Friday, 10 September 2010

I'm having an affair (shush, don't tell!)

I have to confess that, right now, half my heart is several hundred miles away. I love Exmoor to bits but have been a bit unfaithful over the last few years – ever since I met that big hunk of manly gorgeousness Northumberland.

There is something so generous and warm-hearted about it somehow. Maybe it’s that east wind that just blows all the crap clean away? Maybe it’s that there is space, loads and loads of space, so people don’t get crabby about being piled on top of one another. I adore the North Devon beaches but we barely went over the summer – because my heart sank at having to queue to pay five quid to park and then wriggle onto a crowded beach. In Northumberland, we just pitched up, parked (free) and wandered through the dunes to be confronted with endless sand and sea – and a few stray people off in the distance.   They don't have hangups about dogs so the SP could frolic too.

Last time we went we stayed in Seahouses which is about as bold and brassy as it gets up here (the locals roll their eyes but it always seems just fine and dandy to me). This time, however, we were in deeply civilised Embleton and made our home in just the most gorgeous cottage. We’ve stayed in a lot of self-catering cottages over the years and (bar one in the South-West of France which was used part of the year by its madly civilised Canadian owners) rarely find one which really does cater for all your needs and has good taste to boot. This one has the lot.



But best of all was spending time with Fred again. For those who don’t know her, I met Fred (@themill) many years back through blogging. We drank way too much tea and far too much red wine and fizz and talked far, far too much. James was also happy as Larry – he thinks Fred and her family are ‘way cool’ as they are, variously, fans of rugby, cricket, racing, bacon sandwiches and animals. He had love-ins with their new Labrador pup, rode out on the combine and slouched watching TV in Fred’s to-die-for kitchen (archetypal Jilly Cooper style – massive Aga, even vaster table, armchairs, dog baskets etc).




We also acted as official ‘tasters’ and ‘unpackers’ for Fred’s new shop, Eleanor’s Byre. Honestly, if you’re within two hundred miles of it, you simply have to drop by. They’re serving stunning coffee, ‘real’ tea (loose, in pots, with cosies) and (OMG) hot chocolate that is simply Out Of This World. Then you can stock up on all those vital things you really can’t live without – like tweed handbags and soft stripy scarves; seaweed soak and hearts made out of old maps.



Ah, sigh, I am gazing off into the distance again, feeling those little flutters in my heart. This really must stop....



The website for Eleanor's Byre will be up and running soon:  http://www.eleanorsbyre.co.uk/

23 comments:

dulwich divorcee said...

You naughty, naughty thing. But I promise I won't tell a soul in Exmoor - as long as you send me a big flask of that hot chocolate xx

Exmoorjane said...

DD: *snigger* - seriously that hot chocolate is unbelievable. It's only the second place in the whole UK that does it - the other one in Manchester if I recall.

Dawn/LittleGreenFingers said...

You hussy! This won't end well you know. Before you know it, they'll both have found out and you'll end your days deserted... or in Wales.

Exmoorjane said...

Dawn: Hmm, well, I do have a deep fondness for Wales too....(shameless indeed)...though more of a 'good mates' thing, than a lust affair. ;)

Fennie said...

Wonderful, isn't Northumberland. Haven't been there for ages. And loads of invitations from those kind people there. And it's only about four and half hours - as far as Suffolk, really. Anyway thanks for the lovely description.

Kate said...

Well - I know of Fred. And I know Embleton very well. Did you visit a certain white pub in the corner of a certain square of cottages in a tiny place not far from Embleton at all?

My mum owns that pub - and I was staying there a couple of weeks ago with the kids. Maybe our paths crossed in real life as well as in blogland!

See you again soon?

Exmoorjane said...

Fennie: oh you MUST go....were your ears burning, btw? :)

Kate: well,well, well...we most certainly DID go to *that* pub and very lovely it is too. Though sadly too booked for us to eat while we were there. :( We came back last Saturday (bit late in posting this) - were there the week before.... :)

Alison Cross said...

You're only having an affair with Northumberland because you haven't met the west coast of Scotland yet.

We will charm the wellies right of you ;-)

Ali x

Exmoorjane said...

Ali: LOL! I do love the West Coast though haven't been since I was, eeek, 18. Passed my driving test and drove up with two mates a fortnight later in my 1967 VW Beetle. Ah *sigh* - so many lovely places...but the drivers were scary as hell and the locals not always quite so friendly, dare I say!

Rob-bear said...

Such a delightful post, Jane. Wish I could come. Not just to Seahouses, but to the land of Oswald, the the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne. But traversing the pond is a bit much.

South of France; "madly civilised Canadian owners." Some of us are madly civilised; some of us are just quite mad. Not sure which category fits for this Canadian Bear.

legend in his own lunchtime said...

I am homesick just reading your blog. I get back once a year and always go to Embleton, just to sit on that beach when the tide comes in.

Kate, I played at a session at that Pub in April and I thought the young lady who served me was part of the family. Was that you?

rachel said...

The border of Northumberland is only about 3 miles from my house (that's as in House For Sale) and you get all the conveniences of city life too!

Remember who made me consider moving to the West country?

Just sayin'....

elizabethm said...

It sounds like perfection. I love Northumberland too. Its beaches are the only place that might drag me away from my hills! and Fred's shop sounds divine. I wonder if I can find a reason to go, a compelling, husband convincing reason I mean. If not, I might just have to abscond anyway.

Exmoorjane said...

Bear: I seem to know a lot of totally mad (but totally delightful) Canadian writers...good taste is inevitable.

Legend: ah, you understand. Isn't that beach just THE business? And the pub is damn fine too...wish I'd heard you play.

Rachel: *grinnage* - the grass is always greener....

EM: how can we convince him? Hmm, I dunno but you have to! You would absolutely ADORE it.... Have you not met Fred? Oh heck. You absolutely have to.

Yvonne Johnston said...

Well of course you would praise this area; you have good taste. Being a Geordie, I am biased. As you know, I now live in Norfolk where I am used to being able to take my dog on the beach when we like. I holidayed the same time as you but in West Cornwall -lovely but for the dogs on beach ban. Northumberland, like Norfolk, has large expanses of beach so dogs don't get in the way of people.They are also less busy as the weather is not quite so good!

Erica said...

James has just confirmed my sneaking suspicion that I'm too old to wear superdry *slopes off to sulk*

Bluestocking Mum said...

Oh yes Fennie, you would LOVE IT!

I have serious Northumberland envy. Sounds like you had a fab time.

I've already set aside a few days on next years calendar to go up and see Fred and see Eleanor's Byre.

Lovely stuff. xx

Fran said...

The bathroom alone looks amazing. I'd pay to stay in it. Forget the rest of the rooms.

Exmoorjane said...

Yvonne: ah, maybe it's the east coast....though must confess your part of the world gets DARN cold in winter (spent a January birthday in Southwold once and refused to venture away from the hotel fire!)...but very very beautiful.

Erica: you are SO not too old to wear Superdry...James is being a young design snob...but be warned - his t-shirt has lost its logo after only two washes!!

Bluestocking: persuade Fennie to go with you...you could rent a cottage each! You will LOVE the Byre! Right up your street....

Fran: too right, too right. Go click on the link and look at the rest. She has another amazing cottage too - Spitalford....*sigh*

Irritatingly Optimistic said...

I have to agree, Northumberland is a beautiful place to live, and thank goodness its so far 'up' that we dont get hoardes of southerners bothering us! ;)

As well as fantastic beaches, we also have an abundance of castles that still look like castles!

I must pay a visit to that shop.

diney said...

Hi = just popped over to see you as I live in Northumberland and know Embleton very well. It is a beautiful part of the country and the air is so fresh - must be the cold! I'll pop over and see you again

diney said...

Hi = just popped over to see you as I live in Northumberland and know Embleton very well. It is a beautiful part of the country and the air is so fresh - must be the cold! I'll pop over and see you again

Bluestocking Mum said...
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