00:36.38S 80:25.31W Written from Bahia about England our green and pleasant land

Fri 10 Jun 2016 10:42

00:36.38S 80:25.312W Written in Bahia. Back with our family and friends in the UK.

England was greening with new spring growth when we started our drive south from Heathrow to Dorset and my side of our family. Henry and Ruby were getting ready for bed and Emily hadn’t told them we were coming so they would have a surprise. Also they were still in school, so rather than get them excited just before bedtime and before school the next morning we decided on an approach by stealth.

We had a welcome drink at the Lamb Inn just up the road, ‘ah’, a pint of clear English bitter, so refreshing, especially under beams of oak and beams on the bar staff.

When the children were fast asleep we arrived at the house and after an evening of news and chat, remained in our room until Henry and Ruby were safely off to school. A few hours later we stood in the playground, watching Ruby’s classroom door first as she finishes just before Henry.

Well the look on her face when she spotted us standing with Emily was worth the long haul flight alone. As she ran down the slope towards us we prayed she would not trip up, but fate was kind.

Emily went off to collect Henry who in mid flood of information on the day’s events to his mum suddenly stopped talking and then said “Granny and Grandad!”

A few blissful family days later, which included a walk from Lulworth across the hill to Durdledoor and a beach picnic in superb weather and a good look around Tyneham Village, evacuated since the second world war operations but now partially restored, plus a walk with Toby and his friends, we headed west to visit brother Robin and his youngest son Christopher on their Devon dairy farm.

During our stay grandson number three arrived. George weighed in at a healthy 9lb 13oz and gave his mum, Juliana, a relatively short delivery.

I always love walking around the farm with the two springer spaniels Jim and Bud and Jack the Jack Russell.  Rob and Kit keep the farmland in fine agricultural condition with neat hedges, well dug ditches, hard dry gateways and lush green grass for the well fed and shiny coated Brown Swiss cows and the sheep. Plus the views south east to Dartmoor and south west towards Bodmin Moor are truly beautiful.

Speaking of sheep hubby Rob, the dogs and I were sent by brother Rob to “Could you just get those seven wayward sheep back with the rest and then run some fencing across the hole while I deal with the auditor who is inspecting the farm please, sister dear?” That wasn’t really a question mark at the end there.

Rob stood by the hole so they wouldn’t run past it and I morphed into Shep and started rounding them up, ever so carefully, one false move would freak them into another field circumnavigation. Slowly they approached the hole and looked at it. They could see their chums on the other side and the big mummy sheep in her dried blood red fleece made to jump the wire across the hole, all would have been perfect but she got her back leg caught, so she struggled herself clear and off we went for another circuit of the field.

This time Jack thought he would lend a paw, which didn’t improve things, so he was politely requested to go back to his mates, Bud and Jim. On this attempt one of the young white lambs, lighter and with more spring leaped over the wire and led the way back to the flock.

Hubby Rob and I took a foggy day off and went to explore Port Isaac, its historical identity now buried under the frenzied need of visitors to be photographed outside Doc Martin’s house, from the TV series of the same name.

Padstow, or PadStein as it is sometimes referred to, by contrast, still has its own identity with the bigger of Rick Stein’s business interests, his cookery school, set away from the town centre. It is a pretty, busy place with lovely vistas over the harbour and river estuary and at least one decent pub.

Back on the farm our next task was to collect Rob’s 250,000 miles so far Audi 80 from the garage where it had been fitted with a new fan belt. I could not drive our hire car as we would have had to pay another £11 a day so on arrival at the garage I sat in the driver seat of the Audi and tried to pull it forward from long legged farmer position to short legged sister spot. Well amidst the hay and straw, paper receipts and a fair amount of dust and muck the seat moved, surprisingly, but it would not click into place, the hole maybe clogged with any of the afore mentioned detritus.

So as I approached junctions I kept a firm right hand on the wheel to hold me forward and prevent my seat sliding back when I pressed down on the pedals. I made it back to the farm, but not before my Robs began to wonder where I had got to.

The Bay View Hotel at Widemouth on the west Cornish coast, is a favourite haunt of our family and on the day we all visited for lunch it was bathed in sunlight. We watched the beach walkers and surfers enjoying the fabulous weather as we tucked into fish and chips. On the way home Rob took us to a new micro-brewery, set up by a westward bound London solicitor and we loaded up with various real ales for our stay in Oakham.

Our final task on the farm was to spread father’s ashes along a hedgerow which catches the first morning sun’s rays. He loved working in the fields, clearing ditches and cutting hedges, setting little piles of dry wood ready for burning. He died in 2002 so it was time for his release.