Our special love affair

PUBLISHED: 17:12 11 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:28 10 June 2010

MONDAY, AUGUST 11: A BIRMINGHAM couple with an ongoing love affair with Budleigh Salterton have chalked up 25 years of annual pilgrimages to the town. For the last quarter of a century, Margaret Bennett, 71, and her husband Barry, 73, of Hall Green, in Birmingham, have holi

A BIRMINGHAM couple with an ongoing love affair with Budleigh Salterton have chalked up 25 years of annual pilgrimages to the town.For the last quarter of a century, Margaret Bennett, 71, and her husband Barry, 73, of Hall Green, in Birmingham, have holidayed in Budleigh Salterton, staying at the Long Range Hotel in Vale Road.The pair - who always book room five - are devoted to Budleigh Salterton and look upon it as their second home.The couple have made many friends in the town so they are never short of anything to do - spending their days walking the cliff paths, watching local cricket and visiting people locally.Mr and Mrs Bennett said Budleigh Salterton was 'magic'."It's the warmth and the friendship of Budleigh Salterton that keeps us coming back. Once you have been here, it's like a magnet. It keeps drawing you back," said Mr Bennett.The couple, who have family ties in Birmingham which prevent them from permanently moving to Budleigh, say their annual two-week stay keeps them going for the rest of the year. During their 25 years of visiting the town, the pair have seen the Long Range Hotel change hands five times - they know the place inside and out.Such is their love and knowledge for the town, they have even helped solve the mystery of a secret path at the foot of the Long Range Hotel - when they were able to reveal to current owner Brian Drake the reason the track existed.Mrs Bennett added: "When we first came here the owner, Mr Peacock, used to sleep people everywhere. He never turned anybody away. If there weren't enough bedrooms, he used to sleep them in the hall!"At the end of their 2008 visit, Mr and Mrs Bennett left a token of their love for the town at the Long Range Hotel - presenting Mr Drake with a £25 voucher to buy a shrub for the gardens.Mr Drake said: "They really are nice people. We look forward to seeing them. Their enjoyment overflows to other people. They always bring the sunshine. "We always say it will be a good fortnight because the Bennetts are coming!"l The footpath mystery: it was built by a past owner of the hotel, Mr Peacock, so he could come un-noticed to the hotel from his adjoining bungalow.

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