And so, on Friday afternoon we found ourselves on an impromptu break in a gorgeous bijou cottage high amongst the Blackdown Hills in Devon. There’s nothing better than stepping into your own little cottage (well, ours for the weekend, at least!) for the first time, going exploring, peeping into all the rooms, and taking in the fresh views from the windows. Our cottage had immense 9ft french doors in the lounge, opening onto a fantastic view of the valley below. It was so breathtaking. There was also a little farmhouse kitchen and two bedrooms. We slept in the eaves, on a pretty wrought iron bedstead. Adjoining our room was a bathroom with – ooh! – a fabulous free-standing roll-top bath! More on that later… :) DD1 and DD2 had their own little bedroom just off the kitchen with smaller versions of our wrought iron bed – and their own little bathroom too. Needless to say, they were thrilled.
The cottage was in a beautiful setting. In the surrounding fields tiny lambs skipped about and jostled each other playfully. The pond below our cottage was home to various ducks and some pretty downy-white geese, and the garden of the neighbouring cottage was busy with the cluck of chickens. From the kitchen window we could see even wild rabbits and squirrels coming and going. Heavenly! It’s like I’d fallen asleep and woken up in The Darling Buds of May. Except in Devon, not Kent. And there was no sign of Catherine Zeta Jones. But apart from that, it was EXACTLY THE SAME*
*any resemblance I may bear to Ma Larkin is purely coincidental. <shifts bosom with arm>
On Saturday morning, after a breakfast of yummy American pancakes, expertly made by DH, we decided to visit Buckfast Abbey. The weather didn’t look great, but we soldiered on, determined to make the most of our weekend. Miraculously, we managed to avoid being rained on. At the Abbey, we wandered the sparse gardens. Spring was not in full effect as yet, and there weren’t many people about, probably because of the rain. All of a sudden I spotted a hooded figure in a long cloak in the distance. ‘Ooh look! An actual monk!!’ I exclaimed excitedly, pointing. Intrigued, we kept our eyes trained on the figure as it drew closer. After a few minutes, as he drifted towards us, I realised that it wasn’t a monk at all. It was an old woman in a very long hooded anorak. *sigh*
We spent the afternoon in Totnes, a town populated by an eclectic mix of dreadlocked eco-hippy types and the Boden set. Totnes is a great place, full to the brim with interesting little shops. I’d love to live near there; you’d have no trouble finding interesting and unique gifts for birthdays and secret-post-clubbing! We’d only just arrived, and DH spotted a cheese shop. We ventured in. I *hate* cheese (having been bitten by a piece as a small child, of course I avoid it at all times), and immediately we were inside, the smell hit me. I said to DH ‘I’m going to have to get out’, and hurriedly left. Taking some deep breaths outside I tried to calm myself while I waited for DH. When DH came out, he told me that the lady behind the counter gave him a knowing look and said ‘We get a lot of that in here’. Honestly, I’ve never been in a more smelly cheesy place. Eugh.
That evening, back at the cottage, I ran a bath. Normally I’m a shower kind of girl, but the free-standing bath was just too good to miss. When I came back upstairs, DH had poured me a glass of wine, lit some candles, and presented me with a Cadbury’s Flake. He said that you couldn’t have a bath like that without having a Flake as well. It’s the law, apparently.
It’s all very well, this ‘ooh lets have a flake while I’m in the bath’ mullarkey. What they don’t tell you is what happens when you try to EAT the flake as you lie there. The chocolate crumbles and immediately melts onto your chest, making strange brown smears as you try to wipe it off. Not the most attractive view for DH as he enters the bathroom. Still, the thought was there.
I opened the curtains on Sunday morning and was met by bright sunshine. I was also met by two excited children who wanted to start their Easter egg hunt. DH and I had hidden packets of mini eggs around the cottage the night before, and of course, being EIGHT O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING it was already getting quite late in the day for chocolate-egg-consuming. As well as sixteen packets of mini eggs, DD1 also found a very large spider hiding in a bathroom towel. A side-effect of living in an old converted barn I suppose. Thankfully, she didn’t let it put her off eating her mini eggs. Phew.
After the obligatory amount of chocolate eggs had been consumed, we headed off to the coast. Seaton was our first stop; a really quiet resort that seems to thrive on the fact they have a tram line. If you’re not bothered about trams, I’d probably not bother with Seaton, nice though the (shingle) beach was. The girls collected some funny shaped pebbles, and we carried on down the coast to Sidmouth.
The coastline at Sidmouth is wonderful, with a long wide stretch of shingle and sand beach, backed by high red cliffs. There are lots of rocky areas and many rockpools to explore. We had a wonderful time, drawing in the sand, making patterns with the pebbles and looking for sea-creatures.
DD2 was absolutely thrilled to find a beautiful starfish in one of the rock pools. We carefully placed it back in the water and covered it up with some sand in order to put some marauding small boys brandishing driftwood sticks off the scent… the poor starfish might not survive otherwise. I love this photo, the look on her face is wonderful.
The evening was a clear, still, bright one. Perfect conditions to set off a paper sky lantern DH and I went out onto the hillside, the girls in their pyjamas looking on from the huge french windows in the lounge. After we lit the lantern and the heat from the flame breathed life into it, we let it go and watched it float upwards into the night sky. It was a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
I’m glad the wind was blowing in the right direction. Otherwise ‘Red sky at night’ might have meant ‘barn’s on fire’ rather than ‘shepherd’s delight’…