a few weeks back i had the opportunity to visit somewhere in the uk that had been on my bucket list for the longest time: devon. mainly i wanted to go to try and understand why anyone would want to put cream on their scones before the jam, instead of the other, more correct way around, and thought heading to the home of the controversy would help me do just that. also, it was bex's birthday, and the weather man promised sun, so it sort of felt like killing a few seagulls with one enormous scone.. so to speak.
we based ourselves in the north devon village of appledore, a couple of hours drive from bristol. the drive itself was super easy and nothing at all like the winding, narrow roads of cornwall, and for that i was truly grateful. a quick google search told me that appledore promised colourful houses, a seaside esplanade, and enough pubs to satisfy any briton's needs. good enough for me!
we were hosted in a gorgeous one-bed cottage called "ship ahoy" that was so central we literally didn't walk further than 15 minutes in any direction from it, for two nights - the perfect amount of time to take it all the small village had to offer, as well as get out and visit the neighbouring towns. and pat a lot of dogs, and sleep a lot. the cottage was so comfortable and warm, and came loaded with fresh scones and toppings, a kitchen full of top-of-the-line cooking essentials, and a visitor's book loaded with information and suggestions on how to spend our time in the pretty seaside town. and, the most comfortable bed i'd slept on in ages. an uncomfortable bed is a massive deal breaker on holidays for me, and the marsdens devon cottages property certainly did not disappoint.
nor did the locals, and their love of dogs. seriously, i think appledore might be the dog capital of the uk because there seemed to be more of them than humans - totally ok with me! our days were spent wandering the narrow alleys of colourful, kitschy-named houses, and soaking up the sun along the esplanade. we stopped in at susie's tearooms for one of her renowned afternoon teas (i even ate another sultana scone!), causing anarchy by laying the jam on first, like the heathen i am, and visited the seagate pub on the waterfront - where dogs and muddy boots are welcome - for a pre-birthday dinner and a glass of wine before a well-earned sleep. both came highly recommended by our hosts at ship ahoy, and neither disappointed.
we began our second day in westward ho! simply because it's called westward ho! and has a bloody exclamation point in its name. that's a good enough reason to visit somewhere, isn't it? plus, it was only a ten minute drive from appledore. we parked the car in a free parking bay (yay for free-park-sundays!) and wandered along the waterfront (there wasn't much water, actually, the tide was reaaaaally low) and through the sleepy town. it would have been around 10:30 or so, and not a lot was open, which i suppose is right for a sunday in devon, no?
we decided breakfast would be a good place to start, so headed to the village inn, which claimed to have won some food award or something. well, i'm not sure when or how, as it was pretty much a shambles of an experience. there was a beautiful collie dog called bart there though, which really was the saving grace of the meal. from there, we wandered back along the seafront, past a row of colourful beach huts, back towards the car for the onward journey. on the walk back we noticed the once-sleepy town had really woken up and the buzz of a sunday at the seaside was evident. from noisy arcade games to busy cafe fronts, the town came alive - with more dogs too! - with devonians out making the most of their sunny sundays. it's a really pretty town, and you can see right around the coast from left to right, so well worth spending some time there if you have it.
ahhh, clovelly. this typically-english private village built into a fricken cliff-face is a little bit like the land that time forgot. the narrowed, cobbled streets that lead down (read: it's steep as hell) to the village from the entrance and car park on the hill (it's a pedestrian and donkey-only town, no cars allowed!) weave around both a donkey stable, an english heritage garden, a craft workshop, and a leisure walking trail all before you even hit the cobbles. of which there are many. at £7 to enter the tourist village, we wondered if it would be worth it considering the many other places we could have gone that day for free, but with so many people advising us to go, we did.
there are two museums, the craft workshops i mentioned (for silk and pottery), and a must-see film show of the village's history that will keep any person who's not obsessed with gleaming white and brightly coloured cottages festooned with fresh flowers busy, and if that's not enough: a couple of pubs, and an exceptional view of the bristol channel (and its own lifeboat, that we watched launch and then later that day, saw the boatmen in the pub in appledore), which i wholeheartedly encourage anyone to watch as the tide comes in, because it's glorious. the biggest downfall: no cash machines and a £10 minimum on most card machines, which makes buying the much-needed ice cream (or beer) for the hike back up to the car almost impossible. you've been warned.
all of this was achievable in the best part of one and a half days, making our two nights at the ship ahoy cottage the perfect amount. and, if you fancy trying it out for yourself, you can: marsdens devon cottages are giving you guys the chance to rent it yourself with zero booking fee if you use the code ERICA30 between now and the 29th may, for all 2017 holidays. with stays starting at as little as less than £50 per night, it's the perfect excuse to get away this spring, don't you think?
*i was a guest of marsdens devon cottages, but all thoughts are my own.