A blog post about a 30th birthday surprise and escaping to the seaside for fish n’ chips, steam train rides, tuppeny falls, a dip in the sea and some ice cream too!
The big Three-Oh was upon me and my girlfriend had booked something special to mark the occasion. The only problem was that by 30th birthday present was a surprise and that it had been booked back in January.
I'm not sure whether it was the actual turning 30 that bothered me, or all the fuss around it. So a few weeks before, I had a bit of a moan, saying how I’d rather just be left alone and escape somewhere for some peace and quiet.
Well, it goes to show just how well my girlfriend knows me, because that's precisely what she had booked!
Escaping from it all
And so, early one Saturday morning we packed up the car and drove all the way down from Hertfordshire to Devon, to stay in a beautifully handmade rustic and quirky cabin in an orchard garden, surrounded by beech trees within a secluded forest in the middle of nowhere. Although Dartmouth, Slapton Sands and Salcombe were all just a short drive away.
The cabin was absolutely wonderful, because it had been handmade by a family who live nearby. So while it was quite small, the layout inside was surprisingly spacious and lavishly decorated in lovingly made cushions, rugs, paintings, old chairs and an old Welsh dresser and eclectic items collected about the place.
Everything was wood-panelled inside with a huge double bed, general living space, children’s bunk bed (which doubled as a sofa) and an open plan kitchen and dining area on a slightly lower level with great big windows giving a brilliant view out into the garden. Finally, a decking area outside provided the perfect place to sit and have breakfast in the morning or sit and sip a glass of wine in the evenings.
So really, having somewhere truly amazing to stay really made the holiday special for us – Even though we spent most of our time visiting the villages and towns along the coastline.
Oh I do love to be beside the seaside…
Now I've told you how fabulous the cabin was, I’d better tell you what we got up to in and around Dartmouth too.
For starters, Dartmouth is a stunning fishing village on the mouth of the river Dart (hence the name). The view across the port is a spectacular sight in the sunshine with everything from speed boats and private yachts to fishing boats and navy battleships gracing the waters.
While there are hundreds of houses and villas in the surrounding hills, the town itself is surprisingly small, but has a plentiful supply of pubs and restaurants serving fresh sea food and local ales, as well as vintage tea rooms, bakeries and souvenir shops.
From here you can also ride the paddle steamer or take the ferry across to Kingswear and ride the steam train to Paignton for a day of ice cream, fairground attractions and tuppney falls machines along the length of Paignton peer.
Another day we took a trip to Slapton Sands to stumble down the stony beach and dip our toes in the cool, clear, crystal sea before having fresh cod n’ chips in a restaurant overlooking the nearby lake.
One day, we had nothing but thunderstorms. So we stayed in the cabin, drinking tea and playing all the old board games that had been kept in the cupboards, before making dinner and eventually ventured out in the evening when the rain had worn off.
And another day we walked round the shops of Salcombe and sat eating reduced sandwiches from M&S while looking out over the water at all the yachts, before making the pilgrimage to the first Jack Wills store before heading home for a glass of wine on the decking before bed.
For my 30th birthday, I got to escape from it all and have a relaxing time by the seaside. And it really did us both the world of good.
But while we had some amazing days out and some brilliant stories to tell once we got home, what really made it special was having somewhere as beautiful as the cabin to stay in while we were there.
We had such a fantastic time at the cabin, we can’t wait to go back next summer and explore more of the surrounding villages, towns, forests, fields and coastlines.
And personally, it was good to escape from it all, rather than throw a great big party for my 30th.