Sunday, 2 October 2011

Days Out In Devon: Hannah's at Seale Hayne

Since it  was bought by a charity, the Hannah Rogers Trust, Seale Hayne has provided much needed respite and training for people with profound physical difficulties.  What makes it innovative is its philosophy of inclusion and slowly, it is building up a range of facilities and activities that are available and appeal to all including business training, function hosting and outdoor activities.  It's in the early stage of development and, to a degree, the place feels like it currently lacks cohesion, with lots of strands that don't quite come together yet. However it is developing strength in promoting the arts.  There's lots of exhibitions and music events everyone to enjoy and both music and design studio space to rent. As part of their tenancy agreements, the resident arts and craft people are expected to run courses that are open to all.

In celebration of being able to sit in a car again, I persuaded Mr Lovelygrey to take the family out for lunch yesterday to the  bisto situated in the main building's extensive quadrangle. Our plan to sit outside and enjoy the Indian summer was foiled by the wasps, jaspers as they're known around these parts.  As soon as our food arrived the one that had been attempting to guzzle my ginger beer called all his mates over and we had to decamp inside.  Not that it was a hardship as this is a welcoming place to have a coffee or eat.  Cool in summer and cosy in colder months when the great big fire is lit.   Even though I was slight underwhelmed as I envisaged a  pale baguette with some cheese and an apple, Mr. Lovelygrey persuaded me to share a Ploughman's platter.  However he'd had advance information so I applauded his choice when our meal arrived.  A mixed basket of bread came with a generous amount of lovingly produced honey roast ham, chunks of local cheeses, four types of chutney, huge 'blow your head away' pickled onions, fruit and a salad. Proof indeed that good food doesn't have to be messed about with!

On to the craft gallery where work by local artists, some who have workshops on site is sold.  Harry McDowell's  melts old pewter items and forms them into these intricate bowls.  The resultant object is much shinier and more aesthetically pleasing than those rows of tankards that used to be hung up in pubs waiting for their elderly owners to come in for a pint.  It just made me want to go home, root around in the kitchen and play about with melting down all our unused metal objects!

And if, like me, you believed that felt was  limited in its use to making small things like  hats, slipper and cutesy items to sell at a local bazaar, think again. Please watch this video that shows artist Rose Tydeman talking about her exhibition 'The Joy of Soft' .  She's one of the artists, who rents studio space at Dame Hannah's.  We were told that this beautiful grandfather clock was made to commemorate her engagement.  If you love it,  have the funds and the space to display such an intricately decorated statement piece, it can be yours for the asking price of £2,800.

Other shops on site include one that sells retro goods which caught my interest but sadly this was closed.  Fortunately the cake shop, that has an amazing array of delectable treats, was open and this provided Louis' pudding.

Finally out to the grounds where we allowed our 'puppy' to let off steam and run off a great big piece of chocolate gateau.  There's interesting sculptures outside too and some that are just begging for children to come and play like this big pod that hung from a tree.  Louis decided that it was his very own spaceship.

Strictly a visit to Hannah's at Seale Hayne  wouldn't constitute a full day out unless you were attending an event or training day.  See their website for details.  However, this magnificent building with extensive grounds that was first a military hospital for shell shock victims during WW1 and then for many years an agricultural college is well worth popping into as part of a day out in the vicinity of Newton Abbot.

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