Castles & Camping: A weekend at Toby's Garden Festival, Devon May 01, 2017 10:06
When the opportunity came to head down the A303 and spend the weekend selling our deckchairs, cushions and garden wares in Devon, I jumped at the chance. After a three year stint of living in Devon, it is a part of the world that has a really special place in my heart. Add beautiful plants for sale, gorgeous independent bakers, brewers and makers selling their wares in the grounds of Powderham Castle, and I was sold.
The only thing missing from this perfect busman's holiday weekend was accommodation. I was thinking cosy little B&B by the coast, however, my husband had other ideas. While I spent last week getting ready for the show, I left him in charge of finding accommodation. The result - wild camping in woodland on the edge of Dartmoor. Really?! I mean, really!?
But, as it turns out, the combination of a castle by day, and camping by night, worked perfectly. Toby's Garden Festival is a garden event brimming with atmosphere. A flower clad folk band set the tone, welcoming people into the Festival grounds. Stalls selling superb, high quality plants, gifts and garden accessories were set in and around the house and gardens. The 'open house' atmosphere was palpable as visitors meandered around, with the sight of deers doing much the same in the park and estate surrounding us. Workshops and talks were the perfect mix of information and entertainment. Hearth and Cook kept us well fed and warm with their cooking demos on a stylish range of outdoor ovens. In fact, hunger was the least of our worries with the selection of food stalls on offer (and believe me, we sampled LOTS).
Like Hansel and Gretel, we scurried back to the woods of an evening, staying at the magical Ashbourne Woods in Rattery. Don't let the name put you off. Surrounded by 68 acres of woodland, but in walking distance of a brilliant pub serving top notch suppers, Ashbourne Woods is a camping site that has just got it right - plenty of space and privacy with amenities close at hand.
Despite the long days and the long drive home, the generosity of spirit we encountered and simple pleasures offered by the beautiful landscape and surroundings left a lasting impression. And of course I couldn't resist loading the van with a few new 'essentials'... plants and shrubs for the garden including a very handsome Restios - lovely, living reminders of a great weekend.