Monthly Archives: September 2011

And then it was Tesco…takeaway meal, microwave, bottle of wine, telly…all in Ludlow. Heaven Forbid.

Where do I begin with this post. Last night while I was still on adrenaline after the fiasco, I started to blog. I decided to start basically where I had left off… Actually no, I did skip a few days in London, but those experiences have been catalogued on Facebook so they can be added later.

It was a good thing I delayed, I may have been somewhat more scathing in reporting on our final Ludlow Food Festival experience.

Let me back up. Years of spending dining moments with other foodie friends in London, it was suggested that we may want to attend the Ludlow Marches Food Festival. This 3 day extravaganza in Shropshire County England, has a bounty of local producers that come and display themselves and tantalize our appetites with food, ale, cider and spirits, all produced in a 4 county radius.



There is an ale trail, a sausage trail,a bread trail and a pudding trail. This all in addition to tents upon tents set up in and around the Castle and its grounds. It is delightful to see a Castle being used for one of its original uses. For three days, you can sample food and drink, take in countless demonstrations on 3 or 4 separate stages, take Slow Food workshops, and join the trails and grade their offerings.



We decided the sausage trail was for us. You purchase a ticket for £3.50 that is really a form, you wander around the town to find the five sausage tents, line up, eat and grade. At the end you take your grading form to a final stop, hand in your form and in exchange, you get your favourite sausage in a bap! It’s a great deal, yummy and a lot of fun.

The ale trail would have you stop in at 14 pubs with a mini cask on a lanyard, sample and grade the same. Folks usually do it over 2 days. You get the picture. The pudding trail isn’t about what we call pudding at home, pudding over here refers to desserts of all types.

So back to the fiasco. From Canada, prior to leaving, I tried to arrange a few of the Slow Food workshops and also snag a reservation at the ‘pop-up’ Michelin Restaurant that sets up inside the Castle. The problems I ran into were that both wanted money ahead of time to secure the reservation. The workshops were not expensive so I did what I tell others not to… I send some cash in the post. I did it with a guarantee on it and as it wasn’t much, I wasn’t too worried.

The festival restaurant was another story. The costs of wiring money were a bit prohibitive from my bank and I had left it a bit too long so mailing a money order wasn’t an option. I sent a note back and asked if we could pay upon arrival. They were very accommodating so we were set.

On Friday when we got to the festival, we checked in with the restaurant and everything was in order for our Saturday night reservation. I had previously let them know about Don’s food allergies, so all was going according to plan.

In the interim, sausages, ales, ciders, wine, more sausages, slow roasted pork, wood fired pizza, goat cheese, sheep cheese, charcuterie … to name a few… abounded.

After heading back to the Elm Lodge


where we were staying, we napped, then primped, then strolled first to a close ‘locals’ pub with Sky sports (Man U vs Bolton), then to another pub near the Castle.

Our reservation was for 8:30 pm so we made our way at 8:15 and were escorted through the grounds to the venue and greeted by some very lovely ladies who appeared to have everything under control.

The place was humming. Our escort had told us 100 people were dining and we were all to get 8 courses…so 800 covers were going to pump out of the ‘pop-up’ kitchen… Or so they thought….

With our drink order placed, we chatted about how lovely the setting was… About the other people around us… And then waited…and waited… and waited…and waited….

The drinks had come, but that was it. After 45 minutes we had not had the server come back. There were LOTS of staff, and they were in perpetual motion. Not sure what all the moving about was about, but it was not to bring food. We checked with a server, who seemed surprised… Finally I went to the entrance and checked in with the lovely ladies… They were horrified and immediately we received 2 Kir Royale appertifs…this on top of the bottle of wine we had started. Seeing as it was now 9:30 pm, I had to keep a lid on the wine consumption or the 8 courses would be a bit of a blur. Then one of the lovely ladies came over and comped our wine… I knew we were in trouble then…

We did get the first course, Don could only eat half of it…(pureed broccoli soup with whipped Stilton/blue cheese)… And I did get one slice of bread. And when my sugar levels bottomed out, I got up, screwed the lid back on the wine… And we left. The lovely ladies at the entrance were not surprised nor did they try to stop us. I guess something had imploded in the kitchen and they knew what was coming.

 I mention here a curious moment… Actually two, almost like a premonition, on our way from ‘locals’ pub to pub #2, Don inquired about whether I was excited for this anticipated feast… I said that I had lowered my expectations around things like this as I have been let down too many times. The other was the gal that served the wine, she made a specific gesture of leaving us the cap for the wine in case we didn’t finish. 8 courses, 1 bottle of wine and no driving? Seemed rather odd that we wouldn’t finish it….

But there it was… Our comped wine came with us and my inability to pay ahead of time meant that no further action was required by anyone.

We left the Castle and the Festival behind, stopped at Tesco(like Safeway) on the 1 mile walk home and picked up Spaghetti Carbonara


for me and Chicken Tikka Masala for Don.

We had a little kitchen where were staying and we heated up our late night dinner and turned on the telly…




And that was Ludlow.


(Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device in Europe)


Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Food, From the Travel Files


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When I get to wifi, I will categorize and tag appropriately…Meanwhile here is the trip to Ludlow

So we left Aber… Little did we know the locals got a little tired of the mouthful of saying Aberystwyth… And renamed it Aber?! (we practiced for weeks to say it correctly!)

We hiked and ate and hiked some more and… OK enough of that…. After 3 days of gale force winds, we got in the 1 series and headed across to Ludlow. It was almost uneventful, driving across the ‘border’ from Wales to England. When you do, the Ministry of Transport breathes a big sigh of relief and gives up thanks for the relative cheap cost of road signs that they have in England.

As we can appreciate in Canada, the cost prohibitiveness(sp) of a bilingual people is not something to be taken lightly….or for granted (thank you Pierre)

So we got to the Elm Lodge on the outskirts of Ludlow in a lush spot named Fishmore. The lodge was situated on a 9 Hole, par 3 golf course, backing onto a number of fields home to black sheep and Alpacas.

And I think I will save the rest until later and send you once again some images from along the way.

The festival had some most memorable moments and then some disappointments… But the lateness of the hour is calling so once again I am going to post and hope for the best…. No wifi, so faith abounds and my ability to post ‘blindly’….. enjoy….. (Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device in Europe)

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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in From the Travel Files


Mobile updates abound…Don’t drink wine and blog…(and then press send!)

 So where were we?… Oh yah… I uploaded the car photo and off the email-blog-post went. Ooops! Needless to say we visited with our wonderful friends Matt Powell and Charlene Killeen, who planned on having a baby on August 18th, but instead delayed the inevitable until 6 days before we got there.

As would have it, the in-laws/out-laws left the afternoon we arrived so we met at a pub and had the first ‘day’ out for Mom Lenny and new baby Ace.

Don and I carried onwards to Aberystwyth with ‘Sheila’ as our guide. We learned early on, not only from warning signs on the motorway…. But from first hand experience, ‘Sheila’ aka GPS or SatNav as they refer to it over here….WALES IS NOT IN THE COMPUTER.

Sorry Matt, I had to let you down lightly, but the SatNav/Google people just didn’t think it high on the priority list to get the roadways accurate…. thankfully I have a sense of direction (AND a google map printed out in Canada!). Let me tell you about getting to the Welsh coast… Actually let’s not and let me just upload some photos from our time in Aberystwyth…….. (Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device in Europe)


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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in From the Travel Files


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High Expectations abound….Ludlow Marches Food Festival…

I haven’t yet written a blog on the Wales portion of our trip but that’s not because I don’t want to, its just that blogs are written when one is motivated AND combined with time available…. So I have made lots of notes, waiting for the perfect time to write.


Then I had an experience tonight that needed to turn into a blog, so here we go….

We left Wales… Oh yah… the last time I posted we were in London… So we left London. We took bus 73 from Oxford to Victoria and jumped the Gatwick Express to… Where else… Gatwick, where we picked up a little 1 series BMW (automatic) and headed to Cardiff. I trust enough of you follow me on Facebook to see the baby pictures that resulted in that portion of the trip. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device in Europe

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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in From the Travel Files


London…food, fun, friends…

The days in London have been just stunning. We arrived on Thurs afternoon to glorious sunshine and unseasonable temperatures. Most of us relate London to London Fog… There is a reason that company chose that name to sell coats!

In all our visits here, we have been very fortunate with the weather. I can count the times that I have had to use an umbrella. Don insists that its the sun that follows us around…

Lucky we had a suitcase full of warm weather wear for our imminent Italy portion of this trip. The best way for us to combat jetlag is to go walking outside during the day and visiting in the evening. The combination of the light and talk therapy does the trick.

As soon as we got here on Thurs, our friends from Reading, Andy and Djura met us at our hotel. The London Grosvenor Square Marriott had once again provided us with a suite and some champagne and red wine, so we met up in our sitting room. My phone had a breakdown so the pictures from the first day are missing….

The next night we met up with Graham and Lucy and hit a great tapas restaurant, Salt Yard. It is such a popular place that we had a set allotted time of 2 hrs, 630 – 830 pm.

Don and I had been there in the past and it was even better this time. We stopped in at a pub on both ends of the visit and then saw Graham and Lucy off on the train to their home in Faversham.

Graham has just started a food blog himself so in the future we will be swapping ideas and recipes. Looking forward to staying in touch over the miles in all things related to food and travel.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device in Europe

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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Food, From the Travel Files


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