This was the first time in a very very long time that we spent our summer holiday in the UK! It took a lot of thinking. Should we really risk the bad weather? Wouldn’t it be so much more relaxing to go to Asia or Africa or southern Europe for the usual tourist pleasures? Won’t be miss all that yummy food?
But once we started googling the Southwest of England, we came across stunning pictures of white cliffs, turquoise water and picturesque villages. So, we decided to introduce the UK to Maya and Nila (both British passport holders, by the way) and to re-discover it ourselves.
We started with Raj’s family in London and a reunion with Simon’s gang in Cambridge. Funny, how Cambridge seems so much smaller to me now. Back then in 1991, when I arrived there just a year after the fall of the Berlin wall, it was the big wide world to me. And it is amazing too, how visiting places like these is quite normal to Maya and Nila. For me then, it was not just a foreign country with a language I hardly spoke. It was a new culture in every way, a realisation of how big the world really was and that it was quite commonplace for many to just travel between countries, whenever you liked. Hmmm… anyway, we went punting, toured the colleges, visited places full of memories and had a fun day altogether.
We then set off visiting the Jurassic Coast with stunning Durdle Door, where we finally confirmed that swimming in the sea this summer was not going to be possible without wetsuits, ha! The hikes along the coast were superb and we were very lucky the weather, getting amazing views along the sea, practising our skidding skills and collecting pebbles.
The reward after every big hike was good traditional English food, usually served by super super nice English people. Honestly, the friendliness of all locals – although quite understated – really stood out for us. Guess, that living in Holland had made us forget simple politeness :-) In any case, we had fish and chips, burgers, Cornish pasties, trifles, crumbles and most importantly scones! We mostly forgot to take pictures – hunger and appetite were stronger.
Driving even further West towards Cornwell, we stayed for a week in St. Agnes. Famous for it’s mining history and beautiful Trevaunance Cove, St. Agnes gave us our first body boarding experience. Being total beginners with everything sea-related (despite living cycling distance to Scheveningen), we started out by buying us some second-hand wetsuits. And oh, what a difference a wetsuit can make in water that is around 15 degrees. Yippieh! The holiday was saved.
We got two boards too and gave it a try – it was so much fun. Even for me and Raj! And you honestly never see me spending much time in any water, no matter the temperature. We were lucky to catch a few waves and somehow tried to figure out the best body boarding conditions between high and low tides. We didn’t always succeed, unfortunately, and sometimes had to turn home without riding a single wave, but we learned. Only thing left to do is putting our suits and boards to good use in Holland too.
Since we spent quite some time in the car – remember those narrow windy lanes – we took note of some of the funniest place names we’ve ever heard. Here just a few from our selection and do read them out loud for full enjoyment: Pantiles, Slaughter Bridge, Stoney Bottom, The Butts, Westward Ho!, East-the-Water, Yelland, Butts Close, Nomansland, Puddington, Crazelowman, Clayhanger. There was definitely a butt/bottom theme going on.
After St. Agnes, we drove north into Devon, where we had booked a cottage right in the middle of the countryside. The cottage itself was a big improvement over our narrow St. Agnes place, and the countryside was indeed beautiful and very remote, but the weather, ah! We were unlucky – well, I suppose that was part of a UK summer – because it rained non-stop for a couple of days. Then, our lifeline WIFI link gave up too and phone connection was not available anyway. So, we actually stayed in the house for two days, hardly getting out of bed, playing games, watching TV. And, you know what, it was perhaps the most holiday-ish time of it all.
Luckily, we also had sunny days, when we got out to visit National Trust sites – like that laurel maze and cute little fishing villages – and got in beach time too.
As always, the blog only fits a few pics. Online you can see many more.