Friday, 1 April 2011

Heading down to Exmoor

I have decided to head down to Exmoor for a few days and have booked into the Youth Hostel at Exford. It was supposed to be a chill out weekend, but I got a bit stressed as by the time I had dropped my daughter at her dads and got on the road from Bath it was gone eight o'clock. The Youth Hostel reception closed at ten. They had warned me that phone reception around Exford was bad, and suggested that I phone at nine and let them know where I was. Unfortunately when I pulled off the road and tried to contact them, the phone line was constantly engaged. By now it was nine thirty and I was still an hour away from the hostel. I decided I had better give up ringing and carry on driving.

At about quarter to ten the hostel phoned me which was nice of them. The chap on the phone tried to ascertain where I was and we finally agreed that I was totally lost. Apparently giving up on me for the evening he asked:
"Do you want breakfast?" (Presumably he was assuming I would have got there by then.)
"Ooh yes please!" I said, to a dead phone. I had lost signal.

I desperately headed on through the country lanes. Espying a phone box I pulled over, thinking I could at least phone the hostel and let them know I was on my way. The phone box, of course, did not take coins. Screaming in frustration I leapt back into my car and drove like a complete maniac for the next twenty minutes. I arrived at the hostel at ten fifteen, screeching into the car park in a flurry of flying gravel. The door was locked but there was a note stuck to the outside with my name on it and a mobile number for me to call. I ran back and got my phone from the car Of course there was still no signal. And then I noticed a line at the bottom of the note.
"Or honk your horn."
I was worried about doing this, after all everyone was clearly all tuckered up in bed. I tentatively blew the horn.
 "Peep peep"
Nothing. I didn"t want to make myself unpopular so instead I tapped on the window. Thankfully a chap appeared at the door and let me in.
"You made it then," he said, cheerfully.
By now I was a nervous wreck after my hair-raising drive.
"Yes, made it. Thank you for letting me in. Thank you" I burbled.
I checked in and the young man gave me my room code.
"Er, one more thing'" I said. "What time does the pub close? I feel rather in need of a drink."
"Oh, you'll be ok if you head off now." he said.

I rushed across the road to the pub, The White Horse. It was clear from the decor that we were now in the heart of hunting country. Now was clearly not the time to boast of my hunt sabbing exploits at university. The village is the home of the the Devon and Somerset Staghounds and the walls were festooned with pictures of folk in red jackets on horses with packs of dogs. Twenty years ago I would have stalked out  declaring I couldn't possibly spend my money in a pro-hunting establishment, but now I shrugged, and turned to the bar to examine the pumps.

Exmoor Gold! Great, one of my favourite beers. A couple of those set me up before I wandered back to the hostel for the night.

This is the (hopeless) route I took: here

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