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Published: August 7th 2008
on the M6 near Birmingham
This time last year, July 2007, I wrote my post about Stoke-on-Trent on this Travel Blog and left the whole story of my trip from France to Scotland hanging there. One whole year later now, July 2008, I've decided to finally finish off that story... never despair!
From Stoke, after visiting the Pottery Museum, the Wedgwood factory shop and after taking a photo of the last old kiln standing, I headed south with a plan to overnight in Barnstaple on the Atlantic coast of Devon. Why Barnstaple? While in Carlisle for a week waiting for a bank transfer, I had surfed the net for potters to visit on my way south back home to France. Barnstaple had appeared as an interesting spot with an interesting potter or two.
Driving south on the M6 with my faithful 'continental' Ford with a French plate number, I forked off before Birmingham onto the M5. The traffic was heavy with three lanes full and slowed down by public works. It gave me time to take a couple of photos from my car at the steering wheel.
As I drove past signs for Worcester, I decided to stop and visit the place. A
On the motorway
junction M6 - M5 soutwhard to Devon
famous cathedral and a famous sauce! Worth the detour, I thought. I was contemplating buying a crate of those little bottles for cheap... but when I saw the sign for the Worcestershire Sauce factory, I was unable to park there and then, therefore drove on to the centre of town where I found there was a spring sale at the ceramic factory. I didn't even know there was such a thing as the Royal Worcester porcelain works. How ignorant can you be?! The funny thing is that I was actually on a tour of Britain for potters and ceramic centres. I stopped in Worcester for the sauce!... found myself visiting the Royal Porcelain Works and buying lovely porcelain plates and dishes at a good price. I loved the place.
It was just before Easter. I entered the old cathedral carrying my Royal Worcester bags. As I approached the main transept, I could hear angels singing. And as I sat on a chair there in the middle of the cathedral, the choir was rehearsing Bach's St John's passion for the Easter service. It was absolutely divine. Why didn't I stay?
I wanted to keep to my plans and drove
on, staying on the M5 motorway with much less traffic than the M6. Saw signs for Bristol and Cardiff, thought I'd have to come back another day, another year, in another life, but kept heading for Exeter. I left the motorway at exit 27 heading due west to the coast to Barnstaple. When I arrived there, it was evening and high time to look for accommodation. A young lady with a posh accent said the Bed and Breakfast was booked out. I eventually ended up at the Empire hotel where I thought I was going to come across Queen Victoria any minute. I loved my little room and the ye olde English atmosphere but... felt totally out of place. The potters I wanted to visit were closed so I drove on the next morning through the Devon countryside to Exeter and on to Plymouth where I boarded the night ferry to Roscoff on the Brittany north coast of France.
The ferry arrives in Roscoff very early in the morning. After a good night's rest, I found I was in France and could drive on the right handside of the road again! I detoured to visit a small fishing port
on the Channel called Paimpol, a place I knew of from my school days for a song which goes: "J'aime Paimpol et la paimpolaise..." Just arriving from Britain and Scotland, I found this little fishing harbor looking very much like a Scottish village with grey granite tall houses and a building with a sign 'bank of Brittany' instead of 'bank of Scotland'. The notable difference was that people sat outside on the terrace of cafés to drink and dine. And they spoke French.
I spent the day driving diagonally through France, arriving in my village in the middle of the country at 8.30pm. That's the end of my tale regarding my travel from France to Scotland and back in the spring of 2007. Now, I have a new story, that of my travel to Germany in the spring of 2008. Some do spring cleaning. I do spring traveling!
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