You know that daydream that you have? The one where you quit your tedious job in the city, stop unwillingly smelling other people's armpits on public transport, leave the Saturday night crowds of puking students behind, and escape into the countryside? And then you fix up a charmingly delapidated farm house, surround yourself with roaming animals, locally-grown fresh vegetables, and feed breakfast to lonely wanderers? Well, Jane and Cliff Strehlow have done just that, although even better...they've done it VEGETARIAN!
Okay, I don't actually know if Jane and Cliff were living in the city before they moved into Fern Tor Vegetarian and Vegan Guest House. And I don't know if the farm house out of which they operate was delapidated before they got to it. And I don't know if they've ever found themselves fighting through crowds of puking teenagers. But I do know that they run a beautiful bed and breakfast nestled amongst peaceful Devon fields, and I know that they serve delicious vegetarian meals chockful of local produce, and I know that they provide a loving home for many rescued farm animals.
I know this, because a little over a month ago, Dan and I took our spinachy selves out for an anniversary trip to Devon, and stayed at Fern Tor for two happy nights, right outside the little village of Meshaw, Devon, surrounded by waves of green hills dotted with snoozing sheep.
We stayed for two nights, one in the twin room upstairs and one in the lovely double room downstairs. Both rooms are spacious and comfy, with ensuite bathrooms (with bathtubs). From the twin room you get a great view of the garden where you watch the pigs happily snort. And when you wake up in the double room with the sun shining in through the windows and gaze over at the leafy garden just outside your door, you will think you've woken up in a countryside hazy morning dream.
Of course, my main reason for visitng Fern Tor was to increase my proximity to the rescued animals they give sanctuary to. On their fair banks they house a multitude of rabits, two Scottish pigs, several chickens happily snuggling with each other, at least one very disgruntled goose, several shy sheep, and a handful of friendly, curious goats, one of whom came over to me for a little cuddle. Fern Tor is no zoo; the animals need their privacy, but we couldn't resist a wee tip toe around to watch the peaceful, unthreatened animals be, well, peaceful and untreatened.
As I said, my main reason for wating to come to Fern Tor was the animals, but my over-riding memory is of the amazing, plentiful vegan food on offer. We were fed ooddles of aduki bean pie, fresh salads, butternut squash and rosemary soup, mushroom cassoulet, grilled veggie skewers, lemon and ginger "cheesecake", and vegan ice cream sundaes, alongside hearty vegan breakfasts. Amazing. We left the table in pain.
And we left Fern Tor well-rested and well-fed. Happy vegan travels.