August Notes

A hog roast accompanied by tasty, colourful salads kick started August. The whole hog arrived in a metal ‘coffin’ like contraption emitting mouthwatering smells. The event was a lovely anniversary party in Offwell which meant I would be likely to bump into some old familiar faces from my Honiton days. I did and it was good to catch up. Roy and I hit the dance floor for a slow, smooch number before resting once more. The anniversary cake was really pretty, topped by a tractor! The theme was daisies and Deeres…
As the evening was so warm and clear, we wrestled with the binoculars and tripod and managed to view, dimly, Jupiter and, more successfully, Albireo. It inspired us to think about how to make the patio more accessible for star gazing.
Sidmouth is chock a block with people and cars visiting the annual Folk Week Festival. As I drive past the campsite around 8am there are people already heading towards the town centre, presumably on the hunt for a proper breakfast and groups boarding a big double decker bus which is used to ferry the folk to and from the festival and the sea front. My colleague was keen for me to experience the sights along the sea front and persuaded me to accompany him on a walk one lunch time. Walk! It was like having a personal trainer as we whizzed along the sea front at 100 miles an hour and back through the Byes and through the town. However, we did see all the sights and achieved a good round trip walk in just under an hour. And in the evening, once my feet had recovered, I had enough energy to make a cake…
My poor feet sighed yet again, as I found myself standing for most of the day at the annual AstroFair. I managed to be on holiday last year. As much as I love being with the Lockyer telescope, it is physically demanding with insufficient volunteers around. The conversations with people from far and wide as ever made the experience worthwhile. I learn as much from them as they do from me and what keeps me returning to open events time and time again. The Lockyer telescope is special and I am always keen to share my enthusiasm for it. It is historic yet not in a museum. I am trained in the use of it and it is a joy to use. The view through it is stunning and sometimes better than through more modern equipment.
Work continues to be productive in all sorts of ways. I love being upstairs taking ‘screen breaks’ to gaze out to sea…and with all the physical exercise of file sorting, lifting and walking up and down all the stairs, the weight is falling off and I was delighted to be back in a pair of trousers that hadn’t been able to be done up for quite a while. And I feel more energetic.
So much more energetic that I was able to walk from Waitrose area down to the seafront to meet Mum for a wonderful display by the Red Arrows. It was cold, it was wet, but the warmth and excitement of the crowds dispelled the chill. We clapped at the amazing formations which represented various aircraft in the RAF today and in the past. Collective intakes of breath could be heard every time the tricoloured smoke trails intermingled as the jets passed within a hair’s breadth of each other.
More about that stroll…I had been intending to catch the bus but the traffic was heavy and my anxiety as to whether the bus would actually get me there on time got the better of me and I relied on the Map App on my phone to take through the back way to the seafront. It was delightful! I had long wished to take a stroll up the delightfully named Ice House Lane and I was not disappointed. First off was a really pretty cottage with equally pretty garden with the lane winding upwards for a while. I was bit disconcerted when the route took a deep turn to the right – the opposite direction to where I needed to be – but I kept faith with the phone and, sure enough, it soon took a deep turn to the left. No sign of an ice house though. A disused railway line went over the lane, with occasional evidence of life pre-Beeching along the way.
Coming out of a large bend the route dipped into a gloomy looking area, enticingly named ‘Dark Lane’. It was indeed dark. And slightly eerie. Trees loomed in on either side of the deep lane. It speeded up my progress!
Emerging into the daylight once more, the route began to go steadily downhill and merged on the main road. Recognising the road, I breathed more easily and knew I would be likely to beat the bus! This gave a tremendous feeling achievement and very soon I did see the bus arrive just 5 minutes ahead of me. I felt I had earned my fish and supper which was really nice in the sea front café.
The hordes leaving the seafront after the display were impatient in their desire to leave the rain-drenched beach.
And the August Bank Holiday rounded off the pleasures of this late summer month with a trip out to Exmoor. We packed a healthy Devon picnic of pasties and pork pies which, thus fortified, was followed by a healthy walk up Dunkery Beacon. It was so clear we could see Wales. It was glorious. Basking in the sunshine on the top of the hill was a superb reward for our uphill walk.

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