Tales of Old Dartmoor – part two

We packed up and set out to find Jays grave – Jay committed suicide and she was buried at a crossroads – evidently the grave always has fresh flowers on it.

The moor was very very foggy. So foggy we could only see a few yards in front of the car – so we were grateful for the white lines at the side of the road.

It took us ages to find the grave – and when we did it was covered in tawdry (wonderful word) plastic and fabric flowers. There were some fresh ones there as well, but the artificial ones totally spoilt it – it would have been better to find none at all.

It was very atmospheric though, in the mist.

We drove on to Okehampton to the castle – when we got there it appeared closed – but we saw a man walking in through the gate, and followed. He didn’t speak to us at all – and was working on pointing the stones. We wandered around the ruins, and when we were at the highest point of the castle – saw him leaving.
A few minutes later we went to go, and found that he had locked the gate! Luckily the fence was easily climbable or we would be there yet! We had dinner in Okehampton, at this pub, after I had taken the photograph Jill started laughing – there was a man in the doorway grinning and waving – the word ‘yokel’ could have been made just for him!

We had a good journey home, just stopped to eat sandwiches in a car park in Mere, and got back at about 2030.

Tales of Old Dartmoor

After breakfast (It is free at Innkeepers Lodge – why don’t I get paid for advertising them?) we went on one of the ghost walks. It wasn’t strictly a ghost walk – more of a legend – the story of a hunter and his dogs who were turned to stone for riding through a witches coven. No, I am not going to find the book just to write in a name you would forget as quickly as I have.
We set off from the church in the village of Manaton, which obviously has a hectic social life. Jill dressed in a subtle fashion – just in case we needed Air rescue – as is seen with her standing near to a velvet wall.
As we were crossing a field, we were caught up by a man who was holding a piece of paper and studying it, much the same as we were studying our book, and it was obvious that we were following the same instructions.
Never quite sure what hiking etiquette is on occasions like this – do you slow down so that hiker 2 forges ahead? Do you rush on and ignore him? We took option 3 and made polite conversation for the next mile or so. He was an interesting man who had moved to Devon from Windsor, and his hobby was chasing eclipses. He was heading for China in the summer.
We walked up to ?? together, then we followed option 1 and let him carry on. It was lovely up on the moor, with views across the fields.
On the way down from the tor we saw some women letterboxing – which seems a bit like Mark Twain described golf – a good walk ruined.
We passed this notice and made sure that we were walking at less than 40mph.
Up the next tor, and then down the hill through an abandoned medieval village.

The walk went on through woodland,
then over this raging torrent and eventually back to the car. We had coasted into Manaton with the orange light on – so had to find a petrol station – think the car was driving on fumes by the time we found one. We had a drive around the ringroads of Devon before we ended up in Tavistock for the best fish and chips we’ve had for a long, long time.

It needs double glazing.

We had a lovely lazy start to the day – went for breakfast in the Little Chef, where we listened to a man talking very loudly in several languages on his mobile, complaining that his Very Expensive Car had broken down. (Hooray!)Plan for the day was a visit to Stonehenge, and then onto meet My Friend Rob in Plymouth. I sent him a text telling him we were going via Stonehenge and how we were looking forward to seeing him.

We set off for Stonehenge, and – it being unique and well signposted – found it easily. The much maligned car park and visitor centre were quite well hidden – the visitor centre is below the level of the car park and is in one corner. It is basically a collection of green portacabins – with a tunnel leading under the road to the stones. In the tunnel was a mural showing an artists impression of the building of Stonehenge – it looks as if it was built by the Village People. Once out of the tunnel you are allowed to wander around the stones at a respectful distance. There are English Heritage Wardens (wishing they had office jobs) armed with submachine guns and cattle prods strolling around making sure that you don’t get too close. It was cold. Extremely cold. An enlightened government would have built a nice big cattle shed over the stones, which would avoid all the argument about the busy road running past, and make it a lot warmer for the visitors.
Seriously – they are fantastic – and must have been amazing when they were standing alone on Salisbury Plain.

We then set out for Plymouth. Shortly after setting out I got a phone call from Rob, asking when we were planning on getting there – minutes later I got a rather perplexed text from Rob at work hoping that we had a good time at Stonehenge – but thinking that I might have sent the text to the wrong person. I obviously could never cope with having an affair!
The Satnav (we are going to have to give him a name) guided us right to Rob’s front door (luckily Plymouth Rob – not Kent Rob)

It was great to see him again – I said to Jill that he was one of the most beautiful of young men – and although he had obviously Lived Life to the Edge – he was still my Bertie.

He took over from Sidney Satnav and confidently guided us to a much nicer Innkeepers Lodge to the one we were actually staying at. We had a drink there, and wistfully looked at the menu, then went to the one we had actually booked.

The pub it was attached to was much older, but the room was great, and it was right opposite the park and ride, so more convenient in the end.

We booked in, and left the car to go and catch the Park and Ride – which was absolute luxury – leather seats and TV.
(Note the reincarnation of the red hat – sent over from Canada just for me! Hooray Posie Row!)
It took us to a part of Plymouth which was Very New – I liked the screening on the car park.
We went shopping for a walk book ( Ghosts of Dartmoor or some such) and a pair of boots for some senile old bag who appeared to have forgotten hers. The salesman was wasted in a camping shop – he could have sold Watneys Red to a CAMRA member. (1970s simile)
Rob then took us for a walk around historic Plymouth, pointing out scenes of his downfall. We looked at the Mayflower steps and the plethora of signs and plaques around them, then went up to Plymouth Hoe. This is where the best War Memorial in the world is.
We said goodbye to Rob. and the luxury Park and Ride took us back to the hotel. We had dinner at the Toby Carvery – looked better than it tasted – but the waitress and the chef were brilliant – very friendly and enthusiastic.

Meanderings in the darkness

I have a Sat-Nav! While we were in Brussels Jill and Jake took it out for a test run – I asked where they had been and Jake said ‘Bristol’.

Astounded looks.

‘Oh, no, it was Brighton’

Anyway, when Jill and I set off for Amesbury today, and she said she wanted to go on A roads (despite it being dark) I thought – well – why not – the M25 at this time of the day won’t be too much fun – so the Sat Nav was programmed and we set off.
Through Tunbridge Wells was a bit of an adventure, we were told off roundly once or twice (Route recalculation! Route recalculation!) but then we were back on track,apart from once when I miscounted exits around a roundabout onto a long stretch of road with nowhere to turn. (Route recalculation! Route recalculation!)
After a little while, I started to wonder why we were heading for Lewes on the way to Amesbury. So far I could understand that we were running sort of South and parallel to the M25, but then we got further and further South. On checking the Satnav – it seems that he didn’t want to go to Amesbury – of his own sweet volition he had decided to go to Eastbourne.
Jill fiddled with his buttons, and we headed for the M25. Got to Amesbury without any more problems, and ended up in the road where the Burger King next to the Travelodge we were staying in was tantalisingly visible through the houses.
We eventually managed to find the way in, unfortunately the Burger King was shut, so bought a kit kat from the machine and collapsed.