Lifton is a saxon town, her church dates from Norman times and she has sat on an important route for as long as any can remember. Venerated in their homelands of Cornwall as ďmagnificentĒ, the mighty Arundell family have been lords of her manor for over two and a half centuries. It seems appropriate then that the former coaching inn once known as the White Horse should now bear their name.
I hadnít celebrated St Valentineís Day for at least five years, dating back to the sad event of my marriage ending. Emma astonished me by saying she had never celebrated it at all. Not once. Strange these folk from across the Tamar!!
The Arundell Arms is famed as a sportsmanís hotel these days; it is the place to go for those who like to fish and shoot. The presence of a restored indoor cockpit in its charming garden, and the scenes of the hunt upon its walls, suggest it has long been this way. Now the only shooting Iíve ever done was from a penalty spot and as for my fishing skills...well, their best described with the old saying, ďHe couldnít catch a coldĒ. But I love old places, I love history and I love eating delicious food. And as well as being celebrated for its angling and beats, Iíd heard the Arundell Arms excels also at these latter things.
Emma believed me when I said we should try a local pub for Sunday roast. She didnít bat an eyelid at my dressing up in a suit and smart shoes to attend such a rustic hostelry. When I Ďaccidentallyí missed the turn to Lamerton on no fewer than three occasions, she never once questioned my apparently dubious sense of direction.
It was only when I drove into the Arundell Armsí car park that she realised a treat and a surprise was afoot.
We were greeted by an open fireplace, a selection of canapes (including an amusing miniature hamburger) and a glass of fizz. Then into the restaurant with its magnificent chandelier and ceiling rose, where a delicious salad of fresh herby leaves complimented the Cornish lobster and crab. The main course was roast rib of local beef, as melt-in-the-mouth a cut of steer as Iíve tasted in a long, long time. The meal was completed by a trio of rhubarb desserts. The creme brulee being the highlight.
So did Emma enjoy the experience? I believe she did. Did I? Every single moment. We will definitely be back to the Arundell Ams later in the year, to celebrate another special occasion.Written by Larry Carlton is a former innkeeper and budding crime writer, currently living near Brentor. His blog is full of Devon tales and esoteric lore