Real Weddings – Abi & Ross at Buckland

Our beautiful 17th Century manor house, close to the stunning Devon coast, is a simply spectacular place to celebrate your wedding. The location is picture perfect, and it really does create perfect memories, as Abi and Ross discovered…

When did you meet?

Ross and I met whilst both at school. I guess you could say we are childhood sweethearts.

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Tell us about the proposal!

It was everything I could have ever dreamed of and more! We were on holiday travelling the Caribbean islands. A few days into our trip, whilst in St. Lucia on the beach, Ross got down on one knee and asked! It’s a moment we’ll both never forget and I think he was probably more nervous for the proposal than he was on the wedding day!

How long did it take you to plan the wedding?

It took us about 18 months to plan the wedding from our engagement in January 2015 to the big day in June 2016. Buckland Tout-Saints helped to make the whole thing a seamless and effortless event for everyone to enjoy. We really did have great pleasure planning our wedding at Buckland.

How many people did you invite?

We invited 75 guests to our daytime ceremony and had a total of 110 guests for the evening.

Did you have a theme and if so what was it?

We tried not to give our wedding a theme as even in 18 months of planning your tastes can change so much, so we tried to just keep it simple and elegant. We knew that ivory and navy would feature a lot throughout the day. The men’s suits were navy, my dress ivory and our bridesmaids in an elegant blush pink. We tied all this together using our flowers – white avalanche roses mixed with pink and white peonies. A theme can be beautiful but you have to be sure you’re still going to love it on the day.

What did you choose for your favours?

I’m a little obsessed with candles and I love the mood and smell they can create, so we chose to give each guest a miniature candle. They were fragranced with a fresh grapefruit scent and personalised with our names and the wedding date.

Where was the dress from?

My dress was from a wonderful shop in Plympton called ‘The Wedding Company’. It was an ivory satin ‘Pronovias’ gown shipped to the UK from Barcelona.

What did you think when you first saw Buckland Tout-Saints and how did you know it was the venue for you?

When you first drive down that driveway I don’t think you can think anything other than WOW! The whole setting is just beautiful.

I think Ross and I could instantly imagine our friends and family celebrating in every room. I could picture the bridal party getting ready upstairs, me walking down the aisle and then partying until we could dance no more. From that moment I think you know that is where your fairy-tale is going begin.

What did you choose for your wedding breakfast?

Ross and I are total foodies so it was important to ensure the food was going to be perfect and Buckland didn’t disappoint.

Starter

Duck liver pate, red onion marmalade, toasted brioche

Main course

Chicken breast on a bed of herb potatoes, summer vegetables, soft herb emulsion

Dessert

Buckland mess – Buckland mess, crisp meringue, Chantilly cream, seasonal fruit

What were your guests’ reactions to Buckland Tout-Saints?

Our guests were overwhelmed with its beauty and sophistication. Guest satisfaction was very important to us throughout our day and the team at Buckland helped us to ensure our guests wanted for nothing! Someone told us that it was ‘the perfect backdrop to a very beautiful day!’

What was the most special moment of the day?

Our speeches! Ross, the father of the bride and the best man all made speeches and we’ve never seen a room full of people erupt with so much laughter, tears and joy all at the same time. It was a very special moment and one that Ross and I will remember forever.

To plan your wedding at Buckland Tout-Saints call our wedding team on 01548 853055, visit our website or view our wedding brochure.

Photography courtesy of Eye Candy Photography.

 

5 Stars for Bovey Castle

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After hard work and investment by the hotel team and Eden Hotel Collection, we are over the moon to announce that Bovey Castle has been recognised by the AA as a first class, luxury South West destination with the award of 5 Stars.

Now all the excitement and celebrations of last week have died down, we asked some of the team what the award means to them…

Mark Chambers – Managing Director, Eden Hotel Collection

It was always the vision to take Bovey Castle back to her former glory. From the beginning we set about a very clear strategic approach and pathway to achieving 5 stars, so we are therefore delighted with this result.

Our core value is always to seek the next level and to continue to invest, so we are still part way there, however the team’s effort and Eden’s commitment to investment has already delivered a great result.

Greg Fehler – General Manager, Bovey Castle

For me this award is the culmination of a lot of hard work and team building over the best part of two years, however this is just part of the journey as the whole team is dedicated to achieving 5 Red Stars within the next year.

From a company perspective it shows total commitment from the team to ensure the facilities and service are at the required 5 star standards, and there has been again a huge change in a number of areas, which could not have happened without enormous financial investment from Eden Hotel Collection.

Personally it has been a lifelong ambition to manage a 5 Red Star hotel and we’re on the right track!

Francisco Macedo – Hotel Manager, Bovey Castle

Being recognised as a 5 star property by the AA is a true reflection of the huge amount of hard work from the whole team here at Bovey.

Eden Hotel Collection has helped to achieve the award by investing heavily in bringing the hotel back to a luxury 5 star standard and innovating with training programmes to engage the team, inspiring them to be the best of the best.

Being part of a winning team and watching Bovey Castle improving standards across all areas is just an amazing feeling, and one that I will not forget.

Saying that, the journey has just begun! We are aiming even higher and are truly committed to achieving 5 Red Stars in the future.

Rachel Healey – Learning & Development Manager, Eden Hotel Collection

With a focus on our people, Eden Hotel Collection has invested in learning & development opportunities at Bovey Castle. We have collaborated with the AA to develop our ‘Bovey Experience’ training programme, which covers AA red star behaviours and educates our teams in the art of hospitality.

First-hand experience of what we offer at Bovey Castle is invaluable and as part of the training we provide an overnight stay with dinner. This is not only for our teams that have customer facing roles but for every employee, to ensure that each and every one of us is committed to the goal of 5 Red Stars.

I am absolutely thrilled for the team at Bovey on their achievement. They have all pulled together and worked so hard towards their goal and they should be very proud of themselves.

Book a 5 star break at Bovey Castle today!

 

Falconry at Bovey Castle

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Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever be flying eagles over the most beautiful country estate on Dartmoor National Park in the company of a veritable menagerie of lovely people and wonderful birds and beasts, but that’s exactly what happened to me one misty morning at Bovey Castle.

My hosts for the day were Bovey Castle’s very own falconer Martin Whitley, his wife Philippa, their dogs Monty (a German short haired pointer), Boris (a German wire hair pointer), Will (a Slovakian rough hair pointer) and bringing up the rear, Daniel the spaniel (I assume an honorary pointer by association).

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I was driven to Martin’s private falconry centre, which is perched on the opposite side of the valley from what he describes as ‘the neighbours’ at Bovey Castle. In prior email communication, Martin had signed off as ‘owner, director and general dogsbody’, so I already knew I was in for an entertaining experience.

Walking into the hay scented falconry centre I was greeted with a cacophony of noise, from the gentle stamping and snorting of the ex-race horses in their stalls to the screeching and calling of the various birds of prey that make up Martin’s feathered family.

I was duly handed a (very) thick suede and leather falconry glove and walked through the stalls, being introduced to all its inhabitants one by one, and what an impressive bunch they are.

One stall held a particularly formidable resident in the form of Rosie the bald eagle, or as Martin affectionately calls her, the ‘original angry bird’. I was assured I’d have the chance to fly her later in the day, however as I stood mesmerised by her intensely clever yet rather furious gaze, intimidating screeching and flexing of 2 inch razor sharp talons I started to wonder whether this was such a good idea.

“Don’t worry, she hates everyone equally, and she’ll like you more than she likes the wife.”

Martin threw these words over his shoulder casually, as he strode off to untether our first companion for our trip to the fields. With a gulp I scurried after him.

First up…Wol. Wol is a beautifully delicate barn owl with a less delicate voice. Martin explains that he’s going through the ‘teenage years’ and is generally loud, screechy, demanding and hungry. Brought up on Bovey’s reception desk he is perfectly used to people and performs the wedding ring deliveries down the aisle at the hotel. Watching him glide through the skies I knew I wouldn’t fancy my chances as a mouse. His flight was completely soundless and utterly beautiful to behold.

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Continuing with the owls we went to fetch Merlin, the European eagle owl who I apparently caught on an active day, as he’s usually “a legend for not doing very much, but doing it in style”. Once Martin had encouraged him into flight he was a remarkable spectacle, flaunting his full 5ft wingspan.

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Next up the first of my hawk experiences! Charlie is a ferruginous hawk of beautiful colouring; whites, chocolate browns, greys and copper. His regal look was only marred slightly by his slightly drippy nose. Martin noted that both hawks and eagles dribble ‘rather embarrassingly’ when food is in the picture. Charlie originates from the prairies of the United States and is one of the hawks used in the falconry from horseback experiences.

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The raptor that really took my breath away was Dawn – a cross between a gyr falcon and a peregrine falcon. Dawn is capable of diving speeds of over 200 miles per hour in a full stoop and as she rocketed past to catch Martin’s lure I can only image how incredible she must look when she’s really hunting. Martin tells me that he takes Dawn and her sister Dusk out on the moors to bring down carrion crows on horseback.

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Next up…the eagles. Artemis is glorious. There’s simply no other word to describe her. She is a glowing russet specimen with intelligent, knowing eyes that take in every single thing going on in her environment.

Artemis is a cross between our native golden eagle and a Russian steppe eagle. Martin explained that the idea behind this was to have a large eagle that was not too predatory, though in her younger years she’s taken out foxes, so she obviously thought otherwise. Despite her formidable hunting nature, she’s lovely natured with people and, if anything, a little shy.

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Flying Artemis was both nerve-wracking and exhilarating. She sat heavy on my wrist, head swivelling this way and that to the sound of Martin’s voice, as he explained that I needed to remove her hood and release her jesses (the thin leather straps that allow falconers to keep control of their birds) at exactly the right time, or she’d be flying blind and likely to hurt herself. In flight she was spellbinding and I simply couldn’t take my eyes off her.

With Artemis safely put away, out came the main event. Rosie. Throughout the day Martin’s dogs had been frolicking around as we flew the birds. Monty is young and particularly inquisitive, often jumping up to say hello to whoever we were flying, and was tolerated gracefully by all our feathered companions to date.

As Martin left to collect Rosie he motioned for Philippa to gather the crew of dogs to a safe distance and pop Daniel the spaniel, who to this point had been completely consumed by digging holes (with a dirty face to prove it), back to the falconry centre. Rosie, it seems, was not to be trusted.

Rosie appeared, face imperious and wings outstretched as Martin carried her across the field and she really is a formidable sight. Bald eagles can weigh up to 14 pounds with 2 inch talons and up to a 2.3m wingspan. Martin explains that Rosie had learnt some bad habits with previous owners, believes she’s a human, that Martin is her mate, and that everyone else in her world is to be viewed with severe suspicion, especially his wife. In short, an ‘angry bird’.

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All of that pales into insignificance as you watch her fly. The adrenaline rush as she hurtles towards you, talons outstretched to land, is completely indescribable and I would highly recommend it to anyone, even if your knees are a little wobbly by the end.

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Our walk back across the valley to the hotel came complete with a hawk escort. Dave the Harris hawk is an obliging chap, flying to the wrist whenever Martin called him down. They are unusual amongst hawks as they like to hunt in packs, they like people and they are sociable. Martin remarks that the Harris hawks feature in all the falconry experiences as they are easy to work with and just ‘so nice’.

As we walk back Martin is keen to chat about the falconry from horseback experiences they offer. For experienced riders only, this gives guests the opportunity to hunt with hawks on horseback, which must be quite a thrill.

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The horses in question are Ozzy (racing name Major Buck) and Skippy (William Percival), both ex racers, both sensible and both quick on their feet on uneven ground, which makes them perfect for falconry.  Martin explains that it’s an absolute joy working with ex racing horses and he is able to watch them develop as they are given a new lease of life in a fresh career.

The whole day was absolutely fantastic and Martin has a wealth of knowledge that any wildlife or falconry enthusiast will drink in. Don’t hesitate to book when you stay at Bovey Castle!

For more information on booking a falconry experience at Bovey Castle visit the website or call the resort team direct on 01647 445022.

Images courtesy of the talented Tom of TH Photography, whose usual areas of expertise lie in food and weddings so he was a little dubious about being roped into falconry. As you can see he did an incredible job regardless.