Let me introduce you to David and Michele Binks. Their philosophy in life is to not get too stressed by anything – life is for enjoying! Here, here, say the WestCountry team! But that’s not to say they don’t have big ideas for their business – The aim is to make the farm profitable enough to allow them to continue to live on Exmoor and, in turn to help promote the area as a wonderful UK holiday destination for people from all walks of life.
I’d like to tell you about them and their business Court Farm Holiday Cottages in Somerset.
Court Farm Holiday Cottages, Somerset
David and Michele have been married for nearly 10 years and run their business with the help of Michele’s mother Patricia and her stepfather Edwin. The business is named after the premises, Court Farm, which is located in the village of Exford in the centre of Exmoor National Park. They purchased the business as a going concern in October 2011. Initially, they wanted to keep the existing identity of the farm intact, as the business had been successfully run by the previous owners for over ten years (no throwing the baby out with the bathwater for them!).
It took David and Michele some time to find the perfect property, in the area that they loved so much and with a business attached. In fact they even made an appearance on Escape to the Country with Jules Hudson, trying to find their perfect property in the West Country. In the end they chose to not buy any of the properties they were shown; but did find Court Farm a short while after the show.
Initially David and Michele wanted to be closer to the coast, have good hacking out for their horses and good walking for their four dogs but they also needed to have an income to support them. Exmoor and the North Devon coast had long been a favourite area of theirs for all of the above reasons and, after their experience with their previous pet care business, they were confident that they wanted to run their own business rather than be employees again. Self-catering cottages seemed to offer the best opportunity to make a living whilst still being able to enjoy the vicinity. The final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when Michele’s mother and step-father agreed to sell their home as well and join them on their new adventure.
The Self-catering Cottages At Court Farm
Court Farm now has three self-catering cottages.
Mountain Ash Cottage and Rowan Cottage both have two bedrooms (one double, one twin) and sleep up to four adults, Snowdrop cottage is a one-bedroom cottage, sleeping two adults. Heating, electricity and bed-linen and Wi-Fi are all included in the price. They are all very comfortably equipped with central heating but also have wood burning stoves so you can steam off that liquid Somerset sunshine after a long day on the moor. The cottages are dog-friendly with their own secure gardens and miles of walking direct from the front door. One of the unique pleasures of the Somerset/North Devon moors is the riding. They have few restrictions as to where you can ride and you can get a real thrill from being on one of the largest wilderness areas in the country. Court Farm can provide stabling and grazing, by arrangement on site. What a perfect way to see the rare breed Exmoor pony in its natural habitat!
The Village Of Exford And Exmoor National Park
The holiday cottages themselves are situated in Exford, Somerset. The village is next to a bridleway, great for horse riding and walking and, adjacent to the River Exe, ideal for exploring the Exmoor National Park.
You know you will be in safe hands when you visit the village of Exford as Michelle is a volunteer with the Rural Community Watch where she patrols on horseback with her horse Tiny! You will often see Michele riding through the village with her friend Marianne.
Dave is currently carrying out some volunteer work with the Exmoor National Park and the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership (EMLP) to create an on-line resource for use by primary schools to help them understand the history and importance of Exmoor. After a huge amount of hard work, and some much needed grants, the EMLP are now able to help support those who take care of the moorland and also help visitors to understand and appreciate this unique landscape.
So, Where Did It All Begin….
David is Bristolian, born and bred and Michele grew up in Oxfordshire. Michele has owned and ridden horses pretty much all her life. It started from an early age; her first riding experience was at three years old! Michele has also managed to squeeze in a career as an export sales assistant for a Land Rover parts company, an administrator for a care home and as a procurement assistant for the National Grid. In 2003, Michele started her own pet care business near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire providing dog walking, dog boarding and home visit services. It proved so successful that in 2005 David left the IT world and joined her. The couple sold the business in order to make the move to Exmoor.
David went to Bath University and graduated in 1978 with a degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering. He has spent most of his working career in IT, working as a technical author, project manager, technical consultant and eventually IT Director for a London-based software company.
The couple love nothing more than being outdoors with either their dogs or the horses. But they have also travelled widely in Western Europe. David has spent a lot of time in the USA and South Africa with his IT jobs and in 2010 they decided to take an extended autumn break to New England, to visit friends and see the ever changing colours of the forests.
To Sum The Couple Up
When I asked who they admired Michele replied
and David said
Michele’s favourite food – salmon en croute or raspberry brulee, David – anything chocolate!
To sum them up in three words – Michele, honest, caring, determined. David – laid back, determined and willing.
Pet hates – slow internet connection and computers!
The Perfect Family Holiday – And That Includes The Dogs And The Horses!
The couple are passionate about Court Farm and believe they may have found the formula. Having spent many years trying to find good holiday accommodation that would take four dogs and a horse, as well as humans they are sure the need is there. We all love to take our pets on holiday with us but they are not always provided for, at Court Farm, they think have the perfect solution. It’s lovely to take your dogs on holiday with you but the downside is that you have to have them with you all the time as most accommodation will not let you leave the dogs behind unattended. The solution – a dog minding service!
David and Michele have experience with not only their own dogs but other people’s dogs as well. They are happy to offer a unique dog-minding service so their guests can go for that special meal or to an attraction which doesn’t accept dogs.
With their local knowledge, and experience of working with dogs and horses, they feel they understand, and can provide, what people need to have an enjoyable holiday experience.
David and Michele want nothing more than to welcome you to their holiday cottages, make you feel relaxed and share with you the delights of Exmoor, all of you, four legs or two.
You can find out more information about Court Farm Holiday Cottages by visiting their own website www.courtfarm.co.uk or you can visit them at Facebook or on Twitter. For those of you who prefer the telephone you can call them on 01643 831207. Happy Holidays!