Food, Life, Shopping

Getting through filthy February

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We love January. I can see you raising a skeptical eyebrow but for us, January not only heralds a fresh start and time to reflect, but also the opportunity to fire up exciting, new ventures, plan holidays, pick up a new skill and give mind and body a good kick-start.

February, on the other hand, is not a welcome month; it is January’s hangover and March’s grumpy neighbor. If February were a colour tone, it would be sludgy brown washed with a cloud of grey to match how we feel – bah humbug.

We are not quite ready to come out of hibernation and if there’s ever a time to view life with a half-glass full attitude, it’s over the ensuing weeks.

However, there’s enough January feel-good to tide us over and here are a few ideas to get you through filthy February, in and around Ludlow.

 THE GREAT OUTDOORS

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Titterstone Clee viewed from the West

The Dutch say that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. So invest in a good pair of wellies, a decent waterproof (Countrywide in Ludlow have a good selection) and get outdoors.

This time of year, the countryside is at its most wet and wild and if we get another very cold front, you can experience the most spectacular views all across the outstandingly beautiful Shropshire hills and valleys.

To date, we have already scaled to the top of the Titterstone Clee, bounded up and down Carding Mill Valley and stomped through a very misty, muddy Mortimers Forest.

Next on our list: Batch Valley, the Stiperstones, Croft Castle and the Brown Clee. For more inspiration try: Shropshire Great Outdoors Walking or National Trust.

BIRDLIFE

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Greenfinches and a Goldfinch

The dawn chorus is slowly warming up but for the most part, all you can spot are LBJs (little brown jobs) flitting around the hedgerows. We’ve invested in a birdfeeder (try Ludlow Homecare) and have been amazed by the colours of our local garden birds and the simple pleasure they provide.

The flash of red from the elusive woodpecker is enough to warm even the coldest heart. Hanging from our birdfeeder this morning are gorgeous goldfinches, a particularly handsome bullfinch, the habitual but very pretty blue tits, an opportunist, plump pheasant, a jet black black-bird (our top songster), a flitter of nuthatches, a loyal robin and of course, a few LBJs which we’ve yet to identify.

Click here for an excellent site on how to identify garden birds for amateur enthusiasts.

FAMILY TIME

This month, make the most of your support network. For those of you who’ve seen enough of your children over Christmas but feel the grandparents are missing out, gently nudge them towards Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre which is offering a How to Tell a Bedtime Story workshop throughout February. From 20-24 February, the Centre is also holding a Fantastic Beasts workshop where children can ‘learn about some of the fantastic beasts of the wizarding world’.

WELL-BEING

Why do we choose to dry out during a habitually cold and wet month? It’s that New Year new beginning isn’t it? If like us, your motivation is already seeping away, then bring yourself back to focus with techniques to boost the spirit. On 3 February, Friends Meeting House in Ludlow is holding classes on Meditation and Mindfulness.

For cooking enthusiasts, on 25 February, Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre is holding a Gluten and Dairy Free Cookery Class, a great opportunity to get inspired.

Looking to be more creative? Have a look at the wonderfully eccentric and very welcoming Westhope College,which offers craft courses ranging from basket weaving and hand embroidery to upholstery and jewellery.

Classes are small and intimate and your course fee includes homemade lunch served at a formally laid table and afternoon tea and cake.

EATING OUT

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Yummy chowder at The Green Cafe in Ludlow

We may not have the handful of 3-star Michelin restaurants of the past but Ludlow still has a fantastic selection of pubs, cafes and restaurants.

A favourite image on Instagram recently has been a log fire viewed through a glass of prosecco. Claire and I are all about moderation: it’s important to treat yourself every now and then (and quite frankly, we could do with a break from kale, porridge and quinoa) so when it really is too foul to go outside, find a place by the fire, enjoy a meal made from local produce and experience the true meaning of ‘hygge’.

Restaurants and pubs we have enjoyed: Mill on the Green, Ludlow Kitchen, Pizza Ten, The Unicorn Inn, Koo Japanese Restaurant, The Blue Boar, Pizza Express, Riverside Inn, Chang Thai, The Charlton Arms. Find a full listing here.

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As fully paid up members of the sandwich generation (middle-aged, caught between a young family and ageing parents, juggling work and family, battling the bulge) we know it’s not always possible to accomplish all of the above.

This month, the idea is to manage the stress: strip down the to-do list, learn to prioritise and give yourself much needed ‘me time’. When the weather outside is pants, the children are bickering and you are constantly chasing your tail, here’s a very Simple solution: run yourself a deep bath, pour yourself a stiff drink, light a scented candle, shut the door and…BREATHE.