Sunday, August 07, 2011

Appledore and Instow Regatta

The Appledore and Instow Regatta is something we always used to go to as children although there is only one thing about it I remember. It is still going today, although not quite as strongly as it used to. We always went to the Appledore bit of it, not Instow across the river, because that's where Gran and Grandad lived. Grandad is still there.

We arrived today at just gone 1 o'clock, in time to find a spot along
the edge of the Quay to watch a rowing race come in. But events started at 10.30 this morning. There was commentary over the loud speakers for all the races. We were also in a prime position to see the Miller and Sweep - people in boats pelting each other with flour. After that we wandered off to get a Hockings ice cream.
The main events of the regatta take place on the water, as you might expect. The life boat was there and did a quick exhibition in the
water with one of it's little boats before motoring off. But there are
also stalls all the quayside. Not quite as many as I was led to expect, but there was a jewellery stall, a hamburger stall and the lifeboat stall.
The main draw for me, and the only thing I remember from being small, was the Greasy Pole. Competitors swim out to a pontoon and get two tries at reaching the end of the Greasy Pole without falling into the water. It's great fun to watch. We used to have an ideal view
from the top floor of my Grandad's house, but now they've built the
Quay up to stop it flooding you can't see a thing. Today we found a spot near the front of the onlookers. A few people got to the end. This chap managed a bow at the end before throwing himself into the water.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Pebble Ridge Adventure Golf

Just behind the pebble ridge at Westward Ho! is a place called, strangely enough, Pebble Ridge Adventure Golf and Go-Karting. Today we did the adventure golf bit of it. It was a blowy day, but it's always blowy at Westward Ho! Adventure Golf costs £2.50 per person regardless of age. There are 9 holes, all very different from each other. At the last hole all you have to do is hit your ball up a slope, avoiding a few pebbles and the tunnel at the end swallows your ball and deposits it in a secure container - so nobody can run off without returning their balls.
We had quite a few laughs when balls kept returning to their starting positions or pinging off the green and out into various other parts of the grounds, or when some of us took forever to sink the damn thing. I don't think the people behind us were too impressed, but serves them right for being too quick.
It's a nice spot, just at the end of the slipway, not too far from the Hockings ice cream van, with the cricket pitch just behind. The only thing that was slightly annoying was the noise of the go-karts. You had to shout while they were zooming round. We enjoyed it though.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tiverton Canal

I ventured slightly out the way for this one. Tiverton is not actually in North Devon. It's at the other end of the A361 (known locally as the North Devon Link Road), and by car takes about 45 minutes. But this is something I've been thinking about doing for a long while and as we are having one of those new-fangled staycations this summer it was a good oportunity to do it.
The Tiverton Canal offers all sorts of entertainment including various kinds of boat hire. The woman in the queue in front of me was hiring some sort of motorboat and had forked out the massive amount of £315. I went to do the Horse-Drawn Barge trip. They offer trips which vary in length from 1 hour to 2 1/2 hours long. It is advisable to check the timetable on the website and reserve your ticket. Today we did a 1 1/2 hour trip which cost £8.50 for adults and £6 for children. And here comes another little tip: adult prices start from 14 years old - this is not mentioned on any of their literature. I found out when I phoned to reserve tickets and was told my 14 year old was an adult - too late to say she was 13 - damn.
There is a crew of 3 on board. One chap does the introduction as you settle into your seats. He comes back on board at the half way point to talk a bit more and do a question and answer session. He is very good at his job and is very entertaining. For the journey you are left in peace to enjoy the experience, although you don't get to enjoy the silence and the clip of the horses hooves, as promised in their leaflet, for the chat of other customers.
Getting seated is a free-for-all, so I recommend trying to get as close to the front of the queue as possible when you see them starting to get the boat ready. We were lucky and got seats in the middle of the boat, good for seeing both ways, as for half of the journey you will be going backwards. We travelled 45 minutes along the Great Western Canal, then, after a rest for the horse, came back again, turning around as we approached the mooring. Some of the time we were out in the country, some of it we travelled past the bottom of peoples gardens and had a sneaky-peek into their houses. All the windows on the barge were open as it was a nice sunny day and the children enjoyed feeding the ducks and swans with the duck food conveniently sold on board. There is a bar at the stern of the barge where we purchased soft drinks, cookies and ice-cream. They also serve hot drinks and alcoholic beverages.
It was a nice relaxing little trip and I'm glad we did it. This is the only horse-drawn barge in the South-West and one of only four left in the country. And, as the guy pointed out before we left, our ticket and beverage money help to ensure its continued survival.
One last tip - buy some polos for the horse, you are allowed to feed him at the end of the trip and the girls loved this bit best.