By Claire Smail
As the long bank holiday weekends start to approach you probably find like me a sudden influx of visiting friends and family. This enjoyable migration is always a treat but I do find at the back of my mind the dreaded through of what if the weather is bad when they come, what on earth can we do? Now don’t get me wrong, I love North Devon and think it is probably one of the best places to be on a sunny day as there is so much you can do; surfing, cycling, walking, swimming (once the water has warmed up a bit), BBQ’s on the beach and so much more!
However sayings seem to exist for a reason and so ‘April showers’ is always something to factor in to planning days out. So the question remains what can you do on a cold, wet, windy or all of the above kind of day?
Here are 5 things or places to consider...
Surfing is an ideal sport to do if it is just a bit too cold, wet or windy to sit on the beach. If you have never tried it before there are loads of local surf schools that run group lessons pretty much every day of the week, come rain or shine. Just look them up online or have a chat to them at the beach. At Saunton Beach you will find Walking on Waves and Surf Saunton, and at Croyde there is Surf South West.
If you have tired surfing before but are new to the North Devon beaches try one of the lifeguarded beaches like Croyde or Woolacombe as then you can make sure you stay safe in the lifeguarded surf zones.
The great thing about this sport is once you have put on a wetsuit, trudged down the beach and got into the water you will be having so much fun you will not even notice a bit of rain or a slight breeze.
Collecting Sea Glass
What harm can come from a bit of adverse weather…sometimes there is nothing more fun that layering up in all of your waterproofs and venturing outside despite the precipitation. One of my favourite ways to pass the time is heading to the beach for a breezy walk and collecting of sea glass. I have found Lynmouth, Woolacombe and Combe Martin can be particularly lucrative. Once you have collected your treasures you could head home for some sea glass crafting, take a look at my blog on how to create sea glass cards https://www.saltrock.com/blogs/saltrock-blog/make-it-for-mother-s-day.
If you don’t fancy traipsing around in your best waterproof, just slip on your wellies and head out for a woodland walk. I normally like to head to either Watersmeet or Lee Bay woodlands as you can shelter from most of the rain and go hunting for blue bells, wild flowers and maybe even wild garlic if you go at the right time of year. If you are lucky enough to find wild garlic leaves you could gather some and head home to make some savoury cheese and wild garlic scones or blitz up a couple of bunches of the leaves into wild garlic pesto. To create either of these lovely treats just follow a standard savoury cheese and chive scone or pesto recipe but add in the wild garlic instead of the chives in the scones or basil in the pesto.
Get traditional and treat your loved ones to an afternoon of baking. At this time of year you could get all festive by baking a traditional Easter Simnel cake (this is a fruit cake with a layer of baked marzipan in the middle) it is a relatively easy bake (just takes a while to cook) but can be a lot of fun for all ages as you can spend the whole baking time shaping and decorating the left over marzipan into beautifully decorated eggs, chicks, fruit or imaginative creations. Working with marzipan is pretty easy as you just need icing sugar to keep it from sticking to surfaces, food colouring if you want to add colour (use sparingly, I like to apply with a cocktail stick) and a small amount of water if you want to stick two shapes together.
Beach Clean (followed by one of the best cream teas around!)
If you really want to spend time on the beach then why not take up the #2minutebeach clean challenge. At some point in a beach walk just set everyone the challenge to collect as much beach waste as the can in two minutes. You will find now beach cleaning stations at lots of local beaches (for example there is on at Putsborough beach by the café) where you can find litter grabbers and bag to help you collect. You could also just grab a spare bag from your car before setting out on a walk just in case you are not near a bin when you start your beach clean.
I personally always like to pair up a trip to beach with a cream tea, especially if I have people visiting me. After extensive sampling I have found the following cafes to be my favourites for a good old Devonshire Cream Tea…
In Croyde, head to Sandleigh Tearoom by the National Trust car park or if you are in the village pop in to May Cottage Tea Rooms
In Woolacombe I do a love Fudgies Bakehouse take-a-way cream tea pack, great for eating a cream tea on the beach.
In Westward Ho! I always make time to go to Tea on the Green, but be warned the portion sizes are very generous. I have only ever managed a half cream tea and even that is quite mighty.
In Lynmouth try the Pavilion Dining Room Café, they do great cakes as well as Cream Teas. Plus the view of the ocean is second to none.