Road Trip September 2015

Once again our holiday in the UK has been designed around our love of Post Boxes! I know some of you think we’re mad but over the last four years we’ve seen much more of the country we live in than we would have done without the Post Box hobby! 

This trip was in a south westerly direction staying in Somerset, North Devon and South Devon… all places that I have never visited before. 

Our first day of travelling included some great scenery and some rare and unusual post boxes and not an Edward 8th box in sight! 

VR Fluted Vertical pillar box in Solihull B90 93
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The Severn Valley Railway @svrofficialsite was our next stop but no time for a journey on this railway, a beautiful station.

K4 post office box at Bewdley Station
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VR Wall Box Radford 
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This beautiful cottage next door was for sale!
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Driving towards Malvern I suddenly saw what looked like a Mountain appear out of the low cloud straight in front of me… ‘Blooming heck’ I shouted… ‘The Malvern Hills!’

VR Fluted Horizontal Malvern WR14 105
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VR Fluted Horizontal Malvern WR14 2
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VR Fluted Horizontal Malvern WR14 8
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We stayed at Holiday Resort Unity not far from Weston Super Mare. A lovely place to stay with a very well kept static caravan and even a Warden to welcome us. Definitely recommend this holiday park, not too far from the beach so Mr C enjoyed some early morning beach walks. 

Our second day involved EVIII post boxes around Bristol and at the start of our day we drove past Dismaland on the sea front. Quite a long queue for this pisstake of the usual happy theme parks that we’re all programmed to visit. Dark and dismal and designed by Banksy with a bit of Damien Hurst thrown in too and definitely proving a very popular tourist attraction by the length of the queue.

EVIII BS21 13
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EVIII BS5 207
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EVIII BS9 419
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EVIII BS3 57
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EVIII BS21 29
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We also discovered a green Replica VR Penfold post box almost opposite Dismaland that I’d not got on my list.
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A visit to Bath made me realise just how many amazing cities I’ve never visited in the UK. When you look at a globe of the world, the British Isles is only a small island yet so much for me is still undiscovered. Mr C has visited quite a few more large towns and cities than me due to his passion for Bury Football Club and away matches he’s attended in the past. 

Anyway back to Bath… how many times can I say wow in one blog post? What a beautiful city. I’ve always loved architecture and especially the outsides of buildings (Mr C says it’s because my dad wouldn’t pay entrance prices to anywhere when I was little! Dad, I do love you loads but both Edinburgh Castle and Windsor Castle were much more amazing on the inside when I finally paid the entrance fee as a grown up!) 

Oops got distracted from Bath again, two VR Penfold pillar boxes at either end of a road which were in really good condition. 

VR Penfold BA2 145
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VR Penfold BA2 146
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We then walked around the corner into the city centre which had my heart beating quickly especially seeing The Pump Room, The Circus and The Royal Crescent in person. Bath is definitely on my list of places to visit again.
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Now many of you might know that post boxes and food aren’t my only addictions… I also love Bundt baking tins made by the American company Nordic Ware. In Bath they have a shop that sells them, Kitchens Cookshop is on Quiet Street.
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A very giddy and excited me! Two days until my birthday and Mr C had his arm twisted and bought me the new Square Bundt Pan that I wanted.
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We found a Postal Museum at the old Post office building in Bath.
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East Somerset Railway, Cranmore Station, Nr Shepton Mallet @EastSomersetRly on Twitter. We had a lovely journey on this steam railway and I treated myself to a new badge.
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K4 post office box BA4 151
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A drive down the coast saw beautiful scenery, buildings and views including Dunster Castle, Minehead, a drive over Exmoor which included another rare AA box, Lynton and Lynmouth, Ilfracombe.
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Damien Hirst’s ‘Verity’ is a striking sculpture standing over the Harbour in Ilfracombe where he lives.
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AA Box 
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We finally arrived at our destination of Bideford Bay which is run by Park Resort. I won’t recommend this holiday park! After a couple of poor stays with Park Resorts I won’t book them again.

Birthday Girl!! 
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My birthday plan, after present and card opening, was to drive the 200 mile plus round trip to Land’s End. Why? Because it was my birthday and I could! I have never been to Cornwall before and in June we visited John O’Groats in Scotland so it made sense to visit Land’s End… okay my mind might work differently to yours but Mr C pretends to understand me!
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What a fantastic ‘Birthday Roadtrip!’ I definitely want to go to Cornwall again.  Land’s End was stunning but rather expensive next to the ‘free’ John O’Groats. Expensive parking and you could only have your photo taken stood by the famous ‘Land’s End sign’ by their photographer! We waited til no one was stood there and did our own! Parking is £6 or £2 if you have a Disabled Blue Badge.  (JO’G was free parking with a Blue Badge). Three post boxes at Land’s End too.
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Next was St Michael’s Mount… to see this island suddenly appear on the horizon was stunning. Another place on my wish list. When I was younger I knew about Mont Saint-Michel in France long before I’d ever heard of the Cornish one so I still have to visit the one in Normandy. 
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A VR Penfold pillar box tried to hide from us in Truro but we didn’t let the one way system beat us!

VR Penfold TR1 3
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What a pretty town Padstow is. We bought some Cornish Pasties from Choughs down by the harbour then fishs and chips from Rick Stein’s chippy which were delicious!
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A visit to Westward Ho! Oh I do love an exclamation mark!
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Plus some retail therapy at Atlantic Village marked the end of this part of our trip. Next stop was South Devon and Hoburne’s Devon Bay resort. I highly recommend Hoburne holidays, we have found all accommodation immaculate and of a high standard.

We drove along the edge of Dartmoor in the rain and when we got to the coast it was sunny and stunning. A nice lunch in Bovey Tracey. Oh no we missed The House of Marbles, somewhere I want to go to on another trip to Devon. Mr C had heard about it in the book ‘Bollocks To Alton Towers.’
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We drove south towards Torquay including a slightly hair raising almost vertical drive to a secluded beach with an amazing view… felt like my might tip over backwards as l driving back up! Eek!
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Torquay was shining brightly under a clear blue sky. The new controversial beach huts looked rather modern compared to the white garden sheds with brightly coloured doors which were in Paignton and Goodrington. Oh my word… breathe Sharon… there was a steam railway with a station just down the road from where we were staying… I kept hearing the whistle tooting and the engine chug chug! …… 
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South Devon is beautiful. Everything I imagined and more! Double Wow! I must point out that if you’re a nervous driver you might be best staying off most of the roads, the single track ones are beyond belief, some with 10ft high hedges on either side and deep grass in the middle. Luckily I love country roads and now I’ve an automatic car it means no changing up and down gears constantly… also we didn’t meet vehicles going the opposite way but I did keep a note of every passing place or extra foot of road width we passed! 

Have you ever read Agatha Christie books? I haven’t but yet I’d heard about how Burgh Island in Devon had inspired a couple of her books as well as being a writing haven for her at the Burgh Island Hotel. You have to cross a short sand causeway and when the tide is in there’s a tractor to take you across. The Pilchard Inn has a date of 1336 on it and the Burgh Island Hotel is only accessible to guests unless you’ve booked in for Sunday dinner. Guests at the hotel must dress up each night for black tie dinner, no one can be overdressed according to their website! The rooms look wonderful on http://www.burghisland.com but unfortunately no room prices on the website. A girl can dream. I’ve bought a copy of The Great White Palace by Tony Porter which will tell me more about the history of the hotel and its famous guests over the years. I’ve now found out it’s at least £450 plus £79 for dinner each.

 
Another day and another beautiful location, Coleton Fishacre which was built as the country home for the D’Oyly Carte family of Savoy Theatre, London fame and Gilbert and Sullivan. What a fantastic house inside and out which has been filled with great care by The @NationalTrust. I could have stayed here forever, such a romantic home built in my favourite era full of Arts and Crafts items with a touch of Art Deco elegance. It’s September and the gardens still looked wonderful. I didn’t walk too far, I found a bench in the sunshine and sat with my kindle while Mr C went to investigate more. A lovely cream tea in the cafe and a shop full of National Trust goodies helping me with some birthday and Christmas present ideas.

Dartmouth Castle was on both our lists of places to visit and the easiest way to get there was by steam train and two ferries or so we thought!  We travelled from Goodrington Sands Station to Kingwear Station by train with The Dartmouth Rail and River Boat Company @DartmouthRR on Twitter. Then their ferry took us over to Dartmouth. Our next ferry was down the river to Dartmouth Castle which is run by English Heritage. This boat was a large open wooden boat that might seat 24 people and we had it to ourselves! A bit of a challenge getting on and off with my walking stick but the worst part was the steps up through woodland and a steep path to the castle, not how English Heritage had sold it on their website. After a stressful walk I had to be revived with a cream tea and some strong coffee before Mr C looked around the castle. I suggested a taxi ride back into Dartmouth and apart from two cyclists trying to take out the taxi at a part of the road that was steep and narrow the journey was quick and without a slippery and steep descent plus it cost the same as the ferry would have!

We left the south west and drove to Southampton with an Edward 8th post box and another AA box just outside Exeter.

EVIII EX2 369
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AA Box
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We stopped to eat a sandwich in Lyme Regis, no time to hunt for ammonites but another pretty coastal town and the pebble beach stretched as far as we could see.

VR Penfold Dorchester DT1 85
We got here and realised we’d been to this box on last year’s travels!

We did find this lovely large EVII (Edward 7th) wall box in Dorchester.
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VR Fluted Vertical Christchurch BH23 5
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VR Fluted Vertical Milford On Sea SO41 2 
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Amazing how different two similar and rare post boxes can look in different towns!

Milford On Sea was gorgeous with some great views of the Isle of Wight and The Needles.
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Our destination for the night was The Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton @GHSouthampton on Twitter.

A lovely 4* hotel with helpful staff, especially in the spa and fitness area. There’s a spiral staircase to the pool area from the changing rooms, and a lift for disabled guests. The jacuzzi was lovely, set on a timer so no need to keep pressing the button and blissfully warm while sat under a picture of a stormy sea.  
We had a nice meal in the hotel’s Hamtun Bar and Bistro. 

We had a lovely lunch at The Coach in Marlow which is owned by chef Tom Kerridge. Here’s more about our meal at The Coach.
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The final evening meal of our holiday had been booked since June at The Hand And Flower, the two Michelin star pub in Marlow also owned by Tom Kerridge @HandFMarlow and @ChefTomKerridge on Twitter. Read more about our meal here.

Breakfast was at The Coach in Marlow. Once again food, atmosphere and service were of a high standard!
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VR Penfold OX2 54
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VR Penfold OX2 32
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VR Fluted Vertical Banbury OX16 1012
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VR Fluted Vertical Warwick CV34 105
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A final Cream Tea at The Brethrens Kitchen in Warwick.
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VR Fluted Vertical Warwick CV34 2
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Lots of wonderful Georgian buildings in Warwick with great doorways.
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Where to next?

The allotment of course… well it was a sunny afternoon and we didn’t want to start unpacking and washing straight away!
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