I have had many tips and ideas on how to blog and what to do on this site to make things interesting, but I think I might have hit on a thought from Claire my first cousin once removed (if that’s the right relationship). I shall now make sure that the blog reads chronologically correct with my most recent days first. Sorry if you are already confused. I also need to work on making things a little briefer as I have noticed just how much time I spend waffling on here – its eating into my day. I will try, promise!
So….where was I….oh yes. Please read from the bottom up from now on. Confused?
Rest Day: 1st March
With my upset tum continuing to knock me sideways it’s becoming a tad embarrassing as a guest in someone’s house. Nevertheless Michael and Jane are both very helpful and Jane disappears off out to buy medicinal help if only to ease the burden on their rising water bill whilst Michael tinkers with a few minor niggles on the van and gives it a clean.
The morning lie-in wasn’t as long as I might have wished as BBC Radio Leicester wanted a live interview with Monica Winfield which I gave a little nervously at 8:45 (time 02:42 on this link to listen). My phone pinged with texts from my daughters listening back at home calling me a few names and one from Kate suggesting that I was flirting with the presenter. As if!
Onwards to a quick photo call with the local press in Exmouth and an important and welcome meet up with my old pal Graham who does peer support work with the SIA. We ended up with the first meal I felt like eating for three days at the Puffin Billy in Exton, though I kept off the beer.
Stage 9 28th Feb: Exmouth to Holcombe 19.8m
With a slight change in overnight plans, Julian headed off back to London by train and my second driver farewell was made with genuine thanks for another great week of help and a fair few laughs – even if he did show me that my fitness level is still a long way short of his. I think he was even back at work in Bayswater by the evening – a keen bunny indeed.
My first flat walk for a few days was necessary if only because neither the Starcross nor the Topsham ferries run in February. Hence a fairly easy stroll up and down the Exe estuary was only spoilt by the fact that most of it was on tarmac and with my nagging blistered toe, tarmac hurts. However, it was made all the easier as Jane joined me as far as the swing bridge near Exeter. We had a good family catch up and a very civilised coffee in Topsham.
Unfortunately, my tum still didn’t fancy the sandwiches in my bag, so I lugged them all the way and survived the day by eating just one fruit bar, a glucose tablet and plenty to drink.
Arriving in Dawlish, I suppose the old ghoulish tourist desires took over as I craned my neck to see the damage to the railway line. Alas my luck failed me. Work is well under way and I couldn’t get close as all foot access to the seafront was restricted and even monitored by very bored looking security guards.
A quick climb out of Dawlish and I was soon at Holcombe. Feet sore but thankfully feeling much better than yesterday.
Stage 8 27th Feb: Branscombe to Exmouth 19.0m
I awoke feeling very grim and utterly drained. Whether it was a dodgy beer the night before or some other bug I have no idea, but either way things were not right down below. What is worse, I had four of the steepest and toughest ascents and descents to make first thing. Where I had done similar climbs only the previous day, today I was pathetically slow and as one ended the next one started. By the time I approached Sidmouth I was very seriously thinking about calling it a day. Sidmouth didn’t help. Infact, Sidmouth – I hate you. Whether I was feeling rotten or not, if you close the path into the town please could you not do it half way down and then fail to indicate a diversion. Please could you clean your public loo and ensure that the washing facilities work. And if you have to shut the path out of town too, just a small apology would suffice. I know the storms were tough but my mood was tougher, so I took it all out on Sidmouth.
Strangely, my spirit lifted as I left Sidmouth. I also seemed to find some energy somewhere despite not being able to face my lunch. The path to Budleigh Salterton was a beauty and I made up some time even though I might have – ehem – inadvertently walked through another closed section of pathway….oops.
Next stop was Exmouth and Julian ran back through knee-deep mud to meet me close to yet another enormous caravan park. They really aren’t pretty places and a huge blot on the landscape even if you can’t really see much of them from the landward side.
I finally met up with my cousin Michael and his wife Jane on Exmouth sea-front just as the light was fading and it was with real relief that I made my way to their house for a couple of nights in a proper bed with easy access to very much-needed facilities.
Stage 7 26th Feb: Seatown to Branscombe 18.2m
Starting the day with a cracking walk up Golden Cap followed by a steep descent into Charmouth, I was hoping for a bit of fossil hunting on the foreshore. Alas before Charmouth I was diverted away from the cliff and up though the town and on to a main road to Lyme Regis. Hence fossil hunting became a compulsory fossil purchase as I nipped into Lyme Fossil Shop for a swift browse.
Sitting on a bench idly working out how to tweet, a woman by the name of Frances sat down alongside. We chatted for a few minutes and the culmination of our conversation was a nice crisp fiver pressed into my palm. A very welcome and first display of generosity and I’d like to think that she didn’t just give it to me to stop an old fool from rambling on incoherently. Thanks Frances.
Two more couples met and asked questions on my way out of Lyme and both were very enthusiastic to my cause. One couple had a Golden Retriever who very much reminded me of everyone and everything at home, so I gave him a proper hug and a nose to nose. It’s a little unnerving as to what I might do if I meet someone who closely resemble a member of my family.
Much that I loved Lyme Regis, I’d stopped a little longer than planned and with the cliff path blocked again I was diverted via more toe hurting tarmac all the way to Seaton. Julian had again run back to meet me and we wandered together around the chalk cliffs to Beer and the very chocolate box village of Branscombe.
That evening we parked some distance away from Branscombe at The Otter Inn, Colaton Raleigh where the landlord very kindly gave us the price of a meal as way of a charity donation….thanks muchly indeed!