Follow the Folletts

All the latest news from our beautiful coastal holiday homes

Escape in a book

Book

I had the sniffles on Wednesday so retreated to bed with a new book – The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. This is the true story of a couple who lose everything and decide to walk the South West Coast Path, all 630 miles. My friend, who we are walking the path with, leant me the book and I was gripped after the first paragraph. Obviously it was initially interesting as we are walking the path ourselves, however Raynor’s writing immediately transports you to the North Devon coast and her descriptions of the path along the way are fabulous.

I have always been a book worm, inherited from my mother, who is also an avid reader. I grew up on Peter and Jane books, followed by every single book Enid Blyton ever wrote – I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who grew up on a council estate and wanted to go to St Clare’s or Mallory Towers. I also desperately wanted to be in the Secret Seven or the Famous Five, having adventures and eating egg sandwiches and drinking lashings of ginger beer.

Our book club, called BBC2 (Beer Book Club 2 as the original book club got so large that it had to be split into two) is a thriving group who read and meet monthly to discuss a book. In the last year we’ve read a whole host of different books, the latest being The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Not everyone understood the ending but when I googled it, it turns out that lots of people didn’t understand it either!I’m looking forward to the film being made to see how they interpret it.

A book for me is pure escapism. I like to visualise the places that are described. I don’t always like to watch the film version if I’ve loved the book, but although the Dursley’s house in Harry Potter didn’t look like that to me in my mind, I loved everything else about those films.

One of my favourite musicals of all time is Les Miserable. I’ve seen the stage musical three times and the film countless times but I’ve never read the book. Barry and I are loving the TV series on BBC at the moment so I’m tempted to read the book as we’re learning things we never knew about the story from the stage musical and the film.

I can never be bored if I’ve got something to read. I read anywhere and everywhere but my favourite place is to escape to the beach hut in the summer. If I’m reading something that I’m loving I can often be found in bed by 8.30pm with my nose stuck in a book!

Our cottages all have book shelves and over the season these take on a new form as guests leave the books they have read and take one from the collection. In this way I’ll never not have a book to read!

I’m hosting BBC2 at my house in March so need to recommend a book for everyone to read, so what are some of your favourite books?

A New Chapter

When Barry and I first fell in love with Garlands in March 2015 we never dreamed that our daughter would also fall in love with Devon. Yesterday, Alexandra and our son in law, Simon, moved to Seaton to a brand spanking new house and we couldn’t be more delighted for them both.

Alex has secured a permanent role for her current company COOK covering the South West and Simon is going to work on a farm. So not only moving to Devon but working on the land! Simon did his first Parkrun at Seaton this morning as a local and even finished first over the line – what a great couple of days for them both.

It’s been a busy day so far as all three cottages were booked for Christmas and they are all full for New Year. There’s still lots to do in Devon in the winter time and there’s no rain forecast for the foreseeable future so our guests will be able to get out and about.

When our New Year guests leave Barry and I will be taking a break for approximately six weeks as we’ve got some building work going on in our house. The conservatory is on its last legs and if we don’t take it down I fear it would be blown down!

Bookings for the 2019 season are incredibly strong. We’ve already got 50 number of weeks booked! If you’re thinking of a March spring break here’s our latest availability –

The Beach House – 16th, 23rd and 30th March available

The Seaside Inn – 16th March available

The Boat Shed – 16th and 23rd March available

March is a lovely time for walking or cycling breaks and remember the South West Coast Path and the beautiful Jurassic Coast are right on our door step.

Folletts get GOLD

The Folletts at Beer won Bronze and Gold at the Visit Devon Tourism Awards 2018 last week.

Little did we think when we purchased our three cottages in the quintessentially British fishing village of Beer, that three and a half years later we would win Bronze in the Self Catering Property of the Year award, and Helen would win Gold in a special award of Customer Service Superstar which was announced on the night.

We think the judges were impressed by our free dog sitting service and the addition of our wonderful complimentary use of the beach hut. The way we have integrated into the village we think made a difference – I lead the Beer Coastal Community team – a volunteer group that exists to ensure Beer continues to be a wonderful place for people to live, work, visit and holiday. This team have recently been awarded a grant from the Government’s Coastal Community Fund to further enhance the village.

We both also supported the village in Channel 4’s Village of the Year competition where Beer won the best village in the South West region to make it to the national finals.

In our press release I said that we were thrilled with both awards –

“Barry and I are delighted to have won the Bronze award for Devon’s Self Catering Property of the Year. It’s particularly pleasing considering we’ve only been in business for a short time. Winning Gold for Customer Service was amazing – to win an award which is all about how you treat people is the icing on the cake! We’re so lucky to live and work in beautiful Beer and East Devon, right on the Jurassic Coast and the South West Coast Path”.

All of the winners can be found on the Devon Tourism Award website.

Press Release

A record number of East Devon attractions and accommodation providers have made it to the final in the South West Tourism Awards. The Award recognises outstanding businesses, who provide a high level of service to tourists visiting the South West. The 2018 Devon awards had over 160 entries, higher than any previous year.

Businesses in East Devon who have made it to the final include:
The Follett’s at Beer holiday cottages, Andrew Hayes Holiday Park, Seaton Wetlands (owned and managed by East Devon District Council’s Countryside service) and the Donkey Sanctuary.
All of the finalists will be judged by an independent panel ahead of the awards ceremony which takes place on Thursday 22 November at previous winner, Higher Bullen, North Devon.

Helen Follett from the Follett’s at Beer holiday cottages said: ‘’Barry and I are very proud and delighted to be finalists in two categories – Self Catering property of the Year and Customer Service Superstar. We are so lucky to live and work in beautiful East Devon and the unspoilt fishing village of Beer. We are looking forward to the awards dinner in November and celebrating with the best of Devon Tourism businesses”.

Clare Mackenney from Andrewhayes Holiday Park said: ‘’Making it to the finals of these awards is great news for Andrewshayes Holiday Park. We are proud to be helping put our beautiful part of Devon on the map and to encourage new visitors to the area.’’

James Chubb, Countryside team leader, said: ‘’This is the first time Seaton Wetlands has entered the South West Tourism Awards, and to have made it into the final in the small attraction of the year category is fantastic! To receive bronze, silver or gold will be a wonderful achievement for all the staff and volunteers who help to make the site such a special place for visitors and wildlife.’’

All of the finalists can be found on the South West Tourism Award website: http://www.devontourismawards.org.uk/page/44/2018-winners–highly-commended.htm
Results from the awards will be published on this website, as well as on the South West Tourism Awards social media. Individual finalists including @FollettsAtBeer @andrewshayesA35 and @wildeastdevon will be posting live from the awards.

‘Mike’s Week’

This week of the year is always a sad one for me as it’s around this time that my Dad passed away and it’s also Remembrance Sunday soon. However it’s also the time I feel grateful that positive changes were made in my life as a result of the very saddest times. Grief actually gave me the wake up call I needed to be brave enough to wave goodbye to the corporate London life I lived, to live and work in wonderful East Devon and beautiful Beer.

Today we have another family arriving to stay in The Boat Shed for ‘Mike’s Week’. Barry and I launched this last year and it’s where we host a family who have been chosen by the Macmillan Hospice in Christchurch for a free holiday. This week allows a person who is very sick to create lasting memories with their loved ones. We’re proud to continue to support the work of this hospice who took such great care of my Dad when he had terminal cancer. They are not linked to the national Macmillan charity and rely on fundraising efforts to continue their good work.

There’s so much research around as to why holidays are so important for people and it’s been proved that taking a holiday is good for your health. Here are the 8 benefits of taking a holiday –

Reduces stress, increases creativity, boosts emotional stability, makes confidence soar, improves your intelligence, improves low moods and helps you fight cold and infection.

This week we’re proud to welcome and host this family and we hope that this time away gives them a change of scenery and the chance to be together to create long and lasting memories.

 

DGT – Devon’s Got Talent

Forget BGT – there’s an array of talent in Devon in the tourism industry! A few weeks ago the Devon Tourism Awards finalists were announced http://www.devontourismawards.org.uk/page/44/2018-winners–highly-commended.htm and The Folletts are shortlisted in TWO categories – Self Catering Property of the Year and Customer Service Superstar. Barry and I are super excited and will hear whether we’ve won Bronze, Silver or Gold at the awards ceremony on 22 November. We know that we are very lucky to live and work in East Devon and our part of Devon did really well in many of the categories. In fact lots of the places we recommend to our guests are also included in the finalists list – The Donkey Sanctuary, Seaton Wetlands and Stuart Line Cruises to name just a few.

This is the second time this year we’ve been recognised, having been a finalist in the Customer Service category for the Devon and Cornwall Venus awards. For the awards dinner Barry will need to press his DJ and I’ll have to dig out my long red dress again. I purchased this for the Venus awards in the Red Cross shop in Seaton for the grand price of £9.50 so I’m pleased it will have another outing this year. I also had a curly hair blow dry and that cost more than the dress!

We entered the awards as it’s been over three years since we became holiday cottage owners, and a key part of the process is that each entrant receives detailed feedback after the awards. I’m really looking forward to receiving ours as I’m sure there’s areas of improvement and suggestions that we can get to grips with. We’re up against some very strong competition in our category; Bidwell Farm Cottages and the Millbrook Estate – congratulations to them as well. In just five weeks time we’ll know the outcome………

A walking centre

Beer Head

Being based on the South West Coast Path is a big draw for our holiday makers. Every inch of its 630 miles is stunning coast line and Barry and I can vouch for that as we’re in the process of walking all of it! So far we’ve walked from Minehead to Tintagel (we’ve walked the whole of the North Devon coastline).

We really are blessed to be located in a Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the walks around us are wonderful. Sidmouth Walking Festival starts on Monday and there is a walk for everyone during the week – from completing the whole of the East Devon Way, to a couple of mile walks that all can enjoy.

The Beer Coastal Community Team that I chair produced new walking leaflets for the village that have proved very popular. These cover circular local walks from Beer to Blackbury Camp, Axmouth, Branscombe and Colyton. The two South West Coast Path walks are Beer to Sidmouth, an 8 hour challenging cliff and valley walk and Beer to Lyme Regis, around 7 hours passing through the undercliff formed by a great landslip in the 19th century.

If you are a walker you know that there is no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes. Although I think you might get a little waterlogged if you were out in today’s downpour! I can guarantee if you love walking you won’t be disappointed with Beer. The village is a centre for great walks – come and see for yourself!

Tourist Tax – wish you weren’t here?

Regatta week has just ended and as usual it was a great week to be in Beer. On Thursday I was called by Radio Devon to comment on a tourist tax being suggested by the Devon and Cornwall Police Constable Shaun Sawyer. He said that due to the massive increase in visitors in the summer the police are under increased pressure to keep the counties safe. It was also suggested that our local doctors and the NHS in general can’t cope with the increase demand.

My immediate view was that it was unfair to introduce another tax on small tourism businesses who already operate to very tight margins. The cost of doing business is only going one way (up). In addition our small village was super busy last week and there wasn’t a police presence in sight! I also was of the view that it might stop people visiting if they had to pay. After all I thought tourism was good for our country and good for our economy.

Then I heard Bob and Joan who were on just before me. They are off to Wales today to stay in a holiday cottage and they had to pay a £2 green tax. This green tax apparently goes towards the water bill for the property they are staying in. My research shows that Wales were going to introduce a tourism tax however these plans were recently shelved as there was large opposition that it would damage the economy. Tourism is worth around £2.8 billion to the Welsh economy.

Interestingly many European cities have introduced a bed tax. This is where a couple of Euros is added to your hotel bill each night to help support local services. This money could be injected into the emergency services to help pay for the increased presence of visitors.

I’m now conflicted in my view. Bob and Joan were very much in favour of a tourism tax to help the local services in Devon and Cornwall. Their view was that it’s only £2 for the week and given that they are paying for accommodation this is a small price to add on.

What do you think?

Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail

I’m sure I bore people when I keep telling them how beautiful Beer village is. I’m always saying there is no place more beautiful in the whole world, however…….stop press……I’ve now been to the Lake District. OMG! How stunning are the Lakes? Really you can’t compare them to Beer, but if you’ve never been, put them on your bucket list.

We were up there for my cousin’s wedding and stayed in the village of Askham near Ullswater Lake. We did Airbnb and had a lovely cottage. Of course we were blessed with the most amazing weather and I’m told that we saw the Lakes at their best as it can often be misty.

For Christmas last year Mum gave Barry and I National Trust membership and we’ve been making great use of it. Our first visit was to Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s home. Now there was a woman before her time. After being rejected by many publishers she actually published The Tale of Peter Rabbit herself before Warne and Co agreed to take it on. Her financial success led her to purchase thousands of acres in the Lake District in order that the land did not get sold to developers.

I grew up on her stories, as well as Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven (another blog to follow on this subject). I once tried seven times to make a small plaster cast model of Jemima Puddleduck as her neck kept breaking off as I pushed the mould out. Try, try, try again! I was determined to get it out whole and paint it. I must admit though I can’t like Peter Rabbit now as I have so many wild rabbits in the garden at Garlands and they are quickly munching their way through all our plants. They are so tame now that even my claps and running at them at great speed isn’t frightening them away.

We also visited the gallery of her work in a very pretty village called Hawkeshead and had tea at Wray Castle where she once spent a holiday. A trip on the steam boat from Ambleside to Bowness on Windermere and several long drives over craggy passes (one actually called The Struggles) ensured for an amazing staycation.

So, if you’re not coming to Beer this year (and why not – we only have one week left – 18th August in The Beach House), and you’re still thinking of a holiday destination, I can thoroughly recommend a trip to the Lakes. AND just after junction 38 of the M6 there is the best service station ever – a model of how every UK service station should be. There’s also a sister site on the M5 in Gloucestershire. Google Tebay services!

A night landing site for Devon Air Ambulance

ambulance

The Devon Air Ambulance landed in our little village of Beer three times in 2017. When you think we only have 1,300 people living here I think that’s quite a high number. Twice it was needed for locals and once for a tourist who had injured themselves. Given that our nearest hospital – The Royal Devon in Exeter is a good 45 minute drive away, the Air Ambulance is very important for us.

Beer Parish Council invited all the locals to a talk last month from the Air Ambulance about establishing a night landing site. Seaton and Colyton are also in the process of having one. To set one up costs about £6,000 with a government grant covering half the money, so our village has to raise the other £3,000. Our night landing site is going to be at Beer Football Club and the majority of the expense is for installing flood lights so that the team can land safely.

As I would have expected we’ve gone into overdrive and already have achieved a great sum but more is needed. We’re doing what we do best – a quiz night in Osborne’s wine bar on the 5th July and a bingo night in the Mariner’s Hall on the 6th July with some fantastic raffle prizes. We’ve also set up a Facebook page to publicise the fund raising.

The wonderful thing about the Air Ambulance is that you aren’t just taken to the hospital in Exeter. We learnt from the talk that you are taken to the hospital that is best suited to your needs. For example, if you have a problem with your heart you might be taken to Derriford in Plymouth to their heart surgeons, or a child might be taken to the Bristol Children’s Hospital, where incidentally my cousin works. All direct as the crow (or ambulance) flies and a lot quicker than by road!

In 2017 these angels in the sky attended to 990 patients, 12% of which were children. Their combined flying time was 720 hours and interestingly 23% of patients were known to live outside of Devon. This is a vital service for locals and our visitors and I know we’ll make that £3,000 and probably more with the focus and effort that Beer residents put in.

Such a worthwhile cause – they are there when it maters most.