On Friday evening and Saturday, there was chaotic organisation, much web browsing, phoning and re-planning. Finally we had a plan, and accommodation booked.
Bank holiday Monday and the Tuesday, we just sat around Cambridge and did little, a bit of shopping. Vicky had a job interview on Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday morning, we set out for the West Country. The first few days, we were staying at a self-catering “holiday cottage” in Devon, just north of a small village called Black Dog, about 13 miles from the nearest sizable town, Tiverton. In other words, very much middle of nowhere. We stopped at Safeway in Tiverton and got essentials, which was effort after such a long drive, but proved the correct decision as we could then just collapse for the evening.
On Thursday we went into Tiverton, found lunch at a wonderful vegetarian restaurant, called “The RiverBank”. I had an interesting lime and chickpea soup and a superb watercress, cream cheese and cheddar quiche. If you're ever in that part of the world, try it. We then went for a nice, shortish walk at Eggesford, via a village called “Meshaw” (no, we weren't sure, we were actually quite blissfully lost until we got there and realised this). That evening we had dinner with Vicky's parents in a restaurant in Bampton.
Friday was the Great Bank Quest. We were planning a quiet day in, but Vicky wanted to pay in some cheques, so we popped into Tiverton to find a bank. There is no Barclay's in Tiverton. The Tourist Information office found one in Cullompton. It's only 7 miles away, but on narrow roads, up and down 1:4 hills. Very scenic, verging on the picturesque.
Saturday was the day of much organisation, as I had to get to Poole for a cousin's wedding at 2pm, and wanted to get back to Timberscombe in Somerset that evening. We packed, cleaned and got out of the cottage before 8:30am. Vicky dropped me at Exeter St. David's railway station, where I caught a train to Poole. Vicky then went up to Knowle Manor, the riding centre which was our next destination. I meanwhile caught a train to Salisbury, where I met my mother who'd driven from Poole to pick me up (the trains from Exeter to Poole being somewhat indirect). The wedding went well, a civil ceremony at Upton House.
I wanted to stay for the reception, which was at 7pm. This was the source of further complication, as the last train I could reasonably get was at 19:26. Vicky, quite reasonably, wasn't willing to make a 5 or 6 hour round-trip to Poole to pick me up. So I booked a taxi to Yeovil, and arranged to meet Vicky at Yeovil station. Amazingly this all worked; despite the revelation there was more than one station in Yeovil, the taxi-driver who talked in a shout about steam engines for most of the journey, while driving at 45mph on a dual carriadgeway, and Vicky getting slightly lost, we managed to arrive at Yeovil Junction within two minutes of each other.
On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we were at Knowle. The general routine was getting up to catch horses at 7:30am, eating large breakfasts at 8:30am, grooming horses at 9am, riding at 9:30am, lunch at 1pm, returning horses to fields at 2:30pm. Despite the slightly regimented sound out all that, there's a very relaxed attitude. I'd never really ridden before (other than having once being sat on a horse as a child), but was given a brief lesson in starting, stopping, and turning then taken out to ride (at a walk) for an hour or so, in the woods behind the manor. There was no irritating overstating the very basics of riding, sitting on a horse while it walks along isn't really that taxing. The next couple of days were much the same, but with longer rides, and a bit of trotting. I've decided I quite like riding, and will give some proper lessons a go.
Then on Tuesday afternoon, after riding, we drove back to Cambridge. We stopped for dinner at the ever excellent King William IV pub in Heydon. A fine way to end a superb holiday.