Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Westleigh Inn Pub

Upon hearing that we were heading to Tapeley Park, we were tipped off by my uncle about the wonderful pub in Westeigh. He also suggested that we might find a short-cut to it through a garden wall at Tapeley. So while we were buying our entry tickets we asked Daphne in the estate shop if there was a path that might take us to Westleigh more quickly than going down the long driveway and along the main road. Once she leaned that we were on foot the helpful and very funny Daphne gave us detailed instructions on how to find the private lane and then the private road that would take us there. Several times during the instructions she mentioned that we would come to a sign marked "no entry, private" and each time, with a glint in her eye, she paused and then said "and you'll proceed through."
Being a miss-goody two shoes, I asked "What if we get stopped by Tapeley staff?"
To which she replied, "Tell them Daphne sent you."
Learning that we were going to the pub, Daphne (who lives in Westleigh) gave it her endorsement, declaring it a very fine pub, and Duncan, the owner, a very nice fellow.
And so once we were done exploring the gardens, with Dapne's blessing, we searched for the lane near the chickens and set off.  Due to its elevation, you can see the River Torridge from the property and across to  Bideford and Appledore and even further to distant Lundy Island (which you will be hearing about very soon). On the other hand, the wee village of Westleigh only half a mile away, is tucked into the landscape in such a way that it is not visible from the house.
We followed Daphne's instructions to the letter, and before long we were out of the grounds and on a very narrow path. Lined with hedgerows, we were unable to see over the top and therefore had no idea where we were headed, so it was somewhat with blind faith that we continued on our way. Our belief in Daphne's directions was complete and despite the heat of the day, we made good progress.
Eventually we came to a place where we could peek over the hedgerow and saw beautiful countryside, but not a village, large or small, was in sight. Our faith in Daphne did not falter, we continued on.

As we rounded another bend we saw a couple of houses and this postbox from King George's reign. Civilization at last! Though it appeared that this part of the country had somehow escaped the notice of the Royal Mail.
Around yet another bend and there was no mistaking it, we had arrived at the village and were amused by this humorous sign.

And there it was, the best sign of all.

We turned the corner as directed ... and proceeded down yet another lane...

and not only did we see the Inn but there was a man outside leaning against the wall gazing out at the street.  "Are you Duncan?" we asked.  He looked surprised and answered in the affirmative, clearly puzzled. "Daphne sent us! Are you open?"  And with that, we were invited in to have some lunch.

And the lunch was as advertised, everything was delicious and made from scratch! We resolved then and there that we would be back for dinner before out trip was over. We had a lot of laughs with Duncan in this cosy old inn and promised to send "every Canadian to the pub."

And we did come back, just over a week later, with my aunt and uncle to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The food was excellent, the staff warm and inviting, service very attentive and by far our best pub experience this trip. I can't wait to go back!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tapeley Park Gardens

In the town of Instow, not far from the village of Westleigh in North Devon, you will find 6,000-acre Tapeley Park, with its Georgian mansion, gardens, 300-acre woodland and parkland.

The house was acquired by the Christie family in the mid-19th century.  In the 1880's, Lady Rosamund married Augustus Langham Christie, then banished him to another Christie estate, perhaps partially because he supposedly used to kick the furniture with his hobnailed boots. In an act of revenge, John willed the estate to a distant cousin in Canada (he died in 1930). Lady Rosamunde fought the will in court, eventually proving (shortly before her own death in 1936) that Augustus had been of unsound mind.

Lady Rosamund devoted herself to improving the grounds, having Italian gardens dug; as well as buying furniture for the house at auctions. Today, Tapeley houses the second largest collection of William Morris furniture in England.

The house is closed to the public except for large groups, but the various gardens are open to tour. The terraces are one of its oldest features, hand dug and south facing. Along with the Italianate terraces there is a kitchen garden and a Permaculture garden.
There are loads of well-groomed shrubs.
And a Lovers Tunnel.

It is the Italian garden with its lichen-covered statues, ivy encrusted obelisks, sun dials, topiary flowers and trees which commands your attention. When viewed from above or from a distance, you become aware of just how pleasant the layout of its design is.

There are numerous paths for strolling that take you to different parts of the garden.

The lavender border, when in bloom, scents the air.

Arched entranceways up steps beckon you to remote private areas perfect for contemplation.

And also lead to a different view of the garden below.

Today, Tapeley is owned by Lady Rosamund's great grandson, Hector Christie. He inherited the estate from his aunt, another Rosamund (the grand-daughter of the previous Rosamund who created the gardens). Are you still following me?  Hector is determined to get Tapeley as off-the-grid as possible. He is involved in all sorts of  ventures and projects leading to sustainability. His statement of intent examines what Tapeley is currently doing in this regard and where it hopes to go in the future.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Westward Ho!

Lovely sandy beaches and surfing can be found at the seaside town of Westward Ho!, whose name comes from the Charles Kingsley historical romance novel, Westward Ho!, published in 1855.

Some shrewd businessmen saw an opportunity to profit from the bestseller by developing tourism in the area of North Devon, and plans ensued to encourage "families seeking the advantages of sea bathing, combined with the invigorating breezes of the Atlantic".*

Located three miles northwest of Bideford and two miles southwest of Appledore, the town is comprised of holiday accommodations, both Victorian villas and more modern apartment blocks. The country's oldest golf course, the Royal North Devon Golf Course, dates from 1864.

If the sea breezes make you a little hungry, our favourite fish and chip place, The Golden Fry,  is mere yards away from the beach.

After our lovely fish and chips, we decided to walk it off by returning to my aunt and uncle's via the beautiful public cliff path.

Lovely sea views can be seen from the path, and the breezes kept us cool and we hiked along the cliffs.

It was a pleasant hour-and-a-half walk which took us along the coast and then inland through farm fields, observed only by grazing sheep.