Leaden Skies

Yesterday’s threat of rain continued into this morning. Hoping that things might be better at the coast and with my wanting to exercise my legs into submission, we headed for Ilfracombe and Torrs Park for another stab at the Coast Path. Irritatingly, off shore the skies were a little brighter (i.e. light grey) but overhead the skies remained leaden. Torrs Park has what appears to be the only free National Trust car park in the vicinity. I’m wondering how people manage to amass enough change to keep feeding the machines at various different car parks. Possibly, though, they tend to just park in one all day long, being more regular beach goers than us. What we want is an hour or two here and there. The Coast path here was pleasant enough but a touch slippery, given the recent rain. It served a purpose and got my legs some exercise, though.

Safely back at the car, Francine was keen to call into the local LIDL. For Francine’s hair, the correct hair goop is critical and LIDL has some that proved successful and at a much lower price than her usual shampoo and conditioner. Whilst there, we tried to get ingredients for dinner at the same time. Dinner, we thought, with a couple of chicken breasts languishing in Guillaume’s fridge, could either be chicken fajitas or a Thai green curry. I began well by finding flour tortillas for fajitas. Now, where were the spices? I found them, such as they were. The LIDL spice selection amounted to little more than pepper, both black and white, hot paprika, dried basil and dried parsley. (Dried parsley is completely useless and should never be used under any circumstances.) There was nothing that one might expect as a spice staple: no ground coriander, no cumin, no cinnamon, no ginger, for example. Neither were there any of those boxed fajita kits that every other supermarket carries and, though there was sour cream, there was nothing resembling guacamole or salsa so I couldn’t do a DIY job. I changed tack, replaced the flour tortillas and started looking for coconut milk for the green curry alternative. Coconut milk? Dream on! So, no chance of any fresh basil and fresh coriander, then. I did, however, rather bizarrely find bottles of pickled ginger for sushi. So, there was little that I would have expected as basic necessities but there were unpredictable things that I would not have expected, being much more specialist. How on earth does anyone shop in a LIDL? A local lady overhead my disparaging remarks and pointed us to a Tesco just out of town. Bliss! Coconut milk, fresh basil, fresh coriander – green curry it is.

The skies remained steadfastly leaden.

Some years ago cars began baring model names featuring punctuation marks. Weird! First, I think, was the ground-breaking Kia Cee’d. What on earth is an apostrophe doing in a car name? Then along came VW with their trendy named Up! I believe there is now a hybrid version called an e-Up!, which, despite my not knowing what the hell an exclamation mark is doing in a car name, I think is brilliant. If there isn’t an e-Up!, there damn well should be. Car names, however, have just been playing catch up with town names. Is there any more curiously named town around than Westward Ho!? There’s a 21A bus that runs crawls through Bottleneck to Westward Ho!, its destination board shouting the fact. For want of something better to do, we went for a look.

_15C2593I’d had visions of salty old square-rigged sailors setting out on Hornblower-like adventures from Westward Ho! It’s the romantic in me. It was surely named in such an age. My romantic hopes, as is so often the case, were dashed. As we approached the front, there was a marked lack of salty old seafarers’ cottages. There was no crumbling harbour in which to hoist any mains’l. What there was a collection of modern looking buildings together with ice cream vendors and fish and chip shops. That stalwart British holiday makers were sitting doggedly on the beach, wrapped up and sometimes behind windbreaks, under those still steadfastly leaden skies.

Westward Ho! itself doesn’t even face west. There is a good length of beach above Westward Ho! that faces west but the town itself does not. if it faces any direction at all, it faces north. If the town was desperate for an exclamation mark, it should have been called Northward Ho! [Now, since the exclamation mark at the end of that sentence is an integral part of the town’s name, featuring even on bus destination boards, how should I correctly finish such a sentence? With a full stop after the exclamation mark? Just a thought.]

Further back along the coast we found Appledore. Appledore was considerably less touristy, having a harbour rather than a beach. Here there were narrow alleyways which might at soem point have seen old salts wandering about. It also sported an appealing Deli with some local cheeses. We bought a couple to try and t headed back through Barnstaple. The rain returned more easily than did we. It was rush hour and Barnstaple was gridlocked. We couldn’t get to the back road that avoids Bottleneck so we had to head for Bottleneck. Mercifully, everyone was now trying to come south through Bottleneck so our northward journey was reasonably pain free.

One of our new local cheeses, Exmoor Blue, tastes the way a cow shed smells. Not my favourite, frankly. Back to Blue Stilton.

Posted in 2015 Devon

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