Saturday, 5 December 2009

Snowdrop Valley

Snowdrop Valley always used to be one of Exmoor's best-kept secrets; it's a bit more well known now. Definitely worth a visit - the snowdrops look wonderful. In 2010 the park & ride from Wheddon Cross will run from 30th January until 21st February. You can walk down to the valley too, of course, via a pretty winding path.
At Exmoor House we'll be opening our dining room as a tearoom most days during Snowdrop Valley time, from 11.00am to 3.00pm. We serve lovely homemade rolls with a choice of fillings, nice hot soup, cream teas, cakes and so on, and of course a good choice of hot and cold drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
We're usually open for dinner in the evenings, too - advance booking is essential for this.
And if you like the idea of a late winter break to see the snowdrops, just give us a call!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Red deer viewing on Exmoor

Some of our recent guests were very lucky to spend 2 hours watching a herd of red deer on the Exford side of Dunkery. 'Compulsive viewing!' they said. There were 2 stags, vying for the attention of about 20 hinds, and a 3rd stag who managed to abduct 2 of the females. As a bonus, our guests also saw Exmoor ponies.
We retraced their steps the other day, but alas the deer were nowhere to be seen. It was exceptionally windy, so they were probably sheltering in the combe. We did see ponies, though, now with their winter coats well growing in.
We walked into Stoke Pero, had a look round the tiny ancient church and got screamed at by the resident guinea-fowl at the nearby farm (better at raising the alarm than geese, I reckon!).
Sometimes people are surprised at how 'cultivated' parts of Exmoor are, as it doesn't maybe fit with their vision of a moor; but when you get up around Stoke Pero it's wilder countryside. Lovely for a bracing walk on a windy day, and all part of Exmoor's charm - we're so privileged to have such a fantastic variety of scenery on our doorstep.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Food intolerances and special diets

More and more people seem to be developing intolerances or allergies to more and more foods at the moment... with my complementary therapist hat on, I'm sure that there's a connection with the highly-processed diet, loaded with artificial additives, that has become so common.

At Exmoor House we try and cater for particular dietary requirements: vegetarian of course, and wheat-free/dairy-free diets for example (although, being out in the sticks, we do need a bit of notice to ensure we can get the right type of milk substitute, flour, etc, in). If you're coming to stay with us, please do let us know any strong dislikes in the food line too, so that we can plan accordingly - we really want the meals to be a highlight of your time here!

The other week, out of 10 guests staying with us, 5 couldn't eat wheat/gluten or dairy, and two couples had multiple allergies which meant we had to plan the menus very carefully indeed. This tested Frank's culinary ingenuity - it's good to be kept on your toes! - and we learnt some useful recipe variations (e.g. using coconut milk to make a white sauce).

Gluten-free baking involves slightly different techniques and we have had some things that didn't turn out as they should (concrete scones, anybody?) - but we've discovered some great recipes like a delicious carrot cake and a squidgy dark chocolate-almond cake... Maybe there needs to be another name for gluten-free bread, though, as it's not like 'real' bread in texture - more like crumpet, often. Not unpalatable, just different.

But as a friend of ours says: 'I think about what I can eat, rather than what I can't'.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Thinking about Christmas and New Year

Yes, it seems to be creeping up quite fast: it's November already, you know...

Have you decided what you're doing yet? How about a house party at Exmoor House? Over Christmas and New Year we're open solely for house parties.

The deal is that you get the whole place to yourselves for a stay of at least 2 nights, on a full board basis. We can take up to 12 people, in our 5 rooms (1 double, 3 double or twin, 1 family room sleeping up to 4).

It's a great opportunity to spend some quality time with family and/or friends, just eating, drinking, chatting by the fire, taking a stroll in the fabulous Exmoor countryside if you feel like it. A real escape, and totally relaxing.

We'll tailor-make a package for you - so prices will vary - depending on what you'd like in the way of food. A traditional turkey & Christmas pudding type feast with the Exmoor House touch? A sumptuous buffet? Something a bit different (a selection of delicious curries perhaps) - or all of the above?

If you're tempted, do get in touch with us to discuss. In order to plan everything, we'd need to have bookings confirmed before the end of this month.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Walking from Exmoor House: some of our favourite walks

We've discovered some great walks from our door over the last year or so. The most well-known is up to Dunkery Beacon and back, which you can do several different ways (e.g. via Luckwell Bridge or Snowdrop Valley) and make into a very long walk if you want to. On a clear day, the views from Dunkery Hill are absolutely stunning.
Some of our other favourites are to follow part of the Coleridge Way towards Luxborough, then turn off for a different route back to Wheddon Cross. Or you can walk through Cutcombe, then cut across the fields to East Wood, go down to Sully's Corner and back via Putham Lane.
The autumn colours are coming along nicely now so the woods are looking wonderful.
Many of the footpaths and bridleways follow old sunken lanes and former drover's roads - amazing to think that centuries ago these would have been the equivalent of motorways.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Food Fest a great success

The Exmoor Food Festival went really well this year, by all accounts. We certainly had a good number of people in to try our lunchtime tasting platters. Definitely worth doing again in 2010. We might do something similar to the tasting platters - somebody suggested we have tasters of puddings too - or maybe we'll have something different. We'll be promoting it here and on our website, as well as in our newsletter and via the Festival publications, of course.
If you thought about coming over for lunch but didn't make it, do remember that we can usually provide lunches for groups of 4 or more people, when booked at least 48 hours in advance (menu to suit - we'll discuss your requirements with you). And we're open most evenings for dinner - again, booking is essential.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Exmoor Tasting Platters - menu for Exmoor Food Festival

Book your table now for our 'lunch with a difference' - Exmoor Tasting Platters - served as part of the Exmoor Food Festival, 2nd - 11th October (12-2pm each day). For £8.50 a head you can choose 3 different tapas-style servings of things like our potted beef, spinach & garlic terrine, home-cured meats (e.g. smoked pork tenderloin), Somerset cheeses (including Exmoor Jersey Blue)... all served with salad, home-made breads and a choice of home-made pickles. You can add extra tasting portions too.
For pudding, why not try some of our wonderful home-made ice cream (which we make in some slightly unusual flavours like blackberry & elderberry) or a delicious, light and very chocolatey sponge...
To go with your meal we've some good local beers and Somerset ciders, a nice range of wines, organic soft drinks from Devon and tea and coffee from our local supplier.
Look forward to seeing you!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Red deer rutting on Exmoor

October's the red deer rutting season, and Exmoor is a great place to see (and hear) the stags in all their splendour. Here on Exmoor we have the largest concentration of wild red deer in Europe, as well as fallow deer and roe deer.
The Porlock Visitor Centre organises 'rutting weekends' each year, and there are a number of companies offering 4 x 4 safaris on the moor. The Exmoor National Park rangers also organise escorted walks.
Come and stay at Exmoor House for a few nights (being in Wheddon Cross, we're more or less right in the middle of the national park) and you can go in search of the deer herds...

Monday, 7 September 2009

Walking from Tarr Steps

Frank & I don't get out much when things are busy here at Exmoor House; but we had a free afternoon last week and went over to Tarr Steps - hadn't visited this part of Exmoor for a while. We did part of the Tarr Steps/Withypool circuit. Thought we could cross the river partway along, but in fact it's not possible so we returned the same way and came down the hill again! It was the most walking we'd done for a while... We saw deer (Bambi & his mum) and a rabbit too (must've been Thumper), as well as lots of birdlife - and sheep of course. There are the remains of some really old hedgebanks, which are very picturesque, all overgrown with moss. Some of the leaves are just starting to turn, but in general everything's still looking quite green. The heather continues to hold its own too - Dunkery Beacon, as seen from our dining room, is still very purple.

Monday, 31 August 2009

North Devon & Exmoor Autumn Walking Festival

For the first time this year there's an autumn walking festival for North Devon & Exmoor, as well as the one in May. The autumn festival is from 18th to 21st September. There are eight walks, for all abilities, to choose from each day. Some great stuff!
Why not book a few days at Exmoor House and take in some of the walks while you're here? (You need to book for the walks too - there's a link to the walking festival site from our website). September's a great time for walking on Exmoor, with - we hope, anyway - some mellow autumn weather on the way.
See you soon!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Exmoor Food Festival: try some prize-winning chutney

A reminder that the Exmoor Food Festival takes place from 2nd - 11th October. At Exmoor House we'll be doing tasting platters at lunchtime every day. We're calling it lunch with a difference - it's a chance to try a selection of our pates, pickles, home-made bread, local cheeses, salads... with some delicious puddings to follow if you still have room. And, yes, we do have prize-winning chutney: Frank's spicy tomato chutney won a first prize at the Cutcombe Fete in early August.
It's essential to book for the October lunches; please contact us (all contact info is on our website) if you'd like some more details.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Sustainable energy in Wheddon Cross

You might have gathered from this blog and our website that I'm keen on all things green.
Last night I was at a meeting in our village hall about a proposed Wheddon Cross & Cutcombe sustainable energy plan. Forum 21, our local sustainable communities group, are going to help the Parish Council and other volunteers draw up the plan. It's all quite exciting - there are lots of possibilities. Early days yet, but the initial plan needs to be finalised by the end of this month, then there'll be a process of trying to get funding for the village to help with putting the projects in place.
I'll post updates here when there's more news.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Exmoor looks fab after all the rain!

Yes, we have had a bit of rain recently. Today it's sunny and much warmer, though. Does that mean the Met Office's 'barbeque summer' is here? It feels more like holiday time should, anyway.
We drove over to Taunton yesterday and going over the Brendon Hills everything was wonderfully green and lush, with that washed-clean kind of look. This spring was especially flower-full, and it looks like this is going to continue, with the rosebay willowherb looking gorgeous just now and the heather getting more purple by the day.
Another benefit from the rain is that the whortleberries are large & juicy - we made whortleberry pie last week (delicious with clotted cream). We look forward to blackberry-picking season!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Herbs & salad

Well, the rain we've had recently has meant that the salad crops I planted are flourishing! The leafy ones, anyway - lots of lovely rocket & baby lettuce leaves, and the spring onions are coming on nicely. Sadly, the tomatoes are not doing so well. They should pick up once we get more sun though.
The herbs are really vibrant: the mint's incredibly minty, the lemon balm very lemony, and the sage - well - sagey. Last year my sage was comprehensively eaten by snails, but this time it seems to be surviving much better.
Frank does a great dish of local chicken breast stuffed with our home-grown herbs and wrapped in local bacon, which we serve with a herby tomato sauce - delicious! We've also been doing some wonderful maincourse salads.
Remember that Exmoor House is open to non-residents for dinner (though it's essential to book at least 24 hours in advance, especially if you have any particular dietary requirements).
Hope to see you soon!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Special offers at Exmoor House with FreeDiscountCard

Exmoor House has joined the FreeDiscountCard scheme, and we've special offers available for members. There are also discounts available on all sorts of other things nationwide.
Have a look at for more information!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Another award for Exmoor House

We had our Quality in Tourism (Visit Britain) inspection last week. Just got the inspector's report yesterday and were delighted to learn that as well as our 4* grading we now have a Silver Award too. That means that we scored highly in all Visit Britain's quality categories (e.g. hospitality, food, comfort & cleanliness). Good to have this official recognition!

Friday, 26 June 2009

House parties special offer

For a limited time, we've a special offer on house parties. For a stay of 2 or more nights, the price is now £640 per night (was £690). That's amazing value for dinner, bed & breakfast for a group of up to 12 people, with exclusive use of Exmoor House. The offer doesn't apply to stays over the Christmas/New Year period (see my post of 12th June for more info about house parties during the festive season).

Friday, 19 June 2009

Reiki & remedies

If you've stayed with us recently - or even just passed by and seen my poster in the window - you probably know that I'm a practitioner of various complementary therapies and techniques: Reiki, Bach Flower Remedies and Metamorphic Technique. I've been doing them all for a while, but only relatively recently started promoting them again (we wanted to concentrate on the operational side of Exmoor House itself first!).

So this is just a reminder that Reiki and the other techniques are available during your stay; it's best to book a little way in advance though. The benefits can be many and varied. Obviously it would be unethical of me (not to mention illegal!) to claim that they can 'cure' anything, but many people - myself included - have experienced amazing results. And for a chance to have some me-time and totally relax, Reiki or Metamorphic Technique are hard to beat. Bach Flower Remedies give the opportunity to gently balance any unhelpful emotions you might be feeling.

Of course, you don't have to be staying at Exmoor House to book an appointment... I welcome enquiries from people living locally.

More details? Email me:

Friday, 12 June 2009

What are you doing at Christmas?

For a different way of celebrating Christmas and New Year, how about a house party at Exmoor House? We'll be open exclusively for house parties over the festive season, for stays of two nights or more on a full-board basis. You could have a traditional style Christmas feast, a buffet or something else entirely - whatever you prefer. Just let us know and we'll give you a quote.

You'll have the place to yourselves so you can be as riotous or as calm as you like - a chance to spend some real quality time with family or friends. Enjoy the countryside, relax by the fire, play games, sit and chat... and escape the endless TV repeats!

This is definitely not one of those 'turkey & tinsel' type breaks (though you can of course have either or both!). No organised entertainment, etc - you're free to please yourselves as to what you'd like to do, with all the cooking, washing up etc will be taken care of. All you need to do is have a thoroughly good time.

Sounds appealing? Get in touch!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Festivals of walking, food & culture on Exmoor

There are some fabulous events coming up on Exmoor later in the year.

For the first time there's an Exmoor Autumn Walking Festival - it's from 18th-21st September. Details will be available soon but if it's anything like the walking festival in April/May, there'll be some really interesting and unusual guided walks. There's a link to the festival site from our website.

The Exmoor Food Festival is from 2nd-11th October. Exmoor House is taking part: we'll be offering Exmoor tasting platters - lunch with a difference. You can try a selection of our pates and terrines, pickles and cheeses, served tapas-style, with salad and our home-made bread. There are some wonderful puddings to follow if you still have room. Booking is essential - please see our website, where you'll find our contact details.

And there'll be a feast of culture too in October (8th-18th) with the Two Moors Festival: concerts, recitals and other exciting happenings across Exmoor and Dartmoor.

Where to stay? Exmoor House of course!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Spot of lunch or dinner?

Now we've got some fine summery weather at last, you might be thinking about getting out and about a bit more. Did you know that we do lunches and dinner at Exmoor House for non-residents?

Because we make everything ourselves we do need a bit of notice, though, so advance booking (at least 24 hours in advance for dinner, a few days before for lunch) is essential.

You can book lunch for a minimum of 4 people, maximum about 12. Let us know the kind of thing you'd like - e.g. ploughman's, soup & sandwiches, buffet or a more substantial meal - and we'll do you a quote!

Dinner is a set 3-course menu, which changes every day, with a couple of choices for each course. We can cater for various dietary requirements (for example vegetarian, wheat-free, dairy-free...). That's another reason why we need bookings in advance - being in a very small village we have to order most of our supplies in.

Do get in touch if you'd like any more information.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

We've won a national green award!

I'm delighted to announce that Exmoor House is one of the top 12 in the country, out of 425 businesses assessed by Green Tourism last year - earning us one of their Best Performer 2008 awards. Unfortunately, we couldn't get to the awards ceremony, which was in London, but we've received our certificate - now proudly displayed on the wall in our hallway. A press photographer came to see us last week so there should be some pics of us clutching the certificate appearing in Exmoor National Park publications sometime soon!

Here's a copy of the media release I sent out about the award:

National green award for West Somerset guest house

Exmoor House, a small guest house and restaurant at Wheddon Cross, has received a Best Performer 2008 award from Green Tourism. This accolade makes it one of the top 12 in the country out of 425 businesses assessed by Green Tourism last year. The award recognises energy performance, green grading and efforts by Exmoor House owners Rosi Davis and Frank Velander as Green Ambassadors for sustainable tourism in England.
‘We were delighted to achieve a Silver grading from Green Tourism’, says Rosi. ‘We’re even more delighted to have gained this special award. It's always been very important to us to operate in an environmentally-friendly way. To me it's common sense to try and make as little adverse impact on the planet as possible and not to waste resources. We’re now working on the suggestions in our assessment report, and have introduced some new ideas of our own. There is always more we can do though. We’ll try to go for a Gold award next!’
The green assessment takes into account every aspect of the business. An important factor is helping to sustain the local economy – something Frank and Rosi are passionate about. ‘We pride ourselves on serving great homemade food to our guests, using good quality ingredients and buying local wherever we can’, says Frank. ‘There are some excellent producers and suppliers round here, who we’re glad to support’.
The couple found the assessment process very user-friendly, with plenty of support available throughout. They won a very helpful pre-assessment visit from an Envision SW consultant (courtesy of SW Tourism and the RDA). SWT also contributed towards their Green Tourism membership fee. Exmoor National Park Authority’s Sustainable Economy Department gave a grant from the Keeping Exmoor Special fund and provided advice and information.