Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset
Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Saturday, 24 September 2016



Tiny hamlet, which lies on the border of Devon and Somerset. In fact, the border is on the bridge which forms the divide between the two counties. There's a pub next to the bridge, the Anchor, which has a pleasant garden running alongside the River Exe.


About 7 miles from the lovely own of Dulverton, in the heart of Exmoor, Exford stands where the road crosses the old bridge over the River Exe. Well, I say old bridge, but actually it was built in around 1930 on the site of an earlier medieval bridge.
Next to the bridge in the heart of the village, is the 16th. century White Horse Hotel. It looks imposing and expensive, but is in fact, a welcoming hotel which serves a delicious Devon cream tea, and which welcomes dogs.

Curiously, on the other side of the bridge stands this building - 

Given the white horse's head statue high up on the wall, I did wonder if it was a precursor to the White Horse hotel opposite, but that is apparently 16th. century, so how old would that make this building? I've not been able to find out anything about it, but it piques my curiosity


Quite my favourite wilderness in the South West, Exmoor straddles North Devon and West Somerset. Partly agricultural land, and partly a treeless wasteland of sedge, it's home to the cute semi-feral Exmoor ponies, which roam freely on the common land.
They have remained largely pure-blooded since the last ice-age, and are unique to Exmoor.
Classified as endangered, they are rounded up once a year to be checked over and for the new foals to be tagged.


Deep in the heart of Exmoor, Simonsbath stands at a junction of roads. There's plenty of car parking, and a large picnic area and field to play in. There's a pretty river, and an old school, which is being restored. There is also a lovely short woodland walk featuring all sorts of animals and birds carved from rough fallen timber by Mike Leach, who is a National Park Ranger.


Combe Martin

Lying about 4 miles east of Ilfracombe on the north coast of Devon, Combe Martin is a pretty seaside town, set around a little cove. It features a sandt beach, surrounded by rock pools, and narrow winding streets.


Ilfracombe is a lovely town on the north coast of Devon, with a small harbour surrounded by steep cliffs. The big attraction for us, is that there is a rocky cove with a shale beach - totally unsuitable for normal family beach activities, it is available for people with dogs to go and have fun - and boy, do they! We took our two little Shih Tzu puppies down there and they wore themselves out, playing chase around the rocks, and behaving like mountain goats.

It's also a good spot to watch cormorants fishing

Sunday, 4 September 2016


On my way to my regular haunt in Mid Wales, I travel through Kent, Surrey, Middlesex, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire...........and the beautiful county of Shropshire.
One of my favourite little towns is Cleobury Mortimer, with its church with an ever so slightly crooked spire. Nothing like Chesterfield, but definitely off kilter

Deepest Wales

Yet another trip to my favourite part of the British Isles. Found some new roads, and revisited some of my favourite places. I'm very familiar with the villages of Clatter and Knockin (no, not my bike!) but I found one called New Invention this time! Wales page duly updated, although I didn't take too many pictures this trip

Sunday, 28 August 2016

More travels in Kent

For the past couple of weeks, we've been blessed with some very fine weather. So me and Twinkle (the smallest of my bikes) have been out roaming around Romney Marsh. Therefore, there are several updates to the Kent page.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Shoreham Airport, West Sussex

Shoreham Airport for lunch? Don't mind if I do!
Shoreham Airport is a lovely place. Set in the valley of the River Adur, and overlooked by the magnificent edifice that is Lancing College, it is almost too pretty a location for something as mundane as a working airport.

The terminal building is a graceful Art Deco monument, and is preserved both inside and out, still painted white, and still fitted with the original Crittall windows. 

Walking in through the front entrance, behind the memorial garden, you are greeted with a perfect Art Deco vestibule. Look up at the ceiling, and admire the moulded plaster and the moderne chandelier, before turning into the Hummingbird restaurant.

The food is very, very good, and afterwards you can take your post-prandial coffee out onto the terrace and watch the planes and helicopters going about their business. From here, although you can see the busy A27 road, you can barely hear it.

When you leave, at the end of Almond Lane, turn right. It's a dead-end road, which leaves to the old bridge across the Adur, which has become a memorial to the people who died in the Air Show crash in 2015. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

At last.............

Well, the rain let up today, and in beautiful sunshine I headed out on the bike to explore parts of Kent I'd never visited before.
Therefore, the Kent page has had a couple of updates.
Here's to more sunny days this year, and forthcoming trips to Devon and North Wales.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas Time, Birmingham & Gluhwein

Birmingham, our second city, is a magical place at Christmas. Every year, a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) comes over from Frankfurt in Germany. Local craft stalls are added to the market, which now numbers nearly two hundred stalls.
It stretches from New Street, through the main shopping area outside the railway station, through Victoria Square and Paradise Circus, right into Centenary Square, where it joins a temporary ice skating rink and a Big Wheel.
Add to this, the Christmas lights, and it is a spectacle of colour, music, food and crafts.

'Brasso', the wonderful bull at the heart of the Bullring Shopping Centre, sporting his Christmas Elf look

The Christmas tree outside St. Martin's church, at the bottom of the Bullring

the revamped New Street Station, and the Grand Central shopping plaza

the lights in New Street, and the Frankfurt revolving bar, a main feature every year

the Big Wheel outside Symphony Hall in Centenary Square

Next year, the work will have finished in Paradise Circus, and the display will be bigger and even better

Friday, 23 October 2015

Village and Pub Signs

This new article will be a bit of a slow burner to start with, as I've only just realised that I've been missing a great opportunity to expand on places and their history. This is a random collection of village and inn signs, with an explanation of their meaning and heritage, where possible.


Winchelsea (East Sussex)
Winchelsea is often described as the smallest town in Britain to have its own Mayor. Although the Mayor and Corporation lost their civil and judicial powers in 1886, the formal structures were preserved by an Act of Parliament in order to maintain the town's membership of the Confederation of Cinque Ports. They retain both a ceremonial role and responsibility for a number of the ancient monuments of the townIn the 11th century five towns in the south east of England, namely Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich, banded together in a confederation designed for mutual protection, for coastal defence and for the furtherance of their trade. The King used them in certain ways - a packet boat service - perhaps even as early as the reign of Edward the Confessor, for which they were paid, not in cash but by the granting of certain privileges, most of which had a financial value. The duties and the privileges of the five ports grew with the years and their heyday came in the thirteenth century, by which time the "Ancient Towns" of Winchelsea and Rye had been added to their number. The title "Cinque Ports" remained although there were now seven head ports.The sign depicts the badge of the Cinque Ports Confederation

Yalding (Kent)
The Invicta motto and the white horse is the emblem of Kent. 
To commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, a new village sign was commissioned by Yalding Parish Council. It depicts all that is good about the village of Yalding and the Parish. Family life, the village blacksmith, church, river, medieval bridge and of course Kentish hops, are all there.

Sissinghurst (Kent)
This giant penny farthing was originally erected on the nearby Wilsey Pound roundabout for the Tour de France which travelled through Sissinghurst on 8th July 2007.
The sign depicts Sissinghurst Castle

High Halden (Kent)
The sign depicts the village church of St. Mary

Goudhurst (Kent)
The sign incorporates the Kent invicta (middle top), an oast house (middle bottom) and down the two sides are apples, hops, cherries and pears - to indicate the Garden of England and the many orchards  in the area

Biddenden (Kent)
on the village green stands a most attractive sign, carved and painted by a local crafts man, of a pair of twins, known as the Biddenden Maids.

According to tradition The Biddenden Maids were twin sisters that were born in 1100, joined at the shoulders and hips.
The story describes how Elisa and Mary Chulkhurst who lived in this condition for 34 years, when one of them died.

The other, refusing, or more likely, it being impossible for her to be separated from her sisters body, died shortly afterwards.
Local records show that for over 400 years income gained from 20 acres of land, Believed to have been bequeathed by two sisters, and had been used for the benefit of the poor of the parish.
Once a year Bread and Cheese and are given to local widows and pensioners at the Old Workhouse,
Biddenden Biscuits, baked from flour and water, are distributed among the spectators as souvenirs, They bear an effigy of two female figures whose bodies are joined together at the hips and shoulders.


The Cat & Fiddle (Derbyshire)
The Cat & Fiddle is the 2nd highest pub in England, situated between Buxton & Macclesfield in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales and High Peak. It stands at the highest point of the Cat & Fiddle pass, much loved by motorcyclists

Jamaica Inn (Cornwall)
Located just off the A30, near the middle of Bodmin moor close to the hamlet of Bolventor, it was used as a staging post for changing horses. The inn is alleged to be one of the most haunted places in Great Britain. Daphne du Maurier wrote her novel in 1930 when, having gone horse riding on the moors, she became lost in thick fog and sought refuge at the inn. During the time spent recovering from her ordeal, the local rector is said to have entertained her with ghost stories and tales of smuggling; he would later become the inspiration for the enigmatic character of the Vicar of Altarnun, a nearby hamlet.

The Angel (Norfolk)
The Angel at Larling is a 17th. century coaching inn, which stands on a loop of the old A11 road to Norwich. It is now completely bypassed, and stands alone within sight of the new road. Not that I'm biased by it belonging to a friend, Andrew Stammers, but the accommodation and food are hard to beat in any part of the country!

Identifying your place

I have found, during my travels, that many villages have beautiful village signs, relevant to the place or the area.
I have photographed some of them as part of this travel blog, but I'm now resolved to picture many more, and to give them their own section.
Then I thought, with so many pubs and inns closing down, and so many having curious names that are also relevant, it might be a good idea to include some of them before they totally disappear.
I don't mean the modern, stupid ones (e.g The Pitcher And Piano), but those that commemorate an actual event or person.

So I think I've got the spare time.............................