My trip to the West Country that began last Saturday and ended on Wednesday went by in a flash of thunderous rain and ice cream. When the weather was good (Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday), it was really good - we lounged on the harbour beach and ate fish & chips, but when it was bad (Sunday, Monday), it was really bad - we had no choice but to haul ourselves up indoors, where we played Trivial Pursuit and ate biscuits topped with clotted cream. I stayed with my family in a little pink house, overlooking the harbour at Ilfracombe (the view above was from my bedroom window).
In October last year, Damien Hirst installed his 66 foot bronze-clad sculpture Verity at the end of Ilfracombe's pier. The statue of a pregnant female holding a sword aloft and standing on a base of legal books is meant to be a modern allegory of truth and justice. Before our holiday, and after a lot of reading about Verity's recent arrival, I really wasn't sure how I would react to her, but by the end of our stay, I had grown to like the statue very much. It's certainly a very impressive sight.
Seagulls, seagulls, everywhere.
I spent a morning walking along one of the nearby beaches (in a regrettable choice of footwear), exploring rock pools and clumsily clambering over jagged, slippery rocks.
Raging seas. The tides reach incredibly high around this part of the coast.
In front of our house. I love this shade of pink.
On Tuesday we drove twenty miles down the road, through Exmoor National Park, to Lynmouth. Thomas Gainsborough, who honeymooned here, described Lynmouth as 'the most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast'.
Lynmouth sits in a gorge, 700 feet below the town of Lynton, to which it is connected by a water-powered cliff railway.
I travelled up to Lynton via the railway with the aim of visiting a little antique shop that resides down one of the town's perfectly formed side streets. Strangely, I dreamt about buying a blue glass vase from a junk shop a night or two before, but alas, no blue glass vases were to be found here. I did however pick up this black & white picture history book for a couple of pounds - it documents house building in England from the Mediaeval period through to the 60s. In the afternoon, I sat on a deckchair by the sea, Cornish pasty in one hand, book in the other, and read through it, historical period by historical period. (I love the simple cover design.)
A final shot of the sea. The skies were about to open; the depths looked ominous.