PP celebrated a milestone birthday while on holiday on the North Devon coast.....
On Thursday we decided to go on a boat trip, along the Exmoor coastline. From our holiday flat we had glorious views out over the harbour to the sea beyond and from this elevated vantage point the sea appeared relatively calm, with only the odd few white horses cresting the waves, so off we set.
Once on board Small Dog donned her life jacket, much to the amusement of our fellow passengers. I overheard one chap say to his wife "Blimey.... d'you think that little dog knows something WE don't?" and we all smiled knowingly at each other.
The initial stages from the inner harbour, to the outer harbour and beyond were relatively calm, but once we rounded the headland, out of the shelter of the bay, the force of an easterly wind hit us, and the boat started to pitch and roll, struggling up increasingly high waves, then slamming down into the troughs.
The skipper, who was giving us a running commentary on the coastline, described the sea conditions as 'lively'.
My knuckles were white with gripping onto the rail as we struggled along the coast, each wave higher than the last. Several people surreptitiously retrieved plastic bags from pockets and rucksacks and even Small Dog was looking green around the gills.
As we were buffeted by wind and wave, the little boat strained to crest each rolling sea peak and I was reminded of that film. You know. The one with George Clooney. The Perfect Storm. Where at the end they try to run up a truly mountainous wave and fail.
That was nearly us that was.
By 20 minutes into the trip, children were screaming and even a few adults on the lower deck were wailing as the boat crashed down heavily after yet another huge wave so the skipper turned into a small bay, before informing us that in view of the 'lively' seas he'd head westwards away from the wind which would make things more 'comfortable' on board. Thankfully he was right, and we raced along at quite a clip with the wind at our backs. However, after an hour, we had to turn back into the teeth of the gale again to get back to Ilfracombe.
I don't think I've ever been so pleased to see a harbour in my whole life and my legs were shaking as we climbed the steps up from the boat onto the quay. Everyone who'd been on board sported amusing experimental hairstyles and more than a few looked decidedly peely-wally, myself included.
Small Dog was first to recover her composure and so the three of us staggered off to the nearest pub to fortify ourselves with a glass of the local Wizard Ale and muse on our sea-faring credentials.
Or rather the lack of them.
It was a lovely holiday though, and the resulting effect on our waistlines will help serve as reminder of the good times we had.
Back at home now and there's the usual post-holiday chores to tackle....a mountain of clothes washing, piles of post and an overflowing email inbox.
Oh..... and the other momentous event this week?