, quails and an owl all kept in various enclosures in the yard.

The walk was very well sign posted with white arrows and took us through fields, over hills, down into wooded valleys and alongside streams. Many of the fields were resident to goats, sheep and cows, who all stopped their feeding to watch us as we passed. The views were fantastic. What made it even better was the fact that we were the only ones there. Apparently they are busier at weekends. After the walk we stopped for a drink then on the way to car were able to feed grass to the pony in the neighbouring field. A great find!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Westward Ho! Potwalloping

We went to Westward Ho! today to become windswept and frozen at the local Potwalloping Festival. On a day with better weather this could be a fun event with lots to entertain children and grown-ups alike. We stayed long enough to watch an Aikido display and wander round to take in the sights. There were plenty of stalls, a whole marquee dedicated to local crafts, and more market-type wares ranged along the sea front. Bouncy castles seemed to multiply in front of our very eyes there were so many, although not too many that we couldn't find the beer tent! Activities for children included a fancy dress competition, painting pebbles and designing T-shirts.

Potwalloping dates back to Victorian times when all those who lived in the parish spent some time after the Spring tides collecting pebbles that had been washed down off the ridge and throwing them back again. This protected their grazing rights on Northam Burrows, as well as preventing the Burrows from flooding. Potwalloping became something of an event with food and cider laid on as the whole community turned out. I'm told that both my Grandmothers are true potwallopers as they were born in the parish. The tradition gradually died out but the Festival was started in 1995 in order to celebrate the history of the event and it's getting bigger each year.

The best entertainment of the day was provided by my two youngest daughters Sumo wrestling in giant plastic padded suits. I laughed so much I cried!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Theatre and Cinema

Barnstaple has both a cinema and a theatre and this weekend I spent some time in both. The Queens Theatre has had quite a face lift in recent years and now sports plush seats and a cafe/bar. I went here on Saturday to watch my daughters in a ballet show, but am-dram is not all they host; a lot of shows are touring productions with some quite big names and they have musical events too.

The cinema has also greatly improved in the last ten years. It has one of the largest screens in the South West with comfy seats, surround sound and a cpacity of around 250. There are three smaller screens downstairs and a small bar. They are very quick to get all the new releases and they have an online booking system which is so easy even I can manage it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pinkworthy Pond

Back onto Exmoor today for a three mile round trip to Pinkworthy (pronounced Pinkery) Pond. The walk up to the pond is pleasant enough, and we had a lovely sunny day for it. The pond is actually a seven acre lake made by John Knight in 1830 when he built a dam across the River Barle, no one knows why.

Once you reach the pond you have a choice of routes, right takes you along the Chains or left half a mile to the Tarka Trail. I wouldn't recommend the latter. I walked it today with 30 children and it is very marshy. There were quite a few wellies which stayed in the mud while thier owners feet marched on. Still, following the stream through the tunnel under the dam was quite an adventure, as was finding sheep skeletons and hundreds of tadpoles. And not an ice-cream van in sight!

Sunday, May 07, 2006


This is Appledore, a quiet village on the banks of the River Torridge and home of the oft-mentioned Hockings ice cream. It used to be a fishing village, its narrow streets meandering down the hill towards the Quay. The Quay now has a brand new flood defence scheme and the thin and twisting roads hidden behind it house art galleries and curiosity shops.

I came down to visit my Grandad who had a superb view from his upstairs sitting room of the many sailing boats coasting up and down the river in the breezy sunshine. And I didn't even have to phone him up to get him to let me in.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Westward Ho!

The weather man said it was going to rain today. What does he know? So when I got fed up of painting skeletons onto black jumpsuits (Don't ask!) we all jumped in the car and went down to Westward Ho! Westward Ho! is the only place in the country to have an exclamation mark after its name and was named after the book written by Charles Kingsley. It is a very popular resort in the summer although this early in the season it was quite sleepy and uncrowded. It is most famous for its pebble ridge which, as you can see, stretches on and on.

We went for a stoll along the sands and a spot of rock-scrambling over the giant rocks placed against the sea wall as a defence against storm waves. We sat on the sea front and ate fish and chips straight from the wrapper, followed by the obligatory Hockings ice cream. I'm beginning to spot a theme in my posts and it's not actually things to do in North Devon. An awful lot of my life seems to revolve around food!