Friday, 31 August 2012

Paul, Jen and a beach inspired wedding

This year the Pickwell wedding family has grown. We now have the lovely Holly Kennedy on board. Holly has worked with me for the last 2 years and we have been so impressed by her organisational skills and creative flair that we knew she was ready to start running her own weddings. 
This was a wedding Holly ran earlier this year...over to you Holly.  

At the end of May we had our second wedding of the year; giving the lovely bluebells one last chance to be photographed! And now we have had these fantastic photo's sent through from Matt Fryer we couldn't help but share them with you...

Jen and Paul grew up locally and fell in love here, so for them Pickwell provided the perfect backdrop to their wedding weekend. And a fantastic weekend it was!

Jen had 4 of her closest friends to help her down the aisle and even after an early start of 7am, the girls had a lovely relaxing morning being pampered by Jo Kift (make up) and Sandy from Charleys (on hair).
One of the great aspects for a bride getting ready at Pickwell is the enormous bedroom on the east wing of the house in the apartment called 'Affinity'.
From this beautiful stone-mullion window, you have the ability to see all the guests arriving (and very cool they were too!) and of course, the Groom looking nervous and waiting for the ceremony.

 I love these pictures of the girls doing just this!
Then came the time for Malcolm to walk his little girl across the cobbles...
The atmospheric sounds of Siona and her harp enhanced the magic of our historic Italian Garden.
After the ceremony guests enjoyed glasses of Pimms and croquet on the lawn, before being seated to enjoy a fantastic 3 course dinner from the wonderful Lee and Kristina Timmins and team.

The guests were treated to a Mediterranean Salad, followed by a main course of west country chicken roulade, pancetta and sage, and accompanied with hand-tied vegetables and roast potatoes.
For the vegetarians, they enjoyed a delicious vegetable en-croute, hand-tie vegetables and roast potatoes.
All washed down with a lovely glass of wine!

Jen spent hours of dedication creating beautiful personal touches to bring all aspects of the wedding together, like fresh flower heads at everyone’s place setting and one of our talented and recommended florists, Kelly from Off Shore Blooms once again created a stunning top table garland, along with all the bouquets, button holes and a rose arbour garland for the ceremony.

After the ceremony Jen and Paul were whisked away by Matt Fryer who took these stunning beach shots on our very own (or we like to think it is our own!) Putsborough Beach…

The band got the evening in full swing with the help of Jen and Paul's friends and family who had supplied song requests, which were covered throughout the night!

After such a wonderful day the only way to top it all off was some hot bacon sandwiches cooked by the lovely Mothers in the snug on the Sunday.

I truly love weddings, and felt very privileged to be involved in Jen and Paul's wedding. Every aspect of the day really reflected their personalities, their creativity and their relationship.

All the best for the future Mr and Mrs Shanes!!!

P.S Thank you Matt Fryer for your stunning photographs, and allowing us to share them!
Holly x

Friday, 24 August 2012

Sea Swimming

I think I have always been a little bit slow on the uptake. It took me three years of living at Pickwell to realise just how exhilarating it is to run along the coastal paths on our doorstep. Similarly it has taken me four years to realise quite how enjoyable it is to go for a 'proper' swim in the sea just a few fields away
Now I would be lying if I said that the phrase 'mid-life crisis' has not been bandied around a bit recently.... but to add to the running my new love is sea swimming. Sure watching the Olympics with the Brownlees in the triathlon and the open swimming marathon has helped push me on.... but I think this one might last.
One of the great things about sea swimming is that rather than lament about the lack of waves for a surf, you can rejoice in a 1-2ft report on the 'Magic Seaweed'  surf forecast and head for a swim.
Right firstly the gear.... Goggles are a must.... Normal swim goggles are fine but for additional protection from the waves and for the extra field of vision, then a pair of sea swimming goggles is really useful. You just have to put up with looking like this....
Or this (our good friend Paul)
Now it might just be me, but I think that Paul has something of the Jean Reno in the 'Big Blue' about him (a cultural reference those of you under 40 may not get!)
Mmm..... yours are much bigger than mine
Next for the suit. In the late summer / early Autumn if you are hardy then there is no need for any suit in order to keep you warm. It is invaluable, however, in terms of the additional buoyancy that it gives. Normal summer surf suits are fine but you can find that that your movement is a bit restricted and this can lead to some aches. If you think that you might get out a bit more regularly then a triathlon style suit, which is much thinner and has more flexibility, will really assist you. You will however have to face the prospect of looking something like this.....
As you can see by this vacuum packed turkey look.... they can also be a little trickier to get on and are not so flattering on the middle aged man!
So the first challenge is to get down to the sea without seeing anyone you know....... The second challenge is to get out behind the break.
This involves a few duck dives and is surprisingly much easier than getting out back on a surfboard.
Once you are out the swell does take a bit of getting used to and I certainly found my breathing pretty challenging to begin with ....but it is amazing how quickly you can acclimatise (we're the little dots looking a bit like seals in this picture)
This Sunday we had James ‘the coach’ Hood out on his rescue board to give us a few pointers.
He had 2 top tips for this week 1) Significantly reduce the work rate of your legs compared to pool swimming (apparently with front crawl your legs are mainly to give you buoyancy and your wetsuit is doing that for you). Allegedly your upper body gives you 80 percent of the forward momentum so if your legs are going like mad you are wasting energy 2) Extend the length of your stoke forward and pull deeper in the water.

OK so far this is maybe sounding somewhat athletic and even a little scientific so here’s the reality check.... We stop every 50 metres and chat for a while and when necessary we do backstroke or breastroke. It really it’s no different to what goes on in your local swimming pool (just without the bombing, diving and heavy petting!)

Open water swimming or 'wild swimming' has understandably experienced a significant increase in popularity of late. It is important to realise that it can be very dangerous and you need to do your homework before going out. The following link gives a helpful guide to staying safe when swimming.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although Putsborough is regarded as one of the safer local surfing / swimming beaches it does not have lifeguards present and it can have a strong rip at times (particularly close to Baggy Point)

So next time you are on holiday and the waves are flat, rather than moping....Find a friends or two, get your goggles on and go for a swim.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Broomhill Sculpture Garden

One of my favourite places in North Devon is the sculpture gardens at Broomhill. Just 20 minutes drive from Pickwell, the gardens provide a magical and enchanting couple of hours with the children (and probably a lot longer if you get to go on your own!).
Amazing that in this sleepy corner of North Devon is not only an exhibition of amazing sculptures but also a wonderful ‘slow food’ restaurant as well as a great venue for art exhibitions, jazz nights and a whole host of other activities. If you are on holiday at Pickwell you really must check out what's on at Broomhill.
The gardens take you down from the house and snake through beautiful woodland to the river below. The garden is packed with sculptures, some very prominent whilst others are gems that need a little more searching to find.
There is a stunning range of sculptures including the bright and bold.
From those as small as your hand....
To those as big as your house.....
There are even those that help you take a rest along the way.
Molly and Millie-grace particularly enjoy the opportunity to blend in with the sculptures ....
The next Tom Daly....
Feeling a little bit weary now
Maybe time for a little lie down
My absolute favourites are a series of bronze sculptures by Carol Pearce
There is plenty both to entertain, amuse, stir, as well as provoke. Perhaps the most unsettling is this futuristic landscape called 'Welcome to the Third Millenium' by Mike Roles.
In addition to the gardens, Broomhill also has two wonderful inside galleries, some great dining spaces and a sumptuous lunch and dinner menu.
The day on which we went this week was somewhat overcast and Broomhill provides a great outing when the weather is less accommodating for the beach. One great advantage is that the gardens never take you too far away from the house. So if the weather becomes unsettled (as it did) you can easily get back to the house for a spot of cake!!

Monday, 6 August 2012


With all the Olympics going on, we felt we should continue the theme with a 'sporty' blog today! This is North Devon's weekly mini-olympics for our kids...

Surf Life Saving is an international organisation for 8 - 13 year olds, known as 'Nippers'. There are many Nipper clubs across the UK and the world. We hadn't come across them until we moved to Devon and then discovered there are 4 clubs in North Devon; Croyde, Woolacombe, Saunton and Bideford. We decided to join the Croyde Surf Life Saving Club, being our most local (and the best, of course!). 

We have 3 members of the Pickwell Family who love Nippers and go along twice a week; Zac, Molly and Liza. Zac has been a member for 2 years, and Molly and Liza started this year. Steve and Richard are adult members (more on that in a future blog post).

In the Summer, Nippers meet twice a week on Croyde beach. We all meet at the hut next to the national trust car park to sign in, get in to our groups, collect boards and then head down to the beach. Once there, everyone has to do a warm up run across the beach and back, before starting games and activities in the water and on the beach.

The children are taught about safety in the sea, how to cope in different conditions, what rip tides are, how to duck dive waves, how to wade, how to swim in the surf, how to body surf and how to ride and race on paddle boards. It really is great fun and the kids love it. Parents get involved and get in the water too. Sometimes you wonder who is enjoying it more? The adults or the children?!

There are 5 opportunities to compete in Nippers competitions throughout the year. The Devon Pool and the National Pool championships, the Devon Beach and the National Beach competitions, and the Goldcoast.

This years Devon Beach competition was held at Putsborough and Zac and Molly both took part.
Competitors have to wear their club hat - black and orange are Croyde's colours. If you think Zac looks funny, you should see it when the adults have to wear them for their competitions! Hilarious! Steve whipped his off before i could see and take a good for our marriage though on the bright side:)

The events range from swimming, paddle board races and relays to beach runs, relays and 'flags'. Flags are my favourite thing. Everyone has to lie down in a line facing away from the flag (which is a bit of wood or pipe they stick in the sand) then on the whistle they have to jump up, turn around and run to grab a flag. Its a bit like a beach version of musical chairs. Each round there is one less flag so 1 person goes out.  

The Pickwell gang ended up bringing home 2 silvers and 2 bronze medals. Well done guys! Obviously its all about the taking part and not the winning ;)

Overall at this particular competition Croyde came in 3rd place, behind Saunton and Woolacombe. At the end of August we go to Portreath for the Nationals. 

Come on Croyde!