Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When I last wrote, we were in Totnes. Instead of boarding the steam train to go back to Buckfastleigh, we took the diesel train and got off at Staverton - the only stop along the way - to look around. Robin got to have a pint of something called Croak and Stagger - a very strong, traditional ale. I had a sip and decided that was enough for me. When we boarded the steam train for the rest of our trip, we found that we were going back to Totnes before heading home - so we got a little extra ride for our money. Beside the track at one point, there is a hillside covered with little garden gnomes. Apparently one of the volunteers takes the gnomes in every winter, repaints them, and sets them back out for the entertainment of the train's passengers.

I don't think they planned this bit of entertainment, though - on a hillside there were some cows. One of them was lying down. As we passed by, she stood up and began licking the calf to which she had obviously just given birth.

Since that day, we have been busy scurrying around the West Country. On Sunday we came to Plymouth and took a harbour tour that featured a look at the fourteen naval ships currently docked here. We walked up onto the Hoe and sat watching people bowling on the green. That is where Sir Francis Drake is supposed to have been bowling when the Spanish Armada sailed past. I don't know whether the current green is in the same place, but probably so, as it provides a lovely view of the harbour.

On Monday we drove all the way to the north coast, to Lynton, where we rode the water railroad down the cliff to Lynmouth and wandered around the village.

Yesterday we went to Dawlish. There are so many places we've visited here, and I remember most of them fondly. I took one look at Dawlish Warren, just beyond Dawlish itself, and decided I never wanted to see it again. I found myself quoting Bette Davis ("What.a.dump."") It was tacky and tawdry and noisy and generally unpleasant. The fact that the town had seen fit to install "traffic calmers" all down the street leading there didn't help. I had a headache from bouncing around.

Fortunately, there was life after Dawlish Warren. Having got through the carnival, we walked along the dunes and down the beach, all the way to the mouth of the river Exe. The town of Exmouth was right across the river. We were out walking, resting from time to time, chatting with passersby, for over 2 1/2 hours.

Today is another day in Plymouth. While the menfolk take another cruise, I'm here to catch up. Now I'm told to go away. Bye for now.

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