Tuesday 29 March 2022

Golf at St Ives

Today we are up on the hill above St Ives and we have a free round of golf included with our booking. I haven't picked up a club for about five years, so can I still do it?

Excellent first shot on the par three course, but then it fell apart a bit as I got there in eight. Ditto the next hole.

I was having huge problems with the shot being either too short, or more frequently miles too long.

I also found a little stream and lost the ball under a bridge. At the end of 18 holes my worst hole was a nine and best was four fours. Daz did better and it was really good fun.

This afternoon we walked in to St Ives. We have heard so much about this place from so many people, but it was actually lovelier than I expected.

The tide was in, and the water was clear so we could see the beautiful sandy beaches beneath it. The weather was beautiful again, and we followed the promenade around the town.

We went round the headland and found another beach with houses built directly on to it, and one house had sand banked right up to the window sills.

The clouds were very low on this side, so a very different look, although it was very pleasant and people were swimming in the sea.

Monday 28 March 2022

Lost gardens of Heligan

Today we made our way further down into Cornwall, in fact nearly to the end, and visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

It was a huge estate that was abandoned after the First World War. The house was sold during the 1970's and the gardens were left completely overgrown and forgotten until 1990.

It was then gradually restored and brought back to life. Unfortunately, March is not the best time to visit, as it is famed for its exotic gardens and they die back in the winter only gradually start growing again around now.

However, you can imagine it in its full glory, and spring is definitely taking hold.

I do recommend the Burma Rope Bridge across the valley

although the swing on the Adventure Playground was more exciting.

As members of the RHS we got in for free so I didn't mind not making the most of the gardens, and I managed to spend double the entry costs in the on site Garden Centre, so it worked out well in the end.

Lots of fantastic purchases including our own, currently quite small, gunnera manicata. See example below - we have left ours in the car and Darren is hoping that it will grow into something similar overnight.

Tonight we are staying at the glorious Tregenna Castle, with beautiful views over St Ives, although not from our room this time.

Sunday 27 March 2022

Barnstaple, Bude and Newquay

Up with the lark today, partly because my watch put itself forward two hours instead of one. No idea how that occurred, but it had us fooled for a while.

We nipped into Barnstaple for a beautiful jog along the Tarka Trail.

I ran for 10k and stopped, while Darren ran over the bridge and in a loop over the next bridge. I sat and waited with my camera to record a sprint finish, but the other bridge was closed so he ran back and lost me.  So I just have a photo of the bridge instead.

After breakfast we headed to Bude and stayed to enjoy it all for a couple of hours.

Finally we landed at Newquay for the night. Darren found us a fantastic B and B with a lovely view,

although our car is very worried as seagulls keep landing on its roof.

After such a busy day we are staying in for the night with Cornish pasty each and a glass of wine or two.

Saturday 26 March 2022

Two one out of two's today

Confusing title today. I was thinking of writing.      '2 1 out of 2's 2day' in the modern style, but that is probably even more confusing.

Anyway, this morning we did the Woolacombe Dunes parkrun, and the Run Director told us that it is one of the two hardest parkruns in the country.

He wasn't wrong, although I would say that for me it is also one of the two most beautiful runs, along with Hove Promenade.

The start is up at the back of the dunes and there is a gradual slope downhill that gets steeper once it gets to the sand dunes, and then down on to the beach.

From there it was about a mile straight along the beach into the wind, and then up the Dune of Doom.

Darren is posing for the photo on the way back to the car, but we did really run, or rather speed walk over the top of the dune and then down the other side.

Then it was a run along the dunes and back up to the top.

Here I am thankfully nearly at the end. Darren did it in an incredible 26.50, and I managed 32.37.

Back to the hotel for a well earned rest and then off to see Westward Ho! This is one of only two towns in the world with an official exclamation mark in the name. The other is Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! in Qu├ębec, which is totally ridiculous.

Westward Ho! was named after a best selling book of the same name written in 1855 by Charles Kingsley, that was set in nearby Bideford. A tourist opportunity was then spotted and a hotel was built on the coast of to the west of Bideford and called Westward Ho! Hotel. As more buildings were gradually added they were all called the same thing, and there you have it - Westward Ho!

Not having any expectations, it was actually a real pleasure with a lovely terrace on the way to the seafront.

Also a beautiful beach and tasty ice cream, which is all you ever need by the seaside.

RHS Rosemoor

Today we are in Devon at the RHS garden called Rosemoor. It is a lovely spring day and the magnolia are looking glorious.

There weren't too many plants in bloom yet, and the gunnera which will be enormous by summer was only just starting to burst upwards.

We then got to the fruit garden and the time, effort and skill that went in to the pruning was incredible. "This is the best pruning that I have ever seen!" I muttered excitedly to Darren. 

Unfortunately it was obvious that he was very underwhelmed, and even I can see that he does have a point. 

All too soon we had walked around the whole garden, although much too long for Darren I think.

Hopefully this holiday will improve for him tomorrow.

Thursday 24 March 2022

Extreme gardening

 Yesterday we caught the train from Birmingham to Bristol and then set off from the station on to the Sustrans cycle route. It goes along a disused train line almost straight to our cottage.

This is the very start of the route as it leaves the station, and at this exact moment I am very happy and totally convinced that we are about to have an easy journey.

Fifty metres later we turned right instead of going straight on, lost the route completely and cycled in the wrong direction with occasional stops for me to try and find the right way on my phone. At length we do find it and have a rather subdued journey here.

This morning we are tackling the worrying issue of how to cut down the overgrown plants that are cascading into the river at the bottom of the garden.

Surprisingly, Darren has brought a harness and he had the amazing idea of attaching it to next doors fence.

He then was able to lean out over the river and cut the branches off. It was my job to haul them up on to the bank behind us.

This worked well for a while until it became obvious that I wasn't very good at dragging branches up the bank and Darren wasn't so flexible to lean down and cut the lower branches off.

So we swapped jobs. I ended up right down at river level desperately swinging on the harness, while Darren took on my job.

No photos of this, but an interesting comment from Darren as I kept getting tangled up in the harness. At one time I had twisted 360 degrees and was in more danger of strangling myself than falling in. Anyway, he remarked that if I was a dog on a lead then I would be one of those that runs rings round their owners and trips them up. Not sure if this is very complimentary.

Ps, we did manage to get nearly all of it done though.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Nitin Sawhney

We caught the train to Birmingham and are staying at the Easy Hotel. Not sure how much it cost but it is definitely a room with a view.

Quite cosy, but my bike looks very happy and we are right above Turtle Bay cocktail bar, so it might get a bit rowdy later.

We had a pre dinner Belgium cherry beer at the bar behind the red and white striped barriers that we can see from our window.

And then on for a lovely Indian around the corner at Tamatanga. Also mango and chilli cocktails with the emphasis on the chilli.

Then on to the show. I wasn't really looking forward much to this part of the evening as we had standing tickets, but when we arrived they had actually put out seats, and we found the best two.

It was a great show - Nitin is on the left - and he played all of his greatest hits so I actually knew most of the songs. Difficult to sing along to though, and you will know what I mean if you have heard them.

The concert was held at the Town Hall building. We had never been to this part of Birmingham before, so went for a walk this morning in the lovely spring sunshine to appreciate it all.

Off back to the station soon for the train to Bristol.

Ps, no noise in the room overnight, but woke up early and looking forward to today.

Saturday 19 March 2022

Southampton views

I opened the curtains onto our balcony this morning to a beautiful sunrise.

What a marvelous view of the sunrise over the car parks of Southampton and the ferry to the Isle of Wight.

We had packed yesterday and left our suitcases outside of the cabin, and by about 8am they would be on their way ashore. We went for a final walk around the decks and then for a last breakfast.

By 9.30 we were reunited with our cases and on our way to the train station for our ride home.

We had a lovely holiday, but disappointing to find that the weather over here was better than the weather over there.

Wednesday 16 March 2022


It's still cold, but no rain today and the sky still has a strange orangey tint to it.

Today we are in Lisbon and we are out exploring. We bought a bus and tram day pass and set off first to the Belem Tower

This was very apt because it was built in 1519 as the ceremonial gate to Lisbon in the Renaissance, and the embarkation point for Portuguese explorers.

We then sat by a little outdoor coffee shop in a van and bought a very poor cappuccino and a fantastic Portuguese custard tart.

Just a short walk along the waterfront is the Monument of the Discoveries dating from 1960 which features famous explorers, kings, queens and various others, all staring out across the water.

Then we passed an incredible building which is the the Archeological Museum and Jeronimo Monastery.

We then followed a tip off we were given on the bus about the cafe Pasteis de Belem. This is where Portuguese tarts were invented and apparently they make the best ones in the world.

We joined a queue and eventually got two tarts to take away. They were beautifully wrapped and we just needed to find the right place to eat them.

Within a couple of minutes we passed the Botanical Gardens that were featuring an Alice in Wonderland display, so we went in.

It was totally amazing and we followed the route with quotes from the book and 20 Alice based scenes.

The gardens themselves were full of huge old trees and lots of very overgrown but lovely areas.

There was hardly anyone else around and we could hear peacocks calling to each other, but at first couldn't find them. Eventually in an overgrown courtyard we found one who was putting on a good show for three lady peacocks although they didn't seem that interested.

Right at the end we found a strange sight.

After all that excitement we walked quite a way, took another bus and arrived at the tram stop number 28E. This was our original plan this morning and we tried to get on it in the centre of town but the queue was enormous. We changed tack and decided that it probably wouldn't be as busy in the opposite direction and we easily got a seat.

It ended up being quite a long ride on a noisy old tram along narrow streets and tight bends. We thought that it would be the highlight of the day, but although good it ended up at the bottom of a great list.

Finally, we ate the tart from Pastries de Belem and it was lovely, but we both thought that first prize went to the tart from the little coffee cart.

Tuesday 15 March 2022

Cadiz in the rain

This is the view from our balcony in Cadiz when I opened the curtains this morning.

There are two points to talk about in the photo, firstly the weather and secondly the boat.

Starting with the weather, it is cold, wet and raining. This is very disappointing as I have been checking the weather in Cadiz daily since the beginning of February and every day has been warm and sunny. It is also due to be dry again from tomorrow for the foreseeable future!

Yesterday the weather was even stranger as the sky turned orange and when the sun tried to peep through it was blue. Why didn't I take a photo? Because I was so surprised that I just stared instead, and I am very disappointed in myself.

The captain made an announcement over the tannoy later to explain that storms in north Africa had blown sand into the air, and then the Scirocco winds from Spain had created this amazing phenomenon which I have no picture of.

Anyway, getting back to the view from the balcony. The boat is actually the 11th largest super yacht in the world, called the Yas and it is owned by a prince from the UAE.

Two days ago we were admiring another huge yacht in Barcelona harbour, and that one is on the news today. It is called Valerie is owned by a Russian oligarch, and it was seized by the Spanish authorities this morning.

Getting back to more mundane subjects, we went for a walk in the rain in Cadiz to admire the fortifications and gardens.