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Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and Snowdonia…

After a FABULOUS breakfast of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and lots of accouterments…

…I headed off on my way back for the six-or-so hour drive back to Torquay… and while I have seen a lot of warning signs for deer etc, this is the first warning sign about DUCKS!

First stop along the way…  Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!  Yet another place on my Bucket List

It is the longest place name in Europe and the second longest official one-word place name in the world…  I shudder to think what is the longest!

…oh, and the picture of the lobster-looking creature?  That is for the “sea zoo” – that’s what an aquarium or marine park is called in Wales…

…the Brittannia Bridge (or Pont Brittania in Welsh), over the Menai Strait between the island of Anglesey and the Welsh mainland.

…no ducks of which to be wary, just cows…

…and people riding horses… (oh, and Wales is the land of a gazillion trillion speed cameras!)

…and if anyone can tell me what this is, I will sing your praises!

Portmeirion is also on my Bucket List, and since I was basically going past the front door, decided to stop by…

…however then I discovered that one needed to park the car up the hill, pay for admission, and then walk down the hill to the village…  On another day, perhaps…

Hmmmm, now one needs to watch out for wayward sheep…

…and Rudolph…

…and watching out for cars swerving around adults walking with children…

…and cows…

I don’t know if you can make it out (it is quite overgrown) but every mile or so, there was an old mounting block to assist people getting back up on to their horse or carriage…  I love this!

…and eventually Prince (trust convertible) and I arrived back in Torquay…

What a WONDERFUL trip!

Now to rest up for a few days, then off on a road trip to Scotland and Loch Ness for Christmas!  Stay tuned…

~ Bella

Vintage Rail Trip From Wales to Scotland

Leaving Torquay and driving up to Wales, at one point I was travelling along the freeway and closing behind me was a magnificent piece of automotive elegance – a glorious fluro-yellow Bentley…

I watched it in my rear vision mirror come closer and closer in the lane beside me, and as it started to pull alongside I thought, “I wonder who is in that stunning car?” – and as it slowly passed me, I noticed an equally stunning man behind the wheel.

I then said to myself, “I wonder where one meets a man just like that, someone who is cute and loves Bentleys?”

Proceeding along about ten minutes later, I saw a service centre and, although I didn’t yet need to top up with gas/petrol, something said, “take this exit and get some gas”.  Seemed like a sensible enough option, so I did.

I was pulling in behind a fellow who decided to stop mid-way between the pumps (I thought, “seriously???”) but simply reversed back, drove around the huge truck that was next to us and into the next bay where… in front of me, was the yellow Bentley!

He was finishing putting gas in his car as I pulled up and said, “I was lusting after your car as you drove past me on the freeway…”

That started a wonderful banter and he seemed just as lovely on the inside as he was on the outside.

Now, don’t get any ideas…  We went our separate ways – but it was lovely that I asked the question – and received the answer only minutes later!  Hmmmm, perhaps next time I need to ask a different/better question!  🙂

Finally, I arrived at the glorious BnB in Holyhead, where the lovely, lovely, lovely people who own it had to attend a funeral but had hidden a key for me so I could let myself in.

Across the road was this beautiful cemetery – I love old cemeteries…

I basically unpacked, relaxed, caught up on some emails and they had an early night – for the following morning my alarm was set for 04:30 AM!!!

Pearl, the owner of the BnB, had arranged for a taxi to collect me at 05:00 am to take me to Holyhead Station where I was to board the Statesman vintage Pullman rail journey from Wales to Edinburgh and return – first class, fine dining all the way…

…although when I arrived, there seemed to be no one home!

Eventually, I managed to be united with my train – and what a train!

Seat 1A in first class – does it get any better?  Well, yes, it does!

I was thinking… “As much as it will be lovely to have a stranger to share my journey, it would be reeeeeally lovely if I had the entire space to myself…”

A few moments later the Steward came through and told me that the person due to sit in the seat opposite had to cancel at the last minute, so I would have the table to myself…”  🙂

Breakfast began with a Buck’s Fizz… always a good omen when one starts the day with champagne before the sun is even out of its pajamas…

…oh, and there was a woman on the train with a lovely pink Louis Vuiton bag – we bonded over our Louis-s-s-s…  🙂

This (below) was coooool…  We were stopped at a station and the train next to us was stopped as well.  I saw the couple looking at our train and so we began a conversation…

I held up the booklet and menu etc to the window so they could read them, and we were talking via hand signals…  Sooooooo much fun!

You can tell just how still it is out there – the smoke is totally vertical!  Not a breath of wind…

As they served a scrumptious late morning tea, the sun came peeking around the curtains…

In case you can’t make it out, that is ice on the side of the embankment…

…and about 8 hours from the time we left, welcome to Edinburgh…

All along our journey, there were men in fields with cameras on tripods; men standing in the rain on platforms with cameras as we went past; and when we arrived in Edinburgh, there were ten or more people there as well, photographing and videoing the arrival of the Statesman Pullman train…  I think it’s lovely that there are still so many people who love this history…

A huge amount of work is being done to Edinburgh Waverly Station…

 

 

We had some time to kill in Edinburgh, so rather than battle with the German Christmas Market crowds, I decided to turn a taxi into a limo and turned the taxi driver my chauffeur – driving me around Edinburgh…

 

 

Back at Edinburgh Waverly Station…

…that has one of the most glorious waiting rooms!

I spent ages admiring the beauty of it all…

…and it was funny – the next night after this journey, after a day of exploring, I was relaxing watching television in my cute BnB, and Julie Walters, on her railway program, was doing what???  Spending ages admiring the beauty of this very same waiting room at Edinburgh Waverly Station!

…the incredible beginning of a four-course dinner…

…this seafood risotto was yummier than it looks…

…followed by delicious soup…

I couldn’t fit in dessert so the people next to me allowed me to photograph theirs…

…only 21:32:21..???  Still hours to go……..

Made it home safe and sound to my lovely BnB… (where not only was the place itself lovely, but I wanted to roll the mattress up, tuck it under my arm and take it around the world with me – it was sooooo comfy!)

After taking this trip, I fell in love with Scotland to the extent that in a fortnight, Prince (my trusty convertible) and I are headed on a road trip to Scotland, to do another vintage rail trip that is on my Bucket List, and to visit Loch Ness in the process…

That is my Christmas present to myself…

Stay tuned!

…and still more posts to come from this journey to and through Wales…

~ Bella

Exploring Historic Dunster, Minehead and more…

Prince, my beloved convertible, and I headed off for a day of exploring and working, heading north from the English Riviera toward the Bristol Channel…

When we arrived in historic Dunster, I thought I would check out Dunster Castle and Water Mill, however when I discovered that one would need to walk about a half a mile or more from the closest place to park the car, that option became less appealing…  🙂

So, we continued on…

This building below is the old Yarn Market in Dunster, built around 1609.  It was damaged during the Civil War, but restored in 1647.

Minehead is lovely and settlement here dates back to the Bronze Age…

My ‘office’ for the afternoon has been The Old Ship Aground pub – and it was wonderful!

View into the kitchen…

No, this isn’t Dubai…

The food was amazing!  I hadn’t had breakfast, so decided to order both a starter and mains…  This was the starter!  Fresh muscles in a green curry Thai-ish sauce…  Yum….!  …and for only £5.85..!

…and main meal of trout…

I curled up here for several hours working – it was wonderful!  (and their wifi was lightning fast compared to most!)

Now a tea-room, this building below has quite the history!  Here is an excerpt from the Minehead Town Council’s website:

“[The] old building was the scene of much activity when the harbour was full of tall-rigged ships and was the home of Minehead’s famous ‘Whistling Ghost’: Old Mother Leakey.

It is said that Mrs Leakey, who died in 1634, became notorious after her death by her unpleasant habit of whistling up a storm whenever one of her son’s ships neared port. The townsfolk became so anxious that the Bishop of Bath and Wells presided over a commission to inquire into the matter. This resulted in a statement being issued to the effect that the elect commission doubted the credibility of the witnesses and did not believe that such an apparition as Mother Leakey’s ghost existed.”

…and a magnificent sunset to finish off a magnificent day exploring…

~ Bella

 

 

Champagne Reception at Downton Abbey

After a lovely night in Derbyshire, I set out under a veeeery strange sky toward Highclere Castle, home of the famous Downton Abbey.

The sun was an eerie red colour through the clouds – and at one point, the whole sky turned an unusual colour – well, unusual for the sky, anyway…

…but I eventually made it safe and sound to my destination of the Carnarvon Arms.  Built by Lord Carnarvon (I don’t recall which one) as a coach house, this place is quite lovely and the staff are excellent and ever so friendly…

…and the food was superb!

So, it’s time to head off in our finest attire to Highclere Castle for a charity champagne reception hosted by Lord and Lady Carnarvon, and with David Robb (who played the doctor in Downton Abbey and is such a lovely man in person) in attendance.

Although no photos were permitted inside, we largely had free run of much of the main rooms in the castle, as well as visiting the extraordinary Egyptian exhibit in the bowels of the building.

In case you are not aware, it was the fifth Lord Carnarvon who, along with Howard Carter, discovered King Tut’s tomb – and many of the antiquities are still at Highclere Castle.

It is extraordinary to look at some of the jewellery and consider that thousands of years ago, that was being worn by a real life, flesh and blood, breathing person – someone just like us – but literally thousands of years ago…  What were they thinking as they put on the artifact?  What thoughts occupied their daily lives?  What were their dreams?

If you have read / are reading Bridgit’s story (my Quantum Lace series), you know that she uses personal touchstones including jewellery as her vibrational links (and if you have no idea what I am talking about, you’ll just have to read the book!) – and I wonder what she would have made of these items…

We have to thank the current Lord Carnarvon, a very lovely gentleman, for having the foresight to take all of the artifacts and put them together into such a fascinating exhibit.

Carriages were at 9:00pm and I then came together for wine with two new friends – Ginger from America and Naomi from Japan, both of whom were visiting England.  We were especially impressed by Naomi who, with very little English, was travelling by herself on a ten-day tour.

…then off to a glorious slumber in a huge bed fit for a princess.

~ Bella

Fabulous day exploring a foundry, two castles, a Saxon village, a 13th century pub and Egyptian mummies!

What a magnificent day!  I needed to go for a drive to clear the cobwebs out of my head and managed to find and explore some fascinating places!  I needed to be home by around 3:30pm or just a little after to take care of a bunch of work and I then had back to back calls with clients until 10:00pm, but the morning was mine to explore to my heart’s content…

After sleeping in, having a leisurely breakfast and start to the day then leaving home around 10:30am, my first stop was The Finch Foundry, a 19th century water-powered forge and the last of its kind in England.

Andy, the blacksmith, gave us a wonderful demonstration of what is an almost forgotten art…

…and then it was time to fire up the big guns…

Next discovery on my travels – Okehampton Castle.

Built between 1068 and 1086, the castle was still in use until the early 17th century, but soon afterward, fell into decay and ruin…

Meandering along lovely Devon roads, I happened upon the self-proclaimed “most unusual pub in England” – and a well-deserved description!

Originally built as an inn in 1282 (yes, that is 1 2 8 2), the Highwayman Inn is now a supposedly haunted eclectic treasure-trove.

Yes, that is a replica of King Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus…

These pots are actually embedded in the wall…

Time for a good old-fashioned pub meal for lunch…

…and a one-penny slot machine!

This little fellow lives on the roof…

Hmmmm – “weak bridge” does not instill one with confidence!

…and now we enter the Saxon village…

…and Lyford Castle – originally a prison, it was built in 1195 and is apparently the earliest example of a purpose-built gaol in England.

Time to pop the top off Prince (my beloved convertible), pump up the volume once we were past the township, and head for home…

Oh, and this is the “weak bridge” – looks strong enough to me!

Back home on the English Riveria – home sweet home – one of only seven UNESCO Global Geoparks in all of the United Kingdom!

…and upon my arrival, I see the postman has delivered my acceptance as a member of the Goodwood Road Racing Club Fellowship!

…and still home in time to complete all my work and client calls…

Am a very happy, happy, happy Princess Pixie!

~ Bella

 

Steam Trains, Owls and Abbeys

Yesterday, a friend and I went exploring on the South Devon Railway Buckfast Abbey and back via beautiful Devon countryside.  So, where does the owl come in?  You’ll just have to scroll and see…

Somehow a man checking his smart-phone doesn’t really fit the image…

I love old newspapers, and especially ones that feature critical moments relating to subjects about which I am fascinated…

Then off to Buckfast Abbey.

Although the first abbey was built on this site in 1018, it was demolished and the site was purchased by Benedictine Monks in 1882, with the abbey, incorporating the existing Gothic house beside, being completed in 1938.

~ Bella

Fabulous Fishy Fun

Yesterday morning I was up when the sparrows were still in their pajamas…  Now, if you know me at all, you know I am not a morning person – so why the sudden urge to be up before dawn?

This was my phone as I walked out the front door of my apartment……  Prior to this I don’t think I even realised there were TWO four o’clocks in a day – I was only aware of the PM version…

The reason for my pre-dawn excursion was to go behind the scenes at the Brixham Fish Market followed by a cruise around the bay!

With a fleet of around 70 boats landing daily with their catch, and approximately 50 buyers for that catch, Brixham Fish Market is the highest grossing market in all of England.

…and much of the proceeds from the tour go to The Fishermen’s Mission.

Our tour guide was Brixham Trawler Agent’s Director, Barry Young.

In 2016, the total fish landed came to 10, 252 tonnes that equated to well over £30 million.

This bucket below is from the Chloe Olivia’s catch – you will see more of her later…

The lovely Christine Hodgetts who, with her equally lovely husband Dave, met me the day prior for a coffee.

As you can see peeking through the curtains, the sun is STILL not up!

I’m sure this is meant to be 505 marked into the jetty, but I thought it amusing that it looked like SOS…

…and here we have the Chloe Olivia…

No, they are not all about to jump off.  We were looking for one of the seals that inhabits the bay…  (I managed to catch him on camera a bit later…)

Live fish auction…

Dave and Barry…

…and now upstairs to Rockfish for a seafood breakfast!

Following the Fish Market tour, it was time to head down to the jetty for our cruise around TorBay with the wonderful funfishtrips.co.uk team under the direction of Captain John and first mate, Andy.

WWII bunker tucked away in the bushes…

If you would like to know more about the stunning geology of the area, here is a link to an excellent resource:  http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~imw/Torquay.htm

Caught on camera (well, sort of…) – the shy seal…

The water was astoundingly azure and clear…

Aqueduct designed by one of my all-time-favourites, Brunell.

…and now off to another of my favourite sights in Torbay – the magnificent ‘Pilgrim’…

Built in 1895, the 74ft Pilgrim was once part of a fleet of over 2000 deep sea sailing trawlers that revolutionised the way fish were caught in Europe…

Our trusty Captain John…

…is it just me, or do these paddle-boards look like they are watching us……..

I was going to head home on the Brixham Express back over to Torquay, however when I discovered it was their break time…

Captain John, who had just left port, came back in to collect me since they were headed to Torquay!

Andy battening down the hatches for a bumpy ride back across the bay now that the inclement weather was rolling in…

…and safely back in Torquay after a magnificent morning!

…and now I need a nap.  🙂

~ Bella

 

 

Visiting Doc Martin’s Fishing Village

Have you seen the TV program, “Doc Martin”?

Well, today we (my friend Karen who has been visiting from Hastings) went exploring and decided to find the fishing village where the series is filmed on location.

The village is Port Isaac and is located in Cornwall – or as we say here, west-west Devon.  🙂

…and in case you are wondering, we were driving down these ridiculously skinny roads!

Since there was no where to park – unless you took a packed lunch and hiked forever back down the hill, we decided to say farewell to Port Isaac and go in search for somewhere lovely for lunch…

…and came to an intersection – not knowing which direction to head, we decided to follow “Shoot”…

…and eventually discovered to what “shoot” related…

…and then, in Rock, near Splatt (and no, I am not joking!) we found a wonderful place for lunch…

After lunch, it was time to head back and ensure Karen made it safely on to the train at Torquay…

Yet another absolutely purrrrrrrrfect day!

~ Bella

 

 

Brixham by Boat

A perfect morning to literally just walk across the street and board a boat, cruising over Torbay to Brixham…

…and back home in time for another movie, more wine, and then getting ready to go out to meet up with dear friends to celebrate my birthday at the Imperial…

Yet another perfect day!

~ Bella