Over the years we have all been inspired, challenged and moved by conversations that we have had with friends and strangers. Inspired by the 'World Cafe Movement'and Margaret Wheatley's book 'Turning to One Another' we decided a few years back to gather some of our friends together at Pickwell and put aside some intentional space and time at New Year to have conversations. With that 'Amity' (meaning 'friendship')was born. Last weekend was our fourth Amity but our first to be held in the Spring.
So here we all are....62 of us to be precise!
So just to explain how it works..... Everyone comes up with ideas of topics they would like to talk about or questions that they would like to discuss,they write them on a post it and stick them on the wall. Rich then gathers them together in subject areas. This years topics included vulnerability, social media, parenthood and community organisation. There is usually a wide range of questions ranging from the personal to political, social, economic and even theological issues. Everyone chooses to go to one of 3 conversation topics taking place in different lounges around the house, et voila!
Sophie concentrating very hard on her burning question.
For Spring Amity we chose to have the conversations in the evenings so that the days could be filled with fun for all the family (a bit of a gamble given our recent weather!). We have not done this format before so it was a new experience. On Saturday morning, after making our packed lunches, we all headed in the glorious sunshine down the fields to the beach for a picnic.
Nothing like a game of rounders to work up an appetite.
Then some wonderful friends of ours (and local youth workers) Becky and Esther came and did a treasure hunt around the beach with the children. It was brilliant fun, they had to follow the clues to find hidden letters, which they had to put together to give the secret location of the treasure.
They then had to dig for the treasue box to get the booty!
Then back to Pickwell for tea and cake on the terrace. There certainly was a lot of food over the weekend. It felt rather as if there was an eating opportunity every hour. I do love my food, so I am not complaining, but I think I have enlarged the general size of my tummy somewhat!
Everyone is put on a rota in teams to help cook a meal. These are often the best times for a bit of banter.
Steve's team cooked an amazing selection of curries. Here is the ballroom all laid up banquet style.
After dinner the kids head off to bed; Fires lit, snugly sofas, cheese and biscuits at the ready, baby sitters in position and it's time to settle down and 'chew the cud of life'. That is unless you opted for the conversation around the fire pit and then warm jumpers were definitely a must!
On Sunday we headed out for a walk to Heddon's Mouth, bags heavy laden with picnics and hot chocolate.
Marshmallows around the camp fire, yum........ or maybe not so yum!
Paddling is an option, however.....
There were a few sock casualties! Mmm toasted sock anyone?
Back at Pickwell a cream tea awaited us, cream first before the jam of course (the Devon way!) whilst birthday girl Liza took charge of the tuck shop.
On Sunday night Susie and I opted for the parenting conversation around the fire pit on the terrace. All the ingredients of a great night; inspiring and thought provoking conversation, a large glass of wine, cheese and biscuits, a snugly fire and a view to die for as the sun went down over Hartland.
It did get a bit nippy so hilariously the boys snuggled up under a blanket together. Paul and Jamie look like they are rather enjoying the experience.
Sunday morning (and the whole weekend for that matter) saw a lot of competitive croquet.
Steve on his way to giving someone another posting!!
The sunshine was glorious and the company wonderful. It turned out to be a fantastic, inspiring, invigorating, challenging and altogether great weekend. I have certainly come away with lots to think about.
Happy birthday too, lovely Liza, I think we know who put the fire work in your cake!