Win a Framed Squirrel by Mark Hearld

Mark Hearld Linocut Squirrel

Detail from Squirrel by Mark Hearld

We are celebrating the opening of our 4th biannual ‘St Jude’s at Tinsmiths’ exhibition with a chance for one very lucky winner the chance to win ‘Squirrel’ linocut by Mark Hearld, edtion size 95, mounted & framed in a simple oak frame. Just Like and share the ‘St Judes Giveaway’ Facebook Post.

Full Size image of Squirrel

The 2014 ‘St Judes at Tinsmiths’ exhibition opens with a private view on Friday 11th April and goes on until 10th May. We will have work by Angie Lewin, Peter Green, Jonny Hannah, Ed Kluz, Mark Hearld & Emily Sutton.

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, Open Good Friday & Easter Saturday.

Terms & Conditions: This competition is eligible for international entrants. The winner will be picked at random and will be notified via Facebook. The winner must like and follow our page.This prize cannot be exchanged for any other item. Entrants must be over 18. The competition closes 25/4/14 and the winner will be notified within 7 days. The winner has 30 days to claim the prize, in the event of the named winner not claiming the prize, another winner will be picked at random and notified via our Facebook page.

Tinsmiths Calendar Post – What do Hairdresser’s do all day?

Mervyn Parnell taking it easy.On being asked why he became a hairdresser, Mervyn Parnell is liable to give one of two answers, either: “I was good at art, I could draw and I knew I was creative. I could have gone to art college but it was full of ‘hippies’ not people like me, so I thought that hairdressing would allow me to be creative and earn a living”. The other answer is “I was a 5’2” lad with buck teeth, so I figured that going into an industry which had loads of girls and not too many heterosexual men working in it, that I would be bound to pull.”  I’m not sure which answer is true. In any case Mervyn started as a Saturday boy in a salon near his family home in Gloucester in his early teens, he was cutting hair at 15 and had is own client list at 16. “No one ever taught me, there was one chap John Phelps who ran another salon and had been a world champion, we just used to talk about cutting hair which sounds a bit sad but he’s the only person that I learned anything from”.

A girlfriend and job brought Mervyn to Ledbury at the beginning of the 80’s. “I remember getting off the bus with a Mohawk haircut wearing bondage trousers and I thought ‘What the heck am I doing here?’  Mervyn has continued to be one of Ledbury’s more stylish residents with a collection of more than 60 vintage Levi jeans, 25 Levi jackets from the 40’s & 50’s, Pendleton shirts and 1948 -1956 suits it can be said that Mervyn is more into clothes than most “It just smacks of laziness, dressing badly”.

Denim jeansIn 1986 Mervyn opened the Cutting Club, with a distinctly mid century feel and educational selection from Mervyn’s extensive record collection of northern soul, 50’s & 60’s R & B and roots rockabilly music playing, the salon has been busy since the day it opened.

50's vibe in the salon“My working day starts at 7.30 in the morning and ends at 7.30 in the evening, I have 20+ clients a day and I can’t wait to get a pair of scissors in my hands”. “So you like what you do?” “Absolutely; I like to create and change, I like cutting hair and I really like the people that I work with, in 28 years I’ve never had a crossed word with any of my stylists”.

The Cutting ClubLike Martin (the Printer from January), Mervyn is another Ledbury Luddite, there is no computer in the salon or in Mervyn’s life and no mobile phone either, this seems to be an aesthetic choice as much as anything ‘I struggle with technology, I’m just not interested, I prefer things which are crafted with a hand and heart’. And fashion as a concept is difficult for him too ‘I like style not fashion, I like a good hair cut where you can see it’s a whole exercise in shape, not to be dressed’ sideview

Mervyn and I go back along time; he first cut my hair when I was 14, it is a haircut which is etched on my memory because until that day my hair had been long, straggly and mainly scratched back into a ponytail and found under a riding hat but the sleek sharp bob that Mervyn gave me made me aware of a whole new world of possibilities!

The Cutting Club. Tel:01531 635866 and to get a flavour of the music Mervyn is cutting to follow this Spotify link to a few of his favorite tracks.

Tinsmiths’ Calendar Post: What do Upholsterers do all day?

Sam Prentice’s workshop is crammed with furniture. It’s always this way when I visit. Sam is self conscious about it, ‘You can’t photograph here, it’s too messy’ he protests. Over the years I’ve come to understand that any upholsterer that isn’t busy isn’t very good. Once people find a good upholsterer, commissions for small footstools quickly progress into a set of dining chairs, a sofa or two; as one job gets finished and delivered, another is picked up ‘I am never short of work but trying to make a plan or manage it, well that’s more difficult.’

Sam Prentice Upholsterer

Sam set up Hartpury Upholstery in 2005 when he and his wife, who had family ties with the area, decided that Gloucestershire was a good place to bring up a family. ‘I couldn’t do this in London, the overheads would make it impossible. You do need a bit of space’ and getting started with his own workshop? ‘Around here it’s all word of mouth, you do a bad job and everyone knows about it – but that’s been really good for me, because it works the other way too’

Being a one man band Sam has to cover every aspect of his business; part of the week will be spent heaving furniture in and out of the van either when collecting furniture to be reupholstered or delivering finished pieces ‘My friends joke ‘how’s the stitching?’ but, when they’ve lent a hand delivering, they realize it’s a bit more physical than that’.

Every job is different; the age and condition of the piece will dictate what is done, the materials used and how the work is done. The day starts at 8.30am and finishes around 6.30pm ‘If I’ve nearly finished something I will carry on until it’s done if I can, family permitting. I like to start the day with something new.’ Of course there’s the inevitable paperwork; invoicing and ordering supplies to keep on top of, as well as being a sales person. ‘I’m a tradesman, not a salesman. It’s not me. Some of the people I’ve worked for were quite ruthless about it and I’ve wondered if I shouldn’t take some of that, but it’s just not my nature.’ Sam reflects.

upholstery toolsupholstery springsindustrial singer sewing machine





So why upholstery? ‘It’s in the blood, my Dad and Uncle were both upholsterers, I did my apprenticeship with them and then worked with them. Seven years in total; they worked for a chain of hotels in London doing restoration and new furniture’. It was 1982 when Sam began his apprenticeship as a 16 year old school leaver. ‘The country was in recession, it’s felt a little like that ever since’. Sam’s Dad had been in the trade all his life. ‘At weekends he would have projects going at home. One of my earliest memories is the sound of the treadle on his sewing machine going in our front room.’ Being trained in the era of piece work and very exacting standards Sam’s Dad & Uncle kept a close eye on the apprentices. ‘I am so glad I had that time with them, the stories they had, working with my Dad I had seven quality years with him’.

Sam's father's union cards

Sam’s father’s union cards














After the hotel chain Sam went to work for small independent shop in Islington that offered a re-upholstery service, with a wide variety of furniture coming through the door it gave him a chance to increase his knowledge and suited him in other ways. ‘I’m an Arsenal supporter, so I could get to all the midweek home matches.’ Five years later, ‘We were in recession proper and that business went under,’explains Sam, whose move to work with an interior design business and later for an antique dealer showed him another world with a high end clientele and where qualities like longevity were not so important.  ‘It was a real eye-opener: it was all about the look of it.’

Webbing a seat base


chairs to re-upholster

When I ask how things have changed in the trade over his working life it becomes clear that things have gone full circle. ‘Customers today say to me,‘I want this to see me out.’ Excellent workmanship and good quality cloths, with an emphasis on value and long life, are once again the order of the day. I asked Sam whether he still liked his work, whether he’d change direction, “I didn’t realise what I was missing until I set up my own workshop. It’s very rewarding to see my customer’s reactions to the finished pieces. I think if you don’t enjoy it, it reflects in your work. You’ve got to have job satisfaction”.

close up of piped armchair

buttone back armchair in Lewis and Wood Fabricwing-armchair1

Sam Prentice Tel:01452 700 004

Tinsmiths’ Calendar Post : What do Chocolatiers do all day?

Sitting in the Velvet Bean’s chocolate kitchen, beside the shop in Church Street, Ledbury, was a deep breathing moment for me. Paddles slowly turning the gently warming chocolate in three “bain mairies”  that look like they mean business immediately attract my attention . Ben Boyle, Ledbury’s chocolatier, offers me a seat.


Tempering Chocolate at The Velvet Bean

This is not Ben’s first career, he spent many years teaching horticulture and worked as a landscape gardener and  taught horticulture in colleges across the South of England. Ten years ago Ben and his wife, Mel moved to Herefordshire. “We looked around the area and agreed it was a settling down sort of a place”, explains Ben; at the same time the couple looked for a career that would allow them to work from home and combine looking after their young family.


Chocolatier, Ben Boyle with his wife, Melanie.

“I’d always loved cooking, my Mum got me going. There seemed to be a gap in the market for independent chocolate-makers and the process gave me scope to be creative. I am an optimist at heart so I just launched in and taught myself. It was a slow start, working from home and selling at farmers’ markets”.



The naked chocs – waiting to have their chocolate coats.

Ben’s day length varies, the year being punctuated by regular chocolate-friendly occasions – Christmas, Valentine’s Day and, of course, Easter which can extend his normal 9-5pm day to midnight or beyond. The first thing he does each morning is to temper the chocolate which has been very slowly heating in the paddled bowls from early morning, thanks to automatic timers. Tempering is a process in which chocolate, in this case Belgian couverture chocolate with high cocoa butter and cocoa solids, is heated and cooled in a specific way. One of the properties of couverture is its polymorphous crystallization; tempering stabilises five different types of fat crystal by heating to 45 degrees centigrade, followed by careful cooling to 28 degrees and then heating again to the working temperature of 35 degrees. The process prevents “bloom” and allows the chocolate to work well with moulds and as a “robe” to Ben’s truffles and a variety of his original fillings.

Church St entrance to the chocolate shop

“I’m not computer-minded, I enjoy the chance to experiment and play with new ideas. I’m very happy running the shop – people come, buy and then call for one-offs or something particular. I think its good to have a High Street with artisan products – a more independent High Street. I’d like to see more makers here. When you make what you sell the future is yours, you are in control” says Ben. One of the creative parts of making cased chocolates is to formulate unusual recipes: rum and plum, vodka and orange, grappe, champagne, peanut butter and masses more, changing all the time. A novelty millennium falcon alongside a very decorative stiletto shoe also caught my eye.


Milk chocolates here with freehand piping so that the shop staff can identify them.

Talking of future, Ben and Mel have exciting plans to move up the road to number 33 The Homend – still on the “High Street” but into their own premises, formerly known as “The Cartoonery”. The new shop which will open after Christmas 2014, will allow them more scope to, for example, run chocolate-making day courses.


The New Velvet Bean (to the left of the apothecary shop) will open in January 2015.

Just as we finished talking, I asked whether the Chocolatier was keen to nibble a choccy or two of an evening or whether working with it all day long put him off. “Why wouldn’t I? A good strong 96% chocolate without too much sugar, full of anti-oxidants, good for  seritonin levels and coupled with a nice bottle of wine”, Ben says with some relish.


Portion Control? Long and thin or short and stout, all the chocolates are very generous portions.

After taking a few close-up photographs of The Velvet Bean’s selection, I could stand it no longer and packed little collection to take back to Tinsmiths, convincing myself that the rum and plum filling counted as one of my five a day – needless to say they didn’t last until evening.


I really wouldn’t mind staying on to clean up the surfaces……

Visiting The Old House Hereford

I knew that I really should have been Christmas shopping. I’ve walked past The Old House Museum for the last twenty years and somehow felt now was the time to re-acquaint myself. Thirty minutes away from the hustle of the High Town was altogether restoring.

The House itself was built, where it stands in the centre of Hereford, in 1621 and is full of 17th century furniture, murals and artefacts. Like Ledbury, Hereford had a wide main street, a Butcher’s Row, where cattle were butchered and markets held. The Row began to be demolished in 1816. The Old House is the last house standing in what had been a central row of houses on, the now pedestrian, High Town. The museum is free to visit, a lovely space to on four floors, three open to the public(although the stairs are very steep and floor uneven), if you take youngsters set them a challenge to find the dog flap!

Here are some images of its hoard, I’m afraid they are not the highest quality but I hope they inspire you to take a look.

carved head

Carved bracket below 1st floor window.

City Model

Fabulous Model of the City of Hereford when the Old House was built.

The Old House Hereford

On four floors, the magnificent timber-framed building stands in the middle of Hereford’s shopping street.

Elm quarter jacks

A pair of elm quarterjacks struck the quarter hour of Hereford’s Market House – now demolished

Whilst the elm torsos of these figures are completely smooth, the artist went to town on their coiffure.

Whilst the elm torsos of these figures are completely smooth, the artist went to town on their coiffure.

The Law Suit

My favourite artefact this visit was a small relief carving of a dispute over a cow showing two farmers and a lawyer milking the animal.

The Old House is open almost everyday of the year, excluding some bank holidays, call them to check hours on 01432 260694.


What do Printer’s do all Day? January Calendar Post

“I’m a compositor” Martin Clark explains, “but not many people will know what that is these days, so you’d better use the term ‘letterpress printer’”. Martin has worked at Tilley Printing for over fifty years, from the age of fifteen when he started as apprentice, to compositor, to printer and now, fifty years on, as proprietor.  Composing type as we speak, his unusually long fingernails working the tiny metal letters that make up words for print; address cards, business stationery, album covers, printed bags, poetry posters or artist’s books.

Tilley’s and Martin begin the day at 7.30am with ink at the presses, composing type is customarily done in the afternoon. For standard-sized jobs a Heidelberg press (circa 1970 and the size of a small washing machine) is used and a much earlier Wharfdale press for large works eg., land posters. The Wharfdale is the size of a very, very large dining table and runs from an electric motor using 5″ canvas drive belts that span the room. Considerable power is needed to move cast iron flat bed of the press which holds the chase or a heavy frame into which are locked wooden or metal letters.

Martin Clark

Martin Clark at Tilley’s printing poetry posters on the Wharfdale Press

When the presses are running there is a kind of percussive rhythm to the place; the sound of belts, rollers and paper-feeds all combine so that the place seems to breath. Added to this are the smells of dust, ink and parrafin but most memorable is the sight of the place – banks of letters of all sizes, with styles so singular, original engravings, illustrations and ornaments – some polished with use, some languishing in a corner waiting for re-discovery.

Tilley Type

Tilley type ready for the press

A tray of engravings.

A tray of engravings.

The print works, to a degree, tells the story of the town – just see how many engravings are connected with, for example, hop growing or agricultural machinery, cider making, soft fruit or local societies and clubs. Tilley’s working day is punctuated by a fairly constant flow of visitors – some simply to see the works which have barely changed in more than fifty years, others come to collect or order printing. Most are known personally or come on recommendation via a regular customer. The day usually ends around 6pm, five days a week – so a normal week is over 50 hours. I’ve been visiting Tilley’s for over six years, but I knew, as most Ledbury folk know, of the print works because of “Tilley’s Almanac”. This local directory was produced by the press from 1878 to 1993, it was to be found, well thumbed in most  households and businesses – a local bible. When Martin began his apprenticeship in 1963 there were four letterpress printing works in the town. Now Tilley’s, the only one left, finds its rarity a great advantage. ” Letterpress is sought after  – as artwork with the obvious use of archaic type”, explains Martin, whose workload is peppered with ‘arty-stuff’ nowadays as well as formal stationery for business and domestic use.

Large Type

Large Type used on Tinsmiths’ Calendar 2013

large type on wharfdale

Large type on wharfdale, printed example

Martin’s decision to train as a printer wasn’t exactly his first choice, ” I’d spent my childhood doing odd jobs on the farms around Ledbury – fruit-picking, pruning; I suppose I was romantic for those misty autumn days and thought I’d go farming but my Mum stopped me going on the farm, she could see how things were going – its all changed”. Miss Tilley inherited the works from her family who ran a number of enterprises in Ledbury from the middle of the 19th century. She always had an apprentice – someone who would spend five years indentured to the firm before moving on as a journeyman.

Compositor's Room

Compositor’s Room with draws and shelves of type.

Martin’s older brother, Phillip, worked for her and it was natural that Martin was familiar with the business. “When I was fourteen she said to me “You finish (school) early and come and work for me as apprentice compositor”, explains Martin who considered it a good offer; compositor was a step-up in terms of the fairly rigid hierachy of roles in the printing industry. Martin’s father signed the indenture and that was it. Cruelly, at the outset an apprentice was to “set” – that is place every letter, space, punctuation mark into a “form” be they psalms, or The Lord’s Prayer or any lengthy piece with tricky spellings, only to see it disassembled day after day until it was perfect.

The Heidelberg Press

The Heidelberg Press

” I’m no business man, I worked as a journeyman printer for six months or so after my apprenticeship was complete. I went to large newspaper printworks in Keswick, another in Stratford and a book publishing house in Oxford, but I liked the scale of Tilleys – I knew that although I was trained as a compositor, at Tilleys I’d have the chance to work in all the areas”, explains Martin, who could not have imagined quite how true this would become when, in 1983, he took over the works with just two printers and an apprentice and later worked on his own until the arrival of his current apprentice in 2012. When I asked Martin whether he plans for the future he smiled uncertainly, and looking over at his apprentice, Anneleise Appleby, said, “She’s the future, if you call that planning, in the sense that she will become a printer – all I can do is to do my best to train her.” Just as Martin, the returning journeyman printer, brought the innovation of machine-set type (linotype) to Tilleys, Anneleise adds her original artwork in the form of lino-cuts, to the repertoire of print processes that Tilley Printing can offer, setting it even further from apart commercial litho or digital printers.

Printing Blocks

Carved Wooden Printing Blocks

The invention of desktop printing undoubtedly had an enormous impact on traditional letterpress and hot-type printers, most either embraced the innovations or went to the wall. Tilley’s appears to have weathered the storm to take up a niche position. How did it survive? I believe partly due to the scale of the place, partly because staff had looked after the equipment, partly its position in a small market town with many loyal, local customers requiring shorter runs than commercial printers would entertain, but mainly because it is run by someone who has modest aspirations and who loves his work.

Poster by Tilleys, words by Beatrice Warde

Poster by Tilleys, words by Beatrice Warde

Sunny Todd – giving it some thought

There is something very inspiring about passion. In this case, I mean passion for one’s work. Sunny visited us with samples of his textile designs a few month’s ago and we were struck by his commitment, enthusiasm and drive. His designs are dramatic, bold and bright, they leap out and grab you. It is really good to have something that shakes us, something quite different and a bit daring for Tinsmiths.

printed cottons by Sunny Todd“Tinsmiths feels to be very much at the heart of the bustling community and it has been a real joy to begin working with them this year. I have particularly enjoyed collaborating with owner Phoebe Clive on unique colour combinations for the store; I have really appreciated her advice, support and belief in me as a new designer and I am very much looking forward to my show at Tinsmiths next summer.” says Sunny, who moved to Ledbury, with his young family, this spring (2013).Sunny Todd “I have been so surprised by the vibrancy of this small market town” remarks Sunny, whose energy and interest can only add to the life of the town.

After training at the Royal College of Art, graduating with an MA in Printed Textile Design, Sunny Todd worked as a freelance designer in London for various companies including Topshop, Topman, Levis, River Island and Urban Outfitters, predominantly customising garments with Silk Screen prints.

Passionate about producing designs that are clean, bold and graphic, Sunny intuitively and obsessively draws with pen, scissors and scalpel to create repeats that are confident, dynamic and full of movement. Scale is explored, reducing and exaggerating to experiment with composition and the impact of the repeat.

Sunny PrintingAll his designs are cut by hand which gives the art work beautiful irregularities, and so when fabrics are digitally printed by British company Smarts they retain the hand printed aesthetic. Sunny gives a good deal of thought to how his textiles will be used and his latest wash bags and shoulder bags are good examples of this – his large shoulder bags should be considered part of one’s apparel, not merely a necessity.

Sunny's Voluminous Diamond Shoulder BagSunny’s show at Tinsmiths runs from 6th September to 4th October, 2014 and there will be an opportunity to meet and talk to Sunny about his work at the opening on the evening of Friday, 5th September. If you would like to receive an invitation, please e-mail with your details.

Sunny's washbags




Game – December Calendar Post

Serendipity! Just as I was wondering what to write about ‘Game’ for our December calendar blog, into the shop walked my good friend Mark Coleman clutching and envelope of old pictures that he wanted advice on how to frame. The pictures were all taken on the Glanusk Estate during the ‘Golden Age’ of the sporting estate before WW1 and have more than a whiff of Downton Abbey about them.

Luckily Mark also new what each picture was showing and supplied the captions to each picture.

Glanusk Casting Competition

‘Casting Competition’ (circa 1900) this was a big event in the Edwardian calendar on the estate where the whole estate and village would turn out for a day by the river Usk, the event is still held every 3 years.

Glanusk Picnic

Joseph Bailey, Founder of Glanusk Estate enjoying a family fishing party in the late 1800’s.

Salmon from the Usk

A pre-WW1 salmon catch; although much more sparse in the Usk today, salmon are back on the increase in recent years


Ernest and Mrs King at Glanusk

Ernest King, the former head keeper at Glanusk Estate pictured outside his house with his wife in the early 1900’s he was killed by poachers a few years later in what is now known as ‘Kings Wood’.


Glanusk Mansion, built in 1826 and demolished in 1952 having suffered serious damage during it’s WW2 requisition by the army

Rearing Pheasants at Glanusk

The Pheasant Rearing Field in the late 1800’s – The keepers would gather pheasant eggs from wild broods and incubate them under broody hens.

Shooting Party

A Glanusk shoot party in the late 1800’s

lunch for the loaders

The loaders take a well earned rest at lunch whilst the shooting party take lunch in the marquee erected behind at their chosen lunch spot..

Scout Camp

Showing scouts building bivouac’s and setting camp in the parkland at Glanusk.

A house party at Glanusk, in the early 1800's

A house party at Glanusk, in the early 1800′s

Today such ‘Sporting Estates’ are still around but now operating commercially and much of the countryside around Ledbury looks as it does because it is managed for game birds as well as agriculture. My friend Mark runs the Glanusk shoot, lives in a cottage on the Glanusk estate and clearly loves the countryside that is his home and workplace ‘This is fantastic ground, steeply wooded valleys, small hedged fields; it is a rare setting’

Glanusk Countryside 2013

Glanusk Countryside 2013

Also under Mark’s supervision is the Stoke Edith shoot a few miles out of Ledbury, which coincidentally is also centered around a ‘lost’ country house, that of Stoke Edith. Stoke Edith was a particularly fine country house built in the 1690’s and was a sad loss to Herefordshire’s built environment when it was demolished following a fire in 1927. We have featured the ‘Stoke Edith Tapestry’ in a previous blog about Ed Kluz and his particular interest in ‘Lost’ houses.

Stoke Edith

Stoke Edith before the fire completely gutted the house in the 1920′s

Getting back to the subject: game is extremely good for you being super low fat, low cholesterol and high in protein, and for my money there is little better than a good game casserole on a winter’s evening, the subject of November’s blog Ledbury butcher Dave Waller always has a good selection of game when in season and for recipes and tips on cooking game has it all.


Bangers – November Calendar Post

Bangers that go off in the sky early in November are best accompanied by bangers that warm the onlooker. Guy Fawkes night and a hot dog, just like a horse and carriage.

SausageDave Waller is one of the counties most recogniseable butchers and I visited him on the 36th anniversary of his business in the Homend, Ledbury to ask him why and how he became a butcher and what he liked the most about his work. “I like the people – I’m not the best butcher in the world”, he said showing me evidence of a variety of mishaps, now well healed. “In my class at school the choice was limited – something practical for the “unteachables”, he said with a wry smile, ” there was the “special” curriculum for us”. In fact, Dave’s teacher, provided practical, confidence-building experiences and became a life-long friend. Testament to his influence is the fact that many of Dave’s classmates have become influential employers of scores of people.

“It wasn’t an easy choice”, he explains. “A six day week, starting at 6am each day: all my mates were rock and rolling; I, on the other hand, needed matchsticks to keep my eyes open by Saturday night”.  He was an errand boy at 12yrs old, then an apprentice and simply progressed slowly to build a honest shop, “It is important to me that the business is sound – for the boys – and so that I can sleep at night. I’ve made it my business to provide good meat. Quality, choice and value is our philosophy.”

I love to witness, on Christmas Eve morning and high days and holidays, the queue at Waller’s door. Steaming trays of mulled wine at Christmas offered to those who may wait 40 minutes or more, a truly seasonal sight.

“The queue is a community in itself – everyone is talking.  I am very proud of my customers, people from all walks of life meet and begin to get to know one another.” There is always banter, always jokes and bonhomie every time I have stopped in at the shop. All Dave’s staff have an ease about them “You can’t buy it, its a gift.” Dave explains.

It isn’t really a surprise to find that Dave was suggested by Ledbury residents as one of the most prominent figures of the High Street and as such, a good subject for Phillip Wells, Poet in Residence for the Poetry Festival this year, to think and write about. Here is the poem which is one a series written in response to local figures.

Wallers the Butcher
Across the road, the taste and spice of community
Butcher’s flavours of astonishing variety!
Munsley Mystery. Leadon Leek. The Tarrington Tom.
Bosbury Banger. Eastnor Royale – butchers love a song.
“The Hairy Bikers came here: you know how they felt?
As soon as they see the beef – they melt.”
Pistachio and garlic; asparagus and pork In the Queen’s hamper;
tongues are for taste, not talk. David T. Waller: cue cigar and G ‘n’ T,
Dreams in the mountains in view of the sea
Of apple sage and onion bangers, forty foot long –
Let’s keep our English High Streets friendly and strong.
Lifelong friends begin in the warmth of these queues:
It’s a gathering-together-thing this world could use.


Anyway, back to Bangers. Waller’s Winners have a huge number of awards to their names. Thirty varieties? Is this possibly one or two too many? When I asked Dave to suggest the best, he didn’t hesitate to reach for a handful of straightforward pork sausages which will hit the pan tonight, but there may definitely be a day for a Pork LSD – Ledbury’s Stick of Dynamite on a cold night rapidly approaching.

Waller's Winners - best pork sauages

Waller’s have been known to serve the great, the good and celebrated. However, Dave is certain that “the most important person to me – every year, all year round – is “Mrs Jones and her half pound of mince”. David Waller, 1st November 2013


Pears – October Calendar Blog

pears ingredientsIt looks like being a bumper year for orchard fruits. My conference pears could hang for a few more days before picking but the sight of them spurred me on yesterday to cook a favorite pear recipe, so simple and yet really stunning visually and to one’s taste buds.

Pears in Red Wine

I’m not going to be terribly exact (as in previous efforts) with this recipe because it really depends on lots of variables – like the size of your saucepan, in particular. Just make sure that you have:

  • 10-12 conference pears
  • a bottle of red wine
  • a carton or bottle of apple juice
  • some sugar
  • cinnamon stick/bark, cloves and/or star anise (or your chosen mulling spices)


Mix half a pint of wine with same of apple juice, add 3-4oz sugar to a pan (25cm-30cm diameter). Put in 6-8 cloves, a stick of cinammon or anise.

pearspeeledPeel the pears leaving the stalks on and cut a flat base for them to stand upright in the pan. Using a potato peeler longitudinally gives very attractive “facets” to the surface – if, like me you can get a little intense about such matters! Add them to the pan – check that there is nothing under each pear (like a clove) and make a tight pack for best chance of keeping pears upright. The wine mixture should come half to two thirds up the pears. I would start with half a pint of apple juice and half a pint of wine. If this isn’t enough, just add a little more of each once the pears are standing in place.pearsinpan

Simmer gently (rapid boil will overturn at least some fruit and spoil the effect of the colouring) until the pears are tender. Remove  fruit and strain liquid. Continue to reduce the liquor until it is just thick enough to coat fruit – or further to a thick syrup if you prefer.

rubypearsServe with cream and supply tools – dessert knife, fork and spoon for complete consumption…… I try to make a double batch to have some cold next day.

Now, what would you drink with a meal rounded off with such a dessert? Our friend, James Marston, popped in to say he is just picking his perry pears for the 2014 vintage of Greggs Pit perrys. Some of these will be used to produce his effervescent perry which is bottle using the Normandy method (so a second fermentation in the bottle, as in champagne, completes the process) which is truly delicious.

There will be all sorts of orchard and mill events on farms and small holdings surrounding the Marcle Ridge during the Big Apple harvest celebrations 12/13 October. Look out for James’ open orchard event. There is an opportunity to join in with the Big Apple tour on two wheels, cycling and stopping at regular intervals for tastings on Sunday. A great family event – take a whole day, there is so much to see.