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January 2016

Posts on January 2016

Unexpected rural delight

Sam Bertram

14 January 2016

Clem Earl helped us collect Refugee Emergency Packs at her gorgeous rural shop near Tisbury. When we went to collect them before Christmas, she took time out of maternity leave to meet us at the shop with her gorgeous 6 month old Rafferty and tell us all about it. Have you always wanted a shop? ‘Yes – when living in London a friend and I were always plotting to open a shop somewhere there. I worked at a catering company, where I met my husband Mitch, but after that I worked for Cath Kidston as her PA. It gave me loads of experience and insight into what it takes to run a shop. I was involved in everything from helping organise the catalogue and photo shoot and copy to stock levels in the shops. So I thought if Cath Kidston can do it so can I! So how did you end up opening a shop in such a rural location? Clementine’s shop is located in one of my parent’s barns at the home where I grew up. While working at Cath Kidston, Mitch and I started to think about moving out of London. We never intended to move back here, but when we mentioned a possible move to my parents their friends, who had a catering company, offered Mitch a job.   So in March 2006 we moved out of London and I started to think about how I could make my dream of having a shop a reality. I originally looked for a space in Tisbury until my mum suggested using one of their barns. Mum had always done her marbling and set-up the Compton Marbling Fairs there, so it was a destination locals were familiar with. 2006 was a busy year – we moved, married in September and the shop was open by December. How have you found having your own shop? To begin with it was really quiet and it was mainly loyal friends who would visit. However, holding the fairs in the same location meant locals soon realised there was a shop here too. My mum and I do the buying together so we get a good view across generations. We have something for everybody and some loyal customers who do all their Christmas shopping with us. I love it and have met and made some really close friends through the shop.  There’s no doubt it is demanding and balancing work and children has its challenges. Tell us about your mum’s marbling My father designed books for a printing press and when my mother went to look round she saw the marbling section and thought she’d love to learn that. So she took a course and set-up her own company ‘Compton Marbling’, selling end papers for books. It wasn’t long before she started making other items. I have memories of bringing my Sylvanian Family house to mum’s office while she worked. She still marbles today and makes items for the shop with the most popular being the lampshades, box files, address, visitor and sketch books. Despite digital photographs albums are still popular too.  And the Compton Marbling Fairs? The fairs have been running for 35 years and started with my mum and her friends selling the things they made.  There was my mother’s marbling, a friend with amazing cardigans, local artists, Christmas puddings from a friend’s catering company.  It just took off from there. I now run the fours fairs we have throughout the year with mum - spring, autumn and two at Christmas. We try to have different businesses every year and have a real mix of stands including small local businesses. Mitch’s cafe Pythouse does the catering.  What are your favourite items in the shop? I love the muslin swaddling cloth and sell a lot, but close to my heart is my mum’s lovely marbled wares and children’s items, especially traditional wooden toys because I love buying things in reference to my three boys. They love going through all the catalogues.  Are you pleased you moved back to where you grew up? I love the familiarity of it all and that our boys; Joshua, 7 Orlando, 4 & Rafferty 8 months are following in my footsteps.  They go to the same little village school in Semley that I went to – the office admin lady is still the same! We even go to the same holiday cottage in Wales where I spent all my holidays. I love it there – there’s no TV and it’s great taking my boys to the same beaches I went to. We love just hanging out as a family – playing football, walking or going on bike rides. One of my oldest friends Chloe also lives round the corner and one of my sisters isn’t too far away. Clementine’s shop is open Tuesday to Friday 10.00am to 5.00pm and on Saturdays 10.00am to 4.00pm. The 2016 Compton Marbling Fairs are on 22nd & 23rd April, 23rd & 24th September and 18th, 19th, 25th and 26th November. http://www.clementinesshop.com/                             

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2016 Bucket List

Sam Bertram

14 January 2016

It wouldn’t be a new year if we didn’t pull together a bucket list - so here’s our take on what you should be aiming to see and do in 2016 to make the most of this beautiful county. Plan for one a quarter and you’ll find it incredibly achievable and rewarding! 1. Experience some of the amazing pubs & restaurants in the county - It’s important to support your local pub & restaurant, but once in a while it’s worth going further afield.  In Wiltshire we have The Good Food Guide’s best pub in the country - The Michelin Starred Red Lion, East Chisenbury.  There’s Tom Parker Bowles’ favourite The Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn, AP McCoy’s pub The Outside Chance, The Michelin starred Harrow at Little Bedwyn which has been AA and Decanter’s Restaurant of the Year amongst other accolades and The Pear Tree in Purton, The Good Hotel Guide’s Best Country Hotel in 2015. There's also the Charming Pythouse Kitchen Garden near Tisbury. Not bad huh? 2. Visit a new part of the Wiltshire countryside & walk somewhere new – the Wiltshire countryside is absolutely stunning with amazing walks from the North Wessex Downs to the Nadder Valley. Our members have lots of top tips on their local walks – whether it’s walking the ancient Ridgeway, discovering Maud Heath’s Memorial Column on Wick Hill near Chippenham, an invigorating walk across Salisbury Plain or a walk around Fonthill Lake near Tisbury you’ll be pleased you ventured there.  3. Look at your grocery list and think what you can source locally – there’s so much fabulous food & drink available right here in Wiltshire. Visit your local butcher or deli or become a regular at a Wiltshire Farmers Market so that local always makes its way onto your table. It not only supports your local economy but when it hasn’t travelled it’s better for the environment and tastes better too! 4. Take in one of our national treasures – It was recently reported that the stunning Stourhead near Mere is the second most visited National Trust Property. However, there are plenty more to choose from – Avebury (the ‘better’ stone circle), Lacock Abbey, Wardour Castle near Tisbury, Great Chalfield Manor and Garden (featured in ‘Wolf Hall’), The Courts Garden in Holt or Old Sarum near Salisbury.  And don’t forget the marvellous Salisbury Cathedral and Malmesbury Abbey or Castle Combe, said by many to be the prettiest village in England or The Merchant's House in Marlborough. 5. Make it to at least one of Wiltshire’s Festivals – Kick-off your shoes at a music festival – the Cock & Bull Festival at Jamie’s Farm near Box or The Larmer Tree Festival. Or if art is your thing there are plenty of Arts Festivals around the country – in Salisbury, Trowbridge & Devizes and fabulous theatre at Illford Arts Festival near Bradford on Avon. Marlborough & Mere both have literature festivals & there are plenty of Food & Drink Festivals throughout the summer. See our events calendar 6. Learn something new - how often do you wish you could do something better? There are plenty of places offering courses – Marlborough College Summer School has every course you can imagine and it’s a fun way to spend a week.  The Shalbourne Collection & Mimo in Marlborough have some fantastic courses as do Wagon Yard Artists for those keen to learn ceramics. 7. Don’t always default to Amazon – if you’re looking for a gift stop and think if you could buy from a small local company before hitting Amazon.  You’ll be amazed at the unique gifts available as well as how affordable they are too.  We have lots of gift ideas for both him and her so check those out before going global!  

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Garden in January

Zena Robson

11 January 2016

Pruning Wisteria -If you didn’t get around to dealing with it in the summer or autumn, then now’s your chance while you can see what you’re doing.  If you have an overgrown number then you might need to stagger the work over a couple of years – they go into shock if you hack and slash too much. Look for overgrown, misplaced or tangled growth, trace it back to a fork that is at a more suitable angle for what you are trying to achieve and remove the offender. Left to their own devices, all climbers will head for the heavens. That will result in masses of bare stems with the flowers, if you get any, all poking their heads out at the top where you can’t see them. Horizontal training is the answer. That way you not only cover the wall rather than the gutters, but you will also produce a lot more lateral growth from which secondary flowering growth will appear. If you have a lot more stuff going skyward than horizontally then do not be afraid to cut it back. Some of the oldest stuff can be cut right back to the base, but as I said, if you need to remove more than one at the base, then do it over a period of years. Look for any dead, diseased or dying branches and remove them completely down into healthy wood. Then, cut back the growth that the plant made during the summer to three buds – you are trying to create small spurs upon which the plant will flower. The long whippy stuff you get in late summer is the plant putting on leaf growth – in August, cut these whippy bits back to six or so leaves. It is these bits that you then tackle again now. Another trick with Wisteria is not to overfeed it – if you do you’ll get all leaf and no flower. The lovely witch-hazels will be starting to flower about now. Aren’t they glorious? Look out for Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ – she’s a lovely coppery-red and ‘Jelena’ – a coppery-orange. In the Japanese section, there’s Hamamelis japonica ‘Zuccariniana’ which has lemon-scented twisted flowers. But for me, the best scent comes from Hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’, with yellow, sweetly-scented flowers. There’s something magical about flowers appearing on bare stems – you really get to see them up-close-and-personal! Some of the best scented shrubs flower in late winter and early spring – they lift our spirits and provide much-needed nectar for early bees. I was scanning one of the many seed catalogues that come plopping through the letterbox at this time of year, and happened across a picture of lovely spires of tall white slender stems, set under a canopy of trees. ‘Ooo – what is that?’ thought I. ‘Epilobium’, it transpired. Now, I happen to know that Epilobium is the botanical name for  . . . . wait for it . . . .  Willowherb – yes, indeed – that ‘forever with you as it blows its millions of seeds around and therefore technically a weed’ which adorns our roadside verges in summer. This one happened to be the white version and therefore supposedly of garden merit. I daresay if I had acres to fill I might put it somewhere far away from anything else, but honestly . . . . .be careful what you wish for!!  

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