Monthly Archives: May 2010

Early – Illustration Friday

I think I’ve always been quite good at rising early, even without an alarm clock. However, being determined to hit the 6.00am swim at the local pool means waking at 5.00am. There is that ethereal moment when the mists clear and I realise that the sound I hear is not part of a dream, but actually the alarm on my phone sounding like something out of a science fiction film. Slowly the eyes blink open and I have to decide if I will hit snooze, but by then the focus is sharp and I am fully awake.

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14 Go Mad in Devon – Bickley Mill, Stoneycombe and the South Devon Steam Railway

A second post from the Devon Trip:  The marvellous Bickley Mill, Stoneycombe was home for two nights. The staff there were excellent, not batting an eyelid when told there would be 10 of us for dinner, they even coped brilliantly when the number grew to 13 (well the dog doesn’t sit up to the table to dine). We had drinks outside on the decked terrace, great for new arrivals watching. I would love to know if the barn in the gardens belongs to the hotel, it would make a great spot for an outdoor pool and changing area. We were fortunate that another couple had cancelled at the last minute and because some of the seating is bench style sofas an extra could be squeezed in. I had smoked duck as a starter and a butter-nut squash rogan josh for mains, both were excellent.  The food was perfect after a day out  river swimming at Spitchwick and riding on steam trains on the South Devon Railway.

The bedrooms are decorated to a high specification, with a lovely bathroom, fairtrade coffee in the hospitality tray and a really good quality information pack, plus free wifi.  There are other clever touches; such as the honesty shop, a cupboard of goodies that you can take and charge to your room and a door into the accommodation that means once checked in you don’t need to go through reception.

At breakfast the tables are labelled with the room names, so wandering around saying “have you seen Edward’ is not as bizarre as it sounds.  Breakfast of succulent sausages, perfect poached eggs and a copy of the Herald Express with thickly sliced toast and all is right with the world.  The rooms are reasonably priced, the staff are very flexible, the whole set up is very thoughtfully put together.

14 Go Mad in Devon – Fovant Badges and City Lodge, Salisbury

Last weekend a whole gang of 50+ year olds met up so that the ‘lads’ amongst the party could relive their misspent youth. The tour down to Devon was altered to go via Canterbury from Suffolk due to a student repatriation.  The problem was that when it came to booking into the Travelodge the plans were not altered to take the date change into account. After midnight discovering there was no room at the Inn (Travelodge) and that the staff there are unable to do any looking at other site’s availability; the iphone was brought into use trying to find an alternative.  Looking up numbers late at night it is impossible to tell if there are night staff on duty, or if some poor owner of a small hotel is being woken from their much needed sleep.  Eventually a hotel in Salisbury recommended that the City Lodge was investigated.    A helpful chap said there was space and at 1.30am we checked in.  This is a smart motel style set up, a good clean room, bathroom with a proper sized bath,  fresh coffee, croissants, cereal, yoghurt, toast and all the trimmings served on a tray in your room, for breakfast.  Full marks to the guy behind the desk on the night, he was excellent, helpful and welcoming; I’m only sorry I did not catch his name to say thanks properly.

The change in plans resulted in using a different route which took in the Fovant Badges, hence the picture at the top of the post.

Equipment – Darting Around in the Water with Tadpoles – No Jodie Kidd

Illustration Friday - equipment, swimmer in wetsuit, swimming ring and armbands

Last Friday’s Illustration Friday topic was equipment.  I have only just completed my little picture, because I was away at the weekend testing out my ability to swim in cold water on Dartmoor.  I have swum at Spitchwick before but never this early in the year.  It was a pleasure to have tadpoles nibbling at my toes, but I was very disappointed to discover that I could not breathe out in the water as the diving reflex was so strong.  It seems the only solution is to keep plugging away. So off to Fritton Lake this week for another bash.  Part of me felt totally over equipped in a wet suit, hat and goggles when swimming in a river pool; however, I left the arm bands and rubber ring behind.  I know though that I am no Jodie Kidd in a wet suit, she launched the swim this week and looked very becoming in hers.

For proof – here is a second or two of my swim.  The link to my fund-raising page is here.

Bacon-and-eggs on the other hand

Over recent weeks on twitter I have been posting a flower of the day, almost every day there is a new flower to show. Today it was the turn of ‘Bacon-and-eggs’.  The egg yolk yellow flower is preceded by a bacon coloured closed bud, it is a member of the pea family and has numerous local names in different parts of the country.  I decided to go back and take a macro shot to show the detail a bit better.  Not a great photo and yet again I was caught, backside up in the air, whilst crawling around in the grass.  The sights of countryside also include single gloves; I think they are dropped by bin men (sorry, refuse collection officers and technicians) and others.  I feel sorry for the gloves, separated from their partners for life. I have however discovered the website The Glove Shop, which pairs up odd gloves and resells them.  Perhaps the streets are paved with gold after all.   Thinking about the gloves also made me think about the book The Other Hand by Chris Cleave, I can’t tell you what it’s about but I found it a very good read. Just when you think you have understood what is going on the story takes another turn.  A spotify playlist to go with this post is here.

Fearless – Illustration Friday – Who is more afraid?

Elephant and mouse on tightrope for Illustration Friday

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is ‘Fearless’; I am not sure who has more to fear an African elephant on a tightrope seeing a mouse, or the mouse.  Both must have been pretty fearless to be in the situation in the first place, with no safety net.

Spotify playlist for this post here

Pop Up Pie Seller – Brays Cottage – Somewhere Over the Rainbow*

I have had great fun with the North Folk today.  Sarah @Brays_Cottage Pettegree pushed out a tweet a few days ago asking for help on the Bray’s Cottage Pie Stall in Norwich today.  It may have been a damp and blustery city centre, requiring massive amounts of tea and coffee to be consumed, but it was a great way to spend the morning.

The smell of the pies was gorgeous, Sarah claims she is immune to the aroma but by the time the shift was over there was only one thing to do…… chase a la Pietalian Job back own the A140 and tuck into the salary.  The pies were of the Onion Marmalade persuasion; other pies on offer today included naked, chilli and lemon with garlic.  Despite the suggestions of @deanrnch the urge to eat was great, no heating or mashed potatoes took part in the meal; just pork pie, mustard with lamb’s lettuce and rocket from the greenhouse.  The pies are dark, dense, rich, with no extraneous jelly and the pastry had taken on the flavour of the onion marmalade.  The meat has a good level of herb and spice seasoning without being over powered.  It was great to meet Twitterers face-to-face and to gain some new friends among the North Folk.  Thank you Sarah for a memorable morning out; I will think of you on sunny days, with the chat and comradeship of the others in the market and on cold days I will think of you standing on layers of cardboard wrapped up against the elements – true dedication to your pies. If ever you are stuck again you know where to find your pop up pie seller; somewhere over the rainbow.

The Spotify playlist for this post is here

p.s.  also picked up asparagus on one of the other stalls, so that’s supper sorted.

*actually you don’t have to weigh the pies on the stall but it is my second favourite joke after the one about the duck.

Cocoon – Waiting to emerge from a duvet day? – Illustration Friday

Illustration Friday, Cocoon, grub waiting to pupate and emerge

The grub has gorged and stuffed herself; swaddled recumbent in her protective chair she dreams of  shedding her repulsive outer skin and emerging for one day of exquisite passion.

Spotify playlist to go with the post is here

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