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  • Julie Muller

Bruno's Southern Adventure June 2022

The suitcases were packed – The roof-box was attached to the top of the car – something was going on.

We were off on holiday once again – but this time our holiday had a purpose. We were going down to Devon so that our humans could finally see Rose graduate at Exeter University after two years of waiting.

The weather for our journey was glorious and we made it down to our Airbnb in Kenton in plenty of time for an exploratory foray into the countryside surrounding the cottage before it got dark.

We walked through the village and as we crossed the main road, we saw some very pretty little cottages and wondered why they had large piles of sandbags stacked in front of them. But the reason soon became apparent as our walk took us alongside a small brook with little bridges across it to reach the houses. Shep was desperate to find a way to get to the water. It sounded so inviting as it trickled and gurgled its way over the stony bed. Somehow, it doesn’t seem possible that this tiny stream could ever swell so much that it could overflow its banks and threaten the houses.

Eventually Shep found a place to reach the water and as usual he wallowed hippo-style whilst taking big gulps of the deliciously cold water. I joined him but I wasn’t too keen to get more than my paws wet.

Our humans called us and off we went for our adventure. We walked through lush grassland with tall fencing on either side and crossing over a small bridge we saw young cattle browsing. Luckily, they weren’t too close and so I didn’t call across to them.

As we walked, the high crenulated walls of Powderham Castle came into view and we saw distant shapes of deer resting beneath the magnificent parkland trees, but they were too far away for us to know what kind of deer they were.

Although it was quite late and we had had a very long day, Julie had seen a glint of water in the distance, and she was determined to find our way down to the Exe estuary, so we continued to walk until we found it.

A black and white Border Collie rests by the sea wall with the sandy banks of the Exe Estuary behind him- the late evening sunlight is glistening on the water
A rather tired Shep, the Border Collie, sits by the sea wall on the banks of the Exe Estuary in Devon

The walk was so worth it – it was such a beautiful sight. The lights of the waterside buildings reflected in the water and the air was full of the soft calls of the resident waterfowl and waders.

It was now already getting dark and so we headed for home. A heron rose from the marshes and swooped just above our heads and in the scrubland the unmistakable ghostly silhouette of a barn owl silently skimmed the vegetation. Everything was quiet and still. It was magical.

As we made our way through the deer park, numerous dark shapes hovered under the trees and several pairs of beady eyes watched us walk past. Unusually, we resisted the temptation to bark.

We got back to the Airbnb just as it got dark.

The next day was the day of Rose’s graduation, so Shep and I decided to stay at home to keep Tom out of mischief.(just joking! – Tom obviously stayed to look after us)

We had a walk around the Powderham Estate in the morning and then chilled in the garden until the rest of the family returned.

A black and white Border Collie walks across the grassy slopes of the Dawlish Country Park with trees behind sculptured by the prevailing wind off the sea
Shep, the Border Collie strides across the slopes of the Dawlish Country Park

Of course, we were ready for another adventure and so, once everyone was changed, we all got in the car and headed for Dawlish Country Park. It was a deliciously warm evening and there were loads of dogs out with their humans. It was great to be able to stretch our legs after a long day at home. The Country Park is just a stone’s throw away from Dawlish Warren which is a very special part of the Devon coastland because of the wealth of wildlife that it supports – most particularly the birds that come here.

The downside of having this very special place is the fact that we dogs must be kept on our leads and so it is so useful to have the country park close by.

Being on a lead is not usually a problem for us but some dogs really do need to let off steam. Dawlish Country Park offers a place where we can run free without disturbing the local wildlife.

The next day was a really fun day. It was beautifully warm, and our family decided to head for the beach. Just by chance we found ourselves on the dog friendly part of Teignmouth Beach.

A woman dressed in shorts paddles in the sea water accompanied by her two dogs
Julie, Shep and Bruno brave the cold sea water on Teignmouth Beach in Devon

The sand was really hot to our paws and so Julie took us down to the water’s edge where she tried to persuade us to paddle in the sea. It was brilliant fun, but Shep didn’t seem to like it very much despite the fact that he normally loves to wallow in every pool

of water that he can find. He just doesn’t understand why the water won’t stay still.

I loved it and I didn’t mind getting my paws wet no matter how big the waves were. But they were simply too big for Shep and, when the tide took his ball away, he wasn’t quite brave enough to retrieve it – no matter how much Julie tried to persuade him. I was too scared too!!

A red Welsh Sheepdog licks out the remains of blackberry and liquorice ice cream from an ice cream tub
Bruno enjoys the dregs of ice cream on Dawlish seafront

It was so lovely to have a beach where we dogs were allowed to swim, paddle and play.

We didn’t stay too long at Teignmouth – it was just a little bit too hot. So, we headed to Dawlish proper for a saunter. It was so busy, and we had to thread our way through so many pairs of feet. When most humans go to the seaside, they have to have an ice cream and our humans were no different – we were a bit confused though because they didn’t buy any for us. They bought their ice cream from the Local Scoop ice cream parlour close to the seafront. We must have looked so disappointed at not having any, that our humans allowed us to lick out the dregs from their ice cream pots. It tasted absolutely wonderful – a big paws’ up from us.

We were so tired when we got back from our day at the seaside, but our humans hadn’t finished with us yet.

Julie and Antony wanted to take Rose to see the Exe estuary and have a pint at The Turf pub which can only be reached by foot, hoof or pedal.

By now, we were well accustomed to our walk across the Powderham Estate but this time when we reached the estuary, we carried walking along the sea wall in search of the pub. It was a wonderful evening and lots of the sand banks closest to us were littered with big black crow-like birds which seemed to be copying the resident waders! On the water, a water skier whizzed up and down towed by a gently throbbing speedboat whilst the delicious bubble of curlew wafted across to us. It really was a magical evening.

A black and white Border Collie sits and relaxes in a pub garden with benches and a parasol behind
Shep the Border Collie relaxes in the pub garden of the Turf Pub on the banks of the Exe Estuary in Devon

The Turf turned out to be a perfect ending to our break in Devon. All of the tables were occupied with walkers, cyclists, dogs, and their humans. A large flock of starlings entertained us by flying in and out of the trees.

The sun was sinking lower and lower in the sky and sending shafts of golden light to glisten on the water.

We lay under the table – tired but happy -but rather sad that we would be leaving for home the very next day.

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