It felt slightly strange going on holiday a week after starting work again after three months of what my zero hours contract employment euphemistically describes as being on the beach. However that doesn’t mean that our week in North Devon at Westward Ho! (the only English place to have an exclamation mark in its name) wasn’t a welcome and relaxing break.
We decided on staying in the UK for our summer holiday this year because it meant that we wouldn’t have to leave our new puppy in kennels. The wonderfully warm weather earlier in the summer was also encouraging. Although this did, predictably enough, break just before we went so that our second day saw nearly three inches of rain, the rest of the week was largely pleasantly sunny. One of the advantages of home holidays is that you go without expecting unbroken hot sunshine. Apart from the typically down at heel pleasures of the traditional seaside arcades with their 2p amusements, wet weather also makes crabbing and rock pooling appealing as they don’t compete with fighting over the sun loungers.
We stayed in a very comfortable apartment along with a couple of friends who spent part of the week down from Bristol. The large balcony overlooking the sea meant that when the weather was less pleasant or the tide was in we could enjoy the view. Having a nicer kitchen than at home was also a plus point! Nassau Court is very well designed and spacious and I’d recommend it for anyone planning a visit to the area.
The village itself is fairly nondescript and slightly shabby in parts although there are signs of new development to smarten it up. But for us part of the charm was that it wasn’t gentrified in the way that much of Cornwall is and so eating out was more relaxing and reasonably priced. We had a few meals at The Pier House which were of good quality and in pleasant surroundings. The raised decks looking out over the seas were particularly nice and would have fitted in nicely alongside Cafe del Mar in Ibiza.
There are plenty of places to visit nearby but we restricted ourselves to a day out in Appledore, a couple of miles away, where they were having their summer festival. That was on the day of the heaviest rain so it was perhaps fortunate that the procession was not a long one! The last time we came to Appledore, a few years ago while staying in Bideford, the rain meant that we sat in our car in the car park while OMB slept (we discovered later that one of the other couples staying with us were similarly sat in their car in the same car park that afternoon!). This time we braved the elements and OMB was excited about his haul of 17 crabs. Fluffy, the puppy, was rather less pleased by getting drenched. The highlight of the visit was the unexpected gem of a local pub we were directed to by a passerby when we couldn’t find a table inside a waterfront cafe for lunch. Although it doesn’t look like much and is hidden down a side street, I recommend a visit to The Coach and Horses.
The food and welcome were great, even though initially I had the sensation of entering the Slaughtered Lamb in An American Werewolf in London. I couldn’t resist the temptingly named Cardiac Arrest burger which was worthy of Man vs Food.
While waiting to eat, one of the regulars told us that on Sundays the pub had live music as locals came along and took turns to play. If you like folky music played unselfconsciously for the sheer joy of it, it is well worth making a trip for. Thankfully for all they couldn’t persuade any of us to do a turn but unfortunately Mrs B has spent the last week and a half singing the Cornish sea shanties she heard there.
The other trip out we did was to Broomhill Sculpture Gardens . I’ll write about that separately but it is a must see if you like modern sculpture. Not quite Yorkshire Sculpture Park, but a nice place to spend a couple of hours and the food in the attached hotel is also good.
But, in the end, you go to the seaside to enjoy the sea so if you visit Westward Ho! you don’t have to do anything else to have a great time.