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5 March 2015
It’s always interesting to learn how people land up in a place. Hailing from Cape Town and Estonia respectively, Garp and Liis Flack came to visit friends in Avebury one weekend, with their young children, and two weeks later had let out their London flat and moved here. They now have Sticks and Stones, a wonderful lifestyle shop wrapped around a cosy and relaxed café.
It’s the best move they’ve ever made and a place for them both to finally call home. Garp left Cape Town with his backpack at the age of 18 and travelled through Africa for 2 years, making and selling jewellery in Malindi in Kenya, hanging out in Lamu and Dj’ing in Uganda before ending up in London. He worked at various pubs and restaurants and helped run rock venues and jazz cafes, meeting Liis while waiting on her in a pizza restaurant in Notting Hill. Liis had come to London to help open the Estonian embassy for the newly independent country and after years of them both working unsociable hours, and passing babies back and forth, they decided they needed a change in lifestyle.
Liis and Garp married in ‘93 and have two children Isis, 16 and Jamie, 14. When they first moved to Wiltshire they took some time out to think about their future plans. Garp had grown up in a family of jewellers and gem cutters and had always enjoyed working with his hands. He bought a lathe on ebay, found a workshop on a disused dairy farm and started to investigate what he could do. He handcrafts kitchen items like wooden boards, bowls and knives and his most successful commission to date has been a carving board which was given to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as a wedding present. When they first received the call asking for a special gift for the future King and Queen Liis thought it must be a wind up!
Garp loves the learning process that’s involved in trying something new. Apart from continuing to handcraft items for their shop and other commissions, Garp is currently making items out of reclaimed bits from the HMS Victory which includes materials such as copper, wood and sail. Once complete they go into the history museum for sale. He has recently made some stunning knives from some of the original 1805 copper, brass, hide and timber.
They started selling his wares at Portobello and Spitafields markets but soon set-up their own shops in Marlborough and Woodborough after tiring of the motorway commute. They now just have the one shop and have been in their current premises in Woodborough since 2012 and their shop and Café Bark is going from strength to strength with regulars lining up when it opens in the morning.
As for Liis when she moved out of London she said she’d never have a shop and never do any catering - her mum is a chef and laughing. However, she loves it and enjoys going to her café every day and playing house! As she says ‘You end up doing what you’re good at’
Their shop doesn’t only have items handcrafted by Garp but many other kitchen and gift items which they always source direct from the producers. Despite dreams of ending up on a beach in Thailand and Bali they’re pretty content where they are now. They’ve been here a long time and love seeing regulars daily at their café and love recently hosting a very successful charity dinner for 21 people for Save the Children ‘Supper for Syria’ .
They are also organising a Woodborough Yard Summer Fayre on 5th of July so put that in your diaries. And if you’re looking for somewhere to have coffee or lunch, or wanting a unique present for family or friends look no further than Sticks and Stones. You’ll love it…
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