Time out

We all need a little time out occasionally, so it was that I found myself on the road to Instow, in beautiful North Devon for a few days down time. TRUFFLEicious mini break had begun.

Now, I didn’t stumble across my chosen venue by meandering the highways & byways of Devon, but on that well know site booking.com, of which I am not a fan. Each time I have used them they have got something wrong.

Anyway, I digress. Searching for dog friendly accommodation in Devon with twin beds – although my ex husband was accompaning me, sharing a bed is not something we have contemplated for many a year – I was given the choice of three suitable venues, within my budget.

The The Wayfarer Inn nestles on a narrow side street, just off the beach at Instow. Parking was difficult as it is restricted to two hour slots during the summer. However there is a car park a short walk away. We arrived about 7.30pm, unloaded and were lucky enough to find a space opposite where I could abandon my vehicle until 9am the next day.

My first impression on entering the establishment was furry friends. St Bernards. German Shepherd & a Greyhound – the later of which turned out to be mine hosts – & a gathering of people which I took to be locals.


Greeted by a cheerful, smiling girl, I was shown to our room, on the top floor.

A large airy, twin room faced me, with a view of the estuary, bathroom with fantastic power shower & equipped for the heat wave we are experiencing, with a large column fan. I was home, my time out had begun.

Time was marching on, the sun was well over the yard arm, I needed a well earned evening tipple.

Now, I don’t know what takes your fancy? But I am a Gin girl, boy, had I struck lucky, this place was a Gin heaven. On ordering a Bombay Sapphire & tonic, I was informed that I should “try the Pink Gin with a slice of orange” Mine host obviously spotted a succour & I was hooked.

Ice & a slice

Gypsy, my faithful hound was also in her element, new smells & doggy friends were abounding. We decided to mosey outside & let her inspect the beer garden. A pleasant large open garden area, with plenty of seating, an outside bar & large screen TV – think football – greeted us. I must say, I was a bit concerned about the artificial grass, which covered the ground, would Gypsy think this was a carpet or grass? The later proved to be the case, as she promptly decided to do her business there & then.


After a comfortable nights sleep in our quiet room, a run along the beach, with the dog & a morning blast in the power shower, we were ready for breakfast.

Food, Bed & Breakfast, Full English, Pub, Accomodation
Now. What to have

Now, I am not a breaky person & certainly did not want cereal & orange juice followed by the delicious looking huge full English, with toast on the side, that was proffered.  I was more than happy with my choice of scrambled eggs & two large grilled, fresh tomatoes. Service was speedy & the serving wench, cheerful & friendly.

The Wayfarer Inn at Instow, is well placed for a touring holiday of Devon. We chose to spend our day on Westward Ho beach. A great place for surfers & sunbathers alike. The hound & I spent happy hours jumping the waves, but, whatever takes your fancy. Also in easy reach is the quaint cobbled village of Clovelly & if its gardens you are after, Tapley Court is but a stones throw away.

Returning to our accommodation for the evenings repast. We encountered a bar full of early Friday evening revellers, & I must say, the natives are a very friendly, fun loving bunch. We got rather carried away in the spirit – Gin Cocktails – of things.

cocktails, beer, gin, coastal inn, pubs
Now, what shall I have?

As well as good management, a great bar person is always an asset to any Pub & Helen, barmaid of the night was fantastic, not only did she provide excellent service, she was the cabaret act for the evening too. Long time since I have laughed ’till I cried.


All that’s left to say is THANK YOU to all at the Wayfarer Inn, you are highly recommended. We will be back.     Meanwhile:

Labradors, dogs, beach, dog walking, holidays
Into the wild blue yonder.


Camelot Castle Hotel, Tintagel.

Camelot Castle Hotel, Cornwall, Welcome

Posting on Instagram one dull January day I came across a post for The Camelot Castle Hotel, Tintagel. Now, Cornwall with its mystic legends & wild landscape has always held a fascination for me & this Neo-Norman Style hotel, standing in a prominent clifftop location, the Atlantic Ocean crashing far below, conjured up visions of Manderly. Ok, a Tudor Manor it wasn’t, but it would certainly do for me. Having booked a special three night stay with furry friend (an added plus) I took a quick look on TripAdvisor for reviews, as expected they were mixed. The idea for this blog was born and the following review relates to my personal view of The Camelot Castle Hotel. An experience of pure joy & pleasure.

Setting off from Wiltshire I decided to avoid the motorway & meandered along the more scenic route of the A303 & across Bodmin Moor. A thick fog enfolded the landscape & The Hound of the Baskerville’s came to mind, my furry friend obviously felt it too, as she started howling like a Werewolf! Being a soul with a strong constitution, I motored slowly on, descending through the mist into sunlight & followed the signs to Tintagel.

Tintagel is a small village on the North coast of Cornwall, given over almost entirely to commercialism, in particular, as one would expect, to the legend of King Arthur & the Knights of the round table. There are many beautiful walks around the village, along the cliffs & on the coastal path. The short video clip below shows the cove where Merlin’s cave disappears into the granite cliff face, this is just a 10min walk from The Camelot Castle Hotel.

At the end of the village we knew we had arrived. The castle in front of us was to be our home for the next four days & what a home it was. At reception we were greeted by the helpful receptionist Agata, who cheerfully issued our keys & gave us a quick tour of the amazing public rooms. A menu for Irina’s Restaurant & the separate Brassiere was proffered & putting best foot & paws forward we climbed the imposing, open well stone staircase complete with iron balusters & mahogany rail, to our second floor, sea view room. While the rest of Tintagel may be seeped in tourism, this hotel is certainly not. Although the name has been changed from King Arthur’s Castle!

I think its fair to say that you need to absorb the atmosphere and open your heart & mind to the beauty, romanticism, & inspirational creativity, of this unique treasure.

The building, designed by the most prominent Cornish architect of the 19th Century Silvanus Trevail, took five years to complete and opened at Easter 1899. Stars & luminaries of the Victorian & Edwardian Era sought out Camelot Castle, bringing with them their staff & friends for summer & Christmas house parties. ‘The knights of the Round Table’ staring Ava Gardener & ‘Dracula’ staring Sir Lawrence Olivier were filmed at Camelot.

In 1999 the Grade 11 listed castle, was acquired as a private residence for the Mappin family along with the adjoining lands & estates. Observing how others & their friend, Artist Ted Stourton’s creativity had blossomed John & Irina Mappin took the decision to open their home to guests, enabling similar minded people to develop their creativity in the tranquil spaces of their beautiful home.

Now, nearly eighteen years later, while still a family home, my furry friend & I had the opportunity of being guests at this hotel, which is still, in some parts, undergoing a full historic restoration.

Off particular interest to me was the lounge with its double 3-bay colonnade of polished Devonian limestone columns on carved freestone bases. Late C19 polychromatic chimney-pieces, complete with tiles & cast iron stoves are lit on cold evenings allowing one to laze at leisure with a glass of wine & reflect on the large art works by Ted Stourton, which adorn the walls. Sitting there, furry friend at my feet, a large Merlot in hand, I truly felt that I had “come home”.

If you have been, thank you for reading my review.

Join me & my furry friend next week for the second part of this blog:

Home Comforts

Get Aways

A sojourn in Suffolk was suggested. My son and his wife who assist the National Health Service in the running of their ……. were on call all over the Christmas & New Year period which meant that family festivities were not a possibility in our household.  No matter, I took to the internet in search of a quirky, dog friendly cottage, preferably near water & the countryside, where our family fun could commence in early January.  I was in luck, apart from finding the said mentioned property I also noticed several places of foodie interest near by, which would satisfy my interest in food establishments in a county I had not visited before.

Wiltshire to Suffolk on a dismal, damp day in early January was not an exciting prospect. The journey was pleasant enough & non eventful.  The M25 was running smoothly and I was pleasantly surprised when Google Maps told me it would only take 2hrs 45mins, even more delighted when despite stopping for some mediocre lukewarm coffee on the way, we arrived at our destination in 2hrs 30mins.

Pin Mill on the Shotley Peninsula is one of those little picturesque little places which you would never leave the main road for, unless you had a reason to visit. Laying on an inlet of the Orwell Estuary at the bottom of a steep hill, Pin Mill is a hamlet resplendent with quaint pastel painted clapboard cottages overlooking the marshes, – the tide was out at the time of arrival – boat yards and a number of moored barges laying drunkenly in the mud.  We looked up as we reached the slipway and there it was, our home for the next four days, standing proudly facing the water 25ft above sea level, painted pink and over looking the village pub – more in my next blog –  Alma Cottage.

Boat, Barges, Oysters, Pub, Food, Suffolk
View from Alma Cottage, Pin Mill, Orwell Estuary, Suffolk

The cottage itself is quaint and cosy, sleeping 4 with both bedrooms and the lounge overlooking the beautiful view (above). There is also a small enclosed garden at the rear which is built over 3 levels. Just the thing for better weather.

Below is the owners account of living at Alma Cottage courtesy of Arthur Ransome’s East Coast.

“John Pugh’s account of living in Alma Cottage:
The whole ”L” shaped building was errected in 1850 as The Alma pub and waiting room for ferry passengers at a time when a ferry was the most reliable way of travelling up and down the estuary and coast. It ceased trading in 1918 and in the 1930’s it was owned by Miss Powell who used the part nearest the road as a Tea room and for Bed and Breakfast for guests. Between 1934 and 1940 Arthur Ransome moored his boats at Pin Mill and after sailing would take tea with Miss Powell. His two Pin Mill books were based on his fictional family staying at Alma Cottage with Miss Powell.

The whole building was split into three cottages in the late 1950s and the name Alma stayed with our part closest to the road. My family bought it in 1959 and have used it as a holiday cottage, but since 2000 when I inherited it we have also let it commercially.

Anyone interested in booking a stay at Alma Cottage should contact John Pugh at john.pugh@talk21.com or 01453 872551″
Pin Mill also has a claim to fame. Which you can read about below, again courtesy of Arthur Ransome’s East Coast.
‘2017 Year of Literary Heroes’ to celebrate Arthur Ransome
“Visit England has declared 2017 the ‘Year of Literary Heroes’, highlighting anniversaries of great writers, including Arthur Ransome, who died 50 years ago in 1967 – and Suffolk’s Shotley Peninsula, which features in two of his books, and where his famous yacht `Nancy Blackett’ is based, is joining in with gusto.
Pin Mill, the peninsula’s picturesque riverside hamlet, is the setting for the opening of We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, published 80 years ago, in 1937 (and also for its successor, Secret Water). Nancy Blackett, the yacht he owned when he lived in the area, and which became the ‘Goblin’ in the book, will be at the centre of the celebrations; she’s based a little way up the River Orwell at Woolverstone and is owned by the Nancy Blackett Trust, set up 20 years ago in 1997.
Events so far planned include a Ransome-themed fête on the common at Pin Mill, on 13 May, where Nancy will be present, and a flotilla sail past on 4 June, to speed Nancy Blackett on her way to Holland in a recreation of the fictional voyage of the Goblin.
Other projects in the planning include an exhibition of Ransome’s own photos, taken during the building of his boat Selina King in Pin Mill, a summer camp at Woolverstone, outdoor film shows and a possible literary conference – plus a range of tourism guides, information panels and trails to let visitors explore the peninsuila’s attractions themselves.”
As well as the marshes and wildlife, Pin Mill is also sheltered by a wood which is managed by the National Trust and donated by Maud Rouse, in memory of her husband. The wood, a dog walkers paradise, has many interesting monsters, looks down over the Estuary and its residential houseboats, there is even a ships graveyard.

Pin Mill, Suffolk, woods, sailing, Arthur Ransome,
Scary monsters and views from Pin Mill wood. Suffolk.

Well what else can I say?.  Our time spent at Pin Mill was very enjoyable and we hope to visit again in late summer. I can thoroughly recommend both the cottage and its beautiful setting.  If you enjoy, sailing, walking, bird watching – the feathered kind – photography or just sitting back and people watching. Pin Mill has some thing for every one.