Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Combe Martin

Combe Martin - a tiny village on the North Devon coast. I believe I have posted about it before so sorry if I am repeating myself. Tiny - but very very long. It has the longest village main street in England at over two miles in length and we seem to have walked most of it today.

For our traditional Christmas Eve walk I found this route around Combe Martin online and printed it. It had very clear instructions and started off quite pleasantly by the beach and past a few shops into pretty country lanes. Then the lanes went up, and up, and up some more until we were all out of breath and wondering when the up would end. Half way along the next instruction I read said 'Continue up the path for one mile...' It seemed more like about five! But eventually we stopped going up and started going back down. The views were fairly spectacular though I am not entirely sure they were worth the leg ache.

It was muddy going down and my husband slipped and fell at one point - that amused us, as did playing in the fallen autumn leaves. The lane eventually gave way to civilisation and we found ourselves back by the old church with a long walk back along the main street till we reached our car. There were a few shops with interesting looking windows that would be worth pottering about in the summer season and of course plenty of pubs to chose from including famous The Pack of Cards. Even the houses are pretty. Come for a visit in the summer - and perhaps don't bother with giant walk up into the hills.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Barnstaple Christmas Lights Event

 The Sunday one month before Christmas the time each year that Barnstaple turns on its Christmas lights. I haven't been for years and its a bit more of an event than the last time I went. All along the Strand there are fairground rides and stalls full of people. The pubs and food venues along there were also doing a roaring trade. There was quite a fun atmosphere.
The stage area in the Square was also packed full. There was a large TV screen to one side of the stage for anyone, like us, who couldn't get close enough to see anything. We arrived 15 minutes before the lights were turned on and in time to hear the presenters of Heart radio announcing that there were 10,000 people there. Given that's just under half the population of Barnstaple I think they were being over-generous - the Square was certainly full to bursting but I don't really think it can actually hold that many people.

This years nominally famous act turning on the lights was The Overtones. I have never heard of them but my children have, so I guess that makes me old. The turned on the lights at 6.00pm to great applause and a few fireworks erupting from the top of the stage, then half the crowd up and left instead of staying for the music. What was that all about? I'll let you decide for yourselves what you make of that, and if its for you or not.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

West Somerset Railway

We had a day out today, first time in a long time. I bought a Family ticket for the West Somerset Railway, to go for a ride on the steam train. It's £43 for a Day Rover if you buy it in advance, £45 if you buy it on the day. This allows 2 adults and 4 children to travel along the line and hop on and off as many times as you want. So both my daughters took friends with them to keep them company.

We got up early and headed for the first train, the 10:25 from Bishops Lydeard. The railway runs different timetables depending on day of the week and month. Today was a green timetable day, meaning there were only five trains running, so not a great deal of opportunity for hopping on and off at any of the nine stops along the way. We opted for going straight to Minehead. I don't know that there is a lot to do if you hop off in the villages along the way anyway.

Train travel is great, the train just pootles along at a sensible speed and you get to see great scenery along the way. For some of the time the train runs along the coast, which is really pretty. The steam train had it's windows open, so it wasn't too hot. We had seats round a table, so we could have a drink and a snack too. It was all very civilised.

When we got to Minehead we all wandered off and did our own thing. There is not a lot to do in Minehead so that didn't take very long. Then we met back up for lunch at 1.00. After lunch it was ice-cream on the beach, then the 15:15 train back again. This was a diesel train and not nearly so much fun. It was hot and stuffy and no tables. So my advice, if you are going for the day, make sure you catch the steam trains. I had a lovely day and can completely recommend it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Braunton Burrows

 We came out here to walk the dog today, me, my husband and daughter no.3. Apparently there is more to Braunton Burrows that I knew. I had wanted to go to what my husband said I should have specified as 'Crow Point'. He told me that after he'd driven past the turning. So we drove on to a place called Sandy Lane Car Park where it cost us £1.50 to park.
 There were a few sign posts up in the car park indicating route we could have walked, and a rather helpful dot remarking 'You are here'. I nearly got out my pen and wrote alongside it 'But not where I want to be.' We chose to take the yellow route down the road marked 'American Road' which is known to us as 'The Tank Road'. Unlike the yellow line on the map it went on and on and on with no indication that was ever a right turn taking you out onto the grass and dunes. After a while we gave up and walked back again. The dog had had a good time.

A quick investigation along the blue path led me to the conclusion that it might have made a more interesting walk. But a lot of the burrows still looked be under flood water. Maybe I'll come back.