The Only Way is North Devon

The Only Way is North Devon

We managed to get away to Devon for the last few days of Summer before school started.

My parents have a holiday cottage in a little village called Combe Martin that we could use, which is situated just a short walk from the beach and well placed for day visits to all the local attractions.

The drive was about 2-hours longer than I remember it being and not because the Greek God(zilla) had fallen out with the SatNav again.

Relationships between the Nav Man and my husband are still very much strained.  They spend no alone time together, although he is now allowed to accompany us on long trips again, on the strict proviso that all forms of communication are to go through me.

So, when the Nav Man says ‘take the next left’, I then relay this message to the Greek God(zilla) and he will sometimes follow the instruction.  He is still very suspicious of the Sat Nav’s route choices since the time its motherboard suffered some kind of short circuit and mistakenly sent us off to circle the M25 for an hour.

That was fun.

My own motherboard blew a fuse of its own that day too.

Anyway, this time we were successfully directed to the correct village and arrived just in time for tea.

After unloading the car and taking a much needed comfort break, we headed to our local, the Pack o’ Cards, for something to eat.


The pub has been constructed to resemble a deck of cards, it was built on a plot of land measuring 52ft x 52ft, has 4 floors (representing the number of suits in a pack), 13 doors on every floor and 13 fireplaces (number of cards in a suit).  It also has great beers, a children’s playground and a food menu with GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS CLEARLY MARKED and g/f bread alternatives even offered.

This is the first time I have ever seen this on a pub menu and it delighted me no end!

After some lovely food, a chilled glass of wine and a nice chat with some of locals, we headed home for an early night.

We were up early the next morning to hunt for crabs in the rock pools.

combe martin rockpools

This was lots of fun until Zee slipped in and insisted we carry him home to change his clothes.  Managed to catch a few pebbles and a discarded crisp packet before then though.

Later that day, we took a drive to Woolacombe beach where the Greek God(zilla) took a dip.  He is a braver man than I.  The beach is glorious but the Med it is not and as a quick dip in of the toe confirmed, a few degrees less than I usually require to pull out my winter coat, let alone strip off to my swimmers.


The following day, we took a trip just up the road to Watermouth Castle and Theme Park.

Watermouth Castle

The Castle is full of eclectic treasures, nostalgic displays, a theme park including rides and play areas, and beautiful landscaped  gardens.  The museum inside is quite an odd little place.

Several rooms have been set up to demonstrate how life would have been in the Victorian times, including a kitchen scene, which is not so odd in itself really…


until you spot this chap having a bath in the corner, hmmmmmm.

man in bath

He does not look like he is enjoying it too much either.

If that is not your thing, then maybe a little performance from some dancing robots.

La Palma

Once you are out in the grounds, there is plenty more to explore.

You can pilot a plane.


Visit Gnomes in their natural habitat.

Gnome land

gnome house


But, this all makes for hungry work.


When little legs (and very big ones) grew weary, it was time to pop home for a little snooze on the sofa.

That afternoon, we took a drive out to Saunton beach so the boys could have another splash in the sea.

salcombe beach

To add a bit of culture to the mix, we also paid a visit to Verity, a 66 foot bronze-clad sculpture created by world famous artist Damien Hirst, on loan to North Devon Council for 20-years and currently standing tall on Ilfracombe’s Pier


You can’t see it in this photo I took, but a cross-section of her pregnant body is exposed to reveal muscles and a foetus.  The statue has received mixed reactions from local residents; some praising Damien Hirst for his contribution to increase tourism to the area, with others calling it a monstrosity.

‘Verity’ symbolises truth and justice, which went way over my head, but I did find her to visually be quite stunning.

Another hit for our particular 4-year old was the Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park.

Set in over 28 acres, the Park aims for more animals and less cages. As well as lions, wolves, sea lions, otters, monkeys, wallabies, exotic birds and more, they also home life sized animatronic dinosaurs.


Every hour, on the hour, the dinosaurs wake up and ROAR!  We had to go back to watch them wake-up 3 times.  One of them spits water out at you so good idea to stand back at bit from the cage if you haven’t packed a splash jacket.

t rex

The sea lion’s performance during their show is based around their natural behaviours. A clap is the natural movement they make to propel themselves through the water, a salute is how they clean their face and lying down is how they sunbathe.

sea lions

No trip to Devon would be complete without a trip to Croyde.  This beach is simply beautiful.  The Greek God(zilla) took Zee off to paddle in the sea again, leaving me with a good 20-mins or so to just look quietly out to sea and people watch.  The village itself is steeped in charm and has been elevated to the top of our ‘one day we might move here’ list.

flip flops

Sadly, our holiday was almost coming to an end but not before a parting pint on the beachfront.

beach beers

Bye bye North Devon, we’ll be back to see you again very soon.


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  1. September 26, 2013 / 1:34 PM

    Ah I love this – just a nice family holiday post. With a bizarre bloke with seemingly no legs in a bath thrown in for good measure 😉

  2. September 27, 2013 / 8:42 PM

    So glad you all had such a great time…. and a pub that does gluten free food – RESULT. I just couldn’t stop laughing about your escapades with the sat nav – the fact that you double relay the directions to him – so, so funny. X

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