A Travellerspoint blog

Where are all the Grockles?

Visiting North Devon!!

all seasons in one day 18 °C
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It gets busy in Devon when all the grockles arrive for summer holidays. As two grockles arriving by train, we were warmly welcomed into Helen and Trevor's home. Pippacot Barton (can there be a better name for a house in the country?), is in a tranquil hamlet near Barnstaple. Green rolling hills, sheep in the distance, quietness and birds singing. Cousins, Steve and Jenny, arrived to see us and we all had a lovely BBQ. The weather did not cooperate but lively conversation and a new puppy, Luna, made for a fun evening.

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I had last seen Steve at his sister Julie's wedding almost 40 years ago. They live in a town called Bideford where we stayed for the next few days. Sunday morning weather could be described as misal according to Trevor (a combination of mist and drizzle) but that didn't stop us from enjoying Clovelly. A village of cobblestones that you walk down in order to reach the sea. Pirates, music and some fun was waiting for us down in the cove. The cobbles were slippery but even Jenny in her cute shoes managed them. Armed with umbrellas, we sat by the sea and people watched enjoying the music and the pirates making huge bubbles for the kids. It was nice to have a chill day and enjoy getting to know our cousins again. Dave and Steve must have run up the wet cobblestones as they beat the girls to the top of Clovelly even though they rode up in the Landrover.

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Award winning cream tea was the delight of the afternoon and a walk along the seaside. A cream tea is a pot of tea, two scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam. In Cornwall, they put the jam on the scone first then the thick clotted cream. A Devon cream tea has the cream first. Whichever order you choose, the end result is the same....delicious. Dinner in a pub with a thatched roof ended a perfect day in North Devon.

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Trevor picked us up after a quick walk with Jenny along the sea and through the high street of Bideford. We met Jenny's friendly sister and her husband, who have just retired, in their shoe business for over 70 years. Oh darn, a new pair of shoes would have been nice. I will be looking for a log cabin for Jenny where she and Steve can stay when they visit Canada one day.

Helen and Trevor have the most beautiful property and today we got to relax and enjoy it. Tea in the gazebo in the front garden and watching Luna explore and have fun was so nice. Then Helen took us on an exciting drive along the narrow lanes from Pippacot, which you can only understand once you've been a passenger. The excitement and anticipation come from what's around the corner. Who gets to back up when you meet? All part of the fun driving in Devon with the high hedges along both sides. Dave loved it!

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In a very short distance from Pippacot, Helen showed us three beautiful beaches and we stopped at Coyde for a walk along the sea. Of course, I had to paddle in the sea where there were many people trying to surf. Walking in the sea is something I love to do!

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Trevor made us lunch and we had that in the back garden. The little house is called the Gar Den. Adorable and perfect for two to relax. Luna was so busy enjoying the garden and entertaining us too. Trevor had a baking day yesterday and made us scones for another cream tea. We had it the Devon way today! Relaxing in the gazebo, reading, sleeping and writing filled the rest of our day. What a perfect place to recharge.

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Our Devon cousins were the best! Friendly and kind in every way and they shared their homes and showed us the best views of their part of the world.

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Thank you Helen, Trevor, Steve and Jenny!

Posted by beachbuddies 15:20 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (6)

AJ & Tone's Tour of North Wales

Can you read the map?

all seasons in one day
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It's a little twiddle over there and a poodle over there as Auntie Jane drives the country roads (lanes) taking us to see the best of North Wales. We were picked up at the train station and then went to Llandudno for a quick stroll along the sea front.

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If you know me, then you know I take a picture or two.....Tone decided that every time I took a picture of him, he would take one of me. We had some fun with that!

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We drove up the Great Orme for our first view of the sea and then off the main roads travelling through the Conwy valley. So rugged, green and inviting us to explore.

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Since AJ prefers to stay off the main roads, she needs a good navigator. The map led us along narrow winding roads and miles of fresh air. Through farm gates and many rock walls to keep the sheep where the farmers want them to be. When you get off the roads most travelled, you may not see a car or a soul for miles. We met a car at a point in the lane that said it was closed. It was funny as AJ chased this car back down the road. They just kept backing up which is how it works until there is a spot a wee bit wider. We had a quick tromp through Bodant gardens in the rain and then a cup of tea.

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Our journey led us to Bedgellert, a quaint village with a stream running through it. We arrived late for most restaurants so we ended up at the Hebog, which turned out to be fantastic and where we chose to dine each night.

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A good night's sleep at our B&B, a sunny day and we had some exploring to do. We booked the train up to Snowdon for the next day and headed to Caernarfon Castle. Up all the stone spiral staircases led us to great views of the castle and surrounding area.

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There's always time for tea and then we decided to take AJ's favourite walk up to some waterfalls and a stone bridge.

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AJ said after our hike up there, "If you told me this morning that I would climb stairs at the castle and then hike to the stone bridge, I would say you're crazy!" To add a bit of fun, AJ and I crossed the falls at one point and then went for paddle in a pool of crystal clear water. A bit cool but lovely on a warm day.

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Our walk back took us through a field of bracken which was almost over my head. It is a type of plant that even sheep won't eat.

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Snowdon....we went up, we went down. Train up, hike down and down, down, down it is until you reach the first lake. It was the most challenging hike we've ever done. Craggy rocks, big boulder, loose rocks, running waters and unbelievable vistas. A cold, windy start at the top as the clouds quickly covered the top of the mountain.

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Being the careful walker that I am, Dave was always ahead of me and by the time we were done AJ had talked to the warden about us. Where were we? I resorted to sliding down a few of the larger boulders just to make it down. Will we ever hike Snowdon again? Probably not but the challenge was worth it. Except for the next day.....oh my thighs!!

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Our journey the next day took us from North to South Wales. We did a poodle and a few twiddles as we travelled the journey AJ had done before. She wanted to show us how much wilderness there is in Wales. Sheep in the field, along the hedges, sleeping on the roads and keeping the golf greens tidy. They were everywhere.

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One lamb gave me a perfect pose. "I don't want to be a welsh burger," said the fuzzy lamb as she looked down at me. The babies are the wooly ones and most of the adults had been sheared.

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We hardly met any other cars or saw anyone. Most of our chosen roads were single track and along the sides were walls of rocks, hedges of bracken and further on our way, high green hedges. Every mile we travelled the landscape changed a bit. We saw stone houses with chartreuse vines growing up the side, rock bridges and babbling brooks. We went through a pass in the Black Mountains which was beautiful.

Like a Swiss valley, the rock walls turned to green hedges for the sheep. Forests of coniferous and deciduous greeted us along with high craggy peaks to gentle hills and grassy fields.

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We loved the drive through green tunnels formed from trees as we travelled along. AJ and Tone wanted to show us the Wales that many visitors don't get to see. We had a great time together, many laughs and great conversations. Thanks for spoiling us! AJ and Tone, you made it a trip we will not soon forget. large_IMG_1391.jpg

Posted by beachbuddies 01:31 Archived in Wales Comments (4)

Sail Away on the Irish Sea

A bit of Irish charm...

all seasons in one day
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As we sail across the Irish Sea to Holyhead, Wales, I know for certain that we will return to this isle of green some day. We were told that the people of Ireland would be friendly but that can't begin describe how we were treated in Northern Ireland and Dublin. We have new friends that we will meet again!

Here is a little mish mash of our favourite things that didn't make it into a post of its own. Our days were spent walking and exploring the places we visited.

1. First stop Belfast. How do you tackle jet lag? Drop your bags at the B&B and start walking. We were able to visit St. George's Market for some Irish music while trying to stay awake shortly after we arrived.

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Here sits the Lord Mayor of Belfast. On this stage, the Irish play that Dave just performed at the Citadel premiered.

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2. The Food - from the Ulster fry for Dave in the morning to eating fresh fish, we had really delicious food. After walking all day, it really is all about the food. Even if it's a simple fish & chips wrapped in paper.

3. Walking in Northern Ireland - definitely some the best hikes we've ever done. The stunning coast on a sunny day rivals our hikes in the Swiss Alps and the Dolomites. We have a new friend, Mark Rodgers, who brought the Causeway Coastal area to life. We will meet again on his beautiful coast.

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4. Visit to Rathlin Island - to see the puffins was so exciting. Did you know that puffins excavate a nesting burrow into the soil just like rabbits? Puffins lay only a single egg, in late April or early May. Both parents incubate it for 36-45 days, and they share the feeding duties until the chick is ready to fledge. Listening to thousands of sea birds was spectacular.

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Baby birds and their mother nestled into cracks in the cliffs and others crowded together for safety at the top of the large rocks.

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A ride on the 'Puffin Bus' takes you to the other end of the island. This is an experience all on its own considering the narrow, twisty road. Dave is standing on the road.

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What do you hear on Rathlin? Stillness and quiet surround you as you sit by the sea. Relax and take in the tranquil atmosphere. This sweet couple takes the ferry to Rathlin Island everyday for a walk and some tea.

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5. Derry - a wee visit to a very friendly city. The people we stayed with were so kind. Picked us up at the train and dropped us off at the bus station. We took a walk around the old city walls and finished up with the best dessert I've eaten in a long time. Another fantastic fish dinner.

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6. Dublin - I agree with my niece Sara. "I guess I'm a country girl." It was that time in our trip to do laundry and we had the perfect Airbnb to do that. What I noticed most was the noise of a busy city. Hundreds of people on the streets of Dublin is quite different from hundreds walking the stones of the Causeway. The Guinness tour was really good and Dave learned to pour the perfect pint. Guinness in the morning you say! Look how happy Dave looks.

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Dave found a play we could go to that was fantastic. Set in Dublin, Once is the smash-hit, award-winning musical that's a celebration of music, love, and the city that inspired it. It was a great way to end our stay in Ireland.

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We will soon be arriving in Wales where we will meet AJ and Tone. Unfortunately I've fallen way behind in my blog. Too busy having fun to get them done. We are currently finishing up our holiday in London. I'm still going to add more stories about journey. Too many beautiful photos not to share.

Posted by beachbuddies 14:52 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (0)

Is Anybody Hungry?

Causeway Coast Foodie Tour

rain 15 °C
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We were lucky to have a tour with Wendy from Causeway Coast Foodie Tours. It was to be a group tour but because of the Irish Open, it was only us. How lucky was that? At each stop we sampled the very best of the local, award winning food and drink.

Wendy took us on a foodie road trip through the green Irish countryside. The Dark Hedges, made famous in the Game of Thrones, was our first stop. It used to be a simple farmer's road until the series started filming. Now it draws many visitors and tours. The beech trees were planted as an entrance to the estate.

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We ate at the Bell Tower Restaurant at Dark Hedges and met the chef, Derek. Our brunch menu was outstanding. You can see for yourself. We had ice cream in jars made with Bushmills whiskey. Subtle flavour and so yummy.

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My favourite stop may have been Broughgammon farms because of the goats and calves. One calf particularly liked sucking on my hand like it was a bottle of milk.

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The farm is part of the Économusée which is a ‘working museum’- more recognisable as Artisans at work. The Économusée concept was developed in Québec and involves partners from Canada, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The goal is to support and foster local small businesses.

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Tea and sweets were next served at Ursa Minor in Ballycastle. This bakery is famous for their sourdough bread. This bakery is also part of the Économusée.

We were able to see soda bread being made by Toni and his wife Kay. It is cooked on a large gas griddle and sold at local farmers market. We tried the bacon and cheese ones.

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Our final stop was at Tartine, in Bushmills where we got to meet and chat with the chef Gary Stewart. The food was delicious and beautifully presented.

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Wendy was a delightful guide sharing how these local producers, farmers, and bakers support each other and help each other to succeed. A very positive and supportive community.

Wendy was kind enough to wait for us to change into our hiking shoes. She dropped us off at the White Rock beach which was the start of our walk back to Bushmills. We walked around the picturesque Dunluce Castle and back along the coast.

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Posted by beachbuddies 13:30 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (4)

A Wee Adventure in Northern Ireland

Causeway Coastal Route

rain 15 °C
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We were lucky enough to have Mark as a guide, travelling from Belfast across the fabulous Causeway Coastal route and the Glens of Antrim. We met charming Irish folk and loved every soggy moment. Today was the day for typical weather in Ireland but that didn't matter at all.

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Our first stop was tea, scone, cream and jam at the Londonderry Arms, whose owners treated us like special guests. Carnlough is home to this old coaching house which is now a hotel. One lively chap, Raymond, made us laugh and told us stories of lucky horse shoes and Churchill's family who once owned the the Londonderry Arms. We were told that the sale of it provided the funds for Churchill to become Prime Minister.

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A riverside walk in the Queen of the Glens, Glenariff led us to breathtaking waterfalls. The rain was falling from the sky making the waterfall full of power. It's brownish colour comes from the peat that is washed from the mountains (hills) above. As we stop on the bridge by the falls, the mist from the water floated around us. Mark said it was as spectacular as he'd ever seen it and so we were grateful for the rain.

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We travelled through the misty country side to view the Vanishing Lakes. One day the lake appears after the rain and the next it vanished as the moisture is absorbed below. There is more to the story but Mark told us so much I just can't remember.

We had a good laugh at Portaneevey viewing point. We hoped to get a glimpse of Carrick a Rede rope bridge. The view is absolutely spectacular on a clear day but all we saw was fog and a sea of white nothingness. The best view ever if you have a sense of humour.

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A delicious lunch awaited us in Ballycastle (Bally simply means town of), a lovely seaside town, at McHenry's Central Bar. Dave and I agreed that the artichoke soup with bacon may have been the best soup we've ever eaten with delicious wheaten bread.

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Dave chose beef and I had my favourite new fish, Hake. Sticky pudding to go because we had no room left.
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We arrived at the Giant's Causeway about 4 pm which was a perfect time. The coach tours that come for the day from Belfast are on their way back. Mark gave us some history, some geology and a bit of storytelling that made the experience come to life. We had a chance to explore the hexagonal basalt columns that make up the Causeway. It was exciting to see for ourselves what we had read so much about.

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We continued on to the 18th century mansion and Mussenden Temple. Mark's story about the bishop was one of our favourites of the day. He told us that the Bishop kept tabs on his guests at night by sprinkling flour outside the bedrooms and in the hallway. In the morning, he knew by the footprints who had visited whom in the night. There was something very peaceful about the place and imagining what it might have been like many years ago. Matt and Lindsay could get married there and have photos taken in the library overlooking the sea. How breathtaking that would be!

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It was full-filled day full of the best the coast has to offer. We were able to get off the beaten trail to see places few visitors take time to see. Yes, the Giant's Causeway was a very special place to see but combined with all our other stops, we had a perfect day. Rain and all!

Mark's words to us in an email, "I wish you a safe journey that brings you home and I hope some day we will meet again."

Go raibh maith Agat , Slán go fóil.

Posted by beachbuddies 12:56 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (5)

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