Years ago I worked for a Country Sportswear Company called John Partridge Ltd, (they do tweed/wax hunting, shooting, fishing and riding gear), and we’d planned a photo shoot themed around boats, (we’d designed some waterproofs, so a great excuse to mess about on boats really), and shot around this fabulous location in Dittisham, Devon. The crew, (including Katie England, Alexander McQueen’s stylist bizarrely), all stayed at this fabulous little hotel called Fingals. The shoot was magical and so was our stay at this eclectic but incredibly special little retreat, set in a valley cut by the river Dart….it was perfect, but this was way back in April 1995…so hubby and I were literally gambling on experiencing the same magic 16 years later…with 2 small children!!
This was our second year as a family, returning to experience the same magic as last year – I honestly think it can’t be beaten. I love the quirky interiors, the fab pool next to a stream, grass tennis courts, croquet lawn, gym, pool/table tennis room, (hubby regularly thrashed me at both sports…damnit) and the Coombe art gallery next door featuring works by Sir Peter Blake, Paul Riley and Jilly Sutton sculptures.
Owners Richard and Sheila leave you to your own devices, so you can potter around the gorgeous grounds to your hearts content, just as long as you let them know what you’d like for dinner before 6pm, which is usually cooked by whoever is working that day, all of whom are brilliant cooks – I love the fact that everyone joins in, learning from the chef how to make the puddings…which I had…every night…without fail!!
We messed about at Bantham Beach, climbed up to Totnes Castle, the girls tried horse riding for the first time, took the ferry to Dartmouth for the Regatta, did a spot of crabbing on Dittisham Pontoon, shopped at Totnes’ vintage market, ate, swam, slept, ate…stupidly brought my gym kit with me, which was clearly left unworn!!
The perfect rewind from all the recent madness and the perfect escape for little ones – definitely for those with small children and/or dogs, who want something rural, beautiful and simple to retreat to…wish we were there now x