Last year I wrote a post thanking a few local businesses who’d helped us settle in to our Devon home. Now it’s time for another. Here’s some well-deserved praise for three of the best small businesses in North Devon, people we’ve rated high in the past few months.
Best small businesses in Devon – Atlantic Highway Driving School
The more crazy mistakes I make, the calmer Neil Goldie gets. I stall at a roundabout, he’s totally chilled. I get too close to the Devon bank along a narrow country road and he gently moves the steering wheel in the right direction. If I was him and I had to teach me to drive, I’d be a mess. But he’s as calm as a calm thing from a very calm place, and that’s a proper confidence booster on the famously narrow, sinuous, lorry-littered, tractor-stuffed Devon roads.
Not that my first driving instructor yelled. He was a very nice man. But he didn’t teach me to drive, just chatted about football and the weather while I meandered gently around the countryside learning bugger-all. And that’s another reason why Neil at Atlantic Highway Driving School is so good. He actually teaches rather than just leaving you to learn via some form of bizarre West Country osmosis.
At the start of every lesson we go through what happened last time and decide, based on that, what to focus on this time. At the end of each lesson we go over what we’ve done, and Neil answers my questions as well as giving me stuff to think about for the next lesson. I really can’t recommend him highly enough. If you’re learning to drive in North Devon, make Atlantic Highway Driving School your first stop.
KAEI – Kevin Andrew Electrical Installations
Our oil-fired beast of an early 1980s Rayburn was on its last legs as well as inefficient, inconvenient and madly expensive to run. We’re not on the gas mains either, so it was either oil or electric. Luckily electricity provides more choices than fossil fuels, and can be generated renewably in all sorts of cool ways. We’re hoping the cost will ultimately drop rather than continuing on an upward trajectory like fossil fuel prices probably will.
So along comes Kevin from Kevin Andrew Electrical Installations and suggests a revolutionary idea. We were all set to buy an electric boiler to handle the heating and hot water. But you don’t need a boiler when you can simply fit super-efficient modern German electric radiators. They look good. They work brilliantly. They’re independently programmable in numerous ways. And a fiendishly efficient programmable electric immersion thingy heats the water. With no boiler to service or repair – and hopefully lower renewable energy prices in future – we’re golden.
Kevin and his apprentice were polite, as quiet as mice, extremely efficient, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to have around. They left the place spotless. And we highly recommend our smart new German rads. Result.
The Disc Plate Hanger Company, Bovey Tracey
They’re not online… and for some strange reason I like that. I discovered the wonderfully old-fashioned Disc Plate Hanger Company’s products on Ebay. As someone who collects garish vintage decorative plates from Monaco, Italy and Spain, I bought three of their biggest disc hangers to test-drive.
What a discovery. What a treat. All you do is wet the back of the disk, wait five minutes, fix it to the reverse of the plate and let it dry overnight. The resulting bonded circle and integral hook is toughness personified and can take items weighing as much as 3kg. I say ‘items’ rather than plates because I also hung a heavy wood and glass curiosity cabinet full of interesting objects, and it worked perfectly. Apparently you can use the discs to hang things made from wood, hardboard and blockboard as well as ceramic.
If you can’t find the company on Ebay or Amazon, or their goods in your local DIY store, The Disc Plate hanger Company lives at 1 Avenue Road, Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ13 9BQ. Try searching Google for their brand name or use the search term ‘invisible disc plate hanger’ and see what pops up.