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All the latest news from our beautiful coastal holiday homes

Freedom?

Handcream

Apparently today is freedom day…..well I won’t be rushing to nightclubs and ditching my face mask just yet, even though I do agree that we need to somehow learn to live with Covid. We will continue to display our cottages QR code and won’t be dropping any of our additional Covid cleaning protocols just yet. With infections rising rapidly we will continue to make sure that our guests and ourselves are as safe as possible.

I came across this hand cream the other day and snapped it up immediately when the sales assistant recommended it. Nursem has been developed with nurses to help combat the effects of relentless hand-washing. I don’t know about you but I’ve certainly been washing my hands much more! For every product you buy the company gives a month’s worth of free Nursem to a nurse or midwife. It contains medical grade Manuka honey with barrier restoring oils and soothing White Willow extract.

As our family have used the NHS midwifery services recently, (have I mentioned Barry and I are new grandparents to Harrison Matthew who was born on the 5th July……?!) I was delighted to purchase this adding to my collection of hand creams.

With yummy ingredients, free giveaways to nurses, and it smells divine, what’s not to love!

Everyday wonder

Beach view

We had a very special church service on Sunday as our Archdeacon was visiting. He did an interesting sermon on everyday wonder. Without becoming overly religious it was broadly about finding joy and wonder in our everyday lives. Whether that’s by being grateful for a good nights sleep or in our case finding joy in the fact that our son finally got married to the beautiful Rachel for the third attempt due to Covid. Barry and I found wonder in their intimate ceremony and wedding breakfast, very different from the Follfest party that was planned in 2020 and 2021. We are now hoping to have this in 2022!

It’s made me really think this week at where I can find everyday wonder. Here’s a few – a fabulous cheese scone made by my friend with a tangy kick from cayenne pepper, looking out of the window and seeing the red roses bowing their heads in the wind, relishing the cool early morning mist as I ran along the Esplanade, chatting to our guests as they sun bathed on the deck, and sorting out our house insurance for the coming year (always a hated task but made easier by our broker).

In times of Covid I’m glad to report that Barry has had his second jab and mine is next week. I find wonder in our world leading vaccination programme and at the dedication of our all health professionals. It’s wonderful to be welcoming new and repeat guests and I find wonder in the fact that we’re almost full for three months of next season already……..

Where can you find everyday wonder today?

Would you do this?

Beach Boats

I’m concerned by the news report of guests booking two holidays for the same week in England and abroad. Their thinking is that if they can’t go on their holiday abroad due to Covid they will use their staycation booking instead. If they can go abroad then they will ‘just cancel’ their staycation. So, covering all bases……..well what about the self caterer who has a booking cancel maybe just days before their guests are due to arrive? What if they can’t resell that week?

What if the self caterer (or B&B or hotel owner) has a fully flexible cancellation policy and has to give these guests a full refund? Many hospitality owners moved to a flexible policy to encourage people to book during Covid so that guests would feel comfortable if they couldn’t travel due to a change in the tier system or another lockdown. For my short break bookings from November to March I use AirBnB and I moved to a fully flexible policy. I didn’t think that guests might abuse a flexible policy and book two places to ensure they got to go to one of them.

The couple in question have been named and interviewed by the BBC. If I were their cottage provider in Norfolk I would cancel their booking for August now, give them a refund and hopefully resell that week to someone who does want a staycation and not holding two bookings. What a shame.

The staycation is here to stay!

Red tulips

The Beach House already has 8 weeks booked for the 2022 season! Since taking over our holiday cottages in 2015 we’ve never seen this level of advance bookings so far ahead (and long may it continue!). The news is full of people missing out on booking holidays in Devon and Cornwall this year, however they are going to have to think about 2022 soon…….

We re-opened (again) on Monday 12th April and had our first changeover for a while last Saturday. We were a bit out of practise having only been open five months out of the last twelve. I realised at 5pm that one of the cottages didn’t have the jam and clotted cream for the scones, and one of the dishwasher dispensers broke, but apart from that we got through it. I’d forgotten how long it takes to sanitise all the touch points in the cottages – it’s amazing just how many there are, even in the one bed.

The weather last week was sunny and this is set to stay for the next couple of weeks. The tulips are looking beautiful and are some of my favourite flowers. I had a tulip bouquet when Barry and I got our act together and finally got married in 2014. I ordered two bouquets of 12 red tulips for our daughter and myself, and 5 for the buttonholes, a week before the wedding. The grand total was £46.50 and the lady who sat next to me couldn’t believe it when she overheard me ordering them just a week before. Every time the tulips appear in April it makes me remember what a wonderful day we had.

Everywhere is starting to re-open around us which is wonderful to see. The Donkey Sanctuary are opening next month and we’re looking forward to eating inside a pub or restaurant from the 17th May. We hope that our fellow business owners in hospitality can start to earn some much needed funds during the season and beyond.

Our view is that the season will extend into October and November like it did in 2020. If you’re thinking of a Devon October break don’t delay as you might miss out. Here’s the availability we have left –

The Beach House – week of the 23rd October
The Seaside Inn – week of the 16th October
The Boat Shed – weeks of the 9th, 16th and 23rd October

Spring is here

Daffodils

Spring is here and we’re feeling optimistic today with the daffodils in bloom and we’re fully booked until the 9th October, with only 5 weeks left to sell then. We’ll be reopening and welcoming guests on Monday 12th April. This means that Barry is getting out all the garden furniture to re-varnish and spring cleaning starts in earnest in the cottages.

Devon is super popular again this year and we’re pleased that we’ve already got some 2022 bookings in the diary – people have realised the beauty of a holiday ‘at home’ without the hassle of a long journey, and a vaccine passport or coronavirus pre-test.

It’s incredible to think that in a whole year we’ve only been open for 5 months. Due to this we’ve had to scale down some of the planned work however we’ve still managed to do some enhancements – new cladding above The Beach House and The Seaside Inn, and The Boat Shed has had a new boiler. We realise that both of these are not terribly exciting but both were necessary! The Boat Shed has also had a new double bed and we’ve replaced all the pillows and duvets in the cottages.

Upon reopening in April we’re delighted to say that the welcome cream tea will be back and East Devon District Council will let us put the beach hut up on the 1st May – we really missed this last year and know that our guests did too.

Our last few weeks available for the 2021 season are listed below –

The Beach House – 23rd October and New Year
The Seaside Inn – 16th October, 23rd October and Christmas and New Year
The Boat Shed – 9th October, 16th October, 23rd October and Christmas and New Year

We look forward to welcoming you back to beautiful Beer!

Carry on Coronavirus

Carry on Coronavirus

I don’t like the month of January; I never have done. I like it even less this year as Facebook reminded me that last January we took a sneaky break to Gran Canaria followed by skiing with our friends. We don’t travel in the season so the winter months are our opportunity to take a break.

Whilst Barry and I have spent some time this month watching all the Carry On films we recorded over Christmas (they showed nearly every film from the first one in 1958 to the last one in 1992 – a total of 31). The Carry On series contains the largest number of any British series and I don’t mind admitting to a love of the Carry On films! Barry is just humouring me of course.

Given that I don’t like January, this morning I’ve spent some time making my list of the little joys of lockdown –

1. Practising yoga every morning with Karen Bennett who teaches from Greece – the joys of Zoom.
2. Staying in my yoga clothes all day when I’m not running and wearing my fluffy slippers.
3. My first sip of morning coffee – my favourite one is now Breakfast Brunch by Cafe Pod (recyclable pods).
4. Can’t put down books – from our book club Secret Santa I received the new Strike book in the series by Robert Galbraith.
5. Friday night takeaway pizza evening from Le Pisani in Seaton, followed by their yummy ice cream (if you’re local check out the coconut flavour).
6. A long hot bath, reading in the bath and a cup of tea in the bath.
7. Completing the jigsaw puzzle which has been on the go since Christmas.
8. Inventive games nights on Zoom with friends – managing to play Trivial Pursuits.
9. Local walks discovering roads and paths that I didn’t know were there.
10. Enjoying the cold sunny days where the sea is still a beautiful blue and I can dream of being open again for our guests to enjoy it.

Do you have any little joys of lockdown?

No words, eat cake!

Christmas Cake

For the last few years I’ve sat down to write my Christmas blog brimming with things to say. With Christmas Day coming up very soon, and the back of 2020 looming, I have to admit that I have little words.

I’d just like to say a heartfelt thanks to our guests that moved their bookings during the two lockdowns to next year rather than cancelling. You’ve really helped to support hospitality and our little business and we’re very grateful. Thanks also to the many of you who have sent messages of support and shared our social media posts. The best way to organically grow a business is by word of mouth.

With that said I’m going to make a cup of tea and tuck into the first slice of The Hideaways amazing Christmas cake! Wherever you are this Christmas Barry and I hope you have a good day and that 2021 brings more good news of the vaccine.

Here we go again……

Brooks running shoes

Since Saturday I’ve been wondering what to put on my lockdown to do list this time. The last time I had 20 things to do, including renewing my passport (I got a new shiny dark blue one thanks to Brexit!). Getting our tax return done in record time was high on the list as was spring cleaning all the cottages. The one thing I didn’t get done was sorting out my desk but I was waiting for a rainy day and we didn’t get many of those.

As it turns out my list this time is very short. Obviously the desk is still there, but it has been joined by sorting out the garage and creating a list of winter maintenance in the cottages. So my list totals four as this morning it was my run day and I downloaded a new app – 5k to 10k. Regular readers of my blog will remember my Couch to 5k journey which resulted in me doing some park runs before they were shut down. I’ve been regularly running and whilst I can’t claim to love it, afterwards I feel great.

To help motivate me I had a quick trip to Honiton yesterday to #shoplocal and purchase some shiny new running shoes and a lightweight waterproof jacket as treadmill running in the gym is banned. Run Venture is a great new shop that’s only been open for 9 weeks. It’s run by James who is very knowledgeable about all the types of running shoes. Within half an hour I walked away with these Brooks beauties in a rather fabulous colourway.

So this morning Barry joined me in Run 1 of Week 1, the first of 27 runs that will get me from 5k to 10k. If the weather stays as beautiful as it’s been today this is going to be a great challenge.

Do you have a lockdown list and if so what’s on it?

ps. I forgot, there’s 5 things – The Crown on Netflix is launching on the 15th November – #binge watching

The Penny rolls on………

Karen Penny is an inspirational woman walking 20,000 km around the whole of the UK and Ireland raising money for the Alzheimer’s Research UK charity. When she finishes she’ll be the first woman to ever achieve this (no woman has walked all the islands as well), and there is no doubt in our mind that Karen will finish. You have to be made of strong stuff to walk the coastal paths whilst carrying your ‘home’ on your back!

Barry and I were delighted to meet and host her this week as she passed through Beer. She has, as you can probably imagine, some amazing stories of her journey so far, from meeting a prince and princess to sleeping in a polytunnel one night. She’s also slept in a garage but we were very happy to have her stay with us rather than braving the elements.

Karen lives in South Wales and set off in January 2019 walking clockwise to Fishguard before nipping over to walk the whole of the coast of Ireland (as you do!). Returning to Fishguard she then restarted her trek north to Scotland reaching Shetland before coronavirus halted her progress. Back in Wales for lockdown she restarted her walk anti-clockwise on the 10th August this year and reached Beer last Thursday.

What we can’t quite believe is her stamina – she walks everyday. With the steep ascents of North Devon, Cornwall and South Devon, we know this is no mean feat, as we’re three years into walking the South West Coast Path ourselves. One day she even walked 25 miles. We were glad we only did Salcombe Regis to Beer with her which was a mere ten miles but our calves still ached the next day. As Karen told us, her legs are rock hard!

Her motivation comes from losing loved ones to this disease. Incredibly, despite the fact that dementia affects so many people, the charity receives hardly any government funding. Funds are also lower this year as so many fund raising events have had to be cancelled due to Covid. We lost Barry’s mum to vascular dementia so this is a charity very close to our hearts.

Karen has a fantastic Facebook page where you can follow her journey –

The Penny Rolls On

The nights are getting colder now so even if people aren’t able to donate, if you live on the coast, do let her stay or camp in your garden if you can. She’ll really appreciate a hot meal or even just a hot cup of tea!

Her fundraising target is £100,000, and at the time of writing this she’s raised a whopping £68,951. If you’re reading this and are able to help do follow the link below.

Karen’s Just Giving Page

Karen, we are in awe of you – just keep on walking………

#shoplocal

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been making more of an effort to shop local. The main summer season has come to an end and our local businesses need our continued support. The good news is that three new shops have opened up recently.

The first is a huge favourite, Squirrel, who started delivering fruit and veg during lockdown to many of our local towns and villages. Paula has opened up her Seaton shop and the display is simply beautiful. Marc, her partner, is a bespoke cabinet maker so you can imagine how great the shop fit out is. You can learn more about Squirrel on their Facebook page – Squirrel

The other place we’re raving about is also in Seaton; Feast. They are a new takeaway selling delicious wraps and salads. It’s all super fresh and beautifully presented; don’t be fooled by the size of the takeaway boxes – they pack it all in and it’s a main meal with an explosion of tastes.

Also in Seaton is Coast cafe – we visited for breakfast over the bank holiday weekend and were not disappointed. Whilst the men went for the very generous full English, the granola was scrumptious and looked so pretty it was almost too good to eat!

Granola

In Beer Village the lovely Chocolate N More has opened selling of course yummy chocolate but also old fashioned sweets (think fruit salads, blackjacks, lemon bon bons, etc) and gifts. Just in time for us to start thinking about stocking fillers or presents for Cxxxxxxxx…….. (We’re not allowed to mention the C word in our house yet!).

So the main season maybe over but we’re now full until 14th November – we thought that the season might go longer due to the virus. If you fancy a short break to visit beautiful Beer (and #shoplocal) do get in touch. Or if you’re still working from home and want to work from Devon this winter we can do longer lets in some of the cottages depending upon availability…………