The original plan had been just to find a place to park and hot-foot it to the restaurant but once we arrived, we were very quickly distracted by how cute the village is!
It kinda reminds me of Castle Combe in some ways (a more colourful version perhaps?).
It was decided – a quick jaunt through the streets was necessary before dinner!
Eventually though, the rumbling in my tummy reminded me that I’d put off dinner for far too long and with that, we headed over to the Reeves Restaurant for some much need grub.
I started off with pre-dinner cocktails in the garden outside (sparkling water for Lloyd on driving duties) before being ushered in once our tables were ready.
Dinner here was absolutely fantastic – I might as well start off with that! I knew it would be in advance though because everyone I’d spoken to about my dinner plans had nodded enthusiastically in approval.
We both started off with scallops (served on haggis)…
…before tucking into a perfectly cooked, tender steak for myself and beef wellington for Lloyd.
For dessert, I went for the crème brulee while Lloyd went for the chocolate fondant (as per usual 😀 ).
With that, we headed over to the Beach Hotel in Minehead, for some well-deserved kip pre the following day’s activities.
Now, because we don’t really have ‘dangerous’ animals in the UK (no bears, wolves or mountain lions…etc), I sometimes forget we have proper animals in the UK.
I think it’s because you can just go roaming anywhere and your main concern would probably be the weather, not getting trampled by a herd of wild bison or being stalked by some big cat and so I forget about wildlife all together most times we’re out and about.
I do however find wildlife in general so fascinating and so my excitement the following morning, at going on a bit of safari to find wild deer (amongst other indigenous wildlife in Exmoor) is probably easier to understand.
We met with Andrew of Red Stag Safari shortly after breakfast and hopped into his Range Rover, in search of Exmoor’s wildlife.
To be fair, it was also a tour of the local area but, like I said, I’m a sucker for the wildlife. Microgapping is all about getting in those gap year-esque experiences, except of course, in a much shorter time frame (i.e. a long weekend in our case) so this was just perfect excuse to indulge my wildlife curiosity.
And so off we went, nipping in and out of parts of Exmoor I certainly wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
We soon came across our first sightings of the deer in the distance (turns out, they’re very skittish and will do their best to steer clear of humans where possible – which I guess I kinda expected anyway).
We also found out that they tend to lose their horns once a year (the stags do), and you can just pick them up in the forests.
It’s crazy because they grow them all back again – even bigger than before and it’s this weird boney thing that’s covered in fur initially and can be a tad disgusting (to be frank) when the fur’s falling off it and the bone’s slowly being revealed underneath it.
Oh, and it would typically be white but it gets stained from the soil and the streets when the stags use their horns.
Leaving the deer, we happened upon truly wild Exmoor ponies. It’s funny but because horses are domesticated, I also totally forgot that there were actually wild horses available anywhere – let alone somewhere just a couple of hours away from London.
They’re pretty magnificent beasts!
We carried on through the moors, past ancient bridges and even spotting a kestrel randomly as we went by.
We learnt the tale of the Lorna Doone (US version available here)– an old English classic, written by R. D. Blackmore who lived here when he was younger and even got to see exact spots from the book. (Truth be told, I’d never read the book prior or even heard about it so a quick synopsis was required at the time but I found out later that it’s quite a revered piece of English literature).
Distracted by the stories, we happened upon even more red deer (albeit a fair distance away from us again), before deciding to call it a day.
Ironically, I’d come to see the deer and although we didn’t get quite the experience of seeing them as well as I’d have liked, I left thoroughly entertained!
I don’t know if it was the interweaving of the tale of Lorna Doone with the real landmarks, the rustic beauty of some of the villages we came across or just finally seeing those wild ponies but it turned out to be a great way to spend a morning in Devon.
Oh, and by the way, if you’ve never seen grouse properly (I’d seen one like twice – they seemed so rare to me, living in London), then this is the place to see them! There are sooooooooo many and they’re everywhere. They’re almost like wild chickens here. 😀
Anyhoo, with that it was time to head back to London – albeit not without a good taste (quite literally in some parts) of the English beauty that is Devon. 😀