Category Archives: Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe is the jewel in the crown of North Devon. It needs a little polishing, quite a lot of polishing, but its natural beauty is undeniable and its community beats like a human heart.

Grateful for a holiday life

Today is the 13th anniversary of moving to Ilfracombe in North Devon.

After locking the door of our house in Windsor, we posted the keys through the letterbox and set off in our two cars, with our cocker spaniel, Felix, wondering how our adventure would unfold.

Not much went to plan, as we forgot that life throws challenges at us from all angles, but what is most important is that we would not want to live anywhere else.

I have discovered the importance of solitude, which I need to recharge my energy after dealing with people. And there’s no better place in the world for a solitary walk.

We celebrated today, as we do each year, at Maddy’s Fish and Chip Restaurant followed by a walk along the beach from Woolacombe to Putsborough and back. The beach, sea, sand, sun with a dog, fortified by a cup of tea half-way.


How grateful we are to be so blessed. We never take it for granted.

Posted in a musing, Ilfracombe.

Take a walk and see a different view

It’s a strange thing, grief. Just when you think you’ve worked through a stage, it strikes again.

Fortunately, I’ve got some wonderful people to talk to and, of course, there’s the calming magic influence of dogs.

The past couple of days have been tough, but after a deep chat this morning, I decided my brain needed to go for a walk to reset itself. Accompanied by my four-pawed minder, I set off.

I started to see different views of walks I take regularly.

Through two trees I saw the East Wilder Brook from a completely new perspective, flowing down towards me from the distance:

Then we trotted down to the seafront and climbed Capstone Hill, looking over Ilfracombe.

Looking east over Ilfracombe from Capstone Hill

And there, set against the majesty of Hillsborough, was St Nicholas Chapel, the oldest working lighthouse in England.

St Nicholas Chapel. Ilfracombe, North Devon

We walked back up Fore Street, popping into several shops and chatting with the shopkeepers  – some of us getting fed dog biscuits – before heading back home.

This afternoon I got lots done.

I’m so glad we went for that walk.

Posted in a musing, Ilfracombe.

Ilfracombe: the talking town

I’ve had a weekend off. Unusual. I’ve been walking around the town where I live: Ilfracombe. And over two days, I’ve stopped and talked to so many friendly people. It’s been marvellous.

Ilfracombe: the talking townNow, I’m really a city boy, brought up to sit, or stand, on Tube trains, po-faced, not uttering a word.

For years, when I commuted, the Evening Standard quick crossword was my only travelling companion.

But here in remote North Devon, a quick walk down the High Street takes an hour. There are so many people to wave to, to stop and talk to, to joke with.

Many people say there’s no shops here, nothing to buy, that you can’t shop here. I shop here all the time, buy much of what we consume in the High Street and enjoy shopping because there’s none of the hassle of supermarkets or online shopping. It’s the same as meeting and talking to friends.

It started on Saturday morning when a chat with a fellow dog walker turned into an impromptu business networking session. Then a stroll into the harbour and along the seafront in the afternoon led me to talk with café and shop owners, to thank another shop owner for helping out at an event and to meet the owner of a new shop.

On Sunday morning we caught up with a dog walker whose young relative is recovering in hospital after an accident, while in the afternoon we walked to the harbour and seafront again as it was such a beautiful day and a cream tea was required. We chatted to more shop owners we bumped into along with more dog owners and friends.

The whole weekend has been one long social event, just through walking round our town.

Being part of such a friendly community is one of the best gifts in my life.

Posted in Ilfracombe. Tagged with , , , , , , .

Thank you, Ilfracombe, for the best decade

10 years ago this morning, we set off in our two cars from Windsor on our big move to Ilfracombe.

Were we doing the right thing? Would we settle in? How would we feel in North Devon?

The answer is that the 10 years have sped past and we’ve never looked back.

We know so many more people and dogs, spend so much more time out in the open, walk more, eat far better and feel life is far better here.

Thank you, Ilfracombe and everyone we know here.

Posted in Ilfracombe. Tagged with , , , .

What is service?

We went on a special shopping trip to Marks and Spencer in Camberley earlier in the year. It’s a big store and very smart. We went there specifically because it is big and a close family member in a wheelchair wanted to be able to see a good selection of clothes. It was easy for her to do this.

She looked at various items and picked one out, but they did not have her size (she takes a fairly standard size). We asked a shop assistant, but were told very politely that all the stock in that line was on display.

We moved on and she found something else she liked, but again we couldn’t find it in her size. We asked again and heard once more that all they had was on display.

She found a third item and, you guessed it, they did not have her size. We asked but knew the answer before the shop assistant spoke.

So we left without buying what she originally wanted. This has stuck in my mind because to me this is not good service. The whole point of a big store is that they should have a very wide selection. If they don’t, there’s no point in going.

Contrast this with a trip to our local, independent butcher, Mike Turton’s, in Ilfracombe today. Mrs Z asked for some lamb mince for a recipe I will be cooking on Saturday. There was none prepared.

The next thing Mike went and got a whole lamb carcass from the fridge and started jointing it. He then minced a quantity of meat and wrapped it for my wife.

So not only did he go out of his way to provide what we wanted, but we know that the mince is really good quality unlike a pack you buy in a supermarket, which now we really can’t trust.

This demonstrates the powerful opportunities available to independent shopkeepers to sell higher quality goods than big stores can ever hope to match and deliver service which none of them can even approach.

That’s why I’ll be supporting Small Business Saturday on Saturday 7 December 2013.

Posted in a musing, Ilfracombe. Tagged with , , , , .
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