Sunday, 26 February 2012

Winter Surfing

It is well known that the best swells and the best waves occur during the Autumn and Winter seasons in the UK; the waves hitting the beaches of North Devon are no exception. The temperature of the sea starts to drop at the end of October from 14 - 15 degrees down to as low as 6 degrees during a cold Winter. This year November and December were thankfully relatively mild and therefore the water was still 10 degrees in January. After a cold start to February it has felt more like proper Winter surfing for the last few weeks as the sea is a few degrees cooler. To have a good and comfortable Winter surfing experience it is essential to have the right gear. I wear a 5/4mm Xcel wetsuit which is really flexible so movement is not too restricted. I have a Winter thermal rash vest with a built in hood, and decent boots and gloves. Getting changed in the National Trust car park in Croyde can be a harsh experience if the air temperature is freezing, but once in your gear you soon warm up.
The beauty of Winter surfing is that the tourists have gone and consequently there are rarely more than 20 people in the sea at any given moment. Even on clean, sunny days; which is a real treat. Having lived, and surfed here regularly, for the last 4 years I know or recognise most of the local guys in the water. It proves to be quite a sociable experience when you paddle out back and exchange nods and a few words before taking your wave. If there is a wave on the beach then most of the local surfers know about it thanks to surf forecasts and webcams from Eyeball TV and Magic Seaweed. At the school gate in the morning, if there is a good wave, about 5 or 6 of us dads often plan where and when we will meet up and go in to catch the best of it. Many of our friends are keen surfers. Here's Ben after a good surf in Croyde a couple of weeks ago.. This year I think I have surfed more than ever during the Winter and have really enjoyed it. There have been some brilliant sessions, especially in January and February once the South Westerly gales of the early Winter had blown through. We have had about 4 sunny weekends with epic clean waves, including last weekend. Winter surfing can be ferocious, particularly at low tide in Croyde on a big day. The dumping faces of the breaking waves can drive you in to the sand banks, as I found out to my detriment a couple of weeks ago. I now have a strained knee ligament which means I will be out of the water for a few weeks, but hope to be back soon...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Designer Wedding Show- The Highlights.

So we have just come back from spending the weekend at the Designer Wedding Show in Battersea Park, London. We had a brilliant time, met lots of lovely people and gained some super ideas. We thought it would be great to show you some of our favourite stands and suppliers particularly for those of you who are currently planning your weddings.
This was our stand, it was actually quite relaxing sitting chatting to people in our recreated lounge. We took some Cath Kidston mugs for our cups of tea and made ourselves right at home. We were surrounded by some wonderful suppliers who we really hit it off with and who kept us going all weekend.
This is Kim who works with her friend Jo of Jo Heckett Wedding Gifts and Favours they make the most lovely and original ceramic decorations.
These are some of their wonderful tags. They also make place name tags and table decorations.
Holly particularly loved this ceramic bunting.
Ben and Janine from Rings for Eternity were very popular and amazingly knowledgeable. Here they are with a well earned glass of wine at the end of the show.
Then there was Tim! Tim of Tim Spiers photography and his colleagues Rick and Safi were hilarious and kept us giggling for the whole show. A big thank you to Rick and Safi in particular for all of your technical support with our new Mac PC and with Twitter, we really got the hang of tweeting over the course of the show, hurray! Follow us @pickwellmanor
These shoes are amazing, completely beautiful and designed by our lovely friend Emmy of Emmy Shoes. We love them so much that we have teamed up with Emmy and are giving away a £330 voucher towards a pair of Emmy shoes with each wedding booked at Pickwell before the end of March, 2012.
 The blue ones on the left are my favourites and I coveted them the whole show. A number of our brides over the past 2 years have worn Emmy shoes. She has designed a particular heel especially for Pickwell which is slightly wider, perfect for getting married in the Italian garden under the rose arbour.
One of our best finds of the show was this lovely cake designer and maker Anna Tyler. She has a shop in Bristol and will deliver to Pickwell.We tried some of her cake and it was as delicious as it looks (which is not always the case!)
How beautiful is this stand! Zita Elze is the most wonderful florist and designer. Check out her website to see 'living embroidery', which involved her decorating the corset of a wedding dress with sixteen thousand stems of flowers, amazing!!
We fell in love with this table setting, completely spectacular from 'By Appointment Only Design'. This would look amazing in our ballroom if someone could book them for their wedding....please!
This is Janie Lawson a lovely milliner who does 'Glam Hatters' hen parties. This is a great idea where you go with your group of hen's, take nibbles and bubbly and make gorgeous fascinators in her studio in Clapham. I am tempted to take our 'make and cake' crafting girls from Devon on a day out there...sounds fun!
I just adore all things vintage and there were a number of super vintage stands. This is a lovely girl Natalie (on the right) of Passionate About Vintage, who we met at a wedding show in 2010.
Each item of jewellery she sells is a genuine unique vintage piece, what an amazing necklace.
 Luella's Boudoir had some gorgeous shoes, dresses and accessories.
More vintage hair accessories and broaches from Gillian Million, I love the way they displayed them in this antique cabinet.
These were my favourite wedding dresses of the show by designer Charlotte Casadejus. She had 6 dresses in the catwalk show (I did try and take some photos but was accosted by security, oops!).
This is Jake who ran the chocolate fountain stand next to the cat walk. He seemed to spend the entire show checking out the models on the cat walk....shame on you Jake (he was very funny though and had some very excellent stories of parties they have done!!).
This was my favourite bridesmaids clothing stand, how cute are these tutu's. The children who modelled the dresses on the catwalk spent the whole show coming over to our stand trying to get their hands on Lee (our chef's) home made fudge, which I have to say was delicious.
Thank you to our brilliant local suppliers who helped make our stand look so lovely: Pete Cox for our fantastic video, Juicy Lucy Cupcakes and Off Shore blooms.  A fabulous weekend was had by all, we met some lovely couples, have booked lots of viewings and we are really looking forward to showing them the wonders of Pickwell over the next few weeks.

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Designer Wedding Show

We are so pleased with our cosy stand, we thought we would share the love (and a cup of tea if you visit) through these images x
(used the blogger app on my phone for the first time- awful! Am not sure how the pics got so big?!)


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Builders, builders everywhere!

So we are in the full throes of the building work now.
Conducting wedding viewings is a highly creative experience of describing how everything is GOING to look in just a few short weeks time. (These are our hilarious builders who get very silly when a camera comes out...)
We are excited as we are realising our bigger dreams that have been in formation for 4 years and are finally being worked out. (a prize for guessing which builder this is...the clue is in the last pic...)
So, I will start by telling you about the new front door to access the west wing of the house. This is how the front of the west wing looked.
To the left hand side, in place of the window, we are creating a new front door.
This will be brilliant because from the car-park, the door will be obvious and will be a welcoming sight after a long journey!
Before you had to walk round to the back of the house, to somewhat of a less grand entrance.
You walked through an entrance hall with a quarry tile floor and up the stairs. Well, now it is all change!
Once through the lovely new Entrance, now there will be a coat and welly boot area
that will lead into a lovely warm lounge room, complete with chesterfields and an inglenook fireplace taking centre stage.
This new lounge room used to be our office. When we arrived it was a case of starting work asap so this room never received the love and care (and white paint) that the rest of the house has been given. This is mid-move out so things are MESSY!
The biggest delight in knocking through the new doorway was finding a huge flagstone underneath the wall we took out
which we think could indicate this was a doorway in the past. We do like to think we are restoring the house to how it used to be (well, structurally that is...i have a feeling the interiors were probably not quite our bag)
Back to the first pic, you see our games room on the right hand side, well this is coming down very soon now. We have always felt it was a bit of an eye-sore. Do not fear we are re-housing the games room (complete with new equipment) into this lovely space situated opposite the garages.
We are just in the process of insulating it.
With its gorgeous view and spacious interior, i think the kids will love it.
In place of the games room will be a gorgeous big flower bed.
The digger has been and dug a big trench to take all the water and electricity down to our new games room (and our new electric gates at the end of the drive..more on that soon).
The good news is it has also filled in the trench and even now is starting to look good again. If it wasn't for the last 4 years and knowing all we have achieved and how good we always get it looking, this photo would worry me!
This is the start of our new utility space, surf shack and wetsuit drying area. It is on the side of the new games room.

I have some exciting blog posts coming up on The Chapel, The Snug and a new bathroom. Our builders are working hard, and so are we, to make this house absolutely beautiful for Easter. In the mean-time, its off to the Designer Wedding Show in Battersea for us! x