This is a different type of blog post for me, but I wanted to tell you all about our first holiday since W’s diagnosis. You’ll know from my last blog that this is something that has made me anxious (taking W far away from home) however we had the best time. A lot of that was due to the amazing experiences we had at Smallicombe Farm.
Smallicombe provides excellent family-run farm accommodation in the Devon countryside. It is an ideal farm-based self-catering cottage holiday destination and quality B&B, providing delightful accommodation near the famous East Devon town of Honiton, close to the Jurassic coast.
These made our holiday. W absolutely loved getting up each morning, putting on his wellies and splash suit and waiting for Ian for 10am sharp – outside the farm house. Firstly, we got to hand feed chickens and search in the hen hut for fresh eggs. There were also ducks roosting on, snow white, eggs which we managed to have a quick peek at.
After the chickens, we went onto feeding the lambs. We got used to standing at the edge of the field shouting ‘sheep, sheep, sheep’ as the lambs skipped over to have their morning bottle. You could feel the texture of their coats and explain where wool came from, which W found rather amazing.
The best bit for us came last in the morning routine. The tiny piglets. W could help to mix up their feed and was taught how to herd them back into their pen. We also got to take a peek at the older pigs who were often just as comical.
On the last day we were lucky enough to watch a new born calf and it’s mother soon after birth. We witnessed the calf getting used to its legs and nuzzling to have its first feed.
Fairy door trail and onsite play area.
The fairy trail is magical. Not only do you get to explore this area of outstanding natural beauty, but you can also paddle in the stream and search for the beautiful fairy doors, spread across this 2 mile trail. We only managed to complete half of it as we had two under 4’s and are from Norfolk – we’re not used to hills.
You’d be hard pushed to find a more idyllic play area location. It is located at the end of the self catering cottages and includes a slide, trampoline, swing, natural wicker den, wooden pirate ship and guinea pigs that you can pet. There is also an area for smaller members of the family that includes a play house, little tikes car, scuttle bug and ride on tractor. There are two picnic benches, so you can relax with a cuppa and take in the scenery whilst the children play.
If you’re looking for a home from home – this is your perfect holiday. We stayed in the Cider Barrel cottage. We managed to fit four adults and two toddlers into the cottage comfortably. We had three bedrooms and two bathrooms (one downstairs and one up). The cottage is equipped with everything you need (obviously self-catering so you need towels, loo roll etc.). We even managed to use the pizza oven and log burner which made our stay even more magical and cosy.
There is a laundrette on site that you can use. You just need to change a ‘new’ pound for an old one at the farm house.
What can you do in the surrounding area?
There is so much to do in the surrounding area. We didn’t manage to visit even half of the things we wanted to. The first thing we wanted to do was to go fossil hunting. If you’re prepared for series hunting, take a small hammer and mask. We headed to Lyme Regis with a knowledgeable friend. We found a mixture of fossils near the cliffs which fasinated W. We even found a rock shaped as a tooth (which W still believes is a ‘real’ dinosaur tooth).
After this we headed to the main stretch where we had the tastiest ice cream and explored the sophisicated shops and beautiful beach.
Crealy Theme Park was a fantastic day out. If you buy your tickets online, 24hrs before,you receive a discount. This meant we could collect them from the machines at the entrance – instead of waiting in a queue. You can revisit Crealy for the following 6 days after your initial purchase, which is incredible value for money and means it’s a must at the start of your holiday.
We also visited the Donkey Sanctuary. This is completely free and I was surprised at how well kept, interesting and glorious it was. There is lots for children to do. We were lucky enough to join the Easter Egg hunt and the kids enjoyed finding the eggs as we wondered around the site.
Close to Smallicombe you are within easy reach of a cluster of National Trust buildings/land/beaches. We went to Branscombe where we visited a forge and watched a real blacksmith at work. We then took the short walk to the beach (pushchair friendly) where we huddled into the rocks, as it was a rather windy day and ate our picnic. We took refuge in Sea Shanty Beach Cafe where we ate buttery flapjacks before venturing out again to join the National Trust Rangers at painting rocks and flying kites (a first for W and something he is still talking about).
On our walk back we visited the working mill. We counted the rats (not real before there’s panic) and learnt about how it worked and how flour is made. The volunteer guides here are wonderful and full of interesting knowledge.
If you stay at Smallicombe you can also take advantage of the free passes to Pecorama. You need to leave a £20 security deposit at the farm and you’re set. Here you can take rides on miniature stream trains, visit beautiful gardens, a mixture of indoor and outdoor play areas and watch model trains whizzing around at the press of a button.
On this holiday we also managed to grab some adult time (I honestly can’t remember the last time me and my husband have managed it) We stayed with friends, so once W was asleep we ventured out for a meal and drinks. I’m still concerned about being too far from W, so we went to the closest pub. This was The White Hart Inn. We were not disappointed the food was incredible. I highly recommend a visit if you want a sophisticated, yet cosy, meal in a comfortable environment. It’s around 10 minutes from Smallicombe, so you can make the most of your time.
Myself and a friend also visited Aspara Hydro spa in Sidmouth – it was only £12 for a 90 minute session and we left feeling fully relaxed. We had the whole place to ourselves which was incredible. We recharged in the sauna and steam room and floated around in the pool with the jets on full blast.
The practical stuff
You are in a rural location so this needs to be taken into consideration when booking. However everything (including attractions and supermarkets) are within a 30 minute radius.
Honiton Minor Injuries Unit is run by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.
The unit is nurse practionner led with support from doctors both in and out of hours and is open from 0800 until 2200, seven days a week
Failing this you also have Exeter hospital which is approximately a 29 minute car drive.
Telephone signal is difficult to find at the farm, so I recommend making sure you can call via Wi-Fi (which is free to all guests) this should be a simple change of settings if it’s not already enabled. Everyone is so friendly at the farm so you’d also be able to alert someone around you quickly and be able to use a landline if necessary.
Why did we love it so much?
I’m not one for very busy environments. I like my own space and to be able to explore natural environments. Smallicombe is small meaning that it’s not overcrowded. I love children, but on holiday hundreds of them screaming is not my thing. Here we had the best of both worlds. Loads of activities for children, on and off site, with the opportunity to escape into nature and to breathe and relax.
We will definitely be returning. There’s still so much to do! I’m excited for next year already.