‘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’.
June seems to have passed by in a complete whirlwind, although that seems silly to say as summer has definitely arrived this week. I always know it’s June as Barry collects the hanging baskets and the front of Garlands becomes a riot of colours, and all our regular guests return for their usual week (or two!).
Well June has been a mammoth month with the Follett household doubling in size so it seems we’re bustin’ out all over, like the song from the musical Carousel. Mum moved in first bringing with her the downsized contents of her old three bedroom house in Bournemouth (big thanks to Mr Follett for managing to sort out a whole side of our garage so that she didn’t need to pay for storage). Then later that week Josh moved back home as university has ended. He’s now the proud owner of a 2.1 in History from the University of Exeter and we couldn’t be more proud of our young man.
The other bit of good news is that Josh’s girlfriend, Alexandra, has managed to get a job in Exeter straight after university so she’s moving in temporarily as well in a few weeks time. Then we really will be bustin’ out all over! I have to say I couldn’t be more happier to have all my family around me. Mum is going to be moving to a new house in Seaton in the Autumn, a few houses away from Alexandra and Simon. I just need Richard and Rachel to move here and Barry and I will have a full set!
Seriously it’s wonderful to have people you love around you and living close. We’re feeling pretty lucky with our lot at the moment. It’s a bit like the good old days when family never really moved away. This way you’ve always got someone to talk to, help you and look out for you. What a blessing that is.
When I was at Virgin Media we were actively encouraged to take a volunteer day each year to do something to give back. I can remember a really hot afternoon clearing Himalayan Balsam, an invasive plant in many areas of the UK, where if you leave it unattended it can take over huge areas. I also spent a great day on a beach clean in Norfolk where we had to make a note of every piece of rubbish we collected.
Last Wednesday the Beer Coastal Community Team (CCT), in conjunction with a local company Xylem, arranged a litter pick at the Beer Head Car Park followed by a walk through the footpaths of Beer. We had around 15 people with us collecting rubbish which was mainly caught in the hedgerows. Barney the puppy came with me but was more interested in playing with another dog………..! Last month there was also a beach clean with Xylem, where BMW car parts were found, probably still being washed up from the Napoli that ran aground in Branscombe in 2007.
The 4 main benefits of volunteering are –
- It connects you to others – I’ve certainly met many more villagers by leading the CCT.
- It’s good for your mind and body – Whilst I run The Folletts, the CCT has given me an opportunity to learn new skills, whilst supporting the village to continue to be the best place to live, work, visit and holiday in.
- It brings fun and fulfilment to your life – I can really relate to this as I wanted an opportunity to give back to the community in which I live.
- It can help make a difference – Our CCT has recently delivered a new village logo and website to support the local community with an up to date what’s on diary and marketing.
Xylem are a water technology provider and it was good to meet some of their employees who volunteered for these events to help keep our beautiful village and beach clean. Thanks to you all and our new Village Manager Karin Frewin.
I am in love with a ball of fluff – our Grand Puppy! Meet Barney Dimmock, our daughters new puppy. I’ve never owned a dog before and this Labradoodle has stolen my heart big time. As Alex and Simon both work Barney comes to Garlands for doggy day care Monday to Thursday (and other times as Barry misses and pines for him when he’s not here).
As I’m writing this he’s lying underneath my chair having a puppy dream; I’m hoping of chasing the wild rabbits away in my garden. Sorry Alex, I know you like them, but they’re eating all my flowers. He’s probably dreaming of other doggies though, like Jackson, our guests dog last week, who he absolutely loved playing with. When Jackson left, Barney walked round to the Beach House cottage for three days in a row looking for him to come out to play!
I’ve realised that having a dog is a great time waster. As he’s little Barney doesn’t want to be on his own so I’ve spent hours sitting in the sunroom reading my book so he’ll settle down. We took him to the beach hut on Good Friday and it took us 40 minutes to walk there from the car park as he wanted to stop and say Hi to every other dog (and there were a lot of dogs being walked on the Esplanade that bank holiday). He then quite happily went to sleep in the hut whilst we had a cup of tea and watched the world walk by.
Yes, I do love Barney. He’s going to help reduce my stress (not much of that in Beer), help me reach my 10,000 steps a day (not hard to do on a daily walk up and down those hills), lower my heart rate (and breathe……), improve my social life (not that I need that living in Beer), and add even more meaning and purpose to my life. What’s not to love?!
The Grizzly is nothing to do with a bear! On Sunday 10th March 2019, over 1,600 people will start to run this 20 mile race along the Jurassic Coast, starting on the Seaton seafront and running along some tough cliff paths and beach, through the village of Beer and over to Branscombe (and back). It’s not for the faint hearted and last year was undertaken in a snowy blizzard as the photo from Visit Beer shows.
The race is organised by the well respected Axe Valley Runners Club and is supported by volunteers who undertake all the organisation and marshalling on the day. They describe the race as “twentyish muddy, hilly, boggy, beachy miles of the multiest-terrain running experience”. One part of the race is called the “Stairway to Heaven”; a steep ascent up the side of the cliff………….
If 20 miles seems out of your league there is also a Cub run of 9 miles on the day for the less able runners – over 600 people will do the shorter distance but this is still a tough route. Any surplus cash raised by the race is donated to charities and since the first race in 1988 more than £394k has been donated to local and international charities.
Each year the race is given a name. Whoever makes these up obviously has a sense of humour –
2018 – May the Course Be With You
2017 – Pearl’s A Stinger
2016 – Grin and Bear It
2015 – Dash to Delirium
For all the course names going back to 1988 see here http://www.axevalleyrunners.org.uk/grizzly/history
This is a great weekend to be in Seaton, Beer or Branscombe. There are events going on throughout the weekend including the GrizQuiz on Saturday 9th March at The Gateway and a children’s run. There are stalls during the day and most of the shops have decorated their windows Grizzly style.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not a runner – come along and help cheer on and support these dedicated people running for charity.
Last month I wrote about reading so this month it’s onto puzzles – jigsaw puzzles. I read recently that there is a man in Sidmouth who completes all the jigsaws given to a charity shop so that when they come to sell them they can be confident that all the pieces are there. What an amazing public service; there can be nothing worse then spending hours on a puzzle, only to find that the last one or two pieces are missing.
My best puzzles have come from charity shops or jumble sales. They often only cost a £1 but can give hours of pleasure. In the winter I always have a puzzle on the go on the dining room table. When family come round to visit they often pause and do a few pieces but it’s mainly Mum and Alexandra who do them with me.
This winter I’ve done the Beer Regatta one (as I wanted to post the finished article on the Regatta Facebook page that I manage), and have just finished the one in the photo – a celebration of everything in the UK. We had some great frustrations over this one – ‘Why can’t I find Shakespeare’s head?’ and a lot of ‘Who IS that?!’.
Did you know that doing jigsaw puzzles is good for your mind, body and spirit? Here are some benefits –
- Both sides of your brain are engaged when doing a puzzle so it’s a mental workout said to improve problem solving skills and attention span.
- They improve your short term memory as the puzzle helps connection between brain cells.
- They improve your visual-spatial reasoning, helpful to you when you’re driving your car.
- They can improve stress as they involve concentrating on the task in hand. Doing a puzzle can be meditative for many.
- They are a great way to spend time with your family. You can have a lovely chinwag whilst trying to find that elusive piece!
- They are also equally good to do on your own, in peace and quiet, away from your gadgets.
- Apparently you’ll live longer if you do puzzles, although I almost killed Barry when I came home one day and he took great delight in telling me that he’d finished my puzzle. I only had about 20 pieces left! Everyone knows that you don’t EVER finish someone’s puzzle, EVER. He’s now been warned to (shouty capital alert) STAY AWAY FROM MY PUZZLE!
Next up on the puzzle front is an English Country Garden scene, perfect with all this spring like weather we’re enjoying. If you’d like a short break in March get in touch as we have some last minute availability for a couple of weeks.
I had the sniffles on Wednesday so retreated to bed with a new book – The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. This is the true story of a couple who lose everything and decide to walk the South West Coast Path, all 630 miles. My friend, who we are walking the path with, leant me the book and I was gripped after the first paragraph. Obviously it was initially interesting as we are walking the path ourselves, however Raynor’s writing immediately transports you to the North Devon coast and her descriptions of the path along the way are fabulous.
I have always been a book worm, inherited from my mother, who is also an avid reader. I grew up on Peter and Jane books, followed by every single book Enid Blyton ever wrote – I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who grew up on a council estate and wanted to go to St Clare’s or Mallory Towers. I also desperately wanted to be in the Secret Seven or the Famous Five, having adventures and eating egg sandwiches and drinking lashings of ginger beer.
Our book club, called BBC2 (Beer Book Club 2 as the original book club got so large that it had to be split into two) is a thriving group who read and meet monthly to discuss a book. In the last year we’ve read a whole host of different books, the latest being The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Not everyone understood the ending but when I googled it, it turns out that lots of people didn’t understand it either!I’m looking forward to the film being made to see how they interpret it.
A book for me is pure escapism. I like to visualise the places that are described. I don’t always like to watch the film version if I’ve loved the book, but although the Dursley’s house in Harry Potter didn’t look like that to me in my mind, I loved everything else about those films.
One of my favourite musicals of all time is Les Miserable. I’ve seen the stage musical three times and the film countless times but I’ve never read the book. Barry and I are loving the TV series on BBC at the moment so I’m tempted to read the book as we’re learning things we never knew about the story from the stage musical and the film.
I can never be bored if I’ve got something to read. I read anywhere and everywhere but my favourite place is to escape to the beach hut in the summer. If I’m reading something that I’m loving I can often be found in bed by 8.30pm with my nose stuck in a book!
Our cottages all have book shelves and over the season these take on a new form as guests leave the books they have read and take one from the collection. In this way I’ll never not have a book to read!
I’m hosting BBC2 at my house in March so need to recommend a book for everyone to read, so what are some of your favourite books?
When Barry and I first fell in love with Garlands in March 2015 we never dreamed that our daughter would also fall in love with Devon. Yesterday, Alexandra and our son in law, Simon, moved to Seaton to a brand spanking new house and we couldn’t be more delighted for them both.
Alex has secured a permanent role for her current company COOK covering the South West and Simon is going to work on a farm. So not only moving to Devon but working on the land! Simon did his first Parkrun at Seaton this morning as a local and even finished first over the line – what a great couple of days for them both.
It’s been a busy day so far as all three cottages were booked for Christmas and they are all full for New Year. There’s still lots to do in Devon in the winter time and there’s no rain forecast for the foreseeable future so our guests will be able to get out and about.
When our New Year guests leave Barry and I will be taking a break for approximately six weeks as we’ve got some building work going on in our house. The conservatory is on its last legs and if we don’t take it down I fear it would be blown down!
Bookings for the 2019 season are incredibly strong. We’ve already got 50 number of weeks booked! If you’re thinking of a March spring break here’s our latest availability –
The Beach House – 16th, 23rd and 30th March available
The Seaside Inn – 16th March available
The Boat Shed – 16th and 23rd March available
March is a lovely time for walking or cycling breaks and remember the South West Coast Path and the beautiful Jurassic Coast are right on our door step.
The Folletts at Beer won Bronze and Gold at the Visit Devon Tourism Awards 2018 last week.
Little did we think when we purchased our three cottages in the quintessentially British fishing village of Beer, that three and a half years later we would win Bronze in the Self Catering Property of the Year award, and Helen would win Gold in a special award of Customer Service Superstar which was announced on the night.
We think the judges were impressed by our free dog sitting service and the addition of our wonderful complimentary use of the beach hut. The way we have integrated into the village we think made a difference – I lead the Beer Coastal Community team – a volunteer group that exists to ensure Beer continues to be a wonderful place for people to live, work, visit and holiday. This team have recently been awarded a grant from the Government’s Coastal Community Fund to further enhance the village.
We both also supported the village in Channel 4’s Village of the Year competition where Beer won the best village in the South West region to make it to the national finals.
In our press release I said that we were thrilled with both awards –
“Barry and I are delighted to have won the Bronze award for Devon’s Self Catering Property of the Year. It’s particularly pleasing considering we’ve only been in business for a short time. Winning Gold for Customer Service was amazing – to win an award which is all about how you treat people is the icing on the cake! We’re so lucky to live and work in beautiful Beer and East Devon, right on the Jurassic Coast and the South West Coast Path”.
All of the winners can be found on the Devon Tourism Award website.
A record number of East Devon attractions and accommodation providers have made it to the final in the South West Tourism Awards. The Award recognises outstanding businesses, who provide a high level of service to tourists visiting the South West. The 2018 Devon awards had over 160 entries, higher than any previous year.
Businesses in East Devon who have made it to the final include:
The Follett’s at Beer holiday cottages, Andrew Hayes Holiday Park, Seaton Wetlands (owned and managed by East Devon District Council’s Countryside service) and the Donkey Sanctuary.
All of the finalists will be judged by an independent panel ahead of the awards ceremony which takes place on Thursday 22 November at previous winner, Higher Bullen, North Devon.
Helen Follett from the Follett’s at Beer holiday cottages said: ‘’Barry and I are very proud and delighted to be finalists in two categories – Self Catering property of the Year and Customer Service Superstar. We are so lucky to live and work in beautiful East Devon and the unspoilt fishing village of Beer. We are looking forward to the awards dinner in November and celebrating with the best of Devon Tourism businesses”.
Clare Mackenney from Andrewhayes Holiday Park said: ‘’Making it to the finals of these awards is great news for Andrewshayes Holiday Park. We are proud to be helping put our beautiful part of Devon on the map and to encourage new visitors to the area.’’
James Chubb, Countryside team leader, said: ‘’This is the first time Seaton Wetlands has entered the South West Tourism Awards, and to have made it into the final in the small attraction of the year category is fantastic! To receive bronze, silver or gold will be a wonderful achievement for all the staff and volunteers who help to make the site such a special place for visitors and wildlife.’’
All of the finalists can be found on the South West Tourism Award website: http://www.devontourismawards.org.uk/page/44/2018-winners–highly-commended.htm
Results from the awards will be published on this website, as well as on the South West Tourism Awards social media. Individual finalists including @FollettsAtBeer @andrewshayesA35 and @wildeastdevon will be posting live from the awards.