After a relaxing week away, I probably have enough to fill several blog posts so I will have to try not to become a holiday bore! We spent a week in Combe Martin in North Devon, swapping our usual countryside views for the sea, and very beautiful it was too.
The B&B we were staying at, the Newberry Beach Lodge, made us feel instantly at home. The couple who run it love vintage furniture as much as we do, filling their home and the guest rooms with beautiful pieces which I coveted instantly. The house itself had a similar comfortable feel to our own, just on a much larger scale. As well as the bedrooms, there were several living areas – a library, a chillout room with a wii console in it and a large living room on the top floor, with stunning sea views. Our room was on that floor and, as the other room up there was vacant for most of the week, we had the lounge to ourselves. It even had a fridge for the wine (or scrumpy in D’s case – he was getting into the whole West Country thing …). The cove was literally across the road down some steps and we lay in bed at night, listening to the waves lapping against the shingle beach. It doesn’t get much better than that. If you are ever planning a trip to North Devon, I can’t recommend the Newberry Beach Lodge highly enough.
We packed a lot into our week, from playing crazy golf at Woolacombe Beach (D thrashed me as usual), to visiting a couple of National Trust properties. We even popped down to Cornwall for a pizza! Not intentionally – we were exploring a little further round the coast and found ourselves in Bude. We didn’t even know we were heading over the border until we spotted the “Welcome to Cornwall” sign. Once we arrived, we stumbled upon a great little pizzeria called La Bocca Pizza Kitchen. The tables were made from old pallets, sanded, painted and covered in glass and there were some very cool light fittings too. They were doing a roaring trade in takeaway as well as the small restaurant. Again, if you are ever in the area, you need to try this place out – the interior is fab and the pizzas were too.
There were two main highlights of the week and it’s no surprise probably to hear that they both involved gardens. The first was RHS Rosemoor which, like Harlow Carr near home was an inspirational day out. I finally know the difference between a vegetable plot and a potager. It was fascinating to compare the two and then to set them against a permaculture garden that we saw elsewhere. They all contained fruit and veg but grown entirely differently. The traditional veg plot was similar to what we have, albeit on a much larger scale, while the focus in the potager was on design, embedding fruit and veg growing with flowers in an attractive, decorative layout. The permaculture garden at Tapeley Park nearby was a new concept to me. Basically, it is a no dig approach to veg growing, where each bed becomes a mini ecosystem of its own. Plants jostle side by side and the owner says that they lose little to disease or pests, because everything is balanced and protected by the other plants around it. I think I liked the potager best, but as D likes a tidy garden, we will probably stick to the more traditional kitchen garden – for now, anyway!
Rosemoor had too many things to see for me to be able to cover it all and do it justice. The rose gardens were particularly beautiful, although it was a clematis that we really fell for in there – a stunning violet flower climbing high above the huge variety of roses. The wildlife was almost as amazing as the plants – there were hundreds of dragonflies down by the lake and there was even a snake in the kitchen garden, basking in the sun. Unfortunately, it glided away before I could take a photo of it, but to see it at all was a very special moment.
The second highlight of the week was our trip to Knights Hayes, a National Trust property outside Tiverton. The house is an impressive example of Victorian Gothic architecture and the gardens were gorgeous, with fun topiary dogs leaping over hedges.
It would have been a great place to spend some time anyway and I would love to go back one day, but we were really there to see a dear friend of mine, who I hadn’t seen for a number of years. Jenny Kane is a novelist and was instrumental in me starting my blog in the first place. As well as being lovely to see and catch up with her and her daughter, I left, as I usually do when I have spoken to her, feeling inspired and like I could achieve anything. I can see why her company, Imagine, where she teaches writing workshops with her business partner, Alison Knight, is so successful. And her natural warmth comes through in her writing too so, if you have never tried her novels and fancy a light, romantic read this summer, I would start with either Romancing Robin Hood or Abi’s House.
Sadly, our week was over all too quickly and then we headed home, happy to see the cats but a little apprehensive about how the garden had fared during the hot weather while we were away. What we found on our return can wait for another week, but here is a taster, blooming to show us that we don’t need to go all the way to Devon to see some lovely roses.