By: Blonde Two

I had an interesting time yesterday morning sorting out the bag that I was going to take on our Two Blondes city adventure to Exeter.  Our Dartmoor outing rucksacks are so full and heavy with spare kit, first aid kit, extra maps, squashed emergency rations etc, that it was a rare treat to go out with not very much at all.  I nearly challenged Blonde One to a competition to see who could arrive with the smallest and lightest bag but I had a sneaky feeling that I would lose so decided not to.  Her victory at the Pedometer Challenge was still rankling!

The two things that I struggled the most to leave out of my city bag were those staples of Dartmoor survival – the waterproof coat and the compass.  It didn’t rain on us so leaving the coat out was fine but I did find occasion to wish that I had brought my compass.

I have used a compass to do city navigation before.  You feel a bit silly standing in the middle of a busy street, staring at your compass; but for someone who finds it very easy to forget whether Waterstones is down the high street or up from Costa, it can be very useful.  Either the compass works or some kind soul assumes that you are a foreign visitor and asks where you want to go in loud and slow English – I have to confess to going along with that misunderstanding in the past!

Anyway, this week’s getting lost experience wasn’t in the streets but around that most excellent of institutions, RAMM (not an unusual sheep although I do have story about that) but Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery.  We had gone to see the exhibition of Widgery Dartmoor art but couldn’t resist exploring the rest of the museum’s eclectic collections.  After all, where else would you be able to see pictures of rare ladybirds (Blonde One was thrilled), stuffed giraffes and a chair made out of body fat under one roof (I kid you not)?

Somewhere between the blobby baby teeth sculpture and the enormous North American parka, we got a bit lost and couldn’t find the room that contained all of the Widgery art.  As the Two Blondes spend so much of their lives looking for things on Dartmoor, the irony of not being able to find Dartmoor in a city museum did not escape us.  Blonde giggles ensued (not very “Ladies who Luncheon”) and had us convulsed and bent double for a while when we followed a sign that said “Viewing Gallery” to be faced with a clear view of a blank, white wall.

Luckily, being true Dartmoor Blondes, we had both grabbed a map (probably subconsciously) on the way in and managed to calm ourselves down by muttering phrases like “orientate the map” and “about 20 paces”.  Our stunning navigation skills (tongue firmly in cheek) didn’t desert us and, just like a day on Dartmoor, we eventually found ourselves pointing and tor naming.

I can thoroughly recommend RAMM – they have a bit of something for everyone with just enough quirky to be a real treat – but I recommend that you pick up a map at the door, just in case!