Happy New Year!
2015 was a wonderful year for us at the Guardhouse, and hopefully for everyone who has visited beautiful Berry Head. As we look forward eagerly to what the next year will bring, here are our top 10 highlights of 2015.
#10: Easter Egg Hunt
2015 saw the first annual Berry Head Easter Egg Hunt. We hid 10 ‘eggs’ around the headland and challenged the children of Brixham to follow the clues to find them! Helped by great weather, we had hundreds of people taking part and managed to raise over £280 for the Friends of Berry Head. It’s back in the diary for 2016 if you missed it last time!
#9: Themed evenings during this summer
During the long evenings of summer we were able to hold some wonderful restaurant evenings without fear of harming the local bats. Tapas, Paella, American, Mexican… each evening shared the focus on authentic, home-cooked food in a friendly, relaxed environment. We even tried comedy and poetry evenings. The most popular events were Brixham Fish (complete with shark-infested lemon posset) and Local Cider Tasting (with roast pork) – don’t worry if you missed out, they will be back…
#8. Coffee and cake!
What would a café be without coffee and cake?? 2015 saw
us continue to improve the quality and consistency of our coffees and latte art, and some amazing flavours of cake from Karen. Salted Caramel, Chocolate and Fudge… Rose, pistachio and cardamon… What will she have thought of for this weekend?
#7: Greater Horseshoe Bats
We learnt a LOT about our mammal neighbours last year. We’re very lucky to be situated less than 100m from a colony of these rare bats. They are one of the very largest species of bat, and one of the most disturbed by human behaviour. We have participated in bat surveys with them flying around us on a couple of occasions, making their distinctive ultra-sound calls (picked up by a bat detector). One of the joys of being based in a nature reserve!
Greater Horseshoe Bats are in decline all over Europe, except for a few strongholds in South Devon. We are very happy to be playing our part to protect them by pausing all events after dusk. We’ve recently commissioned a bat expert from Corylus Ecology to study their behaviour, evaluate the habitat around the café for its foraging potential, and then make an assessment of whether we will be able to open safely or not. Watch this space for updates.
#6: Sheep (no need for a llama)
For six weeks before Christmas we shared the North Fort with the Trust’s Soay Sheep! It was wonderful to see them all walking around outside the café in the mornings; they usually then headed down the southern slope of the headland for most of the day.
And earlier in the year we hosted a roving Alpaca, as part of the Herald Express Alpaca Hunt! But no tortoises visited the cafe last year, to our knowledge (unlike 2014).
#5: Beautiful Flowers
It’s easy to forget through the wet and windy winter months just how beautiful Berry Head is for much of the year. And never more than in the spring when the beautiful flowers pop up and decorate the headland with hundreds of colours. Some of the flowers growing here are found almost nowhere else in the country! Pictured is the Green Winged Orchid. Our favourite will always be the Bee Orchid, whose petals resemble a bee drinking nectar from the flower…
#4: Wonderful New Staff
We love our team – they are all so talented and so friendly! Several great people joined the team in 2015, with whom we look forward to working for many years: Dani, Sandra, Tia, Harry, Liz and Lily. Not forgetting Emily, Rachel, Charlotte, Ntembe, Hye-Young and Milla who had seasonal jobs. Thank you all for your hard work!
#3: Tasty Specials
Our chefs continue to pioneer innovative, seasonal specials to complement our regular food menu. Lucy, Sarah and Dani have come up with some stunning meals! From Dani’s famous Pink Peppercorn Quiche to the Sunshine Breakfast and Wild Mushrooms with Poached Eggs, the meals have been tasty, healthy and seasonal – and of course homemade. Our favourite selection was the Christmas Specials from Around the World for those who have eaten enough turkey – Polish hunters stew, Madagascan chicken soup, or a few Australian shrimps on the barbie!
#2: A Culinary Giro D’Italia
Back in March we ran our most ambitious series of themed evenings: regional food from around Italy. Before coming to the Guardhouse, Lucy worked all around Italy, taking people on walking (and eating) holidays. She brought her love and knowledge of the country and its food to the table with four stunning homemade, 3-course meals. Each started with a short presentation about the region and its food. We *HOPE* to be able to do something similar this coming spring, if we can get permission to open in the evenings…
#1: Devon Tourism Awards 2015
There were many wonderful moments in 2015, but the overall #1 highlight has to be the incredible Gold Award we were recently given at the Devon Tourism Awards, for Best Café / Tearoom. We still can’t get over what an amazing result this was! We are humbled that the judges felt we were the best of all the entrants.
We have so much more we want to add and improve in the café so don’t fear, we won’t be sitting back and taking it easy now. In the next couple of months we will be installing sound-reducing panels to make the café less echoey; we hope to be able to restart evening events; and we have lots of other changes in mind. What would you suggest to help us get even better?