This month we had a weekend break in Devon with my family. We stayed at Soar Mill Cove Hotel in the South Hams not far from Salcombe. Tucked into the hillside and with beautiful views of the sea, it boasts a short walk down to a lovely beach. We had a suite which was perfect as a family room, with a very large bed in the main room and a twin room for children. We were also provided with two travel cots and bedding. The bathroom was spacious with both a bath and separate shower, perfect for washing salty skin and sandy toes. Little details made a big difference, with fresh milk provided as required rather than the room being stocked with the little pods of “plastic milk”. We had a veranda complete with lounger chairs, and a gorgeous view of the sea greeted us each morning. Nothing was too much trouble and the staff went above and beyond to make sure we had a wonderful stay. Our baby even had her first swim in the indoor heated salt water pool. The hotel was luxurious, but perfect for families with small children which felt like a real treat for us all. We enjoyed borrowing books to read to the girls, and they even put on a “cinema night” one evening where we all enjoyed watching a Shaun the Sheep film.
We were lucky to get blue skies and sunshine over the weekend, and spent both days on the beach. On the Sunday we visited South Milton Sands, a National Trust bay with coarse sand and clear waters. Arriving late morning, we settled onto the beach with picnic blankets, buckets and spades, snacks and a beach tent. We all enjoyed building sandcastles, and running down to the sea to collect water for the castle moat. Our daughter enjoyed having her legs buried in the sand and having to dig her way back out.
Within an hour or so, it was noticeable that low tide was on its way. We rolled up our trousers and changed our two year old into her swim stuff ready for a paddle. The water was absolutely freezing, but that didn’t both our little one. We walked along the shoreline, slowly noticing that an underwater world was being revealed. The rocks that had been hidden by the sea were now on show, and between them there were hundreds of rock pools creating little homes for sea life and magical pools of discovery for our daughter.
We spent hours inspecting the things we found, from seaweed, to shells, to snails and a hermit crab. Each creature went gently into a small bucket filled with water for closer inspection by our toddler who was very proud of her treasures. We watched young shrimp swimming between the rocks, and marvelled at the limpets stuck firm to the rocks. We talked about the importance of putting the things that were alive back into the sea, and watched as our daughter gently plucked them out of the bucket one by one to “go back to their friends”.
Having my parents, sister and brother-in-law there meant that we were able to share looking after the girls, leaving A and I a bit freer than usual. I went for a little paddle along the shore with my mum, where we talked about my options for the future. I am lucky that my mum is incredibly supportive of my dreams of doing something different. In spite of this, the thought of making the break from my current job and embarking on something new and potentially unpredictable and financially unstable is a scary one. Over a week later I am still unclear what I should do, even though I am desperate to give my dreams a chance. Sometimes having a sensible head feels like a burden and I wish I could be a bit more carefree.
After our hard work in the rock pools, my parents treated us to amazing burgers from the Beachhouse, a clapboard shack café just off the beach. Describing itself as a simple seafood and takeaway café, they serve fresh seafood, burgers, steaks, crab and moules. We were very impressed at the quality of the food which was very well received after the day’s exertion. The food was definitely at the pricey end of the spectrum, however.
Sitting on the beach on a Sunday afternoon, work felt a million miles away. It was hard to believe that the following day I would be putting on my smart clothes and going to the office. In the car on the way home I admired the grains of sand covering my feet. This image seemed to sum up the wonderful weekend we had had outdoors as a family, and really spurred me on to think about how different I want things to be in the near future. I have recently become obsessed with enjoying the moment, and cherishing this time I have with our daughters whilst they are so young. I can frequently be heard saying “these are the days!” In fact, I’ve said it so much I think A is getting a bit bored of hearing it now. I know that we won’t ever get this time again, and spending these special days doing simple things together feels so important. I want the girls to be able to look back on their childhood and remember (or see photos of) the wonderful days we shared. Seeing the happiness on their faces in Devon was one of those moments that I know I will cherish when our girls have grown up.