The final week in July, has kind of become a traditional week off work for me. It stems from when I lived and worked in Wales and firstly struggling to book leave due to colleagues taking “Show Week” off (The Royal Welsh Agricultural Show) and then I went and worked for the RWAS and couldn’t take that week off.
So, now I take it off on purpose!
Back in February at work when our summer events programme was being prepared, I saw that our Events Manager had organised a tour of Supacat, an engineering and design company providing global, defence focussed products such as the Jackal 2, based in Devon.
I jumped on the opportunity to take this tour, not only because it sounded amazing, but it also fell on Jon’s birthday and he loves nothing more than loud, large, motor vehicles – and being thrown around a test track in an army vehicle seemed the perfect present.
Not only that, it fell on my traditional week off work. I drafted in the mother to look after the dogs and to cover me with my home ‘work’ and booked it all in!
Monday – chips on Sidmouth Beach
Initially, I had it planned that I’d stay in a nice hotel and we’d have some sort of romantic getaway in the beautiful Devon countryside. Unfortunately, the hotel didn’t pan out, so last minute I’m booking the Premier Inn in Honiton. Nevermind, it is what you make it!
We set off on our way to Honiton and surprisingly made good time considering it was the first Monday after school broke up, I was anticipating spending hours in the car!
We check in to the hotel and instead of booking a table in the onsite restaurant, decide on chips on the beach, with Sidmouth being the closest.
It was a beautiful sunny day, so why not, it was the perfect opportunity, particularly as we are land locked at home and don’t get to take the time out to chill much. The receptionist provided us with a recommendation on the best chip shop to go to on the seafront.
I used to live in Ottery St Mary, so thought I was rather familiar with the area, but it seems that as a teenager, you actually don’t pay much attention to where car parks are or how to navigate to the seafront – thank god for signs! We opt to park in the little man managed car park right on the seafront, yeah it probably cost a fortune compared to finding some side street to park on, but it’s all part of the experience!
Within seconds we are on the seafront, strolling hand in hand. I’m getting over excited by the Pugs, Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs also being walked on such a lovely evening – these are like my three favourite breeds, so by this point, Jon’s hand is losing circulation from me squeezing it in excitement!
We stop to take some photos on the seafront whilst waiting for the queue to go down a bit at Prospect Plaice.
After getting our order from the chip shop, we settle in a nice spot on the beach and enjoy our meal. The receptionist at the hotel wasn’t wrong – Prospect Plaice really does do good chips!
To work off the chips we decide on taking an extra long stroll along the seafront. It’s been about 20 years since I last went to Sidmouth, and I don’t really remember it all that well. Even though it’s not your typical sandy beach, it’s got a lovely walk, which I’m sure went further than we were prepared to go. It was such a glorious evening it seemed a shame to rush back to the hotel. I had hoped for a slightly choppier sea for some atmospheric splashing wave shots, but the sunshine would do!
Once we had worn out our legs, and with time on the car park running out, we decide we should head back to the hotel and chill out for the rest of the evening and prepare ourselves for the next day!
Tuesday – Supacat
After a relatively good night sleep (if it weren’t for the heavy footed person in the room above with the weak bladder, Premier Inn’s “Good night guaranteed” would’ve been about right!) We had a fairly early start to get to the venue before any keen members did, so off we set on our 15 minute journey to the first of the two venues.
Not your typical industrial estate, as it was partnered with an airfield, which BTW had a site for tandem skydives (it’s on my bucket list!) and various other businesses, but most importantly of all, Supacat!
For once, I was way earlier than any of our members, so a quick latte to set off the day at the Aviator and a nice sit outside looking over the planes as they were refuelled and prepped for the day ahead.
After a short wait, we were in the boardroom of Supacat hearing about how this amazing company started was started off by one man, producing an all encompassing 6 wheeled vehicle for use on his farm, before going on to produce the vehicles they have today which are used worldwide for the army. A whirlwind tour of the factory floor, cut short due to top secret stuff going on we weren’t privy to, before setting off on the 20 minute convoy journey behind the first of our trial vehicles!
After a quick packed lunch, and strangely swapping half my sandwiches with one of our members, it was time for the test runs! My first was in the original supacat 6 wheeled vehicle. No suspension and jeez, did you feel every bump! The donuts were quite fun though, more so than hanging out the side of it as it’s vertical on a hill and my seatbelt doesn’t tighten all the way!!
Second test track run was in the Jackal 2, at this point, I’m securely strapped in the back of the vehicle, with Jon by my side. Initially, the driver was quite sedate, then as we do our first “out lap” of the test track, he asks if we’re ready to go faster “YEEEEAAAHHH” I shout, and off he goes. Bare in mind this thing is designed to do 80mph across all and any terrain, I’m sure we weren’t going as fast as that, but we were flying (my Audi feels bumpier than this beast)!! Vertical hills, muddy tracks, bumps and lumps and tight turns, this thing could turn on a dime.
AND I WAS LOVING IT!!!
Jon was equally as happy, and think I’ll struggle to top that for a birthday present next year!! There is no off road experience like it!!
The day ended with everyone a little windswept, but with big smiles across their faces. Considering this was technically a work day, it was a bloody good one!
Then it was off home to relieve mother of her duties and my ironing pile (thanks mum!) and to bore her with all our photos and videos of the day!
Wednesday – Cirencester
It’s been a good long while since I’ve had a mummy/daughter day with my mum, and although the weather didn’t look too great, we didn’t stop that from spoiling our plans. We had previously had a little wander around Cirencester, but we thought it a perfect opportunity to have another gander around this lovely little town.
We started off in the craft hall, where we picked up some lovely blown glass keyrings from Loco Glass where I might have to pop back to treat myself to one of their rather nifty oil drizzlers (these are up there on my want list along with more serving bowls!!)
There is such an array of funky shops in Cirencester, and with it being so close to payday, and me being so poor, I really struggled not to buy anything! But when mum said it was her treat, who was I to say no?! I came away with some beautiful items for my home! I love my nick-knacks as we all know!!
By about 2pm we were getting tired of shopping and in need of some food, and we could smell Made by Bob before we could see it. Even though I said that it looked expensive and that we should try somewhere else, mum insisted and we settled in a nice table in the corner next to the kitchen – where you could see all the chefs hard at work preparing some beautiful looking meals.
Made by Bob? More like Made by God! Highly recommend eating here if you’re ever in Cirencester. Both me and mum after our first mouthful each were both like “Oh my God!”
After I had finished off my tempura battered courgette flower stuffed with ricotta, sundried tomatoes and an olive tapenade (not forgetting loads of fries!) we went ahead and ordered dessert. Mum went for a rather yummy Coconut pannacotta and I went for the Affogato (after I googled it) intrigued by the coffee soaked ice-cream, I went ahead and ordered it – whoa! It was strong!! It was tasty, but can’t say it was particularly my kind of dessert, but hey, I’ll try anything once!!
I’ll definitely be heading back to Made by Bob, maybe for my birthday in September! It’s not hugely expensive, 2 delicious courses with drinks and a tip was under £50, not bad at all I don’t think!
With our tummies full, and my eyes slightly twitching from the strength of the coffee, we decided to head back to the car, not before being distracted by what looked like a prison wall and bloody huge hedge, and a brief walk, cut short by the rain (and our need to go to the loo!) in the Bathurst Estate, Cirencester Park.
It was time to head home and decide what we could pick at for dinner and to work through whatever it was that was left for me on my chore list by my landlord (thank god I had mum to help otherwise I’d still be bloody ironing bedsheets now!!)
A thoroughly enjoyable day spent with my mum, and not just because she bought me stuff!! We don’t get to do this enough and I think both of us needed it!
Thursday – dropping mum home to Gosport!
Mum’s short stay was due to come to an end, and despite having booked a train ticket home, I thought it a good opportunity to meet up with my nan and spend a bit more time with mum on my day off. Keeping nan informed of our progress so she could get the hotpot on, we arrived just in time for lunch. Hotpot, chips and a chinwag- nothing quite like it, belly full, it seemed a shame that I needed to head back having had such a brief stop. Not before nan could tell me that her friend and neighbour was looking after her daughters pugs….
Had I mentioned I like pugs – I have a pug oven glove, pillows, christmas jumper, lever arch folder and some other stuff with pugs on! I wasn’t going to miss out on my first ever pug cuddle – or do I call it a puggle?!
Well off me and mum went to go and meet Princess and Gucci….
OMG – I could’ve easily smuggled them back in my handbag – what adorable bouncy, snorty little dogs they were. I now want one even more!! I haven’t been checking out litters…..honestly!
Smelling of dog and hotpot, I said my goodbyes and head off home to whatever ironing awaited me!
Friday – Sunday!
After such a busy week, it seemed only right to spend Friday having a chill day. I elected against popping to Wessex Auction rooms to take a look round their latest lots, and instead, caught up with a bit of telly – as it happened the lots I wanted went for way too much money!
It also seemed right that I spend a day relaxing, knowing that the weekend was the last weekend before my landlords went away on holiday and that it would probably be exceptionally busy doing last minute bits such as taking hundreds of plants up to the greenhouse, cleaning out suitcases and other such fun chores!
What I hadn’t anticipated, was sitting here, with a massive bandage on my pinky finger after I decided to take the tip off the nailbed with a giant knife whilst chopping butternut squash. Needless to say, I won’t be getting my nails done for a while, especially considering my pinky finger of my left hand is missing about 3/4 of one! Amazing how much it bleeds, and also, how little supermarkets in Malmesbury stock in way of useful first aid supplies!
Having extended my leave an additional week on the basis that my landlords are away and its a real opportunity for some peace and quiet, and the fact that I think I really need it for my own sanity, I doubt very much it will be as exciting as this past week has been, but no less appreciated. Maybe a time to catch up on some study for the next chapter I am aiming for in my life.
I feel extremely refreshed having had some time away from responsibility, albeit for one night, and feel better having had some time with my mum and having a good old girly gossip.
I highly recommend giving yourself some “me” time. No matter how busy your life is, you need to spend time on you and spending a night away from home is the perfect opportunity.