Heading home, London as seen from the airplane a few minutes after take off from Gatwick.
The River City Tour stops in Greenwich where we are allowed to get off and visit. A boat comes every half hour and you can get back on to go back to Westminster any time (it’s covered as part of your ticket). I wanted to see the Royal Observatory but there were TONS of other things to see such as the Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark just to name a few. There was a lot of extra security and facilities set up for the upcoming Paralympics.
Heading home to Canada we decided to stay one extra day in London to do some last minute sight seeing. We were staying at the Union Jack Club near Waterloo station. It was a short walk to the Themes and the South Bank (near the London eye(sore)) and we decided to take the City River tour to Greenwich. It was great.
Today, Jeremy and I went to Dawlish while Shareen was busy packing our suitcases for our reluctant departure. Weather was the usual British damp but it’s pretty little town and we spent a pleasant couple of hours in a local pub while waiting for the worst of the rain to pass. Really friendly people, quick to help us and have a chat. My compliments to the Rock and Sole fish bar and the South Devon Inn. One let us buy tasty food and the other let us sit down and eat it (as long as we bought a drink or four).
Hog roast at the New Inn near Crediton where we were staying. You drive down this narrow lane, through a tunnel of trees and emerge in what can only be described as the Shire from Lord of the Rings. And for the record, British food gets a bad rap, the hog roast was $@%@$#% delicious.
Dartmoor in August in England. Proof that you can get pelted by freezing rain any time of year.
From a North American point of view the distances in Britain should be negligible. The distance from Morchard Road to Exmouth (see the fishing trip pictures) is just over 40KM, nothing, this is the distance I have to drive cross town in Calgary to take my daughter to visit a friend, a mere 25 minutes of driving.
In Britain, for a variety of reasons, the same distance takes about an hour and a half. My father in law drove us and here are my observations from that journey.
The roads in Devon are narrow, usually single lane with no shoulder, and quite a bit windier. Nothing like our straight line of sight roads in North America. Consequently, you can never really open up the throttle and achieve the speeds that one can on North American road. Clenching my teeth and death gripping the dash I checked dad’s speed and it never exceeded 90KMH and usually averaged much lower as you had to slow down passing through the numerous towns along the way. There are also few passing lanes and even then passing is challenging as the traffic is generally heavy in both directions.
Passing though Exeter took a majority of the time, although we never got stuck the way we do during rush hour in Calgary there were numerous lights and traffic circles where we had to wait our turn to go.
My overall impression is that it takes significantly more concentration to drive in Devon than I have ever had to devote to driving in North America with the wide open spaces and practically straight roads. The result is that at the end of the journey in both directions I find myself as exhausted as if I’d driven from Calgary to Vancouver rather than a mere 40 kilometres.
The alternative is to take the train which overall I have found much more enjoyable and stress free. On the way back from Exmouth Shareen and I took the train back and I’d say it wasn’t faster but much more relaxing.
My father in law states that the service has improved dramatically in the last few years, the result of which is that so far the trains are clean, run on time, and have courteous staff. Completely worth it.
Fishing in Exmouth, just down/up the coast from Budleigh Salterton, we’d booked a two hour tour with Tiger Charters and went to do some Mackerel fishing (Jeremy caught four to my one). Total tourist town with lots of amusement rides including donkeys on the beach. Great fish and chips as always but you’ll wait forty five minutes for a sandwich in one of the ritzy upscale restaurants.
Today we visited Dartington Crystal, I’m told it’s the only place in the UK that still blows their glass by hand. The produce about 1700 pieces per day, all beautiful but a bit pricey for my wallet and I find a bit heavier than I like. Gorgeous stuff however and watching the skill of the glass blowers is a treat.