England 2016 – Mortenhamstead

Wednesday, April 27 - Today I am off to Exeter, in southwest England, for two days at a farmhouse B&B just outside Dartmoor National Park. The plan is for some relaxation, hiking, and birding.  

It is a gorgeous day, cool and sunny.

The short taxi ride to Piccadilly Station was epic. The first thing the very British cabbie asked me, once discovering my origins, was “so are you going to vote for Trump?”.  We proceeded to laugh all the way to the station.

The train was clean, quiet and fast. 

Once we reached Reading the countryside opened up into small dairy farms splashed up on small green hillsides.  

And, there was free entertainment - an angry, irritated, loud but also very funny lady walking down the aisle complaining her pants were down when the toilet door flew open.

Missing Sheree!   Wish she was in the empty seat next to me.

Beautiful countryside on approaching Exeter.

Off the train at Exeter, hopped a cab over to the bus station for a 50-minute ride to Mortenhamstead. Upon arriving at Mortenhamstead it was just past lunchtime, so only two cafes were serving food.  After speaking to the wonderful lady in the information office I went directly next door for to a small unassuming little cafe with delicious hot food.  Finally, on wifi, I spent an hour getting caught up online.

Dartmoor map copy
Piccadilly Station
Piccadilly Station
What's an Amtrak?
What's an Amtrak?

    Following directions from the information center lady, I walked out of town looking for the B&B, about a 20-minute walk.  But you know how things are the first time you go somewhere?  Are we there yet? And one wrong turn, suitcase in tow, would result in a major mistake.  The roads off the “major” roads are like driveways. The “major” roads have just enough room for two cars, NOT enough room for a "colonist" (endearing local term for Americans) pulling his heavy bag in tow.  After dives into the hedgerow for survival's sake, I made it to the “driveway” road.  Finally safe, little traffic, but, only one lane.  And let me tell you, slow is not in the vocabulary of the local drivers.   One more jump into the hedgerow, and then all clear down the steep drive.  But where is this place? I was feeling a bit anxious.  Up and down, curve after curve, farm after farm, wondering if I had made a wrong turn.  Bloody hell!  This is taking too long.  (anxiety time).  After the grueling 15 minute walk that seemed like an hour, I finally arrived at my destination, Great Sloncombe Farm B&B.

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Knock, Knock.     Knock, Knock, KNOCK!     HELLO?

Walk around the corner to the barns, Hello!?

Back to the door, ring the big bell.  Silence, except for dogs barking alarm.

What a lovely place, though, so I  climb a few stone steps across the road and sit at the picnic table surrounded by garden flowers.  Up the stone steps, turn left, right foot disappears into the hidden spring, shoe remains in the hole.  I’m cool.  It’s a beautiful, cool day in the English countryside, and really, I am loving it. 

An hour passes, I get checked in, take a nap for three hours, then a short walk.    

It's an old house, floors are not level, the bathroom door is five foot high, and the step into the room is 5 inches down.  Returning after the walk to my bedroom,  I crashed to the floor.   Age, over-exertion, London nightlife?  All the above.  Starting to understand the need for balance exercises as you get older.

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Thursday, April 29   English Countryside Stroll

First, time for an English country breakfast!

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Five-hour walk through the countryside.  Click here for the hike blog and images.

After the big hike, another cafe meal, then a few pints at two local pubs to help me gather up the energy to walk back to the B&B. 

Collapse.

I wake up in time to see a fox wandering the pasture in the late-day sun, UNDER a freaking rainbow that shot out of the ground right behind the fox.  Sorry, no picture.

I slept like a baby......back to London in the morning. 

Stunning evening view out the front door just after the rainbow.

Stunning evening view out the front door just after the rainbow.

 

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