This is a clock tower, consisting of four rooms, one on each floor, connected by a metal spiral staircase, with about 7ft being the longest stretch of floor anywhere. That sounds very cramped and there's certainly not much room, but it's been fitted out like the inside of a boat so there's a place for everything, and once you've stowed your stuff away it only takes an hour or two to feel at home.
The biggest disadvantage to the place is the bathroom is on the bottom floor and the bedroom on the top, and there's 45 steps between the two. Not a place to be struck with Montezuma's Revenge! A good place to stay if you want to get fit though :-)
The biggest advantage is the view, since the tower is ON the estuary, and there are always boats coming and going, birds scurrying about, and lots of weather. It was very wet and blustery when I turned up Friday night in the dark (luckily only a couple of minutes walk from the train station) and after I'd tacked my way to the bottom of the tower, I had to open a combination lock to get at the key while holding a torch in my teeth to see the numbers. Once inside it was cosy and surprisingly quiet, although reading the log of past visitors it appears the tower does sway in particularly stormy weather.
It was quite difficult to leave the tower since the views out the windows were so fascinating that you didn't like to miss anything. I found that even when going from one floor to another I had to check out the windows on each floor to see what had changed. I think my mother would have loved to stay somewhere like this. I have to admit that even in her spryest days she would have found the staircase tricky, but I can certainly imagine her sitting by the window in the kitchen, intrigued by all the comings and goings.
When I eventually managed to tear myself away, the village itself is very pleasant, with narrow cobbled alleys, 3 pubs, a very good mini-supermarket and a post office. A surprising range of architecture, certainly not all fishermen's cottages, and a couple of quite modern buildings which I thought worked well in their surroundings, although your mileage may vary. On the Saturday afternoon I walked up to see the National Trust property A La Ronde, only a mile or two away. It's a 16 sided house which was lived in by a couple of Regency spinsters who decorated it with their craftwork. There were pictures made of sand and moss, a frieze made of feathers, inlaid table tops, silhouettes, and the shell gallery at the top of the house - too fragile to be visited now but with close circuit cameras to examine the work. My favourite piece was actually before their time, and was an embroidered coverlet from about 1760. The colours were simply stunning for their age, and the stitches very minute and neat.
On the Sunday I went into Exeter on the bus. The main bus stop is on the edge of the village so I had to walk 15-20 minutes to get there, but the public transport in this area is brilliant. The buses were every half-hour into Exeter on a Sunday morning, and the bus was about half full with people getting on and off at nearly every stop. Since I was in Exeter good time I went to meeting in the Friends Meeting House. It's an interesting building since it was purpose built and has slightly gothick windows with the most fascinating wooden ceiling of a type I'd never seen before. The meeting was well-attended, with 30 to 40 people and a scattering of younger members. I picked up a copy of their local newsletter since I thought it might be of interest to our newsletter editors.
I had lunch in a restaurant overlooking the cathedral and pottered about the centre of Exeter for a couple of hours. I last visited in the 80s when I went for a job interview, and didn't really remember much about it. There are several interesting old buildings, as well as the cathedral, and the usual shops. I took the train all the way out to Exmouth then walked back to Lympstone along a cycle path that runs by the river and railway. Sunny, but with enough of a breeze to make the walk pleasant.
So far my plan for this year of going on short holidays in the UK is working well. Staying in Landmark Trust houses means there's always something of interest to look at even without leaving the premises. I do take my mobile with me, but since there is no TV or internet on the premises you're almost forced to relax. I didn't do as much reading as I planned this weekend though, since I was too busy looking out the window.
Of course other people also find plenty to ponder in Landmarks. From the log book:
I have a shag every morning
Around about ten past nine
On the rock he's there adorning
With his wings held out wide
Then off he flies
To my surprise
Into the wild blue yonder
And my thoughts turn to what might have been
Had my shag lasted a little longer.
I have more photos of Lympstone in this Photobucket album