A weekend by the English seaside: Renting a cottage in Devon

As an expat, I am used to organising my trips around occasions – weddings, birthdays, christenings etc, and the current trip back is no exception. This time, I returned home for my second cousin’s 60th birthday. Wanting to invite all of the family to spend some precious quality time together, she had arranged to rent a cottage in Devon.
Technically it was two cottages next to each other with some shared facilities, but the side doors opened onto each others driveways and gardens so we could pass between both without venturing onto the street.
It was an absolutely fantastic set up, the cottages were huge, tastefully decorated and with plenty of light and space. There were twenty of us in total, including four children, and we had more than enough room indoors and out.
Every need had been anticipated, the grounds including a large lawn, several patio seating areas with benches, tables, chairs and even deck chairs. There was a ‘heated’ outdoor pool, although coming from Dubai, I’d have appreciated a little more heat! This certainly wasnt an issue with the two outdoor hot tubs which steamed from morning till night, and everything had a view over the countryside down to the sea. If you feel a little chilly from the brisk coastal breezes, then there is a large trampoline, tennis court, or you could simply go into the field and run around with the sheep!
The pebble beach was a couple of miles walk across the country, although be warned that this is not really suitable for older, less mobile people! We had a couple of our party get a lift as far as they could and then insist on walking the rest of the way… And they never made it, even having to stop and lie down on the verge to rest because there was nowhere to stop en route. They turned back and we made it to the seaweed-draped beach where the children made the most of playing in the rock pools.
The village of Abbotsham itself, in which the property is located, is a very sleepy place, there is a little corner shop at the end of the road with minimal supplies, although apparently there is an Asda only five minutes away. I can highly recommend the pub The Thatched Inn however, who managed to accommodate all 20 of us with smiles and impeccable service, and outstanding food (I had a lovely treat if duck and orange pate to start, and mussels for main), even if the portions are a little on the large side (be warned the mixed grill is not for the faint hearted!!)
The neighbouring seaside towns of Bideford and Westward Ho! are worth a visit. I much preferred Bideford for its attractive walkway along the estuary, as well as for the delight of a good clotted cream tea. Westward Ho! seemed much bigger, but much more of the typical English seaside stereotyping, it was worth the five-minute drive though, if not for the ice creams (or in my case, pickled cockles) alone!
Overall, the place was in an ideal location, clean and tidy. The owners came over to introduce themselves and were very friendly and accommodating – they’d even left bunches of flowers and balloons for my cousin. Officially the main house sleeps ten in five bedrooms (two ensuite) and they can arrange two extra mattresses on the floor for the children (travel cots are available too), plus six in the annexe (a king size, two singles and a sofa up in the loft and a king size downstairs), and there is plenty of space for food and storage too. If you’re interested in hearing more, check them out here