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 . . .
Something inside me lights up at the prospect of a trip up north, so when Laurence signed up for the Greater Manchester Marathon, making a weekend of it was a no-brainer. Until this trip, I’d only ever seen Manchester under a blanket of thick grey cloud, but on this occasion there was a healthy dose of vitamin D to be had.
There’s more to the Loire than its châteaux. Follow the Loire towards the Atlantic and you’ll reach Nantes, a sprawling city with a vibrant arts scene, historic buildings aplenty and over a hundred parks and gardens. We had just shy of eight hours to see as much of the city as possible, and true to form, we packed in a lot (of steps, pastries and monuments).
All is not lost if the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘Cholet’ is Madame Cholet the Womble; she was, as it happens, named after this little French town. When my sister, Vicki, found out she’d be spending the second part of her year abroad in Cholet, Laurence and I figured we’d hop across La Manche and pay her a visit. Since we didn’t want to run the risk of our flights being cancelled in a post-Brexit Britain, we visited in early March, just a few weeks after Vicki had moved there.
I don’t travel down to London for fun all that often – mostly because after a week commuting into the city, my ideal weekend is one that doesn’t involve a train journey – but on the rare occasions that I do, I make sure to cover as much ground as possible. Yesterday, we notched up a whopping 28,000-odd steps, taking in Chinatown and Canary Wharf and several places in-between (and beyond).