Isn’t it glorious to be on the road visiting Friends again?

The pandemic meant we missed so many things and have possibly appreciated them more when we were able to do them again. One of the things I missed was visiting family and friends – whether for a quick drop-in or a few days’ stay. So on Saturday my husband and I were so happy to be driving down the hedge-lined narrow Devon roads to visit my brother and sister-in-law.

DEVON

At this time of year, the Devon hedgerows are full of colourful wild flowers not chopped back by over-zealous council workers. May is such a glorious time of year especially as the Devon soil is perfect for Rhododendrons and Azaleas which fill so many Devon gardens. I am envious those plants do not grow in my chalky garden soil. However, it means I appreciate these plants so much more when I see them.

Isn't it glorious to be on the road visiting friends again?

On Sunday we went to an Arts Exhibition at Delamore House. Delamore is an historic Victorian gothic house in Ivybridge, near Dartmoor, and hosts this annual Arts and Sculpture fair. The event was founded as a one-off in 2003, but owing to its great success, has become an annual fixture in Devon and is frequented by the art-loving masses. The festival now presents the largest collection of artists’ work in one place in the South West of England.

Their garden was a cacophony of colour, beautifully maintained and there were some incredible sculptures for us to admire. Two of the three that we loved had already been sold. However, we did manage to purchase one bewitching lady by artist, Carrieann Moore, She is made in bronze, using fabric and stockinet. She also uses wire, foil and fabric which is dipped into a fabric hardener called Paverpol. So unusual and this artist had many pieces on display, each one totally different and full of character.

I came across textile hardening figurative sculpture quite by accident. Each piece I create is handmade, meaning no two pieces will ever be identical. The fabric hardener I use is environmentally friendly and non-toxic, and all the materials are sourced from local charity shops

Carrieann Moore
Isn't it glorious to be on the road visiting friends again?

Since we live on the River Thames one of the pieces that we admired was the Resting Swan by Jane Fremantle. Jane hand-carves stone, mainly alabaster, soapstone, onyx and slate. She celebrates the natural beauty of the stone, using it as a starting point and inspiration for her work. She explores its texture, translucency, the roughness of the stone surface and its appearance when smoothed. She investigates its ability to hold the tool marks and gestures that reveal the presence of the artist. Each sculpture is a balance between the material qualities of the stone and her own ideas and inspirations. Jane makes the work in her studio near Chichester in West Sussex. She has an MFA in Sculpture from West Dean College. Last year Jane was shortlisted for the Lady Petchey Sculpture Prize.

Isn't it glorious to be on the road visiting friends again?

Finally, the third piece, Kind of the River, was by Corinna Barrell. Over the last 20 years Corinna has been making mosaics that are inspired and informed by the natural world. She likes to use recycled materials where possible and to breathe new life into unwanted or broken china. It’s patterns help to become feathers or fur on her creations. Recently she has had the time to experiment with 3D modelling, new materials and processes to make a range of birds suitable as garden art.

The exhibition is open daily until the end of May so well-worth a visit if you are in the area.

On our way back up the A303 we visited my niece at her new venture, Sol Bakery & Café, near Chicklade. She has two charming partners and between them they have created a haven for travellers not wanting to have a food break at somewhere other than a service station. The food is homemade including some delicious Sourdough bread and Focaccia, baked on the premises. There is a fenced field ideal for letting your dogs stretch their legs. They have plans to open a children’s play area and whilst the petrol station is closed they are hoping to open an electric charging garage in the next year.

So if you have managed to crawl past Stonehenge heading west or want a break before you join the rubber-necking queue heading towards Stonehenge then Sol Café is a welcome respite and you are bound to leave clutching a loaf or two of the sourdough as I did. It has already been named by The Spectator as one of Britain’s best foodie pitstops.

We then went on to visit some friends in Dorset. We had some lovely beach walks even though the weather was not as forecast but we didn’t care. We had a trip to one of our favourite restaurants, The Priory Hotel, Wareham for lunch and a sundowner cruising around Brownsea Island.

Home is where the heart is so the saying goes but our hearts do enjoy getting out and about and visiting friends further afield.

You can read more articles by Annabel here