Following our time in Maidenhead, Dave and I drove to Bideford in Devon to Northway Cottages, where we were joined by both our daughters, Katherine and Sue, and their families for a week of family fun. It is a delightful place - this was our third visit and we have already booked again for next year, which speaks for itself of how much we enjoy the place.
Many years ago, it was a Coaching Inn but is now a complex of cottages converted from farm
buildings of varying sizes, housing from 2 to 13 guests. The site, run by Bob and Pauline Bourne, overlooks Bideford Bay - a picture-window view.
A slice of home-made cake, provided by Pauline, and welcoming pot of tea were soon consumed and the children were eager to go for a swim in the heated pool and a visit to the games room with Granddad whilst the rest of us unpacked the cars. Sue's husband David is our chef for the week - the rest of us being his willing helpers. No need for volunteers to wash up - the kitchen is well equipped with a dishwasher and all other appliances.
Sue, David, Katherine and the children Joe, Katie-Anne, Rosie, Lucy and Emily were staying in the Coach House - a specious cottage with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 lounges, a dining room and kitchen. Dave and I were in the more modestly-sized Buttery, comprising of 1 bedroom, 1 shower-room and an all-purpose kitchen/dining room/lounge - a handy place to retire to when the younger children became a bit fractious towards the end of the day!It is an ideal place for families. Every day starts with the children helping Bob to feed the animals - two goats, two ponies, three rabbits, a few hens (with the added chance of 'winning' a fresh egg - depending on how many have been laid) and numerous goldfish.
Then we decide where to go each day. Even after three years, we are still finding new places to visit - and, of course, we have to go back to re-visit our favourite places. I can see the day coming when we will need an extra week to fit everywhere in!
Our favourite beach is Sandymouth Bay, a National Trust beach where crashing waves, ideal for body-surfing for the older ones, compete with the many rock-pools to explore for sea creatures and which are deep enough for the younger children to swim in. Although we take a picnic, a cafe/gift shop supplies any extras, such as a cappuccino or ice-cream.
One day, we enjoyed a scramble down through the woods and fields to the local Peppercombe Beach, a shingle beach with rock pools at low tide. We returned there another evening and made a camp fire from driftwood, and enjoyedtoasted crumpets.
Picturesque Clovelly is only a few miles away and well-worth a day out. As are many other attractions. Arlington Court (a National Trust property) is another favourite place. This year we enjoyed a carriage ride around the grounds. There is a fine display of horse-drawn carriages in the old stables - an attraction for me, as a writer of regency romantic fiction.
And, of course, mention must be made of the many places to go for a Devon Cream Tea - a MUST for every visit.