Roadtrip: British Style

In the U.S., road tripping means heading out onto wide well-marked roads, flying down the freeway at 75 mph, and taking detours to landmarks like "The World's Biggest Ball of Twine," or maybe a an old Pony Express station if you're lucky.

In Britain, well, I don't think the British road trip, since while the sites to behold may be more impressive (ahem, see Stonehenge above) the roads are poorly marked cow paths where you crawl rather than cruise. The tiny hedge-lined trails barely accommodated the mini-van our ever-expanding "apartment-family" rented for our Bank Holiday excursion to southwest Britain.

This is us fresh and bright and cheery for our trip's first stop: a view of that mysterious stone monument through a chain link fence (we were a tad too late to be admitted beyond the wiry barrier). We are, from left to right, Priscilla, Kasey, Corina, and Marilyn (I'm busy capturing the moment).

Our one definitive destination was the ocean. After fleeing the tourist-infested city of Torquay, we found our sandy paradise at Bigbury-on-Sea.

We were even granted Corina's wish for a rocky cave where we could hide away from the wind.

Inscribed above the door of the Pilchard Inn is the date 1336!

On one of Bigbury's main (but still narrow) streets is the Journey's End Inn.

After faithfully following the signs leading us to the "inn" we were very disappointed to discover that you can't actually stay there.

Instead, we ended up at the most delightful Bellplot House Hotel in Chard. Highly highly recommended! Our hosts were Betty and Dennis (seen below) who, despite the late hour, welcomed us in like long lost grandchildren - even whipping up plates of gourmet food in their closed kitchen for their five hungry guests.

While feasting, we were entertained with tales of the four spinster sisters who orignally owned the house - and told about the ghost of the scullery maid.

Here we are being ushered to the cellar to be shown where the scullery maid, who now haunts the place, mysteriously met her fate.

Dennis shows us exactly where her body was found in the coal chute.

Kasey is captivated . . . and scared.

When I took this picture of the coal chute, I didn't see a thing, but now, looking closely at this picture . . . it seems my camera captured the presence of a ghostly figure. There, in the center of the frame, do you see that hazy outline of something eerily once-human?

One of the spinsters was Anne - and hers just happened to be my room!

The fright of the ghost stories lingered with us . . . so we all congregated in one room to keep each other company.

Surely all the ghosts in the place were scared right back with one look at our own freaky antics.

Parting photo of Bellplot House . . . after all of us having thankfully made it soundly through the night.

On the road again . . . this time Dartmoor Forest bound.

The Moors are dotted with the most perfect of fairytalesque thatched roof cottages.

A cat stands guard.

The miniature wild horses of the Moors will come right up to your car. It's a bit like being on a safari.

This was a little too close for comfort - there are tales of people losing fingers. We quickly rolled up the window and drove away.

Another night, another B&B. The best part of this one was the kitchen - I am as green as the stove with envy. Gourmand that I am, scenes like this are what my kitchen fantasies are made of.

Here we are road tripping Medeival style. Kasey was tired of driving and we were told the "Rose and Crown" was none too far from our B&B. But as Corina's dejected expression and posture attest, "within walking distance" is a very relative term . . . especially it when it starts to rain.

More of Dartmoor. No wonder the British royals are so partial to this region, between the magic atmosphere and all the soft moss to sit on, this looks exactly the place you'd settle into and wait for Oberon, the fairy king.

No, Kasey's not waiting for any fairy royalty . . . she's pausing for a moment to examine a leaf in the gardens outside Castle Drogo (not really worth a picture in itself). The final stop before our grand road trip adventure came to an exhausted close.

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