We did, however, have one thing to look forward to that couldn't be hampered by the British weather; a night's stay in Highbullen Hotel; a beautiful country club in North Devon, set in acres of rolling countryside. I'd heard that they'd just started doing a 'doggy package' - a dog friendly break where you can bring your four-legged friend and they get all kinds of treats and priveliges as well as a two-course dinner!
We travelled down on Monday lunchtime, through scattered showers and arriving eventually in sunny Devon. When we arrived we were given our key to our Estate Room, a set of dog-friendly rooms on the huge estate owned by the hotel. The room was really spacious and clean and Bodhi bounded in towards his set of treats, including a dog bed and blanket for him to sleep in, toys (tennis ball and rope toy), a map of walks for us to take, and a brush to keep him looking tidy in front of the other guests! As we were on the edge of the estate, the views across the valley were stunning and we were so lucky that the sun put his hat on for our stay.
Shortly after arriving we headed straight for an early dinner, leaving Bodhi snoozing away in his fleece-y dog bed, which he immediately hopped into! The grounds itself were beautiful, especially with the blue skies and all of the trees in blossom. We had a drink in the courtyard until the sun ducked behind a cloud and forced us inside.
We had dinner in their bar restaurant; I had cod fillet and chips and Tom had game pie. When the waiter brought over our food to our table he also asked where we'd like Bodhi's dinner delivered. I didn't even remember mentioning the name of our dog when we booked so I was suitably impressed! The Chef prepared Bodhi sirloin steak, sausage casserole and a side of veg - had I not been so stuffed from our dinner I might have pinched a bit of his! We had a quick nose around the Manor House on the way back to the room, it really is a beautiful place to stay.
A post-dinner walk around the grounds revealed more pretty little nooks and crannies. Their outdoor swimming pool framed by blooms of roses would be beautiful to take a dip in, in the summer.
When we arrived back at our room, Bodhi took one sniff at his steak dinner and got stuck in!
We then spent the rest of the evening stuffing ourselves with Minstrels and watching TV in bed. I love getting away from home and being able to really relax without the ironing pile/washing up/to-do list winking at me. I find it really hard to settle at home and am constantly flitting between blog reading and writing, sorting out endless piles of clothes, pottering in the kitchen or running errands, so I always love coming away and staying at a hotel even if it's just for an evening as it means I can completely switch off.
The following morning we got up early to go for a swim before brekafast. Along with their outdoor pool they have an indoor pool, sauna and steam room. They also have a jacuzzi set into a sort of glass outcrop so that you have amazing views over the valley. It was quite something to sit there in the bubbles looking out over the beautiful rolling Devonshire hills.
We headed for breakfast and enjoyed a yummy full English - always one of my favourite things about staying away in a hotel! I can do some serious damage to a round of toast when they constantly bring more to your table! Unfortunately in contrast to the beautiful sunshine the day before, by mid-morning it was absolutely pouring down and so we had actually driven up the hill from our room to the Manor House for breakfast (no excuse for the excessive amounts of bread and hash browns as I didn't even walk it off!). The view from our room was not quite the gleaming picture of the day before.
After breakfast we had planned to go for a walk on Exmoor or a stroll along the seafront at Ilfracombe but the incessant precipitation meant that we instead decided rather sadly to head home. We stopped on the way home for a pasty, which we ate whilst watching the pouring rain outside and the windows steam up from the hot pasties and sausage rolls, which is definitely a Devon/Cornwall rite of passage if ever there was one. Much to Bodhi's chagrin he was not allowed any of my steak and stilton pasty (I knew it was a bad idea to give Bodhi a taste for steak) so he sulked on the van floor whilst we tucked in.
All in all it was a wonderful evening away, and just what we needed - I only wish we'd been able to stay there for a few more days; our plans to go camping on the days that followed obviously went down the pan so it would have been lovely to have more yummy breakfasts and swims. We will be back, and we'll definitely be taking up the 'doggy package' again - we love being able to take Bodhi away for adventures with us!