Whilst most of the Country has been experiencing, lets say, ‘indifferent weather’ this week, I have been lucky enough to spend a week in North Devon with more than my fair share of sunshine.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Keith and Dawn Sanders for many years and this year not only do they both hit the magic number of 50, but they also manage to coordinate their 25th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, and boy can they celebrate………
….. no really they can. They invited their closest friends to join them at the lovely Redland House in Instow.
It was always going to be loud and lots of fun and indeed it was. With the attendance of some very blokey blokes who love their football and Xbox games, bringing with them a whole host of electronic gadgets allowing video to be projected onto a huge white wall meant that Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Singstar and various ‘crucial’ football matches could be enjoyed in glorious ‘bloody enormous wide screen’. Outside and the ample gardens meant frequent cricket and football games were played ensuring Alfie had none stop playmates throwing him balls and generally keeping him entertained.
Handy for the Tarka Trail cycle path, I had cycled from my home in East Devon to Instow on the Friday through the glorious county of Devon. Despite the rather damp forecast, I managed to stay dry apart from an hour of wet weather as I passed through Winkleigh. This gave me a great excuse to stop for a cuppa and a large scrumptious slice of Devonshire Apple Cake at the lovely Yarde Café on the trail near Stowford. I also managed to meet up with ‘CyclingBob’ on his way from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) as he passed through Torrington. It would have been very rude not to buy him a beer, so a chat over a couple of pints was duly undertaken and a shake of hands to wish him well on his trip North. Currently (8th May) he is making his way through the Cairngorms. A meeting made possible by the social networking phenomenon that is Twitter.
A walk to Bideford along the trail on the Saturday morning. Nice to see a town with next to no national shop chains at all, very rare these days, and a Pannier Market. The sun continued to shine for a bbq in the garden overlooking the Torridge Estuary on the Sunday where we toasted Keith and Dawn. Clearly the sun shines on the righteous.
During the week, as people began to leave to return to work, days out on the beach at Croyde Bay and cycling trips along the Tarka Trail were enjoyed. Well, when I say enjoyed, a number of cycling novices did find that although the distance was not to much of a problem, cycling seats did prove more of an issue. It was also learnt that some types of ladies pants apparently are not best suited to cycling, as it was suggested that tyre levers find another use. Dawn and Emma, who are not keen on cycling decided to ‘walk’ with Alfie along the Tarka Trail to our lunch stop at The Puffing Billy at Great Torrington……. a distance of 8 Miles. This distance dropped to 5 Miles as they decided to take the bus to Bideford and further dropped again as we caught them getting out the taxi at the pub just as we arrived. It was Alfie apparently, he was so tired and just didn’t want to walk.
Finally, on the day that the weather broke, we had booked a 2 hour fishing trip from Appledore with ‘Randy’ the fisherman, although we are suspicious that this maybe a name for the tourists. Randy was a bit of a character, complete with a soggy dog end that hung precariously from his lip in a gravity defying parabolic curve with an ash column that any Icelandic volcano would have been proud of. I think we were all expecting a slightly larger fishing vessel, perhaps visions of a cross channel ferry complete with duty free shop, with others thinking of at least a large vessel with comfortable seats, well stocked bar and a covered area to stretch your legs should you need to, and a galley to gut the copious amounts of fish we were going to catch. In reality, the Sanderling was big enough to get all 10 of us on ….. just …. as long as nobody sneezed. The gutting area was right in front of the only vegetarian on the trip and another who was squeamish on seeing crabs. So as Randy pulled a live crab out of his bucket to be used as bait, and deftly cut it in half before anybody could say ‘that’s a nice crab’, the tone of the trip was set.
Apart from a few bites, nothing was caught but we had a great morning and Randy was fantastic entertainment. He also benefited from meeting us as Jess showed him how to use his new mobile phone.
Then it was time to leave. I think its safe to say everybody had a fabulous time and was privileged to celebrate with Dawn and Keith in this momentous year for them. I feel very lucky to have known them for so long and count them as close and dear friends.
So lets raise a glass and say: