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All the latest news from our beautiful coastal holiday homes

Virtual Reality……..


We’re on day whatever of lockdown – I don’t know the day or the date but it doesn’t matter. What I do know is that my iPad told me that my screen time has increased significantly week on week of lockdown. I’ve pondered this and refuse to worry about it. This is why my screen time has gone up –

  1. As I said last month we’ve been doing virtual quizzes with the help of the Houseparty app. Houseparty allows you to speak to your friends virtually – a great way to keep in touch. If anyone wants the 7 round quiz let me know as I’m happy to share it with you and you can host a quiz with your friends and family.
  2. I’ve continued to play Words with Friends. This is like online Scrabble with benefits of buttons that allow you to swap tiles and even a button that shows you where you can go. I have to admit though it allows you to play around with your words so sometimes you make a word that you didn’t even know existed! If you like Scrabble give this app a go or play the online Scrabble version. Again it’s a lovely way to stay connected with family and friends and I often have more than 5 games on the go. Brain games really help us to stay sharp says Dr Anne Corbett, a senior lecturer in dementia research at Exeter University.
  3. I’ve been doing yoga in my new studio and playing some wonderful music through the Spotify app. We’ve upgraded to Premium which means that 5 family members can all use our account and have access to literally thousands of songs, albums and artists.
  4. Continuing the yoga theme I’ve been streaming yoga videos from Movement for Modern Life; an online yoga platform which has some amazing teachers for beginners to advanced students. Perfect for keeping my mental health in check during these stressful times.
  5. I’ve been posting to the Beer Parish Council and Beer Regatta Facebook sites the newlsetters for the Beer Action Group who are doing amazing things to support the village during Covid-19.

All this has added up to more screen time however with the help of technology and Wi-Fi my isolation has been made easier. Having said that I’m really looking forward to easing off the virtual activities just as soon as I can. One of my friends posted a question a while back – what’s the first thing you’re going to do post Covid-19? My answer was giving my Mum a hug – the best things in life are free. What’s the first thing you’ll do……………?

Lockdown in Beer

Beer beach

Day 9 of lockdown in Beer and due to the coronavirus our business is closed for the first time ever. Of course many people’s lives have changed dramatically but cancelled bookings and applying for a government small business grant were things I never envisaged. Despite that there have been a lot of positives over the last week or so.

We’ve vowed to do more to support our fellow local businesses so here’s what we’ve managed so far –

Andy at Steamers Restaurant is making takeaway bread and yesterday we had the most delicious fish pie and greens for lunch that he cooked for the villagers.

Woozies unfortunately had to close however we visited on her last day and bought milk, cheese and other items that would have gone off and been wasted.

Our roast dinner on Sunday came from products all purchased at Colyford Butchers and Stores and Beer Village Stores.

Friday night was taken care of with a takeaway pizza from The Smugglers Kitchen thanks to Rob.

Due to the lovely weather I’ve continued running and now I can’t drive to Seaton Esplanade I’ve run up and down the hills from Garlands to the Axmouth Yacht Club and back without stopping. Barry has been running very slowly with me to motivate me to get up the hills. To be fair he can fast walk as I run but my Fitbit told me I was at 100% peak today so my heart is working hard. Running and doing yoga in my new studio has been a way to keep my mind healthy, so important in times like these.

We’ve kept in touch with our family and friends with Facetime and Houseparty and even did a virtual quiz on Monday which was great fun despite not being altogether. Thank goodness for WiFi – these times have really shown that this is a utility and not a luxury. Speaking of luxury, a bonus of some of the product shortages was that Barry came home yesterday with a proper bar of Imperial Leather soap. This was a luxury item in our family when I was growing up and the smell transported me back to different times and memories.

I’ll admit to have gone a bit rogue – I’m spending most of the day in my gym kit, I haven’t worn make up, I’ve watched the sheep alot in the fields opposite and the whole of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers on the iPlayer in two days. However on the plus side I’ve washed every bit of bedding I can find and the house is the cleanest its ever been since we moved in – I even got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the kitchen floor.

The Beer community has rallied and we have a Beer Action Group (BAG) which is made up of lots of volunteers who are all supporting whoever and whatever needs doing to help people get through these times. The world is certainly a different place and will never quite be the same afterwards.

Beer and our cottages will be waiting for you to visit when the coast is clear. I saw a Facebook post this morning that summed it up nicely – there will be a lot of businesses who will need to get back on their feet afterwards – let’s spend our holidays in England, eat in local restaurants, buy British products, buy local meats and veggies and support local businesses.

Stay safe everyone!

Beer Needs You

Beer needs you

I haven’t written for a couple of months as I was about to launch my yoga business and then this virus exploded and I wasn’t sure what even to say………

Then I saw this photo on Facebook – Beer Needs You, posted in relation to pubs that need custom to stay afloat in this crisis. This message is close to home as my brother runs a small pub in Swanage and for the first time ever this week he didn’t put in a beer order.

I’m reminded of what the late Steve Jobs said when he was sick. He sadly passed away in October 2011 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Despite all his millions and the best healthcare money could pay for, his death couldn’t be avoided, and he said at the time that the six best doctors in the world are -Sunlight, Exercise, Rest, Diet, Self Confidence and Friends. So this morning I thought which of these six doctors do we have in Beer Village?

On Monday we had sunshine, it was 17 degrees outside and the forecast is looking better for next week – TICK!

On Tuesday we walked to Lyme Regis on the wonderful South West Coast Path which is on our doorstep. Fabulous exercise and 23,000 steps – TICK!

Yesterday we had our rest and carried on watching Designated Survivor on Netflix – truly gripping. We have a WhatsApp group of our friends in the village and we’ve shared our viewing recommendations across all the Apps and TV channels. Feel free to message me if you’d like a list. Whilst our book club meetings are cancelled we’re continuing to read and the local library is still open – TICK!

Today we went down to the village and purchased items in Woozie’s to support our shops. Our local facilities are still open – ‘keeping calm and carrying on’. Whilst Barry and I are not the best of chefs, we’ve got time at home to maybe focus on a better diet and cook from scratch – TICK!

Tomorrow my home yoga studio opens with a class of one – my husband. I’ve written six Yoga Nidra sessions and he’s going to be my guinea pig along with the other Breathe and Flow sessions that are coming along nicely. It feels good to have the time to devote to this – mental health is so important and this way I’ll have lots of confidence when it comes to doing private sessions – TICK!

On Saturday we would normally be seeing friends – Beer is such a social village. Whilst we won’t physically be seeing them there’s way more remote contact, each person checking in and offers of help if anyone needs it. There’s been an amazing community response to supporting people who are vulnerable and need support – TICK!

So we are grateful in Beer that we have all six of these doctors. Oh, and what about our business? We’re also still open for business. We’re doing deep cleans between guests and as they are all completely self contained we’ll stay open for the duration.

Stay Safe Everyone………




Couch to 5k journey


Last October I started Couch to 5k with my friend. She wanted to do it to get fit after having broken her arm which stopped her from doing yoga and exercise. We were both encouraged by another friend who had started her running journey and she said it was making a big difference to how she felt. So I said I would do it with my friend so that we could motivate each other. I was told by my doctor in the summer that I needed to do more weight bearing exercise after a diagnosis of osteopenia and that was at the back of my mind anyway.

Now in the past I’ve always hated cardio exercise and have avoided it as I don’t like to feel out of breath, but week 1 started very slowly with the first run being walk for 90 seconds and then run for 60 seconds. The run was ok but it’s amazing how out of breath I was after that first half an hour session of intervals of walking and then running.

By the end of October I graduated to week 2. This was walk 5 minutes, run 90 seconds and repeat this five times. So far so good. In mid November it started to get harder with week 3 which was walk for 3 minutes and run for 3 minutes, but by the end of the month I moved onto week 4 – run and walk in a sequence of 3/5. I was amazed that I actually ran for a total of 15 minutes and wasn’t out of breath at all.

In early December I moved onto week 5 where I ran for 8 minutes, walked for 5 and then ran for another 8 minutes. During the other runs of that week I increased this to walking for 5 minutes and then running for 20 minutes – this felt like an amazing achievement. Every time I felt like stopping I considered my breath. I wasn’t out of breath so I just kept going by thinking ‘this is weight bearing exercise and is good for me’. On the app I chose to run to Jo Wiley’s voice and she was in my ear encouraging me and saying ‘you can do this, you are doing this, keep going’.

Jo also gives you tips on the app like telling you that it’s just a gentle jog, you’re meant to be able to hold a conversation when you are running. Another good tip was that you’re not meant to be springing up and down. You imagine someone is walking the other side of a large hedge – they shouldn’t be able to see your head bobbing up and down like a yoyo. Jo also said it helps to say the mantra ‘I love running, I love running……..’ – that I found harder as the other side of my brain at times was saying ‘I hate running, I hate running…….’! Overall though these tips really helped to set a comfortable pace for me.

The 23rd December was an epic day as I ran for a total of 25 minutes. I would not have thought that was possible back in October when I started. The 25 minutes then went to 28 minutes and on the 16th January I finished the Couch to 5k app – I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 30 and then walked for 5, however I still only covered 4.5k. It all depends on how fast you run as to the distance that you actually cover. So I set myself the challenge to actually run the distance of 5k and the best way to do that was to attempt the Seaton Parkrun.

Today I did it – I actually ran 5k in 37:27 and finished in 242nd place. I was the 101st female out of a field of 270 runners and came 11th in my age category. I’ve gone from being out of breath running for 60 seconds to actually running 5k. The app is a great tool so if you’re thinking about it – my advice is give it a go. I never thought I could do it and with Jo’s and my friends and family’s help and encouragement I did!

Joy to the World!

Christmas Tree

When I was at school I loved to sing and was in the school choir and many musicals over the years. My favourites were Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the tender age of 13, followed by Nancy in Oliver – with my brother who played Bill Sykes, my boyfriend. He enjoyed beating me up on stage for three nights in a row with his jemmy in his hand!

When I went to college, followed by Uni and then work, I sang rarely except on Christmas Eve where I always sang with my father at church. It was a family tradition and he had a marvellous deep voice which matched my soprano perfectly. I still love to sing Christmas carols and so love this time of year.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve sang carols with my church choir, St Michael’s, and I’ve sang with the Christian Together singers in the church and at The Hideaway cafe in Seaton who have raised money for charity. Yesterday I also sang with just three of my church choir at the Beer Best Years Club. With the St Michael’s Christingle Service this Sunday, two services on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day I will get my fill of my favourites – O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and O Little Town of Bethleham. These are my all time go to carols as they all have wonderful descants for sopranos where you sing a different tune from the congregation; usually at very high notes!

The earliest Christmas carols were actually pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced around stone circles. The word Carol actually means a song of praise and joy or a dance, and they used to be sang all year round however it is now the tradition to sing them only at Christmas. The first time I sing carols each year is at choir practise on a Wednesday in early December and the last time we sing them is on Christmas morning, and then sadly it’s all over for another year.

There’s so many carols to choose from when a service is held but I think by the time I’ve gone to all these services I’ll have sung every popular carol there is and my favourites at least 7 times. Do you have a favourite carol at Christmas?

Whether you actually celebrate Christmas or not many people take holiday from work at this time to spend it with friends and family. The Folletts will be in Beer as all the cottages are fully booked over the whole period, but on the big day itself we’re with friends in Beer – we’ll play games and maybe even sing a carol or two!

And breathe…..

Yoga breathe

In September 2018 I found out that I wasn’t breathing properly. I had gone to Ilfracombe to do a couple of yoga classes with Dan Peppiatt of Yoga Like Water to see if I clicked with him as I was considering doing his yoga teacher training course. I pitched up thinking I was going to have this great challenging Vinyasa Flow class and in the end we sat and had a quick chat about life, and then proceeded to breathe for both classes. After the first hour I went back to my bed and breakfast and thought ‘what just happened? I paid for a private yoga class where I just sat and breathed!’

Actually what happened was the start of a transformation. It turns out that Dan discovered almost immediately that I was a paradoxical breather. What does that mean? Well basically I was holding my stomach ‘in’ constantly and when I breathed in my stomach went in even further! Basically there was no movement and I was shallow breathing into my chest area. To really understand what I’m saying just put your hand on your tummy and breathe normally. Usually what happens is when you breathe in your tummy expands and when you breathe out it goes back. Well mine didn’t, and it probably stems from when I was 16 and studying for my O’Levels. That was the moment when I can remember my anxiety and stress starting and it really didn’t go away until we started our new life in Beer.

So for the last year I’ve learnt how to breathe. I’ve spent hours re-training and re-wiring my brain to breathe as I should normally and as a result my yoga has gone from strength to strength. Usually in a class when a teacher said ‘breathe into your belly’, I’d be thinking ‘what?! I just don’t get it. How can you breathe into your belly?’. Now I get it and I’m able to relax more and go deeper into postures. I’m able to practise and go off into a meditative state.

As for the yoga teacher training, I did start it in February this year and have completed the training over seven weekends. Last Sunday was the last session and the final assessment was finished. I now need to submit a couple of essays and will be ready to teach from January if I want to. I started the course 90% certain that I wasn’t going to teach; I just wanted to learn more about yoga as it’s become my passion. I’m now thinking that I will start in 2020 so watch this space………and remember to breathe.

5 go to Luton

Thomas Cook

Since living in the South West I’ve realised the importance of regional airports (it was never an issue when we lived in Woking as we were near to both Heathrow and Gatwick). Every October for the last few years I’ve been to Turkey and travelled from Bristol, an hour and half away from Beer. This year I was all set to do the same with friends until the demise of Thomas Cook and I thought that we might not be able to go.
However Nicki and Andy Richardson of Let’s Go Travel immediately swung into action and within a couple of days had rebooked our flights so we could go, albeit from Luton! Whenever I think of Luton I think of that song by Cats UK – ‘Luton Airport OOOOOWEEEEOOOO’ or the Campari adverts with Lorraine Chase.
What an epic journey we had to get there –
1. Car to Taunton train station
2. Train to Paddington
3. Tube to St Pancras
4. Train to Luton Airport Parkway
5. Bus to the airport
6. Flight from Luton to Antalya
7. Taxi from Antalya to hotel
It would have been the same 7 legs back if we hadn’t had gone to Terminal 2 instead of 1 and had to get another taxi to the correct terminal. School girl error, reminder to self to double check the terminal….
Still I can’t complain, I got to go on my holiday and many didn’t. You can’t complain when you think of the fall out of Thomas Cook – on 23rd September it went into administration, a company that was 178 years old. On that day 21,000 people were left without jobs and 600,000 were already on holiday with them, with 1 million advance bookings. What a mammoth task to get those people home which they did, most of them on the same day.
I had a lovely holiday but I wonder, one month on, how many people out of the 21,000 have found jobs…….

The Big Five O

So I’ve now been on this earth for more than 50 years…….what to write at this stage of my life? Such a lot to cover however I’ve limited myself to 5 things that I’m grateful for –

  1. First has to be the new life Barry and I have created in the beautiful fishing village of Beer. Who knew that turning our backs on the corporate world for good in 2016 would lead to this wonderful and fulfilling new life where we help others to escape from work? Life is unrecognisable from three years ago.
  2. Second I’m grateful that Mum is now down in Devon with us, Alex and Simon are settled in Seaton, our town next door, Richard and Rachel are getting married in the garden next May and Josh has started his new job post graduating this summer – all leading to a sense of inner peace in my now 50 year body.
  3. Third I’m glad that my 50 year old body is probably fitter than its ever been with daily yoga and having started yoga teacher training this year (there are still aches and pains but I’m responsible for them!). I may never teach but it’s been great learning new skills and breathing my way to a calmer Helen (the family may disagree that I’ve changed……), but I feel better mentally than ever before.
  4.  Fourth I have to mention that I’m grateful to be surrounded by a cocoon of friends, old and new, who celebrated with me on Saturday. My oldest friends came from Italy and London and what a special night of 80’s music it was!
  5.  Lastly I’m grateful for the confidence my teenage and twenty-something woman never had. When I was hurtling towards 50 I finally realised that I can say ‘No’, I don’t have to make excuses for myself and basically it’s my life and I can do what I want with it.

That’s my list in a nutshell. Who knows whether I’ll have another 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 45 years – my marvellous grandmother had her 95th birthday last July. Would I rather be 49? Maybe, but I’ve decided I’m going to fully embrace my 50’s!

By the sea


Regatta Week is over for another year, the fourth one we’ve experienced since moving to Devon permanently in June 2016. It was as fun filled as ever, jam packed with activities such as barrel rolling, decorated rafts and beach huts and the best fancy dress competition ever.

At the end of Regatta there is a Seaside Songs of Praise service on Charlie’s Yard. This is right by the beach and it used to be where boats were built years ago. So much about Beer is centred around our beach and our love of the sea. The beach and sea are still the providers of a way of living, with working fishermen and boats that can be hired out to fish for mackerel. Then you have the keen luggers and sailors who use the sea for the thrill of sailing.

One of my favourite hymns was sang at the service and it’s about asking God to protect those who are on the sea –

Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm doth bind the restless wave.

Who bid’st the mighty ocean deep, it’s own appointed limits keep.

O hear us when we cry to thee, for those in peril on the sea.

O Trinity of love and power, our brethrn shield in danger’s hour.

From rock and tempest, fire and foe, protect them whereso’er they go.

And ever let there rise to thee, glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Enjoy the rest of the summer and if you are lucky enough to swim in the sea stay safe out there!

Happy to Chat?


‘The Happy to Chat’ bench. Sit here if you don’t mind someone stopping to say hello. Similar signs are slowly popping up around many towns and villages and the Beer Coastal Community Team are early adopters of the initiative. Loneliness is a serious health condition. One study found that social isolation over a long period can have the same risks as smoking 15 cigarettes, and according to a recent poll, 27% of elderly people said they feel isolated some of the time or more often.

Of course it can be impossible to spot the signs of loneliness. You can’t tell just by looking at someone what they’re feeling. In Beer we’re hoping that our Happy to Chat benches might make it easier for people who feel alone to have a chat with someone just by passing the time of day. The results of the benches in Taunton and Burnham have been very positive. As Detective Sgt. Ashley Jones says ‘they help break down the invisible wall between strangers who might be sitting side by side but are uncertain about starting a conversation’.

I’ve often said how friendly Beer is. When we arrived I was amazed at the amount of strangers who said hello as we passed each other in the street. And since we’ve got our Grand Puppy it happens even more! I’m a big advocate of saying hello and smiling at everyone now as I walk along. If you smile broadly at someone more often than not they can’t help but smile back – try it sometime.

The signs in Beer went up last week. Jack Ratt, Beer Regatta’s new Smuggler of Fun, who joined the Committee last month, was the first person to try out the benches which are placed at Charlie’s Yard and on the Jubilee. Jack said ‘I look forward to meeting lots of new people and having interesting conversations with them’.