Saturday afternoon Liam and I went out for a fabulous socially distanced lunch out with his family, where we had some delicious lasagne at Bonnie’s Brunch. A newly opened family run cafe in Plymouth we have all given two thumbs up to. We got back home and decided that even though the promised heat wave wasn’t quite as strong as anticipated, the weather was still far too nice to pass up! We packed up our bags and headed up to Venford Reservoir on Dartmoor, somewhere we had visited earlier this year with Liam’s parents (link). This time however, Liam had something new and exciting in store for me. I couldn’t wait!
Browsing the Devon Wildlife Trust website and following their instagram has long been a way for me to find out new nature reserves, trails and places to explore. Recently while being determined to spend more time in the beautiful and on my doorstep Tamar Valley AONB, I discovered that one such nature reserve and trail was just outside of Tamerton Foliot. Warleigh Point Nature Reserve. Armed with the promise of stunning views over the rivers Tamar and Tavy, it gave Emily and I a chance to go out with my parents and blow the working week away without having to do much forward planning. Perfect as we have been house viewing nonstop recently!
I think getting outside and walking is one of life’s simple pleasures. It is pretty much free, and it gives you the opportunity to see and do things that you would have missed out on by staying indoors. As with all simple pleasures, sharing these walks with friends and family is even better than venturing out solo. That is why, after being tipped off that the Tamar Valley trains were running for free, I jumped at the opportunity to head out to Gunnislake with the family in tow. Suspension of cash payments due to Covid19 is a slim silver lining I had to take!
Now that I am back on that Monday to Friday working life grind the weekends have become a thing of beauty again. Two days of complete freedom for us to spend how we like, and Liam and I the thing we love to do most is to get outside and explore the beautiful areas we are so lucky to be surrounded by. After two weekends of dreary wet weather we finally had a clear day where we could get back out there. We decided to spend the day completing the next stretch of the South West Coastal Path, 9.8 miles from Erme Estuary to Noss Mayo.
Driving across Dartmoor in sunny weather is always stunning. Heading out of Princetown, Emily and I stopped near Merrivale to start our afternoon. Walking to Kings Tor we wrapped around the Bronze Age settlements, taking in the stone rows, circles and standing stones that have been in place these past 4000 years. I always find it hard to imagine what it must have been like for prehistoric man in such a windswept and open environment. It makes it all the more amazing to think that as a species, even with the most primitive tools, we shaped our environment so early into our history that it would last for millennia.
Emily by the standing stone with the clearly visible remains of a stone circle in the background
After a Covid19 lockdown initiated hiatus, Emily and I made the most of the bank holiday and got out onto Dartmoor. It felt like it had been ages, and in all honesty it really had. 6 months of travel, poor weather and a strict lockdown had prevented us getting out to our local National Park for the best part of a year. Still, that’s the best thing about the outdoors. It’s there waiting for you and it’s all the more glorious for it.
When Liam and I returned to England we were so excited to start this new chapter, after applying and receiving offers to start new job roles we felt like it was all going to fall into place again… but then came Corona and put everything on pause. Unexpected as it is, we are grateful that we have our health, each other, a roof over our heads and that we can stay in touch with family and friends wirelessly. Being under lockdown is a challenge for anyone. It’s been hugely important and helpful to us to still be able to get out of the house once a day and go for a walk. It’s given us the opportunity to see areas nearby that we wouldn’t necessarily have visited too often in the past. Also we have had exceptionally nice and sunny weather this past week so we were really able to make the most out of our outings!
In these uncertain times, it is going to be the little details that make 2020 bearable for a lot of us. To avoid cabin fever, having spent the past 2 months working hard on acquiring government jobs only to have our start dates pulled out from under our feet, we felt the need to stretch our legs. Isolating for physical health is obviously going to have a long-term impact on mental health for a lot of people, and Emily and I decided to regain some sense of normality by heading out to Wembury (one of our favourite places) and picking out a new hike there. Who says you need to social distance inside anyway?
It was the dead of the morning when Liam and I arrived in Ninh Binh. Our bus driver absolutely gunned it down the road from Hue and our 11 hour journey was over in 9, leaving us on the side of a road at 3:30 am with one fellow traveller. We decided to split a taxi fare with him since we were heading the same direction, the taxi driver took half the fare from him and when we arrived at our homestay he demanded the full fare from us. Nothing like finding your way out of a scam to wake you right up. Luckily our luck changed from there on out. Our homestay hosts graciously let us in at a time where no one wants to be awake, and let us sleep in the dorm room until we woke up for the day at no extra cost. Heroes!
Ninh Binh is such a peaceful and beautiful place at any hour
One thing you notice after spending just a week in Cambodia is just how few old people there are. There seems to be a missing generation and the awful truth is that there is. The brutal Khmer Rouge regime reigned terror on the people of this wonderful country for 4 years between 1975 and 1979, killing over a million people either by murder or through the starvation, disease and chaos that often follows such an abhorrent regime. It’s a sad story. But it’s a story more people should know. And it’s the story of why Emily and I visited Phnom Penh.
Skulls of the dead at the Killing Fields – a macabre sight