Thursday 17 September 2009


This week we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. Normally, I'd think of that as being quite a long period of time, but that day in the church truly feels like it happened just a little while ago.

Oddly enough, partly due to us being teenagers when we met, and partly because of my relaxed approach to getting things done, it took us ages to get married - we've actually been together for nearly 24 years now.

But that's really not so long to spend with someone so special.

Monday 7 September 2009

Into the West...

It's Monday evening, after the first day back at work, and already the week we spent in Devon seems a long time ago...

...but what a wonderful week it was. We were lucky enough to get a last-minute deal on a spacious house in the amusingly-named village of Cockwood. Situated on a hillside at the edge of this tiny village, we had an excellent time together, exploring around the West Country, Dartmoor and the South Devon coast.

Cockwood sits on the western shore of the Exe Estuary, between Exeter and Dawlish. Being there felt like being in a different country, with a languid pace of life and a rural friendliness in the air. The only thing that seemed to move quickly was the weather - taking the small ferry from the neighbouring village of Starcross across the water to Exmouth saw the skies change from sunshine to overcast to sunshine again in minutes.

We discovered a beautiful secluded beach near Brixham, and spent a long afternoon getting slowly covered in sand. Having seen the crowds shuffling along the Paignton seafront a couple of miles away made this find all the more pleasing. It felt like being in a location from a Famous Five novel, though thankfully we didn't have to rescue Uncle Quentin from smugglers.

The highlight for me was visiting Dartmoor. We drove down to Burrator Reservoir, a stunning lake in wonderful, rolling countryside. Crossing the vast stone dam, we found our way down into a magical wooded valley. Walking there, between the ancient trees and enormous moss-covered boulders, it felt like stepping into another world. As we sheltered from a rain shower beneath a massive rock outcrop, Cam remarked that it was like being on the slopes of Amon Hen from The Lord Of The Rings. Later on, as we drove further north, the landscape changed to echo the Lone Lands of Middle Earth and we spotted a stone-crowned hill that could have been Weathertop.

On our final day, I took a train from Starcross to Plymouth. It's not a long journey, but there are breath-taking views as the railway winds its way along the coast, hugging the cliffs and racing along beaches, before climbing to the southern edge of Dartmoor, where it winds around the hillsides and crosses deep valleys on soaring viaducts.

It was a glorious week. A pity it couldn't have been longer, but I know we'll be back there again before too long.