Karen and Paul Marshallsay run Odle Farm just outside Upottery near Honiton, Devon with Karen’s parents Jeanette and Richard. Odle Farm offers bed and breakfast and self catering cottages in the heart of the beautiful Blackdown Hills, Devon. Not only are there pretty rooms and cottages on offer in the heart of the beautiful countryside, but there are Hot Tubs and a Games Room.
From Surrey To Devon
Karen feels completely at home now, where she lives, but she isn’t a native West Country girl. She grew up in Surrey and the Isle of Wight then moved to the New Forest when she was twenty-one years old.
Prior to running the business, Karen worked for the Halifax. She had many roles throughout her career, including that of mortgage adviser. Later, having switched to part-time working after having a family she tried to choose less stressful roles.
Karen, Paul and Karen’s parents family bought Odle Farm in 2006. She is not sorry to have left a career in banking especially in the light of more recent developments.
Horses And Riding
Karen’s passion in life are horses. She left school as soon as she could because she wanted to earn money to buy a horse, a goal she achieved when she was just 17 years old.
She had learnt to ride as a child and belonged to Horse Rangers a bit like Girl Guides only for those who are mad about horses. She had helped at the local riding stables, Allandale Equestrian Centre on Isle of Wight here she mucked out and groomed etc so she knew all about horse ownership before she embarked on it herself. However, she soon realised that earning money for the upkeep was quite tricky!
She obviously managed as she has not had a period of her life without horses, and is happy to have the land now to keep a pony for her children, a horse she shares with her husband and room to have horses on loan to her from time to time.
It was through her love of horses that she met husband Paul. Paul too had horses and their eyes met across a livery yard in the New Forest. Karen now goes riding at least twice a week through the lovely Devon countryside. Sometimes she exercises friend’s horse too.
A West Country Loving Lady
Karen hasn’t travelled much beyond the UK having been just once each to Ibiza and France. Horses are a tie and she has no real urge to travel – she is too fond of the UK to bother with the hanging around in airports that foreign travel entails.
Buying Odle Farm was the first time she and her husband had run their own business but Karen’s parents had previously run a Post office at Godsill on the Isle of Wight. They decided to make the move as they all disliked their jobs and wanted to do something for themselves. So they pooled their resources together and just went for it. They just felt that life is too short to waste it doing jobs they hated.
There are no regrets either although Karen does admit that it is harder work than she thought it would be. Originally they hadn’t intended to do Bed and Breakfast and so now with the cottages there is a lot more to do – but she still adores the lifestyle and working her own hours.
A Spot of Refurbishment!
When they first acquired Odle Farm, two of the cottages, Jasmine and Wisteria were already ready and only had to be decorated. However they then undertook barn conversions to create the games room and other cottages. This made the first six months very hard work especially as they couldn’t live in the main house as it was still rented out!
But they succeeded in developing Honeysuckle and Willow and then the barns and games room. And as with many building projects there were unexpected costs! But it was all worth it as now they live in an amazingly beautiful place, with outside space for the horses – and they share that with their guests when they stay in their excellent accommodation.
Karen and Paul are quite involved in village life too. Karen is Chairperson of the PTA at the local primary school at Upottery and Paul is Chair of the local Tennis Club.
Odle Farm was called Otters Rise when they first bought it as it belonged to the complex nearby – Otter Falls. However they kept finding that mail went astray so decided to revert to the original name of the farm – Odle Farm – which goes back centuries.
To Devon From Everywhere
Their guests come from all over although probably the majority come from cities about two hours away such as London, Bristol and Southampton. Occasionally people, like me, come from Exeter – just 20 minutes drive but a whole world away from the city of Exeter.
They attract quite a few Dutch people in the bed and breakfast as Odle Farm is in the The Little Green Book that people pick up on the ferry. They have had visitors from all over the world including Australia, Canada and the United States.
A wedding party recently stayed – and took advantage of the games room to calm wedding nerves and have a little fun, before the solumn moment!
A Little Bit of Devon Heaven
Apart from the wonderful location, Karen believes Odle Farm is special because of her attention to detail. She ensures the cottages and rooms are immaculately clean. Everything is really spotless from the kitchen and its contents through to the beautiful white pressed sheets. Karen does all the laundering to ensure it is of the highest quality.
Having stayed at Odle Farm twice I can certainly verify that the cottages are spotless!
The family are very welcoming and will go out of their way to make sure their guest get everything they need. They are happy to give advice and information about the local area such as walks, places to see, where to eat and where to shop. There is a pub just a 40 minute walk or 5 minute drive away that does good meals and serves local Otter Beer.
The people who stay in the bed and breakfast say that it feels like a home from home – which is exactly what Karen wants them to feel. Many people return and they enjoy a 5% discount on their bookings too. On arrival at the cottages – a tray of tea and delicious home made cake welcomes you and there are always fresh flowers in a vase.
Perhaps the best feature, though is the the hot tubs. Jasmine and Wisteria share one and Honeysuckle and Willow each have their own. All are positioned with fabulous views. It is a great experience looking out sitting in hot bubbling water whilst looking over the Devon countryside – it is supremely relaxing – and really does feel like heaven. It is particularly welcome after a long walk!
The games room has a pool, air hockey, table tennis and darts as well as board games, books and dvds, so there is plenty to do if you want a day in or if its a bit rainy – or the kids are getting a bit bored.
The location is very special, remote from town and city life, no road noise only the birds. And yet the bustling market town of Honiton with its cafes and Lace museum is only a few miles away.
I can recommend Odle Farm – lovely accommodation, fabulous Hot Tubs, wonderful walks, beautiful views and a fabulous pub nearby. It makes the perfect relaxing break, any time of year!