Fowey in General
We've recently returned from a wonderful and needed week away in Cornwall. My mother-in-law found a lovely house through Polruan Cottages ( www.polruancottages.co.uk ) and so we went for it even though we didn't know much about the area. We figured we couldn't do too badly seeing as a lot of Cornwall is accessible when you have a car. ... Using the house postcode Fowey was very easy to find (after a quick stop at Par train station to pick my mother-in-law up). There is little to no parking by the houses and I wasn't entirely clued up as to where the car park was so I dropped everyone and the bags off at the door and set off to figure it out. There are a few around the immediate area so it didn't take too long to get the car safely parked and wonder back down to the house.
The house was fabulous. Very clean and modern with a welcome basket of essentials. A day before we arrived I placed an order with ASDA to deliver some basic foods and they came nice and early so we were able to head out and see what Fowey had to offer. Seems the ASDA order wasn't overly needed as there's a little grocer down the road but oh well.
I had tried to apply for a Cornwall week parking pass (Rover Ticket) before we came out but there had been a little mix-up so I jumped into the Tourist Information shop and bought one there quickly. £35 for a week pass and it allows you parking in a number of Council Car parks including Fowey, Hayle, Newquay, Truro and more. It came in handy for sure. The ladies working the desk in the Tourist Information shop were lovely and answered a number of our questions over the holiday. The following website is also really good for local stuff and the beach guide was great http://www.fowey.co.uk/
Fowey is a lovely little fishing village with a number of shops, restaurants, pubs and ice cream parlours. It seems the perfect little place for a family on holiday at the coast. After a day of travelling we were all hungry and stopped at a restaurant on the harbour to refuel. 'The Boat House' wasn't overly packed and seemed family friendly so it was an easy decision to make. We were sat at a table and seen by a waitress rather quickly. As we were on the coast we all ordered something fishy (aside from the 3 year old who is still stuck in a world of pizza rules!). The fish soup was the best I have had in many years so highly recommended. My eldest son ordered an adult size mussels platter and did a Man Vs. Food thing when it arrived ... the chef came out to watch him defeat the platter! So proud of my son who eats like a hoover!
We didn't bother taking the Fowey Town tour ride but I'm sure the views are lovely. Fowey has a lot of hills and they are very steep but once you get to the top of any of them there will be a nice view waiting for you.
One place worth a little visit is the small aquarium on the harbour. It looks from the outside like nothing much but once you've paid your couple pounds for entry you'll realize how much it actually contains. Each tank has hidden gems found in the waters around Fowey. The man there was informative and helped to kit my son out ready to go crabbing later that day. We got some fish that was headed for the bin from the fishmonger and our crabbing day was very successful. We didn't keep the crabs as it was fishing for fun and it really was great fun!
One of our days out was planned for Mevagissey so we left early and got the Fowey-Meva Ferry from Whitehouse Quay. Adult £7 (£12 return) Children £4 (£6 return) www.ferry.me.uk The ferry was great fun. We all love the water so enjoyed every moment of it. There were only a handful of us on the ferry as it was the early trip but we were the only ones sat at the back. We couldn't care less about getting a little wet (it was a warm day so dried quickly). We spent a few hours in Mevagissey shopping and having lunch before heading back over the waters to Fowey.
The children and I were eager to visit some beaches and Readymoney is a very nice one. Walking distance from Fowey village centre and directly opposite the home once lived in by author Daphne du Maurier. The beach is sandy so my youngest was happy as he really wanted to build a castle and then be the dinosaur that knocks it all down. My eldest was happy he could climb the rocks, my husband ran off into the woods looking for St. Catherines Castle and I jumped straight into the waves and paddled out to a floating pontoon where others were jumping on and off. We had a lovely afternoon finished off with an ice cream from the vendor.
Only a 5-10 minute drive from Fowey is a lovely family owned bird and animal sanctuary called Wingz. Not in Fowey but so worth a mention! It will only take you and the family a couple hours to see what this place has to offer and then have a play and maybe a snack but I am so glad we visited. There are some lovely animals with amazing stories. Make sure to read every notice you come by. There is an indoor play area for the children with puzzles and colouring materials and there is even more information and news articles regarding the sanctuary's work in there. My boys had a lovely time playing with the owners' son on the outside play equipment. Wingz has a cheeky Meerkat that knows how to get out and roam the park. There is a sign near the office saying no matter how big his eyes get he's not that hungry. He did cross our path and OMG he is soooo adorable. We put the meal worms we'd purchased in the Meerkat area and he very quickly got back to where he was supposed to be and helped to eat them up. http://www.wingzbirdsanctuary.co.uk/ If you're planning a beach afternoon spend the morning at Wingz.
My mother-in-law took off to see the Eden Project for a day and found that although the bus system is good connects to other places easily it doesn't follow the most direct routes. Very interesting on the way out but a bit boring on the way back.
During the Second World War Fowey was the centre for air-sea rescue and one of the places from which the D-Day invasions were launched from and there are a number of plaques and reminders along the coastline. There is a lovely covered bench area donated by the US Navy in a quiet area near Whitehouse Quay.
We visited many different places during our week away but coming home to Fowey was lovely. Our little holiday fishing village home. On our last day in Fowey I woke up with a horrible sore throat. I spoke with the local surgery and they got me booked in first thing and helped me to register and a temporary resident. The doctor was really nice and gave me the needed prescription right away. I wondered from there down to the village to fill the prescription at Boots. It was only that day when the hills bothered me. I had very bad strep throat and my whole body was aching but I made it back to the house and stayed there for the day. The family took a ferry over to Polruan that day. I kept my youngest with me at the house and we juggled between watching cartoons and the Olympic highlights. Thankfully there was a nice café (The Lifebuoy Café) on the same road as the house that did soup to go so for lunch we headed that way and picked some up. They had already seen me earlier that morning as I grabbed a coffee so welcomed me in as if I were a returning local.
I probably should put this next bit as a positive but it had my husband and I laughing for hours. We were waiting to cross the road to the car park but a blind or stupid family decided to cross without looking and a motorist had to move to avoid them and it was this elderly man in a small old car who pumped his wrinkly old fist in the air and shouted f-ing tourists as he bombed down the road. Too funny!
Was there anything I didn't like??? well yes but only because I was sick. I was trying to rest and the church seemed to be having a bell rehearsal that lasted what felt like hours! The bells go off a lot and never really bothered me but that night they were driving me mental!
We had a great time staying in Fowey and think you will too!
© oioiyou 2012
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Shirley Village This small village is down one of two lanes off the A52 between Derby and Ashbourne in Derbyshire. The village has a population of only about two hundred and fifty at tops. I often thought about that as we drove around the USA and the little towns would have a welcome sign with their population on it, some only ... had 43 or 129 and I wondered if someone ran out to change it after each birth or death!
WHAT A STRANGE NAME
It is thought that the village name comes from the Saxon word for 'bright clearing' (sirelei) .The first recording of the use of the name Shirley was around 1250 when the Saxon lord Siwallis who lived in Shirley added de Shirley to his name. This family were crusaders and this is where the village pub takes its name ( Saracen's Head) . The Shirley family were granted the title Lord Ferrers and Viscount Tamworth in 1711 after many distinguished years of serving the country. They did live just outside the village in a lovely white house known as the Old Vicarage for years but the house has now been sold out of the family.
The village centre focuses on the pub, 'The Saracen's Head' built in 1971 and now a very popular gastro pub. When I first came to the village the pub was very different and still had the original farm buildings behind it including a pig sty and stables that my friend and I made into a meeting place for the other young teens in the village. These have now been converted into very nice self catering accommodation.
Opposite the pub is a row of terraced houses which were apparently originally a barn but they look like Victorian terraces to me. You can tell they were originally a bar by the blocked 'breather' bricks which were used to ventilate barns in the past. They date from the 1800s I believe two are only one bedroom while a third is a two bedroom house but they are very pretty and are within the conservation area of the village.
THE OLD RECTORY
Behind these houses on the left as you look at them is the old Rectory which is a stone built house dating from the 1300s which was lovingly restored and looked after for many years by the same couple, it has since changed hands twice. It looks quite big from the outside but the ceilings and door ways are very low so if you are tall you do have to be very aware of this when visiting. Unless you know this house is there from the village it is really just seen as a high stone wall and hedge and cannot be seen unless you go down the driveway.
ST MICHAEL'S CHURCH
Continuing onwards to the left and next to the Old Rectory is not surprisingly the church of St Michael. The entrance to the church is through thick chunky wooden gates and passed an ancient yew tree and the grave yard which surrounds the church. For those interested in history there are some very old graves on which you can just still read the inscriptions. Both my parents are buried in the church yard; sadly my Dad is not with my Mum as step brother decided to put his mother in with my Dad. So he is with someone he was married to for five years rather than the person who gave him four daughters and was married to him for over thirty years but that is a long story! Things like this will be fascinating to historians in years to come.
The church is a pretty building with a long history and many fascinating features inside as well. It was first mentioned in the Doomsday book in 1086 though not much of that building remains. The oldest part is the chancel arch and the oldest bell tower dates around the 1500s. I might be inspired to write a review on this at some time in the future.
THE OLD SCHOOL AND TOWARDS PARK LANE
Next to the church is the Old School which closed to pupils in around 1967 and is now two houses. One part was the former school master's home and the other part the original primary school. Almost opposite the school is another set of old terraced cottages which are just outside the conservation area. They are possibly farm workers cottages and I know for a fact that one of them is a tiny three bedroomed cottage as I lived there for a while with my two children. Upstairs the rooms all have sloping ceilings and the windows are at the height of your knees.
Rushmore house was a former farmhouse but is now a family home with a very large garden and vegetable garden as well. Next door along the lane you come to the Old Stables which were pretty obviously once stables for this farmhouse.
If you continued up Park lane you would go past a farm house then at the end of a very long drive near the lane is a semi detached house once the gardener 's and the groom's homes when the large house at the end of the drive was owned by the first the Lees of Lees Foundry in Derby and then Thorntons of chocolate fame. If you continue along this lane you come to the village cricket and football pitch where matches take place from time time to time against other villages.
At the end of this lane you come to a gate which leads into Shirley Woods owned by the Walker Okeover Estate. There was a beautiful manor house at the Osmaston village end of the woods but sadly it was demolished in the late 60s. Our house has a beam from the manor in the sitting room. The site is now used for weddings in the summer and a huge marquee is erected every year. It is a perfect site for a wedding reception with stunning views but I suspect it is not a cheap option.
The woods are lovely to walk through with footpaths through different areas. An old water mill sits at the edge of the lake and looks very picturesque. It makes a great walk to go from Shirley Village through to Osmaston and if you are still full of energy you can walk on to Ashbourne but that is all along roads.
BACK IN THE VILLAGE
Returning to the village and on the right hand side of the pub is a little lane and if you look along the lane or driveway you will see a small barn which was the original village butcher's shop. The village also used to have a little Post Office which was in one room of the first house on the corner of derby Lane just near the old Telephone box. Sadly when the old lady who ran the PO retired the PO closed it and we now have no shop at all in the village. You can see where the old post box was bricked up in the wall and we now have a free standing box next to the telephone box.
The telephone box is one of the original red boxes and our village has converted it into a lending library which is overseen by one of the residents.
There is a bit of a controversy about the bakehouse of the village as some say it is a small building on Mill Lane whereas we were told it was a small building that was in our property until we sold our barn for a conversion to a house. I don't suppose anyone knows for sure but there was a fire place there and a village well was next to it which would have been handy.
The Old Farmhouse on Derby Lane was originally three small two story cottages which were built in the 1500s and a third story was added in 1793 . The entire building is now one family home although there are still two sets of stairs and one cellar, the other has been filled in to ground level.
This farmhouse had an orchard surrounding it and a really lovely proper farm yard with barns, pig sty and cow sheds but these were demolished apart from part of the barn next to the house. The 60s houses around to the back of this house were built when the buildings were demolished and using the orchard. I am sure planning permission would not be granted these days.
There are many other interesting buildings and a lot of history in this small village which was once the property of the Walker Okeover family though now most of the houses are privately owned there are still a few owned by the estate.
Once again it is rumoured that Bonnie Prince Charlie spent a night in the pub but he seems to have stayed in rather too many places so who knows?
John Cowper Powys who was born in 1872 spent the first seven years of his life in the village when his father was the local vicar. If you read his life story the first chapter is entitled 'Shirley'.
Walter Shirley was vicar of Shirley, became archdeacon of Derby and later became Archbishop of Sodor and Man . I wonder if he knew Thomas the Tank Engine?
So there you have it a quick tour of our little village. If you are in the Ashbourne area looking for a nice walk then this is one I would recommend. If you like churchyards then again this one has some very interesting grave stones which tell a story of their own. The village itself has changed in the forty plus years I have lived or my parents have lived there, there are many more modern houses than there were and people have come and gone but it is still a nice village to wander around and look at the variety of houses and some of the lovely gardens.
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Whitby in general
Whitby for those that don't know is a seaside town on the East Coast in North Yorkshire and living in the North it is a place we visit at least once a year. The town is a port built up around the fishing industry and is famous for Captain James Cook who was born nearby and is where he started his seafaring career and is also ... the inspiration for Bram Stokers Dracula.
Like many fishing ports the harbour area is lined with small cottages which date back to mediaeval times and which give Whitby its character.
The town is divided into two parts the older East side which has the ruins of St Hilda's Abbey and St Mary's church and the West side which has its share of old cottages and terraces, but also has many properties built in later periods. Particularly of note is the Cresent which is full of Georgian grandeur , but sadly was never completed.
It is a lovely place to visit and the approach from the South takes you up and down dale across the North Yorkshire Moors. Make sure your brakes are working as there are some very steep hills and watch out for the sheep who often wander off the heather covered moors onto the roads.
You know when you are close to Whitby as the skyline is dominated by the RAF early warning satellite/radar structures at Fylingdales which once were in the shape of golf balls but have since been replaced by much more mundane structures.
You will also pass Goathland which is of interest if you liked Heartbeat as it was filmed in this area.
There are several routes into Whitby but we always take the route signposted Sandsend which takes you to the West Cliff , which is where you can find free car parking on the roadside and streets around the Crescent.
Worthy of note is that disabled parking is not free in Whitby in pay and display car parks.
There is also a lift to the beach from the West Cliff, which is essential if you are disabled particularly on the way back up as the terrain is very stee
Whitby has some beautiful beaches some of which are dog friendly but there are restrictions (May to October I think). However beyond the beach huts on the West Side the restrictions are lifted and you can walk miles along the beach to Sandsend when the tide is out. It is a lovely walk and at the end there is a really nice café which serves great food. I can recommend the full English and the apple pie,
On a nice day of course the miles of beach mean you can simply sit on the beach, or if you are brave swim in the sea. There are beach huts and deckchairs to hire and donkey rides if the fancy takes you.
On the East side there is Tate Hill Beach which is small and sandy and dogs are allowed all year.
As you would expect there are boat trips a plenty including those that want to go sea fishing.
Take a trip to the East side and head up the 199 steps to the Abbey and Church ,worth a trip as the views are amazing and on the journey stop and take photographs of the panorama or the cottages down below.
Deep breaths are required for the 199 steps but there are benches along the way. Or try the goat track that runs alongside the steps, but be warned you need to be like a mountain goat to reach the top.
There is a tourist bus that travels around Whitby, it departs from the Harbour and you can get on and off wherever you wish and this will take you to the Abbey, if you don't fancy or can't make the 199 steps.
St Marys church is lovely and worth a visit. The churchyard is very atmospheric and full of tombstones which have been weathered away as you would expect being at the top of a cliff. Years ago we attended a Church Service here and sat in the old boxed pews.
The Abbey is in ruins and I must admit we have never got close up.
There are lots of lovely walks around Whitby in all directions. If you feel energetic you can walk along the cliff on the Cleveland Way to Robin Hoods Bay, which is a very pretty spot. Less commercial and smaller than Whitby but be warned the walk down to the sea is very steep.
Whitby has a varied selection of shops , on the East side lots of jewellery shops selling Whitby Jet pieces, lots of sweetie shops and plenty of places to buy ornaments paintings and photographs, plus some vintage clothes shops. On the West side Bothams the baker is worth a visit as the bread and cakes are lovely. In the back streets you will find some bric a brac shops but they are slowly disappearing and more Charity shops are appearing and Somerfield's is now a Poundland. A sign of the times sadly.
Whitby does get very crowded so I would recommend wandering around early morning or early evening particularly on the East side where the streets are narrow and cobbled and it becomes a little challenging especially as the pavements are narrow.
Whitby is full of character with small alleyways and passages to explore. On the East side the cottages are tall and narrow and tend to be 3 or 4 storeys high.
Places to eat are plentiful and be prepared to queue if you want to visit the Magpie café which is definitely worth the wait. The queue starts early and they have had to form a waiting area on the other side of the road. Fabulous fish and chips, but I would not recommend their takeaway version.
We tend to have dogs in tow , so usually try to find dog friendly places so haven't tried all the restaurants , but we have had lovely breakfasts at the cafés right on the end of the harbour ,one at the top of Grape Lane . Also try the cakes at Becketts on Skinner Street where they actively encourage dog owners and while you are scoffing the cake can browse the second hand books which are on sale. The staff are very warm and friendly and the atmosphere is very welcoming. Not open every day though unfortunately. Also I would recommend sharing the cake as the portions are very large.
Places to stay are plentiful and there are masses of bed and breakfast establishments, cottages and apartments to rent and a couple of Hotels. We have stayed at the Royal which is the largest hotel and tends to cater for coach parties. We have stayed with family and so have sampled the entertainment on offer which includes bingo ballroom dancing and cabaret. Not normally my type of thing and better on some nights than others.
The rooms vary but we had a sea view room the size of a ballroom. It needed refurbishing but we were out and about so wasn't an issue. The food was OK nothing to write home about. I am not selling the place but we did enjoy our stay with our family.
We have stayed in various cottages all of which have been lovely, but now tend to favour the West side as negotiating the narrow cobbled streets to unload and load on the East side is rather stressful particularly with 2 dogs in tow .
The Spa Theatre often features themed entertainment which includes 60's weekends where you will find Whitby full of ageing mods on their scooters.
Dracula will take you around Whitby most evenings and starts his tour outside the Royal. Plus Whitby is now a mecca for Goths and runs a number of events during the year.
Down by the harbour there are a couple of amusement arcades and some children's rides plus the Dracula experience.
There are plenty of places to visit including Scarborough or further north you will find Staithes and Saltburn. We liked Saltburn as it has a lovely woodland park with an old railway running through and a vernacular lift to the top of the cliff, plus miles of beach. It has seen better days but we enjoyed the drive and our fish and chips plus a bracing walk.
You can also take a trip on the Moorlander a steam train that will take you inland to Goathland and Pickering. It does serve lunch and dinner but based on our experience I would not recommend the food, however we did receive a full refund. It was a great shame but we paid nearly £100 for lunch for 2 and expected something special. Perhaps it was an off day!
I would really recommend a visit to Whitby , you are at the mercy of our weather and if you do visit, be warned if it is misty and foggy , it tends to linger longer in Whitby - it must be the Dracula connection!
We love Whitby and never tire of wandering round the streets, walking the beaches and coastal paths and tend to stay a few days or a week at a time.
So five stars from me.
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