We left Bath under grey skies on Friday morning 2nd May. Was hoping it might clear but obviously not meant to be. Had lunch at Bampton then drove north towards Exmoor and dropped down along the East Lyn river valley. This is Doone country. Have not read the book for absolutely ages so thought I might now download on Kindle just to reacquaint myself with the story of star-crossed lovers John Ridd and Lorna Doone. Sadly this story appears to have been overlooked in any recent TV adaptations of historical novels and to my mind is well worth bringing to the small screen. As is Poldark – absolutely loved the series and it would be great to see a new fresh version.
Driving down we had my iPod playing on this occasion. Usually in-car music is via my husband’s iPod, very much an acquired taste I’m afraid. According to him I’m the big production girl and I guess it’s true – I love guitar driven rock in particular – melody, power and lyrics are essential both for the iPod and for working on the PC when I’m writing. The three and a half hour drive was therefore wonderful, everything I love with not one Yes or Robert Plant track! I guess it could have been worse – Status Quo or Robbie Williams (apologies to SQ and RB fans reading this!)
Lynmouth, as always, was totally unchanged as was the Heatherville – Richard and Kay were there on our arrival with their usual warm welcome plus tea and home-make cake. As we were driving along the river valley I thought ‘This is just like coming home’. It’s our third stay and they are such fabulous people, more friends now than B & B proprietors. They have worked incredibly hard since they took The Heatherville over in 2009 and this year it has been given AA 5 star rating for accommodation, breakfast and evening meal (which Kay will cook to order).
Once we were fed, watered and unpacked we walked down into the village and yes, it is a village. Apparently out of season there are only 67 souls on the electoral roll here. And such a different life to ours in Bath where we have every kind of shop imaginable. Outside food shopping these residents have to travel to Taunton 40 miles away for anything esle they want. The pace of life is slower here too and people are very friendly although like Bath the place is overrun daily with tourists in the holiday season. I have to say once we reached the harbour it was cold; very cold. We had dinner in the Bath Hotel that evening, a really weird experience in a large square room with absolutely no atmosphere or background music and only one other party of eight there. It was a bit like attending a wake! The food was good though, lots of it and inexpensive.
On Saturday morning we caught the funicular railway up the cliff to Lynton, a place which I think could be described as half way between town and village. After a browse we had coffee in a small restaurant. Their menu board proclaimed it did ‘Steak and Owl Pie’ – we did point this out to the waitress but she didn’t think there was anything particularly wrong so perhaps there were indeed owls in the pie! Or maybe it was a wind up the tourist moment who knows? After this we headed out of Lynton to the Valley of the Rocks which is quite spectacular. The wind was so strong that if there had been rain and we’d had umbrellas we would have definitely had a Mary Poppins moment and been blown away. Once we reached our destination we had lunch and a large mug of hot chocolate to warm us (yes it was that cold!) Afterwards we took the coastal path back to Lynton which meant facing a gale all the way and almost being blown back one step for every two we took. However, despite this discomfort the gorse and the whole cliff side looked quite spectacular and not one goat in sight, although a lot of goat poo on the path. And I must again emphasise that yes we had blue sky but no it was absolutely freezing!
Saturday afternoon the remaining members of the weekend party joined us and in the evening we ate out at The Bistro, a really good restaurant which specialises in locally caught fish. After the meal which included several bottles of wine it was back to The Heatherville’s bar to finish off the evening, courtesy of my husband, and then eventually to bed, most of us rather worse for wear!
Sunday dawned with blue sky and cloud and hooray, no hangover! The wind had dropped a little, although walking down to the harbour that morning it still had that cold edge. We then headed up the East Lyn river to Watersmeet for a coffee and a pit stop before making our way slowly back again to Lynmouth and a sandwich lunch.
For the little afternoon that was left I sat outside the B & B and read my Kindle. I had purposely tried to avoid my own writing that weekend. It was all about celebration and having a good time but, of course, writers never switch off and – this is true mad woman that I am– the back page blurb for my latest book came to me at 5pm on Sunday morning. Thank goodness I had a pad and pen with me. I would never have held it in my head until I got home – it HAD to be written down otherwise I would have lost it. I can tell you this is the one part of writing a book I don’t enjoy at all and I had been agonising over exactly what should go on the back page for ages. Whatever I scribbled down eventually ended up with a line through it. Too vague, too detailed, whatever I wrote, it would not come right. But as usual it’s all a case of keeping calm and waiting for that inspirational moment. I guess after four books I should have got used to this by now. You just can’t hurry it; it comes when it comes and that’s it.
Sunday evening saw us all at The Rock Hotel for another excellent meal and then back to Richard and Kay’s to finish off the evening in their bar.
And then it was Monday morning and time to go home. How can a weekend go so quickly? I think we were all sad to leave. We made home in three hours, crossing the moors again and coming up through Taunton and Glastonbury. Four of the group were going to stop off and climb the Tor. For me whenever I go to Glastonbury there is a definite atmosphere. It might be banned substances on the wind of course, but joking aside, Glastonbury for me is very special, full of myth and magic. I would have loved to have been able to stand on the Tor on 1st May to see the sunrise when the druids were up there celebrating Beltane. Amazing place!
So now we’re back and it’s work tomorrow. In the blink of an eye the weekend has gone, leaving lots of photos and good memories and of course, that excess weight! I’m back on the diet now as we look forward to our next holiday away in South Devon at the end of June, – somewhere else I absolutely love. Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Totnes and Salcombe – all fabulous places. I had lost five pounds before the North Devon trip with another six to go to get me down to the weight I really wanted to be. Luckily all the walking this weekend plus keeping to fish and avoiding the pudding menu meant I didn’t put on too much. However, we’ve been out to lunch today and with two large glasses of wine (alcohol is definitely the villain of the piece) I’ve not exactly made a good start. Never mind I’m not going to beat myself up over it, I’ll be back to the Ryvita’s tomorrow with a vengeance.
If anyone reading this blog plans a holiday on the North Devon coast then Richard and Kay’s Five Star Heatherville is a must – it’s absolutely brilliant and you must go. You will be treated like royalty! The house is set high up above the village so the access road is a bit of a north face of the Eiger moment in the car. We had to reverse the last stretch of road this time to get into the car park and the clutch did not like it one little bit! And as for walking, well remember on your outward journey the village is downhill all the way and coming back? Your calves may protest but you’ll be doing your cardio-vascular system a service – remember there’s no gain without pain.