North Devon coast

I love Devon. The word itself conjures up memories of cream teas, crabbing in Ilfracombe under the Statue of Verity and watching the kids on their belly boards at Woolacombe.

It’s been a few years since we last managed to get down to the west country but I am sure sooner or later, that we’ll be packing the car up and revisiting our favourite places again.

verity ilfracombe

The fact that Paul’s dad was sent to Hele during the war meant that, as a child, every summer, his parents would pack up the car and go for a two-week break with their four boys. We cannot go down without spending a day in Combe Martin, a visit to Ilfracombe and a long list of plenty of other wonderful places to choose from.

From the quirky choices like Berrynarbour and spotting the flowerpot men around the village, to the fascinating gardens dotted throughout the rolling hills.

 

berrynarbor

One thing we do when we’re in Devon, is to eat pasties. There are some fabulous pastie shops with all kinds of wonderful recipes to try. In fact, they are so good we always buy a huge box to bring home and freeze so we can extend our holiday memories that little bit longer. There’s nothing quite so sad as pulling out the last pasties from the freezer!

We have stayed in plenty of different places in Devon but one idea that really captures my curiosity and one that gives the real experience of living in the area would be to book a cottage, that way we could really make the most of our time and for a moment live the west country like the locals.

Christmas by the Sea

woolacombe beach

There, I’ve said it. I have said out loud what would be a dream Christmas for me – Christmas by the sea in Devon. I’m imagining long coastal walks wrapped up in gloves, hats and scarves, I’m picturing pub lunches in villages that are celebrating the locals rather than crammed with tourists. Drinking local ales and eating freshly caught fish or locally reared lamb.

How about a family night in your seaside cottage playing board games whilst the Cornish pasties are being reheated? Candles flickering on the fireplace and a log fire burning in the hearth?

I know Paul would want to go in the sea with his wetsuit and belly board, I would place money on the girls following him in too…imagine doing that on Christmas Day? There would be nothing to say you can’t do it, just push back the roast turkey to later in the day! In fact, there are some wonderful places that can sleep large families too and are dog-friendly too; Baxter would be in his element down there.

The more I think about it, the more this idea is taking hold in my mind and, fingers crossed, one day I will celebrate Christmas in Devon overlooking the sea and feasting on pasties and cream teas.

Where would you like to spend an alternative Christmas? Norfolk also offers a wealth of things to do and see.

Disclosure: A collaborative post

woolacombe beach

As I spend so much of my time cooped up indoors at home sitting in front of a screen, there’s nothing I appreciate more than a good walk to stretch my legs and Woolacombe beach offers the perfect setting.

The photo above is taken from the road and gives an excellent idea of the 3 mile long beach.

woolacombe beach food vans

Fortunately, with the girls growing up and being able to amuse themselves with buckets and spades for hours on end I can now snatch back half an hour to myself and during our last break to Devon I did precisely that.

woolacombe beach huts

 

I left the family playing on the beach, picked up my camera Canon SX500 IS and set off on my mission of walking Woolacombe.

woolacombe beach huts

Apart from wanting to get some good shots of the beach and stretch my legs, I find walking an excellent time for thinking and clearing out all the junk that’s often hurtling around my brain and it allows me to connect with nature which is so important.

Watch the beach huts get smaller as I keep up my bare footed pace across the sands of Woolacombe.

Atlantic sea woolacombe

The tide goes out a long way leaving a hard flat beach to walk.

feet in sea

 

Woolacombe is known for it’s dramatic landscape carved out from the Atlantic waves. In fact the waves are excellent for belly boarding and surfing as any local will tell you. Don’t be fooled by the photo, that sea was freezing and wetsuits were the way forward if you wanted to enter.

woolacombe beach look back

The further you walk to ‘the other end’ the less people you meet, the occasional dog walker as dogs are only allowed on this side of the stream which splits the beach in two – see the food vans above to see the stream.

woolacombe walker on beach

I was overtaken by a walker dressed suitably for the occasion, unlike me barefooted and fancy free. My toes ached for a while after all that scratchy sand but I’m sure it was a perfect pedicure.

woolacombe beach

 

That is Baggy Point in the distance, meta for walkers as there are many beautiful walks in the area for exploring the coastline. I didn’t make it that far though.

woolacombe

Looking back I was amazed at the difference in the view, whereas before the beach had been packed and busy now there was a mile of sand stretching out in front of me.

woolcombe sand dune

I was amused to see people walking/sliding down the steep sand dunes with as much their beach kit as they could carry to save another walk to the top.

woolacombe beach

I didn’t make it all the way to the end but this was my start back point when I realised I’d been gone for a while and husband would be itching to get in the surf with his brothers.

I loved this little snatch of me time, I hope it worked off a few calories. I know for sure I was exhausted that night and left husband sitting listening to music as I curled up under my covers and fell into a deep contented sleep. I will definitely do this again.

Berrynarbour cottage

One lovely English village we visited was Berrynarbor Devon, just inland on the road from Coombe Martin to Watermouth Castle.

It’s hilly, quiet and very peaceful. Most of the houses are whitewashed with black slate roofs and the gardens are beautiful, lots of colour and different blooms, it’s a real pleasure to stroll along the main road.

In fact the village has won quite a few prizes for best kept village.

berrynarbour bus stop

But what caught my eye are the flowerpot men that inhabit the village too. As you walk along the road you can spot them in gardens, or up poles, taking a rest on a wall or simply looking down at you. The girls thought it was fantastic.

Berrynarbour 1

The story goes that a man, resident of Berrynarbor was made redundant quite unexpectedly and to keep himself busy he started to make some flowerpot men. His friends and neighbours bought one from his collection to support him and slowly, slowly the village became quite populated. Can you spot the flowerpot man in the photo below?

berrynarbour 2

This gentleman stopped making them after a while but the local shopkeeper asked him permission to continue, so you can now pop along to the local shop and choose your own model for £30.

berrynarbour 3

berrynarbour 4

berrynarbour 5

berrynarbour 6

 

berrynarbour 7

berrynarbour

 

berrynarbour

There are a couple of pubs and a cafe/restaurant for refreshments and the village often have garden walks or other interesting events to check out.

berrynarbour wall of flowers

berrynarbour bus stop

Meet our very own Flower Pot lady, Candi. The girls were delighted as it reminds them of their beloved Candi of the Skyline Gang at Butlins

candi flowerpot

She now sits proudly in our back garden as a lovely reminder of a beautiful place far, far away.

twitchen house

I’ve been very quiet this week and I have a very valid reason too. Last week, half term, we took our caravan down to Devon, we left at the crack of dawn to avoid heavy traffic and it worked, we had the awning up and everything in place to enjoy this beautiful sunset. Devon excelled in every way but the internet connection was dire, hence I’ve had my head down this week catching up on work.

Woolacombe in caravan

We stayed at Twitchen House, one of Woolacombe Bay’s four parks and it has recently undergone a massive facelift which is pretty impressive, future post on its way because we loved it and I want to tell you all about it.

the art shed twitchen house

One of the new activities we discovered was the perfect solution to a rainy day, The Art Shed. A huge room kitted out for painting pottery pieces, all kinds of pieces – my girls chose princesses! Tables are laid out with separate tiles for your splodges of paint, paints, brushes and you can even order a coffee. We LOVED it and would have definitely returned if the weather hadn’t have picked up.

crabbing coombe martin

Devon is an old stomping ground for husband and one of his favourite things to do in this part of the world is a beach crawl or a trip back in time to see the places dear to him. One of those places is Coombe Martin where many a childhood holiday was spent. On our visit the skies were grey and there was a chill in the air so we dressed accordingly and tried our hand at crabbing. A LOT of fun was had but nothing was caught.

berrynarbour village

One of my favourite visits this year was to Berrynarbour, a tiny inland village which has won plenty of flower prizes for the prettiest village but what is even cuter are the flowerpot men! Can you spot the two flowerpot men in this photo? Separate post to follow on our walk around the village but it was a lot of fun!

Towards the end of the week the sun shone and husband took the girls belly boarding whereas I took a walk along Woolacombe beach almost to the end and it was fabulous. Quiet, beautiful and deserted.

woolacombe beach

To finish off half term we celebrated my brother’s 40th with an amazing Sunday roast at The Laughing Gravy in Blackfriars, London. If you are in the area pop in to this amazing restaurant.

Happy 40th Dom ;)

watermouth castleTucked away on the northern coast of Devon is a beautiful castle dating back to 1825. It was built by Arthur Davie Basset for his bride Harriet, isn’t that so romantic?

Evidence of a labyrinth of tunnels leading to the harbour suggests it was a smuggling hotspot in years gone by. The last Basset abandoned the castle in 1945 and left it to deteriorate but in 1977 Richard Haines and his family bought it and turned it into one of the most magnificent tourist attractions in north Devon with entertainment for all the family.

We spent a day of our recent Whitsun break to Woolacombe enjoying the castle and its gardens for the cost of £46.00 for a family ticket. In our opinion it was money very well spent as there is so much to do for all of the family – even dad enjoyed the Longest Slide

watermouth castle inside

A trip through the castle with rooms showcasing life as it would have been; a castle employing around 40 staff with cooks, maids and butlers.

milkmaid milk

Then down to the dungeons where there is a fabulous display of early 20th Cenutry fairground games. Whilst the girls played the penny and 2p slot machines I stopped off at the mechanical palm reader, placed my palm on the plate, a rolling movement underneath my palm as the machine read my fortune and then out popped a tiny white card with my luck

palm reader

YOUR Hand denotes a very prosperous life; plenty of ups and downs, but you will smile through it all. You will be lucky in future over money matters and should choose first week in month for all important events. You are very just in your dealings and can be depended upon to do what is right. Your word is your bond.You are moderate in your desires and possess good intellect. Staunch in your friendship. Memory very good, and not likely to forget kindness

A sucker for the unknown and mystery I then had a consultation with Gipsy.

gipsy watermouth castle

I put my 10p in and twisted the knob to say I was a woman and the one to say my birthday was in April, Gipsy had this to say

You have been the focus of attention ever sine you came in here and have attracted many admiring glances – it’s no wonder some people get jealous.

If I could get out of this cabinet I would give you something to think about….

Today is your lucky day, I am telling you

and then I realised I’d turned the male birthday knob and not the female one but rather than have another go I held on to this good fortune slip as it made me smile.

the twins watermouth castle

Once out of the castle a short walk along a path then brings you to the fairground area which we all enjoyed. Merry Go Land,

merry go round watermouth castle

Adventure Land with Cooking Pot

cooking pot watermouth castle

and Snail Ride.

snail ride watermouth castle

We played Mini golf and visited Gnome Land, I think we were almost last to leave the place and could have easily stayed on longer.

mini golf

In fact there are even self catering flats to book both in the castle and in separate lodges dotted around this beautiful park with the most fantastic gardens that take your breath away. I would love to stay here one day.

If you’re in north Devon you may also like to visit The Big Sheep