The last few days have been the kind of busy you imagine when you think of London…even though two of the three days were actually spent in Devon!
After the long flight and my first day in the U.K. that I described in my last post, I had two big days left with my family before I ventured into London. I didn’t know what to expect while meeting family members for the first time, but I wasn’t expecting them to have planned so many great things to do in such a short time!
After accidentally waking up at ridiculous o’clock on Sunday morning, I was eager to see what the day had in store. My cousin had mentioned the places they wanted to take me, but the names didn’t mean anything to me since it was my first trip to England.
We had a quick breakfast and headed out for a place called Haytor in Dartmoor. I had no idea what the place was, nor how hard I’d have to work!
On the way to Haytor we were driving along some very narrow roads, and at one point we saw a cheeky flock of sheep sneak out of their paddock onto the road. The traffic unintentionally herded them further away until someone got out and started moving them back in the right direction. I couldn’t tell you why I found it funny when it could have been a disaster…maybe because it’s the kind of thing I’ve only ever seen on television, or maybe because of the way the sheep seemed so pleased with themselves when they got away…
Haytor was huge, and took a whole lot of exercise to reach, then to climb. I have to admit I was a bit terrified when they said we were going to climb it! But I mentally reminded myself that I needed to get over my fears (even the rational ones like, say, falling off a giant rock) so I took a deep breath and gave it a shot.
I got up to second highest area, but we just didn’t have the time to get right up to the top. Or, more accurately, we could have gotten to the top but apparently coming down is scarier and more difficult…it would take a long time to find the right footing on the way down and we had a lunch reservation we had to get to!
Still, I got higher than I thought I would, both from my fear and my fitness level, so I count it as a huge success. If I had more time, I think I’d have liked to try the higher part, too!
I did have one near miss; my left foot lost traction on some moss on the way down and I felt that terrifying lurch that comes when you lose your balance. I think if I’d fallen that might have been a very quick end to my trip, but thankfully I pulled some kind of weird and wonderful acrobatics out of thin air. I spun 180 degrees on my right foot in a tiny foothold, and managed to grab onto the rock I’d had my back to when I slipped. It could have been a disaster, but apparently my Batman shirt and hundreds of hours playing Assassin’s Creed paid off.
We had lunch at the Babbacombe Inn, which was a lovely pub that my relatives like to visit. I finally met more of my family, including my other cousin, her husband and daughter, and my dad’s cousin.
After lunch we took a walk along the seaside overlook, then we took a little scenic drive to my aunt’s place, where I met my second cousin’s kids (I think that makes them my second cousins once removed?).
My last day with my relatives was another long one. This time we headed out to somewhere named Cockington, which is an adorable old-style village with thatched cottages and even a traditional blacksmith. It was a beautiful place with a wonderful old church and lots of charm.
Following Cockington we headed out to Berry Head Hotel for lunch. It overlooks the water at Berry Head, and is a short drive from the coastal town of Brixham where we went next.
Brixham was so picturesque…it was such a gorgeous place with wonderful little shops and the most traditionally stereotypical English fishermen. I had a great time there, despite the chill in the air.
After Brixham we took a long drive from Devon back to Luton where my cousin lives. I stayed overnight at her place before moving on to the next part of my adventure on Tuesday morning — London!
To start with…London is not nearly as busy as I imagined! I mean I wouldn’t want to drive here, don’t get me wrong…and people are way too comfortable crossing the street in front of cars, but so far I really love it.
I arrived in the morning…far too early to check in, so my intention was to drop off my luggage and head out to explore for several hours. I wasn’t expecting to be greeted with a drink and hot refresher towel on a silver tray by a hotel attendant who bowed just a little when he offered them!
The staff were lovely and gave me a map and plenty of directions and hints, and off I went.
I intended to wander Hyde Park for a while but I soon found myself at Kensington Palace, doing an impromptu tour. The history of the place is fascinating, especially some of the tidbits from the staff.
After the palace I walked through Hyde Park until I arrived at the Serpentine Gallery. Honestly, all that visit did was reinforce that I know nothing about modern art whatsoever hahahaha.
From there I hopped on the tube and made my way to Camden Lock Markets. I bought a few touristy things and a few Christmas presents before finally making my way back to the hotel, feet aching and ready to relax.
I still couldn’t help but visit the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland though. If I’d know how far it was on sore feet I might have changed my mind…or taken the tube!
By the end of the day I’d done over 23,000 steps! That’s more than 16.6 kilometers!!!
I should really be kinder to my feet today.