David Jones on living in the AONB

David Jones tells us how he and his wife Holly came to establish their business 'Manna from Devon' in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and take an active role in the local community.

What brought you to South Devon?

Holly and I came in 2002 to run the catering contract at the Royal Dart Yacht Club in Kingswear. By the time we finished doing that a couple of years later we had taken root in the village and still live here.

You operate a cookery school from home, tell us a bit about it and how the landscape of the AONB helps your business.

Our classes are aimed at enthusiastic cooks who want to improve their skills and expand their repertoires. Our kitchen overlooking the River Dart is a wonderful place to spend a day cooking.David getting ready for a barbecue.

Along with bread making one of the most popular classes is Fish Cooking, and where would make more sense to learn to cook fish than on the South Devon Coast. We’re just 3 miles from Brixham which has the largest fish market in the UK and provides us with a wonderful selection of perfectly fresh fish.

How do you think the AONB can be promoted better to residents and visitors?

We’re finding that the more we do on social networking the more it pays off. Putting pictures on Facebook, tweeting and blogging all get responses and help to build our online community. All of these are free apart from the time required to update them, but they do require regular input. I’d recommend any organisation to fully engage with social media.

You and Holly are very involved in the Dartmouth Food Festival. What makes it so special?

The location, of course, is fantastic. With views of the river, out to sea and surrounding fields and pasture you’re constantly reminded of the source of all that wonderful food. We get great feedback about the atmosphere at the festival and I think that’s because it’s in the heart of the town and feels like part of its location. Add to that the hundred or so excellent producers, three demonstration theatres, events across town and free entry to all and you have a recipe for a great little festival.

Over the centuries, the South Devon landscape has inspired many artists, do you have a favourite?

Our home is full of pictures of boats, seascapes and river views, most of them of the local area. We never planned that, but taking stock, that’s what we seem to have collected so I guess the scenery has inspired us just as it has inspired many other painters and photographers.

You recently walked the entire South West Coast Path, what advice would you give to others considering such a venture?

First and foremost, just get out and do it because it’s a fantastic footpath and you won’t regret a minute of it. I walked the path in mid-winter so I’d urge people not to worry too much about timing. Every season has its grandeur on the coast and with a good pair of boots and some decent waterproofs, there’s nothing to stop you.

What’s your food heaven?

We have friends who raise rare breed pigs on their small holding at Dittisham, raising them slowly for maximum flavour. The pork from these is incredibly sweet and a leg roasted in the wood-fired oven, with roast potatoes is pretty unbeatable.

What would your ideal day out in the AONB involve?

David and RexDefinitely a walk with friends and dogs on the coast path between Kingswear and Brixham. This would work up a great appetite for lunch at any of the many great places to eat in Dartmouth.

What’s your favourite view in the AONB?

To the east of Kingswear, just above Ivy Cove, there is a spot where it’s possible to look west and see all of Start Bay then turn east and survey the grand sweep of Lyme Bay. On a clear day you’re able to see 60 odd miles of coastline. It always reminds me of how lucky I am to live where I do.

The AONB in 3 words?

My beautiful home.