Running Away to Devon


We decided to run away for a week before Boris announced another lockdown, so we filled the car with warm clothes ready for wet weather, and with food so we could avoid eating out, and drove to Devon with the dog and a boy.

The Ship Aground Inn, Mortehoe
The Ship Aground, Mortehoe. Named after the ancient anchor retrieved from a wreck of a steamship that ran aground in 1914.

We’re staying in Mortehoe, a pretty stone village on the cliffs of North Devon. I brought all my Greek books and lists of words to learn, and the cottage promised internet, enabling me to continue my lessons whilst looking across a windy garden to the sea.

Trying to learn Greek vocab with a view of the sea from the window.

The cottage is fairly ugly on the outside, but the inside is warm and comfortable, and there are massive windows in every room, giving wonderful views of the outside. This includes in the ensuite bathroom, which I find slightly perturbing. There is a big bath in the centre of the room, next to a picture window. When I think of soaking in a warm tub whilst watching waves crash into the cove below, it’s rather lovely. When I think of soaking in a warm tub whilst on view to every unsuspecting walker on the North Devon coastal path, it’s less appealing! I checked from the garden, and the window is unfrosted, plain glass, giving anyone looking in a good view of the bathroom. A paradise for an exhibitionist.

The cottage garden joins the footpath, and is a sheltered spot with flower beds and a palm tree. It has an outside tap for washing dirty paws, but I forgot to bring a trowel for clearing up poop (when you keep animals, you can never completely avoid the poop aspect).

We took Kia for a walk along the cliffs. She saw the sea and set off along the footpath, straining on the lead. When we came to some steps, she suggested very strongly that we might like to visit the beach. But the steps had been washed away by a storm, and only the top and bottom steps remained, clinging onto the cliff in a futile attempt to look useful.

Cliff steps to beach.

There was no way to explain this to a persistent German Shepherd, so we dragged her back to the cottage.

Next stop was a trip to Tesco Superstores to stock up on supplies. The mist had crept up from the sea, and we drove through lanes towards the shop with Husband muttering about it being an unlikely place for a superstore, and was I directing him to a small garage Tescos? We turned into the carpark of a decent sized shop, grabbed a trolley, and started to collect things from the shopping list. I had hoped to live on Charlie Bigham ready-meals for a week, but there weren’t many, and we had to buy a few raw ingredients that I could shove into the oven without too much effort. Husband appeared at regular intervals with a selection of implements to use in place of a trowel for poop clearing. I didn’t think a wooden spatula or a plastic ice-scraper would work, despite their bargain prices.

Next challenge was trying to use the oven, which had unhelpfully been set to ‘automatic’ by the previous people, which meant that it was impossible to use until I had managed to turn it back to a manual setting (random pressing of pairs of buttons usually cures it—I have lots of experience in annoying church kitchens). We ate sausage beans and chips, which filled us up even if it wasn’t very healthy, and a Charlie Bigham’s sticky toffee sponge with custard.

Went to bed full and happy.


Saturday

Tried (in vain) to learn words in various declensions for my Greek lesson. I am writing them in different colours and making up silly sayings (“All the plural datives in the third declension like to sin —σιν”)—but to be honest, very little is staying in my brain.

Decided to take the dog on the beach for the afternoon and drove to Woolacombe Beach. Kia was ecstatic, and even forgot to snarl at all the other dogs in the carpark (anyone who owns a German Shepherd will understand this—the breed is not good with other dogs).

The carpark had lots of signs, saying that due to Covid there was distancing in place, and contactless paying, and certain restrictions. There was a queue waiting to go in (it was the final Saturday of half-term week). At the gate was a man, collecting money through the window of every car—sometimes having to lean across the car to reach the driver—in a very un-Covid-safe manner. I fumbled in my pocket for my crumpled mask (thank you Aunty Margaret) and put on gloves ready to receive the token given in return for the £3 fee. I don’t think it was possible to pay by card/phone. Cars were parked in every space, so I think the person putting up the signs had forgotten to explain them to the man at the gate (I did wonder if, in fact, he was simply a random man collecting £3 from every car and nothing to do with the carpark, but he did give everyone a token that lifted the barrier, so I am assuming he was legit!)

The tide was out, and there was a long expanse of wet sand and huge waves crashing onto the beach. We set off towards the water, the dog dancing next to us. We reached the rocks and Husband and son went closer to explore. I foolishly followed them, noticed a wave washing in, and ran back to the sand—but not in time. The sea lapped around me, filling my wellies and soaking my trousers while a family on the sand laughed. I turned to watch Husband wading through the water, even deeper than me, and son clambered onto the rocks. The dog looked bemused, surprised we were paddling with her. Emptied boots, tried to ignore soggy socks.

Happy afternoon striding through the wind, watching the surfers tackle the waves. Kia kept up for about 25 minutes, but then I noticed she was dragging one of her back legs—which is a sign she’s getting tired, so we turned round. I don’t mind her being old when I can see that she’s still happy and excited by things.

Rinsed out the wellies and filled the washing machine with soggy clothes, then sat down to write this before I put a ready-meal curry in the oven. Another happy day.

I hope you have some fun too this week—and manage to keep your feet dry.

Thanks for reading. Take care.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
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