Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Fabulous Fun weekend on Dartmoor

The Magic Roundabout in Hemel, courtesy Google Maps

Good journey to Luton, all timed to perfection. The space left in the boot could have been made to measure for Dad and Elizabeth’s suitcase, bundled them in and away we went, to Berkhamsted, via the ‘magic roundabout’ in Hemel which is a set of mini roundabouts in a circle so as long as you treat each little roundabout properly you can go either way round the big one in the middle! Very confusing for the unwary! 

Tring High Street courtesy Google Maps
Berkhamsted is where I went to school and my Father was brought up, so a bit of a trip down memory lane. Lovely, but far too big a lunch before discovering that the real reason for being there was no more: the gentleman’s outfitters, with trousers to fit my father has gone! So off we went to Aylesbury and spent a thrilling hour in M&S, the three of us running around, one trying on, and the shop assistant watching in amazement and leaving us to it! After a successful mission, he would be allowed to go to the Saturday night party, the reason for their visit to the UK. 

Richard, Brian, Trisha, Elizabeth and Jackie
We headed off to Tring, my old hometown, so more memory lane visiting, before arriving with Trisha an old family friend with whom we spent a lovely evening over a very good curry. The following morning before setting off I had a play with Trisha’s computer to enable her to access her emails again, I’m sure she was thrilled with the 516 to go through, received since March, Brian ‘tweaked’ the front door and Trisha spent 10 mins sorting out my shoulder which has been painful since we were in Sumatra! All in all a good visit all round! 

Passing Stonehenge on the A303, courtesy Google Maps
Off to Dartmoor, assuming we’d arrive middle of the afternoon, by the time we’d queued to drive past Stonehenge and hunted for a petrol station on fumes it was later than we expected, just in time for a cup of tea before Iain and Bev pulled into the carpark, shortly followed by Helen and Ian. Time for the first pint then, before a quick walk for Monty, bumping into Phil and Sue just arriving. Slightly later on the scene were Manu and Crystal, but they had had to be towed back to Birmingham before getting the car repaired and setting off again!

Outside the Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton, Dartmoor
Getting ready for Saturdays walk
We had been allocated our own room in the pub which is probably as well – we were that group that you hate, very loud, lots of laughter and lots of beer drunk. What did we talk about? Who knows. Did we enjoy ourselves? Immensely!

Phil says 'This way', ignored by Helen, Jackie, Crystal and Iain
Against my better judgement we were sharing with Helen and Ian and Monty dog. I was expecting something to get chewed but he behaved beautifully, only snuffling in my ear once each morning! Saturday am, slightly jaded, but we have been much worse, everyone ate the full, slightly overcooked and jolly expensive breakfast and off we set, out on the moor. Lovely walk accompanied by Bev to begin with before she turned round to wait for us in the pub. Monty had a great time splashing about in the stream, and Helen got sunburnt legs, no one elses legs varied from ‘pale and interesting’ (though a couple of heads and necks were slightly toasted) but somehow Helen may be the only one with a tan! Back to Bev in time for a fabulous cream tea, it’s hard to beat clotted cream! Quick pint on the way back in the pub with the fire that has been burning for 175 years, fortunately it has very thick walls too so was, surprisingly, a pleasant temperature before back to the Drewe Arms for a power (or Powell in honour of Phil and Sue) nap and another evening of fun and frivolity accompanied by the ‘Captain Pugwash’ folk duet (they weren’t called that, but the music was very much like it) in the bar next door and later in the ‘snug’ just for us.

Phil and Sue leading, followed by Crystal, Brian, Jackie, Helen, Iain and Ian
Crystal and Phil do a 'selfie'
A shorter, but longer than expected, walk by the river the following morning meant we missed getting to Ledbury in time to walk the dogs. However they, the cats and Richard and Judith all greeted us joyfully, fortunately though all expressing this in their own ways! It would have been a bit embarrassing if Richard rather than Fred the cat had crawled all over my lap purring and dribbling after all!

Bev, Iain (wedding next year!), Ian, Sue, Helen with Monty dog, Crystal, Phil, Jackie and Manu
Jackie, Manu and Phil
It was like coming home, talking nineteen to the dozen catching up and really getting to know the dogs. We had met them all before, but only at the beginning and end of the last sit as they had gone to France with Richard and Judith. This time they are staying with us, which is all a bit more of a challenge keeping an eye on and control over four big dogs galloping through fields chasing pheasants and dashing through the woods like mad things is not what we are used to!

Happy days! Crystal, Jackie, Sue, Phil, Helen, Ian, Manu and Monty dog
First walk we did with Judith, and met Rob with the scaredy springer spaniel which was good, he knows we are in training too, second walk we did on our own while they were poised to answer the phone and leap into action and third walk this morning we did on our own, as they departed for the airport at 03.30 this am! All has gone well so far, we met the lady with three Labradors, one of each colour, this morning which was fine, and all dogs have come back when called after realising that the pheasant they were chasing through the field was not going to be caught! 

And happy Monty too!
All we have to do now is keep this up, and avoid being trailed by little Charley cat who wants to go for the walk in the woods with her friends the dogs but has much shorter legs and a tendency to get lost, she has been away for three days before finally being found needing to be put on a drip, and has been hit by a car on previous excursions, so we really do have to ensure she gets shut in! Keep everything crossed for us!

'Old climbing buddies' Brian and Phil discuss the route
Preparing the food for the dogs is the other thing that is a ‘whole new ballgame’, none of this handful of biscuits in a bowl, oh no, pet mince, raw chicken wing portions, leftover cooked meat, stock, cooking oil and raw carrot (for the older two) mixed with some biscuits after being gently heated in the microwave, just to take the chill off! They probably eat better than a good proportion of the UK and they are a delight on it!

Monty dog needed the odd helping hand over the stiles
Manu standing on a small hill, but because he's so short it looks huge!
Our very expensive but very nice Cream Tea at the Two Bridges Inn. Jackie, Helen, Bev, Iain, Ian, Phil and Manu. They put the cream on the scone first, followed by the jam in Devon apparently. Most of us disagree, but Bev made such a thing about it they think she's now a Devon hater and should go to neighbouring Cornwall

The remains of Montys lead after he had chewed through it while we had our Cream Tea
Monty a little disconcerted that Jackie had climbed into his bed in the back of his car!
Back in Redmarley D'Abitot and the view over the golden meadow interspersed with poppies from the end of Judith and Richard's garden
Asleep indoors on a red hot afternoon in Redmarley. Max on the left, Flora upsidedown, Muffin under the table and Brian with Oscar
Can Oscar really be comfortable?

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