Category Archives: Buildings

I’m a non-believer

For a fairly devout non-believer I’ve spent a relatively large amount of time in churches over the past month. Firstly for my inaugural enrolment as a godfather (fingers crossed at appropriate times) and then twice in 12 hours over the cusp of December 24th & 25th – midnight mass in St Laurence’s in Ludlow and the Christmas morning service in our village church. Feeling non-festive at the close of the shop on the 24th I thought that midnight mass might engender some spirit of the season in me.

Today, on a rare day trip away from both work and home, we had 2 rural churches in the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire border lands in our sights. There was also the additional impetus of a visit to the wonderful Butcher’s Arms in Woolhope for lunch.

All Saint’s in Brockhampton is that rare beast, an Arts & Crafts church. Completed in 1902 and designed by William Lethaby it’s a complicated piece of architecture; making use of thatch, stone and timber, but all executed to such a high standard and sitting so neatly next to each other.



The craftsmanship and attention to detail continues inside: beautiful light fittings (both electric and candle), altar tapestries by Burne-Jones and these amazing hand stitched covers to the prayer books.

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The second church on the list was St Mary’s at Kempley was more ancient; boasting the oldest roof of any building in Britain and the most complete set of Romanesque frescoes in Northern Europe. Sadly . . . . those that are habitually programmed to not look for opening hours for churches will find that it is closed until March. So both frescoes and roof will require a re-visit; but the Norman exterior (with add ons) was enough on a sunny January day.


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Filed under Art, Buildings, Food

Old auction posters

I bought a box at auction of what is probably politely catalogued as paper ephemera. Some old legal documents and some posters advertising the auction of farmland. I’m in the process of excavating through it and photographing pieces to put on ebay. Nice bits of typography abound.

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The Sun Inn

The Sun cropped up in my previous post. I mentioned that drinking in a parlour bar was a bit like drinking in somebody’s front room. Here’s the evidence:

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Marches Supper Society

After a few months of planning, the inaugural Marches Supper Society event took place on June 4th. In the lineage of great tabloid reveals, the veil of secrecy can be lifted and I can stand proud as one those behind the moniker. One of my cohorts is less keen on being named and shamed, the other is the estimable Henry Mackley. Of course Observer Food Monthly has already deemed secret supper clubs as passé, but . . . with Shropshire being somewhat behind the curve we can claim to be immune from such metropolitan whims.

Our guests on Saturday ate and drank the following. Homemade lemonade w/ raspberries, mint and vodka, roasted almonds, early summer vegetables w/ herby mayonnaise, rabbit, pistachio and prune terrine w/ pickled gherkins and sourdough, roast garlic and pea soup, ham hock w/ broad beans, asparagus and new potatoes, saffron and tomato tart with salad, warm gooseberry cake w/ elderflower ice cream, coffee and shortbread. What lessons have we learnt from this? A functioning dishwasher would be useful, Henry has  conquered a fear of playing waiter, some umbellifers smell more ‘fragrant’ than others and should not be included in any table decorations and . . . there’s a demand for what we are doing.

Some of our guests knew each already other but everyone seemed to be getting on from our kitchen viewpoint. I think we will be doing it again.

We’re planning to make it a monthly happening, not necessarily in the same venue – it would be nice to mix up this element of the endeavour – but keeping it local, and sticking to our combined ideas of what good food (and a good menu) constitutes.

(thanks to Sian for the photo)

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The unofficial Ludlow postcard

I’ve written before about my near obsession with old postcards. I’ve finally found a sensible use for (one of) them. Cue the first proper bit of Black Bough publicity material – the unofficial tourist postcard. Not sure the tourist board would want images of 1970s Ludlow to become the mainstay of their attempts to draw visitors to the town, but I wish they did. Apparently the original image of the postcard must date from post August 1972; number plate dating will be as widespread a technique for future historians as carbon dating and counting tree rings are now . . . maybe.

Put together with the help of the ever patient Mr Sean Alexander,

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The joy of tongue

Stop laughing at the back.

Not sure I’m quite ready to deal with the preparation and cooking of tongue myself. But while others (that I trust) are willing to do it, I am willing to eat it. Particularly when it comes in the format below; with some exemplary sourdough and a generous amount of homemade herby mayonnaise. Not my own sourdough note – but there have been big improvements on that front.

This week’s day off thus centred around lunch at the Green Cafe. We had made it to Shobdon Church beforehand – following an article in World of Interiors earlier in the year (at the end of last year?) – however such is the extent of the renovations that the bulk of the Strawberry Hill Gothic interior is not viewable. Did however chance upon a huge walled garden by the church (inaccessible but oh so tempting) and a field of blackcurrant bushes – my favourite summer fruit and an excuse to go back, check on the church renovations and sneak a handful of currants.


Filed under Buildings, Cooking, Food, Gardening

A day in the life of a shop boy

Not to be confused with a day in the life of a Pet Shop Boy, which I imagine is slightly more . . . metropolitan . . . shall we say.


Was tempted to continue this post with the deft insertion of lots of Pet Shop Boy song titles, however . . . I gave up.

See below for a virtuoso demonstration of the art of how it should be done.


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