Interview: Pi Society CEO Nicky Dunn
Portrait of Nicky at Pi Society, Exeter.

The month of February is often focused around the theme of love and relationships, with the famous Valentine’s Day falling on the 14th. With love all around us, we turned to Devon’s very own expert in love – Pi Society’s CEO Nicky Dunn – to give us an inside look into the business of match-making. Nicky is the proud owner of Exeter matchmaking service, Pi Society, which is in its third year of operation.

The first question we had to ask is Nicky’s philosophy of love. There are quite a few match-making options available for singletons in Devon and finding the right company for your needs is almost as difficult as navigating the dating scene itself.

“Chemistry isn’t everything” Nicky begins.

Of course, it’s part of the recipe that makes up a good match but “there’s a lot more that needs to be considered: trust, loyalty, listening and sharing”, for example, are all equally as important.

It’s no surprise then that Nicky’s go-to romantic films include Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and Ghost (1990) where character lessons revolve around these vital elements of true love. 

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like the movies for all of us. Finding our soulmate can often be side-lined by our careers and commitments.  Sometimes we need someone on our side, who knows what we’re looking for and can vet the choices before committing to a date. This is where Pi Society comes in: your local love gurus.

Nicky’s Top Tips for Dating:

A tick tack toe chalk board with red hearts.

Do Things Alone:

This may sound obvious but a lot of people are afraid to do things by themselves. Explore and create your own adventures!

Develop self-awareness:

What are your dreams, goals, desires and setbacks? Explore the little things that make you, YOU. What do you need to feel complete?

Meet new people:

Meeting people without the intention of love can build your confidence in the dating world. Talking to different people, stepping out of your comfort zone and seeing what people have to say can help you develop the skills and confidence to date.

How Does Pi Society Matchmaking Work?

Pi Society is all about a personalised service for each client, available under two levels of membership: a social membership (from £20 p/m) or a dating membership (starting from £550 for six months).  Keep reading for an exclusive Yellow Trumpet discount offer.

The Social Membership

The social membership revolves around organic matchmaking at events where like-minded individuals can meet in relaxed settings. The regular events ran by Pi Society span many interests to ensure there is something for everyone. Nicky coins their calendar the “perfect antidote to loneliness”. In addition to the monthly singles evening, Pi Society run several nights for specialist hobbies like wellness and wellbeing, supper nights, salsa nights, book clubs hosted by local authors, comedy nights, guided walks, cycle rides, weekends away in the UK and much more!

Nicky strongly believes that bringing people together can help to build stronger ties in the community and one way she does this is through arranging social events.

Another way is through supporting multiple charities in Exeter. For example, Pi Society gives Age UK Exeter 50p per month for every member to help the charity in their objective to tackle loneliness in the older generation.

“The emphasis is that Pi Society has focused on inclusivity and bringing like-minded people together.”

Nicky highlighted the devastating impact loneliness can have on our society for all generations and her goal was to bring people together with her social approach to matchmaking.

It’s no easy feat, with a host of events on the calendar each week, Nicky is a busy working mum balancing the work/home balance. Nonetheless, Pi Society has easily become one of the most recommended matchmaking services in the county – Nicky can’t go far in Exeter without being recognised.

The Dating Membership

The dating membership involves one-to-one work between client and agent to match clients up with potentials. This membership includes an informal two-hour consultation to fully understand who you are as a person and what you need in your significant other. Nicky and her team get to work by setting you up with the right candidates in their books, listening carefully to your feedback to customise the service. Dating members also enjoy the full benefits of the social membership to ensure they are given ample chances to meet the one and benefit from Nicky’s growing network of singletons.

Nicky prides herself on the match-making service that “brings human intelligence and a much more personalised and proven approach to matching… compatible partners” with every client supported through the stages of their dating experience. Nicky explains that the feedback they receive from their clients goes to developing their services and “makes for a powerful process designed to move quickly to deliver a happy outcome”.

“We have now matched over 44 couples* and it’s been incredible!”

*couples counted as relationships of three or more months.

Nicky and her team are also enjoying some weddings this year as the result of Pi Society matches. She is incredibly humbled to be a part of every client’s journey to love and shared one client’s story with us through this review:

“Thank you for your amazing match… I can’t begin to tell you how awesome the last two months have been… I could never have written the script so well – he is simply perfect! To say I am completely blown away is an understatement! I never dreamt in my wildest dreams that I would ever find my soul mate and one which would exceed my expectations. That is all down to you, your skill and your kindness.”

Pi Society Client.

Nicky wasn’t always a match-maker, mind you. Her career began matching people to their careers. She had been in recruitment for 18 years before realising her skillsets could translate to more “heartfelt matches”. Nicky had witnessed that Devon “was lacking in social contact… a lot of [her] friends… were going through changes in their relationships and going online and not enjoying the experience.”

Virtual vs. Actual

There are countless apps and online services available to us with ‘matches’ available at the click of a button. While digital has made many aspects of our lives easier, the same can’t be said for matters of the heart in Nicky’s opinion.

“In my experience, so many people lie about their age and their profile pictures aren’t always up-to-date. Humans are social and we need contact… there is nothing like meeting [your match] face-to-face.”

Nicky’s had several clients come to her who are done with “wast[ing their] valuable time wading through hundreds of random profiles, many of whom are just looking for the casual date rather than a long-lasting relationship.”

If you want a different approach to matchmaking that doesn’t involve swiping left, deciphering acronyms or going on bad date after bad date but, instead, focuses on real-life connections, get in touch with Pi Society today.

February 13, 2020 / by / in ,
Yoga with Prana Lotus

Yoga is taking over the world. It doesn’t surprise us here at Yellow Trumpet, with all the health and wellbeing benefits it brings to people. As part of our local business guides, we caught up with local yoga instructor, Kristina Lewis of Prana Lotus to find out more about her North Devon business and its place within the local community.

Why Yoga?

Yoga is the ancient practice of movement, breath and meditation which is needed more than ever in today’s fast-paced world.

Yoga is a fantastic workout to tone and strengthen your body but it also offers much more than physical rewards. Yoga is a helpful tool to improve your mental health, concentration levels and reduce stress levels. The benefits of yoga are of great interest in modern day medicine, with recent studies proving its many advantages. In one such study, yoga was found to reduce anxiety, with stress hormones such as cortisol seen to be reduced after just one session. 

Yoga offers more than this still, with the chance to connect with yourself in a non-judgemental and kind way. It is non-competitive, encouraging a sense of positive introspection and body awareness.

The community formed by a group of people coming together to practice yoga can also be hugely beneficial. Many friendships form as experiences are shared over the weeks, months and years women practice yoga together. 

Why Prana Lotus?

Prana Lotus is a social enterprise run by Women’s Wellness Yoga Therapist and Massage Therapist, Kristina Lewis. Kristina is passionate about holistic healthcare and well-being. Each yoga class and massage session is highly personalise, putting each individual at the heart of the session.  Originally trained with Yoga Scotland/BWY (with 500 hours of training) in 2012, Kristina has since qualified as a specialist in Children’s Yoga and Pregnancy and Postnatal yoga. Most recently Kristina has trained to become a Women’s Wellness Yoga Therapist after completing a comprehensive and ground-breaking course. 

Kristina has a deep understanding of anatomy and physiology. She is a highly qualified Level 4 massage therapist and also a Reiki Master energy worker. In Prana Lotus Kristina brings all her knowledge and understanding of these modalities together to bring a holistic understanding of health and well-being. 

Prana Lotus offers a range of Women’s Wellness Yoga classes including Postnatal Yoga, Pregnancy Yoga and Birth Hypnosis and Women’s Yoga Circles, in Barnstaple and Braunton. Prana Lotus provides a welcoming, safe space for women to gather and practice yoga classes that have been specially designed to be of therapeutic benefit.

For those who would like to work on a one-to-one level for deeply focussed therapeutic work, Prana Lotus offers a variety of different therapies including, Therapeutic and Holistic Massage, Reiki, and One on One Yoga sessions, available at The Tarka Clinic, Barnstaple, on Friday afternoons.


Monday evening 6.00 – 7.15pm

Women’s Yoga Circle, St Brannocks Rooms, Braunton

Monday 7.30- 8.45pm

Pregnancy Yoga and Hypnosis for Birth, St Brannocks Rooms, Braunton

Wednesday 1.00 – 2.15pm

Pregnancy Yoga and Hypnosis for Birth, The Tarka Clinic, Barnstaple

Friday 10.00-11.30

Postnatal Mum and Baby Yoga, St Brannocks Rooms, Braunton

Friday afternoons, 1pm till late

Massage and Holistic Therapies, The Tarka Clinic, Barnstaple

Find out more about the classes at, contact Kristina by phone on 07907508624 or by email at

As Prana Lotus operates within the model of a social enterprise, Kristina is always looking for ways to bring yoga to those who would not otherwise be able to access it. In the past this has been done through access to grant funding, working with Active Devon and within children’s centres and schools. If you would like to bring yoga to your work setting or into the community, please get in touch with Prana Lotus.

December 27, 2019 / by / in , ,
Where’s Father Christmas in North Devon?

With the big day fast approaching and the lists being sent off to Father Christmas, we began to wonder if there are any Christmas events in North Devon where you get to meet the main man and tell him in person what you’d most like to unwrap this Christmas.

The good news is that there are a handful of places that this jolly guy will be visiting, so that you can pop over and enjoy a magical moment as your kids get to meet him.

So, where is Father Christmas going to be over the course of the next couple of weeks before he sets off to deliver presents all over the world? Let’s take a look and see, shall we?

1. Santa’s Grotto and Elf Emporium, Milky Way Adventure Park

You won’t want to miss out on a fun-filled, festive day out at The Milky Way Adventure Park and luckily, Father Christmas will be here to meet and greet everyone on the 15th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 22nd & 23rd of December, complete with his team of elves in the magical grotto.

What’s more, The Milky Way has something very special and new for 2018: Buzzlewick’s Elf Emporium! Join Buzzlewick the elf and his friends who need your help sorting and loading the children’s letters all ready for Santa Claus to carry back to the North Pole with him before Christmas Eve.

The fun doesn’t stop there, as they’ll also be helping any little ones who want to have a go at decorating yummy gingerbread straight from Mother Christmas’ kitchen. To top it off, you can make environmentally-friendly reindeer food so that Rudolf and his friends have lots of food ready for Christmas Eve!

2. Santa Express, The Big Sheep

The Big Sheep’s Santa Express is certain to be a magical experience that cannot be missed!

Come here for an evening of festive fun for all your family and friends, and indulge in what will be one of the most spectacular days in the lead up to Christmas Day.

Meet the Santa Express train conductor at Eweston Station and climb aboard for an enchanted train ride around Swan Lake, as you soak up the festive sights of all things positively Christmassy.

Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be right without an appearance from Santa, so guests are invited to visit the big man himself in Woolly’s Wonderland – oh, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for The Big Sheep’s resident Woolly who will also be coming to join the fun times and say hi to everyone!

The hot chocolate station will be in full flow to keep everyone warm and toasty, complete with a sprinkling of sweets, and what’s more, these hot choccies will be free to all the boys and girls.

Just when you thought the event couldn’t get any better, characters from famous films will be here during the parties, so you can get the perfect selfie to show your friends! If you want to come in your comfy PJs that would be great, but just remember to bring your coats to keep you warm too.

3. A Train Ride with Santa, Woody Bay Station

Santa is going to be a busy boy this year, as he’s also going to be welcoming everyone to join him on a two-mile return journey from Woody Bay Station to Killington Lane and back by steam train!

This amazing opportunity gives you the chance to treat the family to not only a unique train ride but also receive an individually named present as well at Santa’s Grotto (on the train). Every child wants to see Santa at Christmas, and this has got to be one of the most memorable ways to do it!

Running on December 15th and 16th and 21st – 24th inclusive, Santa train rides will depart Woody Bay Station over a variety of times, which are; 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, & 15.00.

When and where will you be visiting Santa this year? Let us know.

December 4, 2019 / by / in
The Big Christmas Market at The Big Sheep

It’s not just the children who deserve great adventures at this time of year, you should also get to spend some magical days over the Christmas period. Lucky for you, the festive days out in Devon for adults are sure not to disappoint! One example that springs to mind is the Christmas Market at The Big Sheep, which is a simply unmissable event running over several weekend dates this month.

If one marquee packed full of exciting things to see, taste and buy is not enough for you, then fear not – because there’s two! This big Christmas market is taking place on the 8th, 15th and 22nd December 2018. The Food Market in the Barn is open from 9am – 1pm, and there’s also the Craft Market in the Marquee which will be open from 9am – 4pm.

Just to whet your festive appetite and get you in the mood for what to expect, we’ve picked out just 12 of the stalls that will be on hand (perfectly in-keeping with the 12 days of Christmas blog theme this month), so why not take a peek and see which stall you’ll be making a beeline for first?

1. Always Chocolate

Local company Always Chocolate will be here, ready to send the taste buds into orbit with their hand-crafted chocolate confectionary.

Whether you’re a fan of white, milk or dark chocolate, there’s something for everyone. And with everything on offer being made from the finest Belgium chocolate, you’re sure to enjoy these luxury treats! 

2. Brendon Hills Crafts

The 2018 Taste of the West award-winners will be serving up a wide range of products which you can get your hands on, including jams, marmalades, chutneys, fruit cheeses, savoury jellies, fruit vinegars and fruit sauces.

Thanks to more than 30 years of preserve making by hand, this family offers something extra special to try this festive season.

3. Country Life Brewery

Beloved Country Life Brewery will, of course, be here to sell you a tipple or two in preparation for Christmas Day (or maybe a bit sooner!).

For over 20 years they’ve been creating and developing a whole host of ales incorporating different tastes, strengths, trends and ingredients.

Our favourite North Devon brewery proudly combines state-of-the-art equipment with traditional brewing techniques to guarantee that there’s a wonderful consistency to each beer, which is why they’re one of the best in the UK.

4. India in a Jar

Want to gift something truly unique this Christmas? According to India in a Jar, they are serving up some of the most innovative and versatile curry food jars to hit the UK.

Thanks to Ancient Indian wisdom, generations-old family recipes, finest Indian spices and British produce, these cooking additions are certain to bring your food to life!

5. Cornish Crêpes

If you get peckish from browsing all the stalls, head to the stall of Bude-based company Cornish Crêpes. You are guaranteed to be served some of the most deliciously sweet and savoury crêpes you can possibly sample!

These crêpes are served with a variety of fine fillings, from the traditional sugar-topped crêpe to their latest smoked sausage and tomato chutney. Which one will you choose?

6. Westcountry Meringues

With over three decades of perfecting homely cooking, it’s safe to say Westcountry Meringues have perfected the most delicious homemade-style meringues. And the good news is that they will be there at The Big Sheep ready to put smiles on everybody’s faces.

Father and son, Chris and Jamie, will be supplying original and hazelnut meringues, as well as classic and shaped pavlovas. What’s not to love?

wrapped christmas presents.

7. Dr Peppa’s Condiments

Want to add a little kick to your side platters this festive season? Or just know someone who loves chilis? If this is singing to you, head your way to the stand of condiment genius Chris (owner of Dr Peppa’s Condiments) where he will be serving some winter-warming dips!

8. Curworthy Cheese

In anticipation of pre-Christmas dinner nibbles, head on over to the Curworthy Cheese stall and grab some exceptional cheese from one of the best in the business.

With milk sourced from local dairy farmers, delivered overnight and pasteurised the next morning, this award-winning cheese is a taste sensation not to be missed.

9. Teoni’s Cookies

With an unmistakable combination of creativity, flair and passion, Tenoi’s Cookies aren’t just beautiful, they’re pure, home-baked delights!

From unique recipes to their distinctive and prestigious oat crunch cookies, you can expect to enjoy the finest flavours that are all free from any artificial colours, additives, flavours, preservatives and GM ingredients. And, as you guessed it, baked to perfection!

10. Polly’s Goat Farm

Have you ever tried goat meat? If not, now is your chance. Polly’s Goat Farm produce high-quality goat meat joints, sausages, burgers, curries and other cuts ready for you to indulge on.

Polly raises the goats on her farm, so you can be sure that the meat you’re eating comes straight from the fields here in North Devon. Meat-eaters, mark it as one to sample on your trip.

11. Mrs Smudger’s Kitchen

Did you know that Mrs Smudger’s Kitchen was asked to create a birthday cake for the Duchess of Cornwall? If the Duchess is treating herself to these delicious cakes, then everyone should!

Using only local produce in their tried-and-tested family recipes, Mrs Smudger’s Kitchen will be selling an abundance of festive cakes to sample.

12. Tor View Wines

The Devonshire climate and superb location of Dartmoor help to create an exceptional wine collection from Tor Views Wines. The locale is also beneficial for those you who want to take a tour around their vineyards. While at the marquee, be sure to take a sip of warming wine to be transported to the romantic setting of summer vineyards this chilly season.

Choose from Pinot Noir, Dornfelder or a Rondo on your visit to The Big Sheep. You never know, these could well be the newest and most welcome addition to the dinner table on Christmas Day… Cheers!

Of course, there are plenty of other incredible local businesses showcasing their fares at the market. Unfortunately, we can’t name them all, but we look forward to meeting you all. We hope to see some of our fans at the event days too. Be sure to share this with your friends, so they don’t miss out!

December 1, 2019 / by / in
12 Cost-effective Ways to Reward Your Staff This Festive Season

The festive season is a wonderful time of the year, especially with the local Christmas events. However, having to work over the season can really dent the festive spirit, particularly as everyone rushes to get their work done before some well-deserved time off, or they end up having to serve people during one of the busiest times of the year.

While you may be pre-occupied trying to win customer loyalty or boost the amount of business recommendations you’re getting by engaging your customers, looking inward to your staff can be a sure-fire way to help encourage better online recommendations. When your staff are rewarded for their hard work, their positive attitude can radiate out into your establishment and into their interactions with consumers.

Finding the right ways to reward your staff can also help to end the year on a positive note as we head into a new year. So, what are you waiting for? Here are twelve ways you can help to spread the festive cheer in the workplace. While you do not have to implement them all, some of them may be useful and engaging for your workforce:

1. Gifting KPI Achievements

Going to and from work in the dark has a real way of dampening staff morale. Coupled with the bitter weather and the urgency of the holiday period, staff stress levels can reach an all-time high as they rush to meet elevated targets and pressurised deadlines.

According to a study by Sodexo, 25% of employees surveyed said they felt their motivation and productivity levels were impacted by the stress of the Christmas period. A further 15% said they were working harder to reach their end-of-year targets.

Why not incentivise your staff with worthwhile gifts when they reach targets, something a bit more special than the predictable prizes you offer throughout the rest of the year?

You could try offering something with long-term vision, such as more days off or travel vouchers that they can look forward to in the new year. This type of encouragement will also help in the dip after Christmas and Boxing Day to New Year’s when staff productivity can drop after boozy Christmas celebrations.

2. Festive Flexible Working

Where possible, try and provide flexible working rotas over the Christmas and New Year period. This will create some positivity in the short-term, allowing people to spend some well-deserved time with their family and friends and complete some of the Christmas tasks or events they need to do/attend before the big day. While flexible working may not be practical for all businesses, even allowing your staff to leave early on occasion or allowing longer lunches where needed may help to boost staff optimism during the busy season.

3. Deck the Halls!

Get everybody feeling festive with the right decorations around work. If you haven’t already got them up already (shame on you!). Encourage your willing staff to help put up the decorations; even let them make or decorate some of their own festive treats and ornaments to put around the place. Try Pinterest for some inspiration on some inventive ideas for ways to help your employees feel more festive as Christmas fast approaches.

4. Don’t Do ‘The Office Do’

The traditional office/staff do has been overdone and, for some, the event can just feel like another Christmas time obligation.  If the sit-down meal has gone stale, try organising another Christmas do with more vibrancy like paint balling, a jazz bar, cocktail-making classes or a comedy show.

Be sure to get everybody involved with the idea generation and pick something that everybody is happy to do. However, give people the option of opting out if they are not able to or wish not to attend.

5. Christmas Movie Marathon

Close the office or establishment early to have a Christmas movie afternoon with your staff. Choose from one of the classics like The Grinch, Elf and Christmas on 42nd Street.  Or, if you’re unable to close shop, why not arrange to go to the cinema together to watch one of the latest Christmas flicks? There’s nothing like a Christmas film and some snacks to get everybody in the mood for Christmas but also give them a well-deserved break after all the hectic working.

6. Characteristic Christmas Cards

Gifts and treats can go a long way in helping staff feel appreciated but a personalised Christmas card saying thank-you can make employees feel more valued by the organisation. Be sure to thank them for specific projects or occasions of good work that you’ve noticed over the year and hand the cards out personally.

people making a celebratory toast with champagne in flutes and gold glitter flakes falling from ceiling.

7. Bah Humbugs Allowed

Some people just don’t like Christmas. It might be hard to imagine if you’re someone who loves the festive season but not everyone wants to get involved with all the hype, for either personal or religious reasons. Leave these people be. Do thank them for their hard work but don’t force them to participate in activities they won’t enjoy. Make sure all your staff feel welcome to join or not join in as they please.

8. Festive Food

Make sure there are plenty of sweets, treats and other Christmas goodies to enjoy throughout the day. Don’t always go for the traditional either, we’re sure most of the staff are sick of the mince pies by now. Try gingerbread men or candy canes for example. A quick internet search can also throw up some alternative ideas too! Also remember to cater to the dietary needs of your staff.

9. Personalised Presents

Gift every single employee with a present that shows you know who they are and what they’re into. No-one likes receiving a present that they can’t use and end up shoving into the back of one of their cupboards, never to resurface again. It can feel a little disheartening receiving an unwanted gift from people you spend a lot of time with, so don’t fall prey to this trap as a business owner.

If it’s going to be gift cards all round, make sure that its somewhere you know they visit a lot.

10. DJ for the Day

For those with a music license, ‘DJ for the day’ may be a free way to spread some Christmas cheer. Allow your staff to pick the soundtrack that they work to over Christmas, maybe let each staff member have their own allotted day. It’s a cost-effective way to boost morale but also gives employees the chance to share with their co-workers the things that they like.

11. Certificate Ceremonies

Consider making home-made certificates, awards or trophies and rewarding your staff with their own titles. Not only does this show how much you know and appreciate the staff members but can also be a light-hearted bit of fun for an afternoon.

12. The Gift of Giving

Instead of offering gifts out to your staff, why not give them the option to give the money to a charity of their choosing? Alternatively, you could snuff out secret Santa and put all the money into a pot that goes to an agreed upon charity. Tis the season of goodwill after all! 

These are just twelve of the rewards you can offer your staff over the festive season. If you found this useful, why not share this with your circle on social media?

November 28, 2019 / by / in
Where to Eat: Inspired Christmas Menus in North Devon

In case you didn’t know, Christmas is just around the corner. There are plenty of wonderful things to look forward to at this time of year, from the festive markets, Santa events and, of course, the scrumptious mulled wine.

Here at Yellow Trumpet, we can’t help but think of the food when we hear the word ‘Christmas’. Who could blame us, though? Tis the season to be jolly, after all, and nothing makes us jollier here than a good plate of dinner. If you’re reading this, we can imagine you feel the same too… In order to celebrate our love of food, we took to the Internet to have a sneak peek at the winter-warming menus available in some of our favourite restaurants in North Devon. After whetting our appetites, we picked up the phone to speak to these guys ourselves to find out more. They told us some of their favourite dishes they’re serving up this merry season and the reasons why people should be visiting their restaurants.  

And to make this piece sweeter, because it is the season of giving, one lucky reviewer will be winning a discounted dish at one of our featured establishments. (Just keep reading to find out more about the competition we’re running!).

So, without further ado, let’s dive into our selection *cue drumroll*

The Boathouse, Instow

When we called The Boathouse, we got to speak to the lovely manager Tom whose enthusiasm for the Christmas menu was definitely a winner with us, even before he started mentioning the food!

“So, Tom,” we asked, “what has to be your favourite dish on the Christmas menu?”

Tom’s choices made us hungry for a Boathouse meal, that’s for sure! For starters, he recommended the New England clam chowder with pancetta and corn served with crusty baguette; mains- merlot slow braised oxtail stew with garlic, bay, thyme and a Yorkshire pudding and for dessert, which may have made him a traitor to the traditionalist options but for a good reason, the chocolate espresso brownie, served with a cappuccino ice-cream. Christmas classics are also available for those that want to stay true to the customary desserts of the season, with mince pies and brandy puddings galore.

The menu is a unique combination of flavours and options for all to try, from succulent seafood, vibrant vegetarian variety to hearty mains and mouth-tingling sweets. Tom is proud of the great menu The Boathouse have in place this festive season, with an eclectic choice to suit all palettes and a menu so different from the other options available in the area.

These facts, coupled with the great service and atmospheric views, mean there are countless reasons why everybody should make a trip down to Instow in the upcoming weeks.

Booking is recommended, with Tom describing a current medium-level availability over November and December. He mentioned that from now until December 15th is particularly busy with Christmas parties. However, there will be more availability as we head toward Christmas and New Year. Big parties will need to pre-order. Be sure to check their opening times over the festive season to avoid disappointment, and book early in order to sample the delights of their menu!

Monty’s Caribbean Kitchen, Barnstaple

Dare to try something new this season with a taste of the tropical. If you couldn’t jet off on a Christmas getaway this year, perhaps you can pretend you are in paradise by simply closing your eyes and eating some lovingly-crafted Caribbean food made by Patrick Montague.

We fell in love with Patrick’s passion for delivering fresh and made-to-order Caribbean food; he described his cheffing as “cooking from the heart” and most certainly not like a well-known fast food chain (who we can’t mention for obvious reasons!). Each dish, therefore, is a demonstration of his diligence, unquestionable talent and mastered palette. The conversation with Patrick was easy and smooth, as is the atmosphere of Monty’s with its classic Caribbean playlist and open and welcoming establishment.

Patrick and his wife Angelina both had a desire to bring a niché, distinctive taste to the local community to counteract the repetitiveness of options available in the area. If you haven’t yet been to Monty’s Caribbean Kitchen, you need to make it your mission to do so soon.

Authentic tastes of the Caribbean are what you’ll get from a meal at Monty’s, with everything from jerk chicken (arguably one of our favourites at Yellow Trumpet) to ackee (the national dish of Jamaica, served as saltfish pieces, accompanied by bell peppers, onion and creamy ackee fruit, sautéed in scotch bonnet– a hot and spicy Caribbean red pepper). Of course, we asked Patrick to give us a recommendation from the menu, but he laughed this off with a simple reply: “everything is nice!” And, well, we can’t argue with that!

Patrick balances his love for cooking for the community with raising a young family and therefore, opening hours are limited to certain time-frames on specific days. We would recommend being aware of this before setting your heart (and stomachs) on Caribbean food, and consider pre-ordering for any big orders.

Monty’s is closed Sundays and Mondays; open for lunch service, between the hours of 11:30am to 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and open from 11:30am to 8pm on weekend service (Friday and Saturday). Within these times, they are open for take-out. This means you can order your desired Caribbean dishes, soak in the atmosphere of the restaurant while you wait, and then take your delicious food home to enjoy in the comfort of your home.

Image Credit: Sharon Chen under CC2.0

Custom House, Barnstaple

Matt has delivered a distinctive taste to the world of North Devon food, with an American-inspired dining experience and customisable menu that has been loved by all since they opened several years ago. The unique dining establishment has been well-received in the local community, so much so, that he was able to open a new venture at the other side of Barnstaple town, a casual dining pub (The Bull and Bear) serving customers their favourites for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

The regular diners would agree that the Custom House team are always a pleasure to speak to, making you feel instantly welcomed the moment you step through the door. The menu is extensive, making each dining experience here a chance to try a new combination of flavours. From burgers and nachos to ribs and finely-cooked steaks (and everything else in-between), it’s the restaurant that just keeps on giving.

If that wasn’t enough, each month, Custom House brings out specials (dishes, desserts and sides) of the month, inspired by a general theme, with ingredients always sourced as locally as possible. This has proved popular amongst their following, with locals becoming regulars to dine, snapping and sharing their creations via social media.

For Christmas, there are several tasty treats on the mouth-watering, curated menu that it’s difficult to pick–  and for good reason– we simply want it all! Our choice options have to be the classic pigs in blankets starter, served with a honey mustard dip, and the inventive camemburger (a deep-fried camembert, topped with sautéed garlic spinach and fig chutney, with their classic house cut chips on the side). Let’s not forget the dessert that’s a twist on the traditional mince pie by transforming it into sundae format, with piles of vanilla ice-cream and custard. We’re just left saying when can we go?!

The Custom House has medium availability over November and December; although tables are going quick so booking in advance is recommended. If you know what specials you want ahead of time, be sure to pre-order as there are limited dish numbers per evening.

A £5 p/p deposit is required to confirm any large party bookings consisting of eight or more persons (the total of which will be removed from the final bill). Any tables of ten or more must pre-order. Pre-orders must be in at least one week before the date of your booking.

To reward our reviewers, we will be randomly selecting a person whose shared their thoughts on Yellow Trumpet over the course of November 2019 to a discounted bill of £50 off at one of these aforementioned restaurants. Reviewers will be allowed to pick which place and menu that has taken their fancy. The competition runs from the 15th November 2019 up until Monday 26th November 2019. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 27th November 2019, so get your reviews in for a chance to win.

November 15, 2019 / by / in ,
Autumn Events in Devon

Autumn has blown in with the remainder of Storm Lorenzo bringing gale-force winds to our coastline. We all know the winds will blow over soon but Autumn is here to stay for a while. For those of you unhappy to see Summer go after a hit-and-miss season, you can cheer yourself up with some upcoming events that are sure to bring some excitement back to you. Fear not, there are plenty of North Devon events to keep you in high spirits until the Christmas festivities begin. We’ve hand-picked a selection of the best events being held in North Devon over Autumn and put it together in this local guide:

Dark Skies Festival

Exmoor- 14th October – 3rd November

The annual Dark Skies Festival on Exmoor has rolled around again. Enjoy the beauty of North Devon by night by looking up to the canvas above the land. But it’s not just the stars that will give a twinkle to your eyes, the festival hosts much entertainment, night trails, wildlife safaris, moonlight swimming and workshops on astronomy, astrophotography and night navigation. This is a night school with a difference! To secure your place on your favourite events and dates, be sure to follow the instructions on the festival website but book quick – spots are filling up fast!

Halloween Festival: Fun by Day, Scary by Night

The Big Sheep- Day: 19th October – 27th October. Night: 24th October – 26th October/ 29th October – 31st October

Everyone knows about The Big Sheep’s annual Halloween festival; it has got a name for itself as one of the best Halloween festivals in the south west because they know how to put on a scare fest! With plenty of surprises planned for this year, if you’re yet to go or haven’t gone in a while, 2019 may be the year to visit.

Fun by Day is perfect for all the family with softer and kinder Halloween-themed activities that won’t scare the young ones. That doesn’t mean the whole family won’t have fun, with plenty of rides, a haunted house, ghost train, pumpkin carvings, character hunts, fancy dress, magic shows and more to keep everyone entertained. Fun by Day is open on the dates listed above and runs during normal opening hours (10 am to 5 pm).

By night, The Big Sheep gets scarier for the big kids among us. All the attractions come to life with scary actors and special effects to really put the spook into their festival. This is advertised as family-friendly but comes with a warning against bringing young children who would be scared by the live actors and special effects.

North Devon FOODfest

Barnstaple Pannier Market – 20th October

Celebrate our beloved local food and drink produce on 20th October. You’ll want to keep this date free so that you can treat yourself to a truly delicious day. North Devon FOODfest has been running for several years now and each year is better than the next. The festival, set in Barnstaple’s historic Pannier market, brings together fine chefs, their dishes and their favourite ingredients to satisfy your appetite with free samples and some great demonstrations. You’ll meet up with some of your favourite local businesses in a lively atmosphere, but most of all, you’ll be supporting local trade and showing that locally-sourced produce is the best way forward!

Image Credit: North Devon Food Fest 2013. North Devon Council under CC2.0

Drop-in Portrait Sessions with Hester Berry

White Moose Gallery- every Tuesday

Fancy your hand at some portrait drawing? Whether you’re a novice or seasoned artist, all are welcome to join Hester Berry every Tuesday, 2pm – 4pm, in her portrait sessions down at the White Moose Gallery in Barnstaple.

Berry’s paintings have been exhibited across the nation, even picking up a couple of awards along the way- including Sky’s Portrait Artist of the Year 2014. 

Each week, a new model will take the stand (or seat) for you to draw. You will be provided with drawing boards, but it is requested that you bring your own materials to use and abuse! Drinks are also available upon donation. This is an excellent opportunity to develop your skills under the guidance of a professional in an informal group setting.

Sessions are priced at £10 per person; it’s up to you whether you drop in or book on 01271 379872.

Appledore Bonfire Night

Appledore- 3rd November

There will plenty of bonfire nights going on around North Devon that are sure to light up your night, but we’ve selected Appledore’s bonfire celebrations for our guide as a community-funded project. This is a truly family-friendly night, operating between 4:30 pm and 7:30pm and set between the Beaver Inn and the Royal George. There is plenty to keep you entertained in the countdown to the firework display but be sure to grab a hot drink from one of the local vendors to keep your hands warm.

Fireworks will start at 7pm and you can watch the fireworks as they soar into the night sky and reflect into the water of the quay below. It’s not just fireworks you can look forward to though, with the Pirates of Appledore sure to put on a show. But remember to give them your spare change so they can shiver your timbers next year with an equally impressive bonfire show!

Clovelly Herring Festival

Clovelly- 17th Nov

The popular fishing village of Clovelly is a wonderful place to visit whether you’re from the area or further afield. If you needed a reason to head on down though, then the historic Herring Festival is the perfect answer.

The Clovelly Herring Festival has been an annual tradition for over 400 years, bringing together locals and tourists to celebrate and support managed fishing. The event is so widely recognised that a couple of years ago it featured in the pages of the Countryfile Magazine.

On arrival, you can look forward to live music, street entertainers, face-painting and henna tattoos, as well as a superb exhibition of Clovelly herring fishing. There will be plenty of family-friendly activities in the works here, but there will also be informative activities including a beach clean bowl workshop where recycled litter like ropes and nets can be turned into beautiful bowls to take away. Not only will you be saving the local wildlife and sea life but you will be getting a remainder of your great work.

Special guest, maritime historian and writer, Mike Smylie, is set to be in attendance with his Kipperland exhibition. It’s been devoted to the history of all things herring, which certainly fits the bill!

You can catch Flaxland – growers, processors and suppliers of flax fibre in the UK –hosting a captivating demonstration of how flax processing works while you’re there. They were unfortunately able to make last year’s festival as planned so we’re sure they’ll make up for it this time around!

On the quay, there are kitchens serving a variety of delicious herring specialities, not to mention the beer tastings, chef demonstrations and local food and craft stalls ready to fill your day with some more Devon-style pleasure!

Here is a selection of our favourite upcoming events over the season. If you would like to add an event to this post, get in touch with us today. If you found this useful, be sure to share this guide and tell us what events you’ll be attending and why.

October 4, 2019 / by / in
11 Ideas for Promoting Your Events

You’ve got a great idea for an event, you’ve made all the necessary arrangements and are counting down the days until it goes live. It’s such a great concept, so you are left surprised when the numbers aren’t rolling in like you had hoped.

Perhaps you’ve done a little bit of promotion but even then, you’re not getting the numbers you had hoped. Maybe time is running out and you don’t know how to get the word out there quick enough to draw people in.

The great thing is there is a host of things you can do to promote your local events, most of which are quick and hassle-free! We’ve listed some of our favourite options below to help you come up with a better plan for your event promotion:

1. Blogging

Most businesses, whether they are large corporate or SME’s, have a website. With most people turning to the internet for purchases or to find out about the local amenities, it’s not surprising. Most websites will feature their own blogs (sometimes going under-utilised!). A blog is a fantastic way to share your Devon business news and content related to your products and services.

Writing a blog about your event is a great way to promote it, and using keywords will ensure your piece is optimised to reach the right audience. (We recently covered why great business blogging matters. Be sure to check it out!).

However, it might not only be your blog that you’ll want to consider putting content on. Posting on other relevant sites (known as outreach) can be a great way to attain links through to your site and promote to audiences. The budget can vary for blogs, although there are a host of websites that accept free submissions. Be sure to stick to a budget when arranging your outreach posts and make sure it is reaching your target audience.

2.Email Marketing

Over time, you may have accumulated a database of email addresses (who have opted into hearing about your business). Sometimes, when our focus is on offline promotion, email marketing can be forgotten in the rush of it all. Consider sending out a customised email to your contacts to tell them more about the event and why you think they should attend. Try to avoid being clichéd with your reasoning as this can often turn people off. Encourage them to forward this email to their own networks and let the news spread! With email marketing software systems, you can even create mailing lists based on certain parameters (such as interests) which means you can customise your emails to fit specific groups.

3. Twitter

The whole nature of Twitter is short-fire promotion. General and relatable hashtags are a great way to get your event news in front of the right people. While a customised hashtag for your event can help people browse conversations around it (and share with their networks). Twitter Chats should also be a consideration for those looking for some last-minute promotion of their events as it allows you to strike up conversations with interested parties within a well-established online community.

4. Printed Newsletter

This medium needs longer run-up time to plan, create, proof and distribute, so may not be a consideration for those needing quick methods of promotion. The newsletter, however, is a way to share all your news, content and events within a periodical that can be distributed to local houses. Of course, there is a cost involved so you will need to consider how much you are willing to spend on event promotion; however, it can be a great way to reach local audiences who may not necessarily find you online or know anything about your business.

5. Posters

Don’t forget about print advertising. Hanging eye-catching posters in local gathering spots is a sure-fire way to reach more audiences. It also gives you an opportunity to build up connections with other local businesses. If you’re not a whizz with the computer, free online tools like Canva are an easy way to design a beautiful poster.

6. Word of Mouth

Encourage your loyal customers to get your event out there, even consider rewarding them for bringing friends and family. Recommendations from trusted people is a nudge of encouragement for others to attend your event and interact with your brand. Word of mouth will always be an effective marketing method for local businesses.

7. Sponsors

Collaboration can sometimes be the key to success when it comes to events, allowing you to tap into other audience networks. This is a fantastic way to establish strong business relationships and support other local companies by promoting them. Consider adding their logo to your promotional materials if they can help spread the word.

8. Facebook Groups

Tap into Facebook groups to engage communities. This method works best when you have been regularly and genuinely engaged within the group. Consider setting up a regular reminder to check in with the group to ensure you are respected within the community. Once you have built up the relationship with the community members, they will be more open to your promotional messages.

9. Local Press

If your event is tailored to the local community, call upon your local press to generate interest. Offer to conduct interviews for reporters who are on the look-out for news stories and remember to demonstrate why your event is interesting to their readers. Give the journalists enough time to get the story ready but, at the same time, do not tell them too early as they may forget about your event in the hustle and bustle of their own jobs.

10. Attend Events

Be sure to show your face at other events related to yours so that you can naturally talk about yours in conversations. You may even want to consider contacting the organisers beforehand to see if they will let you advertise (with flyers, business cards or a stand) or even conduct your own talk.

11. Competitions

Everybody loves to win free prizes. A competition gives people a chance to actively engage with your business, while also encouraging them to share it with other people. What will be the best prize to drum up interest? Be creative and consider running more than one competition to encourage continued ticket sales.

We run regular competitions for our users in return for listing reviews. We would be happy to team up with you to promote your next event.

June 6, 2019 / by / in