Saturday, 6 August 2016

My Family Holiday To Devon

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog, I hope you are all well, you may want to grab some snacks and a beverage for this post as I have a feeling it may be quite a long one. So a couple of weeks ago I went on holiday with my parents, sister and her boyfriend. We went to North Devon, a place we hadn't been to in quite some time, and stayed in a lovely barn conversion/cottage not too far from the town of Barnstaple and only a short drive away from some stunning beaches. In this post I will share with you what we did on each of the days as well as a handful of photos I took whilst we were there.

Day 1 - 16/07/2016
I'm not sure that this really classes as a day as we couldn't get into the place we were staying until 3pm and we didn't really do a lot. Once we arrived and got everything out of the car we nipped out to the local Tesco's which was about a 10 minute drive away to get some food, picnicy bits for lunch and a few bits for when we weren't eating out etc. When we got back we unpacked and afterwards cracked open some drinks and played board games which is something we don't do enough of at home (usually only at Christmas). The place we were staying was amazing it was so well equipped and we even had king sized beds which seemed huge compared to my single back home! The people left a really lovely hamper for us as well filled with scones, jam, juice etc. It was also surrounded by the beautiful Devonshire countryside including some lovely cows that on some of the days were in the field right next to the cottage. It was the perfect place for our home away from home. Here's the link if your interested:

Day 2 - 17/07/2016
The weather for this day was forcasted as cloudy so we decided this would be the perfect day to go to Exmoor Zoo as the animals would probably be quite active. This zoo was probably one of the best I've been to (and I've been to pretty much every one in the south west) it had so many animals that you don't see in many zoos such as Fishing Cats, Pumas and Singing Dogs. It has good facilities with a cafeteria as well as picnic areas for people who bring their own lunch which is what we did. The day is jam-packed with various talks and handling sessions for those who like to get more involved and the staff are so friendly and helpful. The animals are clearly well looked after here as they have big, clean enclosures and enriching diets.

Here are some of my favourite photos I took at the zoo:

After we were satisfied we had seen everything at the zoo we decided to make the most of the sunny evening and headed down to Ilfracombe. We had a bit of a wonder and went in a few of the gift shops before heading down to the harbour where we sat and had our first lot of fish and chips of the holiday.

It was such lovely weather considering an overcast day was forcasted and you can see in this picture how blue the sea and the sky were.

After we had eaten we then climbed to the top of this hill where you can see there's a little chapel and there was a lovely view of the harbour.

From that hill we could see some sea mist coming in which made for a pretty cool picture.

We walked back through the town and made our way back to the car and on the way I stopped to take this picture of the church which I thought looked cool with the incoming mist. 

We did end up having to drive in the mist which was interesting but we made it back in one piece.

Day 3 - 18/07/16
This was going to be one of the hotter/sunnier days of the holiday so we thought we would make the most of it and go to Clovelly, a really pretty village known for its steep cobbled paths and unique history, as this is definitely not a place you would want to visit in the rain as the cobbles were slippery enough dry haha. We had been to Clovelly once before but that was quite a few years ago and I couldn't really remember it so this was a place me and my family really wanted to go see again. Bare in mind if you decide to visit there is a fee to get in (Adult £7.00, Child (7-16) £4.40)  and the money goes towards the upkeep of the village. Visiting Clovelly feels as though you have taken a step back in time as there's no traffic and you can still see the donkeys that used to carry things up and down the steep cobbled slopes and the sledges which residents still use today to get their groceries down the slopes to their houses. 

Its quite a steep walk down (and even steeper back up) but it is such a lovely village and the weather was so nice I didn't really mind, although I did nearly slip a few times haha. Also there are plenty of good views, like this one, to admire and take photos of which gives you a good excuse to catch your breath. 

Some of the streets are quite narrow but it was so much fun to explore and in amongst some of the streets you may come across a few gift shops, tea rooms, B&Bs, a couple of small museums and some of the village cats.

I thought the cobbles looked cool :)

This photo shows the view of the village from the bottom and yes we did have to walk back up to the top.

Once at the bottom if you walk across the pebbled beach for a little bit you come across this really pretty waterfall which looks like somewhere fairies would live.

When we had finally made it back to the top we went in the pottery shop where you can make or just paint your own pot/ornament so me and my sister decided to paint two really cute bird ornaments, this only cost £4 each and the paint drys almost instantly so there was no waiting around for it to dry. After this we then looked around some of the gift shops before returning to the car.

On the way back as it was such a nice evening we wanted to make the most of the nice weather and so stopped of at Hartland Quay. We had a little wonder round, took some photos and sat down on a bench for awhile listening to the sea and admiring the view. This was all before me, mum and dad were all splattered with seagull poo and we quickly returned to the car. When we got back we all had showers where I was left washing bird poo out of my hair, it literally got everywhere :/ Anyway here are some of the pictures I took, thank god it didn't poo on my camera!

Day 4 - 19/07/16
This was foretasted as the hottest day of the year with temperatures set to reach 29-30°C and the sun was going to be out all day so we decided to make the most of this and head down to the beach. There are so many pretty beaches in Devon but we made a good choice with Croyde Bay Beach. This beach had everthing you could want in a beach; sand, clear blue sea with barely any seaweed and plenty of rock pools to explore. When we arrived the tide was out and the beach went on for miles, exposing all the rock pools, it was about 11am when we got there and already it was so hot, so much so that the sand was actually burning our feet! Me and my sister decided to walk to the sea where it was a bit cooler and investigate the rock pools, we saw so many little crabs, fish and various other creatures, we've never seen as much at any other beach and we've been to quite a few! 

For lunch we had brought a picnic with us and after that I spent most of the afternoon in the sea which I don't do very often as we don't usually have the weather for it. It was so nice to be at the beach by the sea and just have a lovely day relaxing and enjoying the sun. We stayed at the beach for the whole day and we had brought a barbecue with us to have for tea (I had veggie burgers/sausages of course)  a lot of other people had the same idea and soon the air was full of the smell of barbecues, it truely did feel like summer. 

We stayed at the beach until the sun had set and me and my sister had one last wonder round, the sea which had come in during the afternoon was starting to go out again and all the snails that you see stuck to rocks were waking up and were moving across the beach leaving little trails behind them in the wet sand. We didn't end up getting back to our cottage until quite late but I had really enjoyed the day and it was probably my favourite out of the whole holiday :)

Here are some pictures I took, they're not the best quality as I took them on my phone (I didn't bring my camera as I didn't want it to get covered in sand)

I took this at the edge of the sea and you can see how far away everyone else is and I think at this point the sea was already starting to come in.

Day 5 - 20/07/2016
We packed quite a lot into this day and we went to three different places. We traveled slightly further than the previous day and actually crossed the boarder into Cornwall to go to Boscastle which we hadn't been to since the last time we stayed in North Devon, which was quite a few years ago. Its a village famous for the 2004 flood and if you did geography you probably would have done it as a case study. When we arrived the weather wasn't brilliant it was a lot cooler and there was a bit of drizzle in the air but it didn't matter as we were going in and out of the lovely little shops, and we also went into the Witchcraft Museum which is quite interesting and I would definitely recommend going in if you are visiting Boscastle. For lunch we sat by the harbour and had Cornish pasties which we bought for the village bakery. 

Once we had finished in Boscastle we then went to Port Isaac which is a really pretty little fishing village on the North Coast of Cornwall not too far from Boscastle. If you watch the ITV show Doc Martin then you would have seen parts of Port Isaac as this is where they film most of the programme. By the time we got there the sun had come out and it was a lot warmer. Again we just had a wonder around the village, popped into the little gift shops and sat down for a bit on the beach enjoying the sunshine. 

We walked up quite a steep hill to see Doc Martins house plus there were lovely views of the harbour

Finally before going home we stopped of at another Cornish village called Tintagel, a place well known for links to King Arthur as its supposedly his birthplace and home to his castle, Tintagel Castle, which is now owned by English Heritage and is open to the public. We again just had a bit of a wonder and had a look in a couple of the shops that were still open, before getting fish and chips for tea which we ate in the castle grounds. 

In the top left of the photo you can just see some of the castle. The grounds are so big that you could spend hours exploring and there are plenty of different walks to do including one that leads up to a pretty church. The only downside is that to get in and back out of the grounds you have to endure a really steep hill (or for a small fee you could pay for a landrover to take you down) but it made for a good leg workout. It was quite late so unfortunately we didn't have enough time to explore the grounds fully but we will definitely come back at some point. 

Day 6 - 21/07/16
On this day we decided to take advantage of our National Trust membership and visit Arlington Court, on the edge of Exmoor. Here there is a unique house which contains impressive shell collections which had been gathered from all sorts of corners of the world. The weather wasn't particularly great, it was definitely one for waterproofs with showers on and off throughout the day, but we made the most of it. We started the day off by getting out of the rain and looking around the house which was quite different from any of the other National Trust properties we had been too. After that it stopped raining for a bit and we then had our picnic lunch before exploring the impressive grounds. We started by doing one of the ground walks which went through the woods past a bird hide where you can see an lots of the local wildlife (we even saw a rat!). There was also a wilderness trail which is great to keep the children entertained. 

Me, mum and dad then went in the carriage museum where there are loads of carriages from different eras and for the different classes. There you can also see the magnificent Speakers State Coach which was last used for Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding back in 1981. You can also find the ponies which are still in use on the grounds and we even saw one being used to cut the grass outside the house. 

We then walked back towards the house and headed to the beautiful gardens and on the way we actually saw a mole! None of us had ever seen a mole before it was so small and cute :) We then looked around the gardens where I took some pictures before visiting the gift shop and heading back. Even though the weather wasn't as nice as previous days we still had a really nice time.

Here are some of my favourite pictures from the day:

We had some visitors at lunch

One of the peacocks living in the grounds although I'm not sure he's meant to be eating their plants haha

Some cool succulents 

When we got back I made tea for everyone and I made Jamie Oliver's Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach curry which I had made once before at home and we loved it so I decided to make it again and we had it with rice and naan bread. Here's a link to the recipe if you're interested:

After we had finished eating we then went for a little evening walk along a part of the tarka trail, near where we were staying, and this gave me a good opportunity to take some sunset pictures as it had turned into a lovely sunny evening.

We made some horsey friends :)

I know its a bit blurry but we met the cutest cat and it was so friendly and I just wanted to take it home with me :)

Day 7 - 22/07/16
This was our last day before we had to come home and we decided to go to Lynton and Lynmouth, two towns in Exmoor. Lynton is at the top of the cliffs above Lynmouth and there's a cliff railway which you can go on to take you down into Lynmouth or back up to Lynton. The weather was lovely and sunny although not as hot as the beginning of the week but it was perfect weather for us to make the most of our last day. We started by exploring Lynton going in all the little gift shops, there was one particular shop called Willow which, for me, is probably the best gift shop I've ever been in, it was full of lovely, unique gifts which would make the perfect presents and I picked up a couple of little bits to give to my friends. They have a website too:

After we had finished in Lynton we walked down into Lynmouth and again went in some shops before stopping for lunch in a pub called The Village Inn, which had a nice friendly atmosphere and offered delicious home-cooked food, with very generous portions at a very affordable price. I had a vegetable lasagna which was served with the best garlic bread I've ever had. The meal was so tasty and its making my mouth water just by thinking about it! After lunch we looked round the rest of the shops and another shop that stood out to me was one of the fudge shops called Caravel where they had the largest and most unique selection of fudge flavours I have ever seen. I bought some for my friends as well as turkish delight fudge and Nutella (yes Nutella!) fudge for me and they were so good! We then walked around the harbour, sat on the pebbly beach for awhile, took some pictures before getting the cliff railway back up to Lynton.

Views of Lynmouth on the walk from Lynton

After that we then went back to Ilfracombe where we had our last fish and chips of the holiday, followed by our last ice cream of the holiday. I had a peanut butter and jelly ice cream in a waffle cone and it was probably the best ice cream I have ever had, it was so nice! In fact it did almost get taken by seagulls who swept down on me and my sister (I felt its claw scratch my face!) but luckily I managed to cling onto it. I got my ice cream from a place called Joe Delucci's where they had so many cool flavours, there were a lot of other ice cream places in Ilfracombe as well which were all selling amazing flavours. We then had one last wonder and I took a few pictures of the sunset (if you can really call it that as it was really cloudy haha) before heading back.

When we got back it was time to pack which is probably my least favourite part of the holiday, we then played a few games before going to bed. 

Day 8 - 23/07/16
We had to wake up pretty early as we had to pack the cars and make sure we had everything and be out of the holiday home by a certain time so they could prepare the place for the next guests. My mum and dad went straight home but me, my sister and her boyfriend wanted to prolong the holiday and so we stopped of at Dunster Castle on the way home. Dunster Castle is owned by the National Trust so we got in for free, we explored the castle and even went on a tour of the attic which they happened to be doing that particular day and it was so interesting to see a part of the castle that not many people get to experience, even if it did involve traipsing up a huge winding staircase.

After that we then had a wonder round the beautiful gardens and grounds including the dream garden which is full of Dahlias, which happen to be my favourite flowers :) We then walked into the village had a look round the shops and bought some pasties from the local deli for lunch. We then walked back to the car ready for the rest of the journey home. 

Here are a few pictures I took:

Thats it for this post, thank you for reading and let me know if you made it to the end :) I hope you enjoyed this post, I had a really lovely time on holiday and its been nice reliving it all again as I write this. Speak to you soon. JustClare :) x

PS: Check out my Instagram @justclare_alley if you want to see some more pictures that I took whilst on holiday :)

All photos and opinions are my own