I applied for my grant from Dream-a-way in the Spring while I was still very ill and struggling very much. I had gone through 4 years of great difficulty, since my first breakdown in July 2012 and I was only able to survive due to the help of family, friends, medical professionals and kind people around me.I came off my medication in April and I have gradually felt better and better, despite the fact that I still have a few wobbles occasionally. I decided to book a family holiday in North Devon, and to invite as many family and friends as I could, with the intention of the invitation symbolising my gratitude for all their support and compassion.
On 20th July 2016, myself and my mum set off for Stroxworthy, a small hamlet in North Devon. After stringently following the Sat Nav in order to find our destination, we were enchanted to arrive at ‘Shorts Farm House’ , located opposite a dairy farm and surrounded by a few houses and other farms. We let ourselves in and unpacked our luggage. We read in the house information booklet, that the farm had been in our landlady’s family for 100 years. It was filled with beautiful ornaments – mostly illustrated with cows and lots of personal items. We immediately felt that we had settled into a ‘home from home’.
Our first mission was to go food shopping so after the obligatory cup of tea, we set of for Asda in Bideford. When we returned, we filled up the fridge and freezer with delicious food and then unpacked our clothes and other belongings in our bedrooms After a scrumptious supper, we went to bed early. The following day, we explored our immediate surrounding area, walking up the road to a nearby farm shop and purchased some duck breasts, biscuits and jam from the farmer, who was having to diversify his farm in order to make a living. I think he appreciated our custom. During our journey, we met a horse, two donkeys, 3 dogs and several friendly people!
On the Friday, my dad and our friends, Janette and Howard arrived at midday. We had drinks in the garden in the sunshine and they unpacked. We then drove to Bude and walked along the coast path, through the mist, it then started to drizzle, so we headed back to the cars and went to a lovely hotel in the town centre for drinks. We then headed home and cooked supper together.
The following day brought glorious sunshine and so we headed to nearby Clovelly, a unique and quaint village which is owned by one family. The cobbled street is windy and as my mum has Multiple Sclerosis, we travelled down in a jeep, which bounced along the cobbles and arrived at the bottom of the hill, next to the hotel. My dad and our family friends had walked down the cobbles, so we all gathered at the harbour wall, where we sat and had a drink and a bite to eat in the sun. The cobbled high street is inhabited with tea shops, gift shops, B and B’s and a fascinating ‘ Fisherman’s cottage’, which is set up as a museum, with all the original furniture and relics from the past. It gave me insight into the fact that life was also a struggle back then, what with fisherman risking their lives daily to put food on the table. The views were spectacular and at the top of the cobbled street, we were enamoured to find several donkeys, which are resident in Clovelly. The community have to transport their belongings on sledges, as there are no vehicles allowed on the cobbled roads. We had a cream tea at the visitors centre and then watched the informative short film and headed home.
The next day it rained , so we made the most of the day by visiting Appledore and Instow and although we couldn’t face getting out of the car to visit a coffee shop, I braved the rain to top up on supplies at the local shop. We headed home to enjoy coffee, cake, chocolate, an open fire and board games! There were a few battles over whether we should keep the open fire going as it was billowing out smoke, but we all congregated in the sitting room, with the wood burner – a suitable compromise!
That evening, my brother George, his wife Faye and their beautiful baby Jessica arrived in the late afternoon and we had more tea and cake, then took turns to cuddle Jessica. Janette and Howard then left to travel home and we helped George and Faye to unpack and then had supper together and chatted about our plans for the following day.
On Monday, we headed to Bude to visit the beach, taking a cool box full of picnic food and George’s body board. George had a thrilling surf in the sea which he was delighted with, whilst we relaxed on the beach in the sun. It was the first time that my mum had been on the beach for years, due to her M.S, so she enjoyed the experience. it was also little Jessica’s first trip to the beach! When it turned cloudy, we left for the farm house and cooked a scrumptious Barbeque together, my mum was pleased to be able to take part in the cooking too.
On our final full day, my dad and George and Faye and Jessica went to visit Clovelly as my brother and his family hadn’t been, so my mum and I stayed at home to relax and start packing. my dad had to get home that afternoon, so mum and I stayed to cook our final yummy meal of chicken curry and vegetables, and finish the packing and cleaning.
This holiday provided us all a chance to relax and spend some quality time together enjoying the scenery and local hotspots, and I feel extremely privileged to have received such a generous grant from Dream-a-Way. I have been so impressed by the kind, helpful and altruistic nature of the staff working for the charity and thanks to them I will cherish the memories of this holiday for the rest of my life.