Sunday, June 15, 2008

A weekend at Exeter Craft Festival

Today is not going to be a blog about the newfies ... in fact I haven't seen them all weekend as they've been banished to boot-camp (aka the most wonderful kennels in Devon, let's run straight into the play area and not even bother to say goodbye to our mum)!

But they wouldn't have enjoyed this weekend at all, as the DevonBears have been at Exeter Craft Festival meeting lots of nice people and selling loads of stuff. We had a great weekend, in the most wonderful surroundings as the stalls were set up on the Cathedral Green. You can't see the stalls on the photo below, but they were just off camera to the left.

The only bad bit of the day was trying to navigate our way around Exeter's one-way system - we could see the Cathedral in the distance, but whichever turning we chose we found ourselves heading back out of town again. Marital disharmony threatened, but more by luck than judgement, we found a very-well hidden side street and suddenly we were there! We quickly set up our stall ....
Not a moment too early as vistors soon started to arrive ...

The junior team member (aka husband) was overcome with fatigue and abandoned his post for a quick cup of tea and newspaper break ...

Then the band began to play...

And he quickly returned to his post... (I wanted pink stripey staff uniform aprons but he refused to wear pink - spoilsport!)

Visitors came from across the globe - some travelling great distances to reach the DevonBears stand ...
Some of our products are off to far-flung places such as Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong - wow - my bags and aprons are better-travelled than I am!

Two days of fun, sunshine and hard work!! But a great time was had by all - we sold out of some things, and loads of feedback - more bunnies are needed!! A day off today, then collect my furry friends tomorrow (don't suppose Ben will want to come home) and start on the orders.

Monday, June 9, 2008

An English summer's day

Today has been a perfect summer's day. I consulted the Book of Days I keep on the study windowsill and was informed that "An English summer is three fine days and a thunderstorm." On Saturday we had the storm. Hailstones the size of grapes rained down in Kingsbridge - the town turned white with ice and Fore Street became a raging torrent as the hailstones melted and the water ran downhill to the top of the creek. But by the evening the sun was shining again. I am hoping that we have had the thunderstorm and are now enjoying the three fine days .....

The rose that scrambles over the woodstore is now in full bloom and shedding its petals on me like sweetly scented confetti when I water the old stone trough of geraniums below. It is highly fragrant too, but has wickedly sharp thorns and is very vigorous. I have to keep it well pruned, or it tries to invade the gazebo above and twine itself into the hair of unsuspecting diners when we lunch al fresco!

On these warm days, the house stays beautifully cool, thanks to the thick cob walls and cool slate floors. The hall floor is quite beautiful - I've never seen such a beautiful old floor. I think it must have been laid by the gentleman who improved the property back in 1838. I can be exact about the date as he left a letter hidden in the chimney breast for future generations to discover - in which he refers to "our new young queen, Victoria, a young lady of great promise."

Again consulting my Book of Days I discover that the Roman Emperor Nero was born on June 9th AD 68 and that he shares his birthday with Cole Porter and Johnny Depp (although of course they are considerably younger than him!!) Today is also the feast day of St Columba, the 6th-century Irish missionary who founded a monastery on the Scottish Island of Iona.

Finally, having carefully omitted to write about Amy and Ben in this post, I shall say that I spent some time yesterday afternoon painting Ben. I don't normally paint direct from photographs, but was enchanted by the shot of Ben carrying his teddy that Jack managed to take during our DevonBears photoshoot. So here it is .....

Thursday, June 5, 2008

We are so lucky

We are so lucky at Lunch Club to have such a wonderful team of volunteers working with us. Our Lunch Club provides a weekly cooked meal for some of the area's most elderly residents, many of whom are well into their nineties. The food is fantastic - today we had sausages (from Durrants, our local butcher of course) braised in red wine, followed by peach (from the cook's own tree) and almond crumble. It's so interesting to chat to all the club members too as many of them have such exciting stories to tell - this week I was talking to one lady in her eighties who remembers driving a truck round the East End of London dodging bombs in the Blitz. Many still keep themselves up-to-date with new technology and are keenly interested in the progress of DevonBear Designs - after all, they say, such a business just wouldn't have been possible when they were my age.

The Parish Fete isn't far away now, and the fete committee meets today I'm told. Amy of course has already decided upon her contribution, while Ben is putting his paws up and taking a back seat after his heroic effort on the sponsored walk earlier this month. I've been asked to put together a bag design to sell canvas totes on the day - all profits will be donated to the funds.

Meanwhile we're making the most of the lovely sunshine after all the heavy rain we've been having lately. At Saltram the clouds opened on Saturday morning - as if a tap had been turned on in the sky - I was so glad that our stall was indoors. It was a great weekend though, we sold lots of stuff, met loads of nice people - and will be doing it all again in August!

For us Devon Bears of course, making the most of the sunshine means heading off along our coastal paths....

Here Ben is leading the way towards his favourite beach for swimming ....

As usual Amy becomes distracted and somewhat bewildered by the overgrown path. (Her brains do not match her beauty I'm afraid). Here she is doing her sheep impression.

Luckily I am taller than Amy so I can see over the hedge to take this photo of our beaches.

Ben takes to the water first and shows off his swimming prowess.

Amy isn't too far behind, but these days enjoys a gentle paddle more than an energetic swim.

And it's a long walk back up the path. But the most enjoyable way to burn up all those calories consumed at Lunch Club earlier in the day. And finally .... could this be the vegetable garden with the best view in England? We think it has to be a strong contender and love to peer over the hedge to check what's growing!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Will the paparazzi come calling?

I haven't had time to blog for ages, and was going to write about our weekend at Saltram, and the trip to the beach to make it up to the dogs for abandoning them in kennels. (Not that they care, Ben almost fell over his big wubbly paws he was so eager to get into the play area, and even Amy barely stopped for a goodbye kiss before hurrying inside!)

But events have overtaken me. I find that I am now the custodian of two media stars. The fantastic, fund-raising Amy and Ben!! This has come about because of a conversation I had with Ray when he was bringing us home in his taxi from a boozy night out in Dartmouth. Ray is our village correspondent for the local paper and is always on the lookout for a good story. I was telling him about Ben's sponsored walk and about how Amy was going to BE a competition at the Parish Fete. And look what happened...!! (Must have been a very slow week for news in the Kingsbridge area)

Amy not on a diet! Huh! That's what SHE thinks. Her last weigh-in at the vet's was very embarrassing, particularly as Ben was congratulated on his trim, lean figure. Still, I guess it's all in a good cause, and it's her birthday on Friday, so perhaps the diet can start next week.

Off to pamper my two stars.....

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