Honey and Harvest at Deans Court
Two weeks ago we opened the doors of Deans Court to a collection of bloggers and small business owners for our first ever Honey and Harvest event. To say the day was a successful would be an understatement, for it was far more than that, it was truly magical.
Born out a desire to unite a group of like-minded, creative souls Honey and Harvest was a day, hosted at Deans Court, filled with talks, activities and inspiration. It provided the opportunity for us to communicate all that we have going on while, crucially, creating a space for the people who came to meet, talk, share ideas and inspire each other.
Running a small business we connect with many people over social media, we see and admire their work from afar, but for most, we never meet in person. Social media is a fantastic tool for marketing, inspiration and creativity but, more often than not, it’s not actually all that social. Sitting huddled behind a screen all day as many bloggers are, or all encompassed by running a small business as many entrepreneurs find themselves, the life of people going it on their own can often be a lot more solitary than many imagine. At Honey and Harvest, for one day at least, we wanted to change that.
So, social media scoured and guest list confirmed we set about creating the perfect programme for the day. We partnered with The Linen Works and Farrow & Ball, companies who have both had ties with Deans Court in the past, and also got in touch with local business owners including Comins Tea House and Pixie, both who shared our vision to unite and interact with the people we connect so openly with over the internet. And as the day approached our excitement increased, we knew we were onto something special.
At 11am on Thursday, as the September sun blazed in through the stained glass windows and the open fire in the hall crackled in the background people began to arrive. The atmosphere was a little bit like that first day of school, we knew we’d find friends here, we were excited about what was to come, but for the moment, we had no control over how this would happen. Quickly though conversation began to flow, and once it started it didn’t stop all day. After an initial welcome of lavender biscuits and vegan granola bars we managed to pause the chatter to provide space for Michelle Comins, of Comins Tea House, to introduce us to the world of fine teas. Narrating the story of how she and her husband had travelled the world and come to own a unique Tea House in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, she provided an insight into how it’s possible to turn your passion into a profession – at the same time as growing a young family.
Stepping outside we proceeded to our next activity, and after stopping for a tour of our holiday cottages we arrived at the Deans Court apiary full of excitement about what was to come next. While half the group climbed into bee suits and were treated to an insight into how our Deans Court honey is made the others were given the chance to meander through the kitchen garden. Talking to each other, tasting just ripe raspberries and taking photos, the atmosphere was one of pure serenity. With nowhere to be and everything to see we had the chance to pause and take in our surroundings, a precious luxury so rarely given time in our busy everyday lives.
After swapping groups we returned to the house for lunch, greeted by a San Pera cocktail and a breathtakingly beautiful table decorated by The Linen Works, for a brief moment the click of cameras drowned the hum of chatter. Made almost entirely of the produce from our kitchen garden the table was steadily filled with ruby red beetroot quiches, spelt pastry squash tarts, gluten free courgette breads, seasonal salads and a selection of homemade chutneys and preserves. Providing a vegetarian feast with an interesting and unusual twist.
While portraits of Hanham family ancestors looked down on us in envy from the rich red walls of the dining room there was a rather magical feel about the atmosphere. Conversation flowed, ideas flourished and plans and collaboration were made. As lunch ended and everyone scraped their plates clean of plum and thyme galette or vegan apple crumble, William Hanham enlightened us with 1300 years of the house’s history condensed into 10 minutes! He was followed by an inspirational start up story from Greg Barden of Pixie. Greg talked us through his time in the military and how the experiences he had encountered serving in remote areas of the world had lead to the creation of Pixie, an app and website that serves as a platform to discover independent business in local communities.
After lunch, stomachs full and minds a brim with knowledge, we were given an exclusive preview from Farrow & Ball of their latest collection of wallpapers and taught the art of painting with their oil-free paints. While some people lovingly laboured over their creations others followed William for a guided tour of the Chalk Stream, ending at our wedding venue, a marquee next to the monastic fishpond at the end of the garden. Settled peacefully on the grass, with only the gentle sound of the moorhens rustling in the reeds for company, Kelly-Marie our in-house florist had set up her flower station. Here she was busy preparing beautiful bouquets of cut British blooms ready for the wedding that weekend and she generously and enthusiastically talked us through the colours she’d chosen and the displays she was creating.
Reconvening at the Squash Court we ended the day with a tour of the Gate House, our 7-bedroom holiday rental, recently refurbished and painted in Farrow & Ball colours. After this there was the chance to look round our shop and enjoy a welcome cup of tea at the Squash Court café.
After passing round goodie bags, swapping numbers and saying final farewells people began to drift off their separate ways. The day was magical from start to finish; it was incredibly special for us to be able to share our home and business with so many inspirational people but undoubtedly the invisible ingredients that made the day so unique were the passion, creativity and determinism that exuded from everyone that came. Passion and creativity for their individual pursuits and the determination to make them work. It was truly inspiring to be surrounded by this level of creativity, we came away minds a flutter with ideas and hearts a little bit lighter in our belief of what is possible and it’s our only aim that everyone else did too.