How It Began

On 27th July 2012 (on the opening night of the Olympics)
we, as a family, had a lucky  and unexpected lottery windfall 
- although we did not know about it until 
the following day, Saturday 28th.

It was the sort of thing that is sent by Good Fortune 
for the purpose of  following that life-long dream.

Ron, Kathy, Helen
Our dream, as a family, was
  • to have a home of our own (as opposed to renting a housing association house as we did back in July) 
  • with a field (or two) and stables for the horses.
  • to live in a beautiful part of the English Countryside
  • to enjoy to the full what Mother Nature has so generously leant us.

After a few false starts at looking for a home we were a bit despairing of finding what we wanted. The decision was to move well away from London (mainly because property anywhere within two hours drive of London is horrendously expensive.) We had looked at Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire .... Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire were out because I do not like the wide, open skies or the flat land - give me a few hills, woods and valleys please.

Lovely property in Derbyshire, but we decided that would not be a wise choice of location, whereas Devon appealed.
So to Devon we looked...

Meanwhile I applied to the TV show Escape To The Country. My plea was something along the lines of "Help. We have been trying to tunnel out of London. Please send a rescue team."

The rescue team duly arrived in the form of a TV crew in mid October 2012. We filmed at home first, then on Monday 22nd October Kathy and I went on a jaunt to Devon for a few days, courtesy the BBC (staying at the High Bullen Hotel). On the Tuesday it was up early for filming some fun carriage driving - then we saw the first house on Wednesday 23rd, a second one in the afternoon and the mystery house on the Thursday morning.

Great fun, but hard work!

Filming is not as clear cut as it seems - all those different angles you see in a show mean each time the camera position had to be changed. Most scenes, i.e.walking into a particular room, were taken at least three times, some even more!
I did rather get to the stage of "Can we just stop shooting and get on and see the house?" at one point,  (or maybe two or three?)

The programme actually aired on 28th May 2013 - and the first proprty we saw was.... 'Windfall Farm'. This is not its real name by the way, I made the name up on the grounds that maybe it is not wise to put some things openly on the Internet.
Exact details of where we are now living being one of them.

(News 2018: the Escape to the Countrycrew returned in February 2018 to film 'I Escaped to the Country' with the show airing in may of that year. See the story HERE   )

My friends and family know the actual name and address of course, but for everyone else, Windfall Farm will suffice.

There will be room for

Rum the dog...
(sadly poor old Rum passed away two months
after we moved)
...The chickens
(they didn't come with us after all, but
went to a nice new home)
(and Ron's racing pigeons, but I have no photo of them)
Ron, me, Rum
The new home is in North Devon not far from South Molton, and near the small but charming village (with a pub!) of Chittlehamholt. It has 13 acres, stables - and views over the Taw Valley.

I intend to keep this Devon Diary about what, I hope, will be an amazing adventure because in years to come I want to look back on all that has happened - the good times, bad times, stressful times - and happy times.

So, over the following weeks, months (and maybe, years)  join me in the sort of adventure that ought to belongs in the pages of a storybook ... The difference with this story is....
 it's real!

Windfall Farm

click here for  the story of the move - quite an adventure!

and go back to the home page (and browse the sidebar) for latest news
(apologies though, it's not alwways up to date!) 


  1. How exciting, Helen. Wishing you the very best of luck.

  2. Helen, I am so jealous! Your new home is delightful and I'm looking forward to hearing more about it.

  3. Anonymous1:40 pm

    Good luck and good fortunes to you, Ron and Kathy and what an amazing opportunity - which I'm sure you'll embrace and delight in. Mary S

  4. Helen, I was searching for conservatories when I saw the pic of your wonderful house. Wow! Love it can't wait to see more. Good luck to you and your family.

  5. Jennifer *laugh* no idea why a conservatory search found me - but I'm glad it did - always lovely to be able to say hello to nice people. If you subscribe (upper left at the top) you'll receive e-mail notices when I update my Devon Diary.

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks GDH - I try to smile a lot myself. Made somewhat easier here in Devon!

  7. Maureen4:18 pm

    I've just watched your programme and have now discovered your blog. We moved to East Devon almost 9 years ago and have never regretted it. It was like returning to my childhood. Having been flooded 4 times now in our house by the river, we are currently in the process of buying a bungalow. Like you, we were able to do this because of a windfall inheritance, but did not want to move out of our lovely seaside town, just a bit further away from the river. I am sure you will be happy in Devon and I am looking forward to reading all about how you are settling in.

    1. Thank you Maureen - lovely to hear from you. One of the reasons that the last house would not have been suitable was the potential of flooding (and why it was a bit cheaper, I think) Wear Gifford did indeed flood just before Christmas, though I don't know if that house was OK. The field would certainly have got wet (so no good for horses)
      We have the advantage, here, of being on a slope where the water drains away quickly - so although we are in the Taw Valley we're not near the river. E-mail me via the contact me link on the top menu bar - maybe we could meet for a coffee and a chat one day!

  8. I recently spent a few days in Chittlehamholt with my big sister (who owns the neighbouring wood to you). It's a lovely part of the world

  9. This was my favourite episode of Escape to the Country. It is the most beautiful house and I envy your gorgeous study. We don't tend to have cottages of that sort in Australia. Inspiring!


Thank you for leaving a comment your interest is very much appreciated! It will be published as soon as possible - depending on whether I am at my computer or walking up the lane, or being chased by the goose or helping mend fences after the pony has broken through YET AGAIN.... :-)