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In the land of Pooh…

In the land of Pooh…

The best of our recent trip back to the wide open spaces of Sussex…

Photo Sans Frontiers

Last week we went to see friends and family in Crowborough, East Sussex, where the dramatic vistas of Ashdown Forest provided A A Milne with the settings for hisWinnie the Poohstories.

We were lucky with the weather and took the opportunity to wander amongst the pines, heather, bracken and gorse bushes of this, the real Hundred Acre Wood, as well as taking Audrey on a tour of some the other rural playgrounds of my youth.

Becky, who I hadn’t seen for years, joined us on the more-or-less-compulsory trek to Pooh Bridge for a game of Pooh Sticks; whilst Biff, another old friend, provided entrainment for Audrey in the shape of Luigi, the loveable Staffordshire bull terrier and he also kindly organised a trip to a riding stables, where we met some of their horses (before stopping for refreshments at one or two local hostelries).

Come on, let me…

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Travel n Ravel post: Barging in…

Here’s another repurposed post that I’ve tweaked for Ian Cochrane and his eclectic travel blog. (see link below)

There’s nothing like a nice country pub when you want to relax and unwind, especially when you can meet interesting people, explore the local history and hear a few amusing stories whilst sampling the delicacies of the region.

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But whatever you do, make sure you know the geography of the area, otherwise you might find yourself…

Barging in.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Guest spots., Humour, Personal anecdote, Travel

 

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Photo Sans Frontiers Showcase: Créma Alma…

I have to say, I’m delighted at how my Facebook photography page is growing into an international collective of photo enthusiasts and today I’d like to introduce you to one of its newest members.

image Créma Alma lives in Casablanca and her photos beautifully capture the exotic atmosphere that name conjures up.
From stunning landscapes and scenes of everyday life, to ancient architecture and colourful geometric patterns on traditional pottery, her pictures really evoke the blazing sunshine and fragrant Arabian nights of Morocco.

And of all the photography groups, on all the websites, in all the world, she walked into mine.
(Oh come on, you didn’t think I’d be able to resist that did you…?)

Ladies and gentlemen, the photography of Créma Alma.

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Picture this. Instow beach…

There’s really nothing like a bracing walk on the beach in winter to give you an appetite on Sunday lunchtime so, after fortifying ourselves with bacon and French toast for breakfast, we made our way to Instow, a twenty minute drive along the estuary, to where the rivers Taw and Torridge reach the sea at Bideford bay.

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A small fishing village with a large and attractive beach at low tide, Instow is always popular, no matter what the season.
Whether it’s tourists flooding the area in summer or dog walkers and locals like us taking advantage of the vacated sands in winter, the flat expanse of the beach and undulating, grass covered dunes make for an ever-changing landscape that has a wild and natural grandeur of its own, even in January.

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The nearby village of Appledore makes a colourful backdrop to the panoramic views across the river and there are many juxtapositions of colour and texture, both natural and man-made, wherever you look.

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From the elegant colonial styling of the old Commodore Hotel…

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…to the ancient stone of the sea wall and flood defences…

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…and the strange organic shapes made by the ever-present driftwood, dune grass and spiny buckthorn.

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After an hour or so of clambering around amongst the dunes and hunting for seashells on the blustery sands of the beach, it was pleasant to rest for a drink in a local beer garden, after which we strolled into the village to sample the mouth-watering wares at the fabulous delicatessen on the harbour before heading home.

I can’t think of more fitting musical offerings to accompany a Sunday stroll on the beach than these two, so close your eyes and picture the waves lapping on the sand to enjoy Travis with Driftwood and the Bloom album in its wondrous entirety from Beach House.

Happy Sunday everyone.

 
 

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Picture this. A winter walk…

After the hailstorm we had last night, it was nice to see the watery winter sun trying to poke it’s feeble fingers through the clouds this morning. Perfect weather for a Sunday lunchtime walk.
I’ve joined various photography groups on Facebook in the last couple of weeks and, having plundered my gallery for introductory shots, I thought I’d better get some new material to post (but not before I post them here, obviously) so I took my trusty phone for a stroll along the riverbank and fields around Rock Park to see what I could see.

The lowering grey overcast was different from the usual backdrop of blue sky and fluffy clouds in my photos, giving the light an interesting tone which nicely evokes the season.

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One of the camera groups I’ve joined has bridges as a theme this week but despite the fact that one of my favourites, the old iron railway bridge is in the park, I thought I’d include pictures of the other two on this stretch of river for a change; the current rail bridge and the large concrete road bridge, both crossing the River Taw.

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Following the trails and footpaths around the park, through tunnels of trees and along the banks of the river, the bracing wind certainly blew away the Sunday cobwebs.

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I look forward to watching the countryside come back to life, it’s always fascinating to see what new images each season brings…

 
 

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Picture this. A break in Somerset…

Having taken a break from work for a few days, I thought I’d get away and visit somewhere I’d not really been before, the area round Bristol in Somerset.

I stayed on a very peaceful holiday park in Clevedon, complete with fishing lake to stroll around and a total lack of screaming children for company.

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As is my habit when I’m away, I went on a couple of excursions to take photos, first visiting the seaside town of Clevedon itself, with the “only fully intact, grade one listed pier in England”, built in 1869 and still in immaculate condition.

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A walk along the pier offers beautiful views of the Bristol channel, the entry toll house is imposing in its grandeur and the very structure of the elegant pier itself provides a wonderful counterpoint to the dusky sky when the lamps are lit in the evening…

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…and I saw this lovely tiled Victorian water fountain on the wall opposite the entrance.

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Another place I took a look at was the Lake Grounds in Portishead which, all in all, has a very pleasant, very English summer holiday feel to the area. Ducks and swans on the boating lake, blustery wind in my face and striking red rock formations, reminding me of the ploughed red earth of the Devon countryside.

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Further up the coast I discovered the Windmill Inn, a pub with not only a good selection of ciders, but gorgeous views from the terraced gardens of the Welsh coast and the rapidly scudding clouds and choppy waters of the Bristol channel.

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After a relaxing drink and a leisurely drive back towards my temporary home from home, I couldn’t resist stopping off at the particularly photogenic Church of All Saints in the Parish of East Clevedon, nestling in the lee of a wooded valley and looking like something trapped forever in the permanent dappled glow of an English summer afternoon.

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I carefully picked my way among the headstones…

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…until I came upon a resident who didn’t look like they appreciated my trespassing on their sunbathing spot..

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So I took this as my cue to leave for home, taking one last look as I walked back to the car…

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…and arriving in time to snap yet another glorious sunset over my holiday retreat.

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Thanks for joining me on my tour of this tiny corner of Somerset, I hope you enjoyed it.
I’ll leave you with a rather appropriate musical sign-off

Until next time…

 

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One gig, one wedding and two injuries…

We had been looking forward to this bank holiday weekend for a while, featuring as it did a friend’s wedding, to be held in a beautiful RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden that we’re lucky enough to have nearby, here in North Devon.

But that wasn’t to be until Sunday lunchtime and I hadn’t got anything else planned, other than a spot of payday weekend shopping for a wedding present and a smart pair of black jeans to go with my jacket for the wedding.
And Elaine needed shoes.

As it happened she didn’t find any, but while she was searching for them I retired to the pub to escape the hordes of grockles in the high street and while I was there I bumped into an old friend, one who had starred in a previous post, the one with the samurai sword.

I was sitting on the decking, enjoying the sunshine, when I heard a familiar voice loudly proclaiming that;
– “I don’t go looking for trouble you know”
I couldn’t resist;
– “No, it just comes looking for you doesn’t it Terry”
– “That’s right mate. See?”, he said to his unseen companion “I told you, it’s not my fault”
– “It just better not come looking for you when you’ve got a sword in your hand though, huh?”, I hazarded.
“Oh THAT’S RIGHT, bring THAT up again why don’t you!” he shouted in (I hoped) mock-outrage.

His displeasure vanished as quickly as it’d appeared however, leading him to regale us with another episode of DIY surgery-themed lunacy;
Whilst showing off his authentic, razor sharp, Japanese katana samurai sword to his girlfriend’s young daughter, Terry drew the lethal blade vertically out of its scabbard, holding it in front of him.
Unfortunately for him, he had neglected to check which way round the blade was facing before doing so and, as the weapon came free of its cover, the end of it sliced up the front of Terry’s stomach.

Now, far be it for me to cast aspersions on his character, but I suspect that he may have consumed a few beverages prior to his impromptu disembowelment exercise, rendering him mercifully anesthetized and, as his girlfriend put it when she arrived mid-way through the tale;
– “I said “For fuck’s sake Terry, you’ve cut your stomach open” he just looked at me and said he was fine. I said “look, you’ve cut right through your t-shirt and your stomach” but he was pissed and just told me not to be so bloody stupid”
Terry then returned to the conversational fray;
“Brand new bloody Animal t-shirt it was too. Anyway I went to bed, coz I’d had a few drinks, and when I woke up I couldn’t move. Couldn’t roll over. I’m lying there on my stomach going (shouting) “Kelly! Kelly, I can’t fucking move!””
Kelly interjected again at this point;
“And I said “That’s because you cut your stomach open last night and the blood’s stuck you to the sheets”

Nobody likes an I-told-you-so.

It turned out, when they finally reached the hospital, having peeled him off the bedsheets, that had he gone there the night before, they would probably have stitched him up. As it was, lying face down and unconscious for several hours on the clean cut inflicted by the deadly blade had effectively sealed the wound and he required merely to be taped up and sent on his way with, no doubt, weary shaking of heads and amusement from the hospital staff.

As we were there and she had our attention, Kelly also proceeded to tell us of the time Terry had thought it deeply amusing to push her out of bed in the morning, sending her sprawling naked on the floor.
Waiting until he had nodded off again, Kelly returned to bed and after a suitable period to lull him into a sufficient sense of security, turned side-on and used both feet to propel him bodily out of bed and onto the floor.
At least it would have been the floor, had Terry not left an empty pint glass next to the bed the night before.
As Kelly cheerfully explained;
“He was bent double in the corner of the bedroom for about half an hour going “Oooooph! Oooooph!”, it was hilarious. When we got him up the hospital the doctor said it was lucky it wasn’t a cheap, thin glass, it would have smashed and killed him instantly. But it’s ok, it was a good strong one, it broke three of his ribs instead”

Well, quite.

As if that wasn’t enough entertainment for one day, that same evening, as I was waiting for a takeaway, a rare payday treat, friend, ex- colleague and musician Steve Conway strolled past and asked if I fancied going to see a band in town that night.
So Friday night, I was in the upstairs room of a local Mexican restaurant called Jalapeño Peppers, listening to the angular and energetic indie rock of a band Steve had been a member of last time I’d seen them, CAPTAL.

It was a really good set, the evening having what Steve described as “an historic feel”, so if they suddenly hit the big time tomorrow, we can say we were there at their breakthrough gig.
Anyway, check them out at the link above and here are a few photos I took on the night.

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And so finally to the main event, Jon and Lisa’s wedding.
Sadly the weather let them down, as it veered between overcast and downright wet all day on Sunday, meaning the wedding photographs had to be cut short.
This was especially unfortunate given the setting, RHS Rosemoor, a large and beautifully maintained garden in Torrington.
They had chosen to have the ceremony in the thatched building in the English Cottage Garden and though the rain kept off just long enough for them to tie the knot, immediately afterwards the skies opened and we all made a dash for the extremely enjoyable reception, but not before I’d taken a quick, damp stroll around some of the grounds to take a few snaps.

So here’s a brief taste of Rosemoor in the rain, starting with the picturesque thatched hut where the ceremony took place..

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…which stands in amongst the lush planting of the cottage garden..

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..with its ornamental pond and pergola..

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…and as part of a Tolkien exhibit that is currently on show throughout the grounds, an unexpected guest watched from the roof of a gazebo.

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There are more formal parts of the garden too, bisected by imposing avenues of clipped hedging…

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..leading to distinct “garden rooms” such as the formal rose garden and the vivid and eclectic planting of the sunken garden.

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It was a pity the English bank holiday weekend weather made us cut our visit short, but I will return in the summer when the sun is out to give you a more extended view of Rosemoor. In the meantime, if you want to visit and see for yourself, click on THIS LINK or the one above and discover the other delights this beautiful place has to offer.

{The Tolkien exhibit runs until the end of August}

 

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