Westward Ho! and Beyond

Happy holidays, everyone! Time for a quick blog….

We return from Wales to our cramped and clammy cottage.  Neither of us wants to be the first to state the obvious: Devon is not all it was cracked up to be. (Or maybe it is and we just weren’t listening.) In any event, we don’t want to spend another full week here.

IMG-0338What to do? After briefly considering other UK options, we decide: What the hell, let’s go somewhere neither of us have visited and probably won’t otherwise.  Brainwave: Copenhagen! We’ll drop off the rental car early at Heathrow, zip over for a few days, and fly back on the day we were supposed to arrive in London.

Much happier now, with travel plans set, we use our next few days for final explorations of the countryside, including nearby Westward Ho! and the beautiful Lanhydrock estate.

First up, Westward Ho! (yes, that is its actual punctuation).

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Creepy haunted-looking house at Westward Ho! parking lot is decorated for Halloween.

Westward Ho! is a beach town whose most notable resident was writer Rudyard Kipling. He attended United Services College here in 1878 and the first verse of “If” is inscribed on the promenade.IMG-0608.JPG

The town features a large sandy beach and beautifully-painted beach huts.

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Eat your heart out, Bermuda!

Another day, we tour Lanhydrock, a magnificent late Victorian property.

IMG-0649 (1)It’s well worth seeing for the stunning kitchens alone: individual rooms for cheese, game, cleanup etc.  Very Downton Abbey. I covet the copper pans — and of course a room dedicated to making bread and pastry.

The house encompasses many other rooms…

…and extensive grounds.

IMG-0670Best part: lawn care is provided by free-grazing cows and sheep!

IMG-0647A plate provides a useful recipe tip:

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And back to reality: our own little National Trust cottage.

IMG-0678Lanhydrock is so much more my speed. Maybe in another life….

3rd week of October, 2018.

Sustainable Clothing Spotlight: Love Justly

More Good News Monday! Reblogging this story about a new ethical fashion company. Thanks, Mliae!

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I am really excited to publish a feature sustainable company spotlight on Love Justly! As you well know, if you’ve been following the blog for awhile, I am a firm believer in voting with our wallets. By that I mean, that by each of us making conscientious purchasing decisions, we do hold the power to create change. We are, after all, the driving force in consumerism/consumption. If our purchasing decisions were not at all important, companies would not spend such insane amounts of money trying to make us believe we need their items. The mantra ‘purchase better, purchase less’ is something I truly believe in. If we begin a paradigm shift with this mantra in mind, the fashion industry will follow. This is why I have chosen Love Justly to write a feature on. Their items are beautiful, fashion-forward, ethically sourced and made to last! In my mind, that checks…

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Good News Monday: Fiction Isn’t Rotting Teen Brains After All

Researchers at University College London’s Institute of Education recently reported that teens who read novels rather than non-fiction are six months ahead of their peers in reading skills.

After analyzing data from 250,000 teens in 35 Western countries, they concluded that the 15-year-olds had significantly stronger reading skills than those who read non-fiction, magazines, comics, or newspapers for pleasure. The lead researcher pointed out that fiction requires a person to focus on long, continuous text, which improves not only reading skills but learning to avoid distractions.

This apparently holds true even when a novel is poorly written.

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Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Lechyd Da!

First stop of the day: Cilgerran Castle, a 13th-century ruined castle located in Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire, Wales, near Cardigan. According to Wikipedia, the first castle on the site was thought to be built by Gerald of Windsor around 1110–1115, and it changed hands several times over the following century between English and Welsh forces.

No one’s here today so we roam at leisure, wondering if there are any ghosts.

Croeso! Welcome to Aberystwyth!IMG-0529

Before we explore, we check in to our hotel.

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The Conrah Hotel (originally named Ffosrhydgaled, aka “ditch”!) is a beautiful Edwardian mansion, constructed circa 1850 on the site of a farmstead, stables, outhouses and watermill.

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Following a devastating fire in 1911, it is reported that the owner, a Mr. Davies, spent considerable time arguing with his insurance company over where the new house should be built. Davies wished to demolish what was left of the house and re-erect the property in a more elevated position to improve his view, whereas the insurance company refused to allow this due to the increased cost of re-siting the property. Needless to say, the insurers won and the property was rebuilt on the same site.

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I’d kill for this stained glass.

It remained a private home until 1967, when new owners Constance and Ronald Alfred Hughes converted it to a hotel. The couple had made their money locally, manufacturing ‘Conrah’ vases, table settings and similar items from pressed metals (“Co” for Constance + Ronald’s initials RAH), hence the name change.

Gardens and public assembly rooms first attracted wealthy travelers, and in 1800 a new bathhouse provided “respectable visitors” the opportunity to bathe in heated seawater.  Within a few years, bathing machines offered the chance to venture into the sea itself, and guesthouses sprang up to cater to an increasing number of tourists.
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This shop could be owned by one of my husband’s many Welsh relatives of the same name.

The pier was built in 1865 and by the early 1900’s Aberystwyth boasted a large pavilion, railway, theatres, cinemas and concert halls.  By the 1950’s, it was well established as a seaside holiday destination.
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Dinner tonight is with DH’s cousins, who are warm and welcoming. The husband is an ardent Welsh nationalist, so we keep the Brexit discussion short. (Luckily, we don’t have a dog in this fight.)
We learn that a popular toast is “Lechyd da” (Le-chid-ya), which is easier for me to remember than “lloniannau”, or “cheers”.  The pronunciation is close to the Hebrew toast “L’chaim” (“to life”), which supports a theory that the lost tribes of Israel wound up in Wales.
The following morning, we head off to Bath.  I love this bridge — very Hermès, non?!
IMG-0552 (1)Arriving in Bath, our 17th century hotel (Paradise House) looks unimpressive from the outside, and parking in its tiny driveway is precarious, but it’s quite lovely inside. We’re treated to a delicious tea while the room is readied. Would definitely stay here again!
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The town center is an easy walk from the Paradise.  Bath is known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture. Many of the buildings feature local honey-gold stone, including Bath Abbey, famed for its large stained-glass windows, fan-vaulting, and tower.
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The museum at the site of the original Roman-era Baths includes The Great Bath, statues (a later addition) and a temple.
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There’s a lot to see but we have only one day, so we concentrate on the Baths, a long walk to get a sense of the town, and the Jane Austen museum.

The Baths are well worth the trip, with wonderful depictions of Roman life “back in the day” and many artifacts.

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The Austen museum, however, is kind of a bust — costumed guides tell you about her family history (Austen didn’t spend a lot of time in Bath, as it turns out) but this is best visited by the true enthusiast.

Our stroll takes us to the Royal Crescent, very glamorous.

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And I loved this wonderful old-timey chemist’s shop.

IMG-0591 (1).JPGWe wrap up the day with an excellent meal at Clayton’s Kitchen. Linguine with crab is fresh and delicious.

Tomorrow it’s back to Devon, where we’ll make a major decision….

Mid-October, 2018.

On to Wales, Land of Few Vowels

Scenes from Week Two of our monthlong saga. We’re still in Devon…

IMG-0421 (2)But on the agenda: a visit to DH’s cousins in Aberystwyth (with an indulgent hotel stay en route), and a stopover in Bath on the return trip.

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Friendly cows welcome us to Molleston.

Early in the week, we explore Lynmouth’s picturesque harbor, more villages, and Exmoor National Park.

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IMG-0419.JPGWe stop in Ilfracombe, notable for its controversial Damien Hirst “Verity” statue which depicts both her pregnant exterior and interior. Erected in 2012, the statue looms over the harbor and is on loan to the town for 20 years. Many residents are counting the days until it’s removed. Are you a fan?

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Our drive back to Peppercombe takes us through more villages — one where a thatched roof is being repaired.

And of course we see mehhhnnnny sheep!

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(They never fail to amuse.)

Mid-week, it’s off to Wales. You know you’ve arrived when highway signs are in both English and Welsh and towns have romantic-sounding names such as  Dyffryn Arth and Llansantffraed.

Useful phrases: ARAF (Slow), CYFLEUSTERAU CYHOEDDUS (public conveniences) and CERDDWYR EDRYCHWCH I R CHWITH (pedestrians look right).

The first night, we stay at The Grove-Narberth, which is nothing short of fabulous. Beautiful setting and a wonderful restaurant.

IMG-0505.JPGNaturally, they grow their own herbs and veggies.

Dinner is delish, beginning with amuse-bouches in the bar while we wait for our table.

Desserts are pretty, too.

We stagger to our charming room, complete with fireplace, and nod off. Oh, it is SO nice to be in a hotel!

Early-mid October, 2018.

Good News Monday: Monotony Helps People Lose Weight.

Well, maybe.  The general idea is that eating the same thing every day emphasizes food as nutrition, not entertainment.  When meals are less exciting, we’re less likely to overeat.

The caveat: mix it up to avoid both nutritional deficiencies and bingeing when the boredom gets to be too much.

Here’s an interesting POV on the subject: https://www.healthline.com/health/eating-the-same-thing-pros-and-cons

 

Good News Monday: An Easy Way to Reduce Bloating

We all know that sodium (salt) causes water retention: think how bloated we feel after overindulging in soda, chips, or peanuts — even if we didn’t devour the entire bag. (Who, me?!)

But did you know that increasing potassium intake can help? I didn’t. Potassium has a diuretic effect that counteracts sodium. And it’s abundant in foods such as spinach, watercress, broccoli, bananas, papaya and strawberries.

p.s., If you’re making a fruit smoothie with those bananas or strawberries, use 2% Greek yogurt instead of a fat-free version. The extra fat slows the absorption of sugar, which helps keep it from being stored as body fat.