A North Devon author’s long Odyssey to do up a country cottage is the subject of his latest book.
Roses Around the Door by Berwick Coates tells of his travails and adventures as he ‘did up’ a cottage just outside Barbrook at Lynton.
Many people have a dream of running a tea shop, country pub or fixing up a country cottage, but for Mr Coates, the dream became an unexpected reality.
As he recounts in his book, he had no money, very few DIY skills and could not drive.
But instead he said, he had the wits to spot an opportunity and his new book is all about what he did with that opportunity.
In the end, he and his family lived in the Exmoor cottage from 1970 to 1975 and he spent three years of bachelorhood before that making it habitable.
He said: “The cottage is just outside the village of Barbrook, near Lynton, on the bank of a stream that was one of the tributaries of the Lyn, which produced the Lynmouth flood disaster of 1952.
“The small picture on the back cover is our own private waterfall at the foot of a huge sycamore beyond the mill end.
“It made a good shower, if you were brave enough. I used to summon up the courage on Christmas mornings. It would probably kill me now!”
Mr Coates has lived in Devon for almost 50 years, but was born in London and first encountered Devon when he was evacuated there during the Blitz bombing of the city in World War Two.
He has now written 16 books and is also the archivist at West Buckland School.
Five of his books have been about the school and he has also written of his own early life in Starkeye & Co: Life at a Grammar School in the 1940s.
He attended Kingston Grammar School and studied history at Cambridge. Since then he has been an army officer, author, artist, lecturer, careers adviser, games coach, and teacher of History, English, Latin and Swahili.
He has also written two novels of historical fiction – The Last Conquest 1066 and The Last Viking 1066, about the Norman Conquest and the preceding battle of Stamford Bridge when the Vikings invaded.
Roses Around the Door is available on Amazon, as are his other books, or you can find out more about the author at https://berwickcoates.co.uk.