Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The 2014 Helpful Holidays vs Gidleigh Park Cricket Match

As many of you will know, some of us at Helpful Holidays are keen cricketers and we have an annual charity match with the fine folk at Gidleigh Park. We all aim to entertain the crowds and raise as much money as we can for our charity of the year, the Marine Conservation Society.

It all takes place on Sunday 22nd June at Chagford Cricket Club, one of the most beautiful settings in Devon for a game of cricket. The teams are made up from staff, their families and friends of HH and Gidleigh Park, with some pretty good cricket played on the day - if we do say so ourselves! This is the 3rd year of this fun but very worthwhile event, now tied at one game each, HH having come out on top last year.

Last year we raised over £4,300 for the Devon Air Ambulance but we’d love to improve on that this year. There are some fantastic prizes in this year’s raffle, drawn immediately after the match, including:

  • Seashore safari for 2 with Monty Halls' marine biologists, courtesy of Monty Hall' Great Escapes
  • Short break at a 5* cottage, Parford, Chagford, courtesy of Helpful Holidays
  • Lunch for 2 at Gidleigh Park
  • Sunday lunch for 4 at Bovey Castle with a bottle of house wine
  • Boxed Glenmorangie whisky, courtesy of the MCS
  • Fantastic wildlife trip with AK Wildlife Cruises for 2
  • Day on the river with King Harry Ferry with tickets to the National Maritime Museum
  • Quba Original X-10 jacket, RRP from £374
  • Weekend break for 2 at Hallsands, south Devon

... plus many more, all of which are listed on our website.

As well as the raffle there's lots more on offer, including tasty treats from Sara Mears Catering, a Pimms tent and scrumptious Gidleigh Park cream teas. There’ll also be a jazz band to get toes tapping. Do come and support the teams on the day, you’ll be made very welcome.

Please support our fundraising effort and buy raffle tickets (£2 each or £10 for a book) to have a chance of winning the fabulous prizes mentioned above. If you can’t join us on the day, you don’t have to miss out - just call us on 01647 433593 to purchase raffle tickets over the phone by Friday 20th June 2014.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Located on the stunning Rame peninsula within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are two adjoining villages in the ‘forgotten’ South East corner of Cornwall, Kingsand and Cawsand. They’re archetypal Cornish fishing villages, nestling beside the sea with narrow streets and colourwashed houses. Welcoming and unspoilt, it’s easy to see why they are regular recipients of the ‘Best Kept Village’ award.

Once they were two distinct villages, each fronting onto their own beach, and at one point were even officially in different counties. If you enjoy treasure hunting, search for the sign on one of the white painted cottages which notes the old boundary, and the incongruous name of a cottage in Kingsand which hints at this change. The villages are connected by a street across the seashore and even locals can’t always quite agree where one village ends and the other begins.

The villages were once synonymous with smuggling, with over 50 vessels operating out of Cawsand Bay, making Kingsand and Cawsand the main centre of smuggling in the Westcountry during the 18th and 19th centuries. The narrow Cornish streets were undoubtedly perfect for the clandestine transferal of pilfered goods, though all known smuggling tunnels have now been sealed. For those with interest in this secret, shady past, Cousham Cottage (R106) even has a cleverly disguised smuggler’s tunnel of its own. It’s said that Admiral Nelson himself once stopped by for supper, and the villages remain a popular place for sailors today; if you’re lucky you may even spy a Tall Ship at anchor in Cawsand Bay.

The villages house a good range of shops, cafés and pub/restaurants, but they retain their very Cornish atmosphere and a surprise around each corner. Pubs include the popular Cross Keys Inn in Cawsand square, The Devonport Inn, The Halfway house and The Rising Sun, where May Day’s Black Prince procession begins. ‘Moran’s’ delicatessen and café is loved by visitors and locals alike, but there are many other little gems to discover, so do go a-wandering.

The beaches, though usually quiet, really are central to the character of Kingsand and Cawsand. Each village has its own beach, both of which are suitable for swimming with a mixture of sand and pebbles, plus plenty of interesting little rock pools. Kingsand beach welcomes dogs all year round. There’s a particularly lovely swimming beach known as Sandyways, which is a short walk across the rocks in the direction of Fort Picklecombe to the East.

A range of boat trips are available from here, including the Cawsand passenger ferry to the historical Barbican area of Plymouth. This route has now been running for over 100 years!

You can also take water tours and cruising or fishing trips from here, not to mention exciting ‘007’ speedboat trips.

If you’re ready to turn your spyglass further afield, you can pick up the South West Coastal path with outstanding views in either direction. Head East and you’ll reach Mount Edgecumbe Country Park, all 865 acres of it, including formal gardens, Mount Edgecumbe house and The Orangery Restaurant. Just outside the park is Cremyll, a little village with a good pub, from where you can take another passenger ferry into Plymouth, within a short distance of the renovated Royal William Yard.

If you head West from Cawsand, you’ll reach the dramatic headland at Rame topped with a 14th century Chapel, and Whitsand Bay, with 4 miles of stunning white sand beaches to explore.

It’s a popular area for both swimming and surfing, with lifeguard supervision provided in places, and out in the Bay the artificial Scylla reef is a treat for experienced divers. Access to the beaches is steep in places so care is advised. The chalets along the cliff top make the most of this spectacular location – we’re delighted to let several of them.

Looking further afield, more enjoyable days out include the lively seaside town of Looe, Adrenaline Quarry, the home of one of the longest zip wires in the UK, and Sterts outdoor theatre. Plymouth itself, just across the Torpoint Ferry, has many attractions, including The Hoe, the Theatre Royal, and the refurbished Tinside Lido. If you prefer, you can take the Rame bus route into Plymouth from Kingsand, which travels along the Whitsand bay coastal road and through Torpoint to Plymouth.

If you need to make a more substantial shop during your stay, the nearest supermarket can be found around 15 minutes away in Torpoint.

Our properties in Kingsand and Cawsand are always popular so if you can’t find one to suit your requirements, we can suggest other places and properties with a similar character. For example, we recommend considering Port Isaac, Fowey, Mevagissey, Mousehole and Polperro!


Photo Credit: Reading Tom

Two summer events to satisfy your hunger

Holidays are for eating, are we right? Getting away from it all and discovering local produce and new dishes can make a holiday exciting and nutritious too!

Get a taste of real community spirit by visiting the town of Crediton in time for its annual food and drink festival on June 14th and 15th. Now in its 6th year, the celebration is run entirely by local volunteers who are passionate about food, with cookery demonstrations taking place throughout the day, plus an enormous food market.

With offerings from all over the world, but with an emphasis on local produce and recipes, this means that while you might be eating Spanish paella or Thai green curry, you can bet your bottom dollar that the ingredients will have been sourced from nearby farms.

Well worth checking out are the Devon-made offerings, including the delicious goods produced by Curworthy Cheese, which specialises in traditional farmhouse cheeses of the finest quality.

Fast forward to July 12th and the Rock Oyster Festival kicks off in Wadebridge, Cornwall. As one of the leading artisan food festivals in the country, you'll be seriously disappointed if you miss out. Taking place amidst the splendid surroundings of Dinham House - a 17th century manor overlooking the Camel Estuary - this event is promoted as a midsummer festival of all things scrummy, with a particular emphasis on seafood.

Regular visitors will not be surprised to see tables laden with thousands of Cornish oysters, which the attendees will steadily eat their way through over the course of the day. There will be demonstrations from local experts capable of cooking everything from shellfish to steaks and all things in between. Also worth watching will be the shucking (shell opening) competition, which sees veteran chefs go up against one another in a competition to open the most of those devilishly tricky oyster shells within a set period of time.

We hope we've whetted your appetite. Why not head to www.helpfulholidays.com and book your accommodation right now?


Photo Credit: anokarina

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Keep Dad entertained in the West Country on Father's Day

If you're holidaying over Father's Day this year, you'll find plenty to keep him occupied in the West Country.

If he's a Top Gear nut, or into classic cars, he'll love the annual Classic Car Rally taking place at The Milky Way adventure park this month to raise money for the North Devon Hospice. It's all good family fun, with a huge selection of vehicles on display and a free pint of beer for the first 100 dads through the gates. Now there's a reason to get there early if ever we heard one!

It's all happening on June 15th, and you can be sure the ticket entry price will go to a good cause. Entry to the park costs £13.50 per person on the door, although there is a discount of £1.50 if you book online. Concessions for the elderly and kids under four years old are also available.

If Dad's a big softie, take him and his teddy to Newquay Zoo on 15th June he'll never believe his eyes! Dads receive half-price entry, and children aged 15 and under will get in for free when they bring a teddy bear with them. Just make sure you give Teddy back to Dad once you're in!

At Pennywell Farm in Devon, dads can enjoy a blast on the Red Rocket or a hands on falconry experience, plus, of course, a delicious West Country pasty and pint courtesy of Pennywell.

And finally, Dad can get up close and personal with Europe's largest collection of naval aircraft and the first British Concorde for half price at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton (pictured above) - provided he's accompanied by a child. Once there, don't miss the award-winning aircraft carrier experience on the famous Ark Royal. Sensational!