We'll be back - and next time we will bring the sunshine
- Credit: Glen Denny / East Portlemouth, from Salcombe / CC BY-SA 2.0
It was another Magical Mystery Tour for me one recent weekend.
My husband had come home from work brimming over with enthusiasm about a beauty spot he had located by accident; another of Devon's best kept secrets, it transpired - even some local residents living in close proximity were unaware of its existence.
He wouldn't divulge its whereabouts to me, just airily informed me that it was about an hour away by car, and that we could take a picnic there the following Saturday.
Having dispatched one daughter to work on the appointed morning, and bade a fond farewell to another at home as she had her own work commitments, the menfolk and I set off in the car, stopping en route to furnish ourselves with food and drinks aplenty.
The day was overcast and cooler than I would have liked, but the journey was pleasant, with Devon's beautiful scenery zipping past the window and Kate Bush regaling us whimsically from the stereo.
My husband had inputted our destination in his Satnav, and we sailed along in his expert hands as he negotiated narrow lanes and twisting turns with consummate ease.
There was a fair amount of oncoming traffic at one point, with drivers perhaps less skilful than my husband wielding the wheel a little haphazardly, mandating his good-humoured reversing and squeezing into verges and ditches.
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"It'll be a wedding," I blithely observed, nodding my head sagely and raising an eyebrow as we hugged the hedge for the umpteenth time.
Sure enough, a few hundred yards down the road we met a car bedecked with marital ribbon and filled with sartorially-elegant occupants; always a heart-warming sight.
On we sped, spirits higher than Kate Bush's top notes as we traversed the prettiest countryside.
All of a sudden, and without warning, the car came to a screeching halt as my husband
slammed on the brakes and frantically batted at himself in panic.
There was no vehicle in front of or behind us, to our profound relief, and no damage had been sustained by person or car.
We soon identified the culprit at fault: a slightly dazed bee that had flown through the open window and alighted on my husband's clavicle, bumbling buzzily as it explored its new territory before being knocked into the driver's footwell by my husband's hasty hand.
As we know, a fan of spiders I am not; however, I am fond of a bee, and wished it no harm.
I swiftly leapt out of my side of the car, grabbing a stray scrap of paper as I did, and marched around to the driver's side.
Carefully, I coaxed our furry friend onto the paper, then transferred it to the sanctuary of the hedgerow.
Although somewhat stunned it seemed otherwise unharmed by its close encounter; satisfied, we set off once more.
I was keen to delay the moment of destination revelation, and deliberately averted my gaze from the rural white signposts that hove into view periodically.
Eventually, though, one caught my eye, moments before we took a sharp left corner and my husband pulled over: East Portlemouth, it boldly declared.
Concerned about the limited space available in the designated car park at our journey's end, my husband had wisely plumped for road parking, and informed us we would need to walk from that point.
Increasingly intrigued by what lay ahead, we set off gamely, if a little chillily, strolling for perhaps 15 minutes before we arrived.
And it was well worth the wait.
The vista, which had largely been denied us by trees and houses, opened out into the riverside beach of Mill Bay, which boasted soft golden sand and pale sea-green waters.
There were few people dotted along its shores; I suspect the inclement cloud had encouraged the majority away from the beach, but there were pleasing signs of life here and there.
We picnicked happily, and then proceeded to go explore, venturing trepidatiously into dark-walled caverns, then letting the lapping waves lick at our feet at the water's edge as we strolled across the sand.
Even with the absence of sunshine, the place was lovely; across the water, Salcombe
turned its picturesque face towards us, and fun-lovers frolicked in the unruffled waves of the Bay, suspended between the towns.
We enjoyed an ice cream in the café at the top before heading home, but we'll be back.
And next time, we're bringing the sun.