Well, giving the old blog another go, so keep your eyes peeled for some product reviews, places to visit and useful stuff. Interspersed with some political and social comment!

Well, with the depressing weather ruining any leisure time one has, it became apparent that Saturday was going to involve some shopping. Usually enough to drive me to distraction. However we decided to go to Sidmouth, a little gem on the East Devon Coast, somewhat akin to the “Annexe to God’s waiting room” AKA Budleigh Salterton”. Unlike Budleigh, Sidmouth has a great mix of shops to cater for all ages, from “Mobility Scooters” to “Bicycle Hooters” you can find them all.

Tucked away in the pedestrianized area of town, above a row of shops is a well hidden but “sparkling gem” of an eatery. Called “The Loft“. After a little shopping, one required feeding as at least a whole calorie had “dropped off” whilst trekking the high street. Sustenance was taken in the form of The Loft’s “Anti Pasti Plank” a stunning little number served on a “wooden platter”. Consisting of warm granary bread, toasted Haloumi, brie, goats cheese, warm chorizo, olives, honeydew peppers, garlic and salad. A meal “fit for a king”!

The service was impeccable, a lovely waitress seated us and one of the owners sorted our order out. So friendly and welcoming, you were made to feel totally at home. Luckily the better half was “on the tea” so a cheeky cider from Sandford Orchards (well actually 2) was on the cards for me.

This level of service always deserves comment in my book and it is what makes the good places to eat great! So replete and slightly porkier than when we entered, we headed home to Exmouth. Looking forward to our next trip to the loft.

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Amid rumours that a certain “Mr Noah” has been seen collecting pairs of animals from post codes in and around Sedgemoor I was catching up on the local news to try and ascertain, what exactly, the Environment Agency where doing to help the population of the Somerset Levels beset by the current flooding! It would appear that “sod all” was the answer….

Apparently, from “Media” reports, the environment agency has “pledged £1,000,000 towards the £4,000,000 cost of dredging on the Somerset levels. Now remember, that’s money to do a job that they should have done, that’s money to do a job that they neglected to do and whose failure is costing hard working British farmers and householders untold sums and the misery that goes with it. Whilst our farmers and the flood hit residents of the levels and many other places are forced to suffer our government does NOTHING, to help. Yet, wait for it, they are giving money away….yes…our money…not theirs….ours!! And to whom are they giving it? Well, it would seem every country in the bloody world. It seems that David Cameron’s government, which in spite of cuts to public services at home, has boosted Britain’s aid budget to £8.3billion a year and is still committed to increasing it from 0.56 per cent of GDP this year to 0.7 per cent of GDP in 2014. So there you have it, the Tories don’t give a shit, they don’t even give a tiny shit. They are happy to squander your money on aid to foreign dictators, countries who can afford Nukes, countries where women’s rights don’t exist and countries where corruption is so rife, your money…yes yours…just goes straight into the pockets of corrupt politicians. This just goes to show that the £1,000,000 “pledged” by the Environment agency is a crock of shit. So whilst your farm drowns, your livestock can’t graze and your ground floor fills with sewage tainted water, take heart from the fact that Cameron and his cronies don’t give a “flying fuck”. Welcome to “Dave’s Big Society”. It sucks!!!

Wandered back through Exmouths town centre, AKA the skate park! earlier this afternoon. As usual the local youth were demonstrating their skate boarding skills on the pristine concrete, sadly the younger members of one family were using the War Memorial as a “climbing frame” whilst their parents “chowed down” on a Greggs Steak Slice, totally uncaring. What is wrong with respect, would “Wayne and Waynetta” mind if I played on their parents grave stone? Or is it just that whatever education failed these people, the history of Europe, World War 2 and the sacrifice of our brave sons and daughters passed them by whilst they rushed home to get a few hours gaming in on their WI…….Our Council have just wasted half a million pounds on four flagpoles and some coloured concrete at Orcombe Point. What a shame they couldn’t afford to put a fence (preferably electrified) around the memorial to protect it.

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Well, here’s today’s little blog. Having just returned, wet, windswept and chilly after a mad ride in the rain. It’s been four days of shit weather in Devon and we decided that come hell or high water, we would go out for a cycle ride today. Choices were, the Tarka Trail. The Camel Trail or the new Coombe Down Tunnel route near Bath.

As dawn broke, the weather in Devon was rank, so we hoisted the steeds onto the trusty Nissan Micra and headed towards Shepton Mallet and on to Radstock. An ideal place to start the ride, as the route 24 Cycle Trail from Frome to Bath runs through it. Parking was easy and free, so we headed of towards Wellow on the trail. First section tarmac, then de grading slightly as we hit back lanes. Not to hilly, but some large pot holes, so be aware. We reached Wellow and were pretty wet by then. Sustenence beckoned in the form of “Wellow Trekking School Tea Rooms” A pot of tea, donuts and a slice of “Grandads Fruitcake”, hit the spot. Real nice prices, a comforting fire and home made cakes. Very welcoming to cyclists and looking to expand the facilities for cycling folk. The owner even said they had plenty of parking, so if we came again, we could park at the centre. Hope they do well out of the trail, they deserve to.

Onward from Wellow, we had to negotiate a section of rough permissive path. Obviously it was former rail line, but now an access track to certain fields. Rough and muddy in places. After this section, we continued on until we reached the Coombe Down Tunnel. What an awesome experience, at just over a mile long with specialised LED low level lighting and even music in sections. Great riding surface and even though busy with walkers and cyclists it was nice that everyone used common sense and shared the path.

After Coombe Down, we rode on and negotiated another 470m tunnel, then road into Bath through the outskirts, on some excellent path. The trail ended in a small estate, with no clear directions and this was a tad confusing. However we rode down onto the main road and headed right. Keep the river on your left, until you reach the “Travel Lodge” with the willow tree, divert left down to the riverbank and ride under the bridge on your right. You are now on the Kennet and Avon Canal Towpath.

We rode the canal, stopping to admire the great architecture and colorful narrow boats that lay alongside the canal, until we reached the George Inn. Famished, we decided to “pit stop” there. It was a “Chef and Brewer” pub and I would not normally bother with a “multico chain pub”. However, having no other pub to hand, we gave it a try and I will be the first to admit, the menu was superb, not large but varied enough and well priced. The service was good, even though rammed to the doors with punters. They found two sweaty mud encrusted cyclists a seat. Beer was top. Two pints of Bath Ales Gem. Always a corker. We ordered a baked brie for her ladyship and a venison pie for myself, with some sides. The very polite waitress informed us food was about 30 minutes wait, which was not a problem and 25 mins later a stonking pie and a melt in the mouth brie was being scoffed, we topped it off with a steamed treacle sponge and custard, excellent again. I salute you Chef and Brewer, this just goes to show what a multico pub with good staff and a decent menu can do. Perhaps Scottish and Newcastle could take some lessons for the Saddlers Arms at Lympstone.

Refuelled and ready to roll, we headed outside to find the rain had got worse and even the ducks on the canal were looking pissed off. We peddled on and it got wetter and wetter. Her Ladyship was starting to chill and we still had some 12 miles of our 30 mile route to go. As we cycled through the lower reaches of Coombe Down village, I decided that I would abandon her in the Wheelrights Pub and push on myself the last 10 odd miles to Radstock retrieve the car and then rescue her. The last ten miles was a grind, lashing rain and high winds blowing straight in my face all the way. Pushing on, I negotiated the potholed track before Wellow and returned to the back lanes. My rear disc was graunching nicely as I descended the hill under the bridge in Wellow and by the time I hit the next hill, it was “lever to bar” and “no stopping”. All adds to the fun. Finally rolled into Radstock and never has a Nissan Micra heater been so welcome. Bike on rack, I headed for the post code that Rosemary had texted me for the pub. Reaching the grid ref….NO PUB! Slightly lost I did three trips round upper Coombe Down, then she sent me a second postcode?? Sat Nav yet again took me to a mystery place…NO PUB! Finally took a guess and drove deeper into the valley and finally found the pub. Both members of staff Foreign and both gave her the wrong postcode. Oh well, chilly damsel rescued and we headed back to wet and foggy Devon. Will do that ride again in the sun. If we get any this year.

Well day four of our little holiday break. Still no sunshine and still no big mega cycle ride. Instead we have rinsed our wallets and eaten out a lot. Hence the foody reviews of the last few days. So today, we decided to have a break, well, not so much of a break as I had lost two fillings in total yesterday so it was off to Fairfield House Dental Practice in Exmouth for some oral repairs! Must be all that chewing I do.

Later on that morning, drooling like an idiot as my anesthetic had yet to wear off, we tootled off to do those mundane little jobs like go to the tip. Always fun in Exmouth, where they charge you £1.05 for the shear pleasure of dumping a small bag of soil. Great value folks, then they wonder why people “fly tip”!

Chores done, a quick meander around the concrete wasteland that is Exmouth’s town centre. Brightened only by a quick visit to Stuart and his good lady in Bikelands Cycles followed up by a pint in the glorious hostelry that is the Grapevine. On the way home a minor chuckle in the window of an Exmouth business, a staff wanted poster, spelling optional one wonders. Then home to sort out the bikes for a ride on Saturday, whatever the weather, could be Drakes Trail, from Tavistock to Plymouth, could be the Tarka Trail, from Barnstaple to Meeth or we may venture to Bath and try Sustrans new Coombe Down Tunnel route. Whichever, I will keep you posted, with our adventures and any scoff we may encounter along the way.

Well, another rainy day of my holiday, so myself and my other half (chief food tester number two). Headed to Exeter, ostensibly to shop, but also to consume scoff. First it was breakfast at the “Exploding Bakery” Nice coffee and some frittata h their home made red onion chutney. Good scoff good price, shame its popular with the deck shoe wearing “tarquin and felicity” types. Still five stars from me.

http://www.explodingbakery.com/Cafe.html

Superb fritata with red onion chutney.

Superb fritata with red onion chutney.

Then onwards on a shopping mission. Sadly whilst “our mission, should we decide to accept it” was to enter “John Lewis” and find “stuff”…..I can only say, what a load of “shite”. John Lewis impressed me “not one jot”. Indeed a lovely store, but, more staff than customers and prices for the sort of people who think, “Devon Folk shop at Darts Farm”. Never Knowingly undersold maybe, but sorry folks, I thought it was crap.

After then doing Next and Debenhams, I had the joy of going into the Apple store…..OMG….nearly cracked a piss. “Hi says “Apple Associate”, can I help…”yes says I”, “got one of them Apple I Pad 1’s” Bought it on credit, can you explain why its redundant after 2 years? Apps won’t update etc etc. Errr sorry sir, real embarrassed when people ask me this! I know what you mean, but basically “your fucked”. Our products are made to the latest standards and your only way of updating is to buy a new I Pad….Sorry mate, the missus just bought a Kindle Fire HD for £229 and it pisses all over your I Pad. So you may have raped me for £550 once, but sadly, you wont be getting any follow on business from me…..”Have a nice day”

Then off we went on our continuing mission. Decided lunch time was upon us so “Lets try Yo Sushi”, the latest addition to the plethora of “Multi National chain eateries”.

Firstly, 10 out of ten for meet n greet. Nice guy, gave us the full run down on how “Yo Sushi” works.

We ordered some drinks…..Be warned…Drinks prices very expensive.

Then we helped ourselves to some dishes from the conveyor. Good mix of prices. Then ordered some hot “Miso Soup” and a Hot soup.

Very Tasty.

Overall. Cannot fault the food, or the service, however, price is high for what you get. Wouldn’t go again soon, but would go again in the future.

Then the marathon shop continued, to the best part of Exeter, down Fore Street, to the Real Mc Coy, the Bike Shed and a few of the little specialist shops that provide a welcome blaze of inspiration in a sea of multinational, brand image, tat!

After wandering around and a surprise meet with Alistair from Velo Vintage, we wandered up through town and sadly I must admit the Yo Sushi, had not sustained us for the whole afternoon, so we decided to check out “Ruby’s”. In the old “Effings” building between the Museum and the station.

Well, will give them 8 out of 10 for decor and interior design. 7 out of 10 for menu originality and 7 out of 10 for service. But as for value for money and taste, sorry guys its a 5 from this judge. As we had eaten at lunch time, the better half had a “goats cheese salad”, nice presentation, but thin wedge of cheese and not much bite for buck!

I had the “salt beef” in a bagel and a bottled beer. Regret to say, nice beer, but!!!! Seriously, you need to take a trip to London and find a proper Jewish bagel shop that does salt beef sandwiches. Because if your butcher is charging you for salt beef and supplying you the tasteless shoe leather I received, then he is pulling a fast one on you. So I will give you a 2 for the bagel and that is being generous as I lost a filling chewing it! Plus I know fries are fried, but try and get the cross over between fried and incinerated, as yours were seriously overdone.

OK it may have been an off day and maybe I should have had a burger instead, but it only takes one crap item on your menu to tarnish the whole thing.