My mum and I spent the summer having further short breaks which took in Salisbury, our hometown of Bournemouth and Devon for the second time this summer.
I admit to not enjoying the driving to Salisbury or Bournemouth (via Salisbury). Sad as it sounds, Google Earth informed me of what to expect but I was slightly perplexed and not a little annoyed to find that, when lost, many signs were hidden behind good Wiltshire foliage.
Anyway, once there we enjoyed our stays which were all taken in Travelodges. We both like them and maybe staying in service stations would not appeal to all but the rooms were always decent and comfortable.
We attended a service in Salisbury Cathedral, whilst in Bournemouth we visited our old houses and enjoyed other old haunts.
On to a slightly longer break in Devon, we stayed just outside Barnstaple. Being reasonably familiar territory and having travelled via Tiverton, we made it without getting lost and had lunch and a walk along the Grand Western Canal as usual. Being just under three miles from Tawstock where we both were at school (Mum as teacher, son as taught), we had a ride up there on the same afternoon. The school, St. Michael's, closed some years ago but many happy memories were rekindled even though we could not go in.
I was reminded of the time two of us, probably aged around 11, ran off and made it to the banks of the River Taw overlooking Barnstaple. My escaping accomplice, a farming lad, was instrumental in getting us that far, I having no nous - a trait which has regrettably continued into my 50s with no sign of improvement - with general directions. There was a search and much scouring of local fields and there may even have been a helicopter deputed to join in but we did have the afternoon and some of the evening away before being caught.
The vast grounds once played home for a night's camping. My companion on that occasion was probably a little braver than me, and lasted the night. I, on waking and finding a cow trying to devour the tent, fled.
On the Saturday, we went to Baggy Point and Croyde Bay and had a wonderful, bracing walk. The views are wonderful and there is always a feeling of excitement when the wind sets in.
A church friend had recommended Mortehoe to us and, being so close to Croyde, we gladly took it in. Short in mileage between the two places, the journey was a long one, though, as many of us met a double-decker bus through the hamlet of Georgeham. There was barely enough room for two cars to pass through least of all comfortably so this was quite an experience although I am familiar with the woes of Devonshire roads... Take me home country roads... Maybe, but in their own good time.
Mortehoe was a delight. The name of one of its pubs, Ship Aground, should be enough to discern that it is near the sea and the views towards Woolacombe and Morte Point were spectacular and certainly good enough to take lunch without one of the few popular benches being available. The usual family disagreement of what is a sheep and a goat resurfaced and we settled for a geep or shoat, a mixture of both.
We went to Umberleigh later, the home of one of our favourite school teachers who resided there and lived to the age of 92. He had once allowed Mum and I to stay there whilst he was away in the late 70s and told us to help ourselves to any tinned food we fancied. Having fought our way through the dense cobwebs, we were slightly disturbed to find tins dating back to the war. Second, I should say.
View from Baggy Point
Our lunch stop view at Mortehoe
Clovelly harbour
The picture postcard view of Clovelly
Westward Ho!
Westward Ho! beach
My former prep school, St. Michaelís, and St. Peterís Church seen from Codden Hill
Grand Western Canal near Tiverton

We also returned via Codden Hill which the old St. Michael's overlooked. This brought back another blow to my pride when, at a similar age of my escape, I ended up being lost along the Codden road with two other friends. None of us had the navigational skills of the farming lad and, as we were not attempting a further bid for glory and an early return home, we tried to hitch a lift. My thumb went in both directions which brought roars of laughter from a passing car (which didn't stop). I do not remember how we made it back to school.
Our last full day took us to the Devonian highlight of Clovelly. Having spent a lot of time in Devon, my mum and I felt rather aware that neither of us had visited this impressive and renowned village. My late father, an Air Traffic Controller who never once flew in a plane, had been the only one and his only aerial experience was in a helicopter which, yes, deposited him just off Clovelly. I am sure that he would have asked to come round from the shock in The Red Lion in Clovelly's delightful harbour.
We were pleased to see it from terra firma and kept upright on the cobbled stops. Before I was initiated with the workings of a visit to Clovelly, I was surprised by an entrance (and included parking) fee of £7.95 per person. It was thoroughly worthwhile, though, and we enjoyed a walk down and up the main street and the harbour. We wondered whether the Clovelly Lifeguards had had to come to my father's aid all those years ago.
We went on to Westward Ho! - the only town in England which has an exclamation mark as part of its name - which was another favourite haunt. It has undoubtedly changed since we lived close by but I immediately recognised many parts of it. We clambered over huge pebbles in trying to reach the beach, and must have made quite a sight ponderously slipping regularly and looking like a hover of (old) trout supporting each other. Once finally there, we enjoyed the wonderful views of Saunton Sands, and I later enjoyed watching a game of cricket on the town's magnificently picturesque ground.
We lived in Bideford for a while and managed to find the house some 45 years after we left. It hasn't changed much, and the hill reminded us of a neighbour who bravely, if foolishly, attached a rope to the back of her family car and followed it on skates. All seems to have gone well until the car stopped.
We returned via Tiverton the following day. My idea had been to go back over the Exmoor coast road but Mum suggested otherwise. She probably knew that joining the M5 further down would likely be an easier route than coming on at Minehead. We have somehow survived the dramas of Porlock and Lynton hills on previous visits and it was felt that returning via Tivvy would problem be easier on our nerves. It was, the journey being straightforward with no hint of a delay.