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Who wants to go to the Seaside?

Verity guarding the Ilfracombe harbour, North Devon

I had this heartfelt essay planned, filled with self-doubt and vitriol on how I dragged James and the dog away from friends and family, but I think nobody needs to hear about that just now.

Besides, I just remembered something:  Living by the sea is not half bad.

Number one, Rusty the dog has recently discovered kelp.  It is both smellier and more delicious compared to the things you can whip out of a lake or a river.  We try to stop him from eating too much of the stuff, but every dog needs a treat here and there.  On the flip side though, he has not quite figured out the whole not drinking from the sea thing, but slow and steady will win the race, I’m sure.  In the meantime, I shall carry a bottle of water in my rucksack when we go anywhere near the ocean.

Besides, James’ leg is finally well enough to hike on and I can’t quite express how much I have missed walking with my two best boys.  We are discovering new routes and enjoying the exploration of our new hometown each day.  The harbour that used to be too far?  A pleasant weekend stroll as it stands.  The dog loves the beach like silly, but there’s nothing like getting lost in the dinky side streets overlooking the water.

Secondly, have you ever had the delight of hopping from rock to rock, admiring the wee rock pools and stone formations exposed by the passing tide?  We didn’t do vacations by the sea when I was little so this is all very new and incredibly exciting to me.  My plan is to put a bit of money aside to buy a DLCR, to really start photographing this stuff.  Whether you are into photography or not, let me tell you, it is worth taking that leap on an algae covered ridge to see what lays on the other side.

Thirdly, and please accept my apologies for the lack of pictorial evidence – I was simply too busy having fun, there is nothing like a Devon-made ice cream in the sun.  I was observing the correct social distancing rules while purchasing and consuming mine, don’t you worry.

When you are born and raised in Finland, the whole 2 metre distance thingy is just called your normal personal space.

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Now it’s not the time to travel, but when it is, Ilfracombe is eagerly waiting for you.  In the meantime, hope you have enjoyed my sunny seaside snaps.

Stay safe guys and enjoy the everyday.

Tiina x

A Postcard from Ilfracombe

Greetings from lockdown guys!  I was thinking about calling this one “all locked up and no place to go” but I suppose exceptional circumstances aren’t quite enough to let my pun-standards slip that low.

Now, I was on my way to merry old England when I last wrote on the blog and so much has happened that I don’t even know where to start.  I took a punt on an exciting job offer that ended up taking me, the dog and James to North Devon and we’re currently happily settled in Ilfracombe.  I suppose this is the opposite of those “ready to quit the rat race and start living”-type of deals you often read about, but you won’t catch me complaining.  Sure, I do miss France a lot, but at the same time, that dodgy roof at chez nous isn’t going to fix itself and having a salary package sure helps.

Chez Nous N°21 is a blog about life in France, so I try not to diverge too far by saying I do find myself falling for Ilfracombe a bit.  For those of you who don’t know, it’s a small seaside resort surrounded by cliffs and plenty of picturesque Devon countryside.  It carries its history of fishing, smuggling and Victorian seaside frolics well, although none of the local industries, tourism included, are quite what they used to be.  In that regard, it resembles Mazamet: a low income area in a lovely part of the world.  Whereas Mazamet generated its wealth in the factories nestled at the foot of the Montagne Noire and attracted the easy living socialites in the 1920 and 30’s, Ilfracombe was the place to be for the Victorian middle class.

You can see this reflected in the local architecture: the splendid terraces overlooking Ilfracombe harbour are mostly Georgian, but the grandiose guest houses and villas high on the cliffs surrounding the town centre are largely Victorian in style and spirit.  My personal favourite are the dinky fishermen’s cottages tucked away towards the seafront with names like the “Smugglers hideaway” and “Stormy Seas Cottage”.  Our place is of the latter sort, a small cottage just off the High Street.  Both James and I fell in love with it instantly.  I adore the exposed timbers and slate floors, but there was one feature that really sealed the deal for us: a parking spot, worth its weight in gold in Ilfracombe.

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Greetings from Devon

And we were able to fit Graeme the Grand Piano in – a whole novel’s worth of drama in itself, but maybe I’ll rant about it later.  I am getting much better at playing him, having graduated from easy Beatles towards Elgar for beginners.

I do hope you are keeping safe and well, locked down or not.

See you around,

Tiina x