Featured Experience - Amanda's stay at Coskewis Nature Retreat

After a number of disappointments and difficulties in our work and home life, followed by a heavy session in the pub to drown our sorrows on Saturday afternoon, my partner and I found ourselves suffering from a greater than usual Sunday night gloom. "We work for ourselves, so let’s just take some time off and go away this week," he suggested. "We haven’t even had a whole weekend off in ages. Let’s book somewhere." We considered whether we wanted a city break or a country retreat and decided on a country retreat so we could holiday with our beloved dog Rosie, rather than leaving her with my parents. Since I love to cook, and don’t like to pay for breakfasts I can’t eat or peruse through meat-filled menus at dinner, I always look for self-catering accommodations rather than hotels. And as a host on Airbnb, I really like the convenience and ease of Airbnb, so I got searching.

"South Wales or the West Country?" "Anywhere! Let’s drive far enough but not too far!" I started looking in South Wales. Plenty of beautiful places, but I kept finding little niggles that scratched at me. "This one looks lovely, look at the pictures... but - oh, no! A sheepskin rug on the floor! This one looks nice, and they say they can change the duvet and pillows for ones without feathers on request... Yes, tea and coffee are provided, we can just ask them not to put milk in our fridge... Look at this one, reviews look good - shame we won’t be able to eat the biscuits people are raving about... This one looks nice except it talks about sinking into the comfortable leather sofa... This one says it’s dog friendly but you have to keep your dog on a leash the whole time." We have noticed that the only time Rosie’s tail doesn’t wag madly and permanently when she’s outside in a new place, is if she’s on a leash.

Then, the moment of epiphany, "I’m an idiot! Let’s look on Vegvisits!" I am also listed on Vegvisits, and I love the reassurance, community spirit and personal service you get from it. There aren’t anywhere near as many places listed on there of course, and we have previously looked to stay in a particular place and found there was nothing in the area, but on this occasion, with location being less of an issue, I can’t believe I didn’t think to look there first!

My search brought up a good number of properties, despite it being so short notice, and I could see exactly where they were on a map. We checked through a couple but stopped searching very quickly as we found exactly what we hadn’t known we were looking for. "Look at this in Cornwall. We can stop by and see your folks for a couple of nights on the way back too."

We had a wonderful few days at the Coskewis Nature Retreat, as well as in the local area. Whilst the weather was dreadful, it didn’t matter - the inside of the Tate Gallery at St Ives was, well, inside, and the empty beaches just took on a stormy, beautiful wildness that Rosie loved. Our accommodation had a good porch for wet coats and shoes, and the weather made sitting in front of the log burner on an evening even more cozy and delightful.

Moreover, our hosts were adorable. We had interesting and inspiring chats when we happened to catch them out and about on their arable farm. They talked about how they are re-wilding parts, the trees they’d planted, and how they grow all their own vegetables. We found ourselves delighted by everything provided, from the books (stay-enhancing reads!), the dog towels (we forgot ours and were given a great pile of towels on request), and toiletries to the comprehensive and convenient facilities for recycling (which included a most excellent bin for compost). No irritating single bin for all the waste or stupid tiny plastic bottles of shampoo here. And we were amazed to find not just the promised oat milk in the fridge, but also home-baked apple cakes, an apple crumble, and even a carton of Alpro custard for us! "We have so many apples!" Our host explained, "do take some before you go - the orchard is over there."

I cannot believe I forgot to check Vegvisits first. It’s not a mistake I will make again.

Written by Amanda Pugh, Devon, England

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