scribbles tagged ‘Sheepwash’

inbetween jobs

Sunday, July 21st, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

A room wih a viewA week break between jobs, during a national heat wave, I scuttled down to Devon and my favourite peaceful, energising place. A thatched cottage in Sheepwash that is the writers retreat.

flowersThe white painted walls remind me of the peaceful optimism of Scandinavian homes. Each room is quietly alive with freshly picked garden flowers. A Sweetpea aroma gently fills the kitchen following the fresh, daily, baked bread scent.

kitchen windowI sketch, read, write and research on the internet in the cool privacy of my room that supplies a gentle shady breeze from the village square.

The visiting writers gather for lunch in the courtyard in the shade of a massive awning hung from Bob’s workshop. The conversation moves smoothly from light entertainment through the business of writing to the content of novels. Always engaging, such good company. Writers come from all over the country, the world. I’ve met Americans and South Africans here. Given that almost everyone is writing a novel, I’m normally the exception, I still find the diversity of guests’ age and experience an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

I feel welcomed by all and rarely actually want to leave…

inbetween jobs
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Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Recently, at an undisclosed Sheepwash location there was an unconventional gathering of undisturbed people, and me.

silent thunderbirds, light of footSheepwash is a strange and quiet village. There are 3 roads, ways to approach Sheepwash. No approaches wider than one car. All of them guarded by cunningly placed, seemingly innocent, wildlife. On my last visit three potentially blind sheep raised the alarm to notify the Sheepwash inhabitants they should hide their ancient secrets from an approaching stranger. This time a herd of flight-recalcitrant pheasants, or silent thunderbirds, ran along the road ahead of Thomas until they finally, reluctantly, decided to fly.

When we arrived Thomas parked in the pub car park and I mentioned that I had never been into the local pub ‘the half moon’. Happy frog and I was clearly suprised by this revelation and asked why.  It’s suspiciously cosey in the retreat, once you’ve gone in through that door, its very, very difficult to get out again until you have to leave. Happy frog and I wisely suggested that we try going into the pub BEFORE going into the retreat, to sidestep the known problem. Clever. I like the company of solution oriented people.

Unfortunately we couldn’t work out the entry code that was displayed in the guise of an ‘opening times’ sign. We gave up and were drawn inexorably into the retreat, not to emerge again until it was time to leave Sheepwash.

sparklers!Once inside the retreat Happy Frog and I supplied the fox stories and some large outdoor sparkers together with a huge open firepalce provided the fire. Fire and fox. Now the cupboard is featuring firefox, the browser. Scarlet dropped in to check that everything that needed to be in hand was indeed being handled. When the smoke cleared it left behind the ashes of conversations about motorbikes, trees, CEOs, PMTs and other significant three letter acronyms.

Top hole

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introducing Dawn Chorus

Monday, July 12th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Summer morning’s in Sheepwash start with the cheerful hubbub of the local dawn chorus. 

Turning-over in the thick, crisp, white, ironed sheets and taking a deep breath through my downy pillow is like a dream come true, my idea of perfection. Not so different from the wendy house, where the sheets aren’t ironed.  There is no phone or TV in my room.  There is an internet connection. Simplicity and power.

introducing Dawn Chorus
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chasing sheep

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

is best left to the shepherds

The roads in Devon and Cornwall are a wee bit thin to pass a sheep, or three.

Thomas and I waited while these bleety little chaps found a passing place with sufficient grass to keep them happy.

chasing sheep
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Saturday, September 19th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Thatched house

Long post warning.   Plot spoiler –   ‘The Court’ is a great place to spend a relaxing break from modern city life.

Deborah: Wendy?   Would you like a glass of wine,   a cup of tea?

Wendy:   Yes!   both please

Sunday early evening, I’ve just stepped into the Court,   a large thatched cottage in the heart of Sheepwash, North Devon.   What a wonderful welcome.   Deborah takes my bag and gives me a tour of her home while making tea, pouring two glasses of wine and finishing the ironing.

Dining roomDeborah Dooley and her family have  opened their home  to paying guests. Deborah gives subtle and caring attention  to all her guests,  making sure they have what they need, keeping the atmosphere welcoming. Guests might come to write, to hike, to take time-out from being a mum.

Sheepwash bustles at 8am in the morning.  The local shop opens it’s doors, literally.  School children chatter and scream  as they wait for the bus.  Milk is delivered,  tractors roll by and I wake from a deep sleep amidst thick white cotton sheets.

When I wander downstairs in the morning a mug of tea soon finds me.   Fresh fruit salad, cereals and  a full cooked breakfast with eggs from the hens in the garden  are served on the visitors’ book,  a table with messages scrawled from past guests.  Packed lunches are prepared for guests’ planning day trips.

My mornings are filled with workshop activities designed to improve my writing.  Whether my writing improves is up to me,  Deborah’s workshops  give fun, tactful, feedback and encouragement.

Cottage fireplaceEvenings are warmed by  a real crackling and hissing fire.    Guests recline and share stories from huge embracing sofas.  The pub across the tiny town square feels like an extension of the house, not that I’ve spent much time there because the hospitality in the Court is magnetic.

I stayed with 3 other guests,  an  Essex accountant with a detailed colourful story on any topic your care to mention and a Cambridge couple taking a Hiking holiday.  We share breakfast, dinner and evenings and mainly do our own thing during the day.  Deborah listens, thinks, then uses what she’s learned. A simple but rare combination.  An excellent combination for a hostess.

Our roomThis is not the sort of place to stay if you like all the modern conveniences available in a  multi-star  Hotel.   The Court provides a  different kind of luxury, not one that is packaged with the check-list criteria of hotel stars.

The bathroom is shared by all the guests.    None of the modern trendy en-suite nonsense.  The bath is BIG,   deep and long, surrounded by a wide selection of dissolving things that you might want to soak in.  You need to check if there is enough hot water in the tank for a bath before taking a bath.  This reminds me of  living in a house with a hotwater tank and 4 other adults, my family, coordinating use of the bath was something we learned to do without giving it a second thought.  There is an electric shower with always available hot water.  If this  breaks your idea of a cosey retreat  then maybe this isn’t the place for you.

There is a TV in one of the rooms, I have not used it.  There are no TV’s or phones in the guest bedrooms. There is a  wireless base-station hidden in the lounge which provides internet  connections. I couldn’t get cellular reception from either T-Mobile or Orange services.  If this type of thing will be a problem for you, the Court is not the place for you.  Lack of cellular service was a bonus for me.  The Court has a landline number that I gave  to the  neighbour looking after my fluffballs and thankfully  she had no reason to call.

My experience is a warm friendly, active, family home full of people that respect each other.  The atmosphere and attitude of  the place and people made my stay interesting and welcoming. This is a very pleasant change from the benefits of living alone. I’ll definitley be visiting again.

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