Gabriel Nivera
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Pictures & Conversations

A collection of images and the stories behind their creation.

The Spinney Country Guest House - Jo & Dave

Shirwell, Devon - U.K.

For the final two nights of my English escape, I opted to stay at a B&B close to the wedding venue.  I was spoilt for choice as this is prime country for tourists and weekenders exploring the idyllic English countryside.  After a number of enquiries and exchanged emails, I decided to spend it at the Spinney.  While finishing my proper English fry up breakfast I asked Jo & Dave if I could take their photograph the next day before I set off for the wedding. It took a bit of convincing but they said yes.  Feeling rather festive due to the nuptials I was about to attend in a few hours, I asked Jo and David to share their story with me as I photographed them.  

Jo and David first met in 1985 at a dance arranged for singles. Jo's girlfriend fancied David, but "he had other ideas he gave her our empty glasses and some money and asked her if she wouldn’t mind going to the bar to buy some drinks and then he invited me onto the dance floor - the rest is history as they say!"

When they married, Jo had one stipulation: that "he arrange everything."  David was up to the task - his planning was meticulous.  One night in Nairobi sorting out the paper work, then off to Governors Camp in the Masai Mara by light aircraft where they spent 10 nights. David with the help from the team in Governors Camp arranged for a traditional Masai wedding; this took place at dawn officiated by the Masai chief from a neighbouring county who walked for a day to reach the village.  The local tribes women created the wedding dress - made up of coloured sheets that had to be put on in colour order along with an amazing hand made neckless made of beads.

A Christian ceremony was held  in the afternoon at the butterfly garden, the local Masai people came to witness  it - they jumped and sang and chanted.  "The following day we sat and watched the wildebeest crossing the savannah in their thousands, and just when I thought our trip could not get more special, on day three we took off at dawn in a hot air balloon to catch the early thermals and drifted across forests looking down on herds of giraffe and elephants. We landed in the middle of the scrub where the camp had delivered breakfast along with chefs white table linen and full silver service and of course champagne."

While they may look like they have been at this forever, being proprietors that host up up to five hundred guests annually is a relatively new thing for this couple - only taking up the B&B business five years ago.  Dave previously worked at London Heathrow refuelling aircraft and Jo in property sales - but they were both "Londoned-out" and needed a change, they wanted "fresh air, people, local produce, and green open spaces."  They found it here - in their little nook of paradise nestled deep within the winding roads of the Devon countryside.

You can book your stay at the Spinney Country Guest House http://www.thespinneyshirwell.co.uk/

or visit them at this what3words coordiantes: found.archive.galloped