Monday, December 30, 2013

Georgeham to Putsborough

 Yesterday it was time to stretch our legs and get some fresh air, particularly for daughter no.3 who seemed not to have been out of her pyjamas in three days, let alone out of the house. We drove out to the tiny village of Georgeham just round the corner from Croyde. We walked through the village until we found a sign for a public footpath which took up a country lane and through a few fields then onto a road to an even tinier village called Pickwell. Once around that it was on to a farm with access down to the cliffs above Putsborough beach.
We could have walked on down to the beach but it was getting a bit chillier by then (note the difference in the skies in the two photos) and it seemed like it would be a very steep walk up again so we settled for sitting on a picnic bench for a while and taking in the view before heading back the way we had come. In total the walk was just less than 3 miles. If you like pretty villages and walking through country roads, or if you want to get to Putsborough an unconventional way, this might be a walk you would enjoy, but I don't think I'll be rushing back to do it again.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pizza Hut

It's been seven and half years since I started this blog, and here we all still are, going to Pizza Hut for tea on Christmas Eve. This year my three girls (now 20, 16, and 13) and I walked the dog without my husband, as he had to go to work. Then, when he finished early, all five of us drove to resaurant in Barnstaple. We arrived at just before 4.30pm, probably to groans from the staff, who might have had some hope of leaving early. The food was nice, most of us took advantage of the Christmas Menu, two courses and a drink for £12.95, and the staff were actually very friendly and helpful. We were the last ones to leave the restaurant at 5.30pm, and they were still smiling and wishing us 'Happy Christmas' as we walked out the door. I'm sure we'll be back next year.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Arlington Court Woods

This was a nice discovery this afternoon. I had intended on taking the dog for a walk around Whistland Pound Reservoir, but having travelled the 10 miles to Blackmoor Gate, I discovered that the road was closed and had no option but to turn around again (the diversion taking me all the way back to where I came from). I decided to stop at Arlington Court on the way back because I knew there were public footpaths around there, although I had no idea where they went to.

I parked in the National Trust car park and then followed the signs down the drive below the car park, not the one that takes you to the main entrance where to have to pay to enter the house and grounds. At the end of the drive were two footpaths; I took the one to the right. After that were several more options, all nicely signposted, indicating National Trust paths, all colour-coded and with information like 'Birdhide', 'House', 'Wilderness', and 'Circular path via lake'. I took the later. Along the route were many other signposts to other walks and pathways. I passed the lake, headed off to a small bridge, through a field and up through the woods until I eventually ended up back at the big house. I felt somewhat like a tresspasser, having not paid to go in, but this was where the path had lead me. It lead me back around the house and then back to my original starting point down the left fork where I had chosen the right, so I guess I must have been meant to be there.

It was a lovely walk, and many others were out in the woods too, including families with small children. There seemed to be a lot to keep them occupied, including something concerning monkey puzzle trees that I couldn't quite see, a small camp area, and stepping stone logs through the streams. I think I might come back here again.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pilton Park

Pilton Park hasn't changed much since I reported on it many years ago. Then I used to take my children to play, now I take the dog. It's a popular place for both. The children's playground is quite small but with all the usual equipment, and is completely enclosed. It now has two gates. For dog walkers there is nicely tarmaced path that runs around the outside in a giant circle. There is now also access across the river via a slope so all the people in the new flats can wander across for an afternoon stroll. A popular place in Barnstaple.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dartmoor Zoo

The trip tp Dartmoor Zoo is a long one from North Devon, but one you may be willing to make it if zoos are your thing, particularly Hollywood-famous ones. This is the zoo on which the film 'We Bought A Zoo' is based, from Benjamin Mee's book of the same name. Except that in the film they all live in California. The real Dartmoor Zoo is in Plymouth's backyard in a tiny village called Sparkwell. We drove down via the M5 and A38, it's long in miles but quicker in time as you don't have to go through all the windy Dartmoor roads.

When we arrived there was definately no California weather. It was chucking down and crowds of people stood at the paying kiosk just waiting for the rain to stop. We walked on by with my second daughter muttering, "We're British, we don't mind rain." It wasn't long, however, before they were suggesting we have an early lunch in the Jaguar Restaurant (yes, that's what its called in the film too). The panini's were very nice, although none of us were very impressed with the range of cold drinks.

After lunch the weather was kinder to us and we spent a good few hours wandering around. The bears were nice, the wolves were in hiding, we enjoyed the reindeer but everyone's favourite was the big cats. Dartmoor Zoo has the biggest collection of big cats in the South West: two tiger enclosures, cheetahs, lynx, jaguars and a lioness. The lioness was have a good roar when we were there, then she had fun running round her enclosure and playing with a log on a rope. We went back to see her being fed and that was a bit disappointing. They 'hid' her food, which wasn't actually very well hidden at all, far away from the waiting crowd, then she went even further away to eat it before disappearing altogether. They could at least have hidden it nearer to us.

There are plenty of talks and other feeding sessions throughout the day, some of which we caught. There is also an enclosure you can walk through with wallabies, ducks and goats. The girls enjoyed petting the goats and thought it hysterical when the goats nibbled their fingers. If the weather had been nicer we may have stayed longer. Benjamin Mee was due to make an appearance at 3.00 to sign copies of his book. But really, after about three hours you've pretty much seen it all, and we were getting cold, so we made a quick trip in to Plymouth to do some retail therapy, then drove home to watch the film again.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Glasshouse

The Glasshouse is situated above Clayton's bar in Barnstaple. This is a photo I pinched from their website. We went here last night with some good friends to celebrate (belatedly) my husbands birthday. I've been before, during the day some years ago, when the menu was quite different, but equally as nice. The choice during the evening seems somewhat more limited - about five each of starters, mains and desserts, but it was all very very lovely. There was a lot of fish on the menu, but I had lamb, and my husband had steak. All the meals came out looking like works of art, the service was excellent, the waiters very polite, and the chocolate brownie dessert to die for. The restuarant itself is beautiful with a high glass roof and an outdoor seating area, although the weather last night precluded us from using that. A three course meal and a drinks came to just over £60 for the two of us. For a posh restuarant and top-quality food I'd say well-worth it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pilton Festival

Pilton Festival, known locally as Green Man Day, has been previously reported on in this blog. Held on the third Saturday in July it is an event which draws crowds no matter what the weather, but yesterday, in temperatures approaching the thirties, it was jam-packed.

In years when my children were younger it was a day of expense, as almost every fairground ride and kerbside stall had to be visited. Now, they have grown out of such things. Now, the best thing about the day is the live music. There are three music stages aptly named 'bottom', 'middle' and 'top'. The best, and the one that pulls in the crowds, is the Bottom Stage, and band that everyone talks about the most, 'The Liquidators'.

My 12 year old spent the day with friends spending her own money. My 16 year old, who wandered around with us, was quite happy to be bought a Hockings ice-cream but nothing else drew her eye. We wandered around for a while, then bought beer from one of the local pubs and stood about with the sweaty masses listening to 'The Liquidators'. When the heat got too much we came home again. Typically British - we moan when the weather is crap and still moan when it's glorious!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tarr Steps

This is a beautiful and popular picnic spot on Exmoor and we came here to day to enjoy the sunshine along with many other people. I have never seen Tarr Steps so crowded.

Tarr Steps can be found easily by driving through Dulverton and following the signs. There is a large car park with a visitors centre half way down the hill to the river and then you have to walk the rest of the way. We decided we'd try and follow the Google maps suggested route today, via North Molton, and ended up approaching on entirely the wrong side of the river where there is no car park and no access to the official one unless you want to drive through the river. Driving through is perfectly possible, if you have a 4x4, but not if you are in a Citroen. So we drove back down the road for about a mile, until we found a small clearing to park in and walked from there. It was a nice enough walk, but not the one I was planning on.

The nice walks around Tarr Steps take you through woods and fields and along footpaths, not roads.

We enjoyed our picnic though. The dog had a lovely time chasing a stick into the water. She even got the hang of letting it go again so we could throw it some more. There was hardly a space available on the grass there were so many people there - and lots of other dogs too. The cafe was doing a roaring trade, as was the ice cream van. We stayed for a couple of hours, until the children started moaning that they were too hot, then returned the same way we came.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ice skating

It was Dec 2009 when I last reported on the (plastic) ice skating at Let's Go Superbowl in North Devon. At the time I seemed to think I was quite good at this while daughter no.2 couldn't do it at all. Now our roles have been reversed. She whizzed round the ice rather elegantly and I edged round by the barriers with my backside doing it's best waddling duck impression.

It was a very wet afternoon in the school holidays and still the ice was practically empty. That may be something to do with the cost which is now £5.95 for a 45 minute session. And the guy behind the desk was keen you stick to your 45 minutes too. You'd have thought, with no one else desperate to get on, he'd have let us have a little while longer - but no!

A new thing, since last we came, is the little penguins on wheels which toddlers can use to push around and stop them from falling over. They were quite cute, but at £2 for 15 minutes, also very pricey. I think this is a once in a while treat thing rather than a regular day out.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Westleigh is a tiny village in between Instow and Bideford. It has narrow, windy roads, a church and a popular pub (see earlier post). Today we came for a quick Sunday stroll through fields filled with lambs. There are many footpaths to be taken with the village as a starting point with walks of up to 6 miles posted on various webpages. We walked for about a mile and a half, maybe a bit more if you count the time we almost walked around one field twice looking for the exit. The lambs were cute and the views over the estuary were nice, and for one it wasn't raining! What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


We spent just over an hour today walking around Torrington. When you drive through it you tend to forget there is more to the town than just the one road, but we discovered quite a lot of it today. We did a Treasure Trail that my daughter was given for her birthday. It was quite an easy one to follow, although we spent a long time in the church yard looking for the date the church was blown up. We walked through the town square, shown above, with its 17th century pub, The Black Horse, through the tiny Pannier Market, and round to the back of the town where there are stunning views into the valley with its winding river. If you have time to kill its worth a little wander, and there is always Torrington 1646 to visit as well (see earlier post for more details).

Monday, February 04, 2013


We had friends down this weekend and for lack of anything else to do on a wet and windy Sunday in February, we went for a walk around Ilfracombe with the chief intent of visiting Verity. It's the first time I've been since she went up in October. Verity stands on the edge of the pier in Ilfracombe, a 20 meter bronze statue by artist Damien Hirst. She's like statue-marmite; you either love her or hate her. I think she's great. From the town side she appears to be naked, but anyone approaching from the sea can see the skin striped away and all the muscle revealed below. The face is really quite wierd, and you can also see the baby inside the womb. She's definately something else, and if you are in the vacinity, I think she's worth a visit.