Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sunny South Devon

Visiting Totnes is always a bit of a trip down memory lane for me.  
I went to live there when I was twenty.  Here's my front door, looking a bit smarter than it did back in the early '70s!
I worked for a firm of architects whose office was just past the East Gate, the arch in the photo below.  The East Gate caught fire in spectacular fashion in September 1990 and what you see now is a faithful reconstruction.
Another notable building in Totnes high street, which has been reconstructed, is the Church of St Mary.  Part of the building, on a site which has been the centre for worship for a thousand years, was struck by lightening and reconstruction work took place in 1259.  The church was rebuilt again in the mid 1400s, with wonderful carvings around the outside.
Below is part of the Butterwalk, further up the high street.  Now when I was young, 21, my ideal scenario was to be living happily ever after, in Totnes, in one of these rooms with the big windows, overlooking the square, where the legendary market takes place on Friday and Saturday.  Flowers around the room, sun pouring in, ever the daydreamer!  I thought that would be the biz.  Obviously it never happened!  Every time I go to Totnes, though, I glance up at those windows and still think how lovely it would have been!
During our visit last week we decided to go to East Portlemouth, a village which dribbles down the wooded slopes on the east side of the Salcombe estuary.  There are some particularly good bay trees growing near the beach, and I wanted to get my hands on some, to top up supplies at home. We cook with bay leaves almost every day.  

On the way to East Portlemouth, we drove through the lanes to Slapton Sands.  We spent a bracing few minutes on the beach, enjoying the crashing waves and wondering at the speed of windsurfers further along the beach.
We then stopped at Gara Rock where, on the site of an old hotel, a brand new complex of very smart holiday apartments has been built into the cliff.  The profile of the little lookout, perched on the edge of the cliff, reminded me of buildings you see on Greek islands.
There is a magnificent cliff top path which occasionally dips down to lovely sandy beaches.  It's a blissful part of the world.  The photo above looks east towards Slapton Sands and Dartmouth beyond, around the corner.  Below is Start Point on the westerly side of the Salcombe Estuary, which is another terrific cliff walk.
This is the terrace at Gara Rock where we stopped for a cup of coffee.  Hard to beat for a cafe location!
Here is part of the beach at East Portlemouth, looking across to Salcombe.
The little South Sands ferry boat which ploughs back and forth to Salcombe town.
A spot of Swallows and Amazons sailing.
My cousin and I walked along the beach to the Venus cafe.  It's a small chain of cafes along the South Devon coast, which have found themselves neat little perches, always overlooking  a beach.  Great places to sit and gaze out to sea or holiday-maker watch, and with remarkably good sandwiches and coffee.

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