Friday, 31 August 2012

Tintagel Castle

The view from above Tintagel Castle was well worth the climb 

After our visit to the Old Post Office, we took the long path down to the headland where the ruins of Tintagel Castle sit high on a cliff. We hadn't realised quite what an epic climb was involved in getting to the castle itself, so only some of us were actually able to go up there. Mark's mum and dad went to a nearby cafe and we persuaded Emma to go with them as the climb would be too much for her. Tom simply didn't fancy it, so he went with them. In the end, only Lily joined Mark and me and the three of us set off up the steep stairway to the 13th century castle.

The steps, of which there were many, were cut into the cliff and were quite deep, but Lily did really well. I think her imagination was fired up by the half-remembered stories of King Arthur that I had told her in the morning and she was determined to see the castle. The fact that the castle was built several hundred years after Arthur died (assuming he ever existed) was of little import!

The effort of climbing up those steps was rewarded by the fabulous views from the top. Lily was justifiably proud of herself for getting up there and we heaped praise on her. She really enjoyed having us to herself for an hour and was very excited to tell Nanna and Grandad about it all when we got back down to the bottom again.

Walking down the hill towards the foot of Tintagel Castle, which you can see on the cliff

Merlin's Cove, Tintagel

Lily above Merlin's Cove

A view through a window at Tintagel Castle

Lily at Tintagel Castle

A fabulous view of the rocky Cornish headland, our reward for climbing the many steps

A view through the entrance to the island courtyard

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Old Post Office, Tintagel

We left my parents' house in Plymouth on the Saturday afternoon and drove straight across to Widemouth Bay in Cornwall, where Mark's parents were already waiting for us. We decided to have a quiet day on Sunday and just enjoyed our caravan in the morning. In the afternoon, Mark's parents took the Podlings swimming whilst Mark and I went grocery shopping. We even had a chance for a peaceful cup of tea and a read before they all returned from the swimming pool. Bliss!

Monday arrived in a blaze of sunshine and we headed off the caravan site determined to make the most of the beautiful day. We took a beautiful coastal road to Tintagel, where we intended to visit Tintagel Castle. When we pulled into the car park we noticed the most charming old stone building with the familiar National Trust symbol outside. We are all members of the National Trust, so naturally we decided to have a look round before heading to the castle.

The Old Post Office in Tintagel is over 600 years old and the locally quarried slate roof has gradually subsided under the weight of the tiles, giving the roof a decidedly charming irregularity. The pretty cottage garden at the back of the house, with its 10ft well, looked beautiful in the August sunshine, which failed to penetrate the house itself. The interior was cool and shady, perhaps not surprising given the small windows and the thick slate walls. So much the better for the numerous needlework samplers they had on display inside. I always love seeing these. It astonishes me that girls as young as nine could do needlework of such fine quality, far better than most grown women today could manage. I am always inspired to pick up my cross stitch when I see them.

I always get such a thrill from visiting properties like these. I feel as though I am stepping back in time and I do have trouble adjusting when I walk back out into the real world. It's probably because I read too much! It was a charming old building and I'm so glad we stumbled across it.

The rear of The Old Post Office, showing part of the lovely garden 

One of the many wonderful samplers that were on display. I love these so much!

One of the many rag rugs that were on display. Tom was particularly fond of this one, so I photographed it for him. I really want to have a go at making a rag rug. Perhaps that's something else I can do with all that free time I have. Oh wait....

Mark outside The Old Post Office.  You can get some idea of the waviness of the roof in this picture. It really is decidedly tipsy!

The Podlings with Mark's Mum and Dad in the garden of the Old Post Office.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


A final few pictures from our visit to my parents. Just a few snaps I took on a couple of the dog walks. The Podlings love Flash and Molly and love to take turns walking them and throwing the ball. The dogs are so funny when you throw the ball for them. Molly (the Yorkie) chases the ball and Flash (the Shelty) chases Molly. Flash has no interest in the ball at all!

Flash loves all the attention he gets from the Podlings.

Emma loves the ball throwing stick thing (I assume it has a name, but I don't know what it is!) She was getting quite good with it by the end of the week.

'I'm cute and I know I am!'


Berry Cute

This adorable little face completely threw out my holiday preparations. The night before we were due to go on holiday I had a mountain of packing to finish. Just after tea time, Emma came in from the garden and asked for a tissue because 'I have something in my nose'. I assumed that she just wanted to blow her nose, so fetched the tissue and told her to blow. She did, but said it was still there.

In a roundabout way she told me that she had put something up her nose, so I got her to lie on the sofa and had a look. Sure enough, far up in her left nostril was a red berry she had obviously found in the garden and, for want of something better to do, stuffed it up her nose.

I tried to press it out, I tried to squash the berry and I fetched some tweezers and gently tried to get it out, but it soon became obvious that it wasn't coming out without medical intervention. Luckily Mark's parents were visiting that day, so my father-in-law drove us to the local hospital. My father-in-law and I sat in that NHS walk-in centre for two hours whilst Emma played happily in the waiting room with a berry firmly wedged up her nose!

Eventually we were called in to see the nurse. Emma was very brave and co-operated well, but she couldn't help flinching whenever the implements touched the berry. It eventually took two nurses and myself to get the berry out. Two of us held her, whilst the sister managed to get the berry out using a long, thin hook and some fine tweezers. She endeared herself to the nurses by saying repeatedly "I sorry, I a bad patient!", whilst we reassured her that she was being a good girl and very brave. Bless her heart, she was so brave and I really felt for her!

We were all astonished at the size of the berry when it did eventually come out. One of the nurses exclaimed 'It's like a small tomato!'. It was very hard, very large and I have no idea how she managed to get it so far up her nose in the first place. Thankfully I think she has learned something from the experience as whenever we talk about the incident she clasps two hands over her nose! Poor little lady, I'm pretty sure she won't be stuffing objects up her nose again!

The Princess and the Pump

During our stay with my parents, the Podlings all slept on small, inflatable readybeds. Mum and Dad had already got Tom and Lily's room ready before we arrived, but we were bringing Emma's bed with us and needed to inflate it when we got there.

Despite it being late when we arrived, Emma was quite adamant that she was going to pump up her own bed. We thought there was no harm in letting her have a go, so we attached the pump and hovered around waiting for her to get bored. No chance! She was determined she was going to inflate the whole bed herself and there she stood, first using her foot on the pump and then afterwards sitting down and using her hands. When Mark offered to help, she told him "I'm sorry Daddy. It's too dangerous. I have to do it myself."

She was true to her word. She pumped up her readybed entirely by herself and was very proud to get into it at bedtime that night to enjoy the fruits of her labours.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A Trip to the Aquarium

We took the opportunity to visit the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth during our visit to my parents. We took Tom and Lily here when they were babies, but we have never taken Emma before and I particularly wanted to take them all this summer. Unfortunately, my mum wasn't up to coming with us on the day, but my dad came and we had a lovely day out.

Because Mark wasn't with us and we wouldn't all fit in my dad's car, we had the additional excitement of catching the bus. The Podlings were almost as excited about getting to ride on a bus as they were about going to the aquarium! Although I have taken Tom and Lily on buses when they were tiny, they certainly wouldn't remember it, so as far as they were all concerned it was their first ever bus ride and they were quite excited about it.

We had a wonderful time at the aquarium and the Podlings all enjoyed it immensely. Tom is particularly fond of fish, so it was a real thrill for him. I certainly felt that we got our money's worth from our visit. The same cannot be said of their cafe, which is nothing short of extortionate! We will certainly be eating our lunch before any future visits!

After our visit, Dad treated us all to proper Devonshire Langage Farm ice-creams. Goodness, I miss that stuff living up North! I bought some fudge from the Barbican (because I can't go to the Barbican without buying fudge) before heading back for our thrilling (as far as the Podlings were concerned) bus ride home.

We finished the day off with fish and chips for tea. Nothing tops off a day of seeing fish swimming happily around in tanks like eating them deep fried in batter! It really was a lovely day out and the Podlings can't wait to go back for another visit.

The rays were Tom's favourite fish and he got very excited whenever he spotted one, especially when they swam against the glass.

Emma loved the huge 'Eddystone Reef' tank and spent ages just staring into the tank. Occasionally a fish would swim right past her face and make her jump!

My dad with his granddaughters


Some lovely jellyfish, prettily lit with soft red lights. 

Lily with Snorkel the Loggerhead turtle. Snorkel was found washed up on Sennan Cove in Cornwall in 1990 and her health problems have prevented her being released into the wild. She is now around 27 years old and apparently has very poor eyesight.

As a special treat I told the Podlings they could choose a small gift from the shop to remind them of their visit to he aquarium. Tom loved the rays, so I really thought he would go for this little plush ray. He loved it, but he wanted a tiny little plush clown fish instead. He did ask me to take his picture with the ray though as he said he would like it next time we come.

Monday, 27 August 2012

They shut the road through the woods...

'They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods...'
~ From 'The Way through the Woods' by Rudyard Kipling

We went on several lovely walks when I stayed with my parents. The nice thing about dogs is that they have to be walked every day, so you have a good excuse to go out whatever the weather! My favourite walk from our week in Devon started out in the wood I played in as a girl. Since I left home they have opened a path through the woods to nearby Tamerton Foliot and I thought it would be nice to take the Podlings along it. Unfortunately, a fallen tree blocked the path not very far into the woods and we had to change our route.

We followed the path that runs alongside the woods and were lucky enough to see a lady in her garden who had some baby newts in her pond. She invited the Podlings in to have a look at them, which they found quite quite exciting.

We followed the path round to what, in my day, we called The Big Park. It used to be a wonderful playground with lots of swings, roundabouts, see saws, huge slides, climbing frames and the most wonderful fort. It is now called The Millennium Park. Rather a grand name that promises something quite exciting. On the contrary, they obviously decided that the best way to commemorate the arrival of a new century was to rip out all the play equipment, grass the whole area over and rechristen it. I'll grant you it was peaceful, but that was because despite it being a sunny afternoon in the summer holidays there were no children! When I was a child, this park was teeming with life in the summer holidays. Oh, it used to be such a fun park for children. How sad that life moves on!

Despite me getting rather nostalgic and being painfully aware that quite a few years had passed since my own childhood here, it was wonderful to be able to take my children to the places I played in as a girl. A little surreal perhaps, but it is nice to have a connection to a place and to be able to say 'this is where I am from'.

Tom and Emma wash the mud from their wellies in the stream

Our path was blocked by this fallen tree, though even if it weren't the ground was so boggy I doubt we could have continued.

A number of houses back on to the woods and it seems to have long been the practice of many residents to empty their garden waste into the woods. These roses and fuschias were growing wild together, deeply entwined and beautiful in their unexpectedness. Judging from the size of the plants, they probably grew from waste cuttings thrown here many, many years ago.

The trees in the background of this picture made me feel so old. When I was a girl they were mere babes of trees and this was more or less an open field. Now they are big, big trees and the 'field' is now part of the wood. Surely that much time can't have passed. Wasn't it only yesterday that I was playing games of hide and seek in the long grass here?

A game of chase with the Grandad Monster 



Sunday, 26 August 2012

We're home!

The view out to sea from the cliffs at Tintagel

We're back home again after a lovely fortnight away. The Podlings and I spent a lovely week at my parent's house in Devon, sadly without Mark as he had to work. We had lots of lovely walks with my dad, ate lots of my mum's lovely home cooking, enjoyed a visit to Plymouth Marine Aquarium and, in the case of my mum and me, talked a lot!

After the week in Devon, Mark came down to collect us and we enjoyed a wonderful week in Cornwall with Mark's parents, who very kindly took us on holiday this year. We all stayed in a mobile home in Widemouth Bay and had the most splendid time swimming, going to the beach and exploring the area. Our proximity to Plymouth meant that my parents came across to meet us on two of the days and Mark's aunt and uncle, who also live in Devon, also came down to see us.

It has been a wonderful holiday and it probably won't surprise you to learn that the blog will shortly be inundated with the many pictures I have taken. However, blogging may well be sporadic as I have a great deal of laundry to get done and three Podlings who are suddenly finding themselves with far fewer people to play with than they have enjoyed over the last fortnight. We are slowly adjusting back to 'real life', but I am likely to be blogging our holiday photos well into September!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Tower Bridge, London 2012

While we were in London I particularly wanted to see Tower Bridge whilst the Olympic rings were still on display. I've seen Tower Bridge before and I am sure I will see it again, but the rings won't always be there and I really wanted to see them and get a photo (or three). After all, they spent over £300, 000 on them, so it would be rude not to take a photo!

After the wrestling finished we headed to Tower Hill on the underground and walked past the imposing Tower of London to get to the bridge. We took a leisurely walk over the beautiful Victorian bridge and then walked up the river a little on the other side in order to get the photos I wanted. I am so glad we got to see them!

The rings are 25 metres wide, 11.5 metres tall and weigh three tonnes. They look pretty too!

 Obligatory tourist shot number 1: Mark in front of Tower Bridge

Obligatory tourist shot number 2: Me in front of Tower Bridge 

The Tower of London from across the Thames 


Olympic Graeco-Roman Wrestling, London 2012

On Sunday, Mark and I had a rare treat, a day on our own without the Podlings. We very rarely get out even for an evening on our own these days, so to have an entire day of just the two of us was very special indeed. We took the Podlings round to Mark's parents and put them to bed there on Saturday night and then came back home as we had to leave early the following morning.

On Sunday, we got up early, drove down to London, parked on the outskirts and caught the Docklands Light Railway to the ExCeL Centre where we were going to watch the Olympic Graeco-Roman wrestling. I was really expecting to be bored out of my mind and was just seeing it as a pleasant opportunity to spend some quality time with my husband. Imagine my surprise when I found I quite enjoyed it!

Graeco-Roman wrestling is not very big in this country, where apparently freestyle wrestling is preferred. The commentator quickly caught on to the fact that not many people in the crowd had any idea what was going on and did a brilliant job of explaining the rules as they went along. I am deeply indebted to that nameless commentator as without him I don't think I would have enjoyed it anywhere near as much. He did a wonderful job of explaining what was going on without being patronising and was able to psych up the crowd to cheer the matches, even though there were no homegrown wrestlers to cheer for. So, a big 'thank you' to the anonymous American wrestling commentator.

Mark and I really enjoyed our time at the wrestling and both came away knowing all sorts of useful things about a sport that we will be unlikely ever to see again! We were rather disappointed that all the finals were in the evening session as I think we would both have liked to have seen them. Who knew that a professed 'girly girl' could actually enjoy watching wrestling!

Olympic Graeco-Roman Wrestling at the ExCeL Centre, London 2012

Would you look at me enjoying the wrestling! Who'd've thunk it! 

Mark has a lightbulb moment at the ExCeL Centre!