A Brief British Road Trip

By abbieredmon

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I'm spending a few weeks doing some house-sitting in Cornwall, so I flew from Berlin into London with the intention of seeing a bit of the western coast on my way south to Cornwall.

Before meeting up with my friend, Dave, who was going to explore with me (and do the driving!), I stopped for a night in Oxford, the site of a transformative study abroad experience during my undergraduate years. It had been eight years since I was last there, but I was surprised by how much I remembered! I barely needed a map.

I splurged and stayed at Ethos Hotel, which I found on the Hotel Tonight app (awesome -- if you travel a lot and don't have it, get it), and is only a 10-minute walk from the center. It's a converted rowhouse with only a few rooms, and I weirdly got what is basically the penthouse suite: two-floor living (completely unnecessary) with a big couch, a kitchenette, a luxurious bathroom with heated tile floors and a heated towel rack, and a massive bedroom upstairs with multiple skylights. It did not suck. (And was also immensely excessive.)

I only had a few hours of daylight after my arrival, so I wandered 'round to the Radcliffe Camera (I just love that building, dammit) and "popped" into Blackwell. More than an hour later, I came out with three books and a Christmas gift for a friend. Sigh. I'm off to an expensive start in the UK, ha.

On my only night in town, I had dinner at Big Society, a recommendation from fellow Bonjournalist @alexkrook, and it was damn good fried chicken, especially for being in England (ha, sorry guys).

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I woke up early(ish) to have a look around Oxford before I left, since the sun was shining.

I walked through town and over to St. Catherine's, my college for the semester I studied at Oxford, and it was weird how much I recognized, especially the library (no surprise there -- spent a lot of time in it!).

Oxford when it's sunny is quite cheerful and inspiring. Everyone is cycling around, off to a tutorial, to research something [probably] esoteric, or otherwise help to save the world in some way.

I myself was off to brunch. #sorrynotsorry

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I met up with fellow Bonjournalist @alexkrook for brunch in Oxford before I skipped town. Her journals make clear that she pays attention to tasty food, so I knew I was in good hands.

The place: Combibos. The food: enormously sufficient.

It was a cozy little cafe on the square where they have all the markets in the mornings and on the weekends.

I forewent the bacon pancakes in order to have the blueberry pancakes, though I think both would have been equally magnificent. As you can see, they vanished quickly.

Alex and I had a nice chat about Oxford and traveling and Berlin and Iceland and where we were going next, &c.

It was the perfect way to spend a Tuesday morning before I shuttled off for some coastal adventures with Dave.

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With Dave's surfboards in the back, we drove from Oxford to Lynmouth Tuesday afternoon, making it just in time to catch a lovely sky at sunset.

The coastline around these parts is pretty spectacular!

Lynton and Lynmouth are two little villages joined together -- Lynmouth at the water, with a harbor, and Lynton up the hill behind it. There's a great funicular line that takes you up to Lynton, but I think it only runs in the summer.

Very quaint little places, both, and we had a nice dinner at a pub in Lynmouth before planning the next day's adventures...

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We parked at the top and walked down a road to Woody Bay, which is secluded and wonderful, but right as we got down on it, the sky decided to dump rain.

It was a shame -- the spot was beautiful, with a bit of a waterfall and a lovely rocky beach -- it would have been nice to stay longer.

Without rain jackets, or even a hood for me, we were utterly drenched after the (at least) 15-minute uphill march back to the car.

I changed my pants unceremoniously at the back of the car -- there was no way I could sit in the car with completely soaked pants -- and we carried on in a bit of a downpour for a while.

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Our first stop this morning was a pretty sweet lighthouse.

First we ambled around the top of the cliffs, taking in the views and seeing what we could see.

Then we may or may not have done a bit of mild trespassing to get closer, and to see some views from sea level. There were some awesome boulders scattered around that made for dramatic splashes when big waves came through.

A pretty sweet start to the day!

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Here's a peek into my daily routine during my house-sitting gig in Cornwall before Christmas.

I had charge of a pony (Joe), 4 hens and 1 cockerel, and two dogs, a Dalmatian and a collie (the sweetest but most attention-hungry dog ON THE PLANET, incidentally).

Shortly after sunrise every day, the dogs and I head outside to put Joe in the field and let the chickens out of their hen house. Joe has to wear his jacket because he likes to roll around in the field. Since he also shits in the field, the jacket keeps him from rolling (at least directly) in his own shit. Joe is not the brightest horse around.

The chickens hop out of the hen house and head directly for their food.

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After Joe and the chickens are out and chowing down, I have to clean Joe's stable. Shovel the shit, hose it down, refill his water bucket, prepare a fresh slice of hay, and grab a few apples for his trough.

The dogs wait -- sometimes patiently, sometimes not -- while I go through this routine. Sometimes the Dalmatian (Purdy) has a nap on the hay while she waits. The collie (Gwen) is NEVER very far from me. Usually, I call her name only to turn around and find out that she is standing directly behind my legs.

After the stable chores, Purdy and Gwen go on a walk with me.

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Around 3:30 p.m., Gwen starts getting very anxious, because she knows it's almost time for afternoon chores.

"Is it time yet? How about now? Now? What about right now? Are you sure it's not time? I feel like maybe it's time now. How about now?"

After a hilarious amount of build-up, when I finally do open the back door to go out, she launches out as if she is on the chase. Purdy is not too far behind.

This is the morning routine in reverse. Bring Joe into the stable and take off his jacket. Attempt to brush at least SOME of the mud/shit out of his hair (REALLY, Joe?), and then move his fence so he has fresh grass for tomorrow.

If the last of the chicken haven't already put themselves to bed, I have to herd them into their house, which isn't too difficult unless one of them is feeling particularly feisty. Sometimes I find that one of them has left me an egg. If they have, it is usually sitting right in the doorway to the henhouse. Odd, but there it is.

Once the other animals are where they should be, Purdy and Gwen and I go for our evening walk. If there's a heron by the ponds, they get to chase it, which is apparently quite thrilling. Gwen is always immensely pleased with herself afterward.

The sky is always gorgeous. Cornwall is beautiful.