I immediately understood that the joy of The River Exe Cafe is the dining experience itself. It’s immersive – although hopefully you’re not immersed – put simply, you don’t ‘go’ to The River Exe Cafe, you’do’ it.
“After a brief journey of well-rehearsed small talk, we came to a halt. Stepping from the coach onto an ocean of gleaming gravel, I surveyed what was to be our overnight dwelling: The Beach House. Such a pleasing, quintessentially English façade: the type of place where Miss Marple would have lived, if she’d won the lottery.
It had been a short journey, but it seemed we’d traveled back in time to an age of opulence. It pleased me greatly. The paintwork on the quirky windows and doors was as fresh as the sea air. A well-oiled, front door swung open and our gregarious host swept onto the driveway.
“You’re here, you’re here. So glad you could make it.”
As I took in The Beach House, beautifully finished in the Arts and Crafts style, I had to conclude that so was I.”
“I’ll not be happy!” said one old lady, so everyone on the bus could hear, “if he ruins that place, Courtlands House. Lovely it is!”
Her companion nodded in agreement.
“In fact, if he does, I’ll never watch his films ever again! He should stick to acting, blooming Michael Caine!”
I overheard this conversation, between a pair of endearingly-confused locals, just over a year ago. Today I find myself in the lush surroundings of Lympstone Manor (formerly Courtlands House), East Devon’s newest luxury hotel, talking to the man behind it all.