As we pulled up the driveway, I could hear the sound of my children laughing, as they run across the grass. Saw my nephew standing next to my son and felt sad when thinking about the loss of my mother-in-law and the last time we all stood together, as a blended and extended family, watching fireworks in the field.
Reminiscing – our pre-children relationship bubbled to the surface, as I thought about Helen Grigg – Owner of Eastleigh Manor and the first person Vin and me told, we were pregnant.
Our son now 25, the cycle of our lives have seen us both grow as parents in different ways and mature through and out the other side. As our youngest, our daughter, is now 23. We are now redefining a marriage which has been filled with the love of parenting little ones, for such a long time. It’s been a beautiful, bumpy, happy and challenging ride.
Vin pressed the bell as we wandered into the hallway. Nothing had changed. It was exactly the same, as the last time we visited.
I wondered what this time, it was for.
Was it for both of us to see out the last nibbling of the parenting phase of young children, having already brought them into adulthood. For Helen to be both first and last to celebrate with us our children and their changing lives as they and we grow older.
Bountiful, is the joyous word I would use, for the devonshire twang, springing to life with a welcoming smile, as brown haired and blue eye-shadowed, she appeared from the kitchen. The welcome as warm as ever. Once met, never forgotten I think.
We were offered a choice of room. Number 8 or 9 and we both remembered watching our little ones running through connecting doors, deciding where they wanted to be. The building an adventure in itself. Choosing number 9, or the pink room as I think it should be called – our views were out over the spotless farm and far reaching field.
Bed, breakfast and evening meal for £27 per person, per night. Nothing fancy here mind you. We joked as we drove the five hour journey down from Essex, about what would we do if Helen had embraced veganism and the charm of the stay was changed forever.
The breakfasts wholesome and hearty – cooked english, scrambled or poached eggs on toast or dippy eggs. With orange juice, tea and coffee – plus cereal and toast. Dinner every night a roast. Turkey, pork and beef we ate, with a mix of veg on different nights and Helen’s famous desserts to taste.
We were the only people there during our stay and on the first night, walking into the dining hall with just one table laid and situated in front of the crackling fire – it felt romantic.
Once again reminiscence arose, as I remembered watching the adults on previous occasions, wolf down their dinner, to not miss the dessert of home made sponge pudding on a Wednesday night and chocolate profiteroles on a Thursday. Everything was done exactly the same as it was then and maybe that’s the charm of staying at Eastleigh Manor. It took me back to a simpler time filled with laughter, love and family.
If you choose to stay at Eastleigh Manor – definitely don’t expect luxury but do expect a warm welcome, a great place to bring children – good food and warm rooms. Enjoy sitting outside on warm summer evenings with a glass of wine or a refreshing tonic and if you’re still open to simple english food, enjoy her roasts, indulge in her puddings and allow the warmth of her personality and the friendliness of the family to embrace you and just for a short while, allow yourself to be transported back to a time when bread and butter pudding was on the menu, alongside lemon meringue pie. Yum!
‘It’s the children which are coming back now with their kids,’ Helen told us.
She’s getting to entertain a whole different generation. To learn of births and deaths through those who visit. She remembers things about you – like the fact that I would wear boots like doctor martins, with my pretty dresses and skirts. That would make them giggle many years ago.
It’s not fancy, in fact it’s old fashioned and there are comfier places, but if you want to try somewhere full of heart. Why not give Eastleigh Manor a go.
In this time of social media and needing to be online – the Griggs have not succumbed. They’re busy through the summer. All you need to do is give them a call on the landline. Enjoy like I did the cool of a crisp autumnal morn, wander over to the horses in the field and give them a stroke. Or saunter up the village road, to enjoy the sweeping vista of the fields down to Bideford, the local town. Make the most of the warm welcome at Eastleigh Manor. Explore Devon. Digitally detox (although it does have wifi) and enjoy.
Tel: 01271 860418