Enchanting England (July 5th and 6th, 2011)

July 5th, 2011

England makes me happy.  I just can't help it.  I think it's the lush landscape mixed with the friendly faces...and the accent.  I adore the accent!

We started our morning with breakfast at 7:30. Soon after we were heading north to the Tintagel Castle. This castle is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur, and references to Merlin, Camelot, the stone, and King Arthur can be found easily. The town is located on the rugged and beautiful North Cornwall coast.

The Tintagel village is really quite lovely. Beautiful views of the ocean and cliffs. The castle itself wasn't a castle inn the conventional sense...it was more like the remains of what stood of a town built on a cliff. They didn't need the same defenses as many castles thanks to the surroundings they chose. Honestly, the elements and the sea were their biggest threats. Regardless, despite the slippery climb to the top, it was beautiful.
Terri and I trudge up the hill whilst enjoying our surroundings

I personally love to see the melding of nature and buildings. Flowers were growing from the walls, and snails were quite prevalent. Small critters were running around too. You could see an old church, the town homes, a pasture of cows, caves, cliffs, and sea. It was hard not to feel powerful up there with the wind whipping through you. I almost felt like a character from a novel with magical powers calling upon the sea. (Channeling Nora Roberts I guess.)

Kris and Terri
Slug photographed by Kris.  Loving the new camera!

The remains of the old Tintagel Church...what a captivating view for the homes in the distance
After a good visit to the castle, we walked back into town to visit the old post office. While I should have realized this before today, it kind of took me by surprise that it was a home back in the day.

After our visit to Tintagel, we hopped back in the car to head through Dartmoor National Park to get to Cockington Village. Cockington Village is an old thatched village with some gorgeous country parks.

Kristy (me) in Cockington Village

We split a Bakewell tart and had lunch at a very dog friendly cafe called the Cockington Court Tea Rooms. I got the traditional Devonshire Cream Tea which included two scones, jam, clotted cream, and, of course, tea. It was quite scrumptious. Terri got a jacket potato with tuna and mayo. (I had never seen such a thing.) Kris, being adventurous, got a pizza.
My Devonshire Cream Tea - almost looks like it was staged for a magazine

Blacksmith in the town
It struck me while walking through this town that much of the English countryside seems to be pretty dog friendly. This cafe even allowed dogs on leashes in their dining room.
After a good loop about the town, we were off to Torquay and the Torre Abbey. This abbey dates back to 1196. It was quiet then due to the vows of silence. It had many decorations from centuries past inside, ruins of the Abbey outside, a great free guide, and a really nice garden/greenhouse.

Hairy Ball plant

In the greenhouse, they had a few pepper plants growing. One said, "pick me and eat me if you dare." Kris, naturally, had to give it a try. That tiny pepper packed a big punch, as Kris had a good cringe from the spice.

The Tithe Barn next to it was originally built to store grain. It was eventually called the Spanish barn, as almost 400 Spanish prisoners were held there during the Spanish Armada.

The roof blew my mind
After we were finished at the abbey, we walked down to the coastline to see the view from Tor Bay. The sky was a bit overcast, so it was a bit disappointing.

Next on the list was a place called Bygones. Bygones markets itself as a Victorian showplace where there is something for everyone to see.

You can look at age old advertisements, old war memorabilia, the largest train collection I have ever seen (equipped with a full steam engine), and more. It was something else and takes about an hour to walk through the three floors.

When I was younger, I read the book Are You There God, It's Me Margaret.  In the book, they talk of sani-belts.  I'd never actually seen one until today though.

After Bygones, we grabbed a few drinks from a local cooperative store before heading for a drive to Dartmoor National Park.

Side note: before we got in the car, Kris and Terri decided to use the restroom in the car park lot. It cost 20 pence to use, so Terri decided just to wait for Kris to come out instead of paying another 20 pence. However, whenever Kris came out and Terri grabbed the door, Lovely Rita Meter Cop saw the exchange. She stood outside of the restroom for quite a while. I was quite certain Terri was going to be ticketed, but the police lady gave up and walked away.

We drove from Torquay into the Dartmoor National Park, and we stopped first at the Haytor rocks. We all stopped and climbed to the top of the hill.

Kristy on the Haytor Rocks
Kris masters the Haytor Rocks
After that stop, we were back in the car for a delightfully pretty drive and more roadside livestock. Sheep, cows, and horses were all grazing at the side of and in the road.

I love this hairdo!
Our next stop in Dartmoor was at a picturesque stop called Postbridge. We took a few dozen photos before heading back down the road to the B&B.
Kris and Terri

Kristy (me)

Kris and Kristy
England has some impressive roads. The vegetation is lush and the trees are plentiful and often make tree tunnels. The only problem is that many of the roads are two ways but really only have room for one car. This has freaked Kris out a bit - justifiably.

We managed to make it back to the B&B after 9pm in one piece. It was still light outside.

July 6th, 2011

Breakfast was at 8am this morning. Nova and Mick did a fabulous job preparing my poached egg over toast, Kris's full English breakfast, and Terri's mushrooms over toast.

We tried to get to see the Exeter Cathedral, but parking in the city was not on our side, so we moved on. We did manage to get some Real McCoy Brand chips.

Since our last name is McCoy, we found these chips fascinating.

Old Wardour Castle in Salisbury was our next destination. We almost skipped this, and we wound up staying there over an hour. For four pounds, we got admittance, parking, restroom, and an audio guide. Superb value! Go here if you can.  It just feels authentic.

Old Wardour was a very innovative, fortified home built in the 14th century. It was partially destroyed in the Civil War in the 1600s, so the family built New Wardour Castle.

Old Wardour Castle - one of my favorite places!

The audio guide was fantastic. It truly helped to paint a picture of the rooms, events, and various lifestyles in the home. (Side note...part of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves was filmed here.)

Part of the castle is remarkably well preserved, and the tour affords the listener the knowledge of what the various rooms were, where fire pits and other items in the room would be, and more. We were able to go up four (and a half) floors to see the entryway, kitchens, grand hall, courtyard, bandstand, servants quarters, hallways, and several two suite bedrooms (for the steward and another notable servant). We learned most servants were young men, and they were the cooks and tailors.
Kris and Terri at Old Wardour Castle
Old Wardour also had an old grotto to explore. Terri has declared this to be her favorite stop yet.

After Old Wardour, we make a trip to Old Sarum. We did not have the time to full explore it however, so we did not pay admission.
Kristy and Kris
Stonehenge was another quick drive-by. We did not have time to listen to the audio guide, so we did not want to spend seven and a half pounds per person for admission. We just went up to the outer fence for a few photos off of the side of the road.

Lunch was at the British equivalent of a Denny's, called Little Chef, where we were able to get a beverage with a lot of ice...too bad their mix seemed a bit off.
Obviously, from their postcard, they didn't much care that we didn't like the soda.

Avebury was our last tourist destination. Avebury is known as having the largest deposit of man placed stones of anywhere in England...maybe even the world.

Kris holds up a rock at Avebury

While there we saw people filming a documentary and a dog as big as a small bear. The owner declared the breed to be a Newfoundlander.

It took a long while to get to the apartment in London, but, when we made it, Brad and Lisa were waiting on us. We had dinner all together at the Spaghetti House (a huge chain in London). Kris and I then went to drop the car off and took the London tube back to the apartment.

Our apartment is quite nice. It has a good sized living room/dining room combo, kitchen with washer/dryer, two bathrooms, two bedrooms, and a pull-out couch. Kris and I are in the same room with separate beds. We will just have to overlook the fact that my bed is sort of broken.

To be continued...

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