In early 2020, we booked a long weekend in Devon starting on the 4th of July. The global Covid-19 pandemic looked as though it had put an end to those plans. Despite this, we held on to our booking, safe in the knowledge that a refund was available if we didn’t end up being able to go.
About 2 weeks before before our original date of arrival the government announced that lock-down in England was to ease from the 4th of July, as long as the rate of infection continued to fall. This easing would allow the majority of the hospitality sector to reopen; as well as making it legal to stay somewhere overnight in England again. It was, in reality, a huge turn of luck that the date of lock-down happened to coincide with the date that we had booked all those months ago.
Leaving home on the morning of the 4th of July was a nice feeling after all that time spent in and around the local area. Just knowing that we would be able to go and see something else felt great. Surprisingly, the roads were not all that busy. Given that this was the first day in months that it was possible to go and stay anywhere, this was unexpected. The vast majority of the drive an absolute pleasure, although there was the uncomfortable feeling of driving up Porlock Hill; the steepest A-road in the UK.
During our journey we stopped for a quick bite to eat just off of the A39, in the coastal town of Watchet.
Our base for the weekend was located in the village of Ashford, near Barnstaple. A converted barn called The Red Barn which I can highly recommend. A spacious open-plan living area, and ample outdoor space make this an ideal place to just get away and relax.
Only about 15 minutes from the dog-friendly beach at Saunton sands, and located within walking distance of the Tarka trail and the South West Coast path. There is always something to do in the local area, even in these testing times.
After spending the last few months exclusively in and around our hometown, a little bit of time spent somewhere else was just what was needed. I always find it surprising just how sleepy I get when exposed to the sea air. It helps make the whole experience all the more relaxing. Spending a long weekend out in the fresh air, walking on the beach or along coastal paths makes a nice change. There are some amazing beaches in this part of the country, and they are so big that it is easy to keep clear of other people.
Being in a self-contained property allowed us to really enjoy being away, without the fear or risk that being in a crowded hotel could bring. We were able to have whatever food we wanted, as we could cook it there; or, as we did one night, have a takeaway. Potentially the nicest Chinese meal that I have ever tasted. That is not to say that we avoided eating out. A cream tea on the Woolacombe beachfront, or the first pint at a pub in over three months were too much of a temptation. The work done by the hospitality industry to try and make sure their premises are safe for everyone to enjoy is nothing short of remarkable. It is such a great feeling to be able to repay that effort by making use of their facilities.
The only downside to our weekend away was that it was far too short, before we knew it it was time to return home. A two and a half hour drive on Tuesday evening and it was almost over. With one extra day off from work though, it only seemed right that we continued our holiday for a little while longer. As we had no food in the house, we decided to go to one of our favorite places to eat in our hometown for breakfast. One last treat before the holiday came to an end.
The Covid situation has helped bring into focus just how lucky we are to be able to go away and enjoy our lives. The liberties that we take for granted every day are only truly appreciated once they are taken away.
Despite its simplicity, this was one of the most enjoyable holidays of my life.
Below are a couple of links to articles about some of our previous holidays.