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.

Food Photography Workshop

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We have a couple of spots left on our Food Photography Workshop this Saturday 17th May, with professional food photographer Neil White. Whether you are a food blogger, a budding food photographer, or someone who just really likes taking pictures of their food, this workshop is for you. Neil will talk about utilizing natural light, composition, exposure, and much more. Participants spend the majority of the workshop styling  &shooting, they will get to develop their own style and approach to food photography in the process. A digital DSLR is required. Suitable for all levels of photographers.

Read all about our last Food Photography Workshop here »

You can find out more about the workshop here »

 

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We've had some amazing workshops at Clavelshay the past two months, from our extremely popular Cheese Making Workshop with Sarah and Chris from Shebbear Cheese, the brilliant Food Photography Workshop with Neil White, and this past weekend, we had the lovely Jen Goss from Wales teach a very inspirational Vegetarian Cooking Workshop. We will be sharing the stories and photos from the Cheese Making Workshop and the Vegetarian Cooking Workshop in the coming week.

Our next exciting workshop coming up is the Sourdough Bread Making Workshop with Jemma Morgan from Quangle Wangle Foods in Wiltshire. We only have a few spots left on the course, so if you are a lover of all things bread and would like to learn how to make real, proper, delicious tasting bread, make sure you don't miss out and contact Sue at query@clavelshaybarn.co.uk.

Today we have the lovely Helen Upshall joining us from the fantastic local food blog Hells Belles' Bites. Helen has kindly let us share a great article she wrote about her experience at the recent Food Photography Workshop and some of the beautiful photos she took on the day. We have another Food Photography Workshop coming up on Saturday 17th May and spots are filling up quickly, so if you are a food blogger, B&B owner, restaurant owner or anyone that has a passion for photography, come along and learn something new from one of the best food photographers in the South West. You can find out more about the day here »

So, let's hand you over to Helen...

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I spent a fantastic day developing and honing my skills within the realms of food photography, having the additional opportunity to network with fellow foodies from up and down the country, whether they be bloggers, photographers of other fields or restaurant owners.

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Lucky for me, the workshop was located only a stones throw away, across the lake that is currently the Somerset Levels, in the quaint (and somewhat challenging to find) hamlet on the outskirts of North Petherton.  Set in the beautiful, picturesque backdrop of Claveshay Barn, organised by attentive host, Sue Milverton, we were catered for throughout the day with a particularly delicious lunch that showcased the local area’s fantastic produce.

Led by one of the region’s best food photographers, Neil White, the workshop offered a brilliant introduction to the commercial world of food styling and photography, providing the group with hands-on experience and personal tuition essential to producing delicious looking images, of a  superior quality.

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Food styling is a particular interest of mine and a big part of what I do when it comes producing this blog.  To be given the opportunity to have free-reign of an abundant props and ingredients table, as well as professional lighting and highly technical photographic equipment, meant for a very excited, yet somewhat overwhelmed blogger – but I have to admit, I was simply in my element!

Due to the often restrictive nature of my photography – my studio is my dining room table and window offering temperamental natural light – I opted to work mostly at the ‘station’ set up using natural light.  Neil introduced us to the use of black and white card to direct and reflect essential light around the shot, eliminating, and at times creating, all important shadow and contrast.  The most simplest of techniques that make such fundamental differences to the final product.

We were later taken on a whistle-stop-tour of Neil’s preferred editing programmes, Capture One and Photoshop, highlighting the importance of looking at digital images in finer detail, with a keener eye, in an attempt to arrive at a flawless final image.  Attention to detail is paramount at this stage, and something perhaps unachievable without the necessary software.

Whilst still producing images on a personal level, basic editing software is something I have to make the most of for the time being.  However, with clear advice from Neil on specific detail to look for, particular areas of editing, and the importance of balancing light, I am proud to offer a small selection of my favourite images produced during the workshop.  I hope you enjoy them, and I would love to hear your feedback!

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A more extensive portfolio of my workshop images can be found here 

Highlights 2013

What a year! So many great moments filled with lots of laughter, incredible weather,  and of course good local food - here’s a small selection of memories that made us smile in 2013

 AWARDS

We are delighted to have received the following awards in 2013:

Taste of the West - Silver Award for the 5th year running in recognition of our commitment to local food.

Sustainable Restaurant  Association- awarded 3 stars as a Sustainability Champion for the 2nd year running.

Shortlisted for the Somerset Life Food and Drink Awards 2013 – Restaurant of the Year.

The Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday Award

WEDDINGS

What a fantastic year for weddings – with perfect weather for our lovely couples. So many wonderful weddings it's difficult to choose a few as they all were so much fun.

From Kendall & Stephen's fun filled wedding that ended up with Stephen's best man, a 6ft 2 ins Marine, asleep under a table in the marquee on Sunday morning. To... Cara & Grant‘s triumphant wedding – a traditional pole marquee which looked amazing. Grant had everyone in tears as he said it was his dream to get married here – he had played in our fields as a child when visiting his grandparents nearby. And, so many more fabulous weddings, you can read all about them here »

The wedding that stands out the most for us in 2013 is Stephanie & Tom's beautiful 'Country Tea Party' themed wedding which was featured on Rock My Wedding and photographed by the lovely Rachel Hudson.

st_003 From the moment Sue meet the lovely couple, she knew that their wedding was going to be fantastic - and my goodness was she right! Here's Sue's description of the wonderful, wonderful wedding...

The sun almost started to come out from the behind the clouds just as the guests arrived and the wind died down. The jazz band played as Tom waited nervously for the arrival of his bride. Stephanie looked absolutely stunning in her beautiful dress and as she walked across the lawn on the arm of her brother Courtney to Tom, the clouds parted and the sun shone brilliantly. There was not a dry eye in the place! As Stephanie reached Tom, the only sounds to be heard were birds singing and a woodpecker drumming – an unforgettable moment.

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And, another 'not a dry eye in the place' unforgettable moment....

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After the meal, it was eventually time for the first dance – an important moment on any wedding day but especially so on this day. Stephanie’s father, George Williams who sadly died 8 years ago was lead singer with a motown/soul group called The Tymes. So Tom & Stef’s poignant choice of song for their first dance was one of his songs – famous in the 60’s and called “Wonderful, Wonderful ”.

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Then time for live music with local band “Snappa” (snappa.co.uk) who were brilliant and had everyone dancing all night – especially Stef’s Grandad, who at 89 was keen to dance with all the pretty girls! There was even a fantastic dance off between the woman and men in the wedding party, Steph’s brother Courtney showed them how it was all done when he busted out a few Michael Jackson moves. No-one wanted the party to end including us!

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WORKSHOPS

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So many great workshops this year! From Italian Bread Making to Cheese Making, Smoking & Curing, Food Photography, Printmaking, Christmas Wreath Making. We were amazed at how much we learnt, and how much fun we had.

We are looking forward to all our 2014 Workshops which will be recommencing in January. You can find all the details for our workshops here »

POP-UP RESTAURANTS 

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2013 saw the start of our very popular Pop-Up Restaurants. From the Italian Night, to the outdoor Pizza Night, and the splendid Somerset Supper which celebrated our love for fresh, locally produced, delicious Somerset food.

We have some exciting Pop-Up Restaurant nights planned for 2014. So make sure you pop by our blog in early 2014 to find out the details.

 MUSIC NIGHTS

Another extremely popular event we had in 2013 was our fun live Music Nights. We were thrilled to host a number of talented local bands including Bare Bones Trio from Bridgwater - the band responsible for causing a re-enactment of a scene from the film Big Night . The one where all the customers in the restaurant get up and dance. A night to remember!

We have many more fun Music Nights planned for 2014, stay tuned for details.

PRIVATE PARTIES

Lots of them and all a pleasure. From laughter-filled Corporate Christmas/Workshop parties (photos coming soon!), to sweet engagement parties, family celebrations and the lovely Sarah's 21st Birthday Party. We had a wonderful time at each and every one of them. Thank you so much for choosing Clavelshay Barn and for letting us share your very special days with you – it was an absolute pleasure.

Which brings me to the New Year –  with lots to look forward to. Thank you all for your support in 2013 – we look forward to seeing you in 2014.

We wish you all a Happy & healthy New Year

Sue x

Christmas Gift Vouchers

Struggling for Christmas Gift Ideas?

Why not give the gift of Good Food or Creativity to your nearest and dearest by treating them to a Gift Voucher from Clavelshay Barn? From Workshops and Dining to Art, there is something for everyone. We offer gift vouchers which will allow the recipient to choose whatever best suits their schedule.

 To find out more call Sue on 01278 662629 or email query@clavelshaybarn.co.uk to find out more.