We struck lucky last week, very lucky indeed when we booked to stay at the Blue Ball Inn at Sidford. It's a great place, characteristic of Devon style and charm. From the outside you wouldn't know it wasn't the original building, but it isn't as that was destroyed by fire in 2006 and was rebuilt the following year.
It was ideally placed too. On the day we arrived we set off to explore Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, the seaside town of Budleigh Salterton and the National Trust's delightful A la Ronde. The following day we visited Sidmouth, Otterton, Lympstone, Exmouth and Topsham before heading off towards Newton Abbot.
I found the Blue Ball Inn on the internet and what a find it was. In real life it was pretty easy to find too, as we drove past it on our way to Bicton Park Gardens - I love it when you don't have to hunt for where you're staying!
I was impressed with our room, it was a good size with a large freestanding wardrobe that would be very handy if you were staying a while. The furniture was a mix of "brown" furniture - the sort that's often looked down on, but it worked well against the bright neutral walls and didn't give the room a dated feel.
The bed with its crisp, white linen looked very inviting for a quick forty winks. And after a long day - we left London at 5am and was in Lyme Regis for breakfast at 9am - it would have been rude not to!
Near our room was a residents lounge which looked comfortable and if we hadn't have been so tired we'd have used. It was decorated in neutrals with splashes of red which gave it a traditional, yet modern feel and in one corner of the room was a fireplace with plenty of logs stacked inside it.
There were a couple of nice touches, apart from the furnishings and both were to do with the ubiquitous tea and coffee making facilities. Rather than the "plastic" UHT milk in little containers that spurt anywhere (and everywhere) but the cup when you open them. You can tell I've had trouble can't you? There was a fridge in the residents lounge with a jug of proper milk in.
On the tea tray in our room there was a small jug to make transporting the milk easier and a tea towel. That tea towel was the other nice touch I mentioned. Although there may not be much call to use it on an overnight stay, I thought it was a potentially useful addition.
Downstairs in the pub there was a homely feel and lots of quirky pieces - like the Whiskey barrel below - providing interest. There were plenty of places to sit too whether you wanted food or just a drink.
And the food - wow.
We didn't get past the specials board which was jam-packed with locally sourced dishes and tasted superb. It was reasonably priced too.
And if you're wondering, breakfast the next day was equally as good and apart from an ice cream in the afternoon we didn't need any lunch!
So if you're ever in or close to East Devon and are looking for somewhere to stay - or to eat, then pop along to the Blue Ball Inn, you won't be disappointed.