Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Connections to Fowey

We recently came across an offer to stay in a hotel in Fowey in Cornwall for two nights at a good discounted price and we couldn't resist! It is forty years ago since I last stayed in Fowey  - it was where my Granny and my Mother's family lived and it has always been a special place for me. It cemented my love of the sea and ultimately led to me starting this blog.


 Oh the harbour of Fowey
Is a beautiful spot
And it's there I enjowey
To sail in a yat:
Or to race in a yacht
Round a mark or a buoy-
Such a beautiful spacht
Is the harbour of Fowey!
Poem written by Sir Arthur Quiller Couch

 Daphne Du Maurier who spent most of her life in the area said that "Fowey has a magic all of it's own." Daphne's family arrived  in Fowey in 1926 and they bought a holiday home. Daphne wrote her first novel in "The Loving Spirit" in Ferryside (the house with the blue shutters below.) This book was read by a handsome major who was entranced by her descriptions of the Cornish coastline, he sailed into Fowey, they met and were married three months later! 

It is however the story of Rebecca that Daphne is best known for, and those first lines of the book, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." Although Manderley was based on Milton Hall in Cambridgeshire it was the setting of Menabilly a house that had fallen into disrepair just outside Fowey where Rebecca was based. Daphne took on the lease of the building and lived there for many years, using the money earned from her books to improve the building.  Menabilly is a private house hidden in the woods, but the beach and this cottage below is believed to be the location of the boathouse featured in Rebecca. Funnily enough this is also the location that first brought my family to Fowey at the beginning of the 20th century!

My Granny and her family were invited to stay with her Great Uncle Nick Haly, who was a gamekeeper on the Menabilly estate. This was well before  the estate started to deteriorate. At that time the beach had notices up saying that it was Private property and no bathing was allowed. I wondered whether they were allowed on it as they were on the estate, or could just look at it from a distance! 

They mentioned staying with their uncle in Grotto Cottage. This name intrigued me and I discovered that Johnathan Rashleigh who had been Lord at the Manor at the time had created an octagonal folly.  This consisted of marbles and serpentines, relieved with shells, crystals and pebbles, the sides a mosaic of fossils, jaspers, agates, shells and coralloids.  In the centre stood a table fashioned out of 32 specimens of polished Cornish granite. It does sound an amazing sight! I discovered the Haly's had keys to the building so they could show the general public. Unfortunately this building deteriorated too and when it was put on the National Historical Buildings Register in 1951 it mentioned that most of the polished stones had been removed and the building was roofless and in a poor state.

Reflection in the lake

The lake behind the beach was created in the late 1920's and during the Second World War the lake formed a decoy site for Fowey Harbour. There were many decoy sites around the country using methods from Shepperton film studios. An imitation of Fowey harbour was created here to fool and divert the German bombers. This was especially important in 1944 when 2,000 US Navy personnel were based in Fowey before D Day. 

Our family over the years continued to visit Fowey and the surrounding area and my Great Uncle eventually bought a home in Fowey, overlooking the river. My Granny, who was recently widowed was invited to live in a self contained flat on the ground floor.These are the words from my Great Uncle's book The Antique Dealer describing the location :-

View looking back towards the house
"From the bay window of my little room in Cornwall there's one of the finest views in England. The waters of the Fowey Harbour lap the walls of my small garden; straight across and exactly opposite, in a high embracing arm of land, lies the beautiful old village of Polruan. Slightly to the left is Pont Creek whose steep banks are covered with gorse,bracken and bramble. 

 The water fronts of the house extending to Fowey quay can be seen from one of our windows; moored off there lies the Fowey lifeboat, gaily painted in red,blue and yellow, ever ready for her errand of mercy. 

From another window there's the view of the mouth of the harbour, flanked on either side by the picturesque ruins of the old castles built centuries ago to protect the ends of the great chain boom that was stretched across the harbour in troubled times to keep out the foreign invading warships. And, beyond the harbour mouth the open sea stretches away to the horizon."

Looking across to Polruan from a higher level

Pont creek

(There are probably more trees on the banks of Pont creek now -so beautiful with the changing colours.)
The lifeboat in Fowey - different colours are used now!

Colourful boats in Polruan

Beyond the harbour mouth the open sea

We stayed in an amazing hotel it was so homely, comfortable and children and dog friendly.  It is thought that this too has a book connection and was the inspiration for Toad Hall, in the Wind in the Willows.We could quite easily have spent all our time there! The weather was unbelievable for October and we had two wonderful five mile walks. It wouldn't be another 40 years before we stay in Fowey again!

View of Fowey from Polruan

Hope you enjoyed this visit to Fowey too!
Sarah x

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Visiting the south coast of Devon

When we were down in Devon a few weeks ago I shared with you our trips to Dartmoor and the north coast. I thought the post would be too long if I also included our visit to the south coast of Devon, to one of our favourite locations the Yealm estuary. 

Newton Ferrers
There are two pretty villages of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo that face each other across the river estuary. As the tide goes out the two villages are linked together by a path called the Voss, which is always fun  to walk over. As you can see the tide was high so we didn't get a chance to go over the Voss this time! It is such a peaceful location and when the tide recedes the birds populate the mud flats. The sound of curlews always takes me back here instantly.

Noss Mayo
When the tide is in you can always go across the river by boat, or drive along the narrow lanes alongside the estuary.

It was such a beautiful September day and a walk beside the water gave us continuous views showing us the different tones of blue and green.

Sparkling sea

Since returning home the weather seems to have become colder and it feels much more like Autumn, although we have still managed to enjoy some days of blue sky and sunshine. The golden colours of autumn have become more dominant.

Eype beach

West cliff, West Bay

East cliff, West Bay

Even the dogs enjoy watching the sunrise!

  Wishing you a fun week!
Sarah x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Visiting the North Coast of Devon

 While we were recently staying in Devon we decided to visit the north coast. We rarely visit this area as the gentler waters of the south coast have always drawn us to their shores. Our first destination was Clovelly, an ancient fishing village that I have longed to visit. I remember my mother telling me how she had visited here on holiday as a child. I doubt it has changed very much over all those years. 

There is only one cobbled street called Up-Along and Down-Along.  The gradient is so steep that cars are banned. In the past donkeys were used to transport the fish up the hill. They are still here but these days they carry lighter loads and as can be seen in the picture are quite happy to stop and munch a tasty climber! Each house has a sleigh to transport their shopping and other items. Most of the sleighs have been converted from bakers trays.

The village has been owned by only three families since the 14th century. Most of the cottages are rented out to local people. There are no holiday cottages- visitors can stay in three hotels in the village.

Inside of an old fishermen's cottage

The cobbles were pebbles that had originally been taken off the beach. 
 There were quirky things to see around every corner.

The street heads down and down around bends and eventually reaches the harbour......

We can see you!

If you want to see more of Clovelly, I found this short video on You Tube.

We then drove further along the coast to Appledore. Another old fishing village, and for centuries it was also a major ship building centre. It was lovely therefore to spot this tall ship in the bay.

It is also a popular holiday destination with such colourful cottages.

 Tavi was delighted to get away from the cobbles and be back down by the shore!
The fish and chip shop has a fun way to advertise it's food!
There were lots of  nautical decorations!

The new plastic five pound had only been released a week before and we had only been given one a few days beforehand. It seemed to have been the first time that anyone had seen it in Appledore and the icecream man was delighted to get his first one. Have you seen many yet or have found any with serial numbers of AA,AB or AC they have been selling for about two hundred pounds!

We enjoyed our day out in North Devon and now hope to come back again sometime for a longer stay. Have you ever been to this area?

Thank you as always for your lovely comments. wishing you a happy and healthy week.
Sarah x

Friday, 30 September 2016

Through the garden gate September 2016

Time flies by so fast, I only realised this morning that it was the end of month, and I hadn't taken any recent images of the garden or written my monthly post. Luckily the sun decided to shine today it wouldn't have looked quite the same in the rain!

The star plant this month is Gladiolus Callianthus. I have tried at least three years to get this bulb to flowers so I was delighted to discover the first flowers appearing on it this week. It has a lovely scent too.

Michelmas daisies are also in flower, this variety Helen Picton is one we recently bought from Holbrook Gardens, I love the colour, it is such a deep purple.

The sedum too provides so much colour at this time of year, and the penstemon we bought as a cutting variety unknown for 50p a year ago, has been flowering for months.

I only have a small patch for a cutting garden but it has provided us with a bunch of flowers each week since June. The ammi visnaga I grew from seed (that looks like cow parsley) has been a great success. This variety is so much larger and prettier than ammi majus, the structure of the flower is incredible viewed from upside down too.The cosmos and dahlias provide a contrast in colour and shape of the flower.

The rest of the vegetable garden is looking full, we have a wonderful crop of leeks and the courgettes although showing signs of mildew are still cropping. We have again not been keeping a watchful eye on the crop this week and now have 3 over sized specimens to eat. The achohca seeds I received from Caro have been very productive and have been an attractive addition  growing up bamboo canes in the vegetable garden (see far left.)

 The grapes I showed last month have turned black, with a quieter week hopefully next week, we can make grape juice and may also try making some wine.

The sun was shining through the leaves on the blackcurrant bush this afternoon the leaves, show a clear sign of Autumn! What has been the best thing in your garden in  September?

It is amazing that it is two years ago today that we moved here, as I said at the start of the post,time flies especially when you are having fun!

Please visit the other gardens who are joining me in "through the Garden Gate". If you wish to join us please mention in the comments below.

Others taking part in through the garden gate are:-
Sarah x


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