It's always a wise precaution to install friends in places you'd like to holiday and recently we went to stay with a couple of ours who have made the entirely helpful decision to live in North Devon.
Not only do they have a lovely house, thoughtfully completely redecorated for our visit, they also have the rather fabulous habit of plying us with the finest wine and excellent food. Of course we return time and time again, who wouldn't? I just wish they wouldn't insist on retelling the infamous Incident with the Grappa...
The first thing they did was take us along to their local National Trust property, Knightshayes - a huge favourite of ours - where we pondered a man wearing an orange skirt while A ignored 'No Entry' and 'this area closed' signs, his Canon lens firmly focussed on flighty blue butterflies. Then it was off to the Great Western canal at Tiverton where A (and N to an impressively professional extent) focussed their lenses on dragonflies - you sense a pattern here - and we gazed fondly at the horse pulling the narrowboat and snoozed along in the hot sun.
On Monday our hosts trailed off unenthusiastically to work (before we were awake) and we followed their advice and headed into Dorset, first to Montacute House...
...a National Trust property famous for its wavy hedges, where we had lunch and happy wander through the National Portrait gallery paintings.
Then it was back in the car for a meander through the Dorset countryside which included a brief stop to gaze upon the magnificence of the Cerne Giant. Eventually we found our way to the Abbotsbury section of Chesil Beach where we cooled down with ice creams and watched the mackerel flit past in huge shoals as the waves broke on the shore.
The edge of the beach was littered with silvery sprats fleeing from the mackerel.
For me it was pebble nirvana and I spent a happy afternoon turning over all the pebbles individually looking for pretty things and lovely shells. I would still be there now if I hadn't been lured away to eat pollack and chips on the beach at West Bay.
We bought our chips from one the kiosks on the harbour (second from the right, blue and white painted) and strolled elegantly (all right, we ran like hell) down to the beach where we plonked ourselves down and scoffed in an unseemly fashion. Afterwards we were surprised by the slope to the beach, we had dashed down it in such a greedy hurry. These two - the Morcambe and Wise of the gull world - were our supper time entertainment.