Farm sitting, witchcraft and the best pasties in the world! [Rogue Nomads] 129



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Where we once again practically lived in wellies, found the best pasties in the world, and learnt a lot about witchcraft!

It’s now August, so as it’s holiday time for families, this is a good time for us to house(farm) sit. The farm is not far from Holsworthy, a small market town in North Devon, not far from the coast, and just over the border from Cornwall. The farmhouse is right by the country road, which is relatively narrow. Three delightful black Labradors, several feral farm cats, and in the shed there’s three darling heifers, two weeks old when we arrived, and three older ones. This farmer, Philip, keeps heifers until they are grown and then sells them for milking cows. Gumboots on, we went off for a walk with the dogs, walking around the perimeter of his property. Lots of mud as it’s been raining heaps.

Once we started the ‘sit’, the dogs were fine and loved us to bits! Well, we took them for walks, took them to a nearby lake, which of course they loved, fed them and made a fuss of them, so why wouldn’t they be happy? The cats just needed feeding in the shed where the heifers were, and a local farmers’ lad came round twice a day to feed them as they were still drinking milk etc from substitute teats.

The rain was pretty non-stop, but we did manage to go for a couple of trips.

Boscastle wasn’t far away. I expected a castle, but the little coastal fishing town is named after a castle that is now in ruins and hard to find. This town suffered a horrendous flood exactly 10 years ago, in fact the walls of most of the old buildings had marks on them where the flood came to. It was all in the news and there were lots of rescue stories. The sun came out, so this little town became even prettier. But the reason we went originally was to go to the Museum of Witchcraft. We expected this to be a bit of fun, but it was extremely interesting, with a large number of rooms full of exhibits. It’s hard for me to minimise what we saw, as there were so many exhibits, including an exhibit of a severed head – the Green Man, Baphomet (half goat half man) – the deity that the Order of the Knights Templar are said to worship as a source of fertility and wealth. But what did interest me was the historical information and fairly recent use of curses. There were display cases of little dolls with pins stuck in them and one was of Hitler. Apparently there were thousands of these Hitler dolls in WW2 with pins stuck in him. There was also an original witch hunting pin, used to test if someone was a witch by driving it into a mark they may have on their body…if it didn’t draw blood or hurt, away to the stake went the witch! There was so much to look at!

I was glad to get out into the sunshine though! Hungry too. So we drove on to nearby Tintagel, of King Arthur fame. Having been there before in 2012, we decided that we wouldn’t climb the 180+ steps of the castle! Although it’s well worth doing if the crowds aren’t about. No, we made a beeline for the pasty shop! You can see the pasties being made and get them straight out of the oven. Yum. I opted for lamb and mint, Greg had a standard beef pasty. £3.95: a bargain as it’s a full meal. Did you know that the way the pasty is folded tells you whether it’s a Cornish or Devon pasty? Definitely recommend!

The week became a pattern. Heavy rain during the morning, clearing up in the afternoon. There was to be an Agricultural Show nearby, so we decided to go. It was so muddy we took our wellies, but when we got there it just looked dismal. We had friends with us, and when at the entrance we were told the fee was £9 each, we did a quick U-turn and left (which was the right thing to do as we heard later that it had closed at midday because the weather was so bad).

Ever optimistic, we decided to drive on and the sun came out as we drove into Port Isaac. For those who like to watch Doc Martin, and there seems to be quite a following…this is the fishing village in which it is filmed. Our luck was in as we managed to get a parking spot at the top of the hill. No parking in the village and driving through it would be crazy. So we were on the lookout for Doc Martin scenes. As we went down the hill we looked across the harbour and could make out the little restaurant, and Doc Martin’s house. Further down we discovered other locations, all dotted about. Regardless of the fact that it’s a location for a delightful series on telly, it’s a great village to wander around. We walked through Squeezy Belly Alley….yes that’s its name, and you did have to….squeeze…to go through!

Had some chips in an ancient pub, walked up the opposite hill to check out the back of the “restaurant” which is actually just someone’s veranda. But all the little streets and alleys were just a delight. The harbour was quaint, too.

Have you visited these areas before? What did you get up to? Did you try the famous pasties? Tell us below!

Dee Bond

  1. Sounds like such a fun and fantastic experience, Dee.

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