Looking back on 2014, there were lots of high points and few low points.
The year started badly with incessant rain in December and January meaning that there was widespread flooding in Somerset, mainly on the Somerset Levels, which were under water for months. Some of our customers and friends had to abandon their homes and some have not yet returned to them. It was a heart breaking time for many families and a time they will wish never to repeat.
After that slow start to the year, it soon moved on apace.
Popular workshops were held throughout the year – one of the most popular being cheese making with Sarah & Chris of The Shebbear Cheese Co. Always a pleasure to have them here and fun as well. Neil White is an amazing photographer and his workshops in Food Photography are always in demand. An enjoyable printmaking workshop with artist Jackie Curtis was also held this year.
A new workshop this year was Wild Foraging with Greg Power – a fantastic day learning a huge amount about edible plants and medicinal plants.
Music is important at Clavelshay and an Irish Night with Diaspora proved a great night and one which we hope to repeat this year. More good times followed with favourites Bare Bones Trio and the ever popular Cleverly Everly – Everly Brothers tribute who always make the old beams rock!
A new band in the summer saw French gypsy jazz band Petits Annonces bring a Parisienne bistro feel to the barn. Fantastique!
Weddings play an important part in our business, and the first of the season was an absolute pleasure from start to finish. A relaxed couple, beautiful weather, an informal festival atmosphere – complete with pie & mash - a joy to behold and be a part of.
"Love Is All You Need" … Simple really!
There were some lovely weddings, some small, some large – we love them all! A first for Clavelshay this year was a wedding with high wire artist topping up glasses of champagne whilst hanging upside down from a rope!
One of our favourites was Esther & Brian’s. They have been coming to the restaurant since they met and think of it as their special place. Brian proposed here and they had their very special wedding reception here in September.
2014 saw big changes with us saying goodbye to Head Chef Guy Horley who had been with us for 5 years and who had been a good friend to us at Clavelshay and we wish him well in his new job.
We then welcomed head chef Phil Verden into the Clavelshay family and he has been a revelation, bringing his own exciting style to country food. His reputation goes before him and we are seeing new customers all the time who want to try his food. Phil wowed everyone with his first Tasting Menu – seven courses of perfection! Hope to do more of those in 2015.
We held a charity event in April – a Pop Up Restaurant with guest chef Sam Moody from the Bath Priory. This was organised by Steve Ashworth and we raised just over £1000 for Children's Hospice South. West. We also raised £500 for CHSW by making jams and chutneys and selling them in the restaurant.
At last, we have won a Taste of the West Gold Award – after years of winning Silver –am delighted to achieve recognition for our commitment to local produce.
We also won in 2014:
Green Business of the Year –Sedgemoor Business Awards
Sustainable Restaurant Association – 3 star champion for 2nd year running
TripAdvisor – Certificate of Excellence for 4th year running
Finalist –Restaurant of the Year Somerset Life Food & Drink Awards 4th year running
Highly Commended –South West Tourism Awards
We are delighted to win these awards and need to thank all those involved –all staff – for their hard work, support and friendship.
Lastly, thank you to all our loyal customers and friends – we can’t do it without you! Wishing you a very Happy New Year and look forward to seeing you in 2015.