January 8

They really do think of everything at Flear Farm…

mistbgBooking a family holiday when you’ve got young children isn’t always easy. On top of all the usual things you have to think about when you’re packing there’s all the extra stuff to consider: travel cots, stair gates, highchairs and toys.

And particularly if you’re holidaying in the UK there another worry: will there be things to do if it rains?

Well it’s fair to say that booking a stay at Flear Farm in Devon means you can stop worrying about all those things and simply get on with the important business of having a good time and enjoying your holiday.

Everything about Flear Farm is designed to make a stay there fun and relaxing for all the family – not just the children. The friendly and welcoming owners, Barney and Camilla, have young children, which means their attention to detail and understanding of just what families need is first rate.20141012_095253 (Large)

Nestled in a valley in the beautiful South Hams area of Devon, Flear Farm is a picturesque 27-acre estate and its attractive and characterful stone-built farm buildings have been converted into cottages with a great deal of thought and care.

FF-Mangers-Dining-to-kitchenThe cottages are cosy, comfortable and well equipped. There’s children’s cutlery in the drawers and stair gates already in place – and your children are likely to discover that there are jigsaws, books and games in the lounge.

One of Flear Farm’s great attraction if you have children is the play barn, which is just perfect for children of all ages. It really has something for everyone. For little ones, there’s a soft play area, rockers and swings. For slightly bigger children there’s a big trampoline, climbing frame, play house and trikes. Then for medium-sized little people upwards there’s a pool table, table football, piano and table tennis…

20141012_095648 (Large)So if it does decide to rain during your holiday, you know there’s somewhere where you can let the children play happily while you sit on a comfy sofa with a coffee (and if you’re like me, check your emails via the free wifi!).
Just round the corner (and actually underneath the play barn) is a decent-sized swimming pool. Perfect for a quick dip, or if you have a son like mine, perfect for hour upon hour of swimming and playing…. until you come out with your fingers and toes wrinkled like a prune! And just to illustrate that they really do think of everything at Flear Farm, there’s even a travel cot by the swimming pool if you have a really little baby where they can play safely while you have a swim.

FF-Pool-Barn-Head-onJust outside the swimming pool is a hot tub. Perfect, or so my son thinks, whatever the weather (so much so that we recently sat in it for an hour while it was raining!)

There’s plenty more to do outside. There’s a tennis court, small golf course, football goals and play area – and lovely places to walk. In fact, if you feel like abandoning your car then, provided you’ve stocked up with food (or arranged a supermarket delivery in advance!) you could enjoy a relaxing stay at Flear Farm without getting back in your car.

But if you so fancy venturing out then there is much to see nearby. The pretty town of Kingsbridge is about three miles away and is one of those places with enough independent shops to still make its high street worth a wander – and a Tesco and Morrisons for big grocery shops.

It also boast “The Best Fish and Chip Shop” in the world. Well that’s what I think anyway. I’ve eaten fish and chips everywhere from Portsmouth to Florida and from Whitby to Sydney (including the stonkingly good Doyles in The Rocks and the smaller branch in Watson’s Bay) and in my view Kingsbridge’s pun-tastic chippy The Codfather beats them all. Just delicious, plain and simple. You can eat in, but if the weather’s ok then I recommend walking 200 yards and sitting on a bench overlooking the river.

Dartmouth is another place [or plaice, if you are still thinking in Codfather-style puns) that you must visit. A beautiful, historic town (and home to the Britannia Royal Naval College) is great whether you want to shop, have lunch or while away a few hours enjoying the views and eating ice cream.

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If you are planning to go to Dartmouth, here are some of my recommendations of things to do:

Go crabbing: This is a real must if you’ve got little people with you (or even not so little people!) Get yourself a crabbing net, some bait and a bucket and spend a lazy afternoon catching (and then releasing!) crabs by the water’s edge. My tip: the bait is very smelly so have some hand-wash handy!

Visit Dartmouth Castle: You can walk from the town to Dartmouth Castle which is owned by English Heritage – and there’s a very nice tea and ice cream shop (with great views….!) The historic church is very pretty too. My tip: Get a boat from the town out to the castle and then stroll back.

Go on a ferry: I’ve been going to Dartmouth since I was a child and getting there from Kingswear on the other side of the river Dart by car ferry always felt like a treat – and still does! If you don’t need or want to take your car then hop on a passenger ferry.

20140120_113120 (Large)Go on a steam train: While you’re in Kingswear you could take a trip on a steam train – the train goes to Paignton (and stops at Greenway).

Take a river tour: Sail down the Dart and keep a look out for Agatha Christie’s Greenway House which is now owned by the National Trust.

 

Get up early and have breakfast at Café Alf Resco: It is really no exception to say that this is one of my favourite cafés in the world (click here is another) – great food (proper freshly squeezed orange juice, local bacon and a range of cereals (Small Son’s favourite)), friendly staff, a nice vibe and it’s open from 7am (and staff are cheerful even if you’re a bleary-eyed parent out for early morning crabbing)

Have lunch or dinner in Rockfish. Rockfish is one of three restaurants in Dartmouth owned by chef Mitch Tonks (the others are the fish and chip shop by the car ferry and the more formal Seahorse).

Rockfish is brilliant – the food is delicious and the prices are very reasonable. And if you’ve got children then the Rockfish activity packs are priceless (quite literally, as they are free).20140118_090303-002

Have tea and cakes in Saveurs - lovely service and great cakes. And they do dinner too. (Another place I’d recommend for eating is Kendrick’s)

Back at Flear Farm, if the weather’s good (we’ve been lucky both times we’ve stayed there) then eating outside is a must and each cottage has its own outside area with tables and chairs. There’s also a barbecue area if you feel like cooking outside.

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It’s hard to fault Flear Farm. We’ve been there twice – and I’m sure we’ll be going back.

 

 

 

Category: Reviews
October 2

It’s National Poetry Day. This is my favourite poem. What’s yours? #nationalpoetryday

Today is National Poetry Day. This is my favourite poem. What’s yours?

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.
Leo Marks

This poem was written by Leo Marks and used a code poem during World War Two. He wrote it on Christmas Eve 1943 in memory of his girlfriend Ruth who had just been killed in a plane crash in Canada. In March 1944 it was issued by Marks, who worked for Britain’s Special Operations Executive to French SOE agent Violette Szabo, who was eventually captured, tortured and killed by the Nazis.

 

Category: Uncategorized
September 19

Ten thoughts about the Scottish independence referendum result

Ten thoughts about the Scottish independence referendum result:

1) I’m glad we’re still a United Kingdom.

2) The real victor is democracy – up to 90% of people voting – WOW! Usual election turnout rates in the UK are a disgrace.

3) It is outrageous that Scottish MPs can vote on laws which only affect England - and this must change.

4) The disgraceful situation where Scottish students and those from France, Germany and the rest of the UK get free university tuition fees but English, Welsh and Northern Irish student have to PAY THOUSANDS is a disgusting state of affairs and must be changed. Ditto free prescriptions in Scotland but not in England.

5) Alistair Darling – proof that quiet and good mannered people can triumph over noisy clichéd rhetoric.

6) Most Scots voted with their heads rather than their hearts.

7) As I’ve said for a long time, history will be kinder on Gordon Brown – a essentially decent man – than it will on Blair. And wow, what a speech.

8) I never want to hear the phrase “devo max” ever again. (I’d also be quite pleased to not see Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon on TV for a good while…)

9) I haven’t been to Scotland for a while – it’s about time I went there again.

10) Above all, we are better together.

Category: Uncategorized