The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Monday, 26 September 2016

A Gull on the roof and other stories

We've just got back from a much-needed break down in North Devon, a week in a small studio on the cliff tops of Putsborough beach
What a place to stay, we had our own set of steps down to the beach and were on there most days walking, beach-combing, playing frisbee, paddling, star-gazing, sun-bathing, reading, swimming, body-boarding and I was even persuaded to have a surfing lesson! Blimey that was hard work, I was aching all over for a couple of days after that but it was exhilarating being in the still warm sea. Admittedly I wasn't very good, Martin was much better, I might give it another go but body-boarding might be more my thing! It was certainly a good buy getting wetsuits last year. 
If you've never been, Putsborough beach is at the one end of a 3 mile stretch of beach with Woolacombe at the other end. Its one of the cleanest beaches I've ever seen. The whole stretch of beach has been awarded the best beach in the UK on TripAdvisor. Its not as popular as Croyde and Saunton sands for surfers but very good for beginners. Martin knows it well, he went there for many years as a child from their holiday base at Combe Martin, and he's introduced me to it. I think North Devon gets overlooked compared to the more popular beach resorts in South Devon and Cornwall, and long may that last. Though to be fair I've never been there at the height of summer so it might be manic then.
Looking out to Woolacombe.
Our view from the kitchen window.
We did a lot of walking, mostly round about from the accommodation, along the beach to Woolacombe, into Croyde the next village. But there was no mobile signal round there and much to Martin's dismay there was no wi-fi in the studio but actually we both enjoyed the break from that and did lots of reading. One thing I love when I go away is to see what books they have at the cottage. There is usually a shelf or two of ones that people have left behind or the owners have kindly provided. It can introduce you to books that you might not otherwise choose yourself and new authors. I quite like reading books about the area that I visit. The Island by Victoria Hislop on a visit to Crete, Daphne du Maurier books on a visit to Cornwall. On a visit years ago to a cottage on the Isle of Skye there was a load of books by Lilian Beckwith which I devoured in a week while I was there. Her tales of moving there from England in the 1950s and buying a croft and all the characters and shenaniggans that went on were brilliant and even better read in a cottage by the edge of a loch with the heather out and wildness all around. This time I was intrigued to see a book called A gull on the roof by Derek Tangye, about him and his wife Jeannie giving up a busy life in London to run a flower farm on the cliffs in Cornwall, again set in the 50s. Such a lovely book, with beautiful illustrations by Jeannie. Reading all about them growing potatoes and daffodils literally on the cliffs down to the sea, with all the challenges that they faced but how they embraced the simple life and the descriptions of the nature all around them and the seasonality was a joy. I'm looking to get the other books now too. Reading about the couple now online, this book is the first of the now called Minack Chronicles, named after the daffodil farm. The fields around the cottage are preserved as a nature reserve 'The Derek and Jeannie Tangye Minack Chronicles Nature Trust'. It is a place for solitude and quiet contemplation. Other books there to read included a Rosamund Pilcher book, an author who I've not read for years and her descriptions of Cornwall and beaches were just the thing to read on a beach, albeit in Devon!! Is it just me or do others have favourite books to read when they go certain places?
I did a couple of garden visits, to Arlington Court and also to RHS Rosemoor, both with glorious walled gardens. I'll blog about those later. Arlington Court had the Woollen Woods where you could spot a medley of woollen creatures. Some more realistic looking than others!
Living in a big town, where we are never far from street lighting it always fascinates me when I go away somewhere like Devon to be in the proper dark. We were well prepared with a couple of torches for when we walked back on the lanes from Croyde. But one night we just sat on a bench on the cliff and looked up and beheld an array of stars. A real treat for a reluctant townie like me.
We had an interesting last night there though, watching a helicopter fly over the bay with search lights and two lifeboats going up and down the seas again with big powerful lights obviously searching for something. They were there for a couple of hours searching a massive area of sea. What seemed to us like looking for a needle in a haystack Our hearts were in our mouths and we were again made aware about what an amazing job the RNLI do along our British coastlines. We looked at the local news the following day and it was thought that a handglider had gone into the sea off Baggy Point on the headland but thankfully this time it was a false alarm.
After the long drive home its time to catch up with washing and back to work and real life till next time.....


  1. That sounds like a much needed break. The coastal scenery around there is spectacular. Glad you had a good time.

  2. A nice post and lovely pictures. Good to see that you enjoyed yourselves and had good weather. It's always interesting to see what books are on shelf when on holiday. I tended to read Agatha Christie books when I went away. I like the owls. Flighty xx

  3. What a wonderful place to visit. Being right at the edge of the village I can very quickly walk into 'real' darkness but I have to admit still loving it when we have a power cut so i can have that at home too. A week without mobiles and wifi...sounds like heaven!!

  4. Dear Annie
    It sounds like a lovely place for a break, all those gorgeous views - I am envious :)
    I read all Derek Tangye's books oh it must be more than 30 years ago now. I fell in love with his writing and at the same time fell in love with Cornwall too. I remember the donkeys, Fred and Penny I think they were called, he wrote so beautifully about Jean, his wife and I was very upset when I read of her death. Glad you enjoyed the books too, I think I will try and find them when I am cruising the charity shops, re-reading them will bring it all back.

  5. Surfing??? Wow! Way to go gal! What a beautiful place, I did enjoy the pictures, you have me wanting to go! I too enjoy finding books in holiday accommodation, it does force you to try new authors. xxx

  6. Lovely photos of some beautiful beaches. I had a holiday in Croyde as a child and last went to Saunton Sands for a wedding; I'd love to explore the area more. September is a great time of year visit places like this when it isn't so busy and the weather can be glorious.
    I think the right books are such an important part of a good holiday and reading books set where you happen to be really adds to the enjoyment.