Have a Heart

Dear Trimstone Manor Friend

Soon, it will be Happy Easter! We are filling-up quite nicely and also for the Whit week so don’t leave your plans till too late! We have been doing our usual spring cleaning and improvements and maintenance checks across the estate and that has included some new windows as usual and also new comfy and mainly wool carpets across most of the cottages. It was bizarre to find that no underlay had been used on the previous ones… no wonder they felt flat but now they are nice and bouncy!

We are also extending the garden. Our farm tenant decided to vacate the land and we have taken the opportunity of incorporating some more ground into the informal areas of the property. We hope you will enjoy this when you next visit – either to stay or to sample some of our wares such as our fabled cream teas or High Teas as a local or day visitor. All ages catered-for and treating Gran or Mum to a High Tea either in the Restaurant looking-out over the rolling Devon scenery and the garden cannot be beaten – or outside if it’s a fine day of course!


I was pleased to see that the online agencies have been taken to task by the Competition and Markets Authority. For too long, they have been abusing consumers’ trust, pretending they offer the best deals when they can’t and titillating with false ‘only one room available’ comments and so on, such as ranking places according to reviews yet based on the commission rate the establishments may pay them. Well, some changes are being made but not enough. What about how these entities hijack the businesses’ names and so when you google them, they appear before the website of the actual establishment so you end-up booking through them and not direct. We can offer the same facilities direct at a cheaper rate when we are not paying the colossal commissions some of them charge (that used to be banned by the online agencies!) We’ll even talk to you too to help you select the best room for you and extras you may want! Have you had a look at ‘Stay Bonanza’ too – it is a membership scheme with limited fees but it charges no booking fees and takes no commissions so let’s hope it takes-off and that accommodation tariffs start to fall to cut-out these big firms which exploit travellers.


Guests may know that at the ripe-old age of forty-seven I had a heart bypass operation. I did not demonstrate the usual conditions which exacerbate such a state and was otherwise fit and healthy and had never smoked in my life but there we are (aside from stresses at the time having been especially elevated but that’s another story!) – and I am pleased to say I believe I am ‘fine’ now as the ‘procedure’ to which it was referred, did the trick. Daughter Esme, who is studying medicine, is running the London Marathon and naturally I have promised to support and share her appeal!

“Hello! I’m Esme and am 22 years old. This year I shall be taking on the challenge of running the London Marathon in April. I am not a runner by nature but it is a challenge that I am willing to embrace and hope to raise some money through doing so.

Taking time in my week to train has been refreshing, and I am so pleased with the progress I am managing to achieve. I am also aware of how lucky I am to be able to participate in this challenge. Five members of my family have been directly affected by heart disease in some way. There’s Dad and all of my grandparents have also experienced a condition associated with cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart attack, angina, diabetes and vascular dementia. We’ve seen a lot and I know others who have experienced the same or been the family member of a sufferer. The BHF has helped halve the number of people dying from heart and circulatory disease in the UK but sadly every day hundreds of people still lose their lives.

Throughout this period, I would love to raise as much money as possible for the British Heart Foundation, to help ongoing research and aid advancements in education about heart and circulatory disease. Only recently I have realised how many conditions are all linked to cardiovascular disease – the BHF website lists 60.

In April I shall be holding a Ladies’ Clothes Swap Shop Fundraiser. The idea is simple, bring a minimum of 2 items of clothing and exchange for 2 new items. This is an opportunity to chat, upgrade your wardrobe and find out a little more about heart disease and the BHF. I would love for as many ladies to join me as possible, or if you are unable to attend, I would welcome any clothes that you may be able to donate, which can be dropped off at the event venue at your convenience or Choweree House in Barnstaple. There is no charge but we are suggesting a small voluntary donation and we’ll treat you to a glass of refreshment too.

Please do not donate any damaged clothes, swimwear or underwear, children’s clothes or shoes.”

Trimstone Manor Hotel, Wednesday 17th April 7-9pm. All welcome


Yip, it’s an eerie cry but somehow, we miss it when it doesn’t happen! Albert is the peacock and he has two ladies… I attach a picture one miserable morning which I’ll caption ‘do we really have to go out in this?’ We just hope that if the ladies do lay and nest that they’ll choose a sensible place to do so away from the nasty fox. Anyway, you’re welcome to call-in for a cream tea, high tea, evening meal and to have a look at the menagerie of birds from the smallest to the emus – what characters they are too! I don’t think we’d better offer their eggs for breakfast – unless you have a healthy appetite!


We were delighted to host a house party of long-standing friends last month. Every year they go somewhere – not far in that they came from Somerset and Bristol but the distance doesn’t matter. They only came for the weekend but they had the place pretty much to themselves and all seemed to have a lovely time, good fellowship, good food and good wine. It’s only afterwards when we appreciated that when one of the unassuming guests had said how much he enjoyed what we offer and the rustic charm and character of Trimstone that we realised he had been a cruise ship captain… so he knows a thing or two about such things! Lovely to have them with us and I am sure they would agree, not a great deal of money too. If that is something that takes your fancy, with family or friends, why not contact us? We can manage small groups or up to fifty-five and anything in between and it’s a great way to unwind, be looked-after without that being excessive or intrusive and you don’t have to worry about the cooking or the washing-up.


Why is it that top and starred hotels can still not ‘do it right’? We booked a ‘works’ outing’ last July and on arrival last weekend, the rooms had not been allocated so we had to wait at Reception whilst each one was selected, allocated and key cards prepared. No, we couldn’t all be on the same floor as they had not reserved the rooms specifically. They didn’t accommodate one of our disabled guests’ needs properly and they had to relocate. Then they set-up separate bills for each room despite it being one invoice and then they required payment from a staff member’s spouse when he checked-out and who didn’t realise that I’d be paying collectively. They missed-off one room but still charged for it but didn’t provide an invoice. It’s all silly little things that you would imagine a busy, four-star Hotel would do correctly but there we are. The place was lovely, staff and food as good as usual but it’s so unnecessary and they could have allocated the rooms and have the key cards all ready for each as soon as we arrive after a lengthy journey and not wanting to stand at Reception for longer than necessary and the same with the check-out really. It’s not complicated…


I was frustrated to see a sign in Ilfracombe recently offering ‘B&B £24’. It was right opposite another hotel where they have spent an absolute fortune on lovely improvements but when will places realise that you cannot possibly cover your costs when effectively you are paying guests to come and stay with you? No, I don’t believe in a lack of competition and yes, I believe in special initiatives from time to time but when establishments cut their own throats and then everyone wonders why the place has closed and the bank has moved-in… well, it is no wonder. I have had a fond spot for Ilfracombe for a very long time and it and its businesses there need to recognise that if they want it to change for the positive, this silly attitude of pricing to kill oneself has to stop. If people don’t want to pay a price which is fair to both parties then all I’d say is you really don’t want them as customers and neither does Ilfracombe.


Don’t forget –Trimstone Manor Country House Hotel and Cottages now has the fastest wifi for those staying in any form of accommodation in the whole North Devon and Exmoor area! We were persuaded to upgrade our connection to go fully fibre-optic. At cost of many thousands and the same for three years afterwards, we believe the investment will be justified in more trade and better business effectiveness, staff efficiency and responsiveness. No, this is not ‘just’ a wired connection to the nearest roadside box but a super, unique fibre optic link direct to the local Exchange. We also have the latest Ubiquity ‘Enterprise Grade’ equipment.

The Hotel and Cottages have gone from having slower speeds than two-thirds of the country to having faster speeds than 99% of the UK and for any form of usage! We have always believed in free wifi for guests – whether the person staying over or the casual guest for a cream tea or a coffee. In fact it is an anathema to me when we go away to find complicated access processes, extra charges or more money for anything but basic wifi.

These days, more often than not people on holiday need the internet and to know it is reliable and speedy. When I am on holiday, I must keep in touch and work and many others must too. Indeed, for entertainment – or for their children, it is becoming an imperative need and so there won’t be any access problems or restrictions on broadband width or anything for guests and their families either when they come here and as they will experience everywhere else!

We do expect more guests as a result of this significant investment, yes. This is not only for holidaying guests but we expect more business guests when they are visiting customers in North Devon. The wifi and mobile signals in other nearby areas are pretty poor and not very reliable so the frustration some people must face when they try to do their work is something they will not experience here. We are also open for conference facilities too so imagine what streaming presentations is like and so on – no interruptions or slow speeds – and a reliable presentation and all of your delegates having great, free wifi.

Not only will the facility encourage more guests (even out of season so those escaping for work projects can enjoy the surroundings too) but we expect more casual callers for morning coffees and afternoon teas as these guests will also be able to have direct access – and all free.

So why not come and test it? You’ll have to come and stay for a night and see what their super-dooper wifi speed is all about. Average Broadband download speeds as of May 2018 in the UK were 46.2mbps and upload speeds of 6.2mbps. Trimstone’s new internet download speed is 300Mbps download and 30mbps upload. Our new internet means a guest could download an Ultra HD film (70gb) in 31 minutes when compared to 3.24 hours on the average speed above.

Our very best wishes,

Philip & Helen Milton