Mme S'. employment commitments have stepped in at the last minute to confound some holiday plans we had for this week.
Nothing was arranged, which is just as well...
I could've cancelled the time I had booked, but we're already halfway through the year and I've had no time off, so I decided to pack up a little two man tent, and a selection of other camping luxuries and head for the hills. Or more accurately, the coast.
Early plans involved taking my new wetsuit and bodyboard to the North Cornwall or Devon coast splashing around, occasionally renting a surfboard and using it to club baby seals to death. Just kidding, I love baby seals, though not in the biblical sense...
Adult seals, however, I love in the biblical sense.
I don't usually up-sticks and head for the coast on my own, but the thought of mooching around the house alone, or Mme S remembering those unassembled items from Ikea, or noticing the state of the garden, are a little too close for comfort. Yes Indeed, valued reader, I was running away.
Having left the glorious South Staffordshire sunshine, I arrived in Devon and was met by a glowering sky, an wild-eyed toothless farmer and a sinking feeling. I erected a sad little campsite (above) and legged it off to Woolacombe Bay.
When I arrived, the glowering sky had escalated into a something of a gang brawl. I have no problem being in the sea when it's raining, but it was blowing a gale and even the most foolhardy citizens were out of the water.
So what to do? The Good Pub Guide provided an answer, and I dined well on Lamb loin chops. Tempting real ales stared at me from the pumps of that ancient bar, but disappointment reared it's ugly head again and reminded me that my teetotal chauffeur was in South Staffs, with her feet up watching Celebrity Pet Cosmetic Surgery, or some such.
Back at the strangely deserted campsite at dusk, the wind had settled into the trees for the night, and they began whispering about me, loudly. I crawled into my (mercifully dry) sleeping bag with my small Irish travelling companion and tried to sleep. Slumber was elusive this night though, as I kept half expecting Ol' Toothless to appear though my zipped hatch and get me hooked on clotted cream and scrumpy and whisk me over the border into a Cornish slave trade run by The Wurzels crime family ("Oi'll 'aaave you whaaaarked so oi will"*).
The following morning offered an immediate respite from the weather. A peek outside showed brilliant sunshine (and some suspicious looking Wellington boot footprints). I dived back inside and hastily dressed, re-emerging moments later into torrential rain.
I decided to explore the immediate locale, whilst waiting for this latest wet onslaught to pass. Get some food and, perhaps, a tin of Generic American Carbonated Beverage TM.
Lynton is small, and the town's best 'Sitting Bench' has to double up as the 'Waiting For a Bus Bench'. Luckily it was empty so I sat here to consume my lunch ( A Cornish Pasty - after all when in Rome ....erm ..eat what the people in the next county eat...or something).
I was joined, in due course, by an elderly lady from Essex on holiday with her husband. She had an E.L Wisty countenance that I found oddly attractive, and we began to converse. She, telling me of her and hubby's tour around the markets (both open air and closed) of North Devon by bus, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Me, making encouraging comments, feigning a little local knowledge and helping her wipe bits of pasty off her face.
The Bideford Bus came trundling down the hill, as the rain began to subside, and she asked me what would be doing for the day.
"I'm off to Woolacombe to check out the surf", I told her.
"Really", said she. "You should check out groundswell at Croyde it's like soooo gnarly... You can sweetly drop into the rip, Man. Less Groms too..".
She left me on my bench and disappeared up the hill on the 310. It began to rain again...
On the beach at Croyde, a sandstorm of Arabian proportions was in progress. I made my way T.E. Lawrence-like to the shoreline, where the only people on the sea were the local surf school, probably desperately trying to give their patrons their money's worth, rather than cancel. The pupils had given up trying to ride the boards and had taken to flying them in the wind, by their leashes. I turned my back on them and trudged back up the beach.
On the way back to the car, the rain increased to a hitherto unseen frightening ferocity. I called to a surfer running back to his VW Camper, asking what the weather was going to be like for the next couple of days. "Like this, but worse", he shouted and then ran away, muttering something about not wanting to get his wetsuit wet.
I decided to cut my losses and return north to my beloved Madame. Who was waiting for me with a nice hot drink, one of little Swedish Allen-keys and wet wax effigy hidden behind her back.
~ o ~
* Apologies for the stereotyping. Being born in Shropshire had led me to be lambasted in much the same country bumpkin way, so I'm scarred and twisted.
Living in close proximity to the Black Country has left me a slight accent, which is worse. Thank you Vic Reeves Slade Sketches! Thank you Barry from Auf Wiedersehen Pet! Thank You Ozzy Fookin' Osbourne!