Choice Cottages | Self catering holiday accommodation | September 2013

All Holiday Cottages by the Sea in Devon should have a visit to a Maritime Festival ? Sea Ilfracombe Weekend is nearly here

by Admin30. September 2013 10:10

Every Holiday by the Sea should have a visit to a Maritime Festival – Sea Ilfracombe Weekend is nearly here

Friday 6th to Sunday 8th September 2013

Ilfracombe Cottages - Justin Beckley Photography

The largest harbour on the North Devon coast, at Ilfracombe, provides a stunning backdrop for this fifth Maritime Festival. This annual celebration, of all things maritime, provides visitors and locals with a wide mixture of entertainment and fun and is aimed at all age groups. Pick up a map and take a leisurely stroll around this Victorian picturesque town, and whilst you wander, enjoy the entertainment and exhibitions on offer.


Now in its fourth year, Sea Ilfracombe celebrates everything maritime. A huge range of businesses, organisations and individuals come together to mount the most diverse maritime festival in the country. Exhibitions, Have-a-Go sessions, Children’s events, Shanties & Sea Songs, Workshops, Seafood, Fishing, Diving, Rambling – the list goes on…


Personally the Salty Sea Ladies and the Ticklish Fun Show have tempted me. Have a look at the full programme at and start to plan your days. Expect them to be full of fun, learning and activity.


Rather than return home each night you could book holiday cottages in Ilfracombe or the peaceful villages nearby. Book a larger property than you need (the prices are really low at this time of year) and you could take some friends with you to experience the delights of Sea Ilfracombe. Self cater and you could make this a bargain trip of a lifetime, or try to experience all the tempting local produce and wines and beer available in the town and create pleasant memories you’ll want to re-experience year after year.

Time for a Green Holiday in North Devon. Stay in a Luxury Holiday Cottage using Renewable Energy and Visit Tapeley Park to Learn More About Sustainability

by Admin29. September 2013 09:00

Time for a Green Holiday in North Devon. Stay in a Luxury Holiday Cottages Devon using Renewable Energy and Visit Tapeley Park to Learn More About Sustainability

Tapeley Park

Choice Cottages have holiday cottages UK with solar panels, solar water heating, biomass boilers and even a wind turbine. If you fancy a greener holiday then have a chat with the team in our offices to find out which property most suits your needs and do your bit to protect the environment while you stay. Once your self catering holiday cottages accommodation in Devon is booked (do it soon as there are some specials offers on for September) then plan a visit to Tapeley Park and Gardens.


They describe themselves as a ‘sustainable stately home in the making’.  They have built a straw bale house (slightly more substantial then the one in the three little pigs stories of our youth, that the big bad wolf blew down!) I hope you booked one of our North Devon Holiday Cottages that more resemble a stately home than a holiday cottage!


The gardens at Tapeley Park are a magical balance of nature and nurture. From the formal terraces to the natural grace of the lake, it feeds the spirit and cleanses the heart of all who see it and experience its beauty. With thoughtful woodland walks, abundant organic vegetable gardens and surprising animal encounters, a day at Tapeley Park is truly a day to remember. The Terraces are one of Tapeley Park's oldest and best known features. Hand dug, the south facing walls and sheltered borders created by the terracing are full of semi-tropical and tender flowers rarely seen in the UK. The top terrace is a masterpiece of crumbling splendour. Choose your entrancement from the array of fairy-tale portals: a tiny cobbled gap in the hedge; between ivy-covered obelisks and lichen-dappled statues; down long steps through a tunnel of palms and exotic foliage. From the ornate Shepherd Shed at one end to the evergreen Lovers Tunnel at the other and its hidden stone seat, romance and magic are in the air. The smallest of the three, the middle terrace is all about plants, its yellow and blue borders punctuated by huge, barrel shaped hedge trees in the centre. At the western end, the bottom of the evergreen tunnel comes out to a vista of the bottom terrace. On the lowest and largest terrace, a sense of enchanted sleep is in the air, the wide lawn edged with topiary, occasional crumbling statues, the folly known as The Toot could be the resting place of many a sleeping princess, and beyond the half-moon pond a stairway up to a hedge-framed doorway tempting you away into the magnificent trees beyond. 


When the sun so long has been shining down that the happy smile turns to sweaty frown then you know its time for tea and cakes or a trip to the gift shop. Don’t miss the Monument and labyrinth, the highland cattle and the lake, by heading for tea too soon or eating so much you opt for a sleep in the sun rather then exploring more! More Info at:

Preparing your Home to be a Holiday Cottage Rental Property for letting ? an Owner?s Perspective

by Admin28. September 2013 09:00

Preparing your Home to be a Holiday Cottage Rental Property for letting – an Owner’s Perspective

Rent my holiday Cottage

In the last instalment I took you though our steps to make the decision to rent out our home as a holiday cottages uk rental property and the start of our relationship with Choice Cottages. This instalment will look at preparing your home for the first rental.


We started by using the list prepared by Choice Cottages. This can be hard as fresh eyes spot all the things that you tend to ignore and the list that they prepare may be a bit of a reality check! In our case our home had been almost completely derelict when we purchased it, ten years earlier, and we had renovated it to the point where most things worked, but many other things were not yet finished. 


Take an objective look at each room yourself. If this was your first visit to this property what would you think? That stain on the carpet, that you know was red wine cleared up many years ago, may make the room look unclean to a new pair of eyes. Is the state of the decoration making the room look tired?


Although you don’t want to replace things just for the rental period, especially if it is for the school summer holidays only, consider, as you replace things when they wear out, their suitability for rental use. You are likely to realise that quite a lot of things need replacing before you open up for the first season, but there will be much less for following seasons.


When replacing things I think there are two considerations you want to have for a rental property that you might not think about for your own home.


  1. How easy will this be to clean in the short time we have for change over each week?
  2. How durable will this be with the heavier use that a full house will put upon it for each of the rental weeks?


We had many hard floors in the house. The one room with a carpet is always the hardest to make look clean and also takes longer than other rooms. Light coloured carpets and flooring look lovely and add a feeling of space and light, but you may then need to be prepared to replace them more often and be ready to deal with any stains or marks you find on change over day. This is especially important if you allow pets to come and stay with their families.


Our house sleeps 12 and is almost always at full occupancy when it is rented. The floors and furniture take far more traffic than when we (a family of four) are in the house. I have noticed that where I have rugs in areas where lots of people walk through that, even after one season, they have a clear mark across them showing the heavier use they are getting. One rug I now expect to replace every year.


The remedy to this may require some up front investment to save money and time later – when replacing floor coverings make sure they are as durable as possible (our slate and polished oak flooring is showing no signs of wear after 3 years) or choose carpets that you will feel that you can replace at regular intervals and accept that the cost of keeping the flooring looking good is part of the expense of renting out the house, more than compensated for by the income you gain from it.


When considering the suitability of kitchen appliances, showers, thermostats, gadgets, TV equipment etc. (we have learnt from experience with all of these) try to picture using them for the first time, with no instructions. If they are easy, then probably most of your visitors will be able to work it out. If not, then think about adding instructions to your welcome book. When our complicated touch screen cooker went wrong we decided to replace it with a much simpler one with straight forward knobs. Previously we had had to show every group of visitors how to turn it on and also had instructions for its use in the book. We still have to have detailed instructions on how to use the Rayburn as most of our visitors are unfamiliar with this type of stove. A simple label on remotes to indicate which gadgets they work also is helpful. A laminated instruction sheet, kept with DVD players, instructing how to change from TV/Sky/DVD etc. may save your equipment from needing re-setting every week.


If putting in additional facilities (e.g. showers) consider how the house will be used. We have five showers in the house and find that our visitors all go to the beach and then all come back and immediately have showers/baths. Our hot water storage system was too small to cope with this and also two of the showers shared the same pump, meaning neither worked well if they went on together (not a problem when it is only our family in the house). For our 2nd year of rentals this was the first significant change we made. 


If you do not need to replace things before your first rental then leave it a season and see how it works. There may be no difficulties and there will be enough costs in the first year that you won’t want to spend money unnecessarily.

It is important to think of the on going expenses of renting out the house. We have three times as many people in the house when it is rented as we do when we move back in. That means things will wear out three times as quickly. In reality, as not all visitors treat things as carefully as we do and accidents do happen (at least three times as often with increased numbers) things are likely to break/wear out more quickly. We put aside some of the income from the house each year to bring it back up to the standard it was on day one of the first rental (or hopefully even better). This lessens the number of crisis’ when things go wrong mid rental and have to be repaired immediately and also ensures the property lives up to its 5* rating (more on getting a good rating in another episode).


In the next episode I will tell you about our experiences of equipping the house for rentals, what proved to be unnecessary expense and what was essential.

Last of the Summer Flowers in Docton Mill Gardens near Hartland

by Admin27. September 2013 09:00

Last of the Summer Flowers in Docton Mill Gardens near Hartland

Docton Mill Gardens

Docton Mill Wild Flower Gardens are situated in North Devon in a stunning valley, 1000m from the coast. The Garden started in the 1930’s but fell into disrepair in the 1970’s. 1980 saw the Mill renovated and Garden cleared with extensive planting and the creation of a new Bog Garden and borders and vast numbers of trees were planted. The start of the new Millennium saw developments including a new Magnolia Garden with large Herbaceous borders, Woodland Garden and Greenhouse area enabling more extensive plant propagation. The Wild Flower Garden’s theme is to make everything as natural as possible. In spring there are displays of narcissi, primulas, camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas with bluebells covering the woods. In summer the garden abounds with roses, there is a rosebank of Felicia and Pax and adjacent to this is the Herbaceous border. In this field there are 25 varieties of magnolia - truly a garden to give variety throughout the seasons.

Devon is famous for cream teas and Docton Mill Gardens is no exception. They have a beautiful tearoom, supplying local, home grown produce (including a seafood platter, salads and a variety of desserts) and, of course, cream teas. Best is a word that appears many times in relation to these garden - Voted Best Tea Room in North Devon at the North Devon Food & Drink Awards, Gold medal winner at Devon County Show and Voted Best Cream Tea in Devon, at the North Devon Food & Drink Awards 


Enjoy a day out and see North Devon at its Best! More info at 

Clovelly?s Lobster and Crab Feast with Complementary Bubbly!

by Admin26. September 2013 09:00

Clovelly’s Lobster and Crab Feast with Complementary Bubbly!

Lobster and Crab Feast Clovelly

A lobster and Crab Feast is being held in Clovelly on Sunday 1st September 2013 in support of the National Lobster Hatchery. Clovelly's lobsters and crabs are legendary and you can experience them in The Red Lion Harbour Restaurant in Clovelly, who will be offering delicious lobster, crab and seafood platters, each with a complimentary glass of bubbly. You can make a full day out in the picturesque harbour village, as there will also be with a day of live folk music, quay kitchens, prize cookery competition, beer tasting, prize draw, arts and crafts stalls and cookery demonstrations.  


For the children there's street theatre, walkabout magic, balloon modelling, and North Devon A.O.N.B.'s event-themed craft activities. The event is being held in aid of the National Lobster Hatchery, Padstow, who will bring along a tank of baby lobsters, to be later released into the sea. 


More info at:

Enjoy a North Devon Holiday Cottages Weekend and visit the US Army Assault Training Centre 70th Anniversary Event at Woolacombe

by Admin25. September 2013 10:10

Enjoy a North Devon Holiday Cottages Weekend and visit the US Army Assault Training Centre 70th Anniversary Event at Woolacombe 

US Army Assault Training Centre Woolacombe

This event will be held on Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September 2013 in Woolacombe. There is last minute accommodation available for the weekend so why not pop down to Devon for the weekend and enjoy a short break as well as visiting the event.  The sea temperature is at its warmest at this time of year so ideal for a swim, body board or surfing session. There is so much to do in the area that you will need to plan when you will fit in the WWII event (or you could just extend your stay to a week!) The U.S. Army Assault Training Centre was established on 1st September 1943 to teach and train American infantry the tactics of amphibious assault in preparation for D-Day 6th June 1944.

To commemorate this historic 70th anniversary a two day event will take place in Woolacombe, at the very heart of the Assault Training Centre, on Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September 2013. An exhibition field just behind the beach will accommodate static displays by WWII living history groups, vehicles and include a field kitchen capable of serving over two hundred people. Toilet facilities and fresh water are available on site and Woolacombe village offers a choice of shops, cafes and restaurants.

Events for both days include:

Static exhibitions; Convoy along Woolacombe beach;
Wreath laying ceremony; Parades;
Mine detection demonstration;
Cliff climbing demonstration;
Obstacle demolition demonstration;
Guided visit to the training areas;
Charity stands;
All day Film shows  and much more.


More info at:

Macmillan Coffee Morning at The BIG Sheep or maybe Scooby-Doo is more for you while staying in North Devon Cottages

by Admin24. September 2013 09:00

Macmillan Coffee Morning at The BIG Sheep or maybe Scooby-Doo is more for you?

Macmillan Coffee Morning at The BIG Sheep

The ‘World’s BIGGEST Coffee Morning’ organized by MacMillan Cancer Care has become a popular annual event in North Devon and this year The BIG Sheep, family attraction in Bideford will be hosting a coffee morning from 10am to 12 noon on Friday 27th September 2013 to raise vital funds for this wonderful charity who provide medical, emotional, practical and financial support for people living with cancer in our local community and everyone is welcome.

Scooby – Dooby - Doo, where are you? – Scooby-Doo is usually busy driving around the world with friends, Shaggy, Daphne, Fred and Velma in their ‘mystery machine’ van, solving mysteries. Don’t despair though because the friendly, but cowardly dog, will be taking time off from his adventures and heading to North Devon to meet all his fans. Scooby, the lovable Great Dane will be bouncing into the BIG Sheep family attraction on Sunday 6th October to check out the site for all things ghostly in time for their famous Halloween Festival.

Top Tip – go to the Website to find out how to get a £5 off voucher for your visit.

More info at:

About Choice Cottages

Choice Cottages specialise in providing quality self catering holiday cottages to let in Devon, Somerset, Cornwall & Dorset in the UK.

We are an expanding family run company with offices in Bideford, Barnstaple, and Braunton and have a friendly, experienced team providing guests with the personal touch.

We have a wide portfolio of quality hand-picked self catering cottages to let in the South West and are proud of our high levels of service to holiday makers.

These well-appointed Devon Cottages will offer you and your family, fantastic access to the designated areas of outstanding natural beauty and inspiring scenery in North Devon and the best weather in England.

We currently specialise in the West Country Counties with many properties in the popular Seaside areas of: Croyde Bay, Saunton, WoolacombeLee Bay, Westward Ho!, Appledore, Bideford, Teignmouth, Lynton and Lynmouth. In addition, a selection of properties are available for the Country and town locations of: Barnstaple, Braunton, GeorgehamExmoorHartland and Torrington

With hundreds of hand-picked properties to choose from, you are assured of the best of quality, from luxury Holiday Cottages to romantic getaways, pet friendly properties and large traditional thatch Holiday Homes - there is something for everyone’s budget.

Choice Cottages is North Devon's Premier self catering holiday cottage letting agent for owners. We have a growing list of clients who have chosen us to market their holiday home for rent and to deal with their bookings, so why not join us now.

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