August has flown past again in a bit of a blur, as usual. It always seems to be our busiest month of the year, despite being fully booked from April until October. Keeping the pool up and running smoothly puts us both under extra pressure. The ‘one family at a time’ rule and sanitising between users has been a bit complicated but we are coping with everything. Lockdown may have ended but we are still socially-distancing and sanitising and wearing masks indoors. With Devon and Cornwall being so popular for ‘staycationing’ Covid cases are rapidly increasing in the south-west. Nearly 80% of us are now fully jabbed and hospitalisations are now predominantly in younger, unvaccinated people. Progress is slow, but it is still progress.

Since my last instalment the Olympic Games have been and gone. Didn’t the Brits do well. Despite pandemic restrictions Japan did a fantastic job of organising the whole show. The new sports of skate-boarding, BMXing, surfing and climbing were very watchable and definitely caught the imagination and interest of our younger guests. We watched ‘The Madison’ cycling competition with consternation – what was that all about. Did anybody understand what was going on ? The Omnium wasn’t much better. At least in the BMX you could tell who was winning. Never mind, the medals kept coming in. Who said winning wasn’t important…..! Anyway, congratulations to all at ‘Team GB’. As for the ‘Lions tour in South Africa…….if only Liam Williams had passed the ball out to Josh Adams we may have won the tour……if only….

The weather has been reasonably good throughout August. We’ve had some rain, but mostly at night. Guests have spent most of the month either beside our pool or on the beach. We were down at Saunton ourselves a few days ago. Fish and chips on the beach and walking the dogs through the dunes at sunset…who said romance was dead. Misty and Rosie were going around like Duracell Bunnies. We have never seen so many rabbits. Watching the sun disappear beyond Lundy Island was spectacular in itself, but with a one-eyed terrier whizzing past at forty-miles-an-hour every few seconds made it completely unforgettable. Both dogs fell asleep in the back of the car and could hardly get out of bed the next day. Still, at least they have both recovered from last months traumatic operations.

Bank Holiday weekend is over and the combining is just about finished. Time to get shoes on Matey and start preparing for another hunting season. The ploughs will be out and about soon and the country-side will suddenly change colour again. After the gold/ yellow of the wheat and barley before combining to the rich dark brown of the ploughed fields and before long the bright green of emerging winter cereals. What a fabulous and ever-changing landscape we are fortunate enough to inhabit.

We have been surrounded by fields of thatching straw this year, much to the delight of many of our guests. The wheat is cut with an old-fashioned reaper binder and tied into bundles or sheaves which are dropped onto the floor one at a time. A human being then comes along and stands the sheaves up into stooks so that the grain can ripen and dry in the sunshine and wind. Seven weeks later and more human beings have arrived to hand stack the sheaves into a strange ‘bundler/baler’ contraption and then a tractor and loader comes along and puts the bundles onto a trailer which takes them away to be further processed, by more human beings, into thatching straw and grain. The whole process harks back nearly two centuries and is wonderfully reminiscent of peaceful rural activities that once put us at the heart of both the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions. However, I couldn’t help pointing out to Jonathon, who owns and runs the business that you can now buy slates…..!

We are now in the last week of the school holidays and hopefully schools will be getting back to normal again next week. That means life for those of us involved in the hospitality trade will begin to slow down a bit……not. We are now fully booked until the end of October with families with pre-school aged children. We start doing short-breaks and long weekends. That means two change-overs every week and no days off…! There will be less traffic on the roads and fewer people wandering around shops and going into pubs and restaurants…….and spending less money. Oh well, onwards and upwards, hopefully.

Out on the farm we have managed to hatch out our first clutch of chicks. Something that usually happens as a matter of course. Last year we had chicks in January but for a variety of reasons it just hasn’t, this year. We have two more broodies due next week and the following week so fingers crossed we may yet have replacements for next year. The rest of the menagerie are all thriving. The ponies are fattening up faster than the lambs and pigs, as usual. I have finally got around to replacing the old corrugated steel roof on the tack-room and feed store in our farmyard. It has been a bit of an eyesore for years. There wasn’t much holding it in place. One good gust of wind would probably have saved me at least a days hard work but it makes more sense to be in control….ish! Maybe I should consider re-thatching it………

Must go now. I’ve got some concrete blocks to cut.
Cheers for now, Farmer Chris