Sunday, 31 July 2011

Holiday Guests

I don't know how we manage it, but these days we seem to have a continual stream of gorgeous people coming through on holiday.
The weather has been so good here that we ate our cream tea, with the guests, on the Terrace in blazing sunshine.
Most days have followed a pattern of all the children playing together in the morning...then out with their own families to the beach...and then meeting up and playing until 10.30pm at night, as the evenings have been so warm.
A group of the girls all came to me one day and asked if they could completely re-design the games room! I heard their plan and then together we began moving things around to how they wanted it.
They did a fab job, including the creation of a comments and suggestions box for our future games room which will be relocated within the grounds this winter. Thank you to Maddie, Izzy, Tilly, Grace, Trinity, Liza, Loulou, and Grace.
The rabbits have gone down a storm this summer. They have been given so much love they are really tame. Our rabbits have just produced another batch...we weren't quite quick enough at separating them, and had no idea they bred so quickly. NOW i know where the expression comes from!
Zac has been supervising the wittling of sticks (with parental permission of course)and the boys have had a great time peeling off all the bark and making a proper weapon to take back to London...! Really hope they dont get stopped on their way home.
As evening falls the children all gather together again which means the parents can relax, read a book or enjoy a barbeque in the garden. One evening I went to find Zac, as he had been playing 'IT' in the woods, when i found these lovely people..
It does generally follow that if the kids are happy then the parents are happy, right?! These guys seemed particularly happy when i found them having a barbeque next to the bog garden..
This is our 'bog garden', it was built as a memorial to the last owners' wife. It is quite something with its giant stones imbedded into the ground. There is a decking area nearby which we have designated as one bbq area. You get to it by following a path through the woods.
A couple of the girls dropped something onto our kitchen table before they left... It was quite sad to say goodbye on Friday! x

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Garden in July

Over the last 6 weeks the garden has just bloomed with colour.
Our rose arbour at the bottom of the italian garden.
from a different perspective
Holly's daughter Thea, enjoying picking off the heads as a gift for mummy. (a painting scaffold tower is in the background as we painted all the house windows in-between weddings!)
A favourite route for the bride to walk to the alter, if it is an outside ceremony, is through the French gazebo and along the cobblestones. This way the guests can catch a glimpse of the dress through each pillar of the rose arbour. A very moving moment, I can tell you!
This is the small rose arbour, the licensed area for an outdoor ceremony.
The view from the Terrace.
The view from the rose arbour. Lovely everywhere you look x

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Tapeley Park

Today we spent the afternoon at Tapeley Park. Tapeley is a beautiful house in a beautiful location and is also a wedding venue (
The reason we went was because of our caterer's Lee and Kris. They were booked to cater for a couple who were due to be married today at Tapeley. However a week and a half ago the Groom was diagnosed with bowel cancer and early this week he died. He was 36 (my age) and had three children.
At a complete loss as to how to respond to this horrendous situation, all the suppliers for the wedding decided to still turn up and try to raise as much money as they could so proceeds could go half to the family and half to a bowel cancer charity.
We went to support this event.
Lee and Kris' team did a wonderful barbeque and a cream tea on their vintage crockery sets and sold home made fudge which i am tucking into right now!
The thing we most loved was the garden. Wow, it was amazing.
We wandered off for an explore..
and found a great woodland play area which as you can see, the kids loved.
Tucked away in a corner of the garden we came across the most amazing thing. Weirdly, this might actually be my highlight. Someone had spent a long time making the words 'Happy Birthday' out of willow and sticking them in the ground with petals and flowers all around it. Can you make out the words in the picture above?
It was so pretty and so thoughtful. In this day and age when everyone is so busy, one rarely gets time to send an 'e card'. However, this little sign said so much of love and care for a person. Here is a close-up version of the word 'birth'. I am disappointed the pictures do not do it justice.
Hector Christie who owns the estate (The Christie family own Glyndebourne Opera House too which is very close to where i grew up) is a passionate gardener, and specialises in perma-culture gardening. This is a garden design based on plant relationships found in natural ecologies. So, things are planted next to eachother to help to promote their growth and protect them from harm. Its like organised chaos.
These plum-like things were growing in abundance but we have no idea what they were!
We have chickens too but we have never seen a chicken as fat as this one and with such a long mane!
We spotted a teeny tiny strawberry growing and again compared ours which have been non-existent this year (well, they were eaten by insects before we got to them grrrrr)
The kids loved playing in this tunnel of trees.
There is a cafe there which looked really sweet.
Wandering further into the back garden, and now on my own, i came across this little round brick building.
I found out from the notice on the door that it was used in times gone by for storing ice! This is the story on the door.
I followed a sign to the kitchen garden..
and came across a complete opposite to the perma-culture garden, whereby everything was planted in neat, ordered rows. You could sense the history and the generations of families this garden has fed over the centuries.
I found this dilapidated building which was closed off to protect the public but it had all kinds of stones and shells making up its interior. It was so intricate in its design, i must find out more about it.
This made me laugh. We watched a television series called 'Country House Rescue' with interest recently. It concerns owners of big, old houses who need advice as to how to bring in enough of an income in order to keep them maintained. The expert lady who advises the owners often kicks up a storm as her advice always means big change. Anyway, one of the houses featured was Tapeley. At the end of the programme, Hector takes Ruth to see a new addition to the Tapely family and we watched in hysterics as he introduces her to a new pig who he has named...Ruth! You've got to love Hector for that.
I will leave you with this final image of a notice I found stuck in the ladies toilets....Ruth, you owe me one!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

sports day and end of term

The kids took part in sports day last week.
I was really impressed because it wasn't all about sport! There were team challenges in all sorts of different forms, so it seemed to give everyone a fair chance at doing well.
Us parents were happily sitting on the bank minding our own business and enjoying all the fun when out of the blue the headmaster announces a fathers race followed by a mothers race. Now they haven't done this for the last few years so this came as a surprise. As Steve was in London I felt I had to represent for the Bakers and Tracey for the Elliotts.
There were quite a few volunteers but i was determined to try to win! Ha! Little did I realise what a mistake I made by encouraging Mrs Lambert to take part (completely forgetting she'd run the half marathon recently in v good time)and well she came first. BUT I DID COME SECOND!!! As for Tracey well, I have no idea. But the important thing to remember was I CAME SECOND. I was most put out when the headmaster announced first place but not second and third. After my little chat with him, i dont think he'll make the same mistake next year :)
I'd love to show you a picture of the finish line but I am not allowed as Mrs Lambert says she looks silly..soooo tempting though!

The kids broke up today so a small bunch of us went to the village park with cakes and squash to mark the last day.
Feeling like we couldn't be bothered to cook we then all went on to the pub! They are doing kids meals for £2.50 at Billy Budds in Croyde at the moment. I even spotted a couple of mum's tucking in for that price!
Needless to say the kids all had a great time and therefore so did us parents.
We had a long goodbye last night with Rich and Tracey, Molly and Millie-Grace who drove off in the camper (we need a name..any suggestions?) to stop overnight in Plymouth ready to catch the ferry at 8am this morning. It was great to feel it was all packed up and that it held a lot more than we thought possible. Steve had a stroke of genius to take our coffee machine and amazingly it fitted perfectly under one of the seats! It will be our little moment of indulgence each day. We had to plan carefully as us Baker's will be flying out in two-and-a-half weeks and we can only take one bag each on the plane. So we had to work out towels, bedding, toys, DVD's, bikes etc, etc. We got there in the end and all i can say is it is lucky our kids are roughly the same age (DVD's and games) and height (bikes) or else this whole thing would have been MUCH harder. As it is, we are all thrilled with everything and we waved goodbye feeling so excited by our next few weeks with our camper.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Cream Tea Heaven

The weather has been glorious this week. We were really hoping to have our cream tea for the guests on the Terrace, but just at the moment we were setting up, it felt a bit too chilly to be sitting outside.
So instead we went to town decorating the ballroom.
We use our lovely vintage crockery collected from various relatives and the odd charity shop.
My dresser is brimming with vintage china which we use for our sunday teas. We started doing it when Liza was born and its now a bit of a ritual. crumpets, boiled eggs, malt loaf, scotch pancakes, friut and cake. It feels great to be able to use it for the guests cream teas too and we always get really positive feedback about it.
The Devon way is to put the cream on the scone first followed by the jam. It is the opposite in Cornwall apparently. Not that i am biased but i am definately in agreement with Devon on that one!
We all had a lovely time chatting about the holiday, the beach, walks and the extremely competitive table tennis games we have heard going on in the games room. One guest from Canada said we should put in our marketing that Pickwell gives you a great 'butt'! When probed as to why, it turns out she has walked for miles every morning and then again every afternoon since Friday. No wonder! (wish that worked for me, although that would mean walking..hmmmm..)

Straight after the cream tea, Tracey and Rich drove to the Eden Project in Cornwall to see Branden Flowers in concert and I went to Exeter to watch a Nick Broomfield film about human trafficking ( There was a question and answer session with Nick (on skype) and also a representative from anti-slavery international and a Police Inspector. A pretty incredible event and has given me a lot to think about.