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  • Writer's pictureBarbara

2024 Ahoy!

and what has happened during 2023?

Hosting lots of action filled holidays, relaxing ones too, with a huge appreciation of the uniquely restful and enthralling gardens, grounds and countryside surrounding Torridge House Cottages plus the experience of the close presence of fluffy and feathered friends (to say nothing of feeding the pigs!)

It's great that the birds are not having to be kept indoors this winter as there are far fewer bird flu cases and wildlife seems to be building up a resistance to it!


The changes in the weather patterns this year have thrown our months into confusion! It’s seemed to affect when the rabbits and guinea pigs had their babies. But on behalf of the rabbits the little grey bearded rabbit has set the record straight; a couple of months ago she delivered 8 truly remarkable kits.  The cats also showed no such disruptions, Posey had her babies in May, our new

lady “Little Cat” cat, Dora had 4 magnificent kittens just in time for them to be at that beautiful bouncy age for the October half term week: all great characters! The mice and their progeny have entertained us ernormously with their gymnastics and enthusiastic activity!

The pigs! Well the 2 large blacks lived up to their name, size for age they were, well, large. So much so that they had to move back to their original farm early August. We then had a couple of Tamworths. Not a pig I’d seen before, they are

a glorious shiny golden orange colour with a rather elegant physique, long pointed ears! Lovely to look at but housekeeping is not their strong point!

The ducks have been rather special this year too with the introduction of 3 different breeds, Khaki Campbells (well there were 2, but one got taken along side 6 hens, by a scavenging buzzard..), a couple of Swedish blacks and Cherry Valley Aylesburys. These last ones are small, graceful creatures; a later

addition, a more conventional Aylesbury is Daisy Duck. She hatched alone, lived in our kitchen for the short while it took for her to be too big to stay there, then moved in alongside Peter NZ large rabbit until too large to stay there. She happily joined the duck contingent as the youngest by far, but the largest of them all. 

Peter rabbit has been a great character, fascinated by people, undeterred by our presence in his giant rabbit size home, confidently checking us over.

People have found him very relaxing and companionable to be with. He’s not one to be picked up though, but the new Himalayan Miniature Rex rabbits are great to hold, sooth and cuddle. They patiently will sit for hours being cuddled.

All the animals have brought us much joy.

From the calm, velvety smooth Mini Himi Rex rabbits, through the fun and gymnastic mice to the ducks swaying along in a row (when not over excited at the sight of a good puddle) and the 20 chickens who have so generously layed lovely eggs, including a blue egg from a new hen!!

The swimming pool has been very much appreciated. The weather even made it possible to open a little earlier and to keep it open it for longer than usual.


The farming calendar has been a little out of sync with this year’s topsy-turvy weather, but the bonus of lush pasture from the warmth and rain has gifted good grazing and barns full of good hay: and there’s even good straw in store. Mike’s field newly ploughed for the winter with winter wheat already showing.

Pumpkins have been our great surprise this year, for weeks I thought they were

courgettes all be it round ones! But no, they turned from green to a glorious orange, just like the pigs!  There were so many of them too, can only think they came from the seeds of last year’s bought in pumpkins. There were apples galore as well and despite some early windy weather there were more than enough the fill a freezer!

There’s a huge amount of holly and hawthorn berries which are teasing us with thoughts of a cold winter, but surely they can’t tell ahead…!


Little Torrington village is its usual quiet self, skittles in the village hall have been enjoyed by several families this year. The church has had a makeover and is looking good.


(Great) Torrington has had a makeover too, the pinnacle is the restoration of the Market façade and dome. The town’s Barley Grove car park has been the site of a Big Dig! Under the adjacent ‘tump’ and bowling green is the location of a sizable and important castle.  It had been pretty much forgotten about and, as recently as the 1970’s, was declared of no historic importance. But now it’s centre stage with local people and professional archaeologists having staged a dig over the last couple of months.

There has been action too at the old railway station. The enthusiasts at Tarka Railway have laid some track enough to run a two-carriage train; it’s surprisingly moving to see.

The Commons, Dartington Crystal, Torrington Museum and Rosemoor continue offering much to get involved with as well as the Rugby Club’s Bonfire night fireworks…. 



Now the quieter months are here we have longer to enjoy our dark skies! (Thank you Heaher for this photo from your phone, if I remember correctly)



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