In short: we’re about ten miles north of Bude on the North Devon coast. The house is just outside a small but surprisingly sprawling village called Welcombe. Working out where the village centre is is challenging, but it’s probably safe to say it’s the pub – the increasingly excellent Old Smithy. I say “increasingly excellent” because the Smithy has had a variety of owners over the years; the current ones are lovely people who are doing what is recognised by most people as the right thing. Previous owners have either not really bothered too hard to make the pub work or have tried in the..wrong..direction. Dodgy 80’s village disco, anyone..?
The challenge for the pub is formidable. Welcombe is about a mile and a half from the main road – the romantically named “Atlantic Highway” – so doesn’t exactly get natural passing traffic. Getting a local pub to thrive is a huge challenge – but Rich and Jen (the current owners) are doing the right thing by creating excellent food at reasonable prices, and seem to be walking the challenging line between appeasing the locals and encouraging tourist trade.
The pub – and so, the village centre – is about a half mile up the road from the house. It’s walkable – uphill on the way there and downhill on the way back, which is lucky as you’ve inevitably had 5 pints of rough cider by that point, and downhill works much better when you’ve gone blind and lost a leg from the moonshine.
In the other direction – maybe a similar distance away – is the sea. Now. The sea. Fuck me, the sea.
I love Bath, and everything about it – but the bloody sea is just much, much too far away. I actually had a dream once that the enormous bowl of Bath filled up with the sea, leaving our nice house on the hill – but I’d guess that’s a couple of orogenies away..
The thing is, if you’re a sea person like me then you miss it like hell when you’re not near it. And the sea here isn’t easy, shallow, mellow sand. It’s THE SEA – crashing the fuck out of the shore, breaking down cliffs and caves, always shifting and wild. The next thing you hit if you head West is the continent of America, four thousand trillion miles away. That’s a fucking great big fetch, a long way for all that energy to accumulate. No poncing about like the south coast, but real sea.
You get my drift. I like the sea.
And here? Well this place is a two-bed one-storey cottage (yes, a bungalow, but fuck me that’s a bloody ridiculous word so I’m not going to use it ever again..). The outside is corrugated iron, painted green for as long as I can remember. Inside, it’s wood lined – dark, straight planks which run the length of the building. We have a big living room with a Rayburn, two sofas and a slightly out of tune piano. We have a kitchen, last done up in about 1657 (one of the projects for the year..). We have a bathroom. We have a utility which is full of our additional shit. We have two badly fallen-down sheds. We have a small bit of land. Oh, and we also have a stream running between us and the lane and a bridge made out of railway sleepers.
It’s basic, and beautiful.