So I am now a resident of Devon and living in the Exeter area! I’ve been here about a month now, but I am still adjusting and settling in. It’s been a busy few weeks, what with moving, a holiday to Italy and then starting my Clinical Psychology Doctoral Training. The latter has probably been the biggest and most prominent change of late – I am now officially registered as a postgrad student again and employed as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist. This is what I am getting used to the most I think – the fact I am really here and this is my path for the next three years – madness – but good madness!
Back to Uni
I am taking the course at the University of Exeter which so far seems fab. I’ve met some lovely people on my cohort and hope our friendships will blossom as time goes on. I am based at the Streatham Campus near the city centre and it’s a lovely campus. It’s quite green and has a cool mix of some enchanting old buildings fused with newer, more urban type structures. I have explored a little bit (there are so many fresh faced students who look about 12 who have made me feel rather old) but am aware there is a lot more of the campus to see. I’m just taking it one step at a time!
Located near the building we are having our teaching in is Reed Hall. The hall is a conference and event centre located on the campus and it’s available for hire for events such as weddings and educational conferences. It has a restaurant too which looks quite posh. It also has the most gorgeous gardens and architecture surrounding it which I discovered during one of the teaching days in my first week. There are leafy trees and fountains offering a calm oasis which is bliss amongst the hub bub of a busy and populated university. It’s quiet and a place for reflection and peace. I love it! I aim to try and take my lunch here during the teaching blocks at least once a week – this will hopefully encourage me to get outside during the lunch break (hard in the winter at times I can imagine) and take some time to sit, relax and eat among the squirrels and rabbits I’ve seen wandering around this lovely, tranquil green space.
New Home, New Adventures
Although I am going to be extremely busy (and probably rather stressed!) with all the university work, teaching, being on placement and my research over the next three years I hope to be able to carry on my adventures and love for exploring my local towns and county. I hope to make some Devon bucket lists and provide myself with opportunities to explore and get to know this beautiful county. Whilst I’m unconvinced it will beat Cornwall in terms of winning my heart, I hope it will give me a run for my money!
Can you recommend any places for me to visit in Devon? Ever been to Exeter? What did you think? Please share your recommendations and thoughts below 🙂
A Birthday Treat
As Nathan turned 28 at the end of August I decided to treat him to a birthday Chocolate Afternoon Tea – take a look at menu here. We have enjoyed quite a few afternoon teas together and so I thought adding the chocolate element would be different and something special for us to try. Nathan, like me, also loves chocolate so what was there not to like!
After a competitive morning playing crazy golf with my friends Janna and Scott at Swanpool we made our way to Falmouth’s Greenbank Hotel. The hotel is located right on the harbour front and has some stunning views. We found there wasn’t much parking at the hotel – some reserved spaces for guests out the front but that was about it. Luckily you can park on the road which is opposite the hotel and if you’re good at parallel parking into tight spots you’re ok!
We arrived at the hotel which appeared to be quite grand and expensive looking (I had looked into staying but it was well out of my price range – especially for a 2 night minimum stay!) We were seated in the restaurant area that has wonderful views overlooking the harbour. We ordered our tea and waited for it to arrive whilst we admired the gorgeous views of the boats on the water. We couldn’t quite decide which one we would try and buy!
Our pots of tea and jug of water arrived, shortly followed by our chocolate afternoon tea. It was presented beautifully on a three tiered stand and looked indulgent and delicious! We could wait to get stuck in. As usual we started with the finger sandwiches and took it in turns to choose which ones to try. The sandwiches weren’t chocolate themed and included the usual cucumber, salmon and ham and mustard. They were tasty but really just the starter to the chocolate feast we were about to encounter.
We chose to have the scones next. We decided to do this after not being able to eat them at our last afternoon tea in Tavistock. We didn’t want to miss out on them as they looked delicious and were still warm meaning the chocolate chips inside were all gooey and lush!
Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate
After finishing our scones we were annoyingly starting to feel full! Maybe the ice cream on the beach earlier hadn’t been such a good idea! We powered through though and made our way through the chocolate goodies on the top tier of the rack. These included a very rich chocolate pot presented in a cute little jar, chocolate brownies, muffins and truffles. There was no way we were going to eat it all and so luckily we could take the few bits we hadn’t been able to eat home with us for later.
Too Much Choc?!
We really enjoyed our afternoon tea here – the food was lovely and the views stunning. We saw other people getting the regular afternoon tea and this looked really scrummy too and did include some chocolate based cakes. I think if I was to go again I would save paying the extra money for the chocolate afternoon tea and stick to the basic one – it looked just as good!
** The chocolate afternoon tea at the Greenbank was £20 per person and it has to be pre-booked in advance. You don’t need to book if you want to have the traditional afternoon tea and you can upgrade to have a glass of fizz for an additional fee.
You can read about a previous traditional afternoon tea Nathan and I had at the birthplace of cream teas in Tavistock here.
Has anyone else ever tried this afternoon tea or visited the Greenbank? What did you think? Can you recommend anywhere else that does awesome afternoon teas for us to try?
Best Friends and Golf
One of my closest friends Janna was in Cornwall having a family holiday. I met Janna when I from when I completed my undergraduate degree at Kent university in 2008 and we have been great friends since. When I found out she was in the county I was certainly keen to meet up!
Janna and her boyfriend Scott were staying with Janna’s family in Crantock, near Newquay. Nathan and I thought it would be a good idea to meet at Swanpool for a round of crazy golf and chill at the beach. Janna and Scott agreed to our plan and so after parking up in the large car park it was game on!
Despite it being August Bank Holiday Monday the crazy golf course was quiet and we were the only group on it for a good while. It seemed like most people were choosing to chill on the beach instead of getting their competition on playing golf! We played the 18 hole course whilst gossiping and catching up on what everyone had been up to. Nathan and I had our usual golf bet on – looser buys the ice creams and so the competition was rife as usual. I started off well and was in the lead, however as usual, despite a wobbly start, Nathan got into the game and a hole in one on the penultimate hole led to him winning the game by one point. One point!! Janna and Scott were clearly not used to playing crazy golf as much as Nathan and I were and didn’t do quite so well. Janna in particular had a rather interesting technique (sorry Janna!)
After rerunning our clubs and balls and purchasing our ice creams we decided to try and find ourselves a spot on the beach. This was no mean feat! The beach was pretty rammed with holiday makers and sunbathers. Swanpool isn’t the biggest stretch of beach and so it did feel like people were rather all on top of each other – not my favourite way to spend the day. However we found a spot and sat enjoying our ice creams and cans of fizzy drinks. We talked some more and Nathan and I recommended some of our favourite Cornish places for Janna, Scott and family to visit during their time in Cornwall.
Nathan and I were due to go to Falmouth for his birthday treat – a chocolate afternoon tea at the Greenbank Hotel and so we had to leave Janna and Scott and make out way along the coast to Falmouth. We really enjoyed seeing Janna and Scott (and beating them at golf!) but didn’t rate the course or the beach all that highly. It feels like the golf course could do with a bit of a make over – a good lick of paint on the holes and some increased mainatence on the course. Not bad for £3 each though I guess. Swanpool isn’t a very sandy Bech as such, more gritty and was too busy for my liking. I couldn’t help but wonder why it was so busy – yes I know it was Bank Holiday Monday but I couldn’t understand why people were choosing to sit and stay there for so long when there are so many other nicer beaches nearby! Just personal preference I suppose!
You can read more about Nathan’s birthday Cholcoate Afternoon Tea here but clicking here.
Are you partial to a game of crazy golf? Ever make silly bets when you play competitive sports with your other half? Have you ever been to Swanpool – let me know if you agree with my review below!
A Bucket List Adventure
On a late summers Sunday Nathan and I decided to finally go to the National Trust property Lanhydrock which is located in Bodmin, Cornwall. Visiting here has been on my Cornwall Bucket List for while and so I was glad when we eventually found the time to go and visit.
We parked up easily in the huge car park amongst many other cars and walked to the entrance cabin. There is a separate entrance for National Trust Members meaning we beat a bit of a queue. After being given a map of the house and gardens we made our way down the long, slightly downhill walk-way to the imposing gated entrance to the country house and estate.
Lanhydrock was home to the Agar-Robartes family and is now a grade I listed building which dates back to the Victorian era. History tells us that a major fire in 1881 destroyed a large part of the house and led to new sections being rebuilt – still to the same grandiour.
Making Quite the Entrance
We enjoyed taking lots of photos as we approached the mansion and gardens – just the gates and walls around the estate were grand and gave a very impressive feel. We entered through the gates and were greeted by glorious lawns and trees lining the walkway up to the entrance to the house. Like many other National Trust properties we have visited recently, including Cotehele and Buckland Abbey, the building was grandiose and intricately detailed giving ample opportunities for Nathan to get his camera out!
We decided to tour around the inside of the Jacobean house first and entered the grand Victorian decorated house. Those with large bags or pushchairs are told to store them at the entrance. We took our time exploring the house, going from room to room admiring all of the artefacts and grand furniture on show. There were guides in most rooms who were ready with a wealth of information on the room and house would you wish to hear it. There were also some information boards detailing important heirlooms and points of interest. The majority of the grand dining, drawing and living rooms were full of large painted portraits and walls that were lined with tapestries.
Information and the guides will tell you how the Agar – Robartes family were affected during the First World War as heir Thomas Agar-Robartes was killed during the Battle of Loos in France.
A lot of the downstairs of the house is taken up by the kitchens. There were so many rooms related to cooking – the dairy, bread making room and a large main kitchen full of ovens. There was real edible food being used as part of the displays including fruit and cheese. I did have to resist taking a slice of the brie! Here you can also see the servants’ quarters and imagine what it might have been liked to have worked in the imposing house.
Upstairs you are able to explore the posh living quarters which include various bedrooms, bathrooms and the children’s nursery. I particularly enjoyed seeing how there were separate bathrooms for the Lord and Lady of the house. This seems like a great idea to me – never having to moan about Nathan not putting the toilet seat down would be nice!
As it was a sunny summers day there were quite a lot of other people looking around the house and this, combined with the heat of the day, made it feel a little busy and stuffy in the house.
Time for Ice Cream
After exploring the countless number of rooms we felt we needed some fresh air and took ourselves outside to the courtyard area. Here there is a restaurant with outdoor seating. We quickly spotted the ice cream counter selling Callestick ice cream – my favourite. After getting ourselves a double scooped cone with chocolate flake we walked back to the front of the house and sat within the gardens. We admired the views whilst sitting in the sun devouring our ice creams. By this time it was lunchtime and there were various families sitting around us enjoying their picnics.
We had a BBQ to go to at a friend’s house in the afternoon and so needed to make tracks. This meant we didn’t explore Lanhydrock’s large surrounding gardens anymore but I feel we saw enough for us to be tempted back another time for a longer visit. Apparently the extensive gardens include a variety of flowers, woodland trails and also off-road cycle paths for those wishing to bring their bikes.
I would be interested to see how the estate feels in the Autumn and Winter months and how the seasons affect the gardens and luscious greens of the place. It would also be nice to visit again when there aren’t quite so many other people around too! Luckily with our membership we can go back anytime to explore what else beautiful Lanhydrock has to offer!
You can see posts from a couple of other National Trust places we have visited this summer – Trelissick House in Truro and Buckland Abbey in Devon.
Ever visited Lanhydrock? What did you think? Let me know below.
If You Go Down to the Woods Today…
You’re sure of a big surprise.. or a rather odd experience! I roped my friend Emily into coming along with me to Trebah Gardens who were hosting ‘If you go down to the woods today’. The event was described online as “a spectacular voyage of breathtaking vertical dance and Ariel performance through the garden“ and it sounded different and right up our street.
We arrived and parked up in the large car park. Trebah Gardens is located above the Helford River and Glendurgan Garden both of which I have been to and you can read about by clicking on the links. The gardens boast over four miles of footpath filled with exotic flowers, champion tress and a hydrangea valley. Trebah is open everyday of the year from 10am and costs £4.95 to enter.
We arrived quite early and so wandered around admiring the various gifts and gardening equipment in the gift shop before taking a seat in the cafe to wait for the performance to start.
Gather Round and Beware!
We were soon all gathered into the foyer area and a female actor welcomed us to the show describing how we would be going into the woods and that we needed to be careful as they were full of magic and mystery. There were also two male actors who were going around the audience making people jump and telling them to beware. There were quite few children around and a real mix of people. All I kept thinking was please don’t pick on me!
The actors led us down into the gardens where we came across some aerial dancers who performed on hoops up in the trees. It was pretty cool to see how there were men all harnessed up climbing ladders against tress which were linked by ropes to the aerialists. As the men climbed up and down the ladders it made the performers go up in the air on their hoops – the timings were great and it was quite a cool sight to see how it all. Emily and I had already seen something similar when we saw ‘Flown’ at the Minack Theatre and so maybe weren’t as amazed as people who hadn’t seen this done before.
Opera and Tightropes
We then moved on through the gardens following the actors- Emily and I weren’t quite sure what the story was all about but I don’t think we were the only ones who were a little unsure what was going on! We then encountered a lady in a long blue dress singing opera to a string duo and some people tight roping really high up in the trees. As the sun was setting it got darker and darker as we walked through the trees. We were led down to a lake area where the opera singing lady was in a boat out on the water. She along with a group of swaying singers sung melancholy tunes as the aerialists returned with their hoops to do a synchronised (or not so synchronised) performance.
Fire Breathing Finale
Finally we were ushered to the finale of the show (or whatever this event was!). We were greeted by a huge metal robotic fire breathing dragon. There was loud music and fire cannons shooting out flames. The small of gas was intense and it was pretty warm! We watched as the robotic dragon danced and fire breathed in time with the music. When it finished the singers, actors and aerial performers took a bow signalling the end of the event.
I’ll admit I was left feeling somewhat confused and Emily and I commented on how we weren’t sure how any of the parts linked together and what the gist of the story had been – we were none the wiser really despite discussing each section and looking for a theme. The end of the event had taken us down to the end of the gardens and onto the shingle beach. There was just about enough light from the fire breathing dragon to see out to sea a small way. I think I would have liked to have gone to the earlier 6pm performance so we could have taken advantage of the beach and sea views – if only we’d known!
Reflections on Randomness
Emily and I swiftly made out way back up through the gardens which was quite a steep and dark climb – the touches provided were appreciated. We made it back to the car park before the crowds and left feeling somewhat confused at what we had just seen!
Whilst I’m all for new experiences and outdoor drama this just felt a little too ‘out there’ for me and Emily agreed. I don’t know if it was because we have both seen aerial performers before (which were more impressive by far) or the fact there didn’t seem to be a strong or logical story to the event but we left feeling a little bit disappointed considering the entry price. I couldn’t help but think how I would have rather paid the entrance fee to visit Trebah Gardens and see the flowers and beach instead.
Ever been to Trebah Gardens? Did you and see If you go down to the woods today? If you did, let me know what you thought and if you understood it!