I've just returned from a hugely fun weekend with holidaycottages.co.uk and a whole bunch of bloggers at Lympscott Farm. We stayed in the barn (calling it a barn doesn't really do justice to the beautifully appointed, and delightfully furnished building) on the organic dairy farm in North Devon, close to the Cornish border.
This is a working farm and there's a real aroma of the countryside here, but it's a pleasure to watch the herd of black and white cattle amble home to the sheds for milking, and see the inquisitive horses saying good morning from their stable doors.
Lympscott Barn is a huge abode, and can cater for 14 guests. There's also Beehive Cottage next door which sleeps 6 and can be booked independently or together if you have a very large group - perfect for big family gatherings, Christmas celebrations, holidays with friends, birthday celebrations and hen parties.
Arriving at the barn, there's ample parking for lots of vehicles. You're struck by the huge full length windows at the front, but given its clever positioning on the farm and the garden walling, there's also a sense of privacy.
Inside, you're welcomed into a huge entrance hall with a stunning feature staircase (practice your Hollywood glamour moves gliding down here). There's a stylish central lighting pendant of stags antlers and a huge clock mounted on the landing. Little details like the bookcase of object d'art make it feel homely and personal.
The huge ceilings and whitewashed walls give an amazing sense of space, and even with 14 people sharing, it didn't feel claustrophobic at all.
Downstairs, the enormous open-plan kitchen/dining/living room again reinforces the sense of space. The kitchen is very well equipped with a double oven and stove, spacious fridge freezer, dishwasher and large central island making it perfect to prepare a feast for all the guests. In the adjoining utility room you'll find a washing machine, drier, airing cupboard and because it has it's own outside entrance it makes a great boot room when returning from those country walks. There's also a downstairs toilet.
The living room area has a large wall-mounted TV/DVD player, a central woodburner which makes a cosy feature to the room, and ample comfortable sofas for you all to relax in the evening.
One of the twin en suite bedrooms is located downstairs off the hall and has French doors out onto the patio. The rest of the rooms are upstairs, and are a combination of twin, double and a quad room so perfect if you have several families staying and lots of kids. Some have their own en-suite, others share the large bathroom in the middle of the landing with it's huge free-standing bath and large shower.
Everywhere is clean and fresh with modern decor but retaining its country charm. The floors are a mix of wood or natural slate making it easy to maintain if you're staying for an extended period.
Outside, you'll find a large BBQ for guest use, patio furniture at the front and rear of the property, and my favourite luxury - a hot tub. We made full use of this, and whilst I'm sure it's not built to hold so many, we did manage to get 10 of us in at once - well lubricated with alcohol!
The farm properties are in a great location for exploring North Devon and over into Cornwall. Around 20 minutes drive to the popular beaches of Bude and Summerleaze (check out the open air sea pool for a swim at Summerleaze) and the pretty colourful beach huts. The Tamar Lakes are visible from the cottage and around 10 minutes walk away. The girls from holidaycottages.co.uk had organised a treasure hunt for us around the lake complete with rhyming clues and it was a pleasant 3 mile walk around the lake with lots of bird life to spot.
Foodies will love it here. I can recommend checking out the award-winning John's Deli who you can find at both Appledore and Instow. They provided us with a delicious hamper of breakfast eggs, sausages and bacon, and picnic basket of all manner of delights - particular local favourites of mine were the sublime smoked salmon pate, the mature cheddar cheese and the sones with local jam and clotted cream - well worth packing a few ice packs so you can bring some treats home with you.
Whilst Devon is of course beautiful all year round, and you can get your surf on in the Summer, it's winter when I can really imagine this place coming into its own. I can see huge family festive gatherings here, the collaborative cooking of the Christmas dinner, everyone arriving with mountains of food and gifts, opening the presents in front of the fire, maybe a cheeky glass of bubbly in the hot tub before lunch, a long country walk to work off the mince pies before all snuggling down on the L-shaped sofas in front of the Christmas Day film. Total bliss!
A massive thank you to holidaycottages.co.uk for inviting me along, to John's Deli for the food hampers and delicious breakfast goodies and to all the bloggers for their awesome company, especially Vanessa for driving all the way their and back and sharing her car with me, and Alice for sharing her bed with me!