The other night my heart sang as I watched East Devon, the small corner of the world I call home feature on the BBC’s Countryfile (watch it here on iPlayer if you didn’t see it). The coastline from Budleigh to Sidmouth, the lower River Otter floodplain and Woodbury common all looked resplendent in the golden winter sun.
I feel both grateful and lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world. It provides an infinite number of exercise routes from our front door (a godsend during lockdowns) as well as being a wonderful setting to raise our children. I often recall my envy of a couple in Auckland we met once who described how they finish work and are at the beach within 30 minutes. We can now have that within 5 minutes!
If we want to travel a bit further afield, Haldon Forest, Dartmoor, Paignton Zoo and the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth all provide child-friendly entertainment, while the Exeter Chiefs and Exeter City FC provide my sporting fix.
Living in rural Britain might not be to everyone’s liking, certainly as a 20-30 something I enjoyed my time in London and Surrey, but as my young adult years morphed into middle age, my priorities changed. East Devon might not have the buzz or diversity of a big city but with good schools nearby, along with the benefits of an outdoor lifestyle, our decision to relocate has been more than justified.
Establishing a new business in an area in which I had no professional connections and limited social ones was going to be a challenge. However, if your vocation is to help people approaching or at retirement make sense of their money, basing yourself in between Sidmouth and Exmouth is not a bad place to start. These days, rather than commuting in and out of London from Guildford, I either hold meetings online or have the pleasure of driving East Devon’s country lanes where the delays are cows en route to the dairy rather than queues on the M25.
For foodies, Devon, being a rural county, also boasts a vibrant and growing food and drink culture. At the top end is Michael Caine’s Lympstone Manor, a perfect venue for a special celebration, while pubs like the Five Bells and restaurants like the Salty Monk provide more affordable options. Producers including Luscombe Drinks and the Two Drifters distillery are ‘punching’ (pun intended) above their weight nationally and internationally. Even more exciting is the plan for East Budleigh’s own Sir Walter Raleigh pub to be taken over and run by the community.
Having grown up in Exeter, Devon remained in my heart so after our son was born I jumped at the chance to move back. Six years on I am so glad I did and await the future with eager anticipation.