I arrived at Heathrow Airport after a great flight with my light suitcase only weighing 10kg, and hand luggage. (in preparation for what I was going to bring back to Jeddah of course.) After swiftly going through customs I Then caught a bus to Woking Station, where I boarded a train to Axminster in Devon some 2 and a bit hours away in the countryside. Along the way I enjoyed looking out of the windows at the rolling green hills, corn fields and meadows with black and white cows and suffolk black faced sheep lazily grazing.(my favourite) Along the railway track were tall green soft willowy leafed shrubs, pink flowers and wild blackberry plants trying to take over the shrubs. I sat there listening and watching the people in the train. All their different English accents, Londoner’s, cockney, Yorkshire… It felt strange to hear them talking. It definitely made me feel like a foreigner. (which I was). As soon as I spoke people asked me where did I come from.
When I arrived at Axminster, Chris was there on the platform to greet me. She drove (yes women do drive in the UK) me in her car to her home in a lovely little village. A delightful stone cottage with a rambling rose growing up the front of the stone wall. It was light and airy with a gorgeous garden full of flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit trees. It was so quiet and peaceful at night, you couldn’t hear a thing. (accept Chris snoring, ha ha not really:)
The next day we went into Axminster to get some supplies and then had a look around the shops. Such quaint little shops, pubs and restaurants.
In the afternoon we went to Branscombe Beach, where we had a cream tea (Scones with clotted cream and jam or devonshire tea in Australia)to give us the energy to climb to the top of the hill, and down again. It was very steep, we decided to go down a different way along a path on the side of the hill, which led to the beach which was hard going, walking on the pebbles with sandals. Chris flaked out on an upturned boat.
Saturday - We walked from Whitford to Colyton 1.5miles. We saw what looked like a raven on a dead tree in a meadow. It didn’t move, so I jumped the gate to see what it was. As I got nearer I could see it was a plastic shoe that had been shaped like a raven. I guess it was used to keep away the hawks. We had a look around Colyton village.
There was an amazing MAN CAVE shop called “The Tool Box”. Russell would have loved it. Tools and more tools, very old, old and new. It started to rain so we did what all brits do, had a cream tea in a cute little cafe then caught the bus home.
Sunday - we set off for a village called “Beer”. A very pretty little beachside village. Flowers were in hanging baskets everywhere. Bright reds, pinks, yellows, orange… A narrow fast running stream runs next to the road in the main street. It is contained by rock walls and little stepping stones at road height. It sounds wonderful bubbling and running over the rocks. They also have a community vegetable patch growing near the beach.
Queen Victoria’s lace wedding flounce was made in Beer in 1839. For more info on Beer http://www.beer-devon.co.uk/
Monday - some relatives were visiting Chris so we all went on a tram ride from Colyton to Seaton. The tram stations were beautiful with all their flowers and stonework. We walked along the beach at Seaton and saw the brightly coloured huts. Some people were inside them reading or resting. It was a hive of activity on the beach. Sail boarding, restaurants. It had a real carnival feel about it. There was a festival happening so people were everywhere. We had a cream tea.
That night we went to a little pub. I chose to have “Sticky ribs” with chips. Chris’s Aunty Hilda (90) said she would have them too with jacket potatoes. Well when they came, the plates were huge, and on them looked like a giant complete ribcage. I had loads of chips and Hilda had 2 large potatoes. I thought no way will she be able to eat all of that. Blow me down she ate it all! She had it all over her face, arms and hands. I was the same it was all over my hands and I could feel it on my face. I said to her I would love to have taken a photo of her. Such a lovely spritely lady. Very positive and happy. We went off to the bathroom to clean ourselves off. It took some doing.
Tuesday - We went to “Killerton House” in Exeter, a beautiful landscaped 18th Century house. The gardens were stunning.
Killerton House, built in 1778-9, brings to life generations of the Aclands, one of Devon’s oldest families. We started to go with a tour guide around the house. When we got to the family tree part, the guide said that “The Acklands” had 10 children. Hilda piped up and said “they couldn’t have known about condoms then could they”. Everyone laughed including me. It was at this stage we went on our own tour of the house. Hilda couldn’t hear very well and was struggling to listen as was myself. As you wander around the grounds there are many hidden gardens and even a “Bear House” where the Acklands kept a pet bear.
Wednesday - We went to “Lyme Regis”. Another pretty village which is famous for its fossils. It is known as “The Jarassic Coast” World Heritage Site, stretching 95 miles (155km) from Swanage in the East to Exmouth in the West. It tells the story of 185 million years of the Earth’s history. The site’s unique value creates a ‘walk through time’ that includes the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The varied geology also provides a spectacular laboratory of coastal change, and supports rare and important plants and animals. Many of the shops have numerous fossils as does the Museum. While in the museum we played dress ups with some of the costumes, and even managed to snap a shot of the local mayor and audities.
Friday - This was a lovely experience, “Walking with Llama’s” at Sidmouth.
They are gentle animals and take a little while to get use to you. When they do they will nudge you and kiss your nose. We walked with Ollie and Eric. Ollie always walked behind Eric because he is the protector and watches out for danger. So when Eric stopped so did he. He particularly like the horses and watches over the sheep. The views of the coast and rolling fields on the trek were spectacular.When we came to a particular bank that Eric likes, he climbed up on top of a mound, as if to say “I am the KING”.Ollie soon moved in to show who really is the KING. I would love to own a Llama they are beautiful animals. Ollie has a trick he does on the way out and then on arrival back. He is able to open and take a lid off a bin to get to some straw. A real show off, he loves to have his photo taken.
Sunday - Fred and Florence some friends of Chris and David came to stay, so for something to do we went to Otterton which has an old flour mill. First of all we walked along the river, then came back to the mill and looked inside the shops and had- wait for it. “Cream Tea”.
Wednesday - We travelled by car and train to the “Birmingham Quilt Festival”. It did not disappoint. Some stunning quilts and some with tiny weeny stitching, that you wonder how an earth they could do it, even with good eyesight. Art quilts are now becoming very popular with all sorts of techniques and media used on them. This is my type of quilting. Not matching triangles and squares precisely. I am not patient enough for that. I admire people who can do it. I loved all the colours, textures, shapes and imagination that went into them. I was surprised at how many old people were there. Not including me I am not old. It seemed like all the nursing homes had released their residents. Ha ha not really. Perhaps the younger people would have been there on the weekend as they work during the week.
Saturday - The last day in the UK. Caught up with my cousin at Wimbledon which was great.
Have just spent nearly 3 glorious weeks in the UK, Devon with my friend Chris, at her home. We had a wonderful time.
All in all it was a fabulous holiday thanks to Chris, who looked after and took me everywhere. Now I am back living in Jeddah.