What a nice birthday surprise from my thoughtful husband, Tom – a cruise along the Jurassic Coast of England including a traditional Devon Cream Tea. I had seen the Stuart Line boats go by as I walked along the promenade of Budleigh Salterton and thought it would be a great way to see the coast from the water.
The weather seemed perfect as we headed out to catch the bus to Exmouth where the cruise line is located. It is a bit of a walk from where the bus drops you off in town to the boat but since it was such a pretty day we walked in the sunshine to get there.
We found the person to check in with, and guess what? He had given our tickets to someone else that has the same last name. It should have been a sign as to how things were going to go. A sign that said don’t go, but I missed it. They eventually got us our tickets and we patiently waited in line to get onboard.
Being sensitive to motion, I took two motion sickness meds before we got to the boat. I am not sure why but standing in line I took one more. I never, and I mean never, take more than one – another sign?
As the boat was loading it looked less and less likely that we would get a seat on the top deck, but there was still plenty of room when it was our turn to find a seat. The seats are metal benches but they do provide blankets to seat on. It was comfortable enough.
The boat was escorted out and off we go along the coast with great views of the town of Exmouth. The seawall along the esplanade (that is the term they use) is over 170 years old – you would never know it, it looks modern enough. The wall was declared as an English Heritage Listed Building in 2003. It has a lot of history and was important for the development of Exmouth.
As we were leaving the harbor the wind was blowing and the waves were crashing. Our beautiful day actually was a sign of rough seas. I started to think this cruise may seem like an eternity if the water didn’t calm down soon.
We sailed along the Jurassic Coast, which is a “natural” UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding historical significance. The cruise takes you along the oldest section of the site known as the Triassic Era. You can tell by the rich deep red color of the cliffs. There is a marker — a Geoneedle. (See picture) HRH Prince Charles was there to dedicate the marker in 2002. If you take the Jurrasic Coast walk you will go right by it.
Oh yes, the seas are rocking and rolling our small boat. It was rolling so much that one man near the front of the boat fell off his seat onto the deck. I’m starting to not feel good at this point. The wait staff came around and wanted to know if we were ready for our cream tea – NO. But Tom did get a cup of hot chocolate – lucky. She said no worries; just ask for it later when we were ready.
Remember the red cliffs? As the waves wash up against the soft stone cliffs it turns the sea in the area red. I have seen the most beautiful water in amazing places but this was very unique. The red water was a sight to see.
As we went along we came to a nesting area for a variety of birds. We even saw not one but two Peregrine Falcons. They are gorgeous birds and they are the fastest member of the animal kingdom. You often think of Cheetah’s as fast, approx 70 mph, but a Peregrine Falcon can fly as fast as 240 mph. We barely have supercars that can go that fast.
Other interesting things you will see include a caravan park that when full has around 16,000 residents, the largest in England. You will sail by a British military practice firing range which I have heard the sounds of from Budleigh S. on occasion. Watch out when you see a red flag and don’t get too close. We also came upon a group of geologists studying the cliffs, would love to know what they were discussing.
One of the more entertaining things we passed was the clothing-optional beach, just west of Budleigh S. There was a man trying to kick his pants off, with great difficulty. Even feeling fairly sick it was not hard to crack a smile. There were a lot of giggles heard on board. He was finally successful, at the disappointment of the other passengers.
We turned around and went a little further out from the coast, and I am thinking things will smooth out. Nope. I was wrong. It even seemed worse and at this point, I must have been a pretty shade of green. We finally make it back to the dock but wait, we kept on going. Because of the rough seas and wanting to give us our full allotment of time, the cruise company shortened the seaside portion and took us up the Exe River a bit instead. Yes, it was smoother but still rocky and since I was already sick, well you know.
My husband, who never wants to get into my purse, did remember that his lunch was in it. I was very glad that he was able to eat even if I wasn’t able to. You can not get a refund on the tea so Tom happily had two cups of coffee and they wrapped up the scones and put them in my purse for later.
I found out near the end of all this that the boat has black buckets you can be sick in, but no one told me. Both of the wait staff stopped and talked to me when I was that pretty shade of green and neither offered me one – hmmm.
We finally docked and de-boarded and you think all is well. Nope, it takes time to recover and there was nowhere for me to lay down. So Tom went on the hunt and found a place in a pub, but stubborn me, no way was I going into a pub FULL of people and be sick.
It was too far to walk back to the bus stop, so we ended up taking a taxi. Oh my, the driver is very, very lucky I was not sick again. It was only a short miserable ride, what maybe five-minutes to the center of town, but it was a very close thing.
In town, they have a nice park that has many benches. Now that is a place I could lay down. But the ones in the sun were full, so I found a nice patch of grass in the sun and crashed using my purse as a pillow. The problem was the sun moves and as it moves so does the shadows from the trees, thus after a short time, I was no longer in the sun and was shivering. I did move once but it seemed like so much work. All I could think was if someone takes one look at me they’d say, homeless person.
I must have fallen asleep because Tom came to let me know the next bus was due soon. I was still not ready so he’d have to wait for the next one. Tom gave me his jacket so I wouldn’t have to move anymore. He happened to have a Pepto Bismol tablet which he gave me. It was a lifesaver. I’m thinking the motion meds I took earlier must have been expired, as I don’t think they helped a bit (although the sea was as rough as I have ever been on).
As I was waking I could smell the banana in my purse. Did it get squashed? It was Tom’s banana; I don’t like them, so I guess that was reason enough to get up. Now two hours later (poor Tom), I finally decided to try the half-hour bus ride back home ready or not. Well, the good news is I was fine all the way home and was able to crawl into bed for the rest of the day.
More good news, Tom was able to take many amazing photos to document our day. Looking back, I do remember seeing the falcons and enjoying the views of the coastal towns.
The next day, I checked the bottle of my motion sick meds and the label was so faded you could not read the expiration date—so they were chucked into the trash. With several flights coming up before the end of the year, I’m off to go search for new not outdated motion sickness meds.