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July 2014

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Enjoying Wiltshire this Summer

Rose Somerset

31 July 2014

Wiltshire is great place in the summer, there is plenty of fabulous scenery to explore and places to visit and this year there are a host of interesting events for all the family. There is no need for anyone to say, “I’m bored”!  If you are interested in learning more about wildlife, you will be spoiled for choice. There is a Bat walk in Avebury on 22 August and  a Moth night on 7 August and creative ecology sessions  on the 17 and 29 August in Marlborough organised by Action for the River Kennet. Over towards Salisbury at Winterbourne Downs nature reserve, the RSPB have a busy programme of family events including a butterflies and bumblebees event and a stone curlew safari!  This weekend, (1- 4 August) there is a World War 1 commemoration event in Ramsbury. During the war more than 300 men left for the front from this little village alone and less than one hundred returned. The events include a film night and a free exhibition based on those who went to war, those who gave their lives and those who returned with artifacts, maps letter and poetry. Rose is a Wiltshire based writer and photographer www.snowballworks.com Avebury Bat Walk  Creative Ecology Sessions RSPB Ramsbury Event      

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Dining Alfresco with Gastro Nicks

Sam Bertram

30 July 2014

Selecting the finest food delicacies takes experience and Nick Spaven has exactly that. Hailing from Lancashire, and family that always worked in fish and meat, Nick set-up Gastro Nicks in 2005.  Starting with Sicilian Olive Oil, Nick and partner Jane gradually expanded to include truffle and lemon infused oils, aged Balsamic Vinegars, Charcuterie, cheese, wine and Prosecco.  The more they visited Sicily the more lovely products they discovered and, although many of Gastro Nick’s products are Sicilian, they also stock produce from other parts of Italy, UK and France.  And no wine lover would feel complete without Rioja – so some Spanish products are next on the list! Nick wanted to bring the best of artisan foods to people in the UK and all the food and wine they sell is from small producers you wouldn’t find on big supermarket shelves.  There is no doubt that Gastro Nicks have the perfect ingredients for an alfresco meal shared with family and family.  And their products aren’t only found online or at shows.  Their delightful deli is a hidden gem in Collingbourne Ducis.  If you’re local to the area you must visit – you’ll be amazed that such a treasure is right on your doorstep.  I challenge you to go there and not feel tempted by the range of delicious food and wine. And with the Mediterranean climate we’re having, why not? Despite being of foodie pedigree (passed on from his parents) Nick further enhanced his skills running his own fish business in Cornwall, working with deli type produce in London (where he met some of his clients he still has today) and a spell helping ex rugby mate Phil Stansfield from the Cornish Cheese Company. More intriguing is how he met his business and life partner Jane Kempsey.  Jane is from Cheshire but met Nick in her teens while holidaying in Abersoch at their neighbouring beach huts.  Jane last saw Nick at her 21st until a chance meeting at the House and Garden Fair years later.  Nick was helping Phil on the Cornish Blue stand, Jane went to get a sample and the rest as you’d say, is history. Jane joined Nick in business in 2010 united by their love of Italian/Mediterranean food and wine.  Jane isn’t a big meat eater yet loves the Sicilian Salami and highly recommends the Hazelnut Oil for drizzling on bread or salad.  Their Balsamic jelly has also proved a hit – not only eaten with cheese, pate or served with lamb but even used as a glaze on gammon.  They have recently begun to get a fresh fish delivery twice a month, if they can, so Nick gets to show off his fish skills.  And if you’re stuck for Christmas presents this year (it’s not that far off!) gourmet gifts, artisan wines or your own choice in a Gastro Nicks hamper will make any foodie happy. So how did life take them from Abersoch to Wiltshire?  Jane’s sister lives in Wiltshire and, when their parents both died, she convinced Jane to buy a cottage in Great Bedwyn. Jane had started to help Nick with Gastro Nicks at weekends and always hated going back to London on a Sunday. So in a mad moment Jane left her job in London to help Nick full time and they both moved to Great Bedwyn.  Nick and Jane both love coming home to Wiltshire after being away at shows – it feels instantly restful.  Nick loves his wildlife and fishing and Jane loves riding. As most of their weekends are taken up with shows, when they get a moment Jane loves to garden and Nick relaxes or plays cricket locally. They don’t get much chance to eat out but when they do it's the Shears in Collingbourne or the Three Tuns in Great Bedwyn.  And for a treat The Red Lion at East Chisenbury.      And in the future?  Who knows? They keep expanding the deli but they can’t help dreaming of a life in Italy enjoying the Mediterranean climate with the food and drink they love so close at hand! www.gastronicks.co.uk  

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Making Brides Sparkle

Sam Bertram

23 July 2014

I wish I had come across Rubi Locke Jewellery when I was getting married.  There are so many things to think of in the lead up to a wedding, that only too often jewellery gets thought of last.  However, when you see Rubi Locke’s gorgeous range it gets you thinking.  Considering jewellery upfront could influence lots of other important choices from what dress to how to wear your hair, and give you that extra sparkle on the day.  Mini Giraudeau started making tiaras and necklaces for Gillian Million, before setting-up on her own, so you know you’re getting top quality jewellery.  Using a combination of sterling silver, freshwater pearls, Swarovski, antique and glass crystals, she creates bespoke items perfect for your special day.  Mini can do anything - hair slides and pins, necklaces, tiaras, bracelets and earrings in any combination of colours for not only the bride but anyone else in the wedding party.  And it’s not just limited to weddings, although being part of someone’s happy day is a real motivator for Mini.  Mini can create special jewellery for anyone such as hair slides for party girls that any little princess would love. Mini was born in Weybridge, Surrey to parents working in creative worlds.  Her father is an architect and her mother was Head of Art at her school so she always knew she wanted to be an artist. After studying Fashion Design at UCA Epsom (previously Epsom School of Art & Design), she took a Graphic Design role in an Advertising Agency in the West End of London, while further studying Typography at the London College of Printing one evening a week.  Prior to moving to Wiltshire, Mini lived in Teddington, Middlesex, but had also lived quite an international lifestyle.  Her husband Nick grew up in Argentina and Morocco, and their surname ‘Giraudeau’ is French Mauritian.  They met more unglamorously through friends in Clapham Common, this was shortly followed by Nick being posted to Brazil and Mini joining him in Sao Paulo, teaching English along the way.  Mini had never travelled in South America  and still recalls some of the hair raising internal Brazilian flights with the on board smoking, cowboy plane mechanics and the landing strips that looked like they would end up in the sea! However, such adventure showed their compatibility and Nick and Mini married in 1995 and have two beautiful girls Phoebe, now 16 and Hannah, 13. As a young mum Mini mainly stayed at home but, when Hannah was 2, she met Gillian at a toddler group and it was while making jewellery for her that Libertys approached Gillian to be a supplier.   Mini and her friend Sarah soon set-up their own company making jewellery for 6 or 7 years before winding it down when Mini and her family re located to Madrid and Sarah and her family moved to Wiltshire.  However, Mini continued to design and make jewellery and in 2008 Rubi Locke Jewellery was founded. And how, after all this jet setting, did they settle in Wiltshire?  Their love of Wiltshire came from regularly staying with ex business partner Sarah and her family in Pewsey on trips to the UK.  Mini always felt calmer in Wiltshire and, besides her girls loving it too, the lure of more space and a bigger house was too hard to resist. Mini loves the countryside and it provides inspiration for her designs – bunches of flowers or hedgerows with clusters of white blossom.  She loves sketching or painting when she gets the chance, walking her dog or starting her day on a positive note by running in the open countryside.  ‘We love to go to Coles or The Red Lion for a meal and The Royal Oak in Pewsey has been refurbished recently, it’s great for meeting friends for a drink.  I’m part of a book club and have just finished reading ‘The Seamstress’ by Maria Duenas. Bath is so close and Salisbury just 40 minutes away.  There’s great variety for shopping – go to Marlborough for nice, independent shops, the market town of Devizes for a different vibe or pop into Hungerford’. www.rubilocke.com  

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Fabulous Fioriblu

Sam Bertram

14 July 2014

I always find it inspiring when you witness someone’s passion become a reality.  Avebury resident Rachel Buxton and her East Lothian based business partner Heni Gimlette founded Fioriblu off the back of their love of all things Italian.  Rachel Buxton’s love of Italy came from her mother who spent some of her teenage years living in Rome.  This spurred Rachel on to take a year out after school to study Italian in Florence where she met Heni and they’ve been firm friends ever since.  It’s easy to see how their friendship formed – not only were they two Scots living away from home but by happy coincidence their younger siblings were also dating! Their lives became further entwined when Rachel met her husband Tim at Heni’s wedding.   And on a girls trip to Cortona for their 40th birthdays their business idea was born.  They came across some leather bags that were not only good value but also extremely well made, and decided that there must be a market for good quality leather bags not at designer prices.  Fioriblu meaning ‘blue flowers’ was chosen as, like flowers, leather is sensual and beautiful and comes in many colours.  The blue ‘blu’ part just made it easy to pronounce! Both well versed in Italian, having gone on from Florence to study the language at University, they found small suppliers to make their handbags, wallets, gloves, belts and bracelets. Everything is made around Florence as it is the centre of traditional leather artisans ‘Artigiani’. Their goods come in a range of colours – petrol blue, blue, blood red, chocolate, purple, animal print, black, beige and silver and they are commissioning a midnight blue for their Mimosa range.  All their bags are named after flowers that represent the leather and smell.  The Mimosa range is made of fluffy calves’ skin and the Peony weekend bag has a lining with a Peony print.  Their range is fantastic and affordable and they’ve really carved out a niche offering. So what does Rachel love so much about Italy?  Well on Tim’s first trip with Rachel to Italy for a friend’s wedding, he was so blown away by it that he proposed!  But aside from this it’s the friendliness, charming people, climate and natural and seasonal food that is so appealing.  The Italians also love the fact that Rachel and Heni speak their language and the girls find that doing all their business in Italian makes what they do all the more enjoyable. Testament to the quality of their bags was selling them back to an Italian local.  One of Rachel’s Italian friends recently bought one of their bags for her husband to give her for Christmas, as she said she had never seen one like it.  She also wants to organise her friends to come round for a handbag buying session when Rachel and Heni are next visiting. Rachel moved to Wiltshire with her family in 2003.  Tim was always commuting up and down the M4 and, like many, they were desperate to move to the country and raise a family.  When Tim spotted a property to renovate in Avebury they knew they’d found their family home.  Despite it being their first foray into Wiltshire, Rachel soon discovered that her old flatmate from London was living just down the road.  Rachel and Tim now have two gorgeous girls – Tilly, 10 and Rosie, 2. They love Wiltshire for its beautiful scenery, yet its proximity to London.  Being Scottish Rachel found many English counties too flat, so the undulating countryside of Wiltshire appealed and their outlook to Silbury Hill means Rachel gets her mini munro fix!  www.fioriblu.co.uk

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