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The calm before the storm?  December 2011
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There are only 25 days till Christmas and life is possibly just becoming a little hectic? So much still to do and so little time!

If so, wouldn't it be great to know that after the final flurry of festive preparations and social gatherings, you’ve somewhere special lined up for a few days away? How lovely to snuggle up with friends and family with space and time to enjoy their company and lots of lovely West Country food and drink. There are still plenty of wonderful and varied holiday homes for you to enjoy this holiday season, so browse our website or give us a call and we’ll help find the one that’s just right for you.

Tempting seasonal offers…

Whether it’s for a few quiet days before Christmas or the festive days themselves, we’ve got plenty of tempting offers to entice you to escape to one of our holiday homes in the atmospheric West Country. We’ve visited them all, star rated them all and we can tell you about each one in detail.

There are excellent walks straight on to the moors from Hawthorn Cottage (F91) in Barbrook, a smart, semi-detached cottage for six in a quiet, unspoilt position on the edge of Exmoor, with 20% discount the remaining weeks in December. How about a last minute gathering in Cadhay (G100), an historic, mostly Tudor house in Ottery St Mary, shortlisted by Country Life for their ‘Finest manor house’ award? Sleeping 22, you can book Cadhay for just £107 per person (or £76 for a 3-night stay) the week starting 16th December. A party of 25 can enjoy a 3-night break for as little as £43 per person at Western House (B20), an elegant, 1820s detached house with a sumptuous indoor pool in Highweek. You have share of a pool and play area at The Hay Barn (L267), a superb barn conversion in Halwell, yours for only £61 per person per week from early to mid-December.

Not far from Padstow is Uphill Cottage (P346) in Penrose, north Cornwall, where two can stay from just £108 per person; and further west, overlooking the green river Fal in Feock, is King Harry’s Cottage (S242), available in December for six to share for £48 per person. Perfect for exploring the far west of the region is Byway (T446), a pretty, little, granite cottage in Trescowe sleeping four for just £59 per person during the weeks before Christmas.

It’s not too late to find somewhere for Christmas or New Year and there are lots of great deals.

Luxuriate in five-star luxury at The Red Barn (A51), a splendid barn conversion in Lydford with lovely, long views to the moor, where six can stay over Christmas for £239 per person. On the north Devon coast in Appledore, celebrate Christmas at Safe Haven (K14), a stone/cob house with long views over the estuary, for just £93 per person based on a party of seven. In Chilsworthy, north Devon, and not far from Holsworthy, Canal Barn (M6) sleeps eight and has a great games barn and is yours for Christmas or New Year for just £110 per person.

Save 25% over Christmas or New Year at Tumrose Cottage (N332) in Blisland, a charming, little cottage in the perfect spot for exploring Bodmin Moor and the wonderful coves and bays of the north Cornish coast. Close nearby on the coast at Trelights, with lovely long views to the rocky cove of Port Quin, is Seawynds (P106), where eight can celebrate for £120 per person over the festive season. And in south Devon, spend Christmas enjoying the great views out to sea at Penlee Narrows (R26) in Kingsand, a super, terraced cottage on four storeys, where six can stay for £128 per person. And finally, in the South Hams village of East Prawle and a short stroll from the lively village pub, is Vine Cottage (L70), a cosy, little, thatched cottage for four: yours for just £109 per person for Christmas or to see in the New Year.

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F91, Hawthorn Cottage
Barbrook, Exmoor
G100, Cadhay
Ottery St Mary, East Devon
B20, Western House
Highweek, Torbay and the Red Cliffs 

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L267, The Hay Barn
Halwell, South Hams
P346, Uphill Cottage
Penrose, North Cornwall
S242, King Harry's Cottage
Feock, Cornwall's Med

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T446, Byway
Trescowe, The Lizard
A51, The Red Barn
Lydford, Dartmoor
K14, Safe Haven
Appledore, North Devon 

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M6, Canal Barn
Chilsworthy, North Devon
N332, Tumrose Cottage
Blisland, North Cornwall
P106, Seawynds
Trelights, North Cornwall

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R26, Penlee Narrows
Kingsand, South Cornwall
L70, Vine Cottage
East Prawle, South Hams

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A meal with a view…
… in Plymouth's hidden maritime jewel!
TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has just opened his second new River Cottage Canteen and Deli in the dramatic setting of Plymouth’s Royal William Yard, overlooking Plymouth Sound. Watch out for a typically ‘Hugh’ approach to delivering local, seasonal food using a 100-year-old traditionally rigged sailing boat. Hugh’s given us a recipe for Christmas, roasted Brussels sprouts with shallots, and there's a copy of his latest book 'Veg every day' up for grabs.
Hop on the Tamar ferry from R378
48 Fort Picklecombe
Fort Picklecombe, South Cornwall
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New holiday homes...

As 2011 draws to a close, here are the last three new holiday homes of the year, two located in the timeless farming landscape of north Devon and the other just inland from the Dorset coast.

1 Priory Cottages (J29) in Brightley is a Grade ll listed, thatched cottage for five in the river Ockment valley, north of Okehampton, once linked to a nearby priory. Further north in Bradbury, just 10 miles or so from the coast, is Soldon Manor (K34), a beautiful and historic 16th century manor house, wonderfully renovated and accommodating 14, complete with rose garden and a huge chess board!

In Dorset, just five miles inland from West Bay, lies the village of Salwayash, where you’ll find Old Dairy Cottage (H20), a neat, little cottage sleeping two in a rural courtyard of farm buildings.

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J29, 1 Priory Cottages
Brightley, Devon's River Country
K34, Soldon Manor
Bradworthy, North Devon
H20, Old Dairy Cottage
Salwayash, Dorset

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Late night Christmas shopping…

… with a difference!

Enjoy a Cornish Christmas night at The Lost Gardens of Heligan on 5th December. There’s a magical lantern-lit tour past beautifully lit pools, glasshouses and secret grottos and you can enjoy a late-night browse in the Heligan and Lobbs Farm shops. Indulge in a freshly baked mince pie served with lashings of carols and Cornish clotted cream!
Light your way back to S216
Rocklee House 
St Mawes, Cornwall's Med
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Ye olde gift shoppe…

Close to Bodmin, the lovely National Trust gift shop at Lanhydrock is the perfect place to browse for last minute ideas. And there’s another super gift shop at Castle Drogo in Drewsteignton, where you’ll also find Christmas feasting in the café.
Wrap your pressies at A92
Little Gate Cottage
North Bovey, Dartmoor
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Magical Clovelly…

Up in north Devon, the famous Clovelly harbour lights are set to dazzle all and sundry on 4th December, to the accompaniment of the Torridge Male Voice Choir and local brass bands. There’s a hog roast, punch and mince pies and a big firework display to round off the evening!
Back to a roaring fire at K29!
Chapel Cottage 
Welcombe, North Devon
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Curious winter solstice traditions…

There are some curious traditions to mark this age-old mid-winter period in the West Country. At the Montol Festival in Penzance, 14th to 21st December, lanterns light up a grand parade, followed by the lighting of a beacon at Iron Age Lescudjack Hill Fort and the chalking of the Mock, the Cornish Yule log. Watch out for Penglaz, the Penzance ’obby ’oss, Guise Dancing, the Cornish Candle Dance and Cornish carols!
Step lively at Z37
Johns Dory 
Penzance, End of England
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A day of antiquities…

Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum re-opens on 15th December after a long refurbishment period, which has transformed the splendid Victorian building. Some great exhibitions are lined up and there are some wonderful collections to look at – and admission is free, just the job as an alternative to walking the moors or seaside paths.
Take a trip back in time from G109
1 The Quay 
Lympstone, East Devon
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Magical harbour lights…

Spectacular displays of sparkling lights spring into life at some of the region’s small harbours in celebration of Christmas. On 17th December at Mousehole, the open-air Carolaire service heralds the switching on of the harbour illuminations as The Mousehole Male Voice Choir, accompanied by the Pendeen Silver Band, leads the community singing.
Catch the sparkle at Z18
Fishermans Haven 
Mousehole, End of England
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What a catch!

A few days later on 23rd December in Mousehole, it’s time to dip into some Star Gazy pie and help celebrate Tom Bawcock’s Eve. This brave chap set out in a storm to catch seven different kinds of fish to relieve the villagers of famine many years ago.
Fish pie’s on the menu at S42
Charlton Lodge 
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall's Med
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Padstow Mummer’s Day…

There’s more Guise (or Goose) Dancing (wearing a disguise traditionally black in contrast to the white of summer festivals) in Padstow on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Nowadays the event encompasses a more traditional Cornish theme.
Goose Dance your way to P105
Shore Lodge
Padstow, North Cornwall
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A Christmas splash…

Well, it’s a mystery to us, but many people love dashing into the winter sea on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. While away a few hours blowing away the cobwebs watching these crazy swimmers, often in fancy dress. There are lots of venues in Cornwall – Trevaunance Cove, Sennen, Charlestown, Coverack, Portreath and Falmouth, amongst others. And you’ll find them gathering by the clock tower in Exmouth or by the lifeboat house in Sidmouth on Boxing Day. Fancy joining in?
Make a splash at B100
Teignmouth, Torbay and the Red Cliffs
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Looking for a wild New Year’s Eve?

If so, there are some great New Year celebrations across the West Country. In Cawsand in south Cornwall, all the villagers don fancy dress and go promenading around the pubs. What a sight it must have been when there were 24 people dressed as carrots one year! There are fireworks on the beach and a disco till dawn at the hotel and there’s a charity fancy dress swim on New Year’s Day.
Get in the party spirit at R410
Kingsand and Cawsand, South Cornwall
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More fun and games…

Further west in Looe, you can join in what is reputed to be one of the top four UK party nights with fireworks and fancy dress. On the north coast there’s more fun in St Ives and Newquay is usually quite outrageous! In Devon, the Bideford Riverside Party is well known for a good night out, culminating in fireworks over the river Torridge.
See in the New Year at K12
Heanton Punchardon, North Devon
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Plenty to do on holiday...

We mustn’t encourage you to spend the whole of Christmas and New Year lounging in front of the fire with a bite to eat and a drink to hand, so we’ve looked out a few distractions for you! Get your skates on at The Eden Project, where there are special classes to suit everyone on their glacial rink - classes for tiddly Eskimos (under 6), chilly penguins (6-12), and great big polar bear adults.
Slip slidin’ away to R391
1 Rose Cottages
Lerryn, South Cornwall
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Get steamed up…
… on the South Devon Railway for its Mince Pie Specials which run from 28th December to 2nd January and enjoy some delicious local seasonal fare.
Pass round the pies at L219
The Stables 
Ermington, South Hams
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Getting even steamier!

Treat yourselves to a roast beef lunch on 30th December on the Quantock Belle, steaming out of Bishops Lydeard en route to Minehead and Dunster.
D180 cuts the mustard
Chapel Cottage 
Stogumber, Somerset
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You will go to a panto!

Oh no, you won’t! Oh yes, you will! Whatever, here are a few for you to choose from: Robinson Crusoe at The Hall for Cornwall in Truro, Snow White in Torbay, Cinderella in Plymouth, Dick Whittington in Exeter and Alice in Wonderland in Taunton - all packed with traditional panto fun!
Make sure you’re back at R76 before midnight!
Turners Retreat
Calstock, South Cornwall
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Tremendous standard in our poetry competition…

We’re constantly amazed by the excellent standard of writing in what has to be our favourite competition and this year has been no exception. The winning entry was written by Jeanne Elkington from Staffordshire, who wrote her poem ‘So I return to the moors’ whilst staying this summer at The Old School House (A103) in Lustleigh on Dartmoor. Do take time to read Jeanne’s poem, you’ll find yourself drifting off to the moors. A £400 holiday voucher is on its way to Jeanne.

And our photographic competition winners…

Thanks to everyone who took part in our photo competition over the summer. We received lots of fabulous photos, predominantly coastal shots, so we can tell you love to be beside the seaside!

It was really difficult to pick the winners, but we couldn’t resist the super shot by Natalie Chapman of a child jumping for joy on the beach at Hope Cove and this one will feature in our 2012 collection mini brochure; but the overall winner was the lovely landscape by Lorna Alsop of the ponies at Godrevy Head. Well done to you both.

Thank you for your valued support in 2011. It’s been a very busy, rewarding and happy year for us and we look forward to a successful 2012. Wherever you celebrate the festive season, we do hope you have a very enjoyable Christmas and wish you all a great New Year. We look forward to welcoming you back to one of our holiday homes soon.

Best wishes and a very merry Christmas

Moray Bowater
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