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Mid November, we stayed on the boat four days, then went down to Helston, staying three nights in a 'Premier'. Two days exploring South of Helford River, then north, through Falmouth and on through "China Clay country", that evening in the Premier at Bodmin.

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Monday, 22nd October. Drove down to Sherborne for a three night stay at the excellent value Sherborne Hotel - just 178 for a three course evening meal, plus full buffet breakfast, combined with a high quality room. Little wonder that all we met who where 'in residence', had stayed previously.

We then drove East, calling in at Cobbs Quay, not visited since moving our boat 12 months previous. That night spent at Emsworth Travelodge. Next morning, we explored the centre of Chichester, this turning out to my mind a more attractive town than Bath. The afternoon I visited the Tangmere Military Museum, really good I felt it was too. Then to Bognor Regis for a couple of nights in a 'Premier Inn'. Saturday we'd booked for lunch with fellow members of the Nimbus Owners Club.

Both enjoyed our return drive, past Fontwell  Racecourse, then off busy main roads, halting  in the lovely village of Slindon, this because there were a large number of other cars parked, so we knew something was going on. Turned out this place is famous for Pumpkins, of which a great display. On again, passing Goodwood Racecourse, and westward across the South Downs, through the lanes to the village of East Meon, where we halted for coffee. On again through West Meon, keeping to quiet roads before passing through Winchester. We felt this had been such lovely country, we'd like to explore more. Perhaps find an apartment in the town for a few days? Home via Wherwell and Devizes.

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 2012

Rather a delayed start to the year's activities. I somehow caught chickenpox! To be honest it laid me pretty low, feeling unwell for the majority of the first two months. However by the 23rd February, I just felt well enough to drive down to Exmoor, we went across Mendip to Taunton. Then halting for an excellent lunch at Inn at the village of Stogumber. We ended up at Dunster, finding a room at Dunster Castle Hotel. This plus the village proved an excellent centre for our three night stay. Our first full day we visited areas and villages not previously explored. We'd never been to Tarr Steps for example, below left: Walking cross, the thought struck me; "this should nearly be as famous as Stonehenge". Really massive great stone slabs, that must have been carried some distance, by humans, who would have been much smaller in stature and perhaps strength, than we are in present times. Seems historical experts have almost no idea of when it was constructed, nor why - indeed why? It is not as if it is really required, obvious most time the water here could be waded. Not as if the land on either side would ever have been of value, most certainly not nowadays, and never likely have been. Mystery!



Photo above right was taken in a valley near Wheddon Cross. A 'Snowdrop Walk' which over the past few years has grown quite famous. In the month of February, the road - lane really, is closed off to all traffic bar a couple of coaches which ferry passengers from car parks in the hamlet. The walk itself can be muddy and difficult. But worse is the long walk for those who ignore the comfort of the ride, but walk all the way from the car parks - we did! But coming back, and this was uphill! Still we did it, satisfying to have done so, particularly after my illness. Once we regained our vehicle, we scuttled back down to Dunster station in time to catch the steam train along the West Somerset Railway, nice rest after our exertions.

Following this three days, that number of days later, we were away again, but short, just to Sherborne staying at the Sherborne Hotel. This proved to be by far the best hotel we have ever stayed in, very certainly in terms of value for money - only 55 per night which includes an excellent breakfast. Shame such value in accommodation is so rare, specially for those who like ourselves, enjoy travel so much!. The following two nights were spent in Dorchester. Here for the convenience of my eye tests. Saturday a trip to Bridport for the market, then West Bay returning via the outstanding Coast Road via Abbotsbury. This I'd vote the most scenic route in England. Bride Valley on one side, sea on the other.

Significantly less activity so far this year as compared to last, unforunately. This caused by health issues. We have though managed stays on our boat, thus allowing just a little travel, pictures of lovely South  Devon country side here: Left being a view taken towards the entrance to Salcome, then the next 'photo' taken just a little furthur south, showing inlets of this estuary.






We also both enjoyed our visit to the new Brixham fish market. This necessitated an early start of 7AM, but for ourselves well worth it. Two 'photo's above show the auctioneer holding his Tablet, on which is entered detail of the box he his selling, this is repeated as shown on the screen, with the boats name, weights etc. We learned a lot about commercial fishing on the visit.

MId June, and just about the coldest and most unpleasant '
summer' I  can recall. Really excellent visit to what was termed as a "Flower" farm. Not in reality that at all however, though indeed some where grown. In actuality it turned out to be quite the best and well run farm I've visited for decades, since in fact a trip to the late Tom Parkers farms round Fareham. It is in fact two thousand acres just east of Truro, and in a small peninsula nestling in arms of the Fal Estuary. We where welcomed by the two brothers who now run it. They gave great praise to their father, who as they indicated was a great at diversifying. These struck me as well following in their dads footsteps. Main enterprises were 1500 sheep, 1000 acres of grain, plus 160 acres of daffodils for sale of cut flowers and dry bulbs. Of most interest to me though was the plant growing enterprise, this mainly of broccoli. Fact I gather they supply plants for all grown in Cornwall. They are using what I surmise to be a unique machine, to plant pelleted  seed into trays, for onward raising in polytunnels. Sorry to say my 'photo's of this machine in operation have not turned out well, but I can show the results:

 What struck me was the accuracy of the planting - no "gaps" at all so it would appear, every seed must have germinated. Surely  a very unique machine. Below two more 'photo's:


 
21st June; A trip up to London; room for four nights at the Premier ExCel, this situated convenient to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) which we both got pleasure out of riding on, being that it is above ground, plus most trains are run without a 'driver'! Thus we can use the front seats and have an excellent view round, plus the tracks in front.

First day, and we journeyed to the Science Museum,  here the main draw being exhibits relating to Alan Turing, which had just been placed on show. Then up to Leicester Square to check out Theaters. We decided on a musical "Chicago" which was being performed in the Garrick. Good cast of musicians and dancers.

Next day a most enjoyable morning spent in Greenwich, first to the market, interesting range of stalls. The town itself, likewise attractive. Following a long walk we reached the observatory. Back down to the Thames where we caught a boat that carried us up river for an hours journey as far as Westminster Pier. Many tourists in this area, specially at the entrance to Downing Street. Then a walk up Whitehall, reaching St Martins Lane where we were again in "Theater Land", so bought tickets for a show called "Posh", which was on at the Duke of Yorks, this was for the 8.30PM performance, so a late night out for us. Still, though the "tubes" where pretty crowded, we returned to our hotel, no problem at all.

Not surprising, we were really tired next morning - Sunday. Found enough energy to take DLR to Tower Bridge, then walk across to try and reach the base of the tallest tower in London, this known as the "Shard", seemed this was not yet open, though even had it been not sure I'd appreciated going up to the top! Back across London Bridge, to get 'home' after a light lunch. Prior to our train home next day, we took a tour round Canary Wharf. Not a 'tourist' atraction, but certainly worth a look.
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Sunday July 1st, and I got out of bed at 4.40AM! Couple of cups of tea, then some porridge,  an hour later we were driving out the gate, to drive down to Poole, this reaching in plenty of time for the 8.30 Condor Ferry to Guernsey reached at 12.15.  Off that, and had to wait at the dockside, until another Condor was ready to take us on board, to ferry us onto St. Malo, this reached at 17.15 Easy drive off ship and out of town to cross the "Barrage" for the route we've followed quit a few times - but this though we got it wrong! Problem being that the French often revise roads and routes. However we still managed to reach our cottage with plenty of daylight to spare. House to house in a day - pleased about that!

Usually when we get down to Brittany at this time of year the land is looking really 'burned up', not this time though, the weather being identical to the type of "summer" we'd been experiencing back in England, cold and much rain. I'd got a bad cold - likely caught in London, on this trip, so did not do much. However on our visit to the near by town of Ploermel on Friday, discovered it was market day. Strange, we've been around the area for a little over ten years, but that was our only visit to this market, not knowing Friday was the day it was held. French markets we find interesting.

Our drive back up to St Malo was good, exactly 70 miles driven in one hour forty four minutes, moreover trip indicating  MPG as being 60 - never done as good as that before! On booking in, it was indicated that there would be a delay in our onward voyage from Guernsey, the ferry not leaving till very late in the evening. On considering the situation, we decided it would be an idea if we stayed on that Island for a night, leave the following evening, and use the day to travel across to the Island of Sark. So on reaching Guernsey, we found the hotel that the ferry had booked for us, then spent that afternoon exploring. As on a previous visit, finding a few of the Guernsey cattle like we used to keep, not easy. However, we did find just one herd, this being in the first of the 'photo's below. The other herd, plus the rest of the pictures where taken on the island of Sark.







Top right, distances measured in walking time! Next a Sark garden, then the herd of cows we found. The milk by the way is pasteurised on the  Island, that was marked on the container we purchased, and was confirmed in the shop from which it wa purchased. Seems a bit of grain is grown, though I do wonder of the economics of harvest. Final 'photo is taken in the Seigneurial Gardens. These being well worth the visit.

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27th August, we took Sylvania round to the River Dart, then up as far as Galmpton Creek, here the boat was taken out, washed, then placed and propped up in an old quarry. Here we stay on it, while doing jobs not possible while afloat. Pictures illustrate;

On the left, a view well remembered to anyone who has ever passed up the river. Right, in the old quarry. Must confess, I found some of the work going on here quit entertaining - certanly it was mostly a hive of activity. Some more pics:

Top left; this old wooden boat has just been taken out of the water, and is being hosed with a high pressure wash. She will then be chocked up, as is in  the right 'photo', and her owners will do their best to put her back into full "ship shape" order. Bottom;  quite a lot of professionals work here also. Dartmouth regatta was being held while we were in the yard, so on the Saturday we popped across to have a look. Next day we took a short drive to the village of Stoke Gabrial, this turned out to be much more attractive than we had envisaged. Couple 'photo's below:


The Tuesday we where booked to have our boat placed back in the water - we had wondered what the weather would be like, being that we would have an open sea journey back to our Brixham berth. Absolutely no worries on this score, it being an absolutely perfect morning, the River Dart like a mirror, could not have wished better. There was a bit of fog about, but once outside the entrance, it was clear.


We were intrigued by the boat met approaching us, belching smoke, above; to the left (port!) of the 'belcher' is a "cardinal point', port again would be the "Mew Stone". Passed us entering the Dart, fishing boat with a very unusual and 'smoky' exhaust. Wish the sea was as calm as this more often!
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15th September, and I had an appointment for my eyes to be checked at Dorchester Hospital. Occurred that it might be an idea to make use as a stepping off point for a trip over to France. So booked a room, early to bed here, being that the ferry would leave Poole at Seven AM! Out of bed soon after four, and got away before five. Intrigued by the number of cars traveling at this early hour, the 'fast craft' was almost fully loaded I'd reckon. Quite a rough ride for this type of ship, I'd almost prefer a conventional ferry, spite of the speedier crossing. Cherbourg reached before eleven, then a drive down to Josselin. This reached before five English time, a distance of 170 miles, satisfied with that. Specially considering our chosen route encountered a blasted "Route Barre" sign, and the "Deviation" turning out to be a ridiculous route down narrow unsuitable roads. Best confess this one of the 'downsides' of my preference to drive on "D" roads!



The Chateau is well remembered feature of Josselin, but the picture above less so, despite being very short walk south of this position.  The bridge itself is just two miles from our French base. Left; Saturday is market day here, and always attracts many visitors to this noted tourist town. Street markets are a pleasurable weekly feature in the majority of French rural towns.

Luckily we've got our cottage into the shape and comfort we can be satisfied with, so can enjoy both it and environs. Though on visits we invariably take a walk along the Nantes/Brest canal, we've never viewed the 'head' of it. By that I of course mean the highest point of the route in use, this between Rohan and Pontivy. This omission was rectified on the 18th. Walked from a place called Hilvern, where the highest 'ecluse' above Josselin is situated, at least two miles to 'Bel-Air' near St Gerand, at the ecluse (lock) which heads the canal down to Pontivy, and on down the canelised River Blavet entering the sea at Lorient.


My main purpose was to try and find out how the water needed to keep this waterway "topped up" was entered, and where it came from. Not resolved to my satisfaction! We did however locate a significant issue into the canal very near St Gerand, but not from an obvious above ground stream. So assume this water must be piped from somewhere. Possibly from the Lakes below Mur-de-Bretagne, this being indicated by someone we'd inquired from.

The following day - Wednesday, is a day when Vannes market is held. So to this we visited. From here we drove south to a village called Penvins. Lunch in an obvious "cordon blue" restaurant - not over costly at mid-day, though I do confess not to be over enamoured of French cooking, we did however have an outstanding meal at the 'Marine' in Josselin the previous Friday. We then drove out to the coast. Lovely weather, really pleasurable day.

We where saddened to learn from our next door neighbours that their mother had just passed away. The father had died perhaps six years ago. They were really friendly people. Both where active, and enjoyed helping their son and daughter work their farm.

Had been our intention to return Roscoff/Plymouth, so as it was in that direction, decided to visit Finisterre on the way. Found a place to stay at Portsail. Turned out that Portsail was where the huge Oil Tanker "Amoco Cadiz" foundered following what was claimed to be a 'steering failure'. I stress 'claimed' because this vessel was launched four years previously. The anchor is absolutely massive - as picture indicates:

When we reached Finisterre we learned that our planned voyage back to Plymouth would have to be cancelled due to a strike by staff of Brittany Ferries. We were well satisfied with the accommodation we had (with difficulty!) found in Portsail, so decided to stay two nights. So used the day to  tour along the coast to the headland at which it turned inland to Brest.

I found this coastline incredibly rural, more than ever I would have expected. Certainly not over built on, in Britain - Ireland likewise, tourists might be crawling all round. Not here. Quiet coves - roads also! Yet still in September. Two 'photo's below example. One can just dicern the Isles of Ushant on the skyline

Obviously it had been the intention to spend the Sunday night at Roscoff in order to facilitate the required 08.30 sailing back to Plymouth. Being this was now 'off', we thought best policy would be to journey back to Josselin. Trusting the ferries would resume crossings in a reasonable period. We could afford to wait - hopefully!


Though not discernible in the above two 'photo's, the Isles of Ushant can just be seen with the naked eye on the skyline.

The ferry not running, we decided to use our extra time to take a trip over to Belle-Isle-Sur-Mer (to give its full title - many "Belle Isles" about) Apart from Corsica, the largest island off the French coast, and about the same size as the Isle of Wight, though only five per cent of that's population. It had been our intention to take our car. However when we inquired at the port of departure Quiberon, we were advised it would make more sense if we left it behind, and hired a car on the Island. In spite of the inconvenience, advice we followed. Aa it turned out we managed to explore the whole island to our satisfaction, in just a few hours. So returned this car before 5PM the same day.

Scenically, I thought the island not good, partly I surmise that due to its geographical position, it had little rainfall. Some of the land was farmed but not well, is the view I formed. Apart from the very notable exception of Island's such as the  Isle of Wight, also Channel Islands, I have wondered as to the economic viability, of many I've visited. This likewise. Its links with the mainland are interesting: Two vessels of almost identical size and layout run between. First 'photo below is the main port of entry, Le Palais, then the ferries used. Appears as though the regular 'run' can only accommodate two axle vehicles. So no chance of meeting a HGV here! Not sure how they manage if heavy plant is needed to be ferried onto the Island. Fourth 'photo is of the only other 'port' of entry on the Island, Sauzon. Attractive little place, next pic indicates.





Final view is of Le Palais front. We find ourselves indeed fortunate in the hotels we have stayed in France recently, and the "Atlantic" here was absolutely no exception. It is the one on the right of the 'photo. Perhaps we have been lucky, but far more likely I reckon, is that the French hospitality sector has improved immensely, since our first visits well over three decades ago. The three we've used on this trip, have been excellent, moreover, far better value than English of the identical quality.

The day prior to our return via Roscoff, we took a trip down to Vanne, while on Belle Isle we had noticed an advert about an Exhibition by the Archive section of Morbihan Department. This was to mark the anniversary of railway construction. Not well done unfortunately. Maps were diagrammatic rather than actual, no old documents on display. Information was by placards only. "Brits" would have done a far better job!