We moved to north Devon from Brighton in January 2017. Since then we’ve tried and tested some brilliant local businesses. They deserve a shout, and that’s what this post is about.
Recommended businesses in North Devon
If you’re down our way and in need of any of the following services, the friendly, warm and polite people who have helped us so far have been absolutely awesome. Here they are.
Peter Hearn Liquid Waste Removal
Septic tanks fill up, and they need emptying. That’s where Peter Hearn came in, recommended by every one of our north Devon neighbours and 24/7 Drain Solutions as the best in the business.
Peter himself drove a massive tanker up our tiny drive and sucked out the nasties in record time. He could have sucked and ran, so to speak, but he also took the time to give us excellent advice and insight into how septic tanks work, discussing a raft of potential alternatives and giving us the clues we needed to investigate thoroughly ourselves. That’s what I call great service.
24/7 Drain Solutions
When your ancient septic tank goes wrong, you need experts. The thing is, some of those experts seem to take advantage. The first firm we called in for advice gave us an astronomical verbal quote that had increased a whopping £5,000 by the time their rep left. In retrospect, sadly, it looks like they were testing the water to see our reaction, to establish how much we could afford. So we were thrilled to come across 24/7 Drain Solutions.
They provided a great quote. They collapsed our old septic tank arrangement, which was non-compliant and dated back to the ’70s, replacing it with a new, compliant tank with an integral pump and biomass-driven mini-sewage plant. They did the work politely, efficiently and with no fuss, left everything immaculate and were a real pleasure to have around. I even learned the basics of dowsing from Dave the digger driver, but that’s another story.
Lower Twitchen Farm Shop and farm boxes
We spotted the Lower Twitchen Farm Shop sign the first time we walked over to our nearest town, Torrington. Now it’s our favourite local tea and cake destination, a really friendly place where you can sit in the sunshine and enjoy a good cuppa, splendid cake, and the most glorious local ice creams hand made at another local farm.
They also do excellent weekly farm boxes stuffed with local fruit and veg, make home made jams and grow fresh strawberries. There’s a bouncy castle (which, sadly, we’re too old for!), plus a wildlife pond, and lambs and goats for children to pet and feed. What a delightful spot. Thanks to Terri and Heather for a warm welcome every time.
NFU Mutual in Bideford and Playle Russell Special Risks
We had to rent our new home for a couple of months while solicitors and conveyancers did their uber-slow thing. It was our responsibility to insure our home contents, which I did with great pleasure via NFU Mutual’s Bideford office, staffed by friendly people with all the right expertise needed to give us a fair deal. Their attention to detail was mighty impressive.
Once we’d actually bought our house at long last, we needed buildings cover. Several ordinary home buildings insurers sent us packing. Our home is made from cob, so when it came to insuring the fabric of the building itself, we needed specialists in non-standard construction. My old friend and ex-colleague Richard Playle came to the rescue with an excellent value policy and a common sense attitude to the trees in the back garden, great when I was fully expecting the process to be damn painful. Many thanks to Playle Russell Special Risks for making home insurance a pleasure – no easy task!
Western Power Distribution
You don’t necessarily expect your local electricity suppliers to pull out all the stops. But Western Power Distribution are grand. When we noticed that a huge Leylandii tree in our garden was interfering with the power line into the house, with part of one branch actually growing around the wire supporting the electricity pole, I called them for advice. They sent someone out the next day, he reported back to WPD and within the week we had a team of tree surgeons on site to cut the tree down.
It didn’t cost us a penny, the tree guys cut up the wood for us to stash in the wood shed and even chipped the branches and greenery into brash, which we used to reinforce the pathways through the wood at the end of our garden. Result!
There’s more. WPD have a really good power cut helpline, an awesome service where they let you know what’s going on and tell you when the power cut you’re experiencing is likely to be fixed. I guess it’s no surprise they’re so good, since their company ethos goes like this:
- Take personal responsibility
- Work with others to find a solution
- Follow the problem until the end
- Keep the customer informed
- Treat customers the way you would like to be treated
Dulux Decorator Centre
A new home means fresh decor, and I’ve been buying paint like a woman possessed. Our local Dulux Decorator Centre in Exeter is pretty impressive. If I place an order for specially-mixed paint one afternoon a friendly man in a van delivers it the next morning, just like magic. I know we live in a world where fast delivery is not exactly rare, but this level of efficiency is still impressive.
Duffys Home Hardware, Torrington
We were spoiled back in Brighton thanks to the amazing Ransoms, a tiny, weeny independent shop off the London Road that stocks every kind of hardware you can imagine… and some. I was sure I’d miss the place, having shopped there happily for more than thirty years. But lo and behold, Duffy’s Home Hardware in Torrington performs much the same role in our new lives in Devon. Suffice to say if they don’t stock it, it doesn’t actually exist.