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 🙂
After a hearty breakfast at Oakside B&B we set off to explore a bit more of Dorset before we needed to head home to Cornwall. We decided to head to nearby Poole which is only 20 minute drive from Wareham. I have previously visited Poole Park various times as I lived in Poole for a year when studying for my Masters Degree at Bournemouth University. This was back in 2012 though and Nathan hadn’t been so I thought we would check it out and see if anything had changed!
The park isn’t far from the historic Quay and there’s lots of car parking which is free = winner! We arrived at about 10am so the park was relatively quiet for a sunny Sunday in August. This meant we easily found a place to park and walked along Swan Lake admiring the wildlife.
Swans Swans and More Swans
Poole Park is home to a big lake called Swan Lake which as the name suggests is full of swans! When you stand by the edge of the lake they all swim towards you on mass – obviously hoping you’ve brought some stale bread to share with them. I think swans are really quite beautiful birds and in the sunshine looked peaceful as they glided over the clean blue waters.
Activities a Plenty
There’s lots on offer to do at Poole Park – there’s the miniature railway, a big modern adventure play park called the ‘Ark’ and even a trim trail with exercise points dotted around the park. The spacious park is also home to Rockley Watersports where you can try sailing, windsurfing and kayaking. There’s also pedalos in the shape of swans which you can hire – we were super tempted too but decided not too last minute as we didn’t have much time.
The Kitchen and Scoops
There is a designated restaurant ‘The Kitchen’ situated on the edge of Swan Lake which has an awesome looking terrace with views out over the swans. I’ve heard the food is pretty tasty from here but haven’t tried it myself. There’s also Scoops which is where you can grab an ice cream – too bad we were still too full from our big breakfast to warrant getting one!
A Spot of Crazy Golf
After walking around Swan Lake we made it to Poole Park Crazy Golf . We love a bit of crazy golf and the usual bets were made! Score cards and clubs at the ready the challenge begun! The course was simple yet fun and took us about half an hour to complete. As we were there quite early we had the course to ourselves bar another couple battling it out. By the time we were finishing there were several more groups joining the course. I’m glad to say I won – this never usually happens at crazy golf so I was more than a little excited! Nathan blamed the fact he had a cold.. what a sore loser!
Celebrating Through the Gardens
We made our way back through the pretty gardens in the park admiring the pretty flowers as we went. I made sure to celebrate my golf win all the way till we reached the car – I stopped rubbing it in Nathan’s face here as we were parked near the edge of the lake and I had visions of him pushing me in to join the swans!
**Poole Park Crazy Golf was £4 per person**
Have you ever been to Poole Park? What did you think?
A Trip to Dorset
We had a wedding to attend in Wareham, Dorset and so needed some accommodation to stay in both the night before the wedding and night of the wedding. Initially searches had proved difficult to find anywhere given it was the first weekend of August and Dorset is a popular holiday destination. However we stumbled across Oakside B&B and booked immediately – it looked great and we couldn’t believe it still had availability.
Arrival Apple Cake
We arrived at Oakside B&B after a couple of hours drive from Cornwall. We were tired and hungry and pleased to be greeted by Ruth and Mark who were friendly and welcoming. On arrival they offered us tea and homemade Dorset apple cake in the lounge which was delicious and just what we needed! Ruth and Mark took the time to welcome us to the B&B and get to know us – they were able to advise on local places to visit and eat and appeared interested to find out more about us. The couple run the B&B in the main house and live in a annex at the end of the garden. They mentioned they hope to convert the annex into a holiday let and move back to live in the main house instead of using it as a B&B as it’s a lot of work. The B&B is located in a quiet room near Wareham and there were gorgeous fields with horses to look at opposite. Great location for travelling into Bournemouth, Poole and the surrounding areas.
After devouring our homemade cake (it didn’t take long as it tasted so good!) we were shown to our room. The B&B offers three rooms – two doubles and one single. We had the biggest double room which featured an en suite. The room was clean, spacious and modern. It had a TV, tea tray with homemade cookies and a small table and chairs. The en-suite was a good size and the shower was warm and powerful. There were fancy complementary soaps and shampoo too. The bed was super comfy too with lots of pillows and cushions to cosy up with. There was free wifi provided however we found it worked intermittently – but this didn’t really bother us.
A Breakfast Feast
Breakfast was a brilliant and plentiful affair. We were placed in the dining room at the main table and Ruth came to cook us a full English – sausage, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and beans. We also had the option of helping ourselves to cereal, fruit and juices. Placed on the table there was fresh bread and Continental pastries. It all went down a treat and it set us up for the day ahead.
5 Stars All Round
Overall we really enjoyed our stay at Oakside B&B. Ruth and Mark were friendly and welcoming and it had a family atmosphere. We enjoyed the chats with Ruth at breakfast and of course the yummy breakfast on offer. We would certainly recommend and would stay again if we visited the area again in the future.
(Our double room was £65 a night including breakfast).
Have you ever been to Wareham? Or can you recommend anywhere nice to stay or visit in Dorset? Let me know your thoughts 🙂
After exploring the sites of Calstock, Cotehele and Buckland Abbey the day before, we took off to the Dartmoor National Park to explore what it had to offer.
Our first stop was to the Dartmoor Prison Museum (well once we had found the right car park – we were definitely there to visit the museum and not the current inmates at the prison!).
You can’t take any photos in the museum and are told that this is because there may be current prisoners working in the museum! It’s £3.95 to enter and I think well worth the small fee to say you have been there and to have a look around. There is lots to see and read including information and displays dating back 200 years. There are walls full of prison memorabilia and information from when the prison was first established though to the current day – I hadn’t really realised it was still an actual working prison! Today the prison houses category C adult males and has a capacity of 640 cells. On the day we visited the staff at the entrance told us there was currently 637 cells being occupied meaning 3 were vacant and suggested should Nathan misbehave I could lose him there for a while!
The museum has displays which inform you about various notorious and famous prisoners including Frank Mitchell who was termed “the mad axeman”. He famously escaped from Dartmoor and was never recaptured despite a large manhunt. It was later learnt that the infamous Kray twins had not only helped him to escape but later murdered him – how confusing!
There’s also displays of both the prisoners uniforms though the ages and those of the staff too. You can see current riot gear the staff use and a cabinet full of old keys used to lock the prisoners in. My favourite display was probably the one where you can see all the contraband that has been confiscated over the years in the prison including mobile phones, homemade lights and a serious amount of weapons. Whilst this was a really interesting display it was also quite disturbing seeing the homemade weapons prisoners have created out of everyday items available to them such as tooth brushes, plastic cutlery and razor blades. It reminded me of watching Prison Break! I also found the information on prisoner diets and tuck lists interesting and it contrasted the difference of food that is offered to prisoners now nutrition and variety wise compared to the older days. It made me think about how prisons now have a lot more rights compared to times gone by and how human rights have to be abided by despite the prisoner’s criminal histories.
As if that’s not enough information on prison life there’s a mock cell to explore and the outside farm machinery area which shows you the machines the orisons used to use when they were put to work.
I left the museum feeling like I had learnt a lot and how I could have learnt even more if I had spent even more time to read every single display board – there were so many you could make the most of the entry fee and be there all day! Certainly something different for a mornings excursions!
After a lot of thinking about people who are locked up we made our way to the moors. We drove along the main road though the moor and were delighted to come across tonnes of sheep milling around on the hills, some very close to the side of the roads. We often had to quickly slow down as stray sheep meandered along the roads – it was funny to watch as they often didn’t seem too bothered by the cars and certainly didn’t hurry! There were also lots of gorgeous wild horses which again were right on the roadside you could have touched them if you stuck your arms out of the windows. They again didn’t seem too fussed by the close proximity of many passing cars and looked peaceful and settled as they chewed on the moors grass.
After taking a wrong turn and driving along some very tight narrow lanes we stopped at Princetown. Princetown is a small village which is highest village within the National Park. We briefly popped into Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre which is located here in the old Duchy Hotel. It has a couple of informative and interesting exhibitions and lots about local knowledge and the Dartmoor area. There’s a shop too full of Devon souvenirs and an all-important Dartmoor National park rubber and pencil for the collection! After looking around Princetown we realised that the Prison and Prison Museum were only up the road – somehow we had managed to do a big loop coming back on ourselves – thank goodness it was such a lovely drive through the moor!
We arrived at Buckland Abbey early afternoon and the sun had finally come out. We parked up and walked down to the entrance to the National Trust site which is in Yelveton, Devon. We showed our membership cards, saving us £12.10 on top of the £3 for car parking. We made our way into the Ox Yard area which houses a gallery, second hand bookshop and Ox Yard Restaurant with outdoor seating. There was also a small room which played a video all about the Abbey and its connection to Sir Francis Drake. It detailed the life and adventures of Drake and helped to set up the history of what we were about to look around.
We had been told at the entrance how there was currently an exhibition by contemporary artist Andrew Logan being displayed throughout the Abbey and surrounding estate. The exhibition is entitled “The Art of Reflection” and is said to tell the story of the spirit of Buckland through 18 colourful sculptures. Apparently the exhibition is one of the largest exhibitions ever hosted in a National Trust property and I overheard one of the staff members say it had been two years in the making. I was interested to see how contemporary art would fit in such a traditional and historical property.
The Great Barn was first port of call and we came across the first of the sculptures from Andrew’s exhibition – the huge golden corn strands with hanging glass butterflies and mice “Goldfield”. You could walk through the corn and see it close up; it was quite cool but possible looked slightly out of place in such a grand old barn?
We went on to enter the Abbey and walked around various rooms with lots of history, artefacts and art within them. There’s a lot to look at and there was the additional extras from the exhibition which I must say look slightly odd – they had placed the bright colourful sparkly pieces of contemporary art next to the old traditional artefacts. It was a little hard to see how the items placed together were related. The large unicorn sculptures were quite random too “Pegasus – Birth, Life and Death”. Whilst I liked the ideas behind sculptures and they were interesting to look at, I couldn’t help but wonder if they would have been better placed in a room on their own as part of an extra exhibition instead of trying to be integrated into the existing and traditional displays – unfortunately I don’t think they quite fitted.
We walked around some of the gardens and saw the large glass sword “Excalibur” from the exhibition placed in the Cart Pond. There’s various walks you can take from the Abbey which one day I’d like to return to partake in. However, for today we had done enough walking and decided it was definitely time for an afternoon tea!
After wandering around the village of Calstock we went on to nearby Cotehele. Cotehele is a National Trust property and gardens located in St Dominick, near Saltash. Cotehele house is a Tudor house and was once home to the Edgcumbe family.
We decided to explore some of the gardens first as there was a break in the rain showers. We thought the terraced gardens outside the house were just stunning and made such a lovely addition to a beautiful looking house. We attempted to follow the map down through the lush gardens to the Quay, taking a few detours on the way. On the walk we passed the Chapel in the Wood and admired views over the River Tamar.
Down at Cotehele Quay you can sit watch the boats go by whilst enjoying a cuppa from the Edgcumbe Tea Room or take a look at the ‘Shamrock’ which is a large restored sailing barge. There’s also the Discovery Centre which has some interesting facts in and Nathan and I stopped to play a couple of games of noughts and crosses on the chalkboards.
After looking at the map we were provided with at the entrance, we were slightly put off by the steep walk we faced to get back up to the house. We noticed a sign for the shuttle bus that takes you to and from the Quay and House and decided we would be lazy and get the bus back. However, after closer inspection of the sign we found it suggested a 50p donation to ride the shuttle – neither of us had any change, not even enough for one of us! Although it said it was only a suggested donation I think I would have felt awkward getting on and not paying.
I went and asked one of the helpful volunteers which route he recommended for us to get back up to the house. He suggested that before we went back up to the house we could walk another 10 minutes (on the flat) to get to another National Trust site Cotehele Mill. He then said we could loop back around and it wouldn’t be too much of steep walk back the way we came in the car to the entrance.
So we made our way to the Cotehele Mill. Here we were greeted by another enthusiastic National Trust staff member who told us a little about the mill and what we could see. We were virtually the only people looking around which was nice and meant we could have a good go at grinding our own flour and testing out the wooden scales.
The mill here is a working mill which has a big water wheel connected to the Morden Stream. The mill makes wholemeal flour and you can see how the process all works whilst viewing the machinery. There’s a video which tells you all about the milling process and lots of additional information to read should you be interested to find out more. There’s a little bakery section downstairs in one of the out buildings where on some days volunteers come to do demonstrations of bread making using the flour made at the mill. The flour can also be brought from the shops both at the Mill and at Cotehele House (£2.50 a packet if I remember correctly).
After visiting the Mill we made our way back up the zig zagging path to the main road that takes you into the car park at Cotehele House. The walk was definitely steeper and sweatier than the staff member at the Quay had led me to believe but we were in no rush and made it in the end eventually.
After a quick stop off at the car for a picnic lunch we made our way back into the estate and to Cotehele House. Here we were greeted with many grand rooms full of tapestries on the walls and dark wooden furniture. It’s quite dark inside the house as there are no electricity mains but I think this adds to the atmospheric, old fashioned feel.
There’s a World War 2 exhibition in one of the rooms which I found the most interesting. There were quite a few people exploring the house at the same time and it made it a little hot.
There were more gardens to see at Cotehele but after being there nearly three hours we decided it was time to move on to another National Trust place we wanted to visit, and off to Buckland Abbey we went!