Devonshire

Up with the lark (the late one) at the back of nine, we were keen to get a hearty feed in our bellies after such a drought the day before.

Yes I know we ate most of the day but not that much of it was any good.

We made bacon and egg baps in the traditional camping style, which means we stunk out the van for the rest of the day. With a hot cup of tea we set off, a few scores to settle from being scuppered by the weather yesterday.

Daisy fired up and descended the slope we had parked on (I was wondering why my circulation had gone South). Out of Corfe Castle we headed south to keep a date with Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.

Now I won’t dwell too long on Lulworth Cove. It’s a lovely little natural bay with clear water and a pleasant little village beside it. In fact I will give you a flavour via dash-cam footage since it is a thatched cottage village and people like that sort of thing.

Now let’s focus on Durdle Door. Say ‘Durdle Door’ without thinking of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets.

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Copyright ‘Some Internet Site’

If you were not thinking of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets I now challenge you to say ‘Durdle Door’ without putting on the accent of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets.

Impossible?

Now my wife can say Durdle like it was a normal word, like it didn’t rhyme with girdle. It doesn’t make her snigger or want to put on a Swedish chef accent in any way whatsoever. What is wrong with her?!!

So what is this Durdle Door (singger)? Well it turns out that it comes from an Old English word ‘thirl’ which means to pierce (and that came from the internet so it must be true).  There is this volcanic formation in Dorset’s coast that looks like a rock with a hole in it, a piercing so to speak.  It’s a great thing to see even if you do have to scale a mountain up and down twice to see it. Oh and pay £4 to park.

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Putting the scenic beauty aside, wouldn’t it be lovely to bring back this wonderful old English word now that so many piercings take place amongst our young folk? We could be having our ears durdled, our noses durdled and even our belly buttons. How amusing is that!!? ‘I am having my belly button durdled today.’

If we recovered this word from the annals of history we could even enjoy the moment someone caught their girdle on a nail and tore a small hole in it. ‘Oh no I have durdled my girdle!’ It’s British seaside comedy magic!

After the joyous comedic sight of Durdle Door (you can’t help it can you?), we decided to enjoy an ice cream at Lulworth Cove. It was wonderfully creamy and sweet. I was only a little put off by the little wooden spoon they served it with. I prefer plastic as I worry about catching a splinter with wood in my mouth. I could have durdled my tongue!

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Look at that silly cow!

Our next destination was Dorchester, a short drive away, to get provisions for our two night stay in Devon. Now I have been in a few supermarkets in my time (way too many in fact), but the Tesco in Dorchester has to have the poshest entrance to any of them. If you know of a better one please prove me wrong. My God, it’s got a fountain and everything.

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The poshest Tesco in the UK?

The checkout girl explained that, as Dorchester is in the Duchy of Cornwall there are certain standards to be maintained. It couldn’t be a ‘monstrous carbuncle’ in Charlie’s back yard could it? It was still Tesco though.

As this was such a beautiful setting we ate lunch in the car park – a ham and cheese ciabatta made with Cornish butter, local mature cheddar and … eh … Tesco ham. It was delicious and we could hear the fountains filling the air with Dorset’s clear water, singing ‘whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, ten pence off Dorset Spring Water one day only, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.’

Off to Devon we were bound, Daisy struggling on the hills somewhat (laden with our purchases), and Sybil trying to send us down every single track road in Dartmoor.

The road can be quite dull when the distances are long and we found amusement in the simple game of ‘Camperaderie’. There are several rules to this game and they are highly complex. It is your understanding of the rules that can score you points.

Firstly the main rule is – some campers on the road like to wave to each other.

The important word here is ‘some’. When we first started playing we foolishly thought that ‘all’ campers on the road like to wave. That’s a mistake – do not pass go – go to jail.

The rules get even greyer.

The most reliable wave comes from VW T25 owner to VW T25 owner. But it depends if they are British. Foreign campers tend to ignore the friendly wave.

Older style VW camper van owners tend to keep themselves to themselves. These are the pure blood VW owners (a bit Slytherin if you ask me). They MIGHT wave though, depending on whether or not the driver is an arse. Modern VW owners (like those with T5s with flashy paint jobs) are in a similar club as the classics. They tend to look down a little or are too pissed to notice anyone else.

Fiat Ducato owners often wish they’d bought a VW so they can be a bit stand offish but, in certain circumstances, will wave. Other conversions such as Transits and Mazda Bongos are rarely seen waving.

The really difficult one is the big camper. The motor homes. They are lovely people but they can get a bit confused by all the camperaderie going on. They are often hired of course, so we don’t condemn them.

Finally there are the caravan towers. These poor folks are so stressed with the thought of getting stuck on a tight bend that they can barely keep their eyes off the road to see a wave. Some highly skilled and pleasant owners will, however, respond to a wave.

So those are the rules. The game is simple. Decide to wave or not – if you do wave and you get a wave back, you score one point.  If you don’t wave and you get a wave you lose two points because you are an arse. If you wave and they don’t wave back you feel stupid.

As we travelled towards Plymouth we came across Buckfast Abbey, where all the ‘Buckie’ comes from. We stopped off and took some snaps of all the splendour and wealth that Buckfast has achieved over the years from selling this fortified wine. I had mixed opinions about this place. On the one hand you could think that feeding alcohol to bored and disaffected teenagers and profiting from it is wrong. On the other hand you cannot make these Benedictine monks responsible for what a generation of wayward teenagers choose to be their poison. The wealth is a worry though – they have thumb-print access control to some of the abbey’s doors!

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The grand Buckfast Abbey. 

We arrived in Tavistock about half six, pitched up, lit the BBQ and grilled some 20% fat mince. We ate perfect bacon and cheese burgers for tea and christened them Duchy Burgers.

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Dirty camper burgers…..

In the morning we took our bikes out for their first turn of the holiday.

Drakes Trail is a path running from Tavistock to Plymouth for cyclists and walkers only. It’s a terrific idea; a disused railway track has been set aside for safe cycling. It’s the only way to be safe on these little roads.

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Now the campsite literature told us this route was a mere 300 yards from the entrance to the site. That’s nonsense. Three hundred yards I can walk in five minutes. The trail is over two miles from the campsite.

Perhaps as the crow flies you can walk 300 yards get to a point where you can see the trail in the distance, but 300 yards it aint.

In fact if you are rubbish at map reading it turns out it is more than two miles, it is over four miles! We decided to climb the hill to an entirely different location in the opposite direction of the trail just so that we could overheat, swear disgracefully and slander the good name of the campsite staff at the top.

You should understand that my dear lady wife is not a frequent cyclist. She is a terrific long distance runner and, it turns out, can run faster than she can cycle; a good bit faster.

We rode out to a place called Yelverston on the trail before returning, an 18 miles round trip. The trip involved several miles of undulating track through some beautiful countryside, farm-yard animals including llamas, a hell of a lot of moaning about the undulating countryside and a viaduct that I thought of either jumping off or throwing someone else off.

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Don’t look back in anger.

I am being cruel. She was actually outstanding for a first time over this distance.

In Yelverston we ate at The Game Larder, just some Devonshire ice-cream and a pork and pickle pie (yes in that order). Both were great, thankfully because that is the highlight of Yelverston.

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When we got back to the campsite we took Daisy out to the local village for some shopping (yawn). We had plenty time so we walked slowly round the local craft market and I ‘oohed and aahed’ when it seemed appropriate. It seemed to work because all we bought was a charity shop shirt to replace the one I sweated half my body weight into today, and a 50p book.

We ate a terrific cream tea and Victoria sandwich at Karen’s Tea Shop in the village and blethered with the couple next to us about politics, expensive train travel and the joys of driving long distance. I paid the bill and it ran to a mere £7.20. I thought she was joking. Two teas, a cream scone and a wedge of Victoria sandwich that would kill an jersey cow if it fell on them – for £7.20?

I tipped generously and still didn’t break a tenner.

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Dinner tonight is to be a campervan special. I think I will skip the pictures because you will think less of me if you see the tins.

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