Tag Archives: north devon

Thinking of Moving to Ilfracombe? Go for it.

The Personal View of an Ex-Londoner

I would say that the best decision I made was moving to Ilfracombe from my home in Walthamstow, London. Not that I hated Walthamstow, specifically. I had lived most of my forty plus years in London and hated most of it. Not the city itself, and not individual people, but the cost of living just drives everything and everybody until it becomes the most impersonal and unfriendly place in the country.

Not that everything is perfect here, but compared to London I would not swap back for any (plausible) reason. Sure if you paid me a million pounds to live there then I would go back, but if I won a million pounds I would stay in Ilfracombe.

Pro and cons of London compared to Ilfracombe

And for London you could read Birmingham or most other big cities as well.


  • Vastly less traffic, my son and I no longer require asthma pumps on daily basis. Drivers are annoyingly polite.
  • You get to know loads of people really quickly and you can’t get down the High Street without having to stop for a chat. Don’t upset people though because you still have to see them
  • Some jobs are seasonal but there are still plenty of good jobs. Even working in Barnstaple you only have half an hour each way by car.
  • No, it is NOT perfect here either. If anything some drugs are more readily available. And yes there is violent crime, but not so much, and the papers are mainly full of stories about dog crap, or pesky seagulls.
  • People still moan but mostly those who have lived here all their lives and don’t realise that it’s worse in big cities.
  • Some incredible local talent with most venues offering free live music weekly, a great little theatre, cinema, and night club and a night out needn’t break the bank.
  • We sold our three edroom end of terrace house in E17 (a low value part of London) and bought a seven bedroom terraced house in the centre of town. We had £30,000 left after all costs.
  • House price info from Right Move
    “The majority of sales in Ilfracombe during the last year were terraced properties, selling for an average price of £144,794. Flats sold for an average of £130,925, with detached properties fetching £230,006.Ilfracombe, with an overall average price of £166,160 was cheaper than nearby Woolacombe (£307,735), Combe Martin (£178,171) and Braunton (£248,692).

    Overall sold prices in Ilfracombe over the last year were similar to the previous year and 16% down on the 2008 level of £197,112.”


  • Traffic pollution, congestion, and road safety issues. Asthma was a big problem. Took ages to drive anywhere.
  • People rarely know their neighbours, and nobody talks on public transport, or in the street. Surrounded by people, you can still feel completely alone.
  • Huge choice of job opportunities, some jobs can only be found in the biggest cities. Often you have to commute for two or more hours a day just to get to work.
  • Street violence, drunkenness and abusive behaviour fairly common in a lot of areas. Drugs and drug crime all too common, local papers full of stories about stabbings and shootings.
  • People moaning about things like overcrowding on the tube, traffic, the cost of living, pollution, and each other.
  • Top west end shows and huge international music acts (if you can afford them) immense choice of restaurants, nightlife, tourist attractions (except you never really visit them do you?)
  • Property prices are high in London. If you own your own home then you can probably trade up and get some money left over for yourself. If you are renting then the chances are you will get a better deal in Ilfracombe
  • House price info from Right Move 
    “Last year most property sales in London involved flats which sold for on average £391,595. Terraced properties sold for an average price of £507,732, while semi-detached properties fetched £469,713.London, with an overall average price of £456,932 was more expensive than nearby South East (£296,292),

    During the last year, sold prices in London were 8% up on the previous year and 12% up on 2010 when the average house price was £406,347.”

So what are you waiting for?

House prices in town are finally on the rise so there couldn’t be a better time to buy. There are signs of investment and improvements going on all over town right now, with some high quality new shops opened up lately, and every likelihood of a resurgence in the town in the coming years.

Estate Agents in Ilfracombe


Honey Jacks at Sunwest Festival

Last minute replacements wow the crowd

On the Sunday evening I spotted a post on Facebook that said Honey Jacks were playing their debut gig, stepping in for Tuesday Syndicate on the Monday afternoon. 

Honey_Jacks_sunwest_1This would be just before my own band were due to play and I was looking forward to checking out this band in particular.

You see three members of the five piece “Honey Jacks” were previously part of “Surrogate Suns” (my last failed project).

Honey_Jacks_sunwest_2The Suns imploded, suddenly (without rancour) due to the fact we were all gently pulling in different musical directions.
Honey Jacks were named after Honey Jack Daniels, a drink which Surrogate Suns were also rather fond of.

Honey_Jacks_sunwest_3The band consists of

  • Karen Yates – vocals
  • Nick Filby – lead guitar
  • Tony Dredster – rhythm guitar
  • Dan Emery – bass
  • Jay Allen – drums

I was a bit worried at first, because I expected there would be a lot of songs in their set that my band also did, but in the end it turned out that I recognised very few of their songs.  Honey_Jacks_sunwest_4Only Stevie Wonder’s Superstition crossed over, and their version was quite different from ours.

Musically the band were immensely tight, as you would expect from musicians who have worked together in other bands for some time. Not only were Nick, Jay, and Tony, part of Surrogate Suns but perhaps more importantly, Jay, Dan, and Tony were the powerhouse behind “The Padawans” who were a popular band for many years before I even moved to Ilfracombe, and Nick was in a band called “Monster“, with Jay, before that.

Honey_Jacks_sunwest_5Karen’s vocals were sufficiently powerful not to be lost in the thunder of such a high octane backline, yet still melodic and soulful.

Nick is also a guitarist who does not allow the excitement of playing live and loud stand in the way of playing it RIGHT.

All in all, this was a superb first outing for a band which I hope will run for a good long time. 

The Seahorse – Ilfracombe pub listing

The Seahorse pub, Ilfracombe

Wilder Road,
EX34 9AJ



Seahorse-2The Seahorse is arguably the most child and family friendly pub anywhere, there is an area set aside specifically for young children with a TV tuned permanently to cbeebies or similar, and dotted with all sorts of books and toys and small seating.


Seahorse-3They also welcome bookings for kids birthday parties, in fact my kids have been to them there and had a great time.

The pub hosts Karaoke every week. It is a large pub with helpful staff and the only drawback from my point of view is there are no real ales.


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Ilfracombe Carnival 2013

Ilfracombe Carnival 2013
New organisers same eclectic fun

This year’s carnival takes place on Thursday August 22nd starting at the swimming pool car park at six thirty in the evening with judging the best floats, and then the procession will move from there along the High Street and down to the sea front along to George Street.

In previous years it was organised by St. John’s Ambulance, who have a very active training scheme in town. But this year they relinquished their interest as it was becoming increasingly difficult to organise the event and still do all their other things.

So the event has been taken over by a consortium of organisers but it is expected that much of the event will be the same as it has been in previous years.

Uncle_Tom_Cobbley_floatAn ever popular float is one involving a large model horse carrying uncle Tom Cobbley and all, and with a tail that waves around splashing onlookers with water. It wasn’t so popular last year since everybody was already sick of getting wet from ordinary rain, but hopefully this year, with the weather back to normal the odd splash will be a welcome relief.

It is fairly obvious that the roads will be closed for this event from 18.45 prompt until the procession has fully passed. This may take several hours so avoid using your car in town and if you need to leave then make sure it is not trapped by the closures.

View Ilfracombe Carnival in a larger map

Unsigned rock festival Barnstaple August 2013

Unsigned Rock Festival
@ The Old Bus Station Barnstaple

Presented by Dr. John’s Rock Surgery
August 10th and August 11th 2013

John Forster runs a radio show called Dr John’s Rock Surgery, which plays 100% unsigned bands. It has a substantial audience, partly thanks to syndicating to several radio stations. Obviously he plays rock although there is a fairly broad scope within the genre.

The festival has been set up to raise money for a local charity, PATHFIELDS SCHOOL in Barnstaple Caring for children with Downs and severe learning disabilities.

John says,
I have been shown around the school and it is a great place and the kids are incredible. With kids going to the school from Ilfracombe, Barnstaple, Bideford think you will agree it is well worthwhile cause and we couldn’t be happier to be doing this for them.

Of the bands playing, I have already heard of, or written about several of them, “Band Of Roses”, “Ataraxis Vibration“, “Billy Brown“, “Blackwater England”, and “The Black Dogs”. Based on my knowledge of those band this is going to be a totally brilliant couple of days.

£10 for the two days is an absolute bargain and all profits go to the charity so I think this is a must see if you live anywhere in North Devon.

Devon bus transport information – indispensable website

Indispensable interactive bus map for Devon

Devon County Council provides this excellent bus map online which allows you to see at a glance where buses go from and to, at every level of detail.

Having moved here from London, where we were used to having an integrated regional transport system co-ordinated by regional government, the hotch-potch of transport providers proved a major obstacle to getting around when we didn’t have access to a car.

The companies own websites are often very uninformative so this map which I only just found out about today and appears to be fairly new, is going to be in my bookmarks from now on.

Buddy’s, Ilfracombe – Pub listing

Buddy’s bar Ilfracombe


106 High St,

EX34 9ET

01271 879777


Buddy’s in the High Street is one of the largest pubs in town. The downstairs bar is trendy and aimed at younger customers, and “career” drinkers; with cheap lager, no real ale, and a noisy ambiance; dance music, and laser lighting.

Buddys_barThere are bottled beers, but the pub thrives on its reputation for selling cheap lager.
There is no beer garden and nowhere, except the narrow High Street, for smokers.
It has attracted criticism from some locals because of smokers and drinkers outside from quite early in the day.

There are large TV screens for showing major sports events, and seating on several levels. There is no parking but it stands in the centre of town.

Upstairs is a separate venue called Buddy’s Live Lounge which plays host to irregular live music, as well as other functions. It has two stages and a quite large capacity of about 150 people.  (Only the Pavilion and Landmark are larger for live music.)

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Boat House pub, Ilfracombe – listing

The Boat House, Ilfracombe

The_Boat_House_IlfracombeThe Boat House,
1-4 The Promenade,
EX34 9BD

01271 862545


Boat_House_barThe boat house was formerly known as The Wheelhouse and is an integral part of the promenade of shops on the sea front on Wilder Road which is designed to represent a paddle steamer. It is currently run by local landlord “H” and features live music, mainly during the tourist season. With a seating area outside this is a great place to sit and enjoy the sea views on warm days.

There is usually a choice of two local ales but, on this occasion, I was limited to Yelland, at a very reasonable £3. Service is warm and friendly. Decor is mainly traditional with nautical leanings.

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George and Dragon pub, Ilfracombe – listing

George and Dragon, Ilfracombe

I picked a bad time to take this as it was raining.

I picked a bad time to take this as it was raining.

George and Dragon,
4 Fore Street,
EX34 9ED

01271 863851


The George and Dragon is officially Ilfracombe’s oldest pub having been one since it was built in 1360. The Prince of Wales next door is the older building but has not been a pub for as long.

It is a small and cosy place with plenty of beams and old features. Outside on sunny days there is space to sit and almost no traffic as the road is close except for access.

George_and_Dragon_barApart from a small selection of decent real ales (I had an Exmoor at £3) the pub also serves excellent food.

There is a notice on the bar that requests customer snot to use mobile phones and this is enforced fairly strictly. Although I was allowed to use mine as a camera and notebook, actually taking a call would have had me asked to leave. As this is the only pub in town that I know of which has such a rule it means that if you do want a quiet pint this is where to go.*

Dogs are welcome as are children; the kids menu is good as well.

*Mobile reception in this part of town is dreadful anyway. A woman asked me (in a welsh accent) where she could find a mobile signal, I told her Cardiff. 

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Prince of Wales pub, Ilfracombe – listing

Prince of Wales pub

Prince_of_Wales_pub_IlfracombePrince of Wales,
2 Fore Street,
EX34 9ED

01271 866391



The entrance to Rodney Lane at the bottom of Fore Street about 1890. The right hand building is the Prince of Wales public house and next to it, the labour exchange.

The Prince of Wales on Fore Street is the second oldest pub in Ilfracombe, although the building is older than the George next door it was not always a pub.

There are low beams which are original and very quaint unless you bang your head on them. A photograph on the wall depicts the pub in about 1890 at which time it was smaller, and set back from the street.

Prince_barThere were two ales one was Doombar but I had the other one which was very nice and £3.10 but I have forgotten what it was so will have to go back and check.

The Prince has a terraced garden at the rear, there are quite a few steps.
There is also a cash machine here but it charges for withdrawals which I object to. However the nearest one is at the top of Fore Street so you may prefer to pay the extra if you don’t want to struggle up the hill.

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