Friday, 29 August 2014

Like to rhyme? You're running out of time!

In holiday mode, some are inclined
To warble in verse, about nice things they find
They rhyme and they riddle
And have a good giggle
But we'll tell you one thing they should bear in mind...

Our poetry comp deadline is approaching quite fast
A £400 voucher awaits the winner unsurpassed
So compile the odd stanza
Hold your own poetry bonanza
But those rhymes are worth nowt when the deadline is passed...

You've till the end of September to create your verse
It can be about anything - we celebrate the diverse
So take a short moment
And don't forget a comment
And you could be the winner of our £400 voucher purse!

And back to normal prose! Anyone taking a holiday with us can enter, all you have to do is send us your poem - in any style or form you prefer - lovingly created whilst on holiday at one of our holiday homes. Do send your submissions with a short comment – it’s always interesting to hear the stories behind the poems. To enter, post your poem to us at the address below by the end of September:

2014 Poetry Competition
Helpful Holidays
Mill Street, Chagford
Devon TQ13 8AW

Or, send your submission to, with '2014 Poetry Competition' as the subject.

We look forward to being entertained by your verse!


Photo of Holywell Bay, Cornwall by Tom Tolkien

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The finest fish and chips in the West

Fish and chips evokes childhood memories of freshly cooked fish in gorgeous, crunchy batter accompanied by big, fat piping hot chips and the heady aroma of salt and vinegar wafting seductively through the air – perfect whether at the seaside or in the country. Holidays would never be complete without a fish and chip supper at least one night - or more if mum and dad could be persuaded – perfect after a hectic day’s digging on the beach or exploring the moors. And mum and dad are winners too – easy on the pocket and no dishes to wash afterwards.

Here are a few of our favourite chippies, as voted for by the team of highly experienced ‘Cod and Chips Connoisseurs’ here at HH, the ‘Triple C’ team:

Roland’s Happy Plaice in Porthleven, also known as the “Pink Chippy”. Named as one of the top 30 places to eat fish and chips in Britain by Times Newspapers in 2011, they only sell fresh fish caught locally that day, so when the fish runs out, that's it! So - make sure you head down early.

Peckish in Camelford (pictured above), committed to using the finest fresh fish from sustainable fisheries. Peckish was the first fish and chip shop in North Cornwall to obtain the 5-star Fryers Quality Award, the highest accolade Seafish gives. Peckish also entered the 2011 Fish and Chips awards, when they became the Number 1 fish and chip shop in the South West and Runner-up in the UK.

Or if you find yourself on the western edge of Dartmoor – The Tavi Friar in Tavistock were South West Regional Winners and National Finalists in the Seafish independent Fish and Chip takeaway of the year 2014.

For a real treat try Stein’s Fish and Chips in Padstow or Falmouth – restaurant or takeaway, you take your choice. All beautifully cooked with mouth-watering batter and fresh local fish.

And last but not least, try the Cricket Inn in the small fishing village of Beesands, south Devon - only metres from the sloping beach and crystal clear waters of Start Bay. What could be better than freshly cooked cod and chips and a foaming pint of best bitter, sitting in the great outdoors with the soothing sound of waves gently breaking on the beach – perfect!

If you have any recommendations we'd love to hear them!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

See art in the making at Devon Open Studios

There's something about the West Country that attracts those with an artistic disposition. For some it's the captivating views, for others it's the unique personality of the place - the people, towns and traditions. Whatever the inspiration, the outstanding quality of art produced in this corner of Britain is truly something to be celebrated.

That's exactly why Devon Open Studios is so popular and enduring. From 6 – 21 September over 200 artists at over 140 venues across the length and breadth of Devon throw open their doors to the public - and invite you to visit them in their studios, many located in some of the most beautiful, unexplored parts of the county. There is so much to explore; painting and printmaking, ceramics and textiles, sculpture, jewellery, photography and more.

Now in its eighth year, Devon Open Studios provides a wonderful opportunity to meet the artists, find out what inspires their work, buy art direct from the creator, see demonstrations or even have a go yourself. As said, many artists also give demonstrations and show works in progress, allowing the rare chance to see the art being created and get a feel for the process from concept to completion.

Helpful Holidays is the main sponsor, as we have been for the last 4 years. We also sponsor the Devon Open Studios Emerging Artists Bursary Awards to encourage those taking their first steps into professional practice, returning to creative practice after a career break or change, or taking their art in a new direction. This year’s winners are showcased at a special exhibition at Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton from 6 – 25 September.

This year’s winners are Rory Cunningham, Janet Sainsbury (picture above), Tessa Jane, Greg Newman and Elisa Cunningham. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

West Country Foodie Favourites

Everyone has their beloved beach cafes in the West Country, and we have more than most! Here are three excellent eateries for you to try out the next time you have sand between your toes.

Sam's on the Beach

You can't idle in the sun for too long without getting peckish. Polkerris provides the beach and Sam's on the Beach (pictured above), once an old boathouse and slipway, provides the food. There is a wood-burning pizza oven producing heavenly stone-baked pizzas, as well as seafood platters, sardines, scallops, and clams - plus meatier options such as steaks, meatballs and chicken basque. All produce is sourced locally and has a strong Cornish stamp.

The open kitchen means that you can observe the catering action, and floor-to-ceiling windows allow a constant view of the Polkerris harbour and St Austell Bay when elements are raging, with the windows removed during the summer for a more al fresco feel. This is beach style at its best.

Barricane Beach Cafe

This secluded west facing cove between Woolacombe and Mortehoe, also called Shell Beach, has a shallow sandy beach with rock pools and gullies overflowing with marine life and seashells. The small beach cafe is so melded with the elements that it doesn't have its own website, but the delicious Sri Lankan curries are legendary, served with vegetable fried rice. Just take a bottle of wine and a rug, nip in for a swim and enjoy the curry. The cafe opens in May or June and food is offered most nights (not Mondays) until the end of the summer, unless the weather misbehaves. During the day there are sandwiches, cakes and cold drinks. Booking? Don't be silly, just check it's open on Facebook and then turn up.

The Crab Shack

At The Crab Shack on the back beach in Teignmouth, you'll satisfy your hunger for fresh crab, as their cracking team catch their own crabs and lobsters of the tidal waters in the English Channel. The centre of the fishing boats are full of water, ensuring the meal's freshness when it arrives on your plate, prepared by chef Josh Martin. The shack with its wooden boards and beams, whitewashed walls and driftwood styling looks like a glossy magazine interior, but this is the real deal, freshly caught shellfish with delicious views of the River Teign and Haytor Rocks. Open seven days a week, the catch of the day menu changes daily and for non-seafood lovers there are vegetarian or meat options.

We hope you have a great foodie experience in the West Country - let us know your favourite beach-side snack-spots too! Don't forget to check your HH voucher booklet "What Shall We Do Today?" for lots of savings.