Shire Magazine March-April 2024 North Wales

Page 1


some love for the rescues and sanctuaries that care for so many creatures in distress

Spring into action!

Bulbs are bursting, flowers are flourishing and garden gates are opening… it’s time to get your green fingers going!

FREEWHYBUYONE? MARCH/APRIL 2024 HEALTH & BEAUTY | GARDENS | PHOTOGRAPHY | FASHION | BOOKS Pack your bags Make the most of the warmer weather and plan now for summer fun with our holiday guide Behind the lens Enjoy the art of local photographers Easter feasting Tempt your tastebuds with recipes and reviews
Animal angels WHAT’SON 40 4 0PAGEGUIDE TO SPRING 2024 ! 40-PAGE GUIDE
Love your local towns Shire visits Porthmadog
Rydal Penrhos School Our Promise Apply Now 01492 530155 Small class sizes, experienced teachers, exceptional academic results. Significant and ongoing investment in school buildings and equipment. A broad and diverse curriculum for pupils aged two to eighteen. Outstanding pastoral support from a dedicated team of specialists. A bespoke learning experience for every child. An extensive programme of school trips and extra-curricular clubs and activities.


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Chief Subeditor

Wendy Reed

Sta Writers


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Advertising Design

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Sales & Marketing

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Jon Hunt

Distribution Manager

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Finance & Accounts

David Kynaston

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Holly Johnson, John Hargreaves, P Parker, Helen Cooke, Bob Hickman, Lisa Whelan, Adele

Barry, Catherine Buckley, Alice Leetham, Deborah Law, Lee Ruddin, J McKinney


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Atlast it feels like spring is in the air! To celebrate this most joyful of seasons, we’ve got a bumper issue of Shire in store for you! When the days are longer and lighter we all feel more like getting out and about – so our What’s On section is packed with suggestions for days out and places to visit –especially handy when there are school breaks and bank holidays on the horizon.

It’s also a key time of year for gardeners and our friends at Reaseheath share their expertise on essential jobs that need tackling – plus we’ve found a stunning garden to inspire you. Poulton Hall Gardens is one of many locations opening its gates for charity this spring, so why not combine a stroll around these beautiful grounds with some worthwhile fundraising?

On the topic of worthwhile ventures – we love our wildlife here at Shire and we know that across the patch so many dedicated people give their time and energy to caring for animals in need. In our long feature, we meet the local heroes at rescue centres and sanctuaries who care for and often find new, loving homes for creatures injured or abandoned. These charities rely on the goodwill of volunteers and the generosity of the public so we want to give them the recognition they deserve.

Alongside, your Shire Magazine is packed with all your regular favourites – homes and interiors, arts and books, food and drink, health and holidays… so get yourself comfy and get stuck into the latest edition. Enjoy! SIMPLY THE BEST

1 Tell us about your upcoming events. Just remember that we work in advance, so 1st April is the deadline for events you’d like to feature in our May/June issue.

2 Share your reader stories Have you got an exciting or extraordinary story to tell? We’d like to feature it in the next issue. Send us an email –and don’t forget to include a picture or two as well.

Our Food & Drink section is packed with the latest news, hotspots and o ers

3We have lots of regulars that readers can contribute to:

Reader photos Taken a great shot recently? Email your best e ort and it might get featured! See page 103.

Reader poems Do you like penning the odd line? So do we! Send us your poems – we’d love to include them on our poetry page. See page 119 for more. Your pets Is your pet the love of your life? Send a snap, along

with their name and anything else you want to tell us. See page 103 for further details. Get social Follow, like and friend us on Facebook and Instagram to be first in line for event updates, competitions and more.

Visit our website online at

and send submissions and information by email to IT’S A DATE! Message your mates and get planning –you’ll find lots of inspiration in our 40 pages of listings GET IN TOUCH! We want to hear from you… TURN TO PAGE 87 for our fantastic subscription o er A free copy of Shire delivered to your door! If you’re having trouble getting to the supermarket and would prefer your copy delivered to you at home, just send us an A4 sae with £2 postage to Shire Magazine, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR. We’ll send you the latest issue by return. WELCOME, DEAR READER… IN THIS ISSUE
Editor Kate Speedie
Lynda Kenny
Alison Steele Designers
SHIRE MAGAZINE is published bi-monthly by Superstar Publishing Ltd. Every e ort is made to ensure that the information and advice contained in these articles is correct and appropriate, but no liability or responsibility for loss or damage to any person acting or refraining from action in reliance on or as a result of anything omitted from such articles can be, or is accepted by, the authors, the publishers, their employees or any other persons connected with Superstar Publishing Ltd. Views expressed by contributors to Shire magazine are not necessarily those of the magazine or of Superstar Publishing Ltd and should be attributed to the authors concerned. Save as expressively permitted by law no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written authority of the Publisher, acting for Shire magazine. Privacy Policy published online at © 2024 Superstar Publishing Ltd, all rights reserved. Registered Number: 10604188. Print ISSN 2514-3913 Online ISSN 2514-3921 Shining the spotlight on the wonderful folk who work so tirelessly for animals in need March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 3
If you need help to protect and make sense of your money... * To find out more call 0808 168 5866 for a free 60 minute consultation ...this is what we do Estate Planning • IHT Planning • Trusts • Pre Paid Trusts • Wills • Power of Attorney For Business Owners • Death In Ser vice • Pension Plans (Director) • Key Person • Shareholder Protection • Buy Sell Agreements • Auto Enrolment Retirement Planning • Drawdown • Annuities • Phased Retirement Personal & Family Protection • Life Assurance • Income Protection • Critical Illness • Mortgage Protection • Guardian Cover Pensions • Personal • Company • Transfers • SIPPs Savings • ISAs • Unit Trusts • General Accounts • B onds • Wealth Management £ £ Registered in England and Wales No 8288660. Registered O ce: Hilliards Court, Chester Business Park, Chester CH4 9QP. Hartey Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulatedby the Financial Conduct Authority. *Karl and Tristan Hartey

6 What’s On



98 Arts

The ultimate guide to what’s going on across the region, our events diary stretches from North and Mid Wales, across Cheshire, including the Wirral and right through Shropshire. With school Easter holidays and a whole host of bank holidays looming, check out the latest events, shows and activities.

41 Celebrity

Fresh from a star appearance in Hollywood hit film Wonka, and with a new show bringing him to Bangor, Tom Davies talks to Shire Magazine about his comedy and acting career

42 Reviews

The Shire team reports back from local shows and events

44 Animal rescue

We’re all animal lovers here at Shire and our in-depth feature this issue visits some of the rescue centres and sanctuaries working so hard for our furry and feathered friends

50 Town Visit

This time we’re in the North Wales harbour town of Porthmadog – a wonderful destination for a short break or longer stay, with all the thrills of Snowdonia on the doorstep

53 Holidays

With sunshine back in the forecast, it’s the perfect time to plan ahead for a holiday or even an investment in your own perfect paradise, so let us help you choose the best spot

61 Active

Our walk in this issue comes from The Ramblers organisation and we’re also taking a look at another hugely popular outdoor pursuit – golf

62 Food & Drink

Our foodie pages are packed with good things, including Gary Carter’s wine guide, recipes from a top chef and treats from the best local producers – plus a new restaurant reviewed

72 Homes

Spring has well and truly sprung and our homes and interiors section brings you fresh new looks to keep your home bright, beautiful and always in style

93 Gardens

It’s time to get busy outdoors! Spruce up your outside space with our jobs guide or visit a local attraction guaranteed to inspire you

102 Pets & Wildlife

Photographer David Wilson shows Wales in a new light in his stunning new collection – and we’ve got the latest entries from our own photo competition. Plus a groundbreaking exhibition from the Gypsy Maker initiative

The RSPB joins Shire Magazine with the first of their regular columns, there’s nature stories from across the region – and of course some of your own cute pet pictures

106 Charities & Volunteering

Celebrating the individuals and organisations that do so much good for so many good causes in our area

108 Health & Beauty

Our health and well-being guide aims to keep you at your best, with advice from professionals and experts

111 Education

As the school year continues, we look at the successes and developments from institutions across the Shire patch

118 Books & Poetry

Shire speaks to a Wirral writer whose experiences of corporate life inspired a satirical novel. Plus reading recommendations, a fascinating local history and more of your wonderful poems

123 Retirement

Stories focusing on our senior readers include one company’s innovative approach to leisure activities, and a look at the latest pension news

127 Competitions

Don’t miss your chance to win some fabulous prizes in our exclusive Shire competitions

130 Letters

Check out what other readers have to say with a selection of the letters we’ve been sent here at Shire – as well as feedback from the team and from you!

Pets & Wildlife Food & Drink PAGE 62 PAGE 6 What’s On Garden Shopping Celebrity PAGE 72 Animal angels PAGE 44 PAGE 88 Women’s Fashion PAGE 97 PAGE 96 Men’s Fashion PAGE 102 Holidays PAGE 53 PAGE 41 Homes Photographer David Wilson

Follow follow to Venue Cymru

The Wizard of Oz, 5th-10th March Starring The Vivienne as Wicked Witch of the West. Join Dorothy, Toto and friends on a magical adventure down the Yellow Brick Road. Times vary. Tickets from £15.50.

An Officer and a Gentleman: the Musical 19th-23rd March Featuring the songs of Madonna, Bon Jovi, Blondie and more, thrill to the highs and lows of this extraordinary love story. 7.30pm. Tickets from £31.


The Vivienne, who won the first RuPaul’s Drag Race, was born in Colwyn Bay

Giovanni Pernice – Let Me Entertain You, 6th April The Strictly

For your literary delight


Philippa Holloway’s debut The HalfLife of Snails is set in Ukraine and Anglesey

Philippa Holloway, Vaseem Khan, Joanne Harris and Catherine Isaac are among the names appearing at Wrexham’s Carnival of Words from 20th-27th April. Dynamic’s Signing Sensations open the event, Historical Fiction and

Murder Mystery Nights return and there’ll be a Les Misérables Readathon, plus storytelling, poetry and interactive panels of Welsh writers, poets, bloggers, songwriters and journalists. Full programme at www.

star is back with his new show. Expect non-stop action with worldclass dancers and West End performers bringing you an unforgettable experience. 7.30pm. Tickets from £38.20.

Showaddywaddy, 19th April Join the band for their 50th Anniversary show featuring all their greatest hits, including ‘Under the Moon of Love’, ‘Three Steps to Heaven’ and lots more. 7.30pm. Tickets £30.

Sensational shows at Stiwt

An Evening with Sir Bradley Wiggins, 5th April Join the Tour de France and Olympic medallist as he discusses his fantastic career, what brought him to cycling and everything in-between. 8pm. Tickets £30.

Soul Satisfaction – American Four Tops Show, 19th April Get ready ’cos here they come! Soul Satisfaction pays tribute to the Motown legends. 7pm. £24.

Disney Frozen – Singa-long, 9th March Burst into song with Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and his reindeer in this sing-a-long version of the feel-good movie. 2.30pm. Tickets £5.

Back to their roots

Opera for all :

Welsh National Opera has several superb productions at Llandudno’s Venue Cymru. Experience Britten’s atmospheric Death in Venice on 13th March, a tragic tale of beauty and obsession. In complete contest Mozart’s Così fan tutte on 14th & 16th is an updated version set in a sixth-form college. Opera Favourites on 15th celebrates opera’s hall of fame. See www.

The Undercover Hippy, 5th April The Bristol-based band perform politically driven roots reggae hip-hop with a sly sense of humour. 7.30pm. Tickets £17.

Jah Wobble – Metal Box Rebuilt in Dub, 19th April Public Image Ltd’s second album, the 1979 masterpiece Metal Box, was a lightning rod to the music world. Now catch Wobble digging deep and bringing out his creative best. 7.30pm. Tickets £22. www.



Real fun at Rhyl Pavilion

Mania – The Abba Tribute, 9th March Mania is a world-class tribute show, so dust down those flares and join in with classics like ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Voulez Vous’ and ‘Dancing Queen’. 7.30pm. Tickets £28.

Coleen Nolan – Naked and In the Mood for Dancing, 22nd March Performing songs from soundtrack to her life and talking frankly about her loves, Coleen will encourage women to rediscover their passions! 7.30pm. Tickets £35.

Art at the Academy


Abba originally went by the name Festfolk, meaning ‘party people’ in Swedish

Robin Hood, 30th & 31st March Don your Lincoln green for this traditional Easter family panto! 2pm & 6pm (Sat only). Tickets £18 (concessions £16.50).

King of Pop, 18th April Starring Michael Jackson tribute artist Navi and Michael’s guitarist Jennifer Batten, plus an incredible band and dancers. 7.30pm. Tickets £28.

The Royal Cambrian Academy of Art presents several exciting exhibitions this spring: running until 30th March is ‘Shaping Art in Wales: David Bell, Kathleen Armistead and the Modern Artist’, focusing on the artists’ role in developing Welsh and European modernism. Alternatively catch ‘Miniprint Wales’, curated by Sarah Hopkins. From 6th April, Ben Johnson, Barry Davies and Graham Cox will be showing their work.

Fancy having a go yourself? Try the Abstract Painting Masterclass on 9th & 16th March. See

Race you!

March comes in like a lion at Bangor-on-Dee Races with Premier Hurdle Day on 23rd March, when owners and trainers look toward a thrilling season ahead.

Family Day on 20th April offers a hub of activity with fun games and experiences for kids – all included in the admission ticket! In previous years there’s been a climbing wall, inflatable pirate ships and crazy golf. See www.

Learn new skills this spring

Challenge yourself with a day course at Abakhan, Mostyn. Fitting Garments the Easy Way on 23rd March shows how to get the perfect fit for any item, any person, any shape or size. Make a Shirt in a Day on 6th April will help you conquer tricky plackets, collars, cuffs and yokes, and Soluble Fabrics – Flowers & Leaves on 19th April will demonstrate how to use these unusual fabrics to create fantastic foliage.

Can you nd Rabbit’s eggs?

It’s the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Llanberis Lake Railway from 30th March–1st April. The resident White Rabbit has once again hidden all his Easter eggs around the railway, thinking no one else will find them. If you can spot them all, you will receive a prize! Timetable and prices at


•4th March, North Wales Print Fair, Mostyn, Llandudno Buy beautiful and a ordable art direct from the artists. Over 30 stalls, printmaking demonstrations, free print workshops and a prize ra e. 10.30am-4pm. Entry free.

•5th March, Fairport Convention, William Aston Hall, Wrexham The folk icons perform a mix of Fairport favourites and some surprises from albums old and new. 7.30pm. Tickets £30.

•8th March, New Welsh Wave Comedy Tour, Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli Hosted by Kiri Pritchard-McLean – comedians you know and love, and some you may not know you love yet. 7.30pm. Tickets £14.

•9th March, Music of Adele by Candlelight, St Asaph Cathedral Award-winner Julia Martin performs soul-stirring melodies and heartfelt lyrics in an atmospheric setting. 7.30pm. Tickets from £25 via

•9th March, Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra, Blue Sky Café, Bangor Western swing, blues, country and rockabilly –ultimately sounding like nobody else! 7pm. Tickets £16.50.

•Until 10th March, David Nash: ‘Seeing Trees’, Oriel Môn, Llangefni Highlighting the artist’s unique relationship with trees. Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. Free.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 7



•13th March, Lisztomania, Rhyl Music Club Ellis Thomas (piano) and narrator Dennis Lavin reflect on the range of Liszt’s music and how he influenced later composers. 7.30pm. £15.

•13th & 27th March, 10th & 24th April , Open Days, Aberclwyd Manor, Corwen Visit this four-acre garden overlooking the Upper Clwyd Valley, with an Italianate garden, shrubs, ponds, perennials, an orchard and spring flowers. 11am-4pm. £5.

•14th March, 4th & 18th April, Antique and Vintage Fair, St Mary’s Church Hall, Betws-yCoed Enjoy this small friendly fair with china, collectables, glass, jewellery, postcards, linen, books and more. 9am-4pm. Free.

•15th March, Adults Retro Disco, Criccieth Memorial Hall

Back by popular demand, DJ Keith will play tunes from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s plus your requests. 8pm. Tickets £8 via TicketSource.

•16th March, Spring

Music to your ears

Fascinating Aïda, 7th March Dillie, Liza and Adèle, Britain’s raciest and sassiest cabaret trio, bring their brand-new show to Wrexham! 7.30pm. Tickets £28.50.

Irish Annie’s, 11th March Meet landlady Annie and her regular madcap customers for a fun night of comedy and music, starring Ricky Tomlinson and surprise special guests. 7.30pm. Tickets £26.

Celebrating 60 Golden Years of Dame Shirley Bassey & Sir Tom Jones, 19th April With the

Art at Ty Pawb

Until 30th March, as part of the ‘Gypsy Makers’ series, the Romani Cultural & Arts Company presents work by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller artists, accompanied by a programme of artist-led workshops. From 13th April, view work by photographer Mohamed Hassan, including co-creations with members of Wrexham’s Bom Dia Cymru, a Portuguese diaspora community. Free. Monday–Saturday 9am–5pm.

From Greeks to Jeeps

Equinox Dawn Walk, Hawarden Estate Farm Shop A walk in the usually private parkland of Hawarden Estate, with tea or co ee at the Old Castle and firecooked breakfast. 5.30-am. £20.

•Until 16th March, North Wales Society of Fine Art Exhibition, Storiel, Bangor The first of two Members’ Exhibitions displaying a wide variety of paintings, sculpture and pottery. Tues-Sat 11am-5pm. Free.

Over 600 historical re-enactors in authentic period costumes and toting original weaponry will gather at Bodrhyddan Hall, near Rhyl on 6th & 7th April for the No Man’s Land multi-period living history weekend. From the Ancient Greeks to modern-day warfare, there’s a lot to see and do over two action-packed days of hands-on history, including firing displays, military vehicles, trade stalls, refreshments, a beer tent, live music and more. Open 10am-4pm. Weekend tickets £16 (under-16s free) via www.

Denmark Street Big Band and vocalists Liza Baker and Dean Jones. 7.30pm. Tickets £22.


Shirley Bassey was the first Welsh artist to reach No 1 on the UK singles chart

Taylormania, 28th April An award-winning extravaganza that plays tribute to the pop princess. Super-Swiftie Katy Ellis performs the star’s greatest hits. 7.30pm. Tickets £22.50.

Explore the natural world

Get outdoors with North Wales Wildlife Trust. Explore Gwaith Powdwr Nature Reserve at Penrhyndeudraeth, near Portmeirion on 24th March – enjoy a morning or afternoon guided walk around this haven for wildlife, which was once world-renowned for its explosives. Alternatively, do your bit for the environment at the West Shore Llandudno Beach Clean on 29th March. Details at

Stretch your wings

Get outdoors with RSPB North Wales this spring! Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting out, you’ll find plenty of inspiration on the Guided Sketching Walk at South Stack, Anglesey on 7th & 21st March or 4th April. On 12th March, as

part of National Lottery Open Week, join a guided walk across the reserve and witness the array of wildlife from birds to butterflies. And National Lottery ticket holders can explore the amazing RSPB Conwy for free from 9th-17th March. Details at

It’s coming home!

Wales Comic Con’s Homecoming promises to be even bigger and better when it returns to Wrexham University on 6th-7th April! Enjoy a weekend of pop culture and media fun with an amazing line-up of guest signing sessions, photo ops, cosplay, gaming and so much more. Photo ops include folks from Stranger Things, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings and Red Dwarf to name a few. Experience live tournaments and retro arcade nostalgia in the Gaming Zone and meet fellow cosplayers at the Masquerade. Full programme at

01248 38 28 28 Bangor Dyddiadau i’ch Dyddiadur Dates for your Diary Theatr Na nÓg 15 – 18 Mai / May The Breath 28 Mawrth / March The Fureys 4 Ebrill / April 2024 UK Foo Fighters 20 Ebrill / April 9 Mai / May Ballet Cymru Romeo a Juliet 14 + 15 Mehefin / June Taking Flight Mae Gen Ti Ddreigiau You’ve Got Dragons 21 - 27 Mehefin / June Pontio Shires Feb 23 198x140mm.indd 1 #GwylTyddyn #SmallholdingFestival Smallholding & Countryside Festival 18 - 19 Mai / May 2024 Royal Welsh Showground | Llanelwedd | Builth Wells | LD2 3SY Gŵyl Tyddyn a Chefn Gwlad Tickets Available Online

Llanuwchllyn, near Bala, Gwynedd LL23

Steam trains in southern Snowdonia Beautiful lake and mountain views

Family friendly attraction – dog friendly too!

Open most days from 23rd March to 2nd Nov

Easter Egg Hunt - 29th March to 1st April

Can you find the Easter Eggs cunningly hidden on the railway to solve the puzzle and win a prize?

Great fun for all the family!

Steam on Road & Rail

4th-6th May

An evocative combination of steam trains and steam traction road vehicles at Llanuwchllyn Station

For further information and to book your tickets









Be seeing you!

Portmeirion welcomes the 40th Prisoner Convention from 12th-14th April celebrating the ’60s cult series. Special guests will include Catherine McGoohan and Tony Sloman, series librarian on the first 13 episodes. There’ll be re-enactments of the legendary Election Parade from ‘Free for All’ and the Human chess game from ‘Checkmate’, a fancy dress party on the theme of Heroes and

Go wild

Join Woodland Classroom on a Wild Food, Foraging & Wilderness Cookery Day on 20th or 21st April (9.30am-4.30pm, £65). Against the backdrop of the mixed woodlands, wetlands and meadows of Chirk’s Park in the Past, explore in search of ‘food for free’. If you aspire to the outdoor life, try a one-day course in Bushcraft Essentials on 13th April or learn Stone Age skills of Bone Working & Firelighting on 27th April, £60 each.

Festival of song

North Wales Choir Festival returns to Llandudno’s Venue Cymru on 2nd-3rd March – a packed event that choral lovers will not want to miss. Saturday

kick-starts the weekend with competitions, and in the evening the Festival Celebration Concert offers a wonderful variety of choirs and some special guests. On Sunday it’s the turn of the Open Category, Mixed Voices and Show Choirs to raise the roof.


To attend you must be a member of the Six of One Society, details on website


Villains, murder mystery theatre Don’t Get Yourself Killed, a ukulele band, music from the Royal Oakeley Brass Band and more! Why not make the most of the action and stay in the iconic Italianate village?


Visit e Woodworks Cafe at e Woodworks Garden Centre, Mold to enjoy a special Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea on 8th-10th March, as you celebrate and remember the most important women in your life. e tea includes delicious, delicate sandwiches, tasty cakes, scrumptious homemade scones with jam and cream – and a potted plant for Mum! Afternoon tea for two is £32.95. To book a table call 01352 752 555 (option3) or visit


Llangollen Railway’s Branch Line Gala is back from 12th-14th April showcasing resident locos 7754, Austin I and 3802 and visiting loco 68067, together with appearances from the diesel fleet and heritage railcars. Also returning is the popular Real Ale Train on 27th April with local craft beers available to purchase on board. See

Top that!

Circus Funtasia comes to Bryn Y Grog Farm, Wrexham from 28th March – 7th April. Feel the heat of the fire-breathers, hear the roar of motorbikes, thrill to the Wheel of Death, the Cuban acrobatic troupe and heartstopping roller duo. Laugh with award-winning comedian The Geek. All the talent of a West End show plus circus magic. £8.


•Until 17th March, From Fleece to Loom, Oriel Plas Glyn-Y-Weddw Arts Centre, Pwllheli Showcasing 12 contemporary Welsh textile artists alongside blankets and shawls produced in factories such as Penycaerau, Edern, Nanhoron and Pwllheli. Free entry.

19th March, Wine from the Vale of Clwyd, Clwyd Hardy Plant Society, Halkyn Cricket Club, Holywell Gwen Davies talks about award-winning Vale Vineyard’s unique micro climate and quality ‘terroir’ – with samples. 7pm.

•19th-23rd March, Frankenstein, Grove Park Theatre, Wrexham In this play by Nick Dear, Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece is seen through the eyes of the tormented Creature cast out by his creator Frankenstein. Book at

•22nd March, Coastal Forage & Nibble, Conwy Morfa Beach Explore with a foraging expert, identifying species, finding and tasting wild ingredients and sharing a wild snack. 11am-2pm. £35 via Eventbrite.

•23rd March, Wrexham Food Fair, Alyn Waters Country Park Enjoy delicious food from vendors across Wrexham showcasing the best produce o ered by the local community. 11am-3pm. Free.

•23rd March - 7th April, Anglesey Arts Weeks Visit local artists and craftworkers in their studios across Anglesey. AAW 2023 showcased over 150 artists in 52 locations including seven galleries! See Facebook for details.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 11


•24th March, Justin Hayward, Venue Cymru, Llandudno The Moody Blues vocalist performs his era and genredefining hits. 7.30pm. £45.50.

•26th March, Conwy Seed Fair Experience this 700-year old Royal Charter Fair o ering seed and plant stalls and farmers’ market. 9am-4pm. Free.

•27th March, Dr John Cooper Clarke: 50 Years in Showbiz, Venue Cymru, Llandudno The people’s poet performs his unique show in the original Mancunian! 7.30pm. From £28.

•2nd April, Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Mad, Bad and Dangerous, William Aston Hall, Wrexham

An evening with the world’s greatest living explorer as he reveals the man behind the myth. 7.30pm. £33.50.

•From 5th April, Spring Exhibition, Oriel Glasfryn Gallery, Caerwys ‘Impressions of Wales’ features paintings, gyotaku prints, jewellery and ceramics. Wed-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm. Free

•6th April, Wrexham Food and Drink Fayre Running alongside the regular street market, discover street food, local produce and homemade wares. 10am-4pm. Free.

•6th April, Fused and Etched Glass Pictures, Wernog Wood, Ruthin A oneday beginners’ course – create a framed artwork using layers of glass and found objects. £150.

Raising the roof at Pontio

New Welsh Wave Comedy Tour, 9th March Kiri Pritchard-McLean introduces Bella Humphries, Cerys Bradley, Siân Docksey and Anna Thomas. 7.30pm. Tickets £14.

Tom Davis – Underdog, 22nd March

Embarking on his biggest tour to date, Tom jokes about working on building sites, fatherhood and acting in blockbuster films. 8pm. Tickets £21.

The Selfish Giant, 27th March A heart-warming show about how spring melts even the grumpiest heart. 10.30am & 1.30pm. Family ticket £28.

Sweetness and light

How Sweet It Is, 20th March The music of James Taylor performed by Vernon James, focusing on early works and favourites such as ‘Something In The Way She Moves’. 7.30pm. Tickets £15.

ROH Ballet Live: MacMillan Celebrated, 9th April This live screening from Covent Garden

Grazing on the water

Running most Sundays from 17th March, enjoy a horse-drawn boat trip from Llangollen Wharf, with afternoon tea and a glass of prosecco. Or board the Real Ale/Wine cruise with grazing platter on 6th April (noon4pm) along the Llangollen Canal, taking in the stuning scenery of the Dee Valley including the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Tickets £32.95.

The Fureys, 4th April The Irish trad folk giants perform hits including ‘When You Were Sweet 16’, ‘The Green Fields of France’ and more.

7.30pm. Tickets £24.


The Fureys have recorded more than 50 albums since forming in 1974

celebrates the one-act ballets of the Royal Ballet’s principal choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, with scores by Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Fauré. 7.15pm. Tickets £13.

ROH Ballet Live: Swan Lake, 24th April Classical ballet’s most powerful tale of love, treachery and forgiveness, set to Tchaikovsky’s sensational score. 7.15pm. Tickets £10.


One of the UK’s best-loved events, Llandudno Transport Festival is at Bodafon Fields on 4th-6th May, coinciding with the town’s Victorian Extravaganza – a free shuttle links the two separately organised events. There’ll be road runs around Conwy and Marine Drive, a large presence of vintage and preserved buses and coaches, and traction engines join the parade.

Host of golden da odils

Bodnant Garden, near Conwy puts on an extra-special spectacle in spring, when the Old Park Meadow and Glades are transformed into a carpet of bright Narcissus pseudonarcissus along with many other daffodil varieties. Next come pockets of white-flowered pheasant’s eye, blending beautifully into the emerging swathes of bluebells. See www. wales/bodnant-garden

12 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024

Oriau Agor / OpeningHours

23 Mawrth – 29 Medi 2024 / 23 March – 29 September 2024

Dydd Mercher -Dydd Sul / Wednesday-Sunday

10yb – 4yb / 10am – 4pm

A Dydd Llun Gŵyl y Banc / Plus Bank Holiday Mondays

Dewch i ymweld â’n canolfan ymwelwyr sydd wedi ennill gwobrau a darganfod stori am Gymraes ifanc a wnaeth newid bywydau miliynau o bobl. Gydag ardal bicnic, caffi a maes chwarae i blant, mae Canolfan Pererin yn cynnig amser gwych i blant ac oedolion.

Visit our award-winning visitor centre and discover how the story of a young Welsh girl chonged the lives of millions. Complete with a picnic area, café and children’s playground,

Mory Jones Pilgrim Centre offers a great time out for children and adults alike.

Mary Jones Pilgrim Centre, Llanycil, Bala LL23 7YF 01745 853072 WEDDING FAYRE Sunday 24th March 12pm – 4pm Free Entry | Canapes | Goody Bag for first 50 Chance to win Scottish Honeymoon


Spring at Theatr Colwyn

Dad’s Army, 14th-16th March Join Captain Mainwaring, Sergeant Wilson, Corporal Jones, Private Pike and all your favourite characters for an evening of laughter and music. 7.30pm. Tickets £17.50.

Tommy Blaize, 30th March Known as the voice of Strictly Come Dancing, Tommy steps out in his first solo tour with songs and stories about the legends he’s worked alongside. Expect a ‘strictly’ incredible evening! 7.30pm. Tickets £27.50.

Billy Goose and the Cracking Easter Egg Hunt, 5th & 6th April Embark on a whimsical journey to discover magical eggs – with colourful characters, toe-tapping tunes and a sprinkling of Easter magic! 7pm & Saturday matinee 2pm. Tickets £12 (child £10).


Tommy has worked with the Beach Boys, Amy Winehouse, Diana Ross and more

Special events at Bala Lake Railway

St David’s Day (plus one!), 2nd March

Celebrate just one day late, with free travel if you live in North Wales, reduced price for others.

Easter Egg Hunt, 29th March-1st April Can you find all the eggs hidden along the line and at the station and solve the puzzle? There’s a prize for every child and you might get to meet the White Rabbit!

Modern heroes

Hans Rey – Mishaps & Mayhem, 14th March Mountain bike pioneer, adventurer and former Trials World Champion, Hans ‘No Way’ Rey tells how it felt to be lost, haunted, stalked and rescued. 7.30pm. Tickets £18.

Gwenan Gibbard – Tonic, 18th April Gwenan stands at the forefront of today’s Welsh traditional music scene with her unique contemporary arrangements of music and songs in the Welsh language. 2.30pm. Tickets £7.

Let your story begin by the sea

The Beaches Hotel Wedding Fayre returns to Prestatyn on 24th March after a four-star upgrade and refurbishment. Experience the beauty and warm hospitality of the venue first hand, with live entertainment, canapés and show-rounds. Be inspired by trusted wedding suppliers and meet Elizabeth and the team.

Couples will be in with a chance to win a Scottish honeymoon stay at Atholl Palace Hotel, and there are goodie bags for the first 50 attendees. The fayre is open from 12pm-3pm and entry is free.

Snowdonia by steam

The Snowdonian from Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways is an 80-mile round trip over the whole railway on 20th April. Travel to and from Porthmadog via Blaenau Ffestiniog and Caernarfon by a mix of power. Steam locos will include the new Double Fairlie, James Spooner II. Tickets from £260 include refreshments and a separate tour of the Boston Lodge works.



•7th April, Spring Nature Guided Walk, Walled Garden School, Hawarden Estate Join local expert Dave Winnard to learn about identifying species and understanding the ecology of the changing seasons. 10am-noon. £30. To book, call 07818 246 118.

•7th April, Fort Belan, near Caernarfon A rare opportunity to visit this 18th-century fort and SSSI. 2.30pm.£15 via

•8th April, Nature of Snowdonia – Lichens Special, Llanbedr Join Dr Nathan Christmas exploring the temperate rainforest of Coed Crafnant and learn about lichens and spring flowers. 9.30am-4.30pm. Tickets £58.75 via

•13th April, Battle of the Bay, Eirias Events Centre, Colwyn Bay United Wrestling presents an action-packed evening of smack-down entertainment! 6.30pm. From £8.

•13th April, Wales Distilled, Faenol Fawr Country Hotel, St Asaph Indulge in the finest gins, rums, vodkas, whiskys and liqueurs, all crafted by local distilleries. Whether you’re a connoisseur or just enjoy discovering flavours, this brand-new festival is for you, with cocktail bars, masterclasses, street food and music from Pedair and Fleur de Llys. From £11.55.

•16th April, Low-maintenance Gardening, Clwyd Hardy Plant Society, Halkyn Cricket Club, Holywell Richard Rallings of Mynd Hardy Plants Nursery suggest ways to reduce your workload. Plants for sale. 7pm.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 15


•17th April, Into the Novacene, Pontio, Bangor A cast of six talented performers present this contemporary dance work about the beginnings of a new age and new world. 7.30pm. £16.

20th April, Northern Soul Night, Rhyl Pavilion Dig out those baggy trousers and twirly skirts for a mix of Motown, Northern and classic soul. From 4.30pm. £5 (or free entry if dining at 1891).

•20th & 21th April, Dolbelydr Open Days, Denbigh This fine 16th-century gentry house has good claim to be the birthplace of modern Welsh. Learn about its history. From 10am. Free entry, booking via Eventbrite.

•25th April, Ban Film Festival, Venue Cymru The world’s top adventure film -makers and thrill-seekers climb, ski, paddle and ride into the wildest corners of the planet. 7.30pm. £17.50.

•27th April, Abakhan Artisan Market, Mostyn Find inspiration among the stalls at this bustling fair, featuring arts & crafts, designers, makers plus some delicious food and drink .10am-4pm. Free.

•27th April, RUSH: A Joyous Jamaican Journey, William Aston Hall, Wrexham This narrated musical tells the story of the Windrush Generation and reggae and how the music took the world by storm. 7.30pm. Tickets £24.

Party like a Victorian!

Llandudno’s Victorian Extravaganza takes over the town from 4th–6th May. Go back in time with old-time fair rides, fun stalls, steam engines and people dressed in Victorian costume. At noon each day there’ll be a street parade of traction engines, vintage vehicles, marching bands and street performers. Why not don your best Victorian attire and join in with this amazing festival, celebrating 37 years? Entertainment will include magic shows, a traditional Victorian circus and a hilarious comedy fringe festival in bijou venues around town.

Taking place nearby at the same time is the

Transport Festival with an abundance of vintage vehicles. So roll up for Wales’ largest free-entry family fun event! www.

Challenge yourself for charity

Get out in the fresh air and support Hope House and Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospices on Llangollen Canal Walk on 24th March. The 10-mile circular starts at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and takes in some stunning scenery. Bring friends,

Food for thought

Brush up your culinary skills at Bodnant Welsh Food’s Cookery School, Tal-y-Cafn in the heart of the Conwy Valley. On 9th March learn to make tapas for entertaining, pick up some classic Easter recipes on 23rd March or try Sustainable Seafood on 6th April

Bodnant Art Studios are now running workshops at the School too. Join Paul Pigram and try your hand at Seascape Pastel Painting on 16th March


The first man to wear a top hat in public was charged for frightening timid people!

family, colleagues and four-legged friends and embrace the great outdoors whilst raising money for children with life-threatening conditions. Register for £10.55 (child £6.13) via www. and start collecting sponsors!

Craft creativity

Ruthin Craft Centre has four varied exhibitions showing until 17th March. Nigel Hurlstone’s ‘The Wind from the Feet of the Dead’ comprises over 30 lifesized works, an ominous tableau of characters who persist in our cultural memory. ‘Weaving Unearthed’ presents Sue Hiley Harris’s textiles inspired by organic root systems. In ‘Earthly Treasures’ Effie Burns explores the relationship between glass and body adornment, while the Ceramic Portal series features potter Mike Parry. Free entry, Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5.30pm.

New horizons

Try something different at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden. ‘History of the Baltic States from Antiquity to the Present Day’ is a learning day with Dan Kaszeta, focusing on the history of the region including WWII, independence and building state identity, and Russia and the war in Ukraine. It’s on 9th March

From 26th-28th April ‘Meditation, Dreams, and Synchronicity’ is an experimental course led by John Blackwell, enabling exploration of our higher goals and place in the cosmos. Details at www.



Family Days out this Easter with National Trust Cymru

Spring is here so if you’re hoping to make the most of warmer, brighter days this Easter, then look no further than the places cared for by National Trust Cymru across North and Mid Wales. With a range of adventure-packed Easter egg trails that celebrate nature, history, and beauty, wherever you visit you’re guaranteed to keep your little explorers entertained for hours.

Please note: Normal admission prices apply (free to National Trust members), plus £3 per trail which includes an Easter trail sheet, bunny ears, and a chocolate egg or a vegan and Free From chocolate egg.

Plas Newydd House and Garden | 23 March – 1 April

Join the bee disco, practice your bunny hops, and create an outfit that outshines the brightest of butterflies – see how many fun activities you can complete as you follow this action-packed Easter trail towards your chocolatey prize.

Penrhyn Castle and Garden | 23 March – 1 April

Become a wildlife detective this Easter as you search high and low for carved woodland creatures and a larger-than-life willow frog who makes its home in the Bog Garden. Tackle ten different fun challenges along the way to earn your chocolate egg.

Powis Castle and Garden | 23 March – 5 April

Join this exciting Easter egg trail and find out about the life cycles of seven different animals. Dodge the spiderwebs along Yew Walk, help a bee collect its pollen, and follow the lifespan of a frog – are you brave enough to put your hands in the slimy frogspawn?

Discover more exciting days out near you here:

Chirk Castle and Garden | 25 March - 7 April

See if you’ve got what it takes to become a knight at Chirk Castle. Test your target skills, race wheelbarrows, build and protect your own castle, and take on the ultimate final challenge to complete your Easter quest and earn your chocolate reward.

Bodnant Garden | 29 March – 1 April

Follow the clues to find out more about the insects that call this special place home. Can you jump like a grasshopper or help a bee find the right flower? You’re sure to enjoy hours of family fun as you complete exciting Easter activities that’ll lead you to your prize.

Plas yn Rhiw, Llyn Peninsula | 29 March – 1 April

Wind your way around the woodland and garden at Plas yn Rhiw this spring on a natureinspired Easter egg trail. Follow the clues and complete the challenges that will teach you more about the different birds that call this place home.

Step into spring

Step outdoors and celebrate the arrival of a spring in the amazing collection of gardens and parks cared for by National Trust Cymru. From Italianate terraces and walled gardens to arboretums and countryside estates there’s over 500 years of Welsh history waiting to be discovered.

From March through to May, enjoy beautiful displays of vibrant daffodils, delicate bluebells, billowing blossom, all whilst listening to choruses of uplifting of birdsong.

ˆ @NTCymru @NTCymru @NTCymru
Exploring the Spring Garden
Chirk Castle - enjoying the Easter Egg trail
National Trust images:
Harris, Clwb Camera Dwyfor,
Bluebells at Plas yn Rhiw
Megan Taylor
Daffodils at Powis Castle

Booking at Aberystwyth Arts

Tom Davis: Underdog, 21st March Embarking on his biggest tour to date, Tom jokes about life as a long shot: from working on building sites to still failing to impress waiters! 8pm. Tickets £21.

Philomusica Spring Concert 23rd March Aberystwyth’s awardwinning symphony orchestra performs an exhilarating evening of Dvorak, Parry and Hilary Tann. 8pm. Tickets £9.


Experience an event unique to Cardigan

on 27th April

Barley Saturday was originally the day when farmers came to hire workers and inspect horses – mainly the beautiful Welsh Cobs.

Nowadays there are stallion competitions and crowds watch horses parade around the town with manes owing and nostrils aring, followed by vintage vehicles, tractors, carriages, gypsy wagons and milk oats.

Classics at the Albert Hall

Legends of Motown, 6th April

Get ready to be wowed by this high-energy tribute show packed with Motown’s biggest hits and celebrating artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and e Supremes. 7.30pm. Tickets £20.

e Metamorphosis, 26th April Franz Kafka’s story of a mis t trying to adapt to his busy world is as relevant now as it ever was. is new adaptation explores how modern life conspires to isolate us and what it is about being human that brings us closer together. 7.30pm. Tickets £18.


Hilary Tann was the first woman to gain a First Class degree in Composition from Cardi

Operation Julie, 3rd-13th April An anarchic play with ’70s prog-rock backing, about the undercover operation to smash one of the most extraordinary drug rings in history. 2.30 & 7.30pm.Tickets from £20.

An Evening with Johns’ Boys, 13th April You’ve seen their exploits on Britain’s Got Talent. Now hear them in Aberystwyth! 8pm. £22.


e Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth o ers all kinds of practical courses for improving your home sustainably. Renewables for Households on 13th April examines heat pumps: how they work, what conditions they work best in, the di erences between air, ground and water source pumps and the cost bene t. e course runs 9.30am-4pm.

On 20th April, Making Pallet Furniture demonstrates how to upcycle wood into gorgeous bespoke items – from sourcing your pallets and planning your project to marking out and using hand and power tools safely. It runs 9am-5pm. Details at


Collectors’ heaven Builth Wells hosts the International Antique Home & Vintage Fair of Wales on 4th & 5th May at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Showground. One of the largest fairs in the country with up to 1,000 stands, a wide selection of antiques, retro and vintage items o ers something for everyone. 8.30am-5pm (Sunday 10am-5pm). Entry £10 before 2.30pm Saturday, then £5. see

18 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024


Laughter in the hills

Enjoy cutting-edge laughs in bijou venues at Machynlleth Comedy Festival from 3rd-5th May.

Many performers have appeared on BBC TV and radio, including headliners such as Miles Jupp, Ria Lina, Mark Watson and Jessica Fostekew. Enjoy left- eld shows such as Rob Deering's Beat is, and Late Night Dirty Scrabble with Rob Rouse,

Best of Welsh art

Don’t miss the last weeks of ‘CYFOES’, a stunning curation of contemporary Welsh art in all its forms, at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth until 23rd March. On

7th March the October Sky Ensemble performs a free concert including Against the Shore by Hilary Tann, featuring John Irrera (violin), Annie Stevens (percussion), Alan Weinstein (cello) and tenor Brian orsett, at 1pm. See

Challenging the norm

Enjoy new exhibitions at MOMA in Machynlleth this spring. Running until 6th April, Steven Allan Gri ths’ ‘Ghost of an Earlier Self’ depicts still life in a dramatically eerie way, whilst in ‘Consuming Passions’ the Vulgar Earth Artists Collective use various sculptural mediums to illustrate the climate emergency. From 23rd March, see Chantal Meza’s evocative take on South Wales mining communities, ‘How Black Was My Valley’, or the dream-like ‘ e Seven Ages’ by Malcolm Ryan.

along with John Osborne’s new storytelling performance e Strangers, as well as shows designed just for kids. e organisers are passionate about the thrill of seeing live comedy in the intimate and unique performance spaces that the town o ers. Full programme at

March at Llanerchaeron

To say thank you to National Lottery players who have made so much of their conservation work possible, Llanerchaeron will be open free of charge from 13th-17th March – just present your lottery ticket or scratch card! From 25th March–1st April, treat your little ones to a world of adventures on an Easter activity trail (£3 including egg). www.nationaltrust.

Something wicked…

Mid Wales Opera presents Macbeth, a gripping tale of power and manipulation in a quest for the Scottish throne. Verdi’s sweeping score features a haunting chorus. It’s at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 7th March, Bangor’s Pontio on 9th and William Aston Hall, Wrexham on 12th. Tickets from www.

An urgent appeal: Arts Council of Wales no longer funds MWO and their future is uncertain. You can support them by donating online via or by cheque to Mid Wales Opera, Bryn Wgan, Caersws SY17 5QU.


•1st-17th March, Borderlines

Film Festival, Welsh Marches

Experience world-class cinema across 23 venues throughout the Welsh Marches, with more than 68 titles and nearly 300 screenings of contemporary international and British films.

•2nd March & 6th April, Photography Group, Powis Castle Volunteer Neil will guide the group around the garden and perimeter of the castle, whilst you suss out spots to put your photographic skills to the test. 11am-1pm. Normal admission applies.

•7th March, Uproar: Son of Chamber Symphony, Aberystwyth Arts Centre Wales’ New Music Ensemble perform three bold new pieces that will take you on a journey inspired by and responding to contemporary life in Wales. 8pm (pre-show talk at 7pm). Tickets £16.

•16th March, Francesca Ramsay, Presteigne Assembly Rooms Art historian Francesca talks about her book Pinch Me, about how it feels to exist, engaging fully with the world – a raw, lyrical reflection on finding connection with oneself, one another and the modern world. 7.30pm. Tickets £5.

•20th March, Make Your Birdwatching Count, The Hanging Gardens, Llanidloes Naomi will cover the work of the British Trust for Ornithology in Wales, what surveys you can get involved with and how you can make your birdwatching count wherever you are. 7.30-9pm. Tickets £3.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 19




•24th March, Welshpool 10k

An undulating and challenging one-lap race that starts and finishes in the town centre, with breathtaking views of Powis Castle. From 8am. Entry from £21.50 via Adrenaline Sporting Events.

•30th March, Welsh Wrestling, Pavilion Mid Wales, Llandrindod Wells Welsh Wrestling returns with a show jampacked with body-slamming action, tag team chaos and great family entertainment. 7pm. Tickets £13.20.

•30th March, Easter Craft Fayre, Dragon Theatre, Barmouth Following the success of the Christmas Fayre the theatre is launching an Easter event with a variety of home-made wares. Free entry.

•30th March–1st April, Easter Crank-up, The Internal Fire Museum of Power, Tanygroes The museum houses working examples of steam, para n, petrol and diesel engines, and even a 4,000 horsepower jet engine. Catch some of them being cranked into steam over Easter.

•6th April, The Undercover Hippy, Aberystwyth Arts Centre Festival regulars perform their high-energy, interactive live show delivering politically driven acoustic roots reggae folk-hop, with feel-good vibes and a sly sense of humour. 8pm. Tickets £17.

•13th April, Grand Mid-Wales Cycle Jumble, Cefnllys School, Llandrindod Wells Find that bargain! Stalls include items from the museum stores. From 8.30am. Entry £4 before 9.30am, £1 after 9.30am.

Something for everyone at Mwldan

Rosie Holt– at’s Politainment! 29th March A hit at the Edinburgh Fringe, Rosie looks satirically at Westminster politicians. 8pm. Tickets £15.

Ivo Graham: Organised Fun, 5th April After dismantling a barge on Taskmaster and blanking on the 1992 Ipswich Town crest in University Challenge, Ivo ropes his audience into more chaos against the clock. 8pm. Tickets £16.

Springing back to life

What better way to welcome the new season than a behind-the-scenes tour of Powis Castle Gardens? Join one of the talented gardeners on 6th or 13th March for an exclusive look at what it takes to bring this ne garden back into bloom after winter. Included in the price is a delicious lunch from the Courtyard Café. e tour runs 11am-12.30pm, tickets £16.95.

Rocking the Rooms

Music and laughter at Presteigne Assembly Rooms. Tickets via

Liz Ikamba, 6th April British-Congolese singer and multi-instrumentalist Liz performs groove-driven ri s fused with soulful vocals. 7.30pm. Tickets £12.

Luke Wright's Silver Jubilee, 26th April Poet Luke celebrates his jubilee with a deep-dive into class, privilege and his adoption. 8pm. Tickets £15.

ere Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, 6th April e People’s eatre Company presents an engaging show, where stories are the fuel for stranded alien spacecraft! 2pm. Tickets £10.

Ranagri, 16th April Contemporary folk, winning audiences as an energetic festival band yet equally at home with thought-provoking lyrics. 7.30pm. Tickets £16.

rills at Pavilion

Mid Wales

Forbidden Nights, 22nd March Unleash the thrillseeker in you and brace yourself for something spectacular as seen on Britain’s Got Talent – muscles, mayhem and shirt rips!

7.30pm. Tickets £31.35.

A Foreigners Journey, 13th April e music of legendary rockers Foreigner and Journey is blended by this award-winning tribute which has been performing to packed theatres and festivals for 10 years. 7.30pm. Tickets £22.

Easter Carrot Express!

Join Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway for eggstra-special Easter family celebrations! Meet the Easter Bunny at Welshpool Raven Square station for Easter games (weather dependent!) on 30th March–1st April. en take the 45-minute vintage steam train ride to Llanfair Caereinion, where there’ll be a mini egg hunt for younger visitors and lots more to see and do. Every child on the train receives a handsome chocolate egg. Family tickets from £31 at www.

Daily steam train services run through the school holidays!

20 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024


Spring into action at Gregynog

Come and explore the glorious Grade 1 listed grounds of one of Wales’ finest stately homes this Spring.

Café open 10-4 daily, grounds open to everyone, every day

Meet the Easter Bunny at Welshpool Raven Square Station, where he and friends will be organising Easter themed games (weather dependent!)

Take the 45 minute journey by vintage steam train to Llanfair Caereinion Station where there will be family entertainment at intervals and lots more to see and do.

Unique 2 mile miniature railway along the beaches of the stunning Mawddach Estuary in the shadow of the Cader Idris mountains

Kids go£1for

Open Easter to October Daily in School Holidays

Closed Monday & Friday at other times

M A R C H 3 0 T H - 1 S T A P R I L W & L L R R A I L W A Y T O B O O K P L E A S E V I S I T W L L R . O R G . U K
01686 650224
T i c k e t s £ 1 2 . 0 0 u n d e r 1 6 ' s F O C S a t 1 0 - 5 . 3 0 p m S u n 1 0 - 4 . 3 0 p m w w w . w o n d e r w o o l w a l e s . c o . u k c h r i s s i e @ w o n d e r w o o l w a l e s . c o . u k 0 7 9 8 0 9 1 3 9 7 2 R o y a l W e l s h S h o w g r o u n d B u i l t h W e l l s L D 2 3 S Y 27th & 28th
Y a r n s , F i b r e E q u i p m e n t L i v e s t o c k W o r k s h o p s S t r e e t F o o d
April 2024

... treftadaeth a diwylliant Cymru a chenhedloedd Celtaidd.

... the heritage and culture of Wales and the Celtic nations.

• Mynediad am ddim i’r Ystafelloedd Darllen ac adnoddau

• Arddangosfeydd am ddim

• Rhaglen amrywiol o ddigwyddiadau a gweithgareddau

• Caffi Pen Dinas yn gweini bwyd cartref

• Siop yn gwerthu nwyddau Cymreig

• Ardal chwarae

• Free admission to the Reading Rooms and resources

• Free exhibitions

• A diverse programme of events and activities

• Caffi Pen Dinas serving home cooked food

• Shop selling Welsh products

• Play area

Set in the heart of the wonderful Welsh countryside, at the foothills of Bannau Brycheiniog, Glansevin is a beautiful Georgian mansion which was largely built during the Napoleonic war as a family home. Glansevin offers you a unique and comfortable setting, with privacy and seclusion, with the opportunity to enjoy its gracious rooms full of character and charm.

Exclusively yours, we can accommodate parties of up to 80 guests indoors (with over 40 guests staying in the property itself. We can add some additional camp beds and cots for children. Our neighbours, The Carriage Rooms, can offer accommodation for a further 16 guests).

For larger numbers during the day and evening, a marquee can be set up on our back lawn.

We are a licensed wedding venue, but if your ceremony is elsewhere, we would be

just as delighted to host everything else. We are a self-catering venue, but we can recommend some excellent local caterers or you are welcome to bring your own caterer. We have a fully equipped catering kitchen. Also, we do not charge an extra fee or corkage for alcohol, so you are free to bring your own refreshments and use the bar facility in the drawing room at no additional cost.

We want to provide you with an environment that you can truly make your own, from colourful, festival-themed weddings with circus acts to traditional white weddings with elegant décor; rustic, nature-inspired celebrations with simple wildflower bouquets; with options of either getting married outside, if you would like, next to our 900-year old oak tree, or inside Glansevin itself, we want this special day to be truly yours.

Llangadog, Carmarthenshire, Wales, SA19 9HY |

• Free Sat TV • Wi-Fi • Dog WelcomeOwners Find us on Facebook Escape to the countryside between Welshpool and Newtown. Some of the fantastic places of interest within 35 mile radius: Lake Vrynwy RSPB, Coed y Dinas, Powis Castle, Hafren Forest, Ynyshir RSPB, Devils Bridge, Elan Valley, Abbey Cwm Hir, Whittington Castle, Stiperstones, Long Mynd, Llandrindod cycle museum, Clun Castle. ABERMULE, MONTGOMERY, POWYS, SY15 6NW Tel: 01686 670 408 Email: www.goetreretreatcaravan park MID WALES MINI BREAKS FROM JUST £170 Experience the new Oakdale Premier luxury 6 berth holiday home complete with sun deck! MONDAY TO FRIDAY, FRIDAY TO MONDAY CEFNLLYS SCHOOL SPA ROAD LLANDRINDOD WELLS POWYS LD1 5WA Museum open 9am – 1pm Tables inside £10 (must be booked in advance) Tables outside £7 (no need to book) (Stalls include items from the museum stores) TO BOOK A TABLE PLEASE CONTACT: Steve Griffith – email: CYCLE JUMBLE Admission £3 before 9.30am, £1 after 9.30am Saturday 13th April 2024 Stalls start at 08.30

Woolly wonders

Wonderwool Wales is the largest wool and natural bre event in Wales and one of the largest in the UK. e 18th show at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells on 27th & 28th April will be bursting with beautiful hand-dyed yarns, eece, bre, equipment and much more from 220 exhibitors. Various breeds of sheep will be on display, alongside Angora rabbits and goats. Bursary

Free as a bird…

As part of National Lottery Open Week the RSPB is o ering a free guided walk at Lake Vyrnwy on 10th & 16th March (10am-noon). In ‘Wooing the Giant’s Daughter’, storyteller Carol Pearce will lead the walk to Rhiwargor waterfall retelling the saga of Culhwch. RSPB Ynys-hir near Machynlleth is also o ering free entry on 9th & 17th March. For free entry, simply present a lottery ticket or scratch card. For details, see


Powis Castle’s Baroque terraced garden is matched only by its superb hilltop setting, from where you can enjoy dramatic views across the Severn Valley as spring arrives. From midMarch through to late April, Welsh da odil Narcissus pseudonarcissus thrives in its thousands in the Da odil Paddock, while violets, magnolia, tulips, and grape hyacinths bloom en masse through the rest of the garden. See www. odils-in-wales



Between 340-510g (12-18 oz) of wool can be harvested from a giant Angora rabbit

winners will be exhibiting their textile work, there will be an interactive area with felted birds and creatures, and nine workshops will cover drop spindle spinning, drum carding, felting, botanical dyeing, macrame and more (tickets online). e show is open Saturday 10am-5.30pm, Sunday 10am-4.30pm. Day tickets £12 (child free), weekend £22.


Gregynog is springing into action and the gardens will soon be looking spectacular, with over 2,000 new bulbs planted around the estate. Spoil your mother with a delicious three-course Sunday lunch in the Music Room on 10th March. Bookings are being taken on 01686 650224.



•14th April, The Ethnobotanist, Denmark Farm, Lampeter Learn about ecology, herbal medicine, foraging for food, uses of di erent woods, natural materials for fire lighting, making cordage, herbal teas and more. 10am-5pm. £70.

•16th April, NTLive – Nye, Magic Lantern Cinema, Tywyn Michael Sheen is Nye Bevan in this live-streaming of the surreal and spectacular journey through the life and legacy of the man who transformed Britain’s welfare state. 7-10pm. Tickets £12.

From 29th March-1st April there’s Easter fun – follow the trail and enjoy a crispy cake and hot choc (10am-4pm, £6). Viola virtuoso Alison Cotton performs on 23rd March (7.30pm, tickets £12).


Ballet-lovers will enjoy two Royal Opera House live screenings at Wyeside Arts Centre. On 14th April catch MacMillan Triple celebrating the oneact ballets of choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, followed by the iconic Swan Lake on 28th April For art-lovers, ‘Fear Scapes’ by Bob Fear, which is showing until 31st March, is an exhibition of acrylics inspired by the landscapes and people of Mid Wales. Details at

•17th & 21st April, Exhibition on Screen: John Singer Sargent, Mwldan, Cardigan Filmed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Tate Britain in London, the exhibition reveals Sargent’s power to express distinctive personalities, power dynamics and gender identities. 6.45pm (17th) & 2pm (21st). £12.

•27th April, Jules Hudson & Gareth Wyn Jones, Aberystwyth Arts Centre See two old friends from either side of the border in one journey but with hundreds of stories. Think Hairy Bikers – without the bikes! 7.30pm. £20.

•28th & 30th April, An American In Paris: The Musical, Mwldan, Cardigan A screening of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, inspired by the Oscar-winning MGM film, telling of the impassioned story of discovering love in the ‘City of Light’. 2pm (28th) & 7pm (30th). Tickets £16.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 23



•4th-9th March, Burke and Hare, MADS Theatre, Macclesfield A hectic, pitch-black comedy by Tom Wentworth. With just three actors and over 50 characters, this promises to be wickedly funny.

•8th March, Cheese-making Workshop, Burt’s Cheese, Holmes Chapel

These fun 2.5 hour workshops will cover the basic principles of cheesemaking, giving you the opportunity to get hands on. There’ll also be plenty of samples and tasters to enjoy! 10.30am. £75.

•8th March, Roman Candle Promotions presents: Nick Harper, St Mary’s Creative Space, Chester With special guest Matt Woosey. “Nick’s songs are the musical equivalent of Lewis Carroll’s Looking Glass: peer through and you find a fantastical, magical world…” 7.30pm. £16.

•10th March, Mother’s Day Candle Making Workshop & Afternoon Tea, Capesthorne Hall Start your special day with a fabulously fragrant crafting experience with Ma Lumiere. Then enjoy a superb afternoon tea with cake, sandwiches and prosecco. 10am-12.30pm, 1pm-3.30pm. £68.

•10th, 17th & 24th March, Drawing Course by Love Painting, Charlton Lodge Scout Hut, Knutsford Three sessions to teach you everything you always wanted to know about drawing! Includes all materials and equipment. 10am-12.30pm. £115 for all three classes.

Past, present, future

Tatton Park’s events calendar is always lled with unforgettable experiences, from spectacular outdoor concerts to rewarding workshops.

On 27th April a special 90-minute tour takes you through 500 years of Tatton’s history and its unique house. Tours run at 10.30am and 1pm, tickets £15 (includes vehicle entry to the park).

RunThrough Tatton 5k & 10k on 13th April is a fast, undulating race on closed roads. The 10k

Beauty of creation

Last summer the Hartford community came together for art workshops on the theme of flora. Admire the results in ‘Created’, an installation at St John’s Church from 1st-7th March. Open 2-7pm.


Storyhouse Chester celebrates women and girls in a packed programme of events on 2nd & 3rd March

Join in for two days lled with thought-provoking discussions and lms, empowering workshops, captivating performances, a marketplace and more. Almost all events at Storyhouse Women Weekend are free or £5, or buy a pass.


Sandbach Concert Series continues on 27th March when harpist Alex Rider goes beyond the notes to the performers who inspired them, in a feast of music by Saint-Saëns, Fauré and Debussy. On 24th April Rachel Helleur Simcock and Gwilym Simcock present a new work alongside pieces by Stravinsky, Von Paradis and Popper. Concerts also showcase local young musicians. Tickets £12.


Sheep have no top front teeth, just a hard palate they grind food against

sets off at 8.45am, 5k at 9am. Entry from £22. It’s Lambing Week at the Farm from 5th-12th April! Staff share their expertise at the lambing shed. Learn how they care for the lambs and ewes at this extra-special time. Noon and 2pm, every day except Monday. Details at


Promising to be bigger and better than ever, Taste Cheshire Food & Drink Festival 2024 is back for its 23rd year on Easter Weekend, taking over the entire central section of Chester Racecourse on 30th March-1st April. Look out for celebrity chef headliners, classes for adults and kids, and over 150 exhibitors highlighting the best the county and country has to o er. Buy a one-day ticket for £12 or a three-day roamer for £24 at


e whole family can enjoy a unique springtime experience at the wonderful Lambing Weekends at Reaseheath College, Nantwich on 2nd & 3rd and 9th & 10th March. Children will always remember seeing lambs being born! e spacious facilities on the main campus include an artisan market, and tickets (£10, child £6, under-3s free) include entry to Mini Zoo.

24 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024


Welcome to Storyhouse

An Evening with Sir Geo Hurst, 7th March England’s hat trick hero from the 1966 World Cup on his farewell tour. 7.30pm. Tickets from £68.85.

Chester Craft Beer Expo, 15th-16th March Immerse yourself in a world of flavours, connect with brewers and enjoy the unique view of the city from Storyhouse’s Garret. Tickets from £17.

Brian Bilston, 19th March e Banksy of poetry, Brian’s book Diary of a Somebody was shortlisted for


e Intelligent Money British GT Championship season kicks o 2024 at Oulton Park, Tarporley with the traditional Easter weekend double-header on 29th March-1st April. Incredible cars from Aston Martin, McLaren, Lamborghini and more compete in two one-hour sprint races on Monday, with pit stops and driver changes included. Weekend tickets are £40 (ages 13-15 £25, under-13s free), day tickets available. See


Join the National Waterways Museum’s Easter Historic Boat Gathering at Ellesmere Port on 29th March-1st April, when a eet of colourful narrowboats and barges take centre stage across the site and the museum comes alive with music and activities for the whole family. Enjoy a boat ride, try crafts, watch lock demonstrations, most activities free with your Annual Pass (£11.75, child £8.50).

the Costa First Novel award. 7.30pm. From £17.55.

You’re Bard! 4th April Four actors. Four plays. Endless possibilities. 7.30pm. Tickets from £19.50.

John Robb – Do You Believe in the Power of Rock ’n’ Roll?, 26th April Robb talks about a life in music, being the rst person to interview Nirvana, inventing the word Britpop and adventures on the post-punk frontline. 8pm. Tickets from £13.05.


Port Sunlight Museum is full of nostalgia, from vintage soap packaging to Ringo Starr’s rst performance with the Beatles here in 1962. rough lms, interactive displays, models and intriguing artefacts, you can discover the tale of this inspirational village. Open Wednesday–Sunday, 10am-4.30pm, £8 (child £5.50).


•10th March, Mothering

Sunday, Cholmondeley

Castle, Malpas The gardens are open again after winter, on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and bank holidays. Also look out for the Da odil Festival (24th March) and Cherry Blossom Festival (14th April). From £8.50 (child £4).

•13th March, Tricia Peters Networking for Business, The White Lion, Weston, Crewe A relaxed and engaging way to network. Meet new contacts, pick up ideas and grow your business. 8.30-10am. £16.

•16th March, Piaf to Pop – Christine Bovill, Clonter Opera Theatre, Congleton Christine travels back to the ’60s and the Americanisation of French music: a time of great cultural change. 7pm. £20.

•18th March, From the Gods to the Gutter, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Acton Parish Hall, Nantwich

Kevin Reynolds

o ers a fascinating insight into the life of pigeons! 7.30-10pm. £5 per ticket, refreshments included.

Orchestral manoeuvres

e Northern Chamber Orchestra perform Schubert’s Death and the Maiden in Mahler’s arrangement for string ensemble at e King’s School, Maccles eld on 6th April. e title comes from one of Schubert’s earlier songs, in which a terror-stricken maiden begs death to pass her by. e music is profound, full of startling dramatic contrasts. Starts 7.30pm. Tickets £27 (under-30s £17, students/under-18s free).

•22nd March, Ghost Hunt at Stanley Palace, Chester Spend the night in this spooky building and – maybe – witness paranormal activity! With the UK Ghost Hunts Team, you’ll perform ghost-hunting experiments using their equipment and carry out vigils including glass moving, table tipping and ouija boards. 9pm-2am. £49.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 25


•23rd-24th March, Modern Image Exhibition, Crewe Heritage Centre A world in miniature awaits your discovery! Whether you’re captivated by the marvels of O-gauge engineering or fascinated by the storytelling, this is an opportunity to witness the beauty and intricacy of model railways up close. 10am-4pm. From £6.

•March 13th & 27th, Networking with Tarporley Business Club, The Swan, Tarporley An event that brings together local business owners with the aim to support and develop the business community, generate referrals, build relationships and maximise growth and success in the area. 9.30am. £10.

•28th March, An Evening with Kerri Rendell, Davenham Methodist Church Hall Join professional coloured pencil artist Kerri for a magical evening of colour control, drawing and colour application. 7.15pm. £12.

•28th March, Easter Needle Felting Workshop, Congleton Museum Make your own needle-felted egg – just in

time for Easter! Unleash your creativity and learn the art of needle felting in a fun and relaxed atmosphere; all materials will be provided. 2pm. £15.

•30th March, Family Foraging Treasure Hunt, Broughton, Chester An introduction to all the fabulous wild edibles coming to life at this time of year, and an ideal family activity, helping to keep kids engaged in nature. 10.30am-2.30pm. £50 (ages 12-18 £20, under-12s free).

Make some memories!

e Elton John Show, 15th March e UK’s newest and most exciting Elton tribute show brings ‘Young Elton’ at his energetic best. 7.30pm. Tickets £24.

American Wrestling, 16th March Featuring the people’s champion Tiny Iron, Tag Team Challenge and King of the Ring Rumble. 7.30pm. From £12.

Woman Like Me – e Little Mix Show, 13th April



Wrestler Tiny Iron claims to have the biggest biceps in Britain at 24 inches!

An Evening with Ocean Colour Scene’s Simon & Oscar, 26th April Intimate acoustic performances of the hits including ‘ e Riverboat Song’, ‘ e Circle’ and ‘ e Day We Caught e Train’. 7.30pm. Tickets £32.50.

Cycle of life

Tired Horses eatre are at the Live Rooms, Chester on 14th March with another of their theatre scratch nights, Under the Moon, bringing you ve short new plays. It’s an event aimed at artists from the North West in the early stages of development, giving a chance to present new, bold and entertaining ideas in front of a live audience. Doors open at 7pm, tickets £8 from www.

All about the bass

On 7th March

Dr Michael Keith will discuss a new way of studying the universe using ripples in space-time, or gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein’s theory of gravity. ‘Tuning into the cosmic bass note – the hunt for the gravitational wave background’ is the latest in the prestigious Lovell Lecture series at Jodrell Bank, near Maccles eld. e talk starts at 7.30pm, tickets are from £10.

Expect to be moved by the poignant and powerful storytelling of Tamara von Werthern’s play e White Bike, an intimate portrayal of love, loss and resilience. Meet the protagonist as she seeks solace and understanding in the wake of a life-changing experience. Nantwich Players’ performance is on 4th-7th April at 7.45pm. Tickets are £8 from


Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker’s ever-popular Living History weekend returns on 30th & 31st March, recreating what life was like on both sides of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War. Across the site, military camps will be set up giving an insight into conditions for both Western and Eastern forces, featuring some of the most diverse and interesting displays. Open 10am-4pm, tickets £19.50 (child £14.50).

26 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024


Fri 31st May, 7.30pm

Tickets: £26, £32, £38, £43 FREE for 26 year olds & under


Sat 1st June, 7pm

Tickets: £27, £35, £40, £45 FREE for 26 year olds & under


BOX OFFICE 01260 224 514


Registered Charity Number 1083903

Half-hour City Cruises sailing daily

Two-hour Iron Bridge Cruises sailing on selected dates from Easter weekend

Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea Cruise sailing at 12PM and 3PM on Sunday 10th March

Private parties taking bookings for 2024 & 2025

Book online at

01244 325394 |

Sailing from The Groves, Chester, CH1 1SZ



Nantwich Jazz, Blues & Music Festival returns over Easter weekend with the usual smorgasbord of talent, starting on 28th March with Judie Tzuke and Sad Café – the band that brought you the great ‘Every Day Hurts’, now led by bassist Des Tong – at the Civic Centre and Emma Jonson at the Crown Hotel.

From The Jam celebrate the 45th anniversary of All Mod Cons by performing the whole album on 31st March, with guests Suburban Symphony.


Otway played his 5,000th gig in 2022, filling London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire

A very special night on 1st April brings you some superb acts – The Blockheads and John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett – while Staffordshire’s own Grace are at St Mary’s Church. Wristbands are £10 in advance online (£11 at the festival) and allow entrance to smaller venues throughout the town. Concerts at the Crown Hotel and the Civic Hall require separate tickets. Check times and prices at

Wild weekends

Calling wildlife fans in primary school years 4-6!

Join Chester Zoo’s Zoo Rangers for a jam-packed 90 minutes on three Sunday mornings – choose from 3rd-17th March or 21st April-5th May

Starry starry night…

East Cheshire Hospice Starlight Walk returns to Capesthorne Hall, near Maccles eld on 18th April. e walk takes place at dusk and there will be beautiful lanterns, re pits, points of re ection and other features to enjoy along the way, plus live entertainment and food and drink stalls. Walkers are encouraged to raise funds for the hospice and each participant will receive a wooden medal. For details and to sign up, visit www.

Sessions run 9.30–11am and places are £36. (Note that clubs do not include hands-on contact with any of the animals or behind-the-scenes access to keeper areas.) Details at

A family a air

e Ramsey Room Sessions at Clonter Opera eatre, Congleton on 27th April features presents father-and-son duo e Steve & Ben Somers Band. Treat yourself to an extraordinary musical journey, immersing yourself in the magic of tradition and innovation as they sing and yodel, o ering a blend of folk, country, Americana, blues and Western swing. Show starts 8pm. Tickets £20 from

Fans for Flame

Back by demand, Cold Flame are at Alexanders Cafe Bar in Chester on 4th April for another sensational show performing the music of Jethro Tull. A brand-new, two-hour-plus tour de force features the ve-piece band playing a selection of Tull classics and some rare forgotten gems. Doors 7.30pm, tickets £6 in advance (£8 on the door) from


•From 2nd April, The Geology of Cheshire Salt, Lion Salt Works, Northwich Salt lies deep beneath our feet – how did it get there and how do we use it? This fascinating exhibition covers everything from transport and our place in the world to chemical industries and cheese-making, communities to the natural environment!

Tues-Sun 10.30am-5pm. £6.60 (child £4.20).

•2nd-7th April, National Pool Lifeguard Qualification, Congleton Leisure Centre

You’ll be assessed on practical skills in the pool and on CPR and first aid, plus there’s a theory paper to pass. The course is a minimum of 39.5 hours and attendance at all sessions is compulsory. You must be at least 16 to take part and meet other criteria. 8.30am6pm. £275.

•2nd-4th April, Grass Creatures & Cress Gardens, Grosvenor Museum, Chester Use cress and grass to create crazy creatures and gorgeous gardens!

10.30am. Free, donations welcome.

•3rd & 4th April, Eggy Creations, Weaver Hall Museum & Workhouse, Northwich Experiments with bouncy eggs and other projects,

for all the family! 10am. Free, donations welcome.

•10th & 11th April, Planting for Spring, Weaver Hall Museum & Workhouse, Northwich Another family event: make a miniature garden, plant a spring flower. 10am. Free, donations welcome.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 29



•13th April, Welsh Row Tour, Nantwich Museum Explore this historic street with a knowledgeable guide, learn about its range of architectural styles and the town’s former trades. 11am-12.30pm. £6 (children free).

Live at the Lyceum

Crewe’s beautiful Lyceum eatre is over 110 years old and as popular now as ever! Book tickets for all shows at

Northern Ballet – Tortoise & e Hare, 24th March e perfect introduction to live ballet and music, your little ones will be cheering along as a playful cast of characters recreate this classic tale. 2pm & 4pm. Tickets from £9.50.

•18th April, Comedy Night, Tom’s Tap and Brewhouse, Thomas Street, Crewe Featuring Dave Longley (“Acid tongued and as sharp as a barrel full of tacks” – The List), with support from Ben Hart and SallyAnn Fellows, and MC Roland Gent. 7.30pm. £10.

•22nd-27th April, The Welkin, MADS Little Theatre, Macclesfield Lucy Kirkwood’s play is set in 1759. As the country waits for Halley’s Comet, Sally Poppy is sentenced to hang for a heinous murder. A bold, powerful and unflinching play that asks how far have we really come? 7.45pm. Tickets on sale from 1st April.

•23rd-27th April, The Addams Family, Trinity Operatic Society, Daneside Theatre, Congleton Everyone’s favourite kooky family take to the stage in this spectacular musical comedy. Various times. £15 (child £10, Saturday matinee only).

•24th April, Royal South, Roots at Ebenezer’s, Nantwich Road, Crewe Successful solo artists in their own right, SaraBeth and Glen Mitchell have come together to form harmony powerhouse Royal South. Roots at Ebenezer’s is a monthly concert series that is also livestreamed. 8pm. Tickets £10.

e Mousetrap – 70th Anniversary Tour, 25th-30th March As news spreads of a murder in London, a group of seven strangers nd themselves snowed in at a remote guesthouse. When a police sergeant arrives, they discover to their horror that a killer is in their midst! Various times. Tickets from £22.50.

Elkie Brooks, 5th April Elkie will be performing her greatest hits including ‘Pearl’s A Singer’, ‘Lilac

Cathedral rock

Experience ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ as you’ve never heard it before! Direct from Carnegie Hall, New York and following sellout shows across the UK and Australia, a cast of West End singers and an epic live rock band perform Queen’s top anthems in the stunning setting of Chester Cathedral. e candlelit shows are on 3rd, 4th & 5th April at 7.30pm. Tickets start from £25, from


On Shingle Beach by Robert Meadows is a new play exploring a very contemporary concern. When a boat is wrecked o the coast of England, one child is left stranded on the shingle beach, alone and frightened. Alone until she sees a man, waiting and watching on the shoreline… Chester Little eatre Company’s production is at Newtown on 11th-13th April at 7.30pm.

Wine’, ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud’ and many more, featured on her recent album Pearls – e Very Best Of. 7.30pm. Tickets £43.

Take a peaky…

Fans of TV’s Peaky Blinders won’t want to miss a special exhibition at Arley Hall from 8th-18th March when rooms featured in the series will be open and dressed as they were for lming. See the Gallery and Drawing Room as they appeared for Tommy and Grace’s wedding, and the Library set up as Tommy’s o ce. For the rst time you’ll be able to take photographs, and two original costumes will also be on display. 10am-4pm, tickets £25 in advance (child £5).

Sail through Chester

Step aboard for a new view of Chester on a Half-hour City Cruise – Chester Boat runs short cruises daily. On 10th March, make Mother’s Day extra-special with a two-hour family-friendly cruise along the River Dee, with afternoon tea included. Or rock to all the hits on a ’90s party cruise, setting sail from e Groves on 2nd & 23rd March and 20th April. Ticket includes bu et and glass of wine.

30 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024


•1st March, Soul & Mowtown Club Night with Back to Miami, The Place, Telford The Midlands-based 10-piece soul band play classic hits from the likes of Sam and Dave, Aretha Franklin, The Commitments and James Brown to name a few! Doors 6pm. Tickets £16 (over18’s only).

•2nd March, Parkrun, Severn Valley Park, nr Bridgnorth

A free, fun and friendly 5k community event, Parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am. Walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate – it’s up to you. Enjoy a post-run co ee in the Country Park Visitor Centre café. Parkrun is free but entrants must register before attending.

5th March & 2nd April, Craft@TheCastle, Whittington Castle, Oswestry On the first Tuesday of every month both novices and experts can join this friendly, informal craft club. Whether you patchwork, paint, scrapbook, sketch or knit, find inspiration along with co ee and cake. 10am. Free entry – no booking needed.

•Warm Welcome Spaces, Whitchurch

As the civic centre is currently closed, visit the Whitchurch website at www. whitchurchtown whitchurch-warmspaces to find out more about a variety of warm spaces, including times and locations in Whitchurch.

•6th March, Oppenheimer

12), Cardington

Hall, Church Stretton

Nolan’s biographical thriller about the life of J Robert Oppenheimer, an American theoretical physicist who was pivotal in developing the first nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project in WWII. Stars Cillian Murphy. 7.30pm. £5.

Steam into Wonderland


Writer Lewis Carroll liked to make up words. ‘Chortle’ and ‘galumph’ are both his.

This Easter, join Alice at Telford Steam Railway as she embarks on a journey down the rabbit hole for an incredible Adventure to Wonderland! On the train you will be joined by the Cheshire Cat, Absolem the Caterpillar and the Queen of Hearts as the well-loved Alice stories come to life before your eyes in this immersive production. Arriving at the Mad Hatter’s tea party you will be welcomed by the Hatter himself, while the March Hare and Dormouse will bring some ‘Eat me, drink me’ refreshments to enjoy on board! Brought to you by the sell-out Polar Express Train Ride team, this is an experience not to be missed. Departures on 5th, 6th & 7th April. Tickets £22.50. www.


In this town…

e stunning Sansaw Estate in Hadnall hosts this year’s Shrewsbury Colour Run on 4th May in aid of Lingen Davies Cancer Fund. As you make your way round the 5k course, volunteers will douse you in coloured powder – ending the day clean is not an option! ere are three start times: 10am, 11.30am and 1pm, and entry includes a white T-shirt, sunglasses and medal. Tickets £23 (under-13s £8.50).

Award-winning singer-songwriter Robert Vincent is ‘Live in the House’ at Shrewsbury Abbey on 5th April. One of the most acclaimed voices in the UK Americana scene, his third LP, In is Town You’re Owned, won the Americana Music Association UK’s Album of the Year award for 2021. Starts 8pm, tickets £20.

Build a den


Head to Llanymynech Heritage Area, Oswestry on 3rd March for family fun with Shropshire Wildlife Trust. Make dens in the woods before enjoying the delights of bread dough cooked over the embers and served with jam, and toasting marshmallows. SWT strives to give wildlife and wild places the chance to thrive across Shropshire. Session runs 10am-noon. £2 per child. To book email

The Balcony exhibition at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery until 14th April features portraits by Ming de Nasty, made in collaboration with older LGBT+ Shropshire residents, who chose their locations, expressions and clothing to represent their lives and identity.

The portraits speak of the gender politics of today, and are part of a wider project for a new LGBT+ collection at Shrewsbury Archives. 10am-4pm daily. www.

(cert. Village Christopher
32 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024


Get your geek on

Immerse yourself in a world of superheroes, villains and everything in between at Shrewsbury Comic Con on 6th April at Shrewsbury Town FC. It’s the place to be for die-hard comic fans and gamers. There’ll be merch stalls, rare finds, meet and greets, Q&A panels, learn how to play D&D and take a selfie with a DeLorean. Event runs 10am-4pm. Tickets from £10 (ages 10-17 from £7, under-10s free).

Mums are magic

Treat the special person in your life to a delicious threecourse Sunday lunch with some close-up table magic for all the family. On 10th March, Hadley Park House is offering local seasonal food and fantastic entertainment –with no washing up! Private dining rooms available on request. Bookings noon-2pm, £32.50 (under-12s half price).


Following two sold-out events in 2023, Team Megaslam are back by popular demand on 17th March at the Buttermarket, Shrewsbury, bringing together some of the world’s top wrestling stars for a twohour live entertainment spectacular. Starts 2.30pm, tickets from £5. www.


Guests include Charlie Adlard, John Wagner, Cheryl Rowlands and Brian Muir

For the love of flowers

Watch two top oral designers produce stunning creations in front of your eyes at the Holroyd eatre on 30th April. Sionedd is a gold medallist at Malvern and an award-winning NAFAS demonstrator, while Leanne runs a thriving business in Welshpool and recently made the front cover of e Flower Arranger. e event is in aid of Birmingham’s Children Hospital. e demonstration starts 7.30pm, and tickets are £12.

Nuclear fusion

Get ready for a musical journey like no other as the Gaz Hughes Trio unveil their latest work, ‘Nuclear Bebopalypse – A Swing and Bop Odyssey’, in their debut at the Hive on 9th March. Dummer Gaz Hughes along with Gavin Barras on double bass and Andrzej Baranek on piano are augmented by Tim Williams on guitar as they showcase eight original compositions, paying homage to jazz legends, blending heritage with a modern twist for a captivating soundscape. Starts 8pm. Tickets from £12.


•8th March, Mother’s Day Afternoon

Tea, Hawkstone Hall & Gardens, Shrewsbury

Treat loved ones to afternoon tea in charming ambience, accompanied by live music from Metz Jr. 12.30pm. £42.95.

•9th March, Batik on Tissue Workshop, Willow Gallery, Oswestry Create a walk through

the trees using hot wax and inks at this workshop with Jenny O’Leary. Batik is a technique that originated in Indonesia, traditionally worked on white fabric. 10am-4pm. £75.

•9th-17th March, National Lottery Players Mill Exhibition, Flaxmill Maltings, Shrewsbury

As a thank you, Flaxmill Maltings invites lottery players to visit and learn about this historical landmark, the grandparent of skyscrapers. Wed-Sun 10am4pm. Entry free for up to five with lottery ticket/scratch card.

•12th March-17th April, Willows Art Gallery, Oswestry Exhibitions include ‘Mythical Metal Seedheads’, ‘Landscape Transition’ and ‘Outside Edges’. Willow 56 Café is also open serving co ee, sweet treats and lunches. Tues-Sat 10am-4pm.

•16th March, Nashville Styled Songwriter Round, Hermon Arts, Oswestry Country music fans! This highly anticipated showcase features Jeremy McComb, Dan Smalley and Gary Quinn, who will unveil the stories behind their songs, creating an atmosphere of friendship and musical magic. 7.30pm. £21.50.

•17th-30th March, Jon Young: ‘A New Take’, Bear Steps Art Gallery, St Alkmunds Place, Shrewsbury An exhibition of colour and place by Jon Young Art. 10am-4pm. Entry free.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 33



•18th March, FindaBiz Networking, The Tile Press Café, Maws Craft Centre, Jackfield FindaBiz Networking Telford takes place here on the third Monday every month, organised by local accountancy business owner Flo. The free event is a great opportunity for local businesses to connect and network e ectively. 6-8pm. Book online.

•23rd March & 1st April, Easter Messy Play, Gains Park Hall, Shrewsbury Children aged 6 months to 5 years will have lots of fun at this Easter session, with nine messy play trays crafts, music and a goody bag for every child. 10-11.15am. £11 (£6.50 for siblings).

•23rd March-7th April, Space, Race & Fly!, RAF Cosford Families visiting RAF Cosford in the Easter holidays can enjoy a fortnight of all things STEM. with science shows, a planetarium and drone races. There’s also a huge range of free activities from Lego dragsters to a state-of-the-art flight simulator from GE Aerospace. Standard admission applies. Advance booking advisable.

•24th March, Ironbridge Half Marathon, Telford The race starts at the arena in Telford Town Park, down the Silkin Way past Blists Hill and Coalport before crossing the Ironbridge itself. 10am. £35.

•26th March, ROH Live: Madama Butterfly, Ludlow Assembly Rooms A deeply moving tale of unrequited love, Puccini’s poignant score follows the tale of Cio Cio San, a Japanese girl who falls in love with American naval o cer Pinkerton, with devastating consequences. Sung in Italian with English subtitles. 7.15pm. £18 (child £10).

Hop along!

There are lots of fun activities taking place across the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust sites this Easter. From 23rd March-7th April at Enginuity your challenge is to design a special spacecraft to protect Captain Eggert and Lieutenant Scrambled Egg in a live science activity. At Blists Hill Museum there are egg hunts, a poster trail, Victorian egg dancing and other hands-on activities to get involved with. And you can create your own Easter Bunny artwork at Coalport China Museum from 23rd March-14th April. Find details of times and prices for all events at


The Victorians would place eggs on the ground and try and dance between them


Journalist and presenter Nick Wallis is an expert on the Post O ce Horizon scandal and he’s at eatre Severn on 14th April to share the true story of how hundreds of innocent people fought to clear their names after being pursued through the criminal courts – the subject of a primetime ITV drama starring Tony Jones. e evening is based on Wallis’s best-selling book e Great Post O ce Scandal, the talk starts at 7pm and tickets are £19.

Ready to rally

Motorsport fans won’t want to miss the AGBO Rally at Weston Park on 17th March, when around 80 cars of all vintages take on stages including the infamous watersplash! Owen Motoring Club was started in 1959 by a group working for Rubery Owen Ltd, which helped build Bluebird. The rally made Weston Park its home in 1997 and has been thrilling spectators ever since. Gates 7am. Early bird tickets £5.25 (child free).

Inside Stokesay

Stokesay Court opens its doors for a guided tour on 26th April. e late Victorian mansion, famous as the location for the lm Atonement, was designed by omas Harris and completed in 1892. It was one of the rst private homes in England to have integral electric light, powered by large lead batteries, and much of the early technology has been preserved.

e tour will be followed with tea and homemade cakes, and a chance to explore the grounds, with panoramic views to Ludlow and the Clee Hills. e tour departs 2.30pm, and tickets are £25.

Easter egg-citement

Join Severn Gorge Countryside Trust on 26th March for fun Easter crafts and explore the woods to complete the Easter trail. Perhaps there’ll be a delicious Easter surprise at the end! The walk will be led by the Trust’s Amber Bicheno, who loves to share her passion for nature. The Trust’s aim is to promote, protect and conserve this living landscape. From 10amnoon. Tickets £3.

34 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024



Help us to make a positive difference to lives affected by cancer in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, and Mid Wales

Sunday, 8th September

Pedal the Borders Welshpool Rugby Club Cycling Sportive

Saturday, 31st August

Annual Ball Pimhill Barns

Saturday, 18th May

Sunny’s Skydive ilstock Airfield, Whitchurch

Saturday, 4th May

Shrewsbury Colour Run Sansaw Estate, Hadnall 5km Fun Run

Whitchurch Shrewsbury


Sunday, 29th September

Mid Wales Colour Run 5km Fun Run

Craven Arms


Saturday, 17th August

Telford Colour Run Apley Estate, Telford 5km Fun Run

Saturday, 12th October

Titty Trail Shropshire ropshire Discovery Centre, Craven Arms


Christmas Concert Shrewsbury

Thursday, 28th JuneMonday, 1st July

London to Paris Cycle Ride

Learn more about each event by scanning the QR Code or visiting
Supporting the community before, during & after cancer.



Circle of Friends

Robert Schumann: Adagio and Allegro for cello and piano Op. 70

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Nocturne in G minor for piano

Clara Schumann: Piano Trio in G minor Op. 17


Felix Mendelssohn: Song without Words, violin and piano Op. 62 No. 1

Brahms: Piano Quintet Op.34

Saturday 18th May - 7:30pm Free

Workshops and Masterclasses

Led by Zoe Rahman, Rowland Sutherland, Sophia Rahman, Daisy Vatalaro, Braimah Kanneh-Mason and festival artists.

Participants to include talented teenage soloists and MusicMOB groups.

Saturday 18th May - 3pm


Family Concert+ Jazz in the Afternoon ~ Colour of Sound

Family concert to include:

Sibelius: Rondo for viola and piano

Scriabin: Romance for cello and piano

Gabor: Autumn for cello and piano

Performances by MusicMOB strings and wind groups


Colour of Sound featuring Zoe Rahman, piano and Rowland Sutherland, flute. To include:

Duke Ellington: arrangements from Black, Brown and Beige Suite

Zoe Rahman: tracks from Colour of Sound to include 'Go with the Flow' and 'Dance of Time'

Bongani Ndodana-Breen: Visions II for solo flute

Zoe Rahman: Nocturne (world premiere of special arrangement for Whittington Festival for flute & piano)

Rowland Sutherland: Eternal - Distant Lamentations of Jeremiah

Saturday 18th May - 7:30pm

Visions and Apparitions

Messaien: Theme and Variations for violin and piano


Jeremy Sams: Song cycle for soprano, string quartet, flute and piano (world premiere)

Beethoven: 'Ghost' Trio Op. 70/1 in D major


Arvo Part: Fratres for violin & piano

Robert Schumann: Piano Quartet Op. 47 in Eb major

Sunday 19th May - 3:30pm

Youth and Experience

Arvo Part: Fur Alina for piano

Elgar: Piano Quintet Op. 84


Mendelssohn: Octet Op. 20


As work continues to find solutions for the Civic Centre, we’re delighted to share news of our new temporary home - the former police station on Station Road. Work continues apace to bring this fantastic building back to life.

Elsewhere, we continue to work closely with Shropshire Council, and the Shropshire Councillors for Whitchurch, as part of the newly established “Working Group” for solutions to the High Street site, to meet community need for our growing town.

The Sports / Market Hall, accessed from St Mary’s Street, continues to operate normally for the time being.




For full details of each concert visit www,
Patron Steven Isserlis CBE Artistic Director Sophia Rahman
John the Baptist Church, Whittington, Oswestry SY11 4DF Under 26s FREE Join us for our Antiques, Interiors and Collectables Auction every second Tuesday commencing at 10.30 a.m. VIEWING TIMES Friday 9.00am – 4.00pm | Monday 9.00am – 4.30pm and the morning of the sale from 9am. Our forthcoming auctions will be held on AUCTIONEERS AND VALUERS 29 Holt Street, Wrexham LL13 8DH • Tel: 01978 353553 • All our auctions have live on-line bidding with If you require any advice or further information, please contact us on 01978 353553
5th March
19th March
23rd April MARCH & APRIL 2024 WARM WELCOME SPACE Venue: Watergate Centre Price: Free Free hot & cold drinks and a friendly space to relax in. Meetup with friends or make new ones. Free WIFI and charging points. Unwind with a book or newspaper Bring your knitting or do a puzzle. Every Wednesday afternoon except school holidays.


From the heart


Paul appeared as the Koala in the German version of The Masked Singer

Paul Potts, the Welsh-residing tenor and first Britain’s Got Talent winner, performs at the Festival Drayton Centre on 27th April. Since winning the show back in 2007, Paul has released a multi-platinum debut album, topped the charts in 13 countries, appeared on the Oprah show twice and become a household name from New York to Seoul. His story even inspired a Hollywood film, Once Chance starring James Corden. His new album is due out later this year. Tickets from £24.50.

Comedy queen

Glamorous and gloriously naughty, Heidi Wurste brings an evening of firstclass drag to Astbury Golf Club and Lodge on 6th April. Heidi has graced the stage up and down the UK as well as internationally, and her shows are filled with song, banter and her own unique humour. Tickets for the evening are £40 and include Prosecco on arrival and three-course dinner. Over-18s only.

Bikers’ big day out

Popular ride out and festival Bike4Life returns on 28th April with a new home! One of the UK’s biggest ride outs attracting more than 6,000 bikers and pillions, the route travels 26 miles from Meole Brace, Shrewsbury to the new festival site at Weston Park, where you can enjoy live bands, bike displays, food and entertainment. From £15 (festival only from £7.50), proceeds to Midlands Air Ambulance.

Foraging fun

Which side are you on?

British Ironworks Museum hosts its Made on the Borders: Homemade Easter Festival on 29th-30th March, supporting local crafters and makers. So if you grow, stitch, knit, carve, weld, brew or simply make, apply for a stall and enter a special ‘Welsh vs English’ competition representing your country! Stall hire from £5. Free admission to shoppers from 9am.


•29th March, Easter Market Fun Day, Oswestry Town Markets Visit Oswestry’s Bailey Head for a family fun day out, with games, rides (chargeable), donkeys, entertainment, face painting and an Easter hunt. The late night market will also be open 6-10pm.

•30th-31st March, Easter

Da odil Open Gardens, Action Scott Hall, Church Stretton Take a relaxing stroll around the beautiful gardens and grounds of Acton Scott Hall, with an Easter quiz to occupy younger visitors, then enjoy tea and home-made cakes. 2-5pm. £7.50 (child £3).

Join Wild Food UK for an introduction to foraging at Comer Woods, near Bridgnorth on 17th April. After a brie ng on foraging fundamentals, explore the grounds – which are part of the Dudmaston Estate – with the help of your instructor, who will teach you how to safely identify species of edible plants and mushrooms. e day will end with a selection of homemade foraged treats and a dish made from what has been collected during the walk. e session runs from noon-3.30pm and costs £60 (under-16s £30).

Walk this way

Take part in a mammoth experience in the Shropshire Hills on 6th April. e Shropshire Way 80k Festival is a

fundraiser for the charity Grow Cook Learn, to support its education programme teaching children how food is grown. Choose from four events, including 50 miles in 24 hours and Tusker’s 10k –and enjoy something delicious to eat as well. From 9am, entry fees £15-£55 via

•31st March & 1st April, Plant Hunters Fair, Dorothy Clive Gardens, Market Drayton Browse stalls run by specialist award-winning nurseries with thousands of plants to choose from at this special fundraising event. Be inspired by RHS medalists and National Collection holders, keen plants people, designers and artisans. 10am-5pm. £5 (ages 5-17 £2).

•2nd-4th April, The Wizard of Oz, Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury This Easter holidays, junior performers from Get Your Wigle On take audiences on a magical journey ‘over the rainbow’ in this musical one-act version of the muchloved story. Various times. Tickets £17.50 (child/concessions £16).

•5th April, Jekyll and Hyde, Theatre on the Steps, Bridgnorth An enthralling new one-man stage adaptation of the classic tale of terror, scripted by and starring actor Jonathan Goodwin. As Victorian London is paralysed by fear at grisly crimes, what is the connection between the wicked Mr Hyde and respectable Dr Jekyll? 7.30pm. £12 (concessions £10).

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 37



•7th April, The Undercover Hippy, Albert’s Shed Shrewsbury Drum and bass MC turned singer-songwriter Billy Rowan, aka The Undercover Hippy, brings together powerful messages and reggae rhythms at his live shows. His band has performed at the UK’s top festivals including Glastonbury and Green Man. 7pm. £17.50.

•13th-14th April JOS Events Antiques & Collectors Fair, Oswestry Showground Enjoy a family day out in the heart of Shropshire and browse hundreds of indoor and outdoor stalls for antiques, collectables, vintage, decorative items and more. Free parking, dog friendly. Gates open 8am. £3.50 (under16s free).

•18th April, Burger Night, The Clive Arms, Ludlow A special menu has been created just for the evening, with classic burgers and a few twists! To book call 01584 856 565 or visit www.opentable. to reserve a table.

•27th-28th April, Victorian Mop Fair, Blists Hill Museum, Telford The traditional hiring fair was attended by labourers

looking for summer work. There will be music, a parade and experts demonstrating traditional crafts. 10am-4pm. Standard admission applies.

Fluffy friends

It’s all about alpacas from 22nd-24th March as one of the largest and most prestigious alpaca shows in the world takes over Telford International Centre. e British Alpacas Society National Show welcomes around 600 alpacas to its Halter Show, with the winners of regional shows competing in the Champions of Champions Fleece Show, while

Medal time

The annual Live Arts Festival takes place over two weekends, 9th-10th and 16th-17th March, at the Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock. This muchloved event for young people is organised by the Wenlock Olympian Society and celebrates skill in performance and creativity, with competitions in writing, music, dance, speech and drama. The adjudicators are all professionals in their field and grant gold, silver and bronze medals. The public are welcome to watch performances, admission is free.


Alpacas make a gentle mmmmm humming noise when happy

the Fibre Zone will showcase alpaca products such as yarns, garments, toys and crafts. With lots to see and do, the show’s exhibits aim to inspire, advise and educate on all alpaca-related subjects, plus the event is a proud sponsor of the Severn Hospice. Show opens 9am. Advance tickets from £8 (family ticket £20).


On 9th and 14th April, Wellington Orbit hosts a live screening of the Royal Ballet’s MacMillan Celebrated, showcasing choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s one-act ballets Danses Concertantes, Di erent Drummer and Requiem. Showings are at 7.15pm (9th) and 2pm (14th). Tickets £16.50 (concessions available).

•28th April, Taught Life Drawing, Hermon Arts, Oswestry The opportunity to work with two professional life models, focusing on proportion, balance, dynamics and lighting. Artist Malcolm Hague will be on hand to give advice and feedback, as well as suggestions for future development. 11am-4pm. £75.

One man’s dream

NT Live brings the best of British theatre to a cinema screen near you. On 23rd April catch Michael Sheen as Nye Bevan in Nye, a surreal and spectacular journey through the life and legacy of the man who founded the NHS and transformed Britain’s welfare state. Directed by Rufus Norris, this epic new Welsh fantasia is screened live from London to Kinokulture, Oswestry’s independent cinema. 7pm. Tickets £14.

Devilish humour

Simon Evans’ new tour The Work of the Devil was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival, receiving some of the best reviews of his long career. He’s at Festival Drayton Centre on 22nd March, facing the challenges of remembering what he came upstairs for, who these grown-ups are that live with him (and what have they done with his children?) and more. 8pm. Tickets £17. www. festivaldrayton

38 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024


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the underdog bites back

Tom Davis is a familiar face on our TV screens – you may recognise him from BBC’s King Gary or Channel 4’s acclaimed The Curse – but he originally made a name for himself on the comedy circuit. Now he’s returning to his stand-up roots on a UK tour that calls in to North Wales this month. He talked to Shire about how he got into comedy after leaving school without any qualifications and working on building sites.

Tom said: “Stand-up was the thing that changed my life. I was hitting 30 and I’d seen Micky Flanagan and others who were around and I made the decision. I’d been working on building sites for 20-odd years, I just wanted to do something for myself. I’d split with my girlfriend and had some depression and was a bit lost. I’d go to the pub on a Friday night to see where I was going to work on Monday morning – it could be scaffolding, it could be hod carrying.

“I tried stand-up and straightaway I just thought, ‘Wow, I'm actually quite good at something: making other people laugh.’

Tom Davis bares his teeth as evil henchman Bleacher in the new Wonka movie, but the actor and comedian is back to his good-natured self as he heads to Pontio, in Bangor this month with his new stand-up show been’. Yet his latest show is called Underdog – something Tom says he always felt, despite his six foot seven stature.

“I’ve always thought of myself as an underdog, though not necessarily in a negative way. I think that’s what has made me. The bulk of my humour comes from constantly feeling like someone who’s had a little bit of a kicking. You get terribly bullied when you stand out at school. I was like a big, silly Labrador. I wasn’t good at sport, I wasn’t academic and I was dyslexic. I looked about 10 years older than everyone else. As

“my humour comes from constantly feeling like someone who’s had a bit of a kicking”

Seizing the day

It was the first time I’d ever stood in front of an audience and done any kind of performance. I’d never done drama school or anything that opened the doors to acting. But then everything snowballed...”

Tom credits Billy Connolly as one of his main inspirations, another comic who started out as a labourer – in Billy’s case in the Glasgow shipyards. “There’s an amazing part in that book his wife Pamela [Stephenson] wrote. I read that when I was still scaffolding and there’s a bit where a guy asks him: ‘When are you ever gonna go professional with the comedy and music?’ Connolly says, ‘Next year,’ and the guy says, ‘You’ll never do it.’ There’s nothing worse than being an old man sat there thinking what could have been.”

With a new tour in progress as well as a list of screen credits to his name, including the latest blockbuster Wonka, Tom certainly doesn’t need to worry about ‘what could have

a kid you just want to be the same height, same haircut, wearing the same clothes. I was teased a lot.”

Recently diagnosed with ADHD, Tom has been having therapy and gradually finding out more about himself. He said: “It surprised me, but it didn’t surprise anyone around me. I’d have moments of anxiety and paranoia and can get down. After I became a father it was quite difficult for my wife, having someone who decides that the kitchen cupboards need reorganising at 3am! For her it was like living with two children.”

But any fears disappear when Tom takes to the stage – he thrives on making audiences laugh. He said: “It’s an amazing thing being onstage and hearing people laugh at a story you are breaking out for the first time. I’m looking forward to touring. People need to have a bit of escapism. And what better way than laugh at a big mess of an idiot standing onstage.”

Tom is at Pontio, Bangor on 22nd March. For tickets see

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 41

Wrexham Symphony Orchestra

Ochestra in Residence at Wrexham Glyndŵr University

Discover what Shire’s team thought of the shows and local activities around the patch

Bohemian Nights

Saturday 4 May 7:30pm | William Aston Hall

Running Time: Approx 1 hour 30 mins

Antonín Dvořák is known for his powerful and melodic works blending Bohemia folk music with classical forms.

Featuring the principal cellist of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Harwood.

Conductor – Leon Bosch | Soloist – Richard Harwood (Cello)

Programme includes: Dvořák | Cello Concerto • Dvořák | Symphony No. 7

Price: From £10 | Under 18s & Students £2

About the Wrexham Symphony Orchestra Wrexham Symphony Orchestra are William Aston Hall’s resident orchestra. Founded in 1969 by the late Bryn Williams, then senior lecturer of Music at Cartrefle Teacher Training College in Wrexham.


When Daniel Lebhardt brought his hands down on the keys of the Yamaha Grand at Festival Drayton, he seemed transformed into an elemental force of nature. Brahms’ four ballades opened with lyrical, contemplative moments, but their grim, disturbing outbursts set up perfectly the piece that followed: the third sonata by Scriabin, named The State of the Soul.

In an astonishingly accomplished interpretation, Lebhardt moved seamlessly from the turbulence of the first movement – “The soul free and wild, thrown into the whirlpool of suffering and strife” – to an andante of which Scriabin said: “Here the stars are singing!”

“Layers of sound working at different speeds to create impressions that ranged, as Lebhardt described, from the ethereal to the wretched”

He then alternated compositions by two fellow Hungarians, György Ligeti and Béla Bartók. With the Romantic era left behind, the emphasis now was on complex rhythmic structures, with many layers of sound working at different speeds to create impressions that ranged, as Lebhardt described and then demonstrated, from the ethereal to the wretched.

While many wondered how Lebhardt could possibly remember all those notes, and how his fingers could hit them at such speed, that sense of wonder must surely have expanded for most into something deeper and more personal. Lebhardt used every one of the piano’s eighty-eight keys, and from them created magic. JH ★★★★★

42 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
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Advertise your Plus all events are included on the new What’s on App Free for all to use 01691 661270 SHIRE MAGAZINE With SHIRE Magazine you will get... • Over 100,000 readers • Coverage throughout North Wales, Mid Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire for 202 4 Interesting Antique Items always wanted Telephone: 07940 192581 Email:
The WSO has grown to its present day membership numbering over sixty players and regularly attracts professional guest conductors and outstanding soloists.
Michael Gallagher Antiques

Calling Animal

Animals need rescue and sanctuary for all kinds of reasons. Some are found injured or straying, others are given up by their owners or simply abandoned. Thankfully, throughout our region, there are charities and volunteers who work tirelessly to nurse them back to health, ensure their welfare and, hopefully, find them a new forever home.

There are numerous organisations across the Shire patch that work with not only domestic pets but farm animals and wild creatures, ensuring that those who need help receive it. All are charities and rely on the kindness of those who donate their money and time. Let’s take a look at some of them…

North Wales Cats Protection

Since North Wales Cats Protection moved into their new purpose-built centre on Bradley Road in Wrexham in late November 2019, they have found loving new homes for over 450 cats and kittens.

“Cats come into care for a variety of reasons,” explained Suzan Kennedy, who has worked here for 13 years. “Generally an owner will contact us for help – they may be moving to a place that doesn’t allow pets, or the cost-of-living crisis means they can no longer afford to take care of their cat. We have space for up to 46 cats, but the demand on our services means there is always a waiting list. The faster we can re-home cats, the sooner we can bring in those living in less than ideal circumstances.

“We also take in cats via our Cat Guardians scheme, which gives people who register peace of mind that their cat will be brought into care when they pass away.”

Last year a total of 293 cats and kittens were rehomed by Suzan and team, more than ever before. As well as the centre in Wrexham, volunteer fosterers care for cats in their own

Cats Protection relies entirely on the generosity of its supporters. “Many regularly donate or leave money in wills, while others raise money through activities such as challenge

Did you know?

There are around 11 million owned cats in the UK. One in four households has a pet cat!

runs or even jumping out of planes! Our volunteers do a huge amount of fundraising, from hosting awareness stalls at community events to organising collection tins. We also have a network of charity shops. We occasionally launch JustGiving appeals for cats that have needed expensive vet treatment and may need to stay with us for longer. We are grateful to everyone who donates, even just a few pennies.”

Prospective volunteers and adopters are always welcome!

“We can nearly always find the perfect match for potential adopters,” says Suzan. “It’s heartwarming to hear from people who let us know how quickly their cat has settled and become part of the family. There is a real risk when buying a cat or kitten from websites like Gumtree or Facebook that it may be sick or too young to leave its mother, requiring high vet bills.

“Volunteers gain so much from working with us too, finding new friends and learning life skills as well as knowing they are making a difference to the lives of cats in need.”

North Wales Cats Protection helped tiny kitten Flare find loving new owners Sadly, too many cats don't get the care Suzan Kennedy greets visitors at the Wrexham centre


North Clwyd Animal Rescue

Nicky Owen’s parents founded North Clwyd Animal Rescue, so she has been involved with the charity all her life. She started working for NCAR 20 years ago – and now has her partner Owain and a wonderful team of dedicated staff and volunteers working alongside her.

NCAR is the largest animal rescue organisation in North Wales and the North West, rehoming over 1,800 animals annually. From humble beginnings in 1981, it has grown to care for more than 90 dogs, 100 cats, 25 rabbits, and 10 horses at any given time.

Animals come in to NCAR as strays brought in by the council, or abandoned, or from people who are unable to keep their pets.

“Our mission is simple yet heartfelt: to provide love, care and forever homes for stray and abandoned animals,” explained Nicky. “We believe in second chances for every resident, ensuring they find the warmth and comfort they deserve. And whilst times are harder now, we still manage to re-home many of them.

Shrewsbury Rabbit Rescue

Shrewsbury Rabbit Rescue was founded in June 2022 by Ashton Kynaston.

Rabbits clench their face muscles and change body position whenworriedfeeling


“In 2023, just over 200 rabbits came through our doors,” Ashton told us. “Our waiting list usually consists of 500-plus rabbits with nowhere else to turn. We are contacted several times a day to take in unwanted rabbits, normally due to children getting bored of them or the owner no longer having time for them.

“Intentional and accidental breeding is a massive contributor to the overwhelming figures of unwanted rabbits, as well as the sale of them in pet shops – which makes them easily accessible to purchase on a whim with no prior thought or research. Later people realise how complex they really are and then they quickly want rid. Many rabbits end up neglected due to outdated notions about them and lack of education.”

Shrewsbury Rabbit Rescue rehabilitates and re-homes, not just locally but all over the UK. “We have criteria set out by the

“Our mission is simple but heartfelt... to provide love, care and forever homes”

“Rescue work, though challenging, is our passion. We encounter animals in various states, from neglect to those needing a little confidence and training.”

Fundraising has changed over the years, Nicky pointed out. “It would surprise people to know that it costs over £1,500 to run the charity and keep open, every single day! We have fundraising events throughout the year, attend local fairs and shows, and we have our Amazon wishlist where we appeal for certain items for our animals and rescue – this proves very successful.”

Nicky urges people to get involved and become part of the NCAR family. “It’s very addictive. but you will meet so many friends – human and ones with paws! You won't look back, it becomes part of you!”

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 45
Nicky Owen has worked with North Clwyd Animal Rescue for 20 years NCAR rehomes over 1,800 animals annually
Everyone deserves

Shrewsbury Rabbit Rescue continued...

Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund to ensure and promote a gold welfare standard for rabbits,” added Ashton. “A hutch is not enough and we won’t compromise, we only re-home our animals to spaces that meet or exceed 10 feet x 6 feet x 1 metre high for a pair of rabbits.”

As well as the rehoming side, Shrewsbury Rabbit Rescue is also a sanctuary for disabled, medically complex and palliative care rabbits.

Cute and cuddly, but not suitable pets for children

The organisation fundraises by hosting regular raffles and competitions, has a rabbit sponsorship scheme, and gratefully accepts donations to its bank, PayPal and JustGiving campaigns.

“Many people do not realise that rabbits are an exotic species,” said Ashton. “Regular vets often don’t have the further education or experience to allow them to treat rabbits effectively, therefore specialist vets are required. This means rabbits’ medical bills often far exceed those of cats and dogs. Rabbits are prone to a wide range of complex health issues – our medical bill expenses were over £30,000 in 2023! Despite being the UK’s most neglected pet, in general rabbit rescues are sadly but usually left behind when it comes to support and funding from the general public.”

Did you know?

Rabbits can turn their ears through 180 degrees and have 360 degree vision

Going forward Ashton hopes to increase their social media reach. “We truly hope to gain more support, it’s a really

“Rabbits do not belong in a tiny hutch at the bottom of your garden”

important aspect of our work and is essential to the running of the rescue and sanctuary,” she said. “Without the kindness and generosity of our followers, we wouldn’t be able to operate as effectively as we do.”

Ashton can offer a lot of advice to prospective owners:

• Please do not purchase a rabbit on a whim.

• Do lots of research to ensure they are right for you and that you are able to offer them what they need.

• They are a 10-year-plus commitment, need annual vaccinations and insurance, as well as a specific diet and living area.

• They are not a cheap or easy pet and definitely aren’t suitable as a child’s pet.

• They are the same (sometimes more) responsibility as owning a dog or a cat.

• Rabbits do not belong in a tiny hutch at the bottom of your garden, despite what the pet shop or breeder may insist. This is outdated and a notion that we strive to move on from.

• Always speak to a reputable and ethical rabbit rescue if you are looking to adopt. Adopt, don’t shop!

Shrewsbury Rabbit Rescue is run from Ashton’s home and by volunteer fosterers all over the UK – they don’t have a rescue centre. “We work full-time day jobs as well, which is exhausting as well as being rewarding,” she said. “We have 23 rabbits living with us permanently. Our exotic specialist vet is located in Liverpool, so we clock up a lot of miles!

“We are proud of our ethical standards and will continue to campaign for better rabbit welfare. The UK is currently facing an overwhelming rabbit crisis, which constantly puts us – and other rabbit rescues – under extreme amounts of pressure.”

46 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Some of Shrewsbury Rabbit Rescue’s charges tuck into a tasty supper Rabbits are in crisis in the UK

Orinoco Animal Sanctuary

Orinoco Animal Sanctuary in Knighton is run by Tina and James, who made huge life changes to do the work they do.

“We have been involved in animal rescue for over 15 years,” explained Tina, “and have expanded over the last four years to 250 animals. We have tripled in size since moving to Shropshire and are now crossing the border into Wales, only 20 minutes away, for more room!

“James and I were both professionals with busy lives, James in engineering, myself in the NHS. I can honestly say it all fades

away in comparison to the vocation of animal care and welfare. When James had a major accident and lost his leg, the animals saved him from dark days. Poppy the donkey laid her head on his lap in the wheelchair, the ducks all sitting around him, the horses softly walking around him checking all was well.”

The sanctuary has predominantly livestock – sheep, cows, goats, pigs, horses, donkeys, deer and llamas – and also small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hens, ducks, geese, quail and terrapins. Animals come in through welfare referrals, from vets, the website and word of mouth. None are rehomed, all stay for life, regardless of health or age.

Fundraising can be tricky, Tina said, as they are not marketing specialists. “We do hold events throughout the year including a live Nativity and auction. It is hard to ask people to give funds when the cost of living is so high. We ask for a donation if a well animal joins us that someone just cannot keep. And people donate feed, blankets, rugs and so on, which means everything.”

Going forward they hope to continue to offer a loving, supportive home to animals, where they can feel safe and protected from harm, and to engage with the Knighton, Powys and Shropshire communities,

encouraging visits and day experiences.

Orinoco’s volunteers are treasured by Tina and James and adored by the animals. “The role is hard physically and mentally but the rewards are boundless. You have an opportunity to work with animals of all breeds, ages, shapes and sizes. You can form a bond with them, learn their stories and watch them develop, evolve and interact.

Creatures great and small

“It is wonderful to experience a whinny from Scooby the pony when he hears you call, Roux the ram running up to have a cuddle, Attilio the young llama desperate for a soothing voice. The animals can heal people too, so anyone needing a mindful experience will find it amongst these gorgeous animals, who have nothing but love to give.”

Several things surprise visitors to Orinoco Animal Sanctuary: the variety of animals, how long it takes to get everybody fed –morning and night, in all weathers. The fact that each animal has a name, from the largest cow (Newsy) to the smallest guinea pig (Morag). And how well the animals form friendships and get on with each other – apart from Boris the naughty llama who picks on the sheep!

The rewards are summed up by Tina: “Many people question our choice to give everything we have to our animal family, I explained to someone recently that they are us and we are them; it’s something we not only love to do but must do. We try to balance the privacy our rescues need with opening the doors and welcoming everyone who wants to be part of their lives.”

“The animals can heal people too. They have nothing but love to give.”

Feeding time... again!

Sheep are intelligent animals. A sheep can recognise up to 50 other sheep faces and remember them for two years
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 47
James and Tina of Orinoco Animal Sanctuary give a permanent home to 250 animals
finds a safe haven youDidknow?

H.A.C.K. Horse Sanctuary

It was after witnessing very poor mismanagement of animal welfare by a so-called animal sanctuary that Pamela Bluck decided to improve the lot of neglected, cruelly treated and abandoned horses, ponies, and donkeys and those that needed rescue from unnecessary slaughter. Pamela founded the H.A.C.K. Horse Sanctuary in 1992. Over the years she has also taken in many other animals, such as micropigs, goats and even a sheep.

“Fortunately, not only was my father a farmer but my grandfather bred Shire horses, which has stood me in good stead,” Pamela told us. “I’ve had a wealth of experience in animal welfare, and had my own horses prior to the sanctuary. Being an experienced secretary also came in handy with the never-ending paperwork, organising fund-raising events and the like. ”

Over the years H.A.C.K. has built a fabulous stable yard and provided the

“It's a beautiful and peaceful place to be”

myriad facilities that are necessary for the welfare of the horse. It is a full welfare member of the National Equine Council.

“Our horses, ponies, and donkeys are rehabilitated, retrained, and then go out on loan to carefully vetted homes,” explained Pamela. “Those who are not deemed suitable for rehoming stay within the safety of the sanctuary and are used for educational purposes.

“H.A.C.K. is run entirely by volunteers, a fabulous team from various walks of life, all coming together to make it what it is today.”

Pamela works with the community and provides educational programmes for youngsters from local schools, who attend one part-day a week. “We also have a Saturday kids’ club, which is very well attended, offer visits for youth or pre-school groups and hold various events for the public.”

The sanctuary is a beautiful and peaceful place to be – it is well maintained and cared for, as are all the animals.


Most healthy horses sleep for only around three hours a day

48 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
The ponies enjoy a dip in the river with the H.A.C.K. Saturday Kids’ Club Donkeys George and Doogie Donald has settled happily into a new life at H.A.C.K.

Cuan Wildlife Rescue

Like Nicky Owen of North Clwyd Animal Rescue, Anna Morris-Jones grew up surrounded by animals in need. She was six when her mother started Cuan Wildlife Rescue in Much Wenlock, and took over the charity officially in 2014.

The centre works with all British wildlife, and over 6,000 animals a year come in to them. Being wild animals, none are rehomed – they are released when they have recovered.

“We have a part-time fundraiser and hold many charity fundraising events such as open days and dog shows, car and craft events and pub quizzes. We have a ‘wishlist’ on Amazon where people can purchase items for us, mainly our regular consumables such as laundry detergent or kitchen roll,” explained Anna. “We receive no government funding so everything comes from donations and the kindness of people.”

Volunteers are always welcome! “We are like a family at Cuan,” said Anna. “The role is hard and tough at times, but to see an animal recover from its injuries and be released into the wild to be free again is so rewarding – knowing that you helped that happen.

“We offer work experience and volunteer opportunities in all different roles, in our charity shops, as part of our admin team, within the hospital or helping with fundraising. If anyone would like to know more about how to make a difference, please contact us.” (Details are at the bottom of the page.)

Mark Bott has been with Cuan for three years as staff and a year before that as a volunteer. “I gave up a 30-year professional career to work with Cuan Wildlife Rescue and I don’t regret it for a moment!” he told us. “We work with all British wildlife, from the smallest shrew to largest adult deer.

“We rely on the public bringing injured animals in to us as we don’t have the resources to offer an ambulance service. We can occasionally arrange transport using a great group of volunteer drivers, but that is not something we can

“Everything comes from donations and the kindness of people”

guarantee. The hospital’s staff can also attend large or dangerous animals in-situ, such as deer, badgers and foxes.

“We have plans for a new hospital building on our existing site that will provide better facilities for our more specialised admissions like bats. My great hope is that fundraising will allow that to be built as soon as possible so we can continue to improve the care we provide to our patients.”

Dani Peat has worked at Cuan for almost 10 years. “My first volunteer day was to help them move into the purpose-built hospital in Wenlock – I haven’t left!” she said.

So if you’re an animal lover looking for somewhere to volunteer in your spare time, or want to share your marketing or fundraising skills with a worthwhile organisation, there are a huge number of places that would appreciate your help – get in touch with them now! You can contact the organisations featured here:

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 49
Anna Morris-Jones nurses an injured owl A badger cub is treated at Cuan Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary for mother and baby A rescued buzzard

A lasting impression

Once a hub of industry exporting slate from North Wales around the world, this pretty harbour town is as alive today as it was at its peak


In 1873, over 116,000 tons of slate left here in over 1,000 ships

Porthmadog can’t fail to make an impression whichever direction you approach from. On one side it’s dominated by the rocky peak of Moel y Gest that towers 262 metres above the North Wales town. On the other it is flanked by the wide expanse of the Glaslyn estuary, renowned as a haven for migrating birds and wildlife.

While the slate industry to which it owes its existence has declined, this pretty resort has developed to become an important shopping hub for the area and a popular tourist destination, not least as a base for exploring Snowdonia. The 840 square miles of the country’s most breathtaking National Park lie on its doorstep.

Also the home of no fewer than three heritage railways, it attracts steam fans from far and wide.

Friendly welcome

Porthmadog is a bustling town, full of quirky independent shops and tempting places to eat – and with a proud heritage, culture and

community. The Welsh language is a key part of its identity and you will hear it commonly spoken here, while its people are particularly warm and friendly.

While the majestic mountains provide a stunning backdrop, this former seaport is equally rich in maritime history, and this corner of North West Wales boasts a coastline with beaches second to none.

Steam railway buffs are drawn to Porthmadog by the triple lure of the Ffestiniog, Welsh Highland and Welsh Highland Heritage lines. It’s one of the most relaxing experiences imaginable to jump on a train at either end of town, sit back as it trundles through the breathtaking mountain scenery, and relive the golden age of steam. Afterwards, have some fun at the Heritage line’s excellent hands-on museum.

Along the Cob

An unmissable feature – particularly if you arrive in Porthmadog from the south, as you’ll travel along it – is the famous Cob. This grand embankment scheme was originally built to form the deep-water harbour for the schooners that were built here, and it also carried the railway that moved slate from quarry to sea. It was the ambitious brainchild of WA Maddocks, after whom the town was named – ‘Porthmadog’ translates as ‘Madog’s Port’.

Just on the outskirts of Porthmadog, the beach at Blackrock Sands stretches for miles, a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity.

TE Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia fame once lived nearby, and the Romantic poet

Percy Bysshe Shelley is said to have been a regular visitor. It is easy to imagine both being inspired by such an idyllic spot. The clear waters attract plenty of repeat visitors – and not just of the human kind. Returning osprey, turtles and dolphins have also identified Porthmadog as a haven worth coming back to again and again.

Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways Harbour Station, Porthmadog LL49 9NF

Porthmadog Golf Club

Morfa Bychan, Porthmadog LL49 9UU 01766 514 124

Porthmadog Sailing Club

The Harbour, Porthmadog LL49 9AY 01766 513 546

Glaslyn Leisure Centre Stryd Y Llan, Porthmadog LL49 9HW 01766 512 711

50 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Steaming into Porthmadog
The town owes its fortunes to slate
We manage your property on short-letting sites like Airbnb, so you don’t have to. We list it, find the guests, look after them, and even clean up after them. Providing you with a full range of services will help achieve the maximum return on your property via short-term letting, without any of the hard work. 07752 397170 Short term and holiday let for homeowners on the Llyn Peninsula Harbour Station, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9NF 01766 516024 St. Helen's Road, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 2PF
Smithy Park, Abermule Montgomery, Powys SY15 6ND 01686 630657 Bestparks Country Holiday Parks Holiday Home Ownership & Touring Park • Family run park Mid Wales • • Adjacent River Severn fishing • • Self-catering holiday cottage – sleeps 4 • • Nearby Montgomery Canal • • Canal walk & cycle path • • Nearby golf courses | Village location • • Village Pub • • Bus service from park entrance • Call us anytime 01691 624464 or 07972 066291 Ellesmere, Shropshire, SY12 9HH Robin and Jane welcome you to Newnes Touring Caravan Park, where they have created a wonderful haven for visitors to escape from their busy lives and get back to the wonders of nature. For adults only. SHIRE magazine The No.1 magazine for holiday parks throughout Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire. Get in touch now or simply call (01691) 661 270 Romantic Weekends | Family Holidays | Business Trips Luxury self-catering accommodation situated across South Wales, offering coast & country. Established in 2022, Well House Cottages have been designed to offer you a blend of modern luxury with charming character. If you’re getting away to explore or take a break from everyday life, our accommodation presents a sense of at home comfort in sought after locations. 07950 135341 Awarded 5 stars by visit wales for all our properties OSTLERS COTTAGE - AVAILABLE NOW! Tel: 07867 790195 • Spend a day exploring the beautiful Shropshire Union Canal aboard our 10 seater, self-drive Day Boat • Ideal for family celebrations and team-building days • All-weather accommodation • Easy to steer – no experience necessary • From just £115 “ ” THERE IS SIMPLY NOTHING BETTER THAN MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS GIFT AVAILABLEVOUCHERS ...GET ON A CANAL BOAT Hire for a day, a weekend, a week or longer BOOK YOUR 2024 HOLIDAY NOW Visit Tel 07867 790195 anytime



Escape to the natural haven of Pennant Park in Holywell, where holiday lodges are available to rent or buy, offering a serene retreat amidst the breathtaking landscape of North Wales. Discover a place where you can reconnect with nature, unwind in tranquillity and create timeless memories with loved ones.

Set amidst stunning countryside, Pennant Park’s luxury holiday lodges beckon you to unwind in comfort and style. Immerse yourself in the idyllic surroundings as you sink into the bubbling hot tub, or curl up with a good book as the sun slowly sets. Designed inside and out to perfection, the lodges provide endless opportunity for relaxation.

For lodge owners, Pennant Park offers a sanctuary where you can escape whenever the mood takes you and focus on life’s pleasures. Leave the demands of everyday life behind

“Immerse yourself in the idyllic surroundings as you sink into the bubbling hot tub”

and indulge in creating moments that will be cherished forever. These lodges aren’t just dwellings, they are memory makers.

Adventure seekers will find a home-from-home in North Wales, with access to some of the UK’s most exciting destinations. From the majestic heights of Snowdonia to the endless possibilities of the rugged coastline, there’s an adventure awaiting every enthusiast.

For those seeking peace and relaxation, Pennant Park is a haven where you can reconnect with nature and embrace the gentle rhythm of lodge life. With stunning views over the Dee Estuary, this tranquil retreat near the North Wales coast invites you to discover your favourite place and make it yours, time and again. Embrace the freedom to enjoy your own special place whenever the mood takes you, as Pennant Park becomes your sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation.

A five-star stay

Established in 2022, the Well House Cottages portfolio stands as a testament to meticulous design, blending contemporary luxury with enduring charm. For those seeking an escape from the demands of daily life or embarking on a journey of exploration, the cottages offer a five-star welcome in a selection of sought-after locations.

Whether you are planning a weekend retreat or an extended week-long escape, Well House Cottages can accommodate your needs, with stays ranging from two to seven days.

Enjoy thrilling outdoor adventures, relish exquisite dining experiences or unwind with cosy evenings in – the surrounding areas offer an array of activities and visitor attractions, restaurants, inns and shopping options.

“Cottages blending luxury and charm”

From the rolling hills of Monmouthshire to the idyllic beaches of Carmarthenshire, each Well House Cottages property is carefully chosen to capture the essence of the surroundings. Whether

you are seeking hidden mountain trails, the invigorating sea breeze, the tranquillity of a small town or the vibrant energy of a city, the varied selection of cottages promises every guest the perfect accommodation for an unforgettable holiday experience.

With a brand-new property recently added – and a recent report awarding five-star standards – the dedicated team at Well House Cottages is ready to assist in securing you a fantastic getaway.

Take time out to relax and unwind Pennant Park is set in wonderful countryside
The perfect base for exploring
Characterful cottages in prime locations
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 53


Nestled on the outskirts of Corwen and with all the facilities of Plas Isaf venue on the doorstep, Gaerhyfryd Caravan Site beckons, offering a plethora of options for your North Wales getaway. This family-run site, a hidden gem, has touring pitches for caravans and motorhomes as well as offers an array of self-catering holiday properties, accommodating two to 22 guests.

Spanning 250 acres of organic land, the family farm is home to cows, sheep and Highland cattle – adding rural charm to your countryside walks. The recently renovated holiday properties, scattered across the Corwen area, vary in sleeping capacity and are thoughtfully selected for their unique location. These havens of relaxation come complete with hot tubs boasting stunning views, providing the perfect backdrop for an idyllic escape. Overlooking the picturesque Dee Valley, each property is equipped with modern amenities, ensuring a luxurious retreat.

Gaerhyfryd also offers 37 hard-standing pitches, each fully

Hot spots


“Tunnels bright with colourful minerals”

Deep below the breathtaking landscapes of Snowdonia, Sygun Copper Mine stands as a captivating testament to Wales’ industrial heritage. A day visit to this historical site promises an immersive journey into the depths of the earth, where you can explore for yourself the labyrinth of tunnels carved through the rock by generations of miners. Upon arrival, the rugged exterior of the mine never fails to impress, with remnants of mining machinery still in evidence, amid stunning views of the surrounding peaks. The guided tour unravels the mine’s rich history, revealing tales of hardworking miners and the once-thriving copper industry. Descending into the subterranean world, visitors traverse the well-preserved tunnels bright with colourful minerals, creating an otherworldly ambiance.

The highlight of the visit is undoubtedly the aweinspiring underground chambers, where you can witness the remarkable geological formations shaped by centuries of human activity. The knowledgeable guides share insights into mining techniques and the challenges faced by the miners, adding a layer of depth to the experience.

“An array of self-catering properties sleeping two to 22 guests”

Meet the neighbours!

serviced with electricity, water, grey water and TV aerial, to accommodate caravans and motorhomes up to 8 metres long. The dog-friendly site welcomes awnings at no extra charge. Affiliated with the Caravan and Motorhome Club, Gaerhyfryd guarantees excellent facilities and an ideal location for exploring the wonders of Snowdonia, Bala Lake, Llangollen and Ruthin. Visit to book your escape and immerse yourself in the tranquillity of North Wales.

Hot spots


Avisit to Winsford Salt Mine unveils a unique underground world combining industrial heritage and natural wonder. Situated almost 200 metres beneath the Cheshire countryside, the mine – the largest and oldest working salt mine in the UK – offers an extraordinary excursion into the very depths of the earth.

“The oldest working salt mine in the UK”

Guided tours commence at the mine’s entrance, where visitors are equipped with fascinating insights into the mining process, the history of salt extraction and the vital role the mine plays in supporting other industries. As you descend into the underground labyrinth, you are greeted by vast caverns carved over decades as the salt was extracted, showcasing the sheer scale of human endeavour beneath the surface.

One of the highlights is the awe-inspiring Cathedral Chamber, a colossal cavern illuminated by ambient lighting which accentuates the natural patterns and formations of the salt deposits. Guides weave tales of the mine’s evolution, the significance of salt in our everyday lives, and the meticulous planning that is required to extract this precious commodity safely and sustainably.

54 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Pitches are fully serviced



thrilling outdoor

captivating indoor activities including fitness

kids play area, arts and crafts, kayaking, archery, paddle boarding, football, water polo and much more. Let your little ones explore and play, creating memories that last a lifetime.

expertly designed programs ensure endless entertainment, while you unwind in luxurious accommodations. Join us for an unforgettable holiday where the smiles never fade and adventure is just a step away.

Also, why not treat Mum and give her the chance to indulge and relax with our exclusive Spa packages? Perfect for Mother’s day, you can book a range of treatments and let the fantastic team at Love2Stay give her a memorable, well-earned experience that’s just for her.

Step into spring and enjoy the pinnacle of family fun at the award-winning, Love2Stay holiday resort!
Mid Wales Moat Ln, Caersws, SY17 5SB 01686 806384 |
for kids with
array of
escapades and

Offers you a unique & comfortable setting in the beautiful Welsh countryside, with privacy & seclusion, that you can truly make your own. Simple or luxurious; bustling or relaxed; large gatherings or small groups, Glansevin is dedicated entirely to your needs.

When you arrive, your beds will be made and the fires ready to light, you can relax and feel at home, knowing that Glansevin is exclusively yours.

The large grounds are the perfect place to play games, relax in the sunshine, use the sauna or swim in our refurbished outdoor pool.

Indoors, the games room will be ready for the children (adults as well).

The drawing room bar will be ready for you to stock your favourite refreshments, we are a no corkage venue, just fill the bar and relax.

We are a self-catering venue with a large, fully equipped kitchen, next to the dining room ready for use. We can put you in touch with our wonderful local caterers or you can hire your own.

You can walk into the countryside from the gardens, or further afield there are castles, lakes and waterfalls to discover. Delicious eateries, art galleries, deer park & botanical gardens are within a short drive.

A stay here offers a slice of Wales at its best.

Cae Cyd Holiday Cottage is a stunning barn conversion on the North Wales coast at the edge of the Snowdonia National Park near Conwy.

This luxury two bedroom cottage sleeps 4 adults, and has a balcony with superb views over Conwy Bay to Anglesey and the Great Orme at Llandudno

The holiday cottage has been awarded 5 stars by Visit Wales, and can be configured as 2 double rooms, or a double and twin. It is set on the adults only Tyddyn Du Touring Park in Penmaenmawr.

Llangadog, Carmarthenshire, Wales, SA19 9HY |

01492 622300 |

Welcome to

offer a range of options for your stay in North Wales We have a small family run caravan and motorhome site in North Wales and a range of self catering holiday let properties, sleeping from 2 to 22 guests We are situated on the outskirts of Corwen, Denbighshire, just off the A5 It's easy to book, either book online www gaerhyfryd com or give us a call 01490 412 189 WAKE UP. GO TO WALES. REPEAT.Gaerhyfryd xx www gaerhyfryd com
Gaerhyfryd .....

Edwardian charm

with a handrail, leads to the beautifully restored tiled hall. The fully equipped kitchen, to the left of the stairs, opens onto a gravelled garden with outdoor furniture – a perfect spot to sit on warm evenings and enjoy a leisurely dinner al fresco or perhaps a barbecue.

The two bedrooms, sitting room, snug and dining areas come together harmoniously to create a space perfect for families or friends holidaying together. The property, which is equipped and finished to high standards, preserves its historic charm while offering every modern comfort.

At once cosy and spacious, Pilton House Gower is ideal

Pilton House Gower is a gracefully appointed, four-star luxury self-catering cottage in Newton, near Mumbles, on the beautiful Gower Peninsula.

This characterful Edwardian villa is not only stunningly presented but also conveniently located in the heart of the village, a mere five-minute drive or 15-minute stroll from the pristine sandy beaches of Langland and Caswell. Mumbles with its local shops, dining options, visitor attractions (including a real castle) and more is even closer.

“At once cosy and spacious, equipped and finished to high standards”

The cottage, built in 1901 and thoughtfully updated in 2001-2 preserving its original features, exudes a timeless charm. The entrance, through an iron gate and up a flight of stone steps

for family beach holidays, surfing breaks, romantic getaways, walking, cycling, golf and the myriad coastal activities in Gower, including your morning swim. Plus dogs are welcome, so the family pet gets a holiday too!

“Groups find themselves drawn back year after year, captivated by the mansion’s informality and the flexibility it provides”

In the foothills of the Brecon Beacons stands the Georgian mansion of Glansevin, initially built as a family home during the Napoleonic Wars. Now in its third century, guests are invited to immerse themselves in the grandeur of its rooms and explore the enchanting grounds.


Over three decades, Glansevin has served as a cherished retreat – a place for commemorating birthdays, anniversaries and informal get-togethers with family and friends. Groups find themselves drawn back year after year, captivated by the mansion’s informality and the flexibility of the accommodation. Exclusive use of the property and its private grounds creates an ideal setting for gatherings of any kind.

Glansevin Mansion, with its expansive living space, including

a games room and a large sitting room with open fire, has been meticulously designed with entertaining in mind. The bar area in the sitting room can be stocked with your choice of refreshments, and there is no corkage fee.

With accommodation for up to 40 guests, including additional pull-out beds for children, Glansevin Mansion assures a unique and comfortable home that you can truly make your own. Whether marking a milestone celebration, hosting a corporate retreat or simply seeking a luxurious getaway, Glansevin Mansion promises an unforgettable experience.

Relax in the private grounds The stunning pillared entrance The king-size double bedroom
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 57
Amenities on your doorstep
“The banks of the lake o er ideal habitat for kingfi shers, herons and water voles”


For those embarking on a caravan adventure through scenic Shropshire, Hawk Lake Caravan Park stands out as a muststop destination. Tucked away in picturesque Hawkstone Park, every hard-standing pitch at this idyllic site offers electric hook-up and the lakeside setting provides the perfect haven for relaxing.

Despite its convenient location close to the historic town of Shrewsbury, Hawk Lake Caravan Park enjoys a peaceful ambiance in the grounds of the Grade I listed Hawkestone Hall. The lake, crafted in 1776 to mirror the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park, adds to the serenity of the landscape and is a delight for nature enthusiasts.

The Ralphs family purchased the park as a farm in the 1930s, and after a brief period out of family ownership, Stewart and Irena Ralphs reacquired Hawk Lake in 2011. Following meticulous


restoration, it now offers a serene escape for fishing, relaxation and observing wildlife, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

The park boasts five hard-standing touring pitches, each with hook-ups, along with 45 static pitches. Situated right on the bank of the lake, it’s a prime destination for anglers with day and season fishing available on the doorstep. The lake is home to carp, roach, perch, bream, tench, rudd and pike, while the banks offer ideal habitat for kingfishers, herons and water voles.

Immerse yourself in the tranquillity of Hawk Lake Caravan Park, where nature and relaxation harmonise in an enchanting setting. For enquiries and bookings, call 01630 685 209 or email

In the heart of the Cheshire countryside, a brief drive from the historic town of Nantwich lies an idyllic holiday destination. Overwater Marina offers an array of leisure facilities and accommodation options, ensuring an unforgettable stay for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

The Caravan & Motorhome Club certified caravan site and holiday park presents a carefully curated holiday experience including 10 luxury hard-standing touring pitches. Available on a night-by-night or seasonal basis, these pitches provide a comfortable and exclusive setting for guests.

“Luxury glamping wagons boast fully fitted bathrooms, stoves and comfortable beds”

For those in pursuit of a unique and relaxing escape, bespoke glamping wagons at the award-winning marina offer an enchanting alternative. Nestled beside what remains of the old Gingerbread Line, these luxury wagons boast fully fitted bathrooms, kitchenettes, stoves and comfortable beds. Why not opt for the ultimate relaxation by booking a wagon with a woodfired hot tub!

Overwater Marina enjoys a canal-side location just outside the charming village of Audlem, making it an ideal base for exploring both Cheshire and Shropshire. Popular tourist attractions such as the Anderton Boat Lift and Jodrell Bank Observatory are within easy driving distance, as well as all the facilities of Nantwich. It’s also a convenient centre for activities like hiking, cycling and fishing.

At Overwater Marina, every detail is crafted to ensure a serene and memorable escape. Visit the website now for availability and bookings. www.overwater

Perhaps glamping is more your style?
There’s plenty to see and do at Overwater Marina The perfect spot to sit and watch the sunset
58 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
How blissful!
from £99,000 *For all holiday home purchases agreed before 31st March 2024. Simply call our Sales Team on 01745 563009 Book your VIP Tour with us! Free site fees for 2024 * Luxury lodges in beautiful North Wales Exclusive 10% off all food & drink First year’s golf membership inc.* A holiday to enjoy 365 days a year £1m investment in new facilities Starter inventory kit Car parking Decking & outdoor patio furniture inc. First year’s site fees free What’s included: | | 01490 460224 Own your own peace of North Wales MARCH-JANUARY SEASON SITE FEES START FROM £2960 NEW & SECOND-HAND CARAVANS FOR SALE BOOK YOUR VISIT TODAY. Swift Brenin 2 Bed | £51,000 Regal Retreat 2 Bed | £54,995 Llawrbetws Leisure set in the grounds of 14 acres of idyllic countryside, located just 5 miles from Bala in North Wales. Finance available Pilton House Gower, where “It’s all about the Quality” Dog & Family Friendly Exceptional Gower Seaside Cottage - Close to Sandy Beaches. 07904 374696 2 Nottage Road, Newton, Swansea, SA3 4SU

Welsh Crafts & Souvenirs • Candles • Lovespoons • Frenchic Paint & Accessories • Wool Shop • Greeting Cards • Fishing Tackle & Bait

& Worms River

Set beside Hawk Lake in the grounds of Hawkstone Park, this Caravan Park is great for a peaceful getaway.

Close to the historic town of Shrewsbury, and in the heart of Shropshire, we are ideally located for exploring Shropshire and Mid Wales.

We have 5 touring pitches each with a hook up and on hard standing, as well as 45 static caravan pitches.

• Sun: 11am to 4pm

Mon,Tues,Thurs,Fri,Sat:10am~5pm • Sun:11am~5pm

Closed Wed

Corwen Manor

The Old Union Workhouse 01490 413196

We offer both Day and Season Fishing on Hawk Lake. The lake has a selection of fish, from big Carp up to 30lb, to Roach, Perch, Bream, Tench, Rudd and Pike.

If it’s the Shropshire wildlife that you like, the lake is home to Kingfishers, Herons, Water Voles and Woodpeckers. Much of the lakeside is perfectly walkable, and there are places to sit and enjoy your surroundings in peace.

Hawk Lake Caravan Park, North Lodge, Hawkstone Park, Marchamley, Nr Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 5GE

Telephone: 01630 685209 | Mobile: 07860 843341 / 07850 485859 Locomotive Luxury Self Catering Accommodation in our Bespoke Glamping Wagons Available with Wood-fired Hot Tubs Also Available Hardstanding Touring and Seasonal Pitches at our Award Winning Waterways Marina All enquiries please call us on 01270 812677
8 London Rd, Corwen, Denbighshire, LL21 0DR •
Dee Day Tickets Available
•Personalised Candles,Cards & Lovespoons •Welsh Crafts & Souvenirs • Jewellery • Café •Wool Shop • Fishing Tackle,Maggots
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat: 10am to 5pm
Closed Wed

Golf, often referred to as the “gentleman’s game”, has captured the hearts of enthusiasts down the centuries. In the scenic landscapes of the Shire patch, where lush greenery meets historic charm, the sport takes on a special significance. From the rugged coasts of North Wales to the world-class greens of the Wirral, our golf courses o er players a visual feast. The sheer joy of spending a day outdoors, breathing in the fresh air and navigating the challenges of the fairway, provides an unparalleled sense of satisfaction.

Healthy hit

“Across the Shire patch, our golf courses o er players a visual feast”

Golf is a low-impact sport that promotes physical fitness and overall well-being. A round of golf involves walking several miles, providing an excellent cardiovascular workout. Swinging a golf club engages various muscle groups, enhancing flexibility and strength. The mental aspect of the game, with its strategic thinking and focus on precision, also contributes to cognitive well-being. Regular golfing has been associated with improved cardiovascular health, reduced stress levels and better sleep

Peaceful path and a pub

Our friends at The Ramblers charity have shared a Cheshire walk in a quiet part of Delamere Forest, with the perfect finish in a popular hostelry

Difficulty level: Moderate

Walking time: 3 hours

Length: 10.1 km (6.3 miles)

Start: King’s Gate car park, Waste Lane, Kelsall

From the woodland edge of King’s Gate parking, turn right along the lane to reach the right-hand bend in 400m. Turn left across the green here, in front of Lower Fold Cottage, to use a kissing-gate beyond the holly trees in the far corner. Pursue the fenced path through the lumpy environs of Kelsborrow hillfort,


Golf may have once been the preserve of stuffy businessmen in peculiar shoes and colourful trousers but it’s a great sport for everyone to try these days

patterns, making it a holistic approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Golf is also a social sport that fosters camaraderie and friendship.

The 19th hole

The UK’s golf clubs often serve as community hubs where players of all ages and backgrounds come together. The “19th hole”, the clubhouse’s social space, becomes a venue for post-game discussions, laughter and the forging of lasting connections. Golf’s handicap system allows players of varying skill levels to compete on an equal playing field, making it an inclusive sport that encourages interaction and networking

Many clubs o er a ordable memberships, equipment hire and coaching, ensuring that golf is accessible to everyone. This inclusivity contributes to the sport’s popularity, creating a diverse community of players who share a passion for the game.

Look out for more on this absorbing sport in our next issue!

created 2,000 years ago. Clear days reveal views to the Clwydian Hills. Another kissing-gate accesses steps down into hidden Boothsdale, named “Little Switzerland” by Edwardian walkers – great views stretch ahead along the sandstone ridge. Trace the ledged path along

“Hidden Boothsdale was named ‘Little Switzerland’ by Edwardian walkers”

From forests to farms

Well away from the crowds

the dale’s edge, gaining first a grassy track, then a tarred lane at modernist Hillside Cottage. For the Boot Inn, divert right here along the fingerposted path (signed Boothsdale). Otherwise keep ahead on the lane to a T-junction.

Bear left up Roughlow, rising steadily up the wooded dell, to the junction with Waste Lane. Keep right here along Tirley Lane and at the next bend fork right onto the hedged track, signed Beeston Castle. Continue downhill to reach the tarred lane in 1km. Turn left here; pass The Willingtons farm, then in 150m turn left up the surfaced drive signed for Higher Barn Farm. Find the complete route and others at

ACTIVE March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 61
The stunning setting of Nefyn golf club on the Llyn Peninsula No shortage of photo opps…


Hidden charms

Shire’s resident wine expert from Shropshire Wine School, Gary Carter, looks at the cheap and cheerful charm of Chardonnay

One of my questions when presenting wines is, “Who likes Chardonnay?” and more to the point, “Who doesn’t like Chardonnay?” I always get at least a few people raise their hand for the second group, and it’s not difficult to see why. Perhaps it’s familiarity that breeds contempt – Chardonnay is the most planted white grape variety in the world – or perhaps the fact that it is one of the most favoured varieties for inexpensive, big-brand, mass-produced wines. Or perhaps it’s simply that Chardonnay produces wines in many different styles.

One of the reasons Chardonnay is such a popular variety is that it will ripen in almost every climate where it is possible to grow grapes. It’s also relatively disease-resistant and doesn’t have any significant weaknesses in the vineyard. Here’s the thing though: depending on where it is grown, the style and taste of Chardonnay vary, perhaps more than any other variety.


In cooler climates, of which the ‘textbook’ example is Chablis AC (the most northerly subregion of Burgundy in France) the grape produces appley, citrussy flavoured wines, underpinned by steely minerality and refreshing acidity. It’s usually relatively low in alcohol and body and almost never oaked. In even cooler climates, where for table wine production the grapes aren’t really ripe enough, Chardonnay is a key variety used for sparkling wine production, most famously Champagne AC.

At the other extreme, Chardonnay can cope with warm vineyard conditions very well. In places such as (most of) Australia, South Africa or California, Chardonnay produces full-bodied, high

alcohol wines with tropical flavours such as pineapple. Here the acidity is much lower and the wines are frequently overtly oaky.


Did you know?

Burgundy Chardonnay is amongst the most expensive white wine in the world

Where Chardonnay does really excel is in the centre of Burgundy. The moderate climate here, combined with some absolutely ideal soil types, produces the most magical Chardonnay in the world. As well as the mystery of ‘terroir’, a catch-all French term for where the wine comes from, winemaking here is both art and science. At its best, the result is arguably the best white wine in the world and, unarguably, the most expensive.

Burgundy has a very complex way of categorising its wines, with a hierarchy from the overall region, to specific villages and even specific vineyards within the village.

“Hints of rich vanilla, toasted oak and cream. Perfect when enjoyed chilled and with equally pleasurable foods”

Three to try

Domaine Louis Moreau Petit Chablis AC 2021 (Majestic Wines £16.99) ‘Petit Chablis’ is often overlooked and can be very good value for money. This is a great example – it’s crisp, it’s citrussy, it’s wonderfully fresh.

Bread & Butter Chardonnay 2021 (Sainsbury’s £15.50) Classic California Chardonnay with hints of rich vanilla, toasted oak and cream. Perfect when enjoyed chilled and with equally pleasurable foods.

Puligny-Montrachet AC, Chanson Père & Fils 2020 (Tanners Wines £27 for a half-bottle) Clean, racy and full flavoured, supplying floral notes with orchard fruits and a hint of honey.

Shropshire Wine School runs regular tasting sessions in Shrewsbury and online. Details at www.

62 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Chardonnay grapes: where they are grown makes all the di erence A versatile grape that ripens in all wine climates A perennial favourite

Pick of the Producers

One local co ee roastery has been going from strength to strength – and has won some impressive awards along the way

Hundred House Coffee is a speciality coffee roastery based in the Shropshire Hills. Their playful, experimental coffee is ethically sourced from sustainable, eco-conscious smallholdings around the world and has won them multiple awards and accolades for their bold range of blends and single origin roasts. But the team is also passionate about supporting the arts and giving back to the local community – as is obvious from their latest expansion plans.

Simon Doyle is one of Anglesey’s top chefs - he’s known for his traditional local foods with a zippy bistro flavour. After travelling the world and cooking in some famous kitchens he came home to Wales, together with patisserie specialist chef Nia Doyle, and established Harrys Bistro at Henllys Hall in beautiful Beaumaris as one of North Wales must try top eateries.

Husband-and-wife team Anabelle de Gersigny and Matthew Wade have taken over a former maternity hospital in the heart of Ludlow, not just to grow the business but also to open a community hub called Gather, with co-working spaces for people to rent and a curated programme of creative events, talks and workshops throughout the year.

Anabelle said: “We hope that people from all backgrounds working in all different industries will use this space and come forward with their own ideas for how it can support the South Shropshire community. We have some exciting ideas we’d love to activate, like film nights, writing workshops and support for people setting up their own businesses.”

“You have to respond to what’s around you”


Simon’s Pan fried hake fillet with citrus & herb crumb, Sweet potato bake & Buttered spinach - serves 4


Pan fried hake fillet

4 portions of hake skin on, scaled and pin boned (approx 150-170g)

Sweet potato bake

Approx. 600g sweet potato (peeled & thicky grated)

Approx. 600g white potato (peeled & thickly grated)

2 shallots sliced thinly 2 cloves of garlic (peeled & crushed)

50g parmesan or similar hard cheese 250ml double cream

Citrus & herb crumb


• Combine all the potato bake ingredients in an oven proof dish. Add a generous pinch of salt & pepper. Mix well. Cover the top with baking parchment and then foil. Place in a pre-heated oven at 200-220ºC for 40-50 minutes. To check it is cooked, taste it taking a spoonful from the middle of the bake. Remove from the oven. Leave in a warm place, do not stir as it will break up the potatoes.

• Add the brioche into a food processor with the zest of 2 lemons, the chopped herbs and olive oil. Blitz until smooth. Place on a baking tray place in oven for 5 minutes. Remove, stir and place in oven for further 5 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

She explained that the idea reflects their own business name. “The Hundred House was the meeting place within a community. You have to respond to what is around you and this building came up and lends itself perfectly to what we wanted to achieve.”

Matthew has been a respected figure in the coffee industry for over 20 years and has developed long-standing relationships with many of the global smallholdings and green suppliers they now source directly from, whilst Anabelle has a background in the arts industry, which she can now harness to realise the vision for Hundred House and Gather.


50g brioche (you can | replace it with stale bread)

2 lemons

2tbsps chopped soft herbs (such as chives or parsley)

2tbsps olive oil

Buttered spinach

250g baby spinach

10-15g butter

• Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Season the hake with salt and pepper and add to the pan, skin side down. Do not overcrowd the pan as the fish won’t fry but boil. It doesn’t matter if you don’t cook the fish in 2 batches as it will be finished in the oven. Cook on a medium to high heat for 3 - 4 minutes ensuring you don’t burn the skin. Remove from the pan and place on a baking tray skin side up. Wipe the pan out with kitchen roll and repeat the process.

• Once the fish has been sealed, sprinkle over the brioche crumb and place in pre-heated oven 200-220ºC for approximately 5 minutes. You can check if it is cooked by putting a metal skewer into the centre of the fish. There should be no resistance as you do this.

• Leave the fish pan on the heat whilst doing this, add the butter and washed spinach. Season with salt and pepper and stir until wilted.

• To serve - spoon the potato into the middle of the plate, add the spinach and top with the hake.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 63 FOOD & DRINK
Matthew and Anabelle Good, sustainable co ee is a passion for the pair Exciting times ahead

less is moreish

Despite our reputation as a nation of binge-drinkers, the UK is enjoying a steady surge in the popularity of lower-strength session ales

Arefreshing trend is sweeping through the craft beer scene, captivating the taste buds of enthusiasts across the nation –the rising popularity of session IPAs. These lower-alcohol brews, with their bold hop profiles and vibrant flavours, are gaining traction among consumers seeking a more moderate drinking experience without compromising on taste.

Session IPAs are a subcategory of India pale ales (IPAs) known for their lower alcohol content, typically ranging from 3% to 5% ABV (alcohol by volume). The concept behind sessionable beers is to provide a flavourful and satisfying drinking experience that allows enthusiasts to enjoy multiple pints without feeling the effects of higher alcohol brews.

Rich history

One key factor contributing to the success of session IPAs in the UK is the nation’s enduring love affair with traditional ales. British beer culture has a rich history, and session IPAs seamlessly blend innovation with the time-honoured brewing techniques that have been cherished for generations. Craft breweries, large and small, are embracing this trend, experimenting with hop varieties and brewing processes to create a diverse array of sessionable options.

“A harmonious balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness”

festival, these beers cater to diverse palates and preferences. The moderate alcohol levels make them an ideal choice for extended socialising without the risk of over-indulgence.

The appeal of session IPAs lies not only in their lower alcohol content but also in their flavour complexity. These beers showcase a harmonious balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness, resulting in a drinkable yet characterful brew. The hop-forward nature of IPAs is preserved in session variants, offering a delightful burst of citrus, pine, and floral notes that resonate with both seasoned craft beer aficionados and those new to the scene.

Consumers are increasingly drawn to the versatility of session IPAs, which are perfect for various occasions. Whether enjoyed at a summer barbecue, a cosy pub or a bustling beer

Less booze, more brews

Breweries such as Beavertown, BrewDog and Camden Town Brewery have been at the forefront of this session IPA revolution, creating iconic brews that have become staples in the UK craft beer landscape. These breweries not only prioritise quality ingredients but also emphasise the importance of producing beers that align with the evolving preferences of the modern drinker.

As the demand for session IPAs continues to grow, it is evident that this trend is not merely a passing phase but a reflection of the evolving tastes and preferences of the UK beer-drinking community. With an exciting array of sessionable options to choose from, enthusiasts can now savour the robust flavours of an IPA while maintaining a responsible and enjoyable drinking experience.

Session IPAs are winning new fans to beer-drinking
64 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Brimming with character

Llandudno’s highly acclaimed & leading contemporary boutique bed & breakfast hotel offering exclusive, stylish and luxurious accommodation in a unique Victorian Villa.


All nine double bedrooms have been individually designed with a different luxurious contemporary theme. Each including features such as flat screen TVs, Blu Ray Disc Players and free Wireless Broadband access. 48 Church Walks, Llandudno, United Kingdom 01492 877776

COME AND SEE US at our unique setting at the historic Henllys Hall, just outside beautiful Beaumaris on the Island of Anglesey, where you will find a great choice of traditional and contemporary food and service with a warm Harry’s welcome.

You’ll find our restaurant a unique and unhurried place to enjoy our bistro style food, our award winning desserts and our specially selected wines. If you are visiting Anglesey on a Sunday our lunches are very popular with visitors and Island residents.


Harry’s Bistro, Henllys Hall, Beaumaris, Anglesey LL58 8HU Tel: 01248 812976 | Email: | Web:
for 2024 140 x 198mm.qxp 04/12/2023 17:16 Page 1

Oswestry 01691 652126

Newtown 01686 626576


Beatrice Street


The Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Plymouth

15th – 19th April – 5 Days from £499

Staying at the 16th century

4* Barony Castle Hotel

18th – 22nd April 5 Days from £655 TULIPMANIA

25th – 29th April 5 Days from £565

Colourful Tulip Extravaganza At Henry VIII’s Opulent Palace

26th – 29th April 4 Days from only £365

Added Value Tour Incl. Free Bar At Main Hotel

14th – 21st May 8 Days from £1135

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Bringing you stories, updates and o ers from the heroes of hospitality across the Shire patch

In the club

The Gusto Italian range of restaurants, which has venues in Alderley Edge, Knutsford and Heswall on the Wirral, has launched a new loyalty card, giving great discounts for regular diners. For just £6 a month, Platinum Club members will enjoy 40 percent off food in neighbourhood Gusto Italian restaurants, a bottle of prosecco on sign-up and invites to exclusive events and menu tastings. This is in addition to Gusto Italian Gold Club, the benefits of which regulars have already been enjoying.

Porter’s is proud to stock chocolate from the world’s first certified slave-free cocoa plantation, UpUp – it’s great chocolate with no downside.

“Over 1,500 savouries too!”

The complimentary loyalty programme, Gold Club, gives Gusto Italian regulars the benefits of five percent cashback every time they dine, a free round of drinks on birthdays, quarterly offers, exclusive Black Friday promotions and access to an exclusive evening set menu. Platinum Club will encompass all the benefits of Gold Club membership, with the added rewards of 40 percent off the à la carte menu Sunday-Thursday for the cardholder and up to three guests. Membership will be available for £65 per year, £6 per month.

“40 percent off the à la carte menu for four people”

Kat Schofield, head of marketing at Gusto Italian, said, “We’re thrilled to introduce Platinum Club for our guests in these neighbourhood areas. At Gusto Italian, we want to make every occasion special and ensure our loyal out-of-city diners enjoy a premium experience, exciting events and an opportunity to indulge for less.”

EXCLUSIVE: Shire readers can get the first year for just £55 when buying an annual subscription with code SHIRE.


If you’re committed to a more ethical Easter this year, pop down to Porter’s Deli in Llangollen where the team have some amazing hampers you can buy with a very clear conscience. They’ve sourced a range of chocolate from great brands who use single-origin cocoa producers to ensure that the cocoa is produced ethically and sustainably.

Shoppers can choose from a variety of exceptionally good quality, ethically sourced chocolate, and the team is happy to make up Easter gift hampers for you to suit the recipient’s tastes and dietary requirements. They have a range of vegan and dairy-free cocoa products too, and it’s all packaged in artistically designed, compostable, plastic-free packaging.

Top Tatton tipple


Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, Porter’s is still worth a visit as they have over 1,500 savoury products to choose from as well! Pop in and browse at Porter’s Delicatessen, Market Street, Llangollen, or get in touch via email to discuss your order on

Tatton Park is celebrating the launch of their new signature botanical gin, which boasts sensational flavours from plants foraged from Tatton’s formal gardens. It is now on sale in the park’s Housekeeper’s Store and is a fragrant celebration of the garden’s rich horticultural heritage.

Featuring an aromatic blend of sweet lavender, sage and wild golden marjoram from the Walled Kitchen Gardens, and Hinoki and Sawara cypress leaves from Tatton’s iconic Japanese Garden, the signature gin is inspired by Tatton Park’s unique collection of plants from around the world. What’s more, for every bottle sold a donation will be made to the Tatton Park Charitable Trust – a charity set up in 2005 to develop education and conservation projects for the benefit of the public in and around Tatton Park.

Did you know?

Cypress leaves are also used in natural medicine – what a versatile plant!

Tatton Park Gin is distilled in small batches by local awardwinning Big Hill Distillery, based in Mobberley, Cheshire. Big Hill have have worked closely with Tatton Park’s head gardener, Simon Tetlow, to create a perfect balance of unique garden botanicals.

“Inspired by Tatton’s unique collection of plants from around the world”

David Clayton, Big Hill co-founder and distiller says: “We’re very proud to produce this first gin for Tatton Park. From the moment I started to explore the vast gardens with Simon, it became obvious we had the opportunity and challenge to create something very special.” Tatton Park Gin is available from The Housekeeper’s Store, call 01625 374 424 or visit

discount and cashback too
A beautifully presented selection
David Clayton of Big Hill Distillery with Tatton Park’s marketing manager Caroline Jackson
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 67
with no downside



New branch for orange tree

Following the success of The Orange Tree restaurant in Stokeon-Trent, leading hospitality group Parogon has added another restaurant to its ever-growing portfolio with the opening of a second Orange Tree concept, in Cheshire.

Parogon acquired the Congleton site (previously The Cheshire Tavern) in July 2022. Work on the £1 million refurbishment began in April 2023, to turn the Grade II-listed building into a modern and stylish venue where patrons can experience a contemporary and relaxed dining experience, with superb food and signature cocktails.

The new restaurant has created around 50 jobs for the local area in management, kitchen and front of house positions.

“An incredible new design scheme”

Phil Sharp, property director at Parogon Group, commented: “We are thrilled to be opening The Orange Tree Congleton less than 12 months after we acquired the site. After an impressive refurbishment, the iconic Grade II-listed building has been given a new lease of life whilst maintaining its stunning history and character.

“Congleton is growing residentially and its local developments open us up to new markets in a different area to Parogon’s existing sites. The Orange Tree Congleton will deliver a new experience for diners in the area with an incredible new design scheme, a fresh grill menu and our Parogon standards of service.”

Lobster’s top title

The Potted Lobster, Abersoch, which specialises in high-quality locally sourced seafood, was one of only four Welsh restaurants to be included in OpenTable’s Top 100 Restaurants for 2023. Compiled from over 1.2 million diner reviews and using data from diner ratings, percentage of reservations made in advance and five-star reviews, the list highlights some of the top spots favoured by diners across the country.

The Potted Lobster serves a menu of fresh, locally

sourced sustainable seafood and fish, demonstrating the fantastic Welsh produce on offer.

“Only the best produce is used on the menu”

Did you know?

The rarest fish in Wales is the Gwyniad, only found in the depths of Lake Bala

Owner Tom Leslie said: “We are thrilled to be included in the OpenTable Top 100 list. We’re very proud to be among the few Welsh entries, and the fact it’s compiled from diners’ positive experiences makes it even more special. We’re looking forward to continuing to serve delicious food using the finest Welsh produce.”

With years of experience, The Potted Lobster focuses on fresh, local produce using simple ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes. Head chef Anna Evans is extremely passionate about using ingredients from surrounding shores and farms, creating lasting partnerships to ensure only the best produce is used on the menu.

more welsh food on the menu

A food and drink project is set to review school dinner menus across the country and serve up support for producers in Wales. Six local authorities in Wales have signed up to the Larder Cymru Welsh Food for Schools pilot scheme, following a successful trial in Conwy. Wrexham, Flintshire, Anglesey, Gwynedd, Cardiff and Caerphilly councils have pledged to work with the initiative over the next year.

Supported by the Welsh Government’s Backing Local Firms Fund and delivered by Menter Mon, the aim is to increase the volume and range of Welsh produce purchased and used by education catering departments in their counties. Senior project officer David Wylie says the journey to this point has been “proactive and collaborative”.

Valuable support for producers

“Larder Cymru and the six local authorities we are working with are committed to reviewing school menus and identifying opportunities for integrating more Welsh products into their meals,” said David. “We will collaborate with existing supply chains and stakeholders to develop school meal menus that incorporate more Welsh produce and suppliers, in line with the policy for universal free school meals in Wales. Each local authority will be responsible for their own menu provision and supply framework; as part of the project we will explore the opportunities and challenges to serving more Welsh produce in school meals.”

“Increasing the volume and range of Welsh produce”
The restaurant is a listed building The lavish cocktail bar Championing fine Welsh produce
Delectable seafood
Menus will be reviewed
68 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024

A treat in store

As reported in Foodie News last issue, an independent restaurant, wine bar and shop opened recently in the heart of Cheshire. Shire was only too happy to investigate what it was offering

Linden Stores opened its doors just in time for Christmas 2023 and has already built a loyal clientele. Set in the cobbled streets of Knutsford, with a welcoming rustic interior, it’s the brainchild of Laura Christie and Chris Boustead, a couple with an impressive background in hospitality. Laura was co-founder of Oklava in London’s Shoreditch, while Chris worked at Opera Tavern and Ten Bells in the capital.

The concept for the Stores originated in London before the pair relocated to Cheshire in 2021 and set up shop in Audlem. The Knutsford launch displays the same commitment to British and low-intervention wines alongside seasonal menus focused on local produce and a ‘no-waste’ approach.

In evening mode the restaurant offers a laidback atmosphere. There are à la carte listings to browse, but the best way to

Linden Stores

15 Minshull Street, Knutsford WA16 6HG 01565 396 227

sample the quality on offer is by opting for the six-course Chef’s Sharing Menu. For £40 per person this is extremely good value for what can only be described as a taste sensation.

Full of flavour

We started with a homemade pate. Precise miniature towers on delicate crackers disappeared in single mouthfuls and worked as an excellent introduction to the intensity of flavour to come. The house focaccia with rosemary and sea salt butter was beautifully baked and followed by Cheshire smoked duck with pickled walnut, the pink meat cooked with precision and flair. Bubble and squeak croquettes came with Bovril mayo, a quirky but highly enjoyable savoury. The fish course was a particular highlight: Isle of Man scallops with cauliflower and chilli lemon butter, the scallops neither underdone or overcooked and chewy, but instead a rich full-flavoured vessel for the accompanying condiment. A supreme seafood experience.


By this stage we feared we would struggle to do justice to the short rib with hispi (a pale cabbage), celeriac and salsa verde. We were wrong – the dish was irresistible, a powerful sauce coating hearty chunks of beef that fell effortlessly from the bone – and even though it was our fifth course of the night we managed to clear the plate. Which left only dessert. Chocolate and peanut butter tart sounded over the top but again we were surprised. Light and delicious, it revealed the chef’s clear sense of humour.

Linden Stores is more than just a restaurant, it’s an experience, and for foodies one not to be missed. Alongside an excellent menu, the choice of wines is focused on being sustainable and natural. The staff are not just polite and efficient, they demonstrate a passion for everything the venue is trying to achieve. They are delighted to talk through the dishes, very knowledgable, and do everything they can to make sure your meal is one you’ll remember for a long time to come.

Clockwise from top: the à la carte menu offers small plates made for sharing; the short rib with celeriac and salsa verde is to die for; the restaurant’s cosy interior Left, clockwise from top: Chris, Laura and young Ollie. The six-course Chef’s Sharing Menu is the way to go. Sample a wine you like? Purchase a bottle in the shop to take home
Chester Street, St Asaph, LL17 0RE | 01745 582254 |
& ELECTRIC FIRES AND FIREPLACES TRADITIONAL & MODERN RANGE COOKERS OUTDOOR COOKING & HEATING Visit our award winning showrooms for inspirational ideas and advice for the most important rooms in your home. Displaying quality items from exclusive brands you can trust, all at competitive prices and with help from our experienced team.

Homes & Interiors CRAFT CHOICE

A booming British brand has expanded into the Shire patch with a new furniture showroom in Wilmslow, o ering a range of designer styles and hand-crafted luxury

In the vibrant world of hand-crafted British furniture, Arlo & Jacob stands proudly as a dynamic and youthful company with an impressive eight-year history. Founded by visionary duo Mark and Julie Smith, Arlo & Jacob has established itself as a paragon of design excellence, crafting stylish and enduring pieces for the home. Each sofa, chair and footstool bears the mark of skilled artisans, offering unparalleled quality.

The brand’s evolution has seen it expand its presence across the UK with showrooms in London, Bristol, Marlow, Harrogate, Guildford and Ely. A unique showcase at the Melbourne workshop provides a behindthe-scenes glimpse of the craftsmanship that defines Arlo & Jacob creations.

Style and service

an inspiring space with a team of design experts on-hand, we are able to offer the best possible service.”

Design detail

The Wilmslow showroom features meticulously curated designs to suit every style and taste. Arlo & Jacob understands that furniture is not merely about aesthetics but also functionality and longevity. The range encompasses traditional classics and cuttingedge contemporary pieces, offering patrons the flexibility to customise their furniture to suit individual tastes and requirements. In addition to the diverse designs, Arlo & Jacob boasts a rich array of fabrics, from timeless house staples to exclusive designer options.

A recent milestone in the brand’s journey is the opening of a new showroom in Wilmslow, Cheshire, signalling a commitment to bringing their meticulously crafted furniture closer to their northern clientele. Michelle White, Arlo & Jacob’s brand and marketing director, underscores the significance of this expansion, stating: “The opportunity for a wider range of customers to shop in-store will bring a new dimension to their experience. Through creating

“An inspiring space with a team of design experts on hand”

The brand’s emphasis on individuality extends to the smallest design details, including the choice of hand-turned hardwood legs. Modular designs provide flexibility for those seeking adaptable seating solutions, while standard sofa sizes and formats cater to more traditional tastes.

“Popular choices like the Agatha sofa or the versatile Ava design allow customers to bring home top-notch British quality, complete with a lifetime frame guarantee,” said Michelle.

Fuzzy feeling

Arlo & Jacob greeted news of the Pantone Colour of the Year 2024, Peach Fuzz, and has made sure to introduce it into the collection. Michelle said: “This warm and comforting hue finds its place not only on walls but also on hand-crafted armchairs and sofas. The Lupine fabric in Apricot is recommended for those looking to capture the essence of this trendy yet timeless colour. There’s a very tactile quality to Peach Fuzz.”

Hector large sofa Henry large chaise sofa Footstools in every shade
72 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Hartfield armchair


e fashion for open-plan living has dictated interior design for a while now. But some say it has had its day and we’re edging back to our separate spaces. Shire looks at the pros and cons.

In the realm of home design, the debate between open-plan living and a traditional layout has been a longstanding one, with each style boasting its own advantages. In the UK, where architectural preferences often reflect a blend of historical charm and modern functionality, the choice between open-plan and segmented living spaces becomes a crucial decision for homeowners, and one with plenty of pros and cons on each side.

OPEN PLAN – the pros

A social hub Open-plan living creates a communal atmosphere, making it easier to interact. Whether it’s cooking in the kitchen while chatting with guests or overseeing homework at the dining table, the flow enhances social connectivity.

smells can permeate the entire living space. While this may be appealing in the case of a Sunday roast, it could become a downside during less appetising culinary endeavours!


Distinctive spaces Traditional segmented homes offer clearly defined rooms, providing a sense of structure and purpose to each

Natural light Open layouts often allow for more light to permeate, giving homes a bright, airy feel. Large windows make the most of the limited daylight hours during the gloomier seasons in the UK. Flexible design The absence of interior walls provides greater flexibility in arranging furniture and décor, allowing homeowners to adapt their living spaces to changing needs and trends.

Perceived spaciousness In smaller homes, an open plan can create the illusion of more space, making it an attractive option.

…and the cons

Noise and lack of privacy The very openness that encourages interaction can also lead to challenges. Cooking sounds, TV volume and conversations carry across the space, potentially disrupting the quiet that some individuals value.

“The openness that encourages interaction can also lead to challenges”

space. This can be appealing to those who appreciate a more formal aesthetic. Noise control Segmented spaces naturally offer greater sound insulation, allowing for more privacy and less disturbance from activities in other parts of the house.

Dedicated storage Each room can have its own dedicated storage.

…and the cons

Limited storage With fewer walls, storage options may be reduced, requiring homeowners to get creative with solutions to keep clutter at bay.

Cooking odours Pungent

Diminished natural light Traditional homes with more walls (and often smaller windows) may not capture as much natural light. Less social interaction A more compartmentalised living experience may not suit those who value constant connectivity.

So if you’re buying a new home, designing one from scratch or just weighing up whether to knock through internal walls, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to floorplan. The choice ultimately hinges on individual preferences, lifestyle and the unique needs of each household.

The chance to cook, eat and work together Dream scheme or potential nightmare?
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 73
‘Knocking through’ has been a popular option
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What’s at your window?

Blinds, curtains, sheers – there can’t be many more simple ways to transform the feel of a room than by changing your window treatment

Whether you have huge draughty sashes, modern aluminium frames or anything in between, the way you dress your windows pretty much sets the tone for the room – and ultimately your interior style. What to hang at your windows is not just about privacy, it’s about creating the right vibe for your living space.

Blind faith

Blinds are like the multi-tool of window coverings. They come in all sorts – from sleek roll-down ones to classic Venetians with adjustable slats. They’re versatile, fitting any window size or shape, and you can easily control how much light sneaks in. Plus, they do the privacy thing well. The downside? They might not keep your place as warm in winter.

It’s curtains

of luxury. There’s a curtain out there for every taste – from bold patterns to plain and simple. They’re great at keeping a room warm and snug, but they do need a bit of maintenance and they can be space-hungry when you open them up.

Shutter up

Shutters are the sturdy defenders of the window world. Plantation shutters, with their adjustable louvres, let you control light and privacy and are very durable, adding a touch of old-world charm to your space. The catch? They’ll hit your wallet a bit harder, and getting them installed is definitely a job for the pros.

“It’s not just about privacy, it’s creating the right vibe”

Curtains are like cosy blankets for your windows, adding a touch


Smart choice

If none of the classics takes your fancy, try a modern twist. Sheer curtains let in a soft glow and are elegant, though they don’t offer much in the way of warmth or privacy. Roman blinds give you a bit of both – the softness of curtains but more practical. And if you’re feeling futuristic, there are smart window coverings you can control with a tap on your phone.

At the end of the day, it’s not just about covering your windows, it’s setting the scene for your life at home.

As thoughts turn towards the Paris Olympics this summer, let Hillarys introduce some French air to your home

With showrooms in Chester and Warrington, as well as expert advisors and fitters across the Shire patch, Hillarys is known for premium window dressing. Their new Parisian Edit, launching 10th May, blends the charm of French café culture with flea-market flair in a collection of faded ginghams, vintage ticking stripes and rustic linen-look fabrics for curtains and blinds. At its heart is Toile de Paris, a fabric that brings the streets of Paris right into your home with charming hand-drawn sketches of cafés, bicycles and iconic landmarks.

Just say oui!

“Sketches of cafés and bicycles”

Yvonne Keal, senior product manager at Hillarys, shared tips for mastering Parisian style. “Incorporate patterns like toile de Jouy, delicate florals or vintage stripes in classic blue, red and white. Mirrors and chandeliers create a sense of refined elegance, while café-style treatments that cover the lower half of your window are quintessentially French.”

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 75
Ring the changes and let the light in this spring Good
Parisian Edit, from £155 for Roman blinds, £170 for curtains


While a replace may be the heart of the home, chimneys and chimney pots can be the bane of a homeowner’s life. We look at some of the bugbears and ask, are they really necessary?

In the picturesque landscapes of Britain, chimneys are an enduring feature. Compare vintage photographs of your town or village with contemporary views and the rooflines are often unchanged, even while at ground level the neighbourhood may be very different. From the elegant barley-sugar twists that grace country mansions to the neat ranks of brick stacks above urban terraces, the majority of homes across the country have chimneys of one form or another, serving both aesthetic and practical purposes.

In cooler climates like our own, chimneys have traditionally played a crucial role in home heating. They provide an avenue for the safe expulsion of smoke and gases generated by burning wood, coal or other fuels in fireplaces or stoves. Beyond their functionality, they contribute to the character of a building, offering a sense of warmth and nostalgia that resonates with a region’s architectural heritage.

mortar or damaged bricks should be promptly addressed to prevent further deterioration.

Proper care ensures the longevity and safety of chimneys. Homeowners should schedule annual inspections by certified chimney sweeps who can identify and address potential issues. Regular cleaning, especially after heavy use, removes creosote and other debris, while installing a chimney cap can prevent birds and animals from entering the flue and becoming trapped.

“Crumbling mortar or damaged bricks should be promptly addressed”

The most common types of chimney are brick or metal. Traditional brick chimneys are ubiquitous, constructed with bricks and mortar, while metal chimneys are often found in more contemporary designs. Flue liners, inserted within existing chimneys, enhance safety and efficiency by providing a smooth, insulated passageway for smoke and gases.

Style and substance

The structure of chimneys varies, ranging from simple single-flue designs to the more elaborate multi-flue arrangements. Decorative chimney pots, often crafted from terracotta, add a touch of elegance and contribute to the distinctive skyline of many British towns.

So should you keep your chimney?

Traditional charm Chimneys contribute to the aesthetic appeal of a home, adding a traditional charm that enhances the overall character. Heating efficiency In a cold climate, chimneys facilitate efficient heating by providing a designated path for smoke and gases, ensuring a clear and safe exit.

Ambiance The flickering flames in a fireplace, coupled with the sound of crackling wood, create a cosy, inviting atmosphere that adds to the overall comfort of a home.

Reasons to consider removal

While chimneys are integral to many homes, they can pose a danger if not properly maintained. Creosote build-up, a byproduct of burning wood, can lead to chimney fires. Regular inspections and professional flue cleaning are essential to mitigate these risks. Additionally, structural issues such as crumbling

Structural issues If a chimney exhibits severe structural problems that compromise the safety of the home, then removal may be necessary.

Redundancy In modern homes with alternative heating sources, chimneys may become redundant. Removal can free up space and eliminate maintenance costs.

Space or layout Homeowners undertaking extensive renovations may choose to remove a chimney to create more usable space or to accommodate contemporary design preferences.

76 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Stay safe – engage a regular sweep Chimneys are an underrated feature of our national architecture
TIME FOR A DAY OUT! Shop open: Monday - Saturday Trefriw Woollen Mills, Main Road, Trefriw, Conwy Valley LL27 0NQ T: 01492 640462. W: Drive to the scenic Conwy Valley to view our pure wool products and see the new lines and fresh stock in our shop. We are in the centre of Trefriw in lovely walking country, five miles from Betws-y-Coed on the road to the walled town of Conwy (B5106). SPRING INTO ACTION! “Nestled in the picturesque countryside of Alberbury, Shropshire, this exquisite 18th-century barn conversion seamlessly blends historic charm with modern luxury. Boasting five double bedrooms and five en-suite bathrooms, including an annexe interconnecting through an oak and glass garden room to the main home, this residence offers unparalleled space and versatility” The guide price is £900,000 01691 674494 07791 700741 SCAN ME SCAN ME Great shopping pages and advice for Homes and Gardens Telephone 01691 661270 or email Your business will feel right at home in Magazine Your Local, Reliable, Lady Tiler Free Estimates and Design Services For All Your Tiling Needs, including Repairs 07340494333 • Lou Taplin Tiling

Floors, no flaws

If you’re embracing the current trend for natural colours, fibres and materials in your home you might want to consider the very base layer – your flooring

Natural flooring is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, so Shire spoke to Matt Stephens, from Matt Stephens Carpets & Flooring in Welshpool, about the options that are out there. Matt is an experienced carpet fitter and floorlayer offering high-quality installation of carpets, vinyls and design floors and a member of the National Institute of Carpet and Floorlayers. His team supplies floorcoverings from multiple brands to suit any budget. At the showroom in Welshpool you can see and feel all the options available to find inspiration. Among the range on show are multiple natural fibres, all of which have benefits for the home.

Matt said: “It’s no surprise to see natural fibre carpets growing in popularity in recent years. They are hardy, sustainable and a beautiful addition to any home. Plant fibres on offer include coir, jute, seagrass and the most popular fibre we are asked for, sisal. Whether it’s a statement stair runner or a luxurious lounge feature, sisal carpets are the smart, sustainable choice for anywhere in your home.

“Made from natural agave fibres, sisal’s natural serenity blows in like a breeze off the Mexican Gulf. Sisal leaves are hand harvested, then crushed, beaten and brushed to extract the white sisal fibre. Once dry, these fibres are spun into sisal yarn ready for dyeing.”

Fit for purpose

“Possibly the most important aspect of any natural carpet is the installation,” said Matt. “When installed correctly these are fantastic floors with longevity and beautiful textures. Installed poorly, that’s when the nightmares

“Sisal’s natural serenity blows in like a breeze”

begin: shrinkage, loose areas, saggy stairs. Often the finger is pointed wrongly at the product, whereas in reality it’s down to the installation. That’s why all our installers are fully trained to the highest standards in natural carpets. We specialise in the supply and installation of natural fibre carpets and work all over the region, installing flooring to stunning projects.

“We can also help if you want to add something bespoke to your home, whether that be a simple but effective design floor tailored to your preference, a carpet made to any colour you desire, or you want to go all out and have a personal motif made. If you’re not sure if your ideas are possible just let us know – it’s surprising what can be achieved. We will help you in any way we can, from start to finish and afterwards too. No pushy salesmen, just honest advice on a carpet or flooring to suit your needs.”


Right for you?

There are many reasons to opt for natural flooring at home. Here are Shire’s top five.

1. Environmental sustainability

Natural fibre flooring, such as wool or sisal carpet, is derived from renewable resources. Choosing these materials promotes sustainability as they are often biodegradable and have a lower environmental impact compared to synthetic alternatives.

2. Air quality improvement

Natural fibres have the ability to regulate humidity levels in the home by absorbing and releasing moisture. This helps to maintain a balanced indoor environment and can contribute to improved air quality by reducing the risk of mold and mildew.

3. Durability and longevity

Many natural fibre flooring options, such as wool carpets or seagrass rugs, are known for their durability and resilience. They

can withstand heavy foot traffic and retain their appearance over time, making them a wise investment for homeowners looking for long-lasting, lowmaintenance flooring solutions.


Thermal insulation

Natural fibres possess excellent thermal insulation properties, helping to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. Carpets made from wool or other natural fibres provide a natural barrier against the cold, reducing the need for additional heating during colder seasons.


Aesthetic appeal

Natural fibre flooring offers a wide range of textures and colours, providing homeowners with diverse options to match their interior design preferences. Whether you prefer the softness of wool or the rugged texture of sisal, natural fibres can complement various decorating styles.

The smart, sustainable choice Natural flooring ticks all the boxes Sisal is made from agave fibres

Summer’s on its way!

Get ready to enjoy your outdoor space with our roundup of the hottest new additions for al fresco entertaining

Menai 6 Wood-fired Hot Tub

From the experts in wood-burning stoves, add the ultimate in luxury to your outdoor living space with a wood-fired hot tub!

“Since we discovered these hot tubs we’ve been blown away not just by their stunning looks but by how practical and cost-effective they are,” say suppliers RN Williams. “Typically we expect the wood-fired hot tub to heat up in little over an hour during the

summer. It’s such a great option for impromptu use after you get home from work or when friends or family call round. Can you imagine waiting for around four hours for a traditional hot tub to heat up when you fancy a quick soak? The alternative requires you to keep it fed with electricity constantly to maintain the hot tub temperature, just in case – what a waste.

“Boost bookings for holiday cottage lets and campsites”

“A wood-fired hot tub can be a perfect addition to off-grid situations such as glamping sites or the end of the garden, but with just a three-pin plug’s worth of electricity providing bubbles and colour-changing LED lights, they really help boost bookings for holiday cottage lets and campsites, quickly paying back your investment and giving your guests the wow factor they will love to recall in their TripAdvisor or Airbnb reviews.”

Nova Shadow Pergola

“Unpredictable British weather is no longer a problem with the Shadow Pergola from Nova. Made from galvanised steel, it

makes a functional and stylish addition to the garden and can be used as shade or shelter in a matter of moments. With its crank handle which can be used to tilt the louvres and the cleverly designed built-in drainage system, you can be sitting in sunshine or shade in an instant.

“Extend your outdoor season with a Nova Shadow Pergola, in stock now at our promotion price of £999 while stock lasts. Recommended retail price £1,449.”

DeliVita Wood-fired Pizza Oven

Cooking at home is still a much-loved activity and we continue to see the desire for outdoor cooking solutions. The DeliVita is a beautifully designed wood-fired oven, hand-crafted in Yorkshire and featuring a traditional clay and stone interior. Versatile and easy to use, cooking in the DeliVita adds authentic flavours to any dish – perfect for cooking pizzas, meats, veg and so much more. Available in a range of striking colours – add a splash of happiness to your garden for year-round outdoor cooking. In stock now, priced £995 while stock lasts (rrp £1,395).

Visit RN Williams showroom at Station Yard, Chester Street, St Asaph LL17 0RE. Call 01745 582 254.

80 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Menai 6 Wood-fired Hot Tub, £5,299 while stock lasts Nova Shadow Square Metal Free-standing Pergola in Graphite Grey, 3m x 3m DeliVita Wood-fired Pizza Oven


FIND YOUR perfectIN LOGGERHEADS SHROPSHIRE HEIGHTS, LOGGERHEADS, TF9 4DJ SHOW HOME NOW OPEN A Wain home is more than just a space to live, it’s a place that lets you be you. All our homes are built for whatever life throws at them – whether you’re looking for a first home, one big enough for a growing family, or a home with larger, lighter rooms and a garden with space to breathe. 2, 3, 4 & 5 bedroom homes Book your personal viewing on 01630 410921 Open 7 days a week, 10am – 5pm DISCOVER YOUR KIND OF PERFECT AT Images used are for illustrative purposes only. WAIN173_NW_AD_AW.indd 1 15/12/2023 13:32 Leading Oil, Gas & LPG Engineers Here at Total Boilers Limited we are dedicated to delivering a comprehensive range of plumbing and heating services. Tel: 01978 664 358 Service & Repairs Ensuring peak performance from your boiler, our maintenance team off all round care from a one off repair or service to annual maintenance contracts. Covering a wide variety of oil, gas and LPG boilers maintenance contracts start at just £7.80 per month. Installation & Replacement We can survey, recommend and install the best solution for your home, we don’t just stop at boilers and heating systems. Ensuring you are complying with OFTEC regulations, we also offer oil tank installations and replacements. All quotations are provided with no obligation and free of charge.
Finance is available on a wide range of products. With flexible monthly payments ranging from two – ten years we can find a solution that suits your circumstances.
OSWESTRY 01691 671770 I WREXHAM 01978 366383 I WHITCHURCH 01948 664404 LARGEST INDEPENDENT TOOL HIRE COMPANY OF OUR KIND IN SHROPSHIRE/NORTH WALES AREA. FAMILY OWNED AND TRADING FOR OVER 40 YEARS. LARGE STOCKS OF MAKITA POWER TOOLS AND STIHL GARDEN MACHINERY. RING FOR BEST PRICE. EVERY THING YOU NEED THIS SPRING IN THE GARDEN Specialist in Hire, Sales & Training of Power Tools, Small Plant and Access Equipment Specialists VISIT WWW.HIRESHOPS.CO.UK Specialists in Hire, Sales and Training of Power Tools, Small Plant and Access Equipment WWW.HIRESHOPS.CO.UK CONSTRUCTION RELATED TRAINING COURSES AVAILABLE VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR FURTHER DETAILS ENQUIRE FOR A FREE QUOTE ON STIHL ROBOTIC LAWNMOWERS MAIN DEALERS FOR HOBBYWELD RENT FREE GAS TO SEE OUR FULL RANGE VISIT WWW.GRIFFITHSHIRESHOPS.CO.UK THE IDEAL MACHINE FOR MOVING 1 TON DUMPY BAGS AND HEAVY ITEMS AROUND THE GARDEN SUCH AS BOULDERS, PIZZA OVENS! PROOF Woodland Owners Top market prices paid promptly Our goal at SJF Timber Ltd is to provide effective solutions designed to boost your Forest or timber operation to maximise the sustainable yield for generations to come. Felling licences and grant funding Forest management plans Re stock and establishment • Timber harvesting and marketing • Top market prices and prompt payment Our consultants design solutions tailored specifically to the needs of your project and take care of it all every step of the way. So if you are a woodland owner and you’d like a free valuation, get in touch. 07967 598 567


You don’t have to be a huge landowner to have woodland – and anyone who does will know that they take careful planning, maintenance and management. But there are also benefits to carefully cultivating a woodland, and there are experts on hand to make sure Shire readers get the most out of theirs. Based in Shrewsbury, SJF Timber is a seasoned expert in the realm of woodland management, catering to those looking to maximise their land potential for both ecological benefits and financial gain.

Whether you have a woodland area you need help with, fancy planting a small copse of your own or are just looking to buy some timber for a project, one local company can help

With a comprehensive array of services, SJF Timber is dedicated to assisting landowners at every stage of their woodland journey. From the initial phases of planting woodland to the strategic harvesting of timber, they cover the entire spectrum. SJF Timber’s expertise extends to fencing, grant applications and even aiding in the sale of woodlands, offering a one-stop solution for those navigating the complexities of land management.

“Embracing the dual benefits of profitability and environmental stewardship”

Personalised solutions

The company prides itself on a mission to boost businesses, whether small-scale endeavours or large organisations, as well as being on hand for homeowners with land of all kinds. Personalised solutions are tailored to the unique needs of each client, ensuring that dreams of success are not just aspirations but tangible realities.

ecological benefits of planting woodlands. Trees play a crucial role in carbon sequestration, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. A well-managed woodland acts as a natural habitat for diverse wildlife, fostering biodiversity and promoting a healthy ecosystem. Moreover, the strategic planting of trees helps prevent soil erosion, purify air and water, and provides a buffer against climate change impacts. By guiding landowners through the process of planting and managing woodlands, SJF Timber aligns its mission with the broader goal of creating a sustainable, resilient environment for future generations. Embracing the dual benefits of profitability and environmental stewardship, it stands as a champion for responsible land management practices.

Cutting edge

Environmental champions

Boasting an impressive 45 years of experience, SJF Timber brings a blend of personal touch and commercial acumen to the table. This wealth of knowledge is leveraged to extract the optimum value for woodland owners. Services encompass a range of offerings, including forestry harvesting and biomass fuels. All of these options not only bring benefits to you but are also an important tool in fighting climate change and supporting the ecosystem.

Woodland management lies at the core of SJF Timber’s consulting services. They tackle critical issues and opportunities on behalf of clients, working towards sustainable plans, licence applications, grants and strategic timber marketing.

In a world increasingly conscious of environmental sustainability, SJF Timber not only excels in maximising economic returns for woodland owners but also places a strong emphasis on the

Forest harvesting is a domain where SJF Timber excels, utilising cuttingedge technologies and a team of highly skilled operators and experienced forest works managers. The focus here is on achieving high production levels without compromising quality, all in a sustainable and eco-conscious manner.

Timber marketing is another stronghold for SJF Timber, where their longstanding trade relations ensure clients receive the highest possible value for their woodland returns. Efficient logistics management and daily communication, coupled with skilled harvesting teams, guarantee that the sawmill receives a quality product meeting exact specifications. The company doesn’t stop at timber management, extending its offerings to include sales of products such as round timber, fencing, biomass RHI and wood fuel.

Forest harvesting is a specialism Expertise on call
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 83
Highly skilled operators



Hafren Furnishers houses two of Wales’ largest modern, spacious bed studios – one in their Llanidloes flagship store, which has an in-store café serving homemade specials, freshly baked cakes and sweet treats, and an additional furniture store in Aberystwyth that has refreshment facilities and is open seven days a week. Both have lift access and free parking.

Throughout March, take advantage of promotional offers such as king-size Hypnos or Harrison beds for the price of a double.

There are hundreds of beds in stock, with immediate free delivery in England and Wales. As well as beds, bedding and bedroom furniture Hafren Furnishers offers quality and competitively priced furniture for the rest of the home, with top brands to choose from.


Maddie, Stella and Jonjo Ashbrook are a family who are passionate about the planet, so decided that their business MOOand BOOM should be certified by B Corporations in the UK, showing transparency and accountability, social and environmental performance that is over and above. Selling homewares, lifestyle goods, clothes and more, they balance purpose and profit, so their business model is for the good of their community as well as our planet.

“Attaining B Corporation Status for MOOand BOOM and JBand BOOM has been a long journey over 14 months. We want to hold ourselves accountable and improve year on year, and having the support of our team, our customers and our families makes this so much easier,” said Maddie. 10A Green End, Whitchurch.


As one of the first adventure companies in the Beacons, Black Mountain was set up by the Durham family, who are still at the helm today and have just reached their 30-year milestone in operating fun-filled land and water activities in the Brecon Beacons and on the River Wye. The recently opened Paddleboard & SUP Shop is on the same site, with everything from gloves and beanies to DryRobes and buoyancy aids, kayaks and paddleboards. Black Mountain Adventure, The Activity Centre, Three Cocks, Brecon.


Kick-start a fantastic Easter weekend at Bodelwyddan Castle Artisan Market on 30th March, where the Artisan Market Company will be hosting their first-ever event at this stunning location. You’ll find the very best arts, crafts, local produce, drinks and hot food, plus an adventure playground. 10am-4pm, Bodelwyddan Castle LL18 5YA.

On 6th April the Providero Artisan Market will be spanning two floors in a warm, weatherproof location! There’ll be a wonderful selection of quality arts, crafts, cakes, candles, vintage and jewellery, plus tasty hot street food and a fabulous pop-up bar. Open 10am4pm at 112 Upper Mostyn Street, Llandudno, LL30 2SW.

Bodnant Welsh Food Artisan Market on 14th April celebrates the very best of North Wales’ local produce and talent with over 30 incredible stalls. Explore their highly acclaimed farm shop, enjoy quality food at the cafe and restaurant, enjoy a drink in the bar and peruse and discover the many superior artisan stalls for unique and authentic gifts, treats and local produce. Open 10am-4pm.

Bodnant Welsh Food, Tal-y-Cafn LL28 5RP



Julie Connolly and Suzy Price opened Martha & Mable, their gorgeous shop and cafe last year, serving coffee, speciality teas and delicious homemade cakes, and a selection of gifts for you and your home. 12-14 Church Street, Ellesmere SY12 0HD. martha.and.mable

Risqué card and gifts firm LimaLima in Colwyn Bay have unveiled a new printing business in the town, PersonaliseMe Print Ltd, selling branded workwear, promotional merchandise and customised gifts. 79 Abergele Road, Colwyn Bay LL29 7SA

84 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Hundreds of beds in stock Well done, MOOand BOOM! Pop in for co ee and a browse The Durham family are celebrating The finest local produce The personal touch

Gold and Silver Roadshow

A very lucky couple called at one of our recent roadshow events with a couple of old gold chains and a silver charm bracelet and a bag of old silver shilling coins. We paid them over £1600.00 just for the coins alone. They turned out to be pre-1947 silver coins that were normal currency a few years ago and are now highly collected. We asked them for their permission to pass on this story on and they were only too pleased to allow us to let everyone know that they might be sitting on a goldmine and not even know it! Like most people, who can only dream


9th MARCH 2023


13th APRIL


from 10.30 to 4.00


12th MARCH 2023


16th APRIL


of winning the pools or the lottery, a lot of normal households have a hidden treasure of old gold jewellery, silver jewellery, teapots, trophies, trays and old objects d’art.

Why not get a free valuation from our expert at our roadshow. There is no queuing and our expert will give you a one-on-one appraisal of the value of your treasured possessions in a private area. If you like the valuation our expert will make you the same offer in cash which you can accept or decline at no cost to yourself.


24th MARCH 2023


28th APRIL



17th APRIL 2023


Wanted For CASH GOLD & PLATINUM DIAMOND RINGS 9ct, 18ct & 22ct Wedding Rings Any Silver Items, Chain Rings and Bracelets GOLD COINS IN ANY CONDITION FOR CASH Sovereigns, Krugerrands, Maples Broken or any condition chains in 9ct gold or any other gold Dental Gold, Gold Teeth, Old Bracelets & Bangles & Pendants ALL PRE-1947 SILVER COINS AND ALL FOREIGN SILVER COINS WANTED At least 10 times face value All Gold Watches and Silver Watches Silver Trays, Silver Teapots, Silver Cigarette Cases, Silver Knives & Forks and Trophies All Platinum Jewellery & Antique Jewellery 07378 965411
Low Carbon home systems renewable energy showroom CLAIM £7,500 TOWARDS THE COST OF A NEW HEAT PUMP ON THE BUS SCHEME The Rennet Works, 11 Market Street, Ellesmere, Shropshire, SY12 0AN 01691 624336 | The Rennet Works, 11 Market Street, Ellesmere, Shropshire, SY12 0AN 01691 624336 | All Solar Battery installations are 0% VAT All Solar Battery installations are 0% VAT

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Just go to and click “Subscribe to Shire” at the top of the page 87 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024

Get set, garden!

Spruce up your outdoor space ready for the spring sunshine with these useful tools and accessories

1. Stiga Collector 43 petrol lawnmower £239.99 (offer price), Charlies Stores, Welshpool;

2. Burgon & Ball Kneelo garden kneeler in Wheatsheaf £16.99, Bents, Warrington;

3. Charnwood Bassine broom with handle £13.99, The Range;

4. Salina insect hotel £34.99, CJ Wildlife;

5. Eversharp all-purpose secateurs £34.99, Jacksons Nurseries, Stoke on Trent;

6. Leaf & rubbish collector hand scoops £20.22 a pair, Morgans, as before

7. Kent & Stowe digging spade £37.99, Snowdonia Nurseries & Garden Centre, Conwy;

8. Galvanised wheelbarrow 90 litre £77.50, Wynnstay Stores;

9. Wilkinson Sword carbon steel lawn rake £16.50, Wynnstay Stores, as before

10. XT Pro bypass loppers 750mm £60.13, Morgans, as before

12. Kent & Stowe stainless steel hand fork £9.99, Jacksons Nurseries, as before

13. Ambassador stainless steel hand trowel £6.95, Shawbury Garden Centre, Shrewsbury;

11. Gardeners Mate hedge shears £16.99, Bents, as before

14. Zest Outdoor Living York planter £264.99, Charlies Stores, as before

15. Briers Ultimate golden leather gardening gloves £14.99, The Range, as before

3 4 5 10 13 7 14
9 15 GARDEN SHOPPING 1 6 8 88 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024 11
01978 852896 Carlton Garden Buildings Pinfold Lane, Llay, Wrexham, LL12 OTL CARLTON GARDEN BUILDINGS Your centre for all seasons GARDEN CENTRE & SHOW SITE OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK 9am to 5.30pm MON to SAT 10am to 4pm SUNDAY Grow your own & taste the difference Vegetable plants, potato sets all in stock Sheds, Summerhouses & Greenhouses various designs & sizes Selection of seasonal bedding plants in stock MultiPatsCloverBlendpurpose £5.99 or 3 for £15 FREE delivery in England and Wales Hafren Furnishers - Llanidloes Store SY18 6ES (Just off A470) Café Telephone: 01686 414000 Monday – Friday 9am - 6pm Saturday 9am – 5.30pm Sunday: Closed Good Friday and Easter Monday: 10am - 5pm Hafren Furnishers - Aberystwyth Store SY23 3TN (On A44) Telephone: 01970 864000 Monday – Friday 9am - 6pm Saturday 9am - 6pm Sunday: 10am – 4pm Good Friday and Easter Monday: 10am - 5pm

Natural beauty

Feel at one with nature by incorporating soft green, brown and neutral tones into the home

1. Ancient Mariner Seating Cromarty velvet armchair in Deep Green £419, Hafren Furnishers;

2. Jade dried flower stems by Bookblock £25, Mostyn, Llandudno;

3. Vintage star cushion in pure wool from £41.30, Melin Tregwynt, Haverfordwest;

4. Small wooden star tray £14, Make Your House A Home, Whitchurch;

5. Bluebell glass candle £22, MOOand BOOM, Whitchurch;

6. Mountains handcrafted soap dish by Charlotte Manser £18, Mostyn, as before

7. Luxury alpaca duvet from £144 (single), Mulberry Alpacas, Wrexham;

8. Creative Tops natural hessian jute placemats in Green £12.99 for set of four, Charlies Stores Ltd, Welshpool;

9. Country Finds wall art £49.99, Listers Interiors, Shrewsbury;

10. Musango Horizon handmade sharing platter £60, The Silver Pear, Ludlow;

11. Penida dressing table mirror £239.95 (sale price), Cousins Furniture, Shrewsbury;

12. Francesca reclaimed elm five-door sideboard £1,499, Listers Interiors, as before

13. Rustic dandelion wall art £60 (sale price), British Ironwork Centre, Oswestry;

14. Simba rug by Mastercraft Rugs from £89, Hafren Furnishers, as before

HOME SHOPPING 2 4 5 14 8 13 7 12 3 11 6 March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 91 9



choice of Decorative Aggregates

Decorative Stone

Sand & Gravel

Walling Stone

Top Soil


Rockery Stone




Railway Sleepers

Logs & Coal

De-Icing Salt

Landscaping with natural stone

n n n n n n n n n n n n


Adventures in Wonderland

One of the Wirral’s hidden gems, Poulton Hall is a family home with a series of glorious gardens, perfect for a visit in any season but especially in springtime

Tucked into the rolling landscape of the Wirral lies a true horticultural gem. Poulton Hall opens the gates to its collection of gardens several times a year in support of charities from the National Garden Scheme to Samaritans, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Wirral Hospice St John’s and Rotary charities. The gardens have become not just havens of tranquillity but also vibrant contributors to noble causes.

At the heart of this green oasis walled gardens serve as versatile spaces for weddings, tea parties, musical performances and exhibitions. The parkland, covering 3.5 acres, boasts a wildflower meadow embraced by nine species of hedgerow, creating a biodiverse corridor connecting copse to copse. Volunteers from Cheshire Wildlife Trust Wirral branch have meticulously laid the hedges, allowing some plants to flourish into trees while occasionally welcoming rare breed sheep to graze.

Captivating corners

novelist and former consul in Liverpool, once marvelled at the fine lawns and the panoramic view of the Welsh hills.

“The entrance to the walled gardens sets the stage for a journey”

The entrance to the walled gardens sets the stage for a journey into enchantment. Poulton Hall is the family home of the Lancelyn Greens, and the influence of Roger Lancelyn Green, author and contemporary of CS Lewis and Tolkien, is evident in numerous corners: the wood carving of the Jabberwock from Alice Through the Looking Glass, the columns of the Classical Garden, paying tribute to Green’s own tales of Greek heroes. A stroll unveils a sundial as old as the estate, an Egyptian obelisk and The Singing Rose – a poignant sculpture by Cilla West commemorating Green’s first published work.

A hint of magic

Meandering paths lead to captivating spots: a giant sequoia, a noble fir and a charming summer house. Four copses, initially planted with elms, have evolved into a sanctuary for oaks, beeches and Scots pines. Nathaniel Hawthorne, the American

In the Rose Garden a beech statue of Robin Hood and the intricately carved Storytellers Chair transport visitors into the realms of legend. The Oriental Garden, testament to the creativity of the volunteer gardeners, draws inspiration from Shinto and Zen traditions, with rock arrangements suggesting seas, islands, mountains and rivers.

To meander through this wonderland is not just a feast for the senses but a paean to the enduring magic of storytelling and artistic expression.


Poulton Hall Gardens are open to the public several times this year. For the NGS Open Days on 30th & 31st March you can book in advance at www. (£6, children free). The grounds are open 2-5pm. Cream teas may also be booked ahead. For future events see

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 93
John White’s Jabberwock Victorian garden designers favoured symmetry The Lancelyn Greens still live in the 17th-century hall

Springing into action

Shire’s been shopping to The Woodworks Garden Centre in Mold for some seasonal essentials

Tall Botanical Greenhouse

New from Zest Outdoor Living, this space-saving design combines stunning looks with all the functionality of a sturdy greenhouse. It’s made from PEFC, sustainable softwood sourced from responsibly managed forests, and fully glazed with quality Perspex. Adjustable roof panels allow for optimal temperature control. Price £899.99.

Compact Botanical Greenhouse

Perfect for a balcony, patio or small city garden, this compact design from Zest Outdoor Living has a sturdy wooden PEFC frame. The hinged doors and opening roof with dual height stays allow for optimum ventilation and it comes with drainage holes in the roof frame. Designed for self-assembly, it’s ideal for nurturing young plants. Price £349.99.

“Everything you need to keep your garden looking its best”

Eco Hive Composter

Making your own compost at home is now a massive garden trend, but compost bins can be unsightly. The new Zest composter is attractively shaped like a traditional beehive and has a large 405-litre capacity and an open base that speeds fermentation. Self-assembly. Price £169.99.

The Woodworks Garden Centre has everything you need to get your garden looking its best this springtime. The Mill showroom is stocked with the broadest range of Zest timber garden products in the UK, including benches, seating, dining sets, arches and arbours, and a variety of planters and grow-your-own products. All Zest furniture and decorative products come flat-packed for ease of transportation and can be ordered from The Woodworks Garden Centre or by calling 01352 752 555. Delivery is free within a 30-mile radius.

The beautiful outdoor plant area features an abundance of hardy plants including perennials, a full range of ornamental and fruit trees, as well as soft fruit, shrubs, hedging and roses. The Woodworks has everything you need to keep your garden tidy, from leaf collectors, rakes and lawn feed to pruners, bulb planters and seeds. Find out more at

94 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Small footprint Eco choice Compact option
RIDE-ON MOWERS FROM £1,599 Best prices on garden machinery, with full after sales support. Maelor Farm & Garden Limited Unit 32 Penley Hall Industrial Estate, Penley, Wrexham LL13 0LQ Telephone: 01948 830839 CORDLESS PRODUCTS IN STOCK Pedestrian Petrol fromMowers£189 cashback on mountfield/atco/stiga ride on mowers NOW SELLING WEIBANG MOWERS A traditional, family-run inn with home-cooked food, real ales and roaring fires
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Fit to burst

Our horticultural experts from Reaseheath College are back with their regular round-up of garden jobs for the season – and this one’s a busy one as the spring arrives all around us

It’sthe beginning of spring and growth is accelerating in the garden. Primroses are flowering, apple blossom is bursting, perennials are producing fresh new shoots. Sunny spells provide the opportunity for an increasing range of gardening tasks. It’s time to get busy preparing seed beds, sowing seed, cutting back winter shrubs and generally giving the garden a good tidy-up. Here are some of the most important jobs.

• Prune summer-flowering deciduous shrubs such as Buddleia davidii, Caryopteris clandonensis, Hydrangea paniculata, lavatera, hardy fuchsia and deciduous ceanothus species.

• Cut back dogwoods to encourage new growth of bright young stems. Prune climbing and bush roses.

• Thoroughly weed borders and mulch with compost. This improves the soil structure and locks in moisture.


When removing faded flower heads from hydrangeas, cut back to the first strong, healthy pair of buds. Hydrangeas flower on new growth, so don’t be tempted to cut back further into old wood.

• Plant new herbaceous perennials and lift and divide established perennials to improve vigour and create new plants for free!

• Start dahlia tubers in large pots filled with moist, multi-purpose compost. Place in a bright spot and don’t over-water them. Plant out in borders once danger of frost is passed.


Try to avoid digging in wet weather, but if gardening on wet soil, work from a plank of wood to avoid treading on the bed and compacting the soil.

Spring favourites

Our top picks of plants to brighten your garden in March and April


Powerfully scented and long flowering, wallflowers mix well with other spring flowers. Erysimum ‘Bowles’s mauve’ is a particular favourite of bees, butterflies and other pollinators.


Magnolias flower early and can be relied upon to put on a show, as their magnificent blooms appear before their leaves. As a bonus, some are scented. While many grow to a large tree size, others are

• If you’ve already sown sweet peas, pinch out the tips of young plants to encourage strong side shoots.

• Plant ranunculus and anemones once the soil has warmed up. They will flower in three months and reward you with beautiful blooms for your home.

• Dig over the veg plot, break up any lumps, weed thoroughly and dig in mulch ahead of sowing. Sow spinach, chard and beetroot seeds outdoors once the soil is warmer. Sow tender vegetables such as tomatoes and chillies in your greenhouse or indoors on a sunny windowsill.

• Plant raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb and gooseberries – available from garden centres in bare root form. Well mulched, they’ll fruit for years.

• Give your lawn a good rake to remove debris. Repair bare patches by scratching the soil surface, adding a layer of fine compost and scattering lawn seed.


Spring should be enjoyed indoors too! Fill bud vases now with primroses or other small blooms, medium vases with daffodils and contrasting grape hyacinth, and larger jugs with architectural branches of blossom or catkins.

And do take time to savour the natural spectacle of spring. Visit a local garden, walk in the countryside, or simply sit and admire the results of your hard work!

suited to smaller gardens, such as Magnolia stellata ‘Jane Platt’, which reaches a height of three metres.


Forsythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood Gold’ makes a delightful formal or relaxed garden hedge. Its bright yellow flowers, which smother its branches long before its leaves appear, is a cheery sight in early spring.


A great value evergreen shrub, Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ displays warm pink buds throughout winter, which open into clusters of fragrant white flowers in the spring.

Rake and repair
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 95
Prune with care

Polo club

With spring around the corner, pick out a winning shirt ready for the warmer weather

1. Schö el St Ives long-sleeve polo shirt £69.95, Outdoor & Country;

2. Barbour Lynton polo shirt in Force Blue £45, Vaughan Davies, Mold;

3. Barbour Blaine polo shirt £51.96 (sale price), Anna Davies, Betws-y-Coed;

4. Joules Woody men’s polo shirt in French Navy £22.46 (sale price), Charlies Stores Ltd, Welshpool;

5. Holebrook Sweden Robert polo £72, Anna Davies, as before

6. Joules men’s embellished polo shirt in Green £44.96, Charlies Stores Ltd, as before

7. Schö el Exeter heritage polo shirt £69.95, Outdoor & Country, as before

8. Barbour Wash sports polo in Turf £47.50, Vaughan Davies, as before

9. Polo Golf by Ralph Lauren tailored-fit performance stripe polo shirt John Lewis;

10. Fynch-Hatton polo shirt in Sangria £59.95, Peppers Menswear & Ladieswear, Church Stretton;

11. Crew classic piqué polo £40, Peppers Menswear & Ladieswear, as before

12. Hoggs of Fife Largs piqué polo shirt in Bordeaux £35.95 (sale price), Cherry Tree Country Clothing, Ruthin;

13. Asquith & Fox men’s classic polo shirt £18.95, Cherry Tree Country Clothing, as before

3 4 5 8 7
14. Polo Ralph Lauren slim-fit soft cotton polo shirt in Camel as before
14. Polo Ralph Lauren slim-fit soft cotton polo shirt in Camel
1 12
96 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024 14 9 10 11
£139, John Lewis,

Hello, blossom!

Add some on-trend florals to your spring wardrobe with our pick of the prints

1. Peter Rabbit sling bag £15.99, Merion Mill, Powys;

2. Barbour Women’s Hawkins top in O White £25 (sale price), Charlies Stores Ltd, Welshpool;

3. Daisy London sterling silver daisy drop earrings £99, Mococo, Deeside;

5. Vilagallo Violet Blossom dress £195, Abi Fisher, Cheshire;

4. Rocket Dog Jazzin trainers in Malden Floral £26.99, Charlies Stores Ltd, as before

6. Handmade floral scrunchy £6.50, MOOand BOOM, Whitchurch;

7. Boden Grace floral blouse in Green/Botanical £85, John Lewis;

8. Whistles Scribble Bouquet fluted midi skirt £99, John Lewis, as before

10. Kenzo Flower eau de parfum 100ml £52.99, The Range;

11. Floral Chelsea boots £44.99, Pavers;

9. Powder Birds & Blooms kimono jacket in Sage £52.95, Anna Davies, Betws-y-Coed;

12. Alquema crinkle dress in Flower Spot Check £184, Olivia May, Cheshire;

13. Shrieking Violet Sunflower silver bangle £45, Anna Davies, as before

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 97 2 4 5 13 9 8 12 7 1 14 10 11 6
14. Magnolia Pearl Floral Circus ‘Love’ T-shirt in Ramon £87, Olivia May, as before



2nd & 3rd March, Stef Nicoll

Stef is a self-taught artist from Mold. She welcomes pet portrait commissions.

9th & 10th March, Handmade Polymer Clay Jewellery by Kate at Noodle and Norman Kate makes a range of polymer clay jewellery, each piece one of a kind.

16th & 17th March, Thelma Evans Thelma is one of our longstanding artists here, with pretty florals and landscapes. She also runs workshops.

Beauty in decay

19th March, Crafty Sisters

The ladies will be busy making lovely jewellery from resin, in colours to suit all tastes.

23rd & 24th March, Jackie at Jewels Jackie makes jewellery using beads, stones, crystals, shell, mother of pearl and wood, as well as some pewter pieces.

30th & 31st March, Gill

Benjamin Local artist Gill sells many of her paintings here, and exhibits at various venues.

5th April, Weaving with Trevor Blackburn Trevor’s items are perfect for chilly days or to finish off a special outfit, in silk, wool, alpaca and more.

11th & 12th April, Liz at Magpie Fairy Crafts Liz makes various gift items in metal tape art and also sells starter packs. See

16th & 17th April, Marie at Earth Deva Marie has an interesting display of handmade, hand-painted items, some on mythical themes.

18th & 19th April, Tracey Davies Tracey loves watercolours and paints portraits and many subjects. She also tutors, see

27th & 28th April, Silver Eco Jewellery by Sandra Roberts Sandra makes much of her jewellery in her own workshop, each piece unique.

Afonwen Craft & Antique Centre, near Mold, open Tues-Sun 9.30am-5pm.

Celebrated photographer David Wilson has launched a new collection of images preserving a side of Wales often overlooked

Art lovers can explore rural Wales as never before in David Wilson’s latest photography collection. Peeling Paint and Rust is an homage to ways of life that have been left behind but nevertheless maintain a melancholic beauty.

Although known for his black-and-white photography that uniquely evokes the character of the nation’s landscapes, David’s new collection of colour shots captures the textures of manmade features: a once-thriving village shop, a decaying Morris 1000, the corrugated iron for which Wales has a particular affection.

The book includes a foreword by Drew Pritchard of TV’s Salvage Hunters, celebrating the intricacy of Wilson’s images, saying: “The series of photographs which make up the following pages may convince every reader of the necessity of preserving that which others may overlook.”


David explained: “I’ve been privileged to venture around Wales taking photographs for various black and white landscape projects. But on my travels, I kept encountering the incredible colours and textures of peeling paint and rust. I’d be on my way to a location and suddenly I’d see a bright, flaking village shopfront or a corrugated garage or tractor graveyard and be stopped in my tracks. The colours were amazing and I had to capture them.

“Over 20 years I accumulated a collection of images

of this wonderful decay and one day I realised that they hung together as a whole. Together, they tell a story of rural Wales. The patina of weather-aged surfaces and rusting metal feel like works of art to me. I love looking at them and I hope others do too.”

A story to tell

David’s passion for photography began when he bought his first camera aged 17. “I spent many carefree days riding around Pembrokeshire on my motorbike with my 35mm Canon and an OS map. Wales is an idyllic playground for a black and white landscape photographer.

In my work I

“Weatheraged surfaces feel like works of art to me”

The photos were collected over 20 years

seek to capture its many different faces: the windswept coast of mid-winter, a derelict farm cottage, the faded grandeur of a rural chapel. The story of Wales is told through its landscape.

“My favourite seasons for photography are late autumn, winter and the early spring when the sun’s arc is low in the sky, each composition enhanced by highlight and shadow. Those seasons are also blessed with ‘proper’ weather – rain coming at you side-on; wind that threatens to cut you in half; frosts that numb the extremities.

“I’d see a shopfront and be stopped in my tracks”

“I was brought up in Haverfordwest and now live a few miles downstream in Llangwm. On a clear morning I often head along the foreshore to Port Lion for sunrise. It’s a wonderfully solitary experience – just me, the crisp morning air and occasionally the village’s resident gaggle of geese.”

Peeling Paint and Rust is £25 from

98 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
David Wilson

A rich tapestry

A dazzling exhibition at Ty Pawb until the end of March celebrates the culture and heritage of Romani communities

In the vibrant world of art, the Romani Cultural & Arts Company’s latest instalment of their ground-breaking project Gypsy Makers is captivating audiences at Ty Pawb gallery and will continue to do so until 30th March.

Gypsy Makers touring exhibition is a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Gypsy Maker programme, supported by the Arts Council of Wales since its inception in 2014. This unique exhibition not only features newly commissioned artworks crafted specifically for the event but also showcases existing masterpieces from the RCAC art collection. A stellar line-up of artists including Daniel Baker, Billy Kerry, Artur Conka, Corrina Eastwood, Cas Holmes, Rosamaria Kostic Cisneros, Shamus McPhee and Dan Turner are contributing their diverse perspectives, collectively weaving a rich tapestry of Romani culture and identity.

Inclusion and innovation

The Gypsy Maker initiative has played a pivotal role in supporting the development of innovative creative works by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) artists. Beyond the confines of the gallery walls, the project aims to engage GRT communities in an ongoing dialogue with the wider public, exploring the profound ways in which art shapes our lives today.

and Traveller communities through the arts.

From humble beginnings organising GRT History Month celebrations, the company has grown exponentially, becoming the largest, most active and effective voluntary organisation representing the interests and aspirations of Romani and Traveller folk in Wales.

“Exploring the profound ways in which art shapes our lives”

The organisation’s initiatives, funded by prominent bodies such as the Arts Council of Wales, BBC Children in Need Appeal and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, span a wide range of activities. From children’s arts and crafts workshops to nature projects reconnecting Romani people with the natural world, the RCAC has been at the forefront of empowering communities across genders and generations.

Shaping policy

Founded in 2009, the Romani Cultural & Arts Company has been a trailblazer in promoting the rights and social inclusion of Gypsy, Roma

In addition to delivering world-class arts and performance initiatives in major galleries and venues, the company has organised international conferences, engaging Romani and Traveller academics and experts. Their efforts have not only given voice to those who were voiceless but have also shaped policy and provided a platform for the rich diversity of Romani arts.

As the Gypsy Makers exhibition takes centre stage in 2024, it serves as testament to a decade of artistic brilliance, empowerment and advocacy. The Romani Cultural & Arts Company continues to be a beacon of inspiration, breaking barriers and challenging preconceptions to bring Romani and Traveller arts to a wider audience.

For more information about the Gypsy Makers and the RCAC, visit

Craig Easton: ‘Is Anybody Listening?’, Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead. Until 6th April. This touring exhibition from the University of Salford Art Collection showcases two awardwinning series of photographs:

Bank Top and Thatcher’s Children. ‘Is Anybody Listening?’ seeks to challenge stereotypes of northern communities through authentic representation and raise aspirations of young people within the region through an accompanying engagement programme called Our Time, Our Place.

Gallery Watching: Ellen Bell, Oriel Davies, Newtown, Powys. Until 29th May. Gallery Watching has been a year-long project funded by Arts Council Wales and was conceived as a means of using drawing to capture visitors’ reactions when engaging with art in an art space.

Visiting Oriel Davies and Ruthin Craft Centre once a month, artist Ellen Bell performed real-time reportage drawing – a kind of rapid-fire, instinctual, reactive method of drawing – so that the people that she was drawing could both see and participate in what she was doing.

Ellen said: “Each month I also wrote an online journal chronicling my experiences of drawing in the galleries, illustrating this with my drawings. A visual narrative began to take shape that told of the galleries’ ebb and flow – their exhibitions, events and visiting demographic – but also the nature of the peripheral architecture of their physical structures.”

‘Speed of Change’, Gallery One, Chester Grosvenor Museum. Until 3rd June. Mobile phones have become a feature of our everyday lives. From maths to music, mapping to photo-snapping, banking to gaming, micro-chip technology has transformed our lives in a few decades.

This object-rich exhibition explores the tools, mechanical devices and simple technology we used before the apps that now perform the same functions for work, family and leisure.

Shamus McPhee, Geddie, Gouris ‘n’ Ganis (Boy, Girls and Hens), 2014-15
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 99
Billy Kerry, All Fur Coat, 2016


Once again, Shire readers and snappers have impressed us with your talent and enthusiasm for our regular photography challenge. Your entries on the ‘Old and New’ topic were truly inspiring. We’ve printed as many as we can here – thank you for all your e orts.

As we head towards summer, when hopefully most of us will enjoy a bit of time o or the chance to travel, for the next contest we want you to think creatively and see what images capture the notion of “Journey” for you. Whether it’s a literal route or a more lateral-thinking approach, let us see your ideas!

Good luck as always and please send all entries to us at

100 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
By Kathryn Hall By Julie She eld By Claire Parker By Michelle Boden By Julie She eld By Chris Baker By Kathryn Hall By Julie She eld By Kathryn Hall
A NEW TAKE AN EXHIBITION OF COLOUR & PLACE JON YOUNG ART 10-4 17TH–30TH MARCH BEAR STEPS ART GALLERY ST ALKMUNDS PLACE SHREWSBURY This region features some of the most stunning locations in the UK to hold a wedding celebration. Our readers will look first to the businesses or venues featured in the Shire Weddings Specials. We feature venues, hotels, wedding dresses, mother of the bride wear, chauffeur services, cake services, catering, photography, entertainment Weddings SHIRE magazine Get in touch now adver or simply call (01691) 661 270 and more... Look out for our Weddings Special in the next issue of Shire, May/June Get in touch now or simply call (01691) 661 270 There is a huge choice of high quality local food and drink produced in the Shire region, from dairy farms, locally reared meat, fish from the Irish Sea, local varieties of fruit and vegetables, micro breweries, distilleries and vineyards. To get our reader’s attention, have your food or drink business featured in the popular Food & Drink section of Shire. SHIRE magazine Food & Drink


In a new regular slot for Shire Magazine, our friends from the RSPB share details of some of the amazing birdlife to look out for at this time of year

Spring is a beautiful time of year, when nature awakens from its winter slumber and bursts into life. With longer days and sunny weather, the countryside and gardens are teeming with new growth and vibrant colours. It’s the perfect time to get outdoors and witness the wonders of nature firsthand.

Observing nature has been proven to have positive effects on our mental health and well-being. Look out for early flowers like lesser celandine and primroses, which provide much needed nourishment for early pollinating insects such as bumblebees. Trees such as willow and hazel are adorned with catkins, waiting for a breeze to spread their pollen. Blue tits and blackbirds fill the air with their melodious song as they prepare to nest.

Listen up

At this time of year our native bird populations are boosted as the first migrant birds begin to arrive after long journeys from Africa and Europe to nest and breed. One of the earliest is the wheatear with its dark eye stripes and white bottom. Keep your eyes to the skies for one flying over. Others are on their way too – look out for house martins and swallows, whilst April is traditionally the time

when the cuckoo returns, seldom seen but easily identified by its call.

Out on the wet grasslands at RSPB Ynys-hir, one of our earliest nesting birds is the lapwing. Watch them perform their display

“Lesser celandine and primroses provide nourishment for early pollinators such as bumblebees”

flights with their evocative “peewit” while a few wintering flocks of geese and wildfowl still linger. It is a time of transition. As spring progresses, the woods transform into a purple carpet of bluebells, filling the air with fragrance. Small mammals like bank voles and woodland mice take advantage of the new shoots emerging. Spring truly is a season of renewal, and there’s no better time to appreciate the vitality of the natural world.

Grand day out

RSPB reserves are the perfect place to get out into nature this spring. RSPB Ynys-hir sits on the southern side of the Dyfi estuary, just over an hour’s drive from Shrewsbury. A variety of trails will take you through woodlands, marshes and out to pools and the saltmarsh. You’re surrounded by stunning views, with the mountains of Snowdonia to the north, and to the west the sea. Pack a picnic and enjoy the day here. You can hire binoculars from the visitor centre or have a go at pond dipping – fun for kids big and small! Relax at the picnic benches and look for herons, kingfishers or even glimpse an otter.

RSPB Ynys-hir is at Eglwys-fach, Machynlleth SY20 8TA. Find opening hours and visitor information at

If you’re lucky you’ll spot a heron in flight Breathe in that heady scent
102 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
The lapwing cries “peewit”
PETS & WILDLIFE To enter, email a photograph of your pet and their name to and the Shire team will pick the winner! A year’s subscription to Shire, worth £24.95! Imagine… your favourite magazine delivered right to your doorstep! WIN
1. Beau 2. Emma 3. John 4. Hapus 5. Olga 6. Lily and Bella
11. Ruby 12. Piper 13. Toby 14. Kitty 15. Luna 12 3 4 5 10 9 7 6 11 8 13 15
2 Congratulations to Melanie, owner of Luna, for winning the Cute Pets competition this issue! 14 1 March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 103
7. Koda 8. Jojo 9.
Tich 10. Ollie


A new study has revealed the best beaches around the coast of Wales for visiting with your pooch

Dogs are the ultimate companions and a long, peaceful stroll on the beach together is a great way to wind down and welcome the spring season. With so much wonderful coastline on the doorstep, Shire readers and our furry friends are spoiled for choice. Where to head for?

Research conducted by West Wales Holiday Cottages has revealed the best beaches around the Welsh coast for dogs and their owners. The study analysed a range of factors including the number of dog-friendly eateries and places to stay, water quality and temperature, before giving each location an overall score.

Simply the best

Saundersfoot Beach in Pembrokeshire takes the crown as the top dog-friendly beach in Wales with an overall score of 6.15 out of 10. In the summer months there are a few restrictions here, but dogs are always allowed in the area before Coppet Hall Beach. The beach comes with a strong review score of 4.7 (out of 5), and two-thirds of nearby accommodation listings also allow pets. Over a quarter of nearby restaurants are also dog-friendly. Barmouth Beach comes in second with an overall score of 6.04. An impressive 77 percent of accommodation and 14 percent of places to eat welcome dogs.

Llangrannog Beach, Ceredigion ranks third with a score of 5.90. The beach boasts “excellent” water quality as well as slightly warmer temperatures than some locations, averaging 10.1°C. It also has the highest proportion of dog-friendly accommodation, with

Wye aye!

Radnorshire Wildlife Trust is celebrating major funding success for its work on the River Wye

83 percent of property options allowing for furry guests!

In fourth place is Traeth Trearddur (final score 5.83, excellent water quality). Whitesands Bay, Pembrokeshire is number five with a score of 5.80. Another beach that can boast about its excellent water quality, it also offers a reasonable number of dog-friendly establishments, making it a balanced choice for dog owners.

Tenby’s Castle Beach comes sixth, with Harlech hot on its heels and Aberdyfi in eighth place. Langland Bay was close behind, and the list was rounded off by Tenby in tenth place.

Radnorshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to have been given a substantial grant from the John Ellerman Foundation in support of its continued work on the River Wye. The programme ‘Wye now?’ is helping develop campaigning and advocacy work on healthy, clean, sustainable rivers. This critical funding will empower the Trust to embark on a transformative journey to enhance the health and resilience of the river, positively impacting both the local ecosystem and our communities.

“…the benefits of natural flood defences”

Scheduled to commence this spring, ‘Wye now?’ is aimed at bringing about essential improvements, with a focus on nature and community well-being. The grant will play a pivotal role in facilitating policy changes in

“Castle Beach comes sixth, with Harlech hot on its heels”

Wales that advocate for the protection of rivers and wildlife, all while addressing the challenges posed by climate change. Recognising the crucial role that healthy rivers play in sustaining rural economies, RWT’s primary objective is to utilise this grant to raise awareness about the benefits of natural flood defences.

“With this three-year grant we can drive meaningful policy changes, better protecting our rivers and wildlife, and confront the urgent challenges of climate change head-on,” said James Hitchcock, Trust ceo. “We are excited to collaborate closely with Wildlife Trust Wales and build on our work with our other projects, such as Wilder Lugg, to ensure the success of ‘Wye now?’ and make a lasting impact on the health of the Wye.”

Resorts were rated on water quality too Saundersfoot has it all
104 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Freephone 0800 698 0093 Mobile 07772 114196 LIGHTMOOR ROAD, LIGHTMOOR TELFORD TF4 3QN BESPOKE MADE TO MEASURE GARDEN BUILDINGS H TED AND MADE IN GRE N CLAIM £100 OFF ORDERS PLACED MARCH-MAY JUST QUOTE: ‘SHIRE’ Ynys-hir Bursting with life Enjoy the best of spring at our beautiful nature reserve, as the first flowers bloom and wildlife wakes from winter. Plus, relax at our cosy visitor centre. Plan your visit today The RSPB is a registered charity in England & Wales 207076, in Scotland SC037654. Image by Ben Andrew (

Charities&Volunteering Positive steps

Coleg Cambria hosted a prostate cancer awareness event at its Bersham Road site, attended by organisations and charities from across North Wales. It was part of a series of campaigns to benefit the health and well-being of staff, students and the community, which has also included information sessions with Testicular Cancer UK and the launch of a new Menopause Café.

Cambria’s health and well-being specialist Jo Tincello said: “We have had a lot of feedback which has been very positive, with both men and women looking to find out more about the condition and what support and services are out there.

so they can pass the message on to partners, husbands, brothers, sons and friends.”

David Parry, chair of Wrexham-based Shooting Star Cancer Support, added: “This was a very useful event, bringing different charities under one roof to spread awareness and look at how we can all work more

“…passing the message on”

It was predominately aimed at Bersham Road staff as many of the lecturers are male, but female members of the team also came along to speak to the charities

closely together. We were delighted to be a part of it.”

Also in attendance were Macmillan Welfare, Prostate Cymru and Wrexham Prostate Cancer Support Group.


Following their incredible efforts in collecting more than 12,000 pieces of litter from beaches and parks during the summer, pupils from Ysgol Eirias in Colwyn Bay planted thousands of bulbs in Old Colwyn as part of a sustainability project.

Groups from Year 7 upwards worked with Conwy’s community development officer, volunteers from Man Coed VM Ltd, Creating Enterprise, Cartefi Conwy and Ysgol Swn-y-Don to

complete the task on Craig Road in a matter of hours, and even collected several bags of rubbish on their walk back to school!

The school’s wellbeing officer Abbie Johnson has been leading programmes to support learners, focused on health, inclusivity and the environment.


Apopular bowling club which suffered a destructive arson attack has been given a helping hand by a St Asaph law firm.

Youths set fire to a viewing shelter at St Asaph Bowling Club in November, melting the surround to the green. The fire was seen by Janette Barton, a legal assistant at Swayne Johnson, whose partner is a keen bowler.

Janette said: “The club

“They needed over £3,000”

needed over £3,000 to make good the damage and the firm agreed to make a donation.” Club secretary Nick Thomson said: “It’s very generous of them.” Gareth Davies, a director at Swayne Johnson said: “We have a strong tradition of supporting local charities and organisations. Members of staff are also welcome to suggest good causes and that was what happened this time.”

Saving lives at sea

Haven’s North Wales holiday parks at Hafan y Mor and Presthaven have raised over £24,000 in support of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

“Everyone gets a voice ”

“My role is to work with the children so they can reach their potential, both academically and socially,” said Abbie. “We are outdoors helping to clean up and conserve the local area, but also holding interventions in numeracy and literacy, and promoting exercise, healthy living and mindfulness. The students have really taken ownership of these schemes. Everyone gets a voice.”

The RNLI has been Haven’s chosen charity partner for over five years. Last year Haven set a fundraising target of £1 million, and the efforts from Hafan y Mor, which raised £16,699, and Presthaven, raising £8,833, brought that goal one step closer.

“Keeping guests safe on holiday”

Mark Dowie, RNLI chief executive said: “We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from Haven during our longstanding partnership. We look forward to continuing working with them to help spread water safety messaging and keeping guests safe whilst on holiday.”

Haven’s managing director Simon Palethorpe said: “We’re

proud to support the RNLI. With many of our holiday parks dotted around Britain’s most popular coastlines, our valued partnership ensures we can continue to provide guests with information to help them feel confident and safe at sea.”

If you would like a charity event to feature on these pages, just email the details to

Gareth Davies (left) with Nick Thomson at the scene of the fire Pupils helped plant 6,000 bulbs and 20 trees! Hafan Y Mor’s donation Working together
106 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024

Building sustainable futures for our communities

As the European market leader in home life safety, we strive to deliver safer homes through engaging with our communities to educate and promote best practice. Our sustainability programme enables us to do just this. Aico in the Community was developed to provide support to both local and national educational and charitable organisations, focusing on five pillars; Workplace, Marketplace, Community, Environment and Governance.

If you would like to know more about Aico in the Community, please get in touch with our Community Liaisons: | 01691 664100 | The European Market Leader in Home Life Safety #Aico InThe Community



It’s time to shine for one humble food group, says Tanja Harrison, nutrition lecturer from the University of Chester

Drum roll, please. 2024 has been declared Year of the Legumes. That’s beans, peas, lentils – yes, the types of foods your grandparents might have told you you need to eat to help you stay ‘regular’!

If you can think only of pea-wack soup (pea and ham for the uninitiated) and beans on toast, you are depriving yourself of endless culinary possibilities. Legumes are the foundation of many tasty meals from around the world, including Italian, Mexican, South American, North African and Indian to name just a few. They’re not only versatile but also very diverse, as the five-bean chilli in your local pub already shows. They’re excellent at absorbing other flavours in terms of the herbs and spices you might want to add to them.

Packed with protein

These unsung heroes are also packed with fibre, iron, zinc and are a good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants. This means they have benefits for our heart and gut health,


by increasing the diversity of our gut microbiome and potentially decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Their high folate content also makes them

“If you can think only of ‘pea-wack soup’ an beans on toast, you are depriving yourself of endless culinary possibilities”

an excellent source of nutrition for any woman of child-bearing age.

Saving the planet

The United Nations has its eyes on humble legumes to aid in the creation of sustainable food systems around the world. Its Full of Beans campaign was created to showcase the importance of one of the sustainable development goals, which is

This time we’re debunking some popular fantasies about sleep

Snoring is harmless

While occasional snoring may not be a cause for concern, chronic and loud snoring could indicate a disorder like sleep apnea. This can lead to interruptions in breathing during sleep, contributing to fatigue and potentially increasing the risk of cardiovascular issues. Consult a healthcare professional for persistent or disruptive snoring.

You need less sleep as you age

The notion that older adults require less sleep is a misconception. While sleep patterns

to end hunger, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.

In the UK we can take those messages on board as legumes can contribute to a healthy, balanced diet that literally does not cost the earth. When grown, legumes aid biodiversity as their flowers provide food for pollinating insects such as bees. Their roots provide structure to the soil and are beneficial for microbes, thus improving the health of the soil. They also draw nitrogen from the air, which means that less fertiliser will be used.

Increasing the diversity of your diet with legumes is a win for your taste buds, your health and the health of our planet. What’s not to like!

may change with age, the need for adequate rest remains constant. Older individuals may experience more fragmented sleep, but the recommended duration for optimal health – 7 to 9 hours for adults –remains a valuable guideline for promoting physical and cognitive well-being.

Sleepwalkers shouldn’t be woken

Not so. Research indicates that gently waking someone engaged in sleepwalking is generally safe. The confusion and disorientation experienced upon waking are short-lived, and the potential risks associated with allowing the individual to continue sleepwalking may outweigh the discomfort of being awakened.

108 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
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What Shini did next…

Haberdashers’ Adams offers a huge variety of enrichment activities with over 50 extracurricular clubs. Music and Drama are at the heart of school life, and now Old Novaportans (alumni of the school) are making headlines in the performing arts.

Harshini Muthukrishnan (class of 2019), known as Shini, became a Blue Peter presenter in January. Shini, from Stafford, joined the school for Sixth Form, becoming deputy school captain, and was awarded the Banks Cup for female role model of the year. Shini went on to study Philosophy, Politics & Economics at King’s College London and made her name as a TikTok

A good sign

sensation celebrating her British, Indian and Malyasian heritage.

As the 43rd Blue Peter presenter, Shini follows in the footsteps of fellow ON Radzi Chinyanganya (class of 2005) who presented the children’s show from 2013 to 2019 and has gone on to present Olympic sports coverage, snooker, Crufts and Songs of Praise

“Female role model of the year”

Joscelin Dent-Pooley (class of 2014), known professionally as Jerskin Fendix, was nominated for Best Original Score for Poor Things at this year’s Golden Globes. Joscelin’s contributions to school music are remembered well. His album, Winterreise, is available on the Bandcamp platform.


A mother from Chester is set to achieve her ‘Beat Cancer’ goal later this month when she takes part in a concert at Ellesmere College, raising money for Cancer Research at the same time.

Bells Lewers has been battling bowel cancer for a year and throughout treatment the 55-year-old part-time singer promised herself she would perform in public again when able. This month she will join former Ellesmere College students and Shrewsbury Cantata Choir in a performance of Handel’s upbeat Dixit Dominus, accompanied by Ellesmere Camerata and professional soloists.

The first half of the concert on 16th March will feature Vivaldi’s Gloria sung by Ellesmere College Choral Society. Tickets are £20, available from


Wrekin College will once again host Shropshire Business Festival, following the success of last year’s event, and free tickets are now available to book. The festival will take place at the college on 11th April, welcoming over 500 business leaders for networking, workshops, seminars and all the fun of a festival. New for 2024 is the introduction of ‘Silent Seminars’, where attendees will be given headphones and a choice of channels so they can decide which live business talk to tune in to while on the move, maximising their time at the event.

Shropshire Business Festival is a place to learn, grow your contacts and do business differently. The relaxed atmosphere and fun activities break down the barriers to getting chatting. For more information, visit


Actress Rose Alying-Ellis captured the hearts of many with her performance on Strictly Come Dancing back in 2021. Her silent dance had a profound effect at Abbey Gate College, with the Pupil Parliament requesting a British Sign Language club be added to the school’s programme, linking to its ethos of inclusivity, sensitivity and wider experiences for pupils.

“The second most common disability”

Mr Mayers, who is himself profoundly deaf, began working with the school and the activity has gone from strength to strength.

Hearing loss is the second most common disability in the UK. Not only is BSL a valuable skill, studies suggest

The BSL Club has been a hit

it can boost confidence and self-esteem, improve spatial reasoning, improve reaction time and peripheral vision, as well as having a range of cognitive benefits already associated with learning an additional language.

Abbey Gate will also introduce BSL onto their Infant and Junior School curriculum from September.

Year 6 pupil Daniel W from Tettenhall College has beaten tough competition to be cast as Gustave in the Asia tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies. Following a challenging casting process in London, Daniel was among three young talents chosen for the part in this sequel to the iconic musical The Phantom of the Opera

Upon discovering he had secured the role, Daniel said: “I was so excited when my mum and dad told me. I couldn’t believe it. I was jumping with joy that my hard work paid off and I will be doing what I love in China and making the best memories ever.”

Daniel has a dedication and passion for performing arts, having previously appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and as Christopher Robin in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh UK tour.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 111
Singer Bells Lewers Shini in her new role on Blue Peter Daniel will be touring China Beth Heath from Shropshire Festivals with Toby Spence, head of Wrekin College


Tributes have been paid to Brendan Wignall, headmaster of Ellesmere College for the past 27 years, who has died aged 63. Mr Wignall took up the role at the age of 35, the youngest head in the Woodard Group of schools. During his tenure a new Lower School building was erected, boarding houses expanded and the school saw the addition of a new sports hall, tennis barn, artificial grass pitches and a roof over the swimming pool. He was committed to sport and an enthusiastic follower of Liverpool FC. He was also closely involved in local charities and community events, supporting his wife Anne in her role as Mayor.

Mrs Vicky Pritt-Roberts, acting head, said: “We are going to miss his presence, his guidance and his sense of humour. ‘Be kind’ is a message that will ring down the corridors of Ellesmere for years to come. He has left his legacy in our hearts and minds.”

Team effort

Moreton Hall’s charities team raised £1,372.39 for Hope House and Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospice last term. Events included the Great Moreton Bake Off and a musical dress day in support of assistant principal Mrs McDonald, who took part in Shropshire’s Strictly Come Dancing. The Christmas Fair welcomed 400 visitors, and a hot-air balloon raffle celebrated the school’s 110-year anniversary.

The team said: “Our thanks to the school community for all their support.”

“He has left his legacy in our hearts and minds”


Rydal Penrhos School has been approved to host civil marriages in some of its most picturesque and historic venues. The independent school in North Wales boasts stunning listed buildings set among beautifully landscaped gardens and acres of meticulously maintained estate.

“Stained glass and elegant parquet”

Couples can now exchange vows in four locations across the site, as well as having the option of a Christian ceremony at Rydal Penrhos’ St John’s Church. The sites include Osborn Hall and Memorial Hall, both of which can accommodate up to 250 guests. Osborn Hall impresses with its stained-glass

windows and elegant parquet flooring, while Memorial Hall exudes historic charm with its high painted ceilings.

For those interested in getting married at Rydal Penrhos, a dedicated wedding and events team is on hand to help. Email


Thomas Adams boarding school, Adams House in Wem, caters for boys and girls aged 11–18 and is run by director of boarding Lee Irwin.

Boarding schools are more than just educational institutions. While academic excellence is a cornerstone of boarding life, it is also an opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities and sports – promoting personal growth, friendship and holistic development.

“Shared experience of clubs and sports teams”

At Thomas Adams, boarders are encouraged to look beyond the classroom when developing themselves, creating friendship through the shared experience of clubs and sports teams. Sporting challenges also offer the opportunity to develop leadership and teamwork skills, setting personal and team goals. Learning to collaborate and communicate is invaluable in both academic and real-world settings. Regular participation in sports also contributes to overall physical health and well-being, instilling healthy habits from a young

age and the boarding environment provides the structure and support to establish these habits

Thomas Adams use school staff in partnership with pastoral boarding staff to offer the widest range of activities possible. The senior houseparent recognises the importance of keeping this variety broad: “Extracurricular activities and sports offer a canvas for students to explore and develop a range of skills. From creativity in the arts to resilience on the playing field, these experiences contribute to a well-rounded education that extends beyond the classroom. Having Combined Cadet Force and Duke of Edinburgh Award based within the school, students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone.”

112 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Proud fund-raisers with Mrs McDonald Aximaiorro ist ommolut Osborn Hall is a stunning setting Lee Irwin, director of boarding

Adams House Boarding Boarding accommodation for The Thomas Adams School and Sixth Form

• Outstanding boarding for boys and girls aged 11-18

• Supportive and caring environment for all

• We welcome students from the UK and across the world

• Affordable state boarding in a rural setting

• Extensive sport and extra-curricular programme

• FREE education to all students (terms and conditions apply)

If you would like to know more about boarding, please contact: Lee Irwin, Director of Boarding via email

Prices start from £3,295 per term

Come and join “the biggest family in Shropshire”

International. Joyful. Kind. || Bursaries available Find out more | | Wem, Shropshire, SY4 5UB Academic excellence in a caring environment

Why Derwen?

We support our young people to achieve and challenge them to do more. Our students regularly exceed what they and others thought possible. Come and have a look!

Exceptional pastoral care and student support

Excellent outcomes

Gobowen: Thursday, 9 May

Ludlow: By appointment

Telford: Monday 10 June

Walford: Tuesday 14 May

Short Breaks at Derwen offers adults with learning disabilities and associated needs the opportunity to take a break and enjoy themselves.

• cooking

• swimming

Unrivalled sports, leisure and wellbeing activities Gobowen,

01691 661234

Thegiftgreatest of all! The Sisters of Mercy founded a small school in the very heart of Shrewsbury in 1868 to provide precious opportunities, experiences and values for all its children. Today, many generations have relished the amazing journey of discovery, guided by our expert team building on a sound academic grounding with engaging activities and rewarding challenges set in a nurturing and caring environment. Now your child can experience some of the finest and most financially affordable independent education in the UK. We’d be delighted to help you start this amazing journey for your child - please call us on; 01743 369883 Ranked 28th in the Sunday Times League Tables Top 100 Prep Schools; One of the highest places for schools in the West Midlands Region and the only school in Shropshire to feature in the top 50 FUNDED KINDERGARTEN! With priority places for progress into our Primary School St Winefride’s INDEPENDENT SCHOOL FOR BOYS & GIRLS 3-11 “Shrewsbury’s Hidden Gem” IN THE TOWN CENTRE FOR OVER 150 YEARS “SOME OF THE ANDFINEST MOST AFFORDABLE INDEPENDENT EDUCATION IN THE UK” Exceptional programmes and a rich learning environment for young people, (16 to 25 years) with special educational needs and disabilities, including:
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SY11 3JA
A place of possibility 2022
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We build your programme of activities around what you enjoy doing. It may include:
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Scan the QR code to view what pathways and programmes we offer Visit
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The Queen’s School head girl, Natasha Latham, is organising a charity event on 1st March at the Senior School on City Walls Road. Re-Prom will showcase prom dresses for every budget while raising money for Evie’s Gift, a charity set up in memory of Natasha’s friend Evie, who died of a brain tumour aged just 13.

The charity supports families of critically ill children food and accommodation if their child is suddenly taken to hospital far from home.

“Prom dresses for every budget”

Natasha hopes that girls in Years 10 and 11 from schools in the Chester area will come along and enjoy the event, which will include make-up, hair and beauty demonstrations, a fashion show and raffle, alongside new and pre-loved prom dresses, shoes and accessories to buy.

Re-Prom runs from 6.30-9pm and tickets are £3 or £5 for two, via


Muddle for Myddle

Entries are now open for the Myddle Muddle 2024, a popular running event in North Shropshire, held annually since 2012. The run will take place at Myddle Primary School on 21st April, with the choice of 10k, 5k or a 1-mile fun run.

Over 300 people took part last year, raising £2,808.70 for the school’s PTA.

Race director Rebecca Sparks said: “People love our multiterrain run, which goes across fields and through woodland and has a brilliant community atmosphere. The fun run is a great way for younger or less confident runners to get involved too, and fancy dress is encouraged.” It starts at 10.30am, refreshments will be available. Sign up at

“A brilliant community atmosphere ”

Funds for Firs Forest

The Firs School in Chester has secured a £3,000 grant from The Royal Society to increase the biodiversity of The Firs Forest and enhance children’s well-being. The entire school will play a part with activities such as planting and earthworm investigations. The school’s STEM partners will be involved in planning and explaining ways to measure and increase biodiversity and in special assemblies. Mrs Johnson, science coordinator, who helped to secure the grant said: “We are passionate about our environment and getting the children to learn through experiences.”

“Pupils voted on activities”

Year 10 expeditions are unique at St David’s College, Llandudno and, for many, the highlight of the outdoor education programme. Following a series of presentations from staff, every pupil in Year 10 was given the chance to vote for the activities they would like to specialise in. They had to make the difficult choice between an expedition in canoes or sea kayaks, trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing or caving!

Despite the recent cold weather, students completed the first of seven training days to help get them ready for the expedition in June, which they will plan and prepare for themselves – including booking accommodation, arranging transport and budgeting food rations.

We look forward to finding out where they will all be heading this year!


Nestled at the heart of the medieval town of Shrewsbury, St Winefride’s Independent RC School caters for children aged 3-11. New headteacher Mr Richard Goody is the first male head in the school’s remarkable 155-year history.

Mr Goody has a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Wales, Bangor and a QTS from the University of Chester. He also holds an MCCT from the Charted College of Teaching. He has worked in both state and independent schools, across KS1 and KS2 and was sports co-ordinator at his previous school. He is committed

“Every child is provided the tools to thrive”

to preparing young minds to face the challenges of an everevolving world.

He said: “The school is not just an institution; it’s a community where each and every child is recognised, celebrated, nurtured and provided the tools to thrive.”

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 115
Richard Goody meeting pupils PTA chair Madeleine Good with son Oliver and deputy head Paul Glover Natasha Latham Mrs Johnson and pupils are looking forward to getting the exciting project underway
Year 10s were put through their paces

Universities & Colleges


Agarden from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be relocating to Bangor University’s Treborth Botanic Garden this summer. Eryri (Snowdonia) based garden design practice Studio Bristow is showcasing the biodiverse ‘All About Plants’ garden at Chelsea, in collaboration with climatechange charity

“313 plant species will be used”

Grassroots drive

The Academy launched last year as a result of a strategic partnership between Coleg Cambria and Table Tennis Wales has returned strong numbers. Focused on all five of the college’s sites, the academy welcomed more than 800 people for training and fun sessions in four months, providing an inclusive community club programme dedicated to grassroots coaching. Regional development officer for

Student vet success

Size of Wales and Project Giving Back, a charity that supports gardens for good causes at RHS Chelsea. The magical design aims to highlight the biodiversity of plant life in tropical forests whilst also featuring species that thrive in our own vital ecosystems in the UK, challenging the viewer to recognise that their home landscapes are also under threat. 313 plant species will be used, reflecting the number of tree species that can occur in one hectare of tropical forest.

“A lot of talent out there”
North Wales, Aaron Beech said: “There is a lot of talent out there, so we are trying to harness it and help people reach their potential.”

WalfordCollege is delighted to reveal that ex-Animal Management student Ffion is flourishing in her role at Border Vets in Oswestry. Whilst studying, Ffion spent one day a week volunteering at the practice, which led to a two-week work placement. Upon achieving her Level 3 qualification, she was offered a full-time job as a kennel assistant, responsible for sterilising surgical equipment, ensuring high levels of cleanliness, and restraining animals for non-anaesthetic procedures.

Ffion has since progressed onto the Veterinary Care Assistant course, which introduced her to elements of monitoring anaesthesia. This will enable her to move on to becoming a Nursing Assistant.



Criminology academics from Aberystwyth University are working alongside other Welsh universities and probation o cers as part of an independent expert group, setting out evidence for developing a devolved probation service in Wales.

There are calls for devolution of the Probation Service

Following publication of a report by the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, which recommends devolution of probation, the Probation Development Group’s focus is on a new independent probation service centred on the supervisory relationship between the probation o cer and the probationer, better use of evidencebased interventions, local resources, strong partnerships and the role of community sentences to promote e ective rehabilitation.

The group states that, delivered e ectively, probation can lead to less costly imprisonment, reductions in o ending, and safer communities with fewer victims of crime. More information can be found at


Cheshire College South & West recently celebrated a successful results day, with over 200 students achieving Grade 4 or higher in GCSE resits. All three campuses had cause for celebration, with Crewe securing the highest percentage of high grades in Mathematics, Chester in English, and Ellesmere Port doubling the number of high-grade English passes for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Among the happy students was Jamie, at Crewe Campus, who achieved Level 4 in Maths. Jamie said: “I went to a special education school which didn’t o er GCSEs. I spoke to a few colleges after I left, but I always felt they were looking at what I was on paper rather than looking at me and my potential as a person. When I came to Cheshire College it was a totally di erent atmosphere. I was welcomed and it’s paid o !”


Academics and students from the University of Chester are taking part in Storyhouse Women Weekend on 2nd-3rd March, a festival celebrating the lives of women and girls, empowerment and connection. Now in its fourth year, the inclusive two-day event is filled with thought-provoking discussions, workshops, performances, films and more. Speakers include campaigner Patsy Stevenson, poet Molly Naylor and journalist Louise Minchin, with sessions encouraging important conversations – from the menopause, women’s rights and imposter syndrome to cold water swimming!

Most events are either free or £5. A day pass is £10.

Tense moments… Players of all ages have joined University staff are taking part The Chelsea design Ffion helping with a patient
116 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
Natalie Chivers of Treborth and Dan Bristow show where the garden will be sited

Dairy Student of the Year

Harper Adams student Jon Witter, from Sandbach, Cheshire has been named Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers Dairy Student of the Year at the Dairy-Tech 2024 show. This is the ninth time in a decade that a student from the university has taken the trophy.

Jon, a final year BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Animal Science student secured the prize after impressing a panel of professionals with a presentation on “The UK dairy industry in 10 years’ time” at the awards finals in London. He reached the final with his responses to a case study looking at real-life farming challenges.

Jon said: “I feel extremely grateful to gain recognition for something that I am passionate about – and proud to maintain Harper’s successful reputation in the competition! It is important to research around the topic and keep up to date with current affairs in the industry.” Congratulations to Jon and Harper Adams!


After discussions between staff and students in an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion group, Shrewsbury Colleges Group has launched a new campaign, #ProudToBe. Students were invited to bring in a flag, which could be country of birth, ancestry or religion, to show how diverse the college is. Several asked if they could hold a flag that represented educational needs, disability, gender or sexuality.

“Both sides of my heritage”

Level 2 Business student Roan Gummery said: “I have friends at the college from different parts of the world – Pakistan, Romania, Afghanistan, Africa. I messaged them to bring their flag in. I decided to wear my England shirt and hold the Jamaican flag to show both sides of my heritage.”

“It’s important to keep up with current affairs”

Royal opening for riding centre

HRH the Princess Royal officially opened a new centre for Nantwich & District Riding for the Disabled group at Reaseheath College, Nantwich. Princess Anne is a long-serving president of the RDA and during her visit met some of the group’s coaches, volunteers, supporters and trustees. She also watched a demonstration by seven riders and ponies and chatted to each of them individually before presenting them with a rosette, later mixing with riders and their families.

An accomplished horsewoman herself, the princess also cast an experienced eye over the group’s new Platinum Jubilee Stables, touring the fully accessible centre which includes a welfare space, training area and riding simulator

Reaseheath equine students are encouraged to support RDA riding sessions by acting as voluntary leaders, side helpers or trainee coaches.

is part of a major expansion for the college which will also see a new Maths & Digital Skills hub opening in Telford town centre’s Station Quarter in September, closely followed by a new Sixth Form centre.

The investment at the Haybridge site follows several months of consultation with staff and stakeholders, with works due to complete by the end of 2025. This will include a new student hub, restaurant and coffee bar, an expanded area for the Business curriculum, improvements to Creative Arts and Music facilities, and expansion of facilities for Early Years, Engineering, Construction and Hair and Beauty programmes among others.

“A new Maths & Digital Skills hub and new Sixth Form centre”
Telford College has revealed plans for a £1.8 million-plus upgrade of its Wellington campus, which will transform it into a technical and vocational training centre of excellence. It
Dan Blasczyk, student engagement coach, with Roan Gummery Telford College: ambitious plans Winner Jon Witter The Princess Royal meets pony Bernard and RDA volunteers
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 117
Rider Theo spoke to the royal visitor



A Wirral-born author has used his first-hand experience of the power industry to inspire his first novel

John Jones is an author with a penchant for satire.

In his debut novel, What Does This Pill Do Then?, a group of disgruntled workers, worn down by years of corporate subservience, stumble upon a diabolical plot to control the masses through experimental food additives. It’s a comical, chaotic blast of a tale.

John, who lives on the Wirral, drew on his own early experiences in the power industry as inspiration, reflecting on weird and wonderful team-building events and o ce parties, disapproving managers and instances of corporate greed.

His own journey began as a young apprentice with a modest two O-levels. After four years, he emerged as a mechanical craftsman. Traversing various roles and locations, meeting both commendable and less-thanexemplary individuals along the way, a detour to New Zealand for a decade added a global perspective to his experiences before he returned to his beloved home in Higher Bebington.

“A comical, chaotic blast of a tale”

He embarked on his writing journey in 2018, crafting what he describes as “a fictional, chaotic, humorous


A new book celebrates our area’s rich rail and mining heritage

The Vale of Rheidol Railway proudly announces the release of The Welsh Potosi, the second instalment in Ioan Lord’s captivating exploration of local mining history. In what is much more than a mere factual account, Ioan unveils the forgotten legacy of the Plynlimon Mountains, which were dubbed the “Welsh Potosi” after the famous silver mines of Bolivia.

Over 50 mines once peppered the rugged landscape between Aberystwyth and Llangurig in Mid Wales, extracting lead, zinc, copper and silver ores. As industry boomed, villages emerged, creating a unique tapestry of communities where miners and railway engineers co-existed with farmers and shepherds.

Ioan, a director of the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust and Cambrian Mines Trust, infuses the

yarn of corporate greed and how companies, in cahoots with governments and councils, want to manipulate the people of the land into being more subservient and less bloody militant.

“I make no apology for the language,” he adds. “That’s how life gets communicated across the worker bees.”

No o ence

This is the first novel John has written, “although I have, from an early age, been saying to anyone that would listen that I would write a book one day. I suppose I was waiting for the right material. If you do choose to read it, I hope it gives you a giggle and pause for thought. The next one’s a doozy by the way!”

Priced £9.99 from

narrative with his passion, chronicling the rise and fall of Plynlimon. His authorised exploration of the mines is visually showcased with a collection of stunning images that bring the historical background to life.

History and heritage

Following the success of his debut, Rich Mountains of Lead, The Welsh Potosi not only adds a new chapter to the annals of mining history but also serves as a testament to the enduring charm of Mid Wales. Through Lord’s meticulous research and storytelling prowess, readers are invited to traverse forgotten pathways, where history and heritage intertwine in a fascinating journey through time.

The book is exclusively available from the railway, and given the limited print run, early orders are recommended.

John’s novel is the first of a trilogy A fascinating insight

In this issue we get a little bit scientific and review two titles based on complex subjects but delivered with ease and humour


Lessons in Chemistry

This literary gem combines scientific curiosity with the indomitable spirit of a woman determined to break societal norms. Set in the 1960s, it introduces Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant yet unconventional scientist aspiring to make her mark in a male-dominated field.

Garmus skilfully navigates the complexities of sexism and the struggles faced by women pursuing careers in this era. Elizabeth’s journey from dismissed homemaker to tenacious researcher is both inspiring and poignant. The author injects humour into the narrative, creating a delightful balance between scientific discourse and witty storytelling.

The Humans

Embark on an extraordinary journey through the lens of an alien observer inhabiting the body of science Professor Andrew Martin. The narrative unfolds with a delightful blend of humour, empathy and profound insights into the human condition.

As mother queued for her co ee and enquired the cost, she turned to her toddler and said: “Stay near me so you won’t get lost.” The toddler, new to language, practised her naive riposte, and to each passing stranger sweetly said: “Get lost. Get lost. Get lost.”

Alan Manford


The mayfly and the trout:

One flew, the other swam upriver –Just to see what is about.

Wings flutter, gills quiver!

Each above the gravel bed, Oblivious of the other; Not knowing where to head


I woke this morning and all was white Though it was cold, the sun shone bright Pure white stu upon the grass

To my wife child, fun at last

At 67 she’s just a big girl

Grabbed her lilo to unfurl Onto the snow she did trot For sliding and slipping, like a clot

She slid with abandon on the ice

When all of a sudden, in a trice

Looking askance, body with poor balance She did a little slippy dance

Upon her side she did fall

And out in pain she did call

Until a flash, then a shudder. Each tied to dancing water, Each tied to their course, Each knows its quarter, Each knows nature’s force. One to breed, one to eat, Moving each way but not to attract. Unknown until finally they meet: Life and death, that is a fact.

Norman Marshall

THE WILD RED ROSE in the flower bed beneath a sad willow tree grew a wild red rose leaves kept on falling around brier rose the rose emitted a sweet perfume a beautiful perfume of love and hope on the earth brier rose could be seen resting on the ground the rose reappeared when there was no frost. at the beginning of spring

Haig’s exploration of humanity from an outsider’s perspective is both intelligent and whimsical. The protagonist grapples with the complexities of relationships and social expectations, o ering a fresh, often comic take on the quirks of human behaviour. Haig’s writing is witty, compassionate and brimming with understanding of the human psyche.

Now she’s laid up with bruised rib With ice pack on, and well hid

Under a booby, feeling cold

She never will do as she’s told Be careful, I’d said, watch yourself

Or else you’ll end up in bad health

Now she rests oh so mournfully

Finding it di cult to rise from the settee

Let that be a lesson, one and all

At 67 it’s not fun to fall.

Mark Pearce

signifying once again, more red roses symbolising my love for you the wild red rose!

Anne Douglas

We want your poems!

Share your creativity – we print our favourite poems every issue. Send to Poetry Page, Shire, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR or email

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 119


trilogy by Bernard Fredericks (‘Escape; After & Beyond the Blitz’) publications previously introduced in earlier issues of SHIRE, bringing to sharp focus the effect on a fictional schoolboy living through this traumatic period and chronicles in storytelling mode, based-on-fact, personal incidents and identifies events without judgement. (Copies of these books can be obtained from Waterstones, WHSmith & all good bookstores.)

In response to later behests, the author commenced writing a sequel (post-WWII trilogy) in the same format, the first volume of which will be published early this year, with promotions announced in future copies of SHIRE Magazine.

Your Personal Poetry

Send a poem of tender love, a poem so personal from you, conveying your deepest heartfelt love, a present given by few, give me the sentiments you want to say, and I will compose for you...

“Absolutely fantastic. The way all the facts were woven into the fabric of the poem was really good.”

Susan, 40th anniversary

“The poem was absolutely beautiful.”

Natasha, 40th birthday

“A beautiful and tender tribute to our years of happiness, love, and devotion. Most moving. We cried. We had it framed and it has pride of place on our lounge wall.” Joyce & Albert, 70th wedding anniversary

“Funny and sincere. Captured my mum perfectly.” Claire’s mum, Jacqui

Email Brian Stone at


The sequel to Sam, the third installment in the trilogy

The continuing story of life after the Great War.

‘5 stars!’

In the skies above the hills of Mid Wales, where buzzards soar and falcons descend, Michael yearned for the freedom that was theirs.

So, when the time came he jumped on for the ride. His imminent future became one of his, and the British government’s, making. But long-term, that future would be in Michael’s hands alone.

Meanwhile, a young girl in Manhattan follows a path suggested by her uncle’s housekeeper. That path was tested when she went to Hawaii on holiday with her father. A holiday that could have changed the course of her life.

Books can be purchased from the Fabric Shop, Market Street, Newtown, Powys and The Chirbury Stores, Chirbury, Shropshire, along with online from Amazon, Good Reads and other online bookstores

• Self Assessment • Audit • Book-keeping • Accounts Preparation • Payroll many more specialist services. • Making Tax Digital • Limited Companies • VAT Returns • Incorporations • Succession Planning Supporting business growth since 1957 Contact us today for a FREE consultation KNIGHTON 01547 528383 OSWESTRY 01691 654353 SHREWSBURY 01743 241581 LUDLOW 01584 875715 NEWTOWN 01686 626534 WREXHAM 01978 310600 Always racing to meet a deadline? We can help £10 per title Available at Browsers Bookshop - Porthmadog NOW COMPLETE: The Boat Shed Trilogy For other stockists: Plus! Coming soon: Solstice Are you a local author? Do you have a story to tell our readers? We’d like to know more… Shire Magazine, The best of North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Wirral & Shropshire Get in touch or 01691 661 270

Personal finance


Aaron Powis BSc (Hons), BFP, FCA, CTA is a Partner at D.R.E. & Co. Chartered Accountants and Chartered Tax Advisers in Ludlow

Tax incentives for charitable giving have long played a crucial role in encouraging individuals and businesses to support good causes and also can ensure more money goes to charities.

Gift Aid

This is a scheme available to UK charities and community amateur sports clubs which means they can claim back basic rate income tax on donations: an extra 25p for every £1 donated. A charity can claim Gift Aid when you donate from your own funds and have paid UK income and/or capital gains tax during that tax year. The tax you pay needs to be at least equal to the value of Gift Aid the charity will claim. Tax relief at higher and additional rate is claimed by the donor.

Non-cash donations

“Charitable gifts can reduce the tax paid on the rest of the estate”

In the UK, you can donate cash, shares or property to charity and all three have different tax implications. For example, donating shares might be most tax-effective for you, but the charity won’t be able to claim the Gift Aid and could ultimately receive less money. Executors of a will sometimes transfer property to a charity where there is a built-in capital gain arising. The charity then sells the property.

Donor advised funds

The UK’s fastest growing philanthropic vehicle, a donor advised fund is a registered charity which gives money to other charities rather than spending directly on charitable purposes. Acting as a ‘one-stop shop’ for a high net worth individual’s giving needs, such funds enable them to make charitable contributions and then recommend for the fund to be invested or grants made to suggested organisations over time.

Legacy giving

Tax advantages can make a significant difference to the beneficiaries of an estate. A gift to a UK charity in a will is free from inheritance tax, meaning the money is ‘removed’ from the value of the estate before tax is calculated. Charitable gifts can also reduce the amount of inheritance tax paid on the rest of the estate. If 10% or more of the estate is gifted, the inheritance tax paid on the rest is reduced from 40% to 36%.

If you would like to arrange a free tax consultation with one of our team please contact us at or on 01691 654 353.

D.R.E. & Co. has offices in Oswestry, Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Newtown, Wrexham and Knighton.


While many parts of the tax landscape have been frozen, such as the personal allowance and most income tax thresholds, that does not mean you should ignore tax year-end planning as we approach 5th April. Among the areas to consider are:

• Pension contributions The tax limits for pension contributions were eased at the start of the current tax year. You may now be able to make contributions for the first time in some years. But take care, the rules will change yet again from 6th April 2024.

• Capital gains tax Now is the time to review your investments and consider whether to realise gains up to your annual exemption. This is important in 2023/24 as the £6,000 exemption will fall to £3,000 in the next tax year.

“Consider whether to realise investment gains as the £6,000 exemption falls to £3,000 next year”

• Individual savings account contributions Our annual ISA allowance is £20,000 (£9,000 for Junior ISAs), which cannot be carried forward. With the personal savings allowance frozen and dividend allowance and capital gains tax exemption both halving in 2024/25, the case for maximising ISAs is strong.

• Inheritance tax Use your annual exemption (£3,000 per tax year) for 2023/24. If you have unused exemption from 2022/23 you can also gift this, but only after using the current year’s exemption.

• Marriage allowances If you or your spouse/civil partner had income of less than the personal allowance in 2023/24 (£12,570), you have until 5th April to claim the marriage allowance (£1,260), and only if your partner was a basic rate taxpayer.

• Income planning Frozen allowances and tax thresholds mean you could move from being a basic rate taxpayer now to a higher rate taxpayer in 2024/25. Similarly, from April you might be caught for the first time by the High Income Child Benefit Charge or personal allowance taper. Actions to limit the larger tax bill include bringing forward income into 2023/24 or transferring incomegenerating investments to your spouse/civil partner by 5th April. As ever, it’s best to seek advice before taking action. Tax treatment varies according to individual circumstances and is subject to change. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice. The above was provided by Hartey Wealth Management Ltd. Registered office: Hilliards Court, Chester Business Park, Chester CH4 9QP.

Tel: 0808 168 5866.

Hartey Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the FCA.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 121
Get in touch now or call (01691) 661 270 Find out more at Promote your retirement communities and homes among retirees seeking their dream retirement destination. With SHIRE’s readership, you can reach the ideal demographic, ensuring maximum visibility and impact. Whether you specialise in luxurious amenities, picturesque settings, or innovative age-friendly designs, SHIRE provides the ideal platform to reach your audience. SHIRE magazine Retirement Living in Are you a local artist? We’d like to share your work with our readers, and tell your story. Shire Magazine, The best of North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Wirral & Shropshire Get in touch or 01691 661 270

Retirement Living


A new study has revealed the most popular pastimes enjoyed by the older generation – and across the Shire patch the results are inspiring

Over-66s across the Shire patch are the UK’s most generous older population, with nearly one in five spending time volunteering in the community, a new study commissioned by Hallmark Luxury Care Homes has found.

The study of 2,006 adults aged 66 years (the national retirement age) and over revealed people’s favourite pastimes, to show how pensioners are shunning traditional activities in search of new experiences and opportunities. As well as leading the way in ‘giving something back’, over-66s in the North West are also big baking fanatics, with one in four spending their free time in the kitchen.

“Even extreme sports such as parasailing”

More than a third (37 percent) said they started a new interest, hobby or activity after reaching 60. Bee keeping, cold water swimming and glass blowing ranked among the more surprising pursuits, while a number even had a go at extreme sports such as parasailing and sky diving. The list of activities people said they’d would love to have a go at included learning a new language, writing books and metal detecting.

Learning curve

The study set out to showcase the hopes of the over-66 community and to introduce the Hopes & Dreams Concierge who works with

residents across Hallmark’s 22 care homes to organise activities and opportunities that reflect the goals and passions of youth. Concierge Sarah Savidge said: “My work with residents shows they would give most a run for their money where acquiring new skills is concerned. You might not be able to jump for joy or dance the night away, but you can still experience things that make you giddy with excitement.”

Dorothy Dell, 90, a resident at Hallmark’s Anisha Grange, is a talented cake decorator so the team invited master baker Paul Hollywood to work with her decorating a cake for afternoon tea.

Dorothy said: “It’s such a glorious pastime and so rewarding to create beautiful cakes. I had a fun afternoon with Paul. He offered me very helpful advice to further improve my cake work – and I think I might have taught him a thing or two as well!”


As the Hallmark survey reveals, it is crucial to keep our minds active as we age. So we’ve had a look at top tips to keep brains busy in later life

Embrace lifelong learning –

One of the most potent ways to keep the mind nimble is to adopt a mindset of continual learning. Engaging in new activities, whether learning an instrument, picking up a language or exploring topics outside your usual scope, stimulates the brain and fosters neural connections.

Stay connected – Human connection is crucial for both emotional well-being and cognitive health. Regular social interactions with family, friends or community groups provides mental stimulation.

Challenge the mind – Think of the brain as a muscle that thrives on regular exercise. Mental workouts such as crosswords, sudoku and brain teasers are a fun way to challenge cognitive abilities.

Prioritise exercise – Physical health and mental well-being are interconnected. Regular exercise not only promotes cardiovascular health but has profound benefits for the brain. Activities like brisk walking, swimming or yoga improve blood flow to the brain, encourage new neurons and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Cultivate mindfulness and meditation – These techniques not only reduce stress but also enhance concentration and focus.

March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 123
Above: Dorothy Dell shares tips with Paul Hollywood. Right: Pat Shepherd sings with Dolly Parton; board games with Joan Collins.


A heart-warming project supporting elderly care-home residents is being rolled out across North Wales

Driven by the community interest company Book of You, based in Ruthin, the Care Home Buddy scheme has been extended to include Wrexham, Flintshire, Anglesey and Gwynedd following a successful pilot programme. Volunteers attend residential care homes weekly after being paired up as a ‘buddy’ with a resident who may feel isolated, lonely or anxious without friends or family to visit them regularly.

Since the pandemic, isolation has been a significant issue, according to project manager Danielle Jones, who is leading a campaign to recruit 100 volunteers who will commit an hour a week to the initiative. “The response we had in Conwy, Denbighshire and Pembrokeshire was so positive we knew we had to reach out even further,” she said.

“Since day one we’ve hit it o and built a real friendship”

“Volunteers sign up for 12 weeks, but the majority stay on for longer because friendships and bonds are made, and they want to continue being there for their ‘buddy’. There has already been a lot of interest and we are welcoming new volunteers and care homes by the week, so there is a demand for this project. It is making a big difference – one resident with no family or friends told us she’d expected never to have a visitor again, so we’re happy to have been able to do something about that.”

Changing lives

This work has been made possible by an award from Postcode Community Trust, a grant-giving charity funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery. Volunteers complete a short training course and safeguarding before being paired up with a resident in a nearby location with a similar background or interests. Residents are referred by care homes, social workers or occupational therapists.

Chief executive of Book of You, Kathy Barham said: “Thanks to this funding we can now be there for even more elderly people, which is crucial post-pandemic. This will be life-changing for


The new financial year starts in April and there’s good news as pensions get a boost

Big changes are on the horizon for pensions and could impact how you save for retirement. While pensions have gone through various changes over the years, the upcoming year is expected to set the stage for some major developments.

them and also give care workers some respite.”

Among the volunteers is Jenny O’Sullivan, from Gellifor, who visits a resident at Plas Gwyn nursing home in Llanychan. “Since day one we hit it off because we are both retired nurses, both have a love of cats and find lots of things to talk about,” she said. “It could be something on the television or I often use photos as prompts for stories about family or work colleagues. We’ve built up a real friendship.”


Charley Smith, a nurse at the home, added: “As well as benefiting residents this also helps staff, who are usually caring for different people throughout the day, sometimes without the opportunity to sit down and have a one-to-one conversation for a good length of time. It also takes pressure off family members who are a long distance away and unable to visit as often as they would like. This project changes that and to see it will now support even more people across North Wales is fantastic news.”

Email for more information or visit

The most impactful news for older people is that the State Pension will get a significant 8.5 percent boost from April. After a tough year with high prices and tight budgets, this increase will be a relief for many. The rise means that those qualifying for a full new State Pension will now receive £221.20 a week (up from £203.85). And those who reached State Pension age before April 2016, who are on the older basic State Pension, will now receive £169.50 – up from £156.20.

Another change is the removal of the lifetime allowance. This is the limit on how much you can build up in pension benefits over your lifetime while still enjoying the full tax benefits. Any amounts saved over and above that figure are subject to a charge. From April that limit, and the changes incurred, are set to be abolished, which is good news for those with substantial pension savings.

With so many ways and systems of saving and spending a pension it is important to look at how any of these changes potentially affect individual situations and talk to a qualified adviser.

Book of You ceo Kathy Barham (right) with buddy Jenny O’Sullivan and nurse Charley Smith
Enjoy peace of mind this year When considering care for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to find a place that values the unique person that you are – cared for by a well-trained team who understands your routines, knows your favourite foods and supports you to continue doing the things you love every single day. You can expect all this and more at our 12 care homes in and around Cheshire. 03301 910 230 Find out how we can help you, call: For other Barchester care homes in your area, please visit: Residential care • Nursing care • Dementia care • Respite breaks Café • En-suite bedrooms • Landscaped gardens • Hair salon




6 Capital of the United Arab Emirates (3,5)

7 ____ the Universe’, Beatles song on the album Let It Be (6)

9 ____ Beach, city in southern California (4)

10 Canal that runs through Newtown and Welshpool (10)

11 Biblical priest referenced in an anthem by Handel (5)

13 Children’s TV programme whose presenters have included Valerie Singleton and John Noakes (4,5)

15 Poet who wrote the line “Stop all the clocks” (1,1,5)

Di culty: medium

17 & 24 Across On ____ the wood’s in trouble, poem by 12 Down that references a limestone escarpment (7,4)

19 The hardened sap of the acacia tree (3,6)

20 The reproductive unit dispersed by fungi (5)

23 Someone who takes bribes from both sides, or someone equally adept with both hands (10)

24 See 17 Across

26 Bitter leafy vegetable also known as chicory (6)

27 1959 Western starring John Wayne and Dean Martin (3,5)


1 River that rises in Cantabria (4)

2 Musical tempo meaning ‘slowly’ (6)

3 Type of radiation with the shortest wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum (5)

4 Mechanical keyboard invented in 1895 (7)

5 Beau ____, dandy and fashion icon in Regency England (8)

7 Island connected to Britain by the Menai Suspension Bridge (8)

8 A ____ Named Desire, play by Tennessee Williams (9)

12 Poet who wrote A Shropshire Lad (1,1,7)

14 Jargon used by lawyers (8)

16 Extinct Semitic language discovered on cuneiform tablets (8)

18 Member of the heron family with a booming call (7)

21 What Calliope and Erato are Greek muses of (6)

22 Noble gas used in fluorescent lighting (5)

25 Michael ____, Secretary of State for Levelling Up (4)


Across 6 Abu Dhabi 7 Across 9 Long 10 Montgomery 11 Zadok 13 Blue Peter 15 W.H. Auden 17 Wenlock 19 Gum Arabic 20 Spore 23 Ambidexter 24 Edge 26 Endive 27 Rio Bravo Down 1 Ebro 2 Adagio 3 Gamma 4 Pianola 5 Brummell 7 Anglesey 8 Streetcar 12 A.E. Housman 14 Legalese 16 Ugaritic 18 Bittern 21 Poetry 22 Argon 25 Gove
Leetham is a writer and puzzle maker from Cheshire. She works in the fintech industry and also enjoys creating quizzes and cryptic crosswords. Contact:
Rearrange the highlighted letters to find the name of a Cheshire village and castle
Sudoku rules 1. Every square has to contain a single number. 2. Only numbers 1 to 9 can be used. 3. Each 3×3 box can only contain each number from 1 to 9 once. 4. Each row and column can only contain each number from 1 to 9 once.
126 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
The highlighted letters when rearranged spell CHOLMONDELEY



Afternoon Tea for

Two at The Café at Abakhan, Mostyn!

Enjoy a delicious selection of freshly made sandwiches, light cakes, and scones with clotted cream and jam – all accompanied by unlimited tea or coffee. The Café at Abakhan is a stylish venue just outside the charming town of Holywell, CH8 9DX. Come and browse the amazing range of fabrics, yarns and crafts, or enjoy a stroll on the nearby Wales Coast Path.

To enter, fill in the form below. CLOSING DATE: 22nd April.

Another great issue, another chance to win BIG prizes. Good luck!

Snoozers, losers!

Fill in

form and post it today

Win! A family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) to the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s Smallholding & Countryside Festival – worth £40.

Held at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells on 18th-19th May, the Festival celebrates rural life and pursuits, showcasing the diversity of the Welsh countryside. It’s a fantastic day out for families, garden enthusiasts and anyone with an interest in the great outdoors. With a packed programme of competitions, over 200 trade stands, activities and excellent food and drink, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

To enter, fill in form below. CLOSING DATE: 22nd April.

Win! Two tickets for Operation Julie at Bangor’s Pontio – worth £50. Breaking Bad collides with The Good Life in this anarchic play with ’70s prog-rock, performed live on stage. It tells the incredible story of the undercover police operation that resulted in dozens of arrests and the discovery of LSD worth £100 million, smashing one of the world’s most extraordinary drug rings.

Pontio is Bangor University’s arts and innovation centre in the iconic Grimshaw-designed building at Deiniol Road, LL57 2TQ. Prize valid for any show 15th-18th May.

To enter, fill in the form below. CLOSING DATE: 22nd April.

Afternoon Tea for Two

Operation Julie

Smallholding & Countryside Festival

Win! Two tickets for the Circle of Friends concert at Whittington Music Festival – worth £38. Take your seats as pianist Sophia Rahman and others perform music by Robert and Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Felix Mendelssohn and Brahms, on 17th May from 7.30pm. The festival offers a fresh and enticing blend of the familiar and unfamiliar, in the atmospheric St John the Baptist Church, Oswestry SY11 4DF.

To enter, fill in the form below. CLOSING DATE: 22nd April.

RULES OF THE COMPETITIONS The promoter of these competitions is Shire Magazine, Superstar Publishing, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR. The competitions are open to all readers of our magazine and viewers of our websites except employees of the prize providers. The winner(s) will be the first person or persons drawn after the closing date who has completed the correct answer. No cash alternative available. The winners’ names can be obtained by writing to the competition address with a self-addressed envelope after the closing date. The winner agrees to participate in any follow-up publicity and must provide a photograph to be published in the following issue to claim their prize. Superstar Publishing may print the name only of entrants to this competition in subsequent issue(s) of Shire Magazine. This is to enable competition entrants to fairly claim a promotional o er, for competition entrants only. By entering this competition you are giving permission for Shire Magazine to print your name only. No personal information will be printed. No purchase necessary, answers on a postcard accepted. For full details of our Privacy Policy, please go to DATA PROTECTION NOTICE Superstar Publishing Ltd will use your information for administration and analysis purposes and may contact you from time to time with relevant o ers, information or for research purposes. Your details will not be passed on to third parties except the sponsors of these competitions. Please tick the relevant box if you wish to be contacted. HOW TO ENTER Fill in the form with your answer circled (you’ll need to read the magazine to nd it!) and include your name, address, email and daytime contact number. Send it by the closing date to Competitions, Shire Magazine, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR Q: When alpacas make a humming sound are they: a) Agitated? b) Contented? c) Singing? Name Address Postcode Daytime contact number Email (please complete) Please send me further information about Shire
your entry
Tick the ones you want to enter!
March/April 2024 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 127
Circle of Friends


Genesis G70 2.0T

Toyota did it with Lexus, Nissan tried it with Infinity but gave up.

It takes time to get a motoring brand received as premium by the public, primarily because German manufacturers have this market pretty much tied up – think Mercedes, Audi, BMW. Nevertheless, Hyundai is determined to secure a spot for itself.

My test drive was the G70 saloon, an outstanding vehicle with looks that drew plenty of attention. The interior, in wonderful black Nappa leather with red stitching, just shouts that this is a quality vehicle.

In what is a strange move by Genesis, the new range does not include a hybrid or electric, but rest assured that will come. The test vehicle had a 1998cc diesel engine, although I defy anybody to know it was a diesel, such was its quietness. It produced 241bhp, sufficient to give 0-60 in marginally over six seconds, and the claimed top speed, although academic, is 149mph. Fuel consumption during my test period – which did involve a lot of motorway use – was 45mpg, quite impressive for a vehicle of this size.

The drive is through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and at all times the Genesis seemed to know exactly the right gear for the situation. You can choose between Comfort, Sport or Economy mode. The Sport mode changes the instrumentation and alters the damping and throttle response and also alters the exhaust note to give it a sportier roar.

I think occupants of the Genesis will be impressed by the interior. There’s plenty of premium materials in evidence, and a huge touchscreen in the centre enables you to find your way around the in-car entertainment, heating, satellite navigation, telephone – a whole plethora of features that were not too complicated.

Through the steering wheel the driver sees a huge digital binnacle. The gauges change colour depending the configuration you choose – if you pick Sport they show red, Comfort is orange and Economy a blue-green colour. In addition, the Genesis has a

The majority of road-users are unlikely to have heard of the Genesis brand. It’s a new luxury offering from the Hyundai manufacturing conglomerate, writes Bob Hickman

head-up display, projecting driving information directly onto the windscreen in front of you.

One feature that is quite astounding: if you indicate to the left or right, the corresponding gauge in front of you displays the side and rear view of the car from the indoor camera in the wing mirror. And whilst travelling in a 50mph average speed zone on the motorway, at each speed camera the Genesis told me what my average speed was over the previous section, which is neat. The model also has a facility where, if you are sharing the driving, you can select the two-seat configuration and the seat will adjust to your preferred position at the push of a button.

“Indicate left or right and the corresponding gauge in front of you displays the side and rear view of the car from the indoor camera in the wing mirror. Quite astounding.”

If you want to buy a Genesis, you won’t be able to visit a traditional dealership as the brand is revolutionising the way its product is sold. It’s all done online and your vehicle is delivered to you. A fiveyear ownership package includes servicing, courtesy car, map and technology updates and 24-hour breakdown recovery.

The G70 has a basic on-the-road price of £45,555, while my top-spec test drive came in at nearly £52,000.

Bob Hickman is a lifelong car and motorcycle enthusiast. After a 30-year career as a police patrol officer, latterly as a sergeant patrolling the Midlands motorway, retirement beckoned and he embarked on writing about his love of transport. Bob is a member of the Guild of Motor Writers and the Midland Guild of Motor Writers. He rides a Royal Enfield Continental GT and drives a 1994 MG RV8.

128 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
A stand-out interior, in black leather with red stitching
WWW.REASEHEATH.AC.UK/WEARE Study at Reaseheath Choose the route that’s right for you Diplomas T Levels Apprenticeships Degrees Adult Courses Find out more at our next Open Day #WeAreReaseheath RH Shire Magazine Aug 23.indd 1 24/08/2023 14:55:36 I Whats On I Homes I Interiors I Food & Drink I Holidays I Activities Arts I Photography I Fashion I Gardens I Books & Poetry I Health Green Energy I Pets I Wildlife I Schools & Colleges I Charities Retirement I Personal Finance I Motoring The best of North & Mid Wales, Cheshire & Shropshire


Thanks to everyone who has been in touch with us here at Shire. It means so much to hear from you!

We’ve printed a few of our favourite letters here, but please do keep them coming – we love hearing your thoughts and opinions as well as bits of news you want to share. Please include a picture when you can and send to

If you’ve missed an issue or not been able to get to the shops before they’re snapped

anks for a wonderful time!

I’d like to thank St Gerard’s School for hosting our Lunar New Year celebrations. The school is now home to Bangor Chinese School, teaching Mandarin to students from across North West

Can you help?

I am appealing to readers from North Salop Wheelers Community Bus. We o er a ordable and inclusive transport to residents of North Shropshire not otherwise catered for by public or private services. Our volunteer drivers aim particularly to provide services to those unable to access transport by reason of age, incapacity, isolation or economic hardship. We run regular services connecting rural villages to Market Drayton (Wednesdays), Wem (Thursdays) and Whitchurch (Fridays).

Wheelers helps out where it can with transport to doctors, opticians and hospitals, but we desperately need more helpers. Volunteer drivers typically give one day a week but are not driving all day. Passenger assistants are also needed to help with access and

More great prizes

May I ask where your lovely competitions page has gone? I was never lucky enough to win but I used to like looking at the prizes and entering those I was interested in winning. Please bring them back!

Kind regards, Sarah

Don’t worry, Sarah – the Shire competitions are back this issue! We had a few very busy editions and ran out of space – but turn to page 127 for your chance to grab more great giveaways!

up, we have a supply of back copies we’re happy to send out. Just let us know which issue you’re looking for and we’ll pop it in the post to you – remember to enclose a self-addressed envelope with £1.60 postage and send to Shire Magazine, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR. An even safer bet is to subscribe to the magazine so you never miss out again! See page 87 for details. Keep writing, keep emailing and keep reading Shire!

Wales. We hold classes every Sunday for up to 50 young people aged four to 18, with subjects including Maths and Coding.

We cannot thank St Gerard’s enough for their warm welcome, and everyone who came and joined in with traditional games and activities. We had a fantastic time. As this is Chinese New Year of the Dragon it was fitting for us to bring Wales and China together in celebration, heralding a year of prosperity and good fortune as encapsulated by the phrase “Double Dragons Play with the Pearl”.

Bangor Chinese School launched five years ago and is dedicated to teaching Mandarin and Chinese culture to children of Chinese heritage and local children interested in learning about the Chinese language. The collaboration is a model of close cooperation and we are excited to see how it develops.

Kun, head of Bangor Chinese School

shopping. Anyone interested can get in touch via Thank you!

A shared creation

Your Jan/Feb magazine is your best yet! I loved the 20 Questions with Deborah Lawson. A great read. What an amazing woman!

I loved the article on diet dos and don’ts too. Very interesting. I learnt a lot from it. The story about Mark Steene and the Cross Keys pub was really heartfelt. I loved what his sister Mandy did.

Keep up the amazing work, Shire Magazine!

I’m always delighted to see a new issue of Shire in the supermarket. In the current climate, with so many businesses going under and well-loved institutions disappearing, it’s great to see the magazine doing so well. Testament to the quality of writing and content, I suppose.

Long may it continue!

Oslo Blackfold

I enjoyed reading Shire Magazine on a trip to my parents’ home in Alsager. I wish we had something similar where I live in London. Please consider expanding your ‘patch’!

Last summer, the congregation of St John’s Church, Hartford, in Cheshire came together with the wider community for a series of art workshops. Everyone was given identical blank canvasses, watercolour paints and pastels and encouraged to paint on the theme of ‘Flora’. Children, teens and adults joined in, many responding with surprised joy at their own creativity.

Readers can see the results of this unique collaboration at the church in School Lane until 7th March. Around 80 paintings are displayed in an immersive installation entitled ‘Created’, where viewers can move through and touch the works in a “sensory Eden-like experience”.

“Although flowers fade and die, the Word of God is steadfast and gives hope to all,” say the organisers.

Daily 2-7pm, admission free.

130 SHIRE MAGAZINE | March/April 2024
The celebrations underway Help keep the wheels turning! Beauty inspired by nature


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