Msr 2 and I have been lucky enough to be invited to join some friends who are staying at a little Devonshire farm cottage in Trusham, near Exeter. We threw our Hunters, some cosy blankets and a couple of bottles of Malbec into the boot of the car and headed out to brave the wild winter weather.
A real rural retreat indeed it is. And a mystery for our sat nav; take note – don’t rely on technology for this one, instead play by the old fashioned rules: directions from the owners. Msr 2 rummages for them in his bag and then proceeds to guide me with precision. Then, as we bump up and over a tiny farm track we spot it, Rydon – a 16th century barn conversion resting amongst fields of cattle and horses and with a valley view to admire.
“I wish I’d packed my mac!” cries Msr 2 as we pull up outside; indeed. It’s been tipping it down for the last half an hour, so we’re eager to get inside and we’re hoping there’s a fire.
“Welcome to Rydon!” beam our friends Amy and Chris, ushering us in out of the wet. “Why, thank you,” I smile.
“Oooh” squeals Msr 2 as we walk through the front door; “it’s like stepping into an episode of Grand Designs.” The wonderful slate floor entrance hall is heated (always gets a thumbs up) and overlooked by the lounge balcony upstairs. Rydon, it appears, is an upside down conversion with the bedrooms and bathrooms at ground level, and the lounge, dining area and kitchen up above in the apex of the barn.
Slipping out of our wet boots we pad along the corridor to our earthy-toned, plushly carpeted bedroom, clocking the gorgeous free standing bath at the foot of the bed before abandoning our bags so we can explore the rest of the house.
Plenty of exposed original beams give us a flavour of the property’s original form, and little touches of the cool and contemporary brings rustic Rydon right up to date. In addition to our bedroom, which has an ensuite, there are two further bedrooms – one double and one twin bedroom – plus a main bathroom with an equally magnificent bath for two, a large wet room shower area and a trough-like ample-for-two sink.
The kitchen is well stocked and there’s a sizeable welcome hamper containing goodies and treats as well as essentials like milk, tea and coffee. I’m particularly impressed by the fantastic sized island in the centre of the kitchen – a dream play-space for a messy chef like me, but an obstacle for a weary Msr 2.
“What?! The fridge is the other side of the island? I suppose I’ve still got some Christmas pudding to shift – the exercise will do me good.” Oh, the woe.
After we’ve unpacked our shopping, I pop the Moroccan lamb casserole I’d prepared at home last night into the aga to slow cook ready for supper, and Msr 2 opens some fizz then beckons us all for a toast – it’s the first time we’ve been able to spend some proper time with Chris and Amy since their 7 month old son, William, arrived, and we intend to make the most of it.
The Moroccan lamb went down a treat, even if I do say so myself, and with all the dishes packed away in the dishwasher, we settle in for the evening, chatting and playing cards by the wood burner, its crackling fire roaring at our Malbecs.
It was an early start for our friends – William, doesn’t yet know about lie-ins; but Msr 2 and I slept, and then showered, like kings. Outside, the weather has cleared and we decide to breakfast al fresco on the pretty gravelled courtyard overlooking the garden and (heated) swimming pool.
The pool, which is open until October, looks wonderfully inviting – we think we’ll take a dip later.
Chatting with the owner who lives in a cottage near the barn, we learn that a group of six messieurs stayed here over Christmas, and we can totally appreciate why. Discreet, quiet and cosy, Rydon is a perfect country cottage hideaway for couples and friends seeking a private weekend getaway. With Exeter not far away and the Devonshire Coast a little drive, this is a perfect base to explore or unwind – we intend to do both.
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