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A Weekend in Devon, England

After departing London during our family’s recent U.K. road trip, we drove to the southwest of England (via Stonehenge – but more on that later) to spend the weekend in Devon. Why Devon? Well, while we wanted to see as much of the country as we could during our road trip, Devon in particular has a special connection for us, and there’s a bit of a story behind what brought us there.  

Our good friend, Katie (who we met along with her husband Ben during our Mediterranean voyage a few years ago) grew up in Devon, and her parents still live there. On many occasions we heard Katie talking about how beautiful and peaceful it is in Devon, and how she, as a big city Londoner, will always be a country girl at heart because of her time there. We missed an opportunity to visit Devon for her and Ben’s wedding a few years ago (we would have been there in a heartbeat, except it conflicted with our Kenyan safari). When we visited Katie and Ben in London last fall (or is it “autumn?”), we talked of Devon, and how wonderful a place it was for Katie and her siblings to grow up. We made loose plans that one day we would bring our kids to England with us, and that we would visit Devon with Katie and Ben. A few months later, those loose plans became real plans, and the #FabFam had a tripped booked to the U.K., and a weekend planned for Devon for the summer!

Wanting to offer us the most authentic, idyllic experience in Devon, Katie’s parents, Fiona and Victor, offered for us to stay at their home in the rolling Devonshire countryside I can’t say enough about the hospitality we experienced at their home. Between the comfortable place to lay our jet-lagged heads, the delicious meals (Fiona is an exceptional cook), the serenity of their property, their patience with our crazy children, and the late nights of conversation and Vic’s enthralling storytelling, we are so very grateful for our time there. But it was more than hospitality… it felt like the foundation for a long friendship with people that we can say really felt like “our people,” even though we hadn’t met before. This is one of those fantastic side-effects from travel, and not dissimilar from when we first met Katie and Ben. These kinds of things bring people together from all corners of the world, and bonds are formed that transcend the physical distance after the trip has ended.

Katie posted some of our weekend together in Devon on her YouTube channel recently, which you can see here. I’ll also do my best to summarize what we did in Devon in the rest of this post.

Our first impression of Devon was that it was beautiful. The countryside was quiet but very quaint. The roads were well-maintained, but were narrow in parts (as is typical in the U.K. countryside). Thankfully our Kia Optima Sportswagon was just the right size to navigate the country roads. We even had the opportunity to experience a “county traffic jam” when a herd of cattle crossed the road, requiring us to stop and wait. This is something we have only experienced a few other times: when a flock of sheep decided to cross the road in front of us in Ireland, and in Kenya, where we had to wait for ostrich.  

Since the county of Devon is coastal, we couldn’t go the whole weekend without a trip to the ocean. Katie, Ben, and Vic’s Godson Archie took us to Lynmouth, where the first order of business was to eat a lunch of fish and chips.

After lunch, we took the kids down to the water so they could wade and splash. But, the little boys weren’t the only ones having fun at the water’s edge.

Nik and Archie started casually throwing stones into the water, and it quickly became competitive. Archie (who throws javelin) decided to challenge Nik (who played baseball) to see who could throw a stone the farthest. While some of the throws were close, and all impressive, I am proud to say that my hubby was victorious!

One of the items on my must-do list for Devon was to have a traditional cream tea, with a fresh scone and the famous Devonshire clotted cream. Our hosts recommended Watersmeet House, which has been serving these items since 1901 along with local jams and other snacks. I can truly say that the scone at Watersmeet House was the best I have had in my life. I also finally understood what the fuss is all about regarding clotted cream after eating some there.

As the name would imply, Watersmeet is situated where two rivers meet. The Watersmeet House tea garden has a beautiful view of the river, and a brief walk will take you along with the river on a gorgeous woodland path. This is quite the way to spend an afternoon!

After a delicious multi-course dinner with our friends at home, we settled out onto the patio to observe a meteor shower. For the first time in years, I looked at a sky so clear that the Milky Way was visible. The promise of a meteor shower didn’t disappoint, as we all saw tons of shooting stars as we lay back in the country summer evening air.

A stream runs through Vic and Fiona’s property, which gave the boys (and the bigger “kids”) the opportunity to fish for minnows.

We all had good luck, though our catch was not enough to feed us for lunch. Archie taught the boys how to use their toes to attract fish in the stream before heading to the nearby pond to properly fish.

One of the things I admire most about Vic and Fiona’s home is how they have cultivated a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to the fresh ingredients used in most of the meals Fiona prepared, the boys and dogs snacked on fresh apples from the tree, and I couldn’t resist picking and eating the fresh blackberries that lined the property.

At one point in the weekend, we all visited the Eggesford All Saints Church. This is where Katie and Ben got married, and is also a historic spot in the area, next to the local estate. Living in a country that’s still shy of 250 years old, it is always surreal to me to be in parts of the world where the buildings you visit are twice the age of your entire country.

Just hanging around the house in the country, it was an incredibly lovely time. Afternoon tea in Vic and Fiona’s garden was so nice in the fresh air surrounded by the green rolling hills of the region.

The weekend we spent in Devon was idyllic in so many ways. Saying that it was one of the highlights of a trip that was overall awesome, it says a lot about how much we loved Devon. Memories, along with friendships, were made over this serene weekend in one of the most lovely parts of England.

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