Recently we went to Devon for a short break (courtesy of a gorgeous girl friend, Louise) and had a fabulous time. Driving along the A39 ‘Atlantic Highway’ through Fairy Cross, we suddenly saw signs saying Gnome Reserve. Now, never having seen anything like this before, we felt we had to visit before we left, if only to satisfy ourselves they weren’t living under the same dreadful conditions that the Native Americans had suffered! Rescue plans started being hatched!
The long and winding road that led to the gnomes was not always easy to follow. At one point we stopped to ask this delightful old man if he knew where it was, as we had run out of brown rose signs to guide us. “Never heard of them” he said. “Although if you carry on this road and then do a left, there’s a forest where the little people live.” With huge smiles on our faces we drove on and then suddenly saw this sign (in the photo on the right) by the side of the road. Oh, if they were warning motorists to go slowly then perhaps the gnomes were being well looked after. With hope renewed, we carried on and turned into the car park.
At this moment I was thinking of a dear friend, Zoë Dawes, who is the Quirky Traveller, as this would have been just perfect for her travels!
A pleasant welcome and more of Devon’s beautiful scenery greeted us. The house set in the gardens was one of faded grandeur and something about it made it look ethereal, yet still full of homely charm. As we entered, a voice called out a greeting to us and we met a delightful lady, by the name of Ann Fawssett Atkin, who was sitting in one of the rooms painting pixies. Ann is an absolutely wonderful and mesmerising lady and is the founder of the Gnome Reserve. We chatted for a while and then Ann told us to go into the other room and choose our Gnome hats to wear ~ you better believe it ~ she also added that it was almost compulsory to wear one. Oh, I am loving this adventure :-)
Look at the photo – how funky is my hat??!! Out to wander in the woods and it was like entering another realm; lots of gnomes, hundreds of gnomes, young gnomes, old gnomes, athletic gnomes, lazy gnomes, naughty gnomes and, oh my, you will have to visit yourself to get the full splendour of it all. I have never really gone past 6 years old so I was in my element. You can follow the path or go your own way – you can even get help with your lottery choices by fishing for pebbles.with numbers on the bottoms.
And deep in the heart of the wood was a magical fairy circle with the remains of an ancient tree (looking like a chair) in the middle. The photo to the right shows the sign by the path, isn’t it wonderful? I flew away through the trees with the fairies, which will come as no surprise to a few people! The quote from Lord Byron says:
The beings of the mind are not of clay; essentially immortal, they create and multiply in us a brighter ray and more beloved existence.
When we’d finished our walk, we returned to the house and gave our hats back and were given a clip board with a question sheet on it, to show how observant we could be when walking around the Fairy & Wild-flower Garden. Somehow this just seemed so normal! We got the correct number of fairies, but failed to see three of the cuckoos ~ all will become clear if you visit! And to top the day off, we then had a sandwich followed by a Devon cream tea; all freshly made and delicious. What a happy experience.