Showing posts from 2016

The Best Christmas Market...Yet.

When I lived in Birmingham, I used to go to the German Christmas Market in Victoria Square; it was an interesting sparkle of an experience but there really never was much that I wanted to buy—or eat, for that matter.
So when we moved here, to Devon, and I discovered that Exeter had a Christmas Market in the Cathedral Square, I wasn’t all that keen...but I do like to get Christmas cards from the cathedral and you don’t have much of an option if you want to visit St. Peter’s in November or December; you can’t get there without encountering the market.
And what a market it is! So far it’s my favourite. Ever. Okay, I’ve only been to about six and I’m going to Italy next week so I’ll report back on the Florence and Lucca Christmas Markets which may be stunningly incredible but, trust me, if I like a Christmas Market, then it’s a good one. I’m a total Christmas shopping cynic.
How much of a cynic? So much so that I don’t agree with the concept of chocolate Advent calendars. Advent is about wai…

The Mother Visits Buckland Abbey, Devon.

I took my elderly Mum to visit Buckland Abbey in Devon as she's the best kind of Travel Blog Advisor you can possibly have. At 88 she's what they would call 'sprightly' but there are some things she can't do and if someone not catering for that that means she doesn't get to see all the sights, she's going to complain loudly and clearly.

There were complaints...

But let's look at the positives first. There's plenty to see with lovely, well-laid-out gardens including a walled kitchen garden; it is well maintained by the National Trust and they have buggies to transport elderly folk from the car park to the Abbey itself (not that Mum would have any of that. "I'm perfectly capable of walking, thank you!").

It looks surprisingly modern given that it started life as a thirteenth century Cistercian monastery—in fact the last one to be built in the UK. However, there was a fairly drastic fire in 1938 so it's what they call "extensive…

Doing Wet.

Today, for the first time in the six years that we have had her, Biggle refused to go for a walk. She got as far as the front gate and, eyes, half-closed against the slashing rain, looked down the river that was our lane and then ran back to the house.

I couldn't blame her; I'd not even considered taking Thunderfeet MegaBeagle (Mrs) out for any kind of walk at all but Biggle is a hunt beagle and she will usually go out in all weathers. I did mutter a bit about having to get out of all my waterproofs and boots especially as just the few yards to the gate meant they all had to be dried over the Rayburn.

But an hour later, as the gloaming settled over the hills and crept its mystery between the hedges, the rain stopped. Perhaps only for a short while but it was a window of opportunity and Biggle and I, kitted up in our reflector coats, set forth into the night.

There are very few walks that can be taken without wellington boots right now, as Britain sloshes its way through Janua…

Downtown Sedona

"It's ruined; nothing but a tourist trap," said some people. "It's fabulous," said others. Downtown Sedona is simultaneously neither and both. Oddly enough, there is even one shop where you could buy groceries, vegetables and fruit although they are rather exclusive groceries, vegetables and fruit.

It's full of shops selling Indian jewellery, teeshirts and sweatshirts, artisan clothing, New Age shops, art galleries, hats, bags, leather goods and restaurants. Nothing is cheap; some of it is tacky; some of it is fabulous. That's exactly how it is in every American 'tourist town' I've ever visited.

But Sedona is different. There are no lights above street level at night to guard against light pollution so if you go for a walk in town in the evening you need a torch; every other building seems to offer healing of some kind; McDonalds had to paint their famous arch green as the yellow one wasn't allowed and there's no Wal-Mart. You c…