January 2017 Blog
Welcome to our first blog and the start of 2017
HAPPY NEW YEAR! January can be a rather bleak month but here in North Devon we’ve had our fair share of gorgeous, crisp, cold and bright sunny days. It was on one of these days that David and I, and our dog Honey took the short drive to Lynmouth to visit The Exmoor National Park Centre. The drive from us here in Barnstaple is a lovely, winding journey along the A39 where every now and again the hedgerows part to provide glimpses of the sea and then a little further on open up to show expanses of the most glorious, green rolling countryside. The journey took us about 30 minutes although the roads were empty and could easily have taken only twenty but we hate to rush. The day out was as much about the journey as it was the destination. Honey could smell the sea on the air and her enthusiasm for our journey to end was made clear by her nose pressed against the window.
The Exmoor National Park Centre in Lynmouth or commonly known as “where Exmoor Meets the sea”. The National Park is a good size and has plenty of space with changing exhibits and it also houses a multimedia room.
A film showing aerial footage of Exmoor was showing when we paid our visit and was absolutely fabulous. There is also a shop that provides visitors with a wealth of information on the National Park along with leaflets, books and maps of the area including all the great walks you can take. There were a few lovely gift ideas as well. The centre also has the most gorgeous cafe on the first floor.
The Lynmouth Pavilion cafe which overlooks the sea. We happened to make it in time for the sun setting and were delighted with our early supper of Quiche and salad. The chef was young but a very talented chap if his pastry was anything to go by! The quiche was freshly made on site and the salad was deliciously fresh, tasty and very reasonably priced. Still it was a close run thing as around the corner is the award winning Esplanade Fish and Chip bar, and had it been open, I would have struggled to make a decision. However, it wasn’t so the Exmoor NP centre café was a very welcome discovery – and Honey was also made to feel very welcome.
The day out is a fond memory, as today whilst writing the blog, I am hugging the Rayburn in my kitchen as we endure an Arctic blast. Although it is a bitterly cold wind we have a bright and sunny day again. Here in the West, for now at least, we have escaped the worst of the weather. As ever, when there are days when I am unable to get out and about, I am multi-tasking, and today is no different. So, whilst the blog is underway, I have a the large Maslin pan on top of the Rayburn simmering gently, filling the kitchen with the scent of citrus, as the peel of the
Seville oranges soften to tender little match sticks of orange deliciousness. These get tucked away in the larder for our future guests to enjoy. I am starting this marathon of marmalade making as we can get through a jar of Marmalade a day in the high season, so this is the first of many batches. When I feel I really cannot make any more for fear of turning into a Seville orange I will freeze the rest of the oranges which I buy in bulk from our lovely local fruit and vegetable wholesaler in Ilfracombe (Seville oranges are only in the shops for a few weeks) and make batches a little later in the season. Learning that you can freeze Seville oranges was a revelation and a God send to me – a tip shared by one of our lovely guests.
Sitting here in the kitchen at the Spinney I am constantly being distracted by three Blackbirds having a fight in the bird bath. Our back garden looks out over vast acres of Devonshire countryside and it’s a view we are blessed to have, and one I will never tire of. Talking of birds, I have just received my RSPB garden watch pack. Have you sent for yours yet? It’s a great way to get involved. We have so many different birds visit the garden. The area around the Spinney is a really popular area for bird watching being surrounded not only by farmland and natural hedgerow but also by many copses of trees and National Trust woodland.
EXMOOR FOOD FEST
January for us is a demanding month in other ways. Whilst we have far fewer guests at this time of year, we have other jobs that keep us both busy. David has his list of maintenance jobs and I catch up with the book keeping, marketing and marmalade making to list a few, but January and February also provides a time for a little bit of relaxation, and this ties in nicely with the EXMOOR FOOD FESTIVAL. Starting in February numerous eateries sign up to provide a menu, showcasing the best of their talents. They offer a delicious menu with 2 courses for £10 and 3 courses £15 and believe me we have some amazing talented chefs local to The Spinney! Our own local pub The Pyne Arms takes part, so it’s an opportunity to enjoy good food at great prices. Checkout Exmoor Food Fest www.exmoorfoodfest.com
We look forward to seeing you soon.