I went to North Devon for the first time in the summer of 2007. Although surfing was the main reason for my trip, waves were not all I was looking for. I needed healing landscapes, fresh air, solitude, and I had the desire to experience the horizon as an unbroken line. I was going through major changes in my life and craved beautiful and quiet places where I could, literally, immerse myself in and reflect. When I saw the three-mile stretch of beach of Saunton Sands, I knew I had found my special place.
I treat places like people: I respect them and when I meet one I like, I develop an interest and try to learn more about it. And the only way of doing that is to spend time in it. In December 2009 I was looking for a place to escape the crowds and the noise of the New Year’s celebrations. I had recently returned to London after six months in Germany and, even if it was winter, I was strangely keen to just drive somewhere in the south west and spend a few days by the Ocean – I was drawn to it.
When I arrived at the Long Cottage, Simon and his girlfriend Karine greeted me. They were both super friendly and made me feel at home almost instantly. I knew I had just met two of the most welcoming and kindest people I had ever met. In a matter of hours, we were in their beautiful kitchen, chatting away like old friends, sharing mountain tales and talking about skiing. In their 20s, Simon and Karine have been professional ski bums. They spent five winter seasons in Zermatt. The memories and the emotions of those experiences are still so vivid that they can tell you all about them as they happened last week.
Welcome to the Long Cottage.
You can see where the name comes from. The white building on the right hand side is Simon’s workshop. Simon is a talented woodworker. This is one of his latest creations:
Check out Simon’s complete collection of Veggytables here.
If you’re interested in staying at the Long Cottage, more info is here.
Over the last couple of years, I discovered that the passion for skiing and surfing and making pizza using a pizza stone aren’t the only things Simon and I have in common. We believe that to find who you really are, you have to look inward. If you look outside all you’ll see is what other people do, but you’re not other people.
In an era where most of the humankind seem to have a complicated life, and rush from one place to the other and from one person to the next, too busy to ask themselves where they are going, with their welcoming Long Cottage, Simon and Karine are an example of how to live a rich life (not in a materialistic sense), surrounded by friends, in harmony with people and with nature. I forgot to mention – most of their vegetables come from their garden, or from their friends’.
I am fascinated by their ability to create a life for themselves that reflects who they are and what they love. Their commitment and the sacrifices they had to do along the way to get where they are today, are an example for people like me who are still wandering, looking for their special place to call home.