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Sunday Lunch

This particular area of the River Teign is called Arch Brook, where a brook enters the river – husband took this photo out of the window of the car.  The village on the opposite side of the river is Bishopsteignton


Yesterday we enjoyed a family birthday lunch.  Our son’s partner’s mother and father invited us to join them to celebrate the father’s birthday, and they had booked a table for us at Coombe Cellars Pub, which is on the banks of the River Teign here in South Devon.

I would say right away, that this is not a pretty, traditional thatched Devon pub, but it is in the most marvellous setting and the owners, various ones over the years, have turned a mad collection of rooms into a very nice place to visit, either just for a drink or morning coffee or, as yesterday, Sunday Lunch.

I actually took this photo (above) three years ago on a very cold November day.   Yesterday was much nicer but I didn’t manage to take a photo of the whole building yesterday as there were so many cars parked outside, preventing a good view of the façade.  This was the photo (below) that I did take …

Combe Cellars Pub is near the village of Coombeinteignhead and, on researching a bit of its history, I have read that “a guide by William Hyett published in 1800 extolled the inn as ‘standing in a most picturesque situation'”.  I’m not going to argue with that!  Years ago it was known as the Ferry Boat Inn and the word “cellars” refers to the fish cellars – these were huts in which fishermen who did not live on the coast cold store their boats, nets and other fishing equipment.  Indeed, this location and the building has a long history and as well as being used for fishing, it was also a drop-off point for smugglers.  Today, it’s a lovely quirky inn, with lots of various areas inside, some small, some large, some carpeted, some tiled, and with an excellent, diverse menu (husband chose sea bass while I chose crab and prawn fishcakes which came with asparagus and a pea puree.)

Below are various areas of this pub, taken on a previous visit – it was very busy yesterday and it would’ve been rude to point my camera at people as they were eating their Sunday lunches.

We sat in an area which has lovely windows onto the estuary of the River Teign …

This photo was taken three years ago, new chairs have replaced the variety of old chairs that were here.  Indeed, we sat at that table for six in the photo above, opposite the jetty outside.

The road to Coombe Cellars is ‘interesting’ (for which read “narrow”!) We took the coast road from Torquay and, at the village of Shaldon turned left to Coombeinteignhead, a village upstream from Teignmouth.   Immediately we were in the village of Ringmore and one of the first buildings you see is Ringmore Towers …

… a somewhat flamboyant building in red sandstone with towers and battlements, jutting out into the estuary.  I have read that it was constructed by a builder called Collins sometime around 1890, and he lived there  until his death in 1925 (it is now divided into apartments.)

And this is what the building looks like from the estuary, again I took this photo (below) on another occasion …

Further along the road bends around to the left and there is a lovely thatched house with what I refer to as “custard-over-pudding” thatch.

Even in that short space of time, and about 500 yards, the light had changed, so it looked as if it was going to rain (again!)  The building on the right has weatherboarding, and looks extremely smart.

The road continues on for a couple of miles, becoming increasingly narrow until you see the sign to Coombe Cellars.  You have to be careful not to miss it (we have, on occasion, and then you have to drive right into Combeinteignhead village in order to turn around and make your way back to the turn off.)

We came down the road on the right in this photo (below), as if we were coming towards you as you look at this photo, and we needed to turn that hairpin right hand bend, down that narrow lane on the left in this photo.  It necessitated a 3-point-turn in this narrow road in order to achieve this.

We just hoped that we’d not meet another vehicle coming up the long hill (below) down to the  pub as there are few ‘passing places’.

For those living in America, New Zealand and Australia, this is what many a Devon lane looks like:  narrow, twisty and turny, and often steep, too, Devon being a very hilly county.

Eventually we emerged at the bottom of the long lane, parked our car in the pub car park, and met our son and his lovely partner and her parents.

All the items on the menu that we chose were delicious.  The only one minor drawback was that service was extremely slow, but in mitigation, it was a very busy Sunday and, in any case, we weren’t hurrying off anywhere; we were able to enjoy the lovely views and chat and build up an appetite.

This was the view from where I was sitting.  Unfortunately, we have never managed to have a meal here when it’s been high tide on the river  – it’s always been low tide, with the muddy estuary in the foreground, but still it’s a very pretty view towards Dartmoor in the far distance.

After our lunch, we emerged replete, and I took a few more photos.  By now it had turned into a lovely sunny afternoon.

This photo (above) was taken on a previous visit but it shows the conservatory area on the left in which we were seated. This is how the scene looked yesterday …

What a difference sunshine makes!

And finally, the view upstream, towards Dartmoor.

We all then departed and made our various ways home.  Once home all I wanted to do was have a nice little snooze.  Lunch with family in such a lovely setting is hard to beat.  But best of all, of course, is being with family, regardless of setting.  I hope you had an equally lovely day yesterday.

Until next time.

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. It looks so pretty but as my husband gets older he really hates “interesting” roads. We stayed in a lovely Devon cottage last year but he doesn’t want to go back because of the roads getting there. I don’t drive but I don’t blame him. This year we’re going to Seaton and staying right on the front so it should be easier to get to. Also it means I can take myself off for walks round the town if he’s not feeling up to it.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      My husband, also ‘older’ also dislikes driving through our Devon lanes now, Alison. But living here sometimes it’s necessary to negotiate them. Seaton is in a very nice area (East Devon) and you will be able to get to the other towns easily from there – Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, and Sidmouth. We particularly like Sidmouth, the sea front totally unspoilt. Also, if you get the opportunity, visit Beer. The only thing I would say is that the main car park is at the top of a fairly long hill – Beer must have allotments with the best view in the country as they are on the hillside overlooking the sea. It is a very pretty little fishing village, and having crab sandwiches on the beach on a sunny day is lovely.

      • We’ve had fish and chips in the beach cafe at Beer a couple of times and spent a couple of hours sitting just above the beach people watching. I like the donkey sanctuary at Sidmouth too.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I’m so pleased you already know Beer, which is lovely I think. My ‘introduction’ to the place was when I was commissioned to write a short piece on Beer Quarry Caves for BBC History Magazine (as it was then called; it might’ve dropped the “BBC” by now, I’ve not subscribed to it for a long time) and husband and I had an escorted tour of the caves which were worked from Roman times until the 1920s. I confess I’ve not been to the donkey sanctuary, but I’ve heard that it’s a lovely place to visit, and no doubt we will make our way there one of these days.

  2. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    My husband also dislikes hilly narrow lanes, but then so do I. To be more precise, we like the lanes but are less keen when we have to drive on them. We both did a great deal of motorway driving in our jobs and are more comfortable with that. Lunch out is lovely and I generally don’t mind waiting if there are opportunities for people watching.
    Lovely photos throughout this post.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, the lanes are very pretty, but they can be testing when driving through them, certainly! Glad you liked the photos, a ity it was a sunnier day – the sun appeared only as we were leaving. But a very nice place for lunch, Eloise.

  3. England is so fascinating! I love reading about it on these posts. In New Zealand, where I live, it can take ages to get anywhere as we end up driving up hill and down dale, around this corner, then the next corner – so hilly and windy! Many of the motorways have been updated so that we now can get to some places a lot quicker. Sometimes I’ll go a longer route through the countryside rather than go via motorways, as our countryside also is pretty. But in quite a different way.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Ratnamurti, and I’m delighted you enjoy reading about England. Of course, some of our English counties are much flatter than Devon – Lincolnshire and Norfolk for example – where you can see on-coming traffic for miles (or what might seem like miles) – but when you drive through our narrow lanes, you need nerves of steel sometimes in case someone is driving too fast in the opposite direction, or you suddenly find you are behind a driver even slower than yourself or a farm vehicle. And yes, those slightly longer routes which are prettier, are sometimes nice to take if speed isn’t of the essence.

  4. Your photos are always beautiful and I love seeing how your landscape is so different to our Australian landscape. Those little winding roads look like we see on the many British tv shows presented here – both contemporary and those set in a bygone era. I giggled when you said the pub where you had lunch wasn’t a pretty building – it is gorgeous by our standards as our oldest buildings in Australia are less than 230 years old. The chimneys and fireplaces were eyecatching.

    Ringmore Towers is another beautiful building. I’m not sure I’d want to live in an apartment with a curved wall as I’d feel the furniture was never placed right or that the room was spinning !

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I should really be getting on with some much-needed housekeeping, Lara, but I saw your comments had come in and I couldn’t resist making a pot of coffee and sitting down to read them. Husband has just gone to younger son’s house, measuring again for cupboard doors he is making for them in their main bedroom, and so I’m here and I said I would (a) make the bed (b) do the ironing and (c) make a chicken casserole, but I’ve done none of these things … yet!
      I’m delighted you enjoy seeing the photos of the area in which we live and I must make a conscious effort to include more buildings for you to see, as we have such a wide variety from old thatched cottages to brick and stone build houses.
      I agree, curved walls would be a trifle difficult, unless one had the wherewithal to have furniture specially made!

  5. Hello Margaret, I too have been procrastinating today, must be the weather! And you have just reminded me that I, too, have ironing that needs doing. Oh well, I have enjoyed a relaxing afternoon instead! Must admit we are not keen on driving on narrow country lanes and the one to Coombe Cellars looks particularly steep too! However it is often the case that little treasures are to be found at the end of those lanes, pretty villages, delightful little coves or wonderful views. ( And places to eat too! ) x

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Unfortunately, all manner of things have conspired against the ironing. Not my doing at all, a’hem! Cooking, house-sitting for our son while he went to the post (he was expecting a delivery of goods), making a chicken and bean casserole, heating up curry for lunch, stacking the dishwasher, hanging out washing … And so I, too, had a rest this afternoon, reading. I am now about to plan a new post and then, only then, might I tackle the ironing, Dot!

  6. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Lunch with family is just the perfect way to spend a Sunday especially when you don’t have to cook.

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