Friday, 22 August 2014

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!!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Lee Abbey and Lee Bay x

It has been blissful these last few weeks. There has been a ridiculous amount of sun and our holiday guests have loved it.

On a rare afternoon, we even managed to pretend we were on holiday too! I am going to share our adventure with you. Like every good adventure it should start with competitive croquet with friends. 

We then jumped in the cars and drove for about 40 minutes through some gorgeous Devon lanes towards Lee bay.  There are actually two 'Lee bay's' in our area, about 20 miles apart. Both are gorgeous. This Lee bay is a privately-owned beach, but anyone can use it. It is owned by Lee Abbey.

Here is a bit of history about Lee Abbey: 
In 1199, Henry de Tracey, a Norman knight, gave the manors to the Cistercian Abbots of Forde Abbey in Dorset and they held the land for about 340 years, possibly building a farmhouse where Lee Abbey now is.

In 1628, the land was now in the hands of a certain Hugh de Wichehalse, who came to escape the Barnstaple Plague, and repaired and enlarged the farmhouse at Ley. 

Legend has it that Jennefried, the heiress to Lee Manor, was due to marry here until on her wedding day she discovered that her faithless lover had married another. Through the night she wandered in grief, and when dawn came, her body was found by the waters edge. (the pic below is called 'Jenny's leap').

This beautiful tea room (The Lee Abbey Tea Cottage) is at the top of the hill from the beach. 
On the menu are cream teas, home-made cakes, drinks, ice creams and light lunches. All these are served by the resident Lee Abbey Community in a beautiful tea garden nestled in the valley by one of the estate’s two bubbling streams.

Lee Abbey is now run by a Christian community. Ninety people live and work there from nineteen different nationalities and a variety of ages. They run courses and retreats for the general public to attend.

As you approach the beach you pass beautiful historic houses, like this one. In fact, the car park is near to this house, at the top of the short hill that leads to the beach.

Yes we were definitely at the right beach.

It is a sweet little bay and we had it almost all to ourselves, despite it being August.

I was very grateful for this as I am currently hobbling with a torn tendon in my ankle and I did feel slightly self conscious as I clambered over the rocks and sand. 

Everyone (except for Zac and I) threw themselves into their wetsuits and dived into the water.

I have discovered a love of wild swimming last year, and although my heart was willing (it was actually) my flesh (Tendon) was weak....literally. 

Zac (most unusual for him) did not go in, due to the very recent 9 HOUR SURF he did upon leaving Primary School. The rubs from his wetsuit would make you wince..and they are everywhere.

We watched the gang as they mounted a large rock,

and took it in turns

to jump off.

They then decided to swim across the bay,

to explore a cave they could see.

While Zac and I sat with our feet up, reading the second 'Hunger Games' book (which is gripping by the way).

The cave had too great a sea-swell going on inside, so they opted for sunbathing on the rock instead.

There was a hilarious moment when our friend came out of the sea and her daughter kindly thrust her the hooded beach towel....which she promptly got stuck in. 

In case you couldn't see it well, here's a close-up.

As the last few people left the beach, the evening sun was there just for us.

We walked up to the top, towards this gorgeous-sounding place.

We found a great little sheltered place to set up the BBQ's.

With a beautiful view,

we watched the sun go down,

while chomping on a burger

and enjoying a nice cold beer.

And for pudding? The old favourite. Perfect post a swim in the sea.

Always goes down a treat.

All-in-all a special day with special friends.

The drive there was magical,

The views spectacular,

but I have to say, when push comes to shove....nothing beats Putsborough beach.