Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Olympic Torch in Devon!

We waited with excited anticipation for the Olympic Torch to come to our area.
Our four Pickwellians walked miles, along with the whole school,to a place called Knowle, outside of Braunton, in order to see it.
There was much concern amongst the parents, for the little ones, that they would never make it. But Mr Thomas was right...they could and they did!
I was really distracted from my work because Chris Moyles had got me hooked on the live streaming of the torch's journey. Even though all you could see was the road and a coach, somehow i couldn't take my eyes off it!
I decided i ought to really get the most out of this event, so reminded myself of the route from a very helpful website.
Then i looked up the runners. It was interesting that Lord Coe had said that this flame route was really to celebrate youth and sport, so 50% of the runners were aged under 25, but the three that were billed for Braunton were all in their 60's!
Did anyone see the footage of the guy who ran near to the torch and got thrown into the bush? Oh my word, it was FASCINATING! I have watched it 4 times in order to believe it. Apparently he ran into the 'envelope' of security. He won't be making THAT mistake again!
While Tracey was at work trying to drive around to see patients and AVOID the torch as much as possible, Steve, Rich and I jumped in the car (leaving enough time to pick up a take-away latte on the way) and hot-footed it down to the action.
Braunton was packed! Everyone was there (i spotted two of our wedding photographers right in the thick of it) and there was a really great atmosphere.
I have no idea who these lovely ladies were but i just thought they looked great.
Lots of people told me to take a picture of this policeman because it had been so long since they had seen one i ought to capture it on film! (Honestly, that is why i took this...;))
This is Sue. I know that because i asked her. In fact, looking back on it, I gave her a full interview.
I found out that she was really embarrassed because they had got her 'story' wrong, of why she deserved this prized place. It said she had raised £100,000 for the local Hospice, when in actual fact she had only raised £10,000!
I must admit i did look like a proper spod when i delved into my handbag and produced my folded up piece of A4 on which i had printed out the three Braunton runners' stories!
Yes, there it was in black and white. She was right! Oh dear, i hope it didn't spoil her experience. I personally think £10,000 is rather good.
The excitement built as two giant floats with loud music and dancing people brought a real feel of festivity to the event.
Of course it was the Olympic sponsors - Lloyds TSB and Coca-Cola. I waited for my free money and coke..but they never came. A few hand-held twirly things and a union jack flag don't bring the same level of pleasure i find.
I could see the 'envelope' people (in grey) appearing in the distance. Relieved there were no bushes, i quickly realised that if I did get in their way and they threw me aside, at least i'd be in 'Hunter' rather than a manky bush. I could do with some new flip flops.
The large coach appeared with its impressive sign and..
a Police lady rode up on a bicycle and turned the magic key. A rush of gas was to be heard...I could feel Sue's level of nerves and moment of occasion and felt myself become quite emotional!
Suddenly, as if emerging from a cloud of white smoke and all in slow motion, there appeared what can only be described as, an Adonis in white, as the crowd slowly started to raise its volume and levels of excitement, so he raised his left arm aloft with a golden cone and a flame alight upon it.
Oh. My. Word. Nowhere, in all my research, was THIS guy mentioned. Who IS he? WHERE did he come from? What is HIS story? WHY don't i know it?! Steve and Rich, who were watching from afar, (clearly I had embarrassed them with my keenness) were having hysterics observing my sudden change in focus of the camera lens.
Just because i can... here he is again ladeeez...
Before I knew what was happening, Sue was off!
Posing for photos and making her way towards the next lucky runner.. again the tears!!
On the way home the school dropped in on our good friend Sarah who had inadvertently offered to make the whole school (110 children + teachers) cake for the return journey. Not content with throwing a few digestives on a plate (which is precisely what I would do for that number), NO, she somehow manages to produce said cakes and even has them looking like this!!!
All-in-all, a very good experience. Well done the Olympic team, i feel truly connected now! x

Friday, 18 May 2012

Amy and Owen

Last weekend saw the first of our 2012 weddings at Pickwell and what a wedding to start with. The weather was amazing, the guests gorgeous and it all looked beautiful.So here are a few of the highlights from Amy and Owen's wedding that I thought you might like to see.
The theme colours of the wedding were yellow and white with a relaxed summer garden feel. Lots of effort had gone into making their guests feel welcomed to their apartments. I really liked the daisy detail on the door tags.
Each guest had a little hand tied parcel of 'Love Hearts' on their beds. I do love a 'Love Heart'!
Then an itinerary allowed guests to know what was going on where through out the weekend. They also left lovely breakfast bits in the apartment kitchens for guests to eat at their leisure before the ceremony.
On Friday night Amy and Owen hosted a family meal in the Snug that was wonderfully cooked by Amy's dad. Then on Saturday morning, whilst Amy was getting ready in 'Affinity', Owen and his friends played 5 a side football in the sunshine.
The flowers arrive! Gorgeous jugs full of daisies, sweet peas, hocks and all things yellow and white.
The flowers were by Kelly at 'Offshore Blooms' , a wonderful local florist. Amy had been saving up jam jars for the flowers and the different shapes and sizes added to the relaxed, summer, care free feel.
Kelly placed a garland across the wedding rose arbour to draw in the flower theme.
The cup cakes by Lucy at 'Juicy Lucy Cupcakes' were a very important part of the table decoration and would later become a delicious pudding with clotted cream and summer fruit coulis, yum! Each cup cake looked like a real flower placed in a plant pot.....almost too good to eat.
Amy and Owen are currently living in Australia, so the table names were taken after their favourite beaches over there.
The tables looked wonderful, the cupcakes and the little packets of seeds on each place setting really enhanced the summer garden theme.
For the table plan each guest found their name on little tags and their table name was on the back. I thought the frame looked great.
After footy, the boys scrubbed up rather well. Owen pictured here having a quick sandwich and a beer before the ceremony. I would say to calm the nerves, but he was actually the most relaxed groom imaginable. He just seemed excited and expectant all morning and was just loving having all his fantastic friends and family around him.
Owen then met with the registrar before the ceremony to go through the final formalities.
Amy coming out of the main entrance ready to walk down to the Rose Arbour. Her dress was stunning and was complimented with a simple hand tied bouquet that smelled wonderful with sweet peas.
Amy walked down the aisle to Eva Cassidy's 'Somewhere over the Rainbow', I love that song.
After the ceremony they served sparkling wine, Corona, and pints of Tribute. What an afternoon for drinks on the terrace, no one would believe it was cold and raining a couple of days before.
The boys playing a leisurely game of croquet in the Italian garden.
Alex, one of Owen's friends, was an amazing master of ceremonies for the day. Alex and Amy's nephew Charlie introduced the speeches and Alex  even managed to slip in a speech of his own as an introduction. I wonder if someone who had entered the 'speech sweep stake' had slipped him a fiver?!?
Instead of a guest book this message line was very effective and looked great in the Snug.
During the evening reception a photo reel projected in the hall provided great entertainment. Although there was a worry that all the pictures of Amy's beloved, but recently deceased, Bunny rabbit might bring back sad memories.
Then everyone danced the night away, the band were great and kept everyone on the dance floor all night. They were called 'The Mad Hatter's Tea Party' and although they all now live in London and Brighton they have local roots which provided them with an opportunity for a visit to the lead singer's mum. After the wedding they were heading back to her house for a home cooked curry and all seemed very excited about the prospect. What a wonderful day full of love, friendship, football, music, family and all manner of loveliness. Congratulations Amy and Owen!

Sunday, 13 May 2012


Over the years we have all been inspired, challenged and moved by conversations that we have had with friends and strangers. Inspired by the 'World Cafe Movement'and Margaret Wheatley's book 'Turning to One Another' we decided a few years back to gather some of our friends together at Pickwell and put aside some intentional space and time at New Year to have conversations. With that 'Amity' (meaning 'friendship')was born. Last weekend was our fourth Amity but our first to be held in the Spring.
So here we all are....62 of us to be precise!
So just to explain how it works..... Everyone comes up with ideas of topics they would like to talk about or questions that they would like to discuss,they write them on a post it and stick them on the wall. Rich then gathers them together in subject areas. This years topics included vulnerability, social media, parenthood and community organisation. There is usually a wide range of questions ranging from the personal to political, social, economic and even theological issues. Everyone chooses to go to one of 3 conversation topics taking place in different lounges around the house, et voila!
Sophie concentrating very hard on her burning question.
For Spring Amity we chose to have the conversations in the evenings so that the days could be filled with fun for all the family (a bit of a gamble given our recent weather!). We have not done this format before so it was a new experience. On Saturday morning, after making our packed lunches, we all headed in the glorious sunshine down the fields to the beach for a picnic.
Nothing like a game of rounders to work up an appetite.
Then some wonderful friends of ours (and local youth workers) Becky and Esther came and did a treasure hunt around the beach with the children. It was brilliant fun, they had to follow the clues to find hidden letters, which they had to put together to give the secret location of the treasure.
They then had to dig for the treasue box to get the booty!
Then back to Pickwell for tea and cake on the terrace. There certainly was a lot of food over the weekend. It felt rather as if there was an eating opportunity every hour. I do love my food, so I am not complaining, but I think I have enlarged the general size of my tummy somewhat!
Everyone is put on a rota in teams to help cook a meal. These are often the best times for a bit of banter.
Steve's team cooked an amazing selection of curries. Here is the ballroom all laid up banquet style.
After dinner the kids head off to bed; Fires lit, snugly sofas, cheese and biscuits at the ready, baby sitters in position and it's time to settle down and 'chew the cud of life'. That is unless you opted for the conversation around the fire pit and then warm jumpers were definitely a must!
On Sunday we headed out for a walk to Heddon's Mouth, bags heavy laden with picnics and hot chocolate.
Marshmallows around the camp fire, yum........ or maybe not so yum!
Paddling is an option, however.....
There were a few sock casualties! Mmm toasted sock anyone?
Back at Pickwell a cream tea awaited us, cream first before the jam of course (the Devon way!) whilst birthday girl Liza took charge of the tuck shop.
On Sunday night Susie and I opted for the parenting conversation around the fire pit on the terrace. All the ingredients of a great night; inspiring and thought provoking conversation, a large glass of wine, cheese and biscuits, a snugly fire and a view to die for as the sun went down over Hartland.
It did get a bit nippy so hilariously the boys snuggled up under a blanket together. Paul and Jamie look like they are rather enjoying the experience.
Sunday morning (and the whole weekend for that matter) saw a lot of competitive croquet.
Steve on his way to giving someone another posting!!
The sunshine was glorious and the company wonderful. It turned out to be a fantastic, inspiring, invigorating, challenging and altogether great weekend. I have certainly come away with lots to think about.
Happy birthday too, lovely Liza, I think we know who put the fire work in your cake!