I’m Karen, the therapist at The Carlton. I wanted to write this blog to help people to feel more relaxed and provide some useful self-care tips to keep yourself well and healthy during this time.
During the first part of lockdown, I found myself glued to the news and all forms of media, sometimes not moving much at all during the course of the day. My mind was racing continuously and my body started to feel extremely uncomfortable especially my shoulders where I had been holding tension. I also started to notice my jaw aching and thought I had toothache until I realised the pain was moving from tooth to tooth. Stress can have a huge impact on our bodies as well as our minds so it is vital to find ways which help us and our families to cope.
I decided to start my day differently and this is what I would recommend for yourself and your family. So rather than reaching for your phone first thing and bombarding yourself with the information, I would take a moment just to wake up. This can be done as a type of meditation which you can also talk your children through.
So once you are awake but still lying in bed just take a moment to notice your body. You can start by noticing your breathing coming in and out through your nostrils. Notice your breath flowing to your lungs, feeling your ribs expanding with each in-breath you take. Making the breathes deep, slow and controlled, also become aware of your belly rising towards the ceiling. Taking your time to notice there is a short pause between breathing in and breathing out. Also noticing your body as you breathe out, allowing you belly button to fall towards your spine and your ribs soften. Breathing in deeply and as you slowly release the breath allow your body to soften also.
Repeated deep breaths will naturally bring your heart rate more in sync with your breath. This leads your brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that have a natural calming effect on your mind and body.
You can do this for a minute, 10 minutes or as long as you feel is good for you. And it can be done at any point during the day. If you notice you are feeling anxious you will also notice your breathing is most probably quite shallow so deepening the breathing and bringing your attention to it will help to keep you calm.
Once you feel ready to move start to slowly stretch out your body, moving in ways which feel good to you. Stretching your left side and right side and slowly coming up to sitting and placing both feet on the floor. Allow your body to fold forward, resting the weight of your torso on your thighs, allowing your head to relax down towards the floor, take a few moments here and continue to notice your breathing. This will allow your lower back and spine the space it needs to stretch out and wake up. Slowly shift your weight onto your feet with your knees bent, taking a moment in a forward fold position before slowly un-curling your spine to a standing position. From here you might like to do some more stretches, moving your spine in different directions, making circles with your wrists, ankles and neck.
Although all the technology we have today can bring anxiety we are also very lucky to have so much information at our fingertips so making use of this will help us to get through, finding information which will benefit our health and wellbeing. Using search engines we can find meditations, exercises, yoga, activities, healthy food tips to keep our immune systems working well and massage techniques we can share with our isolation family.
All of this will help keep our minds and bodies healthy and happy.
This far into the lockdown and we thought we’d update you on the team and what’s happening at The Carlton Hotel. The truth, of course is that everything feels very different to normal! Some of our team are furloughed since we shut our doors around the 23rd March. Sadly, we haven’t been able to furlough all our casual team members (due to cash flow), but we have furloughed all our permanent contract team and anyone else that has been with us for over a year.
Michael calls each team member on a Monday just to check in with them. Without exception, all team members are keen to get back to business and look after our customers in a safe and efficient way.
We know that one or two of our team pass by the hotel* and may dip into our superfast wi-fi. also allowing them to stay in touch online with their family and friends.
*as part of their daily exercise routine, and for clarity social distancing is observed!
We have started our chilled summer deli delivery meals, which sees the kitchen in use for just one day and then we can pack, wrap and despatch the meals on subsequent days. Feedback has been positive and it’s certainly nice to be doing a little something foodwise.
And there’s a fair amount of work going into gardening the grounds, painting the building and general tidy up. The same can be said for our website which is getting a good going over (not the most IT technical term I know) in readiness for the future.
We are also working on our re-opening plans. These are all focussed on what steps the business will take in order to safely operate. Paramount is the safety of our team and guests. So we’re thinking about reduced occupancy levels, in room catering for hotel guests, protection for the team, sanitising stations and lots more.
Clearly, we are hoping this emergency resolves itself soon, and then the new normal can begin. But not until it’s safe to do so.
Wishing you all the best, stay safe, stay home.
Here’s a few snaps of the ladies taken last year. They are raising a glass to the VE Day 75th anniversary celebrations this Friday.
Photographed staff are in order: Dawn Walker | Clare Foreman | Dawn Emery
“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat,” said the author Laura Ingalls Wilder. For anyone over a certain age her most famous work, Little House on the Prairie, which was a stalwart of 1970s TV, epitomises an era of innocent wholesomeness.
At times when the whole world feels challenged we often develop a nostalgia for times gone by, regardless of the fact that each era in history has faced (and always overcome) its own challenges. Unfortunately for today’s generations, the 24 hour lens of media and social media attention and our addiction to hype means that we are permanently consumed by a crisis such as the current Coronavirus scare.
While there is of course good reason to take this virus very seriously indeed the statistics, nonetheless, do not spell the imminent end of the world. Panic in all its forms – from emptying supermarket shelves to rocketing levels of personal anxiety and mental health effects – has us gripped and right now it seems like there is no escape….
But of course life goes on and locking yourself inside your home – until told otherwise – can have implications for your state of mind and your mental health. Now is the time you need a fresh air break and The Carlton has the perfect Spring Break deal to take advantage of!
Fresh Air, Open Skies, Health Benefits
Spring is here, the sun is (at last) beginning to shine. Identified as one of the healthiest places in the UK according to a study last year all around North Devon the air is filling with birdsong – from cliff tops to dunes, woodlands, fields and wide open moorland. The town of Ilfracombe itself came to prominence in the Nineteenth century, discovered by the Victorians to be the perfect tonic to the pollution of cities and the stresses of working life – a perfect antidote that is as true today as it was back then.
Reports suggest that higher temperatures are the natural enemy of Corona Virus, and it’s this time of year when crispy mornings give way to sunny Spring days filled with the increasing intensity of the sun’s warmth. Of course this isn’t always the picture on the English Adventure Coast but a day of being buffeted around in stiff coastal breezes brings a certain charm of its own too – gulps of fresh air, the taste of brine on the lips and cheeks that flush ruddy from a day of open air exercise.
The Carlton offers the perfect base from which to launch a break filled with the kind of outdoor activity which benefits the body and clears the mind of those racing thoughts; a step away from the intensity of home and work places where the stress is constantly simmering. We all know that stress is bad for the health and a recognised factor which can affect our immunity. Often the only way to break the cycle is to step back and get away from it all for a while and reap the health benefits.
One of the consequences of the current situation is that we are all going through a period of reappraisal in relation to our daily habits, routines and social interactions. Many of us are taking a step back and appreciating the benefits of simple pleasures. On a North Devon break that’s a hike along a coastal path or down a long sandy beach, taking the plunge with some surf lessons or rambling along an Exmoor circular walk.
With The Carlton as base camp, the health and wellness aspect extends to the in-house Brasserie restaurant, with its simple wholesome menu dishes offering nutritious goodness thanks to fresh ingredients, most of them sourced with local Devon provenance.
What is The Carlton Doing About Corona Virus?
Of course we follow Government and industry guidelines, but at The Carlton we go further still. To be honest the measures we take are more like tweaks to our existing standard practices. As a hotel with a reputation for high class quality and comfort throughout all our rooms we already have very high standards when it comes to servicing and cleaning (we’re big fans of the old fashioned way – plenty of soap and detergent – with the recent addition of sanitising surfaces and door handles).
The same rigorous attention to sanitation applies to the restaurant – which is open to guests and locals (don’t forget our special Mother’s Day treat package). There is no buffet to worry about, all our dishes are plated up separately, as they always have been, and if our guests still have concerns then we are quite happy to provide meals in the room.
Our team are up to date on training, have been practising good standards for years and recognise the importance of being seen to be confident in the face of the current situation. The benefit of having a full time team all year round ensures continuity throughout any difficult time. You can read full details of our extensive Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines and safety procedures here to give you peace of mind.
As for the health benefits of a fresh air break in North Devon – there’s not much more to be said than the fact that the air is plentiful and is feeling more Spring-like by the day!
Our very special Mothers Day weekend package break combines our Spring break with Mothering Sunday lunch and enjoy a FREE Devon Cream Afternoon Tea for just £69 /person/night. Plus dinner inclusive (one night) leaving you time to explore the rest of Ilfracombe. This deal is based on two sharing a twin or double room over the weekend of 21/22/23 March. Call 01271 862446 to book this offer or email email@example.com.
Our Spring break offer is a relaxing two-night weekend stay, Includes one evening meal in our Brasserie, two nights room and full English breakfast. And pricing is from £54 /person/night based on two sharing a twin or double room*.
T&C’s include – prepayment and if you book before March 20th we’ll offer you a FREE upgrade during April (excludes Easter weekend). Call 01271 862446 to book or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the winter of 2020 seems to be hanging under a bit of a cloud, to coin a theatrical phrase from the 1800s, ‘the show must go on’! So this is a call out to all party planners – when it comes to family celebrations in North Devon, the Carlton Hotel in Ilfracombe is a venue to fit any bill!
As well as hosting corporate events and parties, the Carlton‘s doors are wide open to bookings from those who are planning family celebrations in North Devon – from special birthdays and anniversaries to weddings, christenings and funerals.
We often get asked for our top party planning tips, so here are 5 based on our experience:
1) Secure the venue
It probably comes as no surprise that this tip is at the top of the list. If you have no venue you have no party right?! It’s amazing how many people leave things to the last minute, or spend too much time umming and ahing about whether to book a venue.
The Carlton is different to many venues, in as much as it has a range of event spaces,
often allowing us to accommodate a last minute booking (if this applies to you, give us a call and we will always see what we can do!). However, we always recommend booking far ahead.
The Library, Burlesque Room, The Stage, The Brasserie Bar and Restaurant; our event spaces reflect the theatrical theme which runs through the hotel. Each party event space comes with its own particular ‘vibe’ and caters for a range of capacities – from as few as 6 guests to as many as 150.
Our best tip: If the date is free, book now. Once a booking is in the diary it’s done, it’s yours and you can move on to the next stage of party planning which is…
2) Make a plan
If there’s one thing that party planners universally agree on, it‘s the need to put in the preparation as leaving it all to the last minute is a recipe for stress and sleepless nights.
Fortunately, this is where the Carlton comes into its own as a party venue. We run numerous events of all sizes – from weddings to parties for friends and families – throughout the year. With our experience, we are there to help with all aspects of party planning – able to act as a soundboard for your ideas and suggest the best way to make them happen so that your party goes with a swing!
Our best tip: if the venue offers help to plan your party then accept the offer. Whatever your party headaches, it has seen (and overcome) them before.
3) Arrange the Food & Drink
This is often the most stressful thing about putting on a party. There are key questions which are always asked – what food to provide, how much food and drink to provide, what to do about those with special dietary requirements?
The simple answer to this is, it is far easier to work with a venue like the Carlton on this aspect of the party. We can help with suggestions regarding food options – from light snacks to heartier items from our menus – and amounts needed. In addition our kitchen has a reputation for catering for those with special diets and we bring this experience to all our party occasions.
For drinks, the Carlton offers an excellent choice from the bar, located in the Brasserie restaurant, its selection including a great range of alcoholic choices – such as good House wines, craft brews and spirits – to non-alcoholic options such as nice juices, soft drinks and teas and coffees (a must for family celebrations in North Devon featuring a range of ages).
Our best tip: Take advantage of a party venue’s food and drink options to cut out preparation stress and post-party wastage.
Some people love being at the centre of the party planning process and taking centre stage when the festivities begin. Others prefer hugging the background and will do whatever they can to keep busy and avoid their guests!
However, at the heart of every great party is great hospitality. As a party venue, the Carlton appreciates this is a key ingredient and works with planners to ensure that this base is covered, through a personalised service and a ‘no problem’ attitude.
Our best tip: If the venue is experienced in hosting parties, leave that side of things to them so you can enjoy the party yourself!
5) The Clear Up
It’s everyone’s least favourite party job! You’ve spent all that time planning the celebration and enjoying the occasion… and you get to see how much everyone else enjoyed it by wading through all the mess they left behind.
Our best tip: Skip this stage completely! Hiring a venue which caters for every aspect of the party will include the clear up.
6) One More Reason to Choose The Carlton…
We’re a hotel. Yes it’s obvious, but it does provide an added dimension if you have party guests coming from away. The Carlton offers a number of room options, all of which come finished to the highest standards. Is it time to plan your party? Give us a call on 01271 862446 and see how we can help you create the perfect occasion.
We are really looking forward to Easter coming to North Devon. In this season of delicious treats and family fun, you’ll find plenty of things to do around the area, with everything from top attractions hosting special days and activities during the holidays, as well as additional local events so you can really make the most of your holidays.
Easter is all about having fun with the family or just taking time out for yourself or as a couple. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the plethora of events and activities with everything on offer from hunting dinosaurs to riding on trams to marine exploration. Some of the events you can expect include Easter themed afternoon tea experiences, searching for Easter chicks, dinosaur egg hunts and craft workshops with arts and crafts all geared towards the holidays.
If you’re only really interested in the food available at Easter, then Devon is clearly the place to be. Restaurants and other eateries will be proudly showing off the wide range of local produce in their menus throughout the Easter holidays, so if you fancy some locally reared lamb, fresh veg, a hearty hot cross bun or even locally made chocolate eggs, you won’t be disappointed.
Here’s our what’s on Easter Guide:
30th March – 13th April 10:00 – 17:00
Find The Easter Chicks near Bideford
Children receive a village map on entry to Clovelly.
This is to mark the location of a number of Easter chicks perched up and down the cobbled High Street to the quay.
1st April – 13th 10:00 – 18:00
Unique Easter Grotto at The Milky Way in Bideford
Ever wondered where the Easter Bunny’s magic is made? From Wednesday 1st April to Monday 13th April journey down the rabbit hole to the NEW expanded Easter Bunny HQ at The…
4th April 10:00 – 18:00
Meet Star Wars Characters at The Milky Way in Bideford
Star Wars fans will be excited to hear that Storm Troopers and other characters from the legendary films are coming to The Milky Way Adventure Park over the Easter holidays.…
6th April 9:00 – 12.15
Young@Heart Adventure Club in Bideford
Adventure days for adults looking to stay active, learn new skills and to have fun!
Meet every 1st Monday of the month for a fun active session of outdoor activities…
10th – 13th April 10:30 – 15:00
Cadbury Easter Trail
Cadbury Easter Trail, Woolacombe …. What have the bunnies been hiding in the Woolacombe Sand Dunes?! This trail takes you on adventure around Woolacombe Warren to find the…
12th – 13th April 11.00 – 17:00
Easter Egg Hunt at Hartland Abbey Near Bideford
Come to Hartland Abbey for our great Easter Egg Hunt – follow clues around the beautiful gardens and walks to hunt for Easter eggs. Each child participant receives one!…
12th April 10:30 – 16:00
Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Easter Sunday Fun Day
Lots of fun things for kids to do FREE event.
(Although the event itself is free – fares still apply for train rides)
1st – 13th April 10.30 – 16.30
Watermouth Castle Family Theme Park & Castle Ilfracombe
30th March at 17:00
Kundalini Yoga Class
28th March & 4th April at 9:00 – 11:30
Woolacombe Dunes, Park Run – Free
Weekly Running & Walking every Saturday 9am. Free Event 5km event run by volunteers (arrive before 9am to receive briefing) You will need to sign up on the website beforehand to print off a barcode to bring on the day. Dogs are welcome, one per runner & on a short lead. Kids under 11yrs must be accompanied by an adult.
Tue, 28 April, 09:00 – 15:00
Ilfracombe Group Walk
From Lidl car park, Wilder Rd, Ilfracombe EX34 8BS, UK to Hartland Quay, Hartland Quay to then walk along the coastal path to the waterfall, inland to Stoke & back along the coast path (5 miles) Bring a picnic/ Pub at the end of walk.
Sat, 4 April, 10:00 – 12:30
Ilfracombe Farmers’ Market – The Lantern, Ilfracombe
Held on the first Saturday of each month, the market sells fresh local & organic produce, craft, refreshments & more.
For further details please visit:
“What’s this we hear about a new restaurant opening called The Brasserie?” We’ve been getting this quite a lot recently, so let’s deal with the (chocolate coated) elephant in the room before we explore local food provenance!
We’ve recently re-launched our restaurant as The Brasserie at the Carlton, complete with its own website. In addition there are some menu changes for the new season and a programme of food promotions which includes Foodie Friday events.
The Brasserie is particularly looking forward to a special February event (Friday 28th), which ties in with this year’s Exmoor Food Fest. Diners are invited to make the most of the best quality Exmoor steak & wine for £17.50, with the farmer thrown in for free. And yes, you did read that correctly!
Before the rumours begin to swirl, the farmer in question is Chris Lerwill, one of the Brasserie’s key local suppliers. Now, more than ever before, serious diners are seeking food provenance of the restaurant dishes they eat, and with good reason. Not only does locally sourced food hit sustainability and ethical notes, it also comes with greatly enhanced taste- the-difference flavour.
Grass Fed Exmoor Beef
So Chris will be in the Brasserie to talk about the Exmoor Park beef on the plates of those taking advantage of this excellent Friday Foodie deal. Local food provenance doesn’t get more local than Exmoor National Park and the traditional cattle breeds which graze it. These traditional breeds, such as the magnificent Devon (Ruby) Reds are far more hardy than ‘farm cows’, able to survive outside in all weathers and subsist on rougher grazing.
Grass fed beef is of course the best meat that you can have on your plate and, in the case of cattle grazed on Exmoor, the environmental impact is minimal too. Working with the herd and managing sustainable animal husbandry may be a foodie trend now, but in effect it is just a throwback to deep rooted farming traditions. In the case of the Lerwill family, these Exmoor farming traditions extend right the way back to the 12th century.
After enjoying a beautiful cut of tender, succulent, marbled steak, Chris will explain to Foodie Friday diners exactly where the meat has come from and how his family manage the farm and produce beef in line with sustainable principles.
Local Food Provenance at The Brasserie
Having the farmer along to give his account of local food provenance is an important aspect of what The Brasserie at The Carlton is setting out to do. Aside from this special Foodie Friday focus on Exmoor beef, local provenance runs right the way through The Brasserie menu.
The term ‘brasserie’ is tied intrinsically with France and in French the word also means ‘brewery’. A traditional brasserie combines a bar and casual restaurant space where meals and snacks are served throughout the day. The Brasserie at The Carlton embodies this take on dining and serves breakfast, lunch and dinners in a beautiful space which has been completely updated in line with a £1.7M makeover for the hotel in recent years.
Starting with breakfast, the menu features local free range eggs and British bacon, taken from high welfare stock. Lunch and dinners feature locally sourced vegetables (from the Great Field of nearby village, Braunton) and herbs, alongside local cheeses, meat and fish, caught by North Devon fishermen, in the bay. Reflecting the original French brasserie concept, the restaurant is complemented by a well stocked bar including local craft brews.
Dietary Requirements? Mais Oui!
Where The Brasserie at the Carlton differs dramatically from most of its French counterparts is in the welcome absence of the Gallic ‘non’ when diners ask if there are options for vegetarians, vegans or those with gluten free or other special dietary needs! Chef/patron Eliot cooks menus from scratch and the kitchen will always adjust a dish to ensure it fulfils diners’ requirements.
To book a table for the Foodie Friday steak & wine event or make a reservation to just sample the Brasserie experience, call 01271 862446 or email email@example.com.