Butter AND margarine?

Glorious morning. I was awake at 7, eventually left Mirinda asleep and went to breakfast at 9:15. More for the escape than any nourishment. Carla served me and I’m not sure what happened to the French girl.

The couple at the table next to me were very miserable.

Why do they have to have butter AND magarine? You’d think they’d just have butter. I mean, we’ve paid for it.” He said.

I’m not sure how many fractions of a penny difference there is in one of those little plastic pots but he obviously feels everyone should have butter. I assume he’s neither a vegan or lactose intolerant. He also made sure Carla only bought him white bread. He grumped and grummled about other things as well but I was determined to stop listening – his wife, I think, had done the same years ago.

On the way back to the room I stopped in front of the church and momentarily listened to the recorded church bells, calling the faithful. I’m not sure why they don’t use the real bell but have three possible explanations:

  1. The real one is missing or broken;
  2. They don’t have a resident campanologist
  3. Too many people complained about the noise first thing on a Sunday morning so they opted for the option with volume control

When I made it back to the room, suitably soothed by the cassette taped bells, Mirinda was awake. She has a plan for us to go to Sidmouth for the day – which will be nice. After Countryfile (of course) we collected Sidney and took off.

We drove through Chard, birthplace of powered flight and freeloading single white males, which looked a little better than we at first supposed, and on to Honiton. It was like old times, forging our way down Honiton’s high street and not stopping so I could have a look, then turning left and on to Sidmouth, avoiding the turn at the spa which would have led us, magnetic like to the now legendary ‘cat piss place’.

View of Sidmouth seafront

Sidmouth was lovely, sun drenched (and occasionally rain drenched), walking along the seafront. Giant gulls squawking annoyed at the signs which implore the public NOT to feed them. We stopped at the Hotel Riviera for a wonderful luncheon. The restaurant has only one AA rosette but is a million rosette’s from Treetops at Warners!

A set meal of salmon and seafood roulade followed by roast guinea fowl with deliciously crisp vegetables and finished off with a berry fool. And not just the food impressed. The service was wonderful. Highly recommended to anyone looking for lunch on the Sidmouth seafront. At £22 per person, it’s a bargain.

English tourists in a wet Sidmouth

We had a lovely post lunch stroll through the lanes, ending up at a little craft shop where Mirinda once bought a pair of earrings, one of which she’d lost. I’d love to say she found the same pair but, no, some things DO change. She bought a different pair instead. On the walk back to the car we checked out the prices of seafront hotels, thinking this would be a better way to spend a long weekend. The Riviera is a tad expensive but the Hotel Elizabeth looked probable.

Once more reunited with Sidney we drove back to Cricket St Thomas, this time via the non-carpeted high street of Axminister. I had just enough time for a coffee and a slight rest, then it was off for my fencing lesson.

I had asked Mirinda to come down later and take a photo of me in my swash buckling glory but, it seems, she preferred watching the meercats on BBC2. The class was small. There was me, the trainer and an older couple who, it transpired, were game for anything. They’d battled the line dancing and throttled the archery target, now it was time to dance about like Errol Flynn. It was a bit upsetting for them, therefore, to discover that most of what we learned required us to actually stand in one spot. Not that this stopped them. They circled each other like starving rhinos, clashing foils like blunted horns. It was madness on a geriatric scale. When it came time to force each other back and score points, they were like maniacs with very big skewers. Thank God for the masks and padding!

Actually it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about how to be restrained with a long needle-like object clasped in my hand and while wearing a very silly outfit.

Went back to the room afterwards and we watched the final day of Crufts – Best In Show 2004 was a whippet. Went for a stroll down to the camel enclosure. On the way, through the darkness, came the unexpected thrum of jungle tom-toms. Restless natives? Pensioners with bongos? No, turns out emus make a drumming sound at night when they’re frightened to warn off predators. Very, very peculiar sound and it certainly warned us off. They stalked us on their side of the, fortunately, electrified fence, drumming menacingly all the way. It was pretty freaky under the full moon.

We quickly made our way back to Cricket House, leaving the emus to their band practice. We almost had a drink in the Balcony Bar but, instead, walked the entire length of the hotel to our room. I watched an excellent movie which put Mirinda to sleep.

What a lovely day, well spent.

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