For my Christmas present, Mark arranged for us to take a long weekend trip down to Dartmoor, to stay in a manor house hotel near the moors and luxuriate in good food, lovely surroundings, and quiet winter walks. The trip was absolutely wonderful and coincided with snow, which made everything a bit more magical. We woke up on Friday to a dusting of snow, which was more pronounced on the top of the moors. A snowy walk around a reservoir worked up our appetites for afternoon tea and cake. The following day we went to visit Tintagel, the mythical birthplace of King Arthur. As it was winter, the shops selling tacky plastic swords were mercifully shut, and some wild and windy weather made the castle ruins very atmospheric. In fact, I don’t think they often get weather other than ‘wild and windy’, given the castle’s position right on the edge of the west coast, jutting out into the sea.
More summer memories… in late August I went to Paris for work and the meeting times were so arranged that I actually had a few hours spare to explore the city a little bit. This never normally happens on work trips, so I made the most of it! I have not been to Paris for years and so asked my very good friend Emily, who lived there for a time, where I should go to occupy a couple of hours in the sunshine. She suggested the Rodin museum and gardens, which was a wonderful idea.
It was difficult to photograph the sculptures while avoiding everyone else who was doing the same, and in any event I would never do them justice, so I humbly photographed my ice cream instead. (This was more to record my wonder at the fact that, on a work day, I was in Paris eating lavender ice cream, than any aspirations to photographic excellence.)
I walked to le ‘Relais de l’Entrecote’ for dinner (another Emily recommendation) which, apart from the company, was as good as I remembered it being when I went there with her a few years ago.
After dinner I walked back along the Seine to my hotel enjoying the late-evening warmth (not a common occurrence in England) with a stop to take the obligatory photo of the Tour Eiffel. A good day at work.
We spent a lovely week in the Loire Valley at the beginning of July. It was sunny and warm, the countryside was beautiful, and the food was scrumptious! We stayed in a lovely gite which meant we could cook our own food (or rather, eat bread and cheese and pate and red wine for dinner).
Here it is: Annie’s House near Saumur, run by a lovely English lady and her equally lovely French husband.
All the gardens seemed to be just soaking up the sun and bursting with the most gorgeous colours.
We visited a few chateaux, including Chenonceau which I saw in a book of chateaux of the Loire Valley once and have always been transfixed by. It was magical to see it in person.
There was a glimpse inside of how the floor must have looked before it was worn away over the years…
and some really incredible copper pots!
We also visited Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci lived and was buried. It was covered in scaffolding so not the most picturesque in places, but this gargoyle was quite charming.
And of course, we stopped for refreshments a fair few times.
Our final day we spent in Honfleur, which is a lovely seaside town on the coast. I cannot imagine the kind of weather they must get sometimes, as the houses are commonly tiled with slate all down the sides. Not a good sign!
It is a very beautiful place though, and these days is quite bijoux and expensive. We had some very expensive drinks on the waterfront and watched the world go by, but they were worth it. Vive la France!
I went up to London last weekend to visit some dear friends and felt like a proper bumpkin getting off the train at Paddington and onto the tube. In my first year in London, I studied law on the south bank and used to take the District Line every morning and walk across the Hungerford Bridge/Golden Jubilee Bridge to my lectures. The view is breathtaking, and was a thrilling reminder that I was somewhere new, having lots of adventures in big, exciting London.
A few years (and adventures) on, I’m not in London anymore and while I miss it, I am happy in my new city of Bristol. With a spare half an hour on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t resist a return to my old stomping grounds.
I was a proper tourist, walking slowly and wide-eyed, enjoying the sunshine. The landmarks in the photo above are not as clear as they could be, but I bet you can still guess what they are!
Mark and I went to visit Clevedon recently on a bit of a ‘where shall we move?’ tour of Bristol and North Somerset. It was raining cats and dogs all day, and then as we drove into Clevedon the clouds parted and the sun shone down on the coast. I snapped the below with my iPhone.
Although I will not accept any comments about rainy English/Welsh (Wales is just off to the right, on the other side of the Severn Estuary which is the body of water you can see)/Brizzle Drizzle weather as we’re currently experiencing quite a severe drought, I will say that rain makes the views like the above possible. Plus, rainbows.
The walk we went on after I took my photos in Philly’s garden was so lovely- spectacular views almost the whole way. We parked at the North York Moors visitor centre at Sutton Bank, and walked along the edge of the escarpment with moors on one side of us and a sharp drop down on the other side to green fields and hills. I tried to take a few photos to capture the view, but they don’t convey the sense of space and distance. It was magnificent.
Most of the time I feel the subject matter of this blog has diverged significantly from its title, but not today! We went for a wintry walk near Cheddar along the top of the gorge, and some recent rain meant that the paths were satisfyingly muddy.
We saw a few mountain goats nibbling on bushes and scampering up the cliffs.
It was a steely grey day, and quite cold, but there were still lots of berries and tasty things for goats to munch on.
I got a bit sidetracked photographing berries, so Mark wandered off. He was being very patient, which is not his favourite thing to be.
On the way back we took a shortcut and walked along the road that runs through the gorge, which was spectacular. I did keep thinking of those little mountain goats though and hoping they weren’t scrabbling around pushing rocks over the edge!
Mark then went to get into his cycling gear to cycle home while I photographed yet more berries…
He didn’t quite beat me and the car home, but he wasn’t that far behind!