This year has been slow in terms of blogging, and I’m not sure why. I seem to have lost my inspiration and motivation – not just for blogging but my love of social media is waning slightly too. It could be the realization of just how much social media rules my life. I am constantly on it. And I recently felt suddenly anxious by this realization and took a small step back and feel a little better. Although the FOMO (fear of missing out) is there, but not as strong as I’d expect. Anyway, I do want to get back into a good blogging groove and post at least once a week which is what I was doing in 2016. This year has yet to take off though. Any advice for getting back my blogging mojo is always welcome!
Anyway, I wanted to give this little explanation so you know why I haven’t been posting as regularly, and also why my posts have mostly been about travel / food fairs lately. I do have recipes to share, but I just can’t get around to doing them. I promise I will try to do one soon! In the meantime, I wanted to share my little trip down to Devon a couple weeks ago.
We had booked off a long weekend in June months ago, but never got around to booking a trip. So of course we left it down to the 11th hour. And that is not an exaggeration. We literally booked our B&B on a Friday night and left Saturday morning. While I had originally wanted to go to Norfolk, everywhere was booked up. I somehow stumbled upon a really cute B&B that was available in Devon and decided to just book it, even though it’s a bit of a trek from Leicester and also the weather was not supposed to be great. Here are some of the sights and yummy vegan food we experienced along the way.
Strete Barton House
We stayed in the Strete Barton House B&B for the two nights we were in Devon. It’s a tiny village but it has lovely views of the ocean and is a good spot for exploring the rest of the region. We adored our B&B – the room was lovely and comfortable, and the views from the garden were just incredible. The owners were so friendly as well, and helped us with recommendations while were were there. The vegan breakfast option wasn’t great (tomatoes, mushrooms and toast), but I wasn’t too fussed.
Our B&B was just 10 minutes from Dartmouth, and a 5 minute drive from Blackpool Sands. Blackpool Sands is a stunning beach surrounded by tree-covered cliffs, with an adorable cafe and sports shop on the beach. Despite the name, it is actually made up of shale rather than sand, which some people may not like. I loved it, although we only stayed for a drink as it was late in the day. The beach is just stunning, and it’s easy to see why it’s consistently rated so high among English beaches.
Just a short 10 min drive down windy, narrow roads was the city of Dartmouth, which is definitely worth a visit. We went into the town after dinner one night and revelled in the lovely painted houses, boats bobbing in the water and views across the harbour. It’s a really quaint, vibrant little town, and although we didn’t spend very much time here, we would definitely come back.
In the other direction to Dartmouth is Slapton Ley in Torcross, which is a beautiful nature reserve. You drive along a long, flat piece of land with a lake on one side and the expansive ocean on the other. Here you will find a war memorial where over 300 American soldiers training for the D-Day landings were killed. It was something neither I nor my husband had ever heard about, so it was interesting to read the history of this place. On the other side of road is a pub where you can grab a drink, sit on the sea wall and pass the day away. It is incredibly beautiful and tranquil.
What can I say about Salcombe. It is now one of my new favourite places in the UK. Driving for about 30 minutes, we reached the Salcombe bay where we parked next to a beach under huge, ancient looking trees. From there we had to take a very small ferry over to the village of Salcombe (there is no easy way to get there by car from that direction). While it was VERY windy and wet that morning, we didn’t mind and enjoyed being on the water. That day there was a boat race in the harbour, so after another ferry ride to lunch (more on that below), we grabbed a couple of drinks and sat on the sea wall at the Ferry Inn and watched the boats all afternoon. It is the most spectacular beer garden in England, I’m sure of it. What I particularly loved about Salcombe was not only the soft sandy beaches and beautiful alcoves, but also just how incredibly blue the water was. It felt like we were someplace tropical.
Usually when I plan a trip I have more than a couple hours to research restaurants, which unfortunately we were not able to do on this trip, so I really had no idea what to expect. That said, going down south we always plan a short stop at Wholefoods in Cheltenham for lunch. It’s a very large Wholefoods, and the way it’s laid out is exactly like the ones in Arizona so it always makes me feel like I’m back home. On our stop we both had a slice of vegan pizza (incredible) and a box of salad. I also managed to find my FAVOURITE vegan ranch by Follow Your Heart which I smothered all over my slice. We also stopped there on the way back and had sushi for lunch this time. Heaven.
We found ourselves in Devon a little earlier than expected, so headed down to Blackpool Sands to pass the time while we waited until we could check in to our B&B. The beach itself is lovely, as mentioned above, but the icing on the cake is the very cute Venus Cafe right on the beach that serves some yummy looking meat free dishes like the “famous tofu burger.” Unfortunately we were saving ourselves for dinner so didn’t want to order a main course, but we did sample the hummus (homemade, delicious) and fries (crispy, salty) and a couple of ciders which was kind of the perfect beach side snack. Apparently the Venus Cafe is a chain restaurant, so you will find them up and down the coast.
The first night in Devon we booked a table at Radius 7 in Stoke Fleming, as they had a dedicated vegetarian menu with some clearly marked vegan items. The restaurant was really cute – wooden floors, pretty ambient lighting and cosy tables. It was fully booked the entire time we were there, including the tiny bar next to it (which got a bit loud at times!). For our starter we went with the antipasta which was a bountiful plate of lovely veggie dishes, including a chutney, olives, tapenade and lovely charred fresh bread. For my main I ordered the tofu and seasonal veg and it was perfect. It came with with lightly fried tofu on a large bed of samphire with a delicious tapenade that balanced it all out perfectly.
South Sands Hotel
On our second day, we took a little ferry from Salcombe to the Sands Hotel which sits on its own beach, surrounded by cliffs and forests. While there was nothing on the menu that was vegan friendly, when I enquired they said they’d be happy to accommodate us. For our starters they made this veggie mousse type dish which was good, but as Andrew would say, “too fancy.” Our main course was a pearl barley risotto with tempura asparagus and it was divine, plus a side of seaweed mash and seasonal veg. We both scarfed all our food, plus the bread and two drinks. I won’t say how much it was because I’m almost embarrassed we paid so much for a lunch, but you gotta treat yourself once in a while, eh?
Church House Inn, Torcross
By the time we finally got back to our room that second day we were pooped, and very hungry. Luckily our B&B host pointed us in the direction of a couple pubs nearby that we could try. We ended up stopping in the Church House Inn, as they had some good looking veggie burgers. We started with a veggie sharing plate again (again, so big and scrumptious), and had the veggie burgers for our mains (mine without mayo). The burgers were chockfull of avocado, sundried tomatoes and a perfectly seasoned veggie burger. The crispy, salty fries were a perfect accompaniment.
In all we absolutely loved our time in Devon, even in the downpour. It has all the beauty of Cornwall, but is a little more rugged, a little less commercial which I love. There still seems to be a wildness to this part of the country that speaks to my heart. I would love, love, love to live in Devon. Maybe someday.