I am totally mortified that I have not written a post on this blog for over a month. I just don't know where May went. I think I blinked and missed it! Since the last post there has been two Young Writer sessions and I spent a week in Ilfracombe, North Devon with Steve. I think, somewhere in the middle, I also went through some kind of personal crisis and I actually blame that for the time lapse. I am ok now, by the way, in case you wondered. It wasn't any one thing at its root as opposed to a whole lot of things. But it is funny how a week in a hotel, in a different location, helps to restore things and put them back into perspective.
We were staying at a hotel near a small bay. During our week there we visited Clovelly - magical place. I didn't even know it existed until a week ago! It is a village built entirely into a steep cliff. No vehicles are allowed down its narrow cobbled main street. Instead the locals get about on crudely made sledges constructed of wood and chicken wire. The only way to access this enchanting place is via the visitor centre. Once you are through that the only way is down. And down. And down. It took us an hour and a bit to get from the top to the tiny little bay at the bottom. We paused on the way at a quaint crooked little pub for a cream tea lunch, visited a tiny chapel and the Charles Kingsley museum. He lived in Clovelly as a child and it is believed that his inspiration for The Water Babies was drawn there. Also on the way down is the donkey sanctuary. Donkeys were once the only form of transport available there so they are much revered and well loved. I have to admit that moving to Clovelly would likely as not be a logistical nightmare. How would we, for example, transport our six foot king size bed down a steep incline less than thirty feet wide including the houses on either side! There was also a kind of mysticism about the place that I cannot explain but I will say this - if you are ever in North Devon you must visit Clovelly; it is like something from a Daphne Du Maurier novel! Or Walt Disney!
We also visited Lynton and Lynmouth, Combe Martin, Woolacombe and Barnstaple where we were taken on a short guided walk by the eccentric Tom who, dressed in his cape and tricorn hat, had the habit of shouting "Oh Yea" if he thought the attention of his captive audience was waning. We had two boat trips out from Ilfracombe Harbour - presided over rather magnificently (and somewhat oddly) by Damien Hirst's 'Verity' sculpture which depicts a hugely pregnant lady holding a sword and set of liberty scales. The boat trips were brilliant. One was to bypass the Smuggler's Caves (smugglers are almost held in as much esteem as pirates these days) and the other was to try and catch a glimpse of some of the local wildlife. We did catch a glimpse of some frolicking porpoises and one rather curious bull seal who regarded us curiously for several moments from some distance away before deciding we were not interesting enough and diving back below the surf.- but a glimpse was all it was. Still it was lovely being out in the open sea. But then I am a Cancer crab and anything to do with the sea utterly enthrals me.
There were lots of other highlights - the Tunnels Beaches, Watermouth Castle and lots of pretty little villages - but generally speaking I think the break did both Steve and I a lot of good. We have visited different areas of Devon many times over the years but I really think North Devon is my personal favourite. Not only is it completely beautiful - it has a healing element to it that is unique.