Use Your Loaf – Vicki Lloyd’s Arvon week

30 Jul 2014 / General

Try your breaks road sign

Vicki Lloyd writes about her week of writing eating at Totleigh Barton…


Deepest Devon for Writing for Radio week. I’m in the corner room, just past the pigsties. Claire says it’s her favourite room.  I make myself a nice cup of tea and suddenly I’m at home. We’re greeted by yummy pasta bake and what has to be just about the best chocolate brownie ever. We meet Simon and Sue – and are all in awe, but they say they want us to have fun. We are polite – and relatively quiet. I’ll write a blog, I think. Little did I realise it would rapidly morph from blog about writing to blog about FOOD…


Breakfast – I shall start as I mean to go on – a good healthy breakfast of muesli with skimmed milk.

Excellent, stimulating and ice-breaking workshop. We hear sound effects, we write; we listen, we write more.

Lunch. Pasties for lunch. I LOVE pasties – proper ones. And then I discover the best thing in the world ever. Ever. Even more so as I’ve had to steal it because I am NOT ENTITLED. It’s called Paradise Slice and it’s gluten free and dairy free. I have no freedom in my diet – I am obliged to eat everything. All the time. Anyway, this Paradise Slice is a bit like Bakewell tart, but a million times better. It has a solid chocolate base, then coconut, apricots, ground almonds, raspberries, maybe?

Sidle into office to try to wheedle recipe out of Claire. Horrors! It’s baked by some genius in Hatherleigh who has gone on holiday and wouldn’t give me the recipe even if she were here – probably, cos it’s so good people would kill for it.

Dinner. Keralan fish curry with clove-infused rice. The fish is salmon, the whole thing tasty. Cauliflower pea curry for the vegetarians looks just as yummy. Pudding is one of the best crumbles ever, with ice cream and clotted cream. On the menu on the fridge it declares itself to be rhubarb and gooseberry – but people claim they can taste raspberry. I’m beyond caring, as my mouth is too full to speak.


Last night we heard Sue and Simon’s ‘Black Roses’ – the story of Sophie Lancaster. Deeply, deeply moving. So this morning, I for one, feel rather inadequate as I pitch my idea for a play. Really good session, however, and some really great ideas out there.

Then lunch and some more Paradise Slice. Seems like a bit of exercise is called for, so I walk to the village.

Sheepwash is reminiscent of a French village, with the church taking centre stage, steep, grey-slated roofs and a village pump under the tree by the war memorial – which bears five names from the Great War and a solitary one from the Second World War – still six too many. A mini-peloton of neon cyclists pause for a drink in the square and to consult their map. They ask me to take a photo of them, lined up, proudly clutching their bikes. The shop offers factory squares of flapjack. I’m not interested; but when I turn towards the Half Moon Inn I see its umbrella decorations – ‘You’ve Earned It’. Yes, you’re right, I have. The pub doors are locked. I settle for a Fanta from the shop.

Mexican beef chilli, salsa, guacamole and sour cream in tortilla wraps. Particularly tasty as I am on cooking duty. Not sure I’d have put cumin in a chilli, but it’s fine. Fruit salad for pudding. I cut two hundred grapes in half but draw the line at peeling them. Nice, healthy, slimming pudding – pity about the clotted cream.


Berry muesli and yogurt for breakfast And a few other things to give me energy. Hurriedly wiping the cream off my chin I go and find the actors for my four-minute scene. There is a whole day of acting and recording with the fabulous Eloise. At one point I come across a pile of scones, a few days old now but still hopeful, unceremoniously dumped from their tin so that the tin could become a prop. Everything has to be prepared to sacrifice itself for the recordings. Yes, they are a bit stale.

Sausages and mash, with onion gravy and bright green cabbage. Heaven on a plate. Brioche bread and butter pudding for afters and, well, one needs a bit of cream, surely…


Bugger the healthy breakfast – if I want toasted chunks of brioche with strawberry jam piled on them, I shall have them. Get out of my way.

Lunch of baked potatoes filled with whatever you want. More fab salad straight from the garden. Yet more Paradise Slice for pudding (though I did eat an apple first for health reasons).

Last Supper of roast chicken that had been steeped in herbs for a few hours, couscous, dates and olives, roasted peppers. Sweet of roasted nectarines – more cream.


Strange problem doing up jeans for journey home. They must have shrunk. Ho hum. Back to the grindstone, back to the city, back to lunches al desko.

Read more about food at Arvon in Olly Meek’s blog entry Loving Local Food at Totleigh Barton


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