THE SIMPLE EDIT

A Shropshire lass who went away and a New Yorker who came to stay

Shopping

My Ludlow Life: LA Jewellery

Unless you live in Ludlow, you wouldn’t know it is a town chock full of small businesses.  Behind the Jacobean and Georgian facades, down the scenic streets and cobbled alleyways, thrives a community of talented creatives.

They are artists, potters, chefs, restaurateurs, jewellery designers, book binders, beauticians and florists and they are Ludlow’s beating heart. For those visiting the area, the best placed to tell you about its ins and outs of our buzzing town are the people who work here.

To introduce these wonderful craftspeople, we will post an interview in our new column, “My Ludlow Life”.  Here we get the real low-down on life in Ludlow from those in the know.  

Our first interview is with La Jewellery proprietor, the lovely Lisa Anne.

Bio

Lisa Anne Dickenson (the “La” in La Jewellery) lived and worked in Wales for 15 years and still has a small design studio there. Now based in Ludlow, Shropshire on the edge of the Welsh Marches she believes wholeheartedly in the magic of the Marches landscape, seeking and finding endless inspiration in her surroundings.

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Large Fairtrade Heart copyright La Jewellery

Q: What’s your connection to Ludlow? a) Are you an incomer (fell in love on a visit) b) A returner (grew up here, went away, glad to be back) or c) Have never left the Shire (why go anywhere else?)

LA: I am incomer and came here six years ago from Monmouth with my husband.  The first time I came to Ludlow was to present Eddie Izzard with jewellery at a charity event at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms. The second time, we helped a lady who worked for me to move house and that’s when we decided to stay.

Q: Finish the sentence: Living in and around Ludlow is the bees knees because…

LA: The energy is constantly changing, I love the fluidity. There’s a constant mix of new people, new energy coming in and out and a lot of creativity I find in Ludlow. There’s always something going on, there’s always something happening whether it’s a play or an exhibition or a shop launch, poetry evening.  There is so much to do here.

Q: Tell us something about Ludlow that no one else knows

We have our own beach!  The beach down at The Millennium Green.  When the water level falls below a certain level, a pebbly beach appears either side of Dinham Bridge.

Q: Your favourite haunt and why?

55 Mill Street with my grand-daughter on a Sunday afternoon, trying on frocks and hats and invariably coming out with some random purchase!

Q: What would your perfect day in Ludlow look like?

It would be having lunch with my daughter, Anastasia, at the French Pantry eating our favourite (Helen, the owner, will laugh when she hears this) French onion soup which they know as I never order anything else!

Q: Finally, your recommends: your top spot to eat, drink or visit in the area?

The French Pantry or The Parkway (a tapas bar run by two Spanish chefs) – their garlic prawns are to die for especially soaked up with a bit of bread and butter.
Who would you like to nominate for the next profile?  

Andy and Sarah Nash of Pepper Lane Gallery.

photo

Lisa Anne at work in her studio copyright La Jewellery

 

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.

Vintage love

I’ve moved to the country and stored my high heels away in my loft. But I love clothes and fashion. I also like living in the country. The two are not mutually exclusive. I haven’t abandoned my love of the whimsical just because I live in the countryside. One of my favourite places to shop in Ludlow is the vintage store 55 Mill Street. The decor and layout are delightful and I love browsing the […]

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Farm shop trail

When you live in the sticks, one of life’s little luxuries is food.  We keep writing about it, so you know here in Ludlow we are well catered for: a fair number of farmers’ markets, delis and of course farm shops.  We love them because they can be unique and we like knowing the provenance of our food.

We applaud and support farm shops that are taking the initiative to showcase not only their own produce and specialities but also other local food producers. Lucy and I thought it would be interesting to highlight a few.

After a bit of research involving recommendations from friends and families, farm shop signs that cropped up in our sight lines while travelling around and, of course, Google; we came up with a less-than-exhaustive list of four shops within a ten-mile radius of Ludlow. One was immediately disqualified because there was nothing farm like about it. Look if you’re going to call yourself a farm shop, well for a start a proximity to a farm would be nice! The big farm shop baby of the bunch is the Ludlow Food Centre – Lucy’s fan favourite but she’s already covered it here so it’s not included.

Quarry Farm Shop

img_2168Quarry Farm based in Luston just outside Leominster is fairly special and is one that I was already familiar with and have now introduced Lucy to. I enjoy their meat and before I discovered the farm shop often bought their tasty pies and sausage rolls from various village shops. The Quarry Farm shop itself has unexpected surprises in stock. Lucy says it’s a perfect one-stop shop for those special occasions when you’re entertaining guests. You can impress with very little effort because aside from posh popcorn, artisan drinks, vegetables, a good selection of wines, the owners will also give you top tips on how to prepare and cook the meats you select. And, when friends stay over (happens a lot in the countryside!) the shop sells the best frozen croissants and pain au chocolates – a firm breakfast favourite of my own little Edit.

Monkland Cheese Dairy

img_2173As its name suggests it’s all about the cheese! This working dairy just outside Leominster produces local, artisan cheeses and boasts an award-winning cafe which we didn’t get to sample on our farm shop tour. We’ll save  it for next time.  This is a tiny shop with a small selection of food products such as locally produced condiments and liqueurs, ideal for gift giving. We walked away with Monkland brand Smoked Little Hereford and The Other Monk cheeses, local Herefordshire produced British cassis, Damson Gin, chilli jam, farmhouse pickle and even a couple of greeting cards.

Froggatts

img_2178The farm shop that really isn’t!   From the outset this shop announces itself to be not just quirky but perky too. Just a couple of miles outside Ludlow off the A49 the owners claim a love of all things vintage and in the shop, you will find an interesting and fun mix of retro pieces, and painted, upcycled items. This is a great spot if you share the vintage love. Lucy planned to sneak back for a decorative mirror and wooden shelf she had spotted.  Froggats also has a very sweet little cafe which again, we didn’t have time to sample but we were tempted by the delicious baking smells wafting from the little kitchen.  There was a display of reasonably priced farm fruit, vegetables and homemade jams but on the day we visited, the fridges were bare of any of their rare-breed pork. Never mind any excuse to return!

Lucy and I rather enjoyed the Farm Shop trail and we will be returning to this theme soon because there are a few more to explore. But for now the season to be jolly approaches, so our Xmas special on things to do, see, buy and bake is up next.