We went to visit the seaside village the house had been named after, which itself had been named after Charles Kingsley's book. We didn't stay long, finding the place run down and rather tacky and we haven't been back in the 21 years since. Until yesterday, that is, and what a transformation: bright new seafront buildings, everywhere trim and sparkling clean, everyone friendly and helpful.
In case you think I am making up the exclamation mark in the name, here's a picture of the Post Office:
(click on picture for a clearer view)
There is a beautiful 2-mile long sandy beach:
plenty of rock pools to explore
and the pebble ridge, which protects the nearby golf course from the sea.
Until 2008 local people would gather on the beach twice a year for "potwalloping."
Everyone would gather the pebbles that had been washed down by the tides and pile them back onto the ridge. I hear there was much frivolity and local ale involved. The ending of this practice has endangered the oldest golf course in England and destroyed another local tradition.
For those who find the sea too cold or too big, there is a very convenient beach pool.
Until yesterday, I thought that North Devon beaches lacked beach huts but Westward Ho! has a row of them. Behold:
I got really excited when I saw them. We used to have one on the beach at Eastney when we lived in Hampshire and we had great fun there when the children were small.
Up the hill, beyond the beach huts, we saw what we thought might be Bates' motel.
The closer we got, the more convinced we became so we turned back at this point.
Heading down to the esplanade again, we looked across to "our side of the bay." You can't make out our village because of the mist but the headland is Baggy Point.
We couldn't see any evidence of the shabby seaside resort of twenty years ago. The ice cream van, a stall selling shell fish from Lundy Island and a couple of cafes provide the seafront refreshments.
and we didn't have to have fish and chips, we sat outside at a bistro, enjoying the sea view and a very pleasant lunch.
Having wasted twenty years, thinking Westward Ho! was a place to be avoided at all costs, we fell in love with it. Should we move to one of the seafront apartments? Or perhaps this would suit our taste and pocket more:
I would still find it difficult to live in a place with an exclamation mark, though!!