7.6.09

Return from Devon



The Bothy. Our little holiday barn conversion, just big enough for two, (though large enough, we figured to fit all of our tiny cottage in). Beautifully furnished, with a bijou, bird-filled garden. Woodburner stove, four-poster bed, beams, wooden floor. Views across the splendid Trentishoe Down. Gorgeous when the sun is out, a bit Sherlock-Holmesy when the inevitable mists and rain set in. But the Bothy was cosy beyond belief, far more so than our own picturesque hovel, and we were very happy there.





What did we do? A lot of biking from A to B to C. Visited friends - some with chickens - (and EGGS - for ME!) -




We were fairly close to the sweetly pretty but over-subscribed village of Lynmouth -





The North Devon coastline is spectacular.



Approach to Heddon's Mouth



There was rock scrambling for Andy. If you are like me and hate heights, don't look too closely at the tiny figures below...




'Spot the Andy'

- and his once-yearly dip in the sea - no matter how bracing. And I believe he was suitably braced. I was having none of it.




There were rock pools for me. Each to his - or her - own.





I did get to drag Andy along to the Devon County Show, or rather, he nobly biked us fifty miles down the main road to Exeter, where the city was practically under riot-control due to the show's popularity. We had a lovely time, the sun actually shone, we looked at goats, sheep, cheeses, docile bulls, butter carving, rabbits, vintage bikes, country crafts, wandered about until our cheeks shone and our feet hurt. The bee keeping tent was bustling, and they had sold out of honey - sad for me, but great to know there is a new interest in this vital husbandry. Actually, everywhere was rammed to bursting point, and at midday they had to shut the gates to newcomers. For once the crowds didn't bother me at all, I was so happy to be in my personal paradise. I had a 2GB memory card for my camera and I was going to use it. But I have come to realise that several hundred shots of cows backsides are not everyone's cup of tea. (A friend who's father is a Devon dairy farmer dryly remarked that looking at my camera viewer was rather like looking at her dad's...). So, my heavily pruned set of show pictures are safely squirrelled away in a Flickr set, and they are here, if that is your thing too. (Bizarrely we completely missed the pig section, not sure how we managed that).



1. Bull, 2. Bull, 3. Bull, 4. Bull, 5. Devon Reds, 6. Devon Reds detail, 7. Devon Reds, 8. Devon Red and calf, 9. Untitled, 10. Cattle backs, 11. Spotted cow, 12. Holstein Fresian, 13. Holstein Fresian, 14. Stornmoor Thunder Cloud, 15. Stornmoor Thunder Cloud, 16. White bull, 17. Whites, 18. Whites detail, 19. White bull, 20. White, 21. Ducklings, 22. Poultry show, 23. Big cheese, 24. Butter carving, 25. Butter Carving, 26. Butter carving, 27. Tufty owl, 28. small owl, 29. Fluffy owl, 30. Eagle, 31. Eagle, 32. Eagle detail, 33. barn owl, 34. Sheep shearer, 35. Sheep shearer, 36. Sheep horn detail


On the Last Day and after a convoluted series of messages via Facebook and texting, we visited one of my oldest blog-friends, Donna Flower. Unusually, I didn't take a single photograph. We had a simply lovely afternoon with her, and visited the legendary Fabric Room. There was much groaning and swooning over delectable textiles, which she not only conserves, but sells, through regular open house sales and her website, Donna Flower. Her home is beautiful beyond belief and meeting her after nearly four years was a wonderful end to our holiday. Thank you Donna!


The Bothy, almost seen, near the horizon, from Trentishoe Down


So we return refreshed, yet older and wiser. Reasons we are not moving to North Devon, beautiful though it is; it is mainly connected with tiny, winding roads which are impractical for commuting with a motorbike, especially when the weather gets rough in winter. It is too isolated, not enough jobs, too run down in places. I could not live there without a car, which I can't afford. Weather can be (very) iffy. We've got soft living in the gentle Cotswolds. We kind of knew all this, but eight days of it confirmed it. We had previously decided on North Devon rather than South Devon, as South is so much more expensive, though coming from there I would have much preferred that.
Can we afford it, ever? We don't know. We are in limbo again.
But (oh, how contrary I can be), I was terribly homesick while we were away and it was wonderful beyond belief to get back to our sedate, lush patch. Mustn't feel too settled though, as we've got a snowball's chance in Hell of finding anything we can remotely think about here. Now we wait another year, carrying on scraping our house deposit together and hope to God the housing market doesn't shoot off again. One day we will be settled.

Thank you to every single person who left a lovely comment after my last post. I did sneak in half an hour's internet access mid-week and went all teary eyed and snuffly when I found the good wishes. Although it has been a nice break, I was raging to get back to work and missed all my internet friends. We have, however, rather taken to four-poster beds...


40 comments:

Lorna said...

Glad that your hols were good!

liZZie said...

So sorry to learn we aren't going to be neighbours after all, but soooo happy for you that you got to make your mind up in such wonderful surroundings, and that bed! Pig farming is may be more suited to the south anyway?

Nan and =^..^= said...

I very much enjoyed your holiday post and felt like I was there. Oh, the scenery is breathtaking. I think that one of the benefits of vacations or just getting away for a little bit is to make us look at what we have in a different light and it's wonderful if we can realize there's no place like home! Am glad you and Andy considered the negatives as well as the positives and were able to make a decision that felt right.
Thanks so much for sharing you wonderful get-away.

One of my favorite quotes is by Emerson:
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."

Puddock said...

Looks like it was a fab holiday. I for one can take any number of pics of cows so I must look at your Flickr page!

I completely understand your contrary feelings about moving to your beloved Devon as I'm going through the same thing. I think I've come down on the other side to you though, having been on a holiday to my beloved Ayrshire and loved it (apart from it being very busy compared to the comatose Highlands) and I am on the verge of putting my house up for sale...I think...

PS Andy looks very at home in a four-poster!

Otherwise known as Jen said...

Wow! Just wow!....and a heavy dose of country-living-envy :)

jfidz said...

Glad you enjoyed a much deserved break.
Things have a way of turning out for the best.

Hirondelle said...

*pounce hugs* Welcome home, I have missed you... but glad to see you are all refreshed and glowing with post holiday satisfaction. And oh, how I understand the longing for a home that you own yourself. We are currently trying to get an international mortgage. Very frustrating. But we find our way in the end and appreciate our niche all the more when we have it.

the casbah kitten/inside the casbah said...

I truely enjoyed seeing your holiday pictures!! It looks like you had a wonderful time. I understand your longing to move "back home" as I feel the same. I grew up in Washington (northwest coast) and now live in Kentucky (mid south). I've wanted to go back for YEARS but it's so expensive to live there now, and has not many jobs available....*sigh*.

Catherine said...

It looks/sounds like a lovely holiday for you both, and well earnt. Hmm I think I'd get used to four-poster beds too!
Sorry to hear you're not heading back to the west country any time soon, but glad you're feeling more sure of what you need. The poor transport issues are something that would keep me away from rural Devon, too, I think.
Catherine

Meliors Simms said...

Thanks for sharing your lovely hols with all of us, sounds perfect. I have the same dilemma about my dreams of living in the Daintree rainforest being quite impractical for almost exactly the same reasons, but with a tropical twist. Happy homecoming.

Donna said...

Awwwww honey, it was soooo lovely to meet you and Andy at long last. You were both great company and a complete delight to have as visitors. Thank you for not mentioning that my fabric room is no longer the tidy room shown on my Flickr account!!!! I do intend to sort it out and get it back to it's lovely original state.

The children adored their books, thank you so much. I have just returned from my 3 days away but will email you with a proper thank you.

Oh by the way, my company is no longer CHAT I am now donnaflower.com :-)

BumbleVee said...

Well, it was great to have a nice time away and to get a proper feel for whether it would be acceptable...before you just pulled up roots and moved! You will be slowly whittling down the list of areas.. and will probably stumble on the best one when you least expect it...

tlc illustration said...

*sigh* so lovely....

Hopefully you are peaceful re: your not-moving decision. Crossing fingers that you find the perfect place for you.

Love that large clutch of eggs - especially the chocolatey brown ones on the right (i'm wanting some cuckoo marans - or however they're spelled - for just such egg coloring!)

janet said...

Gretel,
Your photos took me along on your holiday, at least it felt that way. Lovely country you Brits have...someday I am going to get myself over there if I have to swim!! I've missed your twittering and blogging. Welcome back!
your friend across the pond,
Janet

ellen said...

Oh, what a lovely holiday and what lovely country.
Some day you will find your "spot", four poster and all.
It is a wonderful feeling to come home to our little spot, no matter how humble...a place that has just been waiting for us..our sighs, warmth and breath, the place that holds such memories, a place that knows our sorrows and joys.

Syren said...

Thanks for sharing all the photos. In my visits back to UK I've never been to Devon just heard a lot about it from a fellow ex-pat. Looks like a magical place to visit - so picturesque.
Know what you mean about owning your own place. One day....

Jessie said...

What a pretty cottage! We've been humming and ha-ing for years about moving to Devon and keep finding reasons why we can't. Like you, I get homesick away from home yet I'm so happy when I'm there and feel tearful when I leave. I think when the time's right things will fall into place. Or maybe I'm scared of change? Hmmm, have to think about that one!x

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Looks quite a very good vacation indeed.

Emm@ said...

Wow! I can't believe those butter carvings!

Jemjoop said...

Those dark brown eggs are magnificent.
Glad you enjoyed your holiday, Shame it provided so many obstacles to moving back permanently. Perhaps an annual trip every summer would suffice. Not the same but needs must and all of that.
That is some four poster bed! Looks like you stayed in a beautiful cottage in a lovely area.
Sounds as if you're glad to be home.
Jen

Over the Garden Wall said...

What a beautiful blog. I could almost taste the salt and feel the air on my face, truly "a garden hard by heaven."

Jackie said...

What a lovely post.
I can just see some needle felted sea anemones, as well as cows backsides!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh what a marvelous sounding holiday. What's that I feel??? Hummm?? Could it be .... ENVY?! Such a perfect little cottage, worthy of Snow White. The seaside....clear blue water...and sheep...and OWLS!! I would have had to be dragged back!

I am happy you are refreshed and have some questions answered about the move. Sometimes it takes staying in a place for a while to really get the feel of what life there would entail.

Welcome home!

Frances said...

Good evening to you from New York, PG.

Your post is a beaut. The photographs are as magnificent and telling as we know you always give us. Your eye is so true. I'm delighted that you and Andy did have a real holiday, and switch away from your usual days and places.

Your decision making about moving sounds very sound. All your reasons for wanting to move to Devon were strong and deep. All your reconsiderations are also strong and full of knowlege of what life demands, what life might grant, and where we fit ourselves in that mixture.

If it were not late now in New York, I think that I could write you a very long comment about how we select our settings, and how much freedom we are given to make such a choice.

Ah, but it is late. I welcome you back to this screen, and want you to know how much we have missed you.

xo

Kim said...

What a wonderful week, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Your post is filled with contentment :)

Your reasons for not moving to Devon are similar to some that put us off when we were going. I still wish we'd taken a chance though and just done it. Your perfect place will come along, probably when you least expect it!

Glad you're back safe and sound now and I bet the cats are pleased to have you home :)

Kim x

Kim McBirnie said...

You look like you've had an amazing holiday. I think everyone has expressed what I wanted to - just to say that, maybe this will now lead you in a different direction, not one you expected but one which may end up being better for you. When our son was born in 2000 we were living in Brackley near the oxfordshire border, I loved it down there but we just couldn't afford to buy. We looked at property prices back up north and did some research - this really had been the last place we wanted to move to. But we found Swanland, and have lived here for nearly nine years now. I love it here and feel at home when I really didn't expect or want to, and despite what we wanted at the time, this has been the best move for us. Hope you find your place, wherever that may be.
Kim McB xx

carolyn said...

Sounds like you had a delightful time as for moving to anywhere touristy you also have the added problem of huge influxes of people during the season and traffic jams everywhere.
You can tell me to mind my own business if you like but I have to say that you really should not be saying you can't afford a car. I used that as an excuse not to drive for years and years even saying I would learn if I ever got a vintage Jag. Big mistake husband eventually came ome with a vintage Daimler and I was forced to take driving lessons.
Best skill I ever learned the freedom is amazing and somehow one does manage to afford it. Something usually comes along.

Caroline B said...

Looks like you had a wonderful holiday - Devon really is so pretty. We got lost a lot when we went there - road system is indeed quite poor, we kept wondering if we would stumble upon the wicker man round the next corner...
Shame you've had to shelve the idea of moving there, but most things happen for a reason - I'm sure you'll find your dream home one day.
Caroline (going to change my name to Spudulike!!!)

natural attrill said...

Like that photo of Andy swimming in the sea, just wish it was me instead, looks great, I love the sea.
Penny.

Vikki said...

Lovely to have you back in the shire & very pleased to hear you had a good break.

Vikki x

Pearl said...

What a beautiful place to visit. Your photos are certainly proof of that for sure.
Love that bed too!! I would feel like a queeen...

Hugs,

Decadent Housewife said...

I loved your photos! I just might up and go next. Thanks.

Stephanie Roth Sisson said...

It's so cool to pop over to your blog and see things I have never seen before. Makes me want to travel and see more! XOSteph

Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

I LOVED your pictures and the detailed description of your trip. My next best thing to being there :) And I can relate all too well to the housing market and your concerns...we're in the same boat. I love the four-poster, by the way. They're an obsession of mine :) Thank your for the beautiful post! ~ER~

Sue said...

Gorgeous pics, love the way you made them oval shaped, somehow it makes them look very 1962... don't ask me how or what significance 1962 has but it's a compliment anyway! Glad you're back :-)

Frances Tyrrell said...

What a heavenly holiday. Thank you for showing us the England that I have had too little acquaintance with and want to know is still there.

I love the ovals of the rock pools, as if seen through a microscope, or the eyes of a Waterbaby.

Welcome back!

acornmoon said...

It looks as though you have returned home refreshed and a little wiser. South Devon is very beautiful and I can well understand your reasons for wanting to live there. As you say, house prices are very expensive and I think that it would depress you living amongst a community based largely on second home owners.

I do think it very sad whenever I hear about a young person being forced out by property prices. We hear of fishermen, nurses, teachers etc all having to commute miles because all the available housing has been snapped up by property investors. On the other hand I love to holiday in those self same cottages.

Now I am off to look more closely at that barn conversion with it's four poster bed.

Rowan said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful holiday, your Bothy looks lovely. Lots of beautiful photos but the rock pool ones are particularly lovely and original too.

Sarah said...

Ohhhh what an amazing post!!! I looved it felt like I was there too!! I found you at Kim's..thought I would pop by, so very glad I did!!
Sarah

William said...
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