2014 Favourite Moments

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Looking back on 2014, there were lots of high points and few low points.

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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.

WORKSHOPS

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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.

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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

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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

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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!

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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.

RESTAURANT

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.

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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.

CHARITY

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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.

AWARDS

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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.

Ellie & Iain’s Vintage Tea Party Wedding

Ellie & Iain first came to see me in August 2013 and booked their wedding for 26 July 2014. Almost a year in which to plan, design and make their perfect wedding. The only thing out of their control was the weather and even this turned out to be perfect!

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Ellie had spent months making pom-poms to decorate the marquee and her efforts were well worth-while. The marquee and grounds looked lovely decorated in pastel orange and greens. Every detail had been carefully planned and all went to plan (thankfully).

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A hot sunny day and guests were glad to have Pimms on the lawn and a cooling ice cream from the ice cream trike.

Then into the marquee for full afternoon tea complete with vintage china; sandwiches, savoury pastries, home-made cakes. Speeches followed with the bride’s father’s the best I have ever heard – made everyone laugh and then in tears!

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Following the afternoon tea, everyone headed back outside with sweet handwritten notes for the bride and groom. They were given balloons to tie them to, and released them all together into the summer sky. Such a lovely sight!

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The party started with live music from “The Shenanigans” who had everyone on the floor dancing until midnight. An evening hog roast with full buffet salads was followed by scrumptious wedding cake made by Sue, Ellie’s Mum.

A great day – thank you Ellie & Iain for letting us share your special day!

All the fun of the Circus Wedding

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I have stopping being surprised at the requests my brides make and so was not all fazed when Emily & Dave asked if I would mind having a stilt walker and fire eater at their wedding, as the performers were friends. Let’s go with it – I thought.

Haylee & Charlie drove all the way from Scotland with a white van packed with all their equipment and arrived on the morning of the wedding. In no time at all, a huge aerial rig stood in my garden. I did then begin to wonder what that was all about. Charlie changed into his costume and donned his stilts and Hayley got ready and had a quick chat to tell me what was going to happen.

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When the wedding guests arrived, Charlie greeted them on his stilts and we poured glasses of champagne. We had agreed earlier that Haylee would top up any glasses whilst hanging upside down from a rope on the aerial ri . It worked and it was a sight I will never forget!

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The sun shone, the champagne flowed and everyone loved it. There were pots of flowers everywhere grown by Emily’s father and it added to the special atmosphere. Speeches were made on the lawn before the meal and everyone was relaxed and happy.

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A sit down meal for 55 in the restaurant was followed in the evening by a party in a marquee with dancing to a live band and then platters of local cheese and meats. The party lasted well into the early hours after an amazing fire show by Charlie Burns.

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Certainly a wedding to remember – thank you Emily & Dave for allowing us to share your very special day with you!

P.S .I now have met someone who ran away to join the circus!

For more information about the wonderful Haylee & Charlie, visit there websites:

Hayley - hayleemai.com

Charlie - worldwidecharlie.com

Recipe for a perfect day...

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Ingredients:

The longest day of summer

Blue skies & warm sunshine

Pimms and tasty canapés

A generous helping of family and friends

Live music on the lawn

Handmade bunting in a fab marquee

Home-grown flowers on the tables

Superb hog roast buffet

Raspberry pavlovas

Delicious cup cakes made by a friend

West Country cheese

Mix well together, then add a Ceilidh band and dancing til you drop.

Finally add love and laughter, and mature for years for a long and happy marriage.

Congratulations Hannah & Alex!

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Photos by the lovely Fiona Moorey

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