Thursday 11 June 2015

5 Reasons to Take a Family Holiday at Mazzard Farm Holiday Cottages

Taken in Mazzard Farm's very own woodland

I could so easily have titled this post 10 reasons, 20 reasons or even 50 reasons why you must book your holiday at Mazzard Farm Holiday Cottages but let's be realistic, you probably wouldn't read that many. So I'll keep it concise and tell you five reason why I believe every family will love to stay at Mazzard Farm Holiday Cottages in Ottery St Mary, East Devon.

1.  Responsive and Personal Service -

Prior to arrival, my communications with Ruud, the owner of Mazzard Farm were via email and I always found him to be very friendly, professional and responsive. As soon as we had confirmed our break he emailed me a 31 page what to do in the local area guide, it was excellent and included ideas of activities for rainy days and things to do on a limited budget as well. I truly found that every email delivered a response that was above what I would expect, I asked about early arrival and leaving my luggage whilst we went off and explored and not just a yes to my query but then suggestions of places to go to. It is clear that Ruud and his wife Jac genuinely love what they do and want to make sure that every customer is happy.

When we arrived both Ruud and Jac greeted and us and whilst Ruud showed us around and chatted with our kids, Jac bought us the ingredients so we could enjoy a delicious homemade cream tea. It was so appreciated after a long drive.

I truly felt that anything we needed could be asked of Ruud and Jac, nothing appeared to be to much trouble and they were very interested to hear about where we had been and what our day to day life was about. It was good to find the kids feeding the goats and doing the gardening with Jac on a couple of occasions.

2.  Superb Location -

I had no idea that Devon is such a big place and that there is so much to see and do. We only scratched the surface of East Devon but Mazzard Farm is an excellent base to do it from. Exeter, which is a massive cosmopolitan city was only 20 minutes away by car and it was a very easy drive. I loved the cathedral, the historic walks, the docks, the shops and the culture, it has something for everyone.

There are loads of wonderful seaside resorts all within just a half hours drive, we visited Sidmouth and Exmouth and enjoyed both, great ice-creams, cheesy seaside fun with crazy golf and penny arcades, yummy fish and chips and a beautiful sandy beach at Exmouth and at Sidmouth too once the sea is out but otherwise gorgeous pebbles to be collected and painted.

As Mazzard Farm is situated just into Devon you have access to all of Dorset's Jurassic coast very easily too and next time we must go to Lyme Regis as I'm sure we would love the beach and quaint town there.

Before we went I wrote a post about all the great suggestions of places other bloggers had said to me to visit but realistically in our few days we hardly visited anywhere and were quite content to stay local. In fact, the kids told us that they would be happy to not go out at all and to just stay on the farm with the other children, which brings me on to the next point...

However, check out Devon with Kids blog if you're looking for great activities with your kids, as there are 101 ideas of things to do in Devon.

3.  Everyone Makes Friends -

Kids and adults alike, you find yourself chatting to the other guests staying at the farm. It was good to share stories and to help each other out by picking up a bottle of milk, it adds to that community feel. I'm pretty sure if we had been staying a week rather than just the weekend we would have ended up BBQing and spending more time together. Each morning the girls would come and wake e and tell my their little friend B was outside and could they go and join him, please.

Everything about Mazzard Farm is conducive to good relations between the guests. There is a central courtyard with shared benches and BBQ, the laundry and produce room, and also the kids play store full of all the things that make their time together fun. Tiny Tikes car, bikes, scooters, skipping ropes, wellies, skates, pogo stick and loads more. You pass through the courtyard to get to the orchard, trampoline, swings, woods and grassed play area with football goals.

4.  You Have Everything You Need -

I honestly could not tell you one more thing we would have required whilst staying at Mazzard Farm. Every little need has been thought about, I think the kitchen is better stocked than my own one at home and it was so nice to have more cutlery and crockery than you could ever need. I am so used to caravans where they count in one of each item per person staying there and here we had loads and a dishwasher to then clean them afterwards and not just that they provide all the cleaning products and detergents, which are eco-friendly ones.

It was also fabulous to have more room in the car as I didn't need to take bedding or towels. We arrived to find the beds fully made up to our specification as prior to arriving Ruud has asked me if we required two singles or a king and which beds needed mattress protectors, bed guards etc. As our kids are older we didn't require most things but I know how blessed we would have been when our twins were babies to have been provided with two cots, two high chairs and all the other baby paraphernalia like baths and booster seats. I noticed there was even a pushchair in the kid's store that could be borrowed.

On the subject of bedding, we all slept like logs as the beds were comfy and the pillows and duvets were feather and so luxurious. I'm pretty sure knowing Mazzard Farm that if you had an allergy though they would have others available for you. In fact luxury is a word I would associate with Mazzard Farm - the towels are super thick, the marble-tiled bathroom has a deep, quick filling bath, the throw cushions on the leather sofa are comfy and the real oak wood floor is warm underfoot. I can imagine how cosy it would be in the winter months when you light the wood burner.

If you are there for the week and need to refresh your clothes there is a washing machine and tumble dryer in the laundry and a line for air drying too and of course, it is always good to be provided with the silly bits like toilet roll, bin bags and salt and pepper too.

Wi-fi is available but we found it to be patchy in our cottage. Once connected my laptop could work with it in the lounge/ dining area but both dh and I had problems on our iPad and iPhones and had to be by the window near the courtyard where connection seems the best. Outside in the courtyard, there was no issue and I think perhaps in Medlar, Pippin and Bramley will have the best connection.

5.  So Many Extra's You Don't Expect -

Of course, you have certain expectations when you book your self-catering holiday cottage but I personally found that Mazzard Farm just went above all my expectations. There are handmade soap and shampoo provided, as are all detergents you may require. In the laundry, there is a freezer stocked with croissants, baguettes and meats from the farm next door to purchase as well as eggs and at times seasonal produce like veg and home-made jams.

I've already mentioned lots of the extras like the stock of wellies, hiking boots, wetsuits, outdoor play equipment and toys to borrow but there are also magazines, books, cards, DVDs and board games.

As Jac is a trained therapist you can also book pampering treatments such as reflexology, a foot spa or Japanese facial massage and with prices starting from £35 it is reasonable and very relaxing to receive a treatment in your own cottage.

Then if it is a special occasion and you don't fancy cooking or heading out why not engage one of the local chefs who will either bring you a meal of your choice or come and cook for you in your own cottage. It is a great idea to allow a couple of still enjoy special 'them' time whilst the kids are safely tucked up in bed and no need for a babysitter.

I could just imagine an intimate hen weekend away with a few girlfriends with treatments and a luxury dinner all laid on in our fabulous cottage. Doesn't that sound like bliss?

Personally, I'd say you just need to go and explore the Mazzard Farm website as there are so many different offerings - special breaks for those who want to be active and even mountain bikes for rent, courses for foodies, photography courses and a special stay for the Rugby world cup being held in Exeter in September/ October 2015.

One of my favourite offerings is the Baby's first-holiday break and this allows new parents to cancel as late as 24 hours prior to arrival if babe happens to pick up something nasty and is not well enough to be away. How is that for perfect peace of mind? Another goodie is the one night's free stay to take advantage of a school inset day (subject to availability), so instead of just a two-night stay you can make the most of being away and have three full nights of fun.

Conclusion -

I think I've probably said enough about Mazard Farm now and you have got the idea that we really liked it there.  We would happily stay in Quarenden Cottage again, in fact, I'd be happy to live there - 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, massive open plan living space, TV, well-equipped kitchen and all the outdoor space, it is easy to be happy and content at Mazzard Farm. Personally from what I saw I think Medlar and Pippin are the best cottages as they open straight into the courtyard and are really sociable and easy to watch younger children from but as they only sleep four they were not suitable for us and with older children it was not an issue for us, as it was only a corner to turn to get into our cottage.

I'm desperately trying to think of something that was missing, so I can present a really balanced review but genuinely we had everything we needed and really enjoyed our stay. The only thing for me that might make me think twice about staying again are the country lanes leading to the farm but that is because I'm a chicken and get very nervous. Logically there is no reason for me to be as we didn't have any issues and only met another car once and a horse once.

If we had been paying the 3 bedroom Quarenden cottage that sleeps 6 would have been £595 for the 3 nights at the end of the school half-term (arriving 29th May 2015) and having looked on the Internet this seems to be comparable to other family-friendly holiday cottage complexes.

Thanks so much to Ruud, Jac and their girls for helping our stay to be really special.

Disclosure: Our family was provided with three nights complimentary stay in Quarenden Cottage for the purpose of writing this honest review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.