#HihoAndCo #3 – Forde Abbey

Monday 4th November 2019 saw the 3rd instalment of the Hiho Silver #HihoAndCo Instameet at the breath taking Forde Abbey nestled in deepest Somerset near Chard.

If you’re not sure what a #HihoAndCo instameet is, have a read of my blog posts from #1 at the idyllic Fish Hotel in the Cotswolds with Emma Warren & #2 at the beautiful Blackdown Shepherd Huts in Somerset.

For this round up, I thought I’d share 10 top memories – although there’s probably more like 100!

Forde Abbey
Beautiful Forde Abbey – by Becky Wren

#1 The Venue – Forde Abbey

Set at the charming Forde Abbey or a ‘south west treasure’ as it’s dubbed on their website. And when you visit it’s easy to see why. Also, I never knew that some of the house was used as a film location for Far from the Madding Crowd!

King of the Road aka Mr Hiho aka Andrew kicked off proceedings introducing the event & location with a bit of a history lesson. The main base for #HihoAndCo was in the Monks Refectory which was 800+ years old.

Andrew also recalled a funny story when he used to live in one of the Forde Abbey flat’s & there was no heating & would regularly wake up to frozen toothpaste – although I’m sure it wasn’t quite so funny at the time.

Another little-known fact: Hiho Silver was based at Forde Abbey for many years, so it felt special that this #HihoAndCo was going back to the brands roots where it all started 25 years ago.

Forde Abbey
Andrew kicking off #HihoAndCo – Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

#2 The Vibe

There was a laid-back vibe to the sold-out event which has grown to approximately 70+ attendees – double the previous two & there even was a wait list! The essence was still the same with the aim to inspire everyone to be the best that you can be.

Which according to the invite certainly didn’t mean that you have to be perfect or the best, just to do all that you can, to be all you want to be. And come away meeting new friends along with a couple of new tricks to add to your personal brand or business repertoire.

This was my 3rd visit to a #HihoAndCo event, so I was a bit more clued up compared to the first one I attended & certainly felt more confident walking up to people & striking up a conversation to those that I’d only met online. It certainly was lovely to finally meet some of the girls I followed on Instagram IRL.

HihoAndCo #3 Attendees
#HihoAndCo #3 Attendees – what a fabulous bunch – Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

#3 The Fashion

With over 10 years’ experience working for high street fashion giant New Look in marketing & comms, I always have a keen interest in what everyone is wearing.

This time there was a real mix. Obviously, the staple country / equestrian brands came out in force from Fairfax & Favour, Joules, through to Welligogs. It was great to see people mixing up the looks with dresses, skirts & capes. To be honest, everyone looked fab & had made such an effort. Even the gentleman in the group looked dapper.

It was good to see old school brands such as M&S not looking out of place at an Instameet. I for one was only too pleased to find out Melanie from M&G was rocking a floral print dress from M&S, & I thank Holly Willoughby for making the high street brand cool again.

Mel & I rocking Marks & Sparks floral print dresses
Mel & I rocking Marks & Sparks floral print

Some of my fave looks included:

Zoe Kiff looking uber cool in a print skirt, fedora & rocking one of her Honest Riders sweaters.

Zoe Kiff - Honest Riders
Zoe Kiff from Honest Riders Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

@Welsh_Girl_Travelling rocked the Welligogs Windsor blazer which I managed to pick up in the Black Friday sale & is still on sale!

Welsh Girl Travelling
Welsh Girl Travelling – Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

@gemeventing looked adorable in her purple JJR Bespoke cape, along with lovely touches from Fruitbat Textiles corsage & Mackenzie & George twilly.

Gem Eventing
Gem Gilbert – Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

#4 The Sessions

The theme for this event was a follow on from #2 #BeAllYouCanBe & was led by the Dream Team consisting of:

Emma Warren – MD of HiHo Silver @emmawarren_1 

Melanie Clarihew – British Accessories Brand @MackenzieandGeorge

Ruth Chappell – Dressage Anywhere @dressage_anywhere

Rhea Freeman – PR and Marketing @rheafreemanpr

Rachel Bragg – Equine & Canine Photographer @RachelBraggPhotography

Sophie Callahan – Equine Photographer @sophiecallahan 

There were some amazing nuggets during the talks on everything from branding with Melanie from M&G, planning content & social media with Ruth from Dressage Anywhere, getting to grips with Instagram Stories with PR guru Rhea Freeman, photography styling with Rachel Bragg, through to personal branding with photographer Sophie Callahan.

Now, the keen bean that I am took a lot of notes which will be very useful for my 2020 blog planning. Hopefully, anyone with a business or thinking of setting one up would truly benefit from these pearls of wisdom.

Ruth Chappell
Ruth in flow – Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

#5 Breakout Sessions

In the morning & afternoon there were sessions where you could have a tour of the house with Andrew which was fascinating, especially being able to see the cartoons from the famous painter Raphael brought to life in a stunning tapestry. The tapestries have been at Forde Abbey for 300+ years. For a brief moment it really did feel like stepping back in time & privileged to be able to get up so close to a beautiful work of art.

Forde Abbey Tapestries – Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

There was also the chance to spend time with photography gurus Rachel Bragg & Sophie Callahan practicing flat lays & asking tips from the experts.

Rachel Bragg
Rachel Bragg Photography helping with Flat Lay ideas – Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

I chose to go for a good old yomp around the Forde Abbey gardens & grounds which was originally managed by the Cistercian monks. Naturally Gem Gilbert from @GemEventing & myself discovered the old Forde Abbey cross country jumps which I remember jumping some 20+ years ago on my pony Mirage. It was great to reminisce in the sunshine & soak up the splendour of the grounds.

Chilling on a XC jump
Chilling on a XC jump – Photo by Gem Eventing

#6 Lunch

Lunch time was a very chilled affair located in the beautiful stone 12th Century Undercroft. It was a good chance to catch up with friends met at previous #HihoAndCo events as well as chat with new found pals. I had the pleasure in actually getting chance to properly chat to Ben Buxton aka @Staggy_Stag who is the Events Manager for Fairfax & Favor or as some of you may recognise him – the guy who left mud prints on the carpet in Love in the Countryside. It was great to hear all the gossip from the dating show.

And of course, the food – meat stew for mains & the yummiest sticky toffee pudding was as you come to expect from a #HihoAndCo event – to die for.

#7 One Drop the Mic Moment

I’ve been to a lot of talks over my years, however, I’ve never actually witnessed a drop the mic moment in real life.

If you don’t know who George Bannister is, well you’re going to in 2020. Former Sales & Marketing Director at Blackdown Shepherd Huts & now founder of Black Oak, George has had well, an interesting & colourful life journey – & talked about how to build & gain confidence in his motivational speech.

Now I don’t want to spoil the drop the mic moment, so will let you go & watch his talk here.

George Bannister
George Bannister – Motivational Speech – Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

#8 An Unexpected Surprise 

It wouldn’t be a #HihoAndCo event without a bit of surprise. Cue a conversation with Andrew & Sarah from Finer Equine about trying her product out on a horse. So after lunch Andrew rocked up with not one, but two of his horses. It definitely caused a bit of a stir & a perfect photo opportunity. One things for sure Mr Hiho is happiest when he is on a horse. And if you haven’t seen his Hiho IGMas video then watch this.

Andrew & his horses
Mr Hiho & his gorgeous horses – Photo by Matt Sweeting Photography

#9 The Goody Bag of Dreams

The rumour is true, there ain’t no goody bag quite like a #HihoAndCo goody bag. They really are quite epic. #3 included the below amazing goodies. I also produced a video on IGTV which you can watch here.

Flat Lay
Flat lay featuring the goody bag of dreams – Photo by Becky

Big thanks to the following brands who all contributed:

@hihosilver #BeAllYouCanBe necklace & 25 years jute bag

@joules blue star scarf which also came in grey

@mackenzieandgeorge leather bookmark

@rheafreemanpr quote card

@sophiecallahan Instagram prompts

@blackdownshepherdhuts pen

@fleetwoodfoxcarpets coasters

@fairfaxandfavor keyring

@albionsaddlemakers saddle soap & balm

@copastraditionalturkeys sauce for roasts

@thesunshinebindery notepad

@rachelbraggphotography bee friendly wildflower seeds

@Dressage_anywhere rosette

@equiboodle discount

#10 Creating memories

I always come away from the #HihoAndCo days feeling inspired & invigorated as well as full of new memories spending time with like minded people which I’ll talk about until the next event.

Gem Gilbert, Charlotte Miller & Becky Wren
Gem Gilbert (@GemEventing), Charlotte Miller & Becky Wren (@Becky_Wren)
Kim Fourmy Becky Wren
Kim Fourmy & Becky Wren
Becky Wren and Emma Warren
Becky Wren and #HihoAndCo founder Emma Warren
Becky, Ruth Chappell, Rachel Bragg and Sophie Callahan
Becky, Ruth Chappell, Rachel Bragg and Sophie Callahan
Bicton Reunion
Bicton Reunion: Mel, Becky, Ella, Andrew and Mo

Sign up to #HihoAndCo

If you’d like to come to the next #HihoAndCo event, make sure you’ve signed up to the mailing list where you’ll be the first to know & also follow them on Instagram @hihosilveruk for all the latest news.

Read some other blogs/vlogs from #HihoAndCo

Adventures of Tony Pony

Gem Eventing

Mulberry Tree At Home

If you have any questions about #HihoAndCo or would like to come to the next one, but have a few questions, feel free to drop a comment below or email me at becky@countrybumpkinchic.bndhost.co.uk xx



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