Thursday, 28 July 2016

Italian sunshine--whatever the weather

You can't help feeling a little warmer when you're close to Nadia Verdiani. Maybe it's because her heart and soul are in sunny Italy. Or maybe you've just arrived at her market stall, and feasted your eyes on the array of hot dishes she's rustled up to tempt your palate. Then there's the smile: a friendly welcome, and time to explain what's on offer, no matter how busy she is.

It's Nadia's Italian heritage which has inspired many of the dishes she produces for her Shropshire market stalls, and also the pop-up restaurants she runs. She's an expert in vegetarian and vegan dishes (look out for vegetable fritters, tasty falafel and bruschetta) ; but you're just as likely to be tempted by a hot Tuscan beef sandwich and a serving of hot soup; especially when the temperature drops a little.

You'll often see Dave beside her--as he has been for 30 years or so: a teacher by profession ; part of the highly successful team which kept their former restaurant in Ironbridge packed with customers and rave reviews for 18 years. But success there brought its own challenges: working weeks of up to 100 hours, and little time to catch up with family and friends. It was time for a change: they hit the road; taking their delicious dishes to markets and festivals--and the response was excellent.

Nadia smiles when she remembers her Italian granny's reaction to cooking (and naming the vegetarian side of her business )"Socca". She regarded the simple, chickpea flatbread as a very basic staple--ideal for filling a family when money was tight--so who'd come and buy that?! Well plenty do; and find plenty more on offer when they arrive.

While it's a treat for the couple to see people snapping up their market stall food and eating "on the hoof..." the recent trend for pop-up restaurants has proved too much for them to resist. Their special dining evenings draw together the skills and business sense developed during their years running a restaurant--but perhaps with slightly less of the stress, knowing that someone else has responsibility for the overheads, and for locking up when the evening's over.. You might have caught their vegetarian and fish dining events (usually oversubscribed--book early...!) based at Bakers in Tower Street, Ludlow, where guests are treated to four courses (plus tea and coffee) for £30 a head; or this weekend's dinner and lunch events at Home Cafe in Lightmore Square, Telford.

STOP PRESS!!! Look out for Nadia and Dave on Monday August 1 under the shelter of Ludlow's Buttercross--with a great mix of savoury and sweet dishes to tempt you! Pictures to follow (yes, of COURSE we'll be there!!! )

If not....maybe it's time to whet your appetite! For details of market stalls, dining pop-ups, or food in your own home, drop Nadia an email at or call for more details on 0782 159 6488.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Why the Teme's tame for boatman Ike

Considering its beautifully tranquil setting, Ludford Bridge has had a pretty violent past. Battling factions during the Wars of the Roses, batterings from the weather`s worst, and now a mighty thwack from a weighty lorry; it's long been a troubled bridge over Ludlow's waters.

It's not surprising, then, that the locals, inconvenienced by the bridge's complete closure to cars during these latest repairs, have been squeezing past the scaffolding and warning cones on foot to check what's going on. They see the huge gap caused by the collision and the stonemasons' skilled-- but painstaking-- progress on this listed landmark.

And some of them lean over the bridge's 'good' side and spot Ike, bobbing about in his boat. They carry on with their dog walk; return an hour or two later...and find Ike's still there. And the next day, and the day after that.

"What's he doing down there and safety?" chortles one elderly man. The workmen nod and smile and get on with the major task in hand.

But my curiosity gets the better of me, and four days later, I'm back to find the man you almost miss while the clever stuff's going on at road level. I'm in luck. The men are working a safe distance from the gaping hole in the bridge for a while, and so Ike's on dry land for a bit, and has time to talk.

It turns out that yes, Ike's there for 'health and safety'; yes, he's getting used to people asking whether he's caught any fish yet, and yes........nine hours bobbing about in a tethered boat is "the most boring job" he's ever done.

"Basically, yes, I sit in the boat and wait for someone to fall in--but that's not going to happen," he grins.

But it turns out that if it did...this guy's the one you'd want coming to your rescue. After a life on the ocean wave; for Ike, the Teme's tame.

A former commercial diver turned mariner, Ike--Isaac Adam-- spent around 20 years working around North Sea oil rigs on dive support vessels. Conditions were often rough; and occasionally life threatening. In 1998, for instance, his diving partner was trapped for 10 hours, 140 metres below the sea's surface.

The team had been undertaking decommissioning work on old wellheads, using explosives.

"There was a fault in the lifting gear," recalls Ike."A section of the wellhead being lifted, fell off. It just missed me, but hit his section."

It meant vital gas wires were disconnected and that the men had to get back to the diving bell, and after working at that kind of depth, had to spend four days in the ship's decompression chamber. Both were fine.

Four years later, Ike retired from diving,but rather than put his feet up, bought a 12 metre yacht and spent the next seven years sailing round the world with his then wife and son. From the UK, they headed out to Madeira, the Canaries, Cap Verdi, the Caribbean, Venezuela, through the so called ABC (Lesser Antilles) Islands to Panama...and on to the Galapagos Islands.

Their journey took them on to French Polynesia, to Tonga, and to New Zealand, where they stayed for seven months. After that, there was a year in and around Australia, with seven weeks of that stay seeing Ike laid up in hospital.

" We were on a river, and there'd been a flood," he remembers," We'd just cleared customs and were on our way but I got trapped between two yachts and smashed my pelvis."

It wasn't the only drama. Sailing between New Zealand and Australia, their yacht had hit major weather, which disabled the yacht's steering mechanism. They were 300 miles from New Zealand and found themselves having to shut themselves inside the boat, sails down; one keeping watch while the two others tried to sleep.

"But you had to sleep on the floor, not the bunks, " says Ike. "My wife tried it. The sea was so rough, she got flown out of the bunk, over the table on to the floor". When the storm eased, Ike managed to dive in, lash the broken steering system to the boat and continue repairs from the inside, using their supply of spares.

The family's amazing seven year trip also took in East Timor, Sumatra, Mauritius, South Africa--round the Cape to Capetown..on to St Helena and Tobago (a four month rest for the hurricane season there...) up to the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Azores Falmouth.

Ike's been back from that trip for ten years now. These days, he often drives yachts for wealthy private owners. And, from time to time, helps a friend out manning safety boats like the one on the
Teme. So--(hopefully....) without any rescues to attend to, and with no rod and bait to help pass the time...what does he DO all day?

"I just think," says the diver, turned mariner, "I write a bit, so I think about that, too.."

I urge him to write his autobiography, pump him for a bit more information about Tonga, before my own round the world trip this autumn. And reflect on my way home how even people who appear to be doing very "boring" jobs.....are rarely ever boring, themselves......

PS: Why would I want to know about Tonga?! Thought it might make a change from Aberdovey this year. Follow me with fellow empty nester Nigel on as we finalise plans to whiz round the world.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Hit me with your best shot...

It`s so easy to take, and share pictures these days, isn`t it? I`ve been in Ludlow about a year now and find I`m forever taking shots of the castle, because a bit of drizzle or a shaft of sunlight can make it look completely different. The same goes for the fabulous river views you can capture throughout the year in and around the town ; from leaping salmon.....serene swans....a mother and her ducklings, or angry, swollen waters rushing under the Ludford Bridge --different day, different scene.

But what`s your favourite image of Ludlow? A wooded walk? The beautiful houses and timbered buildings? Views of the hills from the top of town?

So here`s the deal. Hit me with your best shot--either tweet it to @LiveLudlow or email it to .

We`ll pop a selection right here on the blog....and the best one gets a voucher for coffee and cake in town. How`s that. (A shot for a shot....see?)

You`ve got until 5pm next Thursday, February 25th.

OK? Go on then......get snapping!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Ludlow`s Loudwater Studio: something to shout about

Nikki Hook and the team at Ludlow`s Loudwater Studio love getting messy. And they like nothing better than encouraging other local people to join in and get messy too.

`We have all kinds of ages and groups visiting us,`Nikki said, `from people with a range of visual impairments and learning disabilities to home-schooled children and careworkers who might come in for a break.`

On offer: space and support to create, build, craft, sculpt...and make music. Because as well as a huge table and other work areas ideal for creative fun, Loudwater`s got its own recording studio, complete with microphone and mixing desk.

`There`s so much here,` says business development manager Nikki,` but the sad thing is that even though we`re here for the local community, some people don`t even know we exist.`

But that`s something that Nikki, soon to celebrate a year at Loudwater, has been working extremely hard to change, spreading the word about what`s on offer by liaising with local groups, and keeping a strong presence on social media .

Behind the space is Vision Homes, providing support in Ludlow and across the Midlands. The studio has had funding from the National Lottery too, and charges visiting groups and individuals on a sliding scale, depending on their circumstances.

And despite the array of beautiful paintings, cardboard models, pom poms and even bird and bug boxes adorning the walls, it`s not all about paint and paste. One of Nikki`s latest enterprises is the Twiddle Mitt, designed especially for people with Alzheimer`s and similar conditions. `I first saw these at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital while visiting my dad, who has dementia, ` she explained. The mitts not only keep hands warm for people who might be less mobile, but provide interest and stimulation with their different textures and decorations.` 

Nikki made the mitt she`s modelling, in about a day. And now she`d love other local people to get involved by using her pattern, and any spare wool, buttons or ribbons they might have, to create mitts for other people with dementia. And apart from knitters, Nikki would love to hear from you if you can volunteer an hour or two of your time at the studio, just off Bromfield Road.

You can contact Nikki and the team on 01584 877272, read more on or catch them on Twitter @LoudwaterLudlow.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Love is in the air....

....everywhere you look around !

So has anything grabbed your eye so far?  Have you been tempted to splash out on something special for the love of your life? Ludlow Live discovered great displays around town... from the heart bunting and window displays at Tiger the array of options from pinnies to mugs at Emporo`s....and the (almost inevitable) red lingerie at Bodenham`s (ooh la la....!) But we LOVED the greeting for the whole of Ludlow painted on the front of the Oxfam shop (top left)...with a pout from Marilyn herself..and even a little red dress for that romantic dinner for two, maybe....

But how about something different this year? Ludlow Live braved the chilly wind whistling through the market for this week`s Friday Feature....and found Julia Sinclair; who could put your loved one`s name in the frame for Valentine`s Day.

Julia, along with partner Chris Owen, make up FotoScript; with their Names-in-Pictures and Words-in-Pictures. They have a whole library of photographs of simple, everyday objects in the buildings and nature around us...which resemble letters of the alphabet. Put them all together ....and the result, as Julia shows, might well be L.O.V.E.

Julia, once a hairdresser and jewellery maker; along with former sound man, now photographer Chris are still relatively new to Ludlow, having moved here from Cirencester and before that, Horsham in West Sussex. Their home is just moments away from the market square, making it reasonably easy to bring their work over, and set up their stall. `It`s a lovely place, laid back, with friendly people, ` says Julia. And on offer? Words or names featuring eleven or fewer letters, displayed in one of the most original ways you could think of. it safe and go for `love`. Or find out if the team have the name of the one you love in stock. And PS. They`re not averse to a challenge. `The most unusual name we`ve put together so far, ` says Julia...` has to be Zyzyx.`

Want to find out more about FotoScript and have a look at their work? Catch Julia and Chris at Ludlow Market, or give them a call on 07900 603024. 

Fancy getting your story, passion, product or project on next week`s Friday Feature? Tweet us @LiveLudlow or drop us an email:

And thankyou for dropping by!!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Welcome to the Friday Feature page on Ludlow Live! 

Drop in for news about local people and places, and get in touch if you want your story, business, project or product in the spotlight. We`re on Twitter @LiveLudlow or you can email us: 

Coming soon: the south Shropshire studio with something to shout about.... and why the Bread Walk was a sign of the times....

But first? Grab a coffee.....and meet Mal.


Meet Mal Fury. Ludlow born and bred; he`s a painter and decorator who`s more likely to gloss your frames to opera than pop.

Keen on Carmen, and with a passion for Puccini, his love for the arts has extended to supporting local events too, with years of stewarding at the Ludlow Festival under his belt. 

Professionally, Mal`s clocked up 40 years in the decorating trade, starting as a teenager in the days when the team--and the paint tins--all got crammed into the back of the van together. 

Things have changed a bit now, and Mal--who lives with his wife on the outskirts of town and has twin sons in their twenties-- says he`s proud to have worked on some of the town`s most significant houses during restoration projects. `You get a chance to bring buildings back to life, through the various stages,` he says. `It`s wonderful to see a project like that finished.`

Fast & Fury-ous: Mal`s Quickfire Q&A:

Best thing about Ludlow? It`s a great place for families, history, walks and food.
Pet hate in life ? Arrogance and rudeness.
Top holiday spot? I love Italy--especially Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi. Also Cuba!
Weirdest holiday experience ? A great night twin-towning in La Ferte Mace: but dessert started at 2 am and we left at 5.30!
True confession: OK. We should have watched the weather a bit more closely. We once had a major job nearly finished. The rain and wind blew in really suddenly; and we had to go over all our work--and even stop little rivers of paint trickling down the street!
Best professional tip: Get the best quality paint and brushes you can afford. You`ll only go over it twice if you get the cheap stuff!
Want to find out more about Mal Fury and his business?