Bidding my farewells to Barry et.al., I headed out to Torquay, famously described as “a graveyard with lights”. Surely it could not still be like that?

One of the National Trust Membership benefits is that I visit any place for free. So I stopped by Mottisfont. Had a bowl of soup, a quick look at some of the gardens (they are extensive), and the house, which was all decorated for Christmas. Nice. Need to return

My next stop was Tyrrell’s Ford for snakebite (beer&scrumpy mix), and good food. They have rooms upstairs. Perfect. I have been here before. And will return.
Also the scene of happy reunions for those who used to play soldiers 🙂

There was no more delay, I had to go to Torquay.

But wait. There was Thomas Hardy’s cottage to see. Nice visit. Gave me a nudge to read ‘Jude the Obscure‘. Hmmmm. Just slit your wrists now. Depressing book.
Ran through the nice village of Puddleton to get there. Used to be called Piddletown, as it is situated on the river Piddle. For some reason, the names has changed to Puddletown. hahahahahaha

Thence to Torquay. Which turned out to be OK. A bit shut down for the winter. Must have been OK as I extended my stay 🙂 There is something special about the seaside.
One of the reasons for coming here is Ocean BMW in north Torquay. There I found what looks like a tiny building, housing a big showroom. NO servicing yet. But I scored coolant (top-up from Jake’s 2L bottle) and chat with Dave.

Once done with Torquay, my next stop was Barnstaple.

The route took me via Castle Drogo, which was interesting. Had lots of outside work going on.
Then onto Bideford, where I once played soldiers.
And another stop, this time in a pretty little place called Instow. Would have stayed here, but had booked Barnstaple.
Barnstaple was the logical halfway point, enroute Weston.
My rule about staying anywhere is, stay downtown. Pity about the Travelodge in Barnstaple. I have come to like Travelodge, UK. They are clean. Have comfy beds. And decent sized rooms. This one was on the outskirts. Sad to say, the UK is trying to follow the North American idiom, of building car-centric places. Was a nasty walk to some fast-food outlets and a supermarket. Bought some food from the supermarket, and struggled home.

Up in the morning, to ride with a bit of rain.

Obviously the rain had been falling for quite some time. For as I toured the tiny country lanes, I espied a stream running across the road, at the next corner. Water can be tricky. So I found a parking spot, a long stick, and started walking through the water. When the water reached my knees, I stopped. Only a quarter of the way across. Deep enough. Walked back to the bike, and found another route. Shades of Trini !

I was heading to Dunster Castle. Which I reached without further incident.
Really interesting tour.
Bit of learning.
The term “Upper crust” came about through bread. Bread often had a hard/black base, that was cut off, and only the upper crust sent to table.
The term “Left on the shelf” came about because women servants slept on a pull-down shelf/bed in the kitchen, until they married.

After Dunster, Weston-super-Mare came up easily enough.
Found my hotel easily enough. Just off the promenade. Stayed here before. This time, so did one idiot. An idiot who set off the fire-alarm in the hotel. Turned out they were smoking in their room. Tsk. Tsk. They could have opened the bar on our return to the building 😉
Caught the Christmas show, “That’ll Be the Day”, which including a mini-panto. All together now, “Oh no it didn’t”, “Oh yes it did”, ………. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Checking out the pubs and bars, I figured I should rest in the cafe across the street. Looked like a cafe. Was a micro-pub. hahaha. The beer gods took me to a great place. Real ale and great craic can be found at the Black Cat.

Took the long route back to Barry’s.

Pulled into Reading, which has become SiliconValleyEngland. Nice town on the river. Managed to see everything in the museum, and abbey in one hour 🙂 Returned to my hotel via a nice walk by river. Even found a decent bowl of noodles.

Went into the Sandham Memorial Chapel, to see the famous frescos by Sir Stanley Spencer.

Made a slow ride-by of the various monuments at Runneymede, then pulled into the cafe for some ice-cream. In December. Felt right 🙂

Popped back into Ipswich for a longer stay. There were some beers that I’d missed.

Last stop was to meet Jim in the Bell Inn for a decent lunch. Always excellent conversation with Jim. He’s lived and worked around the world. A good guy.

Now at Barry’s, and soon be time for London.

Have panto booked.
VSC booked.
Coach booked.
We just need to find something to do until we get to Londinium……..