Next morning was Saturday, 18th June, and instead of being the usual fine day, we woke up to find it misty and raining. The photos. were, therefore, not taken.
We went on our journey and as there could not be any stops for photos on the way we covered a lot of ground.
We stayed at a farm house for lunch and when turning the car in a space which was far too small for it I caught the bumper bar in a stone wall and bent it. When we reached Tintagel we knew there were the ruins of the castle in which King Arthur was born to be seen at this little town, so I left the car in a garage to be straightened and went off to see the ruins. It must have been a fine old castle hundreds of years ago, but to-day it is only an interesting heap of ruins.
What was most interesting was a couple of cottages of the 14th century which were still being used in the town. I photographed these and the time was nicely filled in until the car was ready.
Then we passed through a number of towns and little villages and reached Clovelly late in the afternoon. We had heard about this unique little village, but did not appreciate how different it was until I saw it. As it was getting so late in the day we intended to stay there for the night. We arrived at a spot on the road where a notice was displayed in large letters stating that “all motors MUST go this way”. Of course, we followed the very definite instructions, only to find we were led to a parking ground where a fee of 1/- had to be paid to park the car.
It was a positive trap for the only way to turn round to go back was to go into the parking place and encircle it. When I stopped the attendant came up for his shilling. I told him I did not feel inclined to pay any shilling as I did not know whether I was going to make use of the the parking ground. “Well, you are here aren’t you?” he said, “and you cannot go down to the village in the car, and therefore you will have to pay”. “Why can’t I go down in the car?” I asked. “Because there is no road and you will just fall over the cliffs if you try it”. “But I just want to see whether the place is suitable for us to stay the night and surely I don’t have to pay for that”. “Every car has to pay a shilling that stops in here, even if it is only five minutes”.
It was no good trying to bluff this chap and as we did not know what we were going to do we decided to go on the next place and drove out without paying the shilling.
After going a short distance Lo and I said we would walk down and have a look at the place to see if we should stay. We promised to be back in 15 minutes and it was then about 6 p.m. We arrived back at 7.20 and what we saw in the meantime was most fascinating.
“Clovelly by the Sea” was a name we all knew, but we did not know that it was a cluster of houses built on the cliffs through which the main street was made of steps and cobble-stones. Everything had to be carried up and down and donkeys were used for this purpose. I saw one donkey going down laden with luggage.
We went down slowly looking at the queer houses and shops as we went. We were so interested that we forgot about time. We tried several places to see if we could get accommodation for the night, but we were not successful in obtaining just what we wanted. In any case we were doubtful as to whether Elizabeth and Rozie would want to climb down and up this weird place.
After seeing most of it we hurried back with guilty consciences, as we knew the others must be very tired after waiting for us for such a long time. We told them about it and then drove up to a farm house where accommodation was obtained for us by an A.A. Man.
The A.A. certainly do a wonderful job. They have their men in every town and village controlling the traffic and giving assistance. Ever since we left London we have not seen one traffic policeman, as the A.A. men do it all. They have telephone boxes every few miles along the road and when you want any assistance you go to a box and unlock it with the key which is supplied to every member of the Association and telephone the nearest office.
On this occasion we were passing a box and a man was there directing the traffic at the cross roads. I asked him if he could tell me where I could find a nice place to stay the night. He immediately went into his box and rang up a couple of places and finally came out telling me to speak on the ‘phone. I made all the arrangements with a lady who only lived about a mile further on the road and when we got there she was ready for us and tea was being prepared. By this time it was after 8 o’clock and we enjoyed that tea.
When we told the others about Clovelly during the tea they were so disappointed that I decided to take them back there next morning.
This was done and although they did not go right down to the bottom they were also fascinated with the place and particularly with the donkeys which did all the carrying.
Then we started on our journey and again did a very good day’s travelling.
At lunch time we came to another town which was also built on the steep hillside of the coast. This was Lynton. There were roads everywhere, but there was also a cable car which took people from the top to the bottom of the hillside. We had a good look around this place and found we had to eventually drive down to the water level to get out of it.
The road down was a grade of 1 in 4. I was going down in low gear, when the gear lever slipped out and before I had time to think the car was travelling at a great pace. There was only one thing to do and that was to stop it as quickly as possible before it got completely out of control. The foot brake would not hold it and I jammed on the hand brake with such force that Rozie was almost put through the wind screen and Lois and Elizabeth were both thrown forward to the front seat. The jerk was so great that the sunshine top of the car closed with a bang and the four wheels of the car skidded until the car stopped. It gave the others a shock, but it had to be done. That was the steepest hill I have yet descended in a car.
I am satisfied that the gears of the Hillman car are not much good. Three times the gear lever has slipped out on a hill and quite frequently it is difficult to get the gear to engage properly. Of course, it may be due to the OTHER drivers who have had the car out on hire!
We made such good progress that we were ahead of our programme and consequently our mail arrangements were put out of order. We have not received any mail since we left London and now it is probable that letters will reach the towns we have already passed. Some telegrams were sent to correct this, as we cannot get our mail from home too soon.
Our speed was due to the different kind of road which we were now travelling on. The roads between such towns as Minehead, Bristol, Gloucester were all wide and mostly down in concrete. We were travelling at 50 – 60 miles quite comfortably when there was not much to see in the way of views or places to photograph.
When we reached Gloucester we decided to stay the night and found a very nice farm house just before 10 o’clock. As it was still daylight Rozie and I went for a walk over the fields and amongst the cows. The meadows were covered with buttercups and daisies and they looked very pretty.