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Friday, 25 September 2015

Bus Pass Boots and Backpack Mark IV

 WARNING:  This post is long and photo heavy too so you may need a cup of tea whilst you read it or to skip it altogether.  I am posting it partly for my own benefit as a memory jogger and somewhere to keep my photos!

I've been meaning to post about this year's BBB trip ever since I went in May and here it is already well into September and I am only just getting round to it.  If you can spare the time perhaps you'd like to come with me once more?

This time I decided to stay in one place and to go out and about from there by bus and on foot.  I discovered a lovely little 1 bed appartment on the banks of the River Dart near Totnes and decided that it would be nice to come back to a place of my own each day and that I'd enjoy cooking my own evening meal and sitting comfortably relaxing afterwards especially if I was tired or the weather was not good.  Little Riverside had its own little garden space too as you can see above.

 Day 1 

I decided to go to Totnes by train and to begin my few days on foot and by bus from there (strangely it was cheaper to get a return rail ticket to Totnes than to Exeter which I had planned to do taking a bus from there to Totnes).  Little Riverside was a half hour walk from the station along the riverbank.  Having found the key where I had been told it would be I was soon inside my home for the next few days and the kettle was on for a cup of tea whilst I unpacked my backpack.  Milk was in the fridge ready as requested and teabags in the backpack.  Once I was refreshed and settled in I set off for the town of Totnes along the river path again as I would obviously need some supplies if I was to cook myself some supper!

I had a potter round the town and bought a few supplies - one disadvantage about self catering when traveling light with a backpack is that I couldn't take much in the way of groceries with me I had packed some teabags,sachets of Horlicks and enough oats for 4 breakfasts (oats being easier to carry than other cereals and I had measured them into 4 plastic bags sufficient for one portion each) As I would have to carry my shopping back along the path I obviously didn't do a "big shop" but managed to feed myself quite well and that first night I had new potatoes, broccoli and a little pasty and for desert a slice of something that was not actually very nice and most of which finished up in the bin!  Why is it that sweet things such as cakes and/or deserts so often disappoint I wonder?  After supper I settled with some of the books and magazines I found along with the tourist leaflets and before long it was bedtime.  Lovely comfy bed and very peaceful - I slept well.

Day 2

I decided to visit Buckfast Abbey so I set off along the river path (I was to get to know this half hour walk well) into town from where I caught a bus. The route was pretty through the Devon countryside and before long I arrived at my destination just across the road from the bus stop.  It was a mac on mac off sort of day of sunshine and showers.

The first building I came across whas this pretty little Methodist Church - apparently in 1881 a plot of land was purchased and this little church built just across the road from the Abbey ruins.  The Abbey had been closed in the 1500's at the time of the Dissolution, the treasures taken and the buildings allowed to fall into decay.  For a full history check out the link to Buckfast Abbey in the above paragraph.

The Church was open and I slipped inside and sat for a few minutes in quiet contemplation.  This being more my sort of place than the magnificence of cathedrals and indeed of the new Abbey itself perhaps not surprising since I had been brought up as a Methodist.

Leaving the chapel I wandered round the gardens and by then it was lunchtime so I made for the  Grange restaurant where I had a bowl of soup and a roll.

The gardens were very peaceful and tranquil and in spite of the occasional shower I did enjoy wandering round.  I did of course also go inside the Abbey but I didn't find the spirituality I had found in the little chapel.  There is a gift shop, a book shop, a Monastery shop (selling the famous Buckfast Tonic Wine along with produce from other Monasteries and Abbeys), a restaurant, conference centre and retreat centre as well as the bees!  Apparently bees would likely have been kept at the Abbey back in the Medieval days to provide both a source of sugar and of wax for making candles and since the re-foundation of the Abbey in 1882 bees have certainly been kept and indeed bred here and the Buckfast Bee, which is a trade marked name, is it seems a good pollen gatherer, and is normally gentle. It also has a lower tendency to swarm than many other varieties, and is resistant to Acarine (some kind of mite which affects bees).  Buckfast queens are now kept by beekeepers all over the world.  Must be something to be said for keeping bees sincee the Brother who had worked with the bees and done all this research and written books on the Buckfast bee retired aged 93 and eventually died aged 99!  Having once trodden on a bee when walking barefoot across the grass and been stung and having finished up at the hospital I won't be taking it up any time soon though.  It didn't do the poor bee much good either of course!

After a cup of tea I was ready to make my way back to the bus stop for the journey back to Totnes.

 I got off the bus at Dartington Hall shops where I had a wander round and bought a little packet of fudge for Mr M who once said he liked it and who now gets some each time I go away - he always shares it with me of course!.  I also got a loaf of freshly baked bread there and I then took the footpath to Totnes which wound through the woods and alongside the stream.

 This was in the courtyard of the little shop called Re-store which does restoration and recycling of furniture and of other items which might otherwise go to waste.  Always worth a look if only for ideas since with a backpack I wouldn't be able to purchase much!

Up through the trees.....

...down some steps and came out at the lodge to Dartington Hall from where it was a 15 minute walk along the river path home.  It was good to get back to my own little retreat and to sit with a cuppa before getting some supper - no problems deciding what to have as there was very little to choose from - a frittata made with left over potatoes, onion and green peppe,r the remaining broccoli and some lovely fresh crusty bread.

Day 3

 Day 3 dawned fine and bright and after a relaxing breakfast of porrige with a chopped banana and a cup of tea I set off on my way to town again - isn't Nature  wonderful to have persuaded these flowers to grow on a rotting tree stump in the river?  The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds as you can see from the reflection in the river.

 This bird - I forget now what it was that's what comes of leaving it so long after the event to post about it! - was busily singing his morning song as I walked along.

 Nearly there...
  I had some time to kill before the bus was due so wandered over the bridge and back.  My destination was Parke and I needed to take a bus to Newton Abbot and from there one to Bovey Tracey.  At Bovey Tracey having had a look at a couple of shops Spin a Yarn a fabulous wool shop in Fore Street and Serandipity a lovely patchwork shop on Station Road and learning from the Infrmation Centre that there was a pleasant walk to Parke alongside the riverI set off to walk to Parke.

 As it was a warm day I would have liked to take off my boots and paddle here but I didn't I pressed on towards my goal!

There is Parke seen through the trees.  It was a lovely peaceful walk in the sunshine and under the trees, birds singing and all right with the world. By the time I arrived it was lunchtime and I had a lovely meal sitting in the courtyard of the Home Farm cafe - I can't remember what I had now although I do remember it was delicious!

 After lunch and a coffee I wandered round the estate there are several routes to choose from...

 ...past the Dartmoor Ponies (there were several) since the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust have their HQ here.....
 ...through the orchard....

...taking in the stunning views.

 Down the path....


 ... to the front of the house (not open to the public as it is used as offices).  By now it was time for the walk back to Bovey Tracey.

 I didn't rush it was so beautiful I had to keep stopping to drink it all in!

Back in Bovery Tracey I made my way to the Devon Guild of Craftsmen building where I browsed the fabulous collection of crafts of all kinds, looked at the wonderful range of books and finally had a cup of tea and a scone in the cafe there.  Then it was time to get the bus back to Newton Abbot where I had a long wait for a bus to Totnes but the time passed quickly as there was another lady also waiting and we chatted as we waited and then sat next to each other chatting all the way to Totnes.  Lonely who me?!!

Scrambled eggs on toast and a banana for supper as I'd had a full meal at lunchtime and a quiet evening reading.  There was a TV but I only used it to hear the weather forecast!

Day 4

After another good night's sleep I woke to another bright day and decided to go on the boat to Dartmouth
 I bought my ticket and waited on the quayside in the sunshine.

Here comes the boat.

It was a lovely sunny day and the scenery was beautiful as we made our way downstream to Dartmouth.

This is the sister ship to the one I was on going the other way.

Here is Greenway the home of Agatha Christie hidden away in the trees.

It is possible to use the steam train for the trip to and from Dartmouth/Totnes but I planned to get the bus back.

Here we are arriving at Dartmouth and the building you can see up on the hill is the Britannia Royal Naval College.

Once we disembarked I had a wander round Dartmouth and bought a sandwich and sat eating it in the park followed by an ice cream whilst I waited for the bus.  I wonder what my headmistress would have said - we were not allowed to eat whilst out in the street especially not if wearing school uniform on pain of death!!  How come I still hear her voice all these years later "Jane Alexander what do you think you are?  A washerwoman?" when she caught me with my cardigan sleeves pushed up!

Once off the bus in Totnes I made my way along the river path home having stopped off to buy some more milk first.

Back at the ranch I made a cup of tea and sat in the chair in front of the open french doors looking out at the garden.  I had woken that morning with a slightly bloodshot and gritty feeling eye and the sunlight on the water had made me spend much of the day squinting so I sat indoors in the shade and relaxed in the chair nearly dozing off!

I had decided to walk up to Dartington Hall for dinner as this was to be my last evening before heading home on Friday.  It was beautiful walking alongside the river in the early evening light and my rest had refreshed me although my eye was still annoying me.

Past a bank of bluebells - why is it so difficult to capture the exact blue I wonder?

This beautiful little cottage is on the Dartington estate - cute isn't it?

I was early enough to have a wander round before dinner and the evening was perfect for a stroll - peace and tranquility the only sound that of the birds, cool after the day's heat now that the sun was slowly slipping down the sky and everywhere so much greenery and so many flowers I felt that if I ever make it to heaven it will be just like that evening at Dartington.

Remember when I spent the night here on last year's BBB trip?  I wasn't going to sleep here this night but I was going to have dinner at the White Hart as I had done before.  (Warning - the White Hart Link is showing Christmas trees and telling us to book now!)

As it was curry night that particular night I had that and followed it up with a beautiful dessert which didn't disappoint.  Panna cotta with lavender sorbet and a brandy snap tuile and fruit.  Amazing and delicious.  Afterwards I wended my way back to my little appartment for the last night and slept like a log again.

Day 5

Friday dawned and my eye was still sore and bloodshot so instead of messing about on buses and taking all day to get home as I had intended I decided to go straight there and then I'd have time to seek the advice of my optician before everything shut down for the bank Holiday weekend.  So I was home by lunchtime and in town that afternoon.   To cut a long story short I finished up at Musgrove Park Hospital Taunton that weekend - it being the only hospital within miles with an opthalmogist on call over the Bank Holiday.  Seemed I had iritis something I'd never even heard of and which entailed drops for weeks and a further couple of trips to the hospital before I was eventually signed off.

Had I enjoyed my few days away - yes indeed and I loved having my own little home to return to.  I like travelling light although I hadn't got round to buying a lighter rucksack as I had intended after last year's BBB trip but as I wasn't carting the thing round each day it wasn't too much of a problem and I have in fact now got a lighter slightly smaller one.  Where shall I go next year I wonder?

If you are still with me then you deserve a medal.  If I had known how to split this post into two once I saw how long it was getting I would have done so but the thought of maybe losing all the work I'd put into it made me keep going on this marathon - sorry.