Sunday, August 21, 2022

A week in the 'Shire

The Shire in question being Shropshire. Originally we had planned to stay with my mum for a week and then realised that my brother and family needed to share the space as well, while building work happened at their house next door. So at short notice, we booked a holiday apartment in Oswestry, not too far away.

We liked Oswestry, particularly the very tricky minigolf course in Cae Glas Park. 

We also had pizzas at the Stonehouse Brewing Co with some friends who live nearby. We sat at the tables in the orchard where the brewers grow their cider apples. We didn't eat in the wig-wam at the back of the orchard that Cathy liked. 

Oswestry is almost right on the border between England and Wales, and we had some days out either side of the boundary. On the English side we went with my mum to the Jackfield Tile Museum in the Ironbridge Gorge. I think I have now ticked off all the museums in the Gorge now. Jackfield is a mix of art gallery tracking the different styles and fashion for tiles, and explaining the industrial process of tile production that took place on that site. 

Here's a picture of Cathy with a tiled frieze of the young Princess Elizabeth with the little Welsh cottage that was her playhouse gifted by the people of Wales. The mural was saved from a hospital in London that was being redeveloped.

On the Welsh side of the border we went to Llangollen on a baking hot day. We had a bit of an explore, including nosing around the heritage railway.

I have a soft spot for the Llangollen Railway. Somewhere I have a certificate saying that I have bought a foot of track - it was a fundraising initiative back in the 1980s. The railway ran into financial trouble during the pandemic and is now run by volunteers again. They didn't have a steam engine on duty - I'm not sure they still have one on their manifest - but we weren't taking a ride anyway. I had a cup of tea and a scone in the platform coffee shop instead.

Our proximity to Shrewsbury meant I got to go to two Shrewsbury matches - a league defeat against Accrington and a cup win against Carlisle. For the latter we were in the safe standing section behind the ground. It was the first time my niece and nephew had stood at a football game. My niece was initially very unimpressed with the idea of not having a seat, but the kids both liked jumping around as Shrewsbury scored a late winner directly in front of us.

Before the Accrington game, my nephew got to meet a Shrewsbury legend.

Our week was picked to coincide with the Shrewsbury Flower Show, which was always a huge deal in the town when I was younger. The show wasn't held in the past two years, and was on a smaller scale than I remember it from 30 years or so ago. Given the heatwave and tinder dry conditions, they had to cancel the evening fireworks display. 

The flower arranging competition was incredible to look at, although reading the judges comments, competitive flower arranging is savage! Here's the winner of the theme ' fireworks', which were the only fireworks in the show.

But my favourite horticulture on display is the fruit and veg competitions. Carrots that are so long they don't fit on the table, onions the size of your head. That sort of thing. Incredible stuff.

Not all veg comes out perfect. But even mutants can be winners.

And if flower arranging isn't your thing, how about fruit and veg arranging? This crab made from red peppers was a worthy winning entry.

Because the show was smaller than we expected we decided not to go back on the second day. Instead we drove home in the heatwave and tried our best not to melt on the way. Thus concluded our highly enjoyable week. 

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