100 Years – A Visit To Remember

Georgeham

This time we were packing up with a difference. It was not straight to another house sit it was to my brother and sister-in-law, Jon and Julie’s, beautiful cottage in Devon. About 4 years ago they went on holiday in their motorhome for a year around Europe and when they got back they sold up in Kent and moved to Devon to enjoy the beach and adventurous outdoor lifestyle they love. Our visit coincided with Remembrance Sunday so it was to be a visit of taking time to respect those events long ago, recalling family trips Devon from a relatively more recent time and trying to remember answers for the village quiz night. I hope the little brain cells can cope with all this remembering at one go!

Georgeham

The final leg of our  journey to Jon and Julie involved catching the small two coach train along the Tarka Line – the 39 mile stretch track through beautiful scenery between Exeter and Barnstaple. Sometimes it feels like a painfully slow way to travel but is a real step back in time and we love it. We have the luxury of very rarely being in a hurry so it suits our pace perfectly.

Tarka Line

Cottage Wildlife

Eighteen months had passed since our last visit and in that time the house had received it’s three finishing coats and the garden had been transformed. It even has a she-shed, perfect to head get comfy on the sofa with a book and watch the sun set. The birds have been encouraged to visit the garden and there are plenty of them. Perhaps the most surprising are two striking pheasants. The older one who has been almost resident for 2 years is Pedro and he now has a protege/sidekick called Pierre. They are tame enough to be hand fed and most mornings they can be seen with their entourage of hens prancing around the adjacent fields.

Georgeham

A Day Trip Down Memory Lane

Having spent many weekends down in this part of the world with our family, mostly for our Dad to take part in motorbike trials events but also a few family holidays, it is a familiar part of the world to us. So after a breakfast treat of cloud eggs, Jon and Julie suggested a drive to the Valley of the Rocks which is near Lynton.

Georgeham

It is a rocky valley that runs down to the sea and feels a bit “other worldly” and is known for it’s feral goats roaming around. As a child it felt like we were in Nepal, the peaks definitely felt like they towered above us so much higher.

Georgeham

Georgeham

Georgeham

It gets very busy in the summer, especially the little tea shop which does a good trade in Devon Cream Teas but today we virtually had it to ourselves and had a walk along the cliff edge before heading to Lynton to seek a cafe. Once again there are memories a plenty, the Castle Hotel which when we stayed was a bit like Fawlty Towers, although not funny! That hotel is now apartments. We also walked down to the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway. For those of you who don’t know, Lynton sits at the top of the cliff and Lynmouth 700 feet below at the bottom (at the mouth of the river Lyn). Opening in 1890, the cliff railway is a water powered funicular railway originally used to transport goods arriving by sea to be lifted to Lynton and conversely down to Lynmouth if arriving by land. It is now just for tourists. As children, we used to race down the path that criss-crosses the track over a series of bridges. Not sure we ever managed to win but at least we survived the hair-brain idea.

Lynton Cliff Railway

Time for refreshment, our eye was caught by an entrance porch which had hundreds of luggage labels attached to it.  All of the labels had people’s wishes on them. It was a lovely idea and very decorative and it certainly encouraged us in to the quirky Charlie Friday’s Coffee Shop. The cake, coffee and hot chocolate was great and I dived into the colouring books, board games and knitting. What a great place but shame they had run out of labels to leave a wish. Next time!

Charlie Fridays Lynton

Charlie Fridays Lynton

We took a scenic drive home along the coast toll road past Lee Abbey (now a Christian retreat), Lee Bay, Coombe Martin and Watermouth Bay. Brother Jon also gave us a run down of the chimneys of Devon. He is a part time Chimney Sweep (JDavis Chimney Sweeping) and passionate about his work. We try and hold back from the stereotypical jokes but don’t always succeed.

Lee Abbey
‘Lee Abbey’

A Super 8 Film Evening

The “memory lane” theme continued the next day. After taking part in an event at Ilfracombe in the morning (A Peace of History) and a visit to the Puttesborough Cafe followed by a blustery but lovely walk along the sands, Jon and Julie dug out the family cine films, projector and screen.

Our parents were early advocates of cine film and all through the 50s, 60s and 70s took film on family holidays. There is something so evocative about setting up the projector and screen and wait in anticipation as the black and white blobs turn into actual pictures. There is also something really great about there being no sound. It allows the chitter chatter of memories being discussed alongside the film. Lots of laughs and sentimental moments later, we came across a film of our family camping a Ruda Camp Site – this is  just down the road from Jon and Julie’s cottage. Jon is 9 years younger than me so he was still a twinkle in the eye but how strange that we were so near.  It looked very basic compared to the holiday park that is now but it was the mid 1960s. We spent a good two or three hours watching these and relabeling faded writing. Thanks must go to Julie and my Jonno for sharing our family archive so patiently.

Georgeham

Pages of the Sea – Saunton Sands

The Sunday of our visit was a very special Remembrance Sunday – marking 100 years since the Armistice of WWI. Various events were taking place across Europe. Proudly our son and daughter-in-law, Shaun and Katie, had made the trek across to Ypres, Belgium to pay their respects at the Menin Gate, a memorial to the missing of of WWI who have no graves. Jonno’s grandfather, Richard, was in the cavalry and survived the battles at both the Somme and Passendale. Richard’s brother, Frederick, Jonno’s great Uncle was also in the battle of the Somme in a different regiment and did not survive. He is buried in one of the many Commonwealth Cemeteries.

For us in Devon, we decided to head to Saunton Sands which was chosen as one of the 31 nationwide beach locations to host a portrait in the sand of a WWI casualty. Pages of The Sea was inspired by the film maker Danny Boyle. The idea being that a team of volunteers marked out and raked the sand into a picture of Captain Ralph George Griffiths Cumine-Robson who died in December 1914 aged 23. As the tide came in later that day, the face would be washed away. Some of Jon and Julie’s friends and Julie’s parents, Brenda and David, joined us but was only possible to get a good overall view from higher up the cliff so we hiked up the footpath to the front of the Saunton Sands Hotel. It was worth the walk and Captain Ralph became much clearer.

Saunton Sands

Saunton Sands

It was a very symbolic art work and gave the public the opportunity to take part and write their messages on large numbers 1 0 0. Rakes and stencils were also available to complete individual 6 ft soldiers in the sand.

A Georgeham Pub Crawl

Lots of jokes had been made about heading home to revise for the pub quiz in he evening at The Rock. We love a quiz and it has been ages since we have taken part in one so were well up for it. To help the brain power a slap up roast at the King’s Arms was devoured first before heading all of 100 metres to The Rock.

Kings Arms

Our team name was No F in Chance and Jon and Julie, Jonno and Jo, Andy and Claire, Heather and Jason all paid our £1 entry. Maximum team numbers were 8 but we had another two on the sidelines, Verity and Wayne, but allegedly they had a chicken in the oven. It was a strange quiz in that the quizmaster reeled off about 30 questions without stopping. No categories or rounds so concentration was needed and just for those odd moments (of which there were none) there was a marathon of about 25 questions. Half way through each team was served a platter of roast potatoes, roast pork, vegetable wellington and gravy. Considering we had double roasted, we felt we had done quite well but came 4th overall. I think one more question and we would have made 3rd. Book us in for next year – we will do some revision and be back!

The Rock

From Dorset to Somerset

After four great days it was time to move on but only across a couple of counties to Somerset. We had been made so welcome by Jon, Julie and their friends and seem to have done so much in such a short time yet still had time to relax and chat. A much needed lift to the station from Julie, and Jonno had 15 minutes to shop in Sports Direct and look at our favourite brand Karrimor. We have a plan to downsize to two backpacks and a small case. It will make travel much easier and if we can do it now in the winter the summer will be a breeze.

So £50 later we now have a much larger backpack for Jonno, I will inherit his old one (Karrimor of course)  and say goodbye to my excuse for a backpack which I bought in Australia 3 years ago. I hate getting rid of things before they fall apart especially as it has travelled so many miles on my back so I may just stash it in the storage shoe box until I can get some therapy about my attachment disorder………

Backpack Karrimor

8/11 – 12/11/2018

15 comments

  1. Loved reading this. I know we, as a family have old reel films somewhere and now I’ll have to ask my mum if she knows where they are 🙂 It’s so nice to look back and I think the old reels are special. The beach picture was amazing and very poignant as the sea took the young captains picture away. You made me laugh about your attachment disorder, I think there’s some of that in us all, Oh and I love Pedro!! Great post

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  2. Devon is another favourite of mine. Although I usually end up on Dartmoor, Exmoor and the surrounding area is beautiful, too. I love the valley of the rocks and a visit in winter rewards you with not only an extra stark beauty, but usually no other visitors. That makes it seem really remote (and Nepal-like!).

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  3. Haven’t had the good fortune to visit this lovely part of the UK yet but hope to one day soon. I enjoyed reading this post and thought the accompanying pictures were great and highlighted what a lovely place Devon is. I like the look of and the name of Charlie Friday’s coffee shop and what a fitting way to remember 100 years since Armistice. It’s def something you won’t forget. Finally, what a great name for your quiz team. It did make me smile😃😃

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    • The sand portrait was such a simple yet dramatic and memorable event. As for the cine film there is something special about setting up the projector, (will it work etc) hearing the whurr of the motor and the anticipation of not knowing what you were going to see (if anything).

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  4. Great to see you both…a busy few days but glad you had time for some home baking too!! Pedro & Pierre are looking forward to your visit in February for their peanut fix. Glad Jon had enough time to spare to get the new rucksack before your train arrived 😄

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    • It was a great few days. Can’t believe I forgot to mention you handing over your kitchen for a baking fix brownies and scones! Thank you! Promise we will stock up on peanuts for Feb. Never done a pheasant sit before. Jx

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  5. Smashing blog. Brilliant tribute to the soldiers of WWI. Awesome thing to have had the opportunity to be involved in. Get a real sense of community from what you’ve described there. Definitely a bit of me.

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    • Only a token tribute really but moving none the less. There really was a community atmosphere about all the events. We could have done with you at the quiz though!

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