Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Testing the Brakes

I thought this photo was much better than any other quote I could have come up with for an opening for this post. Sometimes, when you're moving quickly for a very long time, it's a good idea to test out your brakes to make sure they work. I'm very grateful to say that, yes, I tried slowing down, and my brakes are still working.

We arrived at Exeter Airport on Saturday afternoon, got our rental car and drove a few miles into the tiny little hamlet of Thorverton, in the picturesque Devon countryside. We had arranged a cottage via Airbnb there, and it was exactly as it was shown in the photos:

The rental was a whole converted barn, originally constructed around 1695 as part of a larger estate. It is made of the original cob and lime structure, which meant the walls were super thick and very well-insulated... and very, very quiet.

The owner provided all the breakfast supplies, which included what is shown below. Yeah, I made my own breakfast before the hubby was even out of the shower. Couldn't wait at all:

Being so close to Exeter, we decided to explore there first. I didn't know much about Exeter except that, during the Foot-and-Mouth epidemic in the early 2000s, it was one of the hardest hit regions. Luckily, they are well past that, and tourists are back to explore the medieval culture of the city, and students continue to support the local university. We went straight to the centre to have a look at the cathedral:

We even managed to take a few shots of the inside before a man with a flashlight and a uniform chased us out for not paying the entrance fee (we'd only peeked into the door!):

That's him there in the bottom left corner:

Luckily, the outside is just as impressive as the interior:

And the surrounding city is so full of history and character that you can get your history fix for free:

All of this is juxtaposed next to a thriving and busy city centre:

We decided to do a tour of the Underground Passages, which are actually Exeter's old water system built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The passages are part of a series of vaulted tunnels built to provide access to the lead piping. I wasn't too sure about it at first, as the first few minutes consist of walking at a crouch throughout the first section of the passages, but soon, we were able to stand up (with our backs against the walls in a straight line) so that we could enjoy the tour:

The best part was learning the history of the place. The worst part was when she turned out the lights so she could show what it would have been like to have to work in there... after a few deep breaths, I was well-acquainted and was ready for the lights to come back on.

That evening, we went out to the local pub for a carvery, complete with the local jazz combo: The Hot City Jazz Four. I'm one of those people who can't sit still when a tune comes on that I know... and I knew most of them from this lot:

The pub dogs weren't that impressed, but they were gentle and very sweet. Nikki is on the right - she's the mum. Rosie is on the left - she loves belly rubs:

Even if she does happen to block the doorway during them:

The next day, we drove down the Dartmoor National Park to visit the little village of Bovey Tracey. I read about it in one of the magazines in the cottage, and it sounded interesting. We got a lovely, sunny day:

Perfect for visiting certain attractions:

And for picking up a few treasures, like this gorgeous Falkland and Mulberry Silk laceweight by West Yorkshire Spinners. They're not local, but I couldn't walk away without some British wool:

Nor could I walk away from a collection of Jacob ram wool:

I will never get tired of how over-the-top a Jacob ram looks. Those horns are just ridiculous:

The rest of the town was just sweet:

And even had a few sheepies:

Bovey Tracey used to have a large pottery factory. You can visit it and walk around to view their pottery musem, including a few of the huge outdoor kilns:

They now produce artisnal glass, and you can go in and watch them blowing and shaping it:

Meanwhile, back at the cottage, the village itself had its own treasures to explore. I love how listed buildings in England tend to have their own names:

Here is the local church:

And even on a misty morning, the English Countryside is so beautiful:

Ok, last few photos from an afternoon in Bickleigh. We visited the castle (which was not open to the public that day, but whatever):

And then we had tea and treats with this guy:

And this scene was so adorable that I just couldn't resist:

I know that's a lot of photos for someone who just said she was slowing down, but I could just not stop taking it all in. It's been extremely restful, believe it or not. I've slept more hours in the last week and a half than I have in the last six weeks... and I have also eaten more as well... so awesome.

We just arrived in London today, and I have plenty more to share, but for now, including a train ride, a knitting debacle, and a guy with a guitar and a didgeridoo, but I'll save that for the next post. It's time for us to wander out and find some dinner.


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