If you’re in search of tiny picturesque villages, miles of rambling over open heathland and more local folklore than you can shake a stick at, then Dartmoor is the place to go. I spent a week swimming in rivers, exploring the wild moors, and generally pretending I was in a gothic horror mystery novel. Spoiler alert: at no point was I eaten by a giant hound.
As anyone who knows me could tell you, I love a bit of Poldark. When I was little most of my family holidays were spent in Cornwall, so seeing the beautiful coastline, beaches and moorland on screen in the recent BBC series gave me a real craving to go back. (Ok I admit it, Aidan Turner’s torso helped too). So south I went to the land of fudge and pasties, where I spent most of my time wandering round the county in search of locations from the series.
So spring is apparently here, although in the past week I’ve been rained on, snowed on, and so cold that I’ve considered going back to my winter jacket. With all this inclement weather I decided to spend the day digging around in my old folklore books – because although reading about May Day celebrations isn’t quite as good as actually heading outside to enjoy the season, it is marginally less likely to give me pneumonia.
According to most people I know, January is the worst month of the year. The Christmas holidays are long gone, it’s dark, it’s cold and summer still seems like a long way off. Fortunately my birthday at the end of January usually cheers me up, but even if you don’t have presents to look forward to there’s still a way to cure the winter blues (clue: it involves booze).
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you want me to wake up pre-8am, the best tactic is to bribe me with ponies. If you then add another quirky sport into the mix I might even be enthusiastic about it – which explains why I was up at the ungodly hour of 5am a few weeks ago so that my lovely co-adventurer Siân and I could drive over to Hertfordshire for a day of Horseback Archery. (Yes it is a thing. Yes it is awesome.)
Hunkered a short way off the West Coast of Scotland, Skye is one of those places that instantly makes you feel like you’re in some sort of fantasy novel. The name somes from the Norse word Skuy, which translates as ‘Misty Isle’, and I am told that the reason for this is usually pretty obvious. Certainly when I arrived on the island, the sun that I had basked in on the mainland suddenly disappeared – replaced by a sheet of thunderous grey that rolled overhead.
Its getting towards that time of year when everything begins to feel autumnal. My thoughts are already turning towards knitwear, cosy nests made of blankets, and curling up in a windowseat with a cup of tea and a good book. It’s also nice to imagine cold, crisp mornings walking along paths scattered with crunchy russet-coloured leaves, seeing your breath spiralling into the air. It also happens to be the best season for a bit of foraging.