Saturday, 1 August 2015

Manners Makyth Man

WE'RE just back, She Who Knows and I, from our first holiday any distance from home for a couple of years. It was a few days in beautiful but rugged North Devon, on the south-west coast of Britain.

Suitcases are still by my side, here in the study of humble Edmonds Towers, and our shared experiences still fresh in mind - and body.
We put on pounds eating out daily, while straining unaccustomed muscles horse riding for the first time in a long while.
Then there are still the mental images; that view from high up in our Victorian hotel in Lynton, looking down on neighbouring Lynmouth's quaint harbour, or across a turquoise Bristol Channel towards Wales. Dramatic cliffs were topped by exotic and mature gardens planted two centuries ago.
However, still in my mind also are the clogged motorways and busy service stations endured to get down there and back home. It feels, during these school holiday periods, that England is full. In fact, someone forgot to put out the no-vacancies sign years ago.
When younger and single, I travelled the world carrying only a light, overnight bag and scorning organised itineraries or group outings. Memories from that time appear on this website's Memoir page (see top of right column).
Even when first married, our holidays were active ones, with tennis or horse riding, whether in this country or overseas. A taste of that appears on our Story/chapter page.
The Poem page, too, has associations with sport. However, I would suggest a different hero for our nation's favourite verses from Kipling's 'If' - as you will soon read.
As you get older, holiday concerns shift towards mundane matters such as luggage limits, superior rooms with views, breakfast times, or dining at booked window tables. You seek out hotels where families aren't favoured and pubs where children don't 'eat free'. You want destinations where there's peace, as well as activities to enjoy; also shade as well as sunshine, and from where travelling isn't too arduous - escaping busy airports and highway interchanges.
For the first time, our holiday was by coach. They were all 'oldies', some passengers even had 'walkers' to lean upon and push. Then I caught sight of myself sitting among them, my hair grey and body 'comfortable'. Fortunately, She Who Knows is still 'only a girl', or so she tells me - and looks it. Also, we had our dependable driver to smooth all problems.
Yes, the accomplishments of 'If' (see Poem page) could have applied to him; as well as many of the older passengers with us, who took most setbacks - including occasional rudeness from others - in their stride, with humour and understanding.
The hassle of travel seemed worth it, when standing in the quiet of early evening at the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin beside our hotel. The sea view from its high garden setting, dating back 500 years, must be one of the finest from any churchyard in Britain.
We had this to ourselves and sat on a solid-slate bench commemorating a local doctor, charmingly named Manners Percival Nightingale. It put us in close touch with history and also reminded me of my old school motto, Manners Makyth Man - still a fitting outlook in life.
Enjoy your summer, along with stories on this non-profit making website where Books are available on Kindle and in paperback (sponsored by the British Arts Council).

Happy travels - and reading!

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