Tag: Devon

A Country Kid’s Post: An Afternoon in Paignton

Summer feels like it happened ages ago and yet every now and then we still get to experience a warm day, reminding us that in reality, it might actually still be hanging around.

We had a good one, even though this year, we stayed put and didn’t go abroad.  I was looking through my photos and was reminded that I haven’t written about the lovely afternoon spent on the beach in Paignton.

We arrived late afternoon.  I think it was way past five and nearer six.  But the air was still warm in spite the breeze, comfortable enough to have a little play on the sand without feeling chilly and that’s what exactly little T did.

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I love beach huts.  Love the idea of having a little beach-hole where you can just retreat to, whether it’s to have a cup of tea or just somewhere to go to escape or at least know that your belongings are safe from the water and sand.

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 Don’t you just love the look of them too?

And while T was happy playing, I was just snapping away – whatever caught my eye, even the pesky seagulls looked beautiful against the lovely blueness of the sea and sky.

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And then I saw the steam-train from afar …

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and a lone sail boat out in the sea.

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After awhile it was time to go … Has summer really gone?  Perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to experience an Indian summer this year.

Would you like that?

A Country Kid’s Post: A Day Out in Dartmouth

Dartmouth along the river

As mentioned on the previous post, we arrived in Dartmouth via the ferry from Totnes on a camping trip a few weeks ago.  It actually felt like we’ve gone abroad and weren’t in England anymore.  It felt more like we were in the South of France, or somewhere else in Europe.  For one, the weather was absolutely warm, don’t remember how high the temperature was, but it didn’t feel like the UK at all.

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Little T and I enjoyed looking at the colourful houses across the river.

Blue Victorian house

Loved this big imposing blue Victorian house in front of the river.  Look at the intricate design by the door, and the lovely big windows.  They must have stunning views of the river.

 Cobbled Stones and a boat

I love cobbled streets although they aren’t exactly easy to walk on.  I’m glad I was wearing sandals that day.

We headed for Darmouth castle.  It was a bit of a walk from the quay, but the views were stunning and in spite the heat, we really enjoyed just walking and stopping, taking photos or just breathing in the air.

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The view of the river Dart was just amazing.  Who wouldn’t want to stop for that?

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I just loved the abundance of colour whether it was found in the flowers around or the houses. Everything just seemed so vibrant and teeming with life that day.  Wouldn’t it be great if everyday life was just like that?

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We finally reached the 13th century castle and church, although it really looked more like a fort than a castle.  The oldest part dates back to 1380 and was built to protect Dartmouth harbour from a French attack.

Dartmouth cemetery

I love old cemeteries by the river.

Entrance to Dartmouth Castle

Entrance to the castle.

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T and her Dad inside the castle.

There really wasn’t much to see inside, although I can imagine it would appeal to young children, especially the long dark corridors and rooms.  If not for being English Heritage members, I probably wouldn’t think it was worth it, unless I guess you’re a historian like my husband.  T wasn’t really into it.  Thank goodness we found a small beach near the castle and she had a chance to have a little dip and play in the sand. By then it was lunch time, we took a small boat back to the harbour to have a very late lunch.

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 Dartmouth castle as seen on the boat.

We asked the guy who was manning the boat for some recommendations of where to eat in the area.  He recommended the Floating Bridge for seafood which we were all craving for, I guess i had something to do with being so close to the river.  And I’m so pleased that we asked even though it was a bit of a walk from where he dropped us off, it was still so worth it.

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While waiting for our food, we enjoyed sitting by the river and I managed to take a photo of the steam train running across the river.

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That sea food platter was just absolutely delicious and it disappeared not long after it was served.

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 After licking our plates clean, it was time to head back and wait for the ferry back to Totnes.

Have you been visited Dartmouth?

Do share.

A Ferry Ride along the River Dart

Have you learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? – Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

When they told me that the ferry trip to Darthmoor from Totnes was going to take an hour and half, I was worried that little T or even I would get bored and impatient.  The German poet was right of course, time does not exist when on a river, not even on a ferry.

As mentioned in a past post when we went on a spontaneous camping-trip just outside Dartmoor, we had the chance to go exploring around the area.  Our friend suggested that we go on a ferry ride and in spite hesitating at first, I’m so glad that we did.

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Little T enjoying the ferry ride.

The onboard tourist guide also kept us entertained with information about the river Dart and important landmarks found along the way.  It also helped that he was funny and gave little anecdotes along the way.

Small Hamlet along the river dartThese three houses, apparently is the smallest hamlet along the river.

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Dramatic ruins on a steep hill set against a background of grey skies.

Cormorant on a branch

And if you’re a bird-watcher, you’ll feast your eyes on the variety of amazing birds along the river Dart like this Cormorant on a branch.

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There were a lot of interesting looking houses, like this lovely thatched cottage.  Of course, one can imagine how expensive these houses must be!

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Apparently this one, has an indoor pool compete with a bar in it.  I have no idea whether the tourist guide was joking – I can’t even imagine a bar in a pool, but it must be very nice and convenient to have one.

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Now this was our favourite house by the river Dart.  Isn’t it just idyllic?  Just imagine waking up to the sound of the birds and water.  Beautiful.  Now don’t burst my bubble and mention flooding or storms please.

Agatha Christie's House by the river Dart

And then we spied  the Greenway House, famous novelist Agatha Christie’s house by the River Dart,which is now owned by the National Trust.  Apparently, the author and her husband occupied the house till their deaths in 1976 and 1978 respectively.

Can you spot the man waving by the house?  When I first took the photo, I didn’t even see him waving.  I only noticed when I downloaded the photos to my computer. Looks a bit eerie doesn’t it?

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 We also sailed past Sharpham Vineyard famous for their English wine and cheese.

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Loved that everyone waved to us from their boats as we sailed past them and of course we waved back at them too.

Dartmouth

And then before we knew it, we were fast approaching Dartmouth.  And just like that, the ferry ride was over.

Have you tried the ferry ride from Totnes to Dartmouth?

Did you enjoy it too?

Do share.

How to Find the Perfect Christmas Tree

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1.  Find a Christmas Tree farm near you and make sure you wear the proper outfit:  Warm coat, hat, scarf and wellie boots.

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One of our favourite traditions is going to a Christmas tree farm to pick the perfect tree.  The nearest farm to us is actually in Devon.  We’ve been coming to this Christmas tree farm for the past four years now.  We love it here.

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2.  Don’t choose the first tree you think you want, but go around and look at other trees as well before making your final decision.

We chose about three trees before, deciding on the final one.

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One of the trees we considered getting …

3.  Don’t be afraid to be adventurous and go as far as you can.

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As for us, we went further away, mindless of the mud and the cold. It’s lovely to be lost among these trees, there’s something magical about Christmas tree farms.  It almost feels like it can go on and on and on.

 4.  Decide amongst yourselves, or even take a vote on which tree is the best for your family.  As for us, you can guess whose vote weighed the most.

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5.  Stake your claim on your tree and “mark it”.  Usually, they’ll give you a tag with your name on it.

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6.  Take it home and make sure you have the appropriate tree stand.  One that has can hold water in it.  Put your tree in your stand and once it’s standing, make sure you put enough water in it before you start decorating.

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7.  Let the decorating commence.  Play some Christmas carols to add to the festive cheer and wear something fun like …. like an Elsa-costume.

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8.  Reward yourselves with a treat.  In Little T’s case, a candy cane.  Try not to give in to more demands for a treat.  One will do.  You wouldn’t want your little ones to get all hyper.

9.  Pose in front of the tree with the silliest grin you can muster.

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10.  Enjoy your tree as a family.

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 And there we sat watching Harry Potter, including Doc who seemed to enjoy the movie too, though I caught many times, him stealing glances at our Christmas tree.  I have a feeling he has something up his sleeve.

What’s your tree like?

Do you have an artificial one or a real one?

Learning for Life

W is for Wall

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This is Clovelly’s 14th Century Harbour wall.  Apparently they started building it in the 13th century and then extended it in the 16th, and lengthened it again in 1826.

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For those who aren’t familiar with Clovelly, it is a small village in Devon, the county beside Cornwall where we live.  What makes it different from the many sea-side villages here in England?  Well for one, it’s the only village that is privately owned and has been associated with only three families since the 13th century.

So yep, you can’t buy a house here in Clovelly, nor rent.  I think you have to apply to live there (that is, if there are any vacant houses at all!), and be approved by the custodian of the village.

Clovelly is a beautiful village.  It’s as if time has stopped ticking here.  The streets are cobbled and the old cottages still  stand the way they stood hundreds of years ago.  If you’re in the area and haven’t visited, this is one place you simply have to visit!  Though a word of warning, they do charge and admittedly, I found it a bit of a turn-off they way they’ve commercialised the village.  But that’s just me.

W is for Wall.

#alphabetphotographyproject

We're going on a Christmas Tree Hunt

One of my favourite Christmas traditions in our little family is going to the Christmas tree farm to hunt down the most perfect Christmas tree for us.  We’ve been doing it three years in a row now, though admittedly last year, the husband had to go on his own since little T had a bit of a high temperature that day.

This year, we were all set on going and the bonus bit was, we went with little T’s best friend F and his family 🙂

We set off from our house at around 2:30 in the afternoon.  It was a dreary-grey Winter day as seen on this photograph.

Every year we go to the Devon Christmas tree farm, which is about a 45 minute drive from where we live.  I read somewhere that if you buy your tree from a Christmas tree farm, freshly chopped, it will last longer than if you buy it chopped from any other shop.  Plus of course, if you have young kids, there’s something special about choosing your own tree right?

Actually If I had my way, I’d have our tree all decked-up on the first of December, pine-needles are such a pain though, so I’ve settled for the second week of December.

They also have a small shop in the Christmas tree farm where you can buy a few Christmas ornaments, lovely wreaths and even some hot chocolate!

And then you’re off to pick your own tree among hundreds and hundreds of Christmas trees.  When you arrive,  they’ll give you a tag with your name on it so you can put it on your chosen tree and then they’ll chop it down for you.

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To go on a Christmas tree hunt, you must make sure that you’re wearing the right attire: wellies, a silly wooly hat and a coat to keep you warm in the winter air.

Be adventurous and don’t just choose among the first few trees you see.  Prepare to go through the whole experience of walking through hundreds of trees!

The prickly pine needles and mud is all part of the fun when going on a Christmas tree hunt.

C’mon F!  Says little T!  We’ve got to find the most perfect one!

F says, Let’s go over there!

What about this one?  Little T asks and F answers:  I think it’s too small!

F?!  Where are you?

Oh, hot chocolate!  Yummy!  Says little T forgetting about her best friend and the hunt for the most perfect Christmas tree.

In the end, they left the choice to their parents and were busy instead with the next best-thing in the world – jumping in muddy puddles.

And here’s little T watching the Christmas tree get all wrapped-up and covered in a net ready to go home.

Where do you get your Christmas trees from?

This post is linked-up with Coombe Mill’s Country Kids.

And Post Comment Love

Post Comment Love
Hope everyone is having a lovely Chrissmassy weekend!

T and the Rugby Nippers

As parents of  toddlers we are always on the look out for activities that would burn off all that energy only a young child would have, although at three, T and her best-friend F are not considered toddlers anymore.

At the moment, T goes to play school three times a week and only stays till after lunch-time.  We are taking little steps here, we let her make the decision.  Last week, it was her idea to stay till after-lunch and so she did.  The decision to stay till three, will also come from her.  On Thursdays though T and her best-friend F “plays” rugby with other kids with the help of coach Dave of the Nippers Rugby.

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Do you notice anything different in this photo?  T is the only little girl!

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Dave is very good with what he does and the kids really enjoy the rugby sessions with him.  They are taught basic sports skills, simple rugby exercises and social etiquette.

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And they also learn the meaning of “team work”.

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Future female rugby player?

The session runs about 45 minutes.  There is a break-time enough for the kids to have a drink and a little rest.  A niece of mine asked me, why rugby?  It actually doesn’t really matter what kind of sport, we just wanted an activity that would allow our daughter to run around like a loony and burn all that excess energy.  It’s great though of course that she’s learning a sport and experiencing what it is like to be in a “team” no matter how small the group is.  This works perfectly well and as I’ve mentioned Dave is great with the kids.  And also where we live, it’s a bit difficult to find activities that are age-appropriate for them, other than the usual sit-around-sing-dance-storytime kind of thing, which she does at play school anyway.  She has mentioned that she wants to dance ballet, I’ve yet to find somewhere close to us.  For the meantime, she’s enjoying her rugby sessions so much with coach Dave.

So if you have a little one of your own and live somewhere in North Cornwall or even Devon, do check if Dave is doing any Nippers Rugby session in your area, you won’t regret it!  For more info, please click here.

In search of the Devil’s Cauldron at Lydford Gorge

I don’t know about you folks, but we’ve been busy almost daily doing things out in the sun, or visiting places, scared that we might wake up one day to grey skies once again.

So last sunday, we decided on an impromptu picnic somewhere, anywhere, as long as it involved the sun and out-doors.

One of the best things about where we live is that we are never far-away from lovely places to visit.  We are just minutes away from the beach and other tourist places.  And being members of the National Trust, we can actually go to any of their properties and have a day-out without having to pay the excessive entrance fees some of these places are known for.  Actually, that’s all you need for a cheap day out: your National Trust card and a delicious picnic.

So that’s what we did!  We didn’t want to go too far and we didn’t want to visit any of the stately country homes here in Cornwall (we’ve been to most of them anyway and besides, we reserve them for rainy days and winter).  We wanted to do something fun and for a change, not go to the beach.  It only took only a couple of flicks on our trusty 2013 National Trust Book and found a place to go:  Lydford Gorge, Tavistock in Devon.

Why?

  • The place had a picnic ground.
  • A Playground
  • Lovely walks by the river and exciting/mysterious places to find/visit.

Although when we got there, it was actually too hot to have a picnic on the grounds.  Sadly, it was also too hot for T to play at the playground.  So we ended up doing a short walk through the woods to look for the Devil’s Cauldron.  

It was a short(ish) walk down the river.  T gamely walked all the way down.  We stopped by a charming bridge and my husband taught us how to play Pooh sticks which T loved.  Then we followed the river till it narrowed down, walked up a few steep steps and entered a dark ravine to see the Devils Cauldron.

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It was a bit scary actually, going down.  One clumsy step and you could easily fall down below.

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Can you imagine falling?  I can!  So I didn’t dare look down.

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And there it was, the Devil’s Cauldron, it was actually eerie.   You could imagine something sinister happening here – a perfect setting for a scary movie.  It was warm outside, but as soon as we stepped down the ravine, the temperature immediately went down and it was all lovely and cool.  We would’ve stayed longer, but since it was a sunday, there was a string of tourists coming in one after another.

After the walk, we decided to go back in the car and drive down to the waterfalls.  You could actually walk all the way there, but not with a toddler, maybe when she’s older.  Besides, we were getting a little bit peckish.  It was time for that picnic which we had under a tree before setting off to find the White Lady.

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The White Lady Waterfall is 90 feet tall and is apparently the highest waterfall in the South West.  The photo above doesn’t look like it’s been taken in England.  It looks a bit more like my home in the Philippines, though if this was home, the waterfalls will be bigger, more of a raging torrent and of course the temperature would be warmer too.

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In case you’re wondering, yes, this was the day my little one actually said the F word.

If you’re in the area and looking for something to do, a bit of a hike, a picnic or a little adventure for you and your little ones, do visit the Lydford Gorge.

My Top Five Favourite British Food

I love eating and I love food.  I find it kinda weird because before I became a wife and mother, I used to not like food so much.  To me eating was not something to be enjoyed – I only ate when I was hungry.  I know why of course.  In my former life, when I had a job, I was always too busy to eat.  But now that I’m a wife and mother and have learned to cook, really cook and bake – I enjoy eating more.  Even though I’ve gained a lot of weight and haven’t lost much of my post-pregnancy weight, I eat and don’t even really care whether I gain more weight or not.  Well, I do.  But don’t really do much about it except moan about it to my husband.  I just love eating now, especially eating with my little family.

Here are my favourite British Food and I didn’t even include the cakes!  Oh my, I am in deep trouble.  But I’ll worry about that later.  Life is too short.  For now, come and have a British meal with me.

1.  Fish & Chips

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Photo credit here.

This must of course be first on the list!  You cannot imagine how much I love Fish & Chips, I can probably eat it all day, preferably of course by the beach!  Of course to health aficionados, this might be frowned upon.  It is after all covered in batter and deep fried.  If you are health-conscious or on a diet, I’d say, just unearth the delicious fish under all that batter!  Although honestly, eating the batter is part of the fun of eating Fish & Chips – you don’t need to eat it all.  As I’ve mentioned, this is best eaten by the beach or sea-wall.  Just be mindful of the greedy seagulls hovering by.  I tell you, they are scary birds!

2. Cornish Pasties

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Photo credit here.

I love Cornish pasties, preferably the Pengenna Pasties in Tintagel, North Cornwall and not because I’m biased because I live in Cornwall.  If you’ve tasted it, you’ll know why.  Imagine a pasty filled with delicious beef and vegetables.  Yummy!  Plus, it’s huge!  One pasty is enough to fill you up, although some may even eat it with chips.

3.  Cream teas

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Picture credit here.

A cream tea is a scone with jam and cream on top.  Actually, this depends whether you have the cream tea in Devon and Cornwall, famous for its row over the correct way of eating a cream tea.  Devonians will say that a cream tea should be eaten with the cream first, then topped with strawberry jam.  Since my loyalty lies with the Cornish, I chose the photo above which shows the strawberry jam first and then the cream.  Don’t forget, a cream tea won’t be a cream tea unless you use clotted cream and not synthetic cream (as my husband calls them) which is the long-life, squirty cream and others.  Actually, in all honesty, it doesn’t really matter (except for the cream) whichever way you eat it – it still tastes delicious.

4.  Sunday Roast

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Photo credit here.

My husband’s specially is cooking our sunday roast.  He makes a really lovely and fluffy Yorkshire pudding.  Now some of you, (especially of course if you’re not British or haven’t been to the UK yet), might not know what a Yorkshire pudding is.  I didn’t know what it was when I had my first taste of a sunday roast.  Anyway, a Yorkshire pudding is a batter pudding made of eggs flour and milk poured into hot fat.  I know it sounds a bit icky, but when eaten with a sunday roast, it just goes so well together with the slices of roast beef (pork, lamb with mint sauce or maybe even chicken) with seasonal vegetable, roast spuds and gravy – preferably lots of it!

5. Full English Breakfast

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And of course, must end this list with a Full English breakfast.  If you’ve been following my blog for some time now, you must have seen this picture on another blog post.  The photo above is actually a Cornish breakfast.  According to my British husband, the core of a full English breakfast is eggs, bacon and fried bread.  He usually orders his full English breakfast with black pudding (which is like a sausage made of pork blood).   I don’t.

If you happen to be from another country and visiting the UK for the first time, you can’t leave the country without at least trying one (if not all) on my list!