LOWDOWN Winter 2012

MORE BASSET HOUNDS ON TOUR
(A WEBMASTER’S WANDERINGS AROUND THE WEST COUNTRY)
by Derek Harris

I’m not sure whether it is anymore appropriate to think in terms of annual summer holidays, after all life for us is now a ‘permanent vacation’. Miranda may protest that artists never retire. Anyway, a trip around the West Country was planned as this year’s summer holiday.

I made sure Miranda didn’t double book our holiday with Fun Day this time, so the six of us, Dill, Hope, Amélie, Johanna, Miranda and I, set off on the Monday following. Unfortunately however after only two nights Amélie and Johanna returned to their home and Miranda and I continued on alone with the hounds, probably best not to ask.

A late start probably set the ball rolling in the wrong direction, made worse by getting stuck in a traffic jam for what seemed hours. Then Johanna found it cold and damp in the tent that night. So many things seemed to be contriving to make it an unpleasant experience for her.

Our first port for the night was Uplyme in Dorset which gave us, as it turned out, our only outing with the girls (human variety) - a walk down into Lyme Regis. It was time for lunch when we reached the town and to my surprise Miranda was open to the idea of fish and chips eaten on the promenade.

Then, after a not very successful shopping expedition, we decided to return to the campsite by bus - Dill’s first experience of a bus journey - at the end of the afternoon. An experience she clearly enjoyed as she made great effort, to the great amusement of the driver, to board another later in our tour when in St Ives, even though we had no intention of using it.

Wednesday morning we dropped Amélie and Johanna off at Dorchester railway station and drove to Corfe Castle for lunch with Frankie, Tony, Nico and Pablo. They were camped near Poole for a few nights.

Lunch with Frankie and Tony always a pleasure of course made more so by the pub garden setting beside the ruin of Corfe Castle. Here we met two more Basset Hounds but for some reason neither Miranda nor I took any pictures.

(Ed. I did! See below).

A short walk after lunch made shorter by confusion over the pricing of the car park, which seemed to have been designed specifically to fleece the unsuspecting visitor, was welcomed by the four hounds who raced across the fields.

Next morning onto Devon to a campsite with a vista down across green fields to, appropriately, Hope Cove.

The campsite owner did his ‘best’ to guide me into the field, but I don’t understand semaphore and could make nothing of his enthusiastic hand signals. He wasn’t pleased when I opted to use my own eyes to see where I was going. We didn’t get off to a good start, he clearly viewing me an old fool and me wondering why he wasn’t running a small hotel in Torquay.

However the pitch where he placed us had an outstanding view with not a single tent or caravan to be seen to the front of us. The camping field also had the virtue of being ideal to exercise the Hounds before taking them out for a long walk. You will have to ask Miranda why it is necessary to exercise Hounds before taking them out for a long walk. I’m sure she has a good reason for dragging me out of the caravan before breakfast - I just can’t bring it to mind at the moment.

We set off after breakfast on the relatively short and reasonable walk down hill from the camp to Hope Cove, a beautiful spot. Had lunch on a terrace looking across the beach and out to sea. After lunch we set of on the long and wholly unreasonable walk up hill from Hope Cove to the campsite.

Whilst at Hope Cove we met two Basset Hounds from South London. We hope to see them on branch walks when the puppy is a little older.

Miranda had one great disappointment. For Miranda S.E.A. spells swimming and she found the sea in Devon too cold. She swims at Hove and Shoreham but Devon made them seem like a hot bath. So, next day, on a trip into nearby Salcombe, she bought her first wetsuit.

Favourite story: In 1966, I think, Miranda, a few friends and I went camping to the New Forest, Miranda spotted a sign which said ’TO THE SEA’. “What is the S.E.A. asked Miranda.”

By and large when we were out walking the weather stayed fine but at night and in the preceding weeks this part of Devon had had quite a lot of rain. This meant that our field was getting more and more wet each day and by the time it came for us to leave the field the track to the gate had become quite boggy.

There were only three caravans and the first to attempt to leave became stuck, had to be unhitched and was extracted from the field by remote control using its motor mover.

Almost worth having a caravan just so that you can have a motor mover, a great toy.

With my Land Rover we had no such problem sailing out of the gate without the slightest slip.

Next in our tour we drove on to a campsite, chosen specially for Amélie because it had a swimming pool in a poly-tunnel, near Hayle in Cornwall.

The owner of this campsite had the distinction of being the only one that didn’t think it appropriate to hold on to Johanna’s deposit.

The sea here proved to be even colder and the winds were pretty cold too. Miranda was very pleased she had invested in a wetsuit and managed to use it a few times. The first at Sennen Cove where Miranda went ahead to find out whether dogs were welcome on the beach and having failed to see any crossed out pictures of dogs returned to say they were.

We did get a few quizzical looks from the some of the hoards covering most of the beach but no one said a word. I sat on some rocks with the hounds and Miranda went for her first swim in a wetsuit.

Back at the campsite we learnt that the hounds shouldn’t have been there at all.

The beach at Hayle, not quite as idyllic as Sennen Cove, was nevertheless a huge expanse of sand. It was empty in comparison with Sennen and dog friendly for quite a large part of it. The day we were there the wind was strong and cold. However Miranda donned her wetsuit and into the sea she went.

For Dill & Hope hitting the beach seemed to be the cue to release huge amounts of pent up energy, both charging around at great speed, coming together to clash enthusiastically with mock fighting.

After Cornwall back toward home for a few nights at Porlock in Somerset.

Here the campsite warden managed to strip ‘Basil’ of his crown as ‘least suited for working in the tourist industry’. The campsite bearing a resemblance to how I imagine a well kept open prison might be. I often used to wonder why both are run by wardens.

We were shown to a large rectangle of almost immaculate grass sullied only by the odd sign of the footprint of previous visitors’ tents and awnings, bordered by a concrete road lined on the outside by static ‘caravans’, not really caravans but movable (with the aid of a very large lorry and a crane) prefabs. I assumed these were where the long term prisoners were housed. There were lots of well kept flowers so clearly gardening was one of the rehabilitation activities on offer.

Once at the field she attempted, although clearly not as advanced as ‘Basil’ in these, with the aid of more hand signals to guide me to place the jockey wheel of our caravan precisely on top of a sixpence that she had apparently carefully placed in the middle of the green for the purpose. Unfortunately I couldn't see it from my driving position. After berating me for not paying sufficient attention she eventually left me to place, with the aid my motor mover, the caravan within the strict boundary she set out. Not just me the husband of a Dutch couple arriving the next day, on their first caravan holiday on our shores, was heard to remark “they are very strict here in England”.

In exchange for a £10 deposit the warden gave us a ‘get back in jail card’ to operate the security barriers so we could come and go with relative ease.

We were able to enjoy a walk in the ‘wilder’ part of Exmoor, with the aid of my trusty Ordnance Survey map I led my three ladies to the edge of a bog, declared that it was too far to go back and led them ‘straight’ across. Actually we did have to detour around large clumps of gorse and ankle deep mud so not quite straight. We did make it and I have no idea why Miranda was getting so het up as we hopped across. Our efforts were rewarded by a late lunch in the idyllic garden of little thatched cottage.

Sadly, there wasn’t time to explore other exciting parts of the moor and the next morning we headed home.

WORDS AND PICTURES BY DEREK HARRIS.

(Ed. Great report, Derek. A few days after meeting up with Miranda and Derek at Corfe Castle we visited nearby Swanage. While wandering around the town we came across a young woman holding a ladder for someone cleaning first-floor windows at a pub. Stylishly dressed, it was amusing to see how she was preventing the ladder from slipping. I asked permission to take this shot, explaining that photographing female feet was not an exotic hobby of mine.)

Cover of the Basset Hound Owners Club newsletter Lowdown

I’m not sure whether it is anymore appropriate to think in terms of annual summer holidays, after all life for us is now a ‘permanent vacation’. Miranda may protest that artists never retire. Anyway, a trip around the West Country was planned as this year’s summer holiday.

I made sure Miranda didn’t double book our holiday with Fun Day this time, so the six of us, Dill, Hope, Amélie, Johanna, Miranda and I, set off on the Monday following. Unfortunately however after only two nights Amélie and Johanna returned to their home and Miranda and I continued on alone with the hounds, probably best not to ask.

A late start probably set the ball rolling in the wrong direction, made worse by getting stuck in a traffic jam for what seemed hours. Then Johanna found it cold and damp in the tent that night. So many things seemed to be contriving to make it an unpleasant experience for her.

Our first port for the night was Uplyme in Dorset which gave us, as it turned out, our only outing with the girls (human variety) - a walk down into Lyme Regis. It was time for lunch when we reached the town and to my surprise Miranda was open to the idea of fish and chips eaten on the promenade.

Then, after a not very successful shopping expedition, we decided to return to the campsite by bus - Dill’s first experience of a bus journey - at the end of the afternoon. An experience she clearly enjoyed as she made great effort, to the great amusement of the driver, to board another later in our tour when in St Ives, even though we had no intention of using it.

Wednesday morning we dropped Amélie and Johanna off at Dorchester railway station and drove to Corfe Castle for lunch with Frankie, Tony, Nico and Pablo. They were camped near Poole for a few nights.

Lunch with Frankie and Tony always a pleasure of course made more so by the pub garden setting beside the ruin of Corfe Castle. Here we met two more Basset Hounds but for some reason neither Miranda nor I took any pictures.

(Ed. I did! See below).

A short walk after lunch made shorter by confusion over the pricing of the car park, which seemed to have been designed specifically to fleece the unsuspecting visitor, was welcomed by the four hounds who raced across the fields.

Next morning onto Devon to a campsite with a vista down across green fields to, appropriately, Hope Cove.

The campsite owner did his ‘best’ to guide me into the field, but I don’t understand semaphore and could make nothing of his enthusiastic hand signals. He wasn’t pleased when I opted to use my own eyes to see where I was going. We didn’t get off to a good start, he clearly viewing me an old fool and me wondering why he wasn’t running a small hotel in Torquay.

However the pitch where he placed us had an outstanding view with not a single tent or caravan to be seen to the front of us. The camping field also had the virtue of being ideal to exercise the Hounds before taking them out for a long walk. You will have to ask Miranda why it is necessary to exercise Hounds before taking them out for a long walk. I’m sure she has a good reason for dragging me out of the caravan before breakfast - I just can’t bring it to mind at the moment.

We set off after breakfast on the relatively short and reasonable walk down hill from the camp to Hope Cove, a beautiful spot. Had lunch on a terrace looking across the beach and out to sea. After lunch we set of on the long and wholly unreasonable walk up hill from Hope Cove to the campsite.

Whilst at Hope Cove we met two Basset Hounds from South London. We hope to see them on branch walks when the puppy is a little older.

Miranda had one great disappointment. For Miranda S.E.A. spells swimming and she found the sea in Devon too cold. She swims at Hove and Shoreham but Devon made them seem like a hot bath. So, next day, on a trip into nearby Salcombe, she bought her first wetsuit.

Favourite story: In 1966, I think, Miranda, a few friends and I went camping to the New Forest, Miranda spotted a sign which said ’TO THE SEA’. “What is the S.E.A. asked Miranda.”

By and large when we were out walking the weather stayed fine but at night and in the preceding weeks this part of Devon had had quite a lot of rain. This meant that our field was getting more and more wet each day and by the time it came for us to leave the field the track to the gate had become quite boggy.

There were only three caravans and the first to attempt to leave became stuck, had to be unhitched and was extracted from the field by remote control using its motor mover.

Almost worth having a caravan just so that you can have a motor mover, a great toy.

With my Land Rover we had no such problem sailing out of the gate without the slightest slip.

Next in our tour we drove on to a campsite, chosen specially for Amélie because it had a swimming pool in a poly-tunnel, near Hayle in Cornwall.

The owner of this campsite had the distinction of being the only one that didn’t think it appropriate to hold on to Johanna’s deposit.

The sea here proved to be even colder and the winds were pretty cold too. Miranda was very pleased she had invested in a wetsuit and managed to use it a few times. The first at Sennen Cove where Miranda went ahead to find out whether dogs were welcome on the beach and having failed to see any crossed out pictures of dogs returned to say they were.

We did get a few quizzical looks from the some of the hoards covering most of the beach but no one said a word. I sat on some rocks with the hounds and Miranda went for her first swim in a wetsuit.

Back at the campsite we learnt that the hounds shouldn’t have been there at all.

The beach at Hayle, not quite as idyllic as Sennen Cove, was nevertheless a huge expanse of sand. It was empty in comparison with Sennen and dog friendly for quite a large part of it. The day we were there the wind was strong and cold. However Miranda donned her wetsuit and into the sea she went.

For Dill & Hope hitting the beach seemed to be the cue to release huge amounts of pent up energy, both charging around at great speed, coming together to clash enthusiastically with mock fighting.

After Cornwall back toward home for a few nights at Porlock in Somerset.

Here the campsite warden managed to strip ‘Basil’ of his crown as ‘least suited for working in the tourist industry’. The campsite bearing a resemblance to how I imagine a well kept open prison might be. I often used to wonder why both are run by wardens.

We were shown to a large rectangle of almost immaculate grass sullied only by the odd sign of the footprint of previous visitors’ tents and awnings, bordered by a concrete road lined on the outside by static ‘caravans’, not really caravans but movable (with the aid of a very large lorry and a crane) prefabs. I assumed these were where the long term prisoners were housed. There were lots of well kept flowers so clearly gardening was one of the rehabilitation activities on offer.

Once at the field she attempted, although clearly not as advanced as ‘Basil’ in these, with the aid of more hand signals to guide me to place the jockey wheel of our caravan precisely on top of a sixpence that she had apparently carefully placed in the middle of the green for the purpose. Unfortunately I couldn't see it from my driving position. After berating me for not paying sufficient attention she eventually left me to place, with the aid my motor mover, the caravan within the strict boundary she set out. Not just me the husband of a Dutch couple arriving the next day, on their first caravan holiday on our shores, was heard to remark “they are very strict here in England”.

In exchange for a £10 deposit the warden gave us a ‘get back in jail card’ to operate the security barriers so we could come and go with relative ease.

We were able to enjoy a walk in the ‘wilder’ part of Exmoor, with the aid of my trusty Ordnance Survey map I led my three ladies to the edge of a bog, declared that it was too far to go back and led them ‘straight’ across. Actually we did have to detour around large clumps of gorse and ankle deep mud so not quite straight. We did make it and I have no idea why Miranda was getting so het up as we hopped across. Our efforts were rewarded by a late lunch in the idyllic garden of little thatched cottage.

Sadly, there wasn’t time to explore other exciting parts of the moor and the next morning we headed home.

WORDS AND PICTURES BY DEREK HARRIS.

(Ed. Great report, Derek. A few days after meeting up with Miranda and Derek at Corfe Castle we visited nearby Swanage. While wandering around the town we came across a young woman holding a ladder for someone cleaning first-floor windows at a pub. Stylishly dressed, it was amusing to see how she was preventing the ladder from slipping. I asked permission to take this shot, explaining that photographing female feet was not an exotic hobby of mine.)

Cover of the Basset Hound Owners Club newsletter Lowdown

first published in LOWDOWN

editor Tony Roberts