The drive down to Torquay from Holyhead in brilliant sunshine after a very smooth crossing on the Stena ship was very relaxing on the Sunday apart from an hour’s holdup in the motorway. The rest of the drive down to Devon was very picturesque.  We booked into the Beverley Caravan Park in Paignton (a 10minute drive from Torquay) and Michael and Ruth picked us up and took us to the “Berry Head hotel” for dinner.  It is a beautiful old Georgian building on the tip of the bay, high up on the cliffs with a spectacular view back to Torquay.

Day 2 To Dartmouth over the Dart river and down to Slapton sands or Ley which was the site of practice for the D day landings.  Weather near the Darmoor national park foggy but not a cold day.  Went to a quaint little cafe on the water in Torquay and dinner at the Osborne hotel where Michael and Ruth have their timeshare .  A good meal.

On Tuesday the 8th October Michael and Ruth picked us up and we drove to Brixham, a picturesque fishing village about 20minutes from Torquay. We were staying in Paignton in a wonderful caravan
park which was more like a resort. We wandered through the town and along the pier. The day started off very sunny and warm but it soon got fairly cloudy but not cold. Brixham is a very well looked
after town with many volunteers who have worked over the last eight years in and around the town and gardens. We bought two enormous crabs to have later for dinner which fed four of us amply.
We then drove over to Cockington – a lovely old village, some of it dating from Norman times where we walked around the gardens and looked at the beautiful little church in the vast grounds.
We had some lunch sitting outside as it was a very mild day.
The evening was spent eating fresh crab and salad followed by fresh raspberries. Very delicious.
Maurice and I have been making the effort to walk in the mornings the last few days and we have done a lot of walking around the lovely grand Georgian houses and vast gardens.
We went over to Torquay on Wednesday and transferred to the range rover for the drive to Coleton Fishacre, the D’Oyly Cart’s house and gardens in South Devon. The large house is decorated in art deco style and it looks as though someone still lives there with everything in it’s place.  Even the magnificent AGA cooker was alight and warmed the whole kitchen. It has been well tended by the National Trust. The house overlooks the sea and the vast gardens which wind down to the sea have an amazing array of well established foreign trees and plants, some sourced from Australia, South Africa, South America and Asia.
This small area has a micro climate which is very mild.

In the 1920s Rupert and Lady Dorothy D’Oyly Carte were sailing along the South Devon coast looking for a country retreat.  They were inspired to make this beautiful valley running down to the sea the site for an elegant home. Here they could entertain in style and indulge their passion for the outdoors.  Rupert was the son of Richard D’Oyly Carte, the impresario behind the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. He developed the business empire he inherited, including the Savoy Hotel and Claridges in London.
Another beautiful house and garden is “Greenway” Agatha Christie’s holiday home overlooking the Dart river. It was built in 1792 for George the 3rd and the original Georgian house was extended at both ends.  That houses an enormous array of porcelain, paintings and first editions of Agatha Christie’s books as well as recordings of her interviews.  In the garden is one of the many gorillas of the “Great Gorilla Trail”.  Great Gorillas is a celebration of 90 years of conservation at Paignton Zoo aimed at engaging communities with a mass exhibition of public art to raise awareness and funds to help the Cross River gorillas of Nigeria, the world’s most endangered species of gorilla and in danger of extinction.  These gorilla sculptures are dotted all around Devon and will be auctioned at the end of the exhibition.
We can tell Autumn is here by the cool breeze on Wednesday and the changing colour of the trees and plants.

We had dinner at “Old Vienna” on the Wednesday and the owner and chef Werner Roth was a real character and cooked us all wonderful meals of Venison, chicken, pork and an authentic apple strudel
for dessert.
The coastal towns here in Devon are just beautiful – pity about the temperatures now – and the countryside is also a beautiful patchwork of red and green. The soil is very red.

Exmouth where we drove the next day has some of the few sandy beaches in England and a few small dunes as well. This is where
Queen Victoria used to holiday. The day was lovely and sunny but 10degrees only with a freezing wind from the Arctic so we left out the beach walk and headed for to the lovely village of Sidmouth
on the coast where we had lunch. The red cliffs there were quite spectacular and it is sad to see the cliffs starting to recede into the sea.  After lunch we were so cold we decided to go back to Torquay
where there was less wind and the sun was shining. Maurice and I did some retail therapy at our favourite shop – TK MAX
and then had a coffee in Hoopers where we had a wonderful view of Torquay harbour.
We watched the “Hairy Biker’s baking tour of Europe” back at the Osborne and we all ate downstairs before heading back to Paignton.
The locals in Devon have a very strong accent and sound like pirates. “AAr me auld hearty”.
We got up ealy on Friday 11th October to a cold biting wind but sunny day again and after doing some housekeeping and washing of clothes set off for Poole.
We went via Axminster where we stocked up on some fresh fish – “Pollock – similar to Hake or Cod” and vegetables at wonderful Miller’s farm shop which had an amazing array of goods from French cheeses to Swedish crispbread and everything in between.
Devon has a wonderful selection of fish and shellfish from enormous crabs to mussels, oyster, cockles, scallops, rollmops and welks.

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