I’m used to waking up under canvas on hiking trips; on this trip, we branched out into the world of camping pods and B&Bs. I woke snug as a (fried) bug, toasted by the underfloor heating. Outside, blue skies, sunshine and footpaths (twenty-odd miles of them) beckoned.
First stop: Tavistock, a stannary and market town on the fringe of Dartmoor National Park. From Exeter, it should have been two trains (down to Plymouth, up to Gunnislake) and a bus ride away, leaving us with a short, scenic walk across the moorland to our accommodation. Two trains in, outside Gunnislake station, those plans unravelled.
Dartmoor National Park is peat bogs, pine forests and ponies (lots of ponies); mile upon mile of open moorland, crowned with tors; and stars – more than I could count, than I’ve ever seen before – twinkling against inky skies. Over Easter, Laurence and I spent five days hiking across Dartmoor National Park, sampling cream teas, exploring market towns and quaint villages and getting very (very) sunburnt along the way. I’ll retrace our footsteps through Tavistock, Princetown, Postbridge and Widecombe-in-the-Moor in subsequent posts, but for now, here’s a selection of my favourite snapshots . . .
Sandwiched between Manchester and Sheffield is the UK’s oldest National Park: the Peak District. It’s a bit short on peaks (unless you class a plateau at 600-odd metres above sea level as a peak), but fortunately it more than compensates for that with its picture-perfect villages, adorable furry residents and heather-covered moorland.
It was at this point in our trip that Hermione’s Time-Turner would have come in handy: there was so much left to see, but time simply wasn’t on our side. (I’m now treating this as a bona fide reason to return, affordable flights permitting.) After a fruity breakfast of longan (similar to lychee), mango and dragon fruit we set off for Tai Wo to meet Laurence’s aunt for dim sum at Jade Garden. Being a Saturday, it was insanely busy (read: 70 people ahead of us in the queue) so we changed plans and headed elsewhere. Service was slow by Hong Kong standards, but the pineapple buns, barbeque buns, vegetable spring rolls and pan-fried dumplings were sufficiently tasty. All’s well that ends well, as the saying goes. We then wandered round Tai Wo’s market, picking up some fresh mangosteen to eat later.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about our time in Hong Kong was the laid-back routine: feasting on seasonal fruit (mangoes, dragon fruit and lychee), devouring dim sum (which was delicious and reasonably priced to boot) and strolling around Sheung Shui before setting off on the adventure du jour. Adopting a more easy-going approach enabled us to recharge our batteries (since unlike the Duracell Bunny we can’t go at full pelt indefinitely) and made Hong Kong’s sky-high humidity levels and sweltering temperatures that bit more bearable.
By the time we returned to Hong Kong, typhoon season was in full swing. We woke to overcast skies and cooler climes; intermittent bouts of pouring rain gave us some relief from the humidity. With a relatively low-risk T3 typhoon warning, we spent the morning pottering around Sheung-Shui before heading out for dim sum. On our little tour of the neighbourhood, we paid a short visit to Liu Man Shek Tong; this is the ancestral hall of the Liu clan, to which Laurence’s family belong. Strictly speaking, it was closed for renovations but we were allowed in to take a peek.