Country house decor and a good book

On the train to Birmingham last weekend, despite having my travel-crochet with me (as in crochet that’s easy to carry about) something else was calling me, and that was reading a book I’d downloaded onto my iPad that very morning. After flicking through the paper, the book one, and it was one I kept wanting to get back to. Even to the point that I had it on my phone too, and made sure it was where I’d left off so any valuable time I could muster for reading wasn’t wasted.

The book? The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper.

It wasn’t one I’d heard much about, or an author I’d read before, but when I read the description I thought it was a book that could be read relatively quickly, and despite the subject matter had the potential to be entertaining. And I wasn’t wrong, but let me tell you a bit more.

A leaf plate and a polished mahogany table
sherry on the sideboard

It’s one for the romantics and chicklit fans:

Stephanie and Jamie are meant to be. The problem is they're both with other people...

Stephanie doesn’t believe in fate, true love or living happily ever after. She’s content enough being engaged to Matt. But then she meets Jamie, who understands her more than anyone else ever has.

Jamie is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Helen and believes in everything Stephanie doesn’t. So why does he have such a strong connection with Stephanie?

When Stephanie and Jamie meet one fateful weekend in 2006 it will change everything...

Ten years. Two people. One epic love story.

the breakfast table

The main characters were likeable and believable and while the plot is, I think, well signposted it makes it no less of an enjoyable read. I believe in the kind of attraction, or strong connection that forms the basis of this story, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fairytale, or a smooth road. Life, even for these characters, is tricky and the emotions and bravery, or not, feel real - that’s what I think makes this book work.

good advice from words on the wall

So a good read, and good for a weekend away, though I was pleased I finished the book at home. And the photos from this post, well in my imagination, they fit with the book - you’ll just have to read it when it comes out in March 2019, to see if you agree.

Now, where’s my crochet?

A snippet of my long weekend in Devon

If you've been following along on Instagram you'll have seen some of my Devon photos from the weekend. We left London early Thursday morning, and spent a good couple of hours on the M25 in traffic. There was nothing good about them, but with some hasty journey replanning along the way after the M25 we avoided traffic for the rest of the journey. The weather wasn't great (read, it was chucking it down so much the wipers were going double speed) so instead of heading to Lyme Regis for breakfast, we thought about Marlborough, another favourite.

Somehow though we missed Marlborough - no idea how - and stopped instead in Wincanton, for a coffee at the local Morrisons, which I promptly drizzled onto my chest. Thankfully it wasn't so hot, so a blessing really. The day could only get better hey?!

Cramming a lot into four days

Our first stop was the National Trust property Montacute House in Somerset. I've written before how I much prefer to stop somewhere like this rather than a motorway service station, and with views like this it's easy to see why. Our first stop though was the cafe for breakfast - and a cheese scone and a sausage roll hit the spot nicely.

Montacute house
The garden fence at Montacute house
Wibbly Wobbly hedges at Montacute House

It was a lovely place to explore, and even better when I discovered the wibbly wobbly hedges. I'll share more from my visit but the photos above are just a snippet to keep you going. Back in the car we decided to head towards another National Trust property nearer to MOH's aunt's house, who we were visiting.

So our next stop was Castle Drogo, who were having some work done. I don't think we could have chosen such a different property, there were some fun exhibits though. We'd visited here many years before, and all I remembered was the garden and even that wasn't exactly how I had in my mind's eye. It was good to go back and put my memory straight.

Castle Drogo
the gardens at Castle Drogo
The foreman's hut
taps at Castle Drogo

Friday we headed further south and towards Overbeck's, the Devon weather completely spoiling us and the sandals and summer dress I'd packed on the off chance got an unexpected airing, but I'm not complaining.  The views here were stunning.

On the steps at Overbeck's
Overbeck's garden in the sun

It's a small place though, and there's a lot of ups and downs in the garden as it's built into the cliff. There is a house but I found it a bit odd and wasn't a fan of many of the collections there. After a quick tour round the house, we were done and on our way. We decided to head into Salcombe, again somewhere we'd been before, but not for a while and the last time there was traffic there too. 

That was clearly earlier in the year as this time was completely different. We also left the car out of town a bit and walked into the centre, which was a much better idea. Lunch was on our agenda, and that quickly became fish and chips on the quay, there's nothing better. Well maybe apart from these pretty pastel buildings.

Salcombe properties

Not done for the day, we stopped off at the South Devon Chilli Farm on our way back towards Newton Abbot. You'll not be surprised to learn I left with some seeds and some chocolate - chilli flavoured of course. As it'd been a while since we'd eaten(!), we also sat for a while in the sun enjoying a chilli chocolate crisp bake and I had a chilli hot chocolate. It wasn't really hot chocolate weather, but they are good.

Chillies at the South Devon Chilli Farm
Multicoloured Chillies at the South Devon Chilli Farm

I'm always fascinated by the number of varieties of chillies and their colours. I've had a good chilli crop this year, but next year I'm hoping I'll have grown prolific plants from seed. We'll see...

Saturday saw a solo visit to Killerton for me. MOH was keen to stretch his legs on Dartmoor and conquer Haytor, which I believe they did, although the weather had its revenge on them. So ahead of meeting me for a pub lunch, his group had a swift trip home to change into dry clothing before heading out again.

Somehow the rain passed me by and I had my own encounter with a wasp to deal with, after settling down to read a book in the library, explore the fashion exhibitions upstairs, a wander around the gardens and find a bench in the sun, under a tree that didn't attract the rain. Quite a feat, but entirely do-able it seems. And I can tell you first hand that vinegar works like a dream on wasp stings.

In the library at Killerton
Putting the vinegar to good use after a wasp sting
Upstairs at Killerton
Colourful autumnal trees at Killerton

When we're in Devon our Sunday morning jaunts are usually relatively close to the house. Often they're to nearby Shaldon, Dawlish or Teignmouth, but this weekend we set off to Cockington Court, in the pretty village of Cockington near Torquay. There's plenty of easy walks there and it's a magnet for tourists and locals alike. I like to visit the craft studios in the old stables and since our last visit, we discovered there's also a walled art garden. A quirky place and definitely one for another day.

The forge at Cockington Craft studios
Traditional beekeeping at Cockington Court
Pretty pots at Cockington craft studios
A snippet of Cockington Court

Later on Sunday while speaking to mum and recalling our adventures I mentioned Cockington to her. And would you believe it, but it turns out that as a girl she'd walk down through the fields through Cockington and onto the seafront (a walk that's signposted today, and is probably through less fields than it once was) while her nan cooked Sunday lunch. 

I knew mum had family around Torquay and that she'd been evacuated there during the war, but I had no idea it was near Cockington, so that was quite a coincidence to discover for us both. It just goes to show it's a small world doesn't it?

So that was my weekend - although it was twice as long as normal, we still managed to cram a fair bit in, before heading back to London after a traditional Sunday lunch with family.  

How was your weekend?