Friday, July 13, 2007

Boulogne - England

The best seafood restaurant
Bob & Belinda in Val & Ken's flat, Brighton
Chris and old pier, Brighton
Amazing sky at Weymouth beach
Watching Wimbledon at Watchet (Somerset)
Princess at Dunster Castle (Somerset)
At The Green Dragon (our B&B - Somerset)
With family at Pat's place, Newent
View from May Hill, near Newent

The best seafood restaurant in Boulogne is closed, and the place we finally find on a slow, rainy Sunday night is pretty awful - the worst oysters ever (and not cheap at $16 for 1/2 dozen!). Oh well - we'll be out of here first thing.
Next morning we find that the ferry doesn't take foot passengers. Emergency call to Chris's brother Bob, who is taking his car on the ferry later today - phew - we book in to ride with him, and will have lunch with him. The best seafood restaurant is now open, so we book in. Bob arives late - we have only 20 minutes for lunch, but go for it, guzzle wine and food (fabulous this time), dash to the wharf, and ... miss the ferry. BUGGER - the next is in 4 hours! Maybe we should go back and finish our lunch ...
Finally get to England and Bob drives us from Dover to Brighton where we stay over with Val and Ken - who have known Bob for 30 years. It's still cold and rainy but the art deco flat is fabulous, and Val is cooking roast chicken stuffed with lemon. a lovely relaxed evening, and a great (re)introduction to England.
Next day - a quick promenade and fish'n'chip lunch, then we pick up our car and are on our way west along the coast. It doesn't take long to realise that driving close to the coast is crowded and slow, so we pick up an A-road to speed our journey. First stop Weymouth (Weymouth Sands by John Cowper Powys is a favourite book), it is very picturesque, but very touristed, and even in this weather is so busy that it takes 20 minutes to get into town, another 20 to get out again. We rethink our idea of sticking to the coast. End up for the night in Bridport, west of Weymouth and just off the coast - it is more 'real' and we have no problem finding pub accommodation. Pub dinner is inexpensive, but a bit boring - we vow to start picnicking again if only the weather improves!
Two more days - we decide that rather than driving the coast right down to Cornwall, we will explore Dorset, Devon and Somerset, and find inland towns to stay. There are a multitude of tiny beautiful picturesque villages in a labyrinth of hedged laneways - it's a bit like Venice only bigger! We stay in larger towns that are less toytown than the villages, and get stuck just on one night, when we end up driving into Exeter for accommodation - maybe rained-out campers are filling the pubs?
Finally up to Newent, a little village NW of Gloucester for a couple of nights with my Auntie Pat, and to catch up with a miscellany of rellies, and have a yummy pub lunch (sausages and mash with onions in a yorkshire pie crust - real comfort food!). Poor Chris is surrounded by Brummies - we decide that England is endlessly filled with charm and chat and warm, flat beer! Although the weather has greatly improved, and we do end the visit sitting by the lake drinking aussie cab sav with my cousin Kay and her boyfriend Paul, which is fun.
Leave on sunday for the big drive up to Scotland - we have only four more days and must make the most of it!

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