Tag Archives: Westward Ho

Holiday Snaps – from Devon 2016

I’ve got this fancy newish camera which I’ve been trying to use and get used to. I had planned on taking it on holiday to Devon for a week to try and spend some time getting to know it a bit better, but I ended up with a fairly epic chest infection a couple of days before we went and I wasn’t really in the mood.

I decided instead to take my “old” camera, a Nikon Coolpix L820. It’s a bridge camera and whilst it really struggles indoors, outdoors it comes into its own.

Before we headed down the M6 towards the South West one of my friends challenged me to take 5 decent photos of Devon. I don’t think I’ve managed that, but I have chosen some pictures which will make me smile.

It wasn’t a particularly great holiday, we’d booked an especially skanky cottage and ended up having to leave after three days and go and stay elsewhere. It was a shame, after everything we’ve been through these past few months I just really needed a rest, a break from the norm and some time to reflect and recover. But maybe that’s something for another blog post. Back to the photos….

Day one of our holiday we got in the car and went for a drive to get our bearings. I’ve no idea where this place is, it’s somewhere in Exmoor, somewhere where we stopped for some air. There was purple heather everywhere, gorse in flower and the air was as clear as a bell. I love the colour and texture in this picture.

Devon

The first cottage we stayed in didn’t have much to recommend it, but it did have a huge buddleia outside the front door. It was teeming with butterflies and bees, so I snapped this little fella. Isn’t he lovely?

Devon

Day two, in an attempt to cheer ourselves up we headed to the familiar territory of Westward Ho! It was worth the drive of nearly an hour for the fresh air and the lift in our spirits. 

Devon

Although he will kill me for sharing this, I adore this photo of my boy running towards his Dad who had just been for a swim in the sea. Again this is Westward Ho!

Devon

It’s not an especially lovely photo, but this is the view from the cottage we stay at in Welcombe in North Devon. Waking up to see the church, the sky and a tiny handkerchief of the sea always makes me happy, rain or shine.

Devon

On our last night we drove to Bude and had dinner at Life’s a Beach, which by day is a beach cafe and by night a popular bistro. We had a delicious meal and then walked some of it off on the beach afterwards. Here’s the small boy at his cheeky best.

Devon

The last night again, this time the beach at Bude, a harbour of sorts. It’s not a great photo, but it is a photo of one of my happy places.

Devon

And lastly, on our way home we stopped at Westward Ho! (are you sensing a theme here?) and had fish and chips on the beach for tea. Whilst we waited for dad to come back I took this panorama and the boy played with his new sword and shield. The result is this rather moody shot of a knight which will probably always make me smile. 

Devon

A mixed holiday for us, some lovely moments, some disappointment, but lots of lovely cuddles with the boys. Looking back I didn’t take any or many decent photos, it’s probably reflective of our mood at the time. We did have fun, we did stick brave smiley faces on for the boy and we did our best to make the best of our holiday. I think he had a good time and that’s all that matters right now.

My Sunday Photo 17.4.16

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I promise hand on heart that this photo hasn’t been edited or messed about with in any way. We’ve been on holiday in North Devon all week and this was taken on Westward Ho! beach. The tide was just going out and the spring sunshine was dancing on the wet sand and creating a beautiful sky-sand mirror. This photo was taken with my Nokia Lumia phone and I think it’s rather beautiful and a little like a watercolour painting. 

The photo shows a silhouette of my husband as he approached an ancient shipwreck sticking out from the sand. We’d visited last year and had a good look at the wrecks and I was keen to see if they were still visible, which they are. You can read more about the history of the wrecks and see close up photos in this blog post from last year.

Review: Sunday lunch at The Pig on the Hill

We are regular visitors to North Devon and we’re always looking for new places to eat while we’re down there. I’d heard that The Pig on the Hill in Westward Ho! was worth a visit, so while we were down over February half term we popped in for lunch following a happy morning pottering about on the beach. We were so impressed that we immediately booked again for Sunday lunch.

The Pig on the Hill is a pub and restaurant just off the A39 near Westward Ho!, it has a clean, modern look with the odd quirky touch. It has a well stocked bar, a decent wine list and a menu which boasts so few food miles most of the things on it could walk to the kitchen themselves. There’s plenty of parking, an outdoor play area for kids and a selection of farm animals milling around an enclosed paddock. It is pretty idyllic, more so in the sunshine I imagine.

We arrived for Sunday lunch and as we’d been warned when we (thankfully) booked, it was heaving. As we were driving home to Manchester straight after we decided not to have a starter and just dive straight in and have a roast. Despite being a vegetarian I do enjoy a veggie roast dinner, if I’m honest I was disappointed that a veggie roast wasn’t available. There were a couple of veggie options (an open vegetable lasagne or arrancini with mushrooms and blue cheese) so feeling a little disappointed I chose the lasagne.

The boys went for the local ale and treacle braised brisket (£9.95) and the baby roast brisket (£5.95) all served with duck fat potatoes, seasonal veg, Yorkshire puddings and gravy. My open lasagne contained chantenay carrots, red onion, wild mushrooms, apple-wood smoked cheddar, served with a green salad and garlic bread (£13.25).

The Pig on the Hill

The roast dinners arrived quickly, the plates dominated by huge, puffy Yorkshire puddings, being northern we are often disappointed by flaccid southern Yorkshires, but these were beauties. Husband declared the duck fat potatoes to be almost as good as mine, which is praise indeed. The generous portion of beef brisket was soft, tender and yielding, just how brisket should be. There was plenty on the plate and both the boys were very satisfied with their meal, declaring it the best roast dinner they’d eaten in a restaurant.

The vegetables were perfect, decent sized portions of cauliflower cheese, braised red cabbage, broccoli and perfectly seasoned carrot and swede mash. I managed to try a little of each before they were gobbled up by my two hungry boys and they were all excellent.

As for my lasagne, I’m happy to say my initial disappointment quickly evaporated once I tucked in. It was an excellent lasagne, with all the vegetables perfectly cooked and flavoursome. Served with a well dressed  green salad which served to cut through the dense richness of the lasagne. It was a huge, greedy portion of pasta which I didn’t manage to finish, preferring to leave a little room for pudding instead.

When we’d stopped by for lunch earlier in the week we couldn’t resist trying a pudding. I’d had the seasonal crumble which was perfectly poached pink rhubarb and apple, a pud which though simple completely blew me away. With a recent record of perfection etched in our memory, pudding-wise The Pig on the Hill had its own big shoes to fill.

Husband opted for the “Piggy Mess” which was layers of meringue, seasonal fruits, brownie and lemon curd (£6.45) and I once again went for the seasonal crumble served with custard (£5.95).

The Pig on the Hill

This time the seasonal crumble was rhubarb and pear, which despite not looking as prettily pink as I’d hoped, was almost, almost as good as the first time. Generously topped with a ridge of warm, toasted rubbley crumble and served with a little jug of piping hot vanilla flecked custard, it was pretty close to pudding perfection for me.

Husband ended up sharing his “Piggy Mess” with the boy. I managed to snaffle a little of the meringue, which was crisp on the outside, but with a satisfying chew on the inside. Each spoonful contained different surprises, chunks of hidden brownie or popping candy on the lemon curd. For me there was a little too much happening on the plate, but the boys loved it.

With lunch over, we paid the bill and hopped in the car for the long (very long) drive back to Manchester. As we visit Westward Ho! and North Devon on a regular basis, we’ll definitely be popping back to The Pig on the Hill next time we’re down there. Their menu changes all the time and the Sunday lunches are different each week. We were incredibly impressed with The Pig on the Hill, it’s not often you stumble across a restaurant of that quality, especially one down a windy road, seemingly in the middle of not a lot. We’ll be back!

You can find out more about The Pig on the Hill, Westward Ho! on their website.

The Pig on the HillNote: We were not invited by or asked to review The Pig on the Hill, we paid our bill in full (which included several soft drinks and excellent coffee), which came to a grand total of £46.75.

Exploring the Wrecks of Westward Ho!

We’ve been visiting the beach at Westward Ho! for many years. It’s a stunning beach, around two miles of lovely sand, popular with surfers and a great beach for collecting shells. Like most beaches on the North Devon coast its character can often be changed by the winter (and summer) storms; the fierce waves shifting the stones and sand, hiding and revealing features.

When we last visited Westward Ho! in June 2014 there was nothing of particular interest to note, it was the same as it’s always been, sandy and flat, with a bank of stones against the shore. In February 2015 it was at first glance the same. We took a stroll along the beach hoping to collect some nice shells to take back to school when I spotted some pieces of wood sticking out from the sand.

I was really curious about what they were and they seemed to be attracting attention, so we walked over to have a closer look. What we found was the ancient hull of what is thought to be a barge trading on the Bristol Channel, but has also known locally as a ‘Viking Ship’ or ‘Spanish Galleon’, we called it a ‘Pirate Ship’ because the small boy is currently obsessing about pirates.

The wreck is an oak-framed vessel which is around 25 metres long and 7 metres wide. It is thought that the wreck could be one of two boats wrecked nearby, the ‘Salisbury’ of London, lost in March 1759 on Northam Burrows or the ‘Sally’ of Bristol, which was wrecked on Northam Sands in September 1769.

This large wreck isn’t visible very often, so it was a real privilege to be able to see it. It’s usually buried deep in the sand and it might be a number of years before we get to see it again. I took the opportunity to take some pictures of it for prosperity.

Westward Ho

Westward Ho

Westward Ho

A bit further along the beach we came across another wreck, this was much smaller than the first, measuring just over 15 metres in length. The remains of the wreck were not as complete as the first. This wreck is thought to date from the late 18th or early 19th century and is likely to be a Polacca Brig, a style of sailing boat which was used to trade limestone, coal and other goods across the North Devon coast, Taw Estuary and to the Bristol Channel.

Somewhere under Westward Ho! beach lies a third wreck, but that hadn’t been revealed to us by the shifting sands. We felt incredibly lucky to have seen the two skeleton wrecks which had been uncovered over the winter months and we’re hoping to visit again later in the year to see if they are still visible or not.

Note: All images are my own, they must not be used elsewhere without my written permission.