“Watch-out. Pothole ahead.” The car’s satnav alerted us as we steered downhill to the Devonshire location on our first short break of 2023.

The road wound through woodland brightened with rime-streaked trunks and branches. Ice glittered on grass verges, and slippery surfaces were cause for caution. Maybe my wish for snow once we had settled in our lakeside lodge was going to come true.

Turning into the grounds of Lakeview Manor, Dunkeswell, the landscape is breathtaking. The traditional hotel and ornate conservatory housing The Dabbling Duck restaurant are the perfect backdrops for a scintillating fountain playing in the front lake. Part of it was iced over and gleamed ethereally under the silvery sun.

After taking heed of the signs warning of ducks crossing the driveway, we collected the keys from reception and parked beside our allocated lodge.

Mr Word Loft and I set off enthusiastically to explore and take photographs before daylight failed. The lodges are set around three lakes with a small river on one side of the parkland so that water views are enjoyed by most. Reflections were muted by the ice, and it was comical watching the ducks, and a goose, who honked his orders as they skated and quacked over nature’s rink to melted patches.

At dusk, we returned to unpack and find our swimwear. The hot tub outside beckoned. It felt special to be sheltered by a palm tree under stars and moon, but cosseted with warm bubbling water. Our holiday was off to an amazing start.

The next morning we decided to go to Honiton. We had stopped there the previous day for essentials, so knew that it would be a superb spot for lunch and only six miles away.

The town centre is small, with a mixture of larger stores, unique independent businesses, and quite a lot of antique shops. Being fascinated with the past, we usually frequent them when we have more leisure time. The prices seemed reasonable, too.

Its main road is interspersed with a few churches, and other buildings, some with thatched roofs that glistened gold as the frost melted. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, and after a pleasant three or four hours of shopping and admiring the scenery, we headed back to Lakeview Manor.

Dinner was booked at The Dabbling Duck, and we didn’t want to be delayed.

The restaurant and bar are welcoming and cosy. We were shown to our table in a corner by a window with velvet blinds, and there was a lovely ambience to the venue with its wood-panelled walls. Later, I found out sections of the country manor house’s roots date back to 1201, with some of the beams being original.

‘What have you decided on?’ I asked Mr Word Loft as we studied the menu.

‘I think the duck with cherry sauce, sounds nice,’ he replied.

‘Make that two, please,’ I requested of the friendly and efficient member of staff when she asked for our order.

Followed by raspberry pavlova, both courses were excellent choices; we were impressed.

Until my next blog post about the rest of the trip.

Best wishes,
Sue. X