Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

Well what a winter it has been…it feels like it just hasn’t stopped raining down here in Devon! Safe to say we have been feeling just a little fed up of the site looking like a muddy quagmire. It has been especially bad because the building and landscaping works for the new café have been proceeding at pace and so a day rarely goes by when we don’t have a digger digging something somewhere…holes just keep appearing! At least our 3 year old son Sam – a huge digger fan – appreciates it!

Looking glamorous as always!

Don’t worry, the building will have windows and doors in it (rather than just holes) by the time we are finished!

The first tree (a Szechuan Pepper tree) being rather indelicately planted into the walled garden!


On a more positive note, the sun has been out the last few days and the site has started to dry out a little, and with the building works proceeding quickly (especially now that Pete has finished up his consultancy work and is back on site full time to help oversee the process) we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Well, the light that indicates we are hurtling towards owning and running a café/shop that employs a whole team of people and has lots of happy customers every day (hopefully). As a fellow attendee of the RHS course I am still attending rather glibly put it “aren’t you terrified of it all going wrong?” (errr, thanks for the encouragement!). Terrified no, a little daunted yes, excited certainly yes. Whilst every day brings new challenges, the one defining thing that the last 18 months has taught us is that we are more capable than we let ourselves believe. It can’t be that hard to set up and run a business like ours, despite being virtual novices in the hospitality industry…..can it?!

In case you aren’t up to speed with our plans (in which case you are probably wondering what on earth I am talking about), we are renovating the half-finished building that we inherited with the site into a café and farm shop. The intention is to serve good quality food that is produced as locally as possible (including from the kitchen garden on our site). Our shop will sell the wine, cider, perry, apple juice and gin (yes gin – watch this space for more on our exciting plans there), as well as farm shop-type products from other local producers. The café will open out onto a large covered veranda overlooking a beautiful walled garden (currently mostly mud and gravel, but it will be beautiful, we promise!) that has been designed by the award-winning and reputed designer James Alexander-Sinclair. We can’t wait to start getting the plants in the ground – which will happen during April – to start transforming that area. On site we will also have a play park, a fairy trail through our orchard, and some animals (just chickens and pigs for now, we may get more adventurous in time) to say hello to. We really hope to become a destination appreciated by a variety of clientele, not just a café like any other. Talking of the fairy trail, I spent today researching and ordering fairy houses as well as composing short poems about the fairies that live in each of the houses…I rather enjoyed it, perhaps I have found a new vocation! Rather more enjoyable than my other task which was to research and procure an ePOS system…thrilling stuff!

I also just realised that it is almost exactly a year since I penned our first blog post, about how we had found the transition down to Devon and the first six months. Doesn’t that feel like a lifetime ago now! With the business nearly open, our knowledge and skills vastly expanded in ways that we didn’t anticipate, and the family firmly settled into the area/school/nursery etc, we aren’t looking back. Still not missing the office job (well, actually there have been times but not many and I won’t dwell on them!).

Given the rather depressing low frequency of our blog posts, I’ll apologise now for not writing another one for a little while…what can I say, we keep ourselves busy. At least the next one should contain some real developments…looking forward to sharing them with you. As always, thanks for reading!

4 thoughts on “Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

  1. Karen Dyble says:

    Sounds very exciting to me & congratulations on near completion of your cafe/farm shop .
    My son Jack ( photographer , just finished Falmouth uni , if you need any photos please let him know ?) & I did a days grape picking with you which we very much enjoyed . I was wondering what job opportunities are going to be available when you do open to the public ? As I am interested in part time foodie work & think heron farm would be a lovely place to work .

    • Christine Helliwell says:

      Hi Karen, thanks for your message. We will certainly be in touch if we need photos – we still have his card in our pile of useful business cards! Regarding job opportunities, we will be recruiting a number of positions across both the cafe and the shop – mostly your usual sort of roles in this sort of business, i.e., both front and back of house. Do keep an eye on our Facebook page and also the news page of our website if you can – we will definitely be posting details there. I do also plan to send an email to the mailing list when the time comes about this, but it is always possible I forget!! Best wishes, Christine

  2. Christine Acott says:

    Well, it’s lovely to hear how things are progressing. I look forward to the better weather and your next open day.
    Let’s hope we have a lovely hot, sunny summer, so that you can get some more of that lovely wine made!

  3. Nick & Sharon Thwaites says:

    Well done for making it through the wettest winter in history! We’re keeping fingers crossed that you’ll be able to open up soon and we’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve created (we’ve been away for previous open days).

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