Close encounters of the herd kind

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close encountersLast weekend we headed down to Shropshire for a change of scenery and a spot of camping.  We’ve been camping every year for nearly 15 years and every year I’m filled with excitement at the ‘idea’ of communing with nature, cooking over an open stove and exploring my surroundings.  Somehow, the reality never quite lives up to the ‘idea’.  But, in a masochistic sort of way, I enjoy the uncomfortable sleeping, the 5am dawn chorus, the rain showers and leaky tents, the midges, the toilets located 5 minutes from your pitch and the cold nights etc.

This year was particularly cold after we forgot to bring some vital equipment, namely the sleeping bags (amongst other things).  Before you judge, I recently spoke to a friend who forgot the family tent on one trip, so my incompetency levels haven’t quite hit rock bottom.

This year our destination was The Buzzards a delightful little campsite (listed in Tiny Campsites, by Dixie Wills) on an organic smallholding.  Elaine, the owner, is full of beans and more than happy to help you with anything you may need (including sleeping bags!).  She handily sits on the tourism board for the area so can supply you with a leaflet or map for every nook and cranny worth visiting in the area.   If you fancy exploring some quintessentially English villages, taste testing cider, tromping around medieval ruins and beautiful countryside, then Shropshire is a good choice.

Now to the cartoon.  Yes this did happen.  We did get chased by a large herd of cows (approximately 22 of them) across two fields and over a fence.  I have video footage though it is mainly of the ground whizzing past as I run for safety – accompanied by a soundtrack of “wait for me” and “oh my God!” and lots of heavy breathing.  On reflection, I think the cows were more intent on getting a closer look at us, but having read numerous stories of people being trampled to death, I didn’t want to take any chances by facing up to them.  Except of course to film it!

Holiday UK #9 – Aerial Crime

seagullExcerpt from holiday diary 1st July:

“Parked at the National Trust Car Park at Frogmore (157516) and made our way down to the coast at Lantivet Bay.  The sun was out and the sea was a beautiful turquoise, you could almost imagine you were in the Mediterranean.  On arrival at Polruan, we hopped on a water taxi to Fowey to join the throngs of German tourists and to tuck into a delicious smoked Mackerel and Beetroot Bagel from the delightful Lifebuoy Cafe.  We tried to take our usual “lunch with a view” photo (we have a series of these taken on various walks around the country) when a seagull swooped down from nowhere to grab my bagel.”  

Driving CornwallExcerpt from holiday diary 2nd July:

Windy and drizzling today – what a contrast to yesterday.  After a few false starts we end up on the way to the North Coast.  First stop, Rock. Well, the Rock pier car park for a loo stop.  Rock is a rather posh village on the other side of the estuary to Padstow (you can cross from Rock to Padstow on a foot ferry). The village is dotted with high end clothing stores, restaurants, bistros and cafes… 

…I was unimpressed by the drive to Polzeath – we didn’t really have a destination in mind.  The Bee Centre? Vineyards? Cider Farm?  We finally decide on Lanhydrock where we’ve been before, but in the dark on an impromptu ghost hunt with mum and dad.”

Holiday UK #8 – The Camel Trail

Camel TrailExcerpt from holiday diary 30th June:

“A leisurely breakfast on the first grey day we’ve had this holiday.  We walked from the campsite and our cosy camping pod at Ruthern Valley to the Camel Trail at Grogley Halt. Onwards to Wadebridge, dodging cyclists and taking in the Cornish countryside. At Wadebridge,  we hired bicycles and pedalled the remaining 5.5 miles of the trail to Padstow. A bit of a mooch around before being overwhelmed by the crowds jostling through the narrow streets, eating pasties, licking ice creams, nipping in and out of galleries and tat shops and generally taking in the atmosphere.  Rick Stein has really popularised this little seaside town much to the locals’ chagrin.”

Holiday Uk 6# – Planning a Walk

planning dewerstoneExcerpt from holiday diary 28th June:

We ummed and ahhed over which walk to do.  L flatly refused the 5 miler that was described in the book as ‘some of the most treacherous bog on Dartmoor in bad weather’. It wasn’t bad weather but having experienced more bog than we cared to endure in a lifetime, we opted for a more gentle walk along the river Plym through old clay quarries up to Dewerstone“.

Holiday UK #4 – The Ravens

ravenHoliday diary excerpt 27th June:

Yesterday we hauled our aching limbs to Dartmoor once again. Our chosen destination was Burrator Reservoir and a circular walk around Sheepstor. It was a steep climb up Sheepstor to experience 360 degree panoramic views of the moor and reservoir.  Thankfully there were no bogs. 

We happened upon a sheep carcass being devoured by Ravens and decided to stop so I could take some photos.  The one day I decide not to take my telephoto lens, was the one day I wanted to use it!…”

Frustratingly I didn’t get any good pictures due the lens issue and I still question whether they actually were ravens.  Perhaps you’d like to decide.  They were huuuge!

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Holiday UK #3 – Pebble Beaches

Slapton Ley PebblesExcerpt from L’s diary entry 25th June:

“Bright blue skies! Off to the seaside at Beesands, a very quaint and quiet village with a huge pebble beach. We followed yet more of the SW coastal path over to Torcross where we lowered the average age of the tourists by about 40 years.  Torcross butts up to Slapton Ley, a freshwater lake separated from the sea by a pebble beach…”

Excerpt from my diary entry 25th June:

“Give me a pebble beach and like a child, I feel compelled to collect the most perfectly round pebbles I can find. I LOVE pebble beaches but by the end of our walk, my rucksack was laden and my shoulders groaned under the weight of my collection…”

Today I must mention that it’s my parents 40th Wedding Anniversary!  How fabulous is that?  Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad – in it for the long haul!!