Last Updated on April 15, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
The Devon Spotted Pig and Wild Oak Barn.
Table of Contents
The Story of The Devon Spotted Pig.
Once upon a time in Devon, a holiday home nestled among the rolling hills…
Carolyn and Paul Bellinger planted some seeds and took off for a well-earned summer break in Corfu. They returned a few weeks later, to a poly-tunnel bursting at the seams with a bumper crop of fruit and veg.
What to do? Raised on her parents’ farm, with a successful career in business development, Carolyn is used to nurturing good prospects and bringing them to profitable maturity. Paul had recently sold his child-care business, adventure beckoned, and an opportunity was in the air. So the Bellingers followed a dream and turned their full-time attention to growing, picking and selling their harvests, supplying caterers across the South West with farm-fresh fruit and veg, as well as home-made juices, pickles and preserves.
A pair of pigs were recruited to help clear the veg patch, and before long the pair was a herd. Then, when Paul came home one day with a hog-roast machine, The Devon Spotted Pig was born – the ultimate farm to fork catering business.
Fifteen years later, and another thriving business firmly established, it was time for a new entrepreneurial adventure in the shape of Wild Oak Barn – the ideal retreat for anyone seeking a restful getaway in beautiful East Devon, nestled amongst gently rolling hills just outside Ottery St Mary.
Accommodation at Wild Oak Barn.
When we arrived the wraps had only just been taken off and we felt very privileged to be the very first guests at Wild Oak Barn. Caroline gave us a lovely warm East Devon greeting and a tour.
There are four bedrooms – three up and one down, each with en-suite – making the house great for groups of friends, residential business events and family gatherings. All ‘mod-cons’ come as standard, and Wild Oak is big enough and well-equipped to comfortably accommodate three generations – maybe four- under one big roof!
It’s beautifully decorated throughout – with comfy beds and carpet upstairs, hard-floor downstairs, white walls, grey-blue notes in the textiles and lots of rough-sawn wood, recalling the building’s previous life as a barn. The massive lounge is high and bright, with lots of windows and sliding glass doors opening onto the terrace with a large dining room table perfect for hosting dinners. Vintage oak furnishings, gold and brass mirrors and ornaments are mixed with contemporary furnishings – sink into the sumptuous grey linen sofas and watch a vast TV, ideal for indulging in your favourite viewing (with a Skybox). Plus the Wifi access is excellent.
A sleek modern kitchen is set for some serious entertaining – three ovens as well as a range, a generous breakfast bar and dining table, a wine fridge and all the crockery, glassware and utensils you could wish for.
Add to all this a big terrace, outdoor furniture and hot tub, and you’re set for a perfect stay. So pour yourself a drink, turn on the bubbles, take in the view and relax…
Eating at Wild Oak Barn.
If the idea of shopping and cooking is all too much, Caroline and Paul will very happily cater for your entire stay and are well placed to do so with their catering company, The Spotted Pig. The evening we arrived we shared a delicious chilli con carne and rice (Thank you, Paul) accompanied by a delicious white wine – and for dessert, a scrumptious rhubarb crumble, with lashings of Devon cream.
Fridge and cupboards were stocked with everything a person wants (and more) – so after a contented night’s sleep, we awoke to steaming coffee, croissants, fruits, preserves, yoghurt. Under the circumstances, freshly baked scones with jam and clotted Devon cream seemed appropriate, too.
For our second evening, Carolyn prepared a real feast.
We started with delicious slices of smoked salmon on brown bread-and-butter, and bubbling Cava to get the conversation flowing.
There followed an exquisite pork tenderloin; toothsome and succulent, served in a rich and glossy onion, mushroom and wine sauce. Layers of sliced potato were aromatic with herbs and moistened with stock, meltingly lovely and crisp too, in all the right places – the whole thing complemented by fruity, spiced red cabbage. This is home-style cooking at its very best; tasty, friendly and comforting.
For dessert; summer fruits, drunken with Grand Marnier – and more of that irresistible Devon cream…Coffee and liqueurs rounded off a wonderful evening of delicious food and lively conversation.
Things to see and do in East Devon.
East Devon is blessed with natural beauty and pretty villages, all within easy reach of Wild Oak Barn.
We loved Topsham, with its unhurried, unspoilt atmosphere and cute boutique shops sitting comfortably alongside traditional butchers and grocers. (Some great charity shops, too, for all you treasure hunters!) There’s lots of lovely historic architecture, including a fine Norman church and churchyard overlooking the estuary, and lots of pretty maritime character providing photo opportunities. Down at the quay, you’ll find a massive antique and vintage emporium, perfect for sunny and rainy days too, as well as a couple of lovely waterfront pubs serving local ales and tasty fare. We liked the fish-finger sandwiches at The Lighter Inn.
Also well worth a visit is the beach at Sidmouth, quintessential ‘seaside’ with its striking red cliffs and candy-coloured beach huts – and Colyton, a really authentic, charming village from which we caught the vintage electric tram into Seaton for a visit to the Jurassic Centre. Here Carolyn and Paul also run the café, in association with Taste of the West, serving delicious snacks, lunches and teas, all made with locally sourced produce. We enjoyed Homity Pies, a terrific selection of salads, and some Devon Spotted Pig sausages. Very more-ish!
The Jurassic Centre is great for learning about Devon’s geology, history, flora and fauna – as well as the clever, determined women (and men) whose fossil discoveries gave evidence to Darwin’s controversial theory of ‘Evolution’. Informative and entertaining, with interactive displays for all ages, it’s a perfect place to brush up on your natural sciences whilst keeping kids big and small amused.
And after all that, you surely deserve some luscious Devon ice-cream/ scones/ cakes/ tea/ coffee, back in the café…
Warning: This part of the world is not without its curious Pagan rituals. On our way back to Wild Oak we were detained – in a most charming way – by ‘Pixie Day’, a somewhat surreal annual rite which has the little children of Ottery dressed as adorable pixies, besieging the church (they want the bells, you see) and being chased off up the road by several stout fellows, ringing said bells! Fortunately, a couple of local Police Officers were on hand to ensure everything went smoothly and safely. Only in Devon!
Summary and Further Information.
Our stay at Wild Oak Barn with Carolyn and Paul and The Devon Spotted Pig was really special. Gorgeous accommodation in a beautiful location and flawless hospitality ensured a carefree, luxurious mini-break. And, that wonderful food…
Do say hello to the pigs from us. They’re very chatty. You’ll find them just up the track…
Wild Oak Barn,
Ottery Saint Mary
Looking for something different in the West Country? How about The Scarlet on the North Cornish coast – a boutique eco-hotel with a spa and stunning beach views. Check our review to find out more. Or Burgh Island Hotel – frequented by Agatha Christie, Noel Coward and more – now a perfectly restored Art Deco Luxury Hotel. For more accommodation with hot tubs in the West Country, check out this fabulous feature about lodges with hot tubs in Cornwall