Exeter on our Last Day

28 to 30 May

Well dear reader, last Saturday was the last day of our 2016 UK trip, so we made it a full one with a trip down the M5 to Exeter, on another sunny day.

The main purpose was to visit the Exeter Cathedral, which is Gothic in design and one of the most beautiful cathedrals around.

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An earlier cathedral was built on the site in the 12th century, in the Norman style – austere, thick walls, few windows, so dark and gloomy inside.  In the 13th and 14th century, it was rebuilt into the current cathedral in the Decorated Gothic style, retaining only the original North and South Towers which are obviously different – walls about 4 ft thick and hardly any windows and the windows have rounded tops instead of arched.

By about 1375, it was largely as it stands today.  The newer extension made the building much larger.  The use of the flying buttresses meant that the walls are nowhere as thick as those of the towers.  A lot more windows could be accommodated with more decorative styles, making it much lighter inside.

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The stone carvings on the outside are impressive, but the work inside is beautiful.

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Exeter Cathedral has the longest nave of any Gothic Cathedral in the UK.  The pillars and the ribs supporting the ceiling are carved from a combination of local marble and sandstone.

There is some decorative glasswork but not a lot.

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Most of the windows are plain glass, installed in the 1940s after a part of the building, St James Chapel on the South Wall was destroyed by a bomb during an air raid in 1942, which also took out most of the windows on the North and South walls.  Repairs were made very quickly as the bomb had taken out 3 of the buttresses making the whole building vulnerable to collapse.  They did a good job though, we looked very closely at the new St James Chapel and could not see any difference in the new work from the old.

The ribs of the roof are supported by keystones or bosses which would normally just be functional.  In Exeter, they are highly decorated, and all mean something or identify somebody.

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The original organ has been recently replaced but the housing for it is original, made of carved oak.

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The Bishop’s chair called a cathedra, which is how cathedrals got their name, is positioned in its own tower also made of oak and stands 60 ft high.

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There is also an old mechanical astronomical clock which keeps perfect time but unfortunately our pictures of it did not work out as our camera is still playing up.

We had a walk around Exeter which was pretty much like any downtown shopping precinct.  These young percussionists were doing a terrific job of entertaining Exeter, making a huge amount of rhythmic noise in the process.

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They were very good, but the homeless people trying to sleep on the other side of the monument were not impressed.

We also came across a group of school children called ‘Not a string between us’, playing brass and woodwind instruments and entertaining people.

We walked down to the Exeter Docks for a look around.

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This is the River Exe, but it was rebuilt in the 1560s, as a navigable ship canal which drops to the tidal river Exe at Exmouth.  As such, this predates all the canals that we have seen in the past by at least 200 years.

We went for a cruise on the ferry at the dock and found the river/canal quite peaceful, with a strange collection of craft using it.

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There are several small ships moored, and a lot of canoes with people out enjoying the lovely weather.

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There are a couple of swing bridges that we went through and we went as far as the first lock which was huge, apparently the largest pound style lock on the system.

Our boat’s deckhand had an unusual method of opening and closing the bridges.  We don’t think the elf’n safety people would be impressed, but he was quick and effective.

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There were a lot of cyclists on all kinds of bikes using the towpath.

This young lady had had enough, preferring to pick the dandelions instead.

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On our way back to Taunton, we stopped to have a look at a theme park called Diggerland at Cullompton.

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The theme of this chain of parks is diggers, and if you are 90 cm or more in height, you can operate one of their diggers which come in all shapes and sizes.

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You can drive around in the mud.

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Or you can dig holes –

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The machines were mainly being operated by children but a few daddies were having a go as well.  From what we saw, the kids were better at it than the dads.

No mummies seemed to be doing it though.

There were a couple of rides based on diggers.  A Carousel called a dig-around –

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This digger has been reborn as a truly scary ride.  You sit in the bucket while it lifts you up in the air, and spins round in circles quite quickly.

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We know of at least one young bloke who would have thought he was in heaven if he came here. If only he was 90cms tall.

We went back to our hotel for the night after a beautiful and interesting last day of our trip, and soon afterwards the weather changed and we were in the midst of a raging thunderstorm.

On Sunday morning, we were up early to make the 150 mile drive to London to catch our plane home.

The drive and flight were routine.  We managed to get the seats next to the exit with a lot of leg room , the only problems were with Roger’s noise cancelling headphones which wouldn’t work but the standard ones did.  Then a couple hours before we arrived both our TVs shut down and couldn’t be revived.

We arrived home late on Monday night to find all well at home, although a bit chilly as Oz is now into winter.

A good end to another fun visit to the UK, with no injuries this time.

Moving on from Cosy Cottage

27 May

We have been a bit challenged with our blogging what with too much to do and not enough Internet etc., but here’s a bit of a catch-up.

We left Rousdon Estate and our Cosy Cottage on Friday morning, revisiting Lyme Regis in good weather.  We had a walk along the seafront, which has been extensively reinforced over the last 15 years or so.

The storm seas can be very bad along this coast, causing the cliff falls and a lot of damage to property.

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Nearly £60 million has been spent in Lyme Regis between the Cobb breakwater repairs and a new, substantial sea wall to protect the land from the sea, which also makes a nice coastal walking track.

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The harbour looks quite different at high tide.

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We walked up through the town, checking out what was on offer.

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Quite a lot of local goods available, including fossils of ancient creatures, mainly ammonites.

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Here’s 1 old fossil checking out the older ones.

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A nice village with a happy and friendly feeling to it.

We moved on back through Devon to Taunton in Somerset, mainly so we could visit Bristol and Exeter.  We found our hotel, well located for us near the M5 giving us good access to the places we wanted to go, checked in and had lunch.

Then we headed off to Bristol to see the downtown and dock areas.  This River Avon goes through Bristol but is tidal there, so a floating harbour has been built controlled by locks providing a large waterfront area for the downtown area, the buildings a mixture of old and new.

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There is a lot of history here, including the SS Great Britain which is located as a public exhibition in the dry dock where it was built.

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Launched in 1843, Great Britain was the first steel hulled ship that was powered by steam engines driving screw propellers as well as having sails.  She was principally designed by the great Civil Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel who seemed to have given little thought too his £70,000 budget, overrunning it by £47,000.  When the Great Britain ran aground in 1847, the company who owned her went broke and she was sold on.

The new owners used her mainly to transport immigrants to Australia until around 1875 when she was sailed to the Falkland Islands and used as a warehouse until about 1970 when she was salvaged, towed back to Bristol and restored as a tourist attraction.

The harbour area is too large to do it all on foot so we took a ferry boat ride to explore.

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The floating harbour extends via a canal which leads up towards Bath above a tidal lock, and we went a fair way towards the lock before turning back, there was a lot to see, with boats of every description and purpose moored everywhere.

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This arm goes up to the center of the city.  There are a lot of bars and restaurants located along the banks here, but the buildings on the waterfront were a mixture of commercial and residential.  Some of them are old warehouses recently converted.

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A few of the moored boats are also bars and restaurants, some functional but not so attractive.

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There were many sightseeing ferries operating, including this narrow packet boat which would have been used to carry freight and passengers on the canal network in its former life.

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Here it was carrying a buck’s party who were all dressed as sailors and having a good time.

We passed the visitor mooring area for narrowboats which was very nice.

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We had come down onto the Avon at Bath in CK in 2010 and did contemplate going on to Bristol but we are wary of mooring in city areas and Bristol at that time was completely unknown to us so we didn’t go further.  Having seen what we have now seen, we were wishing that we had!

We went back past the Great Britain, she had very flared bows for her day.

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We went ashore to explore the downtown area and the main tidal lock protecting the floating harbour.

We came across this statue of John Cabot who led the first British expedition to the New World in 1497.

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Like Cristopher Columbus, he was Italian and didn’t really find the American mainland, landing on what is now the Canadian island of Newfoundland.

The lock was very impressive, a large fall or rise depending on your direction.

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This lock takes boats down to the tidal River Avon, through Avonmouth to the River Severn estuary.  From there, you can go out to sea or up the Severn to Sharpness, Gloucester and beyond.

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Not this day though, the tide was completely out.

We made our way back to Taunton on a very congested M5 Motorway, glad that we had booked in earlier.  We had a look around Taunton, and though it’s a bit rough in parts, we were impressed with the Taunton School –

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And parts of the Taunton Castle –

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This is a hotel now, but not our one unfortunately, we’re at the Holiday Inn!

Exploring East Devon

A beautiful day today so we set off to do some sightseeing in East Devon.

We went through nearby Axmouth and found the River Axe at high tide for a change.

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Much more attractive with a bit of water, that’s Seaton beyond.

We visited the Seaton Jurassic centre and found it a bit too interpretive for us.

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The people that have set it up have gone to a lot of trouble and expense to make an exhibition that explains how the coast evolved so that children can understand it, with the theme centred on time travel.  Not a lot of actual fossils, we thought that the message was actually trivialised.

There is an old, electric tram ride that you can make to a nearby village.

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Looks quaint, a very narrow gauge for a double decker.

We had a quick look at the Pleasure Gardens at Beer once again another theme park style, and found Beer Victoria.

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Again, no actual beer being served.

We had a good view of Axmouth and the chalk cliffs towards where we are staying.

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We moved on to Sidmouth for lunch, and found ourselves back amongst the sandstone cliffs.

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The beach and promenade weren’t too busy and we had our lunch here.  Sidmouth is a pretty and substantial seaside town, you can just bet that it will be heaving with people most weekends, particularly this coming one as there is a holiday on Monday.

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A rocky beach, the sound that the pebbles make as they are dragged out by the waves sounds like marbles rolling around in a jar.

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A little further along the sand began to appear on the beach.

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It continued into the next cove.

The cliffs around Sidmouth are interesting.  Heather walked along to the bluff and up to the top where there is an outdoor restaurant.

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Some parts of the cliffs have eroded badly and they are retaining it by cementing the local stones from the beach into the crevices.

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The day was lovely and the locals and tourists were out catching every ray they can.

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nice and peaceful.

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The next place that we stopped was Exmouth.

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Wide sandy beaches on both side of the River Exe’s mouth again quiet compared to what it will be like if the weekend’s fine.

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We saw this kite ‘surfer’ coming in to the beach.

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Earlier he had been riding out on the river, very fast, and seemingly 2 or 3 feet above the water.  His ski had a lower section which stays in the water providing lift and the board part does stay above the water.

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Less drag, more speed.  Apparently he made it himself, in Perth when he was in Oz last year.

On the way back, we saw this home converted from an old water tower and stopped to have a look.

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We couldn’t go in as it is a private house, but the views from the area are terrific.

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Looking down towards Axmouth again, from a different direction.

Then we were back to Rousdon Estate again.

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We have had our challenges here with phone and internet signals but we move on tomorrow to North Devon, to see what we can find there.

 

Exploring Dorset

 

As it is Wednesday, and there are markets in nearby Bridport on Wednesday, we set off to check them out.  The day was overcast and cool but otherwise fine.

We went into Dorset and down through Lyme Regis again, all decked out in its holiday bunting for the upcoming long weekend.

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Then into Bridport, an inland market village, serving the surrounding farming communities.

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Although the market covered 3 of the main village streets, frankly it was junky and expensive so we didn’t hang around for long.

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Being at the end of our trip we don’t need much and didn’t really need anything that they had for sale.

Moving back to the coast, we went to the top of the cliffs that just come out of sea, straight up.

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The coast along here is called the Jurassic Coast and because there are regular landslips, it is under threat.  This hotel may be in a precarious position in the not too distant future.

Looking back westward, Lyme Regis is out there somewhere, through the haze.

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A bit further along the coast, we saw Fleet Lagoon stretching towards the Isle of Portland.

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We went to Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens and had a look around.  There are plants from all over, including Oz, but some were local also.

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Not really sure what this is but it looks a bit like giant rhubarb.

There is also a Children’s’ Farm and a Swannery but we didn’t bother with these as we didn’t have any children with us and we’ve seen rather a lot of swans lately.

Abbotsbury village was quite a nice place, all of the buildings are built of the local rock and it does look impressive, almost like the Cotswolds on the Coast.

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An old church on the hilltop is quite solitary.

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We stopped off in Bridport’s Harbour on the way back, a lot deeper than Lyme Regis harbour so the boats were all floating at low tide.

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A few newer buildings in there but recent developments on the western side are very modern.

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We had a good view of the cliffs from the harbour.

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The sedimentary layers are plainly visible here and you can see that every rock fall will expose millions of years’ worth of the fossils for which the coast is famous.

Back into Devon, we went through Seaton to another small coastal village called Beer.  We didn’t find any beer but it’s a nice cosy village with a very interesting beach, with cliffs that are completely different to those that we saw in Dorset.

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A small fishing fleet operates from Beer.  There is no harbour, they just drag their boats up onto the very steep beach with a tractor.

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These boats are about 20 ft above the water level, although we could see that the tide does get higher. It is very hard to walk on rocks especially on a steep slope as they slide and roll from under your feet.

Back at the Rousdon Estate, we had a look around.

The entrance is through these gates and past the Gatehouse.

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There are some lovely and beautifully maintained gardens on the estate.

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The driveway leads to the main house, simply called The Mansion.

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The property was established by the Peek family, who were successful tea importers and biscuit makers, in the early 19th century.  It became the Allhallows boarding school for most of the 20th century.

Since 1998 there has been a lot of development, many of the old buildings were sold to independent owners who have renovated them as homes for their own use or for holiday lets.  Some new houses have been built.  There are now 104 dwellings on the estate, and no more can be built.

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The 350 acre estate has its own coast and beach, accessible via an unstable cliff that has had a lot of falls.  We went for a look but found it very overgrown (probably to hold the cliff in place) and steep.

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We could glimpse the beach but it was a long way down and very rocky from the falls, so we left it at that.

 

Into Devon and Dorset

 

We were up, packed and ready to go on what turned out to be another good day.

Marion and Jonathon saw us on our way, leaving them again for another year.  We have enjoyed our stays with them again this year, they are great hosts and good company.

We were soon on the M5 headed south, past Gloucester, Bristol and Taunton before turning off to drive through Somerset and into Devon.

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A quick shot of the River Severn near Avonmouth through the car window.

We went past our accommodation on to Lyme Regis, the next village which is actually in Dorset and on the sea.  Lyme Regis has a tidal harbour, protected by a sturdy breakwater called The Cobb.

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Low tide when we arrived.

Some spectators were enjoying their fish and chips.

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We walked out on the breakwater, which was built in 1824 after the older one was destroyed in a gale.

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It has quite a slope and no guard rails.  Don’t know how that got passed by ‘elf n safety’.  There is a warning sign that it’s dangerous in high winds, we’re glad that it wasn’t windy today.

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Stunning views though.

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A special message for Tim and Mick –

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This little run-about, moored in the outer harbour, looks pretty mean

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300hp in those 2 engines, seems a bit excessive.

We went into the village proper to get some Tourist Information and found it crowded but pretty.

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We’ll have to go back when we can, as it was time for us to check in to our ‘Cosy Cottage’ which we found on Airbnb.

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Situated on the Rousdon Estate in 350 acres, our digs are part of a row of old gardeners’ cottages, restored and fitted with mod cons.

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Our hostess met us and provided us with some goodies to get us started.

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Fresh bread, marmalade, eggs, cookies, muffins, milk and juice.

‘Our back yard’

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After we were settled, we went off to another nearby village, Seaton, for a bit of shopping.  There are a lot of very large seagulls around here, and we came back to our car to find that we had a visitor waiting for us.

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We then went down to the beach for a play in the ‘sand’

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Roger let it run through his fingers

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Heather built a castle

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We passed this house set up above the beach with a great view, bathed in the afternoon sun.

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Then back to the Rousdon Estate

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Catching up with the Bomfords

22-24 May

Springhill, Worcestershire

The weather has been really good here since we have come ashore, hope that it’s also good for Ally and Lyndon out on CK at the moment, wherever they may be going.

We have been busy for the last few days, still sorting our stuff that we are leaving here and getting ready to go south to Devon.

We went to the movies on Sunday, and saw ‘A Hologram for the King’ starring Tom Hanks.  An interesting movie about a man whose life is a mess who goes to Saudi Arabia to sell some advanced audio/visual IT equipment to the Saudi King and improves his life in the process.

Marion has been feeding us well while we are here, too well.  We picked some fresh asparagus straight from the field which became the vege for dinner one night.

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Very nice.

There are some very good walks around here.

This in the Springhill grounds, leads down to a stream that feeds the lake.

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In the stream, the resident swans are taking advantage of some of the weed that is growing to feed their cygnets.

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The cygnets are benefiting from all this peace and food, they seem to be growing each day and are obviously doing very well.

The lake is stocked with trout and members of a local fishing club use it often for recreational fishing.

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Trout are bred and kept to grow to a decent size in the stream where the swans are feeding, before being released into the lake.

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Not a great picture but you get the idea; these already look to be a decent size to us.

Nearby Fladbury is a nice village, within walking distance from Springhill.

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Fladbury church of St John the Baptist is a grade 2 listed 12th century church, well attended and looked after.

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Down on the River Avon, the view of Cropthorne Mill and Fladbury Lock is so peaceful at the moment while the river is so calm.

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Marion cooked a beautiful meal for us all last night – lamb shanks, they were great.  Marion’s sister Sally and her husband Tom came for dinner too and we had a lovely night putting all the issues of the world to right.

We will be moving on again today, staying near Lyme Regis close to the Devon/Dorset border and we hope to do some exploring down there.  Apparently phone and WiFi signals are not good there so this could be our last Blog Post for a while.  Stay tuned, just in case.

We’re Ashore Again Now

 

Springhill, Worcestershire

We had some rain showers on our last couple of days aboard CK, but otherwise fine and cool.

We were mainly doing things inside, sorting, packing, cleaning etc., so the rain didn’t really bother us except that our nice external cleaning got wet again.

We went for a drive Friday afternoon to visit Fenny Compton.  It’s nearby village just off the canal which we have passed by many times, mooring on the canal there but not going into the village.  The road into the village has no footpath and there is a railway underpass that is too narrow to walk through with the passing trucks and buses.

We haven’t missed much as it turns out, a few quaint buildings and a church, but mostly plain, with no shops or other attractions.  The views from just outside the village are very good though.

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You can see for miles, and it’s all so green.

We went for a walk alongside the canal, where we have moored before.

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We visited the Fenny Compton boatyard to inquire after Bob Mitchell, the proprietor, who had helped us fix our propeller 2 years ago.  He was to have painted CK last winter but had a very bad accident last year when he fell into his empty dry dock and shattered both his ankles.  They told us he is on the mend and expect him to be back at work in a couple of weeks, but as he is still on crutches he won’t be doing much for a while yet at least.

Anyway, he’s a nice and helpful man and it’s good to see that he is recovering.

We drove on to another village that we had never visited before Priors Hardwick.  A very pretty village, about a mile from the canal but again, a road too dangerous for walking.

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There is a restaurant there that has a very good reputation and it looks good from the outside but we haven’t tried it yet.

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Maybe next year, and by car.

Heading back to Napton, we crossed a bridge by Marston Doles top lock, just being prepared for a boat to enter, coming down the 9 locks above the level of our marina.

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We noticed a collection of old cars, including this little item.

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The Isetta was developed in Italy in the early 1950s by Iso SpA, a company that was known for building washing machines.  It was built under licence in a number of countries but BMW put it into mass production and made over 160,000 of them.

Back at CK, we moved over to the marina wharf to top up the fuel and pump out the waste tank and back again to our mooring.  A big cruise that one but as always, a challenge in the almost perpetual crosswind.

We went back to the Boathouse pub for dinner on Friday with Jo and Stuart again.  We ordered better then and had quite a good meal, still at the 2 for 1 price.  Certainly good value.

On Saturday we finished packing up and cleaning CK and left late morning, back to the Bomfords’ Springhill House.

We had a good afternoon catching up with all the news, and settled down to our first night back ashore, again in strange light –

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CK’s Home Again

Wigrams Turn Marina, Oxford Canal, 2 Miles, 0 Locks

The weather was fine but overcast today as we moved CK back to the marina.

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It was cool and breezy so Heather was wrapped up for protection.

Through the last of the countryside, it’s a nice stretch along here.

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More of those ridges and furrows on the hills.

We saw these curious cows peering over the hedge.

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More sheep that couldn’t care less.

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That’s Napton on the Hill in the background, the marina’s local village.  Not far now.

We met an oncoming boat on our second last, blind bridge, but we both negotiated it cleanly.

Here is our last bridge, what will we meet here?

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No Surprises.

Next we were back in the marina, moored on our pontoon, 1 West.

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We have a neighbour moored on the other side of our pontoon, you can just see CK’s stern sticking out past the blue boat.  It spoils our view but does shelter us from some of the wind.

There are a lot of moored boats in the marina, they should be out cruising.  A large hire fleet operates from here, and the complete fleet is out, none here at all.  We have never seen that before.

So CK’s safely home.

We cleaned her outside and had Justin Green perform an engine service.  Just the inside still to do tomorrow.

We checked the propeller for entangled rubbish, and found it clear again.  We have been cruising for nearly 6 weeks, have traveled nearly 400 miles, been through nearly 200 locks and we’ve had rubbish fowling the prop on just 2 days.  Both times the rubbish was plastic bags.  We have never experienced such a clean cruise before.

It would have been a lot different if we had come back through Birmingham!

We picked up our hire car, dropped our dirty clothes at a launderette in Daventry to be washed for us, did some shopping and dropped off our excess stuff at the charity shop.  Later we picked up our washing and sorted it for taking home or leaving.

The rest of our time on CK we’ll be doing the chores so we may slow down our blogging a bit.

On Saturday we are leaving CK to spend a few days with the Bomfords then we are having a week in Devon before coming home.  We’re sure to find something interesting to blog about in all that.

Meanwhile, this is where we are.

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Last Night on the Cut

South Oxford Canal, 3 Miles, 0 Locks

As forecast, we awoke to steady rain.  It did stop for a while mid-morning so we went for a walk up into Braunston village.

We had a closer look at the crochets on the church steeple but weren’t a lot wiser.

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They are ornate but the pattern was not anything that we could identify as special.

We asked a couple of local residents about them but they hadn’t really taken any notice of them.  Although a man living opposite did say that there is a nesting pair of peregrine falcons in the steeple that are making a lot of noise.

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Not a very clear picture and it wouldn’t oblige with a better one, but you can see the crochets more clearly.

The people of Braunston like to grow colourful flowers wherever they can. The buildings, gardens, canals, bridges & marina make it a pretty town.

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This wisteria is not quite in full bloom.

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Back down on the canal, looking towards the locks leading out of Braunston, towards London and Leicester.

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Taking advantage in the break in the rain, we headed off for a few miles towards our marina.

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We made an uneventful turn under the bridge at Braunston Junction, onto the South Oxford Canal.

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Every time we pass this old boat, it spews water at us.

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It does this every year when we pass, pumping water out of the bilge.  The boat has a wooden hull and it must be leaking badly because it pumped out several times while we were in sight, about once a minute.

We were soon at a very nice remote mooring place and the rain was threatening again, so we moored for the rest of the day and night.

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The view out of our side hatch –

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We hailed down a passing fuel boat, Callisto, who breasted up to us and quickly topped up our fuel tank.

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We’ve bought fuel from him before, he has a very fast pump and can fill your tank while you are sharing a lock with him.  He was very careful of our new paintwork.

As Callisto pulled away again, the rain resumed.

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We spent the afternoon housekeeping, sorting through our accumulated clothing and bits and bobs to reduce the amount of stuff that we store at the Bomfords.  Basically, anything that hadn’t been used this year was a candidate for the Op Shop or the rubbish.  We ended up with a bag of each.  Good job.

The rain finally stopped and we ended up with a peaceful evening, though the light was a bit strange.

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This will probably be our last night mooring out on the canals of this trip, we will probably be moored in the marina for the rest of this trip.

Braunston Again

Grand Union Canal, 8 Miles, 0 Locks

We are getting to the end of our time aboard CK, we are due to leave her this weekend.  So we will have a few clean-up jobs to do over the next few days, getting her spick and span for the next boarding Owners, Ally and Lyndon.

Another cool but sunny day today.  The forecast for the rest of the week is for rain and as one of the jobs involves touching up the paintwork on CK’s hull, we thought we would move on to Braunston and get that done.  Wouldn’t be effective doing that in rain.

We passed from Warwickshire into Northamptonshire today, but the country-side all looked similar.

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We had a lot of sheep come to say g’day along the way.

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This was one lot, very close.

We made our way along the long Barby Straight.

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There is a long stretch of boats on private moorings here, each on its own patch of private land.  Each block is large enough to build a small house on it but the owners are not allowed to do that.  They have town water but no electricity, with canal frontages about 90 to 100 ft long.  One is for sale at the moment, offers over £90,000.

We passed the Barby Marina, moorings for over 100 boats in here at the moment.

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A little further on, we saw a site that has just been given permission to build a new marina for more than 500 boats.  Barby Marina has been given permission to extend to over 250 boats.  A new marina has also been given permission to build above Hillmorton Locks for about 130 boats.  They will all be within 2 or 3 miles of each other.  In addition to those there are 5 marinas in the Rugby area, 1 in Braunston with about 250 boats, 4 around Napton with a collective capacity of about 800 boats, and over the hill the other way another 2 large marinas.

Progress hey?  If the owners manage to fill these new marinas and the boats do come out to cruise, the locks and canals will be jammed packed and it could be hard to find a visitor mooring in Braunston.

Some cows came to say g’day next.

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Oops, sorry they’re not cows!

It’s a nice stretch of canal along here, though the water looks lighter in colour than the normal canal water, almost milky.

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We passed more ridge and furrow fields.

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Then into Braunston.

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Here’s part of the Braunston Marina mentioned above.

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After lunch we started doing the ‘blacking’, touching up the scrapes and scratches that happen to the hull, mainly when we are going into or out of locks.

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There wasn’t any black paint on CK when we boarded, so it wasn’t only our scapes that we touched up, but Stuart (NB Norma Jean) had too much so he kindly shared some with us and we didn’t have to buy any.

We winded and did both sides.

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The finished job, much better!

We had a better view of the Braunston Church steeple

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A lady moored next to us told us that the rows of objects sticking out of the steeple are ornamental and are called crotchets.  Apparently when the steeple burned down in 1561, the rebuilding committee were of the opinion that there should be no crotchets, but it seems that they were over-ruled.  How is lost in the mists of time.

We have seen many swans with their new cygnets today.

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All newly hatched, they all seem to have 6 cygnets.

After the painting was done, we moved up to a mooring closer to the pub on the canal.  Then we went for a walk to a local chandlery to get a new navigation light to replace the one that we lost at Ellesmere.

From the chandler’s yard you can get a good view of Braunston Junction which is usually a busy crossroads on the canals.

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To the right is the North Oxford Canal, along which we have come.  Straight ahead is the South Oxford Canal, along which we will go when we go back to our marina at Napton.

To the left is the Grand Union Canal which is where we are moored at the moment.

We noticed this boat moored opposite, with timber cabin walls.

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Older boats were built like this before the modern boats started to be built with insulated steel walls, but it’s unusual to see one today.  This doesn’t look like an old boat, though it could use some TLC.

Back at CK, we fitted the new navigation light, and it works.

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Kicking goals today!

This is our view from our mooring tonight.

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You can see the pub on the other side of the canal.  We went there for dinner, the attraction is that you can get 2 meals for the price of one.  The downside is that the meals weren’t  very tasty.

Never mind, we’ve had a productive day.