Lovely Local Food- Going West

Back in March we did a blog post on 'Lovely Local Food- Going East', which gave a taster of foodie things in a Barnstaple and Braunton direction. This time we are going West, to give you a flavour of lovely things available in Ilfracombe and Mortehoe. It feels to us that we need to treasure these little food havens and encourage more options to flourish and grow, to nourish our  community and our guests.

Ilfracombe is a fishing port situated 8 miles along the coast. The high street, it is fair to say, has seen better days, but the harbour and Fore Street in particular are on their way up. Ilfracombe's heyday was in the Victoria era when droves of holiday makers came down on paddle steamers from Bristol to 'sample the sea air'. The beautiful but ageing architecture of the houses give hints of its splendour in days gone by. It remains a popular holiday destination to this day. The Ilfracombe shops are an eclectic mix from typical holiday 'bucket & spade' and gift shops through to lovely galleries and craft shops (4 new galleries have sprung up in the last 6 months). 

The Deli is one of my favourite Ilfracombe treats, with great coffee and yummy food. 

Lisa the owner and chef, seen here peaking out over the crisps, has created a vibrant hub in the high street. 

This is a taster of what they have to offer plus....

 a host of delicious and interesting other things too.

Next is an extraordinary shop 'The Walkers Chocolate Emporium' . When you go inside you will see what I mean. They make all their own chocolate in all sorts of shapes, sizes and mixtures. There is even a chocolate museum out the back and you can, at times, see them making their next batch.

For something a little healthier go to 'Nana Sue's Sunfoods'. They have a wide selection of health foods, gluten free products, supplements and all things natural and organic. The owners are on hand for helpful advice if needed.

Now to the most excellent Mike Turton and his butchers shop. He not only sells meat but a wide selection of homemade pies, pasties and cheeses.

Mike makes all his own sausages and burgers. There are so many sausage options the choice is almost overwhelming. We have been known to have a couple of each and do a BBQ 'pick and mix'.....the meat equivalent to a packet of Revels (you don't know what it is until you bite into it!!)  If you are doing a large shop and you know what you want, Mike is even happy to deliver out to Pickwell (you will need to give him a few days notice). This would mean, however, that you don't get to see his lovely shop!

The 'Harbour Deli' is a delightful little shop, nestled in one of the side streets leading to the harbour. Again the deli counter has meats, cheeses, quiches, etc and the shop stocks a host of jams and other lovely items. They are a cafe too, serving all sorts, but the meat or fish platters look particularly delicious. I keep meaning to go back there for lunch.

Down on the Harbour side is S and P Fish Shop. A family run business who have 2 fishing boats that supply their fish. 

If you like a lobster then here's your spot, sadly I am horribly allergic so have to keep well away!

What is more you can sit on the tables outside and sample the fresh delicacies whilst.....

enjoying the view and the bustle of the harbour.

Next stop Mortehoe. No ordinary fish and chip shop, 'Mor-Shellfish-T-Eat', sell lots of amazing seafood to take away. This father and son team (who also have a boat catching some of the Seafood) have recently opened, having moved from their restaurant around the corner.  

Rich took this photo of the lobster and crab platter that he bought last week. He said it was scrummy (he didn't eat the whole platter himself!!)

Last, but not least, is Little Comfort Farm, which is situated between Ilfracombe and Braunton. In their farm shop they sell their own organic meat, anything from large joints to their home made sausages. They also have home made 'ready meals' to take away, the price list and more information is available on their website

We hope you enjoy perusing round some of these local eateries. Happy Eating!!

Lovely Local Food - Going East

We have been struck since we moved to North Devon by the array of good quality local food shops that surround us. So we thought it might be nice to give you a whistle stop tour of some of our favourites in case it inspires you to make a visit and try them out. There are so many wonderful local places to shop, I am going to split the post into two parts....'Going East' covers Barnstaple and Braunton and 'Going West' will cover Ilfracombe and the surrounding area.

South Molton is a lovely little market town about 30 minutes drive from us (or you will pass it on the A361 from the M5). It is well worth a visit as it has some lovely little shops including antiques, interiors and clothes boutiques.
Griffin's Yard

Some of my favourite food shops are the old-fashioned sweet/ chocolate shops; the delicatessen specialising in cheese; Griffin's Yard (photographed above) which is a health food cafe and shop selling lots of great local produce; and last but not least, the Thursday morning market, selling all sorts including local meats such as Exmoor venison.

Now to Barnstaple, our closest market town. Butchers Row is one of Barnstaple's treasures. This historic row of little shops can pretty much sort all your culinary needs in one sweep, with everything from local game to Devon wines; locally caught crab to Devon grown chillies.

Then our much loved bakery 'East and West'. Everything they do is delicious, our current favourites are their low GI bread and a loaf called 'Pantique'. They are both delicious wholemeal loaves with lots of seeds and yumminess. Graham and Claire, who run East and West, are delightful and they supply all of our scones for the cream teas we host for our guests in the school summer holidays. They have recently won the prize of 'Best West Country Baker'. Well done guys, it is well deserved!

If you are a cheese lover, like me, you will think you have died and gone to heaven when you enter this shop. Wall to wall deliciousness! Debbie Priestley the owner has a passion for West Country cheeses, why not go in and try some!

They have a deli, as well as cheese, and a fabulous website where you can pre-order or have a local cheese selection sent to you.

'Passmores' is a great fish shop with a wide range of locally caught fish most of which is landed from small boats at Ilfracombe and Bideford. In season they sell Lundy crab and lobster as well as mackerel, turbot, brill, gurnard, sea bass, mullet, cod and haddock. They have a 'wet fish van' that visits the village car park at Croyde on Thursdays at 11am (ish). They also do home delivery in our area on Thursdays, ring 01271 343677 to make an order.

Opposite Butchers row in Barnstaple is the 'Pannier Market', a magnificent indoor hall dating back to 1827. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays there is a mixture of stalls including fruit and vegetables;  Wednesdays has largely antiques; and Fridays has most of the local food suppliers.  Keep a look out for the 'Food Festivals' they hold which are a wonderful showcase of local produce. Their website lists up and coming events.

So a little closer to home is Braunton. Above are the boys from Reed's Butchers who as well as meat do the most yummy homemade pies.

'Cawthorne's' is a small family run private supermarket who sell a great range of products including local food, organic and health foods. I am always surprised at how much I can source for an obscure recipe from here. 

'Devon Made' specialises in local nibbles. There is a super range of local preserves, oils, chocolate, bread (from East and West Bakery) and much more. Why not pop in and have a coffee and cake whilst you take a look around.

Just outside the main village of Braunton is 'The Great Field' a source of much of our very local veg. It is treasured as one of the only two surviving medieval open strip field systems in England and is believed to date way back to the 1200's.

Local Farm Box is an online shop and box scheme that sources from 'The Great Field'. We have weekly deliveries as families and also stock up on dairy products, meat, preserves, bakery items and eggs from them from time to time. A veg box delivery is ideal if you are coming to Devon on holiday. Pre-order and it will be here for your arrival.

Last but not least is our 'Georgeham Stores'. Tracey and Paul, the owners, are really helpful and friendly. They have a good selection of provisions including local bread, meat, cheese and milk. If you are coming on holiday and would like to pre-order a shop to be delivered as you arrive, then please ring 01271890534 (they can email you a list of produce on request).

So why is it helpful to shop locally? I love this list produced by the 'Crystal Palace Transition Group' outlining 10 great reasons........enough said!!:

1.       More money stays in the community: When you spend £100 at an independent business, £68 returns to the local community, compared with £43 if you buy from a national chain

2.       More jobs are created for local people, including architects, designers, sign-makers, accountants etc.

3.       Local businesses offer a greater diversity of products and there is more scope for innovation

4.       Local businesses are more likely to get involved in community action and to offer financial support for community initiatives

5.       Local shops help maintain the area’s distinctive character and flavour

6.       Local businesses are more likely to source from the local area (including edible gardens)

7.       The more people that are employed locally, the fewer need to commute, saving on energy consumption

8.       Fewer people will use their cars

9.       Local traders are more likely to chat to their customers to find out what their interests are and to respond to their needs and their values

10.   We can build up a relationship with local businesses that will help support them in a transition towards sourcing more locally, sustainably and fairly

Happy shopping!!

Anne and Tim's wedding- greens, whites and some woodland magic.

We recently hosted the most gorgeous wedding of Tim and Anne. Tim is from Canada and so had family and friends flying in and 2 of the bridesmaids flew in from Brazil and Ireland. So all in all an international celebration.

They had some wonderful ideas for keepsakes, from the wedding guest finger print tree above to....

these anniversary bottles. Guests write messages and put them in a bottle for you to read on your anniversary. What a lovely thing to read messages from your wedding on your 20th Anniversary!!

These gorgeous hearts hung in the windows and the jars were hand tied around the outside with jute string.  These jars on the windowsills were designed to hold the bridesmaid's bouquets.

These simple decoration details allowed an undisturbed view of the garden in the day, whilst in the evening (as you will see later) they gave the most gorgeous candlelight.
Each table was named after a place from their travels together. You can really see the work that went into these jars for the flowers.

This was a brilliant idea! A site called 'wedpics' allows all of your wedding guests to upload their photos directly from their phone using an app (or from your computer later). Their suggestions in the form of a  'photo scavenger hunt' gave everyone lots of ideas for photos to upload.

Tim especially loves his coffee and each man at the wedding was given a bag of his favourite coffee beans as a favour. The  most wonderful aromas exuded from the bags around the room.
The tables looked gorgeous. I loved the hessian table runner and the slice of tree trunk under the flowers and candles. It all gave a rustic, relaxed light feel.

At the beginning of last year we teamed up with the amazing shoe designer Emmy Scarterfield of 'Emmy' shoes.  We gave a pair of Emmy shoes to brides who booked at the designer wedding fair. So here are Anne's gorgeous 'Emmy' shoes. I am so jealous as they are completely lovely!! Anne was delighted with them and said the whole experience of choosing them made you feel very special and treated. Thank you Emmy!!

The bride and groom 'chick' motif were a little extra theme and appeared on all the stationary even the door signs (and later the cake).

The fabulous bouquets, button holes and corsages were by Kelly from 'Offshore Blooms'.

So with everything ready it is time for the men to have a 'scotch' and steady the nerves!!

Croquet provided a welcome distraction in the build up to the ceremony (and I'm sure the Scotch helped give a steady hand!?)

Anne looked so beautiful in her dress... last buttons and she is ready for her 'first glance' photos.

A tradition from across the pond 'first glance' photos are done before the ceremony. We cleared the garden of guests and Anne and Tim met for the first time on their wedding day. It was so so romantic and they loved having that bit of time together to connect before the ceremony. A great idea that I think needs to become a new British tradition.

After hoping for an outside ceremony and much moving in and out of chairs the naughty drizzly rain brought us inside. Despite Anne and Tim's aspirations to be outside, the gorgeous view and the woodland stumps down the aisle truly brought the outside in. The atmosphere was warm and intimate.

There was not a dry eye in the house. The mums read a poem together, which was very moving, and then Tim and Anne did their own vows. Oh gosh so many emotions! Love, laughter, intimacy and true friendship were all so evident, wow!

The very happy couple as confetti rains from above.

JJ, the MC for the day, did a splendid job and looked the part in his kilt.

Dinner time!! Linzi, Anne's friend who is a baker, made these utterly delicious and beautiful macaroons as the table plan.
I will just take this opportunity to introduce Joseph Yarrow, their lovely and very talented photographer. He previously photographed Kat and James's wedding at Pickwell and we were delighted to have him back. James gave me some very helpful photography tips, one of which was to always wipe my iphone lense. Ironically in this photo I clearly didn't and it has a visible smear.....I feel ashamed!!
Crab tower starter, mmmm!!
Then onto  Devon beef (or pan seared salmon) with vegetable bundles and dauphinoise potatoes. I am feeling hungry just looking at the photos!! I need to thank Patrick Kua for all of the best photos on this blog post. He was one of the guests and a brilliant photographer (check out his blog at
The speeches were hilarious. I love it when bridesmaids give a speech, as it is good to hear some extra funny stories about the bride too!!

Then outside for Eaton Mess on the terrace...

followed by coffee by candlelight and an amazing Canadian biscuit called  'Naniamo Bars' (Lee our chef followed Tim's recipe). It was delicious, a bit like caramel shortbread with a chocolate coconut base, yum!!

Whilst the guests finished their pudding, the bridal party headed to the footpath for photos with a backdrop of the sea including panoramic views of Hartland to Morte Point and Lundy Island. Later they had these rather dramatic photos taken on the way back up the drive. 

Cutting the cake kicked off the evening celebrations.

 Anne loves cheese and this cheese cake was magnificent. Local cheeses specially selected by Lee (our chef), topped with the cutest bride and groom chicks....
and little pottery mice.

Another mouth watering photo by Patrick!

The ballroom looked magical and cosy in the candlelight.

JJ hits the dance floor with kilt a twirling!!

A thoughtful and kind gesture to tired feet!

So many were very grateful and looked fab!!

Anne and Tim what lovely friends and family you have!! Such a gorgeous weekend, we so enjoyed having your wedding at Pickwell Manor!!

Watersmeet for a cream tea

Two weekends ago Sus and I  had our annual girls weekend away with our wonderful friends Gemma and Toria. We travelled a GREAT distance (approx. 20 metres) and stayed in one of our apartments at Pickwell for the weekend. It felt like we were properly on holiday and we got to actually enjoy the experience of being a guest. All of us love walking and like to do a long walk each time we meet up. Although we have lived here for almost five years we have never walked to Watersmeet, despite soooo many recommendations, so the time had come!
Watersmeet is where the two rivers of the East Lyn and Hoar Oak Water meet together just above the picturesque village of Lynmouth on Exmoor. I am not sure which one of the two rivers this is but it certainly makes a dramatic backdrop.

I made a bit of a mistake with the walk route and for some reason we found ourselves accidentally  parking at 'The Valley of the Rocks' (spectacular though!!). My poor navigation skills had lead me to believe they were close (but they are actually on completely opposite sides of Lynton). Undeterred we set off along the coastal path determined to get to Watersmeet, whatever the distance!

The path takes you out along the dramatic coastal path to Lynton with the most incredible view.

I have to say my fear of heights did slightly get the better of me, I had to work really hard not to ask to hold onto one of the girls. I am sure this is getting worse as I get older!?!.

The path then takes you through a magical wood as you drop down into the back of Lynton. Both Lynton and Lynmouth are well worth a potter round, but we had a goal to reach........ the promise of a cream tea!

So we hopped onto the Cliff Railway which takes you from the village of Lynton down the 862 ft cliff to Lynmouth nestled at the bottom by the sea. Opened in 1888 the cliff railway is an incredible and beautiful feet of engineering.

Every time I go on it I always get that childlike sense of excitement!
A little picnic on Lynmouth harbour, Gemma was obviously telling an intriguing story by the look on Susie's face.

Our sights were on the prize, we set off across Lynmouth towards the valley that leads to Watersmeet.

Lynmouth had a terrible freak flood in 1952, where the river swept away the houses up stream and on the left of the river bank. Thirty four people sadly lost their lives and there is a memorial to them just by this bridge.

The footpath up to Watersmeet follows the river up stream through the most wonderful Gorge.

So beautiful!!

Gemma and I had to keep stopping to take photos.

"A sheep loose in the lane!!" We were a bit scared she might butt us on the way past, she had a bit of a menacing look!

This walk is truly enchanting.

What more can I say?!? I am planning a return visit with the children and Rich for some wild swimming when the weather warms up. There were some gorgeous little beaches on the edge of the river, just right for playing.

Then if the beautiful walk was not enough, there is a National Trust tea room at Watersmeet itself, yipee!!

This beautiful waterfall is next to the tea room, how amazing!

Here we are decked out in 'country casual'...Gemma might apreciate me mentioning at this point that she had to borrow my wellies (complete with lurid wellie socks!)

Yum! It gave us just the right amount of fuel for the walk back to the car.

Three beautiful girls on the cliff railway on our return journey.

Just time for a quick girls weekend away photo, thank you girls for another great and memorable time!


Last week heralded the arrival of our new local celebrity 'Verity'. She is a 20 metre (66ft) bronze statue of a naked, pregnant woman wielding a sword. The statue was designed by Damien Hirst and has been erected on the harbour at Ilfracombe. With so much press coverage and controversy, including the description by Catherine Bennet from the Observer that 'it has brought public art to a new low', I could not resist a trip to Ilfracombe to see for myself.

I have a real soft spot for Ilfracombe as a place. It does not always get great press locally as there are some less beautiful aspects to it. However, I think it is full of hidden charm, quirkiness, amazing views, some great people and plenty of history, so well worth a visit.

The harbour has what can only be described as spectacular views of the Torr behind it and Wales out across the Bristol channel. As a once glorious Victorian seaside town, that has fallen upon hard times, I think it is really trying to break into a new era. Ilfracombe is trying to find an evolving identity for the future and so the idea of a statue that might speak of this and draw people to this fascinating place, for me can only be a good thing. So here she is.....

This, some may say, is her 'good side'. Her stance is taken from Edgar Degas' late 19th century bronze 'Little Dancer of Fourteen Years'. I love his work and really liked this side of her. Like many of Degas' bronzes, there is something young and full of life about her. However, from the other side.....

There are aspects of 'Verity' that are not altogether pleasant, particularly the peeled skin on her leg and the side view of her stripped away skull revealing her eye ball and socket!!

It has been said that art is not supposed to be comfortable and there is something uncomfortable about her. However, the children found the inner workings of her body and in particular her baby growing inside her completely fascinating! She inspired lots of questions such as 'why are babies are upside down?' and then lots of giggling at her funny knobbly boobs...and this was just from Richard!

Damien Hirst, who has lent 'Verity' to Ilfracombe and lives locally, has described her on his website as a "a modern-day allegory for truth and justice". It really helped me with my discomfort to know the story behind her. Her name 'Verity' is from the Italian word for truth, she holds the traditional symbols denoting justice - a sword and scales but...........

The scales are hidden and off balance behind her back, while the sword is held confidently in her outstretched arm. On his website, Damien Hirst says that "Without the perfect equilibrium enacted by the scales, the sword becomes a dangerous instrument of power, rather than justice." I like this reminder.

Here she is last week under construction. If you would like to read more about 'Verity' and how she was made, take a look at Damien Hirst's website.
If you want to see more of Damien Hirst's art in Ilfracombe he has a restaurant on the harbour 'No 13, the Quay' which is very interesting, has amazing views and lovely food. However, on our visit it was a picnic in the sunshine for us!

After pondering over 'Verity' we could not resist a climb up to 'The North Chapel' to eat our packed lunch and explore.

This little light house /chapel  dating back to the 14th century is perched on the hill. I have seen it  many times but not ventured up there to explore. It turned out to be the perfect place for a picnic with my lovely friend Sarah and her children.

What a view (I am not talking about us of course).

Inside was the cutest, tiny hickledy pickledy house,where the light house keeper lived in 1850 with his 13 children! It is full of amazing photos of Ilfracombe in days gone by.

Millie-grace had lots of fun exploring.

It was also at one point a Chapel and a place of rest for pilgrims landing by boat at Ilfracombe (I can't quite remember where they were going, sorry!)

All in all it was a great day, I enjoyed meeting 'Verity'. I liked her because she made me think, she inspired us to ask questions and to giggle. Perhaps best of all she is bringing visitors to Ilfracombe who hopefully will look beyond the press of both 'Verity' and Ilfracombe itself and discover what both have to offer.

Es and Paul's wedding- Silver Ribbons, Deep Red Roses and a Campervan or Two

Es and Paul arrived on Friday in their lovely campervan called 'Custard' (she was yellow before her recent face lift, hence the name). It was exploring this area in 'Custard' that made them fall in love with the North Devon coast. You would not believe what gorgeous things came out of the van......

Here is Paul bringing in the elegant table centre pieces.

Paul and Es had sourced these amazing silver candelabras, they placed one either side of the top table, beautifully decorated with flowers by Kelly from Offshore blooms.

They then had a smaller candelabra on each windowsill, creating a stunning effect. The arrangements and bouquets contained these amazing deep red roses called 'Black Bacara', that looked just like they were made of velvet.

Es and Paul came up to the Designer Wedding Show in London with us back in March where they met the wonderful cake maker and designer Anna Tyler from Bristol. This is her Mum who helped her deliver and put together the cake on the Friday. You can see some more photos of her cakes on our wedding show blog.

You can see how impressive it looked when it was finished and topped with flowers. The guests raved about how completely delicious the lemon cake itself tasted too.

They chose to name each table after their favourite beaches and seaside locations.

Clever table plan hey!!

All hands on deck. Es's cousin Pete gave me a lesson in Welsh name pronunciation whilst we put out the favours. I'm not sure I did very well!

Not that this particular name was very Welsh! These were the lovely favours put together by Es's Mum, well done Chris.

I thought these little boxes of table entertainment were a great idea.

Altogether it created a stunning and elegant effect.

There was attention to detail at every turn. This gorgeous wreath on the front door provided a beautiful welcome and a taste of things to come.

Saturday morning, the boys all suited and booted, headed off  to the Kings Arms pub in the village for a cheeky pint to steady Paul's nerves.

Casey, Paul and Es's gorgeous staffy joined the boys on their wedding morning outing.

The beautiful bride with her Dad. The sun shone and Es got her wish to get married outside with the view of the sea.

Es walked down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon.

This is actually a copy of a photo that one of the guest's took (so sorry for the quality) but I thought it was such a wonderful shot and I never get to be this close to the action!

Confetti at the ready, Es's little nieces handed out cones of dried red rose petals to the guests ready for a photo opportunity.

Now onto the serious business of a celebratory Mojito. Richard and I thought we ought to double check the recipe at 9am on Saturday morning and boy was it good! However we were a bit squiffy putting the chairs out!

A nice cold beer was on offer for those not up for a cocktail, both went down a treat.

And so did the canapés which ended with yummy miniature scones. Es's bridesmaid Alisa certainly thought so.

With the guests seated, the speeches began. Es's mum and dad did a brilliant double act with hilarious comedy timing.

Es and Paul are self-confessed foodies and so chose the most exquisite menu. I only managed to photograph the starter before getting side tracked but this is what they had:

Smoked salmon and prawns topped with a leaf salad. 
Saddle of venison served with dauphinoise potatoes, hand tied fresh vegetables and a redcurrant jus.
Chocolate truffle torte served with a vanilla and raspberry sauce.


After dinner, whilst guests enjoyed coffee and home made fudge on the terrace, Es and Paul nipped down to the beach in 'Custard' for a few sunset photos. I can't wait to see them.

I think 'Dougal', 'Custards' friend went too.

They cut the cake and the evening began.

Much dancing followed (although Paul insisted he couldn't dance.... I beg to differ)

Alisa made a great dancing partner instead.

During the evening the guests wrote lovely messages around this amazing photograph from the pre wedding shoot. Andy Green the photographer is a talented man and what a great memento.

The videographer also set up this twinkly area in the candle lit courtyard, where he filmed well wishers messages (even if a few were quite cheeky!).

Congratulations Paul and Es, I have so enjoyed helping you plan your wonderful weekend and what a wedding weekend it was! You really are a very special and lovely couple. Dyminiadau gore i'r dyfodol (Best wishes for the future, or at least that's what I hope it says, no laughing Tegid and Pete!!)