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All the latest news from our beautiful coastal holiday homes

The Grizzly 2019

The Grizzly is nothing to do with a bear! On Sunday 10th March 2019, over 1,600 people will start to run this 20 mile race along the Jurassic Coast, starting on the Seaton seafront and running along some tough cliff paths and beach, through the village of Beer and over to Branscombe (and back). It’s not for the faint hearted and last year was undertaken in a snowy blizzard as the photo from Visit Beer shows.

The race is organised by the well respected Axe Valley Runners Club and is supported by volunteers who undertake all the organisation and marshalling on the day. They describe the race as “twentyish muddy, hilly, boggy, beachy miles of the multiest-terrain running experience”. One part of the race is called the “Stairway to Heaven”; a steep ascent up the side of the cliff………….

If 20 miles seems out of your league there is also a Cub run of 9 miles on the day for the less able runners – over 600 people will do the shorter distance but this is still a tough route. Any surplus cash raised by the race is donated to charities and since the first race in 1988 more than £394k has been donated to local and international charities.

Each year the race is given a name. Whoever makes these up obviously has a sense of humour –
2018 – May the Course Be With You
2017 – Pearl’s A Stinger
2016 – Grin and Bear It
2015 – Dash to Delirium
For all the course names going back to 1988 see here http://www.axevalleyrunners.org.uk/grizzly/history

This is a great weekend to be in Seaton, Beer or Branscombe. There are events going on throughout the weekend including the GrizQuiz on Saturday 9th March at The Gateway and a children’s run. There are stalls during the day and most of the shops have decorated their windows Grizzly style.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a runner – come along and help cheer on and support these dedicated people running for charity.

Puzzling

Last month I wrote about reading so this month it’s onto puzzles – jigsaw puzzles. I read recently that there is a man in Sidmouth who completes all the jigsaws given to a charity shop so that when they come to sell them they can be confident that all the pieces are there. What an amazing public service; there can be nothing worse then spending hours on a puzzle, only to find that the last one or two pieces are missing.

My best puzzles have come from charity shops or jumble sales. They often only cost a £1 but can give hours of pleasure. In the winter I always have a puzzle on the go on the dining room table. When family come round to visit they often pause and do a few pieces but it’s mainly Mum and Alexandra who do them with me.

This winter I’ve done the Beer Regatta one (as I wanted to post the finished article on the Regatta Facebook page that I manage), and have just finished the one in the photo – a celebration of everything in the UK. We had some great frustrations over this one – ‘Why can’t I find Shakespeare’s head?’ and a lot of ‘Who IS that?!’.

Did you know that doing jigsaw puzzles is good for your mind, body and spirit? Here are some benefits –

  1. Both sides of your brain are engaged when doing a puzzle so it’s a mental workout said to improve problem solving skills and attention span.
  2. They improve your short term memory as the puzzle helps connection between brain cells.
  3. They improve your visual-spatial reasoning, helpful to you when you’re driving your car.
  4. They can improve stress as they involve concentrating on the task in hand. Doing a puzzle can be meditative for many.
  5. They are a great way to spend time with your family. You can have a lovely chinwag whilst trying to find that elusive piece!
  6. They are also equally good to do on your own, in peace and quiet, away from your gadgets.
  7. Apparently you’ll live longer if you do puzzles, although I almost killed Barry when I came home one day and he took great delight in telling me that he’d finished my puzzle. I only had about 20 pieces left! Everyone knows that you don’t EVER finish someone’s puzzle, EVER. He’s now been warned to (shouty capital alert) STAY AWAY FROM MY PUZZLE!

Next up on the puzzle front is an English Country Garden scene, perfect with all this spring like weather we’re enjoying. If you’d like a short break in March get in touch as we have some last minute availability for a couple of weeks.

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?